All posts by Jacque


Today’s post comes from Jacque

Many of you on the Trail have seen the books I make for my mother for Christmas. Several of the books I have posted on the Trail.   For those of you who are new to the Trail or might have missed the previous posts I will tell you the story of the stories.

tootie-pumps-waterDuring the summer of 1984 Mom, who was then a teacher, took a course given by the Iowa Writers’ Workshop to update her teaching license. The Iowa Writers’ Workshop sponsored these courses throughout Iowa. She attended her class at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa.   Writing memoirs was the topic. My mother wrote her stories of growing up on a farm near Pipestone, MN during the Great Depression, in a family of eight children.

going-north-to-the-outhouseIn 2008 and 2009, after Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimers Disease,   she moved out of her home to live with my brother in Central Iowa. I drove down for the weekends, picked her up, and we would be off to her house to sort through her belongings. I made a note to myself to find the stories. Mom had told us her stories throughout our childhoods, including these. We knew they were in her house, but as her memory for things faded, she forgot where she stored them.

chamber-ptTucked away in a file were the stories she had written 22 years before.

I co-opted them. As her Christmas gifts from 2009 to this year, I adapted one story per year to a children’s book. You can find all of them posted on the Bookemon website. The one I post here took me two years to complete due to life’s demands. This one is called “Potty Talk” about life on a farm without the modern plumbing we now have.

Follow this link to see the book.

Most families have potty stories. Do you have one?


Today’s post comes from Jacque

               Recently I sold my psychotherapy practice. From the time in 2014 when I made the decision to do so, it took 2 ½ years to bring the process to completion. The last year of this period of time was so busy, I could not even participate in this blog anymore because there were so many demands on my time and energy. But now I am moving on to a life with fewer demands. I am not retiring, but I will work much less. After orienting the new owners of the practice to ownership, during October and November, I am now out of the office for two months, working via a telehealth website. The goal is to detach.

               I am writing this post from Arizona in front of the TV, with HGTV “Property Brothers” airing on Cable TV. It is hard for me to believe that for the first time in years, I have a little time to watch whatever I want. For hours. I can sit here and watch an over-privileged couple somewhere in Canada, be meticulously picky, arguing with designers about the windows and granite countertops. On the air.  It is doing a great job of distracting me away from results of the recent election, which I could obsess about until I live in an inner world of pessimism and despair. No Thanks. Watching obsessive people with silly décor standards is preferable to that.

It is Play Time for me.

img_0221When we arrived in Arizona in early December, both Lou and I were sick with a virus we picked up at the family wedding for which I made all the pie (see the past pie post). It took forever to recover. When I did recover I ventured out to the park in the center of town. There I discovered an area of the children’s playground I had not seen before. There is a little play area filled with gongs and xylophones and mallets. It is crawling with children banging on the stuff and having a ball. A Sonic Playground.

When I was a kid, I never could have even have dreamed of a playground like this. But I know I would have loved it.   So after I get bored with the Property Brothers, I plan to venture down there during school hours, so I can have the instruments to myself, and make some music, as loudly as I want, for as long as I want.   I will watch the fountain spout for a while, then mosey on home to take my girls, the dogs, to the dog park. That is not optional. The dogs are used to a big yard to run in, so the confines of our little condo require the dog park daily.

Then I will start sculpting with clay and playing games with grandchildren. I doubt that I will be stuck on HGTV for long. By the second week of February I will be back in Minnesota. The condo renters will be here for 2 months and I will be working 3 days per week at the practice I sold, and at another practice in Savage. I anticipate that. I love what I do.

But in the meantime, it is the Sonic Playground and Play Time for me.

What do you do when it is time to play?





Wedding Pie

Today’s post comes from Jacque

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, my niece got married.   She wanted homemade wedding pie, rather than the traditional wedding cake. Years ago, when this niece and her cousin and her sister were tiny, my mother started the pie thing. Then the first niece requested of mom that she have graduation pie, so Mom asked us for help. Ten years later, this has come home to roost on the shoulders of my sister and I because my mother no longer does pie. It was all we could do to get her to the wedding itself.

My sister and I and our nieces had done the mass pie bake three times before for high school graduations. All three of them wanted this for their tradition Iowa High School Graduation Open Houses, which is no small party. Our only expectation of each of them is that they help for their sister/cousin’s celebration. They all did.

For the wedding pie my niece Annie was part of the baking in my sister’s church kitchen. Jo and I made and froze all the pie crust in the weekends preceeding the wedding. She ordered pie tins and pie boxes from Amazon which made things stackable and efficient. Assembling and baking the pies took two days, with Thanksgiving Day planted in the middle of the bakefest. The 3 of us made 46 pies, 3 of which we served for the Thanksgiving meal dessert (pumpkin, minced meat and cherry).

Here is the breakdown of pie types:

Cherry (2 crust) 9

Apple (2 crust) 5

Apple crumb (1 crust) 5

Blueberry crumb (1 crust) 5

Strawberry Rhubarb (2 crust) 6

Bumbleberry (2 crust) 3

Pumpkin (1 crust, my least favorite, why even bother. Hrmph) 2

Lemon Meringue (1 crust) 4

Rhubarb Custard Meriginge (1 crust) 3

1 apple which fell on the floor and we scooped up the part that did not touch the  floor and                  ATE IT!

3 Thanksgiving pies

3 types of whipped creamed were served with it: vanilla, cinnamon, and rum.

The whole thing was a hit. Many guests had been at the girls’ High School Graduation parties and came ready for pie. My sister and I got to eat right after the wedding party. We were still eating when our sister-in-law ran over and said,   “People are already serving themselves at the pie station. I hate to hurry you, but look.” We ran over and started serving. It was like bugs to light—wedding guests attracted to pie.

One young man who had two or three slices of various kinds, came over asking, “Can I just have the cinnamon whipped cream. I have had enough pie.” There was plenty. I gave him a plateful.

Our feet were sore and we were exhausted. This was our gift to the bride and groom. Nobody else made them pie! Mom said her pie was good—she had apple crumb with cinnamon whipped cream.

What’s your odd family tradition?







Now you see them…

Today’s post comes from Jacque.

We pulled away from the curb to leave. I turned around to wave at the grandchildren just in time to witness our 8 year-old granddaughter racing across the street behind our car, running behind it yelling, “Good-bye, I love you!” She ran for 2 blocks.

“Oh, dear,” I said to Lou, who was driving. “She is following us. It’s so hard to say good-bye to them.“

We had spent the weekend playing games with the 3 kids, primarily the card game Uno, a great game for many ages and abilities. Our 6 year old grandson, who got to nail his dad with a Pick-up 4 card, was jumping up and down and shaking with excitement. All three kids seemed to notice us in a new way that weekend. As in, “Oh, this is fun. They are not just old people!” And for our part, we found their delight and antics adorable!

Six months later, after our next visit, our Granddaughter ran after our car again, this time joined by our Grandson. It was clear that these kids wanted us around. The allure of those Uno games, to which we added Spot It was undeniable. So my husband and I made a decision to visit Arizona more. We scraped together our funds and some courage, and decided to purchase a small condo near Phoenix, in the exurban community of Fountain Hills, just east of Scottsdale.

Cloud shadows

This is a lovely town surrounded by the Superstition Mountains to the East. It is more like Northern Arizona than the Phoenix area. As our granddaughter said, “I feel like I am in a different state than Arizona.” We are here now. My blogging plan was to document the mountains with pictures from our balcony, demonstrating to you how these mountains appear to change colors, shapes, and sizes with the weather. Last week, however, they disappeared entirely during 5 days of rain. Gone. I couldn’t even find them to TAKE a picture. The El Nino weather pattern that dumped many inches of rain on drought-stricken Southern California, extended into Arizona, dumping heavy rain and sleet here, and now in the mountains. People told us rain like this had not happened since 2007!


Finally on Saturday, the clouds cleared and we could see the mountains again, covered with new snow. So here are the pictures of the fascinating and ever-changing mountain view. Meanwhile, we spent last Sunday evening with the kids and grandkids watching the Vikings beat Green Bay, playing Uno and Spot it while talking football smack. After all, their Arizona Cardinals are really good this year. This coming Saturday, two of the three kids may be over for the afternoon while their parents work.

I am no fan of hot weather, so our time in Fountain HIlls will be limited to winter. This year we will return home to Minnesota in February while some renters occupy the condo. We will come back to Arizona for a week of mountain views and Uno games in April. So in the meantime I will have to just look at the pictures of the mountains.

What do you rely on that just disappeared?

Climbing the Family Tree in Philadelphia

Header image by Dave Z (Flickr: CITY HALL PHILADELPHIA) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Today’s post comes from Jacque.

In early October Lou and I travelled to Philadelphia for a long weekend in the City of Brotherly Love to see the sights and climb some ancient branches of the family tree.   We made our plans with my sister and her husband, who wanted the climb the family tree with us.

We were scheduled to leave on Wednesday. Tuesday, my sister and her husband were packed and ready to head North from Iowa. She picked up a knife to scrape a label off a can. The knife slipped. A perfectly positioned ½ inch cut at the base of her thumb severed the tendon. She called from the Dr.s’ office to report that instead of going to Philly, she was going to surgery. The surgery appears successful, but her hand and arm are swathed in an enormous splint because it is of great importance not to move the thumb while the tendon heals. Not only did she miss the trip to Philly, she can’t even drive in Iowa. She called SW airlines, cancelled her plane tickets and put them on hold for another trip.

We left for the airport early, early Wednesday morning; 530 am early, to arrive in time for a very delayed flight—plane repairs. The layover in Chicago was even more delayed—more plane repairs. That plane they finally just replaced after 2 hours of waiting. HMMM. In what condition does Southwest Airlines keep their planes? So our ETA of 12:55pm stretched to an actual arrival time of 5pm. Argh.

We arrived famished and tired. However, we were delighted that the train into Philadelphia was simple to locate and right on time, zipping us right into the Center City area. Yippee. We were on our way. We walked to our B and B through the beautiful neighborhoods surrounding Rittenhouse Square, noticing an array of restaurants with really great looking menus. Philadelphia is a fabulous city in which to be hungry. It has great restaurants, one of my favorite parts of travel. My first meal of crabcakes was delicious.

Highlights of the sightseeing and family tree climbing are as follows:

  • A tour of Independence Hall which revealed that the Founding Fathers rented the space to meet from the Colony of Pennsylvania. The USA owns it now, but we did not own it then!
  • The National Jewish Museum which provided me with a list of Jewish Geneology sites and which confirmed the presence of many Jewish soldiers from the Philadelphia area in the American Revolution. Maybe my 7th great grandfather, Michael Klein/Kline/Cline will reveal himself there.
  • I was blessed by a cardboard Pope Francis in City Hall.
  • Reading Market—a fabulous Inner city market with more great food (see sandwich picture).
  • Rittenhouse Square—a lovely park that hosted a wonderful art/craft show over the weekend—is filled with jugglers, mimes, families with children, dogs and musicians.
  • The Betsy Ross House where I learned a lot more about the Free Quakers from whom I am descended. And there I learned that my cousin, Timothy Matlack, was the scrivener of the Declaration of Independence. His grandfather, Mark Stratton is also my 7th great grandfather whose grave I located at the Medford Friends Meeting Cemetery, 20 miles from Center City Philadelphia in New Jersey.  And I had not heard of this man before.
  • LaReserve B and B. We had a comfy stay there with excellent breakfasts.
  • And did I mention the food? The Osteria on S. Broad was the highlight.

What a great city to tour! I would do it again; however, I will not fly Southwest again. We arrived back at the airport early Sunday morning to fly home, where we found the Southwest computers all down and the agents printing and collecting tickets.

So we arrived home late. The flights were delayed due to computer failure. Of course they were. Sigh.

Baboon Redux – Fear of Flying

Dear Baboons, for the next few weeks I will be unable to administer Trail Baboon, so I’ve lined up a series of classic guest posts for review.  Starting with this one, which may have been the first guest post to appear on Trail Baboon back in October of 2010.

A Guest Blog by Jacque

In my young adult years I worked in a library twice, once in college “keypunching” the stacks during the first computerization of the collections, then later, at the front desk of the Public Library in Grand Rapids, MN. There in that presumably intellectual, quiet, sedate literary setting, I found a noisy, messy, colorful human parade.

It was not at all what I expected.

One day while I was at my front desk post, a quiet man who frequented the library shot through the entry door carrying a bag, making a beeline for me. He abruptly stopped, spun around to face me, then reported to me that he had just returned from a trip to Martinique where he owned an estate. He handed me the bag saying, “These figs are from my estate. They are for you. Next time I go there, you must accompany me.” He turned and fled out the front door. I was stunned. I looked at the bag of figs. The bag was from the local green grocer who was offering figs on a special. The library book he returned was a book about Martinique. Although he was at the library often, he never spoke to me again, silently presenting his books at the checkout station, then moving on.

Another patron routinely checked out grocery bags full of paperback romances—Harlequins, bodice rippers, tattered and torn books. She always returned them on time, then took another bagful with her out the door. However, the patron was so shy she could hardly look at me. When she did look at me she frequently had a bruise on her cheek or her arm, or a black eye. Not a romantic life at all I feared.

Most afternoons at the library between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. local businessmen would come in and sit in the lounge area near the front desk where the newspapers were located. They would read and chat with each other. It was a party atmosphere.

One afternoon at that time when the area was full of these patrons, a ditsy blonde approached the front desk. “I’m going on a vacation to England,” she announced to me loudly and proudly. “But I am afraid of flying. I need the book Fear of Flying by Erica Jong!” hitting the J heavily.

“Excuse me?” I said, surprised. “Fear of flying?”

“Yes! I’m going to England on an airplane. But I get so nervous, so I want to read that book to get over it.”

I cleared my throat, uncomfortably viewing the room full of businessmen and lowering my voice. “Well, ma’am, actually, you might not want that book. That is an erotic book. It’s not really about air travel.”

“Oh, yes it is!” she insisted. “ I read about this in a magazine.”

“Um, no, Ma’am, it is an erotic book.”

“Erractic?” she said loudly. “Well, of course I’m erratic!. That’s why I’m scared on an airplane! Now, where can I find that book?”

The businessmen were looking at us. She had certainly garnered their attention. Several were chortling.

“Ma’am,” I said in a whisper. “Not erratic. EROTIC. It’s a SEXY book.”

“Well, I want that book.” She demanded.

I gave up, my face reddening, then directed her to that section of the stacks. She brought the book back and checked it out. I thought it might cure her anxiety – surely the subject matter of the book and the shock of the content would distract her from her fear of air travel. But I’m sure that this book was not what she thought it was. She had a significant misconception about the Fear of Flying. I just wish I could have watched her read the first few chapters.

How do you tell someone they’ve got it completely wrong?  

Chores and the Great Depression

Today’s post comes from Jacque.

I am the first to admit that my life growing up was, well, unusual. I came from thrifty, hardworking, somewhat eccentric people. My parents were the first people in their families to go to college and graduate with 4 year degrees. Mom and Dad grew up in the Great Depression on farms where their frugal parents survived by using things up, patching, repairing, and saving money. Every one pitched in to help with family chores. They passed this on in their parenting. We had chores. We saved money.

My siblings and I grew up bearing a lot of responsibility given our young ages. Mom worked outside the home as a teacher during a time when Mom’s usually stayed home to care for the family. Our Dad stayed home with us because his illness, Multiple Sclerosis limited his life.   This arrangement demanded that we all pitch in for the common good of our family. We helped with Dad’s care, with cooking, cleaning, and gardening.

Now, in our adulthood, my brother, sister and I gather and regale ourselves (and any one who will listen) with the tales of our growing up, our chores, our travel stories, and our family’s attempts to save a buck. We roar with laughter at our own stories.  Our kids, now grown-ups, too, are a bit tired of these stories.  So we always seek new victims to listen to them, like, say, Baboons!

This year for Mother’s Day, my brother, sister and I went out with our Mom, now 87 years old, for supper. We teased her a bit, which she loves.   We made 2 lists, reflecting our unusual life together: our chores and our family methods of stretching a penny.  Today you get List #1, Our Chores. Items 1-3 are pretty standard stuff. Item 4 starts to stretch the limits, of well, normal? Of reliving the Geat Depression

Our Chores

  1. Saturday mornings clean the house. I vacuumed, my sister dusted, my brother emptied the garbage and goofed off. NO CARTOONS. This really meant that the moment Mom went grocery shopping, we turned on the TV. Dad never told. My sister and I posted our brother at the window to watch for Mom’s car so we could turn it off in time to stay out of trouble. We cleaned AND watched cartoons.
  2. Set the table before a meal.
  3. Often we cooked the meal.
  4. Wash and dry dishes after each meal.
  5. Light dad’s pipe when requested. Knock the old ashes out, clean it with a pipe cleaner, refill.   Do not pack too hard or it won’t light easily, then the match will burn your finger.
  6. Make dad’s coffee in an old-fashioned stove top drip coffeemaker which loaded the grounds in the bottom of the upper part. We had to pour boiling hot water from the bottom carafe into the upper part which fed the hot water through the grounds back into the bottom carafe. I learned to do this at age 9. Pour the coffee. Put Dad’s straw in it and place it where he could drink it.
  7. When my diabetic Grandpa lived with us, it was my job to watch him for symptoms of insulin shock. If he showed symptoms, I ran to the refrigerator, poured a glass of orange juice and assisted him in getting it down his throat. (I was 9 years old at the time)
  8. Get dad his urinal, run it to the bathroom, empty it, rinse it, and flush.
  9. Gather food scraps and take them to compost pile.
  10. Operate washer and dryer. Fold clothes. “Sprinkle” clothes which would need ironing, then iron them.

This list looks like we were slackers compared to Mom’s list of childhood chores, which consisted of tasks such as milk cows, churn butter, clean out the barn, so it is all relative I guess. The Great Depression really did influence our experiences in the 1950’s and 60’s despite its long demise.

Did you re-experience the Great Depression in your childhood?

Joy Garden

Today’s post comes from Jacque.

Several weeks ago I was posting replies on the Trail Baboon from “art camp.” My intention was to produce a blog about this experience immediately.  However, when I sat down to write it I was greeted with a case of writer’s block, at least on that topic. Rarely am I speechless, but there it was, speechlessness. Now the words are flowing again.

The class was held at Maureen Carlson’s WeeFolk Center for Creative Art in Jordan, MN where she has studio space and a dorm on the second floor.     The class itself was taught by artist and teacher, Lindly Haunani from the Washington DC area.

The art medium of the class was polymer clay, a material with which I often work.  It is small, portable, and requires ordinary tools to shape it.  When you go to an art store or an on-line site to purchase polymer clay, it looks like this, sold in little bricks:

Premo ClayFrom the bricks of clay we formed a blended color palette with a technique called “Skinner Blend” which was the color basis of our project of the week, “Joy Garden.”  My blend looked like this:

Skinner blend Palette

Lindly taught us her techniques and allowed each of us to create our own version of a Joy Garden. I had a photo of an unusual tree stump which inspired my work that week. The stump is at the local dog park where I found it, then snapped a picture:

tree stump

The human figure in the stump inspired this figure made from polymer clay. The stump at the base of the Joy Gardener is a reproduction in polymer clay of the stump in the dog park:

unnamed (2)

Other students in the class produced projects in the same theme.   However, each project reflects completely individualized ideas which inspired the projects, the styles, and color palettes.

What inspires you to create?