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

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

A Come to Sandra Conversation

We have a neighbor who was a professional baseball player. He bought land and built a house 15-20 years ago. We don't interact with him, or is it he doesn't interact with us? He called me about a dozen years ago, wanting to buy my land. Very friendly. There is a large brick house down the hill  from my west pasture that butts up to my land that he was wanting to buy. But only with my land included. Nope. He couldn't understand why I wouldn't sell the bulk of my property, which is all fenced pasture land. I asked him where he thought my horses would go? When he realized he wasn't getting what he wanted I never heard from him again. Fast forward to yesterday. My phone rings, don't recognize the number. Then Mark's phone rings with the same number. Then I get a voice mail. He's back. Said he saw a large tree down in the yard and to call him. I don't like him much after that first interaction  and I can let it show in my voice a little too easily, so Mark called him and I listened. Just what I thought. Saw the tree, assumed it hit the house. No, it was felled last winter and there hasn't been time to cut it up. Oh. So, you know the properties that have been sold around here lately? Yep. So, the tree didn't damage the house, are you living in the house? (I told Mark the place looks abandoned). Have you thought about selling? Nope. He approached it a couple more times and then the conversation ended.

He looked at a place he sees as abandoned and was looking to pick it up on the cheap, put a little into and sell for a lot. Mark got a talking to after that. I know it's a lot and we are dependent on another person, but I want this cleaned up. Long grass, a falling down fence, a huge tree laying in front of the house and to top it off... mailbox that had been hit by a plow and is well-tilted forward. Mark gets focused on one thing and can't be moved from it. Lopping saplings. Necessary but there needs to be room for someone else's priorities. To his credit, he looked sheepish. Now let's see how this plays out. He doesn't want to ask the son for help. We will see. I did come out of my stupor!!

Other than this, all is well. 

Monday, May 29, 2023


Memorial Day. June right around the corner. Where has the time gone? My paternal grandparents had three sons in WWII, in the Navy, Army and Air Force. They all came home, which seems something of a miracle. The Air Force son was also in Korea, as was the youngest son, Navy. Everyone came home.

Nothing much happening. Mark is still engaged in the Battle of Trees and Vines. He is losing. I'm still engaged in the Battle of Ennui. I'm also losing. We are in for about ten days of hot weather, which certainly doesn't help either of us in our battles. We have both become extremely heat intolerant. So is Keetah, so we make quite the threesome. 

We did get the grill working and I made a spatchcocked chicken on it yesterday. A rack of ribs will happen today, just for the two of us. I think a potato salad would be good, too.

These fine fellows have had their time acclimating to grass and are now on pasture all day. They are happy about that and so am I. A much smaller hay bill for a few months. Another sign of summer.

I got a pot of flowers in froggy so the pots on the deck are done. We got the veranda furniture out yesterday and I'm slowly cleaning the screened porch after the winter. We store the veranda furniture in there over winter. It's also a cat haven. I tried sitting on the back deck yesterday but was driven inside by a swarm of mosquitos. The trials of my life.

Anyway, today is a day for remembrance of those gone. It was also traditionally the day that told Minnesotans it's probably safe to plant a garden. For many it's a day to picnic or BBQ with friends and family. Happy Day to all, whatever you do.

Friday, May 26, 2023



We went to Fleet Farm this morning for grain, cat food and softener salt, I made a detour to the garden center. I really liked this bright, vibrant pink. Bonus; the hanging baskets are on sale. I got flowers for the urn planters that are on either side of the barn door and a couple more geraniums to fill in the enormous box planter in front of the barn. It's been four years since I planted down there. I need to paint the planter. I picked up a few more herbs and flowers to fill in some other planters. I will need to go online for my trumpet vine. I have enough to busy me this afternoon.

Otherwise, it's sunny and nice at the moment. It's supposed to reach the 80s and be like that for the rest of this month. Keetah and I are heat intolerant. Bill hasn't looked at my mower yet, sigh. Big sigh. Maybe, a big maybe, I can get Mark to mow around the flower beds with the push mower. The trials and tribulations......

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Orange and in Charge

The daily dose of kitty cuteness.

 He blends in with the packaging. Since I am a person who shops online there is never a shortage of boxes for Gatto.

We have a sunny, breezy day, perfect for the horses. For me, too. Mark feels good, he felt better by yesterday late afternoon. He's decided to water the potted plants. There are some drawbacks to a high energy, nervous person, but this isn't one of them. We are going to put the new grill to use today. It has a searing burner which I am anxious to try. I am the griller in the family, I know it tends to be seen as a male job. Not here.

The geraniums are waiting on me, I said I'd plant them days ago. A cool day with a good breeze leaves me no excuse. Tally-Ho, off to the planter I go. Ciao

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Bits of Nothing

Queen for Life
Not for a Day

The iPhone camera can take a photo in darkness and make it usable. It's a bit grainy, still, it amazes me.

We got our Covid booster yesterday. I have a slightly sore arm. Mark has flu-like symptoms. He asked me how it feels to be the strong one in the family. Very funny. His answer to not feeling well? Might as well go clean the barn.

Bill still has my mower. The lawn is just as bad as it had been when I mowed the one and only time. Bill cannot be pushed, I call it Bill Time. So, I wait, quietly impatient.  It is a nice day, sunny and mild. Perfect for mowing....

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Sweet and Sorrow

Since Gatto burst onto the scene, the Prima Donna of our lives has been shunted to the sidelines. Gatto does pay for that, she enjoys smacking him around. Her hiss sounds like a snake.

The iris fascinated my little girl.

Moving in for a closer inspection.

You don't see my feet on the table, right?

hmmmm, it's the same on this side

Brat Cat spent a considerable amount of time on iris inspection. She looks good in yellow. Frieda is the only Tortie I have had. Or, I should say, has me. The description of the personality is no lie.

Matthew sent me a text yesterday about his Aunt Sally. She died in her sleep yesterday afternoon. The universe has acquired a force of nature.

Monday, May 22, 2023

How My Garden Grows


We got a lot done yesterday. Mark tells me I am walking better. You couldn't prove it by me, but he says I am. So I'll take it. Today will be planting the veranda pots. I called it that once and now Mark insists that is what it is. So, we have a veranda. We also have a large flower box in front of the barn which is completely engulfed in weeds that I will need to clear out before I get the geraniums in it. I stopped buying them years ago because they got way too expensive, for me. I found them on sale at a good price, so my flower box will have its old standard once again. We will going out to buy grain and cat food this week and I will check out the garden center for whatever I feel I want (need) to finish up. There is an enormous amount of weeding to do, but Mark, who is a champion weeder, is busy being a world-class sapling lopper. I never was much with the weeding, even when I was in shape to do it. 

I got all the herb pots planted, the flower seeds sowed and the eggplants put in their large pots. I also planted a couple of summer squash seeds I found I had. My sad looking palm is squished between two pots to keep if from blowing over. I need to go through the shed to find a sturdy pot to set it into. Hopefully it will revive itself.

That's about all there is to report. Off I go to plant petunias.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Cycle of Life

My son got some sad news last week. He has another family through his bio-dad, my first husband. His aunt from this family has congestive heart disease and is in hospice with very little time left. He said she isn't conscious but seems peaceful. I always liked her. She was a force of nature. Actually, I liked them all, there were eight kids and his mother, who was probably the kindest person I ever knew. Sally was the rock in this family. I was divorced in 1976, so my contact with them pretty much stopped then, but I have fond memories of a welcoming group of people. My first husband was a good guy, just terribly addicted to drugs and alcohol. Matthew says he is falling apart, Sally did a lot to take care of him. I guess he's hitting the bottle hard. It's tragic all around. 

On to a lighter topic....we did get most of the plants planted. Mark has office work to do this morning but will give me his undivided attention after lunch, replenishing the soil in my eggplant tubs and some flower pots so I can plant. I found I can sit on the stool, that was used as a mounting block, for weeding, which is a huge help. The past three years of neglect have done a number on the plants by the barn. It sure did feel good to accomplish something, even something as small as this.

I have four large water troughs I use for planting. There is a lilac bush near them, so I picked myself a shaggy bouquet. I planted the bushes almost thirty years ago.

This photo is just because I like the vibrant color of the vegetables as I sautéed them for soup. I'd made vegetable stock on Friday and vegetable soup for lunch yesterday. They look so fresh in the pot!

It's a lovely day, bright sunshine and mild temperatures. I'm looking forward to finishing the planting, at least for now. I know I'll be adding more. I really want a trumpet vine to replace a dead clematis but I haven't found any. I may need to buy online. My grandma had a glorious trumpet vine trellised on the front of her house. My grandma meant everything to me and that plant represents her in my memory. This year. I'll find and plant one this year.

Let us enjoy the day and maybe a memory or two.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Sunshine. No Lollipops

There is a strange resemblance between the American Gothic couple and Mark and Sandra. Much closer to reality than Ma and Pa Kettle on the farm, Boud!

So the couple of old farm hermits went out yesterday morning to buy a new grill. The old one bit the dust and hadn't been replaced. I also bought annuals for some immediate color. I plan to use the old seeds I found at my mother's for most of the flowers. It's a lovely day, just the thing for getting out to dig in the dirt and composted manure. The things that float my boat, yep....American Gothic lady here. 

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Bubble, Bubble

Fermenting pizza dough. I don't usually use a glass bowl.
The bubbles are large.

I finally got the lawn mowed. The mower is now over to Bill for some repair. It looks shaggy but it's done. Pixie had suggested leaving some wild. I have long thought about this, but Mark didn't like the idea. I did stop mowing about ten feet out from the front tree line about a decade ago. That is grown-in with bushes and bramble. Nature takes over fast. This mowing I left about twenty feet from the bramble area. Maybe I'll throw wild flower seeds in there. It has always bothered me to have so much tended lawn. It makes me feel like an Ugly American. Only Royals and Americans do this! It's how it was and it's how I've continued. Change seems in order.

Today is to be rainy. It's odd that we can use the rain considering we had five days of rain last week. I did get most of my plants purchased on Tuesday. A Roma and a purple slicing tomato, two eggplant and a zucchini. Several basil, a thyme, tarragon (my favorite), rosemary and sage. I planned to plant today but with the rain it will be tomorrow. I need to go to another nursery for Italian basil, which the nursery in St. Bonifacius didn't have. There's always too much to do in the spring, especially considering our short season.

This has been my life this week. All things considered, it's been good. See, I'm looking on the bright side, yay me! Find your bright side and let it shine.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Down and Out. The Yard, That Is.

We had a nice brunch yesterday with Matthew and his Yorkie, Homer. Matthew's wife was with her family. A chef cooking for you is always a pleasure.

When we pulled into the driveway afterward I started to laugh. Mark asked what I'm laughing at. I said it looks abandoned. A huge downed tree in front of the house, a falling down arena fence and grass in some places up to the knees. Oh My God!

In my defense, I planned to mow on the one day we did not have rain last week. The grass was getting high but not too high. The mower wouldn't start. Mark charged the battery. Still didn't start. He took the battery to Bill, they did whatever they did. Bill tested it and said it is fully charged. Then the rest of the week it rained. 

Today it's sunshine and mildly warm. Mark was getting the mower ready so I could get to it after lunch, when the grass would be drier. It wouldn't start. Bill is coming over this afternoon to see what's wrong. I have a small tractor I use to mow pastures, that one needs something done with the carburetor. Bill, our fixit guy, didn't get to it last fall. Two mowers, no mowing. 

Mark had started tearing down the outdoor arena fence last spring, then other things more pressing got in the way. A falling over fence does not add to the appearance, unless the appearance you are looking for is derelict. We got that look down!

I hope to visit with you all later today. I am actually busy, can you believe it? When the spirit moves me I must cooperate. It's such a rare experience. 

Saturday, May 13, 2023


Yesterday was overcast, we'd had rain the night before, and humid. We had a temperature of 71 degrees and a dew point of 71 degrees. Somehow, this seemed like a day to simmer a meat sauce. So I did.

By the time dinner rolled around the temperature had cooled considerably. Cool, cloudy and rain in the forecast today, which is good weather for the soup I'll make this afternoon. We've been invited to visit the son and his wife on Mother's Day, which is a surprise we are taking them up on. I get a day out!

I've had a bit of ennui these past few days, I imagine the dreariness outside isn't helping. I started trimming the hedge along the east side of the house and then couldn't finish because of rain. The same for mowing, it's either raining or has rained. The grass and weeds are plentiful. For someone who needs to work up motivation this isn't helpful. So I cook, read and do some cleaning. Some. Next week I plan to buy my herbs and vegetable plants. It's early for Minnesota but it looks like we are out of a risk of frost. This is a good thing to look forward to.

That's about all there is on this end. Gatto is crazy, Frieda is huffy and Jiggs is above it all.


Tuesday, May 9, 2023


I have spoken about preserving fresh herbs in cubes, particularly basil.

Other than drying, the only way to preserve basil is in oil. An ice cube tray is perfect for the job. This happens to be fennel fronds. I like preserving fresh herbs this way, even though they freeze well enough. All you need is to pop one or two into whatever you are making and you have the next best thing to right-out-of-the-garden. I thought it may be of interest to anyone who doesn't know this little trick. Completely uncomplicated, if you happen to have ice cube trays on-hand. I think they may be a relic of the past.

I did get outside for a couple of hours yesterday. I got some of the overgrown hedging cut back. I'd hoped to get out this morning but my back was having spasms again. It's becoming a daily morning issue. I hope to get out after lunch. It felt good to be outside and doing something which used to be so simple but now isn't, yet still accomplishing at least part of the task. Otherwise, I have pork bones in the InstantPot cooking down for stock. It's good with lentils. The book, The Spare, finally became available through the digital library. I put it on hold January 13. It's popular. Others have liked it so I assume I will, too.

Monday, May 8, 2023

Spring Has Sprung

We had a beautiful day yesterday and a repeat today. I plan to take myself outside after lunch and try to trim the hedging around the east end of the house. I trim it at least twice a year and didn't do it in the autumn. It's very tall. I've been having back spasms in the morning, which eliminates doing much of anything until it abates by late morning. Those things can knock you to your knees.

Mark is spending the day doing a job which is necessary on a horse farm; spreading manure. He gets that sweet smelling task twice a year. He tried to teach me how to drive the tractor decades ago, I knew what he had planned, he's not good at sneaky. I wouldn't learn. I am good at sneaky. The horses usually are turned out to pasture by the third week of May and it will likely be the same this year.

I have a lot of packets of flower seeds I found when I cleared out my mother's house. They were old then and are three years older now, but I'm going to use them, who knows, some may sprout. I have lots of flower pots, so why not? If they don't, I buy plants. In the span of a few days it became spring, the urge to plant and prune and even mow is upon me!

We had a quick and good dinner of linguine and asparagus. I don't know what I would do without a pasta cupboard, sometimes I just don't have it in me to do anything other than boiling water. I did make chicken wild rice soup for lunch, enough to have it again today. We both really like it. I wonder if food costs will ever come down or if this is where they will remain. I kind of think the latter.

This is my bit for the day. Other than a spastic back I am doing well. 

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Orange and in Charge

The box will be staying where it is until, or if, he tires of it.

After an evening of thunderstorms we have a beautiful day. It's too wet to work outside, so Mark is putting aside his tree cleanup tools for the day. I have a pot of chicken wild rice soup simmering for lunch, the dog and cats are quiet, the sun is shining. A good day. Wishing you all well.

Friday, May 5, 2023


Boxed In

Do not for one second believe the innocence in this face. This guy wears tight naughty pants.

What the box contained.

I like to make tortillas but didn't have a press, I'd use a rolling pin. I never got it quite right, so I had a brilliant idea....buy a press. So I did. Of course I've been talking about eliminating possessions, but hey, it's small. I had to buy a new kitchen TV last week. The old one was losing it's picture, it was getting too dark to see what was happening. This was a replacement and not an addition. I spend most of my time in the kitchen and like to have a TV there, even if I rarely pay attention.

I was able to get more done than usual yesterday. Today I'll be busy in the kitchen making sauce and bread. My self-diagnosis and treatment, with Dr. Google assisting, seems to be working. I'm starting to feel better. A long way from feeling anywhere near good, but also not feeling quite ready for the grave. I actually feel hopeful that I will get better. Mark is still waging the battle of the woodland. He will never win, but he keeps trying.

May we all keep trying, whatever the goal.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

He's Learned to Dust

Mark did clear the dust ropes from the ceiling yesterday.

This is a task I did spring and fall until three years ago. I am so happy it is done.

Mark cleaned the ceiling fan blades last year but not the rest of it. I am not safe on a ladder looking up. That could be another definition of Death Cleaning.

After he finished I vacuumed and used the carpet cleaner on two rugs in the room. I'll put everything back in place today. I may spend the afternoon trimming the hedge along the round end of my house. I didn't get it done last fall and it is covering half the windows. Mark plans to clean up the flower beds, what's left of them. Mother Nature had her way with about half of my flower beds. We are having pleasant weather so I should get outside and soak up some vitamin D.

Since I started having physical problems nothing has been kept quite up to snuff. We have made an agreement to get what we can done this year, which I optimistically said would be about half of what needs doing. We are both working on having realistic goals without self-recriminations if it doesn't work out. This is more for Mark than me. He tends to over-plan. 

I did read the book on clearing out your things. I didn't learn anything new, just a pleasant reinforcement of what I knew. She does stress what I learned when I started. Start with the easiest to part with. Take your time. I would take one room at a time and maybe not do another for a few weeks or even months. For me at this time it's getting organization back. An organized space is much easier to handle, even if there is still too much stuff. She also says it's ok to get rid of gifts. I have some of that I hung onto because it didn't feel right to give away. This is something to do on rainy days.

That's the days ramble. Time to get to it.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

The Candlewick of Time

The book I ordered, The Fine Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, arrived yesterday afternoon.

I started clearing out about a decade ago and did eliminate a lot. That said, there is still too much. I read the introduction to the book and she says a truth; even if you aren't nearing the age of concern, everyone benefits from an uncluttered home. 

I have thought for awhile about some of my finer possessions. Things I used regularly in Saint Paul when I still entertained. Then I used twice a year here with family on the two major holidays. Which I no longer use. I have Waterford crystal wine goblets and flutes. Lennox crystal wine, water and brandy glasses. I now have three sets of china, acquiring my mother's Haviland Limoges after her death. It's still in the box I packed it in, in a corner of my office. Do I sell it, or use it? It is expensive. I have decided I'm going to use the wine glasses. No reason not to. I like them, they don't need to sit in a cabinet in the butlers pantry collecting dust. I know I cannot let go, at least yet, of my treasures. But, I can use them as an everyday item. There is still a lot to go through that I will let go, I cleaned out a huge amount of baking pans and such several years ago. Time to clear out more. I gave away about twenty tablecloths and I have equally as many still. I had a problem. If I get rid of the clutter it would be easy enough for my son to sell the better items when it's necessary. 

I will read the book, it's a short read, and get serious about eliminating the unnecessary and unused. I wish I'd had the motivation over the winter.

Mark is removing clutter outside. We have wild raspberries by the thousands growing along fence lines and tree lines and anywhere else they decide to be. He's pulling them out with heavy leather gloves. It's a job, but they bother him. I have some need of his help inside. My living room is vaulted. I would use a tall ladder and a long duster to take the dust down. I'm not safe to be on a ladder looking upward so I've asked Mark to do it. It's been a couple of years and it's forming ropes. I would like it done today. He has his own agenda, but I think I can get him to do it.

This is what is swirling around in my mind at the moment. This and what to make for lunch. I don't know which is taking up more brain space.

Monday, May 1, 2023

Try It. You'll Like It.

I have a longtime internet friend, one of the nicest guys I've never met. He breeds Arabian horses, which is how we became acquainted on Facebook years ago. We trade recipes, he likes to cook. He sent me something he saw in a reel yesterday, a chopped salad for a sandwich. You can use whatever you have on hand. I made it for today's lunch and it is delicious. I used romaine, kalamatas, artichoke hearts, avocado, tomato, onion, chicken and tarragon. I put some of the artichoke marinade oil in with mayonnaise. It is so fresh. He told me I would be surprised at how good it is. Mark loved it, which is saying something. It could also be simply a salad.

 I did put a little to the side on my plate.

Give it a try, whatever vegetables you have and protein if you want it. My friend used ham. 

Other than a very satisfying lunch, not much to say. We have sunshine and cool weather. It's supposed to be 70 F by Thursday. That is weather I like. I had a couple of down days but I've perked up.

I ordered this book last week.

I like this sort of thing. I started going through our stuff starting at least ten years ago and have winnowed a lot. Somehow there is always more. After my mother died in 2020 and I had the job of clearing out sixty-two years of accumulation without ever having much elimination I have become more thoughtful about how I leave things. Besides, I like organization and would like to see if there's something I can get from this. We all have our foibles, this is one of mine. There are more.

I will visit later today, the afternoon is slipping away and I have things I promised myself I would do today.