All posts by verily sherrilee

Directionally challenged, crafty, reading mother of young adult

Groutfit

On Monday YA ran an errand over lunch.   It was a short errand, so I decided to just go out in my work-from-home clothing.  Gray sweatpants and t-shirt.  At the last minute decided to throw on a sweatshirt; I have a new one that is gray with a blue-tone logo. 

YA didn’t say anything while we were out, however when we got home she said “you’re wearing a groutfit”.  Normally everything about my sartorial choices is met with YA’s disdain.  I assumed she was making the word up, a combination of grungy and outfit.  She said that it was a real word although she did not define it.

I looked it up later to see if she was just messing with me and it turns out it is a combination of gray and outfit.  And surprise surprise, apparently it is considered a chic casual trend.  You can find lots of groufit shopping opportunities online.  One of the funniest things I found was this quote:  “Dress it up with fun shoes and jewelry, or lean into groufit territory hard with some gray legging or dozy socks.”

Of course, as I think about it, I’m sure YA was just suggesting that I was all in gray, not that I was looking particularly chic!

Have you ever been accidentally trendy?

Ouch!

Today’s post comes to us from Steve.

Accidents are part of life, and kids are especially likely to take risks or do dumb things that result in injuries. One of my sister’s sons was a wild child who lit fires, jumped off garages, climbed trees, explored dangerous caves, ascended water towers and did other unsafe things. As an experiment, he once bit a wire attached to a lamp, a lamp that was plugged in. Electricity burned a hole in his tongue, sending him to a doctor’s office.

Apart from my one wild nephew, kids in my family have been remarkably prudent and accident-free. My daughter had only two accidents of note. Well, she had three if you count the time a dog bit her, but I blame the dog for that one. That accident had an unanticipated benefit. My daughter had struggled to remember which was her right and which was her left hand. After the bite she knew that her right was her “dog-bite hand,” and never again was confused about left and right.

My grandson is a good example of a kid who is naturally cautious. One afternoon he was walking with scissors in my apartment. My daughter reflexively said, “Be careful Liam!” He wasn’t running, and didn’t appreciate being cautioned. In a quiet voice, Liam responded, “When have you ever seen me not being careful?” I thought that was a nice sentence from someone who was six.

I must have had that same natural caution, for I had very few accidents in spite of living what would now be regarded a risky childhood filled with BB guns, bicycles, bows and arrows, hunting knives and many firearms. While swinging on a very tall swing set at school I used to pump for speed and then “bail out” to sail through the air. In fact, all of the play equipment I used so recklessly as a child would be banned as too dangerous by today’s child safety experts. But I never broke a bone, suffered a concussion or had a cut serious enough to require stitches.

The one exception was when my buddy Mike shot an arrow into me. When I was fourteen I discovered a dump that was heavily infested with rats. The dump, as was true of all such places at that time, was just an open hillside where garbage was strewn willy nilly on the surface. Of course, the place stank from rotting garbage. Plumes of rancid smoke wafted over the dump, making our clothing fragrant.

For reasons that escape me now, my friends and I spent many hours hunting the dump rats with bows and arrows. Although it was a pointless activity, it was challenging. The rats were smart and quick, and they rarely ventured anywhere in sight because they had a fantastic system of tunnels in the rubbish that let them travel unseen.

One day a young rat made the mistake of leaving the security of the tunnels, and it ended up running in little circles around my feet because it apparently didn’t remember where there was an opening to the tunnel complex. I always wore four-buckle black rubber boots for trips to the dump. With the rat running right around my feet I was hopping about in panic. My panic deepened when Mike came up with his bow at full draw—a bow powerful enough to hunt deer—and let loose an arrow. Mike was a superb athlete but somewhat excitable.

I’ll never forget the astonishment of looking at my foot. Mike’s arrow had gone through the boot, through the leather street shoe underneath and was now sticking up proudly like a little flag pole. I limped out of the dump and pulled off my footwear. The arrow had hit my big toe, but apart from that had done little damage.

Back home, I handled the wound the way any teenage boy would have: I kept quiet about the accident because I didn’t want my mother to explode with anxiety. But when I left for school the next day, my mother couldn’t fail to see I was limping, so she forced the story out of me. She was not mollified by my insistence that I was okay because “it was a new, clean arrow that had only been through one rat.”

Did you have childhood accidents? Have you had some close calls? Did you ever do things as a kid that you now know were stupidly risky? Do you remember any painful or unpleasant remedies for childhood mishaps?

Sold Out!

One of the types of programs that I have are called Warehouse Runs.  Winners come here to Minneapolis and run through our extensive merchandise warehouse.  There is a lot of energy around these programs and I love the participants who are all very excited and appreciative.

I always like to get donuts for the warehouse crew the morning of a run.  Having their work schedule and plans disrupted by all the festivities can’t be fun for the warehouse workers so I like to reward them a little bit for their hard work. Yesterday morning was the first in two years that I’ve been down to the donut bakery I like in Bloomington; it’s an old-fashioned kind of shop with all the old favorites and nothing pretentious.  After I picked up the donut order and was leaving the little shop, I noticed that the back of the “Open” sign didn’t say “Closed” – it now says “Sold Out – See You Tomorrow!”

It was a nice change to see that a little local business is not only surviving but apparently thriving.  It must be quite satisfying to be selling out so often that they can rely on a sold out sign.  I’m having to find a new lunch caterer for my warehouse programs since the previous caterer (who was excellent) wasn’t able to hold on through pandemic.  Along with too many others.  So while I was happy to be supporting them again and that they are doing well, it was tinged with a little sadness for the other businesses that have suffered.

You can have your favorite donut or pastry this morning.  No cost, no travel and no calories.  What will you have?

Cold and Wet

Weather has taken a definite turn toward fall. We got 1.72” Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Been seeing geese formation flying South. Rochester used to be famous for the thousands of Canada Geese. Then a few years ago goose poop got a bad rap, and the power plant closed so Silver Lake froze over, and they planted the shorelines to weeds, I mean “Native Vegetation” (some call it weeds) and the gathering of geese is discouraged. So there’s a handful that hang around, but not the thousands there used to be.

I had other stuff to do all week (work), but I took time off Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning so I could work on putting the new gearbox on the brush mower.

I got it installed, pounded out a dent and welded a crack in the ‘big round thing’ (the stump jumper) that goes underneath, added oil to the gearbox, pulled it outside, and had it idle for 20 seconds and then there was a CLUNK and the whole thing started to wobble. I was out of time; I parked it back in the shed and walked away.

The next day neighbor Dave needed to use the tractor so before I unhooked the mower, I crawled underneath it once more and I think I just got the washers on the wrong side of the bolts holding the blades, so they aren’t loose enough to swing. Therefore, one blade is stuck ‘in’ and one ‘out’ and it’s out of  balance and it’s all wobbling. At least I hope that’s the issue. It looks like that’s really the only obvious issue.

As luck would have it, neighbors Craig and Darryl got our corn harvested Wednesday afternoon. I was busy all day and never got home to see them doing it. But that doesn’t matter; it’s done! The local co-op, where I have it taken, recently merged with another co-op and their website, which was pretty good, is even better! I can get information on the loads, minutes after they’re delivered! Other years I had to wait until it was all delivered, then call up there and have them look it up and give me all the details. Now I can see each load as it’s delivered and get all the details.

This photo shows the details of one load; Gross weight is the truck and corn, Tare is the weight of the truck, Net weight then is the actual corn. Converted to bushels (based on Test Weight) gives us gross units, then after taking into account moisture, damage, and foreign material gives us Net Units and that’s what we get paid for. Test weight is 60, which is really good because the standard for corn is 56. They need the moisture to be 15% to store long term and I pay drying costs for anything over that. The fact it’s 15.5% is really amazing! Most years it’s anywhere from 18% – 25% coming out of the field. The wetter, the more it costs to dry. This cost me $0.025 / bushel. And one load was even 14% so no drying costs. Plus price is really pretty good this year! Somewhere around $5 / bushel. It’s been $3 / the last several years. And the corn was wet so I was lucky to get $2.50 / bushel to take home.

Considering the low stand population this spring, the hot weather, the dry weather, and I really didn’t expect much of a yield. Turns out it was about average. Which is really surprising all things considered. And raises some interesting questions: was it the lack of competition of plants that allowed me to get an average yield? If that’s the case, shouldn’t I plant at a lower population every year? What if this year had better weather? I should try it next year I suppose, but given the changes in the weather year to year it’s still hard to compare. But it sure is interesting! I even put some corn in storage at the elevator to sell next spring. Maybe price will be better? Course I’ll be paying about $0.30 / bushel / month for the co-op to store it so will the price go up enough to cover that? Either way it’s just some extra money in March.

It was starting to sprinkle Wednesday afternoon about 2:30. I got home about 4:30 and it was raining pretty steady. But that didn’t stop me getting the tractor out and hooking up the chisel plow and I got a couple fields worked up.

Bailey and I had some quality tractor time. You can see the rain in the headlights. There’s a lot of mud on the steps and frame. It’s not really that muddy on the tires because the cornstalks make so much surface trash it gives me traction. But it was getting pretty soft by the time I quit. Actually, I was surprised it went as well as it did. I hope I have time to get things washed up before it really gets cold. Last week I mentioned waiting for the co-op to do soil samples and apply lime. Still waiting on that and they didn’t want me to plow until that was done. Too bad, so sad. I will just wait to lime this ground until next year. I wanted these fields plowed up this fall because it’s low ground, because it could be wet come spring, and because conditions may not be suitable to plow this in the spring, I always like to get this worked up in the fall. The new LED lights I put on the tractor are awesome! I only switched half of them, I should do the other half next spring. When plowing cornstalks with a minimum till implement, we go diagonal to the rows. My Dad and Clyde could just follow the row with the moldboard plow, but with minimum till, we go about 30° across the rows.

Neighbors Dave and Parm hauled out their beef cows Thursday.

Yesterday Dave hauled in a bunch of fence panels and left a load of silage in the cow yard and got all the cows and calves locked in the yard Wednesday afternoon. Then Thursday it was pretty easy for the guys to get them locked over in one section, back the trailer in, and haul them out. Took four trips to get them all. See the chicken in this photo? She’s been laying eggs out in the pole barn. But this morning she wasn’t sure if she could get there. I went out later and found her spot in the bales in the back corner and collected 2 eggs. As the weather gets colder, one of us will get tired of making the trek out there.

I spent some time looking up custom farm rates. I’ll be settling up with the neighbors at the end of the year so I’m trying to find rates for baling small square bales and the price of round bales of oat straw. And rates for combining corn and soybeans and hauling. Generally those rates come from the Iowa Extension service. Maybe they’ll be helpful for some of you. tim.  

As always, ask if you have questions.What’s your favorite reference website? Have you looked for something that didn’t have a website yet?  

Jumping In

Al the discussion about gardening on Mars and The Martian by Andy Weir made me think.  If I were sure I could get back, would I want to try Mars?  And better yet, if I could beam to Mars and back, instead of spending more than a year on a spaceship each way, would I want to try Mars?  I might, since my biggest issue is the travel part.  And the getting home part.

By now, of course, I’m pretty far down Fantasy Road and I found myself thinking about whether I would want to change places with any other movie character, or tv character or character in a book. 

Again, part of my decision is based on the absolutely certainy that I am not putting my life in danger and I would be able to get back home.  Kinda like the holodeck in Star Trek where you just say “computer, end program” and the door to the ship’s hallways opens right up.

That being said, I can think of LOTS of characters I’d like to be for a week or so.  Scarlett O’Hara from Gone w/ the Wind, Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird, Ren-Marie from any of the Three Pines mysteries, Frodo from Lord of the Rings, Lawrence from any of the Temeraire stories (except Australia – that one stunk)…. I could go on and on.  Of course there are a lot of stories I prefer from a reading distance – pretty much anything during WWII and Vietnam, anything where the character is scared/threatened/blackmailed through the book or movie. Anything that is too gory or gruesome.  And if it’s a book I really didn’t like then I definitely don’t need to swap with those characters ever.

So what about you?  Any character you’d like to be for a week?

Stuck

The big news around here is all the airline disruption the last couple of weeks.  As if there aren’t enough problems with travel right now, getting stuck for hours (or days!) when you’re just trying to get home to your own bed is no fun at all.  One of my co-workers was on the way home and got stuck in Dallas.  And because so many other folks were likewise waylaid, he couldn’t find a hotel near the airport; getting too far from the airport wasn’t a good idea, as flights and flight times were changing minute by minute.  Two nights sleeping in DFW.  He wasn’t the only one, judging by the news.

I’ve had my fair share.  On my trip to Kenya, the flight from Minneapolis to New York was late; I ran and made the flight to Nairobi, but my bag didn’t.  It didn’t catch up with me until four days later so I was washing clothes out in the sink every night.  I slept in Chicago’s O’Hare once – similar to my co-worker, too far to get to an available hotel and then get back.  Once a flight I was on out of Madrid turned back because the door of the landing gear wouldn’t shut.  (Apparently the drag caused by that open door would have meant we didn’t have enough fuel to get to the U.S.)  The airline eventually put us up in a hotel near the airport.  It was the smallest hotel room I’ve ever been in – not much bigger than a shoebox.  I also got stuck overnight in Costa Rica when a flight cancelled.  That one was actually fun as I was traveling with my client, her husband and the account exec on the program.  We got hotel rooms, ordered pizza, watched some football; the only downside was the horrendous lines at the airport in the morning because the computer system didn’t want to have two flights with the same number on one day. 

Whenever I have issues traveling I think back to Hawaii by James Michener.  He describes in quite a bit of detail the ship that they sailed from Massachusetts, down around South America and on to Hawaii.  If I’m ever tempted to complain, I just compare what I’m going through to spending 2 months onboard a rolling ship with personal space smaller than that small hotel room in Madrid! 

What’s the worst place you’ve ever been stuck in?

Where No Ketchup Has Gone Before

“First came the billionaires, then the movie stars — now ketchup is making its mark on the space race.”  (CNN November 8, 2021)

At first glance, this seemed like a silly story – Heinz had made “Marz Edition” of their ketchup using tomatoes that were produced in a controlled environment similar to what plants could expect if they were growing up on the Red Planet.

But turns out this was a serious experiment by 14 astrobiologists as part of long-term food harvesting  strategy for NASA.  I guess astronauts and Mars pioneers need a little more than freeze-dried ice cream (which is awful, by the way) to get by.

The ketchup will not be available to the public but there will be a big taste test tomorrow – if you are Twittered or Instagramed, you can watch it at 10 a.m. ET.  For the rest of us, we’ll just have to dream.

If you have a couple of Martian acres, what would you want to grow (and would you want to garden in person or from a distance)? 

November

Today’s farm update is from Ben.

Here we are in November and my 1940’s station on SiriusXM radio has been replaced by Holiday Music! Bah! Harumph! For two months!! Grrrrr….

It’s been getting cold at night; mid 20’s. I drained all the hoses. Drained the outside faucet on the wellhouse, and moved the chicken’s water inside. Kelly helped me get the pressure washer into the wellhouse so that pump doesn’t freeze and I took some chemicals in the house. There are a few things in the shop I’ll take in the house before it starts getting serious cold. Things like ‘never sieze’, gasket cement, and the tire-ject’ stuff, stump killer, etc.

Last week I used a trailer and delivered straw to the neighbor’s strawberry farm. That night I noticed all the chickens water buckets were tipped over and their self-watering thing was off the base and tipped over and I thought what the heck happen here?? And then I saw the tracks. I pulled the trailer out, drove right over the top of all that stuff. Broke one bucket. Man o man… pay attention Ben.

Still no time for farming in my life. Open house at the theater on the 6th so finishing touches for that. Then opening a show in that space on 11/26 so a few more finishing touches for that. Called for final inspections by the city, electrical, and plumbing… one of those things I’m at their mercy and waiting for their phone call that says “Sometime in the next 30 minutes”, between 8 and 5.  But they’ve all been good people. No serious issues. Will be nice to have it done.

The neighbors have been bringing silage and round bales of hay for their beef cattle for the last month. I suspect they’ll be taking the cattle back home pretty soon here.

The other neighbors with the late planted soybeans are harvesting them this week. The beans were starting to mature and drop their leaves before it froze. It would appear they got a decent crop off them for late planted beans. They sure got lucky with the weather. And it sounds like they’ll be working on my corn next week. I had the co-op pulling some soil samples and I had asked for them to do “grid sampling” on a rented field. That got lost in translation somewhere and they just pulled a single sample from this 10 acre field. (Grid Sampling, is pulling more samples / field to be able to adjust fertilizer rates more precisely. Not something I can do, but something the co-op could do with their equipment) After a few phone calls, we decided to wait until the corn is off, grid sample the entire farm, then apply lime, if needed, to as much as I can afford to do this fall. (All the fertilizer and chemical prices are way up this fall from the spring. Supply Chain issues) They don’t want me to chisel plow the corn stubble until after lime is applied in order to have a smoother surface for the applicators to drive on. I certainly understand that… it just delays me doing fieldwork until they’re done and hopefully the weather still holds.

Fall fieldwork is always better than spring fieldwork. Even when it’s too muddy, as long as there’s enough traction and it doesn’t plug up, it doesn’t have to work up so well because after the freeze / thaw of winter, it will work up OK in the spring. But I don’t have tractors with tracks, or big enough tractors, that a little mud and a little slippery and I’m done. Then there’s the whole soil compaction issue of working wet soil, but again, maybe the freeze thaw prevents that. We have about 11 acres in a conservation reserve program (CRP – not to be confused with CPR) and planted to wildflowers. Been in the program 11 years now. It’s a 10 year program and Iast year I modified it and re-enrolled for another 10 years. It’s flat, rich, black soil, and makes real good crops. IF it’s dry enough to plant and harvest. Often it gets too wet. That’s why it qualified for CRP. And I have a couple corners that are rocky and surrounded by trees and the deer come out and eat it all. So, I’ve been leaving those bits idle the last few years. I am working to enroll that in CRP. That way I get a payment on the idle ground and it’s not just a net loss for me.

Duck update: All the critters are still around this week. Or at least, the ones I keep track of. Twenty brown ducks, 4 black and white, 4 cream colored, 6 Poofy. And I don’t know how many chickens… 40 or 50.  We’ve got these three roosters: The boss,

#2,

and the up and coming #3.

Boss and #2 are almost identical, except the boss doesn’t have any comb on his head. And #2 just has a little one. It’s interesting #3 is never far away from #1 as the photo shows. But if #2 shows up, The Boss chases him away. Evidently #3 is sucking up. Biding his time.

Kelly and I (and the dogs) took a 4 wheeler ride down in the woods one afternoon. It was a nice drive. Header photo is from there.

What kind of medical training do you have? Are you trained in CPR? How do you handle blood? What wakes you up in the morning?

Waiting for…..

My annual wine advent calendar adventure was Wednesday morning.  The experience was very similar to last year although I was #4 in line this year – one spot up from last year!  All of us in the first ten were in festive moods, there were multiple conversations about the advent calendars, where we were all from and there was also shared chocolate!

I had only shared with one co-worker what I was up to on my day off but she clearly blabbed because yesterday, when I was in the office, quite a few people asked me about my adventure and wanted to see pictures.  However curious they all were, everybody shook their heads and made comments on the unbelievable-ness/silliness of my endeavor.  There was one lone gal who said it sounded fun and maybe she could join me next year.  All others think I’m nuts.

Clearly there are plenty of folks who don’t think it’s too silly to sit out for 3 hours to get a wine advent calendar (the above photo was taken at 8:20 a.m.) but my co-workers aren’t among them. 

Any looney tune adventures for you lately? 

The Mighty Wurlitzer

Every now and then I am surprised by the new and different things I stumble upon.  I’ve lived in the Twin Cities since 1980 and while I would never presume to know all there is to know about Minneapolis/St. Paul, I like to think I’m in the know on a lot of what is here.

In August a friend/neighbor asked me to teach him how to make pesto.  Kind of a tempest in a teapot – a quick internet search will show you dozens of recipes and “how to” videos – but it wasn’t an imposition, so I went up and showed him how.  As a thank you he asked if I had ever been to the Heights Theatre and when I said “no”, he insisted that we go to one of their special shows.  Apparently every month they do a screening of a vintage movie on their big screen which is preceded by the playing of their “Mighty Wurlitzer”. 

The vintage movie on Monday night was Singin’ in the Rain.  My friend has been to the theatre many times, so bowing to his experience we sat in the front row, just off to the right.  It turns out that this is the best vantage point to watch the Wurlitzer player (and not a bad seat for the movie itself).  In addition, my friend knows everyone who works there, so I got a great tutorial about the organ from one of the engineers, including all kinds of photos of the pipes and instruments behind the scenes.  Suffice it to say I had no clue about how extensive a set-up a big Wurlitzer has.

I’ve never seen Singin in the Rain on the big screen and it was amazing. It made me a little sad to think about how thoroughly our society has taken to the small screen – phones, tv, ipads, laptops.  Even most movie theatres have cut down screen size to make room for more.  Made me think back to when I saw Star Trek: Wrath of Khan on the massive screen at the now-defunct Cooper.  The opening shot of stars and space took my breath away.  Even without the Wurlitzer experience, I may have to keep going to the Heights to enjoy films on a really big screen!

What’s the last thing you saw on a big screen?