Our daughter’s best friend since childhood currently lives in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area where she attends North Texas State University for graduate study in vocal performance. She has a beautiful soprano voice and we are very proud of her. She is like a second daughter to us. She has sent frequent updates on the storm. As a North Dakota native, she is probably better accustomed to managing the cold and the bad roads than most folks in Texas right now. She lost electricity/heat off and on the past several days, and Wednesday night her apartment complex lost all water due to a busted water main. She got to the grocery store for provisions yesterday.
I was gratified to learn that she kept warm when the heat was off by wrapping up in a down comforter we gave her for a high school graduation present nine years ago. It was a real good one with a high fill power. I was happy to know she still had it and that it came in handy. How clever of her to take it with her to a place where you never imagine needing that kind of warmth. I hope all the things I give as gifts are so useful.
What have been some of the most useful gifts you have given or received? Any advice for Texans right now?
My agency moved to a new building this summer. We have adjusted to the new space, and have worked on getting basic things like heating and cooling adjusted. One new feature of our building is the electronic security.
All the waiting rooms in the new building are separated from the offices by doors that can only be opened electronically by staff who have special fobs that allow entry into the labyrinth of offices beyond them. Sometimes the electronic doors work. Sometimes they don’t. They refuse to open for about 30 minutes each day. The doors that won’t open vary. It is intermittent. It happens daily. No one can figure it out. When it happens, we have to take circuitous routes through other doors so we can get to our offices.
One consistent problem is static. Because of all the locked doors and their metal openers, we employees get repetitive shocks every time we walk down the carpeted halls and touch the metal door mechanisms to open them. The shocks are painful. I suppose the low humidity in the building accounts for this, but it sure is annoying. I have to ground my body by touching the wooden door, and the then touching the metal opener. Sometimes I am in a hurry and I forget. Then I get a shock. It is tiresome.
Tell about some “interesting ” work environments you have had.
The wind chill advisory is scheduled to expire today at 11:00 am. It is still only going to be in the single digits the rest of the week, though, so no big warming trend.
I thought this would be a good day for jokes about the cold. I will start:
Two friends meet on the street “It sure was cold this morning.” “How cold was it?” I’m not sure, but I saw a lawyer with his hands in his own pockets!”
You get the idea. Tell some cold weather jokes.
It is supposed to get bitterly cold here this weekend. Husband and I bought all the groceries we imagined needing for Saturday and Sunday on Friday night, and plan to hunker down, going out only on Sunday morning when we have to sing in the church choir. If there were more of us we would stay home, but a six voice choir can’t function with two missing members.
We have all been isolated for the last ten months, but there is something strangely satisfying being at home because of the weather. Snow days are wonderful, in my memory. It is when my mother made waffles from scratch.
What are some of your favorite snow day or bad weather day memories? How do you like to “Hunker down”?
During pandemic, one of the ways I’ve been keeping myself busy is by making jewelry. I’ve done a handful of “kits” from a craft company I like that features glass tiles over various kinds of artwork. A few bracelets, some necklaces and a good number of earrings.
When I saw that the largest diamond ever discovered in the world was found on this day in 1905, I was intrigued. The Cullinan was mined in South Africa at 3,106.75 carats – about the size of a baseball. Nothing larger has ever been found. It was given to King Edward VII in 1907 and was eventually cleaved in 1908 into 9 large stones, 97 small “brilliants”. The worth of the Cullinan is listed as “about” 2 billion dollars and almost all the diamonds belong to the English royal family and are housed in the Tower of London along with the other Crown Jewels.
I assume it goes without saying that none of my jewelry kits includes any diamonds. I would be too nervous to own jewelry that had any significant value, not to mention that I don’t actually care much for precious stones. Of course it’s just ridiculous that I am making jewelry these days…I suppose I could wear earrings and rings every day but they would just clash with my sweat pants. Once a month I do wear earrings for my Zoom book club, but that’s it. Hopefully if pandemic ends, I’ll have some occasions for jewelry again.
How are you like to get decked out? Any diamonds in your safe-deposit box?
Llamas are “in” – they have been for a couple of years. Lots of llama t-shirts, mugs, posters, pins, rubber stamps – you name it, you can find it these days. I even bought a little stuffed llama when I was in Peru; it seemed the thing to do.
YA came to me three weeks ago after finding a local llama “petting farm” in Waconia (she found it on TikTok). For a fee (relatively small in my estimation), you could pet llamas, feed llamas and even take a trail walk with a llama. With nothing else on our horizon, we figured why not. It’s apparently quite popular so it took a couple of weeks between contacting them and getting a reservation. We headed out on Wednesday, the farm being about 30 minutes from our house.
First there was a “llama lesson” with interesting facts about llamas as well as how to tell a llama from an alpaca. There was another mother/daughter scheduled during our time slot, but they had shown up early; YA and got the llama guy all to ourselves. This was fabulous because I could indulge myself by asking as many questions as I wanted. Usually when there are stranger involved, I hold back (go ahead, laugh). We also brought a bag of baby carrots. Some of the llamas thought this was wonderful, some of them didn’t. My llama (Pacesetter) was extremely leery of the carrots, but YA’s llama (Mocha) couldn’t get enough.
The trail walk was about 20 minutes – without the snow, it would be faster, but the llamas weren’t in a hurry and it was just the four of us (YA, me, Pacesetter and Mocha) so we didn’t have to worry about keeping up with anyone else (or hold anyone else back). We were there altogether about 90 minutes and the llama guy said we should come back in early May when there are baby llamas (crias) for petting and photo ops. We came right home and emailed them for that reservation!
When was the last time you visited a zoo/petting farm?
For my entire life, I have put away the holiday decorations on New Year’s Day. This season I felt like I wanted to jump the gun and it took me a bit to realize that New Year’s has always been a day off. This year with pandemic and furlough, every day is a day off. So we decided to put everything away a couple of days earlier than usual.
We both like a live tree. But even with constant watering, six weeks (plus whatever amount of time between cutting and the Bachman’s lot) is just too long for a tree to stay supple and resilient. Taking the lights off always means a mess, especially since I like to “bury” the lights, but as should have been expected for 2020, it was much messier than usual this year. In addition to the little sprigs of greenery all over the floor, after I took the tree to the curb, the front porch, front steps and front sidewalk were covered with the tree detritus.
Broom, dust bin, trash bag and vacuum just to get started. Then, of course, dusting is needed on all the horizontal surfaces that have been covered with assorted holiday décor. Everything is now all put away and cleaned up; the living room and dining room seem empty, sort of naked.
I wish that cleaning up the holiday was a great metaphor for the coming new year. While I’m hoping for the 2020 dumpster fire will be extinguished, I think it will take longer than we would all wish for. In the meantime, at least the house is clean.
Live tree or artificial? When do you like to put the holiday decorations away?
The only South Dakota news I noticed Saturday in the Fargo Forum was an article about a woman cracking open an egg that had four yolks. Well, it is 1 in 11,000,000,000 occurrence, but I still imagine there is a lot more going on South Dakota than that. Plus, it is such a stereotypically Midwestern, rural story.
I have become a real news junkie over the past four years, mainly out of anxiety. I do so look forward to the future when news might become more dull.
What sort of beat would you want to cover if you were a reporter? What print media do you like to read?
I’ve always loved lights at this time of year. When I was a kid, my family always drove around during this time of year and admired other folks holidays lights. (We used to leave little notes of thanks in people’s mailboxes if we really enjoyed their lights.)
For a few years Child and I always visited the Minnesota Zoo in December for their “Bright Lights Winter Nights” festivities. All around the zoo lake and paths close to the zoo buildings, there were lots of lights, mostly in shapes of various zoo animals. Walking around seeing the lights on crisp winter nights was almost magical. Inside there were usually crafts and hot chocolate. You didn’t actually see any real animals, but it was still a great holiday treat. After four years, they quit doing it – when I called the zoo they said that it cost more to put on the show than they brought in. Sigh.
When I got the email in November about a light show at the zoo, I knew not to get my hopes up… there was no way they were going to replicate Bright Lights during pandemic. The light show is called “Nature Illuminated” and is a drive-through event running through mid-January.
YA and I are zoo members, so we were able to sign up for the first week of members-only viewing. There was a per-car charge that I might normally balk at, but since there weren’t any other holidays festivities on the horizon, I coughed it up. We got to the zoo at the appointed time and got our car in line. There was an audio tour available online – luckily I had YA to get that going. The tour took about 25 minutes with lots of over-sized inflatables, fabulously lit up. The audio was pretty good too, although there were a couple of “commercials” that I could have done without – especially since we’re already members. I thought it was interesting that not all the illuminated animals are represented at the Minnesota Zoo – but I’m not complaining about seeing polar bears!
It was nice – not nearly as much fun as I remember the old light show, but without any other concerts, parties or gatherings this 2020 holidays season, it will probably be the most fun activity we do outside the house!!
What have you adapted for the holidays this year?
I was quite amused to read in the Fargo Forum the other day an article about the problem tracking male polar bears in the Arctic. Scientists who track animals typically track them with collars. Female polar bears have have large heads and small necks. Their collars stay on. Male polar bears have small heads and large necks. The smaller heads on the male polar bears means that their tracking collars slip off, rendering the tracking collar useless. Leave it to 3M, and the lead researcher from White Bear Lake (how appropriate), to solve the problem.
3M developed Polar Bear Glue to stick tracking devices on the male bears’ fur that would track the bears until they shed their fur in the Spring. The tracking devices could then be retrieved from their radio signals, and the bear travels documented. The test bears would be Churchill, Manitoba polar bears. I have a soft spot in my heart about anything from Manitoba. Taking the Polar Bear Express from Winnipeg to Churchill is on my bucket list.
What are some inventions you would like to see for what P. G. Wodehouse referred to as “our dumb chums” to make their lives easier? What are some of your favorite recent news items?