Archive for July, 2011

Summer Love


I’m in love with my car
Gotta feel for my automobile
Get a grip on my boy racer rollbar
Such a thrill when your radials squeal

After reading the lyrics to this Queen song, which I always loved, I wasn’t sure if Roger Taylor was actually talking about a car, or something more visceral, but let’s not analyze that just now. I’m talking about a car, and it’s one I just bought, and I do love it.

There’s something to be said for having to wait a long time to get what you want. Not hours or days, but years. If you are unable to afford a new car for whatever reason, and you have to coddle an old one along until you can, it increases your satisfaction quotient by about 100%. You get the oil changed in the old one, you make the necessary repairs, you try to ignore the rust as much as you can, the noises, the clunks, the dings, the new sounds coming from under the hood. You treat it well. It treats you well. You pray it’ll make it through one more winter without incident. (It did!)

So thank you for the many years of dependable service, Olds Cutlass, but it is time to bid you farewell.

After 2 months of looking, which is my idea of what HELL must be like, I found this lovely 2004 Ford Escape, which was within my budgetary confines, and which suits me well. It’s pretty. It looks new. It smells new. There are no payment attached to it. Thank you to Josh at Kia of Duluth for pointing out that when you find what you’re looking for, you don’t keep looking.

A word about the people I contacted on Craigslist: Nuts. They are all nuts. They are crazy, daft, goofy, incomprehensible, imbecilic, rude, dimwits. If you are one of these people, I take nothing back. I hate you. If you are the guy who keeps advertising your car lot’s inventory under “for sale by private owner,” and then never wanting to show said cars, I hate you. If you are the guy who advertised the Honda but could never manage to actually show it to me, or who kept saying “give me a call tomorrow,” I hate you. (I looked you up online, by the way. You are a total jackass. You know who you are. And so do I.)

If you are the people who saw me looking at your car with the FOR SALE sign in the window but wouldn’t shut off your mower to come and talk to me, I hate you. I hope your car never sells. If you are the guy who gave me your address but was never home, I hate you. If you heard me say I could not spend a penny over $8,000 and yet you showed me cars in the $12-14,000 range, I hate you.

Needless to say, I am not a good car shopper. I hope to never do this again. And if the 1995 Cutlass is any example of my shopping record, I may never have to.

The good news is the “new” car is shiny and pretty and fun to drive, and I appreciate it all the more for those cold winters with the Olds that sometimes had an inadequate heater or those hot summers when the air conditioning didn’t work, prompting one of my dear old friends to ask on a hot August afternoon, “Did you just turn the heater on?”

Life is good.

* * * * *

My other summer love is the Farmer’s Market at 14th Avenue East and 2nd Street. It’s open every Wednesday and Saturday morning from 7 until noon. If you haven’t gone, please do. It’s important to support local growers, but beyond that, the produce is fresh and beautiful and affordable, and the market is a fun place to shop.

On my latest visit I was intrigued by yellow beets; something I’d never seen before. They were beautiful, but so were the greens attached to them. I chatted with the grower who said they could be steamed or put into salads, and I was eager to try them. I found this wonderful recipe online at “Simply Recipes.” If you like spinach, you’ll like beet greens. This recipe is similar to steamed spinach, but has a bit of a kick to it.

Braised Beet Greens

1 pound beet greens

1 strip of bacon, chopped (or 1 Tablespoon bacon fat)

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 large garlic clove, minced

3/4 cup water (I used chicken stock, which I had made last weekend)

1 Tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (probably optional)

1/6 cup cider vinegar

Wash the greens in a sink or large pot filled with cold water. Drain the greens and wash them a second time. (They’re gritty and sandy.) Cut the leaves and some of the red stems into bite sized pieces and set aside.

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until lightly browned. (Or melt the bacon fat.) Add onions, cook over medium heat 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions soften and start to brown. Stir in the garlic. Add water or broth to the hot pan, stirring to loosen particles on the bottom of the pan. Stir in the sugar and red pepper. Bring this mixture to a boil.

Add the beet greens and gently toss with the onion mixture until well coated. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 5-15 minutes, until the greens are tender. Stir in the vinegar just before serving.


Welcome to the World, Madison Olivia!


“A babe in the house is a well-spring of pleasure, a messenger of peace and love,
a resting place for innocence on earth, a link between angels and men.”
–Martin Fraquhar Tuppe

An interesting thing about families is how they change over time. Some people join the family, some leave it, others are born into it (without being asked!) and it continually evolves and amazes.

The newest member of our family, Madison Olivia, was born on June 4th at St Mary’s Hospital; a much-anticipated tiny bundle of joy, even though she wants us to think she is this big:

(I don’t know what happened to her feet or the top of her head. They were in the original photograph, but refuse to show up here, even though I tried all those goofy icons that don’t make a bit of sense.) But I digress.

We like babies in our family. Four a long time we were four sisters and a dad, and then along came the husbands and babies who grew up way too soon, but who turned into wonderful kids who then turned into husbands and wives. And now more babies are coming.

It’s really a great plan.

Madison’s a lucky baby. (I keep thinking of the Barbra Streisand song, “Jenny Rebecca, Four Days Old”, but I’ll spare you the singing part. It’s just a great song and it’s quite appropriate here.) She (Madison, not Jenny Rebecca) has two parents who adore her. She has grandmas and grandpas and aunties and uncles and cousins who are happy to meet her at last. A baby can’t have too much love, and a baby can’t be spoiled, and the family surrounding her are ready to prove both.

Madison has a cousin (second cousin?) in Gabriella, last year’s new baby, and I expect they will have a lot of fun times together, just as their mothers did when they were kids.

It’s exciting to me to see all this happening again. Life is pretty darned amazing, and if you live a real long time, it just seems to get better and better.

Here’s Auntie Katie with Madison:

And here’s Madison’s first bath, though I don’t know what a baby could possibly do to require a bath. Oh, wait a minute, I just thought of something:

And here’s a gorgeous baby shower cake in anticipation of her arrival, created by honorary Auntie Amber:

So, that’s the story of Madison Olivia so far. She has a long way to go, but I’m eager to see how her life unfolds. She’s so fresh, so new, so precious. And we’re so very very glad she’s here!

Who puts the “great” into Great Auntie?

You know it!

PS: Okay, here are the lyrics. I could not resist.

Jenny Rebecca, four days old
How do you like the world so far
Jenny Rebecca, four days old
What a lucky, lucky, lucky
Lucky girl you are
For you have swings to be swung on
Trees to be climbed up
Days to be young on
Toys you can wind up
Grass to be lying on
Sun up above
Pillows for crying on
When you’re in love
Ponies for riding on
Wind in your hair
Slides to be sliding on
Leaves in the air
Dolls to be caring for
Love to be giving
Dreams to be daring for
Long as you’re living
Yes, you have dreams to be daring for
Long as you’re living