Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Over the River and . . .

It's been a busy week at the old Blume homestead. This afternoon Jo and I are setting out for far off Arkansas to visit daughter Jr. (Veronica) and grandson Harrison. Needless to say JoAnne has been packing, baking, packing, wrapping, packing, shopping, packing, directing, and, did I mention, packing. Actually Jo has become an expert packer over the years thanks to our many adventures. (Thank God for luggage on wheels) This will be our first visit with Jr. and Harrison in quite a few years so it hopes to be a cheerful reunion. Jr. has been known, in the past, as the keeper of the dogs. Presently, I believe that she's down to only four or five of them. Trying to keep up with Harrison has probably cut into her dog time. Fortunately they live on several acres overlooking Norfolk Lake near Mountain Home providing plenty of room for Harrison and the other animals to romp and play. I'm sure that I'll have some great stories next week chronicling our trip. (If not I'll make up a few.)
In spite of the business of preparation I found time to take advantage of hunting season by getting out and shooting a couple of bucks this weekend. Yep, I grabbed my weapon, set it on automatic, checked the calibrations, quietly hiked across the street to my neighbors yard, took aim and got off four or five good shots. (Shutter speed - 1/125, Aperture - 3.2, Focal Length - 12.1mm) I have to admit, deer look a lot nicer out among the pines than they do hanging from them. I guess my neighbors will be going to their freezer for meat this winter while we will have to go to Piggly Wiggly for ours.
I hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving. (next week I'll probably be sayin' y'all)

Old shot of Jr. (on the right) and her Masstif puppy Ben.
Ben was about 2 years old at the time.

(Honestly, no trick photography or PhotoShop)

Results of my "Deer Hunt"!
In a couple of weeks I'll be heading out for some live "shots".

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Red This, Red That and The Red Army

Just hanging around on a Sunday afternoon dreaming up some dreams to pass on to you folk. The biggest news in the Blume household this week is the arrival of Luci the KitchenAide mixer. The KitchenAide mixer has been the object of lust in my (cooking) heart for years. I guess a little moaning, whining and some subtle hints like taping pictures of KA all over the kitchen finally paid off. Amazing as it seems, all of the sudden, JoAnne came up with the idea of getting a new mixer as an anniversery gift to each other. At any rate Luci has joined Garr (our new red trash can) in our kitchen. I gave Luci a quick test run by whipping up a cake on Thursday and Jo made a couple of batches of cookies in her last night. The down side of Luci and Gaarr joining the family is, because of their lovely red color, the kitchen will have to be redecorated to coordinate with them. Seeing as how Jo gave in on the mixer I guess it's time for me to give in on the redecorating. (After all she's been moaning, whining and hinting for years.) Progress reports will be posted as work goes on.

Luci (on the right) and Garr (left)

Jo putting Luci through her paces.

On the more entertaining side, I'd like to share a musical experience with you. Some of you may have heard or heard of this group and not all of you will agree with my taste but, I like 'em. They are The Leningrad Cowboys, a weird group from Russia who occaisionally perform with the unweird group, The Red Army Choir. To give a listen click here The video and the audio are typical YouTube quality but you can see and hear enough to get the idea. The song that this link will take you to, Delilah, gives a fairly good taste of the group. A couple of other tunes that I particulaly like are - My Way, Sweet Home Alabama, and Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.

Them Crazy Cowboys!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wisconsin Hystory* - Lesson 1

As a public service, I have decided to post an educational series about events, people and places in Wisconsin Hystory*. I hope to pass on some useful, if not humorous, facts, lies and illusions that I have encountered in my travels around the state. Our first lesson involves a place that has been overlooked in our history books, the "Original Pepto Bismol Mine". Legend has it that sometime around 1919 an immigrant Wisconsin farmer, Peppy Bismollya, was digging a pit for his new outhouse when his shovel punctured a hole in a thin layer of stone and out gushed a thick, creamy pink substance. He ran to his wife Lucy, who at the time was in their cabin comforting their baby Poopy, who was suffering from a stomach disorder. In his wild excitement, waving his arms and shouting about his discovery, he splashed the liquid that covered him all around the room. Some of the pink fluid got on little Poopy's face and ran into her mouth. Much to Peppy and Lucy's amazement, little Poopy's discomfort seemed to abate. As the news of the healing qualities of Peppy's discovery spread through the valley everyone, with the crappiest little illness was knocking on the Bismollya door seeking relief. Peppy capped off the "well" and built a shed over it which remains to this day. It's hard to believe that billions of gallons of that "miracle" pink liquid has continued to flow from this location since 1919. In spite of the success of the stomach settler the Bismollya family still resides at the location of the original discovery. They prefer to live modestly, but they have recently added another mobile home to house big screen HDTV. The pink color of the buildings in the complex (or as they like to call it, "The Crampus") is not painted on but rather the results of the flood of '27 when the Pepto pipe popped and coated the countryside with a comforting coating of the soothing pink juice. The depth that the flood reached is visible on the side of the shed which houses the well. I would prefer to keep the location of this hystoric* site to myself thus protecting the privacy of the Bismollya family. If you feel the need to learn more about this phenomenon check with your local pharmacist.

The Bismollya "Crampus".
(Actually the hill in the background is man made
and houses a huge bottling plant.)

*Hystory - Sometimes Historical, sometimes Hysterical.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Martha, Rachael and Betty

Ah! I think I smell Cavkis baking.

That's Martha Stewart, Rachael Ray and Betty Crocker. Yep all three gathered in the Blume kitchen this weekend. The occasion? The Annual Christmas Cookie Bake. This tradition started centuries ago in an ancient Teutonic cave. Fire had just been discovered and cookie dough, which had been discovered many years before that, was starting to go bad. Isa Gudfurduncin, a distant relative of either Jo or Ron, accidently dropped a spoonful of her dough onto a rock at the edge of the fire. Voila*!!! the first cookie was born. Isa gathered all of her female relation together and started dropping stickfuls of dough on the hot rocks. (Only Isa had a spoon so the others had to make do with whatever was handy - some hands even) The men of the tribe were busy in nearby fields watching the exciting entertainment of the time, a game of "Kikemindanutz". Each woman hoping to attract the attention of a guy, decorated her "Cavki" with nuts and berries and even colored sugar from the local Piggly Wiggly. Enough of the history lesson, on to this weekends cookie bake. There isn't too much to tell that can't be seen in the well captioned photos below. The women, along with baby Saffron, took over the kitchen, Ron and Derek took refuge in the living room while the dogs, Tina, Snoopy and Sammy went wherever they thought they might pick up a wayward morsel. The results were, not just tasty but but very attractive. Isa would be proud of the latest "Cavki" bakers.

Saffron gets her first exposure to "Cookie Madness".

With Saffron a safe distance away, the activity reaches full force.
To the real Martha, Rachael and Betty - Eat your hearts out.

Sammy to Tina - "Did you hear something hit the floor?"

And there they are!
Not bad for some old dough and a few hot rocks.

* Voila - probably the origin of Ron and Jo's mothers' name which in a later translation of this story was misspelled Viola.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

So this baby walks into a pet shop...

The only thing Tina enjoys more than telling corny jokes
to little kids is making them laugh until milk comes out of their nose.

Just couldn't resist doing that. Now that I've got your attention, let me tell you about the weekend. Halloween was fairly uneventful. The usual gangs of kids fighting with me over mini-sized Snickers bars and me trying convince parents that I really didn't take any candy out their kids' bags. I'm not too worried, the best lawyer in town has retired and I've been practicing putting an ill-fitting glove on. And then on Saturday (couldn't come up with a smooth transition here), We (Grandma Jo) had to opportunity to babysit little Saffron while Derek and Jeanna went out for a belated birthday "celebration" (Dinner and a movie). Grandma had a great time holding, feeding, changing and making weird gurgling noises with the baby. Conversely (I don't know what that means. I think it has something to do with a tennis shoe) Grandpa Ron enjoyed snoozing on the sofa pretending to be watching the BIG plasma TV. I understand that the picture is even more vivid if you're awake. In gratitude for the babysitting stint, Jeanna gave Grandma and Grandpa a certificate for an overnight stay at the Marriott Hotel on Madison's Westside. I have to go off on a sidetrack for a minute. Have you ever tried to go to a Red Lobster Restaurant? It may just be us, but, over the years we have tried on numerous occasions to eat there because, one, JoAnne really likes Lobster and it's realively affordable there. Two, their commercials do such a great job of making the food look appetizing that even a "non seafood lover" like me starts to drool just a little. And, three, those Cheddar biscuits are SOOOOO good.
Every time we tried to enjoy some of those delicious looking dishes there was a waiting line that stretched into another county. This time we'll fox them and go real early. Jo had thumbed through her cache of gift cards and came up with one for that Lobster place. She convinced me that eating lobster would give her the necessary fortification for a tough evening of Grandmothering and our arriving early would insure prompt seating and an on time arrival at that baby's house. No! No! Au Contraire Mon Amie. There was still a waiting line but for our efforts we received a little machine that would explode when the next shrimp boat anchored in the parking lot. I have since found out that there are people ("Seafood Lovers") who actually live in the waiting areas of every Red Lobster in the Free World. We laughed , we cried, JoAnne ate lobster and I ate as many biscuits as they would bring to our table. Back off of the sidetrack. After the babysitting stint we retired to our hotel. The bar in the lobby looked very inviting and I could imagine the cool taste of that flavorless O'Douls washing down the six dozen Red Lobster biscuits I had consumed. Once again may I say, "Au Contraire Mon Amie!". The bartender told us in no uncertain terms that he was closed and we should go away. Huh? A bar in Wisconsin closing on a Saturday night when there was still a living breathing, red blooded person willing to belly up to it? Not only that, it was "Fall Back" night which usually gives these places an opportunity to stay open an extra hour. Needless to say, eating and drinking establishments didn't get very high marks for service that night. Sunday morning brought still more, "there's no room a the inn" (except it was restuarant this time). After visiting two "really good" breakfast places which undoubtedly were well known to be "really good", we opted for the safe haven of funny named breakfast dishes, Denny's. Service was good (we got a seat right away because everyone else was at the "really good" places) food was tasty and it was realatively inexpensive. For our trip home we decided to take the "scenic" route. This really paid off. The route takes you through a valley between the Wisconsin River and the high bluffs that border it. The color was very nice (not quite as brilliant as last week but good for November) and the road was fairly free of traffic. As we drove by one of the recently harvested corn fields that lined the road, Some thing caught my eye. then another and a whole lot of others. In the field were dozens of Sandhill Cranes who were stopping for lunch as they traveled somewhere south. A quick U-turn and out came my trusty digital. They posed and pranched for the camera as though they knew that I could make them famous. After we (the cranes and I) had exhasted every possible pose and prance, it was back in the car and off to home. As we continued North and West we encountered still more of these lovely birds. All in all I'd guess we must seen several million of them. (Could have been a billion but who's counting?) Hey, this post has gone considerably longer than intended so I'll close with a few fun fotos.

Saffron seems to enjoy a "Good Night" kiss
no matter where it comes from.

The Sandhill Crane version of the "We be cool" strut.

Either a "Dancing with the Stars" rehearsal
or a scene from "West Side Story".

These two hens seem pretty impressed with
his "Hop on one foot" come on.

You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out . . .

I gotta quit. I'm having way too much fun. see ya!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bilingual Town

With the (Sob) baseball season behind us the only thing left, other than leaves and looming snowfall, is the football season. Here in Wisconsin football season is a very serious time. Just East of us we have a Big Red Badger team in Madison and Up Nort we have the Brettless Pack. Right here in Fennimore we have the UNDEFEATED Golden Eagles presently participating in the state finals. Another thing that pops up every year in Fennimore is the display of the BearPak cars. Being a newcomer to the community (only been here almost 15 years) I'm not sure of the origin of these vehicles. I first met the BearPak one day a few years ago when, on my way to the grocery store, I drove past the Catholis Church, I noticed a car parked on the lawn between the church and the parsonage. The car had a rather strange paintjob. One side was painted the Navy and Orange of the Chicago Bears and the other side bore the Green and Gold of the dreaded Green Bay Packers. The story that I heard was that the Pastor of St. Marys, who was a Bear fan, had been hospitalized and in his absence one of his parishoners, who happened to own the local body shop, transformed the pastors old Lincoln into a bipartison "Cheermobile". Since its initial appearance, the original "Cheermobile" has been joined by a twin. Usually the two are on display the weekends when the Bears and Packers play each other but this year they are proudly displayed in front of our fine cheese factory. (What's a true Wisconsin town without a cheese factory?) I feel it is only proper to give equal time to one of Fennimore's outstanding citizens Igor. Igor has been the mascot of Fennimore cheese factories for over fifty years and has a story of his own. But this story belongs to the "Cheermobiles" and an example of small town charm.

How's that for coexistance?
Igor can be seen in the upper left corner of this pic
and in his full glory below.