Sunday, October 31, 2010

Don't Go After Dark

When the moon is out and the shadows are long and eerie...

This could be a haunted mansion with wispy woman high atop the widow's walk calling for her sweetheart lost at sea...

It might be wise to keep driving even if this place on the edge of town has the only "Vacancy" sign...

Better to be called chicken than to accept a doubledogdare to run through the cemetery when the birches in the moonlight look like witches' fingers in the sky ...

But even in the light of day don't go to the most frightening place in town...

The abandoned, flowerless greenhouse...Oooooooh...horrifying beyond belief...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Still the Life of the Party

If you're not quite ready for that big Halloween party tonight here is a quick-as-a-wink Halloween decorating project from The Graphics Fairy. Just save, print, cut, and paste some weird eyeballs onto your framed friends, family, and other anonymous or famous folk to create custom, creepy decor.

That Old Abe always did know how to get the party started.

Update: "The Sisters" nextdoor are onboard. That's the kind of Halloween spirit(s) we like to see.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Waiting for the Big Chill

Every neighborhood needs one. The tinkerer, the gadget guy, the crazy inventor. Fortunately we have the king of all of the above who is also a really sweet guy with the nextdoorneighborly patience of a saint with all the little kids who constantly stream through his yard asking a million questions about his very interesting activities. And it is no wonder they are drawn to the kidmagnet he has created by building ponds, bridges, treehouses, playground equipment, stilts, sandboxes, and anything else that anybody even slightly mentions might be fun addition to his amusement park. Last summer the inventor took on the ultimate big project - a beautiful new garage and workshop built in cooperation with his equally handy son.

This summer's plan (after the sailboat was scraped, repainted, and moored at the yacht club) was an iceboat. One day we looked down the alley and saw this headshaking hallucination.

On approach it seemed that the inventor was napping in the sun, sitting straight up in his new contraption. If one of the 55 MPH wind bursts that we have been experiencing for the last few days had come along just then, it would have been a very exciting surprise launch. We asked and he sheepishly admitted he had been dozing, and then goodnaturedly recreated the situation for the camera.

We love the detailing that looks like a big old paint chip sample in colors of Sky, Little Boy Baby Bootie, Robin's Egg, Swimming Pool Bottom, Larkspur, Forget-Me-Not, Robert Redford's Eyes, Horizon, Windex, and Anemic Smurf. (We have always wanted to be in charge of naming paint colors. It is actually harder than it seems. Can you tell we had suggestions for this lovely blue spectrum from someone who offered their help, but who is clearly not qualified or able to take the responsibility seriously?)

When the lake freezes over, not so very long from now, and wheels have been replaced with runners, we hope we get an invite to the inagaural ice run. If we do, you will hear about it. Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bad Hair Days

We have been having quite the weather event.The winds of the last 48 hours would not be remarkable if we lived on the plains or by the sea, but we do not. One easily excitable local meteorologist pronounced that if this were a hurricane its magnitude would be really impressive.

This scene of gale-force wind-strewn furniture on the front porch as well as the site in the mirror when we came inside from taking the photo reminded us of the beauty salon. We always show up there in a most disheveled state. Every five weeks the patient cosmetologist, trims and shapes and fluffs our do, knowing full well that the results of his efforts will, within 24 hours, no longer be apparent. Poor thing. We promise him we will never tell anyone who cuts our hair as it really isn't representative of his usually outstanding work. He does his best with what he has to work with. Sow's ear, silk purse, all that, you know...

Anyway, one day, arriving at the Last Chance Salon exasperated at being in even more disarray than usual from the sturdy breeze outdoors, he commented that we reminded him of an octogenarian client who, when in serious need of beautifying services would exclaim, "I look like the wreck of the Hespress." He didn't really understand the reference, but with her dramatic delivery found it amusing even so. Well, inquiring minds want to know about this kind of thing. A very little bit of research found that the expression originated with a narrative poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called - Wreck of the Hesperus.

From Wikipedia -

"The Wreck of the Hesperus" is a story that presents the tragic consequences of a sea captain's pride. On an ill-fated voyage in the winter, he had his daughter aboard ship for company. The disaster came when the captain ignored the advice of one of his experienced men, who feared that a hurricane was approaching. When the hurricane arrives, he ties his daughter to the mast to prevent her from being swept overboard; she calls out to her dying father as she hears the surf beating on the shore, then prays to Christ to calm the seas. The ship crashes onto the reef of Norman's Woe and sinks; a horrified fisherman finds the daughter's body, still tied to the mast, drifting in the surf the next morning. The poem ends with a prayer that we all be spared such a fate "on the reef of Norman's Woe".

The title phrase has also been used as a colloquial term in the UK to mean a "disheveled appearance," spoken as "You look like the wreck of the Hespress!" it can also refer to a very untidy room. Its everyday use was greater in the 1950s to 1970s, however its use remains popular in more cultured circles. Former Beatle George Harrison referenced this colloquial usage in writing his song "Wreck of the Hesperus," included on his 1987 album Cloud Nine.

Now you know. And if you'd like to commit the verse to memory for recitation at your next dinner party we say go for it. We'll listen.


It was the schooner Hesperus,
That sailed the wintery sea;
And the skipper had taken his little daughter,
To bear him company.

Blue were her eyes as the fairy flax,
Her cheeks like the dawn of day,
And her bosom white as the hawthorn buds,
That ope in the month of May.

The Skipper he stood beside the helm,
His pipe was in his mouth,
And he watched how the veering flaw did blow
The smoke now West, now South.

Then up and spake an old Sailor,
Had sailed the Spanish Main,
"I pray thee, put into yonder port,
for I fear a hurricane.

"Last night the moon had a golden ring,
And to-night no moon we see!"
The skipper, he blew whiff from his pipe,
And a scornful laugh laughed he.

Colder and louder blew the wind,
A gale from the Northeast,
The snow fell hissing in the brine,
And the billows frothed like yeast.

Down came the storm, and smote amain
The vessel in its strength;
She shuddered and paused, like a frighted steed,
Then leaped her cable's length.

"Come hither! come hither! my little daughter,
And do not tremble so;
For I can weather the roughest gale
That ever wind did blow."

He wrapped her warm in his seaman's coat
Against the stinging blast;
He cut a rope from a broken spar,
And bound her to the mast.

"O father! I hear the church bells ring,
Oh, say, what may it be?"
"Tis a fog-bell on a rock bound coast!" --
And he steered for the open sea.

"O father! I hear the sound of guns;
Oh, say, what may it be?"
Some ship in distress, that cannot live
In such an angry sea!"

"O father! I see a gleaming light.
Oh say, what may it be?"
But the father answered never a word,
A frozen corpse was he.

Lashed to the helm, all stiff and stark,
With his face turned to the skies,
The lantern gleamed through the gleaming snow
On his fixed and glassy eyes.

Then the maiden clasped her hands and prayed
That saved she might be;
And she thought of Christ, who stilled the wave,
On the Lake of Galilee.

And fast through the midnight dark and drear,
Through the whistling sleet and snow,
Like a sheeted ghost, the vessel swept
Tow'rds the reef of Norman's Woe.

And ever the fitful gusts between
A sound came from the land;
It was the sound of the trampling surf,
On the rocks and hard sea-sand.

The breakers were right beneath her bows,
She drifted a dreary wreck,
And a whooping billow swept the crew
Like icicles from her deck.

She struck where the white and fleecy waves
Looked soft as carded wool,
But the cruel rocks, they gored her side
Like the horns of an angry bull.

Her rattling shrouds, all sheathed in ice,
With the masts went by the board;
Like a vessel of glass, she stove and sank,
Ho! ho! the breakers roared!

At daybreak, on the bleak sea-beach,
A fisherman stood aghast,
To see the form of a maiden fair,
Lashed close to a drifting mast.

The salt sea was frozen on her breast,
The salt tears in her eyes;
And he saw her hair, like the brown sea-weed,
On the billows fall and rise.

Such was the wreck of the Hesperus,
In the midnight and the snow!
Christ save us all from a death like this,
On the reef of Norman's Woe!

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Trick or Treat

Get ready for the big event with this downloadable Trick or Treat graphic from The Graphics Fairy.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Seedy Business

Here's an image that would be a good start for a fetching seasonal project. Place cards for Thanksgiving? Gift tags for a loaf of pumpkin bread or a bag of roasted seeds? Holiday card?

Courtesy of The Graphics Fairy.

And here is a healthy alternative to eating candy stolen from kids' trick or treat bags (or something to munch on until they go to bed). The little tricksters could probably use some fiber to go along with the sugar too.


Pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1/2-1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder

Wash seeds thoroughly to remove as much slime as possible. Leaving some is fine. Spread seeds on paper towel to dry for a day or at least over night. Mix together all other ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, pour mix over seeds and stir until well covered. Lay seeds out in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake at 250 degrees for 2 hours.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Great Pumpkin

We have a new world record pumpkin grown just down the road from us in New Richmond, Wisconsin by Chris Stevens who bested the Guinness World Record pumpkin of 1,725 pounds by growing a giant gourd weighing 1,810.5 pounds.


After the successful weigh-in in Stillwater, Minnesota Chris Stevens drove the great pumpkin to NYC in a pickup truck to appear on the Live with Regis and Kelly show. Currently the pumpkin is on display at the New York Botanical Garden where, on the day before Halloween it will be turned into a humongous Jack-o-lantern by master pumpkin carver Scott Cully of Eugene, Oregon and will remain on display there until November 1st. Finally, its seeds will be saved and returned to Chris Stevens who plans to keep some and donate the rest to the St. Croix Growers Association to sell.

The Great Pumpkin Commonwealth arranged for the behemoth cucurbit's whirlwind NYC publicity tour. Just in case you had the same thought as we, we checked and it appears Linus van Pelt is not president of the GPC.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Riddle Me This

What do gnomes say when they first meet?

"Small world, isn't it?"

Which month do gnomes talk the least?

February. It's the shortest month.

Why did the gnome's dog jump into the river?

He wanted to chase catfish.

What happened when granny gnome bought some steel wool?

She knit a very scratchy sweater.

Why is it so hard to borrow money from gnomes?

Because they're always short.

Riddles compliments of a faithful reader whose inner kindergartner is one of her best attributes.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

So Much Cheese, So Little Time

We went for a wedding, we got so much more. The gap in time between ceremony and reception gave us time to visit another amazing local landmark - Dairy State Cheese, where we shopped, saw curds being made, and looked at the hundreds of beautiful antique cheese keepers in their collection. It was a sunny fall day and the place was full of happy cheese and icecream seekers, many of them arriving on Harleys.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Rocks of Ages

We recently attended a wedding at the church adjacent to St. Philip Parish Grotto Shrine, in Rudolph, Wisconsin. Well, we had never ever been to a grotto before. We were intrigued. What would we find there?

Pretty much what you would expect. A place for quiet contemplation that has been a work in progress since 1927 built from lava rock and concrete, Italian marble sculpture, shells, marbles, and glass from the Kokomo Opalescent Glass Co. in Indiana, that has over 40 features including a wonder cave, picnic grounds, and gift shop.

Some Grotto Garden and Wonder Cave facts:

The Wonder Cave is a 1/5 mile catacomb-like passageway through the grotto depicting 26 shrines of the life and teachings of Jesus.

Each year approximately 30 pickup loads of annual flowers are planted in the grotto gardens.

Much of the rock used to build the grotto is a rare lavarock found within a 15-20 mile radius of Rudolph.

And if you are considering a road trip...Meals are provided on a reservation basis for groups of 30 or more by the women of the parish.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Never Give Up, Never Surrender

About mid-July, in an effort to make room for the Krazee Daze sale, the hardware store encouraged anyone making a purchase to cart away as many bedraggled greenhouse plants as they could for free. We brought home an assorted flat of annuals that were extra crispy from baking on an asphalt parking lot for two months. It just seemed like the right thing to do. Perhaps we were imagining it, but it seemed that these Americana Salmon geraniums cried with joy to have their little bound roots set free into new potting soil and to be given all the water they could drink, a bit of shade, and some green grass all around.

No way are we going to ditch these thriving survivors now for hothouse fall mums. As far as we're concerned salmon is the new orange for Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

She's a Daydream Believer and Maybe Next Naptime a Homecoming Queen

Adele Enerson's project of photographing Mila's Daydreams continues. Lately Mila has been having sweet dreams of smurfs and fishing.

Perhaps one day this little daydreamer will dream of having Davy Jones or Peter Tork as boyfriends as those of us of a certain age used to or better yet, be a singer in a rock and roll band of her own.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We Can Quit if We Want To

It has been said that we have no sales resistance. Au contraire!

Look at all the tempting treasures that we passed up at a recent estate sale.

Well, Papa Smurf did somehow end up in our possession and we have to say it sure felt good to get a start on the Christmas shopping.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Everybody's a Winner

And the Pink Prize goes to......Georgiann. Congratulations! Your family and friends and NDL thank you all for doing the right thing.

To show our appreciation for entering and more importantly, having that mammogram, here is a link to a little free downloadable treat for everyone at Eat Drink, Chic. These sweet note papers, patterned after vintage hankies, were designed by Amy Moss for wedding guests to write love notes to the bride and groom. That is a great idea, but even if you're not planning a wedding anytime soon these could be used in any other number of fun ways. As a gift enclosure with a vintage apron and accessories for example. Or for a note to a loved one to say, "Thank you for having a mammogram - If I could have my boobs squished for you I would."

Take care.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pink Ink

Last week the Sunday comics went pink for breast cancer awareness. If you didn't pickup a paper that day you can still see the featured funnies at where you will also have an opportunity to make a donation or bid on an original comic collage creation.

Grab your coffee and take a look. It's an impressive creative effort for a really good cause.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hello Dahlia

Here are the elegant Elsie Huston and awesome April Dawn putting on a brilliant, pink end of season show.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pink Prize

So, those pink appliances reminded us that we have been hoarding a stash of pretty pink items just waiting for a good reason to part with them. So, to get in the spirit of Breast Cancer Awareness month let's have a pink prize giveaway.

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment and assure us that you have had a mammogram within the recommended timeframe for your age group...or that you have one scheduled. Honor system here. We will put all the commenters' names in a hat and pick a lucky winner.

We confess that we just recently went for our long overdue mammogram and we are familiar with the many excuses for not doing it. It is especially easy to be lulled into a false sense of security when there is no family history of breast cancer, but everybody has a story to tell of someone they know who mistakenly thought they were immune for the same reason, or who just thought it never could happen to them, but found out that it can.

So, let's review. Make the appointment or pat your self on the back for already getting it done. Leave us a comment with your report on that by Midnight CST Sunday, October 17. Check back next Monday to find out who the lucky NDL pink prize winner is.

If you are a reader who has never commented before please do. We'd love to hear from you.

If you think you don't need a pink kitchen ensemble, think: bridal shower, or think: help out a horder by taking something off the heap. If you think you don't need a mammogram, think again.

Pretty please?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pretty in Pink

We make no excuses or explanations for why these came home with us from a recent estate sale. NDL readers are a clever bunch. We don't have to spell everything out for them, especially the very obvious.

You can bring Barbie and Midge over to play anytime.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fungus Among Us

Out in the back yard, behind the toolshed we have spawn innoculated logs that sporadically produce shiitake mushrooms. The logs came home with us about four years ago after we participated in one of the best community education classes ever. We have been enjoying the fruit of the logs ever since. Field and Forest Products, in Peshtigo, Wisconsin is a great source of information and supplies for mushroom growing. We are very intrigued by their TeePee Kits for growing Oyster mushrooms on (clean) rolls of toilet paper. (You've been warned.)

It is still exciting to discover a baby shiitake, watch it mature over a few days, then bring it right in and turn it into lunch.

Backyard, barefoot, glass of wine in one hand, mushroom picking with the other. That's our idea of hunting and gathering.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Amazing Adventures of Dot

While wasting time on the www. we came across this amazing little bit of wonderful from Aardman, creator of Wallace and Gromit. Enjoy.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving, Eh?

The second Monday in October in the states is Columbus Day, but North of the border it is Thanksgiving Day. Canadians and Americans both celebrate thanks for the harvest and bounty of many kinds. The American holiday is perhaps more tied to what is said to be the first Thanksgiving when pilgrims and Native Americans shared a meal together, but Canadian Thanksgiving history also began with early settlers gathering together to celebrate the harvest.

Other than the date, the biggest difference between the holiday traditions of the two countries is this: Brussels sprouts.

We hadn't ever been with the Canadian relatives for a Thanksgiving until just a few years ago when my sister happened to be here for American Thanksgiving. While shopping for the meal she was sure we'd forgotten the Brussels sprouts. Well, none of us had even considered buying them. Shocked she was. Apparently Brussels sprouts are as integral to the traditions of the day as any other of the must-have holiday dishes. Canadians would no sooner leave out Brussels sprouts than the turkey itself.

We have evidence that the preference for sprouts goes beyond a minority of diners and that it is not limited to certain individuals, clans, or provinces and that it is indeed a "Canadian thing". Canadian Living, the premiere magazine of "inspiring ideas for everyday living" has dozens of recipes for Brussels sprouts on their website and 15 in just this one article specific to holiday sprouts recipes.

We grew Brussels sprouts this year, but because there is only one enthusiastic brassica eater in this household we chose to turn our small crop into pickled sprouts that may be enjoyed a few at a time for a long time.

Delicious! Maybe, if there are any left, we'll set out a few at Thanksgiving as a nod to our good neighbors to the North.

Happy Thanksgiving!