Slurp

You all know that I’m fascinated by coincidence and the baader meinhof phenomenon. I don’t know why, but it won’t surprise you that it’s happened to me again.

Last weekend, while watching some cooking show (something about how you’re eating it wrong?), there was a snippet about slurping noodles. The theory is that slurping makes the noodles taste better because the increased air in your mouth allows the flavors to mingle and develop.

Then last night I started watching “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having” (thanks BiR for the suggestion). The first episode is filmed in Tokyo and Phil spends one whole afternoon and evening going from one noodle shop to another.  In the first of the shops, the owner/chef tells Phil that he needs to slurp the noodles and then explains how they will taste better with the extra aeration! This is amazing to me to hear this tidbit twice in a week when I’ve I’ve never heard it before.

How to you like your noodles?

 

Vintage

A few weeks ago I cleared everything out of my mother’s Lane cedar chest.  We have had the chest for about three years,  but I didn’t feel like sorting through it  until  now.  It is a traditional hope chest with mahogany veneer.  My mother stored her best table linens, my baptismal dress and baby slippers, her mink pill box hat and detachable mink collar, and other things she treasured in that chest.   My parents were solidly middle class, but mom had a few really nice things that she kept in that chest for decades.  I felt that I took a trip back to the 1950’s as I sorted through everything.

My parents didn’t entertain very often. Mom would have ladies over for sewing club or coffee occasionally,  and the relatives, of course, but nothing that she really dressed up for. I was surprised to find this apron in  the chest.  It is clearly an apron a woman would wear at a gathering as she served the ladies the elegant luncheon she had prepared. The photo doesn’t do it justice, and I am not wearing the requisite full skirted dress it should go over.  It is made of a very heavy linen/cotton fabric. It is very long and  full, with a wide waist band and wide ties in the back that are meant to create a lovely bow.

 

The insets on the pocket, on the ties, and near the hem look like this.

The apron appears to be hand made.  The hemming stitches are extremely uniform and perfectly spaced.

The bands of insets were also attached by hand onto the fabric with perfect, even stitches.

Someone went to a lot of work to make this apron.  When I took it out of the chest it appeared to be  carefully ironed and the fabric did not seem to ever have been washed. I don’t remember my mom ever wearing it. She wouldn’t have spent good money on a fancy apron like that, so I assume it was given to her as a gift.  I wish I knew its history. I have decided to wear it. That apron has been in the chest too many years. I feel taller and quite elegant when I wear it.

I kept most of the things mom had in the chest but I will try to use them when I can. I kept the  mink hat and collar, but I don’t think I will ever wear them, though. Our kitten thought the hat was the best thing and I had to retrieve it from her several times after she dragged it down the hall.

Have you ever worn vintage clothes? What era of vintage clothing would you like to wear? What is the oldest article of clothing you own?

 

 

The College Years

Today’s post comes from Steve Grooms

In the fall of 1960 I became a freshman at Grinnell College. The class of ’64 went on to win a spotty reputation as perhaps the most talented but troublesome classes in college history. The 1960s were a turbulent time in higher education all across the nation.

Those years, for me, were amazingly transformative. I entered that period as a provincial, shy, sanctimonious kid from a small Iowa town. I was some sort of Republican, a passive sort of Christian. I was also a prig who was offended by folks who smoked, drank alcohol, had sex out of wedlock or swore. I had terrible study habits and little discipline. My first crisis was discovering whether I was equal to the challenge of college coursework. I spent my freshman year in terror of flunking out.

Even the simple business of living in a dorm was threatening for me. In high school I avoided two kinds of people: the boys and the girls. At Grinnell I was obliged to live in a dormitory with 30 young men whom I did not know. I soon learned my dorm buddies farted, got drunk and hosed each other down with language so vulgar I didn’t know what the words meant. For a while I wondered if I might be gay because the guys around me were so crude and aggressive that I felt I belonged to a different species.

Grinnell shocked me in good ways, too. I had lived 18 years of my life totally ignorant of the complex delights of classical music. The college offered live concerts with music so powerful it sometimes reduced me to tears. Among my dorm mates were guys who played folk guitar and bluegrass banjo. I fell in love with that until music was so important I couldn’t imagine having lived without it.

Something similar happened with respect to the world of books, social debates, historical dilemmas, appreciation of visual arts, and many other areas. Because Grinnell was so isolated (“in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by cornfields”) the college tried hard to import exciting speakers and artists. Attending lectures on fascinating topics was free and easy: all one had to do was show up and listen. I found out I cared about ideas and history and art to a degree I had not known was possible.

The kid who left Grinnell four years later was very little like the kid who showed up in 1960. I’m convinced that all of us change, and in fact we change every year we are alive. But some changes are vastly more significant than others, and my Grinnell years were that.

What about you? If you attended college, what did the experience mean to you?

Carousel

Today’s post comes from Occasional Caroline

I think it was back in October, when I was too busy with my mom to even be occasionally on the trail, and was catching up days or weeks after a post was current, that the topic of carousels was raised in a post about something else. Anyway it was too long after the fact for me to comment by the time I read it, but I did have something to say, so here we go. Has anyone been to  Lark Toys in Kellogg, Minnesota? http://www.larktoys.com/carousel/

When we first started going there, I think when my 40-something daughters were a pre- and young teen, the carousel was in process and you could sometimes watch the carver working on the individual animals. They are all hand carved from large hunks of beech-wood, and stained, not painted. The intricacy of the carving is fantastic. When it was being carved, there were informational posters on-site and one of the things I partially remember reading was that Merry-Go-Rounds had only horses and Carousels had many different animals. This one was originally going to have 4 horses, one representing each primary compass direction; North, South, East, and West. I believe by the time the mechanicals were sourced and acquired, some of the carved masterpieces had to be left off the final collection to keep the weight down. I think only one or two horses made the cut, and a moose and several other larger pieces are now displayed in the building, but not on the actual carousel. The horses are beautiful, but the dragon, the goat, the goldfish family, and others are works of an amazing imagination. You could study the goat for an hour and not notice all of the intricacies hidden in it’s depths.

The entire complex is wonderful. There’s a children’s book store; a toy store with a model train running on a long track high up and around the perimeter of the store. Among other wonderful, unique and creative toys, is a huge collection of hand puppets. A Christmas shop, an antique toy museum that has every toy you or your cousins or friends had as a kid, a boomer toy store that carries replicas of many of your old toys, a candy store, an ice cream stand, and a mini golf course in the summer, are all part of the magical experience.

The original owners lived nearby and walked their pot-belly pig (his name was Gip, (Pig backwards)) to the store every morning to take up his supervisory post in a large open home away from home in the building.

The complex changed hands probably about 10 years ago (maybe longer ago, time flies when you’re old) but the current owners seem dedicated of maintaining the original spirit of the experience. Kellogg is south of Wabasha and north of Winona on Highway 61. BiR, you must have been there, possibly even posted about it, and I missed it. This hidden jewel is well worth a day trip with children, grandchildren, or nostalgic boomers. I haven’t been there for several years, but now that I’m thinking about it, I’ll have to make the trek soon.

Where do you go for a day trip?

 

Decades

One of the worst things about being sick is the lack of energy.  For me, this translates into watching more tv than usual, which is difficult for me because at any given minute, I can’t find anything worth my time.  I detest reality tv – all of it.  I also don’t like shows in which competitors are thrown off (which is all the dancing shows, lots of the cooking shows and the grand-daddy of them all: Survivor.  I don’t like most cop shows – too dark and intense.  Ixnay on most situation comedies and sports doesn’t do it for me either.

If you tally this up, about the only tv left is nostalgia tv… those couple of stations that are re-running shows from “the good ole days”.   Perry Mason, Barney Miller, Andy Griffth, even MacGyver – I’ll watch these any time instead of American Ninja Warrior or Judge Judy.

In addition to the couple of already existing channels, there’s another one that has shown up the last couple of months. They caught my eye last week with the made-for-tv Perry Mason movies and a lot of old Dick Cavett shows from the 80s.  I ended up watching Perry Mason ALL weekend.  They also run Laugh-in, Wonder Woman, Gunsmoke and even Kung Fu, which I haven’t seen for decades.

So why am I willing to watch all these old shows again? Do I yearn for my youth? Am I too old-fashioned for today’s tv trends?

The Lesson from Cuba

Today’s post comes to us from Crystal Bay.

My son, Steve, along with his girlfriend, sister, and best friend, all returned from Cuba three days ago. He said that the trip was life-changing and overwhelming. Unfortunately, all four suffered “Montezuma’s Revenge”, and were violently ill the last day and are still sick. Imagine a 12-hour flight while being sick from both ends?

It’s worth noting here that it hurt my feelings that I wasn’t invited. He’d told me that I’m not physically strong enough to endure 15 hours a day hiking and walking. When he shared the horrific illnesses they all suffered, my exclusion from this adventure quickly felt like dodging a cannon ball.

Steve and his girlfriend, Lani, went to Cuba to film an episode for their hopefully upcoming reality cable series. My daughter graduated with her BSN a month ago, so this was his graduation gift to her.

He said that he’s never met a more loving, kind, happy population in his life. He joined a little band on the street and played guitar with them as they sang and danced.  He told me that Cuba doesn’t have toilet paper or even toilet lids!  He shared the surreal beauty of the architecture, plant like, and generosity of the Cuban people.  I asked how they could be so happy given that they live under a dictatorship. He replied; “You wouldn’t know it. In fact, these people are far happier under a dictatorship than we are under a democracy.”

This leads me to the most “life-changing” part of his adventure. He spoke of meeting people from every corner of the world and, without exception, the very first thing out of their mouths was; “Why did you put a man like Trump in office?” Every single one. They shared how Trump’s impact on their own country has been devastating because it’s unleashed extremists, racists, bigots to gain traction and threatens to endanger their own democracies. Steve and the others were stunned by learning how foreigners around the globe are now viewing the United States, and how our president has the power to damage so many nations abroad. “It’s like a cancer, Mom”.

He, Lani, Mary, and Sully found themselves profusely apologizing and saying, “This is not who we are as a people – please know this”. It’s a very sad day when my own children have to apologize for being Americans.

What do you think kids studying this era in 20 years from now will be reading?

Good Value

An update from my home town: The Rock County Star Herald reported last week that the arts, defined as the Tri-State Band Festival, the new Rock County Historical Society Museum, the Herreid War Museum, the Brandenburg Art Gallery, the Green Earth Players (a local acting company that performs at the historic Palace Theatre), the Beer Fest, and various performances at the high school and at other venues, brought $2,000,000 into Luverne’s economy last year. I think that is pretty remarkable for a town of 4500 people so far from the Twin Cities.

If the arts can have such a big economic impact, why are they often viewed as expendable?  How have the arts impacted your life? What good news have you heard lately?

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