Category Archives: 2022

Happy Birthday!

Tuesday was my birthday. I had a great day. I got two lovely flower arrangements from my coworkers and from dear friends. I had lovely wishes from friends on Facebook and the Trail. It was a good day. I feel loved and blessed.

As I look on Internet sites concerned with happenings on my birthday, I see that I share a birthday with Clark Gable, G. Stanley Hall ( the first president of the American Psychological Association), Victor Herbert, SJ Perelman, Langston Hughes, John Napier, a Scots mathematician who invented logarithms in 1550, John Ford, the film director, and Boris Yeltsin. Queen Elizabeth I condemned her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, to death on February 1. Lots of things happened the first day of February.

What important things happened on your birthday? What are your favorite or tragic birthday memories. With whom do you share a a birthday?


Lost & Found

I am one of those folks who keeps all my passwords written down.  I know lots of people use online password software these days, but it seems to me that if you need a separate password on almost every internet site that you visit in order to protect your data, that having all your passwords on the internet isn’t the smartest thing.  Considering how good hackers are at what they do, why should I give them a helping hand?

Starting at least 10 years ago, I realized that my method of post-it notes wasn’t going to cut it any longer and I made a spreadsheet that I saved onto a thumbdrive after I printed it out.  And since I often needed passwords at home as well, I printed two copies.. always on really bright paper (I kept my office copy in the middle of a binder, so the bright color helped me find it).  Any changes got penciled in and then every year or so, I would update the file and print new copies.

About five years ago I was cleaning up in my room and ended up once again picking up my password printout off the floor.  In fact, it was two versions… I don’t remember why.  As I picked them up I thought to myself “I should put these someplace safer where I’ll remember where they are”.  You know where this is going.  The next time I needed those sheets, I couldn’t remember where I had put them.  I spent A LOT of time looking for them, but clearly wherever I had put them, they were definitely safe.

Fast forward five years.  I’m doing a massive cataloging project in my studio and a couple of days ago, I emptied out the drawer in which I keep my stencils.  Now I open this drawer a lot to get to various stencils but I haven’t actually dug down to the bottom of the drawer for quite some time.  As I was sorting through everything, I found the password sheets.  What possessed me to put them in the stencil drawer?  I have never ever put anything else in there for safekeeping.

This experience has made me realize a couple of things.  #1 – I need to use my stencils more often.  #2 – my password situation is still out of hand.  #3 — every time I say to myself “I’ll put this someplace I’ll remember it”, I should just slap myself.

Have you ever permanently misplaces something?

The Principle

Today’s farm/township update comes to us from Ben.

Kelly and I saw “Come from Away” last Sunday. It was fantastic. In the lobby we heard a guy walk up to his wife and say, “My glasses fogged up and I was following the wrong lady in a red jacket.”

It was so cold! How cold was it? It was so cold I wore sleeves. It was so cold I saw a duck standing on one foot. It was so cold the handle on the water hydrant by the barn wouldn’t move. Then it warmed up for a day and the chickens came out, and the hydrant worked, and the ducks just looked at their corn.

In the winter, we get pheasants coming in to eat the corn I throw out for the ducks. Each year there’s a couple more and this year it’s 9 or 10. It’s pretty cool. The crows have learned there’s free food here too. Kelly doesn’t like the crows.

Here’s a picture of some dark colored blobs down there. Those are pheasants.

I’m on our local townboard. Been on there since 1998. We have one house on a major road that is city on both sides of this house, and there is 100’ of sidewalk in front of that house. I don’t know if it’s a ‘walking path’ or ‘bike path’ or ‘sidewalk’ but It’s the only sidewalk in the township. (because the rest of the township is rural or subdivisions that don’t have sidewalks). The city clears the walking path out in this area because there are no home frontages here, but they have been skipping that 100’ in front of this house. And the property owner has never plowed it. As it’s in the middle of this stretch of path, it’s a problem for people using the path. I learned all this last winter when I got an angry phone call from a city resident who lives out there and uses this path. I didn’t even know it was a township problem. I didn’t know the homeowner and I didn’t know if he had health issues or what reasons there might be for him not clearing the sidewalk. Took me a few days to connect with him, during which, the county snowplow just pushed all the snow back off the sidewalks and so the path was open. Turns out the guy just refuses to clear the walk on principle. Huh. He figures he didn’t ask for this sidewalk, so he’s not going to plow it. We, as the township, don’t have a sidewalk ordinance and we don’t want to make one for 100’ of sidewalk when we have 33 miles of roads to deal with, therefore we couldn’t force him to clear it. And the city says it’s not theirs, so they don’t want to clear it (even though they’re clearing a mile on both sides of it). Last winter the weather warmed up and the problem went away.

This winter I’ve been watching it as I drive by this area. I’ve seen the guy out there with his small tractor and blower doing his driveway, but he still isn’t doing the sidewalk. And I can’t decide if I admire him for sticking to his principles or if he’s being a jerk. And the city now is clearing it as they’re driving through there anyway. Which makes sense, but I could also see them leaving it… on principle.

Twenty-five years ago, just after I got on the Townboard, we repaved some roads in a subdivision. One resident never paid his share believing no one would come and tear out the road. Jokes on him; the company DID tear up 100’ of blacktop, leaving a section of gravel on this road. Didn’t take long for him to pay up and the road to get fixed. Maybe the neighbors convinced him.

We have a mystery going on at our townhall. It’s an old building, looks like a one room school. (Maybe it was the school that got blown across the road in the great tornado of 1883, or maybe it was always a townhall; depends who you ask and what maps you choose to believe).

For the last 3 years we’ve been picking up Phillips vodka bottles in the gravel parking lot. I wish LJB was still around; we need a good story for this! We have our suspicions… once a week, there will be 1, 2, or sometimes even 3 vodka bottles. Very few are empty. Some have never been opened! Most will be between ½ and 2/3’s full. We’ve got a collection in the hall now of 14 bottles, and there are a lot that have been picked up and thrown out and don’t make it to the hall collection. The hall is at the intersection of two major roads. People park there in summer and ride bikes or jog. A school bus stops there. Sheriff deputies park there to do reports. 

Why are you not finishing the vodka? And why are you leaving them there? Bonus points if you can tie in the glasses fogged up guy.  

Don’t Take Limestone for Granite

Today’s post comes to us from Clyde.

And I wave my magic crane . . . and, poof, it is gone.

A few years ago I wrote a blog about this sculpture which sat on the MSU-M campus, including my ambivalence to it. It is carved in the same Kasota limestone from just north of Mankato which is used at Target Field. Someone, I think maybe Jacque, did some digging and told me it is called the Pillars. And objected to my critique. All is fair in art criticism. My picture then did not show it settled in as does the header photo. It looks better in that photo surrounded by the vegetation. I even like it in that photo.

I had not driven past it in years, out of my way for everywhere I was going. Then Sandy went into memory care. As a result, I drive by it twice a day. After a few trips with my brain overloaded with the transition in my life, I looked that way, hard not to really when waiting at the stop light at a major pedestrian crossing on campus, and saw it is all gone.

My son got taken up by the question and did some digging. The MSU-M website says it is still there and makes no other comment. I drove around campus, which has quite a few sculptures strewn around, but did not see it anywhere else.

So it is a mystery. I can imagine a few reasons it is gone, such as various departments upset about being upside down or absent. One statue inside the student union is a hot topic right now with students and others. (See below.)

Mankato itself has many sculptures in it these days. It has a sculpture walk through downtown with some of them permanent and some changed out periodically. My own favorite is near the sculpture walk but has a different purpose.

This is the memorial to those Sioux/Lacota people who were hanged here after the Lacota Uprising. (It used to be called the Sioux Uprising but its name has been changed. But one tribal group near here still call themselves Sioux.) Behind the buffalo is a scroll, not shown in my photo, listing the names of those executed. It is a touchy issue how to memorialize that event, an event once portrayed on such things as a beer platter. The site is now part industrial and part library. It is a tiny little park almost under an overpass and next to a busy railroad track. It was carved by a native artist. It was once vandalized with paint but was easily cleaned and remains untouched, surprisingly. I find it perfect for the space and the purpose.

In the student union is a very nice sculpture of Abraham Lincoln, a little larger than life-size in a busy student traffic area, which is the hot topic issue. I am sure I do not need to explain. Without making any comment on that topic, I suggest maybe all sculptures of real people should be shown with feet of clay.

History is about changing points of view, changing taste, changing truth. How have your truths changed and your taste in art changed?

Faith & Hope

I got an email a couple of weeks ago from the State Fair folks.  They wanted to give everybody a heads’ up that ticket prices are going up this year.  And that wasn’t all – they also wanted to give folks a chance to pre-purchase tickets before prices go up.  The difference in ticket price is one dollar.  This doesn’t seem that big of a deal to me – after all, the tickets have been $13 for years.  The cost of setting up the website to pre-sell tickets plus the cost to send out the communication probably wasn’t inconsiderable, so my cynical side kicked in; I’m thinking they just need some cash before the fair.  I didn’t delete the email, but I also didn’t give it much more thought.

Then yesterday morning, our ring doorbell chimed as someone was delivering a package.  It was for YA and it was about the size of a shoebox but didn’t seem heavy enough for a pair of shoes.  When I asked her about later, she said it was a pair of sandals.  Seeing as it was -2° F when we were having this conversation, I commented that this was a great show of hope and faith on her part.  She laughed.

So I decided that I could have some hope and faith as well.  Most days I don’t feel particularly hopeful about the end of pandemic but I went online and ordered all our State Fair tickets for August.  Hope, faith and I saved $8!

Are you making any plans for the summer yet?

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?