Monday, October 27, 2014

Why Don't You Make Like a Tree, and Leaf

The Wife and I have a love/hate relationship with our trees, a relationship which is tipped, for a large portion of the year, very much towards the "hate" side of the scale. Right now it might be more like loathing, or even abhorrence. Our trees are the worst!

To be honest, we only have three trees on our property, but the smallest of them is gigantic, and the others get bigger from there. They are all maples, so in the spring, as soon as the air temperature in Minnesota warms up from "ice age" to just slightly frigid, all three trees form these red bud-like things that stay on the branches for approximately four minutes, until they all fall off and completely cover our yard, driveway, and cars, turning everything into a squishy red mess.

More and more of these red things grow on the trees for a few weeks, and then about two hours after they have all fallen, the trees start to drop their helicopters all over the place. If we want to go anywhere outside of our house, we have to walk through a sticky hodgepodge of red goo and helicopters, which then gets tracked all over our house and in our cars and wherever we happen to have driven. We should each probably start traveling with our own personal dustbuster so we can clean up after ourselves, but we aren't that forward-thinking. Perhaps next year, although I probably will have forgotten this great idea by then.

From about August 8th to August 17th our trees give us nothing but pleasure. They are fully leafed out, they don't bombard us with helicopters or red goo, and they are so large that they pretty much keep our entire house shaded all day long, significantly reducing our air conditioning bills. Then the first hint of fall comes, and the big, stupid tree in the back yard starts to lose its leaves, a process which takes approximately 6 months to complete. Our backyard is covered in a fresh blanket of leaves pretty much every day for those 6 months, no matter how tirelessly we try to get them all picked up the day before.

The two red maples in the front take pity on us during this time, by holding onto almost all of their leaves until after the first snow falls. Isn't that nice of them? It is super fun to try to go out and pick up leaves while also trudging through ankle-deep snow drifts. Plus it's a great aerobic exercise. You should really try it some time.
This was one of our red maples last year, right after it snowed for the first time. It's one of the most evil trees on God's green earth...

So, to make a long story longer, we hate our trees. If any of you love raking leaves more than anything in the world, come over to our house any time between now and Christmas. Watch out for the red goo.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Don't Be So Grabby!


I have been trying to rack my brain lately, in hopes of remembering why I ever bought one of those Grabber thingies that you see on the "As Seen On TV" shelves at WalMart and Walgreens stores. I have owned one of them for a long time, but no matter how hard I try, I can't remember why I was ever moved to buy it in the first place. I guess that doesn't matter. What does matter is that it has become probably the most beloved tool in our house. Let me explain.
I love my Grabber thingy...
At our old house, we only used the Grabber thingy to pick up the trash that would collect along our edge of the pond every winter. The trash wouldn't reveal itself until all the snow had melted every spring, which was OK by us. Who wants to go out on a typical -40 degree day in a typical Minnesota January to pick up trash? Not me. So, once the snow would melt in mid-August, I would take my trusty Grabber out and pick up all the old, soggy newspapers, plastic bags, used diapers, and whatever else we would find washed up on our shore. The Grabber thingy and I really got that shoreline clean. Ahh, those are some good memories!

We currently don't live on a pond, but our Grabber thingy has come in even more handy than it did at our old house. Now, instead of boring old garbage, I use it to pick up all the mouse corpses, along with the handy-dandy reusable mouse traps that are clenched tightly around their tiny skulls, that have fallen behind either the washing machine or dryer. I have caught most of our mice up on a ledge in the laundry room, and when those plastic jaws of death snap down on their little vermin-heads, the force can make the whole thing go flying in any direction. I sure wouldn't want to climb behind the dryer and try to reach them with my bare hands! That would be gross! Thank you, Grabber thingy, for saving the day!

Another gross thing has a tendency to happen upstairs in any of our bathrooms, all of which came equipped with toilets. Sometimes, with three small children in the house, toilet lids can be left up, whether or not the person who left the lid up has remembered to flush said toilet. With the lid up, it is very easy for any number of small items, such as barrettes, steak knives, stuffed animals, toothbrushes, etc. to get dropped into the toilet, which as I said, may or may not have been flushed. Well, I definitely am not going to reach into a possibly unflushed toilet just to get a now-unusable toothbrush! So I go get my trusty Grabber thingy and we get the whatever-it-is-that-fell-in-the-toilet out together. I'm so glad I own a Grabber thingy...

So, this is my Public Service Announcement for today: if you are about to become a house- or baby-owner, go get yourself one of those Grabber thingies at your local retail establishment as soon as possible. At some point you will have a reason to use it, and you will be glad to know it's already in the house.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Wedding Food Review, Tumbleweed Edition

Being a lifelong Midwesterner, I thought that tumbleweeds had gone the way of the dinosaur. I figured that us ingenious humans had probably found a way to eradicate tumbleweeds by now, making them a thing of the past that could only be found in old John Wayne movies. Or Wile E. Coyote cartoons. But no, tumbleweeds are still alive and well, and I learned that firsthand on our way back from my cousin Grahm's wedding in Colorado over the weekend. Who would have ever thunk it?

Yes, we saw, and drove over, billions of tumbleweeds blowing around in the vast wastelands known as eastern Colorado and western Nebraska. I saw a couple that were as big as elephants. One that was only hippopotamus-sized jumped out at us unexpectedly and got stuck on our front grill for a half hour or so as we drove down Highway 80, until an extra large gust of wind finally blew it off right into the windshield of a passing State Trooper. There are still some remnants of it stuck in various nooks and crannies of the van. I'm probably going to leave them there to see how long it takes for them to fall out on their own (actually I'm going to leave them there because I'm lazy, but don't tell anyone).

The tumbleweeds were but a minor nuisance though, since we were so excited about the wedding. Grahm is an awesome guy who spent several years being a fly fishing guide at a dude ranch in Colorado, so he is a man after my own heart. His courtship of his now-wife, Carrie, had been a whirlwind over the past few months, so we were excited to meet her and welcome her to the family. And I was excited to eat some delicious food, since we all know that will be the only thing about the wedding I will remember in a few years...

And, let me tell you, the food was delicious! Both at the Groom's dinner on Saturday and at the wedding on Sunday. Neither were catered, so all the accolades need to go to the families of the bride and groom. On Saturday we had some really yummy pulled pork sandwiches with various side dishes, and on Sunday they had, get this, a BACON BAR at the reception! As much as we could eat of four different types of bacon, all cooked to perfection. I usually am not a fan of sweet bacon, but even the maple cured bacon was delicious! I was accused, by a certain other cousin of mine, of being the reason they ran out of bacon. Um, what did they expect when they invited me? Hello?!?!

Oh yeah, there was other yummy stuff there too, like lots of different quiches, and biscuits and gravy, and loads of little pastries. The bacon bar was the thing that stood out to me, though. Oh yeah, and somebody got married. Who was that again...?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

I Thought I Knew How To Be Creepy...

I've been feeling pretty creepy lately. Not my normal, say-inappropriate-things-at-innappropriate-times kind of creepy, but a totally different kind of creepy. And I'm not talking about looking up everybody I meet on facebook to see what's going on in their life. That is being a "creeper", which is also something I do, but that's not what I'm writing about now.

The creepy I have been feeling lately is more of a pre-Halloween, try-to-freak-out-my-kids kind of creepy. Usually I'm not like this at all. I know I didn't want to be freaked out when I was a kid, and I usually am nice enough that I don't try to freak out our kids. But lately I haven't been able to control myself.

The creepiness has unfolded like this: I have been working diligently at cleaning out our garage, so that we might actually be able to fit a vehicle in there once the snow starts flying. Which, here in the frigid land known as Minnesota, could happen any second. So, I have spent several evenings and a couple of full days out in the garage cleaning up.

As I've been cleaning, I've come across a few boxes that never got unpacked when we first moved into the house. Nestled within a couple of boxes were some toys, toys that I'm sure our kids had totally forgotten about. So, I thought it would be fun to give them back to the kids. But, instead of just handing them to the kids, I decided to do it as creepily as I could think of. I waited until the kids were in bed, then I placed a toy at the bottom of the stairs, in front of the door that leads to the kids' playroom. That way, the toy would seem to be "waiting" for them the next morning when they went down to play.

I thought this was totally creepy, and very funny, but my kids didn't seem to be too impressed. Or freaked out. The first morning, the Boy just brought the toy upstairs, asked me where it came from, and then told me he didn't want to play with it. This morning, when I placed a Cabbage Patch doll down there, there was no reaction from any of the kids.

Maybe I'm not as creepy as I thought I was. Maybe it's time to go back to saying inappropriate things. I know I'm good at that...
The Cabbage Patch doll, waiting for the kids to come downstairs. Isn't that at least a little creepy? I thought so...