Category Archives: Baboon Achievers

Brain Exercise

My mom lives at St. Anne Extended Healthcare, the nursing care wing of St. Anne of Winona complex here in Winona. Added on later were the assisted living wings, Callista Court, where she lived briefly until her fall a year ago. Callista’s main entrance is clear at the other end of the block from her SAEH room, and even though they’re connected by a little skyway, we don’t often travel that far when I visit.

Because it was so warm the other day, I took Mom outside in her wheel chair to walk the block to Callista’s entrance, and we checked out the “café” inside. It was pretty full due to a craft  project, so we went on to the (quieter) Library and found a square table with decks of cards nearby. I thought, “What the heck, she taught me to play solitaire when I was a kid…” So I laid out a game of (Klondike) solitaire to see how much she would remember. We were both delighted to find that, although she probably could not have laid out the game, she still remembers basically how to play – i.e., that the rows of declining numbers alternate black and red. After seeing it done once, she could put the aces up top, and she caught some of the moves without prompting. When I laid down some cards in front of her, she asked “Is that The Pile?”

She said afterward that she liked doing that – it was good for her brain. I now have a deck of cards in the “mom bag”, and we’ll play whenever time permits, and we find an open table.

What do you do that’s good for your brain?

Thirty Percent

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

In class the other day, the teacher said, “Thirty percent of your life is doing things you don’t want to do. If you’re lucky.”

What do you think? I think it’s probably high for me in general. I know I am very fortunate to do what I love and have my own schedule. I’ve managed to cut a lot of the stuff I don’t like out of my life.

You may recall I’ve talked about the week of Christmas concerts in December and it all just makes me grumpy. That would be a time where 80% of my life is not what I want. But wait! There are changes afoot! New (temp) music teacher. Concert completely revamped! Not exactly sure what’s going on yet… the secretary compares it to herding chickens. But at least it will be different! (We keep reminding ourselves Change is Good!)

Is 30% high or low in your life?

Slogging Through

In a comment yesterday, Renee mentioned slogging through War & Peace and being glad she had seen a film version first.  So now I have to tell MY War & Peace story.

I worked in the book industry for many years, in the now defunct B.Dalton chain. Back then (and I assume now as well) publishers did not want to pay to have mass market printing (small paperbacks) returned to them.  It was cheaper to reprint than to pay for the shipping.  In order to return mass markets we stripped the front covers off the books and sent those to the publisher for return credit.  The strips (books with their covers stripped) were then disposed of at the individual stores.

Although strips were routinely destroyed, it was a perk of working at the bookstore that you were allowed to take strips home for free, as long as you didn’t get caught selling them or even giving them away. For many years, most of the books I read were coverless.  Once when really purging the shelves, we ended up with strips of several classics, including a few copies of War & Peace.  I took one home that day and after a few months, put it in the bathroom with my various magazines for casual bathroom reading.  Since the strip was never going to go on my bookshelf, after every 10-20 pages, I would rip off the pages I’d finished and toss them.

It took me almost a year to read War & Peace this way and as the year went by, the book got skinnier and skinnier!

What reading material do YOU have in the bathroom?

Spiralize – A Verb Whether We Like It Or Not

I often feel like I own every kitchen toy possible. Then I get another catalog in the mail or see an ad on the internet.  My latest acquisition is a spiralizer.  Dreadful if completely accurate name.

It has 3 different blades so you get 3 different widths of spirals and you can use it on a wide variety of fruits and vegetables (zucchini, onion, potato, pears, apples, carrots, beets). Pretty much if you can stick it onto the machine, you can probably makes spirals.  Before I bought it I checked out several books from the library to see what kinds of dishes could be prepared – ended up purchasing two cookbooks as well (and yes, I did get rid of two old cookbooks when the new ones arrived).

Of course, the day I had time to mess with it, I didn’t want to go shopping so I just made up a recipe using ingredients I already had in the house.

Sherrilee’s First Spiralized Chilied Potatoes
1 large yellow onion, spiralized
3 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and spiralized
2 T. butter
1 can of Chili Beans
1 can of tomatoes w/ chiles
1 pouch of Taco sauce
1 T. chili powder
1 T. cumin
Salt & pepper to taste
2 c. shredded pepper jack cheese

Saute onions in butter until translucent in oven-proof skillet. Add potatoes and cook for 8-10 minutes until they get soft.  Add beans, tomatoes, taco sauce and spicing to taste.  Top w/ cheese and heat in 350° F oven for about 15 minutes until cheese gets nice and melty.

YA loved it. Good recipe for a cold, rainy weekend even if I feel badly for participating in “verbing”!

What new verb do you detest?


Laundromat Rules

ETwice a year I bundle up all my bedding – allergy covers, dust ruffle, sheets, comforter and pillows – then I head on down to the laundromat. I could do all this laundry at home but I’d rather get it all done in an hour or instead of running up and down the basement steps all day long.

Since I’ve been schlepping down there for almost 20 years, I’ve realized that there are some rules involved in the laundromat.

  1. Early is better. Even if I go at 6 a.m. there is usually someone else there at opening. By 9 a.m. it’s starting to get hopping. I’ve driven by later at night and it’s mostly empty.
  2. Leave at least one machine open between you and the next person. Unless all the other machines full, then you have to squeeze in between others.
  3. After you have your washers going, don’t stay. Either doze in your car out in the parking lot (with your dog perhaps) or go run another errand.
  4. But time your nap or your errands. If the machines are all full and people are waiting, you’ll find your wet laundry sitting on a table. (This also applies to still damp laundry in the driers.)
  5. Take finished laundry out to your vehicle as it gets dry – don’t wait until everything is done to start your departure.
  6. Don’t look others in the eyes, don’t engage in small talk, don’t’ smile.

I follow most of the rules, although I’ve never taken anybody else’s laundry out of a washer or dryer. I do try to look at others and smile, but it doesn’t do much good, as nobody else looks up.  And I don’t sit in my car either – something to drink, maybe a donut and a book and I’m good for the time I’m there.

When do you make your own rules?