All posts by verily sherrilee

Directionally challenged, crafty, reading mother of young adult

I Need Book Advice

My mom, Nonny, is really doing well with shelter-in-place.  She has always been superb at doing what the doctor recommends – always.  I think I’ve probably said here before that if the doctor told her to stand on her head every Tuesday and spit wooden nickels, you’d better have a bucket to collect those nickels every Tuesday. 

At 88 she is taking covid precautions very seriously.  She is staying in, staying away from neighbors, only going shopping when absolutely necessary and then she goes the extra mile (sprays the inside of her car, wipes all products off when she gets home, wears a mask, etc.)  She is not an online person, so she’s watching a lot of tv and doing a solitary walk every afternoon.  She’s mentioned a couple of times over the last couple of months that she is “out of books”.   Despite the fact that she introduced me to libraries as a child, she is not a library person.  Although I’ve suggested she find a close one, she is worried about hanging about in a library and bringing home potential contaminants.  Telling her that she can talk to a librarian about how they are handling covid to possibly reassure her hasn’t helped.

I thought I would get her some books, but I’m stymied about what to send.  I know that her favorite author is Mary Higgins Clark.  I know that she likes mysteries and thrillers but not things that are “too dark”.  Too much graphic violence and sex is right out as well. 

So if I go to the bookstore to pick up some titles for her, what should I get???

Voting Options – who knew?

This past summer the state sent out a “do you want a mail-in ballot” form and it asked about the primary and general election.  I checked both boxes so wasn’t surprised when the ballot for November showed up two weeks back.

I had actually intended on going on election day to vote but YA wanted to vote early.  In fact, she was rather adamant about it.  So we both filled out the ballot and got then into the envelopes to mail.  That was when she informed me that she didn’t want to mail the ballots because she was worried about the postal service getting clogged up.  I said I didn’t think that was likely, but certainly not a month out.  But I acquiesced and looked up where you could drop your ballot off.  Downtown.  Ick.  I detest driving downtown and I didn’t want to pay $10-$15 for parking either.  But the drive-by drop-off in August didn’t happen until just a few days before the primary and YA was nagging me every day; I knew she wouldn’t want to wait until the end of October.

So yesterday I took a deep breath and looked up the exact location for drop-off and was ready to drive downtown and take the plunge when I saw a link to drive-by drop-off.  Yesterday was the first day!  As I headed into town I was a bit worried that it would be hard to find or that there would be big crowds, but I worried needlessly.  As I turned right onto 4th Avenue South, there were big banners at the sidewalk and there was only one other car in the drop-off area.  The worker who came out to take the ballots was friendly and helpful.  I mentioned that I was glad the weather was so accommodating and hoped it would stay that way.  She told me that they would actually be getting a tent soon so they would be able to operate in the rain.  Way to think it through Minnesota!

How will you be placing your vote this election?  In person?  Mail-in?  Drop-off?  Drive-through?

But You Were Supposed to Read My Mind!

Today’s post comes to us from Jacque.

Last week VS and I arranged for pick up or delivery of some plants for Anna’s memorial garden for her late husband, Tom.    We arranged for 10-ish on Sunday morning.  Things in my world have been moving kind of fast, despite COVID restrictions, so I read VS’ email to everyone about donating plants, contacted her VS about my donations, and did not read the details closely.

So at 10-ish on Sunday morning, I pulled into her driveway and called her.  She picked up immediately and said, “I’m just turning on to Scenic Heights.  I’ll be there in a second.”

To which I said, “Great.  I just pulled into your driveway.”

We both started laughing.

“This is meant for a blog post.”  I told her, adding, “I guess I did not read the email closely enough.”

“I said in the initial email I could come pick them up but didn’t reiterate it in our back and forths” she said.

And I replied, “You were supposed to read my mind.”  I needed to get out of the house to go somewhere, anywhere, and just assumed….well you know.

Tell about a memorable miscommunication or assumption you might have checked more closely.

Mad Cat

When I moved into my house 30 years ago there had been a cat door installed in the door from the kitchen to the basement.  At the time it never occurred to me that I would ever have a cat so I took out the flap (which was broken anyway) and put a brass kick plate across the hole.  Since I left the door to the basement open most of the time anyway, it was just fine.

Then I got a cat.  And a cat box in the basement.  And a dog who was VERY interested in the cat box.  Eww.  So I took off the kickplate and closed the door.  Zorro was just fine with just a hole in the door for many years, although it always bothered me.  When we got Nimue I decided that I wanted something nicer looking so I bought a cat door/flap kit to install.  Of course, the hole was too large to install the kitty flap (or any kitty door/flap that I could find) so my local hardware store crafted a piece of scrap wood to fit into the hole so I could install the door.  Of course, this makes it sound easier than it was; after I got the scrap piece in place, I put off installing the door for a couple of weeks.

At the end of that two weeks, we had a thunderstorm during the day.  I’m sure I’m probably mentioned that my Irish Setter was not a big fan of thunderstorms.  At night I could keep her a little under control but that day, while the storm raged, I was at work.  I came home to see that in her mania to get to the basement (she always thought she would be safer from thunder in the basement), she had completely clawed the wood piece, to the point where it was unusable any longer.  I decided a hole in the door with no kitty flap would be fine after all.  I left the scrap piece in place and put the kitty flap kit in a drawer.

Fast forward to this week.  Rhiannon is no longer with us and Guinevere, while afraid of almost everything else on the planet, is not afraid of thunderstorms (don’t ask me why, it doesn’t make any sense to me either).  And we have company coming in October so I have a long list of projects that I’d like to get done.  Kitty flap/door was yesterday.  Turns out that the kit had instructions written by Martians and if I originally had all the pieces and hardware, I didn’t have them now.  Punting took just two trips to the hardware store.

Once the flap was installed, I took Nimue’s favorite kitty treats, went down the basement stairs and shut the door behind me.  She came to the door almost immediately when I shook the treat container; I had a treat in my hand and was just about to partially open the flap from my side when the dog decided she needed to assist in the operation.  Unfortunately, she wanted to assist by herding the cat, which is one of the cat’s least favorite things.  She fluffed up and ran.  When YA tried to help, Nimue ran upstairs where she ensconced herself in the middle of my bed.  She practically dared any of us to get near her.

She did eventually settle down but I’m worried that her first traumatic experience with the kitty door may be a bad omen.  I put several of her kitty treats on the other side for now, so we’ll see what happens.

Have you pissed anybody off lately?  On purpose?  Are you sorry or not?

 

 

Frostbite

Covid or no covid, YA wants her traditions intact.  So at her urging, we hit the apple orchard over the weekend.  The orchard we go to is taking precautions – one of them is that you are no longer encouraged to have an apple as you pick.  Another is that instead of grabbing a slice from a bowl if you are tasting apple types prior to picking, you have to use a toothpick now to spear your slice.  Like usual there is a big whiteboard of what apples are available for picking and the prices.

At the very to of the board was a listing for “Frostbite”. Not a word you relish seeing mid-September, but I’d never heard of Frostbite apples before so it caught my attention.  Here is what the U of M ag site says about them:

Frostbite™ has been a key apple in the U of M’s breeding program since the 1920’s. It’s extreme cold hardiness and unique flavor make it an excellent apple to cross with other varieties. Frostbite™ is a parent to Keepsake and Sweet 16 apples and a grandparent to Honeycrisp.

I know that they breed apples but I have never thought of any produce being the parent or grandparent of another.  Fascinating.  We definitely sampled them – they were tangy but not as tart as a Granny Smith, maybe a little citrus-y?  When we said we’d like to pick some, the orchard gal said “we only have three trees” and explained where to find them.  The trees were full and the apples are on the small side but a deep red.  We got half a peck.

They are great with peanut butter and I used some of them in my slow cooker apple butter yesterday (along with my favorite, the Connell Red).

Apple Butter Beginnings

Have you tasted anything new lately? 

Took another new route this week; as we were coming down a hill, I thought I saw a statue in someone’s backyard.  “Must be St. Francis” I thought to myself and as we got closer I realized I was correct.  And then we got even closer and I started to laugh.  The photo says it all.  When I came around the corner of the driveway (yes, I trespassed a little for the photo), I laughed even harder when I saw the second, smaller statue.  This just made my day.

There is a new federal law – you are required to have a statue of someone in your yard.  It has to be a person (although secondary and tertiary statues of any type are ok).  Who will it be?

Power’s Out

I think it’s fair to say, now that it’s officially over, that the summer was unsettling to say the least.  It didn’t help that I tried to blow up the neighborhood.

I was sitting in my bedroom that morning, working on a file, when I heard a bang and saw a flash in the hallway out of the corner of my eye.  And the power immediately went out.  I rushed to the back of the house and although I could smell a little lingering smoke, I couldn’t see anything.  When I went downstairs and out to the backyard, all the other neighbors were out as well, checking to see what had happened; everyone had experienced the same thing, hearing the bang and seeing the flash.  Everything looked ok – no power lines down, no big blackened patches on garage roofs or yards.  And the smoke smell dissipated pretty quickly, so we texted the power company and wandered back inside our respective houses.

The power company showed up about an hour later.  I saw the lineman up at the power box two houses down; the power came on for about 10 seconds and then there was another bang and flash.  And again, the power left us.  Since I was standing in my backroom watching the power guy, I saw exactly where the flash came from – the power lines at the back of my yard.  It gave me a sick feeling, quickly totting up the various worse-case scenarios.  The power guy must have seen it as well; he headed straight for my garage roof, I headed for the backyard.  After about 10 minutes of poking around with a long pole, he headed back to the line to reinstate the power.  This time it stayed on.

I couldn’t resist going to talk to him and was rewarded with a tale of exactly what had happened.  A branch had broken on one of my trees, but instead of falling into the yard, it had tipped over and connected two power lines, one at the top and one at the bottom of the branch.  That caused the first burst.  When the power was restored the first time, the branch was still in place, so it connected and exploded again.  After he poked the branch with the pole, it fell into the yard; with no more connection, no more issue.   It’s hard to see in the photo above, but the branch is all blackened and many of the leaves are dry and burnt.  I was so relieved that it hadn’t been anything horrible and/or expensive to repair, I fessed up to all the neighbors that my tree was the guilty party.

When was the last time you had to have a repair person to your place?

San Diego Surprise!

When YA and I went to San Diego last month, the second attraction on our list was the San Diego Zoo.  The zoo has a great reputation and YA has wanted to go there for years.

It was hot that day (although not as hot as the day before at the Safari Park) and due to covid, none of the zoo shuttles were running.  Like the Park, the zoo is built on the hills of San Diego, with different regions of the world represented in their own areas.  And like we did at the park, YA and I covered the whole thing during our day there.

Our first surprise was the North Sulawesi Babirusa.  Never heard of it?  Neither had we!  The last time I encountered an animal new to me was 20+ years ago on my first trip to Africa.  In Kenya I saw an okapi – a large deer that looks like a cross between a horse and a zebra.   Babirusa means “pig deer” Malaysian and have daunting looking teeth and the males also have remarkably dangerous looking upper tusks.   We didn’t see any baby babirusa but if you look online, they are very cute.

We got our second surprise about an hour later in the Africa Rocks section of the zoo.  We came upon a large empty enclosure with a sign that said “Fossa” – another animal that neither YA nor I had ever heard of.  One of the zoo employees told us that they had just cleaned the enclosure and would be putting out “lunch” for the fossa in a minute, so we stayed.  She put food all over the space so the fossa would “hunt” for it.  If you’ve every thought about what the result of a dog and cat union would be, the fossa is it.  Or maybe dog, cat and weasel?  It was beautiful with a long, luxuriant tale and looked like it would be quite a proficient hunter.  Their natural home is Madagascar and apparently they are able to bring down even the largest lemur species.

It was a great day and we were both happy to have made the acquaintance of two new animals that we had never encountered before.

Have you learned anything new lately?

Salty Language Advisory – Redux

In honor of “Talk Like a Pirate Day” today, this post comes to us from the archives, gratitude to Dale Connelly.

With some sharp language-related news cutting through the air of late involving the U.S. Navy and some people standing in the road in North Carolina, I thought it would be enlightening to consult with someone I consider to be an expert in the field of salty talk, the skipper of the pirate clipper Muskellunge, Captain Billy.

I tossed some relevant press clippings into a bottle and launched it down the Mississippi through a hole in the ice near Fridley about a week ago, and much to my surprise a reply from the Captain arrived on my desk late last night, boldly dashed on a piece of damp parchment by someone using a parrot feather dipped in pomegranate juice. I deduce that it came from somewhere in the southern climes. Maybe Mendota Heights or even as far away as Cottage Grove!

Ahoy!

Many thanks fer yer question about public language an’ what is an’ what ain’t considered foul!

As Cap’n of a pirate ship, people automatically assumes I has a sharp tongue, a form of stereotypin’ which I resents. Me and me boys labors under heavy expectations from landlubbers regardin’ our manner of public discourse.

Fer instance, if’n one of me boys enters a waterfront saloon anywhere in th’ world, he ain’t taken serious until he either punches somebody’s lights out or utters at least a half dozen choice curse words in th’ local dialect. This gets t’ be a problem on account of th’ vast number of places we visits an’ all th’ different local standards fer rough talk. We ain’t scholars out here, an’ it’s quite a chore t’ keep up wi’ current foul language fashions.

Believe it or don’t, a surprising number of me boys is kind hearted souls who took t’ th’ life of piratin’ t’ get away from uncouth situations at home, an’ they ain’t much inclined to employ harsh language anyhow. They often declines shore leave, on account of th’ fact that it’s too much work to make th’ kind of impression a pirate has to make merely to get served a beer in some places.

But I caution’s ye against thinkin’ pirates is in any way refined. I prefers t’ think we’s Libertarians, language-wise. On board th’ Muskellunge there’s no rules about what a pirate can or can’t say, an’ that goes both ways. Most standard obscenities is allowed as well as any kind of precious, non-piratical sissy words like “Gosh”, “Jeepers” an’ “Swell.”

Where I draws th’ line is attitude. Me boys is not permitted t’ be mean spirited towards one another or anyone else, unless it has t’ do wi’ official pirate business, such as pillagin’ a quiet coastal town or ransackin’ a defenseless vessel.

Th’ one spoken word I never wants to hear on board th’ Muskellunge is th’ last name of that famous FAKE movie pirate, Johnny Depp. If’n one of me boys curses another with a “God Depp” or a “Depp You” or a “you’s a no good barnacle Depper,” I’ll wash his mouth out with a fruity wine cooler – a horrible insult t’ any boy what loves his grog.

Yers in love o’ th’ language,

Capt. B.

The captain has a strong point that the “bad”ness of words is more a question of local custom than universal truth, and the attitude we bring to any exchange is more important that what is actually said. Given that, I do think he is a bit of a hypocrite for taking such an uncharitable attitude toward Johnny Depp.

Do you have to watch your language?

Chez Abattoir

I’m starting to feel like our animals are staging their own production of Sweeney Todd around here.

Guinevere is fast.  Really fast.  No squirrels yet but she’s way into double digits with rabbits and chipmunks.  Last week when I called her in at the end of the night, she wouldn’t come.  I looked out into the yard and saw a large furry lump that Guinevere was clearly guarding.  It looked too big to be a rabbit so I slowly made my way out.  It was a possum.  It didn’t look alive but then I remembered that old phrase “playing possum” and wondered if maybe it was really alive.  YA was out at that point and we managed to catch Guinevere and take her inside.  YA stayed in the yard (taking pictures) and within a minute the possum had raised its head and looked around.  Within 20 minutes it had moved to the very back of the yard.  In the morning, before we let the dog out, we checked and the possum was gone.  We figure that it wasn’t injured, but putting on a good show to throw the dog off.

Nimue is also on the rampage.  It’s that time of year when mice try to find a warmer spot (apparently a mouse can get in a hole that is half the size of a dime) and this year is not exception.  Like most cats, Nimue isn’t even remotely interested in the mice after she’s chased them around and then killed them, but it does mean that I’ve come downstairs in the morning to find the little lifeless bodies – several of them in the last week.  Unfortunately, when the cat gets busy during the night, the dog thinks she needs to go down to see what fun is being had without her.  Then there is barking and some mess making.  The last couple of nights, we’ve put up the gate at the top of the stairs to keep the dog from joining the mayhem.

Usually the mouse situation is a short term issue… in a couple of weeks, the mice will have found a warmer spot and the cat will stop leaving us little gifts. The backyard?  It will remain an abattoir as long as Guinevere on guard!

What’s the last musical you’ve seen?