Category Archives: 2021

Virtually Fun

Since my local State agency and Husband’s State agency in Bismarck are considered health care facilities, we can’t have in-person office gatherings in which we share a meal due to pandemic protocols.

Yesterday, the social committee at my agency held our annual Christmas party over lunch hour. We all filed in to the main meeting room, filled our take-away containers with deep fried turkey, knoephla soup, and all manner of casseroles and baked goods, and returned to our offices to fire up our computers to play trivia games in a Microsoft Teams meeting. We also had a scavenger hunt to find things in our building that were either red, gold, green, or silver, based on on the team we were assigned to. I was on the red team. I took the red fire extinguisher off the all outside my office to show on-line, along with all the red items in my play therapy room.

In Bismarck, Husband’s party was also virtual during Wednesday’s lunch hour. Each “work team”, in its own space, staged a tableau from a well known Christmas movie, again, with computer video, and others were to identify the movie via chat. The Psychology Department depicted a scene from “Jingle All The Way”. This was followed by an all-out, virtual Pictionary game drawn on a white board for people to guess the Christmas song depicted. Everyone’s answers were delivered via Microsoft Teams chat. The food came from the Pizza Ranch.

We all want to engage with one another, and we miss the camaraderie. We enjoy our coworkers so much. Virtual is as good as it gets for now. Oh, for the days when we all got together for a catered meal and live music at the Knights of Columbus Hall with spouses and partners in tow, and the Regional Director would get blitzed and start singing, and there would be pinochle into the wee hours. We were all younger then.

What are your best and worst Christmas parties ever? What kind of party would you throw if there was no pandemic?

Don’t Worry. Be Happy

The last five years have been tough on mental health. It seems the predominant diagnosis at my agency these days is Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which means that you worry about basically everything.

My mother was a champion worrier. She worried about the weather especially, either blizzard or tornado. Both my children have major anxiety and so do I. I like to think that worriers live longer than non-worriers. It is probably wishful thinking. Last night, I was frantic for Husband to get home from Bismarck in the snow and the wind. He made it safely, but the images of disaster were difficult to deal with. I focused on house cleaning. That helped.

How has your worry increased lately? How do you manage your anxiety? Who were the champion worriers in your family?

RIP Michael Nesmith

In 1966 I was at a difficult age.  I was a little too young to have ridden the Beatles wave, but old enough that I knew I wasn’t a little kid anymore and wanting to connect with the rock `n roll world.  When the Monkees hit the scene, they were just my speed.  Like most of my girlfriends, I loved the pre-fab group (although at the age of 11, I didn’t really understand that part to begin with).  Since most of my friends adored Davy, I resisted that tug and settled on Peter Tork.  I knew he was the oldest Monkee, but he played a lovable goof who came off as the youngest, most vulnerable.  I was a loyal Monkees fan until the band broke up 1969 (if you are a fan, you might protest this date, but I count the breakup as early `69 when Peter resigned.)  I won’t go so far as to say that I went to Carleton because Peter has also attended, but it would be a lie to say I wasn’t aware!

I was sad to see that Michael Nesmith passed away on Friday.  He was never my favorite but I did like the “twang” that was in the songs that he penned and sang.  His signature wool cap came about when he wore it to the first audition for the tv show and one of the producers remembered it.  It was also said that he was very calm at that audition, giving off an air of not caring whether he got a part or not.  He carried that aloofness with him throughout his Monkees’ career; there were a few times that he did not appear with the group in later reunion gigs, although he had just finished on a tour a few weeks before his death.   He wrote many of their songs; my favorite is probably “You May Just Be the One”:

In a side note, I found out many years later that his mother was the inventor of Liquid Paper.  In this day and age of the computer and word processing software you might not know what Liquid Paper is, but if you were a secretary or typist during the 70s and 80s, you certainly do.  It was a lifesaver back then. 

With Michael’s death, there is only one Monkee left – Mickey Dolenz.  Davy passed away in 2012 and my Peter passed away almost 3 years ago now.  I know that their music is now considered a little on the bubblegum pop spectrum, but they are still my first love.  I got out all their CDs and played them over the weekend.

Did you have any hero worship when you were younger?


I got an email yesterday from my librarian cousin in Columbus, OH, to tell me that his younger brother had died suddenly the day before on the farm near Magnolia, back home in Rock County. He was my age, and had some health issues.

I have very fond memories of my cousin, a wild and impulsive guy who loved fireworks as much as I do, and with whom I had wonderful fun as a kid building forts in the grove on his farm, playing baseball, climbing trees, and setting pocket gopher traps. One of my favorite memories is the time he and his younger brother were having a knock down, drag out fight in the middle of the farm yard while their mother was whacking them with a broom and they were laughing at her.

My cousins are like siblings to me. The ones my age are boys, and I had lots of fun doing daring and inventive things with them. I am so glad for my memories with them.

Got any good cousin stories? Who are your favorite relatives or adopted relatives?

Working Ahead

I am a master procrastinator when it involves paperwork at my job. Meeting paperwork deadlines is a major item in our yearly performance evaluations. My main job is conducting psychological evaluations. I test two people a week. For psychological evaluations, I am allowed 30 calendar days to complete the evaluation report, the clock starting the day after the first testing session with the client. Holidays and sick days do not change the due dates for report completion. That means I have two reports to complete each week, in addition to testing new people.

When I am not testing people or writing up the results of the testing, I have therapy appointments and other meetings. I would much rather meet with people than spend hours at the computer scoring tests and writing reports, and since 30 days sounds like such a long period of time, I typically scramble when day 28 arrives and I have limited free time in my schedule to write. I am happy to say I almost always get my reports done on time, but usually on day 29 or 30. I often bring work home to finish it on the weekend.

I don’t know what got into me last week, but there was a perfect storm of illness-related therapy cancelations along with a slew of evaluations that required very short reports, and I finished six reports, working ahead and leaving a couple of weeks with no reports that are due. Now, I can go to South Dakota for Christmas and not have nagging paperwork worries.

A dear friend of mine, a philosophy professor, used to reward himself with a glass of cognac after reading student essays, the promise of the cognac keeping him going on the grading. I sure don’t need that sort of reward after finishing reports. I am just basking in the feeling of working ahead and reducing my ever-present anxiety.

What do you put off doing? What is the latest accomplishment of which you are proud? How do you approach paperwork?

Ho, Ho, Ho

it sure is easy to shop for people who like to cook! Husband and I got a lot of our Christmas shopping done for our kids last Saturday at the local kitchen store. Daughter wanted us to shop at small, local, businesses, and so we did.

Husband and I don’t bother with surprise gifts for eachother any more. We spied a nice Emil Henri tagine at the kitchen store and we decided that was our present this year. We are picking up the goat at the butcher shop next week, and I forsee making Morrocan goat dishes with our new purchase.

Our children are often frustrated with us over the holidays since we really don’t need much and can never give them many ideas for gifts. I asked for a cookbook and a calendar. Husband asked for a couple of books. Nothing too exciting, and pretty easy to come by, supply chain problems not withstanding.

How is your holiday shopping coming along? Who are the easiest and most difficult people for you to buy for? Having any trouble finding what you want? What was your favorite Christmas present as a child?


Most mornings YA and I share our schedules with each other.  Not specific details down to the hour but general “what I have on my plate for the day” schedules.  On Saturday morning, YA told me she was going to the gym and running a couple of errands.  

I was finishing up cookies and after about an hour I realized that not only had she not left the house, but that I could hear the hair dryer running upstairs.  I was a little surprised as I would never shower and do my hair and makeup (not that I ever wear makeup) before going to work out at the gym.  I always save the shower for AFTER the workout.  I shook my head at what the younger generation gets up to.

It occurred to me that every generation shakes its head at the younger one but then I thought about my mother.  When I was growing up, my mother’s standard lipstick color was flaming red.  If she ever wore another color back then, I wasn’t aware.  And she did not go out in public without it.  I have a very clear memory (probably because it happened so often) of her applying a fresh layer of lipstick in the rearview mirror of the car before getting out to run whatever errand was on her agenda. 

So here am I, stuck between the rearview mirror lipstick application and the showering before the gym generations.  I’m guessing that YA probably has a long list of my actions that she just doesn’t understand.

Any habits of yours that another generation just doesn’t get?

December Farm Update

Sure been a nice week weather-wise. Temps In the 50’s the last few days. Ten-day forecast has the temps in the mid 30’s and no snow. I’m OK with that. My apologies to anyone waiting for snow.

Kelly and I got snowfence up the other day so there’s another thing checked off my list. Glad to have that done. 

There was a little wind to contend with and the cowpies were mostly dry.

Daughter and I did driveway markers. It was colder than I expected that day and she’s not a fan of the wind. Nice that Bailey could keep her company.

They kept me company inside the gator, too.

I was feeding the ducks one morning and that chicken came running from the pole barn, so she’s still back there laying eggs. .Way in the back, down in a corner. I’m still hoping she gets tired of this as the weather gets colder.

Last weekend I redid a few things in the chicken coop. I put the back wall back in place. (I take it off for more ventilation in the summer) and I changed their perches and got the water buckets and heated pad situated for winter.  

It’s odd, they barely use that rear nest box for eggs, often preferring the front unit. One hen must be molting. She looks really rough right now.

I don’t know if her feathers are going to come in a different color than she was? She used to look like the chicken in the front. Boy, hang in there, girl. Egg production is a little down; the old ones are starting to taper off and the new hens are just getting started.

End of the year finances: I’ve paid off our production loans from this years inputs and prepaid some expenses for next year. It’s funny; we have a good year and actually make some money, but it’s tough to save much because taxes will take a big chunk. I know taxes are important and provide a lot of services, but golly. It feels like throwing money in a hole in the ground. I went to the co-op and paid $900 for the grid soil sampling.

Paid $2800 for the lime and applications on half the farm. Prepaid for 4 tons of fertilizer for next year $3400 (again, maybe half of what I’ll need). They don’t have anhydrous nitrogen prices yet and they figure chemicals prices will hold steady so I didn’t pay on them. Easy come, easy go. Sometime before the end of the year I’ll get seed ordered for next year. That also becomes a deduction on this years taxes. Don’t have to pay for it yet, just get it ordered.

Remember getting your first check book? What was the first thing you bought? I bought a Timex Watch and you had to push the button so the time would show up in Red. 

Light My Fire

In searching for something on my laptop last week, I came across a list of books about dragons.  Looks like I made this list six or seven years ago (last time it was saved was six years back) and I’ve read a few of the books on the list since then.  I’d completely forgotten that I had this list.

Dragons, of course, are widely varied in literature.  My least favorite kind are the mindless, evil dragons (think Smaug in The Hobbit).  I prefer intelligent dragons who can communicate if they choose (like Ramoth in Dragonflight or Temeraire in the Novik series).  My current car is named after a dragonrider of Pern (Brekke – one of the rare dragonriders who can communicate with all dragons, not just their own). 

I also like dragons who adore treasure – not sure why, maybe because it’s such a longstanding bit of dragonlore that it feels right when it is included.  It’s interesting that the Greek dragons who were set to guarding treasure have morphed into beings who lust after gold, diamonds and jewels.  Of course I also read somewhere once that gold is a good conductor of magical energy and that dragons NEED it to exist. 

The biggest problem with this list is that I have already reached the limit of books that I can have on hold at the library – with probably be at least a week before that changes.  Hopefully in a week, I’ll remember I have this list of books I want to read! Maybe I’ll start yet another tab on my reading spreadsheet.

Tell me about a mythical animal that you think might improve our world if it existed!  Or just if you have a favorite mythical animal.

Busy Week

The Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

It was a busy week for the Hain farm. After getting the crops out and the soil testing done, I got all the corn ground chisel plow on Saturday. Bailey rode with me all day.

Sunday morning it was warm enough I could use a hose and jet nozzle and clean off the chisel plow and tractor. (Pressure washer is already put away for winter.) I also finally got the garden fence taken down. The garden had been done for a month of course and I left the gate open so the chickens have been in there scratching around, I just hadn’t time to get the fence down. And it was bugging me so I’m glad that’s done.

I ran out of diesel fuel in the barrel when filling the tractor on Saturday. Off road diesel fuel is dyed red and can only be used in off-road equipment like tractors, combines, or construction machinery. The point of dying it is because I don’t have to pay quite so many taxes on off-road fuel.  As I understand it, a DOT inspector might check the fuel tank of an over the road truck and if there are traces of red dye in it you get a hefty fine. Gasoline I pay taxes, but I also get them refund on my tax returns for the gallons used on the farm. Hence we don’t fill the cars with gas from the barrel. When I was a kid we did, then the tax laws changed. My cost for a gallon of diesel is $2.50, it’s about $3.54 in the stores around here. My big tractor holds 140 gallons of diesel. I know the big 4 wheel drive tractors might hold 350! Crazy. I had the delivery truck fill the tractor, too. There is a long story about summer diesel and winter diesel I’ll skip. I use an additive to make it winter diesel and prevent gelling.

I got 200 gallons of gasoline (a couple of the older tractors, the swather, the lawnmower, the four wheeler, the gator, chainsaws and Weedwhackers’ use gasoline) and 500 gallons of diesel for the two main tractors.   

Also Monday, the quarry and the co-op arrived to spread lime. I was at work but Kelly got some photos for us. A semi would deliver and fill the spreader using an elevator. Then the spreader had the computerized mapping software integrated with the soil tests so they could applied as needed.

I took Wednesday off from “Work” work.  I was able to get my brush mower fixed. Got the blades fixed, and I also realize the timing of the two sets of blades was off. They need to be at 90° to each other. And that was simply a matter of removing one chain, getting them aligned, and reinstalling the chain. Much easier than I had expected. Got the roadsides mowed down, mowed two little parcels that are going to be planted to native grasses next spring, cleaned everything off, and got the mower put away. Hooked on the snowblower and move that into the machine shed.

I hope I don’t need it for several months, but at least it’s in. Got the grain drill all put back together

and tucked that back into place. What a good day. 

The theater renovation is finally wrapping up. I was waiting on one final approval from the fire department about a sprinkler head, which would then let the city inspector sign off on the final permit. I started this the first part of November, some minor corrections to the work done and some bureaucratic red tape means it’s Wednesday before Thanksgiving and we have an audience that night and I’m still making phone calls and poking people to approve this! I did not sleep good Tuesday night. It’s so nice that everything is online these days, finally about 1 o’clock Wednesday I see online that it has all been approved. I did a happy dance in the tractor.

Man, maybe I can sleep again.

I know some of you get so excited about the seed catalogs coming. Hoovers Hatchery has announced their 2022 catalog and a couple new breeds of chickens they’ll be carrying. Maybe I should get some of the Buff  Chantecler or Black Minorca! The ducks and chickens are still good. I notice Rooster #3 has got some size on him and he’s not shadowing Boss Rooster anymore. I haven’t heard him picking fights, but I think he’s strategizing.

We had a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat* and had a nice relaxing day. A few minor odds and ends to do at the theater for opening on Friday. Saturday daughter and I will get driveway markers put in. Kelly and I would prefer a nice day with no wind to get snowfence up. Maybe middle of next week.  

Twisted any arms? Talk about when that’s gone poorly. Or well.

How do you feel about Alice’s Restaurant?

*Anyone catch that reference? I listened to it Thursday morning.