Colorful Coffins

OK, this has got to be one of the most unusual web sites I’ve encountered lately, but I’m totally grooving on the idea.

Colorful Coffins Web Site –

Never mind that I really want to be cremated. I’ve long known that funerals themselves weren’t for the dead, but to help the living say goodbye. I’m jonesing for the model known as “The Journey” because I’ve always loved trains and I would love for people’s last visual of me to be a train steaming it’s way to some unknown destination. We have *got* to get these in the U.S. before I die! The even do custom designs!

Appliance Love

As if the love affair with our new Jenn-Air dishwasher earlier this year wasn’t enough, it’s happened all over again. This time, it’s with my new Rowenta DG-980 iron that I recently purchased from It felt like an impulsive purchase after I returned from my quilt retreat in August, but having ironed a couple dozen shirts already, I can tell you that it makes quick work of a boring and thankless job. It’s almost a joy to iron, now! And boy, does it ever put out the steam. If any of you iron a lot, you ought to consider this iron. For quilters, it would make a perfect gift – or treat yourself!

The beginning of the end ….

Well, it looks as if I am going to Guatemala in January in order to fulfill my “Augsburg Experience” credit requirement to graduate next year. My student loans will cover the cost, and because the program is subsidized by the Lilly Foundation it is actually cheaper, including airfare, than a normal course. I’ll get credit for an upper division course in American Indian Studies and will have a couple of pre-travel meetings and one after-trip meeting with the group. Because of the bus size, the group will be limited to 15 students, and we are traveling with a professor of American Indian, Film and Women’s studies. We fly out on the 6th and return home to Minneapolis on the 14th.

Luckily, we will have translator for the whole trip so I won’t be forced to depend on my rusty and fading Spanish, but I’ll brush up over the next few months as time permits. I won’t have much time this fall, because my Modern Britain and Ireland class requires voluminous reading and I’m sure my Religion Seminar class (which begins tonight) not only will require much reading, but a lot of time spent thinking and writing as well.

This will also mean that most of the spring term I will only be taking one other class, so it’s a prime time to negotiate an independent study credit in history so that I can graduate with my history minor (I need three upper division classes and only have two). I’ve already broached the subject with the chair of the history department and she teaches a class called “The History of Women since 1870” and we’ve talked about modifying that curriculum or coming up with another topic, something like “The History of Sexuality in the Modern World”.

The only thing I am struggling with is whether I really want a history minor or not. If I could let that go, I could take German I & II in the winter and spring trimesters, and I wouldn’t mind having a year of German language under my belt. If I don’t take German in the spring, it’s pretty slim pickings for courses that I am interested in and I’m afraid I’ll end up taking one “blow it off” class just to fulfill my credit requirement, which isn’t really the way I want to go out.

So, it looks like my last year is off to a good start. If I can just sort out my priorities, it should be easier to set everything else up.

Meet Mr. Cletus Tibbles

Already somewhat affectionately known as the Lion of Douglas Avenue, or the mouth that tried to bite every piece of exposed flesh, little Cletus wasted no time exploring his new home and the humans, pets and furniture to be found there. Beulah is beside herself – it’s a toy that runs and plays back! Cleo is naturally and quite understandably pissed off beyond measure. I am trying to recover from the numerous scratches and bites I got last night, and Harald is just worried about how his little girl is going to adapt to the new guy in the house. In other words, everything is perfectly normal for a new kitten’s first day at home.

Now this is the very picture of cuteness, is it not?

Awwwwwww …..

Checking out Cleo’s cat grass, another reason for her to be annoyed.

Playin’ on the pillows.

Beulah loves to lick this little kitty and, for the most part, he doesn’t seem to mind, although he did have to clean himself after one of Beulah’s lick-fests last night.

D├ętente on the living room rug.

Cletus playing on his grandma’s shoulder with the Kleenex.

Later that same day ….

Here are some pictures you might enjoy of our puppy (we can’t call her “new” anymore, can we?), Beulah Mae. On Sunday afternoon we went for a drive up the North Shore, beyond Grand Marais and past Five Mile Rock to a long beach that is good for walking and agate-hunting.

Beulah and Harald walking on the beach.

Isn’t she growing up into a beautiful dog?

Proof for all those who think I’ve lost weight – clearly it isn’t so! But Beulah loves me just the same.

Happiness is … making jelly!

What is one wonderful and delicious way to spend your Labor Day weekend on a relaxing trip to the North Shore? Why, making jelly, of course! After we arrived on Saturday morning, Karin took me on a trip around the land on the Gator and we stopped by one apple tree on the way toward the garden to check out the squash and cabbage and potatoes and ….

Well, one thing led to another and before you know it, Karin had very helpfully driven me around to some particularly good apple and crabapple trees and we headed back to the house with bags of our fresh-picked fruit. A quick conference with Helen and Kaare and we were back on the Gator headed down to a few more crabapple trees to pick even more fruit. And Helen went out later and picked a while bunch of really beautiful pink crabapples from a tree she knew about.

When it was all said and done, we took about 45 pounds of apples (or thereabouts) and with some ingenuity, a little hard work, the help of a cooler, strong stick and a clean pillow case (not to mention a small mountain of sugar), we had turned that fruit into 56 jars of apple-crabapple jelly. We had fun coming up with a name (after all, you don’t expect us NOT to christen it, do you?) and think we will hereafter refer to it as:

Hall’s World-Famous Wild Apple Jelly
Made at Cow Hill Cottage
Hall Hill Road
Lutsen, MN

It was a blast. And a little bittersweet, because it reminded me of making jelly or preserves with my Grandma on summer days. Below are some pictures taken from all the fun we had:

Me cleaning crabapples – for what seemed a very long time!

What a colorful batch of crabapple fruit, huh?

The lovely, rosey-pink crabapples that Helen found and picked.

Helen cleaning and cutting her pink crabapples.

Fruit in the pot, about to get boiled.

Pots of fruit boiling away on the stove to render the needed juice.

The bag of cooked and crushed fruit, draining into a cooler, the only thing we had that was big enough.

The jellymaker and his bag. Dontchaknow a watched bag never drains!

The next day, cooking some juice to make it into jelly.

Jars and lids sterilizing on the stove, jelly cooking in the back.

Adding the sugar to the boiling juice.

Sugar added, the juice bubbling up thick and hot like lava.

Getting the jars out of the boiling water and ready to fill.

The hot, clear crabapple jelly before it gets canned.

Filling the jars with the lucious pink liquid.

Jars that just came out of their hot water bath, cooling and sealing.

The sun shone on the beautiful jars of jelly.

The jellymakers and the delicious product of their labors.

Guess who’s getting a kitten?

That’s right, we are! Next Tuesday, in fact. When I took Beulah to the vet yesterday to be checked for a possible ear infection (turns out she has a nasty case of one), there was the most adorable little kitten at the vet with a sign that he was looking for a good home. He was found hiding in the roots of an Sweet Maple tree on a farm and had a bad upper respiratory infection and eye infection. The eye infection was so bad that his third eyelid had adhered to his cornea. An operation fixed that and his eye seems to be healing nicely. When I went over to check the little guy out, he was so playful and even at only 8 weeks you can tell he’s got an absolutely sparkling personality. I called Harald on my cell phone and he agreed to come by after work to check him out. Right now, his name is Simon Jr., because he looks a lot like the other cat, Simon, that has a permanent home at Gehrman Animal Hospital. All the staff have been calling him J.R. We’ll pick a new name, course, and our top two choices so far are Cletus and Tofu, though we are still searching for the perfect name for him. The vet has agreed to hold him until we get back in town next week so we will pick him up on Tuesday and bring him home and have a trial run with Cleo to see if she will accept him. We already took him out of his cage and let him play with Beulah and she was so glad to finally have a cat to play with. He was fearless with her and liked the licks and attention. So keep your fingers crossed that all goes well and we have a new addition to the ever larger brood at Douglas Avenue!