I took my car in to get the dents banged out of it this week. That meant getting a rental car. I had the choice of this tiny little thing or a “small” SUV. I took the SUV because it looked much sturdier. But it is big. Bigger than my car. And of course it is an automatic.
I bought an automatic (my first) about ten years ago. The first day I drove to work, I parked my car in the garage and I couldn’t get the keys out of the ignition. I panicked. I tried it again and again. I got out the user manual. And finally I phoned roadside assistant. After some back and forth, the mentioned the gear should be in “park”. What a complete idiot. I apologized profusely for wasting their time. I put the car in “park” and out came the keys.
So now I know. This is happening to me with the rental on a daily basis. But at least I know what to do.
I’m making pumpkin pie this weekend to take over to my dad. My grandmother made her pie with full fat cream and molasses. I started out with her recipe but modified it a bit because I like my pie spicy!
Here we go.
Mother’s Pumpkin Pie
1.5 cup pumpkin (cooked and mashed – I use it out of a can – 425 g., or 15 oz.) 1 tablespoon flour ½ cup brown sugar 5 tablespoons molasses 3 eggs 1/2 tsp ginger 2 tsp cinnamon 1/2 tsp cloves ¼ tsp allspice ½ tsp salt 1.5 cups cream or evaporated milk (I used half and half since that is what I had on hand)
Beat eggs, add pumpkin, sugar, flour, molasses and seasonings and beat thoroughly. It will look dark.
Stir in cream. The cream lightens it up and makes it soupy.
Pour in unbaked 9 inch pie shell. The shell is the hardest part to make as far as I’m concerned. I used to be fastidious about it and make perfect little ridges around the edge and cut-outs for the center. No more. To heck with Martha Stewart. My crust is always overworked and a little tough but frankly, I like it better that way. It’s not beautiful, but it is functional and tastes good!
Bake at 400 degrees F. for 20 minutes, then lower heat to 350 degrees F. Pie will be done when a knife inserted comes out clean. (I check it at 30-40 minutes after reducing temperature. It will kind of puff up.)
The weather turned. It got warm. Almost 80 degrees F. So we took advantage of it and spent the day in Red Wing, a town on the Mississippi with a population of about 17,000. It has a great used bookstore and a Scandinavian shop along the several blocks of downtown.
They have an “Art Walk” downtown with several statues scattered around. One was of a young Rosie the Riveter: “We Can Do It!” Lee Leuning & Sherri Treeby, Bronze. They even had prices on them. This one was $25,000.
Red Wing is the home of Red Wing shoes founded by Charles H. Beckman in 1905. It was one of the primary companies manufacturing footwear for American soldiers fighting in WWI.
A whole section of town is devoted to pottery. When it was discovered that the glaciers had deposited large clay beds in the area, the clay was shipped to Red Wing and the Red Wing Stoneware company was founded in 1877. It changed hands several times but it and other pottery companies are still in business and welcome visitors from all over.
The architecture is eclectic.
If you are lucky and Memorial Park is open, you can see a view of the whole area from the top of the bluff. We were not lucky this time. But here are some views from last summer.
We did find a good restaurant – Home Plate Grill & the Dugout Lounge is a sports bar with live music, trivia, and comedy nights. The food is burgers and sandwiches with some salads and entrees. We had the spinach and artichoke dip and a couple of burgers with blue cheese and bacon. It was all quite tasty. Good atmosphere, good service. Fun place.
After dinner we walked down by the river where we found more statues.
In Moscow they had mesh skirts around the bottom of tall buildings to protect the passersby from falling ice. Even so, people were killed each year by icicles. In Minneapolis they close the sidewalk around tall buildings when the ice starts falling.
Yesterday we went to see Pink Floyd The Wall: A Rock Ballet presented by the Twin Cities Ballet Company. I am kind of a ballet snob so my expectations were not super high but I thought it might be interesting. The last time they performed this ballet they got some good reviews. The music was performed live by a local band as well (Momentary Lapse of Floyd).
The Fitzgerald Theater is a fairly small theater built in 1910 originally called the Sam S. Shubert Theater. It has gone through several iterations and was renamed in 1994, after native son F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The story of The Wall is kind of a sad one. The boy named Pink loses his father at a very young age and his mother becomes over protective, symbolized by bricks in a wall used to shelter him from the world. School is a bad experience with abusive teachers and it pushes him to drugs and it is down hill from there.
The musicians were on a raised platform at the back of the stage and the dancers performed between them and the audience. The only ‘set’ were a bunch of large styrofoam painted ‘bricks’ that the dancers carried around with them and built walls.
I would say overall it was interesting and there were some good dance moves. I noticed early on that the whole dance troupe was white and mostly tall blond white. Yes, we are in Minnesota, Dorothy. The band was way too loud for the venue and made it uncomfortable. I wished I had earplugs. Maybe I’m just old but I sat with my fingers over my ears most of the time. And we left at intermission.
We went home and put The Wall on YouTube and Don performed interpretive dance around the living room. Very entertaining.
Then we drove to Como Lake and took some pictures.
More snow today. I’m getting tired of it. I drove across town yesterday to meet my cousin for lunch. It honestly felt like I was crossing a minefield. I was dodging potholes all the way. Some of them were very large. I feel lucky and surprised when I find a street that is fairly smooth.
I bought my train ticket from London to Dundee online but somehow I must have screwed it up because it turns out I have two train tickets from London to Dundee on the same train, three seats apart. There are so many different ways to buy tickets I guess I went back and didn’t realize I doubled up. Now I have to go back and try to figure out how to get a refund and hope I still end up with one ticket. I am obsessing over every detail of this trip. I was fine until I realized that I arrive the morning after Coronation Day. I’m sure London will be a zoo.
Today’s featured postcards at PostcardBuzz are of Guatemala. The postcards are paired with a couple photos I took when I was was there in the 1960’s. Here is more about that trip:
My first plane trip in many years was in the first class section on a PanAm flight from Mexico City to Guatemala City when I was twelve. We were the only ones in first class so I got to be kind of chummy with the flight attendant. Toward the end of the flight he asked me how I liked the flight and how I felt about it. I thought that was kind of odd and didn’t know what he was talking about. Apparently my parents had briefed him on me and my troubles with flying, and so he had made a special effort to distract me. (We had been in a plane crash when I was 5 years old.)
In Guatemala, we rented a car and drove up the mountain to Lake Atitlan. Volcanoes surrounded the city and the lake itself was a collapsed volcanic cone. On the way up the mountain, we saw people lying by the side of the road. We didn’t know if they were dead, passed out or taking a nap. It was very odd. We later found out that the previous day was payday and they had done their celebrating and not quite made it home. Apparently it was a familiar site in the countryside. We also went to Chichicastenango and to Antigua. This was major earthquake country. Antigua was the original capital of Guatemala but in 1776 there was such a bad earthquake they moved the capital to where it is today – Guatemala City. Antigua was surrounded by three volcanoes.
There was a new part of Antigua and an old part. The old part was all ruins. It was an eerie place. It was once a major city that tumbled down and was left there like a memorial. We stopped at a small restaurant and ate our meal in the yard. There was a group of musicians that wandered from table to table. We could see laundry hanging at the end of the lawn.
From there, we continued to El Salvador. One night in San Salvador we were staying in a high-rise hotel and I was sleeping on a cot. The building started to sway and my cot started moving across the room. All I could do was laugh at the crazy “ride”, as earthquakes were so common at home in Mexico City. In retrospect I guess we were lucky the building didn’t come down…
(excerpt from Expat Alien, My Global Adventures)
I continue to work on my mother’s letters. In one of them she describes a meal they had at a Chinese restaurant in Rangoon (1953).
The dinner was held at one of the Chinese restaurants, and consisted of about a dozen courses of perfectly delicious food. The one good thing about Chinese food is that it is served steaming hot, so that one may be sure that most germs have been thoroughly cooked. There was shrimp and vegetables, duck served with head and tail on and covered with big mushrooms and nuts in gravy, then a whole baby pig with head and tail of which we ate only the skin which was very crisp and chewy at that course, a whole fish with delicious sauce with vegetables, then the pig came back all cut up, soup with abalone, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, etc. served in a big gourd, fried rice, dishes of Chinese vegetables, tea with real flowers in it and cookies, then lychees for the final course served in ice water. I probably have forgotten some courses, for it is very hard to remember back. I liked most of dishes, and at least tasted all except a noodle dish (which I forgot to mention above). I’m not fond of Chinese or Burmese noodles! The fish and soup were my favorite dishes – always are of Chinese food.
March first. Winter is almost over?? So I never knew this but today is National Pig Day in the USA. Apparently National Pig Day is “to accord the pig its rightful, though generally unrecognized, place” as one of the most intelligent domesticated animals. Of course anybody who has seen the movie Babe already knows that about pigs… Happy Pig Day!
There has been a lot of build up for this storm/blizzard that is coming our way. Schools pivoted to online learning. Business are closing early. Snow plows are out in force. Armageddon approaches. It’s funny, when I lived here in the 1980’s we would have back to back mega storms and nobody blinked. I remember people skiing in the streets and the post man in snow shoes. Now we get three days of anticipation and everybody is told to stay home. Although they are saying 40-60 mile per hour winds so that is nothing to sneeze at. It is already very windy. I’m certainly not going anywhere. When my grandmother died, I had to drive to Madison in a blizzard. Almost went off the road a couple of times. All I could see was the car ahead of me and if they went off, we all went off.
I’m typing up my mother’s letters from when my family first moved to Burma in the 1950’s. They moved from Fargo, North Dakota to Rangoon, Burma. Talk about climate change. Every letter mentions the heat and humidity. She could have never imagined it could get so hot. They all practically lived at the swimming pool. In this latest letter she has been to the doctor because she was not feeling well. Turned out she had worms. She was appalled. But the doctor told her she would live and gave her some medicine. I remember when I was about 5, we were living in Rangoon and I got worms. I had to drink this horrible “chocolate flavored” medicine for what seemed like forever. And my brother delighted in telling me that the worms crawled into me between my toes when I went barefoot. I never believed him and thought he was a monster. But later in life I looked it up and turns out he was right. Ugh.
I managed to set up my new computer without any problems although it will take a while to sort out the photos. The new Mac will find all your duplicates for you. I have over 4000. This will take some time…. I changed my wallpaper to this lovely picture I took in Egypt.
I was driving home last night around 7 pm. Of course it was already pitch dark. I was in the left lane of a one way street about two blocks from my apartment. I was at a stoplight. The light turned green and I moved forward. The next thing I knew the car on my right was turning left in front of me. It was one of those things where your brain can’t process it fast enough. I tried to turn left with it and I tried to stop but it drug me along. It was like they didn’t realize they were dragging me along because they kept going. It seemed like an age until they stopped. We weren’t going fast. Nobody was injured but my front right end is dented and scratched. And now I have the huge headache of dealing with it all, not to mention the money I will probably have to dole out. Ugh.
The only other time I was in anything like an accident was the time I backed out of a parking space into a car I had not seen. Of course it turned out to be a little Porsche. They had a lot of damage but I had none.
That was the highlight of my week…. not… Oh, yeah, plus I found out my car is “seeping” oil. Once they get to certain age, they turn on you.
In other news, I’m almost done reading the first book of the Raj Quartet about the fall of British rule in India. Historically speaking it is an interesting book. But very long. It rehashes the same story from many different perspectives in order to give the reader a full picture of the times. I’m not sure I want to dive into book two. Maybe later.
I’m watching Game of Thrones. Not sure what to say about that. I am addicted to it and can’t turn away but I don’t really like any of the characters. Who knew there could be so many sadists. As soon as I start rooting for somebody they get killed. There is one interesting thing about it, tho. The strongest characters all seem to be women. Not really all that surprising. But the really funny thing is the author of the book, of this book, all about killing and torture, was a conscientious objector during the Viet Nam war. He apparently said the Grateful Dead’s music may have influenced his work and that Trump is like a grown up King Joffrey (who was universally hated). Anyway, fantasy isn’t real, right?
I have been going to this Greek restaurant at Lake and Lyndale in Minneapolis ever since the 1980’s. Back then it was small and crowded. By the 2000 teens it had expanded, added a patio, and the food was bad. After about three years of avoiding it, we went back there last night (before the accident). The food was GOOD. I had a very delicate and tasty spanakopita for an appetizer and then some nice chicken kebob with rice and warm pita. Couldn’t have been better.
I’m going to paint my kitchen cupboards this week. Wish me luck.