Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Welcome back Russians

Once again this blog is getting tons of hits (more than half of all hits) from Russia. It's a mystery!
Edit on December 9th to add screen print of daily page views.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

I'm a Lawn Bowling athlete

At lawn bowls this morning I hit the jack with my first ball, and then hit it again on my second throw. I scored the two points, and a third from my mate. If you've never played you are missing a great game. More about lawn bowls.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Patron Saint of Bad Grass

That's St. Augustine.

Like St. Augustine (the pre-conversion version), it is evil, heavy drinking (most of our water bill), wicked living stuff.

Monday, October 17, 2016



1. Worthless finery; bric-a-brac or junk.
2. Nonsense.
3. Deceit; fraud.

More here.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Humpty Trumpty

sat on a wall.

You know the rest.

This will not end well.

Correction: Sits in a tower, not on a wall. Result is the same.


Yeah. I kinda went crazy on the felting. The bowls are so much fun. The purse is my design.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Another year, another $5,000 in health care bills

We live in Minnesota. We are self-insured. Our premium went up 33% last year. We got a notice in September from Blue Cross. They are no longer insuring us (cutting out our market in 2017). Now this.

Friday, September 23, 2016

If the shoe fits

you'll walk a LOT more.

Who knew that using a different lacing pattern could make so much difference? Try this.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Not a Clutch Cover

This is a felted clutch I just finished. The butterfly pin is from my mother's collection. Details here.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

All Trumped Up and No Place to Go

What's a fiction writer to do?

How can you possibly pull an audience when the reality show is a real screamer, better than anything from a wild, LSD-charged nightmare?

The horror genre can't compete. Check out the romance category ;-)

Friday, July 29, 2016

Welcome Russia, Part 2

I checked my stats this morning, and hits from Russia are suddenly more than double what I get from any other country (including the previous leader, the United States). 291 page views from Russia yesterday, and 145 from the US. Not kidding.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

I love this town!

Our Community Kitchen serves breakfast twice a week. This is a short walk (three blocks) from our home, and a great place to enjoy hearty fare and community. Breakfast is $3 per person free will donation (or free for those who cannot afford it). It is cooked and served by volunteers, and space is provided by the church. This morning they were also running a cooking school for kids, so it was lively! We had a great time with neighbors and new friends, and the food is fantastic.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Tyvek® House

This place is on the main drag into our town. It's been in this state for over three years. Husband mentions it every time we drive by. Yes, it's getting old.

Anyway, I wondered how long Tyvek wrap lasts when exposed to the Minnesota elements. So I checked with my friend, Google. From the DuPont (TM) website FAQs:

How long should Tyvek® WB be exposed before it is covered with siding? Tyvek® HomeWrap® and Tyvek® StuccoWrap®, Tyvek® DrainWrap™ and Tyvek® ThermaWrap™ should be covered within 120 days (4 months). Tyvek® CommercialWrap® should be covered within 270 days (9 months).

Husband calls this an "unintentional materials aging study".

Monday, July 25, 2016

Welcome Russian Readers!

Funny thing. I like to check my blog audience stats, you know, the hits, audience, etc. The past few days I'm getting a ton of hits from Russia. This has never happened before! In fact, the Russian audience has been at the bottom of the list for years. Maybe they suddenly all learned English and like to read romance novels? I'm not getting sales from that region, but who knows.

Not sure what this means, but my daily volume has tripled.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Rox and Darlene

Tom McBride has just released a new mystery (actually two mysteries) featuring super sleuths Rox Zander and Darlene Surrey, and it is a hoot. Oh, sure, I could be biased. Darlene's character is shamelessly based on my mother-in-law, Arlene Murray. Click on the cover below and scroll down to sample the first part of this book.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Who you gonna call?

When there's something strange in the neighborhood?

Poke busters.

Out to Leo's for dinner last night. We tripped our way down Main Street, Stillwater, Minnesota. A lot of paranormal activity in the 'hood. Like, so much that over 100 volunteer PokeMonster busters were out.

Five sat at the table next to us, clearly exhausted from their efforts, in dire need of Leo's special Dad's root beer floats. I asked a fearless, pale young woman if they were the geeks we've heard tell of, but rarely seen in sunlight. She squinted and nodded, "Yep, we're hard core. Fixing' your matrix leak, Ma'am."

Whew. I'm just grateful that they are here. We've had so many strange incidents this past weekend. For starters the river mysteriously rose above flood stage. Then this suspicious character showed up yesterday and terrorized small children (NSFK, see photo). Then an elderly couple from California, wielding a massive RV, didn't read the 13 foot lift bridge clearance sign. They backed traffic way up the hill on both sides as they attempted crossing (photo below).

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Knitter's Elbow Recovery

I had to lay off my OCD knitting for a month. Good thing a) the pool is open, and b) my writing muse is back. Anyway, this is my first post-injury gift project -- a simple kid cardigan (size 2T) called "In Threes". I found the buttons in my mother's sewing stash.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Power to Turn Back Time!

Zoom to young caucasian couple sitting on a couch. Husband looks down and sighs heavily.

Man: “Ugh. Looks like we missed the first half of the twentieth century.”

Woman (dismayed expression): “And there’s no way to restart it . . . “

(Donald Trump with large guitar and tiny hands jumps in from left) —

“With Trump/Pence there is!”

(He strums and sings):

“You see we’ve got the power to turn back time,
So let’s restart the Depression of ’29,
and while we’re at it we’ll eat at soup lines too,
and take away your right to vote (points at woman)
and your vasectomy too (points to man)!
(man puts hand over crotch and laughs heartily)
Hey! That’s the power to turn back time! “

The second in the series features a Japanese American couple with Trump singing about the good old days of being in an internment camp. After that there's Mexican American and African American versions, a gay couple, and a mixed race couple. The possibilities are endless. It's fun to “turn back time” to make America great again.

The original ad.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Obama Responds

Heh. He got my email. Since we are being kicked off our healthcare insurance plan (see June 30 post below), his public option idea would work for us. Even better would be Clinton's "Medicare for More", which would lower the age for Medicare as an option to 55.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Synchronized Nightmares

Is this what comes of being married for 34 years?

This morning's action:

Me: Ugh. I hate that dream! I'm retired. It's summer. But there I was, struggling to finish an essay for English class, while I had let History slide. Now I couldn't catch up, and the exam was tomorrow!

Husband (AKA, the one-upper): Dang! I had the same dream, just different. I had signed up for an art class, but somehow I missed the first week. I read my schedule wrong, something I've done repeatedly (in dreams) but this time I was going to correct the situation. I showed up for class, and they were painting with watercolors. The instructor gave us a sheet of paper with a smiley face on it, and we were supposed to brush water over it to "paint". I started in, working rapidly because I was several sheets behind the rest of the class. After a few minutes the teacher ambled over and she said, "Maybe you should go to Walmart and buy the paint-by-number kit. When you've mastered that come back."

True story. You can't make this stuff up.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The New Recission

In today's mail.

We regret to inform you that at the end of this year, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota will be discontinuing all individual and family insurance plans sold to members in Minnesota directly, through an agent or broker, or on MNsure. As a result you will not be able to renew your current plan or select another Blue Cross plan for coverage in 2017. The last day of coverage in your current Blue Cross plan will be December 31, 2016.

Not sure what we do now. Husband took early retirement with the assurance that we would be able to purchase decent health care coverage until we hop onto Medicare.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Back to the Future, Minnesota Style

I had to go over to a Minneapolis law firm today, located in the historic Young Quinlan Building. I met the last human elevator operator in the state (pictures below). Cool beans.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Amazon Instant Preview

This is a new feature from Amazon which allows you to preview a book directly from another site. Click on the images below to see how it works.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The sun shines brighter

on hybrid vehicle owners at Country Inn in Madison, Wisconsin. We drove up to this welcome just a few minutes ago. The parking spot, reserved just for our Prius, is as close to the hotel as the handicapped parking.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Running to the front of the line, aka "budging"

In 2015 Alphabet was created as the holding company for Google and several other companies previously owned by Google. At the time I thought the name would be more appropriate for an online preschool, not a technology-driven corporation.

Perhaps the consultants who chose "Alphabet" were advised about association by Julia Quinn. Julia Quinn is the pen name of a best-selling American historical romance author. She says she chose her name so that her books would sit on bookshelves next to those of the best-selling romance writer Amanda Quick. Using Alphabet as a company name follows this formula for success, as "Al" is close to and comes before "Am" (Amazon) and "Ap" (Apple). So, in lists of highest market cap, most-admired companies, or donors to nonprofit institutions, Alphabet, by playing the alphabet, "front runs" these other heavy weight companies. My kids used to call this kind of behavior "budging in line".

Monday, June 6, 2016

Why the GOP really wants Trump to quit his campaign against Gonzalo Curiel

What they aren't saying when they jump on Trump's criticism of Judge Curiel is that it undermines their argument that the next president should fill the vacant Supreme Court seat. By stalling the Supreme Court hearings, they are effectively saying that they want Trump to install the justice after he is elected. After all, he is now the presumptive candidate. But now Trump says Curiel, due to his hispanic heritage, can't be an impartial adjudicator. Trump's rhetoric (and repeated, after rebuke from leaders of his own party) reveals a desire to use his power to replace an independent judiciary with a judiciary that is subservient to his ends, to benefit his business interests, for example.

There was someone else, a few decades back, who destroyed a nation's independent judiciary to serve his personal agenda: His name was Adolf Hitler.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Duck, Duck, Double Egg

This morning's email included this from D2. "Some people win the lottery... but I crack open two double yolk eggs from the same carton for breakfast. What are the chances?!"

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Minnesota Standoff

It happens most often at doors and four-way stops.

Husband tried to go to the post office today, got up to the door and there was a guy on the other side about to come out.


Both men waited the required awkward 30 seconds. The inside guy then stepped forward and pushed the door open.

Then the obligatory apologies: "Sorry, I thought you were coming through first." and the reply, "It's ok, I'm not in a hurry today."

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

My Trans Barber Shop Experiences

When I was very young my Dad took me to the barbershop for occasional haircuts. It was two blocks from our house, and cheap.Cheap was important. There were 7 kids in our family.

Fast forward 50-some years. I'm living a block from a barbershop, and a while back I went in for a $14 haircut. The barber said he couldn't do women's hair, but then he relented when I said I just needed an easy trim. There was nobody in the shop to witness his rule breaking, and he finished the job quickly. Our little secret, right?

This morning I was walking past the shop with husband on the way to breakfast. I need a haircut, but now I'm worried, as I broke the rules last time, and now there is a much greater awareness of this whole "using the wrong haircut place". I expressed how dangerous it could be to use the shop that doesn't correspond to my birth certificate gender.

Husband said he feared for my safety if I'm in a place with a bunch of (gasp) men.

"How about that nice salon the next block down?" he says. When I told his Scottish ass the difference was around $40, he decided that I could risk crossing over.

Gotta love the practical Scots.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

What's better than hand shucked corn?

Homemade ice! It's finally cold drink season here in Minnesota. Time to turn on the ice maker in our refrigerator, not a trivial task, but my back survived this morning's bend and reach behind the ice drawer to flick the "on" switch. By dinner time we had husband-pleasing frozen cubes, despite his having to listen to jaw-clenching machine rattling all afternoon, while he tried to watch golf. Fortunately I was at the dentist.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Yesterday it was a tax. Today it is a user fee.

I'm always reminded of the old SNL skit. "It's a floor wax. No, it's a dessert topping! It's both!"

From today's Star Tribune:

"The speaker (Daudt) was asked if the increase is a veiled tax increase, and he said it is not, calling it a “user fee.” Just 24 hours before, Daudt called (Governor) Dayton’s car tab proposal a tax increase."

Perception is more powerful than reality. It you can convince them it isn't a tax, then it's all good. Later, when you need their votes, you can disingenuously say, "I never raised taxes."

Wink, wink.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Everybody has a story

and most of the time you don't know it. Sometimes, if you are lucky, you find it.

I live four doors down the hall from the author of this story, or I should say lived, because she died in January, while I was in Florida.

I recently learned she was a writer, and I looked up her work. The description:

"I don't feel so good today, Svensk. My chest hurts, headaches and nervous as hell. I was just thinking today, that you might not accept this wreck that the army will turn back to you after the war. I wouldn't blame you if you didn't. (September 1, 1944) Sharon Barbara was born in 1948, three years after her father was discharged from a military psychiatric hospital. His nervous condition was a mystery to her and a secret source of shame she couldn't bear to acknowledge, that is, until she read his letters. The box containing the letters that her father wrote to her mother between November 1942 and April 1945-his time in the service during WWII-had been right under her nose for years, in the closet of her childhood bedroom. The Letter Project began as a simple preservation task, but over time, it became a memoir as one question led to another. The author's inventive approach of blending memoir, letters, and fiction, culminates in a captivating story of a daughter's journey through her family's past to find freedom and peace. Inspired by letters her father wrote to her mother before and after D-Day, The Letter Project offers us a beautifully written portrait of Barbara's own battles with self-doubt, depression, and loss."

Saturday, May 14, 2016

This man could have been our president

Yes, I'm talking about Dan Quayle; he's looking very good about now.

How I pine for the innocence of those old days, when a media spanking over misspelling potato ("potatoe") was nasty politics. Nowadays a candidate can call opponents names, like "Lyin' Ted" or "Little Marco", or even worse, compare some immigrants to 'rapists'. Quayle's jab at single motherhood, pales in comparison, but it was furor fodder in 1992.

What has happened to respectful civil discourse, and why do some candidates (looking at you, Mr. Trump) get a pass on it?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Knitter's Elbow

It's the same as tennis elbow. The fix includes ice, rest, and stretching exercises. For me, not knitting is like a slow roast in the fire pit of purgatory. I'm attacking my reading stash.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Learning history from bumper stickers

I saw this one the other day in a parking lot. No idea what it was about, but I thought it was odd that a football helmet would be on an anti-mining sticker. When I finally got around to googling it, I learned that the mine was stopped 18 years ago, when then-Governor Tommy Thompson signed a moratorium on mining. Then the area tribes stopped it forever by purchasing the land.

Given the weather up here, it's strange to see a vintage bumper sticker riding on a car in nearly mint condition.


Just finished these projects. Shalom cardigan and February Lady.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Climate: Put a toaster cover on it!

What? It's May 6th and 90 degrees, beating the 1934 Minnesota record high for this date.

Speaking of toaster covers, I designed, knit and gifted this to homeowners of a place we rented in the Villages in February. Context: The couple had everything, as in collections of rare and unusual elephants, giraffes, pineapples (the decorative kind), a strange shrine to some oriental deity, five dining tables (which one to use? That was difficult). So what can you possible give to someone in that condition? The only need I perceived was the toaster hider, as that appliance was an ugly vulture, perched in plain sight, on the granite countertop.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Women who break diamonds

I inherited my mother's wedding ring three years ago.

Not only does it represent 62 years of a successful marriage, but it held many memories for me. She wore it 7/24 all those years, except for the time she had it reset because the band had thinned to a thread.

When I went to the jeweler to have it resized (mom never weighed more than 102 pounds except when pregnant, ballooning to 115), he looked at the gem and declared it flawed, and not worth much.

The diamond has a small chip in it, imperceptible to the casual eye.

It didn't matter to me, but I wanted to know how the hardest rock could chip. "Wear, age," the jeweler muttered.

I'm not surprised. A woman who survived dust storms and the Great Depression, walked across a dike to teach at a one room schoolhouse in subzero temperatures (frozen hands in the deal), raised seven challenging children, suffering the death of one, and lived into her nineties, had broken a diamond.

Yep, sounds about right. I'm so proud to wear it in her memory.

Write about what you know

Cliche advice. I'm reading about writing. I'll make my next post about the first thing I see when I open my eyes. I should know something about whatever that is . . .

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

It's a gas! Gas! GAS!

Heh. What's old is new. To me, at least.

I just learned the lyrics to this song. Yes, I grew up with it, but I never listened to the words. I was so taken by the guitar riffs and beat, in fact so much that the lyrics, which seemed to all hit on the same note anyway, just flew past me (ok, except for the "all right now" and "jumpin' jack flash", I did get those). Mind you I was about ten years old when this hit the airwaves, but I never bothered to go back to it, and after a few years down the road, well, you know, life gets in the way of nostalgia . . . until a band mate brought the chord tabs/lyrics to practice on Monday.

I recently learned that the refrain from another song I enjoyed back in the day ends in "there's a bad moon on the rise", not, as I've always sung it, "there's a bathroom on the right."

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

WTMI, People, WTMI!

Facebook. I've never been on it. Neither was husband, until two days ago, when he decided that the only way to reconnect with old college friends was by doing the online tryst.

It turns out a retiree can spend half his day on there. Now I'm hearing shouts of "Susie just announced she had her kidney stone check!" and "Dan is going in for a colonoscopy!" and "Do you think I should friend Linda? Who is Linda? I don't remember her." Two of his new online friends had big crushes on him back in the day. Should I worry?

I'm escaping to the grocery store. Somebody, please shut down the internets while I'm out.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Raspberry Beret

I live in Princeland, er, Minnesota.

Good suggestions: Put Prince on the $20 bill, but make it a 19.99 note. Give Minnesota an official state color, all shades of purple.

Yep. That's the most important legislation ever drafted by State Senator Karin Housley. She says her favorite song is, by the way, "Raspberry Beret".

A slightly lavender Minnesotan can probably look past the sexual innuendo in that song, but it's hard to, ahem (warning, NSF children), swallow the urban dictionary entry.

If you are still reading, I'm saying, you betcha, purple fits Minnesota. Prince is just the icing. We cheer purple Vikings. Our favorite noxious weed is the purple thistle. And, you've probably noticed that lips turn purple in the cold.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Moving on in, stolen garbage, and cart of the day

Did I forget to mention that we bought a place here? Just like everyone else, we came down and were amazed and overwhelmed, got into the lifestyle, purchased a home. On move in day, earlier this week, we put our garbage out, and it was promptly stolen by someone who thought we would be throwing out valuable stuff. The house was sold "turnkey", and the previous owner had items I didn't need. I took them to Goodwill for recycling.

Cart of the day pic below.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Avoiding Notoriety

OK, I'm trying to keep a low profile here. I'm careful to position the car properly, you know, to color within the lines, so I don't get my picture in the Parking Hall of Shame.

Lots of older folk like to customize their carts and cars. This morning I parked next to this vehicle. If you look closely you'll see there's a handicapped hanger on the rearview mirror, behind the Spanish moss of swag hanging there. One can only deduce that the driver's disability is sight-related, due to the amount of visual impairment created by the car decor.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Toaster Love

At the last minute we decided to stay an extra month in The Villages. It's hard to find places to rent at this time of year, but we were lucky to land a lovely home due to a cancellation. The owners are off doing good work in the world (literally, helping children in 3rd world countries) while we are golfing and swimming and uking and woodworking and dancing and using their golf cart, kitchen, den, wifi, and shower.

I decided to make a gift for our hosts, but when I looked around I couldn't find a thing that they need. Finally I settled on a toaster cozy (everyone needs one, right?). Then I couldn't find a pattern online, so I designed my own version. I uploaded it to Ravelry to benefit all toaster lovers.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Still haven't found them

I'm two weeks into my stay here in the Villages, and still no swingers. I haven't seen one golf cart with the flag on it. Plenty of other stuff, like "Muffy and Biff" decals, Green Bay Packers flags, and even one emblazoned with the names of 15 cats. That crazy and wild senior thing is a myth, likely propagated to get more press (any press is good press, right?), but with 114,000 people and growing this place hardly needs more exposure.

The Villages has it all -- every hobby, every sport, every interest is covered at one of the rec centers or through the lifelong learning college. So far I've found four different uke groups, not to mention other mixed strings music groups to play with, and these people are serious players. People drive around in golf carts, and the community is designed with this in mind, with many trails throughout the properties. Live music plays every night in three town squares. This is truly Disneyland for seniors.

In between activities I'm finishing a few knitting projects. This one is my favorite baby sweater pattern.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Looking for Salacious Stories in the Villages

I'm in Florida. The Villages. We decided to "test drive" the largest retirement community (over 100,000 residents) in the world, so, anyway, we are renting a place here for a month.

When we told our Minnesota friends of our plans we got some unexpected reactions. "It's a promiscuous place!" and "Everyone is cheating there!" were common retorts when I casually mentioned we were going to stay at The Villages. Then I found a few references online, like this one and this.

One friend suggested I hunt down the real story so I can write about it.

Well, I haven't seen much evidence of the swinging life (yet). Husband did see a team called "the swingers" on a list of bowling leagues at the local alley, but I suspect that has more to do with the use of arms in the sport than what they do after the game . . .