Archive for the ‘Family & Friends’ Category

Holiday Baking.


2016
11.16

Many years ago (1977, in fact) my friend Wendy and I lived in apartments close to one another. At Christmas, we would get together and make Cranberry Nut Bread, which was awfully good. We used empty soup or vegetable cans for making round loaves, which made great presents (we thought) but these days I use small metal loaf pans. Still makes a great gift for the holidays.

The recipe calls for cranberries to be cut into quarters, and since we were young and somewhat new to cooking and baking, we took it literally and used a small sharp knife to cut the berries into quarters. Talk about devotion to detail! These days I imagine you could use a large knife or even one of those kitchen blade choppers.

Or a food processor, but I’ve never had one, and that seems too easy, and would maybe take some of the charm out of it. This morning I made 3 small loaves, and yes, I actually chopped each berry into quarters with a paring knife. Just like old times.

I don’t think Wendy would mind if I shared the recipe, so here goes.

Cranberry Nut Bread

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon grated orange rind
1/3 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water
1 egg, well-beaten
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup raw cranberries, cut into quarters

Sift all the dry ingredients together.
Combine the orange juice, orange rind, water, egg and salad oil, and add to the dry ingredients. Then add the nuts and cranberries. Bake in a well-greased loaf pan, or use 3 smaller foil loaf pans. (You could probably make muffins out of this, too.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 − 60 minutes, until you can insert a toothpick and have it come out clean. For smaller pans, about 30 minutes will do.

For Jill!


2016
10.31
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I still don’t have your Email address. Do send!

PS: Those are pie weights on top of the cabbage. Two people asked if it was moth balls. Sure does look like it, huh?

Patt

 

 

Loss.


2016
07.04

My dear friend Rick died on April 8, after a short and difficult fight with cancer.

Rick and his beloved daughter Gab, at the firehall where she works.

Rick and his beloved daughter Gab, at the fire hall where she works.

It has been hard to write about, because although we were in touch by Email every single day, he lived in Maine, so I didn’t get to see him a lot. And since we wrote each other every day for years and years, I wasn’t too alarmed when he started complaining about neck and shoulder pain. Though he was not a complainer, we both occasionally griped about the aches and pains of getting older. He was getting medical therapy for the pain, and we both figured it was one of those things that would work itself out.

Sadly, it didn’t work itself out. Suddenly diagnosed at Stage 4, with brain tumors, a lung mass and cancerous lesions on his spine, Rick was taken away from us quickly and way too early. The shock of it was numbing.

Rick at the Heinz Museum

Rick at the Heinz Museum.

We had known each other for so many years that how we met is sort of lost in a brain fog, but I think it happened when he responded to a letter to the editor that I’d written to a magazine. (Way before Email, when people still wrote actual letters and then licked a stamp to send ‘em.) We began an interesting and fruitful correspondence that lasted nearly 40 years. “The stuff of Oscar Wilde,” Rick said in our last phone call.

Aside from being silly and introspective, smart and mostly non-judgmental, Rick was a source of inspiration and information. I could talk to him about buying a home, interest rates, the wisdom of buying a used car that hadn’t been checked out by a mechanic, how to fix a leaky toilet, and when and where to plant flowers and trees. We shared recipes, a love of the 1940s Vic & Sade radio shows, a fondness for Coen Brothers movies, and most of the time we could easily make each other laugh. If we had any disagreements, I don’t remember them, and I’m guessing they were minor.

After many phone calls and letters and Emails, I first met Rick in Boston in 2002 when my friend Kim ran the Boston Marathon. I’d gone with her for moral support, at which I turned out to be useless, because Rick came to our hotel and whisked me away for the day. We walked around Boston for a while, visiting Little Italy and having lunch at the Union Oyster House, and then took a train to Portland where we had a real lobster dinner. (The whole lobster. I wasn’t sure what to do with it!) We picked up his car and made the 3 hour trip back to Boston, where Rick insisted on driving me to my hotel during marathon traffic, when I could easily have walked. It was a wonderful day and I hated for it to end.

The next time I saw him, Rick came to Duluth for a visit. He brought along 4 live lobsters on the plane, and we took them to a friend’s house where Jean was able to wrestle them into a pot of boiling water while I left the room. Rick charmed my old cat Sam, who would go out on the deck with him every morning while Rick smoked his pipe. I took him to see the sights in Duluth, thrilled to have him see all the places and people I’d written about. We took a road trip to Hayward, Wisconsin, where Rick found the cabin where his family had stayed many summers during his boyhood.

On the day I had to have Sam put to sleep, Rick called me to see how I was doing, and spent about 20 minutes listening to me weep on the phone. He was that kind of friend: Patient, kind, and understanding. If you needed a good cry, Rick didn’t try to talk you out of it.

When I bought my home years ago, Rick sent me a box of twigs from his garden, which turned out to include a beautiful lilac bush that is now as tall as my garage, and pink and red peonies, which still bloom every year, perfuming the yard.

The only sad thing about Rick was that he died way too soon. I kept many of his letters and photos and Email messages, though I wish I’d kept them all, though I foolishly thought our friendship would go on forever. But of course, nothing does, no matter how easily we fool ourselves.

Rick and Gabby, 2013.

Rick and Gabby, 2013.

I miss Rick’s daily Email message, which always was the start of my day. (He was a morning writer; I wrote at night.) I miss the phone calls. I miss his humor and good advice. I miss the warmth of knowing I could call him with any problem or idea, and he would make time to listen. He was a faithful reader of my blog, even when I wasn’t very faithful to my blog. He left comments; he’d Email suggestions. He was always there.

And now he’s not.

It’s a tough pill to swallow.

I like to imagine Rick is “up there,” wherever that is, with his cats Buster and Chessie, and even smoking a pipe with Sam by his side. It is a comforting thought, and takes some sting out of the loss. His spirit is with us always; with the lilacs, the radio tapes, the peonies, and the million random thoughts of him that occur during the day.

Rest in peace, my dear friend. The world is a bit darker without you in it.

On The Day You Died.


2015
08.29

On the day you died, I was on my way to visit you one last time. Your wife had called the night before, saying you were in a hospice room and she wasn’t sure how much longer you would last. She was an emotional mess; alternately laughing and crying the way people do when life has kicked them in the gut. So I was finishing my morning coffee (because my morning starts later than most people’s) and was on my way out the door when another friend called to let me know you had died early that morning.

On the day you died, I understood what it meant to have the wind knocked out of the sails. I had seen you a week earlier; I knew your prognosis, I knew you were dying. How odd the difference between “dying” and “dead.” Dying means we could still see you, even if you had lost your voice and your hair and your strength, but Dead meant there was no more you, at least not in the corporeal sense, and nobody left to visit or reminisce with or simply be next to, if even for one last time.

Being alive comes with the knowledge that one day we will be dead. Your mortality arrived long before anyone expected it, and did its worst, and took you away, all in a short span of time. You always moved through life somewhat slowly, examining and questioning and puzzling things out, but you created a wonderful life out of everything you were given and the things you chose: a wonderful wife, happy kids, a beautiful home, a good career, travel, cars and motorcycles, painting and sketching, tinkering in your garage, always curious and always optimistic. Always available to the people who needed you. A good life for a good, good man.

I liked you from the first day you interviewed me for a job. Later we discovered we had both been married on the same date, and spent our wedding nights across the street from one another. What serendipity! I thought about all the things we laughed about and had shared during our nearly 40 years of friendship. The time we went to Traverse City for work, and rented a car and drove around to see the sights. The waitress who said, “Speak, pumpkin,” and made us laugh. The 900 pound self-propelled lawnmower you loaned me when I moved out to the country. The computer class we took together in the 1980s, and the office chair you used to ride down the ramp at the office. Your weird electronic retirement planner. How you urged me to save for retirement, even though I laughed at the notion. (Thanks to that urging, I’m retired with money!) We were together in your office when the Challenger exploded.  I dreaded your retirement, and couldn’t imagine who would ever take your place at work, and nobody really ever did. Nobody ever did things the way you did them. When I took my car in for repairs recently, you were the person assigned to drive me home and pick me up again. We laughed every block of the way. I always think of you as a good listener, an easy laugher, one of the best friends a person could ever have, and someone who made every day brighter.

On the day you died, a doe appeared at your hospice window. You opened your eyes and you and the doe stared at one another for a while. The doe loped away. You closed your eyes and died.

On the day of your funeral, a doe strolled across the avenue in front of my car, slowly enough for me to see her rusty colored coat, her white tail, her upright head, and the wondrous beauty and puzzlement of life.

 

JD

The Joy of Delayed Gratification.


2014
09.29

It’s been a busy month, and a really expensive one, too. Dinners with friends, auctions, gas for road trips, entertaining, veterinary bills, higher car insurance rates… you know how it goes. You can plan and budget all you like, but life has a way of intervening in all kinds of ways.

So when I saw the PERFECT bench for my Little Free Library at the Serendipity shop, I was hesitant to jump out of the car and plunk down the $24 for it. Not a lot of money, but it wasn’t quite close to my next Social Security check, and I have a few rules about my cash: I won’t put anything on my credit card unless it is an absolute necessity, and I won’t take money out of my savings account for fun stuff.

But there it was, sitting on their lawn just waiting for ANYONE to take it, when in truth it belonged to me. (At least heart-wise.) I’d drive by every day and look for its green paint. I’d watch to make sure nobody was sitting on it or looking at it. I’d watch for the little cut out hearts on each end to make sure it was still there.

And finally the check came, and I rushed over there and pulled off the sales ticket. It was mine! Paid for up front, with no money gone from savings, nothing added to my (thank you GOD) zero balance credit card. Whew!

There was a sign behind the counter, too: “I SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT IT WHEN I SAW IT.” I was glad I didn’t have to say that.

Here’s the bench. It’s a beauty. It needs a little TLC, but I don’t plan to put it out there until next spring, so I have time to think about what color to use. Or time to think about which friends might take on the project if I buy the paint for them? Of course I have someone in mind, and they know who they are. (But that’s a story for another day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sometimes it feels good to have to wait for things. In this day of instant gratification, of which I often indulge, it is nice to have something to look forward to that you can’t have right this minute. Sometimes when you wait and think about things and consider their possibilities, it seems all the more wonderful when you actually get them.

* * *

Meanwhile, for instant gratification I found these lovelies at recent auctions. I bought this whole box of glass figures just to get this weird little ostrich. How often do you see something like that? You will if you come to my house. He’s in the kitchen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And while they’re technically not from an auction, they’re from a roadside stand in Trego, Wisconsin, and I’m hoping the deer won’t eat them. The second one is actually somewhat silvery. Who grows silver pumpkins? (Some farmer in Wisconsin, apparently.) I love these.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One last thing: A funny sign a friend found on Grand Avenue. I noticed the other day they erased the “Ass,” though you can still see the remains. I’m glad he caught it when he did!

Photo Credit: Don Fraser

Photo Credit: Don Fraser

 

A Week of Fun Objects


2014
07.04

You know how you sometimes think you’re being watched? I looked up from my computer and saw this funny fellow staring at me. I know he is thinking, “Oh, my, she is so beautiful.” Isn’t this a great face? But I digress.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’m awfully fond of things that once belonged to other people. (The cat above, for instance. Winston’s previous owner died, and he needed a new home. How could I resist?) The history of “things” is interesting to me. I’d rather have an eclectic mix of previously-loved dishes than a complete set of something new. There is something about owning something that someone else chose and loved and used. It gets to me.

Which is why I find myself at so many thrift stores, yard sales, auctions and junk piles. This past week, I found some great stuff, and a few wonderful things were sent to me, too. Interestingly and completely without planning, most of these things are blue. But I was not blue when I received any of them. They make me happy!

My friend Marianne gave me this collection of Japanese fish floats that her father found on beaches in Hawaii. She often says “He found them on the north shore,” and when I first heard that, I immediately thought of our North Shore, but no. She meant the north shore of Honolulu. They’re so beautiful, though. I went to Salvation Army and found a clamshell-shaped jute holder for them. Perfect!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At a yard sale, I found this lovely blue mixing bowl. I don’t need another mixing bowl, but who could resist this one? I sure couldn’t.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A garage sale near Chetek offered this lard tin, which I had to have. If you grew up in Duluth, you may remember the National Tea grocery stores. I sure do. There was one in West Duluth, near the KMart store is now, that my mom used to shop at. It was also near my friend Sue’s house, so we walked there often for Cokes or gum, long before either of us learned to drive. National Tea. What memories.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I found these button flowers at another yard sale. I bought them because they were cute, and because I thought wow, I could make these easily! Of course I can’t, and you know I won’t. But I love these. I will find the perfect spot for them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Two great things arrived in the mail this week. My sweet little friend Mahalia made these toys for Mittens and Winston, and they love them. They are just the right size for tossing, pouncing, chasing, and lying on top of. When they first arrived, I put them back in the mailing envelope so that I could eventually take a picture of them. Winston saw the envelope on my desk and began pulling out the toys. What a great gift!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A funny coincidental thing in the mail, too. A couple of years ago, my friend Cathy and her husband went to Scotland for a vacation. She sent me this coaster which made me laugh. This past spring, my friend April and her husband (parents of the aforementioned Mahalia) went to Scotland for a vacation, and April sent me this card. You could conclude two things about this coincidence: People think ma bum  looks big, OR the correct assumption, which is that Scotland only offers this one thing as a touristy gift. They should get more stuff.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So that’s my story for today. Hope you are all enjoying a happy Fourth of July!

 

Cool Stuff Cheap.


2014
05.04

Oh, it has been a long, brutal winter in Duluth. It started too early and it got too cold and there was too much snow and way too much ice and it just went on for ever and ever.

But now spring is here and auction season has returned (for me, I mean, since it never actually went away) and yesterday I picked up my sister Kim at our usual location and we were off to Rice Lake for a day of auction fun.

I took my camera along, but didn’t get many photo opportunities since the auction was such a good one and I was busy buying stuff and spending my hard-earned cash. I did snap a few upon arrival, but then my camera was done for the day.

An empty spot in front of the auction venue is always a good sign.

Empty Spot

And thank you, town of Rice Lake, but we don’t need no stinkin’ rules.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We spent about 6 hours at the auction finding all kinds of treasures. Here are some of mine. The table is actually from a yard sale that we went to on our way to the auction, but it’s still a treasure. I’m nuts about postcards and aging ephemera, and scored a lot of it this weekend.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Other cool stuff:
This ancient sewing box filled with oddball treasures.

Treasures galore!

Treasures galore!

Loved this little table, which will fit nicely on the sun porch. And so would some SUN.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I love this little pony, but got distracted and instead of bidding on it, I ended up having to buy an entire table of stuff (for one dollar!) just to own this little gem.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I love these little “Nipper” salt  and pepper shakers for my collection.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Not sure what to do with these “first issues” envelopes, but they are fun to look at:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy sister knows how much I loves boxes of assorted junk, and I buy those as often as I can. I really love this wooden box with a collection of very cool pencils and some other little doo-dads.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe red and white pencil is advertising for Puss ‘n’ Boots cat food, and it’s got a “fuse” on the end of it. Dy-no-mite! The little Dairy Queen whistle was a gift from Kim, and the little moccasins are beaded and seem very old.

Well, that’s the end of this story. It was such a fun time, and a great re-entry into the auction world. I hope your weekend was as enjoyable as mine.

Was it?

 

 

The Amazing Checkerboard Cake


2014
02.17

Unknown(This is how it would look if you had amazingly steady hands. Which I do not.)

Last week, one of my best friends turned 85. That seems like a long time to live, but when you have filled those years with joy and world travel and a great love story, as my friend has, you probably want it to go on for lots longer. She is an inspiration to me, and an 85th birthday calls for something special, so I dug out my checkerboard cake pans.

While checkerboard cake is only two cake mixes all prettied up, it does have that “wow” factor, and I only make it for special occasions or when I need a really great desert to follow a mediocre dinner.

To get started, you need this set of 3 cake pans and a plastic or metal batter divider. I honestly can’t remember where I bought this set, but I do have a funny story about them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Many years ago, in the early 1970s,  I was living down south, and one summer I came back to Duluth for a family visit. I brought my sisters each a set of the checkerboard cake pans, and I brought my dad a couple of spatterware enamel coffee mugs. Not very practical, but you know — pretty. My sister Be stared at the puzzling cake pans for a while, and then turned to my dad and said “Trade you for the coffee mugs.”

So first you mix up two cake mixes, like a chocolate and yellow, or you can use two white cake mixes and add food coloring to one of them. Follow the directions with the pans, and you should end up with three cakes that look like this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then, create a gooey chocolate or vanilla filling to cement the layers together, since a 3-layer cake is kinda tall. I use the standard cocoa powder, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla recipe with a bit of hot coffee in it. Spread this between the layers and even them out as best you can. I do love my offset spatula, which makes frosting things so much easier. Go buy one.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then you need a lot of fluffy frosting to cover up any rough spots on the cake, so here’s a simple recipe that makes enough frosting for this cake, until you take a picture of it and then think uh oh, I’d better make more.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Quick Fluffy Frosting

1 small package Jello instant chocolate pudding
1 cup milk
1 8-oz carton of Cool Whip, thawed
Combine the pudding and cup of milk in a large bowl and whisk for about a minute, until well mixed and thick. Fold in the Cool Whip. Spread on cake. Hopefully, it will look better than this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou could sprinkle some cocoa powder on top, too.

Here’s the finished and cut cake. This is why you need a steady hand to pull the divider out of the batter, but even with wavy lines, it looks impressive. (At least to the worn out baker.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd here it is, on a plate with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some strong coffee. A good time was had by all.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHappy birthday, dear friend. And many, many more!

 

 

 

 

This Week at the Little Free Library


2014
02.04

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I took a picture of the area outside of the Little Free Library just so you can see how much snow we’ve had this winter. Despite that, the Library is doing well, as evidenced by all the footprints in front of it. (There’s a picture I should have taken.)

Also, note to self: If you are taking a picture of something that has reflecting glass on it, don’t park right in front of it. Dope.

Many of the Little Free Libraries around town are hard to get to because of all the snow, but since mine was anchored close to the shoveled sidewalk, access is pretty easy. People come and go, leaving stuff and taking stuff. Funny how certain books leave for a while but come back and get taken again. Every day is different.

My dear friend Rick sent a box of books at Christmas time, so those will be going in soon. My other dear friend (they’re all dear, aren’t they? We’re so lucky to have them!) April sent me home with several books to add to the Library, too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So this week at the Gilliat Street Little Free Library, you will find something good for everyone:

• My Name is Aram, by William Saroyan

• Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

• The Lost World, by Michael Crichton

• The Body Farm, by Patricia Cornwell

• I Know This Much is True, by Wally Lamb

• Heaven Is For Real, by some little kid

• Moon over Madeleine Island, by Jay Gilbertson

• A Balcony in the Forest, by Julien Gracq

• Sizzle, by Jane Anne Krentz

For the younger crowd:

• Magic Window Book of Games & Puzzles

• Mister and Me, by Kimberly Willis Holt

• When I Grow Up

• The Wurst Seller

• Finding Nemo (VHS)

There’s lots more, including some medical journals and oddball cookbooks. Come and see!

(Corner of 43rd Ave East & Gilliat Street in Lakeside)

Let’s Start With Thanksgiving


2014
01.25

Now that Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwaanza and New Year’s and MLK Day are over, it’s time to talk about Thanksgiving. At least my Thanksgiving weekend, which I’d been too addled to write about, but now have sorted through the odds and ends moving around in my brain. Poetic, isn’t it?

My family broke tradition this year by each going our separate ways for Thanksgiving. It is a time in our lives when there are children and grandchildren and new in-laws and outlaws, and it’s getting harder and harder to work out who goes where and when, which is probably a common family issue. My choice this year was to accept an invitation from my friends Jerry and April, and their affable kids Lydia, Mahalia and Henry, to spend the weekend with them at their home in Thief River Falls. And off I went.

We really had a blast. Jerry’s a great cook who had a wonderful turkey dinner ready by the time I arrived. This is the first year I’ve tried oyster dressing, and I have to say it was marvelous. There was a slight malfunction with the gravy pan, which upended itself onto the kitchen floor, but Jerry can always make something out of nothing, and came to the rescue with another kind of gravy that was perfect.

(As an aside, I just upgraded my blog features. That is why there are no photos posted, though I do have some funny gravy and other pictures that I’ll share later. I hate upgrades. For me, it always means that I have to learn something new, when the old stuff was working just fine, thank you very much. Why do they always say upgrades are an improvement? When things are going well, don’t change them. The End.)

On Friday of that weekend, April and the kids and I went shopping at thrift stores in Thief River Falls, which was a lot of fun. We visited their very homey library, where I happened to find a book about the Congdon family of Duluth, which seemed like serendipity to me.

Friday night was game night, with dessert-laden friends coming over to the to play games whose names I have forgotten. Jerry’s kids had made 3 kinds of chocolate truffles, which were fabulous, and we had brownies, jello salad, cookies and various other snacks. And fruit,  a tip of the hat to good health, which I avoided. Holidays are holidays.

On Saturday some of us drove to Grand Forks and visited a bunch of thrift shops, an international food market where I could have spent hours, and had dinner at a good Chinese place, where the waiter unfortunately did not understand English, and we did not understand Chinese, but somehow really good food appeared.

On the way to Grand Forks, we stopped at a wonderful huge consignment shop in a town called Red Lake Falls. (Wright’s Everything Consignment. Go see it.) The shop is an endless string of rooms and levels filled with fabulous finds: antiques, new stuff, old stuff, vintage stuff, clothing, jewelry, furniture, household stuff, figurines, paper ephemera, dishes… it went on and on and although I filled up a charming tote bag with holiday gifts, I’m sure I missed a ton of stuff on one level or another. The building was formerly a furniture store, so there were many cavernous floors with steep levels taking you here and there. At times some of the walkways felt more like walls than floors, and I skipped some of the rooms. But if you like junk (and hey: who doesn’t?) it’s well worth the six hour drive.

So on Sunday morning I was happily on my way home, filled with happy holiday memories, thinking that after all the car troubles I’d had the past few weeks, I would Email my sister Kim and say “500 miles without incident!” 94 miles from home, just entering the town of Ball Club on a blue-sky dry pavement day, I hit a patch of black ice at about 60 MPH and before I knew what I’d hit, I flew off Hwy 2 (literally, I think) and landed in a ditch.

When I first felt ice beneath the tires, and that “uh oh” feeling, the car sailed into the oncoming lane. So happy to report nobody was coming, or if they were, they quickly got out of my way. I can not remember. Just as quickly, I was going backwards into the ditch. Did I really feel the steering wheel moving round and round in my hands? I think I did. What I do remember is three distinct and very loud BOOM sounds. One was a road sign that I hit sideways, which still didn’t stop the car. I do not know what the other two were. I remember sailing backwards into the woods, and I remember hitting the brakes.

I’m pretty sure I did everything wrong from the moment I knew I was in trouble. There was little time to think, although I do remember thinking “This is how I’m going to die.”

Happy to report that I did not receive so much as a scratch. Everything inside the car went flying: Water bottles, CDs that had been stored away, quarters that were kept for parking meters, pieces of candy that were in the console. Everything flew. I managed to stay put. (Wear your seat belt, please.)

There is a scene in a funny movie where an actor (Alec Baldwin?) drives woozily through town, hits a streetlight and garbage can, and emerges from his car and says, “Well, that happened.”

I always hoped I could be that calm in the face of trouble. Turns out I’m not. Every joint in my body turned to Jello. I could barely walk on my shaky legs, or open the door with my shaky hands. But I’m grateful I could walk.

Ahead on the highway I saw flashing squad car lights and heard sirens heading in my direction. Apparently I was not the only driver caught unaware that day (thanks for the “CAUTION” signs, by the way) but I think I was one of the lucky ones, who only had to call a tow truck. Two men stopped their car to tell me that I had almost “taken out” the street sign I hit. As if I didn’t know that. “Really?” I might have said. “I wondered what that noise was.” They weren’t much help, though I think they were as shocked as I were after seeing what had happened. They offered a phone but I had one of my own, and somehow managed to dial 911.

A nice dispatcher sent a tow truck my way. The nice tow truck driver suggested we flag down one of the cops on the highway to give an accident report; a thought that had not occurred to me. It wasn’t hard to find the police; they were everywhere, along with an ambulance and some fire trucks. They took my name and phone number, but could not make a report since other people had not fared as well as I had.

I spent the night at a motel in Deer River while my car was towed to Grand Rapids. Two very nice ladies heard my story (and heard the same sirens that I’d heard) and put me in a very nice room (with cable!) for very little money. I think they saw the look on my face (plus my arrival in a tow truck may have given away part of the story) and were very kind to me. I must have looked half crazy to them.

The next day, when I fully expected my car to be ready for the trip home (slow to grasp the obvious) I learned it would be at least a week before the broken tie rod, cracked bumper, dented hood and fender would be repaired, repainted, and ready to go.

My wonderful brother-in-law Lenny drove from Gordon, Wisconsin, to Deer River, MN, in his truck, in the middle of a sudden blizzard, to bring me back to Duluth. When I saw his truck barreling into the parking lot of the motel, I nearly burst into tears. It was like seeing the US Cavalry coming to rescue! And it is so true that there is no place on earth like home. So so so happy to be here.

So that was my Thanksgiving weekend, my “non-traditional” getaway holiday. I didn’t have the presence of mind to take photos of the car (probably would not have found my camera anyway) but it was fixed, my insurance covered repairs and a rental car, and all is (once again) right with the world.

Pictures will follow, though not pictures of the accident. I have some learnin’ to do now that I’ve upgraded, but for now, this is my story and I’m sticking with it, even though I am not going to take time to proofread. I think I dragged this out as long as I can.

Coming soon: New electronics at my house! What’s new at the Little Free Library! Other Stuff!

I know it seemed like I’d abandoned my blog, but I would not.

Thanks for reading.