All posts by verily sherrilee

Directionally challenged, crafty, reading mother of young adult

Llama Llama Ding Dong

Llamas are “in” – they have been for a couple of years.  Lots of llama t-shirts, mugs, posters, pins, rubber stamps – you name it, you can find it these days.  I even bought a little stuffed llama when I was in Peru; it seemed the thing to do.

YA came to me three weeks ago after finding a local llama “petting farm” in Waconia (she found it on TikTok).  For a fee (relatively small in my estimation), you could pet llamas, feed llamas and even take a trail walk with a llama.  With nothing else on our horizon, we figured why not. It’s apparently quite popular so it took a couple of weeks between contacting them and getting a reservation.  We headed out on Wednesday, the farm being about 30 minutes from our house.

First there was a “llama lesson” with interesting facts about llamas as well as how to tell a llama from an alpaca.  There was another mother/daughter scheduled during our time slot, but they had shown up early; YA and got the llama guy all to ourselves.  This was fabulous because I could indulge myself by asking as many questions as I wanted.  Usually when there are stranger involved, I hold back (go ahead, laugh).  We also brought a bag of baby carrots.  Some of the llamas thought this was wonderful, some of them didn’t.  My llama (Pacesetter) was extremely leery of the carrots, but YA’s llama (Mocha) couldn’t get enough. 

The trail walk was about 20 minutes – without the snow, it would be faster, but the llamas weren’t in a hurry and it was just the four of us (YA, me, Pacesetter and Mocha) so we didn’t have to worry about keeping up with anyone else (or hold anyone else back).   We were there altogether about 90 minutes and the llama guy said we should come back in early May when there are baby llamas (crias) for petting and photo ops.  We came right home and emailed them for that reservation!

When was the last time you visited a zoo/petting farm?

Inauguration Poetry

I’m not an inauguration kind of person.  I know they happen, but political speeches just don’t do it for me.  Even on a day when I was particularly glad that a certain inauguration was happening, I just didn’t want to watch.  Except for the poetry.  I can’t put the whole poem here (copyright issues) but I like this part quite a bit:

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:

That even as we grieved, we grew

That even as we hurt, we hoped

That even as we tired, we tried

I was surprised to discover that only four presidents have included poetry at their inaugurations: JFK, Clinton, Obama and now Biden (Carter had a poem but it was read at the gala not the swearing-in ceremony).   It will be interesting to see if the other party eventually decides to add poetry to their inauguration traditions.

While I’m happy about events this week, I admit I am still shaken by what the last four years has unearthed and disgorged in our nation.  So here is my haiku for the inauguration:

Breathing easier –

But still worried about us,

Too many crazies.

Any poetry speaking to you this week?  Yours or anybody else’s?

Snowboarding

YA went snowboarding last weekend.  I knew that she had a snowboard; her ex was a serious snowboarder, although as far as I know, she only went boarding with him a couple of times.   But I was surprised by the amount of equipment she actually owns: board, boots, ski pants, helmet and some serious goggles.  I took a photo of it all that she had laid out on the dining room table before she left.  I was afraid to ask her how much cash she had sunk into this equipment.  She mentioned before she left that the lift ticket for the day would be $34.  Opinions were kept to self but it seems to me that this is an expensive sport. 

As I thought about it, there are plenty of hidden costs to most sports.  When YA was younger, her gymnastics was a big money suck.  Monthly team fees, individual meet fees, leotards and the inevitable “stuff” available for sale at every meet.  When she tried out for dance team, the price tag for everything was unbelievable; I had to tell her that I couldn’t afford both dance team and gymnastics.  Diving wasn’t quite as bad but the team swimsuit was $97.  Yowza.  Luckily for my pocketbook, she decided she didn’t like the 5 a.m. practice time before we had taken the tags off the suit. 

Swimming wasn’t too bad, although you always had to pay for pool time, either lessons at the Y or seasonal fees at local pools.  Rollerblading wasn’t too bad, as long as you didn’t want to blade during bad weather/winter – then again, fees for the rink or the rollerdome (as it was called).  Same for tennis; if you don’t mind mediocre courts and waiting times, once you pony up for a racquet and some tennis balls, you can play free in the parks.  Winter play costs money for indoor courts. 

In thinking about it, I guess running is about the cheapest of the sports – the only real expense seems to be the shoes, unless you feel the need to have gadgets for playing music or keeping track of your distance/heart rate, etc.  

Tell me about your sport of choice.  Do you participate or just watch?  How do you keep the costs down?

Grandma’s diaries

Today’s post comes to us from Ben

My grandmother, Lillie (Betz) Eggler, kept a daily diary from the mid 1950’s – about 1987. The small 3×5 book that allowed 1 page per day.   I didn’t know about these until this past summer when my oldest sister mentioned that she had them all. Grandma died in 1990.

It’s been really fun to read about ourselves or the cousins. Seems like every time a grandchild was sick, they went to Grandma’s house. The weather might be terrible but that didn’t stop them from going somewhere; she’d write how bad the roads were, yet she still went to Mothers and Daughters club. Or drove 60 miles to visit her brother. It’s given my siblings and I a lot of things to talk about.

Grandma wrote that she went to a 4H softball game where my brother pitched. He won. The Siblings talked about a club that was our club’s nemesis and their coach. I talked about knowing the coach in later years through farming activities. Part of what is so interesting is that she was still in this area; I know many of the people or places she’s talking about.

Grandma wrote about changes at the farms: Joe and June (my parents) are having a silo built. Who is combining corn or who is planting. She writes about the weather and going over to stay with a friend who had surgery.

On October 27th, 1970 She wrote about June and Joe driving to Menominee to celebrate their 22nd wedding anniversary. My oldest sister, Ellen, was at Stout University Menominee for college. That sort of blew my mind. Twenty-two years! Five Kids! One in College!! Grandma and Grandpa (Victor) were also married on October 27th, 1920. 1920!!  Grandma writes it would have been 50 years for them. Grandpa died in 1963. (My brother and his wife also married on October 27th, 1979.) But, I just can’t get over mom and dad at 22 years! So Young!  

There’s a lot about taking off or putting on the storm windows.  There’s a lot about car repairs, washing clothes, or going to the doctor. I learned that bad lower front teeth were a family trait. That explains a lot; Her, mom, me; those lower front ones have always been a problem. A lot about the weather and things in the national news: Earthquakes. Vietnam, Apollo missions. 

Sometimes Grandma wrote about things she was canning, freezing, or cooking. She made a lot of jams, buns, watermelon rind pickles, or fried mini dragons. My mom doesn’t remember a lot of this stuff. And it was 50+ years ago so I don’t blame her.  I had to look up watermelon rind pickles; never heard of them before. Fried mini dragons? Anybody? No one in my family knows what they are. Anyone still making watermelon rind pickles? I was a good baby. My brother was “busy”.

I wrote about Grandma and her car in a post back in July of 2011.

https://trailbaboon.com/2011/07/19/handing-down-a-decent-car/

I also have a 5-year diary from 1926-1930 from Kelly’s Uncles mother. It’s just a sentence per day. Lots of household chores, car repairs, and what they did for entertainment that day. She saw Louie Armstrong in concert one night. Pretty cool.

Do you keep a diary? Have you ever?

At Her Wit’s End

I was “that” mom – the one who threw the overdone birthday parties for her kid.  Themes, arts & crafts, fun food, take-home bags.  My theory was that I would only have a short window for this kind of silliness because as soon as Child hit 11 or 12, she wouldn’t stand for it any longer.  I was correct.

Fast forward all these years and I’m still having trouble letting it go.  YA hits 26 tomorrow and maybe it’s the pandemic and shelter-in-place talking, but I clearly want to celebrate more than she does.  After quite a bit of prompting I got her to “allow” Peanut Butter Rice Krispy Bars; I got sprinkles and a little decorating icing to pipe “Happy Birthday” on the bars once they’re done.  I also told her I would order take-out – she hasn’t decided what she would like.  I have a gift all wrapped up and I couldn’t help myself; I made a nice banner (photo above) to hang in the dining room archway along with two balloons (a big “2” and “6”).  I’m pretty sure this is all she’ll stand for but I’m looking forward to it.

Are you trying anybody’s patience these days?

It’s a Mystery

You all know that I turn the tv on for background and comfort; I rarely watch anything “new”.  In the last few weeks, I’ve turned even more to my oldies but goodies.  Not sure if it’s the weather or the holidays being over or even 2021 being a buzz-kill for the time being.

So I’ve been happy that a couple of movies that I really like have been available on demand through my cable company.  The World of Henry Orient is one and two old Agatha Christie’s as well: Death on the Nile and Evil Under the Sun.  Knowing that these won’t be around forever on demand, I’ve been watching them quite a bit, as if I can fill myself up with them before they’re gone.  Yesterday, I not only watched all three of these while I was working in my studio, I followed them up by watching Murder on the Orient Express (the old one), which I actually own.  I love Agatha Christie, although she breaks one of my “rules”; she almost always leaves out one or two necessary clues for the reader to figure out the mystery. 

YA came into my studio while Death on the Nile was playing and she commented that I should know the whole movie by heart by now.  She might be right – I can do most of the dialog right along with the actors.  One of my favorite scenes contains this bit:

  • Hercule Poirot: Do not allow evil into your heart, it will make a home there.
  • Jacqueline de Bellfort:  If love can’t live there, evil will do just as well.

So melodramatic – I love it.  I’ve searched for a couple other Agatha Christie movies with the library – can’t wait for those either. 

Tell me a movie you’ve watched more than once.  Way more than once??

Fumes

My father didn’t cook.  I can’t even recall him ever making a sandwich, much less cooking.  He did chop the onions and celery for stuffing on Thanksgiving (the only time I ever saw him chop anything) and late in life he did start making bouillabaisse occasionally – a dish with which my mother resolutely refused to be associated. 

Of course, being a middle-class American male, he did the outdoor grilling (although my mother prepared anything that was going on the grill).  I can still envision my father dousing the coals, lighting the match and flinging it from as far as he could manage.  The grill would practically explode in flames; my father used gasoline, not lighter fluid to start the fire.  I didn’t even know there was such a thing as lighter fluid until I was an adult out on my own.

You’d think that having watched my father blow up the grill on a regular basis growing up that I would have a good sense of the power of gasoline.  Three weeks ago, after the last measurable snow, I got my snowblower out for the first time this winter.  It was given to me by a neighbor who moved to Chicago; he left his gas can to me as well.  As I was adding gas to the machine I noticed that the spout had sprung a leak and to keep the gas from running all over, I held the spout together with my gloved hand.  Since my glove was now wet with gas, I pulled a second glove from my pocket and pulled it on over the first.

When I got all done and went inside, I pulled off the gloves along with all my now-sweaty clothing and threw it all in the washing machine with a few other dirty items from my hamper.  Now some of you are probably already shaking your head, but I was still clueless until I opened the washing machine later to the overpowering small of gas.   If I had known I was about to do something stupid, it would have been easy to find online advice about gas on clothing.  But since I hadn’t known, now I had a washing machine full of gas fume-filled clothing.

It took me a full week and at least six washings (some with just vinegar and water, some with detergent) before I was willing to put the clothes in the dryer and even then I ran the dryer on air dry for over an hour.  Now that it’s been a couple of weeks, I’ve lost track of what clothes were in that load but I’m still feeling compelled to smell things as they come out of the washer.  (Oh, and I threw the gloves away when I realized what I had done.)

Done anything foolish recently that could have been avoided with a bit of advice?

Cleaning

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

Kelly and I both took some time off over the holidays and we both had things, “projects”, we wanted to do. Kelly aspires higher than me and she wanted to paint a room or something. I always think that sounds like a lot of work.  

I had two plans: 1) Clean the refrigerator. 2) Clean off the counter in the mudroom.

I did actually manage to get them both done. On Sunday. Before going back to work on January 4th. I laughed at myself that I had to wait until the last minute to get them done.

Neither job was hard of course. Not like painting the living room or anything.

The fridge wasn’t terrible: there was the usual crud on the back of the shelves and bits stuck in the edges. Is there a good way to clean a fridge? The warm water turns cold so quick. The glass shelves scare me a bit because I’m always afraid I’ll knock it off the counter or drop it in the sink. And I didn’t want to take EVERYTHING out at once; I cleared one shelf, then shifted things around as I cleaned and replaced things. I used the vacuum for the crumbs.

Once done it looked very nice and I didn’t even redo the shelves or anything, just put it all back just like it was. I think the layout works well.

The mudroom counter, just the one side, had turned into a catch-all. It wasn’t hard to decide what to throw and what to take out to the shop and what to keep. Then moved that bit, cleaned and scrubbed the counter. Good to have that done too. Easier to keep it clean in the first place, but oh so easy to just set stuff down too. Any horizontal surface turns into a catch all if we’re not careful.

What’s your next quick little project?

The Bookmark

I have never spent much time thinking about who has read a book before I have.  Every now and then I get a book from the library that is old enough that it still has the check-out card in the little pocket in the back and I love to see the dates on the card, but even that only suggests when it might have been read prior to computerization. 

Last week I found a bookmark (photo above) in a book from the library, left by the prior reader.  It’s not a store-bought bookmark, but a little piece of artwork that some parent (probably) grabbed when they need to mark their place.  This resonates with me because I often use a folded post-it note, an old receipt or even a piece of used envelope when the need arises, although I do have massive numbers of official bookmarks.  When I was working in the bookstore, publishers often sent bookmarks and I always grabbed one.  If I found a bookmark when I was traveling, I always picked it up.  And, of course, I make bookmarks, often as gifts, but I always make one for myself any time I do that.  But you know how it goes; if you are downstairs when you get to a good stopping point, you’re not going to go upstairs just to find a bookmark!

This particular bookmark looks to belong to someone who works in a financial advice company and is the parent to a four- or five-year old.  The book that I found it in was How to Fly in Ten Thousand Lessons by Barbara Kingsolver, so clearly a poetry lover and someone who prefers library books to purchased books this year.  But in my fantasy world I’d love to think that the last person who picked up this book was Shirley Jackson.  I just finished her book Life Among the Savages and she mentions reading several times.  She had four kids and I can imagine her grabbing a scrap of kids’ scribbling when she needed to put down a book.

What was the last book you finished?  Who would YOU like to have read it right before you? 

Puzzle Math

YA and I decided in November that maybe we should take up jigsaw puzzles now that the weather had turned cold.  In the past, jigsaw puzzles have driven us both a little crazy; we have to worry about the kitty messing with the puzzles, neither of us had a lot of extra time and we both can get a little obsessive occasionally.  But thanks to sheltering-in-place and neither of us working, we don’t have the same objections that we used to (except the kitty).  We did a Ukrainian egg puzzle in November – took us about 5 hours, both of us working on it the whole time.

Right after Solstice, we pulled a puzzle down from the attic.  It’s a 1000 piecer and it’s a doozy – no straight edges and lots of little pictures within the main puzzle.  We’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks and we still haven’t been able to identify all of the outer edges.  YA is particularly good at seeing the design of a particular piece and figuring out where it goes.  I’m better at identifying pieces by shape.  But this puzzle is currently getting the better of both of us although we haven’t given up yet.

In our prior life, having a puzzle on the table in the living room this long would have made me crazy and I am having to fight this feeling.  So much so that I decided to try to figure out how long it will take us to finish this one.  We’ve done about 350 pieces so far.  I’m assuming the tipping point (the point at which you’ve done enough of the puzzle that the pieces start going together more easily) will be between 650 and 700 pieces.  Right now we are going pathetically slowly; we averaging about 10 pieces a day (if we both spend a bit of time on it – it’s really hard to keep at it at this point).  So, taking into account the eventual tipping point and days when we ignore it entirely, I figure it will take us another 45-50 days to finish.  It could be spring before we are done with this thing!

When was the last time you had to do math?  In your head, on paper or using a calculator (or Excel)?