Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Renew and Reset

This week was the week of renewals and resets. First, I decided to renew my professional license seven weeks early. It’s not that I wanted to do it so early, nor would I wait until the last minute, but they wore me down with all the emails and phone alerts that I have been receiving, telling me that my license was going to expire. For years, I really did have to start the process seven weeks early, as I received ONE notification, by mail, and in the form of a renewal certificate. I wrote out a check, licked a stamp, and *voila!*, a new license was mailed and received. In filling out the computer form, I had to change my password because I couldn’t remember the old one, which was written on something and put in a safe place somewhere else. Where? I have no idea. To add to the confusion, I had to complete a survey before writing down the confirmation number, which couldn’t possibly be something easy, but more like MHFsr#Cxyf236542w@. After that, I discovered that it was time to reset my computer password at work. This was also preceded by a password reset reminder each and every single time I signed in, which is about a gazillion times a day, so let’s just say that I was bullied into it before I was ready. Truth be told, though, I’m never ready. Since that password must be kept TOP SECRET, it must be something that can be remembered easily and not written down. With someone of my advanced age, however, it would remain a secret either way. If I wrote it down, it would likely never be found again, because it would be in that place called somewhere. If I have to rely on memory, well, let’s just say that if I were kidnapped by Russian spies, any and all secrets would be safe. After a week or two of daily use, I will hopefully be able to remember the password and not enter the old password, which if used enough, could potentially cause me to be locked out of the system, which would mean getting a NEW password and starting all over again. Yes, I know. The stuff of nightmares, isn’t it? Speaking of resets, since this is Daylight Savings Time week, I not only have a new password to remember, I will also feel like I am running an hour behind all week. Reset, renew, remember, and rejoice…because it will all be better next week, once I get used to it.


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The Simple Life

I know that I am not alone when I tell you that sometimes I wish that that I could have lived in a time when life was more simple. I love reading books that take me back there for a few hours and even have a copy of Household Discoveries and Mrs. Curtis’s Cook Book copyright 1903. It is very complete, and in today’s world would probably be called The Idiot’s Guide to Household Management: A Book For Women Only, but it is well-written and gives helpful information and tips about things such as trimming your lamp wicks and warming your bed with a bed warmer filled with coals from the stove. Even better, according to the book, would be to heat bricks on top of the stove every evening, then wrap them in cloth and distribute to each family member’s bed before retiring yourself. I think a better way to describe it would be “before falling into bed in total exhaustion, but removing your bustle beforehand, or you will bounce”. Every woman also needed to know how to choose the right fowl, fish, or meat from the market for her family’s dinner. That was, of course, for a City Woman. A Farm Woman of those days probably had to gut her own fish and chase down her chickens, hatchet in one hand and toddler in the other. Nothing was wasted in those days, hence the recipes for scaling, soaking and splitting pig’s feet, making desserts out of stale cake and bread, stuffing and roasting a beef heart and preparing sliced tongue. While her fricaseed lamb kidneys were simmering, the woman must remember that each day of the week had a different chore assigned: Monday was wash day, Tuesday was ironing day, etc., etc., ETC.! There are actually a few paragraphs on “How to Raise a Mustache” and making mustache pomade. Making homemade mustache pomade for hubby must have been among the projects for the woman to do in her spare time. I was beginning to understand that the simpler times weren’t that simple when I got to the chapter on preparing the sick room, caring for the infirm, and what to do in case of an emergency. It didn’t involve calling 911 or Googling the symptoms, either. One of the more interesting recipes for a sore throat or lung problems was Irish Moss Lemonade. Thinking that it was probably a hot toddy of whiskey, lemons, and sugar, I was surprised that it really did require moss, with sand and leaves removed, of course. Do NOT try this at home, unless you substitute Irish whiskey for the Irish moss. Even though I may occasionally go back to those simpler times through reading, I am thankful that I don’t have to write this column in the dim light of an oil lamp while dipping my pen in an inkwell. Another winter storm is brewing, so I can just turn up the thermostat if I get chilly, that is, unless HE notices and turns it back down. Barney the Chihuahua curled up at my feet might not be as warm as a hot brick, but he certainly is a lot softer. I have neither Irish whiskey nor Irish moss, but a cup of tea heated up quickly in the microwave sounds pretty good.

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Out in the Boondocks

You might call it “the sticks” or “the toulies”. You might even call it “terra incognita”. Whatever you call it, we live in the country, and we love it, but it is changing. The other day, I had to wait for three cars to go by before I could turn south and be on my way to work. Three cars is a lot around here, unless it is fishing opener or hunting season. Since it was 6:30 a.m. on a cold winter’s weekday, I wondered what was going on. After living for years in larger cities or towns with their crowds, traffic jams, and stoplights, it is nice not to have to worry about the traffic or finding a place to park. Yesterday, things were really hopping here in the north woods. Heading towards home, I was in the middle of a line of traffic seven cars long. That is the most traffic I have seen here in months. We were following a guy in an old pickup, who drove ten miles per hour BELOW the speed limit in the no pass zones and ten miles per hour ABOVE the speed limit in the passing zones. Since I was smack-dab in the middle, I was determined not to let it irritate me and turned up the radio, adjusted the rear view mirror, and settled in for a long drive home. Car number seven, at the end of the line, must have let it irritate him, so decided to pass. He didn’t pass just one or two cars, but all six of us that were ahead of him. Since we were driving in an area with hills, curves, and deer who run across the road at regular intervals, I thought that he must have had more bravado than brains, but since I tend to drive only a wee bit faster than a Farm Woman’s grandmother, that probably doesn’t mean much. I prepared to slam on my brakes, but he made it by a hair. Perhaps there were so many on the road yesterday because we are expecting a snowstorm today, and it is a holiday weekend, to boot. I’ll bet dollars to dumplings that the only one on the road this morning was the snowplow driver. I’m going to stay in, put another log on the fire, and hope the boondocks will be plowed out by morning.

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The Intention

I am the oldest and least flexible member of my Saturday morning yoga class. Our instructor, who happens to be my very flexible daughter, asks us to set an intention to concentrate on during each class. I usually choose something like “I will eat healthy” or “I will practice more”. Intentions help to bring you back into focus, should your mind start to wander. My mind tends to wander a lot, especially when I am intent on not falling into a twisted pile of sweaty limbs or wondering how in the HECK I’m going to do what she’s doing. I usually keep my weekly intention to four or five words, and try to follow it throughout the week. Some folks believe that yoga is somehow not a practice for Christians. I’m not here to argue theology with anybody, but find it quite the opposite for me. My intention today was “I will honor God.” This intention was to help me have less judgemental thoughts about Facebook users who can’t differentiate between there, their, and they’re, along with my snarky thoughts and comments about politicians both right and left. Besides, it sounded better than “I will shut my mouth.” So I stretched and I honored for an hour and truly plan to keep up with both the intention and the stretching throughout the week. After class, I cuddled and exchanged about a hundred kisses with my grandson, who will soon be five. The trick to getting that many kisses from a nearly five-year-old is to tell him that kisses are icky. Five-year-old boys like icky things. He also whispered in my ear that when he turns five next month, he will not be too big to kiss his grandma. Dear God: You got it mixed up. It was my intention to honor you, but instead you honored me with this moment in this day in this blessed life. I wonder if that was your intention all along? Namaste.

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The Painting Blues

“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” Vincent van Gogh

I am not someone who is anywhere near the van Gogh of household painting. That would be my sister. But, after eleven years of the same tired old guest bathroom, I decided it was time for a change and bought a new shower curtain, rugs, and paint to match. It is actually time for a change in my entire house, and luckily, my sister and dear friends who LOVE to paint have offered to help. I hate to paint, nor am I good at it. This is a small bathroom, however, and hard to fit more than one person and a ladder in there. Tempted, but too ashamed to ask them to do it for me while I made the lunch, I decided to tackle it myself. How hard can it be, anyway? A small room with sink, medicine cabinet, tub, and surround should only take one quart of paint and a couple of hours, in my rather naive estimate. I also had some good paint brushes that I had used with my last project, which had been carefully cleaned and stored away. Thinking I’d be done shortly, I started in with a cheerful whistle. Unfortunately, the whistle stopped immediately when I discovered that the old paint brushes were stiff and unyielding to soaking up paint, requiring a trip to the store in my old paint clothes to purchase more. Starting once again, I soon realized that whatever type of paint that I had applied those eleven long years ago was not going to be easy to cover. I am also not as agile as I was eleven years ago and found it nearly impossible to reach those high corners while standing on my tippy toes on top of the toilet tank. I also needed to lie on the floor to reach some of the corners, which made it necessary to sweep and mop the floor first. In yet another blow to my ego, I realized that an old Farm Woman who is pushing sixty does not get up easily from a cold tile floor without having to moan and groan and hug the toilet for assistance. Barney the Chihuahua, ever my hero, sensed that I was in trouble and jumped on my back to help. I noticed that he had stepped in a dribble of paint, so I cleaned his paws so he wouldn’t leave little green prints all over the floors like he did on my back. Thankfully, by that time I was out of paint had to wait until the next day for another quart and round two. Here I am, four days later, and don’t have the heart for the third and final round. Yes, three coats. I will take another day of rest before I pull up my van Goghs and start in once again.

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Preventative Measures

The flu is running rampant this year, and from the doom and gloom on the news, it is a bad year. Being a nurse, I have always used preventative measures to avoid it. I get my flu shot, wash my hands with soap and water, and avoid people who are sick, which can be hard, since I work in a hospital. This year, I brought out the big guns. I stopped hugging people, except for one, and she really needed it. This is a hard one for someone who is a hugger, but perhaps the recipients might thank me in advance, since I have been eating lots of garlic, which is supposedly a potent antiviral. Potent is the perfect word for it, too. I diffuse germ-fighting essential oils in the bedroom at night, which makes the room smell nice and spicy. I rub a different oil on my feet every morning before getting dressed. This particular oil makes my socks smell like Italian salad dressing. Why on my feet? Because I read it on Pinterest so it must be true, right? I also use an organic olive leaf extract throat spray twice a day as another preventative measure. A few days ago, I quartered a big onion and placed it in bowls around the house. Apparently, onions have been killing viruses in households for more than a century. I’ve been out of nursing school for nearly that long, and I don’t remember learning that one, but I read it on the internet, so it must be true, right? HE hasn’t even mentioned any of this, or perhaps he is just turning a blind eye. Strangely enough, lately he has developed a craving for Italian food. Seriously, friends. Stop the spread of the flu. Wash your hands often with soap and water and stay home if you are not feeling well. Plus, if everyone ate a lot of extra garlic, No one would even notice. You read it right here, so it must be true, right?

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Porcupine Meatballs

Growing up in a family where our hunter/gatherer father brought home a wide variety of local wild foods, we never knew just what would be on the dinner table. Would it be plain old green beans, steamed cattail stamens,  or wild asparagus? Beef, venison, duck, or partridge?  Once or twice a year, we shared a wild  dinner with another family where everything except the salt and pepper was obtained from the wild. At one of those dinners, Mom said we were having “real” porcupine meatballs, and we ate without question, as she was a wonderful cook. I really don’t remember if those meatballs tasted good or bad, and I’ve asked the others, but their memories are a sketchy as mine.  I thought about the REAL porcupine meatballs the other day when a REAL porcupine took up residence under our front porch. Every night he slept there and every day he would head to the top of the pine trees near the garage. Maybe it was vice versa, because except for one sighting, all we saw were tracks back and forth in the snow.  Porcupines do not have any natural predators around here, and although they won’t bite you, they can be destructive creatures, chewing on wood and killing trees, and we all know what happens when they are disturbed. I tried to warn Mr. Porky by stomping on the porch every day  and yelling “Go away!” while standing underneath the pine trees. When he didn’t leave, I knew his days were numbered. We are all for sharing our world with various woodland creatures, but you can’t have an irritated porcupine living on your doorstep. At least I can’t. One day, HE and Barney the Brave Chihuahua ran an errand, leaving the garage door open for a few minutes.  I’m sure you can guess what happened next: Mr. Porky took advantage of the open door, headed inside, and hid behind the woodpile. When they got home, I heard wild barking from the garage and ran out to find HIM between Porky and Barney, holding Porky back with one hand on an axe handle and holding Barney back with the other. This is not our seven-pound Chihuahua’s first argument with a porcupine, either. I’ll admit to shedding a few tears while pulling quills out of Barney’s nostrils, and HE managed to pull his own quills without any tears. Porky  is now in porcupine heaven. I would have rather had him live out his days killing pine trees in the Bowstring State Forest, but it was not meant to be. Porky’s life was not in vain, however. My sister wanted the quills for the baskets she weaves, so I put the frozen corpse in a cardboard box and carried it into her garage.  Just like our mother, she is good at both crafting and cooking, and is married to a hunter/gatherer. I doubt if she will make REAL porcupine meatballs, but just in case you are invited over for dinner, you might want to tell her you are a vegetarian. 


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