Sunday, October 05, 2008

Eye catching recipes

I stopped at the Amish bakery on my way home last week. They make up for the lack of using modern technology by creating “innovative and eye catching” recipes. I tried to buy the cookbook, but they were sold out.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Goodbye, Aaron

I am very sad today because I learned of the death of a friend. Aaron Foster was one of the faces behind the meat counter at the Fareway grocery store where I have shopped sinced it first opened. We never exchanged last names, I knew his because it was written on his hat in his own handwriting. He was polite and funny and one of the best examples of good customer service I have ever had the pleasure to see. He was the guy who first told me about "Cushion meat" - a cut of pork that I use each year for the Beers 'n Ears menu. It's better than pork loin for making pulled pork because it is more moist.

When I visited the meat counter, it wasn't just a business visit - it was a social call. We would chat about Bacon Wrapped Asparagus in May, Beers 'n Ears in July and then just the weather for the rest of the year. He was of an age where he could have been my son, or son-in-law, because if he hadn't been married, I would have given him permission to marry any of my daughters.

My heartfelt sympathies go out to his parents and siblings, his wife and daughters and to all of the folks who shopped at or worked with Aaron at the Fareway store. He will most definitely be missed by all of us.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Workout maniacs

Here we are working our core group. Tonight was three sets of 15. Roll the ball together back and forth equals one rep. I'm certain that there is a webcam somewhere and our workout is being broadcast into cyberspace for someone's viewing pleasure. If you zoom in closely, you can see that this exercise evidently requires the use of one's tongue.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Exercise - where's the record player???

In the 60's, there was a national fitness program where we had a theme song of "Chicken Fat" that helped us exercise our way to fitness. It consisted of touching our toes, pushups, situps, jumping jacks, marching in place, etc. We performed this "Chicken Fat" fitness ritual nearly every morning during the country school years. I don't remember when it started, or when we stopped doing it, so I can't swear to time frames. There was not one exercise machine that we used for this ritual other than the "record player".

In today's world at the local YMCA, there are specific exercise machines that concentrate on specific muscle groups in your body. They are very expensive and I'm sure quite effective. I have given them nicknames. The one pictured above is named the "Childbirth Machine". It concentrates on the lower gluts and legs - it causes pain in the sitting region. When I got in it the first time and the PT told me to "Push", I thought, "Push what? What is he expecting to come out?" Then I realized that I was to push my entire body up and away from my feet - a much different pushing skill than I used during the childbirth years when people told me to "push".

There is no record player at the Y. Here is a link to the "Chicken Fat" MP3 in case you want to put it on your iPod.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I heart IKEA

I've always been very proud of my Danish Heritage. Both of my parents and all their parents and all of the parents before them that I know of are of Danish descent. I also claim all of Scandinavia as my homeland since Denmark at one time ruled all of it. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.) I am a "Black Dane" - not your typical tall lanky blonde Danish babe. Our side of the family was from the South where they were routinely "invaded" by the dark skinned people from Spain and regions beyond. Hence the brown hair and dark brown eyes.
I know enough Danish to be able to tell when people are talking about me, but not enough to be insulting when I get really mad. The worst Danish phrase I know is skidder ekke (sp). Which means "shit ass". I learned that when I was nine years old when my 18 year old "kissing cousin" (son of my mother's cousin) was working on his broken motorcycle. He swore he said some innocent phrase and I misheard and repeated it incorrectly ....... sure Paul.
There are a few things that Danes do that they learned from other countries. And their neighbors, such as the Swedes, encourage this behavior. Like open prostitution on Stroget (popular street in Copenhagen's retail district). The "girls" sit naked in picture windows above the 1st floor retail establishments and "offer" their services. Ick. This has lead the general Danish population to be very open about their sexuality while my family and I are all sort of shy.
Companies who want to attract Danish customers to their websites have to use different advertising techniques to make the Danes feel at home. This is evidenced by contrasting the United States website for IKEA and the Danish IKEA homepage The headline states that 31% of Danes prepare meals in their underwear. If you click on that headline, you'll hear (if you can hear in Danish) that people also blow up food in the kitchen, always cook in their underwear and 16% have sex in the kitchen. There's also a survey to see which category you fit in. Give it a try, Roxie, and let me know what the other two categories are - I can't understand it. There's also a link to the Gallup Internationale survey of the Danes sex lives in the kitchen. I'll have to get Grandma Anne to translate this page.

Thanks Whitney for finding inspiring this topic when you stumbled on this site. (What the hell were you looking for?)

*****late note*****

For those of you who missed it, IKEA has changed the Danish website. No more men in bras and garter belts. You can still get to the survey and if you can read Danish, you are still in luck.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Give that chicken fat back to the chicken....

I'm on a mission. It's time to get fit. Well, it is long past time, but there's no time like the present, right?
So, I joined the Y. That is the Norm Waitt, Sr. Siouxland Y in South Sioux City, NE. My former boss, Norm Jr., gave a small pile of money to the Y to get it built and some to keep it running until it is on its feet. Very generous of him. It's a beautiful building and a wonderful addition to the community.
I'm really enjoying the workouts. I've been spending time at the pool as well as on the machines and am seeing some progress. All of my fat is sore. Must be a good sign. My favorite workout is the water aerobics class that is held at 6 AM MWF. It's quite early in the morning, but once you are up, what does it matter? It does make for a long day after a hard workout.
Stay tuned for progress reports.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Best Valentine ever

Have you ever seen a Valentine made with a snowblower?

I'll be back

Niagara Falls, NY is definitely a place to put on you "Places to see before you die" list. It was gorgeous - even though the weather probably put a damper on how much I could see. I visited this place on February 7, 2008 at about 5:30 PM. My pictures didn't turn out so well, so I borrowed some from NiagaraFallslive website. Click on the photo for the panoramic view. The land mass between the two falls is called Goat Island. This is a great place to be if you want to get close. I would recommend going to the Canadian side if you really want to get a good view of the Falls. (don't forget your passport).
I'm going back. I hope you get a chance to see it too

Monday, February 04, 2008

Low bridge, everybody down......

While driving on the first leg of my cemetery road show through NY, I had the good fortune to drive through several small quaint villages with very familiar names from literature of my childhood. I drove through Tarrytown ("Frog and Toad"), Sleepy Hollow ("The Legend of"..... starring Ichabod Crane), and Wappinger Falls (what is this from?????).
I drove along the Hudson River and saw sights that must be much more beautiful in the spring. And the hillsides whose trees are now barren of their once beautiful fall foliage. I saw the Vanderbilt Mansion and the home of FDR. I saw the Rip Van Winkle bridge. I drove through Scarborough and West Point. I drove through Peekskill, Pigskill, Catskill and Fishkill, the "'ville's" and the Manors and the "somethings-on-the-Hudson". It made me want to spew poetry with city names in the verse.
There are also some wide open spaces in New York where I thought there were only apartment houses and train stations. I saw several abandoned mines, and textile plants and lots of hills where dead bodies could hide for decades without notice. I wondered if the Red Coats had marched through these hills and if Deliverance could have been filmed in this area.
I saw the signs pointing to "Erie Lock 2, 3, and 4" and then had to sing the song for the next 15 minutes.

"Low bridge, everybody down,
Low bridge for we're coming to a town,
And you'll always know your neighbor,
you'll always know your pal
If you've ever navigated on the Erie Canal."

I'm in love with New York as long as I don't think about airports and luggage. I want to come back here on a road trip when I retire...... maybe sooner.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

I think I can, I think I can ...... just look straight ahead

New York is surprisingly mountainous. I missed that part of US Geography - must have been when I had the measles and the mumps in the third grade.
When I think of George Washington crossing the Delaware River, I think of a small boat pushing off from the shore and landing on the shore on the other side. Of course, it was cold in the river and George had to stand up in the boat.
I never expected that the Hudson River would have freaking steep mountains and bridges that are 25 stories tall. (That's right - 250 feet clearance above the water). I wasn't worried about the bridge to get over to Kingston because I didn't know this amazing little fact - The Tappan Zee bridge in to White Plains is only about 10 feet above the water.
Then I got on the road approaching the bridge and realized that the bridge went from the top of one mountain to the top of the other. Not really, but sort of. (Oh shit, oh shit......can't turn around now.)
The only way I survived this 7,793 foot trip was by not looking either up or down river but by looking straight ahead as I drove over the bridge. This was scary. I wasn't standing up like George, but I made it across.
Thanks Julie Sitney for the photo you placed on the web.

Overheard in Elmsford

At the Sunoco Station
Driver of bird shit covered 328i BMW a.k.a. Driver: I'm going to Norwalk. Am I getting closer?
Me: Depends on where you came from.
Driver: My Google says I need to be on 287E. Is that this way?
Me: Yep. Just about 1 1/2 miles south of here.
Driver: South?
Me: Do you want to see the map?
Driver: No. I wouldn't know how to work it. I'll follow you.

Good thing I was going towards 287E.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Escape from Storm King Mountain

Storm King Mountain is across the Hudson River. You can see "Old Hwy 218" hanging along the edge of the mountain. I barely made it out alive.
On my second trip back from the SWF airport after picking up my luggage (see previous post) I followed the Google directions precisely and tried to enter the Washington gate for West Point. No dice - DOD decal only (Dept of Defense). So they turned me around except I turned one turn too soon and ended up driving north along old HWY 218. This road takes you on a scenic view of the Hudson River along the side of Storm King Mountain. And I do mean the "side". The east side of the road (yep - the side I was driving on) dropped straight down to the water - like a cliff - a real drop off. This is no place to take a person who suffers from motion sickness. I am told that this windy stretch of road is the most beautiful view of the Hudson and is often painted and photographed by artists in the area. To me, it was the most challenging road I have driven without vomiting. If it had been daylight, I would not have been able to drive it. The dropoff on my right side would have made me want to get out of the car and lay down on the ground so I wouldn't fall off. I nearly barfed and I WAS DRIVING. Note to self: stay away from cliff roads - like Old Hwy 218 along the Hudson River, and probably Hwy 101 in California.

This will not ruin my trip

Plane trips should be uneventful and unremarkable. Unfortunately this one has not met that criteria. Well actually, the trip wasn't that bad. I left Omaha one hour late due to an unknown and unexplained reason. I arrived in DTW 4 minutes before the scheduled departure time to find out that they had held the plane for two of us who were coming in from Omaha. I believe the total number of passengers on the plane was 8, including us two latecomers.
When we arrived in SWF (Newburg Stewart-Poughkeepsie, NY) there were 3 passengers whose luggage didn't make the trip from DTW. There was an announcement that ALL the luggage on our flight had been unloaded. When we talked to the agent in the baggage claim area, we were told to wait another 10 minutes. I explained that there had been an announcement that "all of the luggage from our flight had been unloaded" and then we were told to go to the NWA desk. This was not a surprise to me - even though the gates at DTW were in close proximity, I fully expected that my luggage could not possibly have gotten on the plane with me. So off we went to the NWA desk.
There were two agents there at that time checking in passengers for the next flight. One of the agents departed immediately when he heard that we had luggage claims. "I don't do luggage claims." We waited about 15 minutes for the other attendant at the NWA desk to finish checking in the passengers. Then he said he'd be back in a few minutes and then went down to the Delta desk and began checking in their passengers. 15 more minutes.
When we asked him if he was coming back to help us, he said he had to get someone else to take our claim. Another 5 minutes passed and Bill showed up. Bill is the guy who was unloading gate checked bags when we got off the plane 45 minutes earlier. As it turns out, Bill was unable to log into the Luggage system in order to file a claim and give us a reference number so he gave us a card with the 800 number on it for us to call. He explained that there was another flight in from DTW that night arriving at about 11. The independent countractor would probably pick up the bags and then deliver them within the four hour agreed upon time. Great, worked for me - I'd get the bags (one suitcase and a trace show display) in the middle of the night and be able to shower and get dressed for the morning meeting.
Well, at 6:00 there were still no bags. So I began to search the NWA website. First of all, you NEED the reference number that Bill didn't give us to access the online system. You also need it if you call the 800 number. After several attempts, I was able to get around this requirement and get to Customer Service whose hours are 6:30 CST - 11 PM CST. So I showered with the hotel shampoo and put on yesterday's clothes again. When I finally reached the CS dept, their system was unable to contact the new luggage website, so couldn't help me. This went on until about 10 AM EST when I finally reached a rep in "Sioux City IA" at the NWA call center located in the old Penney's building. Hallelujah! I knew I was in good hands - Kathy and her husband frequent the White Horse for Prime Rib on Friday evenings. She told me that my bags had gone to SWF last night but she couldn't see any claim or evidence that a delivery was pending.
6 hours and 15 calls later, I was startng to get info from the CS folks (not from Sioux City) that the bags had been expedited in DTW and would arrive TONIGHT on the 11 PM flight. On two individual calls, I was on hold for 6 and 10 minutes and got hung up on. OK, now I'm mad. So I call one more time and luckily get another gal from Sioux City. She finally put me in touch with the desk at SWF (I had been asking for this all day so I could go and pick up my bags myself). Tim, the supervisor who was gone yesterday, told me that yes my bags were there at the SWF airport and had been since last night. I arranged to pick them up since there had been no delivery claim filed yet with the Independent contractor who would take at least another 4 hours to deliver them to me. So I traveled back over the mountain to the airport and picked up my bags. I talked the kid ("I don't do luggage claims") and told him that I had been put out by NWA's new baggage system and that I had suffered in my business because of their ineptitude in interpreting the data that their system provided. He gave me a $25 discount on a flight, but I'm not done with Northwest yet.
Then on the way back home from the airport, I got lost. See future post for that story.
Things are going to get better - this will not ruin my trip. Now the storm that is in the Rockies - that could ruin my trip.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Aebleskiver - my Danish Tradition

When my parents house burned down in 1951 due to a chimney explosion, the only item saved was my Grandma Marie's Aebleskiver pan. That's because it was in my Grandma Helga's stove after a recent aebleskiver "fest". Making these delicious treats with my Mom, is one of my earliest memories of cooking. It was my job to shake the Aebleskiver in the sugar sack. Whitney and I made Danish Aebleskiver while she was home for the holiday break. She has her own pan now - a Christmas gift bought at Linen's 'n Things. It is marketed by "As Seen on TV" under the name of Pancake Puff pan. Call it whatever you want - it is the sure sign of a tradition in the making.

Ingredients and requirements

Cast Iron Aebleskiver pan
Danish apron
Brown paper sack
crochet hook
Sugar for the recipe and for shaking
Baking powder
Baking soda
lemon juice

BTW, I didn't know until I grew up that you could make such beautiful doilies, etc with the "Aebleskiver turner" (crochet hook)

Bad Signage #3 - A tribute to Johnny Cochran

This is not only an example of bad grammar, but also bad usage of an apostrophe - like it is missing one, er, two, I mean. I spotted this in West Point, NY at a charity clothing drop off point.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Bad signage #2 - Bad spelling, actually

Perhaps next week they will offer Hungarian Goolash or German Potatoe Salad.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Q: Is this Air Hoar or White Frost??

We had two days of Hoar Frost (or Hoarfrost) last week. This is an example of a specific type of hoarfrost known as "Air Hoar". Wikipedia says it happens when the air is moist and cold and the wind is weak. The trees in front of our house were white and fluffy with frost and the sky was such a clear blue - I had to take a photo.
The next day we had something called White Frost. It only formed on the south side of the trees. Who knew there were so many varieties of frost?
I bet they don't have anything this beautiful in Arizona in the winter. Yeah, yeah - I know - green golf courses in Arizona are quite beautiful when there is snow on the ground in South Dakota.

The best things in life are free...... really

Of all the gifts the family got for Christmas, the one that appeared to be the favorite was this one. An Empty box can provide hours of entertainment for kids. Next year, it is boxes for everyone.

Friday, December 28, 2007

2007 Holiday greeting

Christmas Makes me feel emotional. I love keeping track of old friends and our families through the Christmas cards, letters and greetings. I especially love the ones with the long "newsy" letters. For those of you who just sign you name to a card, I'm glad to hear from you too - it's always nice to know that you are still alive and married to each other. After the holiday season, I pack up all of the old cards into a one gallon ziploc bag and hold them for the next year. I usually re-read them just before the holidays to put me in the mood to write our annual Christmas letter. Last year in 2006, I didn't get around to that part and as a result, the 2006 Christmas letter didn't get out until St. Patrick's Day!

Our first Christmas letter was sent in 1979 prompted by the birth of our first child. They are a diary of sorts. By reading the letters, we can remember when we had surgeries, got a new dog, had the car wrecks, went on a big vacation, hair turned grey, when our address changed, etc. I can tell when I got my first computer, changed over to a PC, got the new printer, started printing photos, and so on. One year, I didn't write a letter. The next year Abby wrote it.

Somewhere along the way, I lost the entire paper file of all the Christmas letters, so I had to beg neighbors and relatives for their saved copies so that I could make an archive of the letters. Here are the links to the archives of the Christmas Letters.You may read them in case you missed any.
1979-85, 1986-90, 1991-94, 1995-2000, 2001-04, 2005-07

Our Christmas letters are sometimes like reading the social columns of the newspaper. It doesn't really tell what happened. The sad things don't usually make the letter - like one year where our little town had 12 funerals in about 6 months. And the Sweet Potato crop failure - curiously missing from the letter. Although those events are important and actually do happen, it is not something one wants to reminisce about. So if our letters sound too cheery, know that bad stuff happens to our family too.

Take care. If you haven't written a Christmas card to us yet, you'll still be on the list for two more years before you get purged. If you don't want to read the Christmas letter we send, just toss it and know that we love you anyway.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Buckle your seat belts and watch out for kooks on the road.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Toilet paper tail

I wasn't quite quick enough with the camera today. I saw something I had never seen before. I saw a man come out of the bathroom with toilet paper stuck to the bottom of his shoe. It wasn't too long of a tail, but it was remarkable, nonetheless. It was four squares long and had the ends twisted into a point. Just what would that have been used for - cleaning his ears?

"Shit Can" - but only some types are allowed

I wonder what the can for Horse and Mule shit looks like - much bigger perhaps? And why the exclusion?

This can was seen in New Orleans right next to the horseless carriage hitching post. I didn't have the guts to look inside to see what kind of "shit" was in it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Now I've got you guessing. Is this the combination to a secret padlock to a storage garage? a diary? my high school locker? Nope. It's something I'm very embarrassed to tell you.
It's the number of pairs of socks I have - by category.

Here's the summary:
36 pairs of trouser socks
22 pairs of work socks (wool, bulky)
10 pairs of holiday socks (pumpkins, santas, snowmen, snowflakes)
20 unmatched pairs of socks

I haven't even counted the white socks or nylons yet.
And this is after I threw 10 pairs in the garbage and donated 8 pairs to the Goodwill bag.

I bet my dad had 2 pairs of socks when he was growing up and Grandma probably made them.

Where did this obsession come from and how do I get rid of it?

You know what the bad thing is? I bet my kids each have more than I do. Time for confession girls....... and friends. Fess up.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Holiday knitting fever

I'm going to pledge to have many knitted items under the tree for Christmas. So far, I've completed a sweater and a dress and gave them both as early presents to Gabby and Colin so they can have their Christmas pictures taken in them. Next on the needles is a throw. Yet to start are many presents - nine more to go and only 8 weeks until Christmas. AAaaaaaccckkkkkkk! I'm going to have to hurry if I want to hold my pledge of no promise presents this year. (You know, the presents that you wrap up while they are still on the needles.)

Bad signage #1

It looks as though the Blue Big Box store no longer accepts film for developing. Has everyone gone digital?
I will call this bad signage#1 even though it is not the first bad sign I've seen - just the first I've blogged about. I'm sure there will be more. (Thanks, Doyle for spotting this.)


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"Plink" what a happy sound!

There is nothing quite like the sound of hearing the "plink" sound which signifies the successful sealing of a jar of canned garden produce. I bet there are people out there who have never heard that sound. I wish they could all experience it. Here is a picture of today's freshly canned batch of Lime Pickles. They are a beautiful color courtesy of the green food coloring that was added during the "soaking in the syrup" process.
I remember eating these pickles as a child. They have a really big crunch when you bite them. These were my favorite pickle on the traditional Thanksgiving pickle dish. They were accompanied by the Bread and Butter pickle and the paper thin sweet pickles, the Watermelon pickles, black olives, and of course the Dill pickles (which were the last pickles to be eaten from the tray). I'm not sure Scandinavians could grow dill until they immigrated to the US.
Now that I think of it, I didn't know you could buy pickles in the grocery store until I was about 15. Why would anybody do that when you can go down in the basement in the cellar and get all the pickles you'd want?
And, by the way, you can't buy Lime Pickles or those paper thin pickles in the store. I think I'll make some of those next.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Creative genius

This was posted on the door of a ladies restroom.
What do you suppose prompted the selection of this particular photo for the instructions? You might think I was visiting a flamenco ballroom, but it was in an Accordion Museum. This does not look like a polka costume, does it? Perhaps when the Flamenco dancers visit the museum, they are particularly neglectful of their bathroom etiquette.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


For the most part I ascribe to the saying of "what goes on the road stays on the road". But this time I have to tell. My room at the Holiday Inn last night was on the Atrium Floor. The hallway to the rooms has a view of the indoor pool and hot tub. It looked very inviting and I planned that after the conference events for the evening, I'd jump in the hot tub for a little relaxation. As I was hurrying to my room to don my suit, I looked to the hot tub to see who I might befriend. Well....... hmmm..... There in the hot tub was a pair of "Double Ds"... and they were floating, freely - "untethered". AND there were other people in the tub who didn't seem to mind - of course, they were all men. Now I know that I am in a very liberal state, but this was sort of a shock. I couldn't help but stop and stare. As the bubbles would swirl around the tub and the people moved, the Double Ds floated and kind of appeared to bob up and down in the water. I was reminded of bygone days of fishing with my dad. We would fasten red and white bobbers on the fishing line to alert us when we had a bite. After a few seconds, I decided that I couldn't probably go down to the tub after all. I actually tried to figure out how I could get back there with my camera and snap a shot without being noticed. I'm not sure how long I stood there on this walkway looking through the railing. A bare chest is one thing, but these were "remarkable" to say the least. The most remarkable thing about them was that they were on the body of a 300 pound bald man who had no teeth.

I must confess that I am not a svelte size 6 so I can empathize with folks who struggle maintaining a healthy weight. It's a challenge.

When I got to the room, I put on my gym shoes and headed for the nearest treadmill. It's amazing what can provide inspiration.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Finch Fever

I have decided that I really like the color yellow....especially on birds. These are the birds that gather outside my window on the newly installed bird feeder. The yellow birds are Gold Finches (I think). The red one standing in the tray is a House Finch. They eat thistle seed which my husband says will ultimately cause a problem because what they drop will germinate and grow. I don't care. I will kill lots of thistle plants if it means that I can watch these little fellows out of my window. I started to name them and then ran out of options. So far, I have "Goldie", "Lemon Head", "Butter Head", "Banana Sam", and "Caution". The one in the tray is "Red Rover". I can't tell any of them apart, so it really doesn't matter.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Appliance Withdrawal

"My name is Deb (Hi Deb) and I am an appliance addict."

In an effort to reduce electrical usage and because of a wretched excess of cooling power, we have decided to eliminate one appliance (perhaps two) in our home. As empty nesters, we do not have an immediate need for two full size refrigerator/freezers, one upright freezer, one college dorm sized refrigerator/freezer and one "pop machine". Now the question is which of these appliances will be the one(s) to go.

The primary refrigerator/freezer (a side-by-side model) is the appliance least likely to be selected as the one to be retired. It is the newest appliance we have and although the side-by-side format is very inconvenient (you can only efficiently store long skinny food like bacon, hot dogs and salmon fillets), it fits perfectly in that space in the kitchen and is the color to match all of the other kitchen appliances.

The "pop machine" was purchased as one of the great finds at a local farm sale/auction for $35 about 15 years ago. It is a Coke machine. For those of you from the South, I mean a genuine "Coke" (as in Coca-Cola) can vending machine. It is located in the garage and has been a great novelty for storing mass quantities of Miller Lite and Diet Coke. The coin mechanism has been rerouted and a push button switch installed which when pressed releases your selection of six types of beverage. (BTW, the Minute Maid selection is the one that dispenses the beer.) This unit is probably 35 years old and has a condenser with freon in it. It's known for delivering the coldest beverages in Union County. It even dispensed a piece of jewelry on our 25th wedding anniversary. It has sentimental value but it is probably the highest usage of electricity on the property. But it's really cool - who else do you know that has a real Coke machine in their garage? IMHO, it is a top contender for retirement.

The upright freezer was purchased from Sears in 1978 and delivered to our first home - the trailer house. It was the first major appliance purchase of our marriage right before the portable dishwasher. It lives in the "food room" in the basement. It is typically packed with so many frozen items, that you can't fit another item in it. This appliance stores mostly meat, ice cream and frozen canned orange juice and frozen margarita mix. There are also a few unlabeled disposable Ziploc containers which hold either Orange Sherbert or frozen chicken fat. The freezer pisses me off about once a year by creating so much frost that the door no longer will create a tight "seal" and it forces an emergency manual defrost procedure. This never happens on schedule - but always when I have the least time to do it. On occaision, it happens when I'm on the road and Doyle gets the job. A 30 year old freezer is probably not very efficient in using electricity and since I'm already mad at it for its recent behavior this week, it is the most probable candidate for retirement.

The secondary refrigerator/freezer was acquired in an appliance swap with our good friends Jerry and Carol. It is copper colored and has the freezer on the bottom. Its main function is to store excess vegetables during the summer harvest and frozen corn, tomatoes and stuffed green peppers. It's probably also 30 years old and while not very efficient, it also has value because we really need another refrigerator/freezer on many occasions because the big upright freezer is always full.

The dorm refrigerator was purchased when Roxie left for college in 1999. It has served Roxie, Lucas, and Whitney through their dormitory years. It is nice sized and fits well on top of the storage cabinets in the garage. It gets used to hold excess asparagus (in season) as well as the every other year surplus of apples we have when our trees over produce our demand. It would be a good solution to replace the pop machine since it could probably hold at least a two week supply of the beverages. But then we'd be just like every other family with a refrigerator in the garage. We would lose some of our "cool factor".

So, we are in the evaluation mode. We have decided to do an "eat down" of the upright freezer. We have pledged that we will not put one more item into the freezer, but will only remove food until we can unplug it for a trial run. Wish us luck - if you have any advice, please comment. This is going to be a tough couple of months. We'll take it one day at a time.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Not Going There

Monday, June 04, 2007

Confessions of an OCD "Sorter"

One of my good friends pointed out that I am an obsessive "sorter". We were eating lunch one day and I had a bag of baked chips. I tore open the bag and began eating my chips the way I always do. I sorted all of the whole chips in a pile separately from the broken chips and then began eating the broken chips from smallest to largest. When those were gone I then ate the chips that were whole.

I also sort my coins before I count to see how much money I have. I sort them by size rather than by value. I put them longways inbetween two fingers in a nice orderly row. Then I count.

I sort my ice cubes when I drink pop from a glass - smallest to largest. When I put books together on a shelf, they are sorted by size and not by author. Tallest on the left - always. When I staple papers together, they MUST BE STRAIGHT or the staple comes out and I do it over. Stamps must be perfectly aligned and equidistant on both sides from the corner of the envelope.

When I play cards, they must be sorted by suit and then by rank - highest to lowest - left to right.

It is very distressing for me to see a picture which is not level. I have no desire to visit the "Leaning Tower of Pisa" - it would make me sick to look at it.

When I walk, I find myself counting my steps without even knowing it.

Our kids were named in alphabetical order - Abby, Roxie and Whitney.

Are these really that odd? Am I the only one who sorts and aligns?

As least I don't alphabetically sort my cans of soup in the cupboard.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Season Opener proves fatal for deer

Well, the West River Deer Road Hunting Season is officially open. (This season is open in many states at this time of year, but I'm going to talk specifically about South Dakota guidelines.)

Hunting License. In South Dakota, you can get a learner's permit at age 14 and then an official hunting license once you reach the age of 16.

How often can you hunt? Every day. And there is no limit to the number of deer you can take each season.

Ammunition. The bigger the better and velocity is an important factor. As anyone who has watched the current CSI shows will know, the ammunition often becomes mutilated on impact, so a larger caliber will be more effective and will sustain less damage. A small caliber can definitely wound the prey, it sometimes will cause tremendous damage to the ammunition.

How will you know where to hunt? The government has placed signs along the road where good hunting is most likely. This type of hunting is most succesful just after sunset, but a chance sighting during daylight hours can also be accomplished. Hunters insurance is also important. Without it, you may have a disappointing and expensive experience.

Sometimes the other people in your hunting party show great surprise at your hunting prowess and exclaim that you could be a successful hunter while you are sleeping. I'm sure that this is just a surprise reaction and could be based mostly on jealousy.

This is a wonderful way to make new friends. Once you have successfully hit your target, you will get to meet people who stop along the road to admire the results of your hunting. A "Road Game Warden" on patrol will come to provide you with your "tag" to prove that it is a witnessed event.

Sometimes you also get to stay away from home in a motel where you can meet even more people who are interested in hearing the details of the hunting experience. You will even meet other hunters who will share some of their own experiences from road hunting days gone by.
Cost? Once you are finished with the hunt, you have to visit an expert who will tell you how much you will have to spend to repair your hunting equipment before the next hunt. Sometimes you even have to purchase all new equipment.

The initial guess is that my recent hunting experience could cost upwards of $3500 before I am ready to able to go road hunting again. But I think I've had enough of this experience and will choose to never participate again.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

"B" chip to offer Pay-for-NOT-view

I want someone to invent a "B" chip for my TV. (Whitney, here's your chance.) Like the "V" chip filtered out Vulgarity, the "B" chip would screen out all of the Bull**** advertising that bombards my TV viewing hours. It would be able to be regulated like an Internet Security level - Low to eliminate all product/service commercials. Medium - would filter out the Paid Advertising. High would be set to screen out all Political Advertising as well. If only there were such a chip.
Think about it. You'd be able to record the programs you want to watch and never have to fast forward through the commercials. You'd never see another Head On commercial or an Ab Roller or the guy with the mullet on the exercise thing that swings your feet and arms at the same time. Your children would never be embarrased by seeing a feminine hygiene commercial during an episode of Seventh Heaven or a commercial for Viagra during a baseball game. And you wouldn't have to listen to Political ads for two years out of every four year presidential election cycle. Wouldn't that be incredible?

Once this B-chip is invented, it could be rented or sold to consumers. A portion of the proceeds could go to the television industry to make up for the loss of advertising dollars. Some of it could go to Sally Struthers to help her take care of the children in Africa.

Oops - It appears that I'm too late with the brilliant idea - Phillips already has invented something to foil my brilliant idea and patented it. Bastards.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Meat Counter Now Offering Chicken "chests"

The problem with having a Marketing background is looking to constantly improve the quality of the labeling in whatever store I visit. Yesterday's visit to the meat counter at my favorite grocery store is a prime example. While I was busy ordering steaks, chops, salmon and catfish, the customer (male) next to me was ordering chicken.

Customer: I'd like four chicken breasts please.
Meat guy: Do you want four breasts or four "pieces"?
Customer: I want four pieces of chicken breasts.
Meat guy: But they come in "two's".
(puzzled look)
.....I snickered to myself....
Meat guy: We don't cut the chicken in half that way, so one piece is actually two breasts.
Me (blurting): Well then I think your label should more appropriately read "Chicken chests" since the use of the word "breast" implies one and you are selling them as a set.

Most of these "Meat guys" are in their early twenties with a couple of seasoned veterans at age 35 or so. They are roaring and the nearby customers are laughing as well.

Seasoned Veteran Meat Guy: I've been in the meat dept for 20 years and I've never thought of it like that.
Customer: Neither have I
Me (red-faced): It just came to me.........., and then came out before I could think twice.
Customer: And I'll be talking about it for the next twenty years.
Young Meat guy (to me): Will there be anything else, ma'am?
Me: Nope, I think I'm finished here
Customer (to me): Are you going to be back here tomorrow?
Young Meat guy: Hey, Marv - should I change the sign?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

ShopGirl 57038

I had an opportunity to watch over the local yarn store tonight while my friend (and local yarn store owner) journeys to San Antonio to see her son graduate from Basic Training. Although we weren't very busy with customers, I did get a taste for what owning a store would be like.

I went back and forth between being a consumer advocate (pointing them to the free pattern site on the web), to being a full blown capitalist ("you should try this $15 yarn instead of that $10 a skein yarn.") I can see where this would be a lot of fun, but a lot of work as well. I think the toughest part for me would be stocking the shelves with yarn that I would never buy because I don't like the color, or the texture, or the price. I think I've become a yarn snob.

There are beautiful yarns at Susan's store, I just haven't gone into that grouping of patterns that would use those types of yarn. Maybe someday. I admire Susan for knowing what customers want and purchasing to a wide variety of desires.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Nazi Knitting Teacher

I met the worst knitting teacher in the world today. Here's a blurb from an overheard knitting teaching session in a town in Iowa (not Sioux City). "No, that isn't right. Can't you see that this stitch is a yarn over and this one is a Purl?"
Perhaps she should have explained to her student that the purl stitch is actually the back side of the knit stitch.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Stringy thing

On my way across Minnesota today I saw a sign on the road that made me pull into the next town to take a look for myself. I couldn't pass this one up. The largest ball of twine lives in Darwin, Minnesota. And I've been there. It might qualify for a spot in the annual Christmas letter. Hey - I wonder if you can knit with twine?