Sunday, December 23, 2007

Snow Day

We canceled church for the second time this season due to blizzard-like conditions. After family services in the living room, K. and I made rosettes.

Friday, December 21, 2007

How Much Is Your Corpse Worth?

$4140.00The Cadaver Calculator - Find out how much your body is worth.

And while we're at it: How likely would YOU be to survive the coming Zombie Invasion? I lost points big time for not keeping a gun in the house. (I notice they did not include "cricket bat" in the list of potential weaponry one may have in one's home. Not that I have a cricket bat, mind you; but I've seen Shawn of the Dead a few million times.)


Monday, December 17, 2007

Food History Timeline

Here is an interesting chart showing when various foods came onto the human race's menu.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Jack-Jack breakthrough

Look at this brave boy!

I have wheeled Jack-Jack's cage into my office during the day when the children are at school, so he will have some company, leaving his cage door open. He was not interested in leaving his cage at all until suddenly today when he decided that it was time, marched deliberately out onto the the platform, looked around a moment and then took off flying! He fell behind the file cabinet and couldn't get out, hissing at me and breathing heavy. I gave him a stick to step onto and hauled him out of there, praised him for his bravery and for "stepping up" so nicely, and then tried offering him a finger to step-up to. He has been taught this before, I believe, though he did nip me before stepping. We stepped a couple of times, then he flew again - and ended up behind the SAME file cabinet, got hauled out again by his stick, and we did more stepping practice. I had him take a break on my shoulder, where he yanked on my hair a bit, and then we took this photo. What a good boy he is.

Of course a few minutes after I took the photo he got tired of practicing and bit my finger hard enough to make it bleed pretty good, but that's not a big surprise.

He is back in his cage resting. All that excitement tired him out.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Current Events, New Albin Elementary Style

Lil Miss A came home with some shocking news she had learned from her buddy R. R said that Chinese people put a kind of poison on toys that makes you not believe in God anymore, and that he had a whistle from China that had this poison on it. Lil Miss A begged him not to blow the whistle, but after some discussion, he decided to anyway. He thinks his faith is strong enough to withstand evil Chinese plots, evidently.

I tried to explain about lead paint and what it does to you, but I don't think I convinced her. She has never believed me when I tried to explain about the Christian church in China and religious persecution, either.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Presenting... Jack-Jack!

This is Jack-Jack, a sweet young male cockatiel we adopted today from the Coulee Region Humane Society. He is scared of hands, but he likes faces a LOT, and he likes to whistle and chirp at and interact with humans, dogs, and guinea pigs. Just not cats. Cats are icky.

Jack-Jack belongs to Lil Miss A. It was she who selected his name.

Friday, November 30, 2007

First "real snow" of the season

That is, if you define "real snow" as "snowfall requiring snowplows."

Photo taken through our living room window.

It's an unusual first snow: It's powder. Temp is only 12 degrees Fahrenheit, so it's light, blowy snow. I didn't shovel, I swept.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Obsessing over the Phone Bill

We are a family of 5. We have a land line telephone with the phone cooperative, long distance with an 800 number through a third-party long distance company, four Tracfone cell phones and high-speed Internet through our cable company. The costs have crept up as we got more and more used to all this connectivity. Now that everybody on the planet has a cell phone or two, we have all become accustomed to instant access to anyone, anytime, anywhere, and we are mystified when we cannot reach someone in a moment. "I left a message, she'll call back" just doesn't do it anymore. No, now it's "Why isn't she picking up, already?? Where is she? I want her NOW!" And when I can't instantly get hold of one of my children, I don't like it. Not a bit.

Things came crashing down the other day when one of the Tracfones broke and Barry took a look at our usage. I keep obsessive records on our Tracfone costs because I know at some point there will be a tipping point when we would be better off with a regular cell phone plan, and I want to know the exact moment when that point comes. So when Barry asked for a report on who was using how much Tracfone time and costing what, I was able to pull up the Excel spreadsheet and tell him. Suffice to say that the person with the broken Tracfone had just plain worn it out. That person's usage was more than the rest of the family's combined. And I ain't sayin' who she is. Only she's very tall, and she's brunette, and she's not me.

Miss Tall and Loquacious is going to get her own Tracfone and be responsible for the minutes herself, and the rest of us will just coast on the minutes we have and see how it goes. We shouldn't need to buy any for quite awhile if she is counted out of the equation. But even with her usage counted in, we were running 4 cell phones for about 70 bucks a month averaged over the past 12 (and that includes buying 3 of the 4 phones), with a lot of the usage being text messages, and we couldn't touch that with any of the plans we found through conventional cellular carriers. But it put our total communications bill (counting Internet) over $160 a month! Augh!

I know, I know, somebody out there is going to say, "Lose the land lines, just go cellular." It's not a good choice for us, living where we do, where cell coverage is very patchy. It's not acceptable to me to constantly be dropping calls.

Then, the marketing people at Mediacom, our cable company, shrewdly picked this week to call and offer us telephony through their cable lines. We knew this was coming but had always been hesitant simply because Mediacom tends to have technical problems in our town. But those problems have been less and less as they replaced aged cable and switches, and service has not gone down since the middle of the summer, if I remember correctly.

They offered us local and long distance phone service, keeping our old phone number, for $9.95 a month for the first 6 months, then $29.95 a month thereafter. After we thought about this a bit, we decided to go for it. When I called back today, they had an even better offer: A penny a month for the first 6 months and $29.95 a month thereafter! We don't lose our phone number, we get unlimited calls to people we care about all over the country AND our long distance carrier said we can still keep our 800 number through them even though the bills will be so small that I wouldn't think they would even want to bother with us anymore.

So our land line costs are going from $65-65 a month down to about $15 a month for the first 6 months and then about $45 a month after that. Definitely an improvement.

What's the best deal you can get on phone service? How do you make it work with a budget? Discuss.

Can you believe some people still have not tried eBay?

I thought in this jaded world of e-commerce, the only people who had not yet used eBay were still in their basinettes, but this Christmas shopping season I am selling to more newbies than in a long time. I sold two loaf pans to a nice gentleman who had registered on eBay for the first time in order to buy them for a friend. He was so cute: He put in a Best Offer at my asking price. :o) Needless to say, I accepted it.

A pollster caught me by phone this morning

I just took a call from a national opinion pollster. The questions were interesting, at least to me. Here, as best I can reconstruct them, they are:

1. Are you a registered voter? (Yes.)
2. Do you consider yourself philosophically more Republican, Democrat or Independent? (Republican.)
3. Do you strongly oppose Bill #????, the Right to Work Law, which states that no worker shall be required to join a union or trade guild in order to gain employment? (Never heard of this before so cannot state an opinion.)
4. Do you strongly oppose all new taxes? (Of course not. Duh. Only I didn't actually say the "duh" part.)
5. Do you strongly oppose all gun control laws including restrictions on handgun use? (No! Again, duh.)
6. Do you believe that abortion should be illegal in all states and in all circumstances except to save the life of the woman? (No. I didn't add that I believe in a moral society this would be a nonissue, but I do not believe that you can legislate morality in most cases. People without morals won't care about the laws anyway.)

Just oddly stated questions, I thought. I always wonder what they are getting at in these things.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Saturday, November 17, 2007

First Day of Gun Deer Season - Bo is Ready

What's Daddy got? Is it a sandwich?

It is! it is! It's a sandwich!


All tired out now.

Anyway, I was worried that Bo would pick today to escape and would get shot, so I gave him a blaze orange vest. He actually seems rather proud of it!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Vintage finds: Hand Embroidered Silk Robe

I bought this beautiful silk robe for 99 cents on eBay. The sash was missing, and although the seller's description was accurate and good, the picture was awful, so nobody else bid.

I used a piece of gorgeous silk brocade in a color picked up from the hand embroidery to make a replacement sash. The original sash was probably turquoise but I didn't want to try to match the colors.

Take a look at this lovely hand embroidery work. The time that went into this!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Declined as a seller on

I'm curious to know if anyone knows why might decline someone as a seller. They won't give a reason and they won't let you reapply. I don't believe it's based on one's credit report, as any time someone declines you for something based on that you are entitled to look at your report for free, and they did not offer me this. I have been buying on Amazon for a long time, and selling on eBay for even longer, so I think I would be a reasonable Amazon seller too.

If anyone has any insight on this I would appreciate your discussing it in Comments.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

I am Ruler of the Univerrrrrse!

Thanks to the Cat Grannie for this moment of fame.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Sugar Maple

Our little baby sugar maple exploded into brilliant color this past week. It went from mostly green to dumping-scarlet-leaves-all-over-the-place in the span of about 6 days. I scanned some of these lovelies to share with you.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I paused to prepare a pie.

I'm trying really hard to stick to a budget. Food is my (our) downfall, as we always seem to think it's okay to blow the grocery budget, because food, after all, is what makes life worth living. My current method is to do one big shopping trip at payday and then try to coast from there on for 2 weeks with only Kwik Trip milk, bananas and eggs filling in between. It's not going terribly well, but I'm fine tuning it. Anyway, an important part of the plan is using what we buy, not wasting anything. I bought 3 pounds of lovely seedless grapes in 3 colors last payday and then we forgot
about them. Barry found them again this morning, not totally wrecked, but certainly shrivelly and not very appetizing. And I just made them into a pie! It's in the oven right now, smelling wonderful. I got the recipe from one of my 3 favorite cookbooks, Susan G. Purdy's As Easy As Pie. Basically, here's what you do:

1. Wash and stem the grapes and dump them into a saucepan. Add 1/4 cup cider or orange juice (I used cider). Cook them for a few minutes, smashing about half of them so they release more juice. Strain the fruit, reserving the juice. Put the fruit back into the saucepan. Measure out just 1 cup of the juice and add it back to the saucepan.

2. Dissolve 2-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch in a mixture of 3 tablespoons cold water and 1 tablespoon lemon juice, then add it to the fruit. Then add 1 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, and 2 teaspoons lemon zest (I did not have a lemon so I skipped this). Simmer everything together over medium heat until thickened. This did not take long. Set it aside to cool for a few minuts.

3. Prepare a double-crust pie shell. If you're feeling ambitious, make the top crust a lattice crust; if you're in a rush, like I was, just make it a double crust pie. Put the grape filling in the crust, top it with the top crust, flute-seal the edges and brush the whole thing with an egg beaten with a little water, then sprinkle granulated sugar over everything.

4. Bake at 425 for 12 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 for another 25, or however long it takes for your crust to get nice and browned.

It's a very pretty pie, if I may say so myself: Lots of the grapes keep their shape, so if you use 3 different varieties, like I did, you get this pretty mosaic of colors. And the flavor is wonderful.

P.S. If you'd like to know what my other two favorite cookbooks are, they are
Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook and Nikki and David Goldbeck's All American Wholefoods Cuisine. Other top-ranking faves are Helen Witty's Fancy Pantry and New Recipes from the Moosewood Restaurant.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Jeep Rolls Over 200,000 Miles

Our Jeep was bought new the summer of 1993. It's been a great car. It's still going strong. Here my hubby risked life, limb and license to film it rolling over to a whole new row of 000s.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Trash Day is Here Again

It's Fall Clean-Up Day, and we have had rain off and on for some time now so everything put out at the curbs got preetty soaked, BUT I still found some goodies:

Some old Lapidary Journal magazines that got damp but may still be useful to somebody, or if not can be recycled; a darling 1950s doll carriage that cleaned up really nice; and this:

A glass oil lamp that I took because it was in good shape. I didn't really need another oil lamp, I just thought I'd clean it up and give it to The Way Station. But the more I looked at it, the more I felt that little "ya got something here" niggle in the back of my brain, and sure enough, it IS "something," a pressed glass oil lamp in a pattern usually called Dewdrop and Petal. They were made starting in the 1880s or so, but mine is a little later, at least 1910, because it has the kind of brass burner that screws on inside the glass rim, not over top. The glass is very heavy, with neat bubbles and a couple of straw marks. It's probably not worth a ton; they're expensive to ship, and that keeps eBay prices fairly low. But I could probably get between $40 and $100 for it with the right marketing. I am going to keep it for awhile, though; it's very pretty, and the heavy glass is hard to tip over.

I may have also found something else this week. Not ready to say anything more yet, but if anything comes of it, of course I'll post.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

New Albin Library Quilt Show 2007

Rushford, Minnesota, was one of the towns hardest hit by the flash flooding that struck our area in late summer. One of their losses was the town's library, which lost most of its collection to flood waters.

New Albin's city library held a benefit quilt show to raise money for Rushford's library, raising over $500 in one weekend. Excellent work.

To take a closer look at any of the quilts, click here to go to the Photobucket album.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Col. Sanders

This is Colonel Sanders, our little barred cochin banty rooster. He's still just a kid and is not yet carrying out all his roosterly duties, but isn't he a cutie?!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Geek Heaven

Three new/newish series I gotta tell you about.

First two are web-based. Check out Trenches, coming to a computer near you in "fall 2007," which is not anywhere specific enough for me. It looks to me like a Battlestar Galactica/Starship Troopers/Aliens kind of thing to me. I so can't wait. They are not even charging for this one, which I find amazing.

Next is Sanctuary. I've been waiting for this one for a long time. Six webisodes available now, each about two bucks. Dark urban landscapes, Trinity-esque warrior maidens, scary CGI monsters. Not quite as formulaic as it sounds.

And finally is NBC's Chuck, premiering officially in September but sneak previewed at ComicCon this past weekend. My link is to a torrent site that posted it a few days earlier than that, even. Now that it's official, I'll see if I can find a better source. Absolutely hilarious. Great dialogue. Best of all, Adam Baldwin. Will they EVER let that man be funny again? He's a thug, AGAIN, but there's a sparkle in his eye that I hope bodes well for character development. Anyway, story synopsis is Chuck is a single guy working for a big box electronics store in technical support (the "Nerd Herd" booth). A long-out-of-touch college buddy sends him a fateful email with a mysterious attachment and boom, he finds himself the target of international intrigue. Some folk badly want him dead, others want him kept alive just as badly. Which is which? I cannot rave enough about this pilot episode. At least with NBC, it has a slight chance of staying on the air, unlike with some networks I could mention.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

More Fun with SiteMeter

A hit from earlier today came from someone searching, "Llamas for rent in IOWA."

I am perplexed.

Why would one wish to rent a llama? Are there tax advantages to renting one's llama, as opposed to buying outright? Or llama-lleasing?

Perhaps it's a try-before-you-buy sort of thing. You rent a nice llittle llama, see how things go, decide if you are a llama-friendly family and then you make your decision to go ahead and buy one. Or maybe you're attempting to choose between a llama and some other sort of pet, say, a wildebeest. You rent a llama for a month, then switch it out for a rental wildebeest, and then you decide which you prefer.

Or maybe it's a matter of transportation. We just went through a situation where our car was in the shop, and we got a loaner for a few days. Perhaps someone's camel is indisposed, and so she needs a lloaner llama for the duration.

But why is the IOWA significant? Perhaps this person is traveling. (Yes, lots of tourists come to Iowa every year, and not all of them by accident, either.) Perhaps this person is staying in Iowa and had to lleave his belloved llama at home with the llamasitter. Arriving at his destination, say, Mason City, he finds himself really missing his pet, so he does a quick Google search, finds a llama rental agency and voila, a llama is delivered to his motel room within the hour.

E2A: Mister Practicality, otherwise known as Barry, said flatly, "It's probably for some kid's birthday party." Booooorrrriiiinnnngggg. Although I can sort of see that. "Billy, are you SURE you won't just settle for a nice pony at your birthday party?" "NoooOOOOOooooo! I wanna LLAMAAAAAAA!" "Okay, sweetheart, just calm down, I'll try to find you one."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Photos from Lil Miss A's Last Softball Game

This was actually a very exciting game. The visitng team, Harper's Ferry, had enough to field two teams, so the girls played one another. We were now the ones barely able to put 9 kids on the field. Our girls played well.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Episode 578: In Which I Hit a Deer

New Albin Days is over and done with for the year, and I know I need to blog it here and also update the New Albin Days blog, but I am still processing. I would call it a wild success, especially considering how it had been 12 years since anyone had put one on and we had a core group of about 12 volunteers to start with. Mama and Papa came down Sunday and watched the parade. It was fun seeing them out there in the crowd.

Anyway, Sunday night at dusk, it had just started to rain, and I was driving to Lansing to get Miss B from work, when I hit a smallish deer. The things travel in packs, and I saw the first one and missed it, but then I hit the second one who could not wait to catch up with its brother or sister and made a dash for it. Amazingly enough, I'm fine, and the car is still driveable; the front left quarter-panel is pushed in and the headlight is off kilter. I think the deer even walked away from the accident, because I couldn't find it.

The Concorde is now up at our favorite body shop, Kious Kountry, and we have a rental replacement - a 2007 Dodge Charger. Ooh, but it's fun! Ugly as sin, but fast, and with great pickup. It WANTS to go fast. Barry says the engine is the same size as the Concorde's, but the car itself is smaller and lighter, the suspension is very tight and the steering is stiff, so you feel like you're at 55 when you're pushing 80. I'm going to make Barry drive it to work to keep me out of trouble.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Pee-Wee Softball Season Ending

Little Miss A's game last night was once again against Brownsville, Minnesota. The pee-wee boys baseball team and the pee-wee girls softball team combined for a total of about 40 kids to play against Brownsville, which was barely able to field 9 players. It would have been depressing for the Brownsville kids, because ALL the kids play the field ALL the time, and thus it was wall-to-wall New Albin kids out there, except that none of ours can catch, so somehow the ball would find a gap between two kids, squeeze through, and roll out of the infield, allowing the Brownsville kids time to run the baseline. Then when the NA kids were up to bat, the poor little Brownsville kids stood out there for what seemed like HOURS as all 40 NA kids got to swing, and swing, and swing until they finally hit something, usually foul but who cares at that point, all the parents scream RUN!RUN!RUN! because as parents of pee-wee players we take what we can get.

Adding to the general confusion was that Brownsville and New Albin both have red as the team color, so what we saw was a crowd of about 50 little people in red shirts, running around chasing balls, or, as frequently was the case, talking to each other, building sand castles in the dirt, tossing their mitts into the air and generally just counting on the odds against the ball ever making it through the gauntlet of other little people dressed in red.

The neat thing about the pee-wee league is that the parents cheer for EVERYBODY. Doesn't matter what team. It doesn't last very long, but it's very sweet while it does.

She has one more game tonight, then the season is over. The Shooky Fink Little League Tournament wraps up the season.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Miss B is Home Safely

Miss B is safely home from a short-term mission trip to Matamoros, Mexico. She is exhausted, but is staying awake to tell us some of her news. It was an exciting week for her.

Friday, July 06, 2007

More from New Albin Savings Bank

The decorating continues at New Albin Savings Bank. They brought some old office machines and a wonderful document file cabinet out of storage and arranged them on and around the big old desk.

Look at this wonderful old Burroughs adding machine.

Update: Read about the bank's open house here.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

From a siggy over at

No pleasure, no rapture, no exquisite sin greater, than central air.

So true.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Who Are We?

We are not secretaries.
We are not typists.
We are not transcribers.

We are specialists in medical language and healthcare documentation. We are medical translators and medical editors. We interpret garbled mumbo jumbo and fashion it into a detailed patient record that accurately communicates medical information in a timely manner. We uncover and report inconsistencies. We know anatomy and physiology, pharmacology and laboratory medicine. We know the English language and grammar and even a little about various foreign languages and accents. We are aware of mediolegal issues and computer technology. We can produce a whole paragraph with 3 strokes. We are important members of the healthcare team. A patient’s care, and even life, can depend on our skills, on how well we do our jobs.

We tell and preserve a patient’s story for seamless care through history.

We are professionals who care.

We are the Webmedx Team.

Sandra King, RN, CMT, FAAMT
Senior Content Specialist/Education

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Scottie - Stuffed Scottish Terrier

A certain Scottie-loving friend of mine, Kathleen Hidingout, just turned 40. I wanted to make her a toy Scottie for her birthday. She has two real live Scotties, Precious, a black one, and Smeagol, a white one.

The pattern I had in my files was really just not satisfactory; it was so flat. Really just a profile. Turns out someone else had the same complaint. I found a simple pattern here. With a few more alterations of my own I made this little guy:

He really looks a lot like Smeagol in this photo.

Barry took a look at him as his ears were going on and said, "Aren't those ears awfully big?" and I replied, "Have you SEEN Smeagol's ears?"

Okay, in case anyone needs me to be specific, here are the changes I made to the pattern I linked to above:

1. Enlarged to 200%.
2. Cut main body pieces without ears.
3. Cut rounded triangles of faux fur for ears, with felt for lining.
4. Cut 4 ovals of felt to add soles of feet.
5. Moved the eyes.
6. Trimmed the fur around the muzzle to just above the eyes, leaving it long under the chin for the beard and above the eyes for the eyebrows.
7. Added a black floss nose.

I think that's it.

Friday, June 29, 2007

New Albin Savings Bank's historic addition

New Albin Savings Bank bought the old building next door to it, where the old grocery store was until just recently. Their plan was to fix the building, expand into part of it and lease the rest. The building turned out to have a lot more wrong with it than anyone had guessed, which is how these things usually go, and the renovation has been expensive, but the fruits are now visible for all to admire.

I'm calling it a "historic addition" because the building is not new, and the bank was respectful of the old structure as it converted it to use as a modern bank.

This is the lobby, located in the main section of the bank. Through those doors is the "new" part of the bank.

This is the same wall, seen from the new addition. Note that they exposed the wonderful old stone wall. Can you see how thick that wall is? Amazing.

The same hallway, this time viewed from the back of the bank.

And from a few steps further back.

At the very front of the new section, looking out on the street, is a break room/conference room. The double French doors open into that hallway I just showed you.

The break room has a woodstove in one end for coziness.

The sight of the camera sent everyone scurrying for cover. That's Bank President Barry Fruechte, hiding behind one of his customers.

This is a peek into one of the new offices, with the exposed limestone wall. That one belongs to Allen Meiners, who was off doing important things when I was taking photos.

This is an amazing old desk that belonged to the first bank president of NASB. It looks like that spot was created especially for it. I am told that it was a happy accident, however. You would have gotten to see Jake Imhoff in that picture except that he leaped to safety at the last possible second.

My last photo is of one of the windows at the back with the late morning sun streaming through it.

The bank is only using maybe a quarter of the space in the building and is looking for good tenants for the rest.

Oh, and I used real names for this post - these are all bank officers with their names all over legal paperwork that anybody can access so I don't think they will mind.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Putting the "American" in American Shorthair

I obviously meant for Briggs to take a nap in this nice comfy pile of fabric, or I would have put the flags away promptly after Memorial Day, right?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

More photos: New Albin, Iowa, late spring

I took a few snaps of the farmland around town. Now there is only one photographer in our family, and I am not he, but I still have fun now and then. Click on the thumbnails for bigger versions.

The first is looking up Cemetery Road toward the Tom Reburn farm, with its famous 12-sided barn.