Category Archives: 2021

Just a Splash

On an average day I drink one can of pop.  Every now and then two.  But caffeine makes me crazy and my stomach doesn’t like most of the white pops and, of course, I’m so used to the taste of diet pop that I don’t want the sugared ones.  That cuts down the field of possibilities quite a bit.

Unfortunately a pop that I really like is Cherry Diet Pepsi. A couple of years ago, I tried to wean myself off because of the caffeine and it was really hard.  Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi is OK but without that cherry, I just wasn’t won over.  Then I realized I could make my own CCFDP with just a little splash of grenadine.  Little bottle of grenadine in the cabinet, pop in boxes under the microwave and I’m set.

Then pandemic hit and those dreaded words “supply chain issues”.  Within a year, I was having to hunt around for my beloved CFDP.  Then I couldn’t find it at all, unless I wanted to pay five times the usual price online. No thanks.  I even emailed PepsiCo to get their take and, as I should have expected, they gave me a non-answer and a link that didn’t work.  SIGH.  I saw stories online about aluminum shortages and figured that CFDP was probably at the bottom of the pop totem pole when it came to handing out the aluminum. 

I kept one box of CFDP in the back corner (for emergencies?) and then I resorted to Caffeine Free Diet Coke.  It’s OK, but not quite what I like best.  For awhile every time I was in a grocery store (not as often as you would think, thanks to drive up delivery), I would wander down the pop aisle… nothing.  So imagine my surprise last week when I was actually in the Cub near my house and VOILA…. a little stock of CFDP.   I bought 4!  I don’t know if this will be the end of my pop woes, but this will keep me going for at least a month!

Tell me about a product that you miss.

Early February Farm

Today’s post comes from Ben.

Made it to February. I’ve been working on my farm bookwork and getting all the receipts entered. The farm expenses are the ones that matter. The household expenses don’t factor into taxes or anything (for the most part), it’s just keeping track. Gone through the report once to find all my finger slips and I still have to input all the electronic receipts and then I’ll double check it again. (I find it harder to keep track of, and record all the auto payments and things with electronic receipts.)

Ducks and chickens are good. I think we’ve almost made it through the worst of the cold for the winter. We sure have been filling the bird feeders a lot lately.

We have several angel figurines around the house. There is one I’m particular fond of. It’s just always given me comfort.

I’m not sure what it’s made of, I thought it was wood, until she got knocked over one day and her head broke into 3 pieces and it was almost like sand. But hollow too. I glued her back together and she was fine.

Recently, she got knocked over again and while her head pretty much shattered, the rest of the body and wings are fine. I still don’t get what she’s made of.

We were going to throw it out… but I hated seeing it in the garbage, so I retrieved her. I have  justification for this: “The head is what gets us in trouble; it’s the heart we need”. “It is only with that heart that one can see rightly”* And it reminded me of Joseph and the headless snow man that got dumped on a roadside one winter.

How can you just throw them out?? The snowman, yeah, I understand. But Joseph? Heathens, I tell you. We couldn’t just dump Joseph in the garbage. Even if the lightbulb in his back was burned out, he deserves better. I even talked with a minister friend of ours asking what the proper disposal was for religious figurines. (We had a good laugh over ‘pyres of fire’ and his thought was as long as the intent was pure, it was OK.)

Still, we saved Joseph; he moves around the yard and gets sunglasses or hats for the holidays when we can, and we talk to him often. He had some really nice sunglasses that made him look super awesome. (Blue sky sunglasses photo) Until my nephew realized those were his fancy expensive sunglasses he had lost the summer before. Joseph hasn’t looked as cool since.

Any figurines giving you comfort?

*Thank you Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and ‘The Little Prince’.

In Peril

I took some strategically placed personal days between Christmas and New Years; combined with the paid holidays from my company, I was off for eleven days straight.  It was a very low-key holiday with not much going on so it’s not surprising that I watched a lot of tv movies.

Diversity in movies isn’t high on my list of priorities but I did watch a bigger variety than usual, including several films that could be considered “thrillers” – Die Hard, Murder at 1600, Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom, North by Northwest, several Tarzan movies and pretty much every Japanese monster movie ever made. 

You wouldn’t think all of these movies would have much in common but you’d be wrong.  The one thing they all had in common was screaming/squealing female characters.  In scenes of danger or violence, the women all scream or squeal.  The men in these scenes?  Silent as the grave (except for the sound of fists smacking flesh).  Even in Murder at 1600, which has a very strong female lead (Diane Lane), in the two scenes which qualify, while she doesn’t scream, she makes grunts and exclamations while the male lead (Wesley Snipes) is silent.   I will admit that a couple of times Bruce Willis did grunt a bit in Die Hard but when you consider the near-mortal injuries he sustained, you’d think he’d make a bit more noise.

Having never been in any situation even remotely like the ones in these films, I don’t want to speculate as to whether or not I would be a screamer or a squealer.  However, based on the fact that language fit for a longshoreman regularly pops out of my mouth almost automatically when I drop something, spill something or even just stub my toe, I’m guessing I might be making noise of some kind!

Do you have any “Pavlovian” responses?

End of an Era

On Tuesday I had the last delivery from my milkman, Mike, as he is retiring.

I started dairy delivery 25 years ago.  YA’s beverage of choice back then was Yo-J, a Kemps product that I could not replicate (despite many attempts).  It seemed that I was always running up to the store for a carton of Yo-J (or milk or butter) and when you have a small toddler, running up to the store is not a lot of fun.  Dragging home cartons of Yo-J and milk wasn’t that much fun either.

YA eventually grew out of her Yo-J habit (right about the time that Kemps discontinued making it) but I had long since settled into having my dairy delivered.  In addition to milk and butter Mike delivered eggs, whipping cream, half and half, yogurt, waffles, cheese pizza, frozen cookie dough and a huge variety of Kemps ice creams; it was a long list of products. 

When Mike first mentioned his possible retirement to me (last summer), it made me a little sad.  I would, of course, miss him, but I would also miss the delivery; I didn’t really want to have to lug home more items than I currently shop for.  So I was happy to hear that Mike had sold his route to Joe, who apparently has a nearby “territory”.  When Mike made his last delivery, he dropped off Joe’s product list and schedule.  Unlike Mike, whose schedule for me was “Tuesday”, Joe has a time and a date – 3:45 a.m. Thursday.  Yes, you’re reading that correctly.

Well, I certainly can’t have Joe coming in on his own in the wee hours and putting my weekly purchases in the fridge; Guinevere will lose her mind.  And, since she sleeps on my bed, I’ll be up as well, and at 3:45 it’s likely I won’t fall back asleep.  I can put my cooler out front – that’s how Mike and I handled pandemic for well over a year, but I’m pretty sure that somebody coming up the front steps and depositing items in the cooler at 3:45 may rile up the dog as well.  I’ll be emailing Joe this week to discuss this and hopefully he can get us a better time slot.  Fingers crossed as I really don’t want to lose having a milk man.

Do you have a staple you don’t like to run out of?

Baking with Oma

We spent yesterday anxiously watching the weather and spending our last day with our grandson. Daughter in law made Spritz cookie dough, and grandson and I sprinkled them with colored sugars. We only had pastels, and no Christmas colors, but he certainly didn’t mind. The dog hung out under our stools and gobbled up what ever we dropped. A good time was had by all.

Grandson likes doing things with us. He is a champion builder and train operator, shaping his wooden train tracks into interesting shapes and making up stories about the train trip with himself as the conductor. Many books were read, especially “We’re going on a Bear Hunt” by Helen Oxenbury. It was read multiple times, and was a sure bet for getting him all revved up.

I had good experiences with both sets of my grandparents, and I feel very fortunate to have had them around into my adult years. I am grateful that our grandson isn’t allowed to watch much TV or videos, and is always eager to do things with us instead of sitting around, exhausting as it may be.

What do you remember about your grandparents or older adults in your life? What did you like to do with them? What do you like to do with small children? What are your favorite holiday cookies?

Christmas on the Farm

Today’s post comes from Ben.

It’s the Holiday season. And the season might last over several days; that’s how it works in our family. The immediate family Christmas, then Christmas with one side, then the other, and somewhere in there our family too.

Growing up, Christmas eve, we’d open presents after milking, then go to midnight service. I could never get out of the barn fast enough at night to open presents.

When we took over the farm, Christmas Eve was with Kelly’s family and we’d be the last ones there after milking.

But those nights in the barn, I clearly remember Christmas Eve being a special time down there. I tried to be extra nice to the girls; a little extra hay and a scratch on the head for each of them. The barn was a cozy place at night. It’s warm from the cow bodies, in fact we needed exhaust fans or it would get too humid from them breathing. So it was always a nice warm place in the barn. By the time I finished milking, got the equipment washed up and got them fed, most of them were laying down and they were comfortable, and it was just very nice.  

Walking to the house in the winter with the yardlight and all the usual noises of cattle or pumps running, was nice. It was just a good feeling.

All that taught me the animals should come first; it’s our responsibility to them.

I do my chicken chores first thing in the morning and it’s similar that there’s more chores in the winter than summer. Make sure they have water, break ice or get fresh as needed. Refill feeders. Bedding isn’t really an issue as it lasts a long time for chickens.

And once / week refill the bird feeders too. Do that before I get my breakfast.

With the cold temps, but no snow, the springs in the swamp are still running, it’s making an ice path that we can’t usually see.

A little too rough for skating, but interesting to see.

End of the year coming up fast. I’ll be recording mileage and hours on all the vehicles and tractors (Machinery goes by hours rather than miles. 10,000 hours is slightly used. Over 50,000 hours is well used.)

Time to update the farm balance sheet for the year too. I love this kind of thing; seeing the changes from year to year.

I’ve had my fill of Christmas music and I’m ready for the 1940’s station to come back to XM radio. My checkbook register is full too; I’ve had this register since November of 2017 and I’m not about to get a new one for the last couple days here. Whatever I have to do yet, I’ll wedge it on the page somehow.

Have you noticed in your own life what you do first? With my bad shoulder, putting a jacket on is an issue some days and I’ve noticed I put my hat on first. Which is a problem getting the jacket on then.

I do my left shoe first. Usually left sock first too, then right. It’s curious.

What do you do first in your routines?

Christmas Past and Present and Future

We are having a lovely time with family, and I must admit this is a pretty wonderful Christmas. Everyone is getting along, the food is good, we aren’t being driven and perfectionistic. We are taking naps.

Son reminded me of a Christmas when daughter was about 2 when we traveled to my parents in Luverne and we all promptly came down with the stomach flu. My favorite Christmas pasts were those when my parents were at our home with us and the children were old enough to participate in the festivities without being too old to be snarky and disinterested.

My only hopes for the next Christmases is for us to be together and to keep having peaceful times with one another.

Beliefs aside, what is your favorite way of spending Christmas? What are your more memorable Christmas Pasts? What are your hopes for Christmas Future? What are your favorite Christmas movies, stories, and songs.

Never Enough Dragons

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned dragon books.  Right after that, one of them came up for check-out at the library – Here, There be Dragons by James Owens.  It’s part of a series called Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica and true to it’s title, we had imaginary creatures (dragons) on the first page. 

As the story unfolded we also got references to King Arthur, Captain Nemo, Alice in Wonderland, Sherlock Holmes, trolls, dwarves, centaurs, Pandora’s box, Stonehenge and, of course, talking badgers.  Although the story starts out in WWI London, almost all of the story takes places in the “archipelago of dreams”, a world which is apparently one of many alternative realities. 

As the first in a series, this one was a little bogged down by all the explanatory bits related by various characters, but the fascinating weaving of all kinds of myths and stories into the plot was just enough to keep me going as well as the quote: “Did he now?” said Charles as a smile began to cheshire over his face.”  That alone was enough to make me want to pick up the next volume.  And no spoiler alerts but the last chapter was worth its weight in gold, in terms of pulling together the strands of the story and leaving you with a tingling feeling that you should have known it all along.

If you could make one fantasy/imaginary place come alive, what would it be?

Last Minute Tasks

Ok, all you ND cattle ranching Baboons. You have until December 31 to renew your cattle brands. 91% have been renewed already. About 1,900 brands will lapse at the end of December. If you don’t renew on time, another rancher could take over your brand! Send your renewal into the Stockmen’s Office in Bismarck as soon as you can!

The Christmas season is busy enough, and then there are these extra things that need to be done. We paid our property taxes early to save $128. We renewed our professional licenses. We made sure our church pledge was all paid.

I am amazed by the number of cattle brands in my State. I would love to know their history, and who designed them. I have never attended a branding. They are real social events. It would be fun to incorporate a brand into signing my professional reports in addition to my signature. Wouldn’t that confuse the insurance companies! I would need to consult an artist to design one for me.

What design elements would you use in your brand? What do you need to accomplish before the end of the year? Are you happy with your signature?

That Crazy Minnesota Weather

Today’s post comes from Ben.

Last week this time we were preparing for a blizzard, and this week we had record high temperatures and tornadoes and extreme winds. If you’re smart enough to pay attention to the weather extremes going on you would call it global warming. Or you could just shake your head and say, well that’s different. Oh, it was different all right. I’d rather not have to go through that again.

I was glad the snow melted, I really just wanted the banks to melt down on the sides of the road. Guess I should be more specific about what I wish for. White Christmas or brown Christmas won’t bother me.

From the winds, we have a lot of branches down. We have an old maple tree in the front yard. A branch falls off if you look at it funny so it lost several in the winds. I have some trees down around the fields, some minor damage to some of the buildings, and most of the snowfence is gone. None of that is serious. I spent a few hours out with the Townboard guys clearing trees off township roads. I saw a couple trampolines folded in half, I saw metal roofing of a house peeled up over the top. You know if it’s windy down in our valley, it’s really windy out in the open.

I was supposed to have a choir concert at the college last Friday night. We postponed it to Monday. It was a very nice concert. The photo up top is my view from the booth with the Lighting Console as I programmed.
It was nice of Santa to stop in at the concert on Monday.

End of the financial year here so I am settling up with the neighbors. I mentioned a week or two ago about pre-paying some fertilizer and doing tax planning for next year. My neighbors that do the combining and hauling of my crops sent their bill. Combining soybeans is $38 per acre. Corn is $39 per acre. And it’s eight cents per bushel to haul. They also made some round bales of straw at $13 per bale and I sold them 200 bushels of oats at $3.58 per bushel. I’ll be writing them a check for $7310. It’s a lot of money, but it’s cheaper than owning my own equipment and having the time to do it. And the neighbors with the cattle here, they pay rent on the pasture, I pay them to combine the oats, and they will buy the round bales of straw. I did some work for them and we pretty much balance out at the end of the year.

The chickens appreciate the snow melting. You can see them here gathered in a bare spot last week.

They don’t like the snow, they’ll walk over a little, but nothing deep. Except one white chicken. Evidently her feet don’t get cold. There were a few days last week when she was the only one out. Maybe she just doesn’t get along well with the others. She is kind of ornery, biting Kelly twice when she tried to collect eggs. Bad move chicken, bad move.

The MRI on my shoulder last week showed massive tears. Still waiting on the surgery consultation. Some days it hurts more than others. If I’m going to have surgery done, I’d really like it sooner than later. In the meantime, I wait. I remember reading in a John Irving book a phrase something like, “Does anyone in love ever want to ‘wait and see?’ “

How do you feel about waiting? How many other heteronyms do you know?