Tag Archives: Featured

A Brand New Start

It was a year ago that we lost our Steve.  I’m re-running one of his posts (from February 2020) for the day.  You can answer his intial question or share a Steve memory!

Today’s post comes from Steve Grooms.

I have been marveling at what my daughter accomplished this past year. Last winter she, her family and I were living in Port Huron, Michigan. She couldn’t find a job, for the local economy is depressed. My son-in-law had a job he detested, with no possibility of finding a better job. I lived in a senior citizen complex near their rental home, staying alone in my room unless my daughter was visiting me. Nobody was very happy.

It became painfully clear that my daughter and s-i-l had to move and set up new lives. Since I cast my lot with my daughter’s family when I sold my home in 2014, I would have to move too. The experiment of living in Michigan was mostly a botch.

Because my daughter was not working, she was the obvious person to do the research and planning necessary to make the move possible. But, oh my, what a fiendishly complicated task that would be.

Breaking this challenge down into smaller pieces, my daughter needed to:

  • Pick a new town and neighborhood to live in where all four of us (three adults, a kid and a large old dog) might be happy.
  • Find a new apartment or rental home where my daughter’s family could live, doing this research while living in Michigan, unable to look at rental properties in person. This would be especially difficult due to the shortage of affordable housing.
  • Find a senior living community for me. It had to be near her home near her new job . . . wherever they might be. Once again, my daughter had no way to visit the various facilities under consideration.
  • Find movers who could relocate two households 800 miles without charging much.
  • Devise a way to get three automobiles from Michigan to Minnesota, a feat complicated by the fact we had only two drivers.
  • Find a job for herself (a job near her new home and my new apartment, wherever they would turn out to be). This decision, too, had to be done without the benefit of a visit.
  • Find a job for her husband (or at least identify a process which he could follow to find one).
  • Find a great new school for her fourth-grade son.
  • Do all the physical work of boxing up two households for the move.
  • Clean her rental home and my apartment.
  • Accomplish all of this and make the actual move in less than three months.

I wonder if that list adequately reflects how complicated this was. The sixth item alone is daunting. Everything on the list was inextricably connected to all the other issues, which made the overall project extremely tricky. Each choice depended on several other decisions, and there seemed to be no obvious place to start.

My daughter was amused by how her research turned out. The Minnesota metro region emerged as the clear favorite for many reasons but especially its strong economy. St. Paul seemed the most attractive city in Minnesota. The most desirable place to live in St. Paul, her research said, turned out to be Highland Park. So my daughter’s search for the ideal place to move led her to exactly the neighborhood where she had grown up.

We made the move last June. I believe this is the most difficult my daughter has ever faced. As of the middle of January, 2020, every single item on the list has been met successfully. My daughter now lives in an apartment a few blocks from her childhood home (although serious house-hunting begins this spring). And everybody, even the old dog, is delighted to be here.

What is the hardest thing you have ever done? Have you ever discovered that you needed to make a brand new start?

Well, I’ll Be Stuffed!

It’s time for the annual CarbFest.  We always spend Thanksgiving with close friends and I am always asked to bring the vegetarian stuffing and a dessert.   A friend asked me to send her my recipe for the stuffing and as I typed it out I realized that I have probably never followed the recipe to the letter even once.

In fact, this year, I’m thinking of adding some cornbread  to the sourdough as the base of the stuffing.  And I have to go get craisins today because I always used them instead of the dark raisins.  I’ve also never used fresh parsley – not once in 20+ years.

I’m thinking I should probably have told this to my friend.  What if she makes the recipe as written and doesn’t like it and then wonders about my sanity??

Do you have a recipe that you always alter?

You’ve Got to be Kidding Me!

In the “always something new under the sun” category – I came downstairs last week to find Nimue’s two ceramic bowls replaced with these two plates. 

YA purchased them because apparently kitties can get “whisker fatigue” if they eat from regular bowls. I’m not even going to look up whisker fatigue; if I do find it legitimized online, it will just make me crazy.

Any new “news” in your world lately?

Sweet Conundrum

My father loved buttermilk.  Unfortunately my mother did not.  This meant that my father didn’t get buttermilk very often because my mother just didn’t purchase many things that she didn’t like, even if someone else did.  She was in charge of the kitchen, the shopping and the cooking and there just wasn’t room in her cart for things she wasn’t going to consume.  Fish, liver, brussel sprouts, mushrooms – none of these ever saw the inside of our fridge.

So my father would often order buttermilk when we ate out.  This got troublesome occasionally.  At Perkins in particular, he always asked for buttermilk and was always told they didn’t have it.  He would immediately point out the buttermilk pancakes on the menu and ask for buttermilk again.  It didn’t matter that every single time the waitstaff explained that the pancake mix already had the buttermilk in it, he just couldn’t understand how you could have buttermilk pancakes but not have buttermilk. 

I was thinking about this a few days ago.  I had a morning appointment up in Robbinsdale and the doctor agreed to an 8 a.m. time slot even though the office didn’t normally start taking appointments until 8:30.  To thank her, I stopped at a bakery/coffee shop up the street from the office to pick up coffee for both of us (and a doughnut for myself, who are we kidding).  It was quiet in the bakery; I was the only customer.  From where I was standing, I couldn’t see the cream/sugar nook so I asked the guy behind the counter.  He pointed out a table in a corner but then said “but we don’t have sugar”. 

I was sure I had heard him wrong so I said “you don’t have sugar?”.  Nope, they had sweetners, but no sugar.  I started to suggest that you can’t have 20 kinds of doughnuts and pastries along with cookies and cakes and not have sugar but then I remembered my dad always haranguing waitstaff about buttermilk and I decided to zip my lip.  But five days later, I’m still wondering about it.  No sugar in a bakery?

Any little mysteries bugging you this week?

Could Be Worse

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

At least it’s not ‘Lake Effect’ snow.

I’m kinda grumpy about this weather. It feels like January and it’s only November.

I was feeding the ducks the other morning and while I was in the feed room getting another bucket of corn, I noticed a couple of them fly up to where I had spread the corn. Of our 10 ducks, only a couple are actual mallards that can fly, the black and white ones, (The Swedish breed) and the poufy one can’t fly. And then I saw Rosie, the new black duck fly in! I didn’t notice if Guildy can fly too, but Rosie sure did. And they do have a sleeker look than the other non-flying ducks. What interesting cross breeding is what I thought. And good for them! Can’t you just imagine their delight and surprise when they figured out they could fly too?? How cool.

Driving around town the other day I saw a car with a headlight out. And I thought to myself ‘PI-DIDLE!’ only I was alone and didn’t have anyone to kiss, so it had to wait until I got home. Are you familiar with the term ‘Pi-didle’? Meaning a car with one headlight? And then you kiss your date. Or that’s how I heard it. When I googled the term, I got a few other definitions, including some not suitable for this website. Most include touching the ceiling of your car and / or punching someone.

I thought that was only when you saw a ‘slug-bug’.

This (clean) site has some official rules for the pi-didle game:

https://www.angelfire.com/pa4/mjr300psu/pididle.html

Got any other local colloquialisms about cars?

They are just starting to harvest my corn as I write this on Friday. The corn would have been out earlier this week if the weather wasn’t so crappy. (Sweeping generalization on the weather) Because mine goes to the elevator and theirs they take home, they plan to do mine during the day when the elevator is open, then work on theirs in the evening. Couple days they’ll be done. When he and I spoke earlier this week I was optimistic I might yet be able to get some fieldwork done. With the temps the last few days, I’ve kinda given up on that. Although I just put a couple driveway markers in around the yard and the ground wasn’t frozen here. So…. Maybe?? I’ll give it a try tomorrow.

The corn kernels themselves are not sensitive to picking up moisture like soybeans or other crops are. But the snow on the leaves gets inside the combine harvester and makes everything wet and then things plug up and it just makes a mess. So we either need warmer weather to melt the snow off, or colder weather to reduce the moisture in the snow. I guess we opted for colder.

Normally I’d wait for the corn to be out, then mow the roadsides down so they’re clean and won’t catch snow, then we get the driveway markers installed. Always a fun day when daughter and I ride in the gator or 4-wheeler and she pounds the fiberglass markers in. Every time, as she readies the hammer, she quotes Homer Simpson, “Steady…. Steady…” You’ll have to google that if you’re not familiar with it. Anyway, all that is more fun when it’s 40°F than it is when it’s 20°F. I may be doing it myself at 20°.

There’s a local guy named ‘Machinery Pete’.  He’s been reporting on farm auctions since 1989 and he’s very well respected for that. His name is Greg Petersen and evidently he’s a pretty good golfer too.

https://www.machinerypete.com

On his facebook page, it seems this year every post starts with “New record high price” for that particular piece of machinery. Should we blame Covid for that too? Well, sort of. The usual material sourcing issues led to shortages on new equipment, which led to demand for good quality used equipment, which lead to higher prices. Plus crop prices are high, land values are high, so…everything is high. But I have to laugh that there’s always a new high price. “Fourth record high price on 1992 tractor!” Is fourth record high a thing?

I haven’t filled my diesel barrel yet. I order 500 gallons which will last a year for me. I read of a large dairy farm out in New York, he said they got 7000 gallons delivered on Sunday and that would last them 25 days. Yikes!

Today, I took the day off ‘work’ work to get a few things done here at home. I’m gonna go mow the roadsides. Maybe that will blow the snow off the road too. Or I’ll hook the blade up and scrape off this couple inches on the road. Time to get it in the shed I guess.

I stopped at one of the local theaters today to check on some things. Someone used an orange extension cord to plug in an artificial tree onstage. It’s an unwritten rule that you only use black or dark green cords onstage. Orange cords on the stage drive me bonkers. Why doesn’t everyone know this!!?? How many times do I have to tell you this??

I know what I’ll be doing Saturday. Fieldwork.

WHAT WILL YOU DO THIS WEEKEND?

Making Progress

Although not everyone might think so, the following photos suggest to me that great progress is being made with our bathroom remodals.

Things have been stalled for a couple of weeks due to weather and getting the plumbers to finally show up, which they did on Tuesday. For the upstairs bathroom they had to move the pipes for the toilet over about 3 feet to make room for a larger vanity and sink. They also had to set up new pipes for the shower, and cap pipes for the old shower. They had to do some work in the attic and in the basement for running the pipes.

The downstairs bathroom didn’t need any new plumbing. The tub there just gets a liner and new surround.

The carpenters are coming next week to finish the drywall. After that, the main contractor can come to install the new flooring and fixtures. This is taking longer than I anticipated, but seeing the progress this week has given me hope that our home will soon be back in order. I am not a patient person, and the uproar that this remodel has caused has been hard to deal with.

Would you rather be a plumber, an electrician, or a carpenter? What is giving you hope these days? What are some satisfying projects you have seen to their conclusions?

The Rockets Red Glare!

Hallelujah!!!  Joy of joys – let the heavens part and rain down the praise of angels!!!

Yes, it’s really me.  All the painting is done – the breakfast room, the kitchen and the windows on the front porch.

As if this isn’t momentous enough, I cleaned up and organized the tool room in the basement before putting all the various tools away that have been cluttering up the porch and the dining room and the breakfast room for weeks.  I hadn’t planned on the clean up/organization.  In fact, my initial plan was to dump everything into the tool room and then ignore it until after the holidays.  Then at the very last minute, I changed my mind.  Assuming it would take a lot longer than it actually did, I was thinking I would do the clean up on day and then sort out all the tools the next day.  But it went swimmingly and once I got going, I just kept going. 

One big black garbage bag got filled with junk as I emptied every cabinet and drawer so I could clean them.  It’s amazing what you find when you do this.  We have 8 of those paint keys that they give you when you purchase paint.  We have 12 scrappers.  We have six handles for scrubbing pads.  We have four bags of steel wool, each with a different amount in it.  But the most amazing was the tape.

It seems like I am always buying tape and now I know why… we keep taking it to the basement when we’re done with a project.  The photo only shows the tape that survived – several rolls were too dirty or dried out to keep.  I brought all the tape up so that it’s in the dining room chest of drawers; hopefully this will keep us from buying more the next time we have a project!

What do you have too much of?

The Game’s Afoot

This chess game has been ongoing for a couple of years – in the front yard of a house about 15 blocks up from my house.  I’ve always been intrigued by it, mostly because I’m not a big “decorations in the yard” type of gal. 

The other intrigue has to do with the fact that my natural instinct is to say “the cat is going to crush the dog”.  My second instinct is to say “why is the bird watching so intently?”  Personally I think watching games like chess and GO are akin to watching the proverbial paint dry.

Personally I like dice games because if you lose, you can always blame it on bad luck with the dice.  Aggravation, Sorry, Parchesi, even Monopoly.  I know the rules of chess and GO but haven’t played either for years. I’m also fond of trivia games.

Do you think cats are better chess players than dogs?

All Aboard

Yesterday Bill mentioned the disappointment that Botticelli’s Venus isn’t shown to it’s best advantage in its home in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.  I know someone who was disappointed at seeing the David by Michelangelo in that same city; she thought that many fewer people should be allowed into the gallery at any given time so that it is quiet while you are observing the statue.  I also know several folks who were underwhelmed by Stonehenge; they feel it is too close to the highway (technically the highway is too close to Stonehenge) and there is a chain link fence along the road that runs up to it.  And of course I did have a client once who just didn’t love Paris the way he thought he should. He couldn’t explain it at all and felt a little sheepish about it.

One of the days I was visiting Pat in Nashville, we drove down to Chattanooga for a day.  After we’d gone all through the huge aquarium there, I told Pat I wanted to see the Chattanooga Choo Choo.  After all – why not.  I’m guessing if it took me 66 years to get to Chattanooga the first time, I probably won’t get another chance!

We turned on the GPS… we were only about 3 miles away but it was downtown traffic so we wanted to be sure.  A left turn took us to the back of a hotel where there were some older trains but there wasn’t an entrance so we turned back.  A right turn after the hotel was the same… train cars but no entrance.  The front of the hotel has mostly pay parking and there was no signage whatsoever for the CCC.  We finally parked in a questionable spot and I called the hotel itself.  The gal who answered the phone said you had to go through the hotel lobby to get there.  Hmmmm.  We left the car in our questionable space and traipsed into the hotel.  It became clear immediately that this hotel had been the train station at one point but these days it is in sad shape and most of the retail spots in the big open atrium are dark.

If you walk all the way through, you do indeed come out to the train yard and the CCC is right there but that’s about all there is to say.  Not clean, not spiffed up, no signage, no speakers playing the famous song.  No little café serving coffee with cute names and no gift shop with magnet and postcards.  All the other train cars in the yard are in very sad shape; a few look like there might be some refurbishing going on, but I wouldn’t bet any money on when it will actually be finished.  As long as we were there, Pat snapped a photo of me in front of the engine, proof that we had actually found it!  Truly, the model of the CCC in the hotel lobby was more impressive than the actual train itself.

Luckily since we hadn’t thought about looking for the CCC until that morning, neither of us had any great expectations so it wasn’t nearly as disappointing as it could have been.  I think it’s the big build up in our expectations that causes most of our disappointments – at least it is for me.

What would you call a coffee drink at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Coffee Shop?

World Kindness Day

Yesterday was World Kindness Day.

YA and I celebrated (although I’m not sure she even know it was Kindness Day) by heading off to the Botticelli and Renaissance Florence exhibit at the Minneapolis Art Institute.  It was a nice exhibit; not as much Botticelli as I would have liked, but I suppose the Uffizi in Florence didn’t want to completely empty out their galleries for us!  YA wanted to see this one

(unfortunately it stayed behind in Florence).  She did talk me into buying a magnet of it for the refrigerator though!

Afterwards we went to Hola Arepa for brunch.  I had the Fried Egg Breakfast – the Arepa version of huevos rancheros with two great sauces and yuca fries.  It was really scrumptious but made even better when half way through, YA suggested that she pay for our meal.  I accepted so quickly that she laughed.  NEVER before has she volunteered to pay for a meal in a restaurant for us. 

I’m putting it down to World Kindness Day although I’m not sure YA was in the know!

Any kindnesses to report?