All posts by Barbara in Rivertown

Maui Wedding

Well, we did it – just spent close to a week in Hawaii on the west end of Maui (near Lahaina) for Stepson Mario and Natalie’s. Husband and I have a difficult time committing to plans far ahead of time, so right from the start this was an exercise in letting go. We also don’t fly often, and each time we do there are new things to get used to – what exactly is “flight mode” ? (Found out it only applies to smart phones, and ours is a dumb phone). Booking online is still scary for me – I long for the days of travel agents to do it for you.

By the time we made our reservations last November, the cheaper flights all involved either two stopovers or a Red-eye flight, and we got one of each on this trip. Luckily we made all of our connecting flights, and the only problems flying were that “caged” feeling you get in narrow airline seats, and the inability to really sleep on a plane. We were able to avoid jet-lag by waiting to sleep until we were ready to drop, and then logging in a good long stretch before the next full day.

Rental Car Chickens

The wedding and dinner (at a seaside restaurant called Merriman’s) also went off without a hitch; all 34 of us behaved properly (at least while I was awake) – youngest daughter teared up and was not able to finish her solo song during the ceremony, but no problem. The vows were touching and sometimes funny, and the stories told during the ceremony and dinner were heartwarming.

Most of our days were spent doing things with the family, a lot of it on the beaches, for which we were grateful. We reconnected with the various other parents (there were a lot of us, there’s a story for another time.) It was soothing to hear and watch the waves, and playing in the ocean.

We are so very glad we made the effort to get there – it was definitely an event not to be missed.

What’s the farthest you’ve traveled for a Wedding or other Major Event?

What Day Is It?

In December I picked up (on sale) the 2019 National Day Calendar: The Official, Authoritative Source for Fun, Unusual & Unique National Days. Thought it would be good for possible blog posts, but I’d kind of forgotten about it till now. I notice that March is full of them –  we’ve already missed:

– Read Across America Day – March 1, also called Dr. Seuss Day, and

– Fat Tuesday – March  5 – which was also Multiple Personality Day. (I wonder how you celebrate that?!)

However, we haven’t missed:

– International Women’s Day – March 8, of which you may be aware. And we know

– Pi Day – March 14 – is coming up next week, thanks to VS’ parties.

Here are more holiday highlights from the rest of March that you can still celebrate. I’ve found online explanations of how some of these “holidays” came to be. (I’m not taking time for details on all of these gems, so feel free to give us details on the ones I’ve neglected.)

 – Worship of Tools Day – March 11 ..“a day to go out into the garage, the tool shed, the storage closet or where ever it is you keep your tools. You can clean them, reorganize them, make something new with them or maybe go to the store and buy a new one.”

– Plant a Flower Day – March 12

– Good Samaritan Day – March 13

– Corned Beef & Cabbage Day – March 17   (not surprisingly)

– Awkward Moments Day – March 18

– Common Courtesy Day – March 21   (also French Bread Day)

– Near Miss Day – March 23 ..“an annual reminder of the day in 1989 when an asteroid nearly collided with the Earth.”

– Tolkien Reading Day – March 25 ..“organised by the Tolkien Society since 2003 to encourage fans to celebrate and promote the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien by reading favourite passages.

– Joe Day – March 27  “Enjoy a cup of ‘joe’ with all of your friends named Joe, Jo, Josette, Joey, Joseph, Josephine, Johanna, Joann, Jodie or any variant of the name Joe every year”

– Take a Walk in the Park Day – March 30

What holiday do you wish we could celebrate? When on the calendar would you put it?

Snowstorm

Today’s post comes from Barbara In Rivertown.

WELL, I guess we’ve finally got our snow, at least here in Minnesota. I remember, at the end of that December-January dry spell saying “Oh, we really need some snow or there will be a drought come April, when there’s supposed to be a thaw.” Watch what you ask for – request was granted!

It was so pretty that I took some photos, and Ben sent a few taken from his driveway. A friend of mine has allowed me to post one she took on her patio, that is quite naturally dubbed The Birthday Cake.

There will no doubt be more snow – heck, we’re not even through February!

What’s the longest you’ve been snowed in somewhere – where you really couldn’t get out?

What’s a great “snowed-in” story from a movie or book?

Epic Opening Lines

As I was wandering up the stairs at our public library the other day, my journey was arrested by the bright-colored bulletin board pictured in the header. This board is changed monthly, and frequently has things like Staff book picks, or children’s drawings with a book pick, etc.

But this was over the top! A bright orange sign up top announces “Epic Opening Lines”, and another orange sign to the left asks “Any of these sound familiar?” On brightly colored cards are printed thirty one- or two-sentence beginnings to a book; you can lift the flap to peek at the title and author of the book represented. It was a challenge to see if I could recognize any of them – a few were familiar, and one or two were obvious, but many I had never laid eyes on. I realized when I started looking them up at home that quite a few were Young Adult or children’s novels.

Since I doubt if you can read them all from the header, I’ll type several of them here, and see if any baboons can guess them – then I’ll reveal answers Sunday. Here you go:

1. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

2. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

3. They say that just before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that’s not how it happened for me.

4. I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.

6. This is the saddest story I have ever heard.

10. The early morning sky was the color of cat vomit. Of course, Tally thought, you’d have to feed your cat only salmon-flavored cat food for a while, to get the pinks right.

11. The moment one learns English, complications set in.

14. “Where’s Papa going with that axe?” said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.

15. Ages ago, Alex, Allen and Alva arrived at Antibes, and Alva allowing all, allowing anyone, against Alex’s admonition, against Allen’s angry assertion: another African amusement… anyhow, as all argued, an awesome African army assembled and arduously advanced against an African anthill, assiduously annihilating ant after ant, and afterward, Alex astonishingly accuses Albert as also accepting Africa’s antipodal ant annexation.

16. There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.

17. It was a pleasure to burn.

20. Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I’ve come to learn, is women.

23. I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you he’s the one. Or at least as close as we’re going to get.

24. There is a right way to do things and a wrong way, if you’re going to run a hotel in a smuggler’s town. You shouldn’t make it a habit to ask too many questions, for one thing. And you probably shouldn’t be in it for the money.

27. All children, except one, grow up.

28. It’s a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful.

29. In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

30. Dr. Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature.

Do you have a favorite opening line(s) from a book you’ve read?

Christmas Treasures

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Rivertown.

I happened to come upon an article online this week titled “This is What It Means When You See a Bird’s Nest Ornament on a Christmas Tree.” According the German company Inge Glas in a 2005 ornament description: “The [bird’s nests] represent the love, commitment, and effort it takes to build a happy home. Bird nests are also good-luck symbols. Legend has it that prosperity will come to any home that finds a bird’s nest nestled among the branches of the family Christmas tree.” My nesting bird is not on a tree – it’s on the upper shelf of my buffet – but I still remember how I was attracted to it in the shop where I bought it.

Other ornaments that have meaning for me are a few remaining spherical glass balls made by Shiny Brite – the striped ones especially, thought there are lots of different vintage designs pictured here:  

I can remember, at maybe four years of age, standing on tip-toe to see my reflection in them. They’ve apparently become so popular they’re back in production.

Do you have a meaningful Christmas ornament or decoration in possession, or in memory?

What are you doing this week to celebrate the holidays?

Protecting Good People from Bad Art

When in my early twenties, I escaped the “mundane and uncultured” Midwest and found a temporary mecca in exotic 1970 San Francisco:  the ethnic restaurants, funky bars, antique shops, art museums, concert halls, and the art fairs (which I’d never seen before). After a couple of years in the crowded city, I opted for Half Moon Bay environs –  45 minutes south of S.F. on the Pacific Coast – a town of (then) 5,000 souls,.

There were the schools, a library, a “general store”called Half Moon Bay Feed & Fuel, a bookstore, a few restaurants. Forclassical music, there was the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society at the Mirimar Beach Inn. But the center of the art world at the time was the fall Half Moon Art & Pumpkin Fest, where I bought my first local art – a soft leather-bound journal, and a wonderful pottery bowl in my favorite shape.

My next two locales were Brooklyn, NY, and Minneapolis, so of course there were plenty of opportunities to find art (and art fairs). Now that we’re in Winona, MN, I’m aware that I never really needed to leave Small Town Midwest to find art – or maybe it “grew up” while I was not looking. This town, and many other surrounding ones (Lanesboro for one), have much to offer culturally.The ads in my Big River Magazine reveal that every little town along the Mississippi has some kind of art gallery or art center, wonderful sounding restaurants and cafés, community theaters, independent bookstores, charming B&Bs, wine bars, and often a natural foods market.

When we were on our road trip Southeast in September, we traveled some back roads for a break from the freeways. I love traveling through the small towns, and I found the same kind of variety of cultural opportunity. One example would be the in historic downtown Paducah, KY – Paducah Area Painters Alliance Gallery – whose byline is “Protecting good people from bad art.”

Do you have a neighborhood or small-town art center nearby?

Where is your favorite place to view the visual arts?

Are You Batty?

I’ll bet you didn’t realize that October is National Bat Appreciation Month, or that October 24-31 is Bat Week http://www.batcon.org/ . I learned this when I clicked on Tuesday’s bing.com photo https://www4.bing.com/search?q=Common+pipistrelle+bat&form=hpcapt&filters=HpDate:%2220181030_0700%22 

 where I learned that bats:

– help us by devouring tons of insects and forest pests

– and by pollinating some of our favorite fruits

– are one of the largest and longest living species on earth

– the smallest bat – called appropriately enough Bumblebee Bat – has a body about 1 inch long

– white-nosed syndrome has decimated some bat populations since being identified in 2006

When I checked in my Mammals in Minnesota Field Guide (by Stan Tekiela), I found that Minnesota hosts both the Big and Little Brown Bats, the Northern Myotis, and the Red, Silver-Haired, and Hoary Bats.

– these live 15-20 years – females often gather in “maternity colonies” of between 30 and 75 bats, depending on species

– some species live in holes in trees or even under bark, and either migrate or hibernate in winter

– others make their summer homes in attics, church steeples, barns and other buildings; spend winters in caves and mines

– most Minnesota bats are between 1-1/2” and 4”, with wingspans between 8” and 16”

Bats are our friends. One way to help them is to build or buy a bat box, giving them a safe place to roost:

http://www.batcon.org/resources/getting-involved/bat-houses

Got any bat stories? What actor played your favorite Batman, or your favorite Count Dracula?