Category Archives: Mysteries

Large House Cats?

Last November there was a post that I clipped part of and have kept on my desktop.  I don’t remember what we were talking about but this string always intrigued me:

Part of the reason it has stuck with me is that it reminds me of two books.  My dad loved everything written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, especially the John Carter/Mars series, so I’ve read quite a few as well.  In the Gods of Mars series, the Therns have bamboozled another species, the Barsoomians, luring them with the promise of a journey to paradise, when in fact, they just get captured and eaten.  My father and I had some long conversations about this; he thought it was the best justification for being a vegetarian he had ever read.

The other book that our conversation reminds me of is The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell.  Also science fiction and a similar scenario in which the traveling Earthman discovers that the dominant species eats the non-dominant, although to his eye, they are both sentient beings.  There is also a VERY disturbing sub-plot in which the Earthman is basically kept as a pet and from his (and the reader’s) perspective, abused and maimed, although his “owner” fairly easily deflects and explains those actions away.  And it was believable.  Way too believable.  It took me a few years to work up the nerve to read the next book in the series.

Even though all these memories got dredged up back in November, I still thought it was a funny exchange. Although I’m pretty sure I’m already the pet of my cat Nimue….

What’s the most exotic animal you’ve ever fantasized about getting as a pet?

Too Much Mulch

It’s my Menards time of year.

One of the upshots of the “more flowers, less grass” way of life at our house is mulch.  We like the look of mulch around all the flowers and now that the front yard and boulevard are essentially all flowers, that’s a lot of mulch.

“A lot of mulch” and “very small Honda Insight” aren’t usually phrases you see in a sentence together.  That’s because you can only put 8 2-cubic foot bags of mulch IN a Honda Insight if you want to continue to see out the back window. (You could transport more if you used the backseat and not just the hatch but that lesson learned was ugly.)   If you go through 25-28 bags of mulch in the spring, that means several trips to Menards.  Yes, I’ve looked into having a boatload of mulch delivered, but one of the things I know about myself is how unhappy I will be with a mountain of mulch that might get rained on before I get to it, is taking up driveway space and is also making me feel guilty until it’s all gone.  And the savings isn’t that great anyway.

Mulch trips are in the morning – it’s cooler, plenty of room in the parking lot, not too crowded in the store – so for four mornings in a row, there I am, with my mulch on a big cart.  There is an older woman who works the first register shift every morning and she is NOT a happy person.  Could be that she resents working so early.  Maybe she resents still having to work at all at this stage of her life.  Might even be that she’s just not a morning person. 

I try not to take this personally, but I’m a chatter.  Every morning I say “good morning”.  Once I said “Eight of them (the bags), if I counted right”.   Couple of times I’ve said “see you tomorrow”.  Yesterday was “Thanks”.   Nothing from this woman.  Not even a smile, which I would have thought would be helpful in a customer service role. 

The mulch trips are probably over for this spring but I have determined that if I need more, I will probably just leave this poor woman alone when I go through her lane.  It won’t hurt me and maybe it will give her a little relief at 6:15 in the morning.  Of course, it’s not as much fun.

Tell me about a time you’ve gotten GREAT customer service!

Old Tech

This past weekend was a “comfort tv” weekend.  After a LOT of hours gardening and then recuperating in my studio while it rained, I was all about watching some of my standard oldies but goodies.

WarGames.  Looking at the technology that was over the top when the movie came out, it’s a little laughable now.  Rotary phones.  Dot matrix printer.  Oh, and Matthew Broderick makes a call from a phone booth.  Except for the ones that they keep around in London for tourist photo ops and the one that Dr. Who uses, are there phone booths anywhere anymore?

Hopscotch.  Walter Matthau types up his anti-CIA memories on an old typewriter, which he drags with him through the movie.  It’s not even an automatic return typewriter.  Phone booths in this movie as well.  Also, all the information on agents and criminals in on paper in a file room: when Matthau shreds his personnel file, they don’t even have a photo of him any longer.

Romancing the Stone.  At least Kathleen Turner is typing on an automatic return typewriter.  There are a few calls from phone booths in this one as well which is interesting since most of the movie takes place in the Colombian jungle.

Jumpin’ Jack Flash.  Whoopi Goldberg works in a bank on a data terminal (not even actually a computer).  She doesn’t have a phone on her desk – although there is one for the whole department of workers that they are only allowed to use in an emergency.  This means she ends up in a phone booth down the street.  (Then she gets dragged in the phone booth all over Manhattan but that’ another segue.)

A few things are clear.  #1. Phone booths and typewriters were clearly a lot more prevalent 30 years ago than they are today.  A bit of research reveals that you can still buy a typewriter (Brother and Royal are the top manufacturers out there) but they’re not a cheap as you would think they would be.   #2. The plots of a lot of the movies I like would really have to be punched up if there weren’t phone booths and typewriters abounding.  #3. All my comfort movies are way too old.

Do you still have a typewriter?  Do you use it?

Mystery Musical Score

Over the weekend, I watched “Bunny Lake is Missing” with Lawrence Olivier and Carol Lynley.  It’s about a woman whose daughter has disappeared and many folks seem to think she has made up the daughter.  I hadn’t really intended to watch it but the opening credits listed a handful of characters and then I noticed “The Zombies”.  My curiosity about how you get American actress Carol Lynley, British legend Lawrence Olivier and The Zombies into one movie got the better of me.

At one point, Olivier, who plays a police inspector, takes Lynley to a pub to get something to eat.  The tv above the bar is tuned to a channel playing a broadcast of The Zombies.  They are not identified at all.  Then in another scene, they can again be heard on a radio playing in the background.  There is no reference to the band at all – and no indication of why The Zombies.   I looked it up after the movie was finished and apparently 3 of the songs in the movie were written by them.  But I couldn’t find anything that suggests how Otto Preminger (producer and director) hooked up with the band.  I guess since the movie was shot over 55 years ago, we’ll probably never know.

How long do you think you’d survive in a zombie apocalypse?

Reading Affairs

I got Chris’ newsletter yesterday; he asks for pictures of people reading his book at the beach (or anywhere else for that matter).  It got me thinking about my current reading state of affairs.  March and April were a little discombobulated around here — too much work for a few weeks, then the stinky weather, more than one home project in the works.

Not surprisingly, my reading has been a little discombobulated as well.  You all know that I am usually in the middle of a few books at once but the past several weeks have been off the charts.  Instead of working my way through whatever I started, I would just pick up something that I thought suited my mood.  This means that right now, I’m in the middle of nine books.

Walking the Old Road by Staci Drouillard.  This is a “history” of Chippewa City and the Grand Marais Anishinaabe.  I want to like this book a lot more than I actually like it.  The author wanders all over and rambles with a lot of detail that is actually distracting from her topic.  Unfortunately I’m listening to it on CD and the author speaks v.e.r.y.  d.i.s.t.i.n.c.t.l.y and v.e.r.y s.l.o.w.l.y. so it’s taking much longer than if I had just plowed through the print.

Beautiful: the Life of Hedy Lamarr by Stephen Shearer.  Quite interesting.  Hedy Lamarr was incredibly intelligent and all we remember about her is how beautiful she was.  She was actually the co-inventor of a radio guidance system for the Navy.  Who knew?

Coyote vs Acme by Ian Frasier.  Re-reading this because we talked about the author a couple of weeks ago.  Funny.  Very funny.

Autumn Light by Iyer Pico.  This one keeps getting shuffled to the bottom of the pile. The writing is quite nice but it’s a memoir of a man helping his wife navigate the grief of losing her mother and whenever I start to pick it up I think “too sad”.

American Aristocracy by David Heymann.  I’m reading this because it’s a biography of Amy Powell (and her famous family).  She wrote the poem “Giver of Stars” which features in a JoJo Moyes story of the same name.  I’ve read the first half really quickly because I find I’m not all the interested in her family – just her.

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver.  I’m just in the beginning of this, so hard to give any kind of synopsis, but it’s Barbara Kingsolver, so I’m pretty sure I will end up liking it a lot.

My Fine Fellow by Jennieke Cohen.  This is an alternate history re-write of Pygmalion.  It’s an intriguing idea but unfortunately the author is sticking way to closely to the original story, just with different characters, so it’s not feeling as fresh or original as it should.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick.  I picked this up because I just recently actually watched Blade Runner (I don’t know why I waited so long – but I did).  It had such an ambiguous ending that I thought I’d see what the book was like.  I’m only a couple of chapters in… I’m not a big Philip K Dick fan, but I think I’ll make it through.

Why Didn’t They Ask Evans by Agatha Christie.  Re-reading this because I saw recently that Hugh Laurie is producing and directing another version of Christie’s work.  This isn’t actually Christie’s best work by a long shot but I’m still enjoying it.

I have a couple of other books from the library on the bedstand and Chris’ book AND the Sherlock Holmes book I bought while at his signing last month.  Maybe now that work has let up and the weather is improving, I can stick with just three or four and get some of them finished!

What are you reading right now?

Losing Track

I am over-calendared.

Handmade on dresser in bedroom.  Daytimer on chest of drawers in bedroom.  Birthday calendar in studio.  Daily holiday calendar in studio.  Calendar on refrigerator.  Lighthouse for the Blind calendar in the breakfast room.  Calendar on my phone.  And two calendars at work (one on Outlook, one on Teams – these two are not by choice).   

Two weeks ago, I took a day off work to get the house picked up and cleaned a bit because my friend from Madison was coming for a weekend visit on April 8.   First houseguest since before pandemic.  On Wednesday I texted her about what kind of milk she likes so I could order the right thing from my milkman.  Then on Thursday, I texted her about what she wanted to do for dinner once she arrived.  This text she answered a little distractedly that we could work that out later.  Then on Friday, knowing that she was coming from Rochester (follow up medical stuff), at 5 p.m. I texted her to see if she had left for the Twin Cities yet.   About 2 minutes later the phone rang.  When I answered, she said “May 13.”   Took me just two seconds to scroll back to the very first text about her visit.  May 13. 

I’m still not sure how my brain translated May 13 into April 8.  All I can think is that I was looking forward to her visit so much that my gray matter shoved it up a month.   For someone who has 9 calendars, it’s a little embarrassing.

If you were stranded on a desert island, how would you keep track of time?  (Or would you?)

Just a Splash

On an average day I drink one can of pop.  Every now and then two.  But caffeine makes me crazy and my stomach doesn’t like most of the white pops and, of course, I’m so used to the taste of diet pop that I don’t want the sugared ones.  That cuts down the field of possibilities quite a bit.

Unfortunately a pop that I really like is Cherry Diet Pepsi. A couple of years ago, I tried to wean myself off because of the caffeine and it was really hard.  Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi is OK but without that cherry, I just wasn’t won over.  Then I realized I could make my own CCFDP with just a little splash of grenadine.  Little bottle of grenadine in the cabinet, pop in boxes under the microwave and I’m set.

Then pandemic hit and those dreaded words “supply chain issues”.  Within a year, I was having to hunt around for my beloved CFDP.  Then I couldn’t find it at all, unless I wanted to pay five times the usual price online. No thanks.  I even emailed PepsiCo to get their take and, as I should have expected, they gave me a non-answer and a link that didn’t work.  SIGH.  I saw stories online about aluminum shortages and figured that CFDP was probably at the bottom of the pop totem pole when it came to handing out the aluminum. 

I kept one box of CFDP in the back corner (for emergencies?) and then I resorted to Caffeine Free Diet Coke.  It’s OK, but not quite what I like best.  For awhile every time I was in a grocery store (not as often as you would think, thanks to drive up delivery), I would wander down the pop aisle… nothing.  So imagine my surprise last week when I was actually in the Cub near my house and VOILA…. a little stock of CFDP.   I bought 4!  I don’t know if this will be the end of my pop woes, but this will keep me going for at least a month!

Tell me about a product that you miss.

Why?

My company is still on “work from home” protocol.  For another week and a half.  You can work in the office if you want or you can work from home.  Most of us have been given an additional big monitor so that we can have one at the office and one at home so working at home is a pretty sweet deal.

There are people going in but not many.  I had to check on a mailing yesterday in Building 5 and it was quite deserted.  Echo-y even.  In cutting through the back hallway to get to the mailing center, I turned a corner and found a little nook with a printer on a table, a rug and five chairs.  There are no offices nearby.  And with hardly anyone in the building, the nook had an eerie, otherworldly feel.  Kinda like a surreal set in a Man Ray movie. 

I thought about this funny little scene all afternoon.  Why a printer there?  Why a rug?  And for heaven sake, why all the chairs?  Does someone really think there will be enough paper shooting out of this printer that there needs to be a waiting area?

Do you have a favorite chair?  To snuggle up in to read?  Or to watch tv?

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?

Corraling

On Wednesday, I pulled into the parking lot of Cub Foods at 5:50 a.m.  I love doing errands early but this was early even by my standards – it was still dark.  As I pulled into a parking spot, I noticed that there were shopping carts all over the lot.  Not in their nice, neat corrals but stranded in various spots, one here, another couple there.  It struck me as funny because you never see this during the day – most folks are pretty reliable about putting the carts where they belong.  Are folks who shop in the very late and very early hours (when nobody is out shagging carts) lazier than daytime dwellers or not willing to spend more time in the dark in a parking lot than necessary?  Or does somebody come between midnight and 5 a.m. and free the carts from the corrals?

What’s the most boring job you’ve ever done?