Category Archives: Stories

Nothing on a Stick

Well, we did it.  We found a fair food truck that had three of our favorite things and that wasn’t too far!  It was up in the Costco parking lot in north Minneapolis, so if you don’t count my having to backtrack because it turns out the 46th street ramp onto 35W is closed, it only took about 15 minutes to get up there.

We shared an order of cheese curds, an order of French fries and a bag of mini donuts (although I probably had more than half… YA likes them but not as much as the other things).  We sat in the car to eat and watched other folks wander up to the truck for their orders.

It was quite pleasant except for the fact that seven hours later I was still not interested in food – still not hungry.  If a half order of three items filled me up that much, how in heavens’ name do people eat so much at the fair?  I never get cheese curds or French fries on my solo fair days since I don’t have anyone to share it with, but even so, if you add up what I do consume on my own, it’s quite a bit.  I expect that the increased exercise from walking all over the fair is what keeps me from getting too full.  Since my only exercise yesterday consisted of the stationary bike for 30 minutes and the dog walk for just 20 minutes, my fair food kept me full all day.  Guess that means that without the whole state fair experience, I should probably stay away from too many food trucks this summer!

How are you getting your exercise in this summer?

For Sale?

I’m not sure what motivated me but last night I clicked on CNN.com.  I know, I know… what was I thinking?  It went against my ostrich imitation of the last couple of months (head in the sand), but something drove me to it.

But amid all the bad news, there was an interesting bit.  Apparently when asked a direct question about whether the U.S. is still interested in buying Greenland (despite it definitely NOT being on the market), a straight answer was not to be had from the Secretary of State.  Here’s a link to the story, which is kinda funny:  https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/22/politics/trump-buy-greenland-pompeo/index.html

I don’t really have much to say about this (since it is so beyond absurd that “absurd” isn’t a good enough word) except that I think I might prefer for us to get a tropical island instead.

What do you think?  If we have to buy an island, which one to you think we should put in our shopping cart?  

Groceries

When Child was little, I occasionally paid one of the tweens in the neighborhood to watch her for an hour so I could go to the grocery store BY MYSELF.  It felt like a luxury to not have to deal with groceries and carts and Child all at the same time.

Then Child got older, was in child care, then latchkey, then high school, then college, then jobs and grad school.  Just stopping by the store to pick up one or two items was just routine and no longer a luxury.  And she never wanted to go with me any longer.

Now that we’re in a new normal, I only go grocery shopping every couple of weeks, keeping a list of what I need and making due until it’s time to shop.  YA is also interested in grocery shopping, although I’m not sure if it’s just to get out of the house or if she doesn’t trust me to get the right shredded lettuce, but whatever the reason, she now wants to go with me.

Yesterday was the day slotted for shopping.  We wrote out a list the night before and YA ate before we left (a requirement as I’m not going out with a hungry co-shopper).  We had two stops planned, first Trader Joe’s and then Cub and as we were thinking about leaving, I realized I wanted to change my clothes. I had on my perennial jersey knit shorts and a t-shirt that had already seen the exercise bike and a long dog walk.  I put on khaki shorts, a nice top, even brushed my hair.  Then at the last minute I also put on one of my favorite rings and a pair of dangly earrings.  I felt really dolled up.

Of course, no one mentioned how nice I looked, especially not YA, but I felt great and was excited to be going out.  Truly, my big event for the past two weeks – grocery shopping.   Well, at least I didn’t have to pay a babysitter!

What staples are on your grocery list?

This is a follow-up to my rant about my car dealership about a year and a half back.  I complained that they tried to sell me tires when I really didn’t need them yet.

Fast forward to last week when my car (Brekke) started making noise – it sounded like something was stuck under the car and was only audible when the wheels were in motion.  And it was variable – some times louder than others.  The last time I had a car noise like this (back when I had Civetta the Civic) it turned about to be brake pads.  In addition to the noise, the check tire pressure light went off again – it was finally time to think about new tires.

But I didn’t really trust the dealership to do tell me the truth or charge me fairly – such a sad state of affairs.  Back when I complained about the dealership the first time, Anna (I think it was Anna) mentioned that she’d had good luck with a car shop near our house.  That reminded me that another friend had also said good things about them.  It took a few days to get Brekke in to see them, but they had a spot yesterday.  When I described the noise, I did mention brake pads (and then kicked myself on the way home).

I was completely bowled over when they called me mid-day.  The brakes and pads were fine for now – no need to replace.  Turns out that another consequence of the pandemic is that newer cars with metal brake pads are not getting enough use and getting rust build-up, which then makes noise.  They cleaned it all up.  Then we talked about tires and agreed upon which ones and getting them aligned.  When I went to pick up the car, the mechanic said to be sure to send in for a rebate on the tires and got me the right form so I didn’t have to print it out off the internet.  Very nice service.

They could have easily told me the brake pads were bad and replaced them – I would never have known the difference.  And they certainly could have tried to soak me for much more expensive tires.  So I am entirely satisfied and although I hope I don’t have to go see them again any time soon, I’m thinking that they are my new mechanics!

Have you gotten any outstanding customer service lately?

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?

 

Up Late

With the possible exception of the folks who are directing the decisions about library services for Hennepin County, I’m not sure if anybody else is paying as much attention to the library situation as I am.  I’m checking the website every day or so, massaging my hold list, checking the status of anything coming available to me and just generally watching the news.

So I know that I don’t have to rush through anything – nothing that has been checked out since March 14 is due yet and won’t be due until a minimum of three weeks after libraries begin to open back up (no date on that yet).  I’ve actually read all but one of the physical books that I have checked out (just picked one up yesterday from curbside pick-up) and I only have two audiobooks that aren’t finished.

That knowledge did not keep me from staying up late on Sunday night however.  I was reading The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King, one of my favorite series and the clock was advancing towards my usual bedtime, about 10.  Normally I say to myself, “keep reading until you fall asleep” and this works pretty well but the book was good and I wasn’t getting tired.  I just kept going.  11 o’clock, midnight…. one… two…   I felt like I was a kid reading under the covers, doing something illicit and I had to remind myself that I can stay up as late as I want.  It’s not like I have anything specific that I have to be out of bed for in the mornings.

Finished at 2:45 a.m.  Enjoyed it thoroughly and although I was a little droopy on Tuesday, it was worth it.  I went to bed at 8 that night.

What’s the last book you remember staying up late to finish?

Brave New World

YA: I’m going to Costco.  Do you want anything?

VS: Can you get me a box of my sausages?  (Vegetarian – good price at Costco)

YA: (rolling eyes, clearly hoping I hadn’t wanted anything).

VS: Wait, I’ve got a $20 you can take.

YA: Can’t you just Venmo me?  (Online money transfer app)

VS: But I’ve got the cash right here.

YA:  I don’t want cash.

VS:  What?  (You have to imagine the incredulous tone of voice here.)

YA: It’s too much trouble.

 

What has surprised you this week?

The Plumber

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

I finally broke down and called a plumber. It didn’t hurt my pride as much as I might have expected.

There were two things; The dripping sink in the mudroom and the kitchen faucet that had very low water pressure.

My ‘Vintage’ mudroom sink started dripping a few months ago and heck, I can change a washer. Except, when evidently, I can’t. I made it worse. A lot worse. Like it wouldn’t even shut off worse. I bought whole new valve bodies. Nope, didn’t help. But they came with replacement seats. Except this sink is so old I didn’t figure it even had replaceable seats. And even taking it apart 14 times and putting it back together didn’t help. So. I turned off the cold water to let it “Think about what it’s done” for a while. That didn’t appear to be helping. Then even the hot side started to drip. Because the mudroom is directly above the utility room and hot water heater, I get hot water real quick. I learned to rinse my toothbrush REALLY FAST.

And then the kitchen sink. It has had low water pressure for a few years. Like you’d put a pot under it to fill then “go do something else for 10 minutes” kinda slow. I know it wasn’t always that way. It’s one of those where you can pull the nozzle and hose out the end. I had cleaned the aerator multiple times, I had changed the Moen cartridge, I changed the supply lines, and I even tried snaking a wire up the hose. Nothing helped. Kelly thought the tub/shower diverter valve thingy wasn’t working well either, so we thought maybe it was the pressure coming from the well house. But I thought my bathroom pressure was OK. I checked the pressure in the water tank and turned up the regulator and water pressure and thought maybe it helped a tad? But really not much.

And that meant the only thing left was the shut off valves under the sink. And I bought some from Menards. And I left them sit on the counter for a few weeks. The plumbing elves didn’t show up. I really didn’t want to try putting them in. I used to do “plumbing” down in the barn. (Notice I used that word in quotes). Cutting threads on a piece of black pipe and spilling water in the barn is a whole lot different than messing up the kitchen sink.  I really didn’t want to try replacing those valves.

Hence, the plumber.

He started with the mudroom sink. Turns out the seats CAN be replaced! I thought it was too old for that but no, the plumber could do that!  Joy! He changed both and it doesn’t drip anymore!

Up to the kitchen sink. Turns out the valves I bought were the wrong ones. Whew! I’m already glad I didn’t start this project. He replaced the first valve, then pulled off the second and there’s all sorts of white gunk in the pipe. Hmmm, odd. Kinda looks like calcium but not sure what it is. Maybe it’s from a few years ago when the old water softener quit working. Using a hose and bucket we flush the lines out. He installs the valves, I turn the water back on, and we get a good burst and then back to nothing. Hmmm. OK, working his way up, he pulls out the Moen cartridge. Except getting the handle off first was a bit of an issue. I was right in there helping. “Helping”.  I sort of expected at some point he was going to add the “Homeowner ‘helps’ surcharge” but he was a nice guy and he let me hold the flashlight for him. I offered helpful advice for the times I’ve pulled the handle off. While telling him at the same time he was the professional and I wasn’t trying to tell him how to do his job. But I was really afraid he was going to break something! At one point I tentatively suggested if he broke it, he had to buy a new one. Thankfully it didn’t come to that.

He got the valve out, it looked clean so then he moved on to the hose and nozzle. Aha! The bottom end of the hose is plugged up with this same white crud that was in the pipe earlier! A few more tricks to get the hose apart and we took it out to the shed and used the air compressor to blow it clean. He hooked the hose back up but re-assembling the faucet handle was still an issue. He knew stuff I didn’t know, and he made the assembly a little easier.

Turned the water back on and WOWZER! WE HAVE WATER! It’s fun, for a few days we giggle every time we turn on the water. I would never have gotten this fixed on my own.

After he left, I found a can of pipe dope that he left behind. We had joked that I get to keep anything he left.

And he had put the handle back on sideways. But I knew how to fix that.

What do you avoid doing?

Got a favorite sink? Appliance?  

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?

Sewing in Place

Last month I informed YA that she couldn’t go with me to Cub if she didn’t wear a mask.  At that point I had been making due with bandanas and hair binders, but that apparently offended her sense of style.  She eventually decided that my Hawaiian-designed bandana would be OK.

After we got home from the store she informed me that she was going to MAKE her own mask.  When she came into my studio to get the sewing machine, I was a little surprised, since I knew full well that she didn’t know how to use it.  As she got the machine onto her desk, I realized exactly how much she didn’t know when she called me to show her how to turn it on.  I was expecting to spend the next hour explaining everything to her, but she preferred YouTube to my homeschooling.   There were only a couple of times that she needed me to fix the bobbins and then the tension.  She used an old t-shirt for the mask material and then scavenged the elastic from a pair of old gym shorts.  Here is the result (which she did actually wear once):

But it turns out that she likes knowing how to use the sewing machine.  Since then she has repaired a pair of pants and she made a “doughnut” for Nimue so the kitty wouldn’t have to have a stiff plastic cone after the surgery.  Although the doughnut looks good, Nimue figured out how to get her head loose in about 15 seconds. Now there is talk about other sewing projects this summer!

Have you ever sewn anything for yourself?