Thursday, September 27, 2018


I have an unreasonable fear of snakes. 

I don’t know when I acquired this, but I’ve had this fear for as long as I can remember. I am not afraid of many things on this dear ol’ earth, in fact, I can only think of two things: snakes and climbing down onto what I perceive as an unstable surface. Such as a ladder from a roof. But more about that another day, maybe.

In the meantime, we’ll talk snakes.

When I was a little girl, maybe six or seven, I was chased by my younger brother with a snake. It was a huge snake, long, black and horrible-looking. I remember running for my life, sobbing the entire time, my heart pounding in terror. It seemed like we ran for hours. I was exhausted. I don’t know why David quit chasing me. He was having such a good time, laughing so hard he could barely breathe. Maybe that’s why he finally quit: he was just out of breath. At any rate, when all was said and done, it turned out that it was only a rubber snake. If I hadn’t been so winded, I would have killed him on the spot.

In the summertime we would play in the state park, running after dark over the undulating grounds. How we did it, I really don’t know. When I walk across that rippling expanse of grass in the picnic area at Hartford Beach State Park these days, I marvel at the way we used to run across it at night, in total darkness, and not fall down. But run we did. At breakneck speeds. Until the streetlights at Mom and Dad’s resort went out (12:05 am) which meant it was time to go home. 

I vividly remember a dream I had one night, of the grass in that park being full of garter snakes. Millions of them. I couldn’t get away. The fact that I still remember that childhood dream all these years later is a testimony to how powerful it was.

Now I realize this fear is totally senseless. We have no poisonous snakes in our area. The harmless garter snakes that live around here and scare the bejeebers out of me are really quite innocuous and they are without doubt a benefit to our environment. But every time I see one, even a dead one, I get the heebie-jeebies. In fact, I can’t even see a picture of one without getting the shivers.

When I was a high school student, a snake handler came to our school and presented a program. Of course he asked for volunteers to come to the front and hold the snakes. And of course I was quick to raise my hand. So up I went and not only touched the big, venomous snakes, but held them, had them draped over my shoulders, the whole bit. I was perfectly okay with all that. Apparently, being in front of a group of people with a serpent professional made it non-scary.

Fast-forward to my adult years. I was mowing the lawn one day, back when I was still allowed to use the riding lawn mower, and there was a snake in the grass. Eek! I promptly stuck both feet straight out to the sides and changed course. Then it occurred to me, “That snake probably can’t get me up here on the lawnmower.” I gingerly returned my feet to the platform.

I’m out talking to Tim in the driveway and he tells me to look the other way. Of course, I know that means there is a snake nearby. As I turn away, I catch sight of it. I do the heebie-jeebie dance as I move away. Tim catches the snake and flings it as far as he can into a neighboring field. (Now that’s love.)

Mice? They’re cute. Spiders? Not my favorite, but whatever. Lizards? No big deal. Snakes? Well, let’s just say that if I had been Eve, there would have been no Original Sin.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Bruised Vanity

I think vanity is a trait all women have, to a certain degree. Some women are super concerned about how they look, others not so much, and still others claim they couldn’t care less, but I think they do care a teeny tiny bit. 

I think I fall into the middle category. I style my hair most days. Some days I put make up on. Some days I even put jewelry on. Some days I fret about my weight. Most of the time I’m just, like, “Sigh. Take me as I am.” 

When I go to the pool or to the beach, I know that I look like a whale. Either a beached whale or a swimming whale. I feel much more graceful and confident in the water than out of it, which might be why I love swimming so much. Plus, only my head is on display for the world to see. The varicose veins, the cellulite, the fat, the flabby arms, the bellowing calves and thighs, well, they are more hidden. Which is a good thing, let me tell you. This is not a body the world wants to see.

However, I have another issue which bothers me even more, I believe. It’s the bruises. Oh my gosh, I have bruises. I have bruised easily for years and as I age, you guessed it, I bruise even more effortlessly. And the bruises get bigger and prettier. So, later this week, when I am sunning myself on the beach in Florida, I will already have good color. There will be a lot of black and blue, green and yellow, with a little purple thrown in for good measure. 

At the doctor’s office I am never sure how to fill out my nationality. There used to be a box that I could check that said, “caucasian” but apparently that no long exits. Now it says, “white.” Well, truthfully, I am not white. I am a kaleidoscope of colors. I generally check the “white” box anyway but I feel a bit like a liar every time I do. And of course, once actually in the doctor’s office, I am always questioned, “How did you get these bruises?”

I wonder what the doctors and nurses think about my standard reply, “I don’t know. I probably ran into something.”

Because that’s the truth. I probably ran into something. I have been in a hurry since I was a child. Why, I don’t know. But I take corners too closely, hitting walls and cupboards. I take the easy way out, like standing on a chair (sometimes I find one that doesn't have wheels) instead of getting a step stool or ladder. And then I fall off the chair while getting down. One time in doing that, I managed to come down, hard, on a decorative metal post on the back of the chair. The pain was agonizing. It reminded me of those times I’ve seen a man lying on the ground, curled up in the fetal position, in absolute anguish. Because that’s exactly what happened to me. I ended up with an enormous bruise on my buttocks from that mishap. If you don’t believe me, just ask Tim or one of our daughters. They still have memories of the night at supper time when I got up, turned around and mooned them to show them how bad the bruise was. They tell me I scarred them for life, but too bad. My misery at the time was much worse. 

And just this last Saturday I was hauling too many totes and displays on a new cart as I was setting up at a craft show. The items all tumbled off and I fell forward onto the cart. I now have a multitude of additional bruises on my legs and arms. At least the weather is turning cold - so I am more likely to wear long pants. Except, of course, later this week when I will be in warm and sunny Florida, parading my bruised legs and arms for all to see. I am going to have to leave my vanity at home on the shelf.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Little Turtle

Today I had to make a trip to our fine sister city, Ortonville, MN. I chose to take the dyke road between Big Stone City and Ortonville, as I usually do. It’s such a lovely drive and a nice little short cut. Or at least it seems like a short cut. I don’t know that it actually cuts any time or distance off my travel, however.

But it’s always pleasant to drive the road between Big Stone Lake and the marsh. There is sure to be some wildlife sighting. It abounds with ducks, geese, heron, and sometimes bald eagles. Today there was a sweet little turtle making it’s way across the road towards the lake. I first noticed it just as a dark spot in the road and as I got closer, realized it was a baby turtle, probably only three inches in diameter. Oh how cute! Unfortunately, it was right in the path of my wheels, but I managed to swerve just a bit and missed the wee bit of a guy. I glanced in my rear view mirror and watched, as I held my breath and said a prayer, as the pick-up following me narrowly missed it. If that turtle had his tail out, he surely lost it, it was that close.

I resolved at that moment to return home via the same route and to help the turtle to his destination, assuming he lived until after I made my delivery.

That’s the kind of gal I am. When I set out on a journey at dusk (I’m never up early enough for a journey at dawn) or at night, I always say this prayer, “Lord, please protect the animals from me and my car.” I am not at all concerned about my little Poppy, she can be repaired. But the animals! It’s not their fault that I am barreling down the road at 65 miles an hour when they decide to cross the road! They don’t have the advantage of crossing guards or pedestrian crosswalks. We humans just inconveniently decide to put roads up in the middle of their residential areas without even consulting them. How unjust. 

So I drive very carefully, watching closely for the critters, praying that they will be protected from me. 

When I do see a dead animal along or in the road, I am so, so sad. Whether it’s a deer or a possum, a raccoon or even a skunk, I feel sorry for it. I see its poor eyes (in my imagination) and I wonder about its family - the little ones. Or its mother, if it’s a little one. When I see a dead cat or a squirrel I am heartbroken. And turtles! Hello! It’s not like a turtle suddenly jumps out onto the road, surprising everyone. How in the world can someone not avoid a turtle? There is no excuse for hitting a turtle. 

Frogs, on the other hand, I can understand. When I am on my way home from work at night and the highway is literally covered with hundreds of frogs the only way to avoid driving on them is to not drive. Which, if I want to get home, is not possible. So I wince all the way home, squishing frogs as I go. Ick.

And when I actually am the one who hits an animal, I almost cry. Fortunately, I have only hit birds, with the exception of the one time I hit a squirrel. I did actually cry when I killed the squirrel. It broke my heart. 

So when I get together with my lady friends and they all bemoan the “dumb deer” that are roaming about and threatening to do damage to their cars, I am cheering the deer on and praying that they’ll be safe. I couldn’t care less about the dumb cars. The body shops need business, anyway, right? 

As for my little turtle, when I went back he was safely on the very far edge of the road, having made it all on his own. I saluted him as I went by and wished him a good day. What a trouper he is.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Eggs, Milk, Bread

Years ago I was doing a little shopping in Milbank. I remember seeing this magnetic notepad at a local store. I almost bought it, but decided I really didn’t need it. The funny thing is, I still vividly remember the notepad. It had a clever little saying on it, “GROCERIES: This is the list you’ll leave at home when you go to the grocery store.”

I remember it so well, I’m sure, because I have done that exact thing so many times I can’t even begin to count them all. I’ve also done the, “I’ll just pop in for a gallon of milk,” and exit the store with a cartful of groceries, but, alas, no milk. 

Of course, how long it takes to actually realize you’ve forgotten to get the one item you actually needed depends on a few factors: How close one lives to the grocery store, what the weather is like, and how close it is to closing time. My home is about eight miles from Milbank. This means that if I go to the store and buy everything but the gallon of milk I need, I will not realize it until I am home. Then I will be too tired and discouraged to make the trip back into town. If it’s raining cats and dogs, I might actually remember it as soon as I’ve gotten into my car, I’ll have to truck back through the downpour in order to get it. I would never conveniently remember it before I actually exit the store. And of course, if it’s nearly closing time, I would probably remember that I need to buy milk about a minute after the store closes. 

I believe they call this Murphy’s Law. I should have majored in it. 

I’ve also been known to go into the store needing just three items. Those items become a mantra of sorts. “Eggs, Milk, Bread.” I repeat those three words over and over and over, non-stop, my whole way to the store, while I am going into the store, and while I am shopping. Except that once I am in the store, I get distracted by all the other things that I “need.” And then I think, “No, no, no! Focus on the three items you need! Eggs, Milk, Bread. Eggs, Milk, Bread, EggsMilkBread.”

So I continue along, reciting the mantra in my head and smiling politely at people I know but not wanting to stop and talk, because I know then I’ll forget the three items. I pick up the eggs. Whew. One down, only two to go. “MilkBreadMilkBreadMilkBread.” I get the milk. Ok, I’ve got this. And so I relax. Big mistake. Huge. Ginormous. Milk……oh shoot. What was the third item? EggsMilk…… Sometimes I get lucky and remember. Often I don’t. 

Now I know what you’re thinking. Just write it down! Take the list with you! Right. When I actually do remember to remember the list, I will set it on a shelf by some product I’m looking at and, well, grocery stores are fairly large, even in Milbank, and often as not I am unable to find the list.

One time I thought I’d beat the odds and jot the three items on my hand. Brilliant! Except that this was such an unlikely place for my list that I spent the entire time in the store frustrated because I couldn’t find my list. It wasn’t until I was in the car, driving home, that I noticed the writing on my hand. Ah, there it is. 

Fortunately the advent of smartphones has helped me tremendously. I have a grocery list in my phone and as long as I remember to put the items I need on the list, I do remarkably well. Take that, Murphy!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

My Secret

It has come to my attention that there are a number of people who want to know how I can afford to travel as much as I do.

This kind of makes me laugh, but doesn’t really come as a surprise to me. Now, to be honest, no-one has asked me this directly, but some of my friends have told me that they have been asked how I can afford to travel so much. 

Apparently my friends give answers such as, “Well, she doesn’t smoke or drink or gamble…” All of which are true. And all of which leave a nice chunk of change in my pocket. So I suppose that might be the reason I can afford to travel.

To me the real question, however, is who really cares? When I was growing up I never heard anyone talk about things like how others could afford this or that. It just wasn’t a topic of conversation in my family. When I reached adulthood and got a job in the real world and started hearing comments like, “How can she afford a new car every year?” and “Where does he get the money to go fishing all the time?” and other such questions, I was baffled. Really? Who cares? I certainly didn’t. It really perplexed me that others devoted a fair amount of time to this topic of conversation. 

And it hasn’t stopped. I was wed at 19 and 36 years later people are obviously still obsessed with the same thing. 

So, okay, I’ll tell you my secret. Here’s how I get the money for all the travel I do. 

I have this great job as a waitress. And I have some pretty awesome customers. Some of them I have even managed to con into tipping me an extravagant amount. For example, the other night this couple was out to celebrate a birthday. Just the two of them, having a romantic evening out. They had a lovely meal and their bill was $26 and some odd cents. When I took the bill to them, I suggested that they could just put $200 on the tip line of the credit card slip, to make things simple, and sign it, and be on their merry way. At first they balked a bit, thinking that was a pretty hefty tip, but I said, “Well, the bill is $26. Ten percent of 26 is 260, so I think a $200 tip is a good deal for you!” 

Of course, they could see the logic in that right away and agreed to it. Not only that, they decided to do a full 10%, which, nowadays, is the bare minimum for tipping, they said, and so left me $260. 

Now, a $260 tip goes a long ways in buying airline tickets on Allegiant Airlines. When I fly to St. Pete Beach in Florida to see my daughter, I am usually able to get round trip tickets out of Sioux Falls for about $120. If you do the math, you’ll figure out that one tip covers two flights, with money to spare. Excellent! 

And that was just one table of two people. Imagine what my take is on a busy night.

At this rate I should be able to retire soon and continue with my travels. In the meantime, I intend to be way too busy enjoying life to worry about how others get enough money to do the things they enjoy.

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Joy of Colonoscopies


A couple of weeks ago I had a colonoscopy. I had one done ten years ago, too, and it was great fun, so I decided it was probably time for a repeat. At the age of 44, I was having troubles with multiple bowel movements a day. Like, 12 or more. So my doctor recommended a colonoscopy. I have to say that other than the prep work, I was very happy with the outcome. Not only did the frequent bowel movements cease, but my acne cleared up (substantially), my depression went away, and I began a journey of a 90 pound weight loss. It was pretty amazing, really. 

So other than the prep, I was pretty pumped about doing it again. This time I gave the doc some instructions on what I expected from the procedure. Number one: I wanted to increase my ability to stay focused. For more than two seconds at a time. Number two: I wanted to start another 90 pound weight loss, as I’ve gained back most of what I’d lost last time. And number three, I wanted to be able to play the piano. I’ve always wanted to play the piano, but I don’t like the time it takes to learn. Might have something to do with that focus thing. 

Anyway, the doctor did not take me seriously at all. I was rather disappointed. 

But I have a few questions regarding the profession. I mean, who, really, would choose to go into this particular line of work? How many little kids do you know who have said, “I want to do colonoscopies when I grow up?” Are these the medical students who gave their professors so much grief that the punishment was working with s*&t the rest of their lives? Are they the students who graduated at the bottom of the class and this is all that was open to them? Or perhaps they longed to be speleologists, but their parents said no, they had to pursue a degree that would make more money? I’ve also considered that someone who preforms colonoscopies might come from a long line of plumbers and decided to change it up a bit. Who knows? It certainly was never on my radar as a career choice.

And the prep. That has improved significantly in the past ten years. In 2007 I had to drink something like 14 gallons of Go-litely, a horrible beverage to say the least. This year I only had to consume 64 ounces of Crystal Light lemonade mixed with so much MiraLAX that a spoon could stand straight up in the concoction. Lovely. The first half went down rather quickly and without much trouble, other than the normal complications of drinking a solid. The second half, on the other hand, took an hour and a half to consume. Tasty stuff, let me tell you. I also had to take six laxatives. I used the same kind that I’d used ten years ago. I mean, really. I’d purchased a box of laxatives the last time for $2.38 and only used four of them. There were still a whole bunch left. I certainly wasn’t going to waste good money on another box. The fact that they expired in 2010 didn’t bother me. I mean, it’s not like they were going to go bad, right? I did seriously consider taking more than six as their potency most likely was diminished. Turns out they worked just fine. The prep kept me up all night, literally, but it worked. I was nicely cleaned out when I got to the hospital the next morning.

And just think! If I live long enough, I’ll get to do this again in 2027. Yippee! Maybe next time I can find a doctor like the one I had the first time around: One that gives colonoscopies with all those fringe benefits. This last doctor was cute, but I’d prefer the fringe benefits. I still want to play the piano.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Precocious Brat

When I think back to my elementary school days, I realize that I was, well, to put it bluntly and honestly, a precocious brat. I mean, there really was no other way to describe me. 

I think it was in third grade that my teacher, who the other children absolutely adored, but I didn’t like so much, first made me aware that I was not the little princess I thought I was. Mostly because she didn’t like me so much. Mostly because I was rather spoiled and bratty. So who can blame either one of us for not liking each other very much? I can’t say that she was mean to me or anything, I just had this feeling that I wasn’t as appreciated as I should have been. It may have been brought on by things I said and did, such as the time it was blazin’ hot in the room (we didn’t have the luxury of air conditioning back in those days) and the students were all complaining about the heat. Miss So and So was trying to bolster our worn out spirits a bit and commented, brightly, that there seemed to be a nice breeze coming in through the open window. I, sitting next to the window, gave her a look that would have withered the staunchest of wizened teachers, much less fresh-out-of college newbies, and asked, “Are you crazy?”

She wasn’t impressed. 

Then there was the principal. Notice that principal is spelled with “pal” on the end, indicating that he is our “pal.” Oh gosh, I do remember learning that little trick. Our principal was also our fourth grade science teacher. I have a distinct memory of one particular time he was teaching my class. We must have been studying germs and disinfecting or some such thing, because he was making it a point to telling the class that he would never eat at a cafe that didn’t have a dishwashing machine. Only cafes with dishwashing machines truly sanitized their dishes in a manner that made them safe for serving food to the public. Naturally, since my parents owned a small cafe at our resort, and we did not have a dishwashing machine, but rather followed the state approved three sink dishwashing and sanitation method of cleaning dishes, I gave him a lecture on procedures for washing dishes and state rules and regulations. I also pointed out that frequently the dishwashing machines actually left pieces of food on the silverware and plates whereas humans noticed those chucks of food and sent them back and scrubbed them off. 

Perhaps that is why he liked to casually walk around between the students’ desks and when he’d pass mine he’d always look at me and push his eye glasses up, using, get this, his middle finger. I might have been only 10, but I knew when someone was giving me the bird.

That third grade teacher and I had another go around in the winter months when she was teaching us about birds, telling the class that they were mammals because they were warm blooded. I corrected her, thinking she’d just made a faux pas. But she said I was wrong. Seriously? That really got me going. We got into a rather heated argument about the fact that yes, she was correct, birds are warm blooded, but no, she was wrong, they are not mammals. I sited to her the list of reasons they did not fit the mammals category. She stuck to her guns and refused to back down, saying that they were one of the exceptions and they were mammals. We didn’t have a set of encyclopedias in the classroom and she finally “won” the argument by basically calling seniority, as she was the teacher. However, the next day I brought in one of our encyclopedias from home and proved that I was right. Excuse me? I was not going to let her win that argument, not when I knew I was right, and not when she was teaching a class full of students incorrect information. 

So, with time I have manage to mature a bit. But only a little bit. I do manage now to hold my tongue once in a while and I am a trifle more diplomatic. But not much, not really. I am still a precocious brat. And I am still a princess. For a while there, they kind of had me thinking I wasn’t a princess, but then I figured out they were wrong about that, too.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Waitress Work

The work of a waitress can be life threatening. Or maybe I should say MY work as a waitress can be life threatening, because I’m not sure that others have the same issues I have. Just the other night at work I tried to kill myself three times. Seriously. It all started when we got busy - and boy, were we busy. I was running around like a chicken who’s just had her head cut off - that crazy, where should I go next? - kind of running around. I was putting a tray of bread into the convection oven and made the mistake of looking at the person I was talking to, which meant I wasn’t paying close attention to what I was doing, and thus burned the inside of my upper arm on the door of the oven. That hurt, a lot.

Next I was in the walk in cooler. Jessica was already in there, getting salad dressings, and I was getting a tray of salads. Jessica left before I did and (accidently, I hope) shut the door so that it latched. I was maneuvering the large and cumbersome tray of salads towards the door, holding it about neck height (that’s what ya gotta do to get out the door) and I pushed hard against the door with the tray. Since it was latched, the door didn’t go anywhere and instead I was clothes-lined right in the Adam’s apple with a tray full of salads. Oh my gosh. That hurt. A lot.

Last but not least, I was getting a dessert ready for a customer. A yummy molten lava cake, by the way. I was using one of those ice cream scoops that has the little lever and a gear on it, so that it makes a nice ball of ice cream when you push the lever to eject the ice cream. Well, the ice cream was a bit hard and I was using my second hand (as opposed to my third hand) to help push the lever and managed (I really don’t know how I did this) to catch the skin between the thumb and forefinger in the gears. In case you are wondering, that also hurt. A lot. 

I was just happy that my shift only lasted six hours because a few more hours might have done me in.