Category Archives: 2021

Signs of stress

I can always tell my level of work stress. All I have to do is look at my fingernails and cuticles. The more stress, the more chewed up are my nails and nail beds.

I have been an inveterate nail chewer since early childhood. I decided when I was very young that I hated my mother clipping my nails, and I started chewing them off. It is sort of like our cats, who hate nail trims (Don’t squeeze my paws!) I think it might have been a sensory issue for me, too, because I am only comfortable with the shortest of fingernails and toe nails.

I was appaled last week to read about the woman with the world’s longest nails. She finally got them cut when their collective length was something like 28 feet. I can’t imagine how a person could even function.

I haven’t bought nail polish for decades. I have no interest in stopping my nail chewing, but I am interested in stress reduction. I have three more years to get through for my job, and I need to be a good role model for positive coping.

How can you tell you are under stress. What is stressing you these days? What do you do to de-stress and relax?

Farming Day 1 Part 1

Today’s post comes from Ben.

Well not exactly day one. But the first day in the field doing spring work so it’s day one from that point of view. 

Spent the morning doing my usual stuff on the computer: emails, newspaper, moms banking, our banking. A few phone calls, etc. before I’m finally out the door mid-morning. 

I needed to take a couple of tires to get fixed and the one on the grain drill I already had loose. Also had a tire on the four wheeler with a slow leak and that’s easy to put a floor jack under the back end and use the impact wrench and four nuts and that comes right off.

Got both tires in the back of the truck, loaded up all three dogs, and headed for Millville Minnesota. We’ve been taking tires to Appel service in Millville for as long as I can remember. It’s about half an hour away and you won’t find a nicer, family owned business, anywhere. Millville is a town of about 180 people and so far down in the valley you can’t get any cell phone reception. There are a couple of bars, couple of restaurants, one Church, a cemetery where I have several relatives, a gun shop, and in a better year I would’ve dropped off the tires and then gone to get lunch at the Lucky Seven Café. 

When I got to Appels, most of the crew was at lunch so I said I’d come back. They are really good at fixing your tires while you wait but I may as well keep moving. Back up the road a few miles to pick up my Oat seed. It was such a nice day, pretty amazing weather for this time of the year, and we worry that it’s so dry; all the farmers are going hard. mostly applying anhydrous ammonia- Those white tanks you see in the fields. I probably saw a dozen farmers doing that. There was a couple guys ahead of me at Meyer’s Seeds and we stood outside and talked while Meyer’s rounded up seed and bring it out on the forklift. I petted some cats (The camera snap on the phone scared them away) and I got a nice metal ‘stick’ used for checking seed depth. Always wanted one of those.


After I got my 54 bags of oats, I strapped that down in the truck, and then back to Millville. As I pulled up, they were just taking the four-wheeler tire in and the drill tire was done. There’s something pretty interesting about watching a guy change tires. The machinery involved and just the whole process is really pretty fascinating. The guy ahead of me was watching his tires get fixed, I watched them fix my tire, while at the same time trying not to get in the way or look TOO interested. (It’s kinda loud and hard to talk or ask questions).

Just a tube needed in the four-wheeler tire. The grain drill tire is kind of special. It’s about 3 feet tall, and completely smooth except it has two heavy ridges on each edge. That way, going through the field, it makes a real clear mark that’s easy to follow on the next round of the field. I had ordered two tires: they had one in stock, the second hasn’t shown up yet. And that’s OK, this one was worse than the other. $262 for the tire. $13 labor to mount both. The only thing missing was the bottle of grape pop from the café. 

The dogs love riding in the truck. And they don’t miss a chance if they can help it. Although Humphrey lays in the back and looks completely uninterested but he does spend a little time looking out the windows. Bailey bounces back-and-forth between the front seat and the backseat and she spends half the trip with her nose in my face. Allie, the queen of them all will eventually setting in some place where the others don’t walk all over her at least for the moment.

Once we are back on our driveway, I let them all out to run home. About halfway down the driveway there was a squirrel about 75 yards away from the trees and making a beeline back to the trees. The dogs were a good 200 yards away. Missed it by “that“ much. 

Do you like car rides?

Got any stories about tires? 

Birthday Bash

Our 5 year old gardening buddy has a birthday next week, and asked his parents for a Gunsmoke themed party. He likes dressing up like a cowboy, and I assume his parents let him watch Gunsmoke reruns. His parents agreed, and his dad found a bunch of wooden pallets he is transforming into a boardwalk. There is a large sign the says Long Branch Saloon. I can hardly wait to see if anyone dresses up like Miss Kitty.

Our daughter also has a birthday in a couple of weeks. She always has anxiety over birthdays, I think stemming from anticipation over childhood parties. We never went so far as to recreate a film set, but she had some nice parties. She stated she has a number of birthday events scheduled by friends in the next two weeks. She is celebrating personally by having a different kind of hot dog a day for her birthday week. We never knew she even liked hot dogs.

My childhood parties were pretty tame, but I will never forget my heartbreak on my 8th birthday when my parents told me that we were moving to a new house in a different part of town, meaning I wouldn’t be next door to my best friend anymore.

What are some of your more memorable birthday parties? What events or celebrations do you dread? What would you wear to a Gunsmoke themed party? Plan your next birthday bash.

Happier

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day for walking – even if a bit windy.  I walked along Minnehaha Parkway and as I looked down at one point I saw the words “Happier” and “Ed Sheeran” written in chalk on the sidewalk.  While I know who Ed Sheeran is, I wasn’t sure if I knew the song, so I whipped out my phone and looked it up.  It was very nice:

I don’t usually listen to music or audiobooks when I walk.  I prefer being present in the outside world and I’m not so sure that earbuds are all that safe.  I also need more attention than you would imagine to make sure that the dog is staying in a good state of mind.  But it was nice to listen to the song for a bit as we walked.  It won’t make me an Ed Sheeran fan but I liked the idea that I was hearing a song that someone else thought enough of to chalk it for passers-by.  We kept going along the parkway and I didn’t see anymore song titles.  Just the one.

If I could leave just one song written on the sidewalk for others to come across, what would it be.  One of my absolute favorites is the Ave Maria by Franz Biebl, especially the rendition done by Cantus.  But what message would I be sending the world with that one?  So I think I’d have to write “Everything is Holy Now” by Peter Mayer.  I think this is a song the world needs to hear.

I’ll supply the chalk.  What is the one song you want to add to the sidewalk?

Planters

Now that we’ve had some nicer weather, I’ve been farther afield with Guinevere.  On the way home from the library yesterday, I passed a display that I had seen several times last year.  The homeowners have two big planters out on their little boulevard, one on each side of a tree.  There are plastic eggs, pretty sticks and butterflies.  The fun part of seeing this again is that the owners have clearly freshened it up.  Instead of dirty and faded as you would expect after the winter, the eggs are new and bright and the butterflies are all intact and fluttering in the wind. 

This is not a display that can be easily seen from the house; the homeowners must have decided at some point to make sure the planters are cheerful and welcoming for folks who are walking by.  I feel like it’s a gift to me and other pedestrians.  This is important to me; in today’s environment that seems so overwhelmed by hate and nastiness, I am really trying to pay attention and acknowledge when people are intentionally kind (well, unintentionally too I guess).  I’m thinking about leaving a thank you card in their mailbox.

We talked a out Little Free Libraries last week – books, produce, treasures, even sticks.  I hope that everybody is seeing other acts of kindness as they go about their business and that it inspires us all to try to step up to kindness when it’s needed.

Any other kind/nice stuff that you’ve seen lately?

Our Favorite spots

The other day as I was typing a comment here on the Trail, I inadvertently slipped into “pirate talk”. I’m not sure why, but I suddenly had Cap’n Billy of the Muskellunge on my shoulder. It didn’t last long, but it’s not the only time lately that I’ve spontaneously conjured up one of the regulars from TLGMS – The Late Great Morning Show – MPR’s varietal music wake-up show which aired between 1983 and 2008. For instance, Lloyd’s of Monday pops into my head whenever something goes awry on a Monday.

For the uninitiated who might wander onto this blog, here’s an excerpt from a 2006 article describing the show: 

“Fans of The Morning Show know they can expect to hear comic sketches, ad spoofs and other skits featuring characters such as Captain Billy, Bud Buck and Genway’s Dr. Larry Kyle. It all originates at Dale Connelly’s keyboard. “Basically, I create the characters in the scripts,” Dale says, ‘then I hand the scripts over to Jim Ed and he brings them to life in his own way.’

[The late Tom Keith, whose stage name was]  Jim Ed Poole is a master at doing various voices, dialects and characterizations. ‘There are so many different characters,’ Jim Ed laughs, “that some characters are starting to sound like other characters.”

I’ve been missing the Morning Show a lot lately – I’ll be cooking and want some music instead of the yammering of the radio’s talk shows. Or I’ll turn on the classical station, but they’re playing something weird, so I try Radio Heartland on my iPad. But they don’t play the old favorites any more (from what I can tell), and besides, RH doesn’t do the fun stuff like those fake sponsors and quirky character skits I used to laugh out loud at.

Dial it back several years

What were some of your favorite “spots” or characters from Dale and Jim Ed’s collection?

(If you click on the little magnifying glass at the top right of this page, and type in your favorite character or “sponsor”, you may find old blog posts on that topic from the archives.)

Little Library

Now that I don’t have to layer up too much, I’m out walking the dog again.  It’s been fun to see the neighborhood anew, although I have to admit, it doesn’t seem as if much has changed in the last few months.

What has changed are the books in the Little Libraries.  These are the little nooks that people have put up in their yards, encouraging folks to take a book or leave a book.  We have a good number of them in the couple-of-mile radius around my house.

I almost never take a book from a Little Library, although occasionally I’ll take one out to flip through it a bit.  I did take an Italian workbook once – no one had done any of the exercises – I work on it occasionally.  I’ve taken a couple of kids books and then returned them to a different little library when I was done with them.  But it’s fun to look.

I have a friend down on the parkway who takes the Little Library concept to a new level.  She actually curates her collection, changing out titles to fit the season or upcoming holiday.  Right now there are a bunch of Easter and Spring titles – she always has some good books for kids.  She has also installed some little string lights in the box, although I’ve never seen it at night to know if it actually lights up.  There is also a tin of dog treats (home made) in her little library and in the summer, a bowl of water underneath for passing dogs. 

So it should have come as no surprise that there is a new addition to her library this week.  A stick library for dogs – photo above.  I couldn’t convince Guinevere to take a stick – she keeps quite busy sniffing while we walk to bother with a stick – although I suppose I could take a stick for her to play with once we get back to our yard.  I did snap the photo and send it off to my friend with a little note of thanks. 

I’m looking forward to this spring and summer to see what else becomes part of the Little Library landscape!

Have you ever taken a book from a Little Library?  Left a book?  Do you have a Little Library at your house? 

Easter Baskets

I received a text from Daughter last week enquiring if she would get an Easter basket this year. I replied that of course  she would. She reminded me of her favorites (anything milk chocolate, Butterfinger eggs, anything sour) and I assured her they  would arrive in good time. I asked Son and Dil what Grandson should get in his basket, and they sent their suggestions (Cadbury mini  eggs, freeze dried mangos and raspberries, raisins, and pretzel chips).  Now I am sorting through our spare boxes to get everything sent.

I remember the activities of Easter more than the treats. It was a time I got a fancy new church dress and hat. I don’t remember dying eggs.  The Easter Bunny left white  tracks all over our house, deposited on the charcoal colored carpets by my mother,  who dipped oval shaped shoe polish applicators in flour and left bunny tracks through the house that led to the candy.

We plan to tell the children next door on Easter Sunday that we have rabbit problems in our yard, and would they please come over to get the chocolate eggs those darn rabbits have left all over the place. That will be fun.

What are your Easter memories? What do you want in your Easter Basket this year?

What to Read

My “other” book club got started 32 years ago.  With a few exceptions we’ve met every month for all those years.  We choose the books 6-8 months at a time and it has to be consensus and our preference is for books that none of us has read before although occasionally someone will say “I’ve read it but I’d love to read it again and talk about with you all.”

Deciding on the books can be stressful at times.  Two of us are voracious readers, one reads a lot of newer items, two of us read a wide range of genres, one pretty much prefers fiction.  For many years we used to all purchase the book in question but starting several years ago most of us moved to library books instead (money for some, space for others).  This means that the book has to be readily available in our various library systems.

Then there are the other issues that have cropped up over the years.  One of us is sick of “sisterhood” books (Snow Flower & the Secret Fan), one of us is tired of books about China, one of us feels overloaded by WWII titles, one of us doesn’t care for “old-fashioned” language which leaves out a lot of classics.  Three years ago, two of our members battled breast cancer, so books about the big C are still out of contention.  And I suppose it might go without saying that the last year everybody wants lighter fare. 

It’s gotten to be a research project these days to try to find good titles.  One of us doesn’t like to suggest titles; she takes it pretty personally if we end up not liking a book she has recommended.  (This isn’t a problem for me – the three worst books that we’ve ever read (and we agree on these) were all my picks!)  This increases the stress a bit on the rest of us. Hopefully if I start now I can find a few good ideas by next week when we have to come up with the next six months of reads.

Any suggestions for me?

It’s Statuette Time

One of my close friends is a big fan of the Oscars.  I think I’ve mentioned that every year when the list comes out, she makes a copy, checks of which movies she has seen and then spends the next month or so trying to fill in the blanks by watching as many as she can.  I love her dearly but just cannot bring myself to join her in this mania; I’ve thought for years that the film industry is the most insecure industry – the amount of self-adulation in the way of awards that it needs amazes me.

But because she’s a friend, I did click open the announcement today of what films will be up for Oscars this year.  It’s no surprise that I haven’t seen any of them (I quit reading when we got down to costumes) since I haven’t been to a movie theatre since December of 2019.  However it was a surprise that I had only heard of two of them.  I’ve noticed “My Octopus Teacher” on Netflix and I did read a YouTube review of “Mulan” but none of the other movies in any category even rang a small bell.  Normally I’ve heard of a lot of Oscar nominees because I’ve seen the commercials on TV but not this past year.

Did these movies come out in theatres?  If so, who went to see them?  Have they all been out on TV on subscription channels (of which YA and I have only Disney+, because it’s free right now)?  Have other people heard of these films and I’m just more clueless than usual?  Do we even need Oscars this year?

Have you seen any of the nominees for this year?  Will you?  Anything you think the Academy has overlooked?