Monday, August 31, 2009

Date Night

We did have a babysitter Friday night and went to the movies, which was terribly exciting for us. Back in the day we went to the movies once or twice a week. Now it feels like once or twice a year. We went to see Julie and Julia. I'm a big Meryl Streep fan, so it was a no brainer for me. (Don't even start with me that Out of Africa is one of the best movies ever and ever of all time ever.) Also I have read the Julie Powell book from which it is based and am working on My Life in France which is the Julia Child book from which it is also based.

In case you haven't been paying attention, Julie Powell was having a little 30th birthday crises and so she cooked her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year and blogged about it. She still has one of the best read blogs of all time. I have read reviews which call the Julie Powell book self-absorbed and whiny. Well, yes. Best not to read this blog then. Isn't that the very nature of blogging? I didn't mind her whining as much as I objected to her potty mouth. Oh, I'm not going to sit and say that I am incapable of throwing out the occasional expletive, but I think it's distracting in writing unless it serves a very specific and strong purpose . . . and even then.

I have to say, in this particular year of my life, I am far more interested in the idea that Julia Child started at Le Cordon Bleu at age 37, then started her famous cookbook in her early forties and her television career later still.

There is a lot of life yet to be lived.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Writer's Block Friday . . . Hooray!

1. Toddler D really enjoys a sandwich cookie once he gets it peeled. Think about it.

2. Please enjoy two new listings on my blog roll. "Bits and Pieces" is by one of my favorite coffee baristas Bethany who is pregnant and cute as can be. "Semester at Sea" is by Laura and Becca, two dear little friends who are on the Semester at Sea Voyage. They will be traveling around the world on a cruise ship for the next few months, poor things. Their brother was on the voyage that got caught in storm a few years back. Maybe you remember the footage from the news of the kids rolling back and forth across the ship. They docked for a few days in Hawaii and were just fine.

3. Brent and I are thinking of starting a new act "Brent and ML sing the hits of the 80's a la Steve and Edyie." Or maybe "a la Guy and Ralna" if that would mean more to your civic organization or banquet event. It certainly might in this neck of the woods. Contact me for booking dates. (Maybe you don't know me well enough to know I'm kidding . . . sort of.)

4. Speaking of this neck of the woods, Arizona Girlfriend Audrey suggests that if she needed to purchase any of the items mentioned in Mondays blog entry about Fleet Farm, she would go to Wal-Mart or Ace Hardware. She's on the right track, but Fleet Farm is so much more. You can buy medicine for your cattle, bulk dried pineapple, bunk beds, work boots, and a fondue pot there.

5. It's date night, if there's a baby sitter. Otherwise, it's date night for four.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Writer's Block Fri . . . oh, shoot

Well, we can't have writer's block. It's only Thursday and, as you know, writer's block is for Friday. Let me make a second cup . . .

So, it's looking a little bit fallish around here, and as you know I am not good with any sort of change, even positive change. Colin's backpack is all packed and ready to go. Toddler D and I are signed up for another round of ECFE. I don't know if I've talked about Grandpa Larry, but he's a grandpa I stop and talk to on my walk every day. Anyway, he's had his coat on the past few mornings. Brent's music schedule is mind boggling.

I'm feeling a little overwhelmed and we haven't even started yet.

Now while it's true I can be an emotional eater, I would say I have a bigger problem with emotional spending, and so I have been spending every free moment pouring over things I didn't know I needed on eBay. I find there is slightly less guilt on eBay AND I can do it nearly constantly, so I don't need to drive to a mall or even Target (also a terrific emotional spending stop). So far I am the proud owner of several long sleeve t-shirts (for me), a pair of shorts (also for me) and a handheld GPS system with which I am going to unite my entire family with that fascinating hot new sport, geocaching. I am also bidding on a swimsuit (for me) for all of that swimming I do.

Oh wait, swimming often requires putting your face in the water.

Okay, I am bidding on a swimsuit for all that sitting around on deck chairs that I do.

Oh wait, I live in Minnesota. We don't have deck chairs because we don't have pools.

Okay, I am bidding on a swimsuit for that beach vacation I have coming up sometime in the future.

There. I knew I could justify it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Beloit Mindset List

Beloit College was one of my top choices back in the day until my father declared it too far and too expensive. For the past 12 years they have released a list to remind professors that pop culture references change quickly and can have different meanings to different people. Madonna, for example means "Like a Virgin" to me, but will no doubt mean elevator music to my sons.

This point was driven home to me last election when s'daughter Shelby, a bright, well-read, well-rounded college sophomore, was a little shaky on who Caroline Kennedy was. It's not her fault. John Kennedy is ancient news to her. It was still a very hot topic when I was growing up.

(I see in the news today that Ted Kennedy has died. It was very carefully explained to me as a child that he would never be president because he'd had an accident where someone died. I wonder if that would make a difference if he were running today.)

In their story on the Mindset list the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Bob Dylan was questioned by police as he wondered a New Jersey neighborhood. The story said the officers didn't know who he was. I looked this story up and several other sources report that the young officer just didn't believe him as he was dressed in sweats and two raincoats with no ID. In all fairness, would you have believed him?

Anyway . . . here's the introduction to the list from the Beloit website:

If the entering college class of 2013 had been more alert back in 1991 when most of them were born, they would now be experiencing a severe case of déjà vu. The headlines that year railed about government interventions, bailouts, bad loans, unemployment and greater regulation of the finance industry. The Tonight Show changed hosts for the first time in decades, and the nation asked “was Iraq worth a war?”

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List. It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college. It is the creation of Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and Emeritus Public Affairs Director Ron Nief. It is used around the world as the school year begins, as a reminder of the rapidly changing frame of reference for this new generation. It is widely reprinted and the Mindset List website at receives more than 300,000 hits annually.

As millions of students head off to college this fall, most will continue to experience the economic anxiety that marked their first two years of life just as it has marked their last two years of high school. Fears of the middle class--including their parents--about retirement and health care have been a part of their lives. Now however, they can turn to technology and text a friend: "Momdad still worried bout stocks. urs 2? PAW PCM".

Members of the class of 2013 won't be surprised when they can charge a latté on their cell phone and curl up in the corner to read a textbook on an electronic screen. The migration of once independent media—radio, TV, videos and CDs—to the computer has never amazed them. They have grown up in a politically correct universe in which multi-culturalism has been a given. It is a world organized around globalization, with McDonald's everywhere on the planet. Carter and Reagan are as distant to them as Truman and Eisenhower were to their parents. Tattoos, once thought "lower class," are, to them, quite chic. Everybody knows the news before the evening news comes on.

Thus the class of 2013 heads off to college as tolerant, global, and technologically hip . . . and with another new host of The Tonight Show.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

I thought maybe we should have an end of summer poem here at the end of the month, but -- golly, wow -- end of summer poems are depressing, and I'm not entirely sure all the poets were actually talking about summer. I think they may be talking of life and death and oncoming winter and old age and lost love. No, no, I just wanted a little poem along the lines of "Gee, hasn't summer been fun." Couldn't find one, so let's stick with our garden theme this week and read this little gem about the Broom Flower.

Apparently Broom Flowers do not grow in the United States, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy a good poem when we read one, and perhaps it will be significant to one of our international readers . . . if there are any.

Also, if you click on the Mary Howitt link, you will discover she is the author of the "Spider and the Fly," an oft quoted poem of my Grandma Malmberg.

Mary Howitt [1799-1888]

Oh the Broom, the yellow Broom,
The ancient poet sung it,
And dear it is on summer days
To lie at rest among it.

I know the realms where people say
The flowers have not their fellow;
I know where they shine out like suns,
The crimson and the yellow.

I know where ladies live enchained
In luxury's silken fetters,
And flowers as bright as glittering gems
Are used for written letters.

But ne'er was flower so fair as this,
In modern days or olden;
It groweth on its nodding stem
Like to a garland golden.

And all about my mother's door
Shine out its glittering bushes,
And down the glen, where clear as light
The mountain-water gushes.

Take all the rest; but give me this,
And the bird that nestles in it;
I love it, for it loves the Broom -
The green and yellow linnet.

Well call the rose the queen of flowers,
And boast of that of Sharon,
Of lilies like to marble cups,
And the golden rod of Aaron:

I care not how these flowers may be
Beloved of man and woman;
The Broom it is the flower for me,
That groweth on the common.

Oh the Broom, the yellow Broom,
The ancient poet sung it,
And dear it is on summer days
To lie at rest among it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The end of the slugs

On Saturday, Brent, Toddler D and I were in Fleet Farm* buying dog food when I spotted some Slug-B-Gone. (That wasn't the real name, but I can't remember what was.) I liberally sprinkled it around my annuals. That night, I sort of wanted to go out and see what was happening to them, but that seemed a little sick. Like taking delight in going out and salting them to death wasn't. I am sure there were more environmentally friendly ways of ending this war. I feel a little like I dropped a nuclear bomb on them. It seems a little unfair. They didn't have a chance.
On the other hand, who wants to be the human loser in a slug war?

The surprise delight of my little garden this year is this miniature rogue sunflower. I don't know where it came from or why, but there it is.

* What do you have that's like Fleet Farm, out of state friends and loved ones? Maybe Patty or the Arizona girlfriends can help me here. You buy paint, garden supplies, lengths of chain, animal husbandry items, car repair stuff, pickling gear, and for some odd reason Christmas toys there.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Peace Treaty

After going out to individually salt a few slugs last night, I declared a peace treaty. I have significantly decreased their population even if I haven't gotten them all. I read that a few controlled slugs can be good. I continue to deconstruct my little Tassimo coffee pods to put the grounds around the plants. I don't think that stopped them at all, but it's a fun little craft project I can handle. (Please don't ask about my counted cross stitch eye glass case.)

Now that there is peace in the land, it's time for the boys and me to travel to foreign lands and seek out adventure. In this case . . . Wisconsin, which isn't even in Minnesota. We are going to visit my sister Cyberspace Sarah and determine if her new village is inhabitable.

I've never gone anywhere overnight with the boys without Big Daddy, so this really is an adventure.

See you next week.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Battle Rages On

My kosher salt slug barrier was extremely effective, but when I told my mother and then Gigi how great this was working, they looked at me . . . well, horrified isn't quite the right word. Let's say deeply concerned. They each urged me not to put any more on and my mother suggested several times, I could still scrape the salt off.

Gigi suggested the beer trick, but then commented that the only time she had tried this, my uncle came by and drank the cups she had set out. Now that I think of it, she didn't mention how old he was. Two? Twelve? Forty? Was this last week, in fact?

So yesterday morning, I scraped away at the dirt removing destruction and carnage as best I could. I have been out each night in my jammies pointing my flashlight and madly salting away. The first couple deaths were hard, but I have found each night, it gets a little easier. Last night I plunged baby slugs to their salty death.

Oh, the horror! I have become a baby slug killer. They are just doing what the were created to do . . . which is to eat my beautiful and somewhat expensive annuals.

Slimy (expletive deleted here)!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

Friends and loved ones, we are at war.

Scene of the Slime
Paul Curtis

Now yesterday I planted out
My annuals in a bed laid out
I went to take a look today
But find my annuals gone away
What evil in my garden walks?
All I see are marigold stalks
Now I see the trails of slime
I know who did this awful crime
Not creepy crawlies or even bugs
But evil little snails and slugs
You cannot poison them they say
That isn’t nice there’s another way
Grit or egg shell on the trail
Or little cups of beer or ale
But I’m not one to treat them nice
They will pay the ultimate price

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Look at this poor, once proud dahlia.

Slugs. They ate the entire thing the four days we were gone "up north." We came home from a wedding on Saturday afternoon and I caught them there in the rain munching away as if they owned the place. I tried picking them off, but there were so many and I was in a rather fancy dress and heels.

They haunted me in my dreams Saturday night crawling and oozing everywhere. Death to them, I say. According to my Internet research beer is the silent killer of slugs. I was going to say "unfortunately" I used the last can on some Tastefully Simple Bountiful Beer Bread, but it really is good stuff, so we weren't unfortunate to have eaten it . . . anyway I found a yeast recipe for slug killer and I am experimenting with that, a kosher salt barrier, and some upside down pots which will apparently lure the slugs with their shady darkness. I will then relocate the slugs . . . perhaps to a bleach bath.

Oh, I'm really a pacifist at heart. This is all making me rather sick, but you just can't reason with a slug.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Yearly Marshmallow 2: Before and After

BEFORE: I look a little crazed. Don't I?


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Out to Marshmallow

I'm still gone. Nothing much more to say. I'm sure I'm having fun and wish you were here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Yearly Marshmallow

We are still gone. The highlight of our trip every year is my eating of the yearly marshmallow. For more information on my relationship with marshmallows, please read this old blog entry.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

We are off visiting the Minnesota North Shore. If you want to come and steal my TV, you'll have a difficult time getting around Chief Babysitter Andy who is here painting while we're gone. You don't want my TV anyway. It's old and we can't watch anything broadcast in HD without the sides getting cut off.

Anyway . . . I thought I'd dig out this classic about Lake Superior or Gitchigumee, which means "Big Water." Click on the Longfellow link if you'd like to read the whole thing. Also, this poem will be a lot more fun if you read it aloud with respect to Longfellow and our Native American fore bearers.

Song of Hiawatha
Part IX: Hiawatha and the Pearl-Feather
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

On the shores of Gitche Gumee,
Of the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood Nokomis, the old woman,
Pointing with her finger westward,
O'er the water pointing westward,
To the purple clouds of sunset.

Fiercely the red sun descending
Burned his way along the heavens,
Set the sky on fire behind him,
As war-parties, when retreating,
Burn the prairies on their war-trail;
And the moon, the Night-sun, eastward,
Suddenly starting from his ambush,
Followed fast those bloody footprints,
Followed in that fiery war-trail,
With its glare upon his features.

And Nokomis, the old woman,
Pointing with her finger westward,
Spake these words to Hiawatha:
"Yonder dwells the great Pearl-Feather,
Megissogwon, the Magician,
Manito of Wealth and Wampum,
Guarded by his fiery serpents,
Guarded by the black pitch-water.
You can see his fiery serpents,
The Kenabeek, the great serpents,
Coiling, playing in the water;
You can see the black pitch-water
Stretching far away beyond them,
To the purple clouds of sunset!

"He it was who slew my father,
By his wicked wiles and cunning,
When he from the moon descended,
When he came on earth to seek me.
He, the mightiest of Magicians,
Sends the fever from the marshes,
Sends the pestilential vapors,
Sends the poisonous exhalations,
Sends the white fog from the fen-lands,
Sends disease and death among us!

"Take your bow, O Hiawatha,
Take your arrows, jasper-headed,
Take your war-club, Puggawaugun,
And your mittens, Minjekahwun,
And your birch-canoe for sailing,
And the oil of Mishe-Nahma,
So to smear its sides, that swiftly
You may pass the black pitch-water;

Slay this merciless magician,
Save the people from the fever
That he breathes across the fen-lands,
And avenge my father's murder!"

Monday, August 10, 2009


Colin, who falls on the autism spectrum, carries a spoon around with him to "wiggle."

I am a little nervous putting this up. I did a very quick search to see if the subject of this video agrees with the diagnosis given to him here and the answer was unclear. Please bear that in mind as you watch this: Pressure

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fair Fun

I was to the fair last night. Now I feel like Templeton the rat from Charlotte's Web. "The fair is a veritable smorgasbord-orgasbord-orgasbord." Those fried cheese curds can leave you feeling hungover even without the benefit of alcohol.

The small community county fair is an experience. We knew a lot of the people last night. We were able to ooh and ahh over exhibits from kids that we knew. Andy, our Chief Babysitter, looked like he had just shown some sort of animal, but I didn't catch what kind. Probably sheep.

We went down to eat $2 pork sandwiches served by the city council and my dad the mayor, but they ran out before we got there. Brent was not along because he was at a music rehearsal and this lack of $2 sandwiches left me in the position of having to ask my dad for money for the pricier fair food. I felt ever so awkward, but too lazy to walk back home. Yes, I gave him back the change.

We ate popcorn and my aunts got free yardsticks. I took a map from my friend who was handing them out for her husband, a state legislature representative. She was laughing. She called them old fashioned GPS.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Angel Choir

I should not have started a list of beloved readers yesterday without including Roxane and Margaret. They're both cute, Catholic and from North Dakota. Amazing coincidence? I don't know. And, of course, Patty. (Yo, Patty!! Start blowing up the floaties!!)

Friends and loved ones, is the air a little sweeter this morning? Is the sky a little bluer? Your coffee a little richer? It is, naturally, because s'on Jeremy's girlfriend whom we know as "Cute as a Button" has returned to the state from her two week vacation with her family. Perhaps you heard the angel choir when she crossed the border. I think the were singing "Tara's Theme" from Gone with the Wind. I don't know what to tell you. I just report what I hear.

This means that at the crack of the dawn Jeremy was up and at 'em, ready to zoom over to Cute's home town.

And I am breathing a little sigh of relief.

I am not cold. I am not heartless. I was 23 once . . . 17 years ago. Somewhere in the dusty recess of my mind I remember what it's like being separated from the beloved. True, right now I'd give anything for a whole day alone, but that's not the point. My point is -- and now I say this in love -- Jeremy's been a useless load. He has been unable to function. He has been a walking zombie. We have all been counting the minutes to her return spouting out platitudes like, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" and "What a great opportunity for you to get together with guy friends" and "When do they think they'll be back?!?"

I am teasing a little. It's just great to see Jeremy so . . . argh, dare I say in love (cough, cough, cough), but I'm glad she's back.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Second Cup

I've made myself a second latte in the Tassimo today as I ponder the story of my Successful Attractive High School Classmate (SAHSC).

SAHSC was pretty and popular. Everybody liked her. She had her own fashion style girls envied but couldn't quite duplicate. She was athletic and musical. She got along with all the kids no matter what clique. She was good at things, but not so good that you disliked her, if you know what I mean. If push came to shove, she would have to admit, I dragged her through Algebra II, a class I hated myself.

Today she has a truly enviable and glamorous corporate job. I'm not even kidding. She travels the world. She gets free spa supplies. That's all I am going to say.

I never wanted to move back to West Lake Woebegone. The day of graduation was one of the happiest of my life. It was my ticket to freedom. On that day SAHSC said to me, "I know you're glad high school's over, but I had a lot of fun and I am really going to miss you."

I noddled blithely. I was off to get my powerful corporate job and live in an all white condo. West Lake Woebegone, Ciao!

Yet 22 years later, here I am. On the other side of town for sure . . . but the town's not that big. I am sitting in my less than immaculate kitchen writing a blog only my mother, sister, Jeremy J and the Arizona girlfriends read. Wearing my truly unfashionable Mickey Mouse Crocs being pulled on by Toddler D who is screaming. Listening to Colin whine that there's only four more weeks until school. Listening to Jeremy pine for girlfriend Cute as a Button who is on vacation with her family.

Do I regret my life? Not a bit. There is so much joy and laughter in my daily life. I have amazing peace even in the challenging hours. I am exactly where I am supposed to be, even if it doesn't look all that great or glamorous to the outside world. And I know for sure, I live in one of the prettiest towns in Minnesota . . . well, you know, for the three months a year it's green.

Am I a wee bit jealous this morning? Um . . . yes, absolutely. Unfortunately I don't have time or energy to dwell.

I do have time and energy for another latte from the Tassimo and that's all this subject is going to get today.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

I asked Brent what poem he would like to see this week.

"What are my choices?"

No, no, I explained. What's the first poem that pops into your head?

Apparently some people just don't have poems pop into their heads, so here's one he should remember if he thinks back hard enough. It was required memorization at our high school for my favorite English teacher Mr. Lee Paulson. It's not really a poem, but we don't have to get all leagalistic, do we?

Macbeth Soliloquy: Act 5, Scene 5
William Shakespeare

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.