Category Archives: 2022

Humiliations Galore!

YA and I are working on another puzzle right now; it’s taking longer because I haven’t quite committed yet and now the workweek has come around and we don’t have as much time.

The last time we worked on a puzzle it was a Sunday and neither of us had anything on our schedules.  We settled in and we watched movie after movie as we progressed.  We took turns picking the movie; YA was very understanding of what I would stomach and what I wouldn’t.  In fact, at one point SHE chose Princess Bride – she said she knew I liked it.

I do love Princess Bride; I think I’ve mentioned here before that when it came out in the theatres, I went four nights in a room, dragging a different friend each time.  I couldn’t guess how many times I’ve seen it but suffice it to say we’re talking seriously into double digits at this point.

About halfway through the movie YA said “you know that you’re mouthing all the words?”   There aren’t too many movies for which I know huge tracts of the dialog:  When Harry Met Sally, Romancing the Stone, Blazing Saddles, Death on the Nile.  I also know the first few minutes of Laura by heart:

“I’ll never forget the weekend that Laura died.  The silver sun burned through the sky like a huge magnifying glass.  It was the hottest Sunday in my recollection.  I felt as if I were the only living being left in New York.  For Laura’s horrible death, I was alone.  I, Waldo Lydecker, was the only one who really knew her.”

But I’m pretty sure that I know more Princess Bride than any of the others.  I did attempt to stop narrating along with the movie, although I’m not sure I was 100% successful.

Do you have any irritating movie habits (well, irritating to others…)?


The Farming Update comes to us from Ben.

It’s still January in Minnesota and temps are back to normal. I got the car washed a second time just as the cold temps hit and then I went to the gas station and the fuel door is a little bit frozen and I wished I had arms long enough to push the button on the dash and jiggle the fuel door at the same time. Almost wished for the days of regular screw in gas caps.

Last Friday afternoon I discovered a pinhole leak in a water valve in the well house on the pipe going to the barn. I thought there was a little more water on the floor than there should have been and this explains why. It’s always a little damp in there. I just turned off the valve, thanked goodness there wasn’t a barn full of cattle or anything so this isn’t an emergency and called a plumber for Tuesday. $200 later I have a new valve. I regret a little bit that I didn’t just fix this myself…but I hate plumbing and this looked corroded and I really didn’t want to get involved. Work smarter, not harder.

I learned about locks this week. One of the theaters got a new door last Summer, complete with new lock and key. It was decided now was a good time to change out the locks on the other doors to match. I did one lock last week and one lock this week. “Lukus” at the lock shop was very helpful! The first lock was pretty easy. The second one took me three trips to Lukus and I learned to ask more questions. Almost had to make a fourth trip but I found the tiny little set screw I dropped out on the cement. Locks are really interesting to the un-initiated.

We bought some bagels the other day. After the first day, I preferred my bagels toasted. We cut them in half horizontally so there’s a top and bottom. I asked Kelly which side she ate first? We both generally eat the bottom first, then the top. It’s like, do you want the good news first or the bad.

The poofy head ducks are having bad hair days in this cold weather.

Cold water and crazy hair doesn’t work too well.

“LUKUS”- What interesting spelling. Got a favorite or unusual name?

One Smart Cookie

I saw a headline last week that Oreo cookies are now 110 years old.  To celebrate, they have come up with another flavor of filling – confetti birthday cake.  I was surprised because I figured there already WAS a birthday cake Oreo.  After all in the last few years we’ve seen caramel apple, jelly donut, mint chocolate chip, pb & j, even Peeps – according to Oreo, there are actually 85 varities INCLUDING birthday cake.  But apparently Confetti Birthday Cake Oreos are different than regular Birthday Cake Oreos. 

Thinking about all these cookie varieties reminded me of a conference call I was on the week before on which one of my co-workers asked my boss what she takes for her headaches.  Boss said Excedrin because a couple of years ago, she compared Excedrin to Migraine Excedrin and they appeared to have exactly the same amount of whatever it is that kills headaches.  To avoid the marketing hoo haa, and the additional expense, she sticks to the original.

And this makes me think about the sixteen (at least) kinds of Crest toothpaste on the shelf at Target.  One variety for every possible thing that could be an issue with your teeth.  I’ve never compared ingredients but if I had to bet my own money, I would imagine there’s not a lot of difference.

When I was a kid, there was just one Oreo, just one Crest, just one Excedrin (actually I don’t remember Excedrin as a kid, although their website says they launched in 1960).  I’m not advocating going back to a “simpler time” or anything like that, but it is a very interesting evolution of how products are now brought to market.  It’s like many companies are trying to bring every niche market under their own umbrellas. 

I guess I’m not even sure how I feel about this but I will say that I think 85 varieties of Oreo is rather silly, especially with 2 kinds of birthday cake cookies.  You all know that I can’t stay away from Oreos with holiday colored filling (orange at Halloween, red in December, yellow in the spring) but those are the regular flavored filling.  The couple of flavored Oreos that I have tried over the years didn’t appeal to me at all; I was expecting that the peanut butter one would taste really good – it didn’t.  I don’t even like Double Stuff that much.  So I’ll stick to my original Oreos and pass up the birthday day variety, although truth be told, I prefer Hydrox (if you could actually get them anymore).

Do you have a niche product that you like? (Alternate question: dunk or no dunk?)

Catching Up

Today’s post comes to us from BiR.

It’s been a rich couple of months here on the Trail, esp. with the return of some lapsed or very occasional babooners – Krista, mig (for madeline island girl, if memory serves), Crow Girl (where did that “handle” come from?), Occasional Caroline recently, and Lisa of Mpls. popped in Tuesday… did I miss anyone?

There have been a lot of changes here in the past few years, and there are no doubt major life events that we have missed in each other’s lives. There has also been much sadness following the deaths of two of our tribe – Edith, aka ljb/little jailbird in 2019, and our Minnesota Storyteller Steve this past Thanksgiving.

It occurred to me that perhaps we should have a catch-up day, where we tell the bare bones of what’s happened to/for us in the past few years. We could have a gossip/catch-up day – tell us if you’ve moved, changed jobs, where the kids are now..

For instance, Husband and I moved from Robbinsdale to Winona in 2016. By calling myself Barbara in Rivertown I was able to keep my BiR acronym… I’ll reveal more in comments below.

What’s up with you?

Too Late?

Asteroid 1994 PC1 whizzed past us yesterday at 43,000+ miles per hour.  Apparently compared to the asteroids that swing by almost every day, 1994PC1 is fairly large to be so far outside the asteroid belt.  NASA has been watching it for years (I’m guessing from it’s name, since 1994) and since none of us got warnings about impending asteroid/earth collisions the last few days, they are quite aware that relatively speaking while it’s coming close to us, its closest pass will be five times the distance between us and the moon.  According to scientists “if you aren’t worried about the moon crashing into your house this week, you shouldn’t be worried about this either”.

I guess we might have a closer call with a much larger asteroid in 2028.  That news actually hit the stands back in 1997, just a year after a big scare when 1996 JA1, an asteroid the length of two football fields, passed by at only 300,000 miles with not much warning.  This might account for a bunch of the asteroid movies that came out in the next couple of years (Deep Impact, Armageddon, Asteroid, Judgment Day to name a few). 

I’m not a big disaster film buff (although technically if they divert the asteroid, it’s not really a disaster flick, is it?) but I did see a couple of these.  It’s an interesting concept – pushing off an object that is traveling 43K miles an hour.  And I don’t really follow this stuff closely so I don’t know if there is an object that NASA is actually worried about.  And I wonder, would they tell us if there were?  Not sure what in heck we, as citizens of the planet could actually do to prepare.  I mean, I assume we’re smarter than the dinosaurs, but there sure wasn’t anything they could have done differently.

Which do you worry about more – asteroids or a zombie apocalypse? 

Chip Away

YA was seriously into the art scene over her birthday weekend.  She actually requested that I take either Friday or Monday off to go to the Minneapolis Art Institute with her.  I have a friend who works at MIA and she said it’s pretty deserted on week days, so I took Friday off and we headed to see art.

Since it was YA’s day, I let her  lead; she didn’t have anything in particular that she wanted to see so we pretty much just wandered around.  She isn’t a big reader so we saw far more than I would have seen on my own; I love to know what the artist has titled their work and any background/history on either the piece or the artist is always interesting to me.  Normally because I am slow, I don’t always see my favorite works but this isn’t a big deal as I know they will be there the next time.

So the first of my favorites we happened upon was the Yoruba shrine head.  It is exquisitely carved and I always have to be reminded that it’s centuries old as it seems very contemporary to me.

Then we walked through a gallery where the second of my favorites resides.  Les Trois Graces is a smaller version of a statue that was initially installed outside the Paris Opera House.  The artist, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, went on to do various versions of this work in a lot of different mediums (media?).  I love the delicacy of the hands and the gracefulness of the feet and toes as they dance.

I felt like good fortune had befallen me and then we climbed up to the third level and came across my very favorite, living in a different gallery than the last time I saw her.  The Veiled Lady by Monti.  I know that there is a technique to making marble seem transparent – something to do with the smoothness versus the roughness of the carved marble – but it still seems like magic to me.

And as if this weren’t enough, to see all three of my favorite pieces on the same day, we came across a little bronze piece, only about 10 inches high (see the header photo).  This is a sculpture of Loie Fuller, who was a well-known dancer in the late 1800s.  A quick search uncovers quite a bit of artwork based on Fuller, much of it can only be described as “ecstatic”, like this one. Of course, now I have a book of her life on hold at the library and I have a fourth favorite at MIA.

As we were departing the museum it occurred to me that all four of my favorites are sculptures.  Maybe because I have never seen all of them on the same day, I just never connected the dots.  If you had asked me last week, I could not have told you that my favorite artworks are sculptures (and not just at MIA).  I have always marveled at the artist’s ability to not only envision the sculpture but to chisel down to it.  Sculpture seems all the more magical to me because it must be so unforgiving.  One wrong hit of the hammer and you have to start over!

If these sculptures came to life, what would you serve them for lunch?

Stealth Baking

It’s a little hard to plan a surprise when the person you want to surprise lives in your house.

Today’s is YA’s birthday (27!!)  Her gift was actually purchased a couple of weeks back; she wanted a case for her new iPad and I agreed to pay for it as her present.  I took off on Friday to celebrate with her; we went to the Minneapolis Arts Institute.  There was also going to be a birthday brunch at one of her favorite places but they have discontinued indoor dining (again).  So the celebrations are a little low-key.

I have a banner that says “Happy Birthday” that I made last year and I picked up a “2” and a “7” big mylar balloon but I still wanted to do a bit more – maybe cake?  YA is not a big sweet eater, but I know that she likes carrot cake, so I decided on cupcakes.

I’ve been thinking how I could get this done and about a week ago she announced that she was going out with a friend to the Walker and lunch.  Yesterday!  This was a perfect opportunity for me to do a little stealth baking.

YA is fairly observant.  She doesn’t go snooping but she does notice things.  While I was working on the cupcakes, I was extremely careful about not leaving any trace of my work.  I cleaned and dried every utensil and pan so that nothing in the drainer would catch her attention.  I wiped the counters twice, making sure to get every little shred of carrot.  Butter and cream cheese wrappers went underneath other trash in the container.  I used an “altered box” recipe, so the boxes went underneath other recyclables in the bin.  The finished products went on the front porch table behind the last of the cookie tins.  I put some pretty party picks in them earlier this morning.

The one remaining problem was the aroma in the house.  I turned on the fans in the kitchen but they didn’t do the job.  And I was worried that if I sprayed Febreze, she would ask why.  I decided that maybe she wouldn’t notice.  WRONG.  She didn’t even have her coat off when she said “what did you make – it smells like cinnamon.”  Having worried about this beforehand, my answer was ready.  “I made cinnamon toast for lunch.”  This is a common enough occurrence that she believed me!

The banner and balloons are up, the cupcakes are on a pretty platter waiting.  She has taken today off as well but probably won’t be up until 9 or 10. I’ll let you know how the surprise goes!

Have you ever been to a surprise party?


This week’s Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

The weather warmed up and I got the car washed. For now.

And now It’s snowing and cold again. Oh well. It’s January in Minnesota.

The ducks and chickens did enjoy the melting snow and grass coming out of the snow; they really like having some dirt to scratch in. Everyone was enjoying the sun.

 The chickens don’t like to walk through too much snow. They’ll do a little, especially if they know there’s some dirt beyond it. Except this white chicken.

She doesn’t seem to care about the snow. Kelly calls her “sturdy and hearty”. Yeah, well, she’s something all right. She’s mean too. She will cut you! Reach under her for an egg and she’ll bite and twist and not let go!  

Daughter and I took all three dogs to the vet this week; they all needed shots. And we got ice cream. Also signed papers for the loans for corn and soybean seed. And on the way home, picked up a ton of ‘egg layer’ ration for the chickens. Thank goodness for pallet forks.

We pour a 50 pound bag of egg layer into a container mounted on the wall, then fill the chickens feeders from there. If I leave the bag on the ground, the chickens will peck a hole in it. And I don’t use enough to warrant getting it in bulk.

It makes me think of how much stuff used to come in bags. I’ll be interested in Clyde’s memories of this.

For my dad, I suppose in the 1940’s there wasn’t so much stuff in bags as they used their own corn for seed and there wasn’t commercial fertilizer or feed supplements. In my childhood, we were always going to pick up feed, seed, fertilizer, and supplements. There were always bags of something around.

I remember a truck coming late winter early spring loaded with several tons of fertilizer bags. I was too small to help or maybe in school, but one day the corner of the shed would be filled with bags of corn starter fertilizer. Seems like those were 60 or even 80 lb bags. My dad was strong! I think he worked a lot harder than I do; just the sheer physical labor of everything back then compared to what I do now. When planting time came, he would load those fertilizer bags into the truck and then dump them into the planter every few acres. Those bags were handled 3 times. Now I get it all delivered in bulk truck, put in the wagon, and unloaded via auger. Pretty easy for me.

The milk cows got protein supplements added to their feed. I used to buy that in bags. Fifty pounds each, and I’d get 500 or 1000 lbs. Sometimes 2000 lbs at once; it just depended on the checkbook I think. Eventually I put up a bulk bin and then I could order a ton or two and another truck with an auger would unload it. I still carried bushel baskets of ground corn to the cows, but it was a bulk truck that delivered the corn and unloaded it into the barn. When we picked our own ear corn, we had to grind it before feeding it to the cows. After I went to shelled corn, the co-op would crack it before delivering.  I remember dad having a “hammer mill” to grind up the corn. The mill sat down by the barn and first he’d have to shovel ear corn from the crib into the truck, then shovel the corn in the hammer mill, which pulverized it via swinging metal bars, called hammers, hence “Hammer mill”. (Let’s not forget, he may have had to pick that corn by hand, throw it in a wagon, and shovel it into the crib in the first place! Read more about hammer mills here:

Eventually he bought a ‘Grinder Mixer’, which was a hammer mill and tank on wheels. We took that to the crib, shoveled the corn ONCE into the grinder, added minerals if needed and it all mixed up and it had an auger that we could unload into the barn. I shoveled a lot of ear corn to grind feed. Had to do that every 10 days or so. The mixer held about 5000 lbs.  And you don’t see them too much anymore. Different ways of feeding cattle that are less labor intensive.

My seed still comes in bags, but for the bigger farmers, some of the seed is starting to come in bulk. Soybeans mostly. Sometimes wheat or other small grains depending how they do it.

Before I bought the pallet forks and had this building, When I got chicken feed or milk cow protein, it was put in an old building called the ‘blue building’ because it used to be blue. It was faded and dull white as I remember it. When we picked up the feed from the coop, it was loaded into the truck from their pallets by hand, then unloaded at home, bag by bag into the blue building.  Then I’d haul them to barn as needed, usually 4 or 5 at a time every week. There was a just a lot more daily chores. And it wasn’t “work”, it was just part of the day. I was talking with daughter about that. I never said I was “going to work”, it was just “going outside” and that might mean milking cows, grinding feed, hauling bags, or who knows what.

Have I mentioned how hard my dad worked? So much has changed, so much has gotten physically easier in farming.

What do you think of milk in bags?

More or less bags in your life these days?

How Many Times are a Charm?

As you all know, I have an ancient house; it is not the easiest to heat.  Ten years ago, when the Airport Commission replaced our upstairs windows, the house became harder to heat evenly7.  The windows are not only great sound abatement but they hold the hot air in really effectively.  This means that during really cold weather, the temperature difference between the downstairs and the upstairs is significant.

On Sunday morning, I lingered upstairs, reading longer than usual and I noticed that it was chillier than usual.  Since it was well below zero outside, I didn’t think too much about it but as I descended the stairs for breakfast, it felt like I was entering a walk-in cooler.  A quick look at the thermostat gave me a little shock… 56 degrees.  We have one of those set-back thermostats and it is set quite cold during the night (since we’re in the warmer upstairs, asleep under covers) but the program has it set to start warming up at 6 a.m.  At this point it was after 8 and it still hadn’t warmed up at all. 

I started to panic – I always feel like I’m on the edge where house maintenance is concerned and I envisioned days of frozen fingers and toes.  Then I remembered that I’d had someone out to do boiler maintenance at the end of the summer – so it didn’t seem likely that it was a boiler fail.  And THEN I remembered that quite a few years back, someone coming out to check the heat had discovered that the batteries in my thermostat had died.  Since I can’t remember any time (in years) that I’ve changed those batteries, I thought I would try that. 

I spent a couple of hours checking and re-checking the temperature and the radiators, studiously NOT turning on the oven or the space heater so I could be sure any rise in temp was due to the boiler alone.  It took about 2 ½ hours to get up to 65, at which point I finally breathed a sigh of relief.  I congratulated myself on figuring out the problem on my own.

Monday morning was a splash of cold water in my face.  When I went downstairs, it was 56 degrees again.  After a few seconds of panic, I realized that it was only 6:15 – there hadn’t been enough time for it to warm up yet.  This didn’t keep me from checking several times over the next hour until I was sure everything was fine.  Phew!

When was the last time you got it right but didn’t trust that you got it right?

Two Bits

I see in the news that Maya Angelou is going to gracing our nation’s 25-cent piece this year.  I was actually a little skeptical about this, seeing as how Harriet Tubman hasn’t made it onto the twenty-dollar bill yet and they’ve been talking about THAT for years.

But apparently there is a whole series of 2022 American women quarters planned: Sally Ride, Maya Angelou, Wilma Mankiller, Nina Otero-Warren and Anna May Wong.  While I know Sally Ride (physicist, first American woman in space), Maya Angelou (writer, social activist) and Anna May Wong (first Chinese American film star in Hollywood), I have to admit that I didn’t know the names Wilma Mankiller or Nina Otero-Warren.

Wilma Mankiller was the first woman elected as principle chief of the Cherokee Nation and a lifelong activist for Native American rights.  Her surname Mankiller is a Cherokee name (Asgaya-dihi) and refers to a traditional Cherokee military rank, like major or captain.  She was elected Principle Chief in 1985 and served very successfully for ten years.  She was Ms. Magazine Woman of the Year in 1987, was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993 and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Bill Clinton.

María Adelina Isabel Emilia “Nina” Otero-Warren was a woman’s suffragist, educator, politician and the first female superintendent of the Santa Fe public schools.  In her role as superintendent she advocated abolishing the practice of sending Native American children to boarding schools  and sought to integrate ethnic cultures and languages into the New Mexico school curriculum.  She became the Director of Literacy under Franklin Roosevelt and later worked to preserve historic structures in Santa Fe and Taos and continued to promote Native American arts, language and culture.

I wish I had known who they were earlier, but I suppose this is better than never knowing them.  I’ll have to make sure to get one of each of these quarters in the coming year.

Did you ever collect coins?