Thursday, October 8, 2015

A trip to HyVee

Okay, a trip to a grocery store is not usually a big deal--and certainly nothing to blog about. However, I am fond of food stores. Wherever I travel, I make it a point to visit a local grocery store and it's always interesting.

On Saturday, my suburban daughter Brenda called and wanted to go to a movie. Since I was dying to see The Martian, we agreed to meet at a theater midway between our locations. Afterward, she insisted on going over to the newly-opened HyVee store in a nearby suburb. She had been there several days earlier and wanted me to see it.

There was a sit down restaurant inside the door and since we were hungry, we decided to give that a try. She ordered a salad and I ordered a side of garlic mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables. The two sides arrived in french fry cups to my surprise. The potatoes were nothing special but the veggies were so good! There were standing strips of carrots, squash, green pepper, onion, etc grilled with herbs. They were so good that I would go back for just that.
Then we went into the very crowded grocery store which is an experience of its own. All around the outer edges were individual areas for different foods. There was one for everything you could be looking for. I was impressed by the wonderful bakery with artisan breads and baked goodies to die for. There was an old-fashioned meat store that wrapped your purchase in brown paper. There was a cheese shop and an endless array of other areas to browse. I was especially impressed by the large section of British foods (with English candy bars), the natural foods and gluten-free offerings.
It was like a food court in a mall only with more variety and quality. It's a wonderful place to visit but I'm actually glad that there isn't a HyVee near me so I won't be wanting to go there again very soon. I wouldn't be able to control myself!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Good bye, Renaissance Fair

I really love the local Renaissance Fair held every fall outside of the Twin Cities. I wish I could go again this year because it's iffy whether there will be one next year. It turns out that the tract of useless, un-arable land that has been home to the fair for many decades is now valuable real estate--for fracking!

As a result, the Renaissance village with all its structures will be torn down. It's not known where or if it might be held next year.

It was great fun to go out for the stage shows, jousting, scotch eggs and shenanigans.
There were so many specialty shops, foods and sights to bring out the crowds every weekend.

But, the frackers are lusting over what lies beneath the festivities.

Here's a family portrait from 1982. My mom and dad are in front. In back are my sister with her son and me (the chubby one) with my son. We had some good times there.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Cats Happen

I've had many sweet cats over the years but I have never gone out of my way to get one. They just happen.

Late last fall, a woman who lived in an apartment building down the block posted flyers all over the neighborhood for her escaped cats. She was desperate since she was soon moving to Norway and wanted them to stay with her mother.

I contacted Laura and told her they might be in the wooded lot next door. We spoke and I promised her I'd watch for them. Sure enough, there was a black shorthair cat like her Onyx hanging around. (I never saw her other cat.) She brought over a cat carrier, food and a blanket to set on my freezing-cold patio to lure her.

The cat was wary so I put the food over by the retaining wall next to the wooded lot. She would never come to eat until after dark. Slowly, I moved the dish around the corner of the building and onto my patio. The kitty would always appear just after dark so I could time putting out the food before it froze.

This worked well except the cat was so easily spooked that if she caught sight of me watching her she would run away. This went on all through the winter months and into spring. I marveled how hardy she seemed even during the coldest months.

Spring arrived and we started keeping the patio door open so my two cats could lie out in the sun. Slowly, the black cat started coming during daylight and lying a short ways from the patio flirting with my cats. I started talking to her and calling her Pinky (it was obvious by then that she was going to wind up being my cat.) She responded so well that within a few weeks she was eating her food next to my chair on the patio. She was soon coming inside and snoozing on the cat tower and reveling in being loved up.

We took her to the vet for a checkup and shots. That's when we found out we had a male cat and it most definitely was not Laura's Onyx. The name Pinky no longer seemed suitable so we changed it to Tinky--and he's one cool dude!

                                                        (Borrowed image)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Making plans

Do you know how to make God laugh?
      Tell him your plans.
     (Old Jewish proverb)

I had planned to return to blogging again on August 25th which was one year after my last posting. As usual, my plans didn't work out.

I got a different computer and had all my stuff transferred, not knowing that the Microsoft Word program on the old computer was not registered. I wound up with everything stored in Word inaccessible to me. After trying several work-arounds, I gave up after four weeks and went online to buy a new copy of Word  for $109.00. As usual, everything was unbelievably complicated. It took two days and dealing with five separate people to get it installed. I must admit that one of the complications is that I am a computer putz!

I won't even get into the problems I had finding my blog and being able to post again. But anyway, here I am, nearly a year and a month later.

The reason I stopped blogging was because I felt that out of fairness, I had to follow the blogs of everyone who was a follower of mine. This became so time-consuming I that I had to draw the line. But, I missed it so I'm going to try it again. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The 10-Book Challenge

A fellow blogger challenged his followers to list ten books that had an influence on them. This really got me to thinking back to my childhood.  It took a while but I finally came up with a list. I decided I could just as well post it in case some other bloggers might want to take up the challenge

Here they are in no particular order:

1)  Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Suess.  I have loved this book for as long as I can remember. I puddle up every time I read, "I meant what I said, and I said what I meant, an elephant's faithful one hundred percent".

2)  The Book of Knowledge 1943 edition. I don't remember how old I was when my parents bought this children's encyclopedia set but I spent many hours browsing through it. I think it gave me my interest in travel, archaeology and ancient history.

3)  The Household Searchlight Recipe Book. As a child, I loved to browse through my mom's cookbook reading about fanciful things like hors d'oeuvres and souffles and other foods that never graced our kitchen table. I yearned to be a sophisticated grown-up and make all those exotic dishes. ( I do occasionally make a quiche or a bundt cake but I'm still not sophisticated enough to make anything really elegant.)

4) The Nancy Drew Mystery series by Carolyn Keene. I avidly read those gripping mystery stories, sometimes under the covers at night so my mom wouldn't catch me. After I read all they had in the library I moved on to other writers and subjects. The Nancy Drew series was updated in the 70's because the books were no longer PC (eg. all the bad guys were "swarthy") but I'm sure they are still luring girls into the love of reading.

5)  The Golden Nature Books series. These handy little paperback-sized books were just right for taking on family camping trips in the woods. They helped the kids and me to identify birds, wildflowers, trees and critters.

6)  All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriott and also his subsequent books. I fell in love with Yorkshire, the people and the English countryside. When I finally traveled to England and the plane slowly banked over stone-fenced fields dotted with sheep, I nearly wept with joy.

7)  Harbrace College Handbook. I was issued this English grammar book my first quarter of Community College back in 1982. I enrolled in an English composition class to recover from my combined divorce-and-empty-nest-syndrome collision. Ever since, this book has been my valuable resource when I need to check whether to use affect vs effect or who vs whom.

8)  How to Talk Minnesotan by Howard Mohr. Like most people, I grew up feeling quite ordinary and average. Sometime in the 70's and 80's, Mr. Mohr--along with noted humorist, Garrison Keillor noticed that we were kinda unique in our own folksy way. This book paved the way for our "Minnesota Nice" identity. So even though I may have a Minnesota accent, I can take some pride that along with that I also hold doors for people and defer to others in conversation, in elevators and driving.

9)  The Synonym Finder by J. J.Rodale 1978. I'm the sort who's always groping for words. I picked up this large book at a garage sale some years ago and I use it all the time. 

10) Family Cookbook and Memories by Janice Wagar 2007. It's probably tacky to include this among my favorite books since I compiled and wrote it, but allow me to explain. After I retired in 2005, I decided it was time to do the cookbook of family favorites I'd been thinking about for years. I collected recipes from family and friends which also brought back memories. I started including anecdotes and family history plus some humor in the book. By the time I was done, I had created something unique for my family. I sometimes re-read it and cringe at small errors or see things I wish I'd done differently, but all the same, it still gives me a boost to have actually created it.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

I am the proud holder of a library card!

I love libraries. Of course I love bookstores too, but in libraries everything is free. You can browse all day if you want. You can relax and revel in being in the company of kindred souls.

I was introduced to the library at an early age. One memorable fall morning, my second grade class was escorted across the street to the imposing Carnegie Library. Around on the right side was a half-flight of stairs leading down into the children's section. We were all seated in a half circle around a tiny woman named Miss Mole (or so it sounded to me) who read us a story book. The book was about a little boy who ate so much, he turned into a balloon and floated away. This concept was confusing and a little frightening but I was enthralled--there were lots and lots of other books in the library with other stories. We were each issued our very own library card so we could come back and check out books again.

The prestige of being the holder of a library card was pretty heady stuff.  I was hooked!

The adult section was up the outside flight of stairs and we were not allowed to check books out of the adult section until we turned thirteen. It therefore became a "rite of passage" to ascend the steps and be issued an adult library card.

Oh the wonderful things that were to be found in the upstairs library! There were books on archaeology and foreign countries, murder mysteries and science fiction, biographies and even humor! I loved reading so much, I would smuggle books to my upstairs bedroom and read far into the night. 

Of course, that old library no longer exists. It was built in an era when nobody gave a thought to providing access to the elderly or handicapped. It also became far too small for a growing population and too expensive to maintain. I'm sure that was the fate of many Carnegie libraries around the country.

But how wonderful that we had those treasures while we did!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Happy Mother's Day to all species!

                           I hope these give you a smile

  You have to look closely to see the baby snuggled between the parents.