Monday, August 29, 2011

Two Days

After a pretty horrid few weeks, I had a couple days this weekend to actually enjoy.

On Saturday Scott & I went to see "The Help", which we enjoyed very much.  Great acting, interesting characters - at over two hours, the movie still seemed short.  And of course, going to lunch and then to the movies doesn't take much energy or effort, which is a good thing.

On Sunday we broke out the scooter and hied ourselves to the Great Minnesota Get-Together - in other words, the MN State Fair.  We watched the equestrian competitions, we watched the lumberjack competitions, we saw Sean Emery do his Schtick On A Stick, and of course I spent a reasonable amount of time looking at the quilts and knitting and lace and beading and felting and crocheting and sculpting and glass.

We are old, and my system is messed up by chemo, so we didn't eat the junk food that we would have gorged on in Olden Times - over the 6.5 hours we were there, we split a sandwich, a bag of mini-donuts, a little Lingonberry Lefse roll with Swedish Meatballs... and we each had our own frozen apple cider pop from the Agriculture Building.  That was it.

But thanks to my scooter, a grand time was had by all ('all' being two of us).  We recommend that you go, too, if you can.  But get there early if you want a parking space close to the fairgrounds - there's plenty of 'Park & Ride' lots, but the Fairground lots are being taken up by Light Rail construction materials, so parking is at a premium and even at 7am we had a lot of trouble parking within five blocks or so of the nearest ticket booth.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Is A Puzzlement

All my life, I've wanted to serve jury duty.

Yes, I know that usually you just sit there forever in the waiting room, doing nothing.  And you don't get paid for it (at least, not really).

But it's a service to your community and your country, and I've always felt that service was a good thing.  Paying back your community for all the things it provides you is something you should do, willingly and with a sense of satisfaction.

And if I actually got to serve on a jury, even better.  I'd be a good jury member.  I'm fairly bright, I am fairly logical, I'm big on details, I respect at least the ideal of the law and justice, and I'm relatively driven to be as fair as possible to all sides.  I enjoy doing things I'm good at.

And I've worked from home for most of the last two decades, and have a flexible schedule, so it wouldn't inconvenience me in the least to serve, other than perhaps a certain soreness in the back or knees from sitting all day.

During the last two decades my husband has worked either two jobs (sometimes two full time jobs) or one job with 10-hour days.  He has been called to jury duty twice in that time.  It's been a huge sacrifice for him, and although he is mindful of his duty, he really would have preferred not to have to take the time from work.  Our finances have never been what you'd call comfortable, so it was a bit of a hardship for the family.

Now my 21-year-old son has been called.

I have never been called.  Not once.  And at this point I'm not likely to be allowed to serve, even if I am called before I fall off the perch - my physical condition would now prevent me from eligibility.


**At least in this case, as the quote goes, the law is an ass.  Why can't people volunteer to be on a 'will call' list for service when their time is flexible?  Then if they are summoned again when it's less convenient, they can be excused on the basis that they have served in the last four years.  It would be so much easier for people, and the courts would have to deal with fewer whiners and shirkers, saving time and frustration for everyone.  I'm just saying...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

She's Posting, She's Posting Not

I seem to be completely out of control of both my life and my blogs at the moment, so I'm resorting to cross-linking.  Sorry about that!!  But not sorry enough to refrain from doing so...

If you want to know what's been going on lately, check out my other blog here.

For decoration, I give you this photo.  If you link to the other blog, you will see the reason.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Irony We Didn't Need

Okay, go look at the fine print at the bottom of our last post.

Now, a week later:

Someone (probably a youngish someone) broke into our van, and stole our stereo/cd player.  They won't get $10 for it, but they used very rough tactics to get at it, completely destroying the entire center panel of the van.  Which means we'll not only have to replace the stereo; we'll have to replace the center panel, the cupholders, the a/c and fan and heating and defrosting controls and wires and the entire center faceplate, plus a bit of the surrounding panels as well.  The cost is going to be high - and so, unfortunately, is our deductible.

Sadly to say, this is the least of our problems.  But it's not a problem that we needed right now.

It's the beginning of July, and I am already SO over this summer...


Friday, June 24, 2011

Home From The Hills, Part 2

Up we got at daybreak, drove around the Badlands a bit, had our Indian Frybread with blueberry sauce, and then off we went to the Black Hills to see the Rushmore National Monument.  After that, we headed straight for Wyoming and Devil's Tower.

The boys hiked to the bottom of the tower, but did not attempt an ascent.  As you can see, the weather was gorgeous, the view was impressive, and a good time was being had by all.

For the rest of the day, our main goal was to reach our motel in Sheridan, in order to have a full day for sightseeing the next day.  Good thing we gave ourselves daylight for that, because Sheridan had a lot of construction going on the roads, and much of the street that our motel was on was completely closed off to traffic - it took a while to find our stopping place!

The next morning, we took off for the Bighorn Scenic Byway, which goes past Shell Falls and then over the spectacular Granite Pass.  On our way up it was snowing, which frosted the trees and landscape beautifully.  

At the top, the snow stopped, and we were able to get out and really take in the view.

Gradually the clouds cleared, and we enjoyed spectacular views of the Bighorn Mountains as we passed through them.  

So it was a very nice day as we got to the lovely town of Cody, Wyoming.  We easily found our motel, the Cody Cowboy Village, which was our favorite of the motels we stayed at on this vacation; the gal at the desk (we're pretty sure she never sleeps) was helpful and extremely friendly, the rooms were spacious and cozy and immaculate, and the boys loved the spa/hot tub!  Our motel turned out to be right next to the Cody Cattle Company, and that was right next to the place where they hold the Cody Nite Rodeo.  So we figured we were set - we'd have dinner and a show next door, and then head for the rodeo.

Well, we got the dinner and show.  But unfortunately while we were settling in at our motel, the rain started up in earnest.  It turned out that Wyoming has been getting the same generous precipitation this spring that the Badlands had been getting.  Unfortunately, along with the green grass, they've also been getting mud - and since the Cody Nite Rodeo is not in an enclosed space, slippery mud can be a serious issue for the horses.  So we found that for once, our plans had gone somewhat awry - the rodeo for that night was cancelled, for only the third time in the long memory of the fine people at the restaurant and motel.

We comforted ourselves with the fact that our next day's plans didn't require the rain to stop, and settled ourselves snugly into our comfy beds for a good night's rest - probably not a bad idea in any case, since by then I had developed a rotten cold.

The next morning we said our goodbyes to our room and our hostess, and headed over to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, an impressive building holding several separate galleries, each devoted to their own collection.  All of us enjoyed the exhibit dedicated to the history of Buffalo Bill and his exploits, but we each had our own favorite gallery.  Handsome Son loved the firearms museum, which covered the history of American firearms from the Revolution through the World Wars.  I particularly enjoyed the display of western art, including some wonderful paintings and sculptures by such luminaries as Charles Russell and Frederick Remington.  

Finally we tore ourselves away, and headed towards the east gate of Yellowstone National Park, which had been closed the day before, but was now open.  We quickly discovered why there were so many closings of roads and of Yellowstone gates:

Still, we drove through Yellowstone without incident.  Well, without unpleasant incident.  We had incidents involving bears and wolves and other forms of (somewhat damp) wildlife, which was a thrill for all of us.

We also spent nearly two hours touring around the hot springs and geyser basin area of the park.  We arrived at Old Faithful just as it finished erupting, so we had 90 minutes or so to kill before the next eruption.  Luckily they have paved a path around the area, so that those of us confined to scooters and wheelchairs could gawk at all the points of interest, of which there were many.

I thought this looked like the face of a cranky old man squinting up into a cold sky...

We got back from our tour just in time to see Old Faithful erupt in a very satisfying way, and then off we went, heading towards our hotel in Jackson Hole.  But first we had to get something to eat, since it was dinner time and we hadn't eaten since our early brunch.  On our way through the Teton Mountain range, we stopped at Jackson Lake Lodge's Mural Room, where we ate an excellent (although not cheap) meal while gaping at the gorgeous scenery displayed through their panoramic picture windows (click the link to see the view from the windows - that isn't a painting, it's what you actually look at as you eat).

We spent a bit more time at the lodge, just looking out the windows and pottering about on the veranda, but eventually we had to head towards our lodgings.  Jackson is a tourist town, so I suppose there is some sort of logic to the street layout, but we were only starting to figure it out by the time we left.  Luckily, you can get a free map of the town at any of the many restaurants or hotels - we suggest you do so sooner rather than later, if you plan to visit.

As it was, we were pretty tired and slightly cranky by the time we found our hotel, so the boys were grateful for a stint in the hot tub, and then we all just fell into bed.  The next day we were up early and raring to go - and go we did, to Jenny Lake, a jewel gently set in the exquisite frame of the surrounding Teton Mountains.

The boys left me lounging in comfort at the charming Jenny Lake Lodge, where I had a delicious lunch and then curled up in front of the cozy fire in the lounge (have a visit with the concierge if you are lucky enough to stop there - she is from the Twin Cities, and represents the best of Minnesota Nice).  

Meanwhile the guys took the ferry from the Visitor Center to the mountainous side of the lake, and from there they had a 3.5 hour hike and Guy Bonding Session around the rim of the lake - they also bonded with some very bold marmots and other smallish woodland critters, and saw a black bear at what was luckily a more comfortable distance.

After their long hike, the guys were happy to get back to Jackson Hole for a stint in the hot tub, a short nap, and a very generous serving of ribs from Bubba's BBQ.

The next day was largely devoted to rest, hot tubbing, doing the laundry, and looking for a hat for Scott. In the evening, however, we went to the Bar J Chuckwagon for a traditional cowboy supper and a truly impressive music and comedy show by the Bar J Wranglers.  We had a great time, and fell into bed that night full to the gills with food and entertainment.

Up at 4am, packed our gear into the van again, and it was time to hightail it for home.  But we still had time along the way to see more wildlife, gawk at the sights...

... and get ourselves in a minor scrape or two.  About one mile outside the gates of Yellowstone, we (meaning 'I') locked ourselves out of the car, and were informed by the gift shop personnel that the rangers did not feel obligated to help anyone who was outside of the boundaries of the park proper.  Great.  The nearest locksmith or patrol car would have to come from Cody, at least an hour's drive away.  Luckily I talked Impatient Spouse out of his 'let's break the windshield' idea; after a bit of a struggle with a wire hanger, Impatient Spouse's handy Leatherman, and with the help of a passing Cheesehead (we Midwesterners have to stick together), we were able to break into our own van and get back on the road in fairly short order.**

Off we went again, and got past Cody with no further incidents... until we hit Shell, at which point we discovered that the highway we were on was closed further up, there were no alternate routes open, and we had to turn around and go back.  But we are nothing if we are not flexible (when forced to be so), so we backtracked to Greybull, went south instead of north, and took a great big loop around the higher areas of the Bighorns in order to get back up to I90.  A less scenic and much less direct route, but luckily the lower climes allowed for faster speeds, so although we added a lot of miles, we didn't add too much time to our trip.  By nightfall we were safely ensconced in our motel in Wall, SD, home of ubiquitous signage and thus the famous Wall Drug.  

Up at a more reasonable 6am the next morning, well in time for breakfast and ice water at Wall Drug, then off for another long stint of driving.  Handsome Son took over the driving near the Minnesota border, just in time to spend more than three hours traveling with a spectacular thunderstorm that was heading towards the Twin Cities.  He handled the stresses of straight-line winds and nearly zero visibility with grace, and we safely arrived at home by nightfall.  

Goodbye and thank you, Wyoming and South Dakota.  It was wonderful to meet you - we hope to visit again some day!

** For what are probably obvious reasons, I'm not entirely certain this is a good thing, even though it allowed us to get on our way with minimal delay and expenditure.  Let me point out, also for obvious reasons, that our van is more than ten years old and is a very basic model - the only semi-valuable thing in it is my similarly old and battered wheelchair scooter, which we got from a pawn shop at a very very low price, for good reason.  I'm just sayin'...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Home From The Hills, Part 1

We weren't sure I was going to make it, right up until the day before we left.  But finally the hip was painful-but-functional, and at 4am we packed up the van and took off for our little vacation in South Dakota and Wyoming.  Wagon, ho!!

Scott took care of the first major stretch of driving, and then Handsome Son took a nice long stint, leaving his dad the last bit before we pulled into our first destination: the Badlands.

Oh, it was both wonderfully familiar and magically different!  In the autumn of two years ago, the grass was golden and blended beautifully with the weird and wonderful rock formations.

This spring, however, the rangers tell us that there is more green in the Badlands than there has been in living memory.  Imagine, pools of water in the Badlands!!

It was different, but it was still beautiful, and we all were very happy to be there.  We stayed for two nights at Cedar Pass Lodge - the cabins were very small and basic, but there was a/c and very comfortable beds, and the view was gorgeous.  What more could you want?  Not much, obviously...

Well, you might want some Indian Fry Bread.  The Cedar Pass Lodge has a little cafe, where at night they have taco fixings on fry bread, and in the morning they have fry bread with a wonderful blueberry sauce.  Not bad at all...

You also might want to attend the Night Sky talks at the ampitheatre near the campgrounds - a fun presentation is followed on clear nights by the opportunity to use some very nice telescopes, so that you can gape at distant galaxies and nebulas and planets.  We didn't get the opportunity to use said telescopes this time around, but we did get a spectacular view of a close-passing storm - I've never seen pink lightning before!

On the day after we arrived - and after eating our fry bread and blueberries, of course - we drove through the Badlands Loop, and then spent time driving around the Black Hills.  

Between driving on the Needles Highway and the Iron Mountain Road, we stopped for a wine tasting and wonderful lunch at the Prairie Berry Winery.  Then off we went for more Eye Candy.  Along the way we met some old friends...

And some new ones...

And basically spent our time feeling at one with the universe.

Then back to Cedar Pass for the night.  What a wonderful time we were having!!

to be continued...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Poor Old Kitty

We have had one type and size of cat for 15 years or so: small, feisty, pretty, dignified (for the most part, except when hysterically clumsy) and quite the character.

She was well into adulthood when we got her in 1996, and so now she is an elder kitty, deserving of respect and care.

Unfortunately, for the last few months she has been unable to adequately clean herself, and has developed mats that were outrunning my ability to comb out.  It would take me half an hour of fighting with her to get one mat cleared, and the next day there would be two to take its place.

It got to the point where it just couldn't be comfortable for her, poor old thing, and I was concerned that she might develop some sort of skin issue that would cause her actual pain.  So off we took her to the groomers, and gave her a 'Lion Cut'.

She won't let me take a photo of her in this condition - she is currently in a state of High Dudgeon.

Can't say that I blame her.  Her head is literally twice as big as her body.  Poor old thing, she deserves her dignity, and instead she looks entirely ridiculous.  And pitiful - she is SO thin and bony.

I think of the three, she prefers being old and arthritic to being an object of ridicule.  Too unfair that she has to put up with all three.

I can relate.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Well, This Is Fun!

A tornado touched down and traveled around a bit at Hwy 394 & 100, and now one is developing at Como Lake, which is right near our house, so we've got sirens and weather reports and all sorts of excitement at the moment.  Which is delaying our trip to my folks' house, but providing entertainment that should give us something to talk about over the dinner table (once we actually get there).


Monday, May 16, 2011

Shepherd's Harvest

If you are curious about what the Shepherd's Harvest Sheep & Wool Festival is like, my friend and boothmate, Denise of Wool Alchemy, has put up a little slide show of her festival experience.  You will see some of her fantastic felted Critters, plus a variety of critters of the live variety that she cooed at over the weekend (yes, even the silkworms!)


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Oops, No Camera...

Oh, drat!!  Mom and I went on our yearly trek to the Minneapolis Institute of Art for their wonderful Art In Bloom... and as is also our tradition, we both forgot to bring our cameras.

Poor you, to have missed the wonderfulness!!

Art In Bloom challenges local flower artists to make an arrangement that reflects in some way on a particular work of art displayed in the museum.  This year more than 150 artists were assigned one particular painting or sculpture, which they then had to contemplate and then design an arrangement that in some way reflected upon the artwork itself.

The displays were all pretty, some of them stunning, some of them inspirational or funny or even thought-provoking.  Our particular favorite was a rather simple but beautifully done display of tall dark plum and white lilies in a stunning cobalt-to-purplish midnight blue vase, reflecting both the color and the movement of a Georgia O'Keef painting of tall skyscrapers - I always thought of O'Keef as a painter of flowers and other things natural, but somehow the painting still was distinctly hers. and the flower arrangement just carried the feeling along and complimented it perfectly.  

Click on the link above and see some little bit of the previous year's event - don't you wish you could have been there?  Well, you can go next year (especially you, Ms. Violet Hoarder, sweet Nancy, Kathy, Amy, and anyone else who hails from MN), because luckily it's a yearly deal.

One hint: don't try to go there at the beginning of the first day (Thursday).  We arrived at 10am on Thursday... well, no, that's a lie.  We got about 3 blocks from the Institute, and then got stuck in completely stopped traffic.  And even that far away, no parking spots (even handicapped spots) in sight.  For people who are not completely crippled up, the temptation might be to walk an extra five blocks or so - but I would suggest coming back at a later time, when the huge opening crowd won't be jostling and pushing each other back from the displays.

Mom and I turned around and went back home - and returned on Saturday at around 1pm.  It was crowded enough that the valet parking was full, and mom snagged the one remaining handicapped space (after fetching a wheelchair for me at the door - the MIA provides wheelchairs and even a few coveted scooters for free, bless their hearts.  Call ahead to reserve those scooters, they are a very coveted commodity!)

But once we got in, we were mostly able to get next to the displays, either immediately or after a very short wait.  And oh, it was sooooooo worth the bother!!  Not only did we see a great deal of loveliness, but we also met a number of very interesting and sweet fellow gawkers, some of whom knew a participating floral artist or two and gave us the Inside Scoop, some of whom were just interesting and fun to talk to.  One of the gals we talked to had a beautifully knitted Norwegian sweater of incredible intricacy, gifted to her by grateful and generous offspring, bless their hearts.  We were suitably impressed, of course - after all, we are lovers of fiber as well as of the belle fleurs...

We went home replete with gorgeousness, and also with chai and maple shortbread from the in-house cafe.  Hey, it takes a lot of energy to Ooo and Aaaah that much!!

And thanks, mom, for all the hard work you did in pushing me around.  You are a trooper, and also a joy forever.  I love you muchly, muchly indeed!