Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween is a done deal

We never get any Trick or Treaters in our building. I don't even bother to buy candy anymore (except for myself--I love candy corn!)

The place where I live is on a cul-de-sac that ends at a steep slope covered by trees. You can't see the building from the corner because of the dark wooded lot next door. To a kid, I suppose it would look pretty spooky. Having seen a lot of spooky movies, I can understand that feeling.

Have a nice Halloween and remember to Fall Back your clocks tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Drunken Punkins

My cousin emailed this to me.
It's topical, if not funny.

There's so little time left to
display Jack-o-lanterns.

(FYI I don't drink.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bragging up my granddaughter

This is my lovely granddaughter, a very active young woman and mother of my three great-granddaughters. She graciously shares the girls with me and they spend a week here in the Cities with me every summer. It's great fun.

It makes me feel sad and a little guilty that I wasn't able to spend time with her when she was little. I was working my way through college 200 miles away at the time. I was broke and didn't even have a phone for a year. It was during that period that I resorted to using the Food Shelf. I remember getting large blocks of free commodity cheese and jugs of honey. Being so far away, I couldn't babysit her or give her much of anything.

I am so proud of the fine person she grew up to be. She has raised her girls to be polite yet warm, loving and delightful. So, I now buy gifts and spend time with her children, feeling a little wistful over those lost years when I couldn't do the same for her.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I don't know the story behind this picture, but I find it just too adorable.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bringing in the Sheaves

Another Fall picture that brings back memories. Around 1954, I belonged to a Lutheran Church youth group. A member of the congregation offered to let us pick up the corn that had been missed by the cornpickers. He would then sell it and the money would be donated to missions.

And, so it was that the bunch of us were out in the cornfield on a frosty Saturday morning walking down the tangled, brown rows of harvested corn. I was surprised that there were lots of golden corncobs lying everywhere. The farmer pulled a farm wagon along beside us so all we had to do was toss it in. By noon, the wagon was filled.

At the edge of the field, some of the Moms had set up a folding table and served up hot chocolate and donuts. Then we got a ride back into town to the church. I only went gleaning that one time, but I'm so glad I got participate in this ancient tradition.

I don't know if farming methods today prevent such wastage, but there must be tons of food that escapes harvesting and rots in the field. I realize now that gleaning is a very noble environmental enterprise.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Having a Halloween Party? You simply MUST serve Kitty Litter Cake!

OK, I know the idea seems outrageous, but I found the recipe in the paper several years ago and passed it around at work. Everybody got a big bang out of it. So, at the risk of offending someone, here is the recipe:


1 Box spice cake mix
1 Box white cake mix
2 small pkg instant vanilla pudding
1 12-oz pkg vanilla wafer cookies, crushed
6 to 10 regular-size Tootsie Rolls
Powdered sugar
Green food coloring
Prepare 2 cakes and pudding according to package directions. When cooled, crumble cakes into a brand new kitty litter pan. Then add the pudding and mix. Take 1 cup of the cookie crumbs and add a few drops of green food coloring and set aside. Mix the remaining cookie crumbs into the pan. Next, soften the Tootsie Rolls in the microwave for 10 seconds and shape to resemble droppings. Arrange them on top of the litter pan and sprinkle with the green cookie crumbs. Then sprinkle on a little powdered sugar. Serve with a brand new pooper scooper.
Serves 20 to 24.

(I've never made this myself, but with all that good stuff in it, how could it be bad!)

Friday, October 23, 2009

About having gray hair

This happy bunch appear to be enjoying a cruise on the Thames (note London Bridge in background). They are all having a good time in spite of being old. This might be a shock to many younger folks.

The only things I really don't like about being older are less stamina, achy parts and gray hair. Of course, the only thing I have the power to change is the color of my hair. I stopped coloring my hair a few years ago after having used tints and dyes since my 20's.

I was blond as a child, but after my kids were born, my hair darkened to "dishwater blond". I felt like it wasn't really me--it seemed like I was actually deceiving people by not being blond. So I went through the bi-monthly ritual of coloring my hair. After forty-plus years, I really got burnt-out and let it go gray.

But I'm still not sure about it. Every once in a while, I still get a notion to color my hair again. (Maybe an outrageous color, even.) The funny thing about it is about that time, someone will compliment me on my hair color. This always astonishes me--it's only run-of-the mill gray (or mostly white) hair!

Nevertheless, this weakens my resolve and I decide not to go to the bother. So I keep carrying around this head of colorless hair. I'm not crazy about it but I guess it suits me.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Another fall season

It's not only Harvest season and Leaf-raking season, it's also deer hunting season. I love this picture of contentment. Much as I hate the idea of deer being slaughtered, there are an awful lot of deer around. We sometimes have them wandering around the place and enjoy watching them.
But, sooner or later, somebody's going to lower the boom. When they do, I don't want to know about it!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

No chip off the old block!

This is my lovely, talented granddaughter playing basketball. She got a scholarship to play for St Catherine's this year where she's in the pre-pharmacy program. I find it truly amazing that she is descended from short, chunky me.

I was never athletic but didn't find out why until I was 50. After suffering for ages with hip pain, I was finally diagnosed with hip dysplasia--a congenital deformity. The doctor said I'd need a hip replacement but I should try to wait until I was 60 because the replacements only last ten years. I hobbled around in pain until I was 56 when the orthopedic surgeon said it couldn't wait any longer. The surgery worked great and I had no more pain in that hip. However, after all the years of favoring the "bad" hip, I had worn out the "good" hip. So, two years later, I had the other hip replacement done (twice, but that's another story).

It has now been 13 years since the first hip was done and 11 years for the other. I trying to get as much milage out them as I can. I'm still not athletic after all these years, of course, but I stay on the go.

Anybody know of others with longer-lasting hip replacements?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Granny profiling

Dag-nab it! I do so! (Hmmph, snotty kids.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Haying season

Back in 1948, I spent some time with my cousin on the farm in western Minnesota. It was haying time and her dad and older brother were busy in the field (although they had a tractor instead of oxen).

Obert and Virgil were working in a field not very far away from the house so my Aunt Gusta had us two girls take lunch out to them. My cousin had a darling new puppy that she had named Bitsy. Bitsy followed us out into the field, but apparently didn't follow us back.

Later, when the guys came in from the field, Virgil told us that Bitsy was run over by the haywagon and badly hurt so he had to kill the puppy with a pitchfork. My nine-year-old cousin shed a few tears at the time. But, it seems that I was more bothered about it than she was.

At our family reunion in August, I mentioned the incident to her. She didn't remember Bitsy. Even though I was only eight, the memory has stayed with me all these years.

I wonder if that's because kids raised on a farm see animals from a different perspective. The cousins had cats, but they were "barn cats" and not allowed in the house. They had batches of kittens up in the hay mow and never cared if they survived. The cats that showed up at milking time were given milk in a big dirty pan but otherwise had to fend for themselves.

I remember every pet we've had since childhood. I guess animals played a bigger part in my life than they did in my cousin's. She now lives in a condo and has no pets, while I live in a condo and have my four kitties. I feel kinda sorry for her.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My 200th Post & 1st Anniversary!

I'm humbly basking in this minor accomplishment today.
Have a lovely, peaceful Sunday, everyone.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bowling ball ladybugs

I got this picture off the Birds and Blooms website. These darling ladybugs are just old painted bowling balls. The directions are shown on their webpage online.

It seems like these lawn decorations would last for many years, unlike the plastic stuff you find almost everywhere.

(Of course, if you've been tortured by the nasty, biting Asian Beetles that look like ladybugs, you probably wouldn't look on them very fondly.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Here we are on the Titanic

This is me (spoiling the picture) with my friend, my grandson and my daughter. The exhibit was much more impressive than I imagined, with reproductions of the staterooms and steerage compartments. It also created the mood of the night the ship went down. I would recommend it to anyone.

The picture was taken at the beginning of the exhibit and at the exit you could purchase a copy of your group in front of the grand staircase on the Titanic or in front of the ship.

This is the one my daughter chose to buy. I never would have bought a picture with me looking so awful!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Museums are to enjoy

I was thinking that it's a shame I only get around to patronizing the local museums when someone else wants to go. The Twin Cities have an amazing number of good museums, but I haven't even been in some of them.

The strange thing is that when I travel, I always go to the museums in the places I visit. It's like the frosting on the cake.

The Minneapolis Institute of Art will be hosting a showing of Treasures from the Louvre. I hope somebody will want me to go with them.

(This posting every day is straining my brain! Only three more days to go.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Today is Hump Day

Actually, when you're retired, Hump Day no longer has any meaning. The 5-day uphill grind doesn't apply because your schedule is no longer regimented by an outside source (in most circumstances). Some weeks you are busy and some weeks not--and you can eagerly anticipate both.

The rest of this week is going to be busy. It's MEA (Minnesota Education Association) when all the teachers in the state have their annual convention. This means Thursday and Friday off for the kids. My daughter is coming from out-of-town to go to the Titanic Exhibit at the Science Museum and my granddaughter wants me to go to the History Museum with her to work on a paper about women in the state 100 years ago. We will be on the go!

Next week, there's not much of anything going on, so I can relax.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pumpkin Followup

Wow, who knew that pumpkins were such a hot topic! I recently blogged about the shortage of canned pumpkin this year and got the most comments ever. This was due in large part to a plug from the most esteemed Olde Dame Penniwig. She is the Queen of free graphics, bloggie advice and a wonderful friend to her followers.

There are so many fascinating friends to be found by blogging--and who ever has enough friends? There was an interview on the Today Show this morning with Florence Henderson about the number of older folks going online nowadays (that's such a quaint old word). Only about a third of us actually blog, however. That makes us kinda special--techie even.

Anyway, I will be out shopping today in my quest for canned pumpkin. Wish me luck!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Nostalgic Stamp Collectors

I apologize for the lousy illustration but I haven't found a better one. It's a new offering at the Post Office featuring stamps recognizing the TV shows of the 50's and 60's.

There's Milton Berle, Lucy & Ethel, Red Skelton, Howdy Doody, Jack Webb, Lassie, Hopalong Cassidy, Groucho Marx, Dinah Shore, Ed Sullivan, Kukla-Fran & Ollie, Phil Silvers, Lone Ranger, Perry Mason, Alfred Hitchcock, Burns & Allen, Ozzie & Harriet, Steve Allen (Tonight Show), Rod Serling (Twilight Zone) and Jackie Gleason.

I remember every one of those shows. I guess that makes me a real oldtimer!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pumpkin emergency!

Oh no...The pumpkins are in short supply! According to the news, this year's crop did quite poorly and the pumpkins canned for 2008 are almost gone. Whatever are we to do? We must have our pumpkin pie with a blob of Cool Whip!

My sister said she had looked for canned pumpkin at a large grocery store in Madison WI and the shelves were bare. She managed to find a single can at another store. This is scary stuff.

In addition to pumpkin pie, we also adore pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting. I am betting that we will soon be getting recipes on TV and in the papers for sweet potato pie or substituting squash in pumpkin recipes.

Believe me, I'm holding my breath on this one.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Autumn: 9/28/09 to 10/10/09

Weather report for Minnesota:
It snowed last night. It's very cold and blustery today, and the tomato plants and petunias are dead as doornails. This must be a record for a short autumn season--it's scarcely two weeks since fall fell with a thud!
Most of the leaves are still on the trees and they're still green. It doesn't look like there will be any glorious fall colors this year. The leaves don't seem to have the energy to burst forth into red, bronze, gold and orange. They just curl up and turn grayish green and float listlessly to earth. They are so desiccated they crumble when you step on them.
We had a lovely summer and I enjoyed it enormously. I guess it's now time to enjoy winter.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Sometimes, just for the heck of it, I click on "Next Blog" at the top of my blog page. It's really interesting to check out the variety of other blogs that are out there--at least to me.

Today, I found a blog called Hot Mormons with pictures of young people posing in swim suits.There's another by an ENT doctor who is taking a team to the Dominican Republic to treat kids with problems. Then I found one from Japan that I couldn't read, but it consisted of pictures of a pair of orange and white cats in casual poses. The ones of cats luxuriating in the sun made me smile. Many blogs seem to be for promoting art work or fashions, and some are family blogs strictly for the relatives.

I have been trying to blog every day until October 18th, Ms. Sparrow's 1 year anniversary and (hopefully) my 200th post. But, as I read somewhere, if you don't have anything interesting say, it's better not to post at all.

Anyway, I'm hanging in there for 9 more days and posting drivel (which I excel at) solely as a personal goal.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Granny's Brag Book

As a devoted granny, I'm compelled to show off pictures of my three great-granddaughters at every opportunity.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tater Tot Hotdish

Feast your eyes on the Queen of Minnesota
comfort foods:
the Tater Tot Hotdish!

This is the mainstay of church suppers, social events and potlucks.

We had been wanting make a tater tot hotdish for a while, but it's such a big recipe that we waited til we had more people around to eat it. (While it may be great stuff when it comes out of the oven, it's not that great when reheated.)

My granddaughter is now attending a university in St Paul and she's often "crashing" here instead of fighting freeway traffic. So last night, we invited the neighbors over for supper . When the five of us we sat down to eat, Pat, (who is a native Minnesotan and fifty years old ) informed us he had never eaten Tater Tot Hotdish before.

Incredible! Unbelievable! Well... We sat that guy down and served him up some hotdish, and boy-oh-boy, did he love it!

So, just in case any of you have been gastronomically deprived of this delightful repast, here is the recipe:


  1. Brown 2 lbs hamburger with 1 c chopped onions and drain.
  2. Add 2 cans undiluted cream soups (mushroom, chicken, celery)
  3. Mix in a 10-oz pkg frozen mixed vegetables
  4. Combine and spread in a 9 x 13 pan or large casserole
  5. Spread a 2-lb bag of Tator Tots over the top
  6. Bake uncovered at 375 for 1-1/2 to 2 hours until the Tater Tots are brown and crunchy on top.

You'll thank me later!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Things that make me smile

I find dogs dressed up for Halloween are adorable. I know that some folks think it's demeaning to the dog but this little fella doesn't seem to mind.

Last Halloween, my granddaughter invited me out to her neighborhood pet store where they were having a "cutest dog-costume" contest. She dressed her two Chihuahuas as a pirate and a vampire. Among the many competitors were a wooly little lamb and a bumblebee. The contest winner was a handsome Great Dane in a cowboy outfit.

When I googled "Halloween dog costumes", I discovered it is really big business! So, enjoy the fun while it lasts.
I personally have never had a Halloween costume. Although, once I wore a pair of Garfield Deely-Bobbers to a party. As I remarked at the time, "There really are so few functions where one can wear their Deely-Bobbers!"

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Pride of Minnesota

These are the celebrated Coen brothers from the Twin Cities suburb of St Louis Park MN. They have written, produced and directed a lot of really good movies. (One of my favorites is Fargo. Some folks thought it ridiculed the way Minnesotans talk and act, but the fact of the matter is--some of us do.) Their new movie, A Serious Man is being released this week.

Anyway, they also have done such other films as: Raising Arizona, Miller's Crossing, Burn After Reading, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou, and Intolerable Cruelty (among a bunch of others). The Walker Museum of Modern Art recently ran a retrospective of their films.

The suburb of St Louis Park also produced such other illustrious folks as Senator Al Franken (a former writer and performer on Saturday Night Live) and Thomas Friedman, columnist and Pulitzer Prize winning author.

Minnesota is justifiably proud of these native sons. But there is a dirty little secret behind the reason all these men came from one suburb--they are all Jewish. The "Minnesota Nice" Gentiles back in the 50's had restricted Jews from many suburbs. St Louis Park was not restricted, so the Jewish families settled there.

I have a friend by the name of Chaiya (Hiya) who grew up in St Louis Park. She said when she was born her parents also gave her the Gentile name of "Wendy" because so many people were prejudiced against Jews. All through her school years she went by Wendy, but after that, she embraced her Jewish name and has gone by Chaiya ever since.

There are a lot of good people in Minnesota. I hope that this lesson on bigotry has not been wasted on us. None of those suburbs that smugly discriminated against the Jews back in the 50's have anything to brag about today--either in producing successful progeny or in taking the high moral ground.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

More turkey talk

The turkeys were back again this morning. This time, they were taking turns roosting up in the crabapple tree and eating the tiny apples. As usual, they didn't stay very long. They seem to be restless birds, always on the move. The way that all fourteen stay together makes me think they're a single brood. Mama Turkey sent them off to live on their own but they stay together for safety.

I noticed that one bigger one has a little nubbin on top of his beak and a small red flap below it. He's most certainly a male and will grow the red wattle and majestic tail (see picture).

I don't know what dangers they will be facing, but I'm afraid most of them won't survive the winter. With so much competition for food, it's going to be tough. I'd be tempted to put out food for them but it would be expensive and my neighbors would be really angry.

Much as I'd like to, I can't mother everything. Sigh...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Posting on a rainy day

It has been cold and rainy for days. But, for the third day in a row, 14 wild turkeys have been patroling the grassy area behind my building looking for snacks.

The first day, the cats were afraid, the next day they were curious, and now they're downright bored.

Likewise, on the first day, we were all excited and called the neighbors and snapped pictures of the turkeys (none of which turned out). The second day, we watched them until they wandered off. The third day, I remarked in passing, "The turkeys are back again."

How quickly we become jaded by repetition!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Celebrating my existance

Sometimes something in your past comes along and startles you into a shocking realization.

Case in point: the Asian Flu epidemic of '57 - '58. It was a really bad one and I got sick in January of 1958. I wasn't the only one--50% of the kids in our local school came down with it. (We didn't have all the health warnings and Purell in those days.)

After I recovered, however, I continued to be sick every morning when I got up. I slowly realized that I was pregnant. A few months later, I had a miscarriage.

In yesterday's newspaper, I read an article about the increased threat the H1N1 virus poses to pregnant women. A high percentage of the fatalities so far have been pregnant women. At the very end of the article, it mentions that in the Asian Flu epidemic, 50% of pregnant women died from the disease.

This means I had a 50/50 chance of dying in 1958! Well, how about that!

It's crazy-making to contemplate that one might not be alive. But, if I weren't, a really great bunch of people wouldn't exist either. So today, I celebrate my four wonderful children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren! They are my proudest "achievement"!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Could we have a little more creativity please?

I became a big TV fan back in 1953 when my parents got our first set. I have watched TV ever since, eagerly anticipating the new shows debuting each year on the fall line-up.

Sadly, it's become apparent I've finally become jaded by so many formulaic TV shows. Why must they all be so much alike?

There is inevitably a hot-shot guy, a pretty blond woman, the newbie (either gender), the stern boss, the comic or generally annoying type, and the good buddy. Just add some ethnic variety to the mix and you have every TV cast of nearly every show.

I silently moan whenever the generic "hottie" shows up and pretends to be an actress. There are so many wonderful actresses out of work, yet the only new show that has managed to employ one is NCIS-LA. The delightful Linda Hunt has a regular role.

On the new show Mercy, Michelle Trachtenberg plays a pretty blond nurse with two sidekicks: a pretty, pouty young newbie and a pretty black hottie. The veteran actress Kate Mulgrew is relegated to playing her boozy mother.

Then there's Trauma, another perfect example... But I rant too much.

There's no longer any money in new ideas. The Networks are scared to death of creativity. The demographics (by which they make money on advertising) dictate that there must be hotties and hunks. So we suffer through yet another season of dreary offerings.