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the treemonger

the treemonger

the story was that the blood-sucking deer were prevalent in these parts, or so the treemonger heard. he’d never seen one, and he didn’t think he was likely to lay eyes on one because who’d ever heard of a blood-sucking deer? but then, he didn’t leave his home much, and he rarely left his grove of evergreens for too long.

his trees of life were his constant focus – whether joy or struggle, or both, as he came to realize most days. this far north, it was rare to see a copse of trees of any size, let alone his sizeable grove he maintained. it was his family’s land and trees for decades to the point of centuries. the evergreens on the west grew in orderly rows; to the south, they were interspersed with some fruit trees that his father had planted on a whim and managed to thrive; looking to the east, shrubs dotted the understory of the tall pines, which the monger never understood; and to the north, the trees were scattered and wild, despite how orderly his family had tried to plant them.

in the middle of the trees stood his small home and the greenhouse that was five times the size of his living quarters. between the two buildings squatted a small wood-burning furnace and a stack of split logs in rows next to it. next to his greenhouse was the small barn that housed his animals: chickens, a cow, and three barn cats that left him mice in exchange for milk from the cow.

despite the whispered rumors and stories from travelers who stopped on their way from somewhere or to anywhere, he didn’t believe the blood-sucking deer existed. why? because his chickens had never been touched. he figured if the blood-suckers were real, his livestock would’ve been lunch by now. just the other day, he’d run into a traveler on the edge of his grove while checking a tree that was nearing the end of its life after a windstorm. he was sputtering about some ghost horse he’d seen over the harvest in his hometown to the south. the treemonger just shook his head and muttered “nonsense” to himself.

now that the days were getting colder, the treemonger spent a lot of time making sure his spring saplings were doing well. he pulled a wagon of mulch through the lines of the trees to the small trees, making sure that they were fully protected from the cold that would be sweeping across the tundra. after he finished up mulching, he’d go around with a water tank on wheels to give them one last drink before the ground completely froze. already there was snow on the ground, but the monger could tell the trees would still take some water, so he made his rounds.

after he pulled his mulch and water into his greenhouse (and stayed a bit longer than necessary to warm up), the treemonger headed out for his evening walk on the long drive to the edge of his property to check his trees down that way. the sun was already low on the horizon, though it didn’t get much above the horizon at all this time of year, so it was difficult to see very far, but he was used to the light and knew his way. when he got to the edge of his property, as was his method, he circled around and took in the area before heading back.

to the north stood two women, like they were waiting for him. the treemonger just stood still and stared for a moment.

“we were wondering if you’d come down this way,” said the taller one as she stepped closer to him with her arm extended in a handshake. the treemonger shook her hand, then looked over at the other visitor, who didn’t seem to want to move any closer. he looked at the woman who was shaking his hand and then again at the other one.

“You may have to invite her onto your property,” said the taller quietly, then glanced back.

“i welcome any visitors who happen across my path. please feel free to join me in my home,” the treemonger rambled. he doubted he’d ever said such nice words to anyone. suddenly a warm whoosh of wind gusted across the top of his head and over to the shorter woman, and she visibly relaxed and started forward.

“hi, i’m mariah,” she said smiling, hand reaching for his.

they walked in silence up to his cabin, which he knew should be warm. he glanced sideways at the two women: the taller one was walking in silence, eyes resting on the buildings ahead, but the shorter one kept glancing up and around at the trees. he huffed into his mustache and shoved his hands in his pockets. if they started going on about blood-sucking deer, he’d kick them out.

“your greenhouse is impressive,” said the taller as they passed the building. “how long as the grove been in your family?” people had always assumed this had been his family’s pastime, but none had been so overt.

“onwards of 200 or 300 years, i’d reckon.”

the taller one nodded. “i’ve seen this grove for many years from afar but had never needed a reason to come visit.”

the treemonger held the door and they all tromped inside and removed their boots. he gestured toward the chairs around the table, poured them some tea, and remained standing while they each took a tentative sip.

“you’re wondering why we’re here,” said the shorter – mariah. he nodded. “we need your help. well, specifically, your trees.”

the taller one sat up straighter, and he noticed now that she was no village woman. no traveler. neither of them were. their actions, their dress, the way they talked – they were important.

“you know how you had to invite me in?” he had wondered about that. the wind was especially unsettling. “i’m a hedgewitch – evergreens tend to keep me out of certain areas, especially private property.” he frowned at that. this was treading on blood-sucker territory. “you know it’s true,” said mariah. she’d seen his reaction. “you felt the wind and the air.” he did have to admit that much. he nodded.

“your trees are special. they’re owned evergreens and keep away certain paranormal beings. some just need a gentle nudge, like me. others – well, they can’t even be in seeing distance of the boughs.”

those blood-suckers- no wonder he hadn’t seen any, if they existed. they couldn’t come near his property. he wondered if they would even be able to come near him.

he must’ve muttered something because mariah continued: “yes, you wouldn’t have seen any of the blood-sucking deer. or the other. this whole area has some kind of aura, if that makes sense. it’s even on you. i wish i’d had some of your pine needles with me when i’d had to kill the herd or had that encounter with the other.” the taller one put her hand on mariah’s shoulder.

“so…” words caught in his throat and he cleared it. “so what do you need with me?”

the two women looked at each other. the taller one drew in a breath and withdrew a letter from her pocket, then slid it across the table toward the treemonger.

“we’re from the pole. we have a problem.”

pre-thanksgiving shenanigans

pre-thanksgiving shenanigans

nate took this entire week off, so i was feeling bummed that i didn’t get to partake in some nate time while he was hanging out at home, so i ended up taking today and wednesday off to join him – a WHOLE WEEK’S STAYCATION.

last night we finished up some thanksgiving meal shopping, then today we headed down to the cities for some MOA time. the main reason i wanted to go to the MOA? it’s time for my lindt advent calendar! this, along with my cheese advent calendar, should mean the best lead-up to christmas ever (because BEFORE christmas is ADVENT; AFTER christmas is the 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. get it right!).

(this isn’t the usual illustrated version of their advent calendar, but the chocolates in it are more to my liking and it was $20 cheaper. i’ll take it!)

mmm chocolate and cheese. while we were at the moa, we went to the new duluth trading company underwear-only store and i stopped at the silver jeans store to get in on a deal and get me some jeans that fit and are the right length.

then we headed over to black sheep pizza in uptown because i’d heard good things about it. nate wasn’t a huge fan, but i liked the crust and sauce. the salami was a little gamey and weird, but the olives on it were top notch.

we headed home before the SNOWPOCALYPSE. (and stopped at the st. joe meat market to pick up some lard, because it’s PIE TIME, BABY!!!)


pie time baby, indeed! i invited my family to join me for thanksgiving, and only jane is showing up, and good for her because here’s what’s on the menu! the rest of you losers are missing out.

  1. dry-brined turkey. i got a yummy sounding brine recipe from bon appetit, and every article i’ve read about brining has said a dry-brine is the way to go. my turkey is just a jennie-o this year, but i’ll still try to make it decent. gonna spatchcock the bird. i MIGHT try grilling it! (i intended to just buy a turkey breast but when i saw that the 3-lb breast was twice the price of a whole 15-lb bird, i decided to go all out.)
  2. mashed potatoes and gravy (nate’s request). i haven’t decided yet if i’m going to make some gravy from scratch or from a jar. we’ll see how ambitious i get.
  3. leftover dressing from LAST YEAR because i made so much and had 3 pints leftover that are still in my freezer!  (i’d make more if more people were coming, but this just turned out so handy.)
  4. roasted broccolini with pepitas and ricotta cheese, which should be a nice refreshing dish!
  5. roasted carrots with lemon zest ( i love cooked carrots)
  7. pumpkin pie made with lard and love!
  8. butterscotch tart with pecans to replace the pecan pie. i’m really excited for this one. i found it in a martha steward magazine.
  9. breakfast for me will be oatmeal/chia before the wishbone run. lunch snacks of cheese and crackers. no galette this year (it’s a lot of work).

i’m making 75% of the meal tomorrow and warming it up on thanksgiving. i think that’s the key. i’m also going to try to take more pics of food because foodie friday is coming up and this is the ultimate foodie friday.

ok, i’m out! time to lie on the couch and watch netflix. this staycation is already turning out to be great.

all the birds in the sky: a book review

all the birds in the sky: a book review

i just finished up “all the birds in the sky.” have you ever read a book where every time you set it down, you think, man that’s a weird little book. and then you continue to pick it back up because you want to see what on earth happens in this weird little book? that’s how i felt with “all the birds in the sky.”

it’s a melding of two genres and somehow, it works. it’s got the old-school fairy tale vibe going on with the female character in the natural world and witchy powers, and then it’s got a techy/futuristic vibe with the male character holding fast to his intelligent AI he’s built and a 2-second time machine on his wrist. somehow, the two end up falling in love in a world that’s creeping closer and closer climate disaster (oh yeah, it’s also borderline environmental apocalyptic genre too!), but when disaster strikes, the way they deal puts them at odds.

i wouldn’t give this five stars. i think i’d be hard pressed to give it four stars. it’s an entertaining read and fascinating how the different genres come together, but the story didn’t compel me like other stories have. i’d recommend it for how it messes with your preconceived notions of how storytelling genres work and to get your mind to wrap around how storytelling can shift between them and still work.

ice ice baby

ice ice baby

growing up in austin didn’t afford a lot of opportunity for culinary excursions, but the one thing that was always a summertime trip was a visit to the dairy queen a couple times during the hot months. one thing you must know about my dad: he loves ice cream. like, dreamily so. he will poopoo pizza for its fatty content and then slurp down a big bowl of vanilla ice cream in the same evening. while his reasoning isn’t sound, at least the man knows where to spend his caloric intake.

so a trip to the DQ was not out of the question in the summer months when it was open. it didn’t happen very often, so when it did, it was a real treat. (don’t take this to mean that we were deprived of ice cream growing up. see above about one NL wallace. we ALWAYS had a gallon bucket of ice cream in the freezer. since we rarely splurged for anything beyond vanilla [and if we did it was usually gross neopolitan], we became deft at mixing our ice cream with a teaspoon of cocoa powder to create a sense of chocolate soft serve. liz was especially the expert at this, probably because she was the only one patient enough to wait to eat the ice cream.) the DQ in austin was on the west side near the old-school mcdonald’s, so it was always a trip to get over there.

the menu was always so appetizing, with the meal options and all the different ice cream options. but we never went there to eat a meal; it was always ice cream. and since there wasn’t much money, it was almost always a dipped cone (sugar cone – never waffle). ah, how i longed for a peanut buster parfait or a reese’s blizzard. BUT the dipped cone was better than homemade chocolate soft serve.

we always got ice cream on hottest of days and sat outside on the blistering red picnic tables, hauling our cones and handfuls of napkins out with us. ice cream started sliding out of the space between the chocolate shell and the cone as soon as we stepped outside, and either you had to be vigilant with eating the ice cream or watch the melty goodness run down your fingers. my favorite was when it was so hot, water beads started to form condensation on the shell and ice cream started breaking through in little white pinpoints.

of course it was a giant mess, trying to keep up with the meltiness of the ice cream in the heat. it wouldn’t be odd to see one of my siblings covered in ice cream and give the cone up to the trash (yeah, probably charlie cuz he was 1. young and 2. distracted). but it was always fun and it was always a treat.

these days i don’t get to DQ much, but i do frequent the ice cream shop in town a few times a summer (which has some delicious flavors and excellent waffle cones). i have an ice cream maker so i can make my own ice cream whenever i like, and any ice cream i buy is a flavor that i enjoy eating by itself, no cocoa power mixing necessary.



my sisters got me a year subscription to masterclass for my birthday so i could watch neil gaiman’s class on storytelling. unfortunately, all i’ve learned so far is that my camera and lens game is on point, and i now know how to make a killer chocolate mousse cake like the french make.

next up is mr. gaiman, which i am stoked about, if only because i am looking forward to listening to him talk to me for a few hours. of course i’m also interested in what he’s going to say, and i’m hoping to apply some of what i learn to my blogging. because i feel burnt out with blogging. i sat here, fingers to keyboard, for about 5 minutes before i actually started typing anything, and i’ve been wondering what to write for about 6 hours now.

so, someday, i’m hoping that my storytelling game will be a little more on point. i hope that i look forward to storytelling as much as i do researching and distilling some weird topic that i’m really interested in. ultimately, anything in this blog is storytelling, whether it’s photos, recipes, reminisces, fiction, social commentary. but i think my fiction game could be bumped up a little bit. i hope the masterclass helps with that!

(ps: that killer chocolate mousse cake just made me super excited to make my christmas buche de noel. mmm mmm.)

my battle with yeast

my battle with yeast

it’s foodie friday, folks! on our way back from mexico, we gals had some pan de muerto at the puerto vallarta airport restaurant, and it was DELISH. so i decided to give it a go!

(not my pic. thanks

i found a relatively reasonable recipe online that called for orange zest and anise seeds, which they almost all did. i used quick rise yeast, but since i’m so impatient about yeast (and i started making this at 7 p.m.), i’m sure i didn’t let it rise enough. either time.

the dough is similar to kuchen dough, except more eggs and butter (an enriched dough, as paul h. would say), so it was more brioche-y but not quite at that level.

i was able to make about 8 “rolls” that varied in size from about about 4″ in diameter to maybe 7″ in diameter. i didn’t make the fancy bone decoration on top, but i did sprinkle with sugar after i got it out. if i attempt this again, i will do an egg wash on top before putting it in the oven. and hope that my patience levels increase so i can let the yeast do its thing.

results? it was dense, due to me not letting it rise enough. i’m pretty sure that paul h. would call it claggy at its best. no handshake for me. but the taste was delicious. i was REALLY hesitant about the anise seed, but it was great with the orange and didn’t overwhelm it with a licorice-y taste. if i try it again, i’ll start earlier in the day and maybe make a half batch. and just let the yeast work.

remember when

remember when

hey, remember when it was summertime? that’s my throwback thursday for today. remember when the trees were just starting to get their full-time leaves, and they were sort of neony green? remember when the grass was still sort of squishy because the snow had melted and the dirt was saturated with water? remember when tulips were blooming? remember when it was 65º and the sun was in the middle of the sky instead of looming above the horizon for the entire day? remember when it didn’t hurt to breathe? remember when you could just go outside without it being a production because you didn’t have to worry about being cold? remember when the sun was still in the sky at 5:30 p.m.? remember when you didn’t feel like it was time for bed at 6 p.m.? remember when you didn’t head to work in the dark and head home from work in the dark? remember when you could go barefoot outdoors, or just slide into some sandals or other flimsy shoe? remember when you weren’t depressed due to the time of year?

so over this axial tilt.

a mix of some electronics reviews

a mix of some electronics reviews

today disneyplus debuted, and being the sucker i am, i signed up for the free trial. to whit: i am currently watching “the three caballeros.”

i am streaming it via my chromecast (named chromecats haha) from the app on my phone.

WHY, you ask?

i stream netflix, amazon, hulu, etc. through my playstation 3 to my tv. but guess what? playstation stopped supporting the PS3 in march. and so disney isn’t releasing a PS3 app, which is only slightly annoying.

so i have two options to throw disney up on my TV: stream through my browser to my chromecast or from the disney app to the chromecast. the problem with this is that i’m not sure if i would use disneyplus as much as i would if it were on my ps3 as an app. but we’ll see what happens. i’ve got 7 days on a free trial to make up my mind!

OK boomer

OK boomer

oh lord, as a tail-end genX/xennial (cringe), i kind of don’t want to tackle this one, but as part of meme monday, i thought it might be apropos of the current climate we’re struggling with.

plus, i feel like “ok boomer” is sort of something genX might get behind, in a sort of “whatever” eye roll, cynical way. i liken ok boomer to my version of “you do you”: i have laid out everything that might be wrong with this decision you want to partake in, and you’re going to do it anyway. you do you.

ok, a few things to go over before we dive into the proverbial hornets nest.

  • silent generation (of great depression era): 1928-45 (my dad is in this gen)
  • baby boomer (of ok boomer):  1946-64 (my mom is in this gen)
  • genX: 1965-1980 (i am in this gen)
  • millennials: 1981-1996 (all my sibs are in this gen)
  • genZ: 1997-present

(just a note: please stop calling everyone under 25 a millennial. millennials are 24-38 for crying out loud. the majority of them are in their 30s and some nearing 40.)

here’s how ok boomer started: an older man was in a video in which he said, “millennials and Generation Z have the Peter Pan syndrome, they don’t ever want to grow up; they think that the Utopian ideals that they have in their youth are somehow going to translate into adulthood”. in early april, the phrase ok boomer started in reaction to this as a retaliation and criticism of baby boomer-shaped politics, economics and the environment policies.

the big thing about ok boomer is that genZ is fed up with baby boomers and their views on racism, climate change, technology, the economic state, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, etc. and that millennials and genX should be right on board with them in the disgust. or genX (the forgotten generation) would be on the sidelines watching the fight, eating popcorn (maybe with the silent generation).

“The older generations grew up with a certain mind-set, and we have a different perspective,” Ms. O’Connor said. “A lot of them don’t believe in climate change or don’t believe people can get jobs with dyed hair, and a lot of them are stubborn in that view. Teenagers just respond, ‘Ok, boomer.’ It’s like, we’ll prove you wrong, we’re still going to be successful because the world is changing.” (source)

but here’s the problem with this ok boomer generalization: no matter what generation you’re in, there are idiosyncrasies. my mom is the furthest thing from a racist or climate change denier, and she’s a boomer. the majority of genZ guys at my school to get a trades degree are trump voters. the top end of genX is mid-50s and is most likely economically stable and won’t understand this whole avocado toast/home loan thing. millennials are in their 30s and have responsibilities just like everyone else. (meanwhile, you do realize everyone is burnt out?)

i think anyone can be on either end of the ok boomer meme. my mom could walk into the welding lab and say “ok boomer” to the dude wearing a trump hat, and it would fit. it’s just that looking at generalizations of each generation, that’s where it falls.

of course, the baby boomers have taken great offense to this, saying it’s ageism and denigrating. to which i say, check yoself. you were the ones crying about how awful millennials are for not buying your superlarge homes and getting joy from owning plants. eyeroll*. (*classic genX!)

i’m not sure where to take this from here. i do have to react to the original older gentleman in the video about growing up, because who really wants to grow up? and what is wrong with bring a few childlike fancies into the world as an adult? sure makes it less boring, more inviting, and kind of fun^. but if this ok boomer craze is the start of something that will effect some change, i guess it might be ok.** i’m going to stick with you do you.

^ whoa, there’s the xennial in me peeking out!

**back to classic genX hahaha

chilled for now

chilled for now

happy veterans long weekend! i have monday off. thank you, bank holidays!

i went out this evening to get some stuff at walmart, and it was a lovely 12º outside. you know that first day of the cold season when it’s so cold that it sucks any moisture from the air and you breathe in pure cold? it was that tonight. of course, we are minnesotans, so i saw a guy sprinting into walmart with just his sweatshirt on. i, on the other hand, don’t much care about keeping up hardiness appearances and had my winter jacket, my hat, and my gloves on (no mittens quite yet – have to have some semblance of easing into the season).

on saturday, i bought a new couch as part of a veterans day sale. i’m really happy about the couch, and it should be arriving in 4-5 weeks. here’s to veterans day sales! (slowly but sure, you will see how this post will evolve into a someday sunday post.) i did some research, agreed on a color with nate, and stopped on my way into st. cloud to take advantage of the sale.

there are a lot of little shops that use this weekend as their holiday open house. not only is it a holiday(ish) weekend, but it’s also deer opener, which means the MEN are out hunting and the WOMEN are out gathering… their christmas decor (don’t get me started on this christmas overtaking the stores the minute halloween is over. ugh). stack the events on top of each other, and it’s a nice sale weekend.

which makes me a little melancholy, because for several years when i lived in st. cloud and my mom lived in new london, we would both take monday off and go shopping. she’d do the majority of her christmas shopping, and i would do some this-and-that shopping (because i was usually done christmas shopping by this point). it’d be an all-day affair, with having lunch; perusing several stores like target, best buy, barnes and noble, and macy’s; and then ending with a too-early sunset as she dropped me off at my house on her way home to new london. i’m not sure how many years we did it, but we did try it out once or twice in rochester, and it just wasn’t the same. one lucky year we were up in the st. cloud area for another event and took advantage of the situation.

now, of course, it’s a different story. i’m here where the “good shopping” is and she’s in SE minnesota, and it’s just not gonna work out 🙁 she’s not going to waste her energy down there where it’s not a good experience. but, even though it’s not the same, i will go shopping up here over the veterans day weekend because i feel like i’ve got to keep the spirit alive.

because someday, i think she’ll be back. maybe at that point she won’t be especially excited about doing a ton of shopping, but the season will beckon, and we’ll have to brave the cold.

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