Sunday, January 31, 2016

January Cats

Yes, this used to be a two cat house. It is now a one cat house. Newton the snaggletoothed tigercat is still with us. And here he is all snuggled up with Einstein about a year ago. I still miss Steinie so much but I can talk about him now without collapsing into a blubbering puddle of sadness. He was a most excellent cat. I adore Newt for different reasons, but certainly just as much. The idea of living in a cat-free house has become unthinkable to me. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016


A dear friend isn't doing well. We haven't seen each other since last fall though up until then a week would not go by without a phone call or lunch date. I miss her company and wry sense of humor and how I have never felt like a guest in her home. I'm having to remind myself to be generous when selfishness sets in. Because it's not about me. It's about her. She has always been a very private person and I struggle with respecting that when all I want to do is show up at her door with a casserole and books and movies and dessert and give her the mothering that she has proffered upon so many others. She is aware I would do anything she asked, even give her a kidney or half of my liver. So I'm giving her the privacy she wants. Because it's about her comfort, not mine.

Number, Please

This, children, is a rotary dial telephone. Back in the dark ages of my childhood we had one of these in the house. One. Only one! And it was attached to the wall. Long distance calls were expensive so you only distance dialed up in emergency situations. That means births and deaths. And you set a timer and had a list so you would remember to relay all the pertinent information in a timely manner. I remember our phone number from the time we lived in Ray, North Dakota. From about the age of two until I was seven. This was so very long ago that it wasn't just digits, there was a word in there as well. Jordan 8-3881. If I ever seem a bit discombobulated, it's because crap such as this is clogging up my brain.   

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Car Number 6

I was not able to find a photo of my Villager. Fortunately, the internets had one. Mine was a very nice dark gray with gray interior. 
 Buying a second minivan was sort of a fluke. The Antichrist had been experiencing periodic death throes and I had taken to driving through local car lots perusing what was available. I had my eye on a station wagon but I don't remember the make or model. I do remember that it was green. When I stopped to inquire about test driving it, I was told that it hadn't started earlier that day so wasn't available to drive. She steered me toward the 1995 Mercury Villager (which is a Nissan Quest in disguise) on the lot and asked if I'd like to take that for a spin instead. So I did. It was quiet. It was comfortable. It did not handle like a tank, but more like a midsize sedan. When we decided to buy it, I couldn't believe our extraordinary luck in that they were willing to take the Antichrist off our hands in trade. For close to the same dollars we had spent buying it five years earlier. This was a case of smile, sign all the papers, and wait to cackle gleefully until we were safely away in the new vehicle.

We did have a few inside pics. This of me riding shotgun on our way to North Dakota in July 1999 to visit Grandma Esther.

I happily drove this car for ten years and put over 100,000 miles on it. It then became Michael's first car when he was a freshman in college. I passed it on to him because I had a bad case of Subaru fever. I still have the middle seat from the Villager out in the garage. I could only let go of 95% of it.

For The Naysayers

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Blog Birthday

The end of this month marks the nine year anniversary of me publishing this online missive. So much has happened in that time. And if you're a regular reader, y'all have way too much information about any and all of it. Thanks for showing up. Thanks for commenting. I'll keep doing this if you keep reading. Deal? Deal.

From Bad to W-IRS

I have successfully filed my 2015 Income Tax return. Don't think I've ever accomplished that particular task before the end of January before. Go, me!! But I'm not done. I really can't wait until I get to sit down with the younger son and supervise his tax filing. Uff da, said the half Norwegian mom.

Not an Optician

I was just sitting there minding my own business. Watching a movie. And I heard and felt an odd creaking/popping noise. I thought nothing of it and blamed the cat. Later, when removing my glasses in preparation for bedtime ablutions, I noticed a sizable crack in the frame surrounding the left lens.

 I contacted the nice people at Zenni Optical and ordered a new frame. Then watched their helpful online instructional video on removing and replacing lenses. Piece of cake! With my cranky hands, I must say it's not nearly as easy as it looks. To be fair, I do have a strong prescription which results in thicker lens edges. The status of my glasses is currently, one lens replaced, one to go. Some days there just aren't enough spoons. Good thing I have backup glasses.

If They Love Me, It's Because I Feed Them

I am cat-sitting for friends who are vacationing in warmer climes. I am mildly envious of their escape from winter. At the same time, I have no desire to break my hibernation habits. Fortunately, hibernation does include leaving the house for the purchase of groceries and other items. So it's easy enough to include the feeding, watering, and belly-rubbing activities associated with the care of cats in these outings. As far as they are concerned, all of this is necessary. Especially the belly rubbing. Cats are so self-centered.

Go, Bernie!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sewing 101

This is the sort of sewing machine I learned on at the age of eleven. Nothing fancy, a late 50's, early 60's model that my mother had. Made of black cast iron with shiny stainless steel accessories. 

At fourteen I encountered a sewing machine similar to this in Home Ec class. I was bored and annoyed with the first weeks of instruction on how to operate it. Also with the first projects where we hemmed a handkerchief and, wow!, made a pot holder. I wanted to jump right in and create a dress with a matching cape and slouchy handbag. Miss Maring found me to be a difficult student. Which, admittedly, I was. Being required to plod along through the basics with the rest of the class was the seamstress equivalent to being forced to tolerate addition and subtraction flashcards when you can already express polynomial functions. Miss Maring got married that fall and was then Mrs. Somethingorother. She left teaching at the end of the semester. I may have had something to do with her decision.

In honor of her recent purchase of a sewing machine, one of Andrea's friends posted this graphic to her Facebook page. I found it hilarious and fully intend to adopt these terms. I am especially fond of uppydowny and flounce attachment.   

Chapter and Verse

It was no shock to me that The Donald had no clue on how to properly cite a Bible verse. But am I the only one who heard it this way? Two Corinthians walk into a bar. I really want to hear the rest of the joke.

No disrespect intended toward Christians everywhere. All due disrespect to Mr. Trump, however.

PS: I have just now been informed that a similar joke was used in last night's Saturday Night Live opening. I haven't watched SNL since the 80's! All I can say is, like minds live in the same gutter. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Woe is Knees

My knees are cranky. They have become aware that I didn't take them on one single stinking bike ride last summer. So in retaliation they are doing little popping noises and threatening to slip just enough out of place to cause me annoyance and pain. I am sorry, knees! Last spring and summer I was busy using up my daily spoon allotment to paint and polish and unclutter the house that didn't sell! Meh. Over twenty years ago I discovered that a regular regimen of bike riding kept my knees in great shape. It appears that I was born under a wobbly knees curse and had suffered through a number of sprains until I took up bike riding for pleasure and exercise. Since my bike is currently snowed into the garden shed, the two pound weights must suffice. If I'm sitting on my butt watching an episode of Pushing Daisies, I just pretend I'm pushing pedals with an extra two pounds on each foot. Today was my third day. My knees already feel sturdier. As long as the weights are out, I may as well do the arm routine, too. Tank top season runs concurrent with bike season. I will be ready!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Glenn Lewis Frey, Rest in Peace

Back in the eighties when we made the switch from vinyl to CDs, there were some albums I could not part with. Among those chosen few that I kept were my Eagles collection. Mock and deride me if you must but this was my absolute favorite band at the time and continues to be in my top five. Yes, I cried when they broke up in 1980. Yes, I was thrilled when they got back together for Hell Freezes Over and saw them in concert in April 1995. I skipped this last go 'round of them playing live mostly because I thought they had enough money but also due to the fact that guitar virtuoso Don Felder was not included in this tour. I don't give a flying fig about problems and contention within the band, shit happened and decisions were made. For quadruple the cost of a ticket in 1995 I didn't care to see them sans Felder. But now I feel a little tug of regret brought on by the passing of Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey earlier this week. I remember the band took a break during HFO due to Frey's health problems associated with ulcerative colitis. But he was twenty years younger and rallied and the tour continued. My memory of them in concert is that of an amazing musical experience. Hearing the songs live that I had loved since I was fifteen was phenomenal and our seats were excellent, in the first tier up and near the stage so we were looking pretty much down at them. Frey was wearing some cool two-toned black and white shoes. I knew he was big on fitness so I was subconsciously willing him to work up a sweat and remove his shirt. Mr. Frey deigned to cooperate. He was playing Old Black, which I have just discovered through the magic of the internet was a Gibson Les Paul Junior. I thought it somewhat ironic that Don Henley was wearing a henley under his plaid shirt. Maybe just redundant. When artists you loved during your formative years begin to die off it really makes you feel the weight of your own. Glenn Frey, of the buttery, evocative baritone voice, I am sad that you are no longer among us. You held your own as a guitar player even in the collective shadow of Joe Walsh and Don Felder. The songs you wrote and performed are central in the soundtrack of my life. If you ask me, sixty-seven wasn't nearly a big enough number of trips around the sun.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Stuff You Don't Know You Need

Then someone gives you a thing. And you wonder how you have lived this long without it. Now I can actually, physically hurl an F-bomb. Not that I have in recent memory refrained from saying #@&* when the situation calls for it. But now I can do both at the same time! Or in the presence of those whose delicate hearing might be bruised by uttering the F-bomb, I can now conveniently bean someone with it. I didn't know I needed this but in her wisdom Andrea did know. This is why I love her.

Monday, January 18, 2016

62 Days til Spring

Well. Hello and happy Monday. Also happy MLK Day. I know, it's been a few days. But I've had meetings and shopping and car maintenance and celebration things to tend to. In reference to this, the money is finally in. Time to pay some bills. What a relief to close that particular chapter of my life and move on. A freaking seven year chapter, I might add. Enjoyed lunch and drank some champagne with Jill and went jewelry shopping at our favorite vintage spot. But not necessarily in that order.  The local temperature has climbed above zero for the first time in a couple of days. Which is good news since I must venture out today. Eat well, imbibe responsibly, and choose proper footwear. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Happy Feet

Thanks to my Darling DiLly for introducing me to John Fluevog. Or, more correctly, to the gorgeous and comfy shoes he designs. I am the happy owner of the Holly ankle booty shown here. I'm now aware they are also available in blue. Swoon.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

WilRidge 2013 Estate Melange Noir

I spent a little more money than I normally do on this bottle of wine. Because I was on vacation. And because it was delicious. And because I knew it was delish prior to purchase because there was a nice young man in the Seattle Public Market offering samples. So many becauses. I also bought a bottle of WilRidge Chardonnay, 2014. Same becauses as for the bottle of red. Note to self: Next Washington trip must include a winery tour. Just because.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Pi(e) Plans

How did this not occur to me til now? Clearly the most appropriate day to indulge in a viewing marathon of Pushing Daisies is Pi(e) Day! I love this show! It's brilliant and weird and visually stunning. And I have both seasons on dvd! But I'm binge watching it as we speak...hmmmmm. Let's just call this a preview and when Pi(e) Day rolls around I can watch my favorite episodes! Or watch them with commentary! Or watch them while actually eating pie! Maybe even bake a little gruyere into the crust. So many possibilities.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Minivan Number One

Summer of 1995 in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Brother Scott is overjoyed to be captured in a photo with our 1986 Ford Aerostar minivan.
Vehicle number five, our Ford Aerostar minivan. Which we affectionately called the Antichrist. Sort of an homage to The Gods Must Be Crazy. But also because it did some really weird things that we could only reasonably attribute to demonic possession. We didn't pay much for it and got a lot of miles out of it. Which is about as good as it gets as far as used cars go. The Antichrist was among the first minivan models Ford produced. And in order to get it on the market quickly to capitalize on the popularity of this type of family friendly vehicle, Ford took some shortcuts. Meaning it wasn't an entirely new design. It looked like a minivan but was built on the chassis of a pickup that was already in production. Equipped with rear wheel drive and a five speed manual transmission, driving it wasn't exactly a pleasure. Sort of like maneuvering an elephant down the road head-on into pudding. But it was reliable and roomy and it was mine, all mine for five years. And unlike the Ltd, this Ford was intentionally two-toned in color. Once its Antichrist tendencies left me stranded a couple of times it was time to trade it in. On another minivan!

I Propose a Toast

To the booze diet and exercise plan! I may be jumping on this bandwagon much too soon. But for me personally, I've never gone on the wagon* for an extended period of time so this is all new to me. Recent research indicates that drinking a glass of red wine is equal to an hour at the gym! Also in the news is a breakthrough diet aid, tequila! All I have to say is, cheers to the New Year's resolution! 

*Excepting when I was preggers.

PS: It seems now that it would have been much more clever if I had said, Excepting when I was expecting. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Blade Runner Birthday

"If only you could see what I've seen with your eyes."

Three and Four

Sadly, there are no photos of cars three and four, so you'll have to use your imagination. Shed no tears. These were not photogenic vehicles. When the Fiesta tanked due to something called piston scoring, we were looking to buy a house and didn't want to cloud up our financials with a car loan. So we paid my in-laws too much money for their spare car, a '78 or '79 Ford Ltd. It was approximately three times the size of the Fiesta so driving it was quite an adjustment. It was handy for hauling a bunch of drunken people home from downtown. The most notable occasion being my thirtieth birthday when I believe there were nine people in the car. Singing rather loudly. No one was injured and, yes, I was sober. There's some irony, acting as DD on your own milestone birthday. It was silver, or more correctly, silver was the original color. There was nearly as much red primer visible which gave it a festive, two-toned appearance. It sported a burgundy vinyl roof which was tattered to the point that it looked like it was always having a bad hair day. It served us reliably for close to five years. When it became less than reliable, I called my friend, maid-of-honor, and car sales professional, Brenda, and asked her if there was any possibility of trading it off. The answer was yes. We abandoned the Ltd for a cute little Ford Escort station wagon in black that was a couple of years newer. It was back to a stick shift which I enjoyed. It was the shortest relationship I had as far as cars were concerned, I drove it for just a couple of years. Then we sold it to a family member after we had fixed everything that could possibly go wrong on a car in such a short span of time. She enjoyed it with our blessings. And she paid more for it than we asked. Which is one of those odd things you don't question on your way to the bank with the check. Particularly because we had purchased a mini van the day before to accommodate our two child family. And written a check for more than was in our account. There are many photos of the van. And I know you just can't wait to see them.  

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Car #2

I didn't intend for this to become a theme. Let's just call this an inadvertent theme. Any time you call something first or one, it just feels obligatory to continue counting. This was my second car, a 1979 Ford Fiesta. It was a terrible car. Didn't get the gas mileage I expected, wasn't built for the cold South Dakota winter clime, and let's not even mention the 22.75% interest rate I forked over on the loan. But boy, was it fun to drive. I learned the manual transmission in this car and hauled more stuff than you can imagine in the roomy hatchback. Scribbled on the back of the above photo, Steve & Curt putting in my antenna March 1982. Steve was my boyfriend at the time. I found it amusing to see my itty bitty car with its doors all open and legs hanging out on either side. 

They were not amused. A couple of guys, one of them well over six feet tall, were contortionally wedged under the dash in order to do moi a favor. And I was taking pictures. And probably snickering. All I can say is, if I hadn't grabbed my camera, there would not be a photographic record of this car. I took it on many road trips, including Arizona in August. Which painfully pointed out to me how impractical black vinyl seats are when you park in the midday desert sun. In my personal life, this car took me from first serious boyfriend to the man that I married. Who gleefully informed me that there were motorcycles with bigger engines than my car. I shot back that it isn't always about size. That I'd rather be in my car during a pouring rain than on a motorcycle. It significantly detracts from your badass persona if you deploy an umbrella while riding.

One other thing about this brother Cullen and I were roommates for a couple of years in this duplex that had a long driveway with just enough of a grade to it that I could pop the clutch to start it while we were rolling backwards to the street. Once morning while giving him a ride to campus he remarked that I wasn't a normal girl after observing my nonstandard method to start the car. One of the best compliments ever!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

My First Car

Fall of 1977 in Williston, ND. Grandma Esther likely snapped this pic. Probably the first road trip in my 1974 Chevy Nova. Looks like we are engaging in the midwestern ritual known as the Norwegian goodbye. We say goodbye in the house, then out in the yard, then we snap a photo to commemorate the event, then we get into the car and roll down the windows to wave and say goodbye one more time as we are pulling away from the curb. We continue to wave as we make our way down the street until we are out of sight. Then we wipe our eyes and noses and settle in for the hours-long drive. Variations on the Norwegian goodbye can include prolonging the process by one or more of the participants going back in the house for a forgotten item or to use the bathroom, or for the host to run back into the house to fetch a bag of sandwiches or perhaps cookies for the travelers to enjoy on the trip home. Sometimes the trip home is less than half an hour in duration. Food is love, doncha know.

Monday, January 4, 2016

She's a Natural

i know, everyone in the world has seen this video at least twice. But this song brings up so many memories for me. Carole King's Tapestry was one of the first dozen or so albums I owned. I played it so much I wore it out. Don't worry, I have long since replaced it on cd. I loved singing along, especially the ah-oop background vocals. Now I want to see, no, must see Beautiful. This is the music of my youth, people. Click on the arrow. You know you want to hear it again.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

States I Have Visited

Create Your Own Visited States Map

For those of you who need/like/appreciate a visual of this, here I go fulfilling your fondest dreams once again. I know that's why you show up here so I'm happy to oblige. Click on the link and make your own map. These things are fun. And fun is good.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Altar in the Snow

I have a habit when walking out in nature of picking up objects and examining them. Sometimes they end up in a pocket and come home with me, but most of the time I construct a tiny altar for the wind to toss at will or for another human or wild creature to happen upon. This one was in the woods of central Wisconsin around Christmas, 2002. I had my camera along hoping to photograph deer or other wildlife on a hike. When the deer were scarce I found myself gathering pine cones and marveling at the variations on their design. So many conifers, so many cones. When I came across this stone it seemed an appropriate spot to arrange them along with a stick I had collected along the way. I just put up my new calendar in this room, and there is a paragraph suggesting a winter meditative walk outdoors this January. Remembering a winter walk from years ago, I hunted down this photo. Quite often when I contemplate incorporating a spiritual or thoughtful activity into my day, I discover that there is an echo of familiarity. Deja vu. I have been here before, or somewhere very like this. I love that our brains are busy recording and tucking away all kinds of information even when we are consciously going about doing other things. Then something as seemingly trivial as a smell or a bit of music will call forth a long secreted away memory. I want to find a couple of hours this January to go for a walk outside. Maybe build a tiny altar and come home with other treasures in my pockets. Maybe take my camera. Maybe not. I'll have my senses and my brain along, sometimes what they capture and retain is much more sublime.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Hello, 2016

Though we met in passing before I went to bed earlier today, let's take the time to get to know each other. Just before I woke up, in my dream John Cleese walked up to me and handed me a mimosa, grinned broadly, and walked off into a crowded street. Earlier in this dream I discovered my cat, Einstein, has been living happily in my car these past months. I'm taking these as harbingers of you being a most excellent year, 2016. Also, I awakened breathing through both nostrils and hearing through both ears. Meaning that the nasty cold that descended upon me Christmas day has cleared off. 2016 and I are engaged in a happy dance around the kitchen. Join us, won't you?