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Archive for June, 2013

Holy Guacamole

I had the pleasure of being a member of the cast of “The Great Northern Radio Show” yesterday.  Unless you count the epic sixth grade operetta, “The King’s Sneezes”, or singing in the church choir, I have never been a part of any type of production before, and thought it might be fun. I’ve known about it for some time, and rather than being nervous, I was looking forward to it.  Even the day before the production, I had a sense of eager anticipation.  All I had to do was read one of my own essays. Two, perhaps three minutes at the most.  No memorization involved, just a clear voice with good diction. Easy. I had to be there at early for dress rehearsal, and before leaving, I practiced my part aloud a few times.  What was happening to me?  When did my voice get so squeaky? Do I really sound like that?  During the drive, I said the words aloud and took deep breaths.  I think most of the other drivers on the road thought I was just singing along to the radio, but I did get a few strange looks here and there.  The dress rehearsal went fine, and we sat down to eat our catered lunch, provided by one of my favorite restaurants. They even had my favorite sandwich:  A vegetarian delight so stuffed with veggies and avocado that they call it “Holy Guacamole”.  I highly recommend it to anyone who is NOT going to be in their first stage production. I scarfed it down rather quickly out of both nervousness and hunger. As I waited for our production to begin, I started to sweat.  Did I remember to put on deodorant?  Did I smell like garlic? Did anyone notice?  I was surrounded by actors, speakers, radio announcers, and musicians, and the closer we got to showtime the more relaxed they looked. They became more animated. They laughed. They chatted with each other. Nobody appeared to be sweating.   Most of them were professionals and I was just a Farm Woman. A frumpy, sweaty old Farm Woman who smelled like a garlic clove and had a guacamole sandwich sitting  right in the middle of her stomach like a big green lump.  I drank more water. I sucked on a mint. I sweated some more. The actors and musicians were all fantastic, and the audience seemed to be enjoying the show. I moved closer to center stage, as my part was coming. My throat started tickling. Did I have to cough, or was my throat closing up?  I just knew I would stand in front of that center-stage microphone with the spotlight shining down and no words would come out. I would look like a giant walleye flopping around in the bottom of a boat, dripping wet with silent lips opening, closing, opening, and closing.  Worse yet, I would speak in a squeaky Minnie Mouse voice, everyone would laugh, and I would turn and run, tripping over the dozens of wires that ran across the stage.  Worst of all, I could…..oh, no…..not guacamole….ick!  An eternity and a half later, when they announced my name, I opened my mouth, and glory be, my own voice came out!  The audience did laugh, but they laughed in all the right places. Then they clapped.  They liked it!  Holy guacamole, they liked it! My three minutes of fame over, I headed home to feed the chickens and have a bite to eat.  Funny, my stomach felt just fine.   Don’t worry friends,  being on stage hasn’t changed me a bit.  Well, maybe one teeny-weeny change:  I think The Minnesota Farm Diva has a nice ring to it, don’t you?

KAXE Northern Community Radio 91.7 will be replaying the Great Northern Radio Show on July 6 at 10:00 a.m.

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We have his and hers jobs here at our house. He takes the outside, such as mowing, weed whacking, and snow removal.  I take the inside jobs like bathrooms, floors, and laundry. As long as there is not a foot of snow underneath the clothesline, I prefer to hang the laundry outside, which is my time to think. I really like doing laundry. I love to match towel to towel, shirt to shirt, each one attached to the other, his next to his, mine next to mine. Before you think I have a borderline obsessive-compulsive disorder, hanging them like this makes it more convenient for folding them and putting them away, which brings me to the socks.  I like to match up the socks as I hang them on the line.  My socks are easy.  I have eight pair of ankle length tennis socks, all in black. All the same. Fashionista I am not, but most of my work pants are black, and black goes well with jeans, so black it is.  HE has 106 pair of white cotton athletic socks, all different lengths, all different brands.  I hang each wet sock at the edge of the clothes basket until I find the mate, all the while being eaten alive by swarms of voraciously hungry mosquitoes and surrounded by curious chickens, who think that every container carried out the back door is something for them to eat. I wish they would develop appetites for both socks and mosquitos.  Each week I give my life’s blood to match up the white socks, and each week I end up with a lot of mosquito bites and a mismatched pair or an extra sock, and it drives me crazy. (OK, perhaps there is a SLIGHT case of obsessive compulsive disorder here. )  Last week I decided to take action.  I used the mismatched socks as cleaning rags, and I THREW THEM AWAY after  used them.  I can hear the horrified judgemental gasps from the  “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” crowd, but before you judge, I must tell you that these were not the newest socks in the bunch, nor were they in the best shape.  HE is definitely in the “wear it out” category of the crowd.  My sneaky plan is to sneak an older sock or two out of each week’s laundry until all the socks match.  Although I was slightly exaggerating the number of socks he owns, he may still run out eventually.  I will then go shopping for more:  Eight pair, all white cotton, all matching exactly.  It will sure make life easier.

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Either I was switched at birth or a genetic anomaly, but somehow I ended up in family of berry pickers. Every summer, at least twice a week, we would all pile into the car and head for Dad’s secret blueberry patch somewhere in the Chippewa National Forest.  Picking berries was never my favorite thing to do, so I would usually take a book and after picking the required cup or two could be found in the car solving mysteries with Trixie Belden or Nancy Drew.  The family rule was that if you wanted to eat blueberry pie, you must pick your share of berries, and I really liked blueberry pie. It was Dad’s favorite, too. Even after I married and became a City Woman, I would spend at least one of my summer vacation days in that year’s secret blueberry spot with my dad.  During one excursion in which we had to park half a mile away due to some downed trees, I kept feeling like I was being watched.  You know that creepy-crawly-hair-standing-on-the-back-of-your-neck kind of feeling, and I picked as quickly as I possibly could so we could have enough for a pie and get the heck out of there.  As we trekked the half-mile back to the truck, I was telling Dad about this, and he casually mentioned that he had noticed fresh bear signs in the patch and that we had probably disturbed Mama Bear’s dinner and she was watching and waiting for us to finish.  Eek. There was never a longer hike than that half-mile to the safety of the truck, and with each step, I waited for the sound of the bear to come crashing through the woods to sprinkle us with sweet wild blueberries and hazelnuts and eat us for dinner.  A few years later, my daughter came along for the excursion, this time at a secret blueberry spot way out in the middle of nowhere.  She didn’t like to pick berries any more than I did, but it was a beautiful summer day and we had both taken along a book, because if the picking was good,  Dad could be there for hours.  We were both picking along the edge of the woods when the bushes in front of us started moving and shaking, and we heard sounds almost like snorting coming from behind the bushes.  “Grandpa’s playing a trick on us!” I laughed and stood up to stretch. As I stood, I noticed Dad, bent over and picking berries about a hundred yards away. Looking back at that bush which was still moving and snorting,  I grabbed my daughter’s hand and headed toward him, giving a good loud holler along the way.  He decided that the sounds we heard must certainly have been a chipmunk, but to this day, I believe it was either a HUGE bear with snarling, dripping teeth or a hungry, starving mountain lion.  We kept on picking that day, because the picking was good.  I stayed very close to my dad for the rest of the day. VERY close. Even though I was a grown woman and he was a man in his 70’s, I was still his little girl and I knew he would protect me from anything.  Dad has been gone for many years now, but I think he would be pleased to know that I now have my own secret blueberry patch.  It is not too far out in the middle of nowhere, and I keep a close eye out for “chipmunks” big and small.  I still don’t like berry picking very much, but I sure like the taste of wild blueberry pie, and it seems to taste better if you pick the berries yourself.

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My definition of a salad is a jumble of nice dark leafy mixed greens combined with whatever fresh vegetable you might have in the fridge or garden, drizzled with homemade vinaigrette or buttermilk dressing. Yum. I could eat it every day. In fact, I do eat it every day when the garden is producing.  Having married a man who is my complete opposite, you might guess what type of salad HE eats. Lettuce: Iceberg only. If you must, a chopped romaine will do, as long as the leaves aren’t too dark. Add tomato, cucumber,  carrot, and celery, and not necessarily all at once.  Any weird vegetable such as chopped raw zucchini, asparagus, or snow peas will be picked out.  Absolutely NO fruit. Fruit does not belong in a salad and will be left on the side of the plate.  Adding cheese is fine, as long as it is not a weird cheese such as shaved Asiago or Gorganzola. Any olives will be picked out. Dressing? Thousand Island or French, bottled.  Italian if you have nothing else.  My culinary skills are wasted here, and oftentimes I make two separate bowls of salad when fixing dinner.  Salad eaten in a church basement or dining area is another story altogether.  These delicious concoctions are called “salad” only to trick you into thinking that you are eating something healthy.  I don’t know about you Catholics, Methodists, or Baptists, but in any given Lutheran church on any given potluck or luncheon day, there is at least one salad which contains Jello. I think green Jello was invented so folks would think they were having a green vegetable.  Growing up Lutheran in the 60’s and 70’s, we ate a lot of salads made with shredded cabbage, celery, and carrots mixed into green Jello, cut into squares, and served on a lettuce leaf with a dollop of mayonnaise on top.  I used to scrape that dollop of mayonnaise off to the side of the plate, but some of the ladies spread it all over the top of the salad like they were frosting a cake. I remember a long-ago potluck at my Auntie Olive’s farm where someone brought the concoction of green Jello, chopped celery, walnuts, mixed with big globs of cream cheese, cut into squares and served on a bed of shredded cabbage with a dollop of Miracle Whip on top.  It tasted just like it sounds, believe me.  Thankfully, salads have changed with the times. There are always at least two or three pasta salads at a potluck, and I always have to have just  little taste of each one.  There are beautiful salads layered in clear glass bowls and homely but delicious salads with tuna, celery, frozen peas and mayonnaise. There are fruit salads plain or with whipped cream or yogurt.  I recently tasted a salad made with chopped candy bars, apples, and real whipped cream.  I don’t know how anybody on God’s green earth could call this a salad, but it was delicious and definitely a keeper. I must confess that I want back for seconds. Church ladies often exchange recipes, and I will tell you this much:  If you ever hear someone describing a recipe in which “first, you cook a pound or two of bacon until crisp……” you’ll want to head for that salad bowl before it is all gone.

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