Category Archives: History

Spoiled

I have been frustrated the past several months over the unavailability of Italian Parmesan cheese in our town. Wisconsin Parmesan is readily available, but the authentic stuff from Italy is nowhere to be found. (Isn’t that the most pathetic and self-absorbed sentence you have read lately?) I confess a sort of snobbery about cheese, but I blame it on living with someone from Wisconsin. Even he admits true Italian Parmesan is the best.

I got sort of impulsive a week ago and found this fancy-shmancy source for real Parmesan, and I ordered a 10 lb. slab. It arrived last week. I was surprised at just how much cheese this was. I warned our children and our daughter’s best friend that they would be receiving large chunks of Parmesan. It is truly wonderful, and nothing like the stuff from Wisconsin. I cut the slab into wedges, sealed them in our food sealer, and figured out the most expedient way to ship it. I have freezer packs and insulated wrappers for it, and will send it off on Friday.

I am an only child, and I always resented it when people said I must be spoiled. Well, I suppose that getting this cheese is pretty self-indulgent, but at least I am sharing it.

When have you been spoiled? How do you spoil yourself?  Who do you like to spoil?  What is your favorite cheese?

The History of everything

I had a four day weekend over Easter, and I spent it cooking and reading, both real treats for me. The gift of goat meat sent us on a Mediterranean cooking binge, and made me get out a cookbook I had neglected for some time, A Mediterranean Feast, by Clifford Wright. It is 815 pages of the history of Mediterranean food from Spain to Turkey, and all the countries in between. There are hundreds of recipes as well as references. He writes extremely detailed information about each of the recipes and the history of this food and the people who ate it from the Middle Ages to the present. His main emphasis is that the Mediterranean food that we know today is very strongly influenced by the Arabs, and that many food writers of the past have ignored that fact.

One of my favorite comments is in the section devoted to the history Greek and Turkish food, and the stubbornness of Greek food writers and historians to acknowledge the influence of the Ottomans on Greek cuisine,  “Unfortunately, there are no comparative historical studies of Greek and Turkish food by disinterested third-party scholars. In any case, all claims regarding the heritage of Greek food must by taken with a grain of salt….” (p. 219).  Wouldn’t it by fun to be such a disinterested third-party scholar?

It is hard to decide if this book is more of a cook book or a history book. I think it succeeds at both. I would love to write such a book, although I am not sure what I would write about. I suppose a history of children’s play would be fun, as I am a play therapist.

What kind of  history book would you like to write?   What Mediterranean countries have you visited?

Being in the Right place

Last week as I was struggling with my usual insomnia, I started to do a room  by room inventory in my mind, visualizing each part of the house and deciding what furniture we would take with us when we moved, and what we would discard. I haven’t done that before, and I have no idea why I did it last week.  We have no firm moving date.  It could be as long as  five years  before we  leave here.   Doing that inventory sure didn’t help my sleep, since I got increasingly anxious about all the stuff we have, and how we could possibly move it.  The next day we got a New Yorker and wouldn’t you know, there was an article about a woman who decided that  her possessions were too burdensome and  her actions to get rid of the unnecessary.  I believe that both these incidents were signs from the Cosmos to sit up and pay attention and prepare for action. 

Husband and I had a discussion the other day about our tenure out here, and how we seem have been in the right place at the right time for us and for the communities we have worked with/for.  We both felt, though, that it was time for us to seriously think about that time ending.  Husband had just returned from doing some expert witness testimony for the Tribal Court in New Town,  his first time on the Reservation since March, 2020.  He felt good about his testimony, but decided that he really didn’t want to make that 100 mile journey any more.   I talked about how useful and needed I still felt at my agency, but how exhausting it was getting for me. Both of us are sick to death of the constant attention in the state to extraction industries like oil and coal.  The isolation from family is feeling keener.  

We have lived here for 34 years.  Given our family health history, we could both live another 30 years, and I really don’t want to spend all those years here.  I think I am going to start getting rid of the unnecessary stuff in the basement.   We may not move for several years, but I want to be ready.

When have you been in the right place at the right time?  How did you know? When did you know it was time to go somewhere else?  

Our Favorite spots

The other day as I was typing a comment here on the Trail, I inadvertently slipped into “pirate talk”. I’m not sure why, but I suddenly had Cap’n Billy of the Muskellunge on my shoulder. It didn’t last long, but it’s not the only time lately that I’ve spontaneously conjured up one of the regulars from TLGMS – The Late Great Morning Show – MPR’s varietal music wake-up show which aired between 1983 and 2008. For instance, Lloyd’s of Monday pops into my head whenever something goes awry on a Monday.

For the uninitiated who might wander onto this blog, here’s an excerpt from a 2006 article describing the show: 

“Fans of The Morning Show know they can expect to hear comic sketches, ad spoofs and other skits featuring characters such as Captain Billy, Bud Buck and Genway’s Dr. Larry Kyle. It all originates at Dale Connelly’s keyboard. “Basically, I create the characters in the scripts,” Dale says, ‘then I hand the scripts over to Jim Ed and he brings them to life in his own way.’

[The late Tom Keith, whose stage name was]  Jim Ed Poole is a master at doing various voices, dialects and characterizations. ‘There are so many different characters,’ Jim Ed laughs, “that some characters are starting to sound like other characters.”

I’ve been missing the Morning Show a lot lately – I’ll be cooking and want some music instead of the yammering of the radio’s talk shows. Or I’ll turn on the classical station, but they’re playing something weird, so I try Radio Heartland on my iPad. But they don’t play the old favorites any more (from what I can tell), and besides, RH doesn’t do the fun stuff like those fake sponsors and quirky character skits I used to laugh out loud at.

Dial it back several years

What were some of your favorite “spots” or characters from Dale and Jim Ed’s collection?

(If you click on the little magnifying glass at the top right of this page, and type in your favorite character or “sponsor”, you may find old blog posts on that topic from the archives.)

Easter Baskets

I received a text from Daughter last week enquiring if she would get an Easter basket this year. I replied that of course  she would. She reminded me of her favorites (anything milk chocolate, Butterfinger eggs, anything sour) and I assured her they  would arrive in good time. I asked Son and Dil what Grandson should get in his basket, and they sent their suggestions (Cadbury mini  eggs, freeze dried mangos and raspberries, raisins, and pretzel chips).  Now I am sorting through our spare boxes to get everything sent.

I remember the activities of Easter more than the treats. It was a time I got a fancy new church dress and hat. I don’t remember dying eggs.  The Easter Bunny left white  tracks all over our house, deposited on the charcoal colored carpets by my mother,  who dipped oval shaped shoe polish applicators in flour and left bunny tracks through the house that led to the candy.

We plan to tell the children next door on Easter Sunday that we have rabbit problems in our yard, and would they please come over to get the chocolate eggs those darn rabbits have left all over the place. That will be fun.

What are your Easter memories? What do you want in your Easter Basket this year?

Frozen Food Day

I think I’ve mentioned that I got a fun “every day a celebration” calendar by Sandra Boynton for Solstice?  According to the calendar (verified on other sources), today is National Frozen Food Day.  Apparently Ronald Reagan decided in 1984 that we needed a day to celebrate frozen foods – there is actually a proclamation (#5157) to this effect.

Frozen Food Day caught my attention because I just watched a documentary last week about some of the great “inventions” of the 20th century.  It began with the Kellogg brothers and CW Post, battling it out for cereal sales.  When CW Post passed away, he left his company for his daughter, Marjorie, who turned out to be one smart cookie.  In 1929 she bought out the entire Clarence Birdseye company (one of the other great inventors in the documentary).  With the General Foods backing, the frozen food industry was able to grow by leaps and bounds. 

In our freezer there are lots of things that we have frozen: berries that we’ve picked, pineapple puree cubes (YA makes these), my sun-dried tomatoes, my jams.  I also keep my coffee and my Ralston in the freezer and we have lots of assorted fruits.  Waffles and cookie dough. Ice cream (Moose Tracks right now) .  Assorted things we find (mostly at Trader Joe’s).

This is too much for just our freezer upstairs so we have a small freezer in the basement as well.  It’s nice to have a spot for extras or the occasional bulk purchase.  I’m very glad that Clarence Birdseye developed the flash freezing process and even more glad that Marjorie Post put her considerable company and funding behind it.  Even enough to celebrate today!

Anything interesting in your freezer?  Any guilty freezer pleasures?

Hometown Fame

I was never so proud to be from Luverne, MN when it was chosen to be featured in The War documentary.  Luverne wasn’t famous for much of anything before that, except for being where Fred Manfred lived, and for its marching band festival.  It really boosted the town and seemed to make the residents more cohesive somehow

Recently,  two North Dakota towns have been highlighted in the media-Minot in a Feb. 15-22 New Yorker article by Atul Gawande , and Williston in the book The Good Hand (2021) by Michael Patrick F. Smith. Gawande is a surgeon and public health researcher who was part of  the Biden Transition Advisory Board for COVID 19.  He wrote about the struggle in Minot city council over a mask mandate, and all the the antimask rhetoric and hysteria that swept through the community, a community that was severely impacted by the virus.

Smith’s book highlights what it was like to work in Williston during the oil boom, and what he writes about is pretty awful.  He is a a folksinger, actor, and playwright who left Brooklyn  to experience life on the rigs. Much of the book is about his own self discovery, but I don’t think many people would want to move to Williston after reading the book. I wonder what folks in Williston and Minot are thinking about all the publicity.

What is your hometown famous for? What would you write about in a book or article about your hometown or places you have called home?

Dickies And Other Oddities

My mother-in-law sent a sweater to me for my birthday.  It is a cheerful red color, with a faux white collar and band at the bottom to make it look like I am wearing a white shirt under it,  with the shirt sticking out at the bottom.  The collar is a real shirt collar that actually buttons and has a placket that has to be tucked inside the sweater.  My first  thought when I saw the sweater was “What a great red color!”  My next thought was “Good grief! That is a dickie!”

I haven’t seen a dickie in  years. They were always worn by boys mostly, it seemed.  I thought they  would be kind of annoying.  Husband says he liked turtleneck dickies because they kept the wind out but weren’t too warm. He thought they were the height of preppiness.  He abandoned them for chambray work shirts  because he wanted an earthier look.

I like my new sweater, and the dickie collar isn’t too weird or annoying.  I saw in the Walmart women’s clothing section full length  bib overalls the other day.  Now that is a fashion item I wouldn’t mind returning.  I can be earthy too, you know.

Did you ever have, or do you have now, a dickie?  What clothing trends would you like to see return or never again see the light of day?

Eavesdropping

The other day I went into the kitchen when Husband was there cooking something,  and I opened a drawer to get out a spoon to eat some yogurt.  I had my phone in my sweater pocket.  I exclaimed upon grabbing the spoon “The silverware drawer is disgusting”!  It had lots of crumbs and crud in it, as happens with such drawers.  I made a mental note to clean it later.

I sat down and pulled out my phone.  There in the Google search bar were the words “The silverware drawer is disgusting” and below were many references to cleaning tips and strategies.  I was both shocked and amused. I never use the Google  function on my phone in which I could ask the phone to look things up for me or search for something. I must have tapped the button unbeknownst when I put it in my pocket.  It really felt as though the phone was eavesdropping on me. I plan to be far more careful in the future to make sure I haven’t engaged that function .

Where and when would you have wanted to be a fly on the wall?  

Baboon Ink

Saturday is Husband’s birthday, and last week his younger brother sent a wonderful but puzzling gift. Husband has always liked fountain pens.  Enclosed in the package was a narrow box which contained some writing apparatuses that had belonged to their paternal grandfather.  In the box from a Wheeling, West Virginia jewelry store were a dip pen and a bone pencil and their accoutrements.

We have determined that there is no ink reservoir on the pen. It was manufactured by the Edward Todd company,  and has the number 11 on the nib. The pen is probably gold, either 14 or 18 carat. There is a weird black plunger that appears to serve to hold what we think are steel calligraphy nibs in place. There is also an odd little gold topper that doesn’t fit into anywhere on the pen.

 

The pencil came with tiny round metal canisters containing really thick leads that seem to fit into the larger end of the pencil.

We have done some online research regarding these writing instruments,  but without much luck. Do Baboons have any ideas?  We don’t know if Husband is going to actually  use the pen, but it is a nice piece of family history to have. I have no idea if you can you still purchase bottles of ink.

What are your favorite writing instruments?  What were your experiences learning to write? What is your handwriting like now?