This Reader’s Digest

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It wasn’t until my oldest son had graduated from college that I began to read books.  Prior to that time, I majored in ladies magazines and kept up my annual subscription to the Reader’s Digest.   In truth, most of my reading was done in spurts and accomplished upon a porcelain throne.

When I would visit my English major in collegel, I saw his bookshelves doubled over, spilling with the classics, poetry, biographies, ancient history, some dog-eared textbooks, New York Times best sellers, philosophy, and books about humanity.   Standing there and flipping through them was like shopping in someone’s closet.

One Christmas he gave me a small package tied with a ribbon.  It was a book:  “The Life of Pi”.  At bedtime that winter I read a few chapters and drifted off to sleep, waking in the morning having survived the night on a life raft with a Bengal Tiger and wondering how had I survived forty years without books?  It was then that I made a commitment to myself to get an education.

My time is valuable and I’m halfway “home” so no Nora Roberts romance trash for me, but rather selections and authors that have stood the test of time:  Steinbeck, Capote, Hemingway, Melville, Faulkner, Clemens, McMurtry, Dickens, Roth, Cooper, and my favorite (insert drum roll) Cormac McCarthy.   His book,  “Blood Meridian” took me a month to read and is honestly at the top of my comprehension ability.   When the movie “Seabiscuit” came out in theaters, it was the first time in my life I could critique a movie vs. the book.    One day I asked, “John, what is the best book I could possibly read?”   Without hesitation my son replied, “The Grapes of Wrath” because it is perhaps the finest example of American literature there is.”   My Johnny was right.   I couldn’t put it down and cried like a baby at the end.


My favorite book of the past decade has been, “Peace Like a River” by Leif Enger and it gets its own paragraph here.

One of my biggest disappointments has been how Reader’s Digest has changed over the years.  When they changed the front cover from table of contents to pictures with titles, I dropped my subscription.   I do, however, have a sampling of RD magazines on my bookshelves from the 1920′s through 1980′s where the future was predicted with amazing accuracy.  One article described how your banker had to call the hospital and vouch that you had funds to pay for the blood used in a life saving transfusion for your child.  No money, no blood – 1928.

This reader’s plate is full of books to digest where I can fall asleep under a sheepskin blanket in a covered wagon in 1835 or drop down a rabbit hole and meet the queen of hearts.  There are sword fights ahead of me, seas to sail, ninjas, and (of course) a Chuck Norris biography.   Time travel is possible between the hard covers of books, where pterodactyls fly, babies grow up on Mars, and the Titanic floats.  With the time I have left, I’ll be riding camels in the dessert, panning for Gold in the Yukon, and embracing biographies.

 



 

The Perfect Crime?

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One summer several seasons ago, my husband and I were engaged in a “discussion” where He was talking and I wasn’t listening.  Capital intended.  Somewhere in the exchange He made a remark which catapulted me into a two year crimespree.  I blame Him.

It all began with a silly, simple thing like me wanting to go fishing.  It is what I love to do.  To do it properly one needs a boat, some gear, a dog who is your co-pilot, and an overcast June afternoon with a cold pop in a cup holder and some bug spray on board.  I had everything but the boat.    That’s when the discussing turned into cussing and a non-typical threat; a gauntlet thrown down by Him:

He said, “You may NEVER have a boat because we don’t have room for it.”

Really? Do we not live on a farm?

I’ve excelled at getting what I want throughout our 30 year marriage…capitalizing on the tricks we wives perfect over the years.  Most of the time John finds it amusing and challenging, so it all works out in the end.   This was a man who has always given me everything in this life I’ve ever really wanted and I guess he just underestimated how badly I wanted to fish and how far I would go to land one.  To me, His words were like nails on a chalkboard or a wedgie on my dreams.  In desperation and on vacation, I turned to a life of crime.  I couldn’t stop myself.  I am a weakling.

In hindsight, the guilt almost outweighed my visions of reeling

in a splashing four pound smallie.  (almost)

A land-lover, He was back home making the bacon and I was in da U.P. camping on the shores of the Michigamme Reservoir with my parents, my brother and his grown children.  We had all been sharing my dad’s Bass Tracker and admittedly, it was crowded.  Being the fun girl that I think I am, I buzzed into town just to see if anyone was giving any old boats away on the side of the road.

I could justify something on the cheap side –but I knew I could never bring it home.

Just then I spotted an older aluminum boat with an Evinrude 115  resting on top of a  trailer whose durability was suspect.  The whole thing jumped off the side of the road and screamed, “Pick me!”   After kicking some tires and talking turkey, she was all mine.  I tried to stop myself; I really did.  Then I named her Mabel.  Trusty ‘Ol Mabel.  I stopped in town and found some letters at the hardware store, so her name could be properly displayed.  She and I had a rip roaring time for two summers in a row out on that lake.  We filled her live well and I dove off the bow into the cool water a couple of times.  When winter came, I stashed her at a storage facility.  A little thrill ran up my leg as the time went by and He was none the wiser.

Everyone in my family was sworn to secrecy.  No pictures of Mabel.  No mention of her blue gunwales or how she was strong enough to pull skiiers.  They said they couldn’t lie, but wouldn’t inform (knowing this is how I operate).  My husband, John, was on a need to know basis and he didn’t need to know.

We were in Chicago at my parent’s house during the spring that my father died.  The house felt empty and the backyard didn’t look right.  That’s when John looked in the yard and asked my brother, “Where is Gramp’s boat?”  Without thinking, my brother replied, “It is up north in storage with Kelly’s.”

John’s eyes literally bugged out of his head as he grew

a big Grinch smile–he had me. 

I was a goner.

Oh, I’ve paid for my crime since then and the story of Trusty ‘Ol Mabel is told and retold so much that I’ve become a legend in my own mind.  This story had a happy ending (hehehe) because John was a good sport; the surprises in life keep marriage aglow and if I wasn’t naughty, he wouldn’t stay interested.  All has been forgiven and eventually Mabel was less trusty than crusty and she went on the auction block.   Guilt.  Yepper… this was over the top but I would do it again.

 The End. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tonight’s Dish

In the 1970′s, we ended weeknights around 10 p.m. by watching the Johnny Carson Show, MASH, or other network programming which brought conversation and guest stars or story lines from studios in California and New York into our living rooms–rooms which usually had a slime green lava lamp percolating on an end table (next to the plastic covered, flower-powered sofa) and TV trays scattered in front of us, bowed down with opaque Tupperware tumblers filled with Tab and floating ice cubes.  You might also find an empty tin tray from a Banquet frozen dinner of meatloaf, corn, and mashed potatoes, a mood ring,  and a magic “8″ ball on mine.  By that time of night, I had already tuned in to see what Marsha was wearing and drooled over David Cassidy from the Partridge Family.

Our dog, Dawg, a fawn colored sheltie collie mix, would be curled up on the floor while I  finished doing my homework when the commercials came on.  If there was a television special or a big game on at the same time, then I would stop being me and start being my father’s remote control.  His feet would be propped up on the ottoman (that’s what we always called it) and he would hit me up to unlace his shoes, take off his socks, and rub his feet–or clean out his toes if I was lucky.   My mom would be in her nightgown, sitting at the kitchen table, enjoying a cup of coffee and a good book.  If Dawg jumped up and went into the kitchen, then Mom was slipping her some treats or treating her to leftovers.  Either way, they both couldn’t be happier.  Sometimes the treats were ours when she would pop us some popcorn on the stove top.   My brother was a year younger than I and he would watch with us for a little bit and then go off to race his Hot Wheels on the orange tracks and loops that he pinned together with flat, red plastic thingies.

Now that Honey Boo-Boo and (un)reality TV has taken over, my new final destination each evening is Facebook.   It is fluid:   I can find decorating ideas, engage people in “conversation”, and read about interesting tidbits, recipes, current events, and new ideas.   With Facebook, I don’t have to endure commercials for erectile dysfunction and periods or suffer through wet, sloppy soft porn scenarios or extreme violence.    American family life and family values are mixed, matched, and shredded on television which left me searching for other outlets that are more in line with who I am and aspire to be. 

On the Internet or Facebook I can learn about sharks and asteroids and book reviews and bee keeping and philosophy and making a skirt and traditions in foreign countries and what other people think and  skydiving and knitting and history and humor and community events and collecting marbles and religion and making a salad dressing and business strategy and yoga positions and lions and tigers and bears, oh my!   Do you see the problem?  

Of course I have rituals.  On Facebook, Words With Friends must be checked and then I move on to my home page to post a comment and see if I’ve gotten any reaction or shares from previous posts.  The news feed is where I end up losing hours (and sleep) looking at landscape and wildlife pictures or jokes and funnies posted by others.

Here’s tonight’s dish:  I saved a slew of random pictures in a file called, “Things I Grew up With” …..because why?  Because I can.

 

 Now, if I can just find that picture of Speed Racer…

Mmmm…Bacon Taters

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INGREDIENTS

1/4 pound bacon, cut into 1″ pieces

2 medium onions, diced

2 lbs. yukon gold baby taters, halved or quartered

1/2 lb. cheddar cheese, thinly sliced

add butter, salt, and pepper and sliced green onions

 

DIRECTIONS

Put a liner in a crockpot or spray sides with Pam for easy clean up

Layer the ingredients and dot with butter

Cook on low for 6-8 hours

NOTES

Recipe can be doubled for company

I would precook bacon a little bit in the microwave, on some paper towels, just to get some of the fat off

May substitute pepperjack or any other cheeses or toppings you might like

 

Full Mount Musk Ox

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Years ago my husband came home from another man’s cave and couldn’t stop talking about a full mount musk ox that was on display.  In some sort of primal bonding ritual, he took our sons there to see it too.  They all became inflicted with musk ox must-have disease.  Sure we had some nice whitetail racks and a turkey among John’s coveted cave prizes, but nothing close to matching the absurdness of a full mount musk ox.  Until now.

Nunavut (Pronounced None-of-it) , Canada Enterprise Star Date March 2013

The frozen tundra reads 31 degrees below zero (at least).

John rents caribou skins for outerwear and has Cabela’s rush him a set of Herman Munster over boots.   Throw in an 11 hour, bone jarring sled ride behind a Yamaha snowmobile, primitive living conditions, blinding snow, and a seal hole.  Good times.

We’ve got a spot in our trophy room for Wilbur, the full mount Musk Ox, who at harvest was 10 years old and only had six teeth left.  His hooves were worn down to the pads and the guides told John that he would have starved this coming winter; a good bull to take.

John said the most surprising thing to him

was that there were no stars in the night sky.  

Nunavut is above the arctic circle and is populated with seals, musk ox, arctic fox, polar bears, snowshoe hare, wolverine and wolves.   Most of the pictures where he is walking on flat surfaces is actually him walking across the frozen ocean.  It breaks open for about one month during the year.

The sled he honkered down in for 11 hours had no suspension and was crudely constructed out of wood.  Biting wind speeds and negative temperatures tickling 50 degrees below zero tested his tough.  The question isn’t, “Are you going to get a musk ox on this trip?” but rather, “Can you survive the pounding ride out to the herd?”  He said that it was brutal.  He ate musk ox meat and probably did all sorts of other manly things that men do on these adventures and I already know too much!

Inquiring minds want to know:  Nunavut is both the least populous and the largest in area of the provinces and territories of Canada. One of the most remote, sparsely settled regions in the world, it has a population of 31,906,[3] mostly Inuit, spread over an area the size of Western Europe. Nunavut is also home to the northernmost permanently inhabited place in the world, Alert. A weather station further down Ellesmere Island, Eureka, has the lowest average annual temperature of any weather station in Canada.

 

 

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