Monday, November 26, 2018

Linguistic Tidbits: Stocks vs. Pillory (+ Stock and Bull Market Origins)

I'm reading The Scarlet Letter and I discovered that the thing I've been calling "The Stocks" is not actually stocks at all.  It is actually a Pillory.  They're similar but distinct punitive practices both of which center upon confinement in the eye of public scorn and social shame.

It has come to my attention that, technically, the stocks are for confining people by the legs...
Photo from Wikipedia.
...whereas the pillory is for confining people by the head and arms.
Photo from Wikipedia.
While we're at it:
I thought this was possibly the cutest cow I've ever seen, the way his ears and muzzle were dipped in black.
I attended an author lecture earlier this month about the book Up the Trail by Tim Lehman.  There I was informed that the terms "stock" and "bull market" originate with the old cattle operations of the wild west.

Basically, in the days of the open (unfenced) short grass prairie, cattle were just turned loose in places like Montana and Wyoming to graze and make babies.  The cows just did their thing without much management from their owners--and returned a rather nice profit none the less.  ...Until the year they all starved to death because a hard crust of snow made the prairie grass unreachable and the majority of stockmen lost everything.   But, yeah, on a bull market the old cowboys could just make money on their stock without really trying!  And boom, financial terms are born!

I suppose it doesn't really matter, but I love these sort of linguistic tidbits.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

A Thankful Cook

Matt taught me to cook--specifically he taught me to cook from scratch.  I've mentioned this before, I know.
It never fails:  I always snap a photo of my plate before I actually serve up everything.
At our Thanksgiving meal, by historical default, Matt kept catching all the praise for the dishes we brought, specifically the dinner rolls and the pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes.  A handful of times Matt had to redirect the enthusiasm my way.  "Well, actually, Beth made the..."
It was tremendously satisfying. 
These ceramic Pilgrim-and-Indian figurines were painted by my mom and have probably been a fixture at every Thanksgiving my entire life.  I don't know how I ended up with them, but they warm my nostalgic heart none the less.
Not only was it superbly pleasurable to actually contribute to the meal myself--instead of banking on all of Sharon and Matt's culinary talent--but people thought it was yummy enough that Matt probably made it.  And that's high praise in my book.
Ryan wins at Catan every time.  I swear.  Every time.
So, hooray!  I am a reasonably good cook these days.  That's something to be very thankful for.  Food is good.  Especially when shared with others.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Tuesday Night Bowling Tradition

Traditions all have a genesis. I've eaten lefse at Christmas every year for my entire life.  For the last several years Matt and I have even played a part in ensuring that tradition carries by helping make the lefse with Matt's mom.  BUT, somewhere down in the roots of my family tree (and Matt's) someone started this whole lefse-is-a-holiday-treat thing.  I think that is so cool.  A simple idea can become a family bond and legacy, just like that.
This week marks the one year anniversary of a relatively new family traditions--Bowling Tuesdays.
We didn't set out to bowl once a week--or I certainly didn't anyway.  I think Ryan and Bek were looking for a fun, affordable date night--and invited Matt and me along to double.  ...and we enjoyed it so thoroughly that we after that first time we were all hooked.  It is such an enjoyable way to spend the evening together.  There is the friendly competition, lots of laughing and catching up, pitchers of beer and free Diet Pepsis, tunes on the jukebox, a growing camaraderie with the bowling alley staff (we're "regulars" now!), and even a little bit more physical activity in our lives.  That is winning on so many levels it is just unreal.
The game is only a fraction of the story though.  I would say that the bulk of  my satisfaction comes from sharing quality time with people I care about.  Matt and I would see Ryan (and usually Bek) every week during football season, but it was much more sporadic the rest of the year.  Bowling has changed that!  Now we have a standing weekly date and I just love it.  I look forward to Tuesdays so much.  Sometimes other folks join us, too--April and Bryant, Memo and Jess, Stephanie and Casey, Lacie and Matt, Sharon and Roger.  So, the tradition has a sort of ripple effect, too.  According to my records we've had 33 (!) different bowlers over the past year.
Ryan and I even both threw our birthday parties at the bowling alley.
I wrote this poem in the bowling alley back in February (between sips of light beer and Olympic figure skating performances) while waiting for the rest of my crew to join me for our highly anticipated weekly bout.
Tuesdays We Roll
Harold acts the gatekeeper
To my ugliest shoes
The ones with no traction,
But non-marking soles, too.
I know his name
--not CJs, apparently--
and wonder if he knows mine.
I do post it along side my score
Every week.
I know my average
Harold knows my shoe size
9 not 9 1/2
Happy Hour from 8-10.
I'm pleased to report that my average has gone up since then, too.  And down.  And then up again!  Ha!  And I bought some really schnazzy bowling shoes.  No more ugly ones for me!
My bowling shoes are so cool they look like regular shoes.
Nothing lasts forever, but like the lefse thing I hope this new tradition has some sticking power.

Friday, November 2, 2018

This Time To Remember

Placing my ofrenda this year was quite a soothing experience.  As the wind rattled in the leaves outside the house was quiet and calm and I was alone.  I held each object in hand and couldn't help but note how each evoked so many memories, thoughts, and emotions--the good and bad, the highs and lows, the laughter and the tears.  I found myself reflecting on those no longer with me in body and how much their legacy lives on, how they influenced me, how they helped me grow.  I tried to forgive myself for wrongs or shortcomings long past and to make peace in my soul.  I was filled with love.  I was overcome with gratitude. 

I am thankful for this time to remember.  I am thankful for the people in my life--past and present.  I am thankful for this day.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

A Custom Lazy-Susan for Beth

Matt impresses me a lot.  He is always willing to put in the work required to achieve his goals.  He is a creative thinker and a very thoughtful person.

I mention this because he recently built me a pair of custom lazy-susans for our corner cupboard, thus making some of my kitchen-dreams come true.
He looked at pre-fab lazy-susans, but found them:
A) expensive, given their quality
B) lackluster in weigh capacity
C) very limited in dimensions

So, though he swears he is not much of a carpenter, he measured, drafted, cut, screwed, and crafted two lazy-susans juuuuuuuust right for our cupboard.  It involved making a "jig" first and then using that and a jig saw to cut the wood into appropriately sized round pieces.  (After explaining to Beth what the heck a jig was, I might add.)
This is the sort of project that I'd never have undertaken myself...mostly because of math, but also power tools.  😉
For the past five years this very, very deep cupboard was a sort of dumping ground where things not-used-often got pushed to the back never to be seen again.  (Okay, okay...I exaggerate, but you get my gist.)  We're terrible about taking Before and After photos so you'll just have to take my word for it.   
This picture is the closest I have to a Before photo.  At this point Matt had already placed the laminate tiles (leftovers from our bathroom) and secured the smaller lazy-susan to the top shelf.
We have a pretty small kitchen.  I remember when we bought our house people suggesting it was crazy-small for two folks who love to cook, bake, and can as much as we do.  I'm of the mind that more cupboards just encourage more gadgets and a large kitchen just requires more cleaning and maintenance.  Our kitchen--as is our whole house--is perfectly Matt-and-Beth sized in my assessment.

Never the less, I am astonished at the humongous difference just making this one cupboard more user-friendly has made in the kitchen flow.  We were able to juggle the pots and pans, etc. around so that all of our other cupboards are now uncluttered and easier to use as well.  It is amazing.  Every time I open the corner cupboard (well, all the cupboards, really) it makes me happy.  I imagine this will wear off in time, but seriously, the effect is dramatic.
He even bent metal trim to secure the edge and make it look polished and professional, too.  Plus, it serves the practical function of keeping things from flinging off if I spin the lazy-susan with excessive vigor!
The smaller lazy-susan on the shelf is 21.5 inches in diameter.  A little shelf-space is left at the front of the cupboard for our bread basket.  The bottom lazy-susan is 31.5 inches across--with a pie cut at the front.  It fills the entire space making the back corner just as usable as the front.  The pre-fab lazy-susans he was looking at came in intervals like 18 inches and 24 inches which would have resulted in a lot of still-underutilized space.  His custom-sized lazy-susan was the perfect solution to maximize the cupboard space.

Seriously.  There is nothing this man can't do when he sets his mind to it.  This is just one of the ways he continues to amaze and impress me year after year.  Also, he bought me flowers again yesterday.  For no reason.  AND made tater tot hotdish!
Seriously.  Whattaguy!