The neighbors across the street are a hard working, industrious couple who spends every weekend at a little, man made lake about 50 miles east of here. It is a murky hole in the ground that greens up quite soon after the temperature gets warm, but people from around here flock there, mainly for spots to park their campers and get away from the hectic bustle of city life. (Such as it is out here!)
Every Sunday afternoon they return home and we get to observe the ritual washing of the pickup. They have only been gone two nights, they travel mainly on paved roads, yet that pickup gets washed and vacuumed inside and out. It never fails.It is as though they can’t settle down and relax until the pickup is spotless and back in the garage.
I suppose we all have rituals of some sort. Many rituals serve as declarations of the sacred, whether we are religious or not. Other rituals serve to bring families together. Many folks out here have a ritual of playing pinochle after extended family dinners, or rituals involving sausage making during deer season. Some hunting families out here have a communal shoot into the air before starting hunting to honor family members who have died. Morning coffee has become a ritual in our home, as the person who goes to work later makes the coffee for the person who goes to work earlier, and the quality of the coffee is always evaluated. The point is that we have coffee together before anyone goes to work. We will attend the Twin Buttes Pow Wow this weekend, a celebration full of rituals.
What rituals do you observe and participate in? Did your family have rituals when you were growing up? Are you a creature of habit?
About 15 years ago, we planted two rhododendrons named Pohjola’s Daughter. They were Finnish cultivars said to be cold hardy. They were sort of root bound, and I remember thinking that I could have done a better job freeing the roots when I planted them. Well, I was right, since they didn’t get appreciably bigger or bloom until this May, despite my constant fertilizing and fussing. The flowers were so pretty. It was a long wait, though, and I thought they were aptly named when I researched the story of Pohjola’s Daughter, and how she kept suitors away by giving them impossible tasks to complete before she would marry them. The story comes from the Finnish epic The Kalevala. Sibelius used the story for a tone poem. According to Wikipedia:
The tone poem depicts the “steadfast, old,” white-bearded Väinämöinen who spots the beautiful “daughter of the North (Pohjola)”, seated on a rainbow, weaving a cloth of gold while he is riding a sleigh through the dusky landscape. Väinämöinen asks her to join him, but she replies that she will only leave with a man who can perform a number of challenging tasks, such as tying an egg into invisible knots and, most notably, building a boat from fragments of her distaff. Väinämöinen attempts to fulfill these tasks through his own expertise in magic; in many of the tasks he succeeds but he is eventually thwarted by evil spirits when attempting to build the boat and injures himself with an axe. He gives up, abandons the tasks and continues on his journey alone.
I find our translation of The Kalevala pretty tedious to read, and I think I need to find a new one, since the stories are so interesting. I also find it interesting when life imitates art the way our rhododendrons did.
What is your favorite epic poem or story to read? When have you seen life imitate art?
Today is the anniversary of the first commercially produced Ice cream in the US in New York City in 1783.
Ice cream had been sold in ice cream parlors in New York since 1776. George Washington is said to have spent $200 on ice cream ($4500 in current money) in the summer of 1790. That was a lot of ice cream! Thomas Jefferson had an 18 step recipe for an ice cream dessert similar to a baked Alaska. By 1800, insulated ice houses were invented, so that ice cream could be stored and sold to the masses. In 1945, the Navy provided a barge in the western Pacific that produced 5400 gallons of ice cream an hour for sailors.
I love ice cream. We don’t make our own, although we have an electric ice cream churn. I see that our strawberry bed is flourishing, and perhaps there is some strawberry ice cream, or at least strawberries to put on top of ice cream, by the end of the month.
What is your favorite ice cream treat? Tell about ice cream from your childhood. (Gelato, Froyo, and Sherbet count here, too).
Our Microsoft Outlook went wonky last week, and wouldn’t send any emails, telling me that all our messages were rejected because of abusive behavior on our part. This happened once before, and the tech guy who fixes our computer had to push some unknown button to correct the issue so that Outlook communicated with our internet provider. When it happened again last week, I took a chance and just restarted the computer. It did a few upgrades and, voila, our emails were delivered.
I needed a reboot after a stressful late winter and early spring at work and with my regulatory board. Our travels kept me from rebooting in the way that is the best for me, which is pulling weeds and planting new plants and seeds. I finally got to do it last weekend, and, despite developing that weird eye virus, it greatly helped my spirit and made me very happy. It is hard for me to focus on work problems when I am weeding and laying down soaker hoses. It is good for me to worry about cut worms instead of paperwork deadlines. This year we only planted 21 perennials, a record low for us, but our garden beds are really shaping up. I can breathe deep and relax just looking out the windows.
How do you recharge and reboot? Any wonky computer issues vexing you?
Thanks to YA’s boyfriend being sick, I had a near-perfect week!
Based on the minimal information YA was sharing (or was given most probably), Boyfriend had strep but waited until late Saturday to go to the MinuteClinic and was in no mood for company or companionship the entire weekend. And this is the first Saturday of YA’s summer work schedule, which means her Saturday morning is clear. She was up early and rarin’ to go!
We made a quick stop at the library, a stop at the hardware store (where there was a dog to pet), time at the gym, some shopping at the co-op. While we were shopping she decided she wanted to make a particular recipe so we bought her ingredients as well. She said she wanted to do cooking first before yardwork, so we spent a nice hour in the kitchen. I made corn chowder in my instant pot and a fried halloumi salad; she made a black bean, corn, mango salsa in lettuce cups. Then yardwork – some together but some separate – me in the front, her in the back. She even made a little fire in the fire pit which we enjoyed for a bit. Then we walked up to dinner at The Malt Shop, during which she actually put her phone away.
Then on Sunday, she did some homework while I had time in my studio, then we spent a few hours doing the Open Streets on Lyndale festival. She suggested we walk instead of bike so we could pet dogs more easily. This was a great suggestion – we lost count of how many dogs we had petted around the 50 mark! Mini donuts, animal petting zoo, shave ice and some of the prettiest dark purple miniature irises I’ve ever seen. She had more homework so I spent a little more time in my studio.
Really the only semi-rough patch in the whole weekend was when I had to not be negative when she died her hair purple on Saturday night! And even then, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had imagined it would be.
When was the last time you benefited from someone else’s bad times?
We are starved for color in winter and early spring in the northern Great Plains. Husband and I have been fortunate in our travels since April to be in places when the flowering trees and shrubs are at their peak. We were in Brookings, SD last weekend and the flowering crabs, plums, and apple trees were beautiful. In Santa Fe we saw blooming fruit trees of all types. I was amazed, though, when we were in Los Angeles and I saw blooming Jacaranda trees for the first time.
I have never seen trees that shape and size with blue/purple flowers. I have no idea what they look like with their leaves. It is said to be good luck if the flowers fall on your head. The seeds and sap are said to be quite poisonous, though. They are found mainly in tropical climates, but have survived to winter temperatures as low 19 degrees Fahrenheit. I don’t think they would winter over very well up here.
What are your favorite and least favorite trees and shrubs?
For years I’ve wondered why I get dirtier than anybody else I know when gardening. At the end of pretty much every weekend day, I am filthy from head to foot. Dirt between my toes, dirt in my ears, dirt all up and down my pants and shirt, dirt underneath my fingernails (even though I always wear gloves) – dirt everywhere!
I see my next door neighbor, Rita, out gardening and she never even gets grass stains on the knees of her jeans. Granted, I have a much bigger garden than she does, what with my “more flowers, less grass” life strategy but it’s still a pretty amazing contrast. And everybody else I know stays cleaner than I do; YA works hard and also never seems to get very dirty. Last weekend we dug out the hydrangea bush over two days. You could hardly tell that she had been working for hours while I was absolutely COVERED in dirt.
I was lamenting this on Sunday afternoon and YA said “do you ever look at what you’re doing?” When I asked what she meant, she said “look at yourself right now… you’re L Continue reading Wallowing