Who are we? We are our stories.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Oakwood Picnic (Review)

The Oakwood picnic went off pretty well again this year. We shared a table with Lorna's sister, Linda and Larry, Sally and The Judge, and Jane Saunders. Jane is the senior resident of Oakwood. She lived here for decades with her late husband George. Recently she broke her knee and is using a walker. She is having an apartment redecorated in a senior facility, so will be leaving Oakwood next month. It going to be a loss for our community. I've going to miss her intelligence and snappy wit. I assume we'll see her back next year for the 63rd annual picnic.

The Judge has lived in Oakwood since 1949, where he grew up in what later became our house. When he and Sal got married he brought her back to Oakwood and bought a house where they lived for a few years before moving to their present home. More continuity. The demographics are changing. When Addy was growing up there were only a handful of kids so they became very close. Today there were about 20 children attending, most in early grade school. It's wonderful to hear the sounds of laughing children again.

George A. asked what the most memorable food I ate was. That's a really tough call because it tends to be everybody's best shot. In the desert category, Mindy Nelson bought an ice cream and chocolate layered cake desert that I really liked - about half a dozen layers, all neatly packed in ice to prevent melting. I noticed The Judge went back for a whole plate of just assorted deserts. He's a small, very thin man. Life just ain't fair. We were in the group assigned "Hot Dish", which I suspect may be a Midwest thing. Hot Dish. I ain't no fool, I'm pushing my wife's dish. The following is what Lorna whipped up for the occasion. Everybody likes a good recipe:

Lorna's Hot Dish

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (4 ounce) can mushroom stems and pieces, drained
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of celery soup, undiluted
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 can wild rice 
  1. In a large skillet, cook beef, wild rice, onion and garlic over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the mushrooms, salt, oregano and pepper. Add the spinach, soup and sour cream. Stir in half of the mozzarella cheese.
  2. Transfer to a greased 2-qt. baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese; bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. 
We cheated just a little and used fresh spinach. Obviously this would be better with fresh mushrooms, spinach and wild rice, but that might move it out of the "hot dish" category.

Monday, September 19, 2011

62nd Annual Oakwood Picnic

Every autumn for 62 years the residents of Oakwood have assembled in the park for the afternoon - to eat, drink and enjoy good neighbors. This is not a typical modern community. We all know each other, we know all the children and the name of their dogs. It  is our home.

Lore has it that before it was annexed into the city, Oakwood had it's own small water tower in the park and once a year the residents would gather to decide how much to tax themselves for maintenance of the streets and water system. After the annexation a few years passed and the Oakwooders realized they missed the sense of community and so initiated the annual picnic. I'm looking forward to it again.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Above All, a Good Roof (and Good Beer)

There has been a roofing crew here for the past week. The house is not that large but it's a roofers nightmare of angles, peaks and valleys with a couple sections of flat roof just to keep them from getting complacent. Yesterday after they knocked off for the day, the uber-roofer (and general contractor) John Rust knocked on my door for a promised round of hoppy beer to celebrate the completion. It was actually a day premature but it was still a good excuse to sit around, drink beer and talk. Rumors of good beer brought The Judge over, so I filled the table with half dozen bottles (and one can) of different beers and a bunch of glasses for comparison tasting. The winner, Surly Furious, getting a slight nod over the very similar IPA Sierra Torpedo - very similar! I also liked the Sam Adams Imperial Stout, but the other two heathens have destroyed their taste buds so they need enough hops to blow the top of their heads off or they are not satisfied. 

A couple of lads finishing off The Growlery roof.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bicycle Rebus

I've noticed that I'm still getting a lot of hits on this blog. For any of that have come looking for bicycle content and are disappointed, here's one for you:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Stream of Life

I am getting older and I tend to tear up at the turn of a well written page or the drop of a sad song. Lorna was reading or watching a baseball game when I was watching this and when she came in at the end of it she asked what it was and I couldn't talk because I knew I would break up. When I did gather myself and told her that it was about old Finnish men in the sauna it probably didn't carry the weight as it did for me. Now I don't expect it to affect others that way, but if you are old, stoic and of northern stock, take fair warning.

Watch the full episode. See more POV.

Oravan Laulu (The Squirrel) by Aleksis Kivi

Sweetly sleeps the squirrel baby
Sleeps on her mossy bed
Never reached by hounds
Nor snared by hunters
Safe in her nest
From her cocoon high up
She looks upon the world
After seeing so many fights
The peace flag of her home tree
Is flying over her head
Oh, to live so happily
In the swinging cradle up so high
Squirrel nesting forever
In the gentle arms of the tree
Hear the song of the woods
That’s where the furry cutie
Is sleeping on her window
Birds in the skies
Are singing lullabies
Taking her to the sweet land of dreams

The Velo-Growlery

The new edition of the Oxford Concise Dictionary is dropping the word "growlery", meaning "the private den of a man". Whoa! Let's think this over over before taking such rash action. I mean, would you rather retire to your growlery with a cigar and cognac, or go the your man cave and drink a couple cans of Bud Lite? While I have a nice wood paneled den, I'm in the process of refurbishing an out building into a personal bike shop and studio. This is required for both bicycle storage and wrenching, and cigar smoking, as my mate has drawn a pretty firm line in the sand on smoking in the house. Boy, I'd sure rather call it a "growlery" than a "shed",  but I suppose I can't do it now that growlery isn't a word anymore.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Weekend

It's been pretty good weekend so far. Saturday I spent mostly playing carpenter in the shed. Usually when I start hammering things my neighbor Christy comes over to see what the hell I'm up to this time, and work rapidly winds down to talking smart or sometimes smoking cigars and maybe drinking a beer and talking smart. Actually he's a Tea Party guy, so part of it can be pretty dumb. As we cancel each other out politically, I've suggested that we could both save a lot of time on election day if we would just both stay home. He ain't going for it. Nevertheless, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank him for the lumber yard run on Thursday to pick up more large boards for me to bang about. Good man.

Sunday was frittered away with Lorna's sisters and their husbands. We talk politics too, but it wears a little thin as we're all to the left and we've heard all we have to say 10 or 20 times. The other two talk sports a lot. I try, but honestly my heart isn't in it. I just don't care about the young men's games anymore, or the prospects of the Minnesota Gophers. Things picked mid-afternoon when neighbors, Sally and The Judge showed up.  As I was running short of good hoppy beer, John and I made a quick hike down to his house to pick up a little Surly Furious from his beer frig. It was smooth sailing from then on - copious amounts of picnic food and drink. Furious:

A tempest on the tongue, or a moment of pure hop bliss? Brewed with a dazzling blend of American hops and Scottish malt, this crimson-hued ale delivers waves of citrus, pine and caramel-toffee. For those who favor flavor, Furious has the hop-fire your taste buds have been screeching for.
STYLE: American India Pale Ale
MALT: Pale Ale, Golden Promise, Aromatic, Medium Crystal, Roasted Barley
HOPS: Warrior, Ahtanum, Simcoe, Amarillo
YEAST: English Ale

OG: 15º Plato
ABV: 6.5% v/v
IBU: 99

I've pissed away today patching bicycle inner tubes and watching a BBC Top Gear marathon. Every time I watch Top Gear, I think, "Christ, Margadant should see this". I'll try to send him a link, but he had a knee replaced three weeks ago. Apparently the procedure affected his wi-fi too, as I haven't been able to reach him for a couple of weeks. He lives out on the high plains of Dakota and is serviced by a limited cable  system. Here's a typical link for him:

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ruth Ann: September 4th, 1988

Independent School District 131 - a two room school, three grades to a classroom. Nine of us started out together in 1951. By the time we left the little school in '57 we were down to seven.

Ruth Ann DeRaad, Desk 1, Row 2 was with us through graduation and beyond. She was a sweet kid who seemed driven to live her life at a hellish pace. Eventually it killed her. She was 43 years old when she died in a car accident that took four lives - speeding over gravel roads through the black night with no headlights. Blind thrill running one last time.