Tag Archives: Featured

Good Deals

Our grey cat has decided that her favorite cat toy is a crumpled up piece of yellow, 5 X 7 note paper. It has just the right heft and battability.  She swats the balls back to me when I toss them to her, and they are easy for her to carry around the house in her mouth.  She loves the sound as I crumple up the paper, and positions herself in ready position to shag the balls I throw. Who needs fancy cat toys? What a good deal!

Tell about some good deals you have found lately. What do your animals like to play with?

 

Storming the Bastille

I have had problems with insomnia since I was a child.  My current sleep pattern is to fall asleep easily, then wake up at about 3:00 am and not get to back to sleep until just before my alarm goes off at 6:30.

I know all the “sleep hygiene” and cognitive tricks for good sleep, but they often don’t work for me. I was gratified to read a recent New Yorker article on insomnia which described insomniacs’ cortisol levels  as so high as to look as though they are getting ready to storm the Bastille.

I know that anxiety and worry trigger the sympathetic nervous system to pump out high levels of chemicals which hinder sleep.  My anxiety and worry are all work related,  and I am hopeful that they will reduce over the next couple of weeks.  Until then, I think I will see if memorizing the lyrics to the Marseilles and repeating them over and over when I wake up at 3:00 will lull me to sleep once more.

How do you deal with insomnia? What puts you to sleep? What keeps you awake?

Small Accomplishments

Our son informed us this week that our 7 month old grandson was pulling himself up to standing on the living room furniture.  “He looks so proud when he does it!” son reported. Oh, to be so proud for such a small (but essentially huge), accomplishment.

What small accomplishments are you proud of? When can small be huge?

 

Words!

I lamented a few months back the loss of one of my favorite daily websites, “The Writer’s Almanac”. Well the good news is that it’s back! Not on MPR, mind you, but back nonetheless. The same comforting music and narrative voice and the same format: notable birthdays or events in history and then a poem. And now I get an email every day instead of having to remember on my own.

About the only difference I can tell is that many more of the daily poems are public domain than not, which says to me that he has a much smaller budget for this than MPR did. This is not a problem for me.

Today the poem was by John Milton, to commemorate his birthday. One of the fun facts was a list of some of the more than 600 words that Milton coined: dreary, flowery, jubilant, satanic, saintly, terrific, ethereal, sublime, impassive, unprincipled, dismissive, feverish, fragrance, adventurer, anarchy. I can’t imagine a world where there words don’t exist and it makes me wonder how often I need a word that doesn’t exist yet.

For example, I need a word for the feeling that comes on me when YA isn’t home at the agreed upon time, worry and irritation at the same time. Worritation?

What new word do YOU need?

 

 

 

Just the Right Space

Last night Husband and I attended the local college Christmas concert featuring the band, choruses, community Choral Union,  and a small string group from Bismarck.  The highlight of the concert was Handel’s Messiah. It was wonderful.

Our college music department had a good reputation but fell on hard times a few years ago. They have repopulated the faculty with some really fine teachers. We also have a strong city music community,  and are blessed with very fine community vocalists and musicians.

The concert was not held in the cavernous college auditorium, but in a terrific space with to-die-for acoustics.  I refer to the Abbey Church connected to a Benedictine Abbey 20 miles to the east of us.  You can see part of the ceiling in the header photo. The church was built in 1906-1910 in the Bavarian Romanesque style.  They have a new pipe organ.

The sound was especially gorgeous for O magnum mysterium, a choral piece published in 1572 by Tomas Luis de Victoria.  The church provided just the right acoustic space that the piece was written for.  Look at the header photo and imagine how the sound goes up, fills the church, and then circles back to listeners’ ears from those round ceiling sections.

I remember when I was in the Concordia College concert band we had to play inside an enormous, concrete, sugar beet warehouse for the warehouse dedication in Moorhead, MN.  We played a Sousa march, and the place echoed so much that we had to play every note staccato. I can still hear the horrible echoes. Tonight was a delight.

What are your experiences with acoustics and sounds? What are good and not so good sound spaces you have encountered?

Disaster Averted

I got a family recipe from the wife of my German cousin Wilhelm. It is a traditional Christmas bread called Bremer Klaben. Petra speaks wonderful English, but her written recipe is, well, interesting.  It is ok that the ingredients like raisins and candied peel and flour are measured in grams. I have a scale that will do that for me. I really like cooking by weight, not volume.

The recipe calls for 60 grams of yeast.  I always assume a reference to yeast means granulated yeast. 60 grams of granulated yeast is about 1/3  of a cup. This only makes one medium-sized loaf of  bread, so I surmised that she was referring to cake yeast, not granulated yeast. The granulated equivalent of cake yeast is 4 1/2 teaspoons. Can you imagine what would have happened had I not made the proper conversion?  Disaster averted!

Tell about disasters you have averted (or not).

 

Rich Beyond Measure

I made broth last weekend.  It is the Brodo recipe from The Splendid Table with 9 lbs of turkey wings and 3 lbs of beef bones.  It simmers for 14 hours. It produces a couple of gallons of golden brown goodness. We use it all the time, so we try to always have some on hand.  We  consider ourselves rich as we put the broth containers in the freeze “This is wealth”, we say.  Who needs more things when you have broth?

We have much to be thankful for besides homemade broth.  We feel especially rich in good friends,  good coworkers,  and in our community as a whole.  In this season of rampant consumerism, I think it is good to consider all the things that contribute richness to our lives.

What makes your life a richer, more satisfying one?