Thursday, December 29, 2011

Last chance to send your extra money...

I read once that a wily huckster placed an ad in the back of a magazine with the simple message, "Last chance to send $1 to ....". People actually mailed money to him!

I'm thinking that's the same psychology that's spurred all of the online solicitations I'm getting from various non-profits. Their reasoning seems to be that I have an excess of money to get rid of before the end of the year and they will help me by taking my money and thus provide a tax deduction. While I appreciate their kind consideration for my pending tax return, having excess cash is not a problem for me.

According to the TV news, there are two lottery winners in the country who have not claimed their huge prizes this year. The deadline is this week. The unclaimed prize money will go back into the lottery funds. If I won the lottery, I would probably have this turn of luck.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wheaties Cherry Winks

This is a Christmas cookie I remember from my childhood. My mom made them because my dad was nuts about cherries.

Wheaties Cherry Winks Cookies
2-1/4 c flour                1 t baking powder
3/4 c butter                 1/2 t soda
2 eggs                         1/2 t salt
1 c sugar                     1 t vanilla
2 T milk                       1/3 c maraschino cherries   
1 c chopped nuts         Candied cherries
        1-1/2 c crushed Wheaties cereal   

Sift together dry ingredients and set aside. Cream butter and
sugar, then add eggs, milk and vanilla. Mix in the dry ingredients,
add nuts and chopped maraschino cherries. Shape into balls and
roll them in the crushed cereal. Drop on a greased cookie sheet
and press 1/4 of a candied cherry in the center. Bake 12 to 15
minutes at 350 degrees.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Rubbery bananas

I just love the fact that I can go on Google and look up anything! I never get over how awesome that is!

Several years ago, a friend gave me a lovely pottery banana bowl he had made. It has been regularly stocked with bananas ever since. Before that, I always just set my bananas on the counter next to the toaster.

A week ago, I got a bunch of six bananas and set them in the bowl to ripen. I ate three of them on successive mornings with peanut butter toast for breakfast. On the fourth day, while waiting for the toast to pop up, I grabbed a banana and peeled it. When I tried to break it in half, it bent like a rubber hose. "Huh," I said and grabbed another banana. Same thing, and again with the third one. I was not inclined to eat them and threw them out--although I must admit I momentarily considered making banana bread with them.

In all my life, I've never before found a rubbery banana so I was curious. I googled "rubbery banana" and learned that there are several scientific studies into what causes it, but nobody knows for sure. What I find most puzzling is that the first three bananas in the bunch were fine but the last three were not. Go figure!

Has anybody else had this happen?

Friday, December 16, 2011

By the wooded lot

Yesterday afternoon, a doe with two grown fawns walked right past my patio. I suspect it's the same doe that gave birth last spring in the wooded lot next door. The three spent a while leisurely browsing and then left. They didn't look thin so they must be doing OK so far this winter.

We always put out food for the squirrels and we have a troop of seven or eight who are johnny-on-the-spot whenever the food appears. It's amazing to watch them appear out of nowhere. There's also a family of crows that show up. That's during the day; at night we are getting a different bunch. There are two foxes who have been coming to chow down on the food left over. In addition, we still see occasional cats coming around as well.  (I'm pretty sure I saw a coyote last week, too.)

We frequent a "used bread store" over on Silver Lake Road where they sell big bags of stale bread for animals at bargain prices. We chop it up and enrich it with leftover cooking grease, popcorn, peanut butter and whatever scraps we have around.Whatever one batch of noshers leaves, the others eat. It provides entertainment for the three kitties and me.

The last time we bought a bag of bread, the gal at the bread store said that some of the squirrel-feeders who come in to buy bread ask for whole wheat because their squirrels are getting too fat! It makes you wonder if the impulse to feed animals is an addiction! Hmmm...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The scent that keeps on hurting

I'm one of those people who can't stand fragrances or tobacco smoke. I didn't used to be this way. I'd burn scented candles, I was a good customer of the Avon lady and I was even a smoker at one time. Over the years, my olfactories became over-sensitive and and started rebelling.

I could no longer go near the perfume section of department stores. If someone was smoking near me--even when I couldn't smell it--my sinuses would "seize up" and a headache would burst forth. If I'm on an elevator and a heavily perfumed person gets in, I get sick to my stomach.

Recently I was invited to a friend's house. She loves to burn candles. I asked her not to burn any scented candles, but apparently all the scented-but-unlit-candles were giving off enough fragrance to start the process of giving me a case of sinusitis. I went home with a bad headache. My inflamed sinuses started draining and created an upset stomach with usual results. I've been sick and low on energy for over a week.

I still have a headache that won't go away by using a neti pot, sinus spray or pills. I hate that I can never go over to my friend's house again, but I would have rather had food poisoning--I would have recovered from that by now.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I finished the National Novel Writing Month!

For the past thirty days I was working on the novel I had begun years ago. I had created such a writer's block in my head that it had been languishing for the past several years. I took on the NaNoWriMo challenge of writing 50,000 words in a month just as a personal goal. It was with great fear and trepidation that I started. There were several concerns that had been holding me back for a long time--first was fear of failure, then there was the fear of finding my brain devoid of ideas, and then there was the fear of getting burned out.

What happened was amazing! As I got back into the world I created for my protagonist, she took me in a different direction. As I learned more about her, we started walking side-by-side on her journey and took it all the way to a conclusion. Of course, this is only a first draft and it still needs a lot of work but Halleluiah, I finished it!

This is a proud day for me.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What's up, Pussycat?

Last night, the temperature fell below freezing for the first time in my neighborhood. I could tell that right away when I got up because I haven't turned the heat on yet this fall. (I'm cheaping out.) I fed the cats--always the first priority of the day--and put on the coffee pot and went to get dressed.

After I finished my mug of coffee and the newspaper, I got up to let out the cats who were quietly waiting at the patio door. I was shocked to see a pretty Siamese cat sitting outside the door looking in. It moved on after a while and the cats went out to do a little exploring in the wooded lot next door.

Later in the morning, after the cats had come back in, a big gray cat showed up outside the patio door. This is highly unusual. What do they want? Why are they coming just when the temperature drops? What is the word on the street about our particular patio?

Up until three years ago, we had made a habit of feeding birds, squirrels, possums and sundry night-noshers that we never even saw.  Our patio was beehive of activity. This is how we came to acquire the lovely puffball, Gracie whom we so adore. (Seen in the window above.)

We paid a heavy fine to the condo association for these sins and haven't fed animals on our patio ever since. (We still put out lots of water.) However, the wooded lot is a different story. It's about 15 feet from the side of our unit and below a 3-foot retaining wall. It's wild (a doe had her fawn there this spring) and full of birds and squirrels. The cats can sit in my bedroom window in their heated bed and watch them during the winter.

Which brings me back to the visiting cats, what brings them to our patio? Do we give off some kind of vibe that lures them to us?

I certainly hope so.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Are you hungry for lemon bars?

This morning, I was reading my friend and fellow blogger, Pearl's blog ( and she mentioned Lemon Bars. I immediately had an intense yearning for a lemon bar. I haven't had one in years. I used to make them often but somehow forgot about how good they are. The mention of them set off a loud ping in my brain and now I have to make some!


2 c flour           1/2 c powdered sugar      1/2 c butter
Mix together and press firmly into 9 x 13 pan. Bake 20 minutes.

Combine in a bowl:
4 beaten eggs   1/3 c lemon juice              2 c sugar
1 T flour                       1 t baking powder
Mix together until frothy, pour over baked crust and return to oven for 25 minutes.
Cool and cut in squares. Sprinkle with powered sugar, if desired.

Friday, October 21, 2011

To make the change, just go to our Website and click on...


I got a notice in the mail from State Farm Insurance Company the other day. It stated that my automatically deducted premium would be increased 16 cents on the next EFT withdrawal from my bank. But then they added a $1.00 service charge for mailing me the notice!  REALLY!!

When I cooled down, I discovered there was a note on the statement that I could elect paperless billing for my account. Silly me--I assumed that is what I was doing when I set up the automatic billing.

 I dutifully followed the instructions and logged in at their website. The next step of the instructions was to click the "Turn off Paper Bills" link supposedly listed under insurance policies.

But, first I had to set up an online account with them. I entered all the required info including my oldest grandchild's middle name and the city where my mother was born. The system rejected the information! I started over and re-entered the info only to be rejected again.

So, I got on the phone and tried to call them.You know the go through a series of prompts and finally reach a person who immediately transfers you to Interminable Hold. Frustrated, I eventually hung up without ever learning why State Farm Insurance Company thought I was lying about my oldest granddaughter's middle name.

Long-story-short, after an hour of wading through countless screens and false starts, I finally found a screen that actually addressed my complaint. I first had to click on "Agree" to a long document regarding automatic billing, all of which pertained to my already-existing EFT deduction.

I then had my choice of three options, none of which was "Turn off Paper Bills".  I clicked all three (which seemed to be what they wanted) and hoped for the best.

According to the note on the paper statement, I will now have to go into their crazy-making website to learn if and when they make 16-cent adjustments to my premium deductions in the future.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Getting a little political

This is something that I re-posted on my Facebook page. So, here it is for my bloggie friends.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Is blogging therapeutic?

When I began my blog three years ago, it was like diving into the middle of a revolution. Even though I'd never been much of a letter-writer, I thought that blogging would give me a voice. Since I've always been the typical "Minnesota-Nice" type, I rarely ever would speak up with my true feelings, I needed to vent!

Being "nice" meant that I'd stand by, seemingly mild and pleasant, while someone was spouting the most inflammatory, despicable garbage. Of course, I would always beat myself up afterwards for being such a spineless wimp. And worse, I'd carry around a load of rage at the offender--but Lord knows, my demeanor was always mild and pleasant.

I'm now in my 70's and find that all the years of Minnesota Nice have added up to being a big nothing. As my car-buying experiences of the past year have shown, I am a spineless wimp. It's obviously stamped on my forehead--car dealers take one look at me and know they can walk all over me without fear of objection.

It seems that the only thing that blogging has taught me is that Minnesota Nice only leads to depression and self-loathing. I'm tired of sitting down to blog and not having anything positive to say, but when I vent my feelings, I feel guilty about it. I read other blogs full of insights, energy and peaceful pursuits and wonder what's wrong with me.

Maybe I'll have to ask one of those car dealers.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Did you ever feel this way?

I first saw this picture some years ago and it brought tears to my eyes. It still saddens me, not only because of the cruelty, but because I identify with the situation of being so helpless. I'm on a fixed income--apparently permanently fixed since there hasn't been a COLA raise for several years. Nevertheless, every single one of my bills has increased.

I keep trying to look at the bright side, but I can't find it.

Anybody know where it is?

..... Anybody?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I get a kick out of stuff like this...

I got a call from my oldest granddaughter yesterday. She wanted to know what kind of oil was used in an old-fashioned "rain lamp". She and her hubby had rescued my parent's old lamp from storage and cleaned it up. To everyone's surprise, it worked perfectly.

I asked her to post a picture on Facebook. So far, the posting has received eight comments from people who said their grandparents or parents had a lamp like that. Who'd have thought?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Getting busy

I had a miserable cough and cold for the past three weeks. I finally have my energy back and I've begun going through boxes of old folders on a "search and destroy mission". My desk is surrounded by a half-circle of brown paper grocery bags for purposes of recycling, shredding or tossing. I'm really enjoying it--not only because I feel productive, but because of the reminiscing and occasional insights into the person I used to be.

I've kept a folder for every creative writing class I ever took. They each contain the notes I took as well as the writing exercises.
*  From a class I took on novel writing from Judith Guest and Rebecca Hill, "You want to start and finish a novel while you're the same person". 
Wow, that is such great advice! Too bad I didn't keep it in mind. I began a post-apocalyptic novel back in 1996 about a St Paul woman trying to survive after a plague has nearly wiped out civilization. Over the years, as times have changed, and I have changed, the novel has become so different from my original concept that I feel like I've betrayed both my protagonist and myself.

Worst of all is the recent spate of books and movies that mirror my vision. Every time I read one of them and find one of my oh-so-creative ideas used, it's a kick in the stomach and another bruise to my confidence. I couldn't even finish Carla Buckley's The Things that Keep us Here. Next week, the movie Contagion (about a bird flu epidemic) will open in theaters. Well, at least it won't be as dark as The Road or Book of Eli.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Doe, fawn, fawn fawn

I've been enchanted by frequent sightings of deer and fawns this season but now I'm starting to worry. A doe and three fawns of different sizes were grazing in the neighbors garden at mid-morning.

This is worrisome because deer usually feed in the early morning or evening. Under normal circumstances, they avoid being out in the open--especially with young. The fact that they are often feeding in full view in broad daylight indicates that they are starving. In fact, the youngest fawn seemed quite thin.

There is a "green corridor" that crosses from St Paul up into neighboring Roseville, Minnesota. There are woodsy trails, lakes, parks and a dog park along the route. As a result, there's considerable wildlife in the areas surrounding it. I truly love being so close to it all.

Sadly, it seems inevitable that the DNR will be "culling" the urban deer herds this fall. It seems such an ugly fate for the dainty, lovely animals. The numbers have exceeding the capacity of the area to support them and they will starve.

The upside is that the venison will be provided to charities and food shelves. The hungry deer will then be feeding hungry people--and that is good.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Another year older and a little bit wiser

It's a little over a year ago that I crashed my car into another poor soul who had stopped to make a left turn. Both cars were totalled. I took the check and bought a nearly identical car that was five years newer from a used car lot. Thus began my long car repair history, much of it spent at Rosedale Chev. I don't even want to know how much money was wasted on keeping that used car running.

So it was that I had yet another appointment to bring it in for service on my birthday last Monday. (I spent $400 on brake work the week before but the check-engine light was on and it was shaking when in reverse.) The verdict was another $500 repair plus confirmation the transmission was on its last legs (which we already knew). It was obviously time to "pull the plug" on the car.

I had been laboring under the impression that if I treated the car well and helped it get over its past abuse and neglect, I would be rewarded with a dependable, well-behaved vehicle. This was childishly anthropomorphic of me, I know. It sorta falls into line with "putting it out to the universe" type thinking--that never works for me either.
Old Jewish saying, 
"Do you know how to make God laugh? 
Tell Him your plans!"

Upon reaching this dreaded decision, I was in such despair I asked Chad, the repair-shop supervisor if they had a "crying room". However, upbeat as ever, he said they could set me up with a leased car and turned me over a salesman to get the information. Long story short, I wound up buying a new car. It took half of my savings account and I'll be making car payments for the rest of my life, but I will have reliable transportation.

I'm telling myself that I did my bit for our economy. I just wish I could feel better about it.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The deer abides

I had seen the doe in the wooded lot several times since Memorial Day weekend, but had not seen the fawn. I worried that the fawn might have died or been abandoned. Then, yesterday morning, I sat on my patio watching my herd of three kitties when the lady whose lot backs up on the wooded lot jumped up the retaining wall. She advanced toward me holding her camera and smiling. She came to show me pictures she had taken the previous evening of the doe and her healthy fawn browsing in her garden.

This pretty young neighbor is an Hispanic immigrant but speaks pretty good English. She's an avid gardener and has lots of flower beds, a strawberry patch and various vegetables planted all over.  She laughed as she told me that she had counted 14 roses ready to bloom on her bushes only to find them all eaten the following morning. A tomato plant was denuded and other plants were picked over. Yet, the joy of having these animals so close was so much fun that she didn't mind. She was posting the pictures on her Facebook page for all her friends and relatives. (However, she did talk about buying some fox urine concentrate to spray around the veggies.)

This sweet gal throws stale bread into the woods for the birds and squirrels (as I do) and laughs off the garbage pail raids of racoons, squirrels and crows. She was amazed at the big hole gnawed in the lid of the garbage pail, but didn't complain.

She is my kind of neighbor and I treasure her dearly.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

First day of summer

A lot of people have called our cool, rainy season this year an English spring. The result is the vegetation in the wooded lot next door is as lush and green as it's ever been. I've mentioned before that the lot is only 15 feet from my bedroom window and is separated by a retaining wall that drops down 4 feet into the woods.

A month ago, I was leaning on my elbows on the table where the cats sit to look out at the birds and squirrels. I do this often for a "pick-me-up". I saw a flash of white behind some tall shrubs surrounding the big black walnut tree. I thought it might be the local white squirrel that I hadn't seen for a while. I kept watch for a while as it moved erratically.  I soon realized why--the white object was attached to a white-tail deer!

The pretty young doe gradually approached the retaining wall and munched away on the weeds and leaves in front of me. She seemed to be aware of me but continued eating, no more distressed than if I were a picture on TV. She eventually moved off to a dark, far corner of the lot where I couldn't see her.

The next morning, I was sitting on my tiny patio with my three cats who were contentedly munching grass. In the stillness of the moment, the doe came slowly walking across the lawn. She stopped about 20 feet away and stared at us. Her white tail flicked nervously but she remained still. Neither the cats nor I made a move. We were a little tableau of watchers.

Then Sunny decided he had to check out that big creature. He very slowly advanced toward the doe and actually touched noses with her.(How I wish I had a picture!)  His curiosity satisfied, he came back to the patio. The deer remained unfazed and after determining there was no threat from us, daintily jumped down into the wooded lot and went back to her secluded corner.

The next morning, I was eagerly keeping watch for any sign of her when I spotted the fawn. It was standing on the back edge of the lot all bandy-legged and tiny. What a thrilling moment it was!  The doe's behavior made sense now. Nevertheless, she must have felt we were too close to the fawn and they moved on that night.

We now have a tom turkey strutting around--looking for a harem, no doubt. He will walk past my window going "gobble-gobble" sounding exactly like someone mimicking a turkey.

I absolutely love where I live! I'm surrounded by trees and wildlife on all sides, yet I live only twelve minutes from the State Capital in downtown St Paul.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Maybe this will work

After getting a different computer and other technical changes I couldn't begin to understand, I believe I may finally gotten into my blog. Since I don't even know if this will actually post, I'm not going to say much except that I'm doing OK. It really warmed my heart to see all the comments from my bloggie friends while I've been, well--should I say moping?

If this works I'll try to start following your blogs again. I've missed you all!