Thursday, August 31, 2006

Black-Eyed Susans

Reading through the Little House books as a child, I always wondered about Black-Eyed Susans. Laura Ingalls Wilder talked about them a lot. I always admired the name, but never knew what they looked like. I'm not sure if that is because they weren't very common in my part of the country (Western WA) or if my mom simply didn't cultivate them. In MN, they are everywhere. I love them dearly - quaint, lovely, and I really like saying the name.

Black-Eyed Susan!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Tight pants just might save your life

True story:

I've worked for the same company for 5 years now. Cubeland. Hundreds of people on each floor, thousands of people in each building. You know the routine. Recently a 24 year old co-worker's life was quite literally radically altered after a day in skin-tight leather pants.

"I'll be riding without a spare soon," he said.


Let me explain -

He fell asleep (passed out?) in a pair of tight pants after work; when he woke up, he found himself at a slightly crumpled odd angle, body twisted, legs pressed together, and one of his testicles was aflame. He thought it wasn't much - it hurt for about a week, then the pain went away.

But that sucker grew. The testicle enlarged over a period of about a month until it was the size of a fist. He finally confided in another co-worker, who said, "Are you nuts?? Call the doctor NOW!!!" He did. They told him to come in that day. Within the week, he had an ultrasound, the doctor confirmed it was cancer, and he was scheduled for surgery. Oh yes - he's truly "riding without a spare" now. Interestingly, they removed his testicle through an incision in his lower abdomen and pulled it out, strings and all, from the top.

The tumor was 6 centimeters in length. The doctors said it was a kind of cancer that usually occurs in older men and does not spread. Sometimes, they said, tumors can grow rapidly if pestered. Thus, the life-saving dual purpose of the skin-tight leather pants: ridiculously good-looking and a valuable medical apparatus!


Guys: Turn you head and cough - monthly, at least.
Ladies: Tell your men to check themselves regularly!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

I require answers

There are a few questions that have been bouncing around in my head recently:

  • Is it really expensive to buy fresh vegetables and fruits? I read this on a blog the other day (I've heard it before too). Really?? The commenter on the blog proceeded something to the effect of, "Fresh fruits and vegetables are too expensive for our family to buy". Really?? What on earth are these people eating? I mean, seriously: what - are - these - people - eating - ? I've been quite mystified since. Surely canned fruits and vegetables are more expensive than fresh. Aren't they? Cereal definitely is. Meat? Maybe they eat 100% pasta (plain).
  • Why do people with pet dogs allow them to bark as they please? This includes barking at walkers, bikers, people walking into buildings across the street, and anything that moves. Maybe they've just given up? Perhaps they are immune to the irritation.
  • Why do I have more zits now, at the age of 28, than I did in all my teenage years combined? I don't have any conclusions on this one; however, I am thankful that I don't care as much. Then, it would have been complete mortification. Now, it's mostly feelings of slightly perturbed annoyance.
  • Why are people gung-ho to start their baby on solids at the age of 4 months? That is so many more miserable months of punishment, cleaning out disgusting diapers. Starbeans is 13 months: we've been cleaning out his toxic dumps for 2 months now. It is H-O-R-R-I-F-I-C. Another added benefit of delaying solids!

and finally,

  • Why can't it be fall yet?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Love, baptism, and a new apartment

Our Wilburn went and got himself a ladyfriend. (We had to write him a letter to get a hold of the guy!) Isn't he handsome?

2006 was a big year of change. He moved out of his house of 55 years into an apartment connected with a Lutheran church, started seeing Evy (who lives on the same floor), and got baptized just this past weekend. This guy is 86 years old. Amazing!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Surprise! It's 11:11

I am incredibly fond of the exact hour and minute of 11:11. AM or PM - it doesn't matter.

Uncannily, I regularly look at a digital clock at 11:11 on the dot. I believe that I started noticing it in high school, thinking then (as I do now), "One-one-one-one - cool!"

For example, this morning at work, I glanced at my computer clock at 11:11 AM. Last night, I spotted 11:11 PM on our home computer. And the night before that, I saw 11:11 on our alarm clock as I was drifting into sleep.

Say what?

I've been trying to figure it out recently: do I actually look at the clock more frequently at the specific time of 11:11, or do I just notice it more because it is so unusual? Perhaps I don't take note of 5:28 or 1:32 quite as much as the beautiful 11:11.

However, I can say this: While I do love it, I do not wait around for 11:11 hoping to catch a glimpse - I simply look at the clock, and presto - it's you-know-when. Not everyday, but it seems to be an unusually frequent event. Quite bizarre but always entertaining.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Words I almost always misspell:

  • cheast - chest
  • definately - definitely
  • recieve - receive

I've been forced to memorize chest and definitely, but have to repeat "'i' before 'e' except after 'c'" over and over in my mind before I write down receive. How embarrassing!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Six teeth and a short attention span

I'd like some advice from a few staid veterans.

I need to feed my 1-year-old some, "Sit in your highchair and eat ________ while I wash dishes."

Something nutritious, delicious, and excellent for little fingers.

8/30 Update:
  • elbow macaroni
  • peaches
  • blueberries
  • broccoli tops

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A list that inspires sentiments

I'm a BIG fan of nostalgia as well as a a list hound.

I combined the two in a daybook entry from a few months back that I'd like to share with the general public (that reads my blog).

Things that remind me of:

Grandpa C.

  • hot, black dirt
  • pole beans
  • carrots
  • big gardens
  • prickly cucumber stems
  • pin-striped overalls
  • handkerchiefs - red, blue
  • TV golf
  • bottle rockets

Grandma C.

  • heavy whipping cream
  • big turkey dinners
  • potato salad
  • peanut butter on a spoon
  • canned pickles
  • tooth picks
  • leg brace
  • cane
  • "set" hair
  • The Wig

Together -

  • the smell of boxwood
  • the smell & feel of a dank basement
  • canning jars filled with vegetables
  • pheasant drinking glasses
  • state spoons
  • moss

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Chocolatey-burnt black beans

I often eat black beans and brown rice with a nice side of sour cream and salsa. It is easy to make, tasty, and deliciously filling: a nice lunch to bring to work.

Last night, I cooked rice in a pot (because our rice cooker has been dropped one-too-many times by my main man Squeeze) - it went well. Pre-rice cooker, I could never get rice right; now I realize it was because I never put enough water in the pot. (I've been trying to learn how to cook the last few years.)

I boiled black beans simultaneously; but since they take longer to cook and I was distracted by our new obsession - Twin Peaks, I burnt the crap out of them. I only noticed because of the terrible smell wafting in from the kitchen. I ran in, doused them with fresh water, and went back to Twin Peaks. I am hooked. I can see why the show (and subsequent movie) was an instant cult classic - it is filled with atmosphere, intrigue, humor, endearing characters, mystery, and has a certain sultriness to it. I can't stop thinking about it. All the red hues, the throw-back to 40's glamour, and the music - it is fabulous. I highly recommend it.

Back to the black beans, I've discovered I can eat just about anything - if it was me who cooked it (the exception being the split pea soup that smelled like rotted carcass when we were first married). In addition to hating waste, there is something about the work going into food that makes me able to stomach just about anything. (Honestly though - I've worked myself into being a pretty good cook. I swear it!!)

Anyway, so - like usual, I combined the rice and beans, added a little salt and pepper, and brought the concoction to work today for my noon meal and made the most interesting discovery:

Black beans, once burnt, taste chocolatey in the charred kind of way. It was, as my father-in-law says, "Nummy-nummy-good-good". I probably won't make a habit out of it, but I'm not complaining about this particular botch-up. It tastes good!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Spider on your hat?

I just got back from a wonderful visit with my parents in the Pacific Northwest. It was my 10 year high school reunion, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and it is always a pleasure to bring Grandchild #1 (the one and only) for a visit.

One of the highlights of the trip was seeing my grandpa in his Old Duffer Hat, with, of all things, a spider glued to the bill.


He has been wearing pin-striped overalls since I can remember. In fact, when I was in 8th grade and we moved to the town where he has lived his entire life, I assumed that all the townsmen wore pin-striped overalls. (They didn't.)

He is getting older and weaker and didn't even recognize me when I saw him in June. While he often confuses or forgets my brothers, as in - "Who's that??" - my grandma says, "That's BRENT!!" or "That's Julie's son - ERIK!!", he has never forgotten me; it was a little disconcerting. As I was leaving, he wanted to know who I was.

But he was very coherent this visit. On Tuesday night, he asked me when our flight was getting in to Minneapolis. When I yelled (he's hard of hearing), "5:30 AM!", he responded in a snap - "Just in time to get up".

He loves one-liners.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

exceptional talents or powers

Our child prodigy, Starbeans, has figured out that cats like chasing string. He has them wrapped around his little finger; by holding the pretty red ribbon out and flailing it around a bit he holds the cats' complete attention. Here is Lester, in rapt concentration, going for the gold.


We hit the jackpot: cat and baby entertained simultaneously.

A life of ease!