Category Archives: 2023

Say It Ain’t Snow!

Photo credit:  Star Tribune

MnDot announced the finalists yesterday for the Minnesota Name A Snowplow contest.   If you haven’t heard of this before you may not be alone, although the contest has been held annually for a few years now.  Last year’s winners were:

    • Betty Whiteout
    • Ctrl Salt Delete
    • The Big Leplowski
    • Plowasaurus Rex
    • Scoop Dogg
    • Blizzard of Oz
    • No More Mr. Ice Guy
    • Edward Blizzardhands

This is one winner per MnDot district.  I haven’t been able to find out what happens after the winners are announced?  Is there a plaque somewhere?  Little signs on the snowplows?  Patches for the snowplow drivers?  Banquet?

There are 60 finalists so I am not going to name them all but will give you some of my favorites:

    • Bladezilla
    • It’s a Squall World After All
    • Taylor Drift
    • Hippoplowtomus

If you’d like to see all the finalists and vote for your top eight favs, here is the link:

Name a Snowplow contest – MnDOT (state.mn.us)

We can probably come up with some good names of our own.  What do you think?

Cold Calls

With the kitchen project, electricians, plumbers, dishwasher installers, etc. all calling me the last three to four weeks, I’ve been answering unknown numbers more than usual.  Some of the time it’s been someone I want to talk to, some of it’s folks looking for my money. 

Yesterday morning I was still expecting a couple more calls about the dishwasher so I picked up an area code “952” when it rang.  I knew straight away it probably wasn’t the dishwasher but I usually wait to hear what my unknowns want before I give them the brush off.  She jumped right in an identified herself as calling from a colonoscopy center and asking when my last one was.  I was able to truthfully tell her I had done the mail-in a couple of months ago and then we ended the call.  Who would have thought you’d ever get a call like this?

I spent all afternoon thinking about it and imagining what she tells people at parties when they ask what she does.  “I make cold calls to talk people into colonoscopies” aren’t words that I’d be willing to say to strangers.

What is a current trend that you just don’t understand?

Meh

I think I’m a fairly upbeat person most of the time.  So when I’m crabby, I really feel it.  It was just one of those days where every little thing built up.

Finally got through to somebody about the dishwasher and got answers – not what I really wanted, but at least answers.  My recent excellent experience with the cabinet installation did not suddenly make me think all projects would go on schedule and be hunky dory but when they showed up with the dishwasher and couldn’t de-install the old one, and couldn’t explain why to me because they didn’t have much English and my Spanish doesn’t include any electrical- or plumbing- detailed vocabulary.  Did get somebody on the phone from the company who would translate, but the end is still the same.  No dishwasher installed today.  Plumber today.  Maybe.  All this has required that I change plans for lunch today.   Meh.

Then I got an email from my ex-boss.  I officially “start” work tomorrow, although until I have a computer and the program is ready to turn over, I won’t actually be doing anything.  Meh.

My favorite tv channel hasn’t been “connecting” today.  You’d think that since I’ve seen every episode of Midsomer Murders, this wouldn’t be that big a deal.  I can watch old episodes on Freetevee but it’s not the best app for reception.   Meh.

My stamps came from the post office today but I only got half of the order.  23 minutes on hold before Customer Service picked up.  She was very nice and apologetic and the rest of the stamps should be here later this week.  Meh.

I took out all my frustration on a non-person, the Xfinity survey system.  After unsuccessfully trying to figure out my tv channel problem, I got an automated survey from Xfinity.  If you were at Blevins on Sunday, you’re probably laughing right now (we did vent a bit about surveys during book club).  I was vicious with a Zero and a No I wouldn’t recommend and No, you didn’t resolve my problem.  Unfortunately I know the information will go nowhere and it didn’t actually make me feel less crabby to savage the Xfinity survey.  Meh.

How to you un-crabby yourself?

Stamping

Big warehouse stores don’t do it for me.  While I have a huge house, I’ve never found it convenient to buy massive quantities to keep the price a bit down.  (With the exception of toilet paper, of course.)

However there is one thing that I use a lot of: postage stamps.  Most months I send out 10-12 birthday cards and then there are the anniversary cards, get well cards, sympathy cards, thank you cards and then all the other things that I feel the need to note. At least one card a month goes overseas. 

So when I noticed a news story about postage going up (it increased yesterday), I thought maybe stamps was one thing I would load up on.  Apparently I’m not the only one to think this…. a couple of the stamps that I like were out of stock at my local post office.  So I chose some others and then came home and ordered a bunch more online.  I figure I won’t have to buy stamps until August!

What do you never like to run out of?

Another Week, Another Snowstorm

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

We got a good 6 to 8 inches Wednesday night into Thursday. They were predicting that, so I unhooked the rear blade and hooked the snowblower on the tractor on Tuesday. I hadn’t used the blower this year, so I had to put the hydraulic cylinder on it to rotate the spout, check the oil, grease the power takeoff shaft, and I was fairly impressed with myself that I could get in amongst the linkage and frame and get the power takeoff shift connected to the tractor. I would not have been able to do that last summer. BULLY FOR ME!  

It was kind of fun to blow snow again, I do things a little different with the blower than I do with the blade and it’s just been the last few years that I started using a blade for snow, so the skills for this came back pretty quick. I remembered it would be slower, but I forgot how much it makes my neck hurt because I’m looking over my right shoulder to do it. The seat swivels a bit, and I sit as sideways as I can, but it’s still looking over my shoulder. My next tractor will have heated mirrors so they stay clean. Or maybe my next tractor will have a blower on the front!

Kelly took some video of me, and I put my first video on YouTube.

One day I had to stop at Fleet Farm as I was looking for insulated winter boots. I found them over in the ice fishing section. You all know I’m not much of a sportsman so I don’t think I’ve ever walked through that area before. It was a little bit fascinating!

I found some boots; they’re keeping my feet much warmer than the plain rubber boots I had been wearing.

Then I went to Menards and walked around there for a while. After that, I had a meeting on the far end of the college campus, and by the time I got home I was pooped out. Nothing hurt! Just pooped out.

Kelly counted 17 pheasants in the yard one morning. The most we’ve ever had, and I love seeing them. I have one neighbor that always asks if he can pheasant hunt and I always tell him no.

My chickens from last spring are just coming into their peak. It’s not unusual to get 16 or 20 eggs a day lately. If anybody was up for a road trip again for eggs, this would be a good time. Although we should wait for the driveway to get better than glare ice.

After that rain we got on Monday, our yard and driveway became pretty slick. It’s been packed snow all winter, not thick, just a half-inch maybe, but that’s what rain does to it. I went to a meeting Monday night. I was impressed that I was even able to get out. Years of practice I told Kelly. After I got home, I used the loader and tried to scrape the ice on the hills and corners on the driveway. It didn’t do much, but it did rough it up a bit and that helps.

I went out to do chores while it was raining on Monday, I tried Kelly‘s yak traks, but they didn’t fit my boots, and I lost them on about the third step. Again, I’ve been doing this for years, I know how to aim for the gravel or bare ground or walk through the snow. Once I got to the feed room, I threw out a bunch of corn, and that gives some traction. Then I carried a bucket with me and scattered corn in front of me to make a path to walk on. A win for the crows and chickens and ducks, and a win for me.

I remember an old movie called Angel In My Pocket, Andy Griffith and a host of character actors that you would recognize. It came out in 1969, and a gentleman playing the church caretaker, Parker Fennelly, reminds me of my grandfather Hain. That was the only movie I was able to watch this week. I couldn’t find it online anywhere so I ordered the movie off eBay and it came from Australia. Spent a week in customs in Chicago. It a long way for some entertainment, but I really enjoy this movie and it makes me think of Grandpa.

I was filling the birdfeeders one day, and I love the fact that the chickadees don’t even wait for me to finish, and they don’t appear to be very scared. I was standing right there filling things and they just come and sit on the birdfeeder.

And here’s Humphrey breaking the corn cob into bits.  PHOTOS

Do you, or did your family do home movies?

Garden Preparations

This weekend Husband and I plan to order our seeds for the garden. Husband has picked out three varieties of zinnia seeds. We will have our usual San Marzano 2 and Brandy Boy tomatoes which we will start in March. I found a source for the Doux D’Espana red sweet peppers. They are unavailable from our usual suppliers, so I hope the new source is reliable. I have no idea why they are in such short supply. We will also grow New Mexico Joe Parker Anaheim peppers.

Husband wants to plant turnips this year instead of kohlrabi. He will have them all to himself, as I don’t like turnips. I don’t like kohlrabi, either. He also wants to grow 12 heads of Alcosa savoy cabbage. We agreed on growing more Hamburg turnip-rooted parsley, as it is so good in soup and stock. We will grow our regular peas, Italian giant winter spinach, chard, Hidatsa pole beans and green beans, Italian parsley, and butternut squash. I am feeling tired already!

What are your summer garden plans? Any travel plans? What flowers do you like to grow? Any opinions about turnips?

The Favor

As you all know, I adore being retired.  It’s been six months and the novelty has not worn off.  And my boss knows as well.  When she called me last week, the first words out of her mouth were “don’t hang up on me”.  Two new programs for the first week of May have just sold, an unusual happenstance for this late in the fiscal year.  They are warehouse programs, of which I was the undisputed queen, and nobody else has any wiggle room in their workload to fit these in.  Could I pretty please with a cherry on top come out of retirement on a temporary, part time basis and run these two programs?

I thought about it over the weekend and got input from several friends (all of whom said “go for it’ – I need new friends).  When I told my boss I would do it, I gave her a long list of requirements, all of which she agreed to.  Rats.  I also told her that this was a big favor and it was the only one she was going to get.  If these programs re-up next year, I won’t do them.  And she can’t apply the favor to a non-warehouse program.  It’s these two and no others.

I’m not all that excited about this development, but all my former team-mates are ecstatic.  Not so much because I’m coming back temporarily but because now they know they don’t have to try to squeeze either of these programs into their calendar!

Tell me about a huge favor you’ve done for someone.  Or a huge favor they’ve done for you!

Odd Couples

Husband drives to Bismarck for work every Tuesday night, and returns home Wednesday night. He is usually pretty tired on both drives, and cranks up music on the radio to keep himself awake.

The other night he listened to the Sinatra station, and heard what he thought was one of the oddest duets he ever heard. It featured Frank Sinatra and Aretha Franklin singing What Now, My Love.

I have to agree with husband that this is quite weird. I can’t imagine what possessed the Queen of Soul to sing that with Ol’ Blue Eyes. Their styles are so different and not really compatible. Sort of like Ozzy Osbourne singing gospel music with Amy Grant.

What music keeps you awake when you drive? What are your favorite duets? What are some duets you wouldn’t want to hear?

Destined to Fail?

I looked out my bathroom window yesterday to see the scene in the photo above of my neighbor’s house to the north.

Based on having been a homeowner myself for 40+ years, I’m guessing Brian tried to knock down some icicles.   

Now YA and I have a pool going to see how long it takes for the balls to return to earth.  I say four days; YA says two.

Any projects that with hindsight just weren’t going to work out well?

January

The first Farm Report of 2023 comes to us from Ben.

I’m happy to report my 1940’s radio station is back on XM radio, thank goodness.

We seem to have picked up some extra ducks; there’s 14 now. And there’s more either female or younger pheasants coming in for chicken corn. I sure wish Steve was here to clarify those things for me. One day I watched our dog Bailey walk right past a pheasant and neither one paid any attention to the other. I understand Bailey ignoring the pheasant, I’m surprised the pheasant ignored Bailey. 

I am finally driving again. I park my car over in the old machine shed and there’s a lot of sparrows in there. A night or two isn’t bad. But I parked for two weeks, I had bought a tarp and some cheap bungee cords back in January when I knew I was having shoulder surgery, but the car actually sat out that whole time. This time, when we got it out, it was evident I should’ve had a bigger tarp. The hood, front windshield, and most of the roof was OK, the back window and sides were pretty disgusting. And they were really cheap bungee cords, there’s no stretch left in them. The tarp will still be good… once it’s cleaned off.

I’m back in the tractor! There was a minor mishap trying to move snow one day. It was wet and heavy, and we were trying to go the other direction and, well, one thing led to another, and pretty soon we were in the fence. I told Kelly, I’ve run into a lot of things, broken some fences, dented some steel siding, and broke some stuff; that’s just how you learn. Didn’t damage anything on the tractor, and the fence can be fixed. A few days later trying to cut down the snowbanks, I snagged the fence a couple more times with the blade. Just loosened the fence a little bit. There’s a bit of a learning curve to this that I’m still getting back. I move a lot of sod before the ground freezes. (For the record, Kelly hardly picked up any sod. Somehow, I’m still picking up sod.) And I may have re-arranged our fire pit a little bit. Oops.  

We have some pretty good banks on the sides of the road.

That’s the issue with using a blade and not a blower. If I’m up to it, one of these days I’ll hook the blower up and use that to cut the banks down. Unless they melt first. On the township level we have the county Highway Department clear our snow. After the first couple snows and the county trucks clearing the roads, we get some complaints about road rock being thrown into people’s yards. Well, that’s pretty hard to avoid on these first snowfalls. The next complaint is about the snow – or the plow- hitting mailboxes. To avoid those mishaps, a few years ago the county replaced all the mailboxes on county roads with swiveling pipe stands. When the plow or heavy snow hits the mailbox, it swivels out of the way. Seems like a good plan. Except when there’s mail in the box. Then it’s like ‘Crack-the-whip’ and the door pops open and the mail sails off into the ditch. I stood on the edge of the road looking at the open mailboxes (both ours and our neighbors) and looked at the mail down there by the pine tree and thought, “maybe, I can get down there.” Nope, one step into the deep snow and I knew my knew knee wasn’t up to it. Kelly had to go rescue it. And it turned out it was all our neighbors mail.

It was 2 1/2 weeks before I put real pants on again, and three weeks to the day before I wore real shoes again. I’m doing stairs, and I can just barely get the left foot up on my right knee to put my socks on! Making progress!

Movies this week have been Monty Python and the Holy Grail, (because it showed up on Netflix so how could I not?) So many quotable lines! The one I use on daughter often is when trying to wake her up in the mornings. I tell her I’ll come back and “…taunt you a second a-time-a!”

And Ferris Buellers Day Off. And The Big Lebowski. I saw part of The English Patient on TV one night. Thumbs up or down for that one? I remember liking the book. 

I got the book ‘Wild Pork and Watercress’ by Barry Crump for Christmas; read that in 2 days. Saw the movie adaptation last summer, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and liked that. Then the book. As usual, the book was better. 

Kelly’s car had more miles last year. Probably from driving me around all summer. My car and truck had less miles of course, and all the tractors had less hours. I didn’t do my own fertilizer last year so that accounted for some less. And I only had half as much straw to bale as usual, so that was less hours. The big tractor, doing the heavy tillage, had 37 hours. My other one, the one I use for planting, baling, blowing snow, and mowing, that one had 113 hours. The gator, being our first full year with it, had 468 hours and 455 miles. Since that was my main mode of transportation for a couple months, it did add up. 

Speaking of airplanes and deserts, (The English Patient), Anyone seen ‘The Little Prince’ at the Guthrie? How is it?

Did you play Dodge Ball in School? What was the most terrifying playground equipments?