Everything sublime is as difficult as it is rare. Baruch Spinoza

Monday, October 31, 2022

Happy Halloween.
It's been thirty years since we have had trick or treaters. The first year here we loaded up with candy and....not a one. I'd never lived in the country, what did I know. 

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Stove, Food, Wood

Neighbor Bill and his son, Bill, Jr spent a couple of hours with us yesterday figuring out what is wrong with my wood pellet stove. Bill Jr found a broken gear in the fuel stirrer motor, so that problem is resolved. I just have to buy a new motor. The son is like the dad, only more. This is per both mom and dad, said proudly.

Our weather has been ten to twenty degrees warmer than normal so we are catching a break on fuel costs. We can use any break we get.  Frieda, aka Kitten Little, has several small toy mice that she gleefully tosses in the air, bats around and tosses again. She was tossing and batting this morning. Then I saw her under the dining table eating. Not a toy, what remained of a small mouse. I picked it up and threw it away, giving her a chin scratch and a good girl. She thought that was fine, until she realized something was gone. Bad me.

I made lunch today with the last of the fresh tomatoes from the garden. The zucchini, onion and sage also came from the garden. I have a few zucchini and squash left, otherwise fresh produce is done, as of today. I'm going to braise stew meat in red wine, beef broth and balsamic vinegar for tonight. 

Mark has been playing lumberjack, making certain I have wood for the long winter season, cleaning up the recently felled trees and trees that have taken themselves down over the past few years. We supply Bill with the wood he burns in his shop. We also gave him the wood stove. It was in our garage and we didn't use it. That was a long time ago. Bill usually works with Mark on the wood cutting but his health concerns are keeping him quiet for now. Three of us falling apart in unison.

That's about it. Life is quiet, which isn't a bad thing. Except for the dog. She's not so quiet.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Molte Grazie

I want to thank everyone who offered their kindness about Mark's and my health problems. It's a bit overwhelming but we are doing ok with it.

I want to clarify my own issue. This is something I've been coping with for over two years. It actually started in 2019 but I didn't think much about it then. Just aching and fatigue in my legs which then became lower back pain but nothing that stopped me from doing things. Over the past couple of years it has become worse. I have been seeking medical attention. Initially it was thought I had spinal stenosis, which I don't. I've been through physical therapy and pain management. Frankly, I started to give up. Then Mark's diagnosis happened. I was sinking further into fatalism, then somehow I snapped out of it. 

I realize I need to push more. I'm an older, overweight woman who presents with pain. I'm told to exercise more, lose weight, do stretching, etc. There has been no testing for a medical condition, other than the initial spinal stenosis thought. Then I'm told to take pain medication. Mark wants to be with me on this visit because he has come to understand women get ignored. He wants to advocate for me and I've decided to let him. There are many conditions with my symptoms but none of them are being addressed. I went, over the course of a couple of years, from an active person caring for a lot of horses, a large house and property to someone who can barely cross a room. I tend toward stoicism  so perhaps I'm not adequately expressing myself. I'm also fairly accomplished at pushing things aside and feeling all will be fine if I only do "this". None of "this" is working.

Anyway, I appreciate being able to express these things here and I appreciate the kindness I receive. I have to wait a couple of weeks for the appointment but this time I expect more.

Thursday, October 27, 2022



We are on a medical mystery tour. Mark had a biopsy on several areas of the prostate and four of the five are cancerous. He has a bone scan scheduled for next week as bone cancer is common with prostate cancer. We have a consult appointment with the urologist the following week. He saw the dermatologist yesterday and a cancerous area that was removed on his arm looks concerning to him so he has referred Mark to another clinic that can do imaging testing on it. Mark has always been fit and healthy. This is a shock for both of us. 

Now my part of the medical mystery tour. I am regressing physically. I now need a cane to walk, it's no longer just added support. I wear out and become out of breath quickly. I had just mopped about ten square feet of the living room floor and had to quit. So I decided while I rested I'd write about the problems. After the news with Mark I didn't want to deal with my own health but today I decided not to wait and made an appointment for myself. It's time this gets treated like something serious. 

So, that's the story. The old fogies are falling apart before their very eyes. Well, I'm visibly falling apart. Mark still looks ten years younger than he actually is. People are going to start thinking I'm his mother.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

The Heat is On

The new furnace was installed yesterday. They were here from 9:00 - 2:00. There were no problems and now we have heat

The son's car was stolen sometime during Monday night/early Tuesday morning. It was found with a seized engine a few miles away. Now they go through the insurance maze. Stealing cars and car parts has really ramped up. Yesterday was a bad day for them.

Bill plans to fix my wood pellet stove on Saturday. That will mean all of my heating options should be good to go before the long winter sets in. Then we just need to pick up a pallet of pellets. We have waited just incase it doesn't work.

I roasted a pie pumpkin yesterday for future pumpkin pie. It's been several years since I have made a pie. I tend toward galettes these days, so much easier. I also roasted a sheet pan of tomatoes that were getting soft, the last from the garden. That roasting turned into dinner with sausage and kalamata olives. Dinner took the time it takes for pasta to cook. Can't beat that!

It's chilly but the sun is out. One dead tree is mostly cut up for burning and I actually feel some motivation creeping into my system. Probably because I don't want Bill to see the dust and dog hair in the living room! I still have some pride. That whole part of the house could disappear for the amount of time we use it. Like, never.

Off to it. Keetah's barking, again. More animated so it may actually mean something. Probably not. Take care. Ciao.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Soup and Such

I haven't been inside a grocery store since I was at Costco in February 2020. This sounds like a confession.

I got an order from Thrive Market yesterday. I'm still not used to Sunday deliveries but I suppose online shopping has increased by a lot and there are only so many hours in a day, leading to another day to be added into the schedule. Can you believe that small amount of items cost $60? Life is high-priced.

Which brings me to a favorite subject. Soup! This was a busy week for me, I made two different soup stocks, both pork based. This is smoked pork shank with cannellini, fennel, chard and the usual mirepoix. I had bones from pork chops in the freezer and made another stock to use with lentils. The freezer is overfull, I need to stop. But it's one of the few things I can do right now. It make me feel useful. Conundrums.

Tomorrow the new furnace will be installed. I hope it goes fast and easy. Scott said they are smaller now, even though the one being replaced isn't that old. Fingers crossed this will be the last furnace we buy.

Mark has cut the dead pine that was felled a couple of days ago into burnable pieces. I looked up burning pine, as I was always told not to. Every site I went to said it's ok as long as it's dry. It's been dead for a few years, so it's dry. The large box elder is too big for Mark's chain saw so he will have Junior cut that one for him. Maintaining trees on this place is a never-ending job. The chapters of our lives would make a riveting book! 

That's it from my small patch of earth. Take care.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

La Dolce Vita

I'm in soup mode. It may be mid 70s Fahrenheit but it's soup season by my reckoning. I had some pork bones in the freezer along with the toss-away parts of a leek, some fennel stems and celery ends. I get an enormous amount of pleasure making stock from items normally put in the bin.

I read a longtime friends blog this morning. I met her in 2008 from blogging. She is an American who has lived a long time in Denmark. She had gorgeous photos of a sunrise she took while over Paris. She was stopping in Paris and then going on to Valencia. What a life! I also know her in person from her several visits over the years when she returned to the US. It's amazing what technology has allowed, not all of it good, but much is. I got to know a smart, fun woman, her lovely Danish husband and her beautiful, intelligent daughter because of technology. Imagine!

As I looked at the photos, read where she was and where she was going, the phrase La Dolce Vita came to mind. Indeed. 

I thought as I was making soup this morning about how we are truly the sum total of our existence, our experiences. We choose some and some are chosen for us. I chose a life that precludes travel. I did travel some before I chose this life, but having upwards of forty horses, three stallions and a bunch of youngster of varying ages does tend to keep one home. It has been interesting, frustrating, awe-inspiring and heartbreaking. Looking back, I realize I forget how wonderful that life was. How I did something most people don't think about, ever. And don't want to. But I spent the second half of my life immersed in magnificent creatures who had the ability to kill me, but who listened to my words, nickered when they saw me and allowed people to climb aboard and ride off.

I don't know if I'll ever be able to travel again and truthfully, I don't think I care. I enjoy the escapades of others, I have wistful moments and I'm glad I do. It means I'm still human. It means I'm still curious.

My La Dolce Vita is here. 

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Goth Homer

As promised. The son sent me a photo of Homey in his bad dude outfit. He dotes on his Homer. He told me Homer was enjoying the trails so much he almost forgot to ask for biscuits! Matthew found Homer as a stray. He was walking along the creek in his neighborhood and this little dog was walking along with him. He was a little thin but not too scruffy. Matthew called me saying he didn't know what to do. I told him you cannot leave the dog, take him home. See if he is chipped and put him on lost dog sites. They did. They also put up found dog signs in the area. No one claimed him, Matthew kept him. That was maybe five years ago. My son dresses his dog up. 🤷

Then yesterday afternoon this happened. Bill's nephew and cousin live down the road to the east of us. His nephew has an excavating business (he buries my horses) and also takes down trees. So does Bill's cousin, take down trees. Junior said he'd fell these two dead trees and showed up yesterday afternoon. It was a family affair, Bill's brother, their cousin and their nephew. No one told Bill because he wouldn't be able to stop himself from getting in the thick of it and he shouldn't. He's going to be annoyed.

This tree was of particular concern. It was close to the house and part of it was over the house. Junior said there wasn't much holding it up. We live in a softwood forest, we are constantly dealing with trees, the ever sprouting saplings and the ever dying mature trees. There's no shortage of firewood.

I was inside , it seemed the best place for me to be. I took video through a porch screen and a window. The boxelder bugs are thick right now. Another effect of living in a softwood forest is much of it is boxelder trees. Ergot...boxelder bugs. My grandma had them at her house, she called them elder bugs.

Projected task of the day is to trim the bushes along the round end of the house. I let them grow too much, they are covering half the windows. I'll see if I hold up. It may be a two day job. It's going to be in the mid 70s today. Mark plans to cut up the trees as much as he can. Junior said he'd do what Mark can't, but I think Bill is going to want to get into that. They have big guns chainsaws. Guys.


Friday, October 21, 2022

More of the Same

I got a full ice cube tray from the fronds of three fennel bulbs. Fennel is a favorite of mine.

In the spirit of 2022 my laptop decided it was time to die this morning. I'm not a superstitious person but this is beginning to be a bit much. I am relegated to my office and the iMac. It feels like 2008 all over again, when I started blogging and only had the desktop. So much has changed. Including me, never thought in 2008 I'd be shuffling along with a cane!

We have warm weather through Monday so we are getting a break while we wait for the furnace. My son is camping with a friend, they are getting nice weather. Although I'm not sure it matters that much to him as he camps during winter. That is beyond my comprehension. He needs the break, it's been a stressful time with his wife's family. The mother has cancer again, his wife's twin sister has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and the brother just got a diagnosis of a progressive, debilitating disorder. It's a lot. He, his beloved Yorkie, Homer and his friend, Brian can relax for a few days. Matthew bought Homer an armored coat to protect him from raptors, it has metal spikes. Who knew! You have to like a large man who loves his tiny dog.

I made a huge kitchen mess yesterday and didn't clean it up. That is my task now. Mark has to go into town so he is going to pick up lunch. I have leftover sauce and meatballs so I don't need to make dinner. Other than my big kitchen mess I don't have kitchen food prep duty today. That's fine with me.

Have a good one.

Thursday, October 20, 2022



I seem to have recovered from the shock of buying an unexpected new furnace. I had a whopper of a headache yesterday. The body does not like stress.

The son's brother-in-law got the results from the Mayo. They aren't good. Inclusion Body Myositis. I was interested because what was relayed to me about his symptoms and a lack of diagnosis is very much like my own. I hope I don't have this because it is progressive, thought to be an autoimmune disorder. I do have something to present to my doctor, which is good and I don't need to go to Mayo to have the tests done. It's someplace to turn, other than take acetaminophen and try to walk more.

It's a nice day with filtered sunshine. Mark needed to go to a client in the northern suburbs of the twin cities this morning. He said he and the bookkeeper stood outside in the sun being Chatty Cathy. She is a new grandmother and is over the moon. Her positivity made him feel good.

On the home life side of things, I have a stock simmering for smoked ham, white bean and fennel soup. Misfits Market finally had fennel. They have a much better price than the local market so I wait for it to be available. Of course tomorrow will be in the upper 60s F and the weekend in the 70s, but it's still autumn and that makes it soup weather, no matter the temperature. Mark has been fussing over eggplant I haven't used so I will be roasting it and onions and tomatoes for another soup. I cut the stems with the fronds from the fennel and processed it as I do basil; in the food processor with olive oil, then in an ice cube tray and frozen. Store in the freezer in a bag. Waste not, want not. The never ending excitement of the mostly homebound.

That's about it from my little patch of this earth. May life be good to you.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Woe is Me

It's bad news on the furnace. It has to be replaced. The phrase "they don't make them like they used to" certainly applies. The furnace is 12 years old. The one it replaced was 25 years old. He ordered the new one and will put it in on Tuesday. Fortunately it's warming up so it will be ok. Like it or not, we live in a very cold climate and must have a furnace. It's a good thing I preserved all those tomatoes.

So that's the news. Scott asked about my greyhounds and Howard. Mark commented on Scott's remembering them. Scott said he's been here a lot over the past twenty years. True.

If I had anything more to say it's been lost in the maze of my muddled-from-surprise brain. I think I need a glass (or three) of wine.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022


I got a call from the hvaq guy asking if I would do him a big favor. Could he come tomorrow? Yes, of course. It's not warm in here by any means but we are probably better off than most people calling him right now.

Mark had the biopsy, he said it was relatively painless and quick. He should have the results in a week. So, the wait isn't over yet.

I made a tomato sauce this morning with some of the remaining fresh tomatoes and lots of garlic; we can have garlic again now the biopsy is done. Hurrah!! I also made meatballs which are now simmering in the sauce. I don't cook the meatballs first, I simmer them in the sauce, I really do prefer the texture. I also don't use egg as a binding agent, I use milk. The meatballs are delicious clouds when made this way.

It was 55 F in the kitchen this morning. It was 21 F outside, so no surprise there. It's supposed the reach 40. My coffee goes cold fast, so does the food. I won't say we are roughing it, though. That would be ridiculous. But, it's still chilly.

It won't be long before we see this again.

With that cheery thought I will bid you adieu.

Monday, October 17, 2022


The Brat Cat

I think she wanted more wood on the fire, cuz baby, it's cold outside! Frieda knocked at the door because she wanted the comfort of a warm house, she could have stayed in the barn for this nonsense.

It was 21 F this morning and is currently 31 F. It's not going to get much warmer. The hvac guy is coming sometime tomorrow, in the meantime we are doing ok. It's a good thing we have backup plans. Too bad I didn't follow through with the plan to have the furnace gone over earlier, before heating season. 

Mark has his biopsy tomorrow. Fingers are crossed all will be well. His anxiety is ramped up, understandably so. Hopefully he will come home to a warm house.

Well, back to the business of Monday, laundry and such. Stay warm. Stay well.

Sunday, October 16, 2022


A little chili with my cheese, please.

Last evening, chili for dinner. Today, chili for lunch. It's a cold, blustery day, perfect for spicy food. I have the furnace turned off, it's acting up. It comes on then shuts off. Better to leave it off until I can get the hvac guy here.The heaters and the blower on the fireplace are keeping us from being too cold. 

My son sent me a text yesterday morning asking if he could come to lunch. I swear he is going to think we are avoiding him. It's the third time in a couple of months I had to tell him no. All for valid reasons. This time Mark doesn't have time to visit, he's on a deadline and needs to be finished tomorrow. Mark has commented that the son doesn't seem to know me, I am not an impromptu person. Under the best of circumstances I don't do well with last minute plans and I never have. I guess the memory of uptight mom is buried. I told him we could plan on next Saturday but he isn't available. I'll see his new truck before it's an old truck, I'm pretty sure.

Small problems. 

Saturday, October 15, 2022

It's a Dog and Cat World

Keetah has partial return of her hearing. It happened day before yesterday, all of a sudden her expression changed and she responded to my talking to her. It's been 5 months since she lost her hearing. Very strange.

She has her eagle eye on Mark outside. She is quite attached to him. This is the first dog we've had that is "his". She looks good for a nearly eleven year old large dog. 

I think Keetah is lamenting being stuck in the middle again. Mark also has his very own cat, Miss Jiggs. She adores him and shows utter disdain for me. Frieda adores her comfy throw on the ottoman.

It's a cold sunshiney day. We are entering the long winter season and that's alright with me.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Nothing Much

We had a very light dusting of snow overnight. It's currently 34 F and rain is in the forecast, which means the barn babies are staying in for the day. 

We haven't got any of the autumn cleanup done. Mark is too busy and I.....well, I'm not of much use. Maybe I will mow now that we've had a little moisture. It has been too dry and I have felt too miserable with sinus issues. There is my lament for the day.

I did break down and turn on the furnace the night before last. It was actually Mark who asked me to. Because he doesn't know how. Yes, I know. He can start the oven. He can also discuss theorem and tax law and baseball like he knows what he's talking about. Just don't ask him to adjust the thermostat.

Has anyone made an oil pie crust? A friend gave me a recipe and it's easier than a short crust but I'm trying to wrap my head around it. I know, why not just give it a try. Because I'd rather ruminate. I don't have any pie fruit anyway, which I suppose is why I think about it instead of doing it. Perhaps I'll make a quiche. With goat cheese and pancetta. And spinach. I think I've planned dinner.

I did watch the 1-6 committee yesterday. I do not see how Merrick Garland can ignore this. I don't have anything I like about Liz Cheney's political philosophy but I sure do respect her drawing a line over insurrection. One shouldn't have to feel that way, it should be without question, but as we all have seen.....it's not.

With that little bit of sunshine I bid you arrivederci.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Are We Tired of Tomatoes Yet?

The saga of the tomatoes continues. I did dehydrate three trays of tomatoes yesterday; two Romas and one yellow plum. I also cooked tomatoes to freeze for sauce. So I got part of my list attended to.

Today I've made green tomato salsa verde with unripened Romas. The tomatoes were a very light green so the end result isn't vibrant in color but it is good in flavor. I got a jar for the refrigerator and three containers for the way over-packed freezer. If I squeeze these in there won't be room for a toothpick in there. There is another version of salsa verde other than the Mexican. There's an Italian salsa verde which is made with capers. It's apples and oranges.

I also made Pesto Rosso with the Romas and Pesto d'Oro with the yellow plums I dehydrated yesterday. Two jars for the refrigerator and two for the freezer. Read the above state of the freezer.

None of this can be used until after next Wednesday in any meal made for both of us. Mark has to leave garlic out of his diet for ten days before a biopsy he is having. This is a panic moment for me. A day without garlic is like a day without coffee. Maybe worse. I know there is a reason I haven't been visited by vampires, I do. I'm going to be reduced to sprinkling garlic powder on my food. One week. One looooong week. 

We have had a day of light rain. We need more than we are getting but it's better than nothing, if only to tamp down the dust. We are in drought. I got the last of my square hay bales yesterday and Bob said he'll start bringing the round bales this week or next. He's told me he has enough. I don't need them until November, so I feel good about the hay situation, even if it is expensive. Like everything else. 

The sun just made an appearance so I guess that's it for our sprinkling of rain. I'm sure my barn babies have been swearing under their breath about being in the rain on a day in the 50s. Zing has a shed, he's likely doing the na na na na to the others. I can't avoid kitchen clean-up any longer, a consequence of being a messy cook. Be well.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

🎶Yah, Yah, Yah🎶

Over my life I have saved bits and pieces of the past. I still have my Official Beatles Fan badge! I still have the first two albums in a bookcase.

I didn't see the Beatles in concert when they came here in 1965 but I did see the Monkees! We were silly girls.

That was a little diversion. Mainly I wanted to say we had a fun visit with Bill and his wife, Sheila . We sat on their patio and were there for an hour and a half, talking allergies, religion, racism and tomatoes. And anything else a person may be able to think of! Bill and Sheila are an endangered species in this community....Democrats. Bill was concerned about getting my pellet stove fixed, I told him it will wait. Sheila told him it will wait. She was not happy with him for helping his brother the day before with his combine. They were both tired from the influx of family on Sunday and the lack of sleep they both had while Bill was hospitalized. It's good to have him back, now he just needs to listen. And there is the rub.

I am going to attempt to do something with the rest of the tomatoes today. I don't usually make sauce to freeze but I may just do that. I will also make salsa verde with the green tomatoes. How far I get is anyone's guess.

My son's brother-in-law has had very similar symptoms to mine, also undiagnosed. He went to the Mayo a couple of weeks ago. I sent a text to Matthew yesterday asking if there is any news, not yet. Since it's so similar I want to have something I can present to my doctor, at least as another option to investigate. The Mayo is difficult for me due to the animal circumstances and my last reliable helper being gone for a few years. If I can get a starting point from his visit it will be helpful. I have crossed fingers.

Mark needed to go to town so he's picking up the grocery order and tacos from the deli, Taco Tuesday. It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, I hope it is for you as well.

Monday, October 10, 2022



Not to sound like a broken record, but, another quiet day on the farm. We took a trip to Edina for my lab work this morning. It's a longish drive but otherwise uneventful. The young man got into my difficult vein without drama.

Mark called Neighbor Bill after lunch. We have been invited to visit at 2:30 this afternoon. Bill is tired but I think doing ok. It will be good to visit.

I wanted to do a brief update since a few people have expressed concern for Bill. I'll know more later today. Now I'm going to place an Aldi order for pick up tomorrow. This is the extent of my eventless life at the moment! Eventless isn't necessarily a bad thing, I know.


Saturday, October 8, 2022

Uncertainty in Life

What I did on Friday afternoon.

I lit the second fire of the season on a chilly, blustery day.

I watched a three part series on Brit Box, The Barking Murders. Then I got an audio book from the library system and settled in for a listen.

It has been quite windy for the past few days which has kicked up allergy symptoms. I did manage to make chicken stock before I sunk into the throne for the rest of the day. We'll have tortellini soup for lunch, another good day for soup.

Life has been quiet. I am trying to keep myself away from the beehive of political chatter. I can't do anything about anything, other than vote. Depression is a lousy companion, I don't need to encourage its company. The library audio books have been a true blessing for me. I have to be in a particular mood to settle into something on the streaming channels, but I can listen to a book. 

Life just got less quiet a minute ago. Neighbor Bill called to say he's in the hospital. He nearly bit the dust when helping his brother with farm equipment. He has blood clots in his legs. This is particularly hard on him, his older sister died a couple of weeks ago and two brothers last year. He is feeling his mortality. Bill is our only friend in this community, we really like him and want to keep him.

Stay well, good people.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Cogs in a Wheel

Chunky potato, leek and ham soup for lunch yesterday. No cream, just the taters thickening it. Sage in brown butter garnish along with the brown butter. Filling stuff. Mark is meh about soup but he really liked this one. That's a score! It will be a repeat today.

A favorite meal was had for dinner. I love roasted chicken and I really love that everything in done in one pan. The evening light made the color a little off, but I do like the skin dark and crispy. And more bones, more stock. More stock, more soup.

Bob wanted to know how many more small square bales I need so I added up my total to date and it turns out to be only about 200 more. I still need 40 round bales, if they are the 1,100 pound rounds. If smaller I'll need more. I want the big ones, less moving bales to the paddocks. I'll take what I get.

I saw OPEC is going to reduce production by two million barrels per day. Here we go again. We are cogs in a perpetual wheel.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

So We Go

Back to basics.

I made a blueberry clafoutis yesterday. I haven't baked in a couple of years, other than bread. The custardy bit looks anemic because I needed to use all the berries, which was five cups. Normally it's three cups, but it is good and blueberry abundant!

I finally made the egg bake now that I am feeling better. Lots of good stuff, including prosciutto and gruyere.

Former Neighbor, Jack, called last evening at 8:30 saying he wanted to come out now. It's a little over an hour drive. Mark had just got out of the shower and we hadn't eaten yet. People who don't live it do not understand life with livestock. Mark had just finished bringing the horses into the barn, getting them fed and watered and then unloading a couple of full racks of hay. Mark said no. Jack was taken aback, he didn't expect that. Because he has no comprehension of how long the days can get. And he and Caroline are night owls. I kind of remember my city life!

It's a pleasure to be enjoying summer's abundance in October. Even the weather has been warm. Today is the last of that, though. Still, it's been appreciated.

So...onward and upward fine people. One more day in the life.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

I Saw the Light

Frieda was sitting on her piano, the upright sitting position, in profile. She has a pretty profile. I saw the lovely light and the lovely kitty and decided to take a photograph. I messed around with the framing of it too long, when I finally got around to taking that photo, Frieda had left the picture. No tortoiseshell but the light is pretty. The rocking horse belonged to my son, my husband at the time knew someone who made them. I am fond of it.

Former Neighbor Jack didn't make it out here yesterday. Which worked out well for Mark. Hay Guy came with two loads that he and Mark had to unload. It was just before Jack was supposed to arrive when Ken pulled in with the hay. Mark was relieved when Jack called to say he couldn't make it. We need about 400 more square bales for the season and 40 round bales. It's been a dry year, hay is scarce. I need to buy a lottery ticket.

Today I will pick the remainder of the tomatoes. We are coming into normal temperatures for Minnesota in October, so this will be the end. I have enough tomatoes preserved to last a couple of years. I'm going to make salsa verde with whatever green tomatoes I pick. Anything ripe will likely be dehydrated. Thanks Val!

As a note of interest mainly for myself, my sinus problem and the knockout punch it gave me has lessened by a lot. It takes being really ill to appreciate feeling well!

I guess it's off to the tasks, I have a list, one or two will be done. Ah, well.

Monday, October 3, 2022

Parsley Sage Rosemary no Thyme

We have stayed in contact with our immediate neighbor from Saint Paul these almost thirty years. Mark has continued to do his taxes. He drives out here twice a year and it's such a pleasure to see him, even though he is a dyed-in-the-wool trumper. We work at avoiding that topic. We like him and he likes us, so we just push that difference to the side. Which is easy when you see one another about two hours a year.

Lately, I need something to prod me into action. Jack's coming today is the prod. He and his wife, Carolyn, always knew me as an organized person with a clean house. HA!!! I don't want to shock Jack's system. Carolyn told me one time that my house looked like no one lived in it. I'm afraid that kind of organization is no longer in the cards, and that is a good thing. I am not such a tight-ass anymore.

I need company more often. The house could be crumbling around us and Mark wouldn't notice. That man spends a lot of his time somewhere else, even when he's standing right in front of me. I never have to worry about a nagging husband, so it's not really a complaint, just a wonder how two people can be so opposite. In our case it works well. I can't be told what to do and he doesn't care what I do as long as he eats!

Onto another story: Mark just brought in the herbs I'm going to, once again, try to overwinter. The sage and rosemary did make it last year. The sage look bedraggled, it needs some water and also, I gave it a very short haircut a week or so ago.

The ferns got huge. When I bought them in June the fronds didn't cover the pot. One will hang in front of the kitchen window and one will sit on a tall stool in the sunroom. I just gave them a drink.

I have never had luck with basil over the winter, but I'll try again. I haven't brought parsley in but I'm thinking it will do fine.

So, this is my grand excitement. I'm doing some house cleaning, crowding the kitchen with plants, general mayhem. After tomorrow it gets cold. It's near 80 today! I may need to break down and start the furnace on Wednesday. 

Happy trails.

Sunday, October 2, 2022


How different children looked in the 1950s. Can you imagine seeing a little girl like this now? No. Photos of children are excellent in showing societal and fashion change from era to era. This is my cousin, Marie. She was eleven years older than I was and one constant in my life. I was perhaps three? Marie looked like her dad, nothing like my mother's family. Marie died from a rare condition I no longer remember the name of. That was in 2012, two years after my father died. I still miss her.

Another relic. This radio was in the basement rec room for as long as I can remember. 

My memory is that it was my dad's. Perhaps he got it after WWII. He spent the entirety of the war in the Navy and was discharged after the war ended. It used to work during my childhood. I brought it home and cleaned it up in 2020. It does not work now!

The basset on top of the radio was a kind, thoughtful gift from a friend who is a gourd artist. Who knew such a thing existed? My much adored Howard died in 2017 and I was devastated. Barbara took a photo from facebook and made a gourd Howard for me. I call the print on the right Psychedelic Howard. He would not be amused.

I have a quieter than usual day ahead. Mark has gone to Stillwater, which is on the eastern edge of Minnesota along the St. Croix River. On the other side of the river is Wisconsin. His sister lives there and family is getting together. A brother living in Nebraska is in town. It will be a long day for him.

So I'm home with a deaf German Shepherd who has decided her calling in life is barking and two cats, one who doesn't think I deserve to live here, the other is on the fence. It's a toss up as to whether I do something or plant myself in the throne chair and listen to a new book all day. I'm cutting myself a break by calling it even chances, we all probably know that's not true!

While sitting here at my desk I have decided what's for dinner this evening, so one thing accomplished. I never know where inspiration will appear, it usually comes from seemingly nowhere, why would a quiche pop in my brain from what I wrote in this post? I'm not going to try to figure that one out.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Mothers. Cooking. Life.

My mother was not a good cook. She made a couple of things well, actually very well:  a top-notch lasagna and simmered-for-hours red meat sauce. Those were really good. But, no one over-cooked meat better than she did. No one. She hated cooking, so...it was  not on her list of things to care about. I didn't learn from her, other than to stay out of her way.

I married young. I spent the first year out of high school earning as much money as I could. Then one year in college. I married at twenty. I didn't know how to just leave home. I'd stayed with friends the summer I graduated high school, but that was almost a mortal sin, not to be repeated. So, I found a guy and got married. Kate had told me before I became engaged that if I didn't get married soon I would be an old maid. She told me when I was thirteen it was a good thing I was smart. No man would ever want to marry me. She then said it was a good thing my brother was good-looking, because he sure wasn't smart. He found out, when he enlisted in the Navy, that he was dyslexic. He was always smart. 

Of course, I married someone my own age, the last of seven children. Spoiled, used to having people jump in to pick up whatever mess he got into. He also had a problem I didn't understand until later. He was an addict and an alcoholic. I thought he'd stopped the drugs and I didn't realize the extend of the alcohol use until I lived with him. I loved his family, especially his mother. She was probably the kindest person I had known. My mother couldn't stand her. Of course she couldn't. As everyone knows, that marriage was short, but I was out of my parents house now.

Well, that wasn't my initial point! I tend to go with stream of consciousness. 🤷

Back to cooking. I could do basic cooking, nothing to write home about. I did make the lasagna and spaghetti sauce once in awhile, but cooking was not my thing. In the late '70s I bought the book on the lower right. It was a higher level than I was at but not overly complicated. As you can see, I used it! Then I bought the second one when it came out a year later. I found meal preparation to be enjoyable. I didn't have much free time, but when I did I enjoyed cooking. When we moved to Summit Hill I made good friends with some really fine neighbors and we would take turns having dinner parties. I then bought the book on the left. This book teaches French technique. From the most simple, which is always the basis for the next step, to hair pulling, why am I bothering, complexity. Although I wouldn't take that on now, back then I had more time and a willingness to learn. Also, an acceptance of failure. This book gave me a foundation.

After we moved to the farm I became crazy busy and cooking went on the back burner. Fourteen hour days in a barn will do that. The past fifteen or so years I started showing interest again. Not complicated French food. Simple rarely from a recipe food. Standard Americana and Mediterranean food that I can just throw together. But it's easier to do, I think, because I allowed myself all the frustration of learning the fussy business of a French kitchen.

A favorite recipe was given to me by an elderly Italian woman I knew when I worked in Occupational Therapy. She was a patient and I adored her. She gave me her recipe for manicotti. I still have it on a recipe card. Signora Mancuso's Manicotti. I have an English Pasty recipe from the head of the department. Her mother came from England and it was her recipe. These are things to be treasured.

My son is a fine dining chef. He says he blames me for his career. I tell him I never worked in a professional kitchen. He started that as a teen when he went to work at a local pizzeria washing dishes then moving onto the line. When he went off to college he ended up working part time in the kitchen of a fine dining restaurant and the rest is history. 

If we like what we do, we tend to put the time into learning and improving. Because even in frustration, or exhaustion (long days in a barn), underneath, we like it. We receive pleasure and a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of worth. This is a universal truth. Say I.