Category Archives: Stories

Following My Pajamas

I ordered some new pajamas on September 22, and, because there is really very little else to do here and because I have no life outside of work, I took great amusement following their progress from Maine to North Dakota via FedEx.

It took more than two weeks for them to arrive. They left the warehouse in Maine on 09/25 and arrived in Massachusetts that same day.  Five days later they were in Connecticut.  As I recall, it isn’t very far from Massachusetts to Connecticut.  I hope they had fun in the interim.

By 10/1 they were in Clyde, Ohio and then Chicago.  By 10/2 they were in Fargo. I live 300 miles from Fargo, and for some reason they left immediately for Billings, Montana,  which is 600 miles to the west of Fargo.  They left Billings on 10/3 and travelled 300 miles back east,  arriving in my town at 9:00  pm according to the package tracker.  They appear to have meandered around town for twelve  hours. I imagine them at the Spur Bar, having a couple of beers before climbing wearily back into their box. They were checked in at the FedEx warehouse in Dickinson at 9:00am on 10/4, and were delivered on the morning of 10/5.

I wish I could get the story behind all the delays and the visit to Billings and what they did in town for twelve hours between Saturday night and Sunday morning. They are really nice pajamas, but I wish it didn’t take so long to get things out here.

What stories, book series, authors, famous people, movie series, trends, or comic strips do you follow?

Voting Options – who knew?

This past summer the state sent out a “do you want a mail-in ballot” form and it asked about the primary and general election.  I checked both boxes so wasn’t surprised when the ballot for November showed up two weeks back.

I had actually intended on going on election day to vote but YA wanted to vote early.  In fact, she was rather adamant about it.  So we both filled out the ballot and got then into the envelopes to mail.  That was when she informed me that she didn’t want to mail the ballots because she was worried about the postal service getting clogged up.  I said I didn’t think that was likely, but certainly not a month out.  But I acquiesced and looked up where you could drop your ballot off.  Downtown.  Ick.  I detest driving downtown and I didn’t want to pay $10-$15 for parking either.  But the drive-by drop-off in August didn’t happen until just a few days before the primary and YA was nagging me every day; I knew she wouldn’t want to wait until the end of October.

So yesterday I took a deep breath and looked up the exact location for drop-off and was ready to drive downtown and take the plunge when I saw a link to drive-by drop-off.  Yesterday was the first day!  As I headed into town I was a bit worried that it would be hard to find or that there would be big crowds, but I worried needlessly.  As I turned right onto 4th Avenue South, there were big banners at the sidewalk and there was only one other car in the drop-off area.  The worker who came out to take the ballots was friendly and helpful.  I mentioned that I was glad the weather was so accommodating and hoped it would stay that way.  She told me that they would actually be getting a tent soon so they would be able to operate in the rain.  Way to think it through Minnesota!

How will you be placing your vote this election?  In person?  Mail-in?  Drop-off?  Drive-through?

Christmas Is A Comin’

We purchased scads of stories on audio cassette tapes when our children were young. They listened to them as they drifted off to sleep. Daughter says she still has to listen to audio books before she can go to sleep.  Some of these were stories narrated by famous actors.  Meryl Streep narrated Peter Rabbit  and The Tailor of Gloucester.  Danny Glover narrated How the Leopard Got its Spots.  Jack Nicholson narrated The Elephant’s Child and How the Camel Got Its Hump.  The stories changed as the children got older, and there were crime mysteries, old time radio shows, and, finally, recordings of novels like  A Wrinkle in Time and the Lord of the Rings.  They all sit now in the basement in boxes.

In our effort to get rid of stuff, we are going to have these stories transferred to electronic files and CD’s, and give them to our children for Christmas. Our grandson is old enough now to appreciate stories. It will give us the pleasure of passing on these wonderful recordings and make space in the basement shelves.

Christmas is coming, and we are starting to plan for quiet visits with our son and his family in Brookings. Our daughter is flying to Sioux Falls for a wedding at that time, and we will see her in Brookings, too. It will be a quiet and very much appreciated time together.

What are your plans for Christmas?  What are your ideas for gifts? What stories do you think are essential for children to hear?

But You Were Supposed to Read My Mind!

Today’s post comes to us from Jacque.

Last week VS and I arranged for pick up or delivery of some plants for Anna’s memorial garden for her late husband, Tom.    We arranged for 10-ish on Sunday morning.  Things in my world have been moving kind of fast, despite COVID restrictions, so I read VS’ email to everyone about donating plants, contacted her VS about my donations, and did not read the details closely.

So at 10-ish on Sunday morning, I pulled into her driveway and called her.  She picked up immediately and said, “I’m just turning on to Scenic Heights.  I’ll be there in a second.”

To which I said, “Great.  I just pulled into your driveway.”

We both started laughing.

“This is meant for a blog post.”  I told her, adding, “I guess I did not read the email closely enough.”

“I said in the initial email I could come pick them up but didn’t reiterate it in our back and forths” she said.

And I replied, “You were supposed to read my mind.”  I needed to get out of the house to go somewhere, anywhere, and just assumed….well you know.

Tell about a memorable miscommunication or assumption you might have checked more closely.

Mad Cat

When I moved into my house 30 years ago there had been a cat door installed in the door from the kitchen to the basement.  At the time it never occurred to me that I would ever have a cat so I took out the flap (which was broken anyway) and put a brass kick plate across the hole.  Since I left the door to the basement open most of the time anyway, it was just fine.

Then I got a cat.  And a cat box in the basement.  And a dog who was VERY interested in the cat box.  Eww.  So I took off the kickplate and closed the door.  Zorro was just fine with just a hole in the door for many years, although it always bothered me.  When we got Nimue I decided that I wanted something nicer looking so I bought a cat door/flap kit to install.  Of course, the hole was too large to install the kitty flap (or any kitty door/flap that I could find) so my local hardware store crafted a piece of scrap wood to fit into the hole so I could install the door.  Of course, this makes it sound easier than it was; after I got the scrap piece in place, I put off installing the door for a couple of weeks.

At the end of that two weeks, we had a thunderstorm during the day.  I’m sure I’m probably mentioned that my Irish Setter was not a big fan of thunderstorms.  At night I could keep her a little under control but that day, while the storm raged, I was at work.  I came home to see that in her mania to get to the basement (she always thought she would be safer from thunder in the basement), she had completely clawed the wood piece, to the point where it was unusable any longer.  I decided a hole in the door with no kitty flap would be fine after all.  I left the scrap piece in place and put the kitty flap kit in a drawer.

Fast forward to this week.  Rhiannon is no longer with us and Guinevere, while afraid of almost everything else on the planet, is not afraid of thunderstorms (don’t ask me why, it doesn’t make any sense to me either).  And we have company coming in October so I have a long list of projects that I’d like to get done.  Kitty flap/door was yesterday.  Turns out that the kit had instructions written by Martians and if I originally had all the pieces and hardware, I didn’t have them now.  Punting took just two trips to the hardware store.

Once the flap was installed, I took Nimue’s favorite kitty treats, went down the basement stairs and shut the door behind me.  She came to the door almost immediately when I shook the treat container; I had a treat in my hand and was just about to partially open the flap from my side when the dog decided she needed to assist in the operation.  Unfortunately, she wanted to assist by herding the cat, which is one of the cat’s least favorite things.  She fluffed up and ran.  When YA tried to help, Nimue ran upstairs where she ensconced herself in the middle of my bed.  She practically dared any of us to get near her.

She did eventually settle down but I’m worried that her first traumatic experience with the kitty door may be a bad omen.  I put several of her kitty treats on the other side for now, so we’ll see what happens.

Have you pissed anybody off lately?  On purpose?  Are you sorry or not?

 

 

Power’s Out

I think it’s fair to say, now that it’s officially over, that the summer was unsettling to say the least.  It didn’t help that I tried to blow up the neighborhood.

I was sitting in my bedroom that morning, working on a file, when I heard a bang and saw a flash in the hallway out of the corner of my eye.  And the power immediately went out.  I rushed to the back of the house and although I could smell a little lingering smoke, I couldn’t see anything.  When I went downstairs and out to the backyard, all the other neighbors were out as well, checking to see what had happened; everyone had experienced the same thing, hearing the bang and seeing the flash.  Everything looked ok – no power lines down, no big blackened patches on garage roofs or yards.  And the smoke smell dissipated pretty quickly, so we texted the power company and wandered back inside our respective houses.

The power company showed up about an hour later.  I saw the lineman up at the power box two houses down; the power came on for about 10 seconds and then there was another bang and flash.  And again, the power left us.  Since I was standing in my backroom watching the power guy, I saw exactly where the flash came from – the power lines at the back of my yard.  It gave me a sick feeling, quickly totting up the various worse-case scenarios.  The power guy must have seen it as well; he headed straight for my garage roof, I headed for the backyard.  After about 10 minutes of poking around with a long pole, he headed back to the line to reinstate the power.  This time it stayed on.

I couldn’t resist going to talk to him and was rewarded with a tale of exactly what had happened.  A branch had broken on one of my trees, but instead of falling into the yard, it had tipped over and connected two power lines, one at the top and one at the bottom of the branch.  That caused the first burst.  When the power was restored the first time, the branch was still in place, so it connected and exploded again.  After he poked the branch with the pole, it fell into the yard; with no more connection, no more issue.   It’s hard to see in the photo above, but the branch is all blackened and many of the leaves are dry and burnt.  I was so relieved that it hadn’t been anything horrible and/or expensive to repair, I fessed up to all the neighbors that my tree was the guilty party.

When was the last time you had to have a repair person to your place?

Surviving 2020

Last Friday here on the Trail, right after it was learned that a hero named Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died, the comments shifted, from musicals and the fires out West, to her passing:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. That is so difficult to accept.

Now it all gets surreal.

I was so sure she would simply refuse to die with 45 in office.

…I feel just hollowed out by this.

This news comes on the heels of the devastating fires in (mostly) California and Oregon; the crippled economy and school system; continued protests, violence, and looting in some cities following several instances of police brutality and murder, particularly to people of color – all this as we still struggle with the isolation and loss of life from Covid 19.

The next comment pretty much sums up how I’ve been feeling as this 2020 election approaches:

…Someone close to me is having such a bad time with political events she is seeking medical help. I’m struggling too, relatively speaking. These are difficult times.

The anniversary of our son’s death was last Sunday, 9/13, and I hardly acknowledged it. Then I felt guilty for not feeling the usual grief, not doing something special to mark the day, and suddenly realized – I’m already feeling so much of a different kind of grief, it didn’t occur to me to pile any more on.

Mostly, I’ve been grieving for the country and culture I thought I knew, and thought I was living in… the place where people can feel strongly about something, but can agree to disagree, and still live and work side by side. The place where we can still respect each other and treat other civilly even when we’re totally at odds.

The level of vitriol and hateful speech that has come out, for example, over whether or not masks are worn leaves me speechless. I’ve found myself shying away from Facebook because of what I might find there. (I’ve refrained from Unfriending a couple of acquaintances from “the other side”, to see if I can figure out how they think.) I frequently run into something so nasty it makes me want to cry, for the person who posted it as much as for those of us liberals or Demon-crats it’s aimed at. I don’t want to totally give up FB because I also, at times, find very beautiful or funny things there.

So I hang out with like-minded people or baboons whenever possible. I’d like to pick your brains a bit – could be in your own words or someone else’s, could be poetry, jokes, stories, music, art … anything: 

Do you have any words of wisdom about how we all hang on till we’re through it, whatever “it” is?

I’d Sure Like to Meet…

Today’s post comes to us from Minnesota Steve

In 1960 when I saw To Kill a Mockingbird, I knew it was a great film that would become a classic. I also knew—or thought I knew—that Gregory Peck must be a thoroughly decent man, not just an actor who played the role of a decent man. And yet, that second notion is actually not as obvious as it often seems. Not all great actors are ethical, friendly or likable in real life. Happily enough, Peck turned out to be as nice as the part he played. His costars have praised him endlessly for his generosity and kindness. Time has been as kind to Peck’s reputation as it has to his most iconic film.

But being a great performance artist is difficult, and not every performer who reaches the high levels of artistry is as likable as Gregory Peck. While it is understandable that fans want to believe their favorite performers are also good people, not all performers are as likable as they are talented.

Some accomplished performers have complicated reputations. John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Pablo Picasso are often mentioned as people you might admire but would not enjoy being close to. In the world of business, Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, Elon Musk and Henry Ford are usually considered difficult human beings, if not worse. I used to dislike Bill Gates, but either he changed or I was badly informed. He seems admirable now.

Steve Goodman is an interesting person in this context. Goodman was funny, smart and easy to like as a performer. And yet I’ve read that his close friends knew he could occasionally be one of most annoying persons on earth. One person saying that was Goodman’s wife, Nancy, who loved him deeply.

Similarly interesting is the singer Loudon Wainwright III. Several people close to him have accused him of being a shoddy human being. One person expressing that opinion is the singer himself. While he has admitted to philandering and other mistakes, Wainwright’s open way of discussing them makes him more interesting or even likable.

My daughter has met several authors, and it wasn’t always good. Bill Holm and Michael Ondaatje behaved like jerks at book signings. Louise Penny, by contrast, could not have been more friendly and fun.

Garrison Keillor has been an important personality in my life for 56 years. I am a fan of much of his work, but not of the man himself, for I know he can be discourteous or even cruel. It is a cliché that humorists are often gloomy, unpleasant people, but remember, sometimes clichés are true. The charges of sexual harassment complicate the reputation of a man who was already highly complicated in my mind.

While it is difficult to know what celebrities are like in real life, with some performers you just know in your heart that they are someone you would enjoy as a friend. Bonnie Raitt has so much compassion and respect for other performers that I can’t imagine not liking her. Similarly, Emmylou Harris is unfailingly generous with other performers. Who could possibly dislike her?

Who among famous people would you like to know as a friend? Why?

Bathroom Reading

Last week I was coming to the end of Travels with a Tangerine by Tim Mackintosh-Smith (a travelog in the footsteps of a famous Middle-Eastern traveler, Ibn Battutah) and I came across a passage that made me laugh out loud.  The author has found a battered copy of a reference book that had been in his home when he was a child:

“I checked.  It was the same edition as my father’s – Nelson’s Encyclopedia of 1913 – and had the same slightly animal odor that clings to reference books long thumbed.  People had often hinted to my father that it was out of date…but he remained loyal to those tatty maroon volumes, his contemporary.  I ran my hand along the spines.  I too was fond of Nelson’s, companion of many happy hours on the loo. (How deprived are the squatting nations!  Defecation and ingestion of knowledge are such complementary activities.)”

I laughed because, as an adult, I am also a bathroom reader.  My most ambitious bathroom choice was back when I was still at the bookstore.  In those days, when we did returns to publishers, we stripped the front cover off the mass market paperbacks and sent just the covers back; it was cheaper to publish a new paperback if needed than to pay return postage on a whole book.  One of the perks of working at the bookstore was that we could help ourselves to the coverless books (called “strips”) on the understanding that it was for our own reading pleasure and not for profit.  So it was that War and Peace ended up at my house without a cover.  I figured that if the book were in the bathroom I would actually read it, since I wasn’t sure I would pick it up off the nightstand!   Every couple of weeks, I would rip off the pages that I had already read and toss them.  It wasn’t like I was going to keep a strip on any of my bookshelves (with my real books).  Over the course of the next year, War and Peace got skinnier and skinnier until I was down to about 25 pages and I took it to the bedroom to finish off.

For several years it has just been National Geographic, Smithsonian and Scientific American in the bathroom, but now that I’m furloughed, I’m caught up with my magazines, so have a book in the basket as well — Lost in the Arctic by Lawrence Millman.  I think I may have gotten this book from Clyde or Bill or maybe Steve; I rarely buy books so it had to come from somewhere!

Are you a bathroom reader?  Willing to share your current bathroom tome?  Or your most ambitious read (bathroom or no)?

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?