Category Archives: Mysteries

Light My Fire

In searching for something on my laptop last week, I came across a list of books about dragons.  Looks like I made this list six or seven years ago (last time it was saved was six years back) and I’ve read a few of the books on the list since then.  I’d completely forgotten that I had this list.

Dragons, of course, are widely varied in literature.  My least favorite kind are the mindless, evil dragons (think Smaug in The Hobbit).  I prefer intelligent dragons who can communicate if they choose (like Ramoth in Dragonflight or Temeraire in the Novik series).  My current car is named after a dragonrider of Pern (Brekke – one of the rare dragonriders who can communicate with all dragons, not just their own). 

I also like dragons who adore treasure – not sure why, maybe because it’s such a longstanding bit of dragonlore that it feels right when it is included.  It’s interesting that the Greek dragons who were set to guarding treasure have morphed into beings who lust after gold, diamonds and jewels.  Of course I also read somewhere once that gold is a good conductor of magical energy and that dragons NEED it to exist. 

The biggest problem with this list is that I have already reached the limit of books that I can have on hold at the library – with probably be at least a week before that changes.  Hopefully in a week, I’ll remember I have this list of books I want to read! Maybe I’ll start yet another tab on my reading spreadsheet.

Tell me about a mythical animal that you think might improve our world if it existed!  Or just if you have a favorite mythical animal.


I have a dear friend whose husband is dealing with a serious, life-shortening illness.  She’s been away from her home for over a month now while he’s been at Mayo and they are looking down the barrel of a long series of treatments.  I visited her on Sunday and she told me that she had woken up the day before with a better attitude.  Apparently another friend of hers had just been to a funeral for an infant who had died of SIDs.  The realization that there were other tragic things going and if others are getting through their horrible stuff, she could too.   It’s not an easy thing to do – try to find some balance in the face of trauma and grief.  And the last two years have certainly given us plenty of that.  a

It seems pathetic to suggest that pandemic has brought us anything good, but as I was thinking about all this, I placed an order at Target for pick-up.  You select your items on the app, pay for it online, tell the app when you’re leaving for Target and when you get there.  Then you sit in your car and they bring it out to you.  Easy peasy.  You can wear your sweatpants, you can have spilled your lunch on your shirt, you don’t have to comb your hair and better yet, you don’t have to search for a parking spot and you don’t have to go in the store!  There is yet one more advantage – no impulse shopping; if all you need is grenadine and diet pop, that’s all you get.  No cookies or chips off an endcap!

While I cannot wait for us to be able to say we’re looking at pandemic in the rear-view mirror, I am hoping that the drive-up option remains.  I am so addicted already.

Any other silver linings you can think of these days?

Great Ideas, Lost

Husband and I have 4×6 inch note pads lying around all over our house. Husband is an inveterate list maker. I want to have pencil and paper handy whenever a potential blog topic comes to me.

I decided to straighten up a bit last weekend, and I found a bunch of blog topics listed on the note pads that I can’t, for the life of me, remember what I was thinking when I wrote them down. Here are a few examples:

Hydrologic Engineer


The Ludicrous Life

What Would Ian Altman Think


Wondrous Vs Wonderful Life

Boccherini at work

I think I need to put a few more details about what I am thinking instead of just writing the topic or title.

How is your memory these days? Come up with some esoteric blog topics. Looking at the above listed ideas I forgot about, what questions would you pair with them?

By Any Other Name

Tofurkey calls it a sausage.  I call it a brat.  But despite the fact that we’ve been eating them for years, when YA went to the store last week, she came home without them because I had written “brats” on the list and the product on the shelf said “sausage”.  Sigh. 

I grew up without sausage or brats.  Bacon and hot dogs were our porks of choice; I don’t know why.  I actually had never even heard of a brat until I was married and moved to Milwaukee.  By that time I was a vegetarian so never delved too deeply but has always seemed to me that a brat is just a fat hot dog.  Go ahead… pile on. 

Tofurkey’s Italian sausage is a brat to me, because if it were sausage, in my world it would be smaller and something I might have for breakfast.  But according to YA she didn’t put it in the basket because it didn’t say brat.  I won’t say we actually argued about this, but it was the first time in a long while that I’ve gotten to roll MY eyes.

Is a hot dog in a bun a sandwich?

Misery Loves Company

“Cyril, a good judge of human mood, nudged gently at his side.  Canine body language for “I understand”.  Dogs understood misery.”

This is a quote from The Peppermint Tea Chronicles by Alexander McCall Smith.  It’s a fabulous little book that I’m about half way through.  But quote above is in the first chapter.  Bertie, who is seven, is disconsolate over having to attend a mostly-girls birthday part.  Cyril is the next-door neighbor’s dog.  When I read this, I was immediately reminded of a time when I was about seven and was completely heartbroken over something.  I don’t remember what the issue was but I do have a snapshot in my memory of sitting on the wide stairs of my home and crying as if there were no tomorrow. 

While I cried, our family dog, Princess (aka Princess the Wonder Dog) crept over quietly and sat down beside me.  She laid her head in my lap and I clutched her to me as I bawled.  I remember this as if it happened yesterday – the feel of her clearly sympathizing with my misery.  It’s true – dogs understand misery. 

I can’t wait to finish this book; I’m assuming there may be some other nuggets that will speak to me.

Do you remember when you found out the truth about Santa Claus?

Hello – Goodbye

I had a hard decision last week.

Even though the last thing I really need in my life is another dessert cookbook, I could not resist Frosted by Bernice Beren.  It presents some more complicated techniques than the usual sweets cookbook but in a way that made it seem like I could take them on. 

But you know my rule.  The cookbook shelves are full – if a new cookbook comes in, something has to go.  This has been easier in the past but it took me a few days to finally choose.  I have a handful of cookbooks that I have never used (not even once) but because they are cookbooks from my travels, they have always been protected by the “something has to go” rule.  For many years I would pick up a cookbook while on trips but most of them have just sat on the shelf for all these years as a testament to where I’ve been.  The Hawaii cookbook is a case in point.  It wasn’t very expensive and had a pretty little cover, but I’ve never made one darn thing out of it.  Hawaiian food isn’t one of my favorites and this particular little cookbook is mostly meat and fish recipes. 

When selecting a “to-go” cookbook in the past I’ve always felt like I shouldn’t oust a travel cookbook.  Having them felt like a statement.  But last week when trying to decide I realized that nobody stands back there in the breakfast room reading through all these titles.  I’m not making a statement to anybody but myself.  And I certainly don’t need an unused cookbook to do that.  Even if I don’t remember where I’ve been, I actually have a world map (in the very same room) with push pins of all the places I’ve visited around the globe!  (This is not the first time I’ve had a revelation about keeping books around for the statement I think they make, but the first time I’ve applied it to my cookbook collection)

So the Hawaii cookbook is going to a new home in my friend’s Little Library.  I expect some of the other travel cookbooks will also make an exit one of these days, although Scandinavian Cooking (from my Baltic cruise) and The Africa Café (from my first trip to Capetown) will stay, since I have used them repeatedly!

Anything you’re hanging onto because of a statement it makes?

Little Cat Feet

Now that the dark is hanging around a bit more in the morning, I don’t really notice the outside work until I step onto the back porch.  Last week, I left the house early, about 6:15 a.m. and as I pulled out of the driveway realized that there are a lot of fog.  Living in the city as I do, this is an unusual occurrence and combined with the dark and traffic-less streets, was quite eerie.

As I was driving along (pretty slowly), it made me think about how often I’ve seen fog described in poetry.  Of course, the most famous is probably Carl Sandberg:

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

And I also remember a couple of different fog poems by Sara Teasdale that I like:

Gray Fog
A FOG drifts in, the heavy laden
Cold white ghost of the sea—
One by one the hills go out,
The road and the pepper-tree.
I watch the fog float in at the window

With the whole world gone blind,
Everything, even my longing, drowses,
Even the thoughts in my mind.
I put my head on my hands before me,

There is nothing left to be done or said,
There is nothing to hope for, I am tired,
And heavy as the dead.

White Fog
Heaven-invading hills are drowned
In wide moving waves of mist,
Phlox before my door are wound
In dripping wreaths of amethyst.

Ten feet away the solid earth
Changes into melting cloud,
There is a hush of pain and mirth,
No bird has heart to speak aloud.
Here in a world without a sky,
Without the ground, without the sea,
The one unchanging thing is I,
Myself remains to comfort me.

A quick search on the internet turns up tons of fog poems.  I haven’t done any research whatsoever but I wonder if there are more fog poems than thunderstorm poems or sunshine poems?

Then as I kept driving, I realized that I don’t know one darn SONG about fog.



Nice October Weather

Today’s post comes from Ben.

Sure has been a beautiful fall so far.

GDU’s, Growing Degree Unit’s are 529 above average for the Rochester area. Average is 2702 GDU to date giving us 3231 this year. In 2020 we had 2914 GDU and 2019 was 2800 GDU’s to date.

A little unusual we haven’t had that killing frost yet. Lilacs are blooming again. Weird.

Neighborhood reports are that soybean stems are still green and making it hard to combine, but the beans themselves are almost too dry at 9% or 11% which leads to them shelling out of the pods too easily and that means ‘header loss’, meaning they pop out before they even go into the head of the combine. Can’t cash them in if they’re on the ground. A lot of time is spent adjusting the combine settings to capture as much of the crop, as cleanly as possible. (Mind you, I only partially know what I’m talking about here; I don’t have a combine) The rotor and separator are where the crop is separated from the cob or pod. It’s adjustable of course; bigger for corn, smaller for oats or beans. Large fans blow the chaff and debris out the back of the combine. It’s *quite* the deal. There are all sorts of YouTube videos out there. Google it if you’re interested. Most guys are done with beans and working on corn. Corn has reached ‘physical maturity’ or ‘black layer’. Meaning all the milk has dried out in the kernel and there’s actually a black line that moves down the kernel and now there’s a black spot down at the tip. That doesn’t mean it’s dry enough to store without drying, just that it’s done growing. Again, no freeze and this warm weather is helping it dry further. All good things. My beans are still out there. They’ll get to them when they get to them.

I don’t see many fields between our house and the college unless I take the long way around. A trip to Plainview for parts gives me a chance to see what the neighbors are doing. And that works all year round.

A while ago I removed that broken gearbox off the brush mower and took it to John Deere. I was up there for other parts last week and the shop foreman showed me a bad spot in the gear box meaning it wasn’t worth repairing and I should probably order a new one. Sigh. I had ordered the shaft already for $750. Labor on replacing it was going to be at least that same amount. And now I’ve got a 10 yr old rebuilt gearbox. So, for another $800 I could get a new one. It’s only money… I ordered a new one. Haven’t gotten it yet… any day now.

I spent some time working on the grain drill one day. Got several things put back together and a few more things apart. “One day” I hope to have time to work on it again.

The ducks are expanding their area and this morning were up around the house. They are getting calmer when I throw corn out to them. They don’t panic and run away so much; they’re figuring out I provide food I guess. There’s a hose that I leave out to fill buckets and a large puddle for the ducks. Over near the water hydrant, the hose has a pin hole in it, and I get a little cold water shower as I take corn out. Some mornings that thrill is a little more exciting than other days. I could walk around it, I could patch it, I could just turn the hose over… but sometimes that little thrill is a good way to start the day, you know?

The last two weeks I have been busy with theater. I’ve lit ‘Evil Dead – the Musical’. It’s a total spoof on the horror movie genre. “Five College kids at an abandoned cabin for the weekend. What could go wrong?” It’s pretty fun. I don’t like horror movies and I’ve never seen this one. But the spoof is fun. And it’s a musical! Between that and the remodeling at another theater, it’s taking up my time. Plus, construction at the college for our show here. “Women” by Chiara Atik– a spoof on ‘Little Women’. Keeping me busy.

Kelly and I had a ditch date the other day. That’s what we call it when she helps me pick up garbage from the township ditches. Took the dogs along too. This was a couch and at least it wasn’t a sleeper. I stopped at the townhall to pick up some stuff in the building to take to the recycling center and there was one of those 55 gallon cardboard barrels we wanted to get rid off. Empty other than some newspapers from 1977. It seemed too good to throw out so I left it on the side of the road by the townhall. You people in town have it so easy with the boulevard exchange thing. This morning the barrel was still there. I think I need to put a $5 sign on it. Or maybe people are afraid to see if there might be something inside it.

I’ve gotten some good stuff off the boulevard. Or out of the ditch. Like my winter ‘ditch jacket’ and an air compressor, and a large wicker chair down in the theater furniture storage area.

They say to scare yourself every day. What are your daily thrills? Talk about things you’ve found on the roadside.

Clash of the Ash

I’m almost to the final chapter of my adventure with the Forestry Department of Minneapolis.  Back in April, we came home to see our two ash trees in the very back of the yard splashed with green lettering.  Someone had painted our trees.  Having lived through the city’s Dutch Elm debacle (plant thousands, wait too long when it’s clear something is amiss, cut down every one regardless of health, give citizens little to no notice), I was pretty sure this was the end of our ash trees.  Despite knowing for the last two years that this was coming it was a little sad nonetheless.

The green paint was followed by a form left on our front door stating that the city required the trees be removed (of course at my expense) and that they would be collecting quotes from various tree services on our behalf.  I called the Forestry department twice when we didn’t hear anything for a few weeks; at the end of the second call, the department representative made it all too clear that I was to await the letter than would eventually show up and not to call again. 

All summer I’ve looked out the back to see my green-trunked trees, impatiently waiting for the Forestry department to get on with it.  Finally the first week of August we got a letter.  The city had to get a special quote because of where our trees were located on the property line.  At the end of the letter they listed two different quotes.  One was for $3,500.  The other was for $18,000 – this is NOT a typo.  This time when I called the city, I got a more helpful person.  She sighed when I squawked about the 18 grand figure and said she wished that the companies would just say they didn’t want the business.  I was a little concerned that some computer somewhere would assign this company to me but she said I could fill out the postcard that accompanied the last letter with that request.  I told her that I would like to get my own quote – and after a bit, she acquiesced and said I could write that on the postcard as well.

Well, my tree guy came in at half the price (of the lower figure) and is including grinding out the stumps.  They were here yesterday and the whole job, including avoiding all the powerlines and doing all the clean up took less than two hours.  I’m still in shock about the $18,000 quote. 

Have you ever been over charged for something?

Going to the Mattresses

Years ago when YA moved from her loft bed into a double bed (and moved from her smaller bedroom to the next size up), I will admit that I bought her a cheap mattress.  I didn’t have much money and between getting her a bed frame and a mattress, it pretty much did away with my disposable income for a few months.  And I figured she was young, it probably wouldn’t deform her for life.  It was a traditional mattress and we drove about 15 miles an hour all the way home from the outlet shop with it precariously tied to the top of our small car.  Had to have a neighbor help me get it up the steps.

A few years later, I was able to get a new box spring and mattress for myself, using the award points that my company gives out (no cash – yea!).  My old mattress had given up the ghost; I actually had duct tape in two or three spots where the springs had poked through.  This new set was delivered and I managed to guilt the delivery guys into wrestling it up the stairs and wrestling the old set down the stairs.  

YA has been complaining about her mattress for a while now and has purchased several different toppers that she says makes it more comfortable.  Honestly part of my reluctance to get her a new mattress is the traditional “how do you get the mattress up the stairs” conundrum.

You can imagine I was a little blind-sided two weeks ago when she announced that she had purchased a new mattress for herself.  My first thought was that we were going to do another perilous trip with a mattress on top of the car.  Then I thought maybe I’d have to negotiate with two burly delivery guys again.  But nope.  She purchased one of the new mattresses that inflate when you take it out of the box.  When the delivery guy brought it, he left the big box sitting on the front sidewalk at the bottom of the stairs – that should have been my clue that it was heavier than it looked.  We managed to get it up the stairs by a combination of shoving and flipping. 

After she got it out of the box, she laid it out in Nonny’s room – apparently it had to “rest” for several hours before you lay on it.  She ended up letting it rest for a whole day and it did seem to get bigger every time I looked at it.  And it was amazingly sturdy once it was done resting.  I’m not really sure of the exact science that goes into these things, but I had assumed it would be more foamy and less sturdy.  Wrong on all counts.

So one more traditional thing evolves… no more big burly delivery folks wrestling a mattress and box spring up the steps!

What do you see as a positive evolution?