Category Archives: Family

Hints from Helga’s Granddaughter

I’m using my Grandma Britson’s name for the alliteration, just as the original “Heloise” did when she added an H to her name. Do any of you Babooners remember “Hints from Heloise” – household help in the form of syndicated newspaper columns, articles in magazines like Good Housekeeping, radio programs…  Well, there is still a Heloise, second generation, and of course a website:  a website , where you can find her Bio, Books, On Air offerings, Recipes (including Texas Caviar and Red Velvet Cake), and a section about her mom, the Original Heloise. The current Heloise has appeared on Oprah and Letterman, and is still writing books and making appearances.

I started this post thinking I would just share my tip for Trapping Fruit Flies, which seem to have shown up earlier this season. Instead of cider vinegar (which I’ve probably shared here before) I’ve found something less messy, and more attractive to the flies:

– put a peach pit (with some peach remaining on it) in a small container

– cover tightly in plastic wrap, into which a few knife holes have been punched; the flies can find their way in, but can’t seem to find their way out

– take outside periodically and release fruit flies; recover and begin again – they’re never completely gone

Then yesterday when I was complaining about how often I have to polish my favorite earrings with a silver cloth to keep their sheen, I was told this secret:

– find an old toothbrush and polish them with toothpaste

Who knew?

I’ve also managed to find a way to resurrect an old wicker rocker whose seat has broken through:  a couple of longish boards across the seat, anchored in place by a cushion, stick out on one end to create sort of side shelf, for books and (bird-watching) field glasses. A temporary fix, perhaps, but at least I don’t have to throw it out.

Do you have any Helpful Hints (household or otherwise) that either Heloise or I should bring to the attention of others?

Pacing Ourselves

Husband looked at me with bleary eyes the other day as we were finishing yet one more garden chore and said “We are getting too old for a garden this big. We can never have a garden bigger than this one”.

I don’t know when it happened, but the days are gone  when we could get all our garden work done in a couple of weekends and still look after our children and cats and dogs and keep up the house inside.  It took at least six weekends this year to get everything done. We just can’t work from dawn to dusk like we used to.

“Let’s get all the pea and rabbit fencing up today, and then focus on the strawberry netting tomorrow”.  “I think we can get the soaker hoses down Sunday after church.  We’ll worry about putting up the bean poles until next weekend”.   We never really had to pace ourselves like this, and it came on so suddenly!

I love our garden, and it is coming on nicely, and I don’t want to downsize.  Maybe going to the gym in the winter will help next year come summer. I am not used to pacing myself.

When have you bitten off more than you could chew. How do you pace yourself for life these days?

Brush Your Britches

This past week everyone in our house was groomed and  brought up to snuff, starting with the cats. Our short-haired tabby looks about an inch smaller in diameter since we took the furminator to her on Saturday. The birds have scads of grey hair to line their nests now. Our long-haired tortie has really furry back legs that make her look like she is wearing fuzzy pants.  She gets a slicker brush.  “It’s time to brush your britches” we tell her.  She isn’t real impressed with the procedure.

Husband’s barber moved to a new and improved space with four barber chairs,  a coffee bar, and beer parlour.  The barber is a devout Catholic who named his new shop after St. Martin de Porres, an influential New World priest during the 1500’s and 1600’s in Peru who is the patron saint of mixed-race people, barbers, innkeepers, public health workers, and all those seeking racial harmony.  Husband has curly hair and is fussy how his hair gets cut. He is happy with his barber. He had neither beer nor coffee during his hair cut.

My hair dresser of 30 years had a stroke a couple of months ago, so now I have to get used to a new hair dresser.  She is working out pretty well, but I must admit it takes a bit to get used to a new person messing with my hair, especially since my old hair dresser and I know each other so well and she knows the quirks of my hair and what works and what doesn’t. Change is hard, sometimes.

How would you define your relationship with your barber or hair dresser. How have your animals taken to being groomed?

Siblings

It’s been three years since the New Horizons spacecraft whizzed by Pluto, but the non-planet is still in the news. And the latest news is that Pluto has a lot more in common with our own planet than was previously thought.

Pluto has dunes; they’re made of methane ice grains but are sculpted by winds that reach 24 miles per hour. This may not seem like much but since Pluto has less gravity, the wind doesn’t need to be as strong as here at home.  Pluto also has a wide variety of landforms like we do on Earth: plains, trenches and mountain ranges.  Pluto has snow-capped peaks of methane and Pluto may have an icy sea beneath its frozen surface.  Who knew?

If you could choose ANYONE to be your twin, who would it be?

Baby, Wanna Drive My Car?

An earlier blog this week about repairs made me think of a funny story from my youth. My very first car was an old Datsun stick shift.  I don’t even remember what model.  But it was old when I got it, had some rust and eventually a hole rusted through underneath so that when you ran through a puddle, you could easily get splashed INSIDE the car.

My boyfriend at the time (eventually husband, now wasband) and I both wanted to be “handy” so I taught myself how to change the oil/air filter and then we decided to tackle the rust spots. We got a sanding attachment for a drill (which we had to borrow from my downstairs neighbors) and some primer spray paint.  The idea was to sand off the rust, prime it and then paint over it with a coat of matching light blue.   This plan went off the rails in so many places that I can’t believe we didn’t see it coming.  First, as everyone can probably guess, when we started to sand the rust off it became clear that we would probably be sanding straight through if we weren’t careful.  As the old saying goes, the rust was the only thing holding it together in places.  That meant in a few spots, we just sanded it smooth but didn’t get all the rust.   Then, no surprise, the primer didn’t want to stick to the still rusty spots, so we really sprayed it on heavily.  Then we couldn’t match the light blue color of the car for love nor money.  We ended up with seven or eight cans of spray paint and seven or eight swatches of different blues along the back of the car.  BF was sure we could match the color if we went up to the Twin Cities to look (I was living in Northfield at the time).  Since he didn’t want the car to rust while we were working on the correct color matching, he put duct tape patches on all the rusted and primed spots.  (No, I am not making this up.)  From a distance it looked like the car had zits.

We never did find the right color, never did take the duct tape off the zit car. After another few months, we ended up with it in Milwaukee where the car eventually ended its life in the blizzard of 1979.  I’ve never even considered sanding the rust of another car!

What was your first car?

The Wind Died Down

Last Friday, Husband and I left Jamestown, ND after playing hand bells at an Eastern Star convention. (That is a post in itself! ) We left about 7:00 pm.  It was still pretty light, as far north as we are.  By 8:00 we ran into the worst rain storm I have encountered on the road.  We could see the storm coming for miles, a rotating cloud of blue black, with white wind clouds on the fringe, threatening hail.  We learned later that the wind was blowing at 70 mph in this storm. The storm hit with a hard punch, and the rain was torrential. I pulled over and put my emergency flashers on,  since I couldn’t see the road, anything that was in front of me, or any exit from the interstate. It took a good 20 minutes for the storm to diminish and for us to cautiously proceed on our way home.  I found I  was only 20 yards from an exit, but it was obscured by the rain and wind. We saw a pickup and trailer in the ditch not far from where we pulled over. There was no hail, I am happy to report.

We have lived with the wind for 30 years out here.  It is a force to contend with.  Our house is perpetually dusty.  On Saturday, the wind blew steadily at 35 mph with gusts up to 45. The tomato and pepper plants  tossed all day.  They were wind whipped and twisted. They amazingly recover every time this happens.  We chose to stay indoors and dust and clean.  It was so unpleasant to even step outdoors.  One of my secretaries said they were branding calves on Saturday and they had to close the barn door because the wind was blowing dust all over the food for the people helping them.

The wind finally died down on Saturday night. It was such a relief.  Sunday was calm, and we watered and  recovered from the gusts of the days before. In  Giants In the Earth, Rolvaag writes of women going mad with the wind in Eastern South Dakota.  I can relate to them.

Tell about memorable storms. Tell about stories and poems of the wind.

Anger Management

My husband is a gentle, scholarly person somewhat lacking in manual dexterity and mechanical know-how.  He married into a family of impatient, dexterous, mechanically inclined hot-heads. The Boomgaardens are famous for their tempers.  I have a farmer cousin noted for throwing tools. I have great aunts who had hair pulling fights in ditches. I have great uncles who shot at each other with rifles.  I manage to keep my temper pretty well, but last weekend was a challenge for me. I am thankful no one got hurt.

It was hot last weekend. We did a lot of outside work in the yard over a four day period. It involved planting seeds and shrubs, spreading mulch, laying out soaker hoses and sprinklers, digging holes, and maneuvering around piles of bagged topsoil, composted manure, and bales of peat moss with tools and wheel barrows. For each task I saw clearly how we had to do it, in what order, and what physical and mechanical actions had to be taken. I was pretty driven to get it done as fast as we could before the heat of the day made it unbearable to work outside.  When I get like that, I forget my theory of mind, and assume that everyone around me sees the tasks and the procedures that need to be accomplished exactly the same way I see it. I get impatient when the people I am working with don’t seem to get it the way I get it, when they fumble around and look ineffectual and dithering.  As Husband said “You do things and you don’t explain what you are doing until afterwards.”  Why should I have to explain what I am doing if it is plain what has to be done?!! Why can’t you think like I think?!!

A very alarming ear worm took hold last Friday as I became increasingly frustrated with Husband and his inability to read my mind.  I decided I had better sit down and have glass of water and reel in my temper. I have no idea from what odd recess of my brain I dredged this up:

The chorus from this went through my head all weekend.  It made me laugh at myself and my irrational assumptions, and forced me to see how unreasonable I can be.  Perhaps all anger management classes should include Broadway musical soundtracks.

How do you manage your temper? What is the angriest you have been? What is your favorite Broadway song at the moment?