Tag Archives: Featured

In Search Of. . . .

I decided many years ago that I was tired of wasting garden space on pickling cucumbers, and I was tired of making pickles. This year, Husband had some cucumber plants leftover from the Church veggie garden and planted one in our garden at home. All the resulting cucumbers went along to the food pantry with the rest of the Church produce.

That wily cucumber vine grew about ten, well concealed cukes under a bushy tomato plant, and Husband thought they were the perfect size for bread and butter pickles. He found a nice refrigerator pickle recipe, so at least I didn’t need to process them in the canner. We had all the necessary ingredients except for Pickle Crisp, calcium chloride granules that, well, keep pickles crisp. This turned into quite a search.

We searched in Cashwise, Family Fare, Walmart, Tractor Supply, Runnings, and Menards before we found some at Ace Hardware, the very last possibility.

Once Husband starts searching for something, he never gives up until he has exhausted all options. He was apologetic but determined, since he really wanted to make pickles. They now sit in jars in the downstairs fridge, pickling and crisping up, for two weeks before we can try them.

What lengths have you gone to find something you needed? What are your favorite pickles?

By Any Other Name…

Names are a big deal in my business.  You have to have legal names for air ticketing, names for namebadges, nameplates for dinner seating, names on awards – sometimes one person can have four different names in these situations. 

Over the years, I’ve seen some doozies.  One couple asked for “Chief” and “Boots” on their badges – the client said no.  I’ve had requests for Princess, Houdini, Sport, even the Big Lebowski.  Several times participants have “exaggerated” their titles when they register for programs.  It’s always pretty clear when someone’s title shows up a President of their company.  I did have someone once type in “Grand Exalted Poombah” – guess he thought we didn’t really need the information and he could have some fun. 

The best name I ever came across was Waightstill Scales.  His nickname was Booger. And the company that he worked for had an award named after him since he was their top salesperson of all time.  The Booger Scales award.  And his namebadge?  You guessed it, Booger Scales.  I kid you not.  I think you’d have to be really confident to carry that name your whole life and then to give it to your son, whose nickname was Waighty.  Waighty Scales.  I swear, I am not making this up.

What’s the funniest actual name you’ve heard of someone having?

Spoiled

I’ve decided I’m not cooking for two any longer.

When YA was younger, it was easy.  She wasn’t picky and she ate whatever I put before her.  In fact, telling her that she liked something the last time I made it (even if I hadn’t ever made it before) would convince her to try it. 

As she’s gotten older, she’s gotten much fussier.  It seems like a combination of things: now she can whip up anything she wants at the moment and she has to “be in the mood” for certain foods.  This means that things she would have eaten happily as a child, she now might or might not eat.  Even something she says sounds good on Sunday might go uneaten on Monday or Tuesday. 

Cooking is not a chore for me, but cleaning out the fridge is.  And as I’ve wanted to cook more during pandemic and she has wanted to eat less of things I cook, I’m spending way too much time dumping stuff that hasn’t survived its imprisonment in Tupperware. 

So I made the decision last week that I’m going to really focus on cooking for one and if I mess with a recipe and it turns out nicely, I’ll write it down.  And if I make too much, I’m going to gift some of it to friends and neighbors right up front.  I will probably still do the occasional dish that I can pretty much guarantee she will eat (raclette, chili, lasagna, baked potato soup) but for the most part I’m cutting her loose.  I’ll doubt she’ll notice.

On Saturday I made some Tuscan Olive Bread – intent on giving one of the two loaves away.  Unfortunately even as I was slavishly following the directions, I completely missed putting in salt.  It’s not bad dipped in olive oil, but not good enough to give away.  Then I found a fun Deep Fried Cauliflower recipe.  No breading and very nice.  I put half on my plate for lunch and while I was in the living room, YA gobbled up all the rest, right out of the Tupperware on the counter!  Hopefully I’ll have better luck this week.

Do you eat food that’s past its expiration date if it still smells and looks fine?

Door Stoppage

Photo credit:  The Avocado

On Friday Steve suggested a book be used for a doorstop that Clyde needed.  My very first thought was Ulysses.  I was an English major at Carleton and there were two infamous lists.  One was the short list – about 100 titles that you’d better have read before your comprehensives at the end of your senior year.  Then there was the long list – this was about 500 titles – that the English department thought you should read if you wanted to be truly well-read.  I know, I know, incredibly  presumptuous.  I got copies of these lists in my sophomore year and kept them for years.  As you can imagine, Ulysses was on that list and while most of my brain knows there is no reason I have to read this, a little bit still thinks that I should wade through Joyce.

Three years ago when I started getting rid of excess stuff, I realized I had THREE copies of Ulysses.  Unfortunately for Clyde’s needs, I got rid of all of them, along with most of the guilt that I never could get through the first chapter, much less any farther.

But it made me think about what other books I could imagine consigned to doorstop-hood.   I pulled up my reading list to look for 1-star titles that I wouldn’t mind using to keep a door open.  I started keeping this list in 2007 but didn’t start assigning stars until 2013.  I actually don’t have too many two-star titles, and next to no one-star ratings (it’s a 1-5 rating).  Life is too short – if a book isn’t shaping up, it goes back to the library (or if I actually purchased it, on a pile to be donated to the library).

I do have a few one-stars, but they bring up a secondary problem… I don’t actually remember all of them.  So here’s a short list of my one-star doorstop recommendations:

  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (not even a whiff of memory about this one)
  • The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan (I know that tim loved this one, but it didn’t have enough surrealism to support an unbelievable plot)
  • Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke. I kinda liked the first few and I do like the Hallmark movies made from the series, but this one stunk and the main character stepped over so many lines (moral AND legal) that I couldn’t believe it.
  • Man in the High Castle by Philip Dick. You all know I love alternate-reality future stories but this one did NOT satisfy.  Several concurrent stories, which did not ever intersect, did not wrap up  in any meaninful way and one that jut didn’t make sense.  (And in looking at the reviews of the tv series, they pretty much didn’t use 95% of the book.)
  • And then my one and only negative star title… Swamplandia by Karen Russell. I only finished this because it was a book club title.    Unbelievable set-up, unlike-able characters, tragic outcome and ending that could not happen in anybody’s reality.  There are actually good reviews of this book, but I can only say that hallucinogenics must have been involved.

Any nominees for a door stop?

Baling and Traffic and Duck

Today’s Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

Mornings are cool enough I wear a jacket going to the college but don’t need it when walking back to the car after work. Starting to get some color on the trees.

Soybeans are mostly pretty yellow and the leaves are starting to fall off them. Beans are drying and they will be ready in a couple weeks. But if there’s too many weeds in the field, they won’t be able to combine until the weeds freeze or die. Combines are not made to handle green material; that just plugs them up. The entire threshing process is based on dry material shelling out easily.

Remember that field of soybeans my neighbors planted on July 8th? It’s looking pretty good; they sure got lucky with the rains. They’re taller than mine and setting pods. They’re not done yet and they still need some time before a freeze, but they’re looking good so far.

The dairy guys are chopping corn silage. That’s one of the things I miss from milking; I enjoyed chopping corn. It smells good, it blows up the silos easy and doesn’t plug up the pipe, and cutting up that entire cornstalk just looks cool.

I baled some small square hay bales for our neighbors. A field next to our property but on the other side of a swamp and creek and power line and you can’t get there from here. But still cool to be on the ‘other side’ of the world from our place. Driving over there with the tractor, baler, and a wagon involved about 4 miles on a busy highway. Some people are terrible about dealing with farm machinery. They pass on corners, they tail gate for a 1 /4 mile then abruptly pass. It’s just ridiculous, not to mention dangerous to all of us.  I can’t print the words I say about them. I always hope I’m bigger than them so that will protect me, but please, harvest season is coming, give farmers and the machinery some space and don’t pass when you shouldn’t. You can bet I’m wearing my seatbelt and I have all the tractor lights on, flashers on, SMV signs… it’s not that they don’t see me, but they figure they can pass me quick enough so it doesn’t matter if it’s a corner. Makes me mad writing about it.

PTO – Power Take Off shafts. It’s the thing that takes power from the tractor and puts it in whatever implement is being powered. For a lot of machinery, that shaft spins at 540 RPM, some things spin at 1000 RPM. In the old days it was just an exposed shaft and safety wasn’t even on the radar. These days, there’s always a cover or shield, but they can still break or wear out and they’re usually in the way at some point. It’s the end that hooks to the tractor that’s the tricky part. In trying to make them safer, manufacturers have tried different styles and ways to protect people from the spinning bits. Some styles are easier than others; buttons to push while sliding them together or collars to pull back while still pushing the implement shaft onto the tractor shaft. There’s one attachment that’s completely covered, but then you can’t see inside to grease it either. Many of those end up cut away enough to get a grease gun in there.

It’s a necessary safety item – a lot of people have been killed or injured from contact with unprotected spinning shafts, but it’s inconvenient. I was thinking about all this while hooking up the baler to the tractor last week and connecting the PTO shaft.  

I know you’re all waiting for the weekly duck report. I took their fence down the other day. I started to roll it up, but I thought I shouldn’t change too much too quick, so I left part of it for reference for them. And one night, 4 brown ducks simply could not figure out how to get back into the pen they’ve been in for the last 2 months. Round and round the barn they went until finally they spent the night in with the chickens. And the next night they figured it out. It’s a mystery. I hate to call them dumb, but gee whiz.

The Mallard ducklings are starting to run and flap their wings. I assume they don’t know they can fly if no one is there to show them they can, and they’ll have to figure it out on their own. I assume instinct will tell them they need to head south. And other years there would be random ducks that would sort of stop in to visit. So, I think they’ll get it figured out I’m just very curious as to how and when.

At our townboard meeting last night the sheriff deputy gave us his report on township activities. Aside from the usual traffic stops, animal calls, or serving papers, a driver was arrested and charged with a DWI. He lived in the area where he was arrested, but prior to his arrest, it looked like it might become a pursuit. Then he turned down a dead-end road, cut into some back yards, and figured he could come back out on the road and get away. Except he came back on the road face to face with four other deputies. Oops.

Bypassed any safety items lately? Why?

What’s overregulated in your life?  

Rock Bend 2021

Today’s post comes to us from tim.

this years rock bend was a solo trip for me

it had been mentioned earlier that maybe a group effort would be fun and i responded with a yes but as groups sometimes do it got lost in the shuffle

i am not as good as i could be at putting x on my calendar when i’m doing something so without a reference i signed up to do my delivery ditty on saturday night. i get dibs early because those spots tend to disappear quickly and friday and saturday nights are prime time so i had committed for 5-7 & 7-9 on saturday which would mean leaving rock bend about 4.

i looked up when it started and who was playing and discovered that the family who does a nice foot stomping version of old timey and appalachian banjo kind of stuff started things off at 12 and city mouse which is mike pengra’s band was at 1 with special guest pat donahue and then pat was to play on the little stage where krista used to work at 3.

the first group was good city mouse was great and pat donahue was a treat as an addition and pats solo performance on the songwriters symposium on the little stage was fantastic

i really like him and his songwriting talent is something i really admire

i went in packed light. i had a thermos of tea and a tea cup that’s it. i walked in 15-20 minutes early and looked to see if vs or linda might be there and not seeing them plunked down in a similar front row position to what we usually achieved. this was easy with one butt and a thermos as the required space criteria. after i got steeled in i noticed i recognized that many of the surrounding faces were familiar from years gone by.unfortunately the way these memories were tweaked was by the fact that after i was seated a bunch of folks showed up and set their folding chairs up in front of the front with no regard for the views they were blocking out who had gotten their prime spot by showing up on time and choosing unobstructed site lines.

i have a problem with the people who are so self important that they just do it and never think about what a crappy thing that is to do to someone else. bad enough on the freeway to line butters who go up to the front and cut in line in front of all us minnesota nice wimps who let them in but at a concert to block someone view is unforgivable . this was followed by an observation that maybe had been going on previously but i hadn’t noticed because of being there with a group but all around me people were in conversation while the music was playing. if the music got loud they had to raise their voices to be heard over the music. this combined with folks who stood and chatted with someone who they knew in front of a group they blocked the view of.

i felt like an old curmudgeon who was spoiling my own fun but it really bothered me

at the final ditty where pat donahue was on stage with two other songwriters i had front row seats and had talkers laughing and exclaiming and paying no attention on either side of me.  there was empty turf between me and the stage and so me and my thermos went and laid down in the grass and a couple little kids cam and the their moms and sat down closely with me ans i thoroughly enjoyed the show glad i letting the talkers back there as they continued to expound

sunday i have scheduled a football bar b que get together at my house carte blanche this year an hour before kick off so my mom at age 92 has somewhere to celebrate her football enthusiasm, she had to leave at halftime to go to another meeting called by someone who is not football sensitive. it was a good gathering and i thought about heading over to bbc afterwards but as sometimes happens these things drag on and it was 430by the time things wrapped up

too late for bbc

too late to go catch the end of rock bend

i’ll probably put an x on next year and tri it again now that i know it’s the weekend after labor day but i may be

setting myself up for misery

it was easier with friends and wine but isn’t everything

what kind of calendar are you using these days to keep yourself on track?

Consequences

My company takes the current situation very seriously.  We all got a nice chunk of award points (worth merchandise and travel) for sending copies of our vaccine cards to Human Resources.  There was a HUGE drawing in July for all the folks who had sent them in; a gal in the call center won the grand prize:  $10,000.   In addition there have been several parties (outside on our lawn) that have been specifically for folks who’ve gotten their shot.  This puts us at 88% on campus.

Every Monday morning there is an email with the “rules” for coming to the physical office and listing out the most common symptoms.  Among the rules is “if you’re not vaccinated you must wear a mask when you are in one of the buildings.”

An associate got fired two weeks ago.  Her team had come into the office on four occasions for a day and none of them has masked.  This gal eventually told someone on the team that she had not had her Fauci Ouchie.  Took just a day for that tidbit to get up to HR and she was let go that Friday.  While I never root for anybody to lose their job, I’m glad my company is standing behind what they say.

What’s the most epic way you’ve seen someone quit or be fired?

Dangly

Pre-pandemic I used to go to two craft shows a year in the Twin Cities – one on the State Fair grounds and one out at the Shakopee race track.  Hard to believe but with 40 vendors or so each, there wasn’t much duplication.  Except for Craft Fantastic.  They sell the makings for jewelry and they always have an inexpensive “make `n take” at each show. You start by choosing a piece of artwork, then you glue a glass tile on top of it.  After the glue dries, you trim off the excess and stick your tile onto a tray.  Then if you want a necklace on which to hang your goodie, they’ll give you one and if you want more components for other jewelry, they certainly have those as well.  I’m sure at some point I signed up for their emails but I don’t remember seeing them before pandemic. 

I have at least 10 of these necklaces from over the years although I don’t wear them often.  I like rings and I adore earrings, not as big a fan of necklaces and bracelets.

The emails started to seep into my consciousness a few months into pandemic.  Every month or so, they offer a “weekend designer” kit.  It is all the items you need to make a variety of things – usually in a theme.  I’m having a hard time keeping away from these, especially the earring collections.  They must be assuming that folks are making and selling these items because each kit makes WAY more than anyone needs.  I have given away quite a few pairs of earrings, necklaces and bracelets but that still leaves me with at least 30 more pairs of earrings than I had at the beginning of pandemic (and believe me when I say, I already had way too many earrings at the beginning of pandemic).  All dangly.  Chinese New Year earrings, Fourth of July earrings, Valentine earrings, Winter/Christmas earrings, Halloween earrings and then a large assortment of floral patterns.  Did I mention that they are all dangly?

I’m trying to cut back – most of the emails get deleted without being opened – but every now and then I spot a kit that is a little different than a kit I’ve had before.  I’m hoping that now I’ve made earrings for all the major holidays, I won’t be tempted.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

What would you want buried with you so you could use it in the afterlife?

Rome, Prague, or Sioux Falls

We are planning a Christmas holiday in Brookings, South Dakota this year. Son and Daughter in Law will host in their new home. We will drive from western North Dakota, and daughter will fly to Sioux Falls from Tacoma.

Daughter texted me in exasperation last week to inform me that she could fly much cheaper to Prague or Rome than she can to Sioux Falls. That is the sad state of airfare costs in the Dakotas. where flights cost an arm and a leg if you fly out of the secondary hubs of Sioux Falls, Bismarck, Fargo, or Rapid City.

Well, I would rather be in Prague, too, but family is in Brookings, and that is where we will be. We will help daughter with her airfare so she won’t be out so much money. This made me think of what Christmas in Rome or Prague would be like, and something for us to think about in the next couple of years.

Where was the farthest from home you ever spent the holidays ? Ever been to Prague or Rome? If you planned a trip over the holidays, where would you go? Got any good stories about Sioux Falls?

We All Scream

I’ve started reading Snopes.com again because some of the stories flying around are just begging to be fact-checked.  Yesterday I discovered the Lionel Richie and Tyra Banks have teamed up to create a new ice cream flavor.

Points awarded since I KNOW who Lionel Richie and Tyra Banks are – lots of news stories I see online these days are peopled with folks I’ve never heard of (and frankly, don’t WANT to ever hear of).  The ice cream is called All Night Long and is vanilla with crumbled cookies, caramel and little chocolate fudge hearts.  Apparently Tyra Banks has an ice cream line called Smize Cream.  Who knew?  I had to look up Smize – something to do with her signature smile when she was on that model show.  I won’t be trying it any time soon as they only way you can get it is to have it shipped to you or to live in Los Angeles.  I am not paying shipping for ice cream.  Not moving to Los Angeles either.

Reading about this reminds me of when our own Beth-Ann won the Kemp’s Flavor of the Year contest with her Mini-Donuts Ice Cream (back in 2013) and when we all got together to celebrate and to try it out.  I know that they only do the flavors of the year for 12 months, but I’d love to see Mini Donuts come back.  I’m not even sure that Kemps did a flavor of the year this year or last?

Do you have a favorite ice cream?  If you had an ice cream named after you – what would it be?