The Suitcase Lady


July 20, 2021, 10:27 am

All the seasons have their beauty, but summer is in a class by itself. Long-awaited, greatly missed and dreamed about, summer never disappoints when it finally comes. Although its arrival marks the beginning of the sun’s slow withdrawal from our hemisphere, most of us are too busy enjoying summer’s pleasures to notice the retreat.

Last week in two separate instances, people said to me, “I can’t believe that summer is half over.” I can’t either; it seems as if the party has just begun.

But now that we have arrived at the midpoint of these glorious days, it’s a good time to take stock of our summer pleasures and vow to indulge fully in the time that remains. Summer is as ephemeral as the butterflies that are fluttering all over our meadow at this moment.

Here are some of our favorite summer things:

Listening to the sounds of purple martins.

It’s high time to smell the flowers!





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July 13, 2021, 9:30 pm

Thieves steal the weirdest things. Take, for example, a recent big heist I read about. The loot was an entire semitrailer stuffed to the brim with pistachio nuts.

This robbery might seem nutty, but the value of a semi of pistachios is $200,000. That’s not peanuts.

The semi of nuts went AWOL from a company in Tulare County, California. Initially, the executives thought the shipment was simply delayed or misplaced. But when an audit was done and $170,760 was missing, it was time to call in the Tulare County Agricultural Crimes Unit. Apparently, so much produce goes missing that the sheriff had to create this unique department to round up missing fruits, veggies and nuts. Because of their long shelf life, nuts are an especially delectable target.

In this case, the deputies got the hijacker, a trucker working for a contract hauling business. He parked the stolen rig in a lot not far from the nut company and was repacking the huge sacks which contained 2,000 nuts per bag  into smaller packages for resale. If you are a pistachio lover, you know the profit from that would be huge. 40,000 pounds of nuts were recovered. 2,000 pounds are unaccounted for and presumably eaten.

After reading about nut rustling out West, I found this happy tidbit on the Internet…pistachios are called the “smiling nut” in Iran. The answer is obvious, but I had never noticed it before: each half-split nut resembles a tiny smile. I think we all could use a dish full of smiles in America these days.

Photo: Farmers Almanac

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July 6, 2021, 8:43 pm

Lawns are the diabolical invention of the English around the 16th and 17th centuries. The aristocracy needed to show off their superior status. What better way than to create a monoculture crop and then forbid it to do what nature dictates…grow? Keeping your estate shorn, emerald perfection would flaunt the fact that you had a carload of servants.

A good analogy to the folly of the lawn is these same people’s devotion to gleaming silver. Tarnishing is what silver naturally does. Therefore, status is achieved by having someone from the downstairs’ staff spend their lifetime polishing your hoard of silver tableware.

Switch to our current times. Nothing much has changed. We live in the country, and status is still obtained by mowing acres of lawn to golf course standards.

The servants have been replaced by $3000 plus riding mowers. But here’s the hitch. The lords and ladies of these modern day manors usually drive the mowers themselves. That is hours and hours of going round and round in circles every week.

We gave away our lawnmower when we moved from our city house to our country home. About 95% of our land is natural habitat, a small little bluestem prairie and a meadow. All the plants in the prairie are native species that attract butterflies and birds.

Unfortunately, we did have to buy a small non-riding mower for the area of our yard next to the road. Trying to be reasonable people, we do understand that a small swath of vegetation should be cut alongside the road so drivers can spot deer, turkeys and other wildlife before they dart into the roadway. But our highway department has gone way overboard, scalping and ripping out much more than is needed for safety. The only way we can be spared a massacre is to carefully mow the buffer zone ourselves, and this is what we do.

An example of the silliness of whacked-off grass was on display in our yard this Spring. We had an extremely dry spring. Our natural yard stayed green, growing, flowering and buzzing with animal activity. The mown part turned brown and barren after a few weeks without rain. Status can be most ugly.

A member of our younger generation helps us with the diabolical roadway.

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June 29, 2021, 9:25 pm

As we approach the 245th celebration of our independence from the tyrannical British, I write my one and only political blog of the year. Every other week, I adhere to the original reason I started writing, namely, as an antidote to all the bad news that is part of daily life. Here are my reflections for July 4th, 2021.

Joe Biden is in the White House working harder than any other 78 year old in the world. He is appealing to our “better angels” and is making a monumental effort to save our precious democracy which is under attack from within. America is at a serious juncture: democracy is a fragile thing and there are no guarantees that ours will hold.

Despite the perilous nature of this time in America’s life, I intend to enjoy the next three and a half years. With the election putting Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at the helm, we have adults in charge. It’s time to light the sparklers, watch the fireworks and stay hopeful.

To celebrate, I have conjured up a few sound bites which are apropos of the times. I’m hoping our better angels would agree with these sentiments.

  • What would Abraham Lincoln do?
  • Voting: A right, not a privilege.
  • Kindness is not weakness.
  • Pro choice means I can choose my own religion. (Reference: The Bill of Rights, Amendment One)
  • The flag belongs to everybody.
  • Bring back the Common Good.
  • Freedom only works when we all are.
  • Democracy: Not perfect,  but nothing’s better.

My Aunt Jane was an Army nurse in WWII behind enemy lines building field hospitals and caring for the wounded. This flag was presented to our family after her funeral service.

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June 22, 2021, 11:36 pm

Name about any food and you will probably have been told that it is bad for you. The pleasure police and health food folks have been busy. Meat, milk, bread, eggs, cheese, fruit juice and anything that contains sugar are all on the hit list. And even the few items that aren’t on the “bad for you” list are scary. Romaine lettuce harbor E. coli, and fish is laced with mercury. Eating anything these days appears to be detrimental to one’s health.

So it was with great pleasure that I saw this post on Manitowoc Minute the other day. “Whoever is making those cheese commercials can save their money. We’re buying cheese, and we’re never going to stop buying cheese.”

Being a true daughter of Wisconsin, I’m all in with that statement. One of our local dairies has a small retail cheese store. It’s located on a bucolic country road and features over 100 varieties of Wisconsin cheese. The dairy also churns out tons of butter which is sold for the amazing price of $2.39 a pound. After the hard work of selecting a sackful of cheese, there’s another treat in store. A full-size ice cream cone costs 25 cents. The dairy even provides a small picnic area across the road where customers can consume their cone and cheese curds in leisure. The pleasure of the senses beats out food fear every time.

It’s time to cast food in a more favorable light. In that spirit, here are some of my favorite cheese quotes.

  • “You can’t make everyone happy. You are not cheese.”
  • “Wine and cheese are ageless companions, like aspirin and aches, or June and moon, or good people and noble ventures.” M.F. K. Fischer
  • “The secret ingredient is always cheese.”
  • “When cheese gets its picture taken, what does it say”? George Carlin

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