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Archive for the ‘Everyday’ Category

Fun parties, trick-or-treating, bobbing for apples and donning costumes.  Halloween is a favorite holiday for many.  Between the celebrations and sugar-fueled giggles, don’t forget…the hallowed are out there, but so are the souls not so lucky to be canonized.

Just for fun I thought I’d share one of the creepiest people reading a poem from one of my favorite authors.  I give you Christopher Walken reading The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe.

Stay Spooky!

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The property owned by the Auntie B’s Wax World Headquarters contains several trees, including six spruce trees, five in the rear, one in the front.  All of the spruce trees are healthy and provide lovely flora, and attract certain fauna.

The Auntie B’s Wax World Headquarters property also contains a wood pile, serving to feed indoor fires to warm the interior of the premises during the cold winter months.  The fauna, referred to previously, has taken a liking to the wood pile during the summer months and pretty much claimed it as home.

Enter: Red Squirrel.

I hear the red squirrel is a dastardly creature who loves to destroy surroundings for its own personal benefit.  However, I’ve found them very cute and playful.  Not that I’ve personally  played with them, but the way they chase gray squirrels around is quite entertaining.  I’ve been watching the red squirrel(s) (perhaps, more than likely, there’s more than one) scamper around the yard all summer, being all cute and stuff.  And then came the cooler days of autumn…

I’ve seen Red Squirrel running along the fence,  jumping the posts, and scurrying to the wood pile, but with an interesting accessory ~ it travels the length of the fence, from the front yard to the back, with a pinecone in its mouth.  The little guy looks like Groucho Marx, pinecone placed in its mouth like a big, old Stogie.

The pinecones, only those from the front yard spruce tree, are giving Red Squirrel a motherlode of seeds/nest materials for the winter.  I’m not sure why it doesn’t take pinecones from the five spruces in the back where the wood pile is…apparently they’re poison.  Day after day, week after week, I see Red Squirrel haul his “cigars” to the wood pile from the one spruce tree in front.

 

The days go on and Red Squirrel keeps “squirreling away” its pinecones.  Husby finally said to me, “I’m going to have to uncover the wood pile soon.”  I panicked.  “What are you going to do with all of those pinecones?” I asked.  “Compost,” was Husby’s answer.  My heart shattered.  “But Red Squirrel has been working so hard for so long!  We can’t just toss all of those (cigars) away!”

Husby has more sympathy for me than he has for Red Squirrel and said he’d just toss the pinecones under one of the backyard spruce trees, easy for Red Squirrel to find.  I hope Red Squirrel appreciates me as much as I appreciate Husby.

The pile of pinecones continues to grow…

This year I saved the bounty of the dreaded Red Squirrel.  Why is the little fellow so dreaded?  So cute.  So playful.  So determined to survive.

Husby promised me he’d throw the pinecones close by to where Red Squirrel “squirreled” them.  I figure as long as he’s not gnawing on our house he deserves the fruits of his efforts.

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This year for our birthdays Husby and I decided to buy each other tickets to a concert.  Not just any concert.  A concert that might never be presented again.  Willie Nelson & Family and Alison Krauss & Union Station.  A Toofer!  (That translates to two-for-one.)  Not only that, there was a special treat we weren’t expecting.  A guy named Dan Smalley opened for the two headliners.  A Threefer!

Before I continue, I want it known I’m not a huge fan of country music.  For example, I don’t tune into country music stations on the radio and have never bought country music albums/CDs.  If I’m going to listen to country music it’s got to be old school country and western music because someone makes me listen to it.  And if someone makes me listen to old school country and western music, I’ll probably like it.

Interestingly enough, the Target Center in Minneapolis (where the concert was held) is kitty-corner to my old stomping ground, First Avenue.  I took a picture and my heart went back almost forty years.  That’s a whole ‘nother post though.

Prince, Boy George, PIL, Morris Day, U2, The Suburbs, etc. etc. etc.  First Avenue in the ’80s was AWESOME!

After soaking in the city life for the first time in a long time (with all its reminiscing), I was ready for the Willie/Alison concert with Husby.

Dan Smalley has been performing for over two decades and I was impressed.  He’s written his own songs and they’re of the old-timey type.  Sad, lonesome, and drunk.  I love that stuff!  I couldn’t get a good photo or find an appropriate video for him as he’s up and coming, so I encourage you to find him on Facebook.  Google him too.  Videos on those platforms are available.

Alison Krauss is a mixture of bluegrass, country, and gospel.  She’s one of Husby’s all-time favorites.  I’ve heard some of her recordings and she’s also a featured musical artist in the movie O Brother Where Art Thou, one of my favorite films.  Her voice is clear like a sheet of freshly frozen ice on a Nordic lake.  If angels actually sing they’d sound just like her.  She also plays an excellent violin/fiddle.  (If you don’t know, violin and fiddle are the same instrument, played in different ways.  Alison plays the instrument perfectly no matter what.)

This isn’t the best picture, but I tried to get the whole band in it.  There’s Alison, shining like an angel, and I especially liked one of her back-up singers (also slide guitar player) looking like a dad who just got off of his day job at the office.  All of the players were so, so talented.

If you’d like to have a listen to a sample of Alison’s work, here is one of Husby’s favorites…

Plus, the girl’s cute as a button!

Then there’s Willie.  I’d say he’s as big of a legend as…I don’t know country legends too much.  But he’s up there for sure.

A sparse, yet superb, band.  Percussions had a snare drum, bongos, and shaky things.  Willie’s sister Bobbie (88 years old) is a master on the piano.  Bass and harmonica were awesome.  Willie’s guitar playing was spectacular, of course.

To see Willie Nelson at eighty-six years of age walk out onto the stage was a sight to behold.  He’s eighty-six frickin’ years old!  The performance he gave was stupendous and the fans were wild for him.

This is probably less than half of the arena, which was packed all the way around.

He sang the favorites, plucked the strings, gave way to his talented band, tossed his hat into the audience, tossed his bandanna (and several others) into the audience, and gave an excellent performance all the way around.  He even had some special back-stage guests (radio contest winners?) come out and sing a chorus with him.  He was entertaining and gracious.  He’s a true performer.

Husby and I were seated in a spot where we could see some of the backstage activity.  When Willie finished his performance he walked off and greeted several people backstage and stepped into his bus.  The end.

I don’t know how many concerts he did on his tour before Minneapolis, but he was going to Nebraska next.  After the Nebraska concert he cancelled some or the rest of his tour due to medical issues.  I hope all is well with Willie.

Not being a big country music fan I walked away from this concert with joy in my heart.  Dedicated and inspirational musicians, whether leads or back-ups, always make me happy.  Country music, classical music, punk music…it doesn’t matter.  Music, if done well, is the language of the universe.

And now, though it wasn’t done at the concert, I’d like to present my favorite songs*, Willie Nelson style…

Make me cry every time.

Thanks Dan Smalley, Alison Krauss, and Willie Nelson, for making a magical birthday for me and Husby.

*What’ll I Do was written by Irving Berlin in 1923.

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Art Fest Adventures

I’ve been doing craft shows, art fairs and wine festivals for over twenty years.  It’s not, nor has it ever been my sole livelihood, but I make a nice little bit of pocket money for my efforts.  Plus, I like creating what I sell, and throughout these last two decades I’ve found that other people like what I create too.

There’s a lady I know, and have known for most of my life.  I was at a craft show in a town nearby to her home, and at her previous request to let her know where I was doing shows this year I let her know about this particular event.  This lady has seen my works at other events, has received my works as Christmas gifts, and has even commissioned me to create things for her to give as gifts to her friends/employees.

Lady came to my booth about an hour before the event was to close.  She wondered if the canopy, table, and table coverings were provided by the people sponsoring the show.  “No,” I said kindly.  This is all mine.  Charlotte was helping me that day and told Lady that the only things provided by the show organizers were four spray-painted marks on the grass indicating where we would set up.

Lady was pretty impressed by that.  Then, for some reason that completely blindsided me, she said, “do you make all of this yourself?”  I looked at her with an expression that said do you even know me?  “Well, yeah,” I replied.  Lady responded with, “you should put up a big sign that says this is all handmade!”

Of course I assumed, considering the items I make, that people understand I make it all myself.  As I continued to look at this woman incredulously, she went on to say, “I thought you just bought all of this from a cheap store and sold it at much higher prices.”

That comment wouldn’t shock me coming from a complete stranger.  That comment wouldn’t offend me coming from someone who doesn’t understand the artisan fair thing.  I stared at Lady, whom I’ve known for decades, in awe, wondering why she thought I would build a business (LLC) and even get a federal trademark for my business (®) if I just spent my afternoons at the Dollar Store buying items and repricing them.

 

 

Here’s Charlotte, helping me to sell my HANDMADE items at a craft fair.

Well, I guess it just goes to show you, it’s always something.*  Either you spend your days creating things that may bring joy into the world, or your customers think you’re trying to rip them off with cheap shit made in China.

I guess Lady hasn’t been paying much attention to me these last forty-five years.  Only cheap China-made gifts for her this Christmas, I guess.

 

*Thank you, Roseanne Rosannadanna, for pointing out “it’s always something.”

 

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Kitchen Adventures

Who doesn’t love a good kitchen adventure?  Whenever I enter the kitchen I always expect the unexpected.  That’s not to say I’m a bad cook, but with Husby being such a good cook I “let” him spend more time in the kitchen than I do.  Because of that I get a little out of practice.

My latest adventures started with making Milano cookies, from scratch.  OK, so they’re not actually Milano cookies, but same diff.  I thought it would be fun to try something new.  They were putzy, but well worth it.

First you make the dough tubes.

Bake dough tubes until they turn into oval cookies.

Top one cookie with chocolate and top with another cookie and you’ve got so much cookie goodness you won’t believe it.  The putzy part comes with the baking time – 15 minutes per pan times about 5 pans.  When it comes to cookies that’s too long, because who wants to wait to eat a cookie?  It was so worth it though.  They were much more substantial than the store-bought kind, and Husby said he liked them better!  I did too.

For Easter I thought I’d make some homemade buttermint candies.  I made them once before, but forgot how 5 1/4 cups of powdered sugar can make the kitchen covered with sweet dust.

I thought the pictures could capture how utterly dusty things got, but compared to what I saw in real life these pictures are pretty tame.  However, the end results were great.  These little pillows of sweetness are set out to dry for at least 8 hours before serving or storing.  Another long wait!

Last, but not least, an important PSA for those who prepare food with hands versus utensils.  Secure your jewels, or this might happen when you’re mixing your meatloaf with your bare hands.

Luckily I noticed it before the mixing was complete.  Diamonds and gold aren’t great for the digestion.

Time spent in the kitchen is never wasted time.  Despite the time (anxiously awaiting the finished product), mess, and occasional jewelry mishap I’d have to say making food is something everyone should know how to do.  Adventures happen everywhere, even in the kitchen.  Enjoy!

 

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