Category Archives: home


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?  

Cats Will Be Cats

Husband and I have had a cat or two (or three) for most of the 30 years we lived in our current house. Some of the cats were mainly indoor cats who went outside occasionally,  and the current two are strictly indoor cats.  They both have their claws, but we are too worried they would get hurt outside. Millie, the Tortie, would love to go outside. She scratches at the door like a dog  when she hears us outside.  She started out life as a hobby farm kitten, but she is so clumsy and impulsive she would make some pretty bad choices and get into some dangerous situations.  She has to be content with her life indoors.

I worry about cats that I see roaming. There aren’t too many in our neighborhood. The white supremacist across the street lets his small tabby roam at will.  I worry about her, too, but I must credit her predatory ways with an absence  of garden raiding bunnies. On the other hand, I wasn’t too happy with her when I saw her carrying a Swainson’s Thrush  she had poached in our back yard.  Outdoor cats and birds don’t mix well. Cat will be cats, I guess. I can’t expect them to all be like our Albert, who was an enormous tabby with a luxurious double coat who was terrified of birds and hid from them under the gooseberry bushes.

Where do you think cats belong?  Tell some cat stories.

Spring Blossoms

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


I came of age in the sixties, when it was all the rage to be un-patriotic. It felt like blinders had come off for the first time; we didn’t want to accept the perfect glowing images we had grown up with but were seeing America in all its stark reality.  This got ugly fast, of course.  Vietnam vets got the brutal end of this, as if risking life and limb wasn’t enough, but you had to put up with immature folks back home ridiculing you for your service.

Then the pendulum swung back after 911. In shoring up our solidarity we reverted back to flags and flag decals everywhere, freedom fries in the congressional cafeteria and presidents decried if they didn’t have their flag pin in their lapel every time they stepped out.

I feel smack in the middle of this spectrum. Having traveled quite a bit, I feel quite strongly that there are few places where I would prefer to live.  Religious struggles, authoritarian regimes, overly controlling policies (think.. it’s a crime to spit out your gum), racism/sexism practically built into the system – all of these things make me think I’ll just stay here, thank you very much.  On the other side of this fence is my feeling of disquiet about our current political crisis; it’s embarrassing when I travel.  (Except when I go to London, as their problems are pretty overwhelming right now as well so they’re not as quick to judge.)

But in general, I’m glad to be an American and will fly my big flag this weekend and stick my little flags out in the front garden. No picnics or parades, but a quiet weekend of gardening and weeding and thinking of those who have fallen for me.

What are your plans for the weekend?

Mashing It Up

When I am over my head at work, making lunch in the morning is not something I want to spend a lot of time on.  That’s why I try to cook on the weekends, so that there are leftovers that can be quickly scooped into containers for lunch.  Yesterday morning there wasn’t much to choose from but there were four different take-out containers from last week, each with a bit left: Vegetable Fried Rice, Sticky White Rice, Broccoli in Garlic Sauce, Egg Foo Yung.  I dumped all of them into one container, mostly thinking it was the best I could do and resigning myself to a lunch that would be mediocre at best.

But it was great.  I stirred it all together, warmed it up in the microwave and it was a big comfort at lunchtime.  Not quite macaroni & cheese, or pizza, but close!

Do you have a surprising mash-up in your life?

Smarty Pants

I don’t remember when I used to know everything, although I’m pretty sure I had a moment of that in my earlier life. I’m guessing about when I was 24? In the last week:

YA: What kind of flower is this?
VS: It’s a daisy.
YA: No it’s not.  It says “gerbera”.
VS: That’s a type of daisy.
YA: No it’s not.
VS: (while showing her a website) Yes, it is.
YA: (while walking away). I don’t think so.


YA: Why are there 2 separate bags of chocolate chips.
VS: One is milk chocolate and one is semi-sweet
YA: Why would anybody want a semi-sweet chocolate chip
VS: Because most folks don’t want to overwhelm their dessert w/ sweetness.  They are the most popular of the chocolate chips
YA: That’s not true
VS: Yes, it is.
YA: How do you know?
VS: Because I’ve stood in the baking aisle a million times and seen five times more shelf space given to semi-sweet.  And I’ve seen a bzillion recipes that call for semi-sweet and not nearly as many calling for milk chocolate or white chocolate
YA: (under breath grumbling)


VS: Did you want to put parchment down before you put the batter in?
YA: Why?
VS: It makes it easier to get the bars out and easier to clean up?  Cut it down so it just fits in the pan but doesn’t crumple up in the corners.
YA: Why?
VS: Because if it’s crumpled in the corners, the batter gets in there and bakes.
YA: Well, then you just pull the paper off.
VS: If the batter bakes in the crumples, it won’t pull off neatly.
YA: So?

When did you realize you didn’t actually know everything?