Category Archives: Travel

One-Way Market

On my trip to Madison last weekend, I went to the Dane County Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning. It is a four-block affair that rims the capital building.  You can enter the market from any of the incoming streets but my friends explained early on that you can only go one way at the market.

As we were there pretty early (6:30 a.m.) and it wasn’t very crowded I didn’t understand the rule about one-way. And it’s not a posted rule either, so that made me want to turn and go the other way very badly.

But after about an hour of very leisurely looking, tasting and shopping, it had gotten very crowded; that’s when I realized the intelligence of the one-way rule. At that point it would have been very awkward (and inefficient) to try to go against the crowd.  My friends told me that in another hour, it would be even worse!

It was a great market – all local folks, no re-sellers. I ended up with a purple cauliflower, a chili-cheese bread, a little tiny apple pie, cherry tomatoes that taste out of this world, squeaky cheese curds, another cheese w/ Kalamata olives and some multi-colored potatoes.  A real score!

When have you gone against the grain?

The Trouble with Ratchets

Today’s post comes from Chris, Reneeinnd’s husband.

Due to an anomaly at birth, I am partially ambidextrous.  I learn to do simple tasks with my left hand and complex tasks with my right.  I allow other people to demonstrate their mechanical prowess while I stand aside to lend assistance.  Attempts to tackle jobs with moving parts commonly end in frustration, absurdity, or disaster.

In July, Renee and  I traveled to see our son and his wife in Brookings, South Dakota so Renee could do a therapy presentation and we could help the kids move into a new apartment.  The new place was quite a step up: it had three bedrooms on two levels, with two and a half bathrooms!  Son and his wife had bought new furniture and had it delivered to the new apartment.  They had to leave several pieces of furniture, including a huge, dilapidated sectional sofa, in the old apartment so it could be removed and hauled to the landfill with my pickup.

We arrived on Friday evening, delighted to see the new apartment. Renee and Son would be at the presentation the next day.  After a pleasant meal, the four of us went to the Lowe’s to get what would be needed for the big move– a big tarp and a set of ratchets with straps.

Son and I went over to the old place and proceeded to load the bulky pieces of the sofa into my pickup and cover them with the tarp.  The next step was to secure the load with the straps and ratchets.

Son and I usually work well together, but he has dexterity problems of his own.  Secretly, I didn’t have a clue–I’d let him take the lead.  Neither of us knew how to spool the straps through the ratchet.  Son used the expedient of the young–he looked up the procedure on YouTube.  By this time, it was getting dark and he  had to use his phone as a flashlight.  He figured out what to do, and we threw the hooked end of the strap over the top of the load.  At that point we inadvertently violated the cardinal rule of ratcheting–always keep the strap straight!  If you don’t, the strap will  twist and get stuck in the spool while you’re tightening it with the ratchet.

Of course the strap got tangled, and the strength of two big men was not enough to unwind it.  Fortuitously, Son’s upstairs neighbor, a veteran  of multiple collegiate moves, arrived.  He was able to pull out the strap so it could be spooled back in to the ratchet.  We tried again, secured the load, and drove the truck to the new apartment, tired but satisfied with a job well done.

On Saturday, Daughter in Law  and I got to do the fun part–driving the pickup to the landfill so we could dispose of the sofa.  We gleefully flung the cruddy pieces onto a smelly pile of rubbish.  We were very careful to wind the straps back into ratchets without twisting them.  I had not repeated the same mistake and was proud of my newfound competence.  I could now use a ratchet on my own–without help!

We showed Son the neatly spooled ratchets when he got home, only to find that the straps were horribly stuck! You’re not supposed to rewind the strap through the back of the ratchet!  Son pulled with all  his might and was able to get one of the spools unstuck.  He had to resort to cutting the other one.  A mysterious third strap was involved.  Although  Son remained calm and patient, he was  clearly disgusted by the situation.  He advised me to ask one of “my mechanically inclined” friends for assistance in the future.

The straps and ratchets are stored in a compartment of my truck.  I am too embarrassed to show my incompetence by asking a casual friend or neighbor for help.  I vowed never to use an  unspooled ratchet and strap again– if I can avoid it.

Have you ever had a guilty secret?  What did you do to conceal your shame?


The Omen

Today’s post comes to us from Linda.

Something in the picture above seems ominous. Or perhaps omenous. But what does it mean?  Wikipedia tells us:

The Romans, unlike the Greeks, considered that signs from the left were usually favorable and positive, while signs from the right were seen as adverse and negative. However, under Greek influence this procedure began to change and eventually lost its universal weight, meaning that each omen case was to be examined separately.

Left or right?  Good or bad?  Discuss.

Tips for the Trail

We’ve been completely on our own for almost six months now – our followers are up and we’re managing to keep daily posts going. Dale had a few unwritten rules for the trail and I thought it wouldn’t hurt if we spelled them out.

It is a baboon congress, so it’s not a very long list.

#1. Be kind.

#2. Don’t worry if you reply in the wrong place

#3. Avoid publishing any email addresses, phone numbers or addresses. (We do have more than 5,000 followers, so this is a just in case)

#4. Pass on the right

#5. Don’t worry if you are Off Topic!

#6. Try to find photos that are licensed for re-use.

#7. Be kind.

Do we need any other tips for the trail?

A Garden without Godzilla

Things have been pretty stressful for me here, especially at work, as several people who I work closely with have taken up offers on job buyouts from the State.  Loss is not easy.

The recent post by VS about Godzilla made me think back on our recent visit to the Japanese Gardens in Portland. It is a pretty serene place.


I find it helpful to look back on these photos and remember the quiet, the beauty, and the peace.

What helps you find serenity when you are stressed?

Glass City

I have been to Tacoma, Washington two times since early April, and I am amazed at the vibrant glass art community there. There is a Museum of Glass that has a wonderful collection of glass through the centuries, as well as an active glass furnace and workshop where you can see artisans blow glass.  Daughter and I went there in April.  I guess that Tacoma became a center for glass production in the early days as they had lots of saw mills, with lots of wood shavings and waste that could fire furnaces. They also had lots of sand, being on Puget sound.

Husband and I stayed at the Hotel Murano during the trip to Tacoma in May.  Everything, from the handles on the huge glass front doors to the walls of the elevators were in glass, and every floor had an exhibition of current glass artists and their works. They even had glass canoes hanging from the ceiling, a nice tribute to the local Native Americans.

The Museum of Glass is connected to the older part of downtown Tacoma by a bridge of glass. The bridge itself isn’t glass, but there are fantastical glass works displayed on the walk-way. The header photo was taken of works displayed along the walk-way. There also are  glass works piled on top of the walk-way that catch the sun as it shines on the bridge.  It is magical.  

I can’t imagine what would compel someone to decide to commit their life to glass art, but it must be fun.

What magical places and things have you seen?

A Little Explore

For our anniversary a couple of weeks ago, Husband and I took the day off and went out exploring. It is particularly beautiful right now out in the hills surrounding Winona, and we headed south and west, and ended up in a little town of 657 souls called Rollingstone. Had lunch at Bonnie Ray’s Café – cute place, with photos of the locals papering the walls, pretty decent food. We got to meet Bonnie herself – she was wearing a t-shirt that said something like “Rollingstone – Before the Song, Before the Band”. Then we walked around town and played cribbage on a picnic table in the city park, from which we had this view.

We drove on back roads toward Lewiston, and knew our way to Farmers Park, a gorgeous county park situated in a flat spot among the hills. It’s a peaceful place with multiple picnic spots, and an old fashioned playground with not only teeter totters, but also a real merry-go-round.

When we left, I suggested we follow the road you see in the top photo, up a rutted, winding path that brought us to a cornfield on the ridge. We made our way along one gravel road after another, trying to guess which direction at each juncture, and finally came to a county highway. By now we were so turned around we had no idea what would get us back to our Hwy 14. (And we have no smart phone.) Eureka! – I remembered a map I had picked up just that week, which showed a good bit of area around Winona; we turned left onto County Hwy. 23, made our way home.

Before (or lacking) smart phones, how did you manage to find your way when lost?