All posts by verily sherrilee

Directionally challenged, crafty, reading mother of young adult

Say It Ain’t Snow!

Photo credit:  Star Tribune

MnDot announced the finalists yesterday for the Minnesota Name A Snowplow contest.   If you haven’t heard of this before you may not be alone, although the contest has been held annually for a few years now.  Last year’s winners were:

    • Betty Whiteout
    • Ctrl Salt Delete
    • The Big Leplowski
    • Plowasaurus Rex
    • Scoop Dogg
    • Blizzard of Oz
    • No More Mr. Ice Guy
    • Edward Blizzardhands

This is one winner per MnDot district.  I haven’t been able to find out what happens after the winners are announced?  Is there a plaque somewhere?  Little signs on the snowplows?  Patches for the snowplow drivers?  Banquet?

There are 60 finalists so I am not going to name them all but will give you some of my favorites:

    • Bladezilla
    • It’s a Squall World After All
    • Taylor Drift
    • Hippoplowtomus

If you’d like to see all the finalists and vote for your top eight favs, here is the link:

Name a Snowplow contest – MnDOT (state.mn.us)

We can probably come up with some good names of our own.  What do you think?

Bottle Art

Today’s post comes to us from Aboksu.

In 2018 I retired after 39 years of life in Taiwan. I moved to Holland, MI, and bought a hundred year old house in the city. 

The town was platted out sometime in the 1960s, and included alleys in the middle of blocks.  One by one, the city “vacated” many of those alleys, but some remain.  Near our house there’s one that a community association “neatened up” within the last 10 years. It’s an “art alley”.  One back yard installation included a few racks of colored bottles on poles. They attracted me. I figured I could do that, myself, in my own yard.

After examining the installation, I decided that I could do it cheaper too.  I sent out a request for empty bottles on a neighborhood bulletin board, and got “not few” responses, sometimes linked to statements that “we didn’t drink all that wine” or “the bottles accumulated over a long time.”  (That’s Holland, MI piety speaking).  My own installation, because I did it on the cheap side, blew apart in the wind more than once. Lots of bottles and red vases smashed before I finally figured out how to make it secure.

As I live and drink, I accumulate bottles regularly. Three windows in the garage were “bottled up” in 2022. More racks and installations have taken places in the yard.  As I write, there are 50 bottles and vases, drilled and washed, waiting in the basement for another inspiration to strike.  

Tell me about your last inspiration!

Cold Calls

With the kitchen project, electricians, plumbers, dishwasher installers, etc. all calling me the last three to four weeks, I’ve been answering unknown numbers more than usual.  Some of the time it’s been someone I want to talk to, some of it’s folks looking for my money. 

Yesterday morning I was still expecting a couple more calls about the dishwasher so I picked up an area code “952” when it rang.  I knew straight away it probably wasn’t the dishwasher but I usually wait to hear what my unknowns want before I give them the brush off.  She jumped right in an identified herself as calling from a colonoscopy center and asking when my last one was.  I was able to truthfully tell her I had done the mail-in a couple of months ago and then we ended the call.  Who would have thought you’d ever get a call like this?

I spent all afternoon thinking about it and imagining what she tells people at parties when they ask what she does.  “I make cold calls to talk people into colonoscopies” aren’t words that I’d be willing to say to strangers.

What is a current trend that you just don’t understand?

Meh

I think I’m a fairly upbeat person most of the time.  So when I’m crabby, I really feel it.  It was just one of those days where every little thing built up.

Finally got through to somebody about the dishwasher and got answers – not what I really wanted, but at least answers.  My recent excellent experience with the cabinet installation did not suddenly make me think all projects would go on schedule and be hunky dory but when they showed up with the dishwasher and couldn’t de-install the old one, and couldn’t explain why to me because they didn’t have much English and my Spanish doesn’t include any electrical- or plumbing- detailed vocabulary.  Did get somebody on the phone from the company who would translate, but the end is still the same.  No dishwasher installed today.  Plumber today.  Maybe.  All this has required that I change plans for lunch today.   Meh.

Then I got an email from my ex-boss.  I officially “start” work tomorrow, although until I have a computer and the program is ready to turn over, I won’t actually be doing anything.  Meh.

My favorite tv channel hasn’t been “connecting” today.  You’d think that since I’ve seen every episode of Midsomer Murders, this wouldn’t be that big a deal.  I can watch old episodes on Freetevee but it’s not the best app for reception.   Meh.

My stamps came from the post office today but I only got half of the order.  23 minutes on hold before Customer Service picked up.  She was very nice and apologetic and the rest of the stamps should be here later this week.  Meh.

I took out all my frustration on a non-person, the Xfinity survey system.  After unsuccessfully trying to figure out my tv channel problem, I got an automated survey from Xfinity.  If you were at Blevins on Sunday, you’re probably laughing right now (we did vent a bit about surveys during book club).  I was vicious with a Zero and a No I wouldn’t recommend and No, you didn’t resolve my problem.  Unfortunately I know the information will go nowhere and it didn’t actually make me feel less crabby to savage the Xfinity survey.  Meh.

How to you un-crabby yourself?

Stamping

Big warehouse stores don’t do it for me.  While I have a huge house, I’ve never found it convenient to buy massive quantities to keep the price a bit down.  (With the exception of toilet paper, of course.)

However there is one thing that I use a lot of: postage stamps.  Most months I send out 10-12 birthday cards and then there are the anniversary cards, get well cards, sympathy cards, thank you cards and then all the other things that I feel the need to note. At least one card a month goes overseas. 

So when I noticed a news story about postage going up (it increased yesterday), I thought maybe stamps was one thing I would load up on.  Apparently I’m not the only one to think this…. a couple of the stamps that I like were out of stock at my local post office.  So I chose some others and then came home and ordered a bunch more online.  I figure I won’t have to buy stamps until August!

What do you never like to run out of?

Another Week, Another Snowstorm

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

We got a good 6 to 8 inches Wednesday night into Thursday. They were predicting that, so I unhooked the rear blade and hooked the snowblower on the tractor on Tuesday. I hadn’t used the blower this year, so I had to put the hydraulic cylinder on it to rotate the spout, check the oil, grease the power takeoff shaft, and I was fairly impressed with myself that I could get in amongst the linkage and frame and get the power takeoff shift connected to the tractor. I would not have been able to do that last summer. BULLY FOR ME!  

It was kind of fun to blow snow again, I do things a little different with the blower than I do with the blade and it’s just been the last few years that I started using a blade for snow, so the skills for this came back pretty quick. I remembered it would be slower, but I forgot how much it makes my neck hurt because I’m looking over my right shoulder to do it. The seat swivels a bit, and I sit as sideways as I can, but it’s still looking over my shoulder. My next tractor will have heated mirrors so they stay clean. Or maybe my next tractor will have a blower on the front!

Kelly took some video of me, and I put my first video on YouTube.

One day I had to stop at Fleet Farm as I was looking for insulated winter boots. I found them over in the ice fishing section. You all know I’m not much of a sportsman so I don’t think I’ve ever walked through that area before. It was a little bit fascinating!

I found some boots; they’re keeping my feet much warmer than the plain rubber boots I had been wearing.

Then I went to Menards and walked around there for a while. After that, I had a meeting on the far end of the college campus, and by the time I got home I was pooped out. Nothing hurt! Just pooped out.

Kelly counted 17 pheasants in the yard one morning. The most we’ve ever had, and I love seeing them. I have one neighbor that always asks if he can pheasant hunt and I always tell him no.

My chickens from last spring are just coming into their peak. It’s not unusual to get 16 or 20 eggs a day lately. If anybody was up for a road trip again for eggs, this would be a good time. Although we should wait for the driveway to get better than glare ice.

After that rain we got on Monday, our yard and driveway became pretty slick. It’s been packed snow all winter, not thick, just a half-inch maybe, but that’s what rain does to it. I went to a meeting Monday night. I was impressed that I was even able to get out. Years of practice I told Kelly. After I got home, I used the loader and tried to scrape the ice on the hills and corners on the driveway. It didn’t do much, but it did rough it up a bit and that helps.

I went out to do chores while it was raining on Monday, I tried Kelly‘s yak traks, but they didn’t fit my boots, and I lost them on about the third step. Again, I’ve been doing this for years, I know how to aim for the gravel or bare ground or walk through the snow. Once I got to the feed room, I threw out a bunch of corn, and that gives some traction. Then I carried a bucket with me and scattered corn in front of me to make a path to walk on. A win for the crows and chickens and ducks, and a win for me.

I remember an old movie called Angel In My Pocket, Andy Griffith and a host of character actors that you would recognize. It came out in 1969, and a gentleman playing the church caretaker, Parker Fennelly, reminds me of my grandfather Hain. That was the only movie I was able to watch this week. I couldn’t find it online anywhere so I ordered the movie off eBay and it came from Australia. Spent a week in customs in Chicago. It a long way for some entertainment, but I really enjoy this movie and it makes me think of Grandpa.

I was filling the birdfeeders one day, and I love the fact that the chickadees don’t even wait for me to finish, and they don’t appear to be very scared. I was standing right there filling things and they just come and sit on the birdfeeder.

And here’s Humphrey breaking the corn cob into bits.  PHOTOS

Do you, or did your family do home movies?

The Favor

As you all know, I adore being retired.  It’s been six months and the novelty has not worn off.  And my boss knows as well.  When she called me last week, the first words out of her mouth were “don’t hang up on me”.  Two new programs for the first week of May have just sold, an unusual happenstance for this late in the fiscal year.  They are warehouse programs, of which I was the undisputed queen, and nobody else has any wiggle room in their workload to fit these in.  Could I pretty please with a cherry on top come out of retirement on a temporary, part time basis and run these two programs?

I thought about it over the weekend and got input from several friends (all of whom said “go for it’ – I need new friends).  When I told my boss I would do it, I gave her a long list of requirements, all of which she agreed to.  Rats.  I also told her that this was a big favor and it was the only one she was going to get.  If these programs re-up next year, I won’t do them.  And she can’t apply the favor to a non-warehouse program.  It’s these two and no others.

I’m not all that excited about this development, but all my former team-mates are ecstatic.  Not so much because I’m coming back temporarily but because now they know they don’t have to try to squeeze either of these programs into their calendar!

Tell me about a huge favor you’ve done for someone.  Or a huge favor they’ve done for you!

Stonehenge-ette

I’m not sure what I looked at online in November that caused “Build Your Own Stonehenge” to start popping up as side ads on my pc.  It looked cute and I already have a “Build Your Own Carcasonne” from a trip years ago.  Then I made the ultimate mistake – I clicked on the ad.  It was smaller than I thought and cheaper.  Both good things.

I put it on my list for the holidays, not expecting to get it; YA doesn’t always humor my eccentricities.  When I unwrapped it on Solstice, I’d kind of forgotten about it, to tell the truth.  It was much easier to put together than I had expected; all the standing stones and bluestones had numbers on the bottom that corresponded to marks on the earthwork piece.  (I had a layout of Stonehenge pulled up on the internet in case I had to figure it out myself.) After I laid it out once, I hot glued everything down.  I think it’s adorable; YA isn’t impressed.  It’s living in my studio now, next to my miniature castle.  I wonder what other “build your own” project will attract my attention next.

Have you ever built a model of anything?

How Cozy

Normally I don’t pick up the BookPage supplement that the library sets out every month.  More ideas about what to read are NOT necessary in my life.  I have lists and lists.  People suggest books to me all the time.  This isn’t a problem, it just means I don’t need to go looking. 

Last week, while the kitchen project was happening, I spend all day every day sitting on the sofa, so that I could be available if needed.  I wrote blogs for the trail, looked at Facebook, read a lot.  When I picked up a couple of books from the library, I grabbed not just the regular supplement but also a “Looking Forward to 2023” special edition as well.  Seemed like a good project for a week of sofa-surfing.

It was surprising to come across a page devoted to “Cozy Mysteries”.  Believe it or not, I have never heard this phrase before, although in reading through the blurbs, I knew immediately what they were talking about. Protagonist (99.9% women), mostly small town settings, a murder that only the protagonist can solve. I spent over a year reading tons and tons of cozy mysteries; I couldn’t get enough.  I’m not sure what was driving this but after about a year, the desire to read more of them simply vanished.  But I never realized that these stories had garnered a genre all to themselves.

When I was in the bookstore, it was pretty straightforward.  Fiction, nonfiction, children’s.  Fiction was split into fiction, science fiction, romance and mystery.  Non-fiction was historical, self-help, cooking, biography/memoir.

Now we have debut fiction, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, dystopian fiction, mystery, cozy mystery, horror, thriller, literary fiction (this one slays me), young adult, graphic novels, biography, autobiography, memoir, true crime.  I could actually keep going but….

I guess all this micro-categorization can be helpful to folks when they are looking for something to read but since I tend to read across a lot of genres, it doesn’t matter so much to me.  I do still read an occasional cozy mystery; I can’t stay away from Susan Wittig Albert.  Knowing that this kind of work now has a name of its own name seems charming.

Anything in your life that you like to micro-manage?

Before & After

YA and I have a disagreement about one thing at the State Fair.  She loves to go through the Home Improvement Building, see all the vendors, ask questions, take brochures and cards.  I do not.  Honestly, on days when I go by myself, I skip the building altogether.  But when we go together, I always trail after her.

This is how we ended up with cabinet refinishers sitting in our dining room in mid-October.  Contract signed, cabinet fronts selected, countertop material chosen, knobs and pulls picked out.  The original date they suggested was the first week of December.  I pushed it to January – between our Hawaii adventure, the Great Gift Exchange and the holidays, I couldn’t face having no kitchen during any of those times.

All the time we waited and made preparations, I was anxious.  Seems like nobody has ever had a big home improvement project go smoothly.  When they said it would take a week, I expected it would take longer.  In fact, Occasional Caroline and I worked out that if the remodel didn’t go as planned, we would do Blevins at her place instead of mine.  I set up the plumber and the electrician for a week after the project was supposed to be finished.  Weird, anxiety-ridden dreams filled my nights for a week before they showed up.  And we can’t even get into how long it took to get everything out of my kitchen and breakfast room.  The photo above is the front porch… the dining room looked similar.  It took me 6 days.

Turns out this project was the exception to the rule.  Jake showed up on time every morning and was finished by 10 a.m. on Friday.  4½ days.  No surprises, no unexpected issues.  Of course since my anxiety had scheduled the plumber so far out, I had a great looking kitchen but no water.  And no point in moving the fridge back until there was water.  Luckily I was able to reschedule the plumber for Saturday morning and the electrician is coming this morning.  (Electrician is just to provide better wiring for the hood over the stove.)

I’ve started putting everything back – I expect to be all done in the next day or so.  It still seems unreal to me that all my low-level worry came to naught.  Of course, I’ve been to the hardware store seven times now for this 4½ day project (s hooks, little can of white paint, contact paper, electric face plate, wire, cleaning stuff, etc.)  

When was your last pleasant surprise?