Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Suppertime, Westbrook MN--1950

Dad would come home from work for supper at 6:00. We always knew when it was 6:00 because the whistle on the town water tower would blow. It also blew at noon and for fires, but the supper whistle was the one that really mattered.
    (I was tickled to find the actual water tower on Google.)
Mom wanted to have supper on the table when Dad came in the door, so the sibling responsible for setting it would have to have everything ready. Mom would be at the stove frying supper--and it was always fried food--usually fried in Crisco or Spry shortening, bacon grease or lard (never oil). We would have boiled potatoes one night and fried potatoes the next night with fried meat--hamburger or pork chops, liver, sausage or ham steak.

Vegetables choices alternated between canned corn, green beans and pork and beans. I never tasted broccoli until I was an adult. The only salad we had was chopped iceberg lettuce with sliced bananas and a dressing consisting of Miracle Whip mixed with a little sugar and milk. We loved it.

On those occasions when we were treated to dessert, it was either canned fruit (called sauce) or cooked pudding with milk. During peach season, however, we had peaches and cream every night because it was my dad's favorite.
(Apparently nobody serves simple peaches and cream any more. I had a hard time finding an illustration!)

When supper was done, it was time to do dishes. One night it would be my two brothers and the next, my sister Karen and I. This would sometimes result in arguments over whose turn it was and who left the crusty pan soaking in the oven.

Years later when my own four kids would fight over doing the dishes, I posted this poem by the kitchen sink for them. (Of course, it didn't do much good.)

Thank God for dirty dishes, 
For they have a tale to tell.
While other folks go hungry,
We're eating very well.

With home and health and happiness,
We shouldn't want to fuss
For by this stack of evidence,
God's been very good to us.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Madison's Mustard Museum

I recently took a trip to Madison Wisconsin to visit my sister.  She took me to the Mustard Museum and it was a lively place. The photo was taken in the lower level.

We also visited the new HyVee store that had opened there. (She was not as enthusiastic about it as I am.) Later we went out to the zoo since it was a nice day. I was looking forward to seeing the chimpanzees that I remembered from a trip some fifteen years ago. They were no longer in the primate house so I asked a Docent why. She said that they only had two surviving chimps and they don't do well in small groups. For their own benefit, the two were sent to the Denver Zoo which has a larger population. I hope they're happy there.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween Story

Halloween Night  I was jolted awake by shrieking outside my second-floor bedroom window. My heart  pounded wildly as I peered at the alarm clock--3:25. Again there was the unearthly shrieking, sounding like nothing I’d ever heard before. I bounded out of bed and ran to the open window, shivering as I peered into the darkness.

The moonless night was illuminated by only the feeble glow from a streetlight down the block. When my eyes adjusted, I could see a shadowy creature moving by the woods bordering my yard. The hulking figure stopped near a tree twenty feet away. It seemed to be staring up at me with glowing eyes. Terrified, I backed away from the window and moved to the side. I peered cautiously from behind the curtain for movement. The creature was now near a tree where the light was better. I gasped when I saw its size--it looked like a Bigfoot!

OK, this can’t be real. I live on a suburban cul-de-sac near parkland, not the deep forest.  There is no way there would be a Bigfoot outside my window. And yet, there was something huge walking on two
legs through the trees. To my relief it seemed to be leaving.

Oh no! It’s leaving! I suddenly realized I needed to get a picture. I snatched my cellphone from the dresser and dashed back to the window to catch a shot before it was out of sight. I knew the flash might attract its attention but a photo would be priceless.

Back at the window, cellphone in hand, I desperately scanned the treeline for movement. There was total stillness. Still shaking from excitement, I sighed in disappointment.

I gazed out into the trees once more before giving up. Just then, an enormous, hairy hand slammed against the window screen in front of me. I screamed and fell back on the floor. The shrieking beast was standing directly under my window and had destroyed it. All thoughts of getting a photo were now gone as I struggled to my feet and groped for the bedroom door. Running into the hall, I could hear the window crashing as it was ripped from the house. I ran down the stairs, dialing 911.

“There’s something trying to get into my house!” I screamed at the operator. “Hurry, it’s trying to kill me!” The 911 operator kept asking me inane questions as I frantically ran from one window to another to see where it was now.

Suddenly, three black SUVs pulled up in front. Two men-in-black exited from each, two came to the door while the others scattered to the area around the house. “Who are you? Where are the cops?” I asked in confusion.

“We just want to ask you a few questions,” they said as they pushed past me into the house.

I told them what I’d seen but they impatiently brushed off my questions. Moments later, a saucer-shaped airship hovered over my backyard. I heard a burst of noise and activity, then a brilliant light beamed down for a few seconds, winked out and the ship disappeared.  

The men turned on their heels, saying “Well, ma’am, that should take care of it. Sorry for the inconvenience. And, just so you know, none of this ever happened—remember that—none of this ever happened!”  
Standing on my front steps watching as they all sped away, I lamely called, “Who the hell is gonna fix my window?”                                    

(I'm an assistant coordinator of the East St Paul Speculative Fiction Writer’s Group. I wrote this for the Halloween Flash Fiction challenge. I'm also a member of a Women's Writers Group. I have published a family cookbook and now rest on my laurels and only write for fun.)

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.