Category Archives: Uncategorized

Kevin’s Lemon into Lemonade

A month ago there appeared on our patio a piece of rusted metal, a found-art sculpture.  But I was onto Kevin. I had seen it beside his truck in the garage. He had found it beside the recycle bin in the winter and kept it to put on our patio in the spring.

It was bare rusty metal, re-rod, gears, metal plate, and barbed wire. But I did not acknowledge its presence. Instead I went out and bought some spray paint, green and red. And yellow. He thought it was a lemon. I tried to turn it into lemonade.

Now he wants it back to take home. We assume a student had done it for a class and trashed it.

Then this morning he called me out. He has permission to come to the window beside my computer and talk to me. He saw five cecropia moths on the south end of the building. He brought one and put it on our patio table.

It hatches, mates, lays its eggs, and dies in only a couple days or so. Thus, rare to see. It is six inches across. Comes from those big fat green worms.  Here is one with a belly full of eggs.

 

After a neighbor had come to see, and Kevin’s wife came too, charming woman, I took my coffee out and watched. Its wing flapping slowly. It rolled on its side, kicked its legs in spasmodic jerks, and lay still. I sighed for it. Then it up and flew off into the woods.

Where have you found beauty, expected and unexpected? How has life surprised you?

 

 

 

 

Hints from Helga’s Granddaughter

I’m using my Grandma Britson’s name for the alliteration, just as the original “Heloise” did when she added an H to her name. Do any of you Babooners remember “Hints from Heloise” – household help in the form of syndicated newspaper columns, articles in magazines like Good Housekeeping, radio programs…  Well, there is still a Heloise, second generation, and of course a website:  a website , where you can find her Bio, Books, On Air offerings, Recipes (including Texas Caviar and Red Velvet Cake), and a section about her mom, the Original Heloise. The current Heloise has appeared on Oprah and Letterman, and is still writing books and making appearances.

I started this post thinking I would just share my tip for Trapping Fruit Flies, which seem to have shown up earlier this season. Instead of cider vinegar (which I’ve probably shared here before) I’ve found something less messy, and more attractive to the flies:

– put a peach pit (with some peach remaining on it) in a small container

– cover tightly in plastic wrap, into which a few knife holes have been punched; the flies can find their way in, but can’t seem to find their way out

– take outside periodically and release fruit flies; recover and begin again – they’re never completely gone

Then yesterday when I was complaining about how often I have to polish my favorite earrings with a silver cloth to keep their sheen, I was told this secret:

– find an old toothbrush and polish them with toothpaste

Who knew?

I’ve also managed to find a way to resurrect an old wicker rocker whose seat has broken through:  a couple of longish boards across the seat, anchored in place by a cushion, stick out on one end to create sort of side shelf, for books and (bird-watching) field glasses. A temporary fix, perhaps, but at least I don’t have to throw it out.

Do you have any Helpful Hints (household or otherwise) that either Heloise or I should bring to the attention of others?

Seasonal Sounds

I picked strawberries last night after work. The task usually falls to husband, but he was still driving back from the reservation and it looked like it might storm before he got home.

It was quite still while I picked, and I could hear the outdoor sounds in the neighborhood quite well. I heard the harsh sounds of distant lawnmowers getting the grass cut before a possible rain. I heard some birds, and the occasional car driving past. I also heard a sound that I thought was a true summer sound-the distinctive, quiet, sucking  snap of a plump strawberry as it is picked from its stem.  What a lovely sound!

What sounds do you associate with the seasons?

 

 

Baboon redux-Bully!

This post went up on 11/17/ 2016.  Since then, it has all gone to hell in a hand basket.

North Dakota doesn’t have a native son who became president. I think the only president who ever lived in North Dakota was Teddy Roosevelt.  We have clasped him to our collective bosom, however, and his only presidential library is due to be built about 4 blocks from my house, on the former rodeo grounds at our local college.  The Theodore Roosevelt Center At Dickinson State University website tells us:

“Theodore Roosevelt established two ranches in the badlands of western North Dakota: one called the Maltese Cross seven miles south of the Northern Pacific Railroad (1883) and the other called the Elkhorn, 35 miles north of the village of Medora, North Dakota (1884). Roosevelt never owned a single acre in North Dakota. Like most other ranchers in the badlands, he was a squatter on lands that still belonged to the public domain or the NP Railroad. The Maltese Cross (Chimney Butte) Ranch had already been named by the time he invested in it. He named his second ranch the Elkhorn after he found the horns of two male elk interlocked at the site. The elk had been butting heads in a struggle for primacy when their horns became locked. Unable to extricate themselves, the elk died of starvation. This appealed to Roosevelt, who regarded life as a Darwinian struggle.”

“At the Elkhorn Roosevelt ranched and played cowboy, went on long solo horseback rides, often for many days at a time, and hunted for elk, mule deer, white tail deer, and other quadrupeds. He also grieved for his mother and his first wife Alice, who died together in New York City on Valentine’s Day 1884. In fact, at the Elkhorn TR wrote the only tribute he would ever pen for Alice, who died two days after giving birth to Roosevelt’s first child Alice. He also wrote parts of two of his 35-plus books at the Elkhorn.”

The plan is to rebuild the Elkhorn Ranch house next to the library. For that purpose, large cottonwood logs have been collected from the area, and local ranchers are encouraged to donate logs to rebuild the 60 x 30 foot cabin. A builder from South Dakota has been hired to build the cabin by hand using only tools that were available to Roosevelt’s builders. You can see some of the logs that have already been hauled to the grounds.

It will be quite a job, and I look forward to seeing progress on the cabin when I drive to work each day. The Legislature set aside many millions of dollars to build the library, as long as the TR Center could raise 3 million more. They have a ways to go, but are optimistic that the library and the cabin will both get finished.

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June, 2018.  Well, the library committee, a group of people who are not from North Dakota,  decided for multiple reasons last month that the cabin and the library will be built in Medora, about 40 miles west of here.  The logs will be moved to Medora.  They are stacked in sad piles and it will be hard to move them.  The college administration is upset because they gave up the rodeo grounds and now they want the library committee to pay several hundred of thousands of dollars to restore the rodeo arena. The city donated a couple of hundred dollars to endure the library came to our town.  Now they want their money back.

From a recent local newspaper article:

Dickinson State University had to sacrifice its rodeo grounds to make way for what was going to be the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library—but with the library gone now to Medora, what remains is an unkempt field, neglected logs and a looming cost.

“Many of us were very hopeful that the library would go in Dickinson but we understand there are other desires by the foundation board,” Nicholas Hacker, chair of the North Dakota State Higher Education Board’s Budget and Finance Committee, said in a phone interview. “Our goal at this point was ‘how to ensure the land will be returned in the condition it was provided. DSU provided … about 25 acres of land, which effectively was a rodeo grounds.”

The university has been making use of a rodeo arena provided at the Stark County Fairgrounds south of town, but they had previously had their own grounds on their own property, which was in proximity to the department of agriculture building, allowing animals to be brought from the indoor structure there to the rodeo grounds without a lot of exposure.

“We removed the DSU rodeo grounds for the impending coming of the library. I’m extremely grateful to the county … who built rodeo grounds south of town and that allowed for DSU to not have to drop competitions but it’s still removed from the campus. We would not have taken down our own facilities had we known the library was not going to be built in Dickinson,” DSU President Thomas Mitzel said in a phone interview. “I’m asking that that structure be rebuilt and for the (Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library) Foundation to do that for us.”

Tell about debacles you have experienced or observed.

Good Fences Make for Good Neighbors

We enclosed our vegetable garden with poultry netting,  a green, plastic reusable fencing  that keeps out unwanted neighbors like the cottontails who live under Next Door’s shed. We have never had a breach of the fencing.  Heck, I can hardly climb over it ! I saw a bunny looking longingly through the fence at the celeriac, carrots, chard, beets, and turnips, and thought “Good fences make for good neighbors”.  I can appreciate the bunnies and not get hostile.  I guess that is what good fences are for.  Boundaries are important.

How are your boundaries?  Had bunny problems?

Pacing Ourselves

Husband looked at me with bleary eyes the other day as we were finishing yet one more garden chore and said “We are getting too old for a garden this big. We can never have a garden bigger than this one”.

I don’t know when it happened, but the days are gone  when we could get all our garden work done in a couple of weekends and still look after our children and cats and dogs and keep up the house inside.  It took at least six weekends this year to get everything done. We just can’t work from dawn to dusk like we used to.

“Let’s get all the pea and rabbit fencing up today, and then focus on the strawberry netting tomorrow”.  “I think we can get the soaker hoses down Sunday after church.  We’ll worry about putting up the bean poles until next weekend”.   We never really had to pace ourselves like this, and it came on so suddenly!

I love our garden, and it is coming on nicely, and I don’t want to downsize.  Maybe going to the gym in the winter will help next year come summer. I am not used to pacing myself.

When have you bitten off more than you could chew. How do you pace yourself for life these days?

Brush Your Britches

This past week everyone in our house was groomed and  brought up to snuff, starting with the cats. Our short-haired tabby looks about an inch smaller in diameter since we took the furminator to her on Saturday. The birds have scads of grey hair to line their nests now. Our long-haired tortie has really furry back legs that make her look like she is wearing fuzzy pants.  She gets a slicker brush.  “It’s time to brush your britches” we tell her.  She isn’t real impressed with the procedure.

Husband’s barber moved to a new and improved space with four barber chairs,  a coffee bar, and beer parlour.  The barber is a devout Catholic who named his new shop after St. Martin de Porres, an influential New World priest during the 1500’s and 1600’s in Peru who is the patron saint of mixed-race people, barbers, innkeepers, public health workers, and all those seeking racial harmony.  Husband has curly hair and is fussy how his hair gets cut. He is happy with his barber. He had neither beer nor coffee during his hair cut.

My hair dresser of 30 years had a stroke a couple of months ago, so now I have to get used to a new hair dresser.  She is working out pretty well, but I must admit it takes a bit to get used to a new person messing with my hair, especially since my old hair dresser and I know each other so well and she knows the quirks of my hair and what works and what doesn’t. Change is hard, sometimes.

How would you define your relationship with your barber or hair dresser. How have your animals taken to being groomed?