Category Archives: 2023

Vanity Plates

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

I read a funny story online a couple of days ago.  Apparently the State of Maine has recalled 274 license plates because they were deemed inappropriate.  “How did they GET these inappropriate plates in the first place?” you may ask.  I certainly did.

Until the last few years Maine has been one of the few states that didn’t seriously police their vanity plate program.  In fact about 7 years back, they did away with the review process for vanity plates.  If you asked for it and it wasn’t taken (and you were willing to cough up the fee), it was yours.  As you can imagine, some very interesting plates were issued.  VERY interesting.

Maine decided it had gotten out of hand, so now they have re-instituted a review policy AND recalled 274 plates that crossed their new, arbitrary line.  Including the one in the photo above.  The family with the plate are vegan.  It’s hard to tell in the photo but there are other tofu- and vegan-related stickers on the car.  But because the word tofu ends in FU and the phrase is “suggestive”, Maine says they can’t drive around town with this plate on their car.  They appealed and lost their case.  In fact, no one who has appealed has gotten their questionable plates restored.  The next step is to file suit in the Maine Supreme Court but nobody has gone that far yet. 

Seems like a big kerfuffle for me after being a vegetarian for 50+ years, I would certainly read it correctly.  Part of me thinks so what if somebody has a blatantly foul license plate and part of me thinks I might not be too happy to stuck in traffic behind someone with a racist or outright pornographic plate.  Aah, the dilemmas of our modern age.

If you had to design your own license plates (no cost to you), what would you want on them?

Finally – Pi!!

Some of you probably remember the frantic phone calls and/or emails from me on Friday, March 13, 2020.  It was the week the world turned upside down.  I’d had a few cancels already but didn’t really think having a Pi Day party was a big deal.  Then I spent all of Friday morning reading online articles about the virus, its spread, the possible consequences lurking around the corner and decided I didn’t need to add to the problem.  It really bummed me out as I had already shopped for all the ingredients, set up things in the dining room and even made the placecards. 

Back then I was one of many who thought it would be over by the end of summer. Nobody was really saying pandemic yet.  Thinking I might have a Pi & ½ Day in September, I put the placecards and the list of ingredients in the drawer along with my “which pie goes in the oven at what time and what temperature” spreadsheet.  Of course September was out of the question.  So was March 2021 and even March 2022.

So Pi Day 2023 was easy peasy.  All the upfront planning was done.  And since I am (mostly) retired, I had plenty of time to do some ahead-of-time prep.  I even had the nametags done from 2020.  11 pies (Dutch Apple, Blueberry, Red Velvet Whoopie, Vanilla Crumb, Banofee, Crack, Pecan Dream, PB Crunch, Pear Croustade, Lemon Custard, Berry Cobbler).  I got done in record time. The pie was great and the camaraderie was warm. 

Why should you never start talking to pi at a party?

Dog Talk

One of the most trying aspects of our Grandson’s two week stay has been managing his interactions with our dog. Kyrill is a terrier, therefore terribly intrusive and curious. Grandson doesn’t like the way the dog invades his space and hovers. The dog just wants to be a part of everything. He also seems to be anxious, and when he isn’t following Grandson he is sitting in my lap. I am never alone. That has been stressful.

I found that the best way of helping Grandson understand the dog’s behavior is to talk in what I imagine the dog’s voice would be, explaining my (the dog’s) motives and feelings. The dog’s voice is lower than my regular speaking voice, with some difficulty saying his L’s. Grandson is young enough to suspend reality and have conversations with the dog (me), explaining how he feels about the dog’s behavior. Sometimes Grandson will say something, and then tell me “Oma, I am talking to Kyrill”, letting me know I have to answer him in Kyrill’s voice and from Kyrill’s point of view. Like us, the dog has been glad for our Grandson’s stay, but, like us, also looking forward to having things back to normal.

Do you have a particular voice you use for your pets? What would your pets say to you if they could talk? What were your best and worst childhood pets?

Mud & Junk & Acting

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

It’s mud season. Everything is mud. And not just our farm; on FB or YT, the farmers I follow are all complaining about the mud. I don’t miss the mud I dealt with when I had cows. Even the chickens are trying to get out of it.

And we haven’t had the worst of it. Wait until the frost starts to come out. 

Lately, I end up washing all the eggs just because they’re covered with muddy footprints. 

And another snowstorm ain’t helping.

I got the car washed two days in a row (I have a wash membership) and the guy even said “You must live way out in the woods!” Not much point trying to keep it clean, it’s just to wash off the outer layer of grime.

Trying to move snow after the latest round and now the ground is soft and it’s really hard not to rip up sod and dirt or move the gravel around. And I thought to myself, I go through this every spring; you’d think it would have leveled out by now. But a bump on the front wheels makes the rear blade go down an equal amount. Or a lump on the rear wheels and the front loader digs in. Slow down and make the best of it. Eventually the lawn mower will level that back off.

I was digging in the junk drawer in the shed the other day. You thought your house junk drawer was bad.

The only thing I routinely use out of here are hydraulic couplers, fuses, and the little lightbulbs for your car taillights. I sure don’t need this cabinet for those few things. But there’s a flat surface on the top so I can put things there! I assume it’s from our old house… Dad put it here. This summer, GONE!

All those things sitting on top? Hydraulic fittings. Two different types, one of which doesn’t fit anything I have anymore. WHY AM I STILL SAVING THEM??

I picked up Allie’s ashes. Bailey and Allie just tormented each other and it appears Baily is basically saying ‘I got your pillow; suck it Allie!’.

Humphrey always plays it cool. Or maybe he just has tummy ache. He is delicate and if he eats carrion, he doesn’t feel good and I have to give him GasX. Plus, He is eight years old, basically our age. Naps are good. 

I was reading the daily email I get from the weather channel talking about the comet Hale-Bopp appearing in 1997. I had a calf named Hale-Bopp. Sometimes it got hard to name calves. Sometimes you just used whatever was available. I had several weather related name for calves.

Chicks are in short supply. And I don’t say like I need a date; I say that as someone who generally orders chicks in March for delivery in a couple weeks. I mentioned last week I was starting to think about chicks and then saw on the news how there was a shortage, and when I logged in to Hoovers Hatchery, the first available was June! And depending on the breed ordered, it might be July! 

I ended up revising the breeds I wanted in order to get June 1 shipment. Which is still 6 – 8 weeks later than I prefer. It has pros and cons; I’ve gotten chicks in March before and the temperature crashes and while they are in a heated pen, it’s just harder when that happens. (I tried fall chicks once too; got them in October. Two weeks later it was 20 degrees and their water was freezing at night.) Mid-April is usually pretty safe weather wise, but it’s a busy time at work and home. Ok, so June should avoid both of those…but now we’re into January or February before we get eggs. And the current chickens taper off around December, meaning well, we might be in an egg crunch again from our farm. 

Why a chick shortage? What came first;  the shortage of the chicken or the egg? Avian flu and millions of chickens killed. Hence the egg shortage for a while as the hens get to laying age. Prices on eggs are up so people decided to raise their own chickens. In a year, (or the first cold week. Or when the price comes back down) there will be a surplus of ‘mature’ chickens on marketplace. I’ve gotten a lot of chickens because people were not prepared or interested in raising chickens during the winter. 

I am in this play called ‘Master Class’. It’s Maria Callas having a master class. (Born Maria Anna Cecilia Sophie Kalogeropoulou; December 2, 1923 – September 16, 1977, was one of the most renowned and influential opera singers of the 20th century.”- Wiki) I am the ‘stagehand’. I have 9 lines and I bring out a footstool, a cushion, and I refill her water glass. It is fun to be ‘onstage’ again, but when I go out for curtain call and bows, I still think to myself, “This is not right; I’m not supposed to be out here.” First rehearsal I was asking the director about this stagehand; what’s his motivation. Maria is not a pleasant woman toward him. Did he work AC/DC last night? Finally I just asked, ‘Does he have attitude?’ Oh yes, she said, there’s attitude. Perfect.

They say, keep trying things until the director tells you to back off, then you know when you’ve gone far enough. The director didn’t tell me to back off until I got a toothpick with cellophane on the end. I wanted to play him like a 1950’s old guy; stubby cigar and faded tattoo. She wouldn’t let me do tattoos. I opted for the smallest hammer, a different colored toothpick for each entrance, and I wanted a bad toupee but had to make do with an old ladies wig. (Every night, I wet it down and smooth out the curls). But it’s a fun group, and a good experience.


Worm Moon Hike

“The Worm Moon is the moon for March and for some it takes its name from the fact that earthworms begin to reappear around this time of year, bringing birds back out to feed. It signals the tail end of Winter and the beginning of regrowth for nature.”  Joey Rather, Clarksburg, WV

YA and I went out to the Arboretum on Tuesday night to do a Worm Moon Hike. I’ve never done one of these monthly hikes before but figured that by March, it should be decent enough weather.  The website gave scant information so I was a little surprised when we saw some folks putting on snowshoes. 

It didn’t seem necessary as we started out along the pond.  The path was clear and packed down.  Easy peasy.  Then we headed into the wooded area and while there were small luminaries, without the ambient night light, it was a little harder to see and in a couple of uphill stretches it was slippery.  I was doing OK as I was wearing boots; YA not so much in her tennis shoes.  We made it past the slippery spots, continuing in an uphill direction.  So far so good.

It was clouding over but at the topmost part of the hike, there was a lovely view of the hazy moon so we stopped for a bit to admire it.  then it got rough – downhill.  The luminaries didn’t really do a great job of lighting and downhill felt way more treacherous.  YA was slipping a bit but catching trees to steady herself.  I tried to walk more in the snow than on the path but the snow depth was not consistent at all.  In one place, I’d step off the path and sink to almost my knee.  In other spots it wasn’t as deep but the ground under the snow wasn’t even so it was tough and not much fun. 

Finally at about the 2/3 mark, the snowy hiking trail crossed the road (Three Mile Road) and to our surprise, we discovered that the road back was lit.  We both agreed that we would walk the rest of the way on the road, which was completely clear. At that point, like the first 5 minutes of the hike, it was easier to really enjoy the scenery and the beauty of the Arb at night.  When we got back to the car YA said “well, I’m guessing that’s not what you expected” and she was right.  Next year I’m just doing the road!

Any memorable hikes you’ve been on?


My friend in Tucson (actually Green Valley) lives at the end of her cul de sac, right along a canyon.  We had walked down a path into the canyon a bit and she pointed out javelina tracks.  While I know what a javelina is, I’ve never actually seen one.  And I certainly didn’t expect to be walking along a javelina pathway. 

Then later that evening as we were sitting in her living room, I looked out the window to see a fairly large javelina walking right past the house, only about 20 feet from my chair.  Fascinating.  During my trip we actually spied javelinas several times – at the Desert Museum, more near the house and even a troop crossing the street near a park.  They look like pigs but Arizonians are quick to tell you that they are peccaries and NOT pigs. I loved seeing them and spent some time looking up javelina facts during the trip.

On our last day, in the zoo gift shop, I found a small plush javelina toy that I thought was cute.  My friend insisted that I actually needed a bigger plush toy.  When I told her the small one was what I could justify (since clearly I don’t need to be dragging stuffed toys home at my age), she doubled down and said she wanted to purchase it for me.  We argued a bit and I eventually gave up. 

On the way home I made my first mistake – I gave the toy a name – Henrietta.  The mistake meant that when I was packing, I felt funny about stuffing her into my squishable carry-on bag.  How would she breathe?  I really didn’t even pause before I set her into my purse.  When my friend laughed and asked what folks would think, I told her that lots of people needed emotional support animals when they flew.  Henrietta would be my emotional support javelina.  (I am NOT suggesting that people who have emotional support animals don’t need them!)

Anyway, here is Henrietta going through Security, getting settled on the plane and then at home on my bed. 

I will admit this to you all; I’ve had Henrietta for cuddling every night since I got back from Tuscson.  I’ve thought about bringing some of my other stuffed toys down from the attic so they can take turns but I’m afraid Henrietta’s feelings will be hurt!

Any strange stuffed toys in your past (or present)?

Words To Live By

We are starting our second, and unexpected, week of caring for our grandson. A snow storm and terrible road conditions have made our planned rendezvous with Son and Dil impossible today, and it looks like the weather is going to be awful all week. We may not get him back to his parents until Saturday.

Yesterday Husband, Grandson, and dog had a wonderful time playing in the snow drifts, feeding the birds, and tearing around in the backyard. The dog came in the house with a mass of golf ball-sized snow clumps sticking to his beard, skirt, armpits, furnishings, and legs. I had to put him in a warm bath to melt them. He had a great time out there, though. Grandson loved watching the birds flock at the feeder.

Husband is exhausted from clearing snow. He says that North Dakota words to live by are “Don’t run out of whiskey in a blizzard”. His small stash of hooch is holding up just fine, but we really need spring to come.

What are your words to live by? Any opinions about whiskey?


The weekend Farm Report is from Ben.

Last week was all about the snow,

We started off this week with rain on Monday. Rain on a snow packed gravel road just makes ice, so there was a lot of phone calls between the township officials. Most of the residents know the county, whom we contract for snow removal and road maintenance, is working on it, but they will sometimes send a note just to make sure we know a certain road is an ice rink. And a few roads are more trouble than others. We all managed and in a few hours they were better.

When I was moving snow last week, I forgot to make a path from the back door of the chicken coop over to the building with the feed. I did that in the rain Monday morning because the chickens needed more feed. And I then went up the driveway and tried to scrape off some ice. I sanded the corners and had to take a moment to be grateful, again, for the things I can do this year that I was not doing a year or six months ago. I picked up and threw a bag of feed on my shoulder and I carried buckets of corn. A year ago, I had the shoulder surgery and couldn’t do any of that. I walked through the snow and I spread out sand; six months ago I was barely able to walk or keep my balance and I certainly would not have been walking on an uneven surface. 

Chickens are doing really well, we’re getting somewhere between 18 and 24 eggs per day. Thanks to Tim, I was able to move a few dozen and someone at the college took a few dozen. I think I moved 16 dozen eggs one day.

We still have the two ducks. Plus, some wild ones that come in for corn.

It’s very interesting to us, the pheasants are not afraid of the vehicles; the tractor or the gator or a car and they will just stand there and watch us go by. But I step out of the house 75 yards away and they flee.

I’m not sure if you can consider an inch of snow being ‘March coming in like a lion’, it’s March, it’s going to do whatever it does. There are basketball tournaments and they used to say there was always a snowstorm during tournaments. That doesn’t prove so true anymore, so we’ll just see what it is. But the snow is melting. Even after that freezing rain on Monday, by Monday afternoon a lot of ice had melted on the road. We talk about our long driveway, but most of the time it’s just the first 300 yards from the house that’s a problem. Those are the two corners going uphill to get out of our yard. If you can get around those two corners you can probably make it. The rest of the road is still curvy and uphill, but it’s open and in the sun, and doesn’t usually drift too bad, knock-on wood, famous last words, your mileage may vary, certain weather conditions apply.

When I was a kid, I had a rail sled. Technically, I still have it, it’s hanging in the garage.

When I was a kid I used a rail sled. At some point when I was a kid dad re- did a lot of the driveway so it wouldn’t drift so bad. But prior to that, there was these two corners that had banks on the sides. I would take this rail sled up above the second corner and get a run at it and I could make both corners, come around below the house and ride that sled all the way down to the barn. It was like a luge run! That was the coolest thing ever. My brother talks about it too. But if the road got too slippery, well then we couldn’t get out with the car. (rear wheel drive you know back then) and dad spread manure on the road and that kind of messed up the luge run. Seriously, manure. Why buy salt, we have this and it’s free and it needs to be spread every day anyway. Once it started to melt in the spring mom complained a bit.

Manure spreader designs changed over the years. They used to have multiple beaters in the back and you got a nice even spread. Then they went to a single beater design, and you got a lot more clumps. Designs changed again to go to vertical beaters or side discharge and of course the whole way of farming has changed enough that it all had to change with it. Manure is a good fertilizer and there’s a lot of value to it and it’s taking very seriously nowadays.  There’s a lot of recordkeeping involved, and there are only certain conditions under which it can be applied. I’m not up on all the rules anymore, but I’m not sure I would be allowed to surface spread in the winter on a hillside. Runoff and erosion, you know, the farmers take that seriously too.

KTCA, Twin Cities Public Television, used to show “Matinee at the Bijou“ at noon on weekdays and sometimes at lunch when dad and I were in the house we’d watch the movie. I remember seeing a black and white Army movie, all I can remember is this bit: a man jumps out of the back of the army truck and lands in a puddle, and he says to the driver “You couldn’t find a dry spot?” and the driver says, “Man. This is a dry spot!” No idea what movie it was. I’ve tried looking for that quote without luck. Why do I remember that?? It had to be 40 years ago. Anyone know the movie? 

These blogs. Some days I just start typing and I don’t know when to stop.
Don’t ask me about stage lighting. I forget to breathe when you get me going on stage lighting.


Decisions Decisions

As you all know I love cookbooks.  And you all also know that I have too many – neither my wallet nor my shelves can handle my just willy-nilly buying of any and all cookbook that look interesting.  But a quick perusal doesn’t cut the mustard either – you need to go though a cookbook thoroughly to know if it earns the right to displace another cookbook on my shelves.

The way I deal with this is to check out prospective cookbooks from the library.  Then I can leisurely go through them, look at the recipes, ingredients, level of difficulty, etc.  If a lot of recipes look interesting and I can envision cooking from the book, then I have to decide if it’s enough to replace an existing cookbook on my shelves.  If there are only a couple of recipes, I copy them and add them to my big binder.

When I was in Tucson, we visited a few places that had cookbooks on display.  One was an amazing cooking shop in the arts colony of Tubac.  We spent quite a bit of time there as Susan was texting photos of various tea towels to a friend who was in the market.  This shop had A LOT of tea towels; it would have been very easy to over-indulge.  Wandering through a cooking shop is not a punishment for me and I came across a handful of cookbooks that looked interesting.  I took photos and then when I got home I requested them from the library.  Three are in transit, so hopefully in the next few days I can relax with some hot tea or cocoa and go through them to my hearts’ content.

How do you decide which books to buy and which to not buy (or borrow)?

Holes in the Wall

We talked last week about traveling companions that are suited to our own style.  But we didn’t venture into the dynamics of visiting other folks.  Having spent several days with a good friend at her Tucson (technically Green Valley) home in February, I have been thinking about this dynamic quite a bit. 

This is the first visit we’ve had together since her husband passed last summer and my first time to their winter home.  When he was alive we had a lot of our meals at home.  He and I had loving to cook in common so it was an easy part of the visiting routine.  My friend doesn’t love cooking so on this trip we ended up eating out most of the time.  In fact, prior to my arriving we had talked about having Mexican food every meal. 

So I was surprised when she suggested pizza for dinner the first night.  Then I found out that she meant a food truck/pizza oven run by two brothers that was almost always parked a few miles from her place – the Family Joint Pizzeria – apparently they have quite a following.  You order your pizza then wait in your car (or at some adjoining picnic tables) and they bring it to you when it’s finished.  They offer a few bakery items as well and we ate this huge (and delicious) concha while we waited.

 I couldn’t pass up the Elote pizza, made with corn and cheese (the top one in the photo)

The other was a more traditional margarita.  Both were unbelievably yummy. 

Except for two breakfasts that we whipped up at home, we did indeed eat Mexican food for every other meal – and all at smaller, out of the way places that many of my friends might pass up.  Lunch south of Tucson near the Tabac community (about 15 miles from the border) that served baby margaritas in jelly jars.  We ate hot fry bread from a stand outside the San Xavier de Bac mission, unbelievably scrumptious cauliflower enchiladas at a place called Guadalajara’s and even breakfast at The Little One.  We both had Huevos Divorciados – one egg with red sauce, one egg with green sauce (on tortillas) but separated on the plate by rice and beans.  It was delightful but the most fun was having chips and salsa for breakfast!

It was a delightful surprise to have all these culinary adventures when previous visits hadn’t been as… exotic shall we say.

Tell me about a hole-in-the-wall place you’ve enjoyed>