Category Archives: Mysteries

Mulch Madness

I’m doing my Menards mulch runs this week.  I like to go early in the morning (think 6:30 a.m.), before it’s too busy; that way I don’t have to fight anybody over a big flatbed cart.  I can only fit 6-8 bags in my little car (depending on how badly I want to see out the back window) but 6-8 bags definitely needs a flatbed cart!

As I was loading up the car on Tuesday, it occurred to me that I don’t come by my love of gardening naturally.  Nonny likes her garden neat and orderly but there were never any carloads of mulch or flats of annuals.  For a few years, we had a small vegetable garden but it was pretty much only tomatoes – although I do remember one year with corn but not sure if we actually got any corn off the stalks. 

Nonny didn’t enlist either my sister or me to help in the garden or even harvest anything.  Cutting the grass on the riding mower was the extent of my yard work growing up; this was only in high school as we never had a big enough yard for a riding mower until then. 

In my first house here in Minneapolis I didn’t do much yardwork – the house has evergreen bushes in front and they didn’t require much.  Wasband cut the postage-stamp sized yard.  I did do a vegetable garden a couple of times but we had slug issues and Irish Setter-stomping-all-over-the-plants issues.  I’m not sure what clicked in my brain when I moved to my current home.  The more flowers/less grass plan was hatched fairly early on and the hanging pots and mulch madness followed pretty quickly after that. 

My straw bale gardening got going about a dozen years back after reading Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook.  I won’t bore you with this again since I know I’ve already talked about it (probably repeatedly), but straw bales have brought my gardening full circle (or so it feels to me).

Not sure how the gardening got into my blood, but this week as I start to prepare my bales and do my mulch runs, I’m feeling happier than I have for a few weeks as winter has dragged on.  Maybe spring really is coming.

Do any or your hobbies or passions surprise you?

The Newest Tsar

The word on the streets of New York is that there is a new “rat mitigator”; the headlines are screaming “A NEW RAT CZAR”.  Her actual title is City Director of Rat Mitigation but it hasn’t taken long for the czar moniker to have grabbed ahold of everyone’s attention.

I know that czar gets added to a lot of titles – Bird Flu Czar, Climate Czar, Energy Czar.  My favorite is Elliott Abrams title of Democracy Czar during the GW Bush administration.  Czar and democracy seem like odd bed-fellows to me.

I feel a little sorry for the new Rat Czar; it can’t be an easy job and it’s hard to imagine that in a contest between rats and humans, that the rats don’t hold most of the cards.  But you never know!

What do YOU think we need a tsar of these days?

Holiday Over-Do?

Photo Credit:  Tatanisha Worthey

One of Renee’s questions yesterday struck a chord with me.  I am definitely a “bite off too much” kind of person.  And before everybody says “you need to learn to say no” – all of my biting off too much is self-imposed.  I’m actually pretty good at saying no to someone other than myself!

Case in point.  With Easter just a week away, I have a lot of plans.  The big event is on next Saturday, the World’s Most Over-Engineered Egg Hunt.  For that we are taking taco tortilla roll-ups (or pinwheels) and blondies w/ M&M eggs for the buffet.  Then I’m also making pastel eggs filled with jelly beans and marshmallows for the kids.  Did I mention there are 13 of them?  And then a couple of dozen plastic eggs filled w/ candy to add to the hunt.

For my co-workers I’m doing dipped Oreos w/ spring-y sprinkles (1 chocolate and 1 golden per co-worker).  These will be packaged in little cello bags and delivered with miniature Happy Spring notes.  I figure as long as I’m still officially part of the team, no matter how part-time or temporary, it’s still a nice thing to do.

For the neighbor kids I’m doing lemon bunny cakes.  I have a wonderful bunny pan that I bought a few years ago and I just love it.  And it’s easy.  Batter into pan.  Bake.  Bunnies into cello bags with pretty ribbon.  Voila!

Of course, I will also do a basket for YA – this will be a challenge because YA has said she only wants chocolate/pb items in the basket.  I normally can’t hold myself to these kind of requests.  We’ll see.   I have extra eggs for dying.  Again this is something that YA says we don’t need to do but she always joins in when I have the eggs and dye and glitter out. She always happily eats the devilled eggs that eventually come out of this project.

AND, I am making sugar cookies for a friend – I always do this for her and this gives me an excuse to make a few spring cookies for YA and myself.

This is enough projects that I’ve put the various things on my to-do list for next week.  When I think about the fact that I’m only working 3-4 hours a day, it doesn’t seem that daunting.

Any special plans you’re prepping for in the next week?

Fridge Update

Had my annual check-up yesterday.  Nothing momentous and I was only gone from the house for about an hour and a half.  When I got home, bearing Taco Bell, YA informed me that she had taken the handles off the refrigerator to wash them.  Apparently when she wiped the handles down, she felt there was dirt in crevices that she couldn’t get to without removing them.

I’m torn.  It’s nice to know she’s handy and can figure things out (apparently there was some YouTube assistance) but there’s also bewilderment that she would be driven to this task.  I’ve looked closely at the handles and honestly, they look the same to me as they did this morning.

Refrigerator magnets/artwork – yeah or nay?


Normally I don’t click on things like “Worst Sitcoms of all Times” or “Hollywood Actors with Surprising Kung Fu Skills”.  But for some reason, while waiting for a client call yesterday, I clicked on “Bad Movies We Love Anyway”.  I hardly had the site open two minutes but it was enough time to see “VelociPastor”.  No that is not a typo.

When I logged off work for the day, I couldn’t resist… found it on Peacock and within a few minutes had it going.  It was dreadful.  The basic story is that a pastor goes hiking and manages to hike into China (no discussion of WHY he was doing this), runs into a Chinese woman stabbed through the heart who gives him what she says is a “dragon tooth”.  He cuts himself badly and apparently is infected with dinosaur DNA.  Like Bruce Banner/Hulk, when he gets enraged he turns into a velociraptor.  Initially he doesn’t remember these episodes but eventually learns to control it somewhat and becomes a crime fighter – a scaled crusader!

Very bad acting, some of the characters were dubbed, horrible dialog, every stereotype on the planet, unbelievable scenarios (the scumbag who murdered his parents comes to confession and the pastor kills him in the confessional).   Of course, all the mayhem never leaves a drop of blood on him once he transforms back to human.  Oh and he falls in love with the hooker who witnessed his first transformation and eventually dies in his arms.  Half way through the movie, we also get ninjas bent on global domination and I’ll never forget the scene where the pastor and the hooker beat up all the ninjas in their underwear. When they eventually do show the whole transformation, it’s in a rubber dinosaur suit that doesn’t look anything like a velociraptor.

It was so awful it was kinda funny.  Wouldn’t you have to TRY to make a movie this bad?  Was this a “The Producers” situation, where they wanted to make a bad film so they wouldn’t have to pay investors back.  Hard to imagine any other way this movie could have been made.   Yet another bad movie that curiosity has driver me to that I will most likely never watch again. 

What’s the absolute worst movie you’ve ever seen?  And why?

Scared Silly

Scared the bleep out of myself last week.  Just running a couple of errands including a trip to the library for a drop-off and a pick-up.  At this time of year I usually wear a sweatshirt for errands, leaving the coat at home.  After all, just going from house to car, car to library, etc.  A creature of habit, I normally lock the car then put the keys in the pocket of my sweatshirt. 

When I came out of the library I reached into my pocket and… no keys.  I dug down in the pocket then re-traced my steps, thinking that maybe I set them down on the shelf when I was pulling out my holds.  Nope.  Walked back outside to the drop-off box to see if I dropped them there.  Nope.  Stood next to my car for a few minutes (of course, this was a day it was drizzling/sleeting a bit) trying to visualize if I’d had my keys in my hand when I put the book through the drop-off slot.  I didn’t think so.   I headed back into the library to see if maybe in the short time I’d been inside, someone had found the keys and turned them into a librarian.  At least I had my phone and YA was working at home that day so she could have brought me the spare key, but I was already starting to feel the loss of the keychain which my father gave me decades ago. 

As I was about to open the library door, my hand brushed against my pant leg.  The keys were in the pocket of my sweatpants!  It’s still a little unbelievable to me.  I only have two pairs of sweatpants that even have pockets so I never think about having pockets.  I can’t imagine WHY I put the keys in the pants’ pocket instead of the sweatshirt.  But I was unbelievably relieved to find them, not have to embarrass myself in front of the library staff and especially not in front of YA!

Tell me about a time you’ve scared the bejeepers out of yourself?

Over and Over Again

As you all know, I listen to books on CD in the car (and occasionally I drag them into the house as well), audiobooks on my laptop and old-fashioned regular books!   I “curate” my library account so that I don’t have too many things from the library at once and am always happy to find a book that comes in multiple formats.  The format I am still unwilling to embrace is kindle.

A couple of weeks ago the book She Who Became the Sun sparked my interest, so I looked it up and it came in audiobook format.  Since I was getting close to done with my current audiobook and only had one other “up to bat”, I asked for it.  Loaded it and then yesterday morning, hit “Play”. 

I knew in the first minute that I had read this book before.  I was sure of it.  The title resonated but I had assumed it was because She Who Became the Sun is exactly the kind of title that intrigues me.  I looked it up on my spreadsheet and I did indeed read it in 2017!  I can tell you only the vaguest of plot outlines now that I realize I’ve read it, but it’s VERY vague.  I thought about reading it again but decided if I can hardly remember that I’ve read it, much less remember the plot, I’ll move on.  Not quite as bad as having started Devil in the White City THREE times but at least in that scenario I never read the whole book (I always bale when the maggot scene happens in the first chapter). 

Do you ever go to the fridge repeatedly, hoping to find something new there?

Project Hail Mary

I don’t to think of myself as any author’s shill but…..

Spent pretty much all of three days doing not much besides reading Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir.  I’d say I couldn’t put it down but was listening to it on CD so not physically holding it.  I don’t want to give much of a recap because there are about a million spoiler alerts but suffice it to say, here is a list of why you might like it if:

  • You liked The Martian
  • You like science fiction
  • You like stories about space
  • You like science explained in a way you can understand it
  • You like humor mixed in with your science
  • You like a main character who is flawed but still very likeable
  • You like books that draw direct comparisons to current issues without bludgeoning you with them
  • You like stories that draw out a little of your emotion

I sent an email to Andy Weir telling him how much I liked it (and he emailed me back within a couple of hours!).  If there were an Andy Weir Fan Club, I suppose I would now officially be a member.  With today’s social media, are there even fan clubs anymore?

What’s the last book you couldn’t put down?

It’s a Sign!

When I was in my junior year of college, I lived on the fourth floor of one of the original buildings.  Only two rooms (both triples) and no elevator.  I shared with two other women who had, like I had, lived in a single room our sophomore years.  Knowing we would probably get low numbers in the room choice lottery after having singles, we banded together to get a better room than if we struck out alone.

The other room on our floor was also a triple with 3 seniors.  They weren’t around all that much and we didn’t really socialize with them.  So we were surprised when they lugged a full sized Mobil Gas Pegasus sign up the steps and installed it in the hallway between the two rooms.  We spent the rest of the year explaining it to anyone brave enough to come up to the fourth floor!  Personally I never understood the appeal.

I moved to my current house about 30 years ago – about three blocks from the old Boulevard Theatre.  As the years went by, it deteriorated until it just couldn’t afford to stay open.  People were outrated and actually picketed in front of the theatre with it’s huge iconic sign.  Eventually the owners agreed to keep the sign although the theatre was no more.  It is still there, looking rattier and tattier by the year.

And now more signage in my neighborhood is in the news.  The Aqua City Motel and Metro Inn, a little farther down on Lyndale have their iconic signage up for sale.  Both properties actually belong to Hennepin County these days, having been purchased during pandemic when the county was using both motels for temporary housing.  Right now both properties are empty and awaiting renovation into affordable housing. 

I wasn’t crazy about the pegasus sign, I think the Boulevard sign is ridiculous looking and I can’t even imagine why anyone would want a Metro Inn or Aqua City sign but I’m sure that there is someone out there who will think they are purchasing a piece of history and will shell out way too much cash for it.  Takes all kinds.

Any iconic signs you remember from your childhood?  Have you ever acquired a sign?

Vanity Plates

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

I read a funny story online a couple of days ago.  Apparently the State of Maine has recalled 274 license plates because they were deemed inappropriate.  “How did they GET these inappropriate plates in the first place?” you may ask.  I certainly did.

Until the last few years Maine has been one of the few states that didn’t seriously police their vanity plate program.  In fact about 7 years back, they did away with the review process for vanity plates.  If you asked for it and it wasn’t taken (and you were willing to cough up the fee), it was yours.  As you can imagine, some very interesting plates were issued.  VERY interesting.

Maine decided it had gotten out of hand, so now they have re-instituted a review policy AND recalled 274 plates that crossed their new, arbitrary line.  Including the one in the photo above.  The family with the plate are vegan.  It’s hard to tell in the photo but there are other tofu- and vegan-related stickers on the car.  But because the word tofu ends in FU and the phrase is “suggestive”, Maine says they can’t drive around town with this plate on their car.  They appealed and lost their case.  In fact, no one who has appealed has gotten their questionable plates restored.  The next step is to file suit in the Maine Supreme Court but nobody has gone that far yet. 

Seems like a big kerfuffle for me after being a vegetarian for 50+ years, I would certainly read it correctly.  Part of me thinks so what if somebody has a blatantly foul license plate and part of me thinks I might not be too happy to stuck in traffic behind someone with a racist or outright pornographic plate.  Aah, the dilemmas of our modern age.

If you had to design your own license plates (no cost to you), what would you want on them?