Category Archives: 2020

The Yellow Box

Several years back, Teenager wanted to take a jewelry class at a local bead shop.  We took the class together and it was fun.  Part of the cost of the class included a couple of tools and, of course, we purchased some more items afterwards.  For a couple of years, I did the occasional bracelet or earrings; the craft didn’t catch on with Teenager.  I put the tools and assorted wires and beads into a yellow tool box and eventually drifted away from beading.

In May, I found a jewelry kit on sale online from a company I knew; since I was officially looking for ways to fill time during shelter-in-place, I purchased it.  Most of the items I needed were in the kit but I did need one of my tools to adjust the bracelet size.  The yellow tool box was not in the first place I looked.  Or the second.  Or the third.  I spent quite a bit of time over the course of a week, looking and re-looking in what seemed like natural spots and then the unnatural spots.  I’ve done a lot of tossing/donating the last couple of years but I was SURE I would remember if I had gotten rid of the toolbox.  And I couldn’t imagine that I would do that either.  Eventually I gave up, assuming I’d gotten rid of the box, and re-purchased the tool I needed.

Last week, I decided to do some organizing and cleaning in the attic; when I had brought the holiday decorations down, I had promised myself I would do this before the boxes when back up.  YA came up to help me and we ended up really clearing out some stuff and generating a large bag of trash.  At one point I was putting a plastic bin away and realized I didn’t know what was in it.  You know where this is going, right?  As we dug through the box, we found items from last year’s stocking gifts (which I had vaguely missed) and…. drum roll please… the yellow tool box!  Because it was inside the bin, when I had searched the attic in May, I hadn’t seen it.

I can envision how everything else in that plastic bin ended up there, based on my normal habits, but I have no clue how that yellow box ended up there.  Nothing in the box was irreplaceable but I’m happy to have found it, if only because it means I’m not crazy!

Anything you’re still looking for?  Do you have trouble finding things you’ve “put away for safe keeping”?

Tree Trouble

For my entire life, I have put away the holiday decorations on New Year’s Day.  This season I felt like I wanted to jump the gun and it took me a bit to realize that New Year’s has always been a day off.  This year with pandemic and furlough, every day is a day off.  So we decided to put everything away a couple of days earlier than usual. 

We both like a live tree.  But even with constant watering, six weeks (plus whatever amount of time between cutting and the Bachman’s lot) is just too long for a tree to stay supple and resilient.  Taking the lights off always means a mess, especially since I like to “bury” the lights, but as should have been expected for 2020, it was much messier than usual this year.  In addition to the little sprigs of greenery all over the floor, after I took the tree to the curb, the front porch, front steps and front sidewalk were covered with the tree detritus.

Broom, dust bin, trash bag and vacuum just to get started.  Then, of course, dusting is needed on all the horizontal surfaces that have been covered with assorted holiday décor.  Everything is now all put away and cleaned up; the living room and dining room seem empty, sort of naked. 

I wish that cleaning up the holiday was a great metaphor for the coming new year.  While I’m hoping for the 2020 dumpster fire will be extinguished, I think it will take longer than we would all wish for.  In the meantime, at least the house is clean.

Live tree or artificial?  When do you like to put the holiday decorations away? 

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

The only South Dakota news I noticed Saturday in the Fargo Forum was an article about a woman cracking open an egg that had four yolks.  Well, it is  1 in 11,000,000,000 occurrence, but I still imagine there is a lot more going on South Dakota than that. Plus, it is such a stereotypically Midwestern, rural story.

I have become a real news junkie over the past four years, mainly out of anxiety.  I do so look forward to the future when news might become more dull.

What sort of beat would you want to cover if you were a reporter?  What print media do you like to read?

Mules

Last summer (not this past summer), YA and I had dinner with friends at their apartment in Uptown; they served us Moscow Mules.  I enjoyed them quite a bit, in fact YA drove home! 

YA must have remembered that night as she gave me a set of copper cups for Solstice.  It’s a pretty set and includes a shot glass (which is good, since I didn’t have one) and little copper straws and even some coasters.  I made a stop at the liquor store the next morning for ginger beer and vodka.  Turns out I needed some vodka lessons.  I ended up choosing a local brand – chosen mostly because I liked the label – but the gal at the store said it was a good brand, and good value for the price!  Then I stopped at Kowalskis for limes. 

I haven’t actually made a Moscow Mule yet – I have one more day of my wine advent calendar.  The idea of wine and then vodka on the same day doesn’t seem like the best idea.  Although the more I think about it, 2020 has been a year that cries out for all kinds of alcoholic consumption!

Do you have a favorite cocktail?  Beverage?  Have you been indulging more this year?

Comfort Ye

Husband announced the other day that he considers Gjetost to be a comfort food. I have never considered it to be so, but he was really happy when he found some at the store earlier this month.  It is too sweet and chalky for my tastes.

This is a year that has screamed a need for comfort. It has been hard to find at times over the past ten months.  I think the worst day in memory was yesterday, as we anxiously waited to see if Daughter’s plane left Denver with her on it.  We hadn’t seen her for a year.  Her flight into Bismarck on Tuesday was cancelled, and she couldn’t get a flight home until Christmas Eve. She had an excellent  time with her grandmother. though, which was a comfort to both of them.

I was so worried all day yesterday.  I tried to distract myself with music. The King’s College Lessons and Carols service was a good start, but it was a really long day. I made some soup, cleaned the kitchen, played solitaire, did laundry, and wrapped some presents, all with a horrid sense of dread and apprehension.  Our cat must have sensed my distress, as she stayed unusually close by me all day.

The only thing that would provide comfort for me was to hear that she was boarding her plane, and then to give her a big hug (but not, she insisted, until she showered to get the Covid germs off her). She was texting us  in caps as she waited for the plane to take off.

What foods, books, music, people, places, activities, or  other things give you comfort these days?

A Little Diversion: The Queen’s Gift

Today’s post comes from Barbara from Rivertown:

Drawing on our recent discussion of what it’s like to be Royal, I wonder if part of the fun might be owning stuff no one else owns, and having the power to give things away if one was so inclined.

I happened on this article listing 31 unexpected things owned by HRH Queen Elizabeth II.

They are as follows:

1. All the swans on the River Thames

2. A pair of corgis

3. All the Dolphins in the United Kingdom

4. Nearly all of London’s Regent Street

5. Half of the UK’s shoreline

6. Six royal residences

7. More than 200 Launer handbags

8. A private ATM

9. The best seat in the house at Wimbledon

10. The Tower of London

11. 150,000 works of art (many of them priceless)

12. Queen Victoria’s Sketchbook

13. A winning team of race horses

14. A car collection worth more than $10 million

15. A tiara covered in 1333 diamonds

16. A massive Faberge Collection

17. Westminster Abbey

18. Hyde Park  [et al.]

19. A Gold Record

20. A bat colony

21. The world’s largest clear-cut diamond

22. Three Crown Dependencies

23. An Aberdeen Angus Cow

24. Two tortoises from the Seychelles

25. Her own flag

26. Four Guinness World Records

27. A bold Blue Peter badge

28. The British seabed

29. An offshore wind farm

30. The UK’s Continental Shelf

31. All of Scotland’s gold mines

32. 25,000 Acres of forest

33. Trafalgar Square

34. Queen Victoria’s wedding dress

35. Henry VIII’s armor

36. Queen Elizabeth II’s own tartan

37. Millions of square feet of retail space

38. A baptismal font

39. A national collection of Mulberries

The game is:  

The Queen has decided it’s time to “lighten up”, and will give each of you one  (or more) of these gifts.

Which of these items would you most like to have?

Temper, Temper

I am rather chagined to admit I had two tantrums at work this week. They involved cussing and slamming doors.  I am considered a pretty calm person at work, so the times when Dr. B,  as I am known  there,  loses her temper,  are alarming to my coworkers. I need to apologize.

There have been continuous changes at my work over the past two years in all aspects of what we do to  provide mental health services.  Covid has accelerated technological changes that were on the State back burner.  This has resulted in less than smooth rollouts of new technology.  This week, our telephones were decommissioned and replaced with a system tied to Microsoft Teams, so that we can only receive and make phone calls through our computers via head phones . The State IT department is pretty poor about communicating exactly how to set these things up.  “Just read the email and follow the instructions.”  Sometimes, that just doesn’t work! Don’t get me started on how absurd and vague were the instructions on how to set up e911  on my computer! Well, this leads to frustration, hence my tantrum. They are lucky I didn’t throw my phone through my office window.

I have had to engage in new technology to an extent I could never had imagined a year ago. I can’t wait for this all to be over.

What new technology have you used this year?  How has the pandemic changed your interface with technology? What have you done via technology or in other respects in the past ten months that you could never had dreamed of?

Lighting the Night

I’ve always loved lights at this time of year.  When I was a kid, my family always drove around during this time of year and admired other folks holidays lights.  (We used to leave little notes of thanks in people’s mailboxes if we really enjoyed their lights.)

For a few years Child and I always visited the Minnesota Zoo in December for their “Bright Lights Winter Nights” festivities.  All around the zoo lake and paths close to the zoo buildings, there were lots of lights, mostly in shapes of various zoo animals.  Walking around seeing the lights on crisp winter nights was almost magical.  Inside there were usually crafts and hot chocolate.  You didn’t actually see any real animals, but it was still a great holiday treat.  After four years, they quit doing it – when I called the zoo they said that it cost more to put on the show than they brought in.  Sigh.

When I got the email in November about a light show at the zoo, I knew not to get my hopes up… there was no way they were going to replicate Bright Lights during pandemic.  The light show is called “Nature Illuminated” and is a drive-through event running through mid-January. 

YA and I are zoo members, so we were able to sign up for the first week of members-only viewing.  There was a per-car charge that I might normally balk at, but since there weren’t any other holidays festivities on the horizon, I coughed it up.  We got to the zoo at the appointed time and got our car in line.  There was an audio tour available online – luckily I had YA to get that going.  The tour took about 25 minutes with lots of over-sized inflatables, fabulously lit up.  The audio was pretty good too, although there were a couple of “commercials” that I could have done without – especially since we’re already members.  I thought it was interesting that not all the illuminated animals are represented at the Minnesota Zoo – but I’m not complaining about seeing polar bears!

It was nice – not nearly as much fun as I remember the old light show, but without any other concerts, parties or gatherings this 2020 holidays season, it will probably be the most fun activity we do outside the house!!

What have you adapted for the holidays this year?

Legal Eagles

I read with relief and joy the Friday decision of the Supreme  Court to dismiss the Texas suit to invalidate Biden’s win.  I know the suit was doomed from its inception,  but a person worries about these things (or at least I do).

I don’t have any lawyers in my immediate family,  although my paternal grandfather had two uncles and a cousin who were lawyers and judges.  I have always enjoyed  court room dramas, and I sometimes enjoy doing expert witness testimony in real life. It is interesting to see the games and maneuvers that occur to settle things.

I suppose that Gregory  Peck’s portrayal of Atticus Finch is the most wonderful exemplar of a good attorney.  I have fortunately not needed much personal legal help aside from wills and such.

What are your favorite court room dramas?  What are your experiences  in court and with lawyers? 

What Kind of Cookie aRE yOU

YA and I had decided that we didn’t need to make as many cookie varieties this year; although we are still putting together cookie trays (vet, library, hardware guys, milkman, boss), we don’t have all the parties/functions to which we normally take cookies.  We made our list and then the next day, YA said “what about speculaas?”.  Then I found the recipe that Edith had given me for lemon lavender shortbread.  Before we knew it, we were up to 13 on the list and we couldn’t compromise on what to take off, so 13 is it! (Anna’s M&M, White Chocolate Macadamia, Lemon Lavender Shortbread, PB/Chocolate Fudge w/ Heath Bar, Frosted Sugar, PB Blossoms, Speculaas, Gingerbread Raspberry Thumbprints, Mint Surprise, Cream Cheese Snickerdoodle, Milk Chocolate Fudge, Pecan Meltaways, Ting-a-Lings)

I always do the frosted sugar cookies last because it’s quite a production – double recipe, lots of cookie cutter options, frosting, sprinkles….  The last few years I’ve had to do these all by myself but this YA volunteered to help with the decorating.  The photo above is the disaster area we created!

As I was relaxing afterwards, I found a Christmas Cookie quiz online – one of those things that I normally ignore, but since I could still smell all the sugar on myself, I threw caution to the wind.  Turns out that based on just 5 questions, I am Gingerbread – fond of my traditions and a little old-fashioned.  I didn’t make straigh-up gingerbread this year, and it’s not even my favorite, but I guess I can live with this categorization.

You have to pick a cookie to represent yourself.  What will it be?