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Archive for the ‘Just for fun’ Category

How fortunate I was to have had these trusty engines stowed safely behind the driver’s seat. They kept me company and pushed me forward as I chug, chug, chugged along on my long ride home past farmland and forests, mists and moisture, sunshine and shadows in the peaks and valleys of landscape. At times it felt as if I had been dropped into a bowl of candy corn, the panorama of fall colors following me with views I never tire of.

While our Up North family has graciously travelled down several times in the past year, I have not had the opportunity to visit them until recently. Packed with pumpkin muffins and assorted granny goodies, I was anxious for a few precious days. I wasn’t disappointed.

One fine day, we spent a delightful afternoon on an island.

Nicolette Island is located on the Mississippi River which flows through Minneapolis. The island houses restored Victorian dwellings, De Lasalle High School, the Nicolette Island Park, an impressive pavilion, the Bell of Two Friends, the Nicolette Island Inn, and winding paths that afford amazing scenery and opportunities for young ones to explore, pretend, and appreciate nature. Our daughter and son-in-law, Katy and Tom, have instilled a healthy appreciation and respect for nature in their children and are to be commended for their efforts and example.

 

As we approached the Bell of Two Friends, we giggled a bit as the backside looked a bit like, well, like a backside. Once we went under and around the sculpture we were amazed at this stunning monument of peace.

Fall had come to Nicolette Island on what was a crisp, overcast day, displaying colorful splendor on this lovely island.

 

 

We walked and wandered, St. Anthony Falls and industry sharing the space, before crossing back into downtown Minneapolis and Penny’s Cafe.

 


The chef made our crepes on a large, heated wheel, across from the table we chose to sit. We all watched in awe as he balanced the orders, spreading crepe batter on the wheel, filling and folding, making sandwiches and other delectables on another slab to his right.

I chose a crepe fromage, which exceeded expectations! It was outstanding. Ezra, who chose what the woman who took our orders described as special, wholeheartedly agreed, saying it was special, as he energetically tackled his grilled cheese sandwich. Kezzie’s little stuffed fawn, stuffed in his special way, snuggled for warmth next to Katy’s coffee as we all enjoyed the food and the ambiance of Penny’s Cafe.

What a balm for the soul this little adventure was, with an attentive and caring mommy, two darling, inquisitive grandkids, nature and even nourishment in an establishment bearing my name. There were so many other moments of joy during my brief  trip; too many to mention in an already long post. I was grateful for my time with our Up North family and appreciate Ezra’s sharing of his engines as I wended my way home.

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It was surprisingly busy for a Sunday afternoon. Long lines at the counters and dressing room. I was in a high-end store in a high-end shopping center in need of a specific item I’ve needed that Nordstrom’s carried. Sunday was the last day of their semi-annual sale and a good deal was to be had!

I queued up for a dressing room, then to make my purchase. I thought about grabbing a quick bite in the restaurant, realized I was all queued out and just needed to head home. I walked toward the escalator, following another flow of shoppers navigating more lines, and approached the rolling staircase.

There I was, a smallish bag in one hand, a largish purse in the other, not well-balanced at all, with the optical illusion of steps before me oscillating downward in a “Now you see me, now you don’t” pattern.

I don’t do steps well. You can imagine my expertise on escalators.

I waited, a second longer than socially acceptable, then dipped my toes onto the outgoing step, grabbing the sliding rail, aware of the growing line-up behind me. I am the pain in the butt you do not want to follow on escalators, but, I am what I am (or is it I yam what I yam?) and stepped on, turning slightly  to see who was on the step behind me.

No one!

No one was behind me – then someone was. Detecting my slight turn of the head, a soft voice said, “You are fine. I’ve got your back.” Someone had my back! Wow! My protector said “I’m a rehab nurse. I saw your hesitation. I do not want you to be hurt and don’t want to have to take care of you on the bottom of the escalator”. We both chuckled, I told her I appreciated her kindness, and disembarked from the disappearing steps as they folded into wherever it is that escalator steps escape to. I tilted my head back toward my rear guard and said “Thank you, dear angel, for having my back”. “You’re welcome”. 

It is comforting to know that someone has your back now-and-then, especially on an escalator.

Has anyone had your back lately?

From YouTube

 

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We baked. We always do.  Shortbread, granola, a chocolate Bundt cake for Papa’s birthday. Still, there wasn’t enough time for this sweet young lady and me to have one last cup of tea.

This charming lad and I watched Thomas the Train and cuddled in early morning before breakfast before he turned into a thirsty Minion after he and his cousins and sister rode bikes and scooters round and round the front island, laughing and screaming as children do when having fun and expending energy.

Kez and Ez did what children in the Midwest do in summer; they caught lightning bugs (fireflies) in jelly jars, the lids with small holes punched out. Pure childlike glee at seeing them light up the night.

I am missing them. The house is quiet and the hours still, but, grateful for such a good week together with them, their parents, Aunt Jenny and Uncle Jason, and watching them interact with cousins on both sides of their family.

It is always nice to have photos to share. I hope you won’t mind if I do.

Our citizen scientist was quite knowledgeable about Monarch eggs and caterpillars. As soon as she heard me proclaim “there are two Monarchs floating around the front garden” she took to finding eggs.

Once upon a time, Ezra’s Papa (aka Antler Man) sat in this very same rocking chair with his own great-grandfather.

Whether riding furiously around in circles, measuring ingredients for a cake – or measuring who is the tallest, these two darlings brought smiles to my face and joy in heart. A grateful heart and big thank you to their Mommy and Daddy for sharing them with us this week.

 

 

 

 

 

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I don’t often see my name in print, even though it has recently gained in popularity, thanks to the actress Penélope Cruz! Ever since Penélope became famous, I have noticed most people can now pronounce my moniker! This is a most welcome development as I have spent most of my life cringing, not because I do not like my name (I do), but, because it is usually, well, let’s just say it is usually “butchered”. Pen-op-o-lee. Pen-o-lope. Pen-o-lo-pee, and more with accents on different syllables to add to the pain.

I was named for my paternal grandmother, a custom of many cultures, especially among Greeks. Even among Greeks, there have not been many Penelopes that I have known. (Okay, only two, and they were brief encounters, and one was my Yia Yia’s goddaughter.

So it was that on a recent morning Penelope appeared in my email inbox.

I subscribe to A.Word.A.Day, which is fun to receive and often enlightens or inspires me. It brings to mind a high school English class, creative writing. We used a small paperback book which I believe was called “30 Days to a Better Vocabulary” as part of the curriculum.

Back to my inbox and the day’s word, which surprised and delighted me – Penelopize ! Well, by gosh and by golly, that explains why I might procrastinate, put things off, stall; I’m really and truly penelopizing.

Do you ever penelopize?

Do you subscribe to a daily message?

From my inbox, with a few links:

 

A.Word.A.Day from Wordsmith.com

PRONUNCIATION:
(puh-NEL-uh-pyz)

MEANING:
verb intr.: To delay or gain time to put off an undesired event.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Penelope, the wife of Odysseus and mother of Telemachus in Greek mythology. She waited 20 years for her husband’s return from the Trojan War (ten years of war, and ten years on his way home). She kept her many suitors at bay by telling them she would marry them when she had finished weaving her web, a shroud for her father-in-law. She wove the web during the day only to unravel it during the night. Earliest documented use: 1780. Her name has become a synonym for a faithful wife: penelope.

Image source here.

Wordsmith.org 

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Oddly enough, Tony Orlando and Dawn have been singing away in my head lately.

Knock three times, on the ceiling if you want me,

twice on the pipes, if the answer is no

There I was, water raining down, my hair all wet and lathered up, when the water pressure slowly diminished until it was but a mere dribble. It would have been easier to rinse with an eye dropper. I somehow managed to get the soap out – and then became shower-deprived, followed by  flusher deprived- if you know what I mean.

For awhile, we were able to wash dishes and hands and use water by tapping on a valve, in the basement, two flights down. This meant we both needed to be in the house. It was, shall I say, an interesting “tap” dance in marital harmony.

I hesitated to complain, but DID, quite vociferously, in fact, to my beloved Antler Man, who had been waiting to shower for a very long time as he recovered from a foot wound. Instead of a shower he was employed in fixing the flusher (which I just wrote for alliteration). We did, in the end, need a new pressure valve and then, a few days later, a new tank. Thank heaven for this dear man who meets many such challenges and for our neighbor Rick who lent a helping hand and some expertise.

All’s well that ends well and a few more horticultural posts are perking away.

Besides being in a flush, I’ve been busy with family, gardening, and life in general and apologize for being absent for such a long while. I hope you are all doing well. For now, while I take another shower, here’s a clip from a movie I enjoy viewing every-now-and-again. Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation. It reminds me of our recent plumbing issues here on the Cutoff.

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It was a very fine day in May. Sunny and clear. Not too hot, nor too cold – a “just right” sort of day to marry.

A limousine pulled up to the door and the bride was carefully arranged inside, her bouquet set delicately next to her on the car seat by her mother, who was much calmer than the bride had imagined her mother would be.

The door was carefully closed by the attentive driver. The bride’s mother sat down in her own car and was driven away by a friend as the bride was chauffeured off to meet her groom at the church.

As the limousine driver steered the car down the byways and highways en route to the ceremony, he spoke with the bride. A kindly man with a gentlemanly way about him, he asked a simple question one might ask in the moments of moving toward a wedding.

“What will your married name be?” 

O’Neill. My name will be Penny O’Neill.” 

As he drove, he looked into the rear view mirror, which was positioned to see both the traffic outside and his passenger within.

“A very nice name, Penny, but, you will be often called Peggy, from the song Peggy O’Neil”. 

The limousine driver’s prophecy proved to be true, and so it has been that as the young bride grew older she has, indeed, often been called Peggy. In fact, just yesterday, having introduced herself to a couple she had not yet met, the gentleman held out his hand and said

“It is nice to meet you, Peggy.”

She smiled, corrected the mistake and remembered the kind driver’s prediction on that “just right” sort of day, now 44 years ago. She smiled at the ever-sweet memory and she silently counted her blessings as she drove herself home to the prince who still waits for her –  and who knows her true name.

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I grabbed a numbered ticket from the dispenser then bobbed to and fro like a robin looking for a worm. I was perusing the long deli case to see what was on sale, what looked good, what I shouldn’t eat, etc. Low numbered grazers took their places close to the counter, while shoppers like me, in for a dozen or so numbers,  stepped back. Shopping carts were parked near the olive island or over by the cheese section where samples were set out.

We needed sliced turkey. We don’t go in for the fancy stuff; no mesquite or honey glazed for us, though they are tempting choices, especially when shopping hungry.

I stood, rocking from foot to foot, checking my ticket stub in case I forgot my number (it happens). I mentally selected my turkey choice. I remember when there were only a few choices of turkey to choose from. Actually, I remember when there were no choices of turkey to choose from, but, I digress.

Another shopper and I struck up a conversation. We both liked the store, the cashiers, the floral department – a good place to shop. She asked my opinion of Lacey Swiss cheese and we noted how busy it was for the time of day.

Talk. Chit chat. Two ladies waiting for thin slice or thick.

Our trail of words turned a corner to Brie. Had I tried the Brie in the cheese section? It was, she said, outstanding, and that she wanted to go over and thank the attendant cheesemonger who had given her a sample last time she was in, which she did right then and there.

My deli companion then told me she was a caretaker for an elderly woman. The woman’s best friend had just passed away. She was terribly sad. Upon tasting the brie, my deli companion said she put some in her cart, along with some apricot jam and specialty crackers and brought them as a treat, a small indulgence, for her charge – and that made all the difference in the woman’s day and in her demeanor.

My number came up.

I waved my ticket like a banner and stepped forward, but, first I gave my kind deli companion a little hug and thanked her. Such chance encounters often become a balm for my soul; reminders of the simple things that make life a wee bit sweeter in sour times. Brie and crackers, thanking the cheesemonger, just taking the time to chat –  a simply remarkable slice of time at the deli counter.

How about you? Any chance encounters that soothed your soul recently?

 

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