December 27, 2014

Final Celebrity Dream Of 2014?

Robert Downey Jr. was a roommate at my mom's house. 

He clogged every toilet in the house and didn't deal with it. 

My other roomates were really angry.

December 26, 2014

A Brief Interruption For Christmas

This is why I don't like paper napkins at Christmas -- cloth burns so much more slowly!

I was chatting with my nephew's wife at the table after dinner and I looked to my left to see a napkin start to catch fire from a candle. I grabbed the napkin and started to move toward the front door, but the breeze from my motion fed the flames. "Stop, drop and roll," right people? I dropped the napkin to the hardwood floor and stamped on it. I think it might have melted the bottoms of my shoes a little bit.

The floor took no hits, the white carpet is fine, and many in the room missed the excitement.

Christmas 2014.

December 21, 2014

European Vacation 2014, Part 4.5

A few more notes about day one in Cologne.

You can see the cathedral from everywhere.

We are in love with this modern building by Karl Band. It's a religious vestments store. Check out the door pulls!

 This little fountain was on our walk:

So many beautiful things to see.

European Vacation 2014, Part 4

Does this really count as day four? It's our first full day in Germany.

This morning we woke up and caught the train. 

The train trip was excruciating because I was so tired, and so excited that I couldn't sleep because outside my closed eyelids was Germany and I didn't want to miss anything. The train ride from Frankfurt to Cologne runs along the river, and it very much reminded us of the ride up to Garrison from Manhattan on the Metro North. It was so beautiful that I really struggled to stay awake. 

Our hotel in cologne is right near the 4711 museum. Upstairs in the museum they play old commercials from various eras where men and women douse themselves with the stuff. Mentos clearly owes a debt of gratitude to 4711's 1970's commercials.

The cafe next to our hotel (Cafe Printen Schmitz) makes yummy gingerbread, and a place nearby makes Weckmann. I am now hereby going to eat man-shaped food for the rest of the trip.

I ate it even though it had this bee on it. All the Weckmann have bees on them.

In our first day discoveries was also an antique store called Loft. I bought two amazing linen backed instructional aids that show how insects pollinate orchids and how carnivorous plants trap flies. Now I have to figure out how to ship them home.

Now off to dinner somewhere...

December 14, 2014

European Vacation 2014, Part 3

(in which we actually get to Germany)

The flight was lovely and uneventfull. I overindulged by watching  documentaries about Shep Gordon and Bert Stern back to back. Rich white guy stuff.

Our hotel is so beautiful and it seems a waste to be here one day. Thanks, Lufthansa pilots! 

It was super nice to take a shower and get out of Monday's clothes on Wednesday. We hosed off, so to speak, and headed out to see the sights. Over the footbridge from the hotel is a beautiful neighborhood, very much like the Lower East Side. 

Frankfurt is known for its Applewein, which is a tart unsweet cider. We wandered around the neighborhood, finding a restaurant / bar that specialized in it. The exterior ornamentation on this place was unreal.

Just to be clear, that was an apple-shaped doorknob.

We sat in what was an outdoor beer garden in warmer months, and ordered the local tipple. In addition, we looked at the menu for a bit and ordered "smashed" Camembert with onions and butter. In my mind I pictured a composed plate with those ingredients. Turned out to be a schmoo of all of those ingredients. Somehow I don't usually get the impression that my Camembert lacks butter. My Lipitor is going to get a workout this trip.

Later we hooked up with a German friend from Minneapolis, mrpiston. He and his wife, ardent fans of all things American, had trees in the back yard that they had named after the starting lineup of the Detroit Pistons. Anyway, mrpiston is back in Frankfurt, with a professorship at the university. We met up with him in Frankfurt at a Turkish fish restaurant where we ate more unexpected pastes: one was a mix of tomato, cucumber and peppers, and the other was a pink smoothie made of fish, beets and something else.

We asked mrpiston about the Minnesota State Fair, one of his favorite events of the year. His obsession with butter sculpture (Princess Kay of the Milky Way) is legendary. Not only did he serve as our docent for the fair a number of years ago, but he is *also* the person who took us to the amazing Prince concert at Paisley Park a few years back. So excited to catch up with him and hear about Frankfurt.

I asked about the fair, since this is the first year he hasn't gone. He replied "there you have put the finger in the wound". Such is his sense of loss. He told us he considered flying back to MN for the fair.

Later at a bar, I brought up the subject of music, knowing that mrpiston is a big music fan. Turns out that mrguy and mrpiston have many essential fave albums in common. Those two could just GO ON. It was so much fun to see them talk about stuff. At one point I piped up and mentioned a personal project that a friend is working on, which is a subject on which mrpiston has written, causing him to say "So you are telling me that you sit at the center of all which is important."

Not really, but it was so fun to have things in common.

We saw this one last cool Frankfurtian thing as we headed back to the hotel. This poster seems to say that if you don't come to this thing they're promoting, in the future you won't be able to say you were there. Heady stuff:

And here we are. It's 6am German time. My colon decided that it was observing the home clock, so I've been up for 2 hours and the alarm is going to go off in 10 minutes.

Today --Cologne. I'll sleep on the train.

European Vacation 2014, Part 2.5

We'd left our luggage at the airport. We had slept in our clothes. The only things we had with us were things you'd take on a plane, and that didn't include antiperspirant or a toothbrush. We had most of a day to kill before our flight took off.

I wanted to go to the library, so we drove downtown.

But I pretended it was Germany.

The Rhine:

Putting on our antiperspirant in the rental car on the Reeperbahn:

Ancient monuments:

and I have no equivalent for this, but we bought a lot of avocados at the store and made some awesome sandwiches back at Mr. Guy South's house.

MGS had a work thing, so we took off early to avail ourselves of the United Lounge. Found the quiet tv area and watched the last game of the playoffs with a nice man from Australia who had questions about baseball.

Yes, we were a day behind, but it's always good to see MGS : )

October 21, 2014

European Vacation 2014, Part 2

Zo! The good news is that we took refuge at the home of mrguy south.

And we had a cozy dinner at Monzo, in j-town.

Udon, umeshu paste, bonito, whisk and yummy broth.

This is a far sight better than earlier when we were not only not in the United lounge, but were on the United floor. 

We rebooked our flights, tried to rent a car, and then mrguy said "Let's just get on the next rental car bus we see."

That's how we came to rent a Mazda yesterday.

Gotta holo holo. Mrguy is taking me to the library.

More later.

October 20, 2014

European Vacation 2014, Part 1

We're leaving the house in two hours for our first long vacation in four years. Making those frequent flier miles work for us and looking forward to making my passport look a little less new.

I'm ready to go. For the occasion, I've purchased a new suitcase. The old one belonged to the Big Guy, a sentimental favorite which I've patched and refused to relinquish through 16 trips, 10 countries, 8 years. I have also purchased a new bag / backpack and new shoes, things that I rarely do.

There are some last minute worries: there's a strike on our airline tomorrow. The name on my tickets and the name on my passport don't match. But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, things are good. I'm traveling *for pleasure*, with mrguy.

More later.

Flight cancelled. Not just ours, but 200k other passengers, as well. Wonder when we'll get to Europe. Today's Monday. My guess is Friday. We'll know more when we get to our next airport. It's gonna be a long day.

More later.

October 2, 2014

Full-Service Geek

Last week I gave a presentation to the students in a job search class. This is a class that I took myself, once, and I love to keep touch with the students, teachers and the school. When I think of things for which I'm grateful, this school is high on the list, since it helped me change the direction of my life.

I give this presentation every few years, and as part of it I talk about how in my spare time I love to do genealogical research, that genealogy helped define my path, and how I'm a full-service geek. For the last few years, especially, I've been researching my people passionately.

It was with great excitement, then, that I saw a flyer at the LDS library advertising an upcoming genealogical conference. It's one that ms scandiwaiian and I went to a billion years ago. So happy to know that they still hold the conference, because I've been digging deeper into German and Irish records and need some inspiration.

A little over a week until this geek-fest.

A little over two weeks until mrguy and I head off for vacation.

I sign off with a little more gratitude -- a photo from a recent hike near our house with old friends:

September 21, 2014


This afternoon I spent making a google map of places I want to see in Budapest. 

One thing I'm itching to do is to find us a good place to drink palinka. I followed some links to this restaurant and took a peek at the menu to see if it's a place where he could eat, since pigs, geese, ducks and cows are off his list.

The "garnish" link caught my eye, so I clicked on it.

I will never look at garnish the same way again.

Sir, if You need any garnish extra, ask it privately of our man-servant, and He will let You know about the possibilities

September 15, 2014

Before And After

Thank goodness for the grand mammoo. She came over yesterday for a visit and we did many things.

I read her vocal therapy instructions to her, and taught her what I have learned about diaphragmatic breathing. The cats loved that. Two of them parked themselves on her while I had her laying down on the sofa with her hand on her diaphragm to feel the rise and fall with each breath.

Then a tuna sandwich (guy family tradition) and then we made prettiness where formerly there was sadness:



Thanks to mrguy, who provided most of the succulents in the new urn arrangements, and to the grand mammoo, who has an artistic eye and loooooves to garden. Perfect project for us. Over time this will fill in and be tall and lush. 

Hope so, anyway.

August 23, 2014

August 10, 2014


This is what 101 lemons look like:

This is what the tree minus 101 lemons looks like:

I'm taking them to my co-workers, the factory commissary, and neighbors.

Bar the door, Susie! The lemon lady is coming!

July 23, 2014

Local Wildlife

At our big brown box, we now have various forms of wildlife. Teensy woodpeckers, turkey vultures, deer and a turkey or two. And a turkey who seems like his name might be Henry, has a bride but she's not seen very often. 

He mostly appears on the steep road up to our house, at a place we like to call Turkey Curve. I have seen him chase pedestrians around their cars. I have seen him on lawns and in the street, with his plumage relaxed or in full display for the ladies. mrguy saw him eating seeds off a newly seeded front lawn.

Yesterday, while driving home, the car in front of me slowed down and then pulled over. Henry ran across the street to the driver's side. A moment later the window rolled down and a hand cast some stuff into the street and drove off. I drove around Henry and followed the car. It was expensive and headed into the hills. 

Henry seemed happy.

Update: yesterday I paused the car in the same spot and Henry ran across the street to engage me. I was so excited that I had to take a picture.

July 15, 2014

Valhalla Update

No cats were harmed in the making of this vacation. Mrguy went home and cat-proofed and slept over with the cats, and there was nothing to report. Came back the next day.

I can't think of a more relaxing setting for a vacation. The view from here is outstanding, and there is an enormous patio at the edge of the property where most of us have spent night after night watching the sunset or talking about the stars or just laughing ourselves sick.

We're already pencilled in for next year.

July 10, 2014


More on Valhalla later, but let's say that this new family vacation spot is amazing. A gigantic house, Norwegian-themed, with a view of a mountain range and the lake from all directions, and all of us are in good spirits.

Then came the email.

Our younger boy, the pony, has gotten into the cabinets and eaten some of the treats that I brought back from Madrid, including a chocolate brownie. CATS! It just hasn't been the best week.

  This is Nose. He's 18 1/2 and has kidney, bowel and thyroid issues. When one of those things gets off balance the whole works gets gummed up. He was so sick, and we thought it was curtains. After a day or two at the vet he looked like a 12-year-old:

As soon as we got him home, the young boy got sick. He had a temperature, was emitting fluid from both ends. He was also frightened to death of the fireworks on the 3rd and 4th. So on Sunday I took him in. A million jillion dollars later, he was miraculously fine a day or so later.

We came up here to Valhalla yesterday and, as I said, it is remarkably pleasant and relaxing. 

Then came the email. 

We reinstated his health so that he could climb into cabinets and eat things that could kill him? Argh. Mrguy is now driving 3.5 hours back home to further cat-proof the cabinets and sleep over so that he can make sure that the pony boy is safe.

We'll see mrguy tomorrow.

June 15, 2014

Happy Anti-Family Day!

Today we will have our first rehearsal with the halau leading up to the big festival in August. Those guys are a crack up. We *did* tell the kumu hula that we weren't comfortable being a bunch of mostly haoles and playing Little Brown Gal. Come on, brown isn't even in the "rainbow". We were told that they understand, but isn't the *most beautiful* color in Hawaii the color of its people? Again, as a haole, I don't think I'm supposed to sing about other people's skin color. Hula Blues has been substituted in our set.

Recently the kumu asked our band to pick five days for rehearsal. None of us noticed that the first date we picked happened to be Father's Day. An honest mistake. It wasn't a purposeful act, but some of the dancers flew off the handle and melted down in glorious style in a series of emails. They don't have fathers, but have brothers and brother-in-laws and uncles, you see...

So now we hate brown people *and* are anti-family. At band rehearsal this week we were arguing over who was more anti-family. I said it was mrguy and I because we don't have children. Then there was a certain amount of jealousy over that and others chimed in that they could be *just* as anti-family while actually having children. 

I don't think that's a defensible position ;)

June 8, 2014

Alice Is At It Again

If you don't get the reference, try YouTube :)

I've been deep into family history lately, trying to find the link to my family in Ireland

In pursuit of the further adventures of my great-grandmother, I decided to order some microfilm of court records from the town where she last lived in Ireland. She'd been a public nuisance here in the States, and I took a guess that this was not new behavior. My hunch was right.

On the 13th of March, 1868 she was charged with being "riotous" in a public house, then disappearing into the streets, reappearing later where she "maliciously broke 3 panes of glass" in the house of another complainant.

14 days in Trim gaol.

Go Granny go!

Deliver Me

Today I ran across this note that I found in a pile of garbage on the lawn near a sculpture we were photographing in Honolulu.

"Me" is living the good life if she can get some other human to chase her around town with a bag, don't you think? Although she is taking the bus.

Thank You, Chinese Estate Sale

A few weeks ago bigsis and I went to an estate sale and had a good old time. My regret is not buying the huge pile of mystery cassette tapes with handwritten Chinese labels. Could've been great. But I feel great about my other finds.

Last night we finished watching Master With Cracked Fingers. It's Jackie Chan's first starring role, in a film from 1971 that is largely made from bits of other films. Great outfits, great lamps, a guy who has eyebrows that look like giant mustaches -- and a lot of kicking. What's not to like?

I'm waiting for a very special day to watch Manster:

And then this beauty -- a ceramic wall pocket. Is it hideous or actually beautiful? I'm leaning toward the latter:

Don't know where I'm going to put it yet. Maybe the Lady Bathroom.

May 4, 2014

To Sir With Love

Lately the weekdays are rich, rich, rich with goings-on at the forklift factory. Amazing things happen, and then amazing things happen. I began the last day of the week with a handoff of archival materials from a favorite longtime employee who was leaving his job at the factory, and then attended a ceremony later in the day celebrating longtime employees who were not leaving.

Yesterday some workmates and I went to support a sweet bandmate at her stepfather's memorial service. It was without a doubt the best funeral I've been to, and I've been to many. The ministers actually knew him, so it wasn't generic. The room was full of laughter and stories of all kinds. Another sweet bandmate ROCKED Ave Maria. Little did I know that when she lived in Ohio she "did the funeral circuit" as she put it.

On Friday my bandmate showed me the chords to To Sir With Love. This is the song she felt best described her relationship with her stepdad. I volunteered to help her play it at the reception, so after the service a bunch of us sat on a picnic bench and practiced. It didn't really work out, but playing uke was a nice moment of calm for our friend before she had to rejoin the reception.

I had been very early to the service, by the way. An estate sale sign called out to me and I pulled a quick left to follow it. There wasn't much at the sale, but there was a gigantic Christmas cactus on a cool modern table sitting in the middle of the driveway. I have a real soft spot for wizened Christmas cactus at estate sales. I dubbed this one "Grandpa". It was the old man's cactus. His daughter, who was super old herself, came up to me and started laughing about how her dad put rice hulls in the soil and how she'd never do that because it retains too much moisture. She'd been watering the cactus since November, when he died, and had taken some cuttings so she could have a piece of it with her. Her brother made the table, which was glass and welded iron tubing. How could I not buy this cactus?

Two grandsons wrestled Grandpa and his table into my car.

And now he's home. I still need to give him a haircut and wash the crud off his pot and rehab the table.

Along the same lines, last September I bought our neighbor Max and Bernice's Christmas cactus. It was half-dead in the kitchen. Someone had to do it.

And then there is this large epiphyte that I bought at another estate sale.

I'm an old softie.

April 28, 2014

Words to the Housewives

I'm addicted to almost every show in the Real Housewives franchise. 

The shows used to be voyeuristic and banal. Somewhere along the way (I blame you, New Jersey!) each of these shows became about conflict. Crazy conflict.

I need to get the following observations off of my chest.

NeNe: you gotta take responsibility for your actions and deliver a meaningful apology or your friends won't like you. Not that you care.

Kenya: don't manipulate the situation or nobody will listen to you or respect you.
Not that you care.

New York
Carole: I don't like Aviva's behavior, but I lost respect for you when you persisted in calling her names in your blog.

Beverly Hills
I don't know which of you to believe. That's not o.k.

and Vanderpump Rules
Your reunion was one of the most boring moments in Bravo franchises. You guys are so shallow.

And so am I for watching you.

Not that you care.

April 19, 2014

Acacia Flower Fritters

The hive mind has spoken, telling me that my tree out front, profuse with yummy-smelling blossoms, is a black locust.

Even better than that, someone mentioned that you can make fritters out of the blossoms. As this tree only has a 10-day blooming period, I went looking for a restaurant that serves them as a seasonal delicacy. No such luck at the moment but I found this beautiful and inspiring blog post about making fritters yourself.



It was bound to happen. Sometimes I put a treasured possession  in the bathroom that is bathroom-related and a visitor misunderstands. Like when I used one of mrguy's matches from his prized Don The Beachcomber matchbook. He was not happy.

Today's victim was my bar of Praise soap, given to me by my doctor. It was clearly on display in the guest bath, but on the other hand the soap in the soap dish was down to a sliver. 

The mammoo, passing through town on her way to Easter, unwrapped the Praise and used it as...soap. Imagine! ;)

I could allow the bar to dry, find the wrapper and rewrap it? That is what the archivist in me might want to do. But I think I'm just going to go ahead and use it.

We move ahead.

April 17, 2014

Good Smells

This tree is now blooming in the front yard. Picked up a blossom on the way in and discovered that it smells like gardenias.

Mimosa tree, perhaps?

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