Category Archives: Uncategorized

Yard Work

Last night after work, Husband and I finally got our cabbage and cantaloupe plants into the home and church gardens. It has been a weird, late, planting season. I hope it isn’t too late for them. The replacement tomato and pepper plants go in tonight. We have to work quick, as our puppy has learned to scale his outdoor play pen walls, and we can’t have him outside with us in the front yard anymore. He howls if he leave him safely in the back yard. He just wants to be with us, but, being a terrier, he might dash across the street to get some prey, and we need to keep him safe.

One reason we have a vegetable garden in the front yard is so we don’t have to mow the lawn. Husband got a reel mower last year, but decided a cordless electric one would work better, and he got that last week. He still has this odd sense of pride about a neatly manicured lawn (although we have very little lawn to manicure). I am Dutch enough to pull every weed I see, but I don’t feel too overburdened with them.

I was saddened to hear that ND Senator Cramer is convalescing at home after a serious accident while he was doing yard work. I don’t agree with his politics, but any Senator who does his own yard work and gets his hand crushed by a boulder while moving it has my sympathy. He may need fingers on his right hand amputated.

I would like to see the neatly manicured lawn go the way of the Dodo’s. I detest the chemicals and water that are wasted on them. What grass we have looks awful, but people see our vegetables and flowers, not the turf.

What do you think is a good alternative to a lawn? What are your favorite and least favorite yard tasks?

I Love a Parade

I believe every little town in the land has some kind of summer weekend festival/carnival. The Twin Cities’ one grew into the Aquatennial. Winona calls theirs Steamboat Days, and it happened this past weekend.

Husband and I pretty much steer clear of the crowds and the midway at this point, partly because our bodies no longer enjoys things like the Tilt-a-whirl. But there are a couple of things I like to do:

– the Vintage Car Show – 3 blocks of downtown cordoned off, for a walk down memory lane. (Click on link for actual colorful photo…)

– and The Parade. Quoting from the Winona Post:  “The Winona Steamboat Days Grande Parade is… packed with great enterainment including the U.S. Marine Corp Band from New Orleans, the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, 34th Infantry Red Bull Army Band, area community royalty and several awesome high school bands…” 

The Parade at noon on Sunday is kind of a big deal – I think it’s the only city-wide parade all year. People start staking out their territory on Saturday, cordoning off their turf or setting out awnings, blankets, and lawn chairs. I got there right at noon, expecting to just stand, but was able to sit on an unoccupied stair step for a while – Husband came later.

There was an enterprising guy with a wagon stuffed with bags of kettle corn for $6. . There were Clydesdale horses, a collection of colorful Jeeps, and a person on stilts.

Winona’s Clown Club gave the Shriners some competition, and there was a group of little dancers from a local ballet studio that stole the show for a while there.

Winona’s own Little Warriors Drum Corps brought up the rear – they are amazing when they are in there element, many ages and cultures of kids who have found a place to showcase their talent. (Wish you could see the littlest guy better.)

When was the last time you watched a parade, or attended a summer festival?

Where else have you been able to gather where there are people of all ages, and from all walks of life?

Messages To The World

Our puppy gets two or three walks a day, and this has afforded me more observations of the neighborhood. I noticed on my most recent walk a faux rustic sign on a front porch that said in rather decorative lettering “Don’t Let The Top Step Kick Your Ass.”

That sign had been purchased, not made by the home owners. I have a hard time understanding why people would put a sign like that in the yard. I suppose it is meant to be amusing. It sure makes me hesitant to get to know them.

We have a small, cast iron pig with wings in one of our front perennial beds. I hope it tells people we are somewhat fanciful and goofy. The Gulf War veteran down the block has an American flag along with his Marine Corps flag. He is a good guy. I am happy to say our neighborhood Trump supporters don’t have any signs up. I suppose if I really wanted our neighbors to know what we stand for we would erect a free little library by the front Spruce trees.

What signs or symbols do you have in or outside your home that could tell people about you? What messages would you want to convey to the world from your yard?

Big Storm

At about 4:30 yesterday afternoon a huge thunderstorm roared through town. Husband and I were at work. The wind was well over 60 MPH, and the rain was torrential. For a while it was impossible to see anything out of the office windows due to the rain and wind.

Driving home was difficult, what with the flash flooding. The water was halfway up the tires of our van in some intersections. I never saw rain like this in our 35 years here.

We arrived to this when we got home. That is our front yard veggie garden.

There was no hail in the part of town our office building is in, but our home neighborhood got nailed. The hail was about 1/2 inch in diameter. I think much of the garden is lost.

The rhubarb didn’t fare too well, either

This is disappointing, to say the least. We still have some cabbage plants and cantaloupes to put out, and I think the chard, kohlrabi, and peas are ok. Tomatoes, peppers, and pole beans may be lost. It is too early to say. We never had a hail storm like this, either, so I don’t know how plants recover after something like this.

Husband will be in Bismarck today, and is going to Lowes to check for tomato and pepper plants. There aren’t many bedding plants left in our greenhouses here.

Got any hail stories? How do you handle disappointments?

Engines Of Destruction

Our puppy hates the electric floor sweeper and the Swiffer floor broom and attacks them at every opportunity. I guess they frighten him. He goes on the deck when I clean house. Members of the American Cesky Terrier Fanciers Association assure me their pups are just the same.

Our second Welsh Terrier hated our ironing board, as well as the brooms and mops we used. She became very alarmed whenever the ironing board was liberated from the closet and put up in the living room. I think she hated the sound it made when it was stood up for use. Maggie would circle while I ironed, waiting for any opportunity to attack if it moved. I bought several new ironing board covers since she lunged and ripped them as I put the ironing board back in the closet after I was done.

My mother told me that when I was small, she couldn’t vacuum unless my father was home to hold me. I don’t remember that. I don’t remember many engines of destruction growing up, although my uncles’ cows were somewhat alarming at close range when I was small. Oh, and my Aunt Norma’s Leghorns were mean and chased me. I suppose it wasn’t a good idea to try to catch them with the wire neck holder my uncle had .

What frightened you as a child? Did you ever get chased by animals when you were little? Do you Iron? What is your favorite chicken recipe?


Today’s post comes from Ben.

It’s been raining lately and we’ve got some heat too, things are really gonna grow now. We are at 722 GDU’s, pretty close to normal, and the forecast has us climbing fast this coming week. I found a new app to show growing degree days and it shows that day last week when it was nearly 90° accumulated 25 GDU’s. Two weeks before when it was so cool, we only got two or three degrees per day. Interesting how it all works. 

The chicks we got in April are about two months old now, they hop in and out of their pen at will. And they love being outside.

When I drive out in the fields to check on crops, the neighbors beef cows come right up to the fence to see me. Their cows have always been very calm and friendly.

We saw a stray cat around the barns the other day. Perhaps that’s where all the ducklings went?

One day Kelly and I were parked. We found a nice shady spot in town between appointments and had lunch, by a park. And another car pulled up and a family got out and showed us a turtle they had picked up in the street about a block away, brought him back to get him closer to water again. We joked he spent all day getting up to that road. But there’s nowhere to go up there, it’s all city. She’s better off down at the water. Kelly told the young boy he was a hero and he grinned ear to ear.

The co-op has been out and they have sprayed the oats with a fungicide to prevent rust and sprayed the corn for weeds. It’s a little frustrating as I work so hard to follow the contours of the hill to prevent water erosion, and the spray rig will run parallel to the waterways, basically up and downhill, because they need a border for the spray pattern. And then we got 2” of rain, and the water runs down their tire tracks. It’s just bad timing. A couple more weeks the corn would be big and well-established and enough roots to hold the soil. Or if it was drier, the sprayer wouldn’t of left tracks like it did, and if we hadn’t gotten 2” that hard and fast, it wouldn’t have been a problem. 

I ordered 100 bushels of cracked corn last week, it’s the corn I throw out for the chickens and the ducks. Last summer I took the bottom off this bulk bin and cleaned all the old, moldy corn out of it. It emptied completely and cleanly this time. I have corn stored at the elevator in what’s called “grain bank“. It’s just the volume of corn, it’s not my corn exactly, and when I need corn, they deducted it from my balance. A bushel of corn is 56 pounds, so 100 bushels is 5600 pounds. (Remember I’ve talked about test weights before; when sold, it’s all about the weight.) 
The co-op cracks the corn and delivers it and puts it in the bin and the chickens and ducks enjoy it. I ordered it Friday, and it was delivered about 6:30PM Monday night. A reminder it’s not only farmers that work late, but the support people too. We appreciate it. Here’s the bin and the box inside that I get the corn from.

Ducks and chickens are doing well. Daily egg production is dropping off a bit as the summer goes on. But they’re still averaging maybe 14 eggs / day. Tuesday it was 91°. Wednesday, I got 8 eggs. Thursday I got 22 eggs.



Jury Duty

Well, it has happened again. It seems that every other year I am called for jury duty, and I received another letter from the Clerk of Court while I was in Minnesota, telling me I am yet again in the pool of potential jurors for the Southwest District Court for the month of July.

I have never actually been seated on a jury panel. I haven’t even had to go to the court house while they choose jurors for cases, as the cases seem to be settled before the date of the hearing. I also can’t imagine any attorney would want me on a jury, especially if it is a criminal case. It is really hard in a small community to serve on a jury if one is a health care professional. If asked if I know a defendant, I have to say “I am prohibited by State and Federal law from answering that question unless ordered to do so by the court” if I know the person from the work at my agency. That statement is, of course, a tip off that I know them from my work, and everyone in town knows where I work, but that is what our legal department has told us to say.

I expect the same thing will happen this July, and I will wait for a letter from the Clerk of Court telling me that, yet again, I won’t be called for a jury panel in July and that I am still in the pool of potential jurors for the next round of cases if my name is picked at random. That is another problem living in a sparsely populated area-there really is a limited number of people to do things, so the chances of being picked for these typed of things are high.

Would you want to be a judge, a defense attorney, or a prosecutor? What are your favorite movies or books involving court hearings or lawyers?


I drove home yesterday from Howard Lake, MN in seven hours. Google tells me it is 496 miles. The speed limit varied between 55-60 MPH on Highway 12 between Howard Lake and I-94 at Sauk Center, to 75 MPH once I got out of Fargo.

I tend to drive 5 MPH higher than the speed limit if I can. It isn’t so high that a Highway Patrol would care about me, but fast enough that I can make good time. I admit my MPH got up to 90 as I passed some slow coaches here and there, I haven’t had a speeding ticket in 30 years.

I was probably too tired to drive safely once I made it to Bismarck, but my, was I ready to get home. The temperature dropped to 62° as I entered western ND in early afternoon. I understand it is a little warmer in MN!

How many speeding tickets have you had? What is the fastest you have driven? How do you keep cool in heat waves?

Emergency 911

Daughter was at some friends’ apartment last Friday helping them get two kittens to the vet as the friends went to a grandmother’s funeral. Both the friends were stressed. One of the kittens had walked across a hot electric stove element and burned a paw. The other kitten had blood in its stool. Both needed medical care. Daughter was going to transport the cats to the vet as soon as the friends left for the funeral.

As the trio of humans and ailing cats tried to leave the seventh floor apartment, the knob on the apartment door jammed. No amount of jiggling the knob unlodged it. The male partner phoned his brother to get ideas how to remove the knob. The brother’s advice didn’t work, either. They had to phone 911.

Three firefighters arrived, and they, too, struggled to unjam the knob. They asked hopefully if Daughter and her friends were sure that the door wasn’t bolted at the top of the door. Well, of course it wasn’t. One of the firefighters eventually removed the whole doorknob, destroying it in the process. There is now a gaping hole in the door, and it probably needs to be replaced.

Daughter and the female friend decided that the male friend’s grandmother jammed the door because she didn’t like what he was wearing to her funeral. I am relieved they didn’t have to climb out of a seventh story window and be rescued by firetruck ladders.

When have you had to phone 911? Ever needed to be rescued? Every been in an Escape Room?

Reinforcement Schedule

The friend with whom I am staying in Howard Lake has a downstairs apartment. It reminds me of being in the lower level of a split level house. There are some nice, large windows in every room. Despite that, her cell phone reception is terrible, and she has no wifi. I rely on the unlimited data plan I have on my phone for it to function, but service is intermittent and I often have to go outside to get emails and phone calls.

Sometimes, in the morning as I sit in her living room, I have no difficulty sending and receiving texts and calls. Then, out of nowhere, I have to move really close to the windows for it to work. At other times, I have good reception between the sofa and the kitchen. Then, inexplicably, that area doesn’t work, either, but holding the phone high above my head helps, sometimes.

I realized the other day how silly I must look using my phone as I wave my arms and move around and outside the apartment, and it dawned on me that my phone has me on a variable-ratio reinforcement schedule, like BF Skinner demonstrated using pigeons in the 1960’s. Pigeons were taught to press a metal bar to get food pellets, and were then subjected to random reinforcement, in which food was delivered randomly, and there was no way for the birds to figure out what they had to do to get the food. They tried their hardest, though, developing odd behaviors they thought were associated with food delivery. Some developed odd head movements. Others turned around three times, because that is what they were doing when the food was delivered. Skinner used this research to explain the development of superstitious beliefs and behaviors, as well as gambling addiction.

I leave for home tomorrow, and there I know I can feel more in control than I do here. Besides, my shoulder is getting sore holding my phone above my head so much.

What motivates you? Do you have any superstitions or know anyone who is superstitious? Any technology horror stories?