Busy weekends

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Long time no blog. It is nothing personal, I have been busy. I spent several hours in the garden today. It looks better, not great. We lost a row of beans, a couple of tomatoes and the carrots and beets to the neighbor across the road. His 80 acre field drains into our garden because the county won’t maintain the ditch. I will be sending them photos soon.

Last weekend we went to GD’s class reunion or alumni actually. I don’t socialize well, so I called a friend and had her meet me at the party. We had a great chat. GD and I left around two. I guess the cops were by…The party wound down at four. I am too old for that stuff anymore. The next night we had the alumni banquet. There were representatives from the classes of 1940-2010, about 300 people total. They introduced all of the attending graduates. Small town you know.

They had 13 inches and more of rain in that area. There was water across the road in several places, and a bridge had washed completely out. That is a year’s worth of rain in one month!  The hills were green and beautiful. I miss living up there. When I did live up there it was pretty lonely, there aren’t many people and those that are there have been friends since birth and they don’t often welcome newcomers. I would miss the morning newspaper and I would miss a choice of places to shop for groceries and eat out. That is it. I could live without the other conveniences our town provides. I forget how big our town is until I accidentally go to the mall on Saturday. I am just not a crowd person.

On the way home we visited a friend who showed us his horses. Jane was the only one who wanted to sit on one. That would be JT, the friend, with her.6-10 025

Next weekend we have GD’s family reunion of every five years. GD has threatened to pack the tent to use Friday night. Could be interesting. We plan to go to our friends’ lake for the fourth and bring along homemade icecream. I am thinking rhubarb and something else, not sure what yet.

We had our dog shaved a while back. He is a blue merle Australian Shepherd, and he was really hairy. I told Leo that our dog would look a lot different when we went to pick him up. A golden lab came out to meet us and Leo said, “Is this Jake?” That would be a doggie makeover!6-10 042

I guess I better do laundry. The boys are pretty much out of boy panties.  

 

 

Randomness Volume V

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Ladies and gentlemen: the blog you have all been waiting for.

 

William Safire started it, and I say the time has come to stop it.  Safire, a former Nixon speechwriter and conservative columnist, started adding the suffix “-gate” to any scandal to remind people of Nixon and Watergate. Frankly I am a little puzzled that I haven’t heard about oil-gate. The first time or two calling a scandal Vietnam-gate or Korea-gate was maybe cute, and of course, WhiteWaterGate had to happen, but why don’t journalists employ a little creativity and next time somebody needs to name a scandal try using Teapot Dome…actually the oil situation would be an incredibly good fit…

 

Why don’t Mr. Milton and Mr. Bradley get together with their cohorts and come up with two or three standard box sizes for games and puzzles?  Getting into my game closet is like opening one of those magic Chinese boxes where you have to slide the pieces around just so to open the box.

 

I am thumbing through my AAA book making reservations for an upcoming vacation.  I want to know if the black diamond motels are like the black diamond ski slopes; designed for the experienced traveler.

 

My SIL complimented Paul on peeing outside (he’s potty training).  She pointed out that a girl just can’t teach a boy how to pee standing up.  Her fiancé said, “yes but she can tell him when he is doing it wrong.”

 

Have you ever been misled by the title of something?  I rented The Constant Gardener last night thinking it might get me into the gardening mood.  I was a little surprised to see a photo of a hand aiming a gun on the DVD itself.  I just assumed the gardener had a no tolerance policy on weeds. It turns out The Constant Gardener is about pharmaceutical companies in Africa; a lot of shooting took place but very little gardening.

 

I think I will set aside a little money in my will; earmarked for the city of San Antonio to use on street signs.

 

Betcha didn’t know Robert E. Lee was married to George Washington’s granddaughter…her maiden name was Custis, and their family estate became Arlington National Cemetery. (a little shout-out to Smithsonian magazine)

 

I have nine used towels hanging in my bathroom. Four people use this bathroom. None of these people do the laundry.

 

Mae is very interested in weddings these days, we have four to attend this year. She looked me in the eye and said… “so if the girl takes the boy’s last name when they are married does this mean the boy takes her (livestock) brand?”  My friend Karla said, “’course he does if it’s a better brand.”

 

Let’s think about the word “flesh” for a moment. This word is not a favorite of mine. The dictionary lists the most used definition of the word as muscle or soft tissue then finally lists skin third, then goes on to cover more about muscles. This leads me to wonder why Crayola called their crayon “flesh” in the first place instead of starting off with “peach.”  

 

All the mailboxes in Wisconsin look like Harry Potter’s Knight Bus just went by; they lean away from the road.

 

I looked up “fart” in my thesaurus thinking to find the scientific word for it but had no luck.

 

Wisconsin- land of milk and honey, well at least milk

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I am currently visiting Wisconsin. This was a pleasant surprise for me, I had no real concept of what WI should look like, or how the people should act, but I really like it here. Of course it is easy to like WI in June, much like it is easy to like Laramie, WY in June. January paints a different picture. My brother moved here from Korea and coincidentally my husband has a meeting in Western WI so we came along then drove across the state to see John and his wife in Eastern WI. If Kumho tires had invited GD to a meeting in Korea we might have visited John sooner.

So, what’s to like about WI? Well, to start with, our good friend Laura Ingalls Wilder was born here. And I saw the cabin; or at least a replica. Photos of that to come. The barns are marvelous throughout the state. They don’t use them for equipment storage, no they keep cows in there. Who ever heard of using a barn for livestock? Oh, sure people do, but these are sturdy three-story100 year-old buildings with excellent stone foundations not the steel buildings next to dangerously leaning two-story 100 year-old barns we are used to seeing in our corner of the state.

And the people are really nice. Example #1 we ate lunch at a diner somewhere in the middle of nowhere.  We sat at the counter next to the register. A young fellow came in to pick up his carry-out meal and the waitress asked him if he had ketchup. He said, no he didn’t. She walked to the cooler and handed him one of those refillable bottles with the pointy cap and told him to remember to bring it back.

We had seen the “watchoutforAmish” signs but had only seen a few and they were hard at work in their garden. As we were getting out of the car at the diner we heard the distinct clip-clop of a horse trotting on pavement. There was a collective gasp in our car and all four kids were both awake and quiet for the first time the whole trip. The other time this occurred was when we saw several Amish men baling hay with a team of Belgians. Very cool.

Example #2 we were in a fast food restaurant, you have one of these in your town. I won’t reveal the name but I was ordering a #1 and four smaller sandwiches and I told her I wanted two drinks, one for me and one for the kids to share. She looked at me and said, “you could order four waters and just put soda in them.” So I did! Then I asked a guy about a park nearby but he didn’t know of one. Later another man who had overheard me came to give me directions to a park. It wasn’t the park I was supposed to go to, my brother had neglected to tell me it was in Michigan, but it was a kind thought.

There are no dirt roads in this state as far as I can tell, and no interstates, making it nearly impossible to travel from east to west.  I could not have done it without Marilyn (our GPS). I think most everyone names their GPS, I have heard of Glenda and Lois as well. There are a lot of trees up here, more than we have in Nebraska.

And the crazy sights! I saw a swimming pool full of kids and a snowmobile XXing sign next to the pool. We stopped at the multi-purpose gas station in a “town” to find a meat counter with some excellent looking steaks, a full body mount of an albino deer and outside a pump for off-road diesel. Never in all my wanderings have I seen a pump for tractor fuel at a gas station. I was surprised to see how rural WI was. Most of their towns are crossroads with a church and a gas station that sells tractor fuel and steaks. There were maybe two or three farm houses per square mile. The last time Nebraska looked like that was the 1950s.

I did run into a stinker at the Ford Garage in Marinette, WI. I asked him if he could look at the cigarette lighters in the van, as they were not working reliably. Anyone who has traveled with four kids, an ipod, a video player, a plug-in cooler and a GPS knows how vital a reliable cigarette lighter is. He told me the problem was a cinch to fix, it would take no more than half an hour, but he was booked that day. I countered with the next morning and no he was booked solid until Tuesday. I turned to leave and saw all four bays completely empty and clean as a whistle with a handful of guys doing pretty much nothing at 11:00 in the morning. His kind of booked is different than my husband’s kind of booked. What a jerk. Turns out my brother had an idea which involved something that looked like it used to belong to a dentist, and now the lighter that had stopped working entirely works fine. Yay for brothers!

We also had an earache situation on the way up here. If you ever plan to need urgent care in Iowa, I suggest doing it in La Mars. You can eat Blue Bunny ice cream when you are done, because they make it there. Not in the hospital, but somewhere in the town- maybe with Wisconsin cream, although my brother says they use most of Wisconsin’s milk to make cheese. 

Granted I took a swath from west to east through the middle of the state, so I may have a skewed perception, but I liked Wisconsin.

Long Lost Friend

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GD called tonight and asked if I had enough supper for company. He hasn’t done that in years, in fact it was about 2000 the last time he brought someone home for supper unexpectedly.

My wedding invitation was a little strange. The wedding was in Mountain Time and the reception was in Central Time. They insisted I put “standard” on it although it was daylight savings time. I was a laid-back bride.  I met one of GD’s friends at the reception, I might have met him a little earlier, but he and his buddy stole me from the reception for a while and we drove around looking for a bar. Since it was past closing we had no luck, but we thought that maybe the one across the time zone might still be open. Turns out it had been closed for hours, but we had a nice talk.

Then we moved down here, and since JT is a trucker he stopped by when he was in town, which ended up being about once every month or two. That was before kids so we would eat steak somewhere or I would cook here. JT was kind of like one of GD’s brothers, one that I really enjoy being around. Then he and GD got crossways about something and I hadn’t seen him since 2000. Then GD called tonight and brought him home for supper!

Now GD is cheering for the Lakers and JT is cheering for Boston, possibly just to be ornery…he’s like that.

My very own Vet

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Featured Grownups asked us to write about memorial day this month. This is a re-run, but I don’t know how I could say it differently.

They say between 1100 and 1800 World War II veterans die each day. My very own personal veteran died March 11, 2009. He was born in 1918, a year when lots of people died of the influenza. He was an only child, but according to all accounts he got into enough trouble for several kids.

He told how he had to ride a horse three miles to school for eight years. He had figured out it was over 10,000 miles. One of his horses would eat sandwiches on the way home. Grandpa made it all the way through high school, which was an accomplishment for the son of a man with a third grade education. I suppose Great Grandma maybe had an eighth grade education.

He was married a year before he got called up in 1942. After Basic Training Grandma went to join him in California before he shipped off. She came home on the train pregnant with my father. Grandpa couldn’t write to Grandma what theater he was in, but he managed to send her some fabric from Hawaii, so she would know he was headed to Asia. It must have been a lot of fabric because I have seen it in several of her quilts.

Grandpa came home from the war to a son who had been living like a king, trading every month which set of grandparents spoiled him he lived with. (My grandparents grew up on adjacent places, although several miles apart.) Dad did pretty well for himself the first 22 months of his life. Things changed though when his father arrived on the scene.

My grandparents had three sons and six grandchildren. Of those nine descendents, only three of us did not serve in the military.

I am the oldest grandchild at 38, the youngest is 21. I think I had a different grandfather than the younger ones did. Aside from age mellowing him, I think Grandpa started telling stories more often after I was gone. I got to hear plenty when I was back, but by then I wasn’t around as often as the younger bunch.

I won’t regale you with his tales, but he bought a Model T for $5 in 1925, and that gave him the freedom to get into all nature of teenaged trouble.

He didn’t talk much about being in the war to us kids, but the house was decorated with such items as bullet shells made into salt and pepper shakers and ash trays. He was a cook in the Marines and he did tell us he shaved with coconut milk. I am not sure whether he even saw any action. He did tell his military stories to different people and they have been written down for posterity. I need to ask for a copy.

I remember sitting at the kitchen bar with him watching Grandma make giraffe pancakes for me. He taught me how to tie my shoes when I was five. He was kinda gruff, he didn’t mind hugging me as a greeting but he wouldn’t do much more than that. He had a toothbrush with a naked lady on it he kept in the bathroom.

He and Grandma managed to surprise me twice when I was moving. The most recent time they hopped into the car and drove five hours and found our place in the country with no directions, or even a “heads up” call. I was in the middle of unpacking the kitchen. He would have been about 78 then.

Grandma is pretty feeble and has some dementia problems, but she is still living at home. Family members have been taking turns staying with her since Grandpa got sick last week, and last now it is my turn. I spent some time this morning doing a load of laundry and wiping up some grimy spots on the walls.

BTW you don’t want to find a bottle of something called “Hot Sex” in your grandma’s fridge. I don’t even have that in my fridge. I think I am gonna have a sample before I go to bed.

**EDIT**  It tastes kinda like a white Russian or Baily’s and Cream.

Mom says: “eat your vegetables”

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Prairiecowboy asked our opinions on food trends; his daughter had come across a vegan.  I had to look that up to be sure what I was talking about. No animal or dairy products. Sounds like a lot of soy to me. That will keep Nebraska farmers happy, except I suppose most of our soy goes into cattle feed. Probably all of it. 

In the beginning of time, according to the Jean Auel books, people ate meat and vegetables. Meat came in a pretty big package; you went hunting and frequently brought home enough for several meals. You preserved it so you wouldn’t have to go “shopping” as often. Vegetable items came in smaller packages, and you had to roam the prairie for hours to gather enough to provide a meal. I look at what grows naturally around here, and friends it isn’t much. I have eaten most of it; yucca blooms and stems, rose hips, chokecherries, a few roots, not much in the vegetable department. Somewhere along the line people started staying home so they could cultivate crops and cut down on their vegetable shopping time, then they domesticated animals for the same reason.

Our bodies have a predator design, eyes in the front of the face and nice sharp teeth. Deer, rabbits and buffalo have eyes in the sides of their heads so they can watch for predators. Cows don’t even have top teeth. That is the design of a plant eater.

My step-daughter is a vegetarian. Like Phoebe from Friends, if it has a face she won’t eat it. Janine is 20 and was slightly overweight in a family of rake handles as she grew up. She would not have been very noticeable in a family of normally-sized kids. Somewhere in high school she quit eating meat and lost those extra pounds. She is now the picture of health and beauty, but she still doesn’t eat meat.  Part of this decision might be just being young and wanting to have a “thing” like when my step-son wore only white Tshirts for two years straight. Part of it might be conscience, or maybe she believes that is why she lost the weight. I don’t think vascular health has anything to do with her decision. She doesn’t talk about it much, but she did say once that she didn’t think she would be a vegetarian for the rest of her life. Her boyfriend of four years isn’t. She said he tried and lasted for part of a week. We respect her decision and explain it to our kids neutrally. We don’t tease her; we just try to provide her with food she is comfortable eating and go on.

Personally, I am too lazy to be a vegetarian. It takes too much time to plan meals around no meat. I have about a cow and a half in our freezer right now. When Janine comes over I have some Chinese thing, with part of it cooked separately, and some macaroni or spaghetti thing, refried beans then I run out of ideas. I did buy a container of vegetable bouillon for use with my Chinese stuff. I want to include her without alienating my husband over the weekend. I try to have lots of left-over vegetables in the fridge for meal supplements, but I am not very good at coming up with meals. She does eat a balanced diet, not just pasta like some “vegetarians” I know.

I know of one vegan family. I can’t imagine trying to cook for them except in August when we live on tomatoes and zucchini from the garden. But how do you prepare food without using milk and eggs or cheese, God forbid I give up cheese! 

We are fortunate that nobody in our family has allergies or other food sensitivities, and my husband has confined his pickiness to avocados, croutons and eggplant, which are all pretty easy to avoid or pick out.

Admittedly I am naive on the subject of veganism, but it doesn’t seem smart to put all of your protein “eggs” in the soy basket. Remember the potato blight in Ireland? Well, remember reading about it? Crops fail, weather patterns change, resulting in food shortages and price fluctuations. Haven’t you heard news reports of freak freezes in Florida ruining the orange crop and juice prices skyrocketing?

I am happy with my decision to be an omnivore, and I respect my daughter’s decision to be a vegetarian, but if she goes vegan she might have to pack a lunch when she visits us.

I feel another blog about agriculture may be just around the corner.

BTW if you have any good vegetarian meals, I would love recipes because I want Janine to keep visiting us, and I am bored with my current repertoire.

 

Yard work

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Just a short note to let you know I am still alive. We took a trip to Texas; San Antonio, Corpus Christi then to see my grandparents in Harlingen (Brownsville). It was fun, my sunburn is peeling so the vacation must be over. More on that later.

I hoed in the garden a couple of days ago and then it rained about half an inch that night. The weeds came back with a vengeance. GD rototilled today, I haven’t been out to see, but I hoed some first and hurt my left wrist. I plan on it healing tonight as I sleep. I also plan to have GD build me a raised garden area for my bulbs tomorrow. I keep losing them on the south side of the house in the grass. We have plenty of manure and extra top soil. I know you aren’t supposed to move bulbs this time of the year, but when else can I find them? I want to either move or kill all of the junky odd shrubs and perennials from that side of the house and plant grass to the foundation. That is part of the reason I will be needing my wrist. I might even move my irises. They are not happy where they are. They are in a row 30 feet long and one bloomed this year. They might end up with my tulips and daffodils.

A friend gave me her bike. I took it for a spin tonight and never fell off. I haven’t been on a bike since…well a couple of times in 2002 1992 (what was I thinking? I was pregnant in 2002) and before that,  it is anyone’s guess, yours would be as good as mine. I did not come from a bike riding family.

I hear a nice warm bath calling….oh my aching back!