Category Archives: News

Raspberry Gratitude

I’ve been picking raspberries every afternoon for the past week.  About a cup each time; the first day they hardly made it into the house.  Now I have a few in the freezer and few in the fridge.  Whipped some cream yesterday.  Yum-O!   Picking raspberries always makes me think about my baboon community.  I’ve told the story before of how Linda brought me two raspberry canes on the day we gathered at PJs to help out with her spring gardening while she was recuperating.  I had always thought having raspberries would be fun, but left on my own, I doubt I would have ever done anything about it without Linda’s encouragement.  The canes have now taken over the south garden with vigor and we really enjoy the berries.

As much as I’m grateful for the raspberries, I’m more grateful for this community.  Spring gardening at PJs, Museum of Russian Art, Rock Bend, Liberty Custard, spring bales and chicken poo, Swedish American Institute, Jim Ed’s memorial service, St. Agnes Bakery, chainsaw party at Steve’s, LJB’s memorial and, of course, Blevin’s book Club.  I’m sure I’m missing some.  I love that we’ve built friendships and support systems in our ten+ years together.

Last week when I ran Dale’s initial Trail offering, I ran his question… but the question I really wanted to ask was:

What fond memories to you have of our ten years on the Trail?


What Party Do You Belong To?

Husband started volunteering  at the local food bank on Thursdays, and was asked rather pointedly by another volunteer what political party he belonged to.  The questioner was a disabled Gulf War Veteran who was rather unhappy with the possibility of a George Floyd protest march at the local mall, and who was supportive of the local bikers who surrounded our mall to make sure there wasn’t any destruction or looting. (It was the most peaceful, non-eventful happening our town has seen.)  Husband answered, quite brilliantly I thought, that he was a member of the Lutheran Party and Lutheran Tribe. That seemed to puzzle the questioner, but ended the discussion. If asked the same question, I suppose I would say I was a New Deal Democrat, but I don’t know how many younger people would know what that meant. I am so proud of the questioner to be volunteering at the food bank, no matter what his political persuasion. I am dismayed to think that he would judge someone on the basis of their answer.

What party do you belong to?  Be creative.

Hilling Up the Potatoes

We decided to try something different in the garden this year, and are mounding dirt up to almost the top inches of the potato  plants. I don’t remember any of my relatives doing this, but we have seen others do it, and decided to give it a try.  It is supposed to increase your potato  yield. The guys in husband’s Friday morning Bible study were pretty skeptical when he told them about it, but just the other day I drove past a garden where someone had done it. I suppose it would be difficult  to do if you had a whole lot of potato plants, but we only have eight hills, so it is doable.

The garden is coming along pretty well, although it has been battered by the relentless southeast winds we had lately. We need rain.  There are a couple of errant bunnies who are leaving all the greens alone.  I keep my eye on them, as do the dogs who live in the  on three sides of our house.

Given all the recent weirdness, stress, and uproar in the world, I would rather stay home and  pull weeds all day instead of go to work. Gardening is a refuge right now

How is your garden coming along? How are you coping?

The Rock County Crucible

Husband grew up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where there are lots of people with German,  Dutch,  and Eastern European names. That does not help him for my challenge to try and pronounce names in the Rock County Star Herald. This week the paper listed all the high school graduates in the county, and he again marveled at the weird and contrary ways names are pronounced in southwest Minnesota.

There are a lot of people of Dutch and German heritage in the area, yet the rules for name pronunciation  are different than in Sheboygan.  Why, for example, is Stenenga pronounced “sten en gay”, yet Steensma is pronouced just like it is spelled?  Other vowel combinations with “ui” also are also different than in Wisconsin.   He finds the pronunciation of “ue” even more vexing.  In Sheboygan, the “u” would invariably be silent, and the pronunciation would be the same as long e.   In Rock County, the  “e” would typically be silent, with a long  “u”.  Names with two identical vowels, like “aa” and “oo” are pronounced the same in both places.  I think one reason is Rock County’s settlement by immigrants from Ostfriesland, in northern Germany/Netherlands, where the language is a mixture of Dutch, German,  and old English, and where  Plattdeutsch is a popular dialect.  There are also lots of people of Norwegian heritage in Rock County, unlike in Sheboygan. Husband grew up with people who had names like Hopfensberger and whose ancestors came from Bavaria. I find the lingering linguistic differences fascinating.

Husband noticed, too, that many of the graduates had East Asian, South Asian,  and Hispanic names, and he described Rock County as  a crucible in which disparate peoples are all mixed up together to make something good.  He just wants to make sure that if we move there, he will know how to pronounce the names.

Tell about your linguistic challenges and the linguistic oddities you notice.

Driving Miss Daisy

I saw a news story about a high-speed chase in the Seattle yesterday.  The owner of the car struck two vehicles before he headed onto the interstate, where he hit speeds as high as 109 mph.  At one point he drove on a popular pedestrian trail (luckily nobody was on the trail right then).  The police ended up throwing down spikes to end the chase.

During the chase, one officer thought he saw a dog in the driver’s seat and this was confirmed when they finally got the car stopped.  A “sweet” pit bull was in the driver’s seat and the car owner was steering from the passenger seat.  The news story didn’t say who was controlling the gas pedal.  The owner of the car said he was “trying to teach the dog to drive.”  The charges filed against him include DUI, reckless driving, hit-and-run and felony eluding.

Personally I would rather teach my dog something a little more useful – like changing the sheets on my bed every Saturday or how to mop the kitchen floor.

What would you like your pets to do for YOU?

Where in the World is VS?

William and Kate say the kids are out of control.  Kurt and Goldie are fighting in public and have called off the wedding.  Mutant wasps have arrived in the country via Washington – the same as Covid-19.  Hillary has just six months to live.  Ted Cruz’s father linked to JFK assassination.

Where was I?

Our New Pastime

I read an article the other day in which the CEO of King Arthur Flour said that baking has become the “new baseball” in this country.  Yeast sales are up 300% across the country compared to a year ago, and King Arthur has engaged an extra mill to assist in meeting the demand for its flour. There is enough flour to go around. The problem is that most of it is in 50 lb bags not suited to the average home baker. They are scrambling to get it into 5 lb bags and out to consumers.  People are baking out of panic, boredom, and as a way to obtain some comfort right now. I think there has been an increase in the purchase of vegetable seeds and plants for the same reason. I hope that people continue to bake and garden after this is all over.  I think we could use more national pastimes.

What would you like to see as “the new baseball”?  What are you doing for comfort these days? 


Bad Hair Quarter

I get my hair cut every six weeks or so. I was supposed to get it cut on April 3, but the ND governor had closed all the salons and barber shops by then, and I have no idea when they will reopen. I am looking at a couple of months of shagginess.  Husband made it to the barber just before the shut down. I will under no circumstances try to trim my own hair.  That would be a disaster.

I heard someone in the news comment that during the next weeks we will see people start hoarding hair dye for “do it yourself” touch ups. Imagine all the off-color roots we will see if there is a shortage! I am  glad I have never colored my hair. That, too, would be a disaster if  I ever tried to touch up my grey. I am not a very neat or precise person when it comes to things like that. I am also not very creative when it comes to figuring out ways to deal with hair when it is not cut to the correct length.

Do you have any creative ideas of what to do when you can’t get to the salon or barber? What do you imagine people will be panic hoarding next?


Today’s post comes from Jacque.

Two weekends of my life have been lost to construction of homemade masks.  This is not usually how I would spend a weekend, but then these are not normal times.  And what else was there to do anyway given our Shelter-in-Place order.  And constructing masks certainly is preferable to allowing debilitating fear and anxiety about our COVID-19 problem to take over my life.  I would rather allow something useful to take over my life.   The need for these was urgent, though.  Several people asked me to send masks ASAP.  Unfortunately, many of them are going to medical providers:

  • Sister-in-law, a doctor. She says they have shields and it was suggested they use homemade masks under them.  They had to find their own homemade masks.
  • Brother-in-law, a nurse. He has masks at his hospital but they are forbidden from using the one mask they have been assigned anywhere but in direct care.
  • Daughter of a friend, another nurse. Her hospital has assigned each nurse one N95 mask with the instructions to use a homemade mask over it to preserve the usefulness of it.  She also had to find her own mask.
  • My mother’s assisted living facility which has no masks at all—they are entirely dependent on donated masks amid the most vulnerable population of all.

To date, I have made 65 of these, and mailed out or given away 60.  Someone at  Blue Cross Blue Shield and Allina designed the masks I have made, then sent them out appealing to anyone who can sew.  An NBC article I found yesterday cited a research study by a Dr. stating that these screen out 79% of viruses and bacteria.    Not bad for quilting materials.  The instructions (thrown together and hand drawn) are here:

Then came the issue of obtaining materials.  First everyone everywhere ran out of elastic, then elastic hair ties which were used to improvise elastic.  I hear people are cutting the elastic off of underwear to make them.  I found shoelaces, ordered 4 spools from a shoelace site, and have been attaching those.  They tie very tightly and stay put.  The medical people need that.  Next, during a trip to Joann Fabric, the store was shut down because people would not stay 6 feet apart in the store.   Thus my on-line order was cancelled.   I went to the Edina Joann, and joined a line in front of the store.  They only allowed 25 customers in the store at once to maintain a distance.  The fly in that ointment was that all 25 customers headed for the quilt fabric department – to make masks.  We did our best to maintain 6 feet of distance from one another.  I did get more fabric, then launched into making more.

I am taking a break now from mask construction, having overdosed on the entire project.  I just could not do one more after yesterday.  I sent them off Monday morning to family in Phoenix, to KC, to Iowa wishing them 79% ability to block a virus and that they perform efficiently.  In a few days I will start some more, but I won’t make that many at a time again.   Today, for a change of pace, I planted my cold frame, wallowing in the joy of early Spring and the possibilities of my garden.  Then I fixed supper, using the baked potato recipe Steve posted yesterday via YouTube.  They were good.

What have you overdosed on lately?