Category Archives: Business

Mulch Madness

My mother did some gardening, but not a lot – the occasional rose bush but it was never a grand passion.  She never asked me to help with anything in the yard, not even raking in the fall.  None of my grandparents had the gardening bug either, so I’m not sure where I got the flower fever.

My plan of more flowers/less grass has pretty much come to fruition – there is hardly any grass left in the front.  Although the more flowers/less grass situation does come with an unforeseen circumstance – mulch!  We use a lot.

And in the more interesting turn of events, YA has made it clear that SHE is in charge of the mulch.  She has opinions about what kind is best (cypress), how many bags at a time I should get (definitely 6), where it goes in the yard and who should be putting it down where (I get the boulevard, she gets everywhere else).  This year she put down some of that black tarp on the northern side of the front yard and covered it with mulch as well.

Now we’re waiting for mulch to be re-stocked at the nursery – they were out yesterday morning – the latest repercussion of shelter-in-place – lots more folks are gardening!

Any gardening surprises for you this year?

It’s Ringing

This past Solstice, one of YA’s gifts to me was a Ring doorbell – you know, one of those doorbells that has a camera in it.  This gift falls into the category of a gift for herself rather than a gift for me.  YA does a lot of her shopping online, so she worries about packages left on our front porch.  Installing this thing required drilling holes into the stucco, so it was very easy to put off at first.  Then it ended up in a box in Nonny’s room and I was hoping a little bit that it would be forgotten.

But thanks to shelter-in-place, YA is stuck in the house and looking for projects.  I resisted a bit by not being helpful but YA was persistent.  She went to the basement and got the drill, looked up directions on YouTube, got out an extension cord.  Then she realized that we should really move the mailbox over a few inches, so she had to collect up the tools to get this done as well.  But eventually I couldn’t put it off any longer, so I drilled the holes for the Ring and then drilled new holes for the mailbox’s new location.  YA has done the rest, including putting the app on my phone.  I guess I still get to pick my own ring tone.

What technology have YOU succumbed to?

Brave Volunteers

I was happy and proud to read the other day that Minnesota has the second highest rate of volunteerism in the country, bested only by Utah.

North Dakota ranks 15th.  Husband decided that he has sufficient free time to volunteer at our local food pantry, and his first shift is next Thursday.  He will stock shelves. Our church donates the produce from our garden to the food pantry.  Suzy Kapelovitz, a nice Norwegian girl from Reeder, (a really small town in southwest ND), who married this Jewish guy who ran some sort of business in our town in ND, and who has spent her life here helping others, is the head of the food pantry.  She is in her 70’s. She confirmed his shift.  He is to stock shelves. I foresee volunteerism in our future,

Why do you think Minnesota has so many volunteers? What have you volunteered for?

Our New Pastime

I read an article the other day in which the CEO of King Arthur Flour said that baking has become the “new baseball” in this country.  Yeast sales are up 300% across the country compared to a year ago, and King Arthur has engaged an extra mill to assist in meeting the demand for its flour. There is enough flour to go around. The problem is that most of it is in 50 lb bags not suited to the average home baker. They are scrambling to get it into 5 lb bags and out to consumers.  People are baking out of panic, boredom, and as a way to obtain some comfort right now. I think there has been an increase in the purchase of vegetable seeds and plants for the same reason. I hope that people continue to bake and garden after this is all over.  I think we could use more national pastimes.

What would you like to see as “the new baseball”?  What are you doing for comfort these days? 


The Milk Man

I signed up for home dairy delivery (a milk man) when YA was two.  As a single parent, “running up to the store” isn’t as simple as it sounds, and it felt like we were always running out of Yo-J or milk or eggs.  When a neighbor mentioned that she used to have a milk man, my ears perked up.  I contacted Kemps Home Delivery and two days later, I got a call from Mike.  He started deliveries the next week and he is still bringing us dairy and other assorted food items every week.

There are about 50 milk men in the Twin Cities area and Mike has been in business for more than 40 years.  He loads up his truck every morning at the Kemp’s warehouse and then hits the road.  I leave my order form (and payment for the week before) on the front door.  He gets those items I from his truck, puts them in my fridge, gives the dogs and cats a treat and leaves a blank order form with the amount of the order for me to pay next week.

Mike’s wife, Suzie, does the office and phone management and both of them are as nice as can be.  They have grown kids and two grandkids, who feature in the yearly holiday newsletter.  Every Thanksgiving, they help manage and run a project called The Thanksgiving Free Store.  It’s just what it sounds like, food and other necessities provided for those in need, absolutely free.  They spend the year raising money and getting donations, things like socks, backpacks, warm clothing, coats and food, lots of food.  I’ve been supporting this effort for quite a few years now.

Mike is pleasant and personable.  If I’m home on a Friday when he delivers, it’s always nice to have some conversation with him.  I’m one of his last deliveries of the week, so he is never rushed when he’s at my place.  When we first started deliveries, he used to leave my items in a cooler on the front steps, but after a couple of months, I gave him a key (he has a HUGE keychain).  I figured if we got robbed with no clear break-in, the cops would look to anybody who had keys first; I doubt Mike would want to put his only business at risk for anything I had laying around!

For the last couple of months, I’ve been worried about Mike.  The Kemp’s warehouse announced (without much warning) that they would only be open four days a week because there were only a couple of milk men delivering on Fridays.  We got our delivery changed to Tuesdays (not a big deal) but I started to think that maybe the milk man business was dying out.  Although Mike is close to retirement age, it would be better for him to retire when it’s good for him rather than for his business to shrink away.

Well, I don’t have to worry any more.  As someone who delivers food to your house, guess whose business has grown dramatically in the last three weeks?  In fact, the demand has grown so much that Kemps is thinking about re-opening the warehouse on Fridays.  And since Mike works alone, social distancing isn’t a problem; Suzy asked folks to re-instate the cooler system a couple of weeks ago, so Mike doesn’t even have to come in the house right now.  As soon as he drives off (Guinevere always lets us know when Mike is here) we go out and get our items out of the cooler.  The only ones really suffering are the animals, who don’t get their weekly treat from Mike!

Are you having anything new delivered to your place these days?




Moonshine Hand Sanitizer

The office operations person at my agency is tasked with finding sufficient masks, sanitzer, and sanitizing wipes for our building staff and for staff who transport clients or who visit clients in their homes.  She has networked with her counterparts at other human service centers to find supplies.  Hand sanitizer has been hard to come by,  and they have turned to local distilleries in Fargo and in our community that are making it by the gallon.  She and the other office managers have a Pony Express type of delivery chain, meeting one another at county lines and regional boundaries for deliveries and pick up. She said it feels like they are hauling moonshine and doing something illegal. I like the image of the transfer of distillery products into State vehicles.

Today she sent an email saying that  we should come and get some distillery sanitizer,  but since it smelled so strongly alcoholic we had to put essential oils in it, as the raw odor could trigger some of our addiction clients into relapse. I went down to her office to get some and put some lavender oil in it.  She was right about the odor.  Pineapple essential oil would make it smell like a pina colada!  She told me that when she and another business office staff member were pouring it out of the distillery jugs into smaller bottles, they inhaled a lot of the fumes and it got all over their hands and was absorbed into their skin. She said they both got red in the face and kind of goofy before they knew what was happening.

It is heartening to see how people here are pulling together to solve problems and help, even if it means spraying moonshine all over the place.

What have you seen people do lately to pull together and make things better? Have you ever been to a distillery?

Bad Hair Quarter

I get my hair cut every six weeks or so. I was supposed to get it cut on April 3, but the ND governor had closed all the salons and barber shops by then, and I have no idea when they will reopen. I am looking at a couple of months of shagginess.  Husband made it to the barber just before the shut down. I will under no circumstances try to trim my own hair.  That would be a disaster.

I heard someone in the news comment that during the next weeks we will see people start hoarding hair dye for “do it yourself” touch ups. Imagine all the off-color roots we will see if there is a shortage! I am  glad I have never colored my hair. That, too, would be a disaster if  I ever tried to touch up my grey. I am not a very neat or precise person when it comes to things like that. I am also not very creative when it comes to figuring out ways to deal with hair when it is not cut to the correct length.

Do you have any creative ideas of what to do when you can’t get to the salon or barber? What do you imagine people will be panic hoarding next?