Category Archives: holidays

Good City

Husband and I spent six days in Tacoma last week, with a couple of days on the Olympic Peninsula. The trip to the peninsula was rather more eventful than we wished, with daughter slipping into a deep tidepool and breaking her wrist, but, overall, it was a great trip.

Our Tacoma hotel overlooked Commencement Bay on Puget Sound. The city has made a nice development free and open to the public along the Sound, full of piers, shops, restaurants, running paths, and green space for people, pets, otters, sea birds, and sea lions to coexist. We watched sail boats, container ships, canoeists, and paddle boarders. I saw otters swimming around close to shore.

I took the header photo from our hotel room window. Just below our window we had a lovely view of a large cement area about the size of half of a basketball court that had recessed colored lights and sprays of water shooting out that all members of the public could access. Children, dogs, skate boarders, and adults ran through it. Lots of people sat on benches and talked. We also watched lots of bicyclists of all ages along the path that borders the Sound by the hotel, and families with small children in strollers. There was ample, free public parking. What we most appreciated was the diversity of ages, races, and income groups amongst the revelers. This area was meant for all, and not just for the privileged. On our last evening it looked as though the whole city had come for a visit. Husband commented that this is what a city should be like.

What are your favorite cities to visit?

Luna’s Great Leap

I have written before about our cat’s fascination with my Julbocken, the Scandinavian straw goats popular at Christmas. She loves to chew on the wheat berries at the end of the straw sprigs that make up the beards. Last Christmas I left them out in the living room instead of putting them back in the closet in January. I had repaired the beard of the largest Julbock and festooned him with a lovely beard and wanted to show him off.

I had three Julbocken and an Austrian straw girl on top of a curio cabinet that I thought was out of the cat’s range for leaping. The figures were at an awkward angle to jump to from the love seat (or so I thought). I thought the angle and the narrowness of the surfaces would dissuade her from leaping. I would sometimes see Luna, the cat, stare intently up at the figures from the floor, as if calculating what she needed to do to get up there. The other evening I heard a strange yowling, and I entered the living room to see her on top of the curio cabinet feasting on the repaired beard of the largest julbock. I got Luna down and put the goats back in the closet. I left the girl, since she had no berries to chew on.

A few days later I took this photo, that I think captures Luna calculating how to make another leap.

She hasn’t, to my knowledge, leapt again to the top of the curio cabinet. The girl has been left undisturbed. Luna isn’t a very active cat, but she is far more calculating than I would have imagined.

When have you taken a calculated risk? Did it work out for you? Who are the most successful risk takers you know?

Just Here for the Food?

I’ve heard a lot of people say “I don’t go to the fair for the food.”   I’ve said it myself and I’ve always wondered if people believed me, if I believed myself.  Yesterday I found out.

When the State Fair announced they would have a mini-fair open for Memorial Day weekend, I was online in a flash.  You had to enter a lottery to be able to get a time slot during which you could buy tickets.  Luckily I did OK and we got out first choice.  There were two time periods each day, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and then 4-9 p.m.  You could arrive any time during your time slot but you had to leave at the end. 

It was more crowded than I had anticipated although nothing compared to a regular fair day in August.  There were folks with masks but mostly not; it was easy enough to do social distancing if you needed to, except in the cookie line.  The open part of the fair was about four square blocks and included the giant slide, the DNR stage, the grandstand (although just a seating area and a bingo area).  A handful of vendors, a few musical groups and food.  LOTS and LOTS of food. 

If I had been on my own, I would have stopped and listened to music as I walked around but YA’s musical sensibilities don’t line up with mine.  So we walked around for a couple of hours, bought a couple of t-shirts.  We got some Greek food and some cheese curds.  YA got some toffee peanuts.  We sat for a bit and decided that we’d had probably enjoyed it as much as we were going to – we headed home.

There were a lot of people who were clearly going to hang out the whole of their time slot and the lines in a few place were unbelievable (Pronto Pup had two lines going in opposite directions, at least a block long each way).  But even sharing, neither YA nor I can simply plow our way through massive amounts of food.

So I guess it IS true for me.  I don’t go to the fair for the food.

You doing anything out of the ordinary for Memorial Day?

Fun times

I ran across this article in the Rock County Star Herald the other day, found in the newspaper archives from 1892 by the president of the Rock County Historical Society:

“It gives the Herald much pleasure to announce that the committee in charge of the Fourth of July celebration to be held at this place have been fortunate enough to secure for that occasion Prof. A. L. Ward, of Sioux City, IA . , one of the most celebrated and daring aeronauts in the country, who is now under contract to be at Luverne at the time stated and make one of his famous balloon ascensions and parachute jumps. The balloon to be used on this occasion is in the neighborhood of thirty feet in height and is equipped for the performance of the most daring feats ever witnessed in the country.

On the way up Prof. Ward gives a thrilling performance on the trapeze and takes with him a trained dog which creates much amusement and interest in making a parachute descent of his own. After going as high as his balloon will carry him, Prof. Ward discharges a number of explosives and then jumps from his balloon with a parachute. The exhibition will be one of the thrilling interest and no one should fail to witness it.

By the direction of the committee the president was requested to extend an invitation to the fire department. Half rates will be given on all the railroads and efforts are being made to secure special trains.”

I wish Betty, the Historical Society President, had also included a follow-up review of Prof. Ward’s jump. I also wanted more information on the dog. We are seriously planning to move to Luverne in a couple of years. There still is an element of fun in town. This appears to be a long standing, historical trend.

What are some fun times you remember in the community in which you grew up or where you live now. What kind of celebration would you like to see in your community? Under what circumstances would you do a parachute jump?

Humming Along

On Sunday, the last long-haul day for my Ukrainian egg production, I binge-watched Peter Gunn with Craig Stevens.  When you binge-watch a series, you get to know the theme music pretty well and I looked up at one point as the credits were rolling to see that Henry Mancini wrote the theme music. 

I don’t know much about Henry Mancini except that he wrote the music for Breakfast at Tiffany’s including Moon River.  So being me, I took a break from eggs and googled him.  I was surprised to find that he was the composer for a lot of shows that I know: Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Pink Panther movies, Charades and Hatari.  I remember doing a skit in elementary school using the music Baby Elephant Walk but I had never known it was by Henry Mancini.

All this new knowledge made me think about other very recognizable theme music: Ghostbusters, Hawaii Five-O, Green Acres (for better or worse), Lara’s Theme (from Doctor Zhivago) and you know me – Perry Mason.  I could probably keep this list going for quite some time.

Any theme music that you’ll cop to liking?

Birthday Bash

Our 5 year old gardening buddy has a birthday next week, and asked his parents for a Gunsmoke themed party. He likes dressing up like a cowboy, and I assume his parents let him watch Gunsmoke reruns. His parents agreed, and his dad found a bunch of wooden pallets he is transforming into a boardwalk. There is a large sign the says Long Branch Saloon. I can hardly wait to see if anyone dresses up like Miss Kitty.

Our daughter also has a birthday in a couple of weeks. She always has anxiety over birthdays, I think stemming from anticipation over childhood parties. We never went so far as to recreate a film set, but she had some nice parties. She stated she has a number of birthday events scheduled by friends in the next two weeks. She is celebrating personally by having a different kind of hot dog a day for her birthday week. We never knew she even liked hot dogs.

My childhood parties were pretty tame, but I will never forget my heartbreak on my 8th birthday when my parents told me that we were moving to a new house in a different part of town, meaning I wouldn’t be next door to my best friend anymore.

What are some of your more memorable birthday parties? What events or celebrations do you dread? What would you wear to a Gunsmoke themed party? Plan your next birthday bash.

Teachable?

YA and I went to Easter dinner at a neighbor/friend’s home.  Everybody had their Fauci ouchie and three of the other 4 folks could be said to be “in our bubble”.  The fourth person was a close friend of the friend/neighbor.  I liked her right away and was interested in the mosaic art that she does.

The topic of my Ukrainian eggs came up and she asked a lot of questions about how they are made.  At one point she said “oh, that would be a fun thing to learn to do”.  So I offered to teach her; she was so excited I thought she might fall off her chair.  She asked if I could teach her twin sister as well – they apparently like to do these kinds of things together.  In for a penny, in for a pound – I agreed.

Since I’m actually putting the egg table up this weekend to start my Solstice eggs (yea, I know, just a tad early), I thought this would be a good time for lessons.  Instead of a traditionally colored pysanky (white, yellow, green, red, black) I’m going to design a beginner egg that will have various shades of blue.  The reason is simple. My Solstice egg this year will be using the blues and I don’t want to mix a bunch of different non-blue colors just for this lesson.  The process is exactly the same so I won’t be short-changing them.

I’ve taught Ukrainian eggs before – to two different friends and to YA when she was little  – all of these lessons were a long time ago.  Even though I’ve taught before, I find myself a little more nervous about this time.  Maybe because I will teaching two at a time?  Maybe because I know she is an artist herself?  I expect my jitters will fade away quickly once we get going.  At least I hope so… jitters and hot wax on eggs don’t go together well!

Have you ever taught anything?  What do you think you’d be good at teaching?

Little Library

Now that I don’t have to layer up too much, I’m out walking the dog again.  It’s been fun to see the neighborhood anew, although I have to admit, it doesn’t seem as if much has changed in the last few months.

What has changed are the books in the Little Libraries.  These are the little nooks that people have put up in their yards, encouraging folks to take a book or leave a book.  We have a good number of them in the couple-of-mile radius around my house.

I almost never take a book from a Little Library, although occasionally I’ll take one out to flip through it a bit.  I did take an Italian workbook once – no one had done any of the exercises – I work on it occasionally.  I’ve taken a couple of kids books and then returned them to a different little library when I was done with them.  But it’s fun to look.

I have a friend down on the parkway who takes the Little Library concept to a new level.  She actually curates her collection, changing out titles to fit the season or upcoming holiday.  Right now there are a bunch of Easter and Spring titles – she always has some good books for kids.  She has also installed some little string lights in the box, although I’ve never seen it at night to know if it actually lights up.  There is also a tin of dog treats (home made) in her little library and in the summer, a bowl of water underneath for passing dogs. 

So it should have come as no surprise that there is a new addition to her library this week.  A stick library for dogs – photo above.  I couldn’t convince Guinevere to take a stick – she keeps quite busy sniffing while we walk to bother with a stick – although I suppose I could take a stick for her to play with once we get back to our yard.  I did snap the photo and send it off to my friend with a little note of thanks. 

I’m looking forward to this spring and summer to see what else becomes part of the Little Library landscape!

Have you ever taken a book from a Little Library?  Left a book?  Do you have a Little Library at your house? 

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?