Category Archives: Gatherings

Staying Home

Perhaps I’m odd. Perhaps my early years as an only child enhanced my ability to entertain myself. Perhaps I have forgotten what it was like to be young.  I just can’t understand why people are having such a hard time staying at home.

I see in my Facebook feed challenges to live for  a couple of months off the grid in a remote cabin, and winning a bunch of money. Heck, we have all sorts of entertainment in our living spaces, yet people continue to crowd into bars and large parties.

My  question for the Baboons today is:

Why is it so hard to stay home?  What would you include in a tutorial that would help people stay put?  How would you manage in a remote cabin off the grid for a couple of months?

Nothing on a Stick

Well, we did it.  We found a fair food truck that had three of our favorite things and that wasn’t too far!  It was up in the Costco parking lot in north Minneapolis, so if you don’t count my having to backtrack because it turns out the 46th street ramp onto 35W is closed, it only took about 15 minutes to get up there.

We shared an order of cheese curds, an order of French fries and a bag of mini donuts (although I probably had more than half… YA likes them but not as much as the other things).  We sat in the car to eat and watched other folks wander up to the truck for their orders.

It was quite pleasant except for the fact that seven hours later I was still not interested in food – still not hungry.  If a half order of three items filled me up that much, how in heavens’ name do people eat so much at the fair?  I never get cheese curds or French fries on my solo fair days since I don’t have anyone to share it with, but even so, if you add up what I do consume on my own, it’s quite a bit.  I expect that the increased exercise from walking all over the fair is what keeps me from getting too full.  Since my only exercise yesterday consisted of the stationary bike for 30 minutes and the dog walk for just 20 minutes, my fair food kept me full all day.  Guess that means that without the whole state fair experience, I should probably stay away from too many food trucks this summer!

How are you getting your exercise in this summer?

Gatherings

I got a letter from the city last month that prior to the re-surfacing project in Tangletown, they will be re-doing some of the curbs.  (I am technically part of the Tangletown neighborhood, but my street is actually a county road, so I am not affected by this.)  Every morning Guinevere and I have been seeing signs of the project; they dug up all the affected curbs first and then are going back to add the new concrete.

When we came around a corner yesterday, we were surprised by a group of ELEVEN construction workers, all in their neon yellow vests, standing around one of the holds where a curb had been.  While we watched, the concrete mixer started to whirr and soon there was concrete glopping into the hole.  Two of the eleven worked to control where the concrete was pouring and the other nine started smoothing out the mixture.  I’m not sure if they really needed nine guys to do this, but I’m sure it made the job go quickly.

As Guinevere and I continued on our walk, I said to her “well, now you’ve been to a concrete workers’ convention”.   She was more interested in the smells along the sidewalk than the convention.  I kept thinking about it and realized that except for two Stampin’Up annual conventions about 20 years ago, I haven’t been to any other conventions.  Trade shows yes, conventions no.  Full disclosure — I did drive a friend downtown to a Star Trek convention once and drove around the block several times while he ran in to buy a couple of t-shirts.  But I didn’t actually go inside so I’m not counting that!

Have you ever been to a convention?  Any good stories?

10K

Photo credit:  Sebastian Pena Lambarri

Last week Chris mentioned that we were closing in on 10,000 followers.  If the rate that someone new clicks on Follow keeps up, we will hit that number this weekend.  As I’m typing this on Friday night, we are at 9,996.  This is for just the Trail – if you look at our WordPress account, it also adds in Blevins and Kitchen Congress, so the number looks a little higher than 10K.

I’m not big on social media optics, so I’m not sure what this really says about us.  Obviously from looking at the stats, we don’t have thousands of folks looking at the Trail every day; we average between 150 and 200 views most days.  And of course, I find it fascinating that not everybody is always looking at the same post as we are.  For example, yesterday 2 people viewed Why I Don’t Eat the Coleslaw from August 2015 and The Magnolia Steakhouse from November 2010, among other pages.

Although the overwhelming number of readers hale from the U.S., we have a worldwide viewership.  Yesterday we also had folks from Canada, Australia, Finland, Kenya, Cameroon, Germany, Nigeria, France, India, New Zealand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Georgia and Benin visit.

We are all over the board in terms of comments… some days we are chattier than others.  I used to worry that we didn’t have more folks commenting, but then I think about all the other blogs that I read on a regular basis.  They have way more followers than we do, but fewer comments.  I also don’t see the kind of community that we have in the comment section of most blogs.  And I can’t speak for anybody else, but I almost never comment on any blog except ours (unless there is a possible prize in it for me).

So all in all, as we’ve hit our decade anniversary and 10K followers, I’m still feeling like we’re just a small fish in a big pond and I like it that way.  Hope the Trail is meeting your needs these days.

Not sure about a question for this data – did you ever imagine, in your wildest dreams, that we’d come this far?

Raspberry Gratitude

I’ve been picking raspberries every afternoon for the past week.  About a cup each time; the first day they hardly made it into the house.  Now I have a few in the freezer and few in the fridge.  Whipped some cream yesterday.  Yum-O!   Picking raspberries always makes me think about my baboon community.  I’ve told the story before of how Linda brought me two raspberry canes on the day we gathered at PJs to help out with her spring gardening while she was recuperating.  I had always thought having raspberries would be fun, but left on my own, I doubt I would have ever done anything about it without Linda’s encouragement.  The canes have now taken over the south garden with vigor and we really enjoy the berries.

As much as I’m grateful for the raspberries, I’m more grateful for this community.  Spring gardening at PJs, Museum of Russian Art, Rock Bend, Liberty Custard, spring bales and chicken poo, Swedish American Institute, Jim Ed’s memorial service, St. Agnes Bakery, chainsaw party at Steve’s, LJB’s memorial and, of course, Blevin’s book Club.  I’m sure I’m missing some.  I love that we’ve built friendships and support systems in our ten+ years together.

Last week when I ran Dale’s initial Trail offering, I ran his question… but the question I really wanted to ask was:

What fond memories to you have of our ten years on the Trail?

 

Fair Food

I didn’t make a big deal about it last month but you all know that I wasn’t happy about the announcement that there won’t be a State Fair this year.  I certainly understand the decision and actually agree with it, but it’s still sad for me. I’ll miss the animals and the people-watching, the entertainment and so some extent, the food.  However I’m not one of those folks who “has” to have fair food (well, except for the Hawaiian Shave Ice).

Over the last couple of weeks a Facebook group for Fair Food Finds has popped up; lots of the fair food vendors are setting up in various places around the Twin Cities and there are lots of posts about when and where you can go get your pronto pups, cheese curds, mini-donuts and lots of other yummies.

At first I was excited about this and thought it might be a fun road trip for YA and me.  But it seems like everything is REALLY far away from us – Stillwater, Elk River, Elko and the like.  I somehow can’t get worked up about driving quite that far for fair food.  A two-hour roundtrip for mini donuts doesn’t pass muster as a good use of time and gas.  I’ll keep watching the posts but I’m not confident that I’ll be eating any fair food favorites any time soon.  Rats.

Any foods that would get you to take a roadtrip?

Go Fourth!

With 4th of July events cancelled all over the country and the current political unrest and unhappiness, it seems hard to celebrate Independence Day with enthusiasm.

For many years, Child and I took part in two parades every 4th – the Tangletown Parade and the Richfield Parade.  The Tangletown is a homegrown parade in which kids dress up their bikes and dogs sport their best red, white and blue bandannas in order to follow a firetruck through the neighborhood, followed by a big party at Fuller Park with games, music, face painting and a big picnic.  The last few years I’ve gone up to the high school parking lot where the parade starts to see everybody in their finery and then I head home.  Then later, YA and I go down to Richfield to watch their more traditional, candy-throwing parade.  I got hooked on this parade when YA was in gymnastics and her team was part of the parade line-up.

No parades this year.  Richfield unilaterally cancelled all the 4th of July stuff and Tangletown cancelled the parade and party, but is doing a decoration contest and neighborhood scavenger hunt.  I hadn’t though about decorating (besides putting out all my flags) because I didn’t really want to put any money into it but then something I saw yesterday changed my mind.  In walking Guinevere, we found a house up on the water tower hill that had outdone themselves with their chalk decorations.  Their entire driveway was filled with a huge chalked American flag and then the sidewalk all long their property was covered in fireworks.  Such a low-cost and low-tech way to decorate – I think I’ll get my chalks out in the morning (before it gets too hot).  And I might even have enough Independence Day spirit left over to do the scavenger hunt with Guinevere on our morning walk!

How have you traditionally celebrated the 4th?  What’s different this year?

Front Yard Serenade

My nextdoor neighbor, Brian, is a school music teach and band director.  The last time he saw his “kids” was when they said good bye for spring break.  Then schools began to close, so they have had online classes but as you can imagine, band class isn’t quite the same and since Brian is changing schools this fall, he felt a little bad about not seeing them again.

The kids apparently felt badly as well because on Monday, the brass section, along with a drummer, showed up in the front yard and serenaded him for about 15 minutes.  It was a big surprise to Brian; the kids had set it up with his wife, Sarah.  By the end of the performance, quite an audience has gathered, on both sides of Lyndale. 

I know that other entertainments and festivities are happening in people’s front yards.  A young friend of mine had a drive-by college graduation and Tuey, a juggler that I like, has also been doing his show on front sidewalks during shelter-in-place.

I think this is a great way to celebrate even while social distancing.

What front yard entertainment would you like?

Darla Buys a Funeral Plot

My next door office mate, Darla, is just a joy. I have written about her  several times, and she never ceases to amaze and delight. She  monitors the services and care that Developmentally and Intellectually disabled individuals on her case load receive, and makes sure they are being treated appropriately. She has some fairly serious health complications of her own, yet is a fireball of energy with an infectious giggle and a wicked sense of humor.  Her latest quest, started, I suppose by the COVID-19 pandemic, is to have all her own end of life decisions and plans completed, and that means buying a funeral plot. Morbid, I admit, but the way she goes about these things is so refreshing and life-affirming.

Darla decided that she wanted to be cremated, and then buried in a plot near New Hradek, the small Czech community where her husband’s family has a farm, 5 miles north of our town.  She is from a German-Russian/German-Hungarian community 10 miles to the East, and has no intention of being buried in the Gladstone Cemetery.  Her parents are buried there, and she initially  thought she could save a lot of money if she and her husband were buried in the same plot, as all of them would be cremated. “How many urns can you fit in a plot?” she asked a local funeral director.  “They don’t take up that much space”.  He just rolled his eyes at her.  (They are old friends). She  got somewhat fanciful, and suggested that she and all of her seven brothers and their spouses could also be cremated and buried with their parents in the same plot, stacked like eggs in a double layer crate with the same sort of packaging between the urns.   None of her siblings thought that was a very good idea, so she returned to the New Hradek plan, and is waiting for the very elderly manager of the cemetery there to get back to her.  It is taking him a while.  “I just hope he didn’t wake up dead !” she said to me the other day.

Darla has a very specific directive for her husband if she goes first. He is to rent a coffin long enough so that all her DD clients can view her body and see and understand that she is really gone.  Then they can cremate her. I can hardly wait to hear how this all turns out.

What are your plans for eternity?  Got any good funeral stories?

Fire!

Years ago YA announced that her life would be considerably happier if we had a fire pit.  Having bonfires was a big deal in her peer group when she was in high school; if we had a fire pit, she could have friends over and life would be good.

I wasn’t particularly in favor of this, but we looked around.  Luckily this search got mentioned at my BFF’s house one night and she (my BFF) got all excited.  THEY had a fire pit that they didn’t use and had been thinking of getting rid of.  Did we want it?  YA wasn’t enthusiastic (as it wasn’t brand-spanking new) but she realized quickly that there was no way I was going to go out and spend a bunch of cash when something free was sitting right there.  So we hauled it home and she cleaned it up – voila!

Of course, the number of times it got used for her friends coming over amounted to just once.  I was pretty clear about no alcohol at our house and this was enough of a dis-incentive to her friends.  YA has never been a drinker but the crowd she ran with in high school apparently imbibed frequently (at least this is what she told me).  Our house was never a big hang-out house because of this and the backyard was just a continuation of that.

But now that we’re stuck at home, she has made it her mission to burn all the little sticks and old straw and small logs that have cluttered up the back of our yard for a while.  We’ve had a succession of fires now, always in the afternoon after we’ve done yardwork.  She does all the work – paper, kindling.  lighter.  Then she does all the fire maintenance as well, adding more sticks, blowing on it, poking it.  All I have to do is sit and enjoy.  I figure it’s going to take quite a few more bonfires to get everything cleared up and I’m looking forward to every one!

Anything you’ve started doing again in quarantine?