Tag Archives: Featured


Ran down to the basement yesterday morning to put the wash into the dryer – SURPRISE!.  Water all over the basement floor.  &^#%%$!## — bad words came pouring out followed by deprecations about how much I hate having such an old house.  Fantasies of a brand new townhouse or a very handy person showing up on my doorstep washed over me.  I told YA to leave me alone for about 10 minutes.

This isn’t my first rodeo where the main drain is concerned.  I called CenterPoint/Minnesgasco right away and they told me they could have somebody out between then and 11:30 p.m. last night. When I got off the phone YA said “how much is THIS going to cost?”  But what she didn’t know is that I have Home Service Plus for the main drain.  In fact, I have the house to street drain on my plan as well.

I have a love/hate relationship with insurance.  30 years ago Montgomery Ward tried to sell me an insurance plan on a dishwasher I had just bought from them.  The sales person said “if this breaks down tomorrow, you won’t be covered.”  I told him that if this brand new dishwasher broke down tomorrow, I would not be the sorry one.  When I bought my car six years ago they tried to sell me gap insurance which would cover the “gap” between the car’s new value and the normal insurance during the first year (I’m sure I’m describing this badly).   The more they pushed, the more I resisted.  I finally said “I understand the risk, my sister is an actuary.”  This is not true, but it shut them up.

But for this old house, bring on the insurance.  My home plan covers my boiler, my fridge, my washer, my dryer, my dishwasher and also the drains.  And despite the fact that I pay for this insurance every month, I’m pretty sure I’m a loss leader with my old house and old appliances.   Once about 20 years back, I had two guys working on my boiler for almost 2 days straight – over 24 hours of service time – no charge. 

So while it wasn’t fun waiting for the service folks to show up, at least I wasn’t worried about having to find a pot of money for them.  They actually showed up earlier than I expected, got the drain cleared out lickety-split and now life in the basement is back to normal.

What are you willing to insure?

Glazing Over

A good thirty years ago (plus), I visited my wasband’s grandparents who had just sold their little house and moved into a care center.  They were in their nineties and had never used a computer and smart phones were still in the future.

Wasband was (is?) a techie/programmer.  As we were sitting with his grandparents, he started talking about his job and I could see the two of them beginning to glaze over.  It was clear that they really didn’t have a clue about what he was discussing.  I remember thinking two things.  First, why doesn’t he notice them and shut up?  Then I thought how sad it seemed that the world was whizzing past them.

Fast forward all these years.  WordPress went wonky on my phone today.  It’s been more or less stable for 18 months, since I got this phone.  In fact, whenever baboons mention that WP isn’t doing something, I keep quiet, since it hasn’t been happening to me.  And now it’s happened to me.

It took me a while to get somebody at WP on the chat function and it became clear to me almost immediately that I have become wasband’s grandparents.

WP: What browser are you using? VS:  I have a Safari icon that gets me to the internet… assume that’s the browser?

WP:  Are you opening WP in the app? VS:  If I have an WP icon, isn’t that the app?

WP:  Can you take a screenshot for me? VS:  Not until I can get my daughter in here to show me how?

VS:  I have the screenshot on my desktop – how do I get it to you?

WP:  Is this issue happening on your laptop, your mobile Safari or the app? VS:  Mobile Safari???

These are just a few.  After about an hour “chatting”, my poor WP guy has had to start a bug report and we’ve moved the discussion over to email.  Not sure when it will get solved.  Luckily everything is working fine (so far, knock on wood) on my laptop.  Phone is somewhat functional, just making me sign in for every comment, which stinks.

My “Happiness Engineer” is probably not happy himself right now, since he spent at least an hour and didn’t fix my problem.  I did give him permission to laugh to himself and roll his eyes during our chat.

In what ways have you become your parents/grandparents?

RIP Sir Sean

I knew it was coming but seeing the headline that Sean Connery had passed away still hit me hard.  I was only three when he played his first leading movie role in Darby O’Gill and the Little People but I remember seeing it in theatres when I was about eight and I was stricken.  I’m pretty sure I’ve seen everything he has starred in, good and bad.  I even watched Zardoz on purpose because he starred in it. 

As you can imagine, he was THE James Bond as far as I’m concerned.  I do like most of the others but Sean will always embody Bond for me.  I know the movies are seriously outdated at this point (well, what isn’t these days?) but I will still watch one if I come across it while channel surfing.

In fact, I’ve just gotten a notification that Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure in DVD has arrived for me at my library.  I’m not sure if I’ve seen it before, but I’ll be especially watching for Sean Connery playing one of the bad guys.  Then hopefully I can find a few more of his supportive roles in the next few weeks.

Any Sean Connery movies you’ve seen?  Anybody else who you’ve seen (or read) all their work?

Endings & Beginnings

A couple of weeks ago, Steve sent me an article about the most reviled book endings of all time – with lots of reader opinions and contributions.


I, of course, have opinions about this as well.   I cried for hours at the end of Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.  I know it probably had to end this way to have any impact, but it still broke my heart.  The same for A Separate Peace by John Knowles. 

The Silent Tower by Barbara Hambly got thrown across the room when I came to the end.  As I was getting closer and closer to finishing the book, it wasn’t coalescing like I thought it should be.  I realized at the last page that it was setting up for the next book.  I hadn’t known it was going to be a series and I was spitting mad.  Eventually I calmed down enough to read the rest of the series and I liked it fine enough but I’ve always remembered the book flinging.

I know several people who didn’t like the ending of Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell but it turned out that none of them have actually read the book; they’ve only seen the movie.  I contend that if you’ve read the book, then you know that by the end Rhett is completely done with Scarlett.  No going back for him.  This is the reason that I never read Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley – just so wrong.

Lots more, but it’s your turn.

Any book endings that you abhor?  Or that you particularly fancy?

Invent Your Own Covid Test

Last Friday I was on a MS Teams meeting in a weekly group supervision session I participate in with staff from another Human Service Center. The clinical director of that agency was really amused by the ingenuity of  one staff member and the young adult child of another staff member, both of whom accurately self- diagnosed themselves with Covid.

The staff member was suspicious of some symptoms,  and took a couple swigs of lemon juice, couldn’t taste it, and went for a formal test at the doctor and tested positive.  The young adult was out with friends drinking shots of Fireball whiskey, realized she couldn’t taste it, and went for a test and was positive.

The clinical director wryly suggested that perhaps we all needed to drink shots of Fireball whiskey throughout the day to self-monitor for Covid.  Cinnamon flavored whiskey isn’t my drink of choice, but I could think of other strong tasting things I wouldn’t mind monitoring with.

Make up your own Covid test.

Bikes & Bites

As Guinevere and I were walking along, I heard music behind me.  At first I thought it was a car with an open window but when I turned to look, I saw what looked like a parade of bikes.  But unlike most parades that include bikes, many of the bikers had carts attached to their bikes or they had kid carriers – all filled with toilet paper, paper towels, diapers and other “essentials”.  There were probably about 30 bikers and they were all very friendly.   Guinevere and I stood and watched as they all went by.

It didn’t take long for me to find information on like.  Brian Boyer started Bikes & Bites this summer after the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent unrest that followed.  It was clear that supplies were needed in the affected areas, as well as in the homeless camps in the city parks.  So he combined donating essential items with his love of biking.  Initially it was just one or two bikers with a handful of folks purchasing extras when they did their shopping.  Since August, it was clearly expanded to the bike parade that I witnessed. 

This kind of thing keeps a little of glimmer of hope alive for me during this awful year. 

Any new organizations that you’ve seen pop up in 2020?

The Lefse Purity League

Husband and I rolled out about 75 sheets of lefse on Halloween.  Husband considers us lefse purists. We would never use mashed potato  flakes, as many do, in our lefse. We try to use store-bought, ND grown russet potatoes along with white potatoes we grow in the garden. My recipe calls for lard, and we use our own home-rendered lard, as well as organic heavy cream, sugar,  and flour. We rice the dough twice.  The recipe is one I got from a local church member who got it in California  from a Jewish woman married to a man of Norwegian heritage. It doesn’t get much funkier than this.

I rolled out the dough and put it on the griddles. Husband fried and flipped and transferred the lefse to towels to cool.  We used two griddles. This year we realized that one of our griddles was defective, so that meant a quick trip to Ace Hardware for a new one, along with another flipping stick. ( I got tired of sharing the one we had with Husband as he fried and flipped.) We now have his and hers flipping sticks.

I have two pastry boards, three pastry board covers, and multiple cotton covers for my lefse rolling pin.  The pastry board and covers are great for rolling out pie crusts, too. You can’t let the cloth get damp or the dough sticks and you get holes in your lefse. It is really important to keep the dough as cold as possible before you roll it out. I know that I have rolled it thin enough when I can vaguely see through the dough the red letters imprinted on the pastry board cover that say Bethany Pastry Cloth. This is an Iowa company that sells everything you need for lefse making.

All my relatives identified as being of German heritage. None of my relatives  ever made lefse. I learned to make lefse here in ND, in a German church with very few people of Norwegian heritage, but many who insist on making lefse every year.  I am continually amused as Ancestry.com  keeps reassessing my DNA  and now tells me my DNA is 17% Swedish.  I don’t know if Swedes make lefse, but I know what lefse is supposed to be like.  Mashed potato flakes indeed!

For what will you accept no substitutes? What equipment do you have that you consider essential?

The Calendar

Advent wasn’t a thing at my house growing up.  In fact, I didn’t really know what advent was all about until I was out on my own.  Of course, any thing that I can use to amp up the holiday season has my name all over it.

For many years I had an advent wreath with candles (until it caught the tablecloth on fire).  When YA was young, we had a window cling advent calendar (until she pulled all the pieces off the window – I still think that maybe some of the pieces may have gotten eaten by a dog or even flushed).  I made a big advent calendar out of little tins and lots of holiday paper; it was finally retired a couple of years ago when YA informed me that she didn’t really need to be “doing that” any more.

Two years ago a wine advent calendar hit the Aldis shelves for the first time.  I heard about it right before Christmas – too late.  So last year, I did some research and was dismayed when my friend who works at Aldi’s HQ here, said that the wine advent calendar isn’t sold in Minnesota due to the liquor laws here.  No alcohol sold in grocery stores.  I looked online and found a couple of other wine calendars but they were much more expensive than Aldis and then there was the shipping to Minnesota issue.  YA and I did score an Aldi’s cheese advent calendar and enjoyed it so I decided to try again this year for the wine.

I left the house yesterday at 6 a.m. and headed to River Falls (the closest Aldi’s carrying the calendars).  Arriving at 10 minutes to 7, I saw that four other folks were already there.  We all huddled in our cars until someone drove up at 10 after 7 and got out of her car.  At that point, we quickly started lining up outside the store.  Even though I had thought the process through a little bit, bringing a stadium chair, I neglected a coat, gloves or blanket.  I was VERY happy when the sun finally got above the tree line.  Store employees came out with “tickets” at 8 a.m.  There were wine advent calendars, beer advent calendars and hard seltzer calendars that required tickets and had limits.  It looked like the employees had about 50 of each type of ticket.  By the time the store opened at 9, there were probably 125 folks in line… all down the outside of the store, around the corner and down the whole parking lot.  I can’t speak for other parts of the line, but at the very front, we had a party vibe going right up until opening.  In addition to the wine, I also managed to get to the cheese calendars before they were gone.

Since we know we’ll be having a different kind of holiday season this year, at least we’ll have fun with our cheese and wine every night of advent.

When have you gone out of your way to get something you really wanted?

Crunch Time

This has been a great week to enjoy the leaves.  Everywhere I walk with the dog, there are leaves gathered up along edges of sidewalks and in many places folks have been raking so there are little piles all over.  Since it’s been dry for at least a week, it is marvelous to crunch through them as we walk.

During my first autumn at Carleton, one Saturday a bunch of us cut through the wooded area behind the library on the way to the football field.  There was a hollow that was completely filled up with leaves and on a lark, we jumped into the leaves and threw them around for a bit.  The following fall, three of us met up and created another leaf pile on the “bald spot” on campus.  That started a tradition that has continued through the years.  A few friends get together, make a big pile of leave and then jump in.  Normally YA and I scout out locations that morning and then afterwards, everybody adjourns to our house for potluck.  If the weather is bad (or has been bad and leaves are wet), then we skip the pile and go straight to the potluck.  There have only been a couple of years when my travel schedule has kept us from gathering. It’s almost a much fun at this dog has:


Of course, this year there was no leaf pile and no potluck (although YA still wants me to make my chili and leaf cookies) so I’m having to get as much enjoyment from walking through leaves with the dog!

Any spontaneous, impromptu gatherings in your past?

All Saints

Sunday was All Saints Day, a fairly solemn day in our church when we remember all our congregation members who died over the past year, as well as our own dear departed. I thought how nice it would be to hear my father’s jokes and teasing again, along with my mother’s keen observations and funny stories. I also thought how much fun it would be to scritch our two Welsh Terriers  behind the ears again, and see the trouble they might get into. I consider them departed saints, too, no matter how naughty they were.

Who are the departed saints  you might like to have a nice conversation with today?