Category Archives: holidays

Pas de Parade

Photo credit: Raymond Hillegas

YA and I are parade people.  We’ve always liked parades.  Blueberry Festival in Maine was a great parade and during the Cheesehead Parade in Little Chute, Wisconsin during the Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival, YA came away with more candy and loot than any parade before or since.  We go to the State Fair parade every day we are on the fairgrounds.  For me this means four or five times in 10 days. 

When YA was younger, she was actually part of the Richfield Fourth of July Parade with her gymnastics team.  I was part of this parade as well, as one of the accompanying adults.  The only other parade I’ve taken part in was the year the Thespian Society had a float at our high school homecoming parade.  (We had a stuffed horse (the opposing team’s mascot) in a football uniform with a cast on its leg.  Break a leg?  We thought it was clever but we didn’t win any prizes.)

Normally YA and I do two parades on the Fourth of July – the local Tangletown parade which is kids on their bikes and people walking their dogs, all following a big fire truck.   Low key but charming.  Then we head off to Richfield parade – a more typical Independence Day parade with floats, military displays, politicians and candy.  Makes for a nice holiday for us.

So it was a little sad when we found out last week that Richfield isn’t having their parade this year; I was looking for the parade route (which isn’t always the same) online and found out that due to inflation, they can’t afford to do the parade this year.  A bunch of other Fourth of July activities has likewise been cancelled.  YA and I talked about it and decided that maybe we’d go to Edina; we’ve been to that one a few times in the past. 

YA came home from an errand on Saturday to say that people were already claiming their spots for the parade; the parade route is actually pretty short.  It seemed remarkable to me that folks would be putting chairs and towels out on the boulevard; what an invitation to vandalism.  But then I drove by yesterday morning and it did my heart good to see that everybody’s stadium chairs and tarps and blankets all seemed too be in place.  And there were A LOT of them in place.  We talked about whether we should join the fray but since that parade conflicts with our local parade, we opted not to. 

Of course if it is raining when you read this, no parades for us.  Although we do like parades, not enough to sit in the rain for them.

Have you ever been in a parade?  Do you have a favorite parade?

A Visit From The Plumber

We have had hot water heater issues for the past two weeks. I noticed that the water was getting cooler and cooler a couple of weeks ago, and phoned the home service company that we pay for every month with our utility bill. I had never done this before, as we don’t have a lot of appliance repairs, and when it involves plumbing, I have always phoned a local plumber who does great work and who we have known for 35 years. I thought I could save some money.

I was told by the home service company that all the local contractors were booked out for two weeks, but they would find another one from nearby. Well, “nearby” turned out to be a guy from a little town north of Bismarck, more than 100 miles away. He arrived the next day, which was a Saturday, fiddled around and replaced a couple of parts and relit the pilot light, and that was it. So far, so good.

Last Saturday while our son and family were visiting, I noticed that the water was getting cooler and cooler, and saw that the pilot light had again gone out. This time I phoned our local plumber, who came over at 7:00 pm after he finished another job, relit the pilot light, posited a couple of theories for why it was happening, and told us to phone him if it happened again. He had a feeling that it would, but wasn’t sure. It indeed happened again on Monday, which was Memorial Day. Well, we phoned the plumber, who was again at another job, and he came over, replaced the one part the first plumber hadn’t replaced, and now it seems to be heating up just fine.

It is truly wonderful to see someone who is living out his/her vocation like our plumber is. Our plumber loves what he does. He comes on holidays. He is kind and competent. He is honest and reasonable. I doubt I will phone the home service company again unless the furnace goes out.

Did you ever feel you had a vocation that you had to fulfill? Who do you know who is living out their chosen vocation to the best of their ability?

My Star Wars Name Is…..

I’m a Star Wars Fan.  Not a rabid fan and I have to admit that I haven’t even seen the last few movies because they haven’t come around for free yet.  But I will always remember when Star Wars IV came out in 1977.   I went to the first night it opened at The Grand Theatre in Northfield; I hadn’t heard anything about it but some other friends were going so I went along for the fun.  When the curtains pulled back and the screen filled with stars and the music blared out, I felt as if somehow my life had changed.

Night 2, Night 3 and Night 4 found me at The Grand again, each night with a different group of friends.  I was a bit like a CGI proselytizer – trying to get as many people as I knew to see and fall for the new special effects that were on the screen. By Night 5, my friends were starting to give me grief, so my streak ended. (There have been only two other movies that got the Night 1, Night 2, Night 3, Night 4 treatment – Blazing Saddles and Princess Bride. Oddly enough Blazing Saddles was also at The Grand.)

Over the years I’ve watched IV, V and VI over and over again. The others not as much. I’ve never been to a convention, although I’ve certainly thought about it. When May 4 began to be known as Star Wars Day, I noted it but didn’t go crazy over it. YA did give me a book a few years back on May 4, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope. Kind of my wheelhouse, right?

I do enjoy all the memes and puns that are associated with Star Wars – and there are A LOT of them. Here’s a new one I found a couple of weeks ago.

Q.  Why isn’t Leia married in A New Hope?

A.  She’s been looking for love in Alderaan places

Where is this going, you all ask? This is where it’s going. When I found the phrase “May the Horse be With Ewe” last week, I fell off my chair laughing.  Almost immediately I started thinking about making a card and ended up with the design you see above. On the inside of the card, in the Star Wars font (yes, there is such a thing), I do have “May The Horse Be With Ewe”.  I couldn’t help myself. So far a couple of folks who have received it have called and laughed with me.  I’m pretty sure that Nonny is not going to get the joke.  I’m not even sure if she has SEEN Star Wars.

Which Star Wars character do you like best?


I just returned from a meeting of State and Provincial psychology regulatory boards held in New Orleans. It was our first in-person meeting in two years, and the Louisiana Board was so happy and proud to have the conference in their state.

One of the Louisiana Board members is a native of Louisiana and the the co-founder of a Mardi Gras krewe. I don’t know much about these organizations, but they seem integral to the celebration of Mardi Gras across the state and host parade floats, wear costumes, and have all sorts of parties and concerts throughout the year. He gave out Mardi Gras doubloons from his krewe to the conference attendees this weekend. The doubloons are large, colored, cast aluminum coins that are thrown from Mardi Gras parade floats. He also made us honorary members of his krewe, and translated the “secret” Latin motto of his Krewe, which is “Sicut equites aggredtuntur hominem vivere oportet” . I forgot the exact meaning, but it had something to do with living life to the fullest.

Our grandson turns 4 today, and I told him over the phone that I had pirate doubloons to give him when we see him in two weeks. (It would have been this coming weekend, but his mother is afflicted with COVID, and we had to change our travel plans.) Our son told our grandson that we were in a pirate town, and he is so excited to see the pirate coins and the pirate jeweled necklaces I got in New Orleans. It is magical to him, and I love to feed his imagination with simple things that can take on such meaning. Those are the best toys, I think.

Have you ever been to Mardi Gras? What seemed magical when you were a child? What were your best toys? Translate the Latin motto, if you can.

Being Thankful

I am feeling pretty thankful. My friend is doing well after her surgery, I made it home from Minnesota safely, Grandson loved the candy and toy trucks we gave him for Easter, the bell choir played well on Sunday morning, and Husband didn’t have a heart attack shoveling the voluminous amount of snow that was in our driveway. Our kind neighbor across the street was excited to use his new snow blower, and cleared our driveway.

Last summer I prepared peach pie filling and froze it for pies in the winter. I also had pie crusts I had made in the freezer. I made a peach pie. Husband made Czech Easter bread (neighbors are Czech), and we took them to the neighbor and his wife Sunday afternoon to thank them for clearing the driveway. They were happy and we were thankful. It was a good Easter.

What acts of kindness and generosity have you noted lately? How do you like to show your thanks? What are your feelings about thank you cards? How do you like Scrabble?

Waiting For Einaudi

Latest November I decided to treat myself to a CD of the string group La Pieta playing the music of Ludovico Einaudi. He is a modern Italian composer, still living, and I love his compositions.

I ordered the disc through Amazon from a place in Oxfordshire, England. I was told the order would arrive in time for Christmas. By the middle of December there was no indication that it had shipped. Husband was anxious for it to come because he knew I was really looking forward to getting it. Our conversations were reminiscent of dialog by Samuel Beckett.

“Has it arrived?”

“No, but they said it was coming.”

“When will it come?”

“They said it would be here by now.”

I got a message in mid January that the package was lost in transit. I reordered from another US company, and finally, in mid March, the disc arrived. Of course, although it was brand new, it required substantial cleaning before it would play without skips and pops.

Who is your favorite or least favorite modern composer? Any interesting delivery stories? Have you ever seen Waiting For Godot?

Easy as…..

Even though I didn’t celebrate Pi Day the way I would have preferred (lots of pies, lots of party), I did pull some pie dough out of the freezer and picked up some frozen blueberries last weekend.  My plan was to make a blueberry pie – YA’s favorite – on Monday over my lunch.  Blueberry is about the easiest pie out there – no slicing of anything, no fancy ingredients, nothing that needs to marinate or rise.  If you cheat, like I often do w/ pre-made pie dough, it’s about a 10-minute project before you’re slipping the pie plate into the oven.

Unfortunately last week was a little stressful to say the least and my lunch “hour” on Monday ended up being an 8-minute cheese sandwich (that includes the making and eating of said sandwich).  So pie didn’t happen.  And you all know that when I’m busy at this time of year I don’t have much energy  at the end of the day.  Daylight savings helps a little but not enough.  YA asked about the pie a couple of times the next few days and finally on Friday I told her I’d work on it over the weekend.

Friday night I was wallowing after a 10-hour work day, in my jammies at 7 with a book in hand when I smelled the aroma of baking wafting up from the downstairs.  YA likes to do her cooking and baking in the evening and it smelled good but I didn’t wander down to see what she was doing.  I was actually a little surprised when she came upstairs later and announced she had made a blueberry pie.   I don’t remember her ever making a pie on her own; actually I don’t remember her ever even being involved in pie making.  Of course, I can’t trust my memory on this – heck I can’t even remember the Wordle word an hour later!

I asked her if it tasted good and she said she had put it in the fridge to cool down.  When I got up on Saturday I was surprised to see a whole pie in the fridge; I assumed she would have a piece before she went to bed (which is always later than me).  But it was still whole and gorgeous.  Not only did she weave the lattice crust, the lattice pieces were really even; she had clearly used one of my pastry cutters.  Sure enough there is was in the sink (waiting to be washed). 

She knew I had a pastry cutter for lattice work?  I had a quick thought that maybe aliens came down and helped her, but I do actually know better.  So may surprises with YA.  And among all this fun news – the pie tastes great as well!

If an alien came to help you, what project would you like assistance on?

Christmas on the Farm

Today’s post comes from Ben.

It’s the Holiday season. And the season might last over several days; that’s how it works in our family. The immediate family Christmas, then Christmas with one side, then the other, and somewhere in there our family too.

Growing up, Christmas eve, we’d open presents after milking, then go to midnight service. I could never get out of the barn fast enough at night to open presents.

When we took over the farm, Christmas Eve was with Kelly’s family and we’d be the last ones there after milking.

But those nights in the barn, I clearly remember Christmas Eve being a special time down there. I tried to be extra nice to the girls; a little extra hay and a scratch on the head for each of them. The barn was a cozy place at night. It’s warm from the cow bodies, in fact we needed exhaust fans or it would get too humid from them breathing. So it was always a nice warm place in the barn. By the time I finished milking, got the equipment washed up and got them fed, most of them were laying down and they were comfortable, and it was just very nice.  

Walking to the house in the winter with the yardlight and all the usual noises of cattle or pumps running, was nice. It was just a good feeling.

All that taught me the animals should come first; it’s our responsibility to them.

I do my chicken chores first thing in the morning and it’s similar that there’s more chores in the winter than summer. Make sure they have water, break ice or get fresh as needed. Refill feeders. Bedding isn’t really an issue as it lasts a long time for chickens.

And once / week refill the bird feeders too. Do that before I get my breakfast.

With the cold temps, but no snow, the springs in the swamp are still running, it’s making an ice path that we can’t usually see.

A little too rough for skating, but interesting to see.

End of the year coming up fast. I’ll be recording mileage and hours on all the vehicles and tractors (Machinery goes by hours rather than miles. 10,000 hours is slightly used. Over 50,000 hours is well used.)

Time to update the farm balance sheet for the year too. I love this kind of thing; seeing the changes from year to year.

I’ve had my fill of Christmas music and I’m ready for the 1940’s station to come back to XM radio. My checkbook register is full too; I’ve had this register since November of 2017 and I’m not about to get a new one for the last couple days here. Whatever I have to do yet, I’ll wedge it on the page somehow.

Have you noticed in your own life what you do first? With my bad shoulder, putting a jacket on is an issue some days and I’ve noticed I put my hat on first. Which is a problem getting the jacket on then.

I do my left shoe first. Usually left sock first too, then right. It’s curious.

What do you do first in your routines?

Christmas Past and Present and Future

We are having a lovely time with family, and I must admit this is a pretty wonderful Christmas. Everyone is getting along, the food is good, we aren’t being driven and perfectionistic. We are taking naps.

Son reminded me of a Christmas when daughter was about 2 when we traveled to my parents in Luverne and we all promptly came down with the stomach flu. My favorite Christmas pasts were those when my parents were at our home with us and the children were old enough to participate in the festivities without being too old to be snarky and disinterested.

My only hopes for the next Christmases is for us to be together and to keep having peaceful times with one another.

Beliefs aside, what is your favorite way of spending Christmas? What are your more memorable Christmas Pasts? What are your hopes for Christmas Future? What are your favorite Christmas movies, stories, and songs.

That Crazy Minnesota Weather

Today’s post comes from Ben.

Last week this time we were preparing for a blizzard, and this week we had record high temperatures and tornadoes and extreme winds. If you’re smart enough to pay attention to the weather extremes going on you would call it global warming. Or you could just shake your head and say, well that’s different. Oh, it was different all right. I’d rather not have to go through that again.

I was glad the snow melted, I really just wanted the banks to melt down on the sides of the road. Guess I should be more specific about what I wish for. White Christmas or brown Christmas won’t bother me.

From the winds, we have a lot of branches down. We have an old maple tree in the front yard. A branch falls off if you look at it funny so it lost several in the winds. I have some trees down around the fields, some minor damage to some of the buildings, and most of the snowfence is gone. None of that is serious. I spent a few hours out with the Townboard guys clearing trees off township roads. I saw a couple trampolines folded in half, I saw metal roofing of a house peeled up over the top. You know if it’s windy down in our valley, it’s really windy out in the open.

I was supposed to have a choir concert at the college last Friday night. We postponed it to Monday. It was a very nice concert. The photo up top is my view from the booth with the Lighting Console as I programmed.
It was nice of Santa to stop in at the concert on Monday.

End of the financial year here so I am settling up with the neighbors. I mentioned a week or two ago about pre-paying some fertilizer and doing tax planning for next year. My neighbors that do the combining and hauling of my crops sent their bill. Combining soybeans is $38 per acre. Corn is $39 per acre. And it’s eight cents per bushel to haul. They also made some round bales of straw at $13 per bale and I sold them 200 bushels of oats at $3.58 per bushel. I’ll be writing them a check for $7310. It’s a lot of money, but it’s cheaper than owning my own equipment and having the time to do it. And the neighbors with the cattle here, they pay rent on the pasture, I pay them to combine the oats, and they will buy the round bales of straw. I did some work for them and we pretty much balance out at the end of the year.

The chickens appreciate the snow melting. You can see them here gathered in a bare spot last week.

They don’t like the snow, they’ll walk over a little, but nothing deep. Except one white chicken. Evidently her feet don’t get cold. There were a few days last week when she was the only one out. Maybe she just doesn’t get along well with the others. She is kind of ornery, biting Kelly twice when she tried to collect eggs. Bad move chicken, bad move.

The MRI on my shoulder last week showed massive tears. Still waiting on the surgery consultation. Some days it hurts more than others. If I’m going to have surgery done, I’d really like it sooner than later. In the meantime, I wait. I remember reading in a John Irving book a phrase something like, “Does anyone in love ever want to ‘wait and see?’ “

How do you feel about waiting? How many other heteronyms do you know?