Planters

Now that we’ve had some nicer weather, I’ve been farther afield with Guinevere.  On the way home from the library yesterday, I passed a display that I had seen several times last year.  The homeowners have two big planters out on their little boulevard, one on each side of a tree.  There are plastic eggs, pretty sticks and butterflies.  The fun part of seeing this again is that the owners have clearly freshened it up.  Instead of dirty and faded as you would expect after the winter, the eggs are new and bright and the butterflies are all intact and fluttering in the wind. 

This is not a display that can be easily seen from the house; the homeowners must have decided at some point to make sure the planters are cheerful and welcoming for folks who are walking by.  I feel like it’s a gift to me and other pedestrians.  This is important to me; in today’s environment that seems so overwhelmed by hate and nastiness, I am really trying to pay attention and acknowledge when people are intentionally kind (well, unintentionally too I guess).  I’m thinking about leaving a thank you card in their mailbox.

We talked a out Little Free Libraries last week – books, produce, treasures, even sticks.  I hope that everybody is seeing other acts of kindness as they go about their business and that it inspires us all to try to step up to kindness when it’s needed.

Any other kind/nice stuff that you’ve seen lately?

Contain Yourself!

Photo Credit:  Bored Panda

After a request for photos yesterday, I thought I’d expand a bit on the wild dog story.

My first trip to South Africa was with a client who wasn’t crazy about working with my company.  Her previous company had just gone through a merger and she inherited the job of overseeing the travel programs.  We were already contracted for two programs when she came onboard so even though she had contacts in another incentive house, she couldn’t change suppliers at that point.  She was professional about this but she never seemed happy or excited.  Now it’s completely plausible that she just wasn’t a person who like to emote but we’ll never know.

We had a large group, bigger than any one safari camp could hold, so we needed to check out three different camps and decide which winners would go in each.  That meant that we had to stay in each of the three camps, one camp each night.  Boo hoo. These were luxury camps with incredibly nice rooms (all three camps had gorgeous indoor bathrooms and great outdoor showers), amazing food and, of course, the safari runs.  You got up very early for the first safari run of the day (think 4 a.m. early) – heavy “snacks” before you left then a massive breakfast when you got back 3 hours later.  Then a late afternoon safari, getting back in the dark for a huge “boma” dinner.  And you’re in Africa all this time.  Amazing.

It was all I could do to contain myself during the trip.  (Actually I can hardly contain myself on any of my trips.  I can’t think of a single time I’ve gone on a site inspection that hasn’t been wonderful.) My client was the opposite; she was doing her job by being there but she couldn’t muster any enthusiasm.  It wasn’t surprising when she bailed on the last safari run of the trip.  When the driver and guide came to pick up the Account Exec and me, they told us that they’d heard from other guides on the radio that there might be wild dogs up near “the cut line” (this is the edge of each camp’s territory.  Guides are not allowed to take their charges into another camp’s territory).  They said if we wanted to try to find the wild dogs, it would take a bit and we’d have to head straight there.  The Account Exec and I immediately agreed.  As we were driving up, we both acknowledged that if the client had been with us, she would not have wanted to do this.

Well thank goodness she didn’t come.  The wild dog pack was indeed on our side of the cut line and it was amazing.  They weren’t too worried about us so we were able to observe them for almost 2 hours.  There were a lot of puppies and they were very cute.  It was a defining moment during the trip, a trip with many unbelievable moments.  The photo above is not mine (long story about where those photos are currently stored) but it is very similar to some of the photos I took that day, especially when the dogs and pups came a little closer to the jeep. The puppies are much cuter than you would think, with huge ears and puppy faces.

Even now, after almost 20 years, I feel sorry for that client.  I hope she enjoyed South Africa, even if she didn’t show it.

What makes it hard for you to contain YOUR enthusiasm?

Being in the Right place

Last week as I was struggling with my usual insomnia, I started to do a room  by room inventory in my mind, visualizing each part of the house and deciding what furniture we would take with us when we moved, and what we would discard. I haven’t done that before, and I have no idea why I did it last week.  We have no firm moving date.  It could be as long as  five years  before we  leave here.   Doing that inventory sure didn’t help my sleep, since I got increasingly anxious about all the stuff we have, and how we could possibly move it.  The next day we got a New Yorker and wouldn’t you know, there was an article about a woman who decided that  her possessions were too burdensome and  her actions to get rid of the unnecessary.  I believe that both these incidents were signs from the Cosmos to sit up and pay attention and prepare for action. 

Husband and I had a discussion the other day about our tenure out here, and how we seem have been in the right place at the right time for us and for the communities we have worked with/for.  We both felt, though, that it was time for us to seriously think about that time ending.  Husband had just returned from doing some expert witness testimony for the Tribal Court in New Town,  his first time on the Reservation since March, 2020.  He felt good about his testimony, but decided that he really didn’t want to make that 100 mile journey any more.   I talked about how useful and needed I still felt at my agency, but how exhausting it was getting for me. Both of us are sick to death of the constant attention in the state to extraction industries like oil and coal.  The isolation from family is feeling keener.  

We have lived here for 34 years.  Given our family health history, we could both live another 30 years, and I really don’t want to spend all those years here.  I think I am going to start getting rid of the unnecessary stuff in the basement.   We may not move for several years, but I want to be ready.

When have you been in the right place at the right time?  How did you know? When did you know it was time to go somewhere else?  

Our Favorite spots

The other day as I was typing a comment here on the Trail, I inadvertently slipped into “pirate talk”. I’m not sure why, but I suddenly had Cap’n Billy of the Muskellunge on my shoulder. It didn’t last long, but it’s not the only time lately that I’ve spontaneously conjured up one of the regulars from TLGMS – The Late Great Morning Show – MPR’s varietal music wake-up show which aired between 1983 and 2008. For instance, Lloyd’s of Monday pops into my head whenever something goes awry on a Monday.

For the uninitiated who might wander onto this blog, here’s an excerpt from a 2006 article describing the show: 

“Fans of The Morning Show know they can expect to hear comic sketches, ad spoofs and other skits featuring characters such as Captain Billy, Bud Buck and Genway’s Dr. Larry Kyle. It all originates at Dale Connelly’s keyboard. “Basically, I create the characters in the scripts,” Dale says, ‘then I hand the scripts over to Jim Ed and he brings them to life in his own way.’

[The late Tom Keith, whose stage name was]  Jim Ed Poole is a master at doing various voices, dialects and characterizations. ‘There are so many different characters,’ Jim Ed laughs, “that some characters are starting to sound like other characters.”

I’ve been missing the Morning Show a lot lately – I’ll be cooking and want some music instead of the yammering of the radio’s talk shows. Or I’ll turn on the classical station, but they’re playing something weird, so I try Radio Heartland on my iPad. But they don’t play the old favorites any more (from what I can tell), and besides, RH doesn’t do the fun stuff like those fake sponsors and quirky character skits I used to laugh out loud at.

Dial it back several years

What were some of your favorite “spots” or characters from Dale and Jim Ed’s collection?

(If you click on the little magnifying glass at the top right of this page, and type in your favorite character or “sponsor”, you may find old blog posts on that topic from the archives.)

The Pacifier

With the nice weather over the weekend, my nextdoor neighbors got their chalk out and went to work creating a village on their driveway (designed by Margot, who is 6).  When I stepped outside to appreciate it, Matilda (the almost 2-year old) informed me that she had a new bed.  Turns out it is just her crib but with the side down and a bed rail attached, but she was happy about it.  There was more big news… last night was her first night without her pacifier.  It was apparently a trade – the pacifier for the big girl bed.  I laughed and thought about my experience with pacifiers when YA was little.

When I went to China to pick up YA, there was a big list of “suggested” items that I take with me; a pacifier was on the list so I dutifully packed it.  YA, even as Tiny Baby, was not interested.  After a couple of futile attempts, I stuck it back in the duffel bag.  Nonny was at the airport when we got back to Minneapolis and she stayed for a week or so while I got my feet underneath me.  Nonny was absolutely sure that if she presented the pacifier enough times, Tiny Baby would accept it and all would be right with the world.  (It’s funny looking back because Tiny Baby was not fussy, there really wasn’t a great need.)  But Nonny kept trying and every time TB rejected a nook, it would end up on the side table or a chair or someplace where it became irresistible to someone else:  Baron. 

Baron was an 85-pound ball of fluffy, sweet, calm Samoyed.  He wasn’t the brightest bulb but he was sure that these pacifiers that Nonny kept leaving around were meant for him.  Of course as soon as he absconded with one, it became off-limits for the baby; slowly but surely over that week, we went from having a collection of 10 baby pacifiers to a collection of 10 dog pacifiers.  If ever there was a dog that didn’t need a pacifier, it was Baron.  He had self-soothing down to an art.  Eventually he chewed them all enough that I had to throw them away and we never had any more, since Tiny Baby didn’t need or like them.  Nonny wasn’t amused but I thought it was hilarious.

Do you have any self-soothing practices?  Are they working well for you?

Mad Kitty TWO

We have a mad kitty again. 

We noticed that she had a lump on her chest last weekend.  Since she had a fatty tumor last year that required surgery and some serious recuperation and a real notch out of my wallet, we were worried.  I made the vet appointment and then checked on the lump every day.  It seemed more fluid filled and it turned out to be a hematoma – the skin gets pulled away from the muscle and the body tries to fix it by filling it up with fluid.

It’s a fairly easy fix if your kitty isn’t mad.  These days you sit in your car in the parking lot while the vet deals with your animal.  They call you on the phone to let you know what’s going on and what they recommend.  When they called me, they said that Nimue was unhappy and uncooperative.  She’s gotten more uncooperative over the years; she used to be a sweet little thing but I guess some of her vet experiences have made her decide she’s not crazy about being there.  They said they would need to sedate her in order to give her a little tummy shave and to drain the hematoma.  I ok’d this and about 50 minutes later, they called me again to give me the final update along with after-care recommendations, which included putting a shirt on her (if possible) to keep the incision site clean for 24 hours.  They said they had given her a little bit of sedative reversal, she would be coming around soon and they brought her out to me in her carrier.

Well, it’s easy to put a shirt (borrowed from the neighbors) and an unconscious cat.  It took her a LONG time to come out of her sedation – I was very relieved when she started to blink and she continued to be really zonked out for most of the night.  By this morning, she was awake and moving about but NOT happy about the shirt.  We ended up taking it off at about noon but she’s still a little crabby.  Treats are OK but not much scritching or cuddling is allowed for now.  Hopefully she’ll be back to her happier self soon.

Do you ever sleep too long?  Does it make YOU crabby?

Little Library

Now that I don’t have to layer up too much, I’m out walking the dog again.  It’s been fun to see the neighborhood anew, although I have to admit, it doesn’t seem as if much has changed in the last few months.

What has changed are the books in the Little Libraries.  These are the little nooks that people have put up in their yards, encouraging folks to take a book or leave a book.  We have a good number of them in the couple-of-mile radius around my house.

I almost never take a book from a Little Library, although occasionally I’ll take one out to flip through it a bit.  I did take an Italian workbook once – no one had done any of the exercises – I work on it occasionally.  I’ve taken a couple of kids books and then returned them to a different little library when I was done with them.  But it’s fun to look.

I have a friend down on the parkway who takes the Little Library concept to a new level.  She actually curates her collection, changing out titles to fit the season or upcoming holiday.  Right now there are a bunch of Easter and Spring titles – she always has some good books for kids.  She has also installed some little string lights in the box, although I’ve never seen it at night to know if it actually lights up.  There is also a tin of dog treats (home made) in her little library and in the summer, a bowl of water underneath for passing dogs. 

So it should have come as no surprise that there is a new addition to her library this week.  A stick library for dogs – photo above.  I couldn’t convince Guinevere to take a stick – she keeps quite busy sniffing while we walk to bother with a stick – although I suppose I could take a stick for her to play with once we get back to our yard.  I did snap the photo and send it off to my friend with a little note of thanks. 

I’m looking forward to this spring and summer to see what else becomes part of the Little Library landscape!

Have you ever taken a book from a Little Library?  Left a book?  Do you have a Little Library at your house? 

Easter Baskets

I received a text from Daughter last week enquiring if she would get an Easter basket this year. I replied that of course  she would. She reminded me of her favorites (anything milk chocolate, Butterfinger eggs, anything sour) and I assured her they  would arrive in good time. I asked Son and Dil what Grandson should get in his basket, and they sent their suggestions (Cadbury mini  eggs, freeze dried mangos and raspberries, raisins, and pretzel chips).  Now I am sorting through our spare boxes to get everything sent.

I remember the activities of Easter more than the treats. It was a time I got a fancy new church dress and hat. I don’t remember dying eggs.  The Easter Bunny left white  tracks all over our house, deposited on the charcoal colored carpets by my mother,  who dipped oval shaped shoe polish applicators in flour and left bunny tracks through the house that led to the candy.

We plan to tell the children next door on Easter Sunday that we have rabbit problems in our yard, and would they please come over to get the chocolate eggs those darn rabbits have left all over the place. That will be fun.

What are your Easter memories? What do you want in your Easter Basket this year?

What to Read

My “other” book club got started 32 years ago.  With a few exceptions we’ve met every month for all those years.  We choose the books 6-8 months at a time and it has to be consensus and our preference is for books that none of us has read before although occasionally someone will say “I’ve read it but I’d love to read it again and talk about with you all.”

Deciding on the books can be stressful at times.  Two of us are voracious readers, one reads a lot of newer items, two of us read a wide range of genres, one pretty much prefers fiction.  For many years we used to all purchase the book in question but starting several years ago most of us moved to library books instead (money for some, space for others).  This means that the book has to be readily available in our various library systems.

Then there are the other issues that have cropped up over the years.  One of us is sick of “sisterhood” books (Snow Flower & the Secret Fan), one of us is tired of books about China, one of us feels overloaded by WWII titles, one of us doesn’t care for “old-fashioned” language which leaves out a lot of classics.  Three years ago, two of our members battled breast cancer, so books about the big C are still out of contention.  And I suppose it might go without saying that the last year everybody wants lighter fare. 

It’s gotten to be a research project these days to try to find good titles.  One of us doesn’t like to suggest titles; she takes it pretty personally if we end up not liking a book she has recommended.  (This isn’t a problem for me – the three worst books that we’ve ever read (and we agree on these) were all my picks!)  This increases the stress a bit on the rest of us. Hopefully if I start now I can find a few good ideas by next week when we have to come up with the next six months of reads.

Any suggestions for me?

It’s Statuette Time

One of my close friends is a big fan of the Oscars.  I think I’ve mentioned that every year when the list comes out, she makes a copy, checks of which movies she has seen and then spends the next month or so trying to fill in the blanks by watching as many as she can.  I love her dearly but just cannot bring myself to join her in this mania; I’ve thought for years that the film industry is the most insecure industry – the amount of self-adulation in the way of awards that it needs amazes me.

But because she’s a friend, I did click open the announcement today of what films will be up for Oscars this year.  It’s no surprise that I haven’t seen any of them (I quit reading when we got down to costumes) since I haven’t been to a movie theatre since December of 2019.  However it was a surprise that I had only heard of two of them.  I’ve noticed “My Octopus Teacher” on Netflix and I did read a YouTube review of “Mulan” but none of the other movies in any category even rang a small bell.  Normally I’ve heard of a lot of Oscar nominees because I’ve seen the commercials on TV but not this past year.

Did these movies come out in theatres?  If so, who went to see them?  Have they all been out on TV on subscription channels (of which YA and I have only Disney+, because it’s free right now)?  Have other people heard of these films and I’m just more clueless than usual?  Do we even need Oscars this year?

Have you seen any of the nominees for this year?  Will you?  Anything you think the Academy has overlooked?

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