Wednesday, December 30, 2009


After a concerned voice mail and the following text message from my sister:

So do you need a personal injury attorney, domestic violence report form, ballet coach or therapist? Pix  piqued my curiosity. Hope you're on oxycontin or similar substance. Love V

I will explain that last photo:
I had a mole removed from the back of my arm the Monday before Christmas. Perhaps not one of my better decisions.Tuesday Sam put on a new bandage. Wednesday afternoon I removed the bandage to find the area looking like this.

And wondered if had time to clean my closets, make a video diary for my children and write a will in the hour before my certain death. 

I decided to call the doctor's office and talk to his nurse. She put the doctor on the phone who thought it was probably caused by having the bandage on too tight but without seeing it, he couldn't say for sure.

"Could I have my husband take a picture of it and email it to you?" (According to my sister, this is a common practice in third world countries)

"That will work, here's my email address," he replied.

Sam was in the garage and I told him the plan. He retrieved the camera from his pickup and we took the photo right there in the garage.

"It's blurry," I said, "Try again"

"That's because the camera is cold from being in my pickup all day and the lens is fogging up."

I've moved on to picking out the hymns and wondering what to have for my funeral lunch.

We managed to get a decent photo and I sent it off immediately.

Maybe I have time to clean the frig. Cremation or burial? Memorials or flowers?

The phone rang and it was the doctor, "It doesn't look like it's infected. I think it's just accumulated blood from where the tape was too tight."

I'm going to live. So, I'm going to have to make dinner after all.

The doctor commented on the good picture, "I was able to get a really good look."

I told him I'd pass the compliment on to my husband--the over-zealous first-aid rookie.

He also said, "This was a new experience for me--I don't usually diagnose by email."

I modestly explained that I'm a fairly resourceful person. It comes in handy in life and death matters.

And Minnesota in a blizzard could be considered a third world country.

Monday, December 28, 2009

It's been awhile

since my last post. Please bear with me. What a memorable Christmas this has been.

Deep Snow


Don't Ask

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Catching up

It's Christmas Eve Day and Sam and I are comfy and warm at home. After the past frenzied days of shopping, computer glitches, errands, work, computer glitches and what felt like a food hoarding compulsion, it feels so good to be here. Gifts are not wrapped but we will tackle that sometime during the day.

Zac, Amber and Olivia were here for dinner last night. It was snowy so Zac dropped Amber and Olivia off and then went to get the snowmobiles. He brought Sam's machine here and it was fun to see the funky purple running lights pull up in front of the house. Amber even took it for a quick drive before they went home. Dinner was a rather gummy hamburger rice casserole, salad and sugar snap peas.

I've been on a bit of an emotional roller coaster--feeling frustrated, disappointed, angry, discouraged, uncertain and anxious.

For today, I choose to be content and blessed. 

And here are a couple reasons to feel that way--Olivia opened her two of her gifts from my brother and sister-in-law and Addie tried to get a picture for their Christmas card.

If the medical career doesn't work out

She will have her impeccable fashion sense to fall back on

While August and his mommy seek out a therapist

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mustard Dip for Saurkraut Balls (or Pretzels)


1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup prepared yellow or Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

1 tablespoon ranch salad dressing mix

2-1/4 teaspoons prepared horseradish



In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, onion, salad dressing mix and horseradish. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Serve with pretzels. Yield: about 1/2 cup.

Status report and Saurkraut Balls

  • Shopping--not done
  • Baking--not done
  • Decorating--DONE and looks great if I say so myself
  • Cleaning house--on a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give it a 2. The bathroom rugs are actually in the dryer but the contents of my silverware and utensil drawers are on my counter. Don't ask.
  • Laundry--you can see the floor of the laundry room. And that my friends is truly a Good Thing
  • General Health and Wellbeing--Remarkably upbeat and happy, even after having my second cold in less than two months on my birthday,but could change in a heartbeat if Sam tears anything else apart--so far we're in the putting back together mode.
  • Technical Issues--New wireless internet connection at home for my birthday from Mom (thanks Mom!) kicks me off every 60 seconds so have to keep re-connecting. Previous bulleted point sorely tested over this situation but should be resolved tomorrow. Probably deserves its own post as we've been working on getting DSL for over a month now. There was even trenching involved. And a totally new phone line. And the realization that for the past three weeks we haven't been receiving  any local phone calls: "software issue" they called it. Umm, this subject is making me cranky, lets get back to the reason for this post.

So, because my friend Barb needs this recipe, I'm going to publish another favorite from the family cookbook, Louise's Saurkraut Balls. Denise, Lukas and I made a quadruple batch of these after Thanksgiving when there was still grease in the turkey fryer (well...technically the grease is still in there..after the 10 inches of snow...wait..focus...recipe) Anyway, I now have a stash of these in the freezer ready for a yummy hot appetizer. They are messy and tedious to make but sooo worth it. We deep fried ours but they can also be baked in the oven.  We like them with a mustard dip--I'll be back to post that in a few minutes.

Sam took a picture as I was packing them up for the freezer--if I had the time I should crop out the counter clutter and the burnt balls to the far right. But as my friend Pioneer Woman says, "just keepin' it real"

Louise is Sam's mom. She still uses a typewriter.Grease spots and all, here you go.

Christmas Interrupted

While looking for last years Christmas letter in my computer, I came across this article I wrote for Womeninc magazine two years ago. Thought I'd post it here--and find out if anyone else has had similar experiences

Early last Christmas morning I awoke with an uneasy feeling in my stomach. It didn’t take long to realize that my queasiness was more than just a manifestation of holiday anxiety. Exiting the bathroom, I nearly ran into Sam who was waiting for me to come out. No words were exchanged but I had a hunch that I was not alone in my misery. I walked into the kitchen when I heard our son Lukas come out of the downstairs bathroom and from the bottom of the stairs utter the words no mother wants to hear on Christmas morning, “Mom, do you have any Kaopectate?”

My nauseous mind quickly shifted into survival mode. Three people ill, two bathrooms, two more still asleep, oblivious to the dire circumstances that awaited them. I didn’t like the odds. I went to the closet and slipped a coat over my pajamas. Sam was back in bed. “I’m going to my office,” I mumbled to the huddled form under the covers. A groan and a long sigh confirmed that he had heard me.

I managed the short drive to Huntley and passed the next hours between a blur of fitful sleep on a lumpy couch and trips to the bathroom. But at least there was no waiting in line—an option that was unthinkable.

Sometime in the afternoon, Sam called and announced that the coast was clear and whenever I was able, I could come home. Lukas had sufficiently recovered to go back home. Realizing that they were in the middle of an epidemic, Addie and Tedd had loaded up and hit the road also. Amber, Zac and little Olivia had arrived mid-morning expecting a leisurely brunch but didn’t even have their coats off before being shooed away lest they become contaminated.

Arriving back home, I sat on the couch sipping ginger ale and gazed at the pile of unopened gifts under the tree. All of the shopping, planning, and anticipation leading up to this single day seemed to be acts of futility. I consoled myself at the thought that we at least been able to attend Christmas Eve candlelight services. Thoughts of the prime rib dinner I had prepared were less than pleasant.

My disappointment was temporary. Within a few days, we were all fine and had a perfectly wonderful Christmas “do-over.” We gathered and delighted in each other’s company—especially Olivia, who had by this time become an experienced gift-opener.

This experience was yet another lesson in the danger of assuming that I had everything under control. It reminded me of another Christmas when I was faced with another type of challenge:

It was somewhere in the early to mid 1980s. We awoke on Christmas Eve morning to heavily overcast skies, frigid temperatures and radio announcements of deteriorating weather conditions throughout the day. By mid morning silver dollar sized snowflakes began falling.

The kids went outside to play in the snow and I used the few moments of solitude to take an inventory of the gifts. Thinking back, I realize how much easier shopping was when the kids were small. It was Barbies for Addie and GI Joes and Legos for Lukas and Zac. The challenge was to hide the gifts in our small home. I thought I had done well until a few years ago when my grown children collectively confessed to a lifelong history of snooping and gift tampering.

Around noon, Sam returned home from work. He was immediately sequestered in our locked bedroom with a dozen rolls of wrapping paper, my sharpest dull scissors, and a large pile of gifts. One problem: there was only a partial roll of scotch tape so it was up to him to stretch it as far as possible. When that was gone, all we had was duct tape—which was just fine with him.

The wind came up and the snowfall intensity increased steadily over the next few hours. I baked a batch of cut out cookies and the kids frosted and decorated them. Their happy chatter centered around their great fortune that all of the snow would make it so much easier for Santa. Sam and I exchanged worried looks—concerned more about the possibility of a power outage in our totally electric home.

Christmas carols playing on the radio were interrupted frequently by a growing list of cancellation announcements. When I heard that our Christmas Eve service had been cancelled, I felt a mixture of relief and sadness. Every memory I have of Christmas centers around attending a very traditional candlelight service. However, as a church musician there is also an element of added stress and responsibility associated with the holiday. With that burden lifted, I sensed an opportunity to create a completely new experience for our family.

Living so close to both sets of parents, we were accustomed to spending Christmas Eve with my parents and Christmas Day with Sam’s family. Great food and a large assortment of goodies were laid out for us. All we had to do was show up. I looked around my house and all I saw were faces looking expectantly at me.

A trip to the grocery store was obviously out of the question. Fortunately, I had a meat in the freezer and a large quantity of home grown vegetables so I prepared one of our favorite meals of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and corn. I set the table with the good dishes and served our plain meal by candlelight. We had chocolate pudding and cookies for dessert.

After dinner, we gathered in the living room and I read Luke’s account of the birth of our Savior. We sang Away in A Manger and Sam said a simple prayer. I would have prolonged this quiet sacred time but my desire was over-ruled by, “Can we open our presents now?”

Perhaps no one in my family remembers this particular Christmas in the same way that I do. But for a few hours that sweet silent night, cut off from the outside world and nestled in our warm house in the woods, Christmas came quietly and profoundly in my heart. As the snow fell and the wind raged, I felt perfectly at peace.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Liz's Slow Cooker Punch


Liz is my sister-in-law, married to my brother Mark. She served this punch to us on a stormy Thanksgiving Day when they were living in Redwood Falls. Although we quickly ate our dinner and headed back home,  a Minnesota blizzard and this punch  made for a most memorable holiday.Since the statute of limitations has run out for any possible child endangerment charges, I think it's safe to tell this story.

Several years ago I decided to serve Liz's slow cooker punch on Christmas Eve. Addie came into the kitchen as I was adding the wine to the punch and said, "There's wine in that punch?!! Did you know that Lukas, Zac and I drank it at Aunt Liz's house when we were kids? You let us drink alcohol?"

Before I could say anything she continued, "No wonder it tasted so good."

Since Addie went on to graduate with honors and obtain a law degree, I think it's safe to say no brain cells were harmed in this unfortunate incident. In my defense, I do believe that the alcohol content has to be minimal after 4 to 8 hours in slow cooker.

A Little Gary Larson to Get Things Started

In 1987 when I put a family cookbook together, Gary Larson's Far Side cartoons appeared in the daily paper. When our family would get together, inevitably at some point we would end up taking turns describing our favorites. Even the kids loved them--I can still hear Lukas taking his turn telling about the deer with a target on its chest standing with a group of other deer and the caption "Bummer Birthmark, Hal."

So it only seemed natural to include them in the cookbook. I used this one for the "Main Dish" section:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Musings and Meatballs

Something just feels different about Christmas this year. Last Saturday I attended a ladies Christmas brunch at our church. During the devotion, we were asked how our perspective has changed over the past year. I realized that there have been some defining moments and encounters that have truly changed my perspective. Bear with me as I'm struggling to put this all into words..
As many of you know, I write about women on a regular basis. Many of them have experienced great sorrow, loss and pain. But they all have one thing in common--they are forever changed in the way they look at life and have managed to find purpose and meaning in their loss. I see it in their eyes, hear it in their voices and feel it in the simplest gestures.

My life has changed. Mom has lived with us for a year now. I am a caregiver. Sometimes I'm really good at it and sometimes I suck.

I haven't done any shopping yet and my house isn't decorated.
It doesn't really feel like that big of a deal.
Because the other night, Mom and I made meatballs.
And it made Mom happy.
And that made me happy.

We used Marie Neslund's recipe. She was sister Verla's mother-in-law who passed away more than 20 years ago. She was beautiful, fun and a great cook. The recipe is from a family cookbook I put together in 1987. I left the recipes in their original form which makes them even more precious now. I think I'll share a few more favorites with you over the next couple days.

Here's the recipe--

Here are the meatballs (obviously I'm not a food stylist) along with a the oyster stew we enjoyed during last weeks snowstorm. I'm not sure if Marie would approve, but I de-glazed the  pan with that Paul Newman cabernet in the photo which made a yummy sauce for part of the meatballs.I  froze the rest.

They could also be baked in the oven--and I didn't have any dried ginger so I substituted about a half tsp of freshly grated ginger.

Mom is at her house with my brother for the next few weeks--I should say I miss her, but so far today I've already talked to her three four times. She just called to find out if I just called her.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tis 12 days before Christmas

... and here is our house. 
 Not a creature is stirring--except for a mouse

Sam noticed the tracks through the new-fallen snow
And quickly decided that old wall had to go

I busied myself and stayed out of sight.
Lest I say the wrong thing and start a big fight.

There was hammering and pounding mixed in with some sawing
He really didn't need my hemming and hawing

"I'm going to need you to help in a little while"
We took out the old window and I told him to smile


Visions of sugar plums (cranberries?)
Kept me occupied


Visions of  mouse holes
Kept Sam working outside

For me, I'm still cleaning and decking the hall
While Sam keeps on plugging away at his wall.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Happiness is

If there's one lesson I've learned over the past years, it is to NEVER, EVER take no for an answer when dealing with a "customer service representative." In fact, I can tell within 5 seconds of the conversation whether I'm dealing with someone who is truly interested in helping me or is sitting in their cubicle eating Cheetos and reading Craig's list rants and raves.

In my quest to replace my broken broadband connection, I first called our local Verizon dealer and told him my story. He was busy but promised to look up the options and get right back to me. In the meantime, I retrieved my Verizon "You Qualify for a Free Upgrade" propaganda from the garbage and dialed *611 from my cell:

"Ma'am (BTW I absolutely detest being called Ma'am) I'm sorry. You are not eligible for a free upgrade at this time. Is there anything else I can help you with?"

OK. Called dealer again--that's when I found out that a new modem card cost $199.00.

Time to take this to the next level.

Commonly referred to as begging.

Dialed *611 again. Clicked through automated menu. Clearly ennuciated the reason for my call and eventually talked to a real person. IHer name was Bridget. I like the name Bridget. I felt a surge of hope and launched into a detailed explanation of my plight--and even told her that I had called earlier and been turned down. I also might have even stooped so low as to tell her my 92-year old mother who lives with me had tripped over the cord and knocked my laptop to the floor causing said damage. (Which is, as God is my witness, exactly what happened--but whether or not I should have been so insensitive as to have used the incident to further my case is at best debatable, at worst, reprehensible.)

"Ms Patten, when I hover my cursor over your broadband account, it indicates that you are eligible for an early upgrade prior to your June 30 renewal."

I've heard a lot of responses when people are looking at their  computers while talking to you--and it cracks me up when they provide a running whispered commentary of just what's happening or not happening on their monitors.

But I've never heard anyone talk about hovering their cursor.

I asked Bridget if there was some way I could call her back--and she let me down gently saying, "Ms Patten I will make a note of our conversation on your account and any representative will assist you if your dealer is not able to help you."

Bye Bridget. You will forever remain in my heart.

Another call to the dealer.

And another call to Sam who is on his way there.

And another call from Sam to me--with the voice of a guy in the background saying "Tell her everything worked out just the way she wanted it."

So here I am. The weather outside is frightful, but my computer and I are delightful. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow..

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Big Storm Coming

With all that I have to do--year end info not yet to CPA for December 15 deadline, no Christmas decorating done, not one gift purchased etc etc, what did I just spend the past two hours doing?

Talking to Verizon (formerly fondly referred to by me as All-Hell) trying to get my broken mobile internet USB connection device replaced.

Without paying $199.00.

The third call yielded a glimmer of home--but if local dealer can't access the free upgrade deal, I may be forced to wait.

While they mail it to me

It may take a couple days.

Which could mean being snowed in for the next two days with no internet.

(pauses to wipe tears from keyboard and blow nose loudly)

...which means I might actually accomplish something at home

or end up in a thumb-sucking-hair-twisting fetal position.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Coming Clean

I have a problem--and it's in this bag

I've been straight for almost a year now. Except for a brief relapse in mid-September. All it took was one wrong turn in Walmart today and there they were.
Voices in my head screamed:
"Turn around right now"
"You're here for dog food and toilet paper"
Only to be answered by:
"Just one more package, it's no big deal"
"I'm gonna make you feel soooo good lady"
I wish I could tell you that I didn't succumb--that I am strong and determined to overcome my obsessive need for more and more of them. But I'm not. I'm weak. Very, very weak.

When it comes to these little beauties

I love washcloths.We use them for napkins. There's a redwing crock full of them in my bathroom. There are piles of them in the linen cupboard. It was the colors that got to me today--captivating earthy jewel tones.

I'm powerless to resist them

They're simple, functional, pretty and practical.
I even like to fold them
They're perfectly square

Welcome--you'll like it here. You're home

And among friends.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I've been so consumed with editing and work that I haven't had time to blog. Here are a couple pictures of our Thanksgiving

Lukas is frying a turkey and working on a fire in the fire pit

Here we all are around the table (except for Sam who is taking the photo)

After transferring the most recent photos to the computer, I handed the memory card from the camera back to Sam on Sunday and he asked, "Did you notice anything unusual in the picture of the bricks?"
Other than wondering why he took it, I hadn't paid much attention. Here it is, do you see anything?

How about this one?

Me neither

Until Sam explained that something has been burrowing under the bricks and they are heaving up. 
I don't want to think about what's going on down there-

But this is a perfect example of Sam's unusual choice of photography subjects
Anything but typical

Here's are a couple bonus photos from August's visit

Helping Opee get wood

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Black Friday for Dogs

I was up at the crack of dawn to chase birds not bargains. No worries, this year I'm doing all my shopping online

This is Deuce, Lukas and Denise's German Shorthair who hasn't quite figured out that he's not a lap dog.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pioneer Woman meets Womeninc Woman

From the moment I saw that the Mall of America was on Pioneer Woman's book tour, I knew I was going to be there. What I didn't know was how emotional, complicated, exhausting and absolutely amazing the experience would become.

My plans for media access didn't work out and I seriously considered skipping the event. We had a family wedding and the kids were all going to be home. It felt slightly, actually overwhelmingly, selfish to leave my dear ones at home to go stand in line for hours with the goal of spending about a minute with a complete stranger.

But I did it anyway.

However, first I had to lay out Sam's clothes for the wedding, including the socks. It's just what I do.

I had planned to leave at 8 am and arrive at the MOA by 10. But August was up and there's no abandoning a freshly awake, warm, sweet, snuggly toddler...Then I realized that I had no business cards in my purse and had to go to my office and get some. At which time I thought maybe I should have my digital voice recorder just in case an opportunity arose for an interview so I went back home to get it.

I entered Nordstroms at 11 am and made a bee-line to the ground level, quickly found the line, got my wristband and hurried into the "corral." At first it didn't seem like there were that many people ahead and the line grew longer and longer behind me.

Maybe this wouldn't take all day after all. Maybe I might make it in time for dinner at the wedding. Maybe I should buy one more book. Maybe I should have thought to bring a snack.

Time passed quickly in the line--thanks to my "line buddies" Lisa and Catherine. We were lucky enough to be  next to the fountain so were actually able to sit on the edge for the first two hours--and did we talk!!! And Lisa had yummy homemade Swedish rusk to snack on. (Raise your hand if you know what that is.) Hi Minnesota Lisa! I found Cat's blog through facebook

As the time drew closer to 1 pm, the anticipation grew until finally the announcer introduced  her. Here is my first photo--with my thanks to the 8'3" tall man in front of me who moved aside long enough for me to snap this photo:

She's such a pretty girl!

Ree answered some audience questions and was sweet, funny and nervous. Soon the line began to move slowly. It was then I discovered that the first three rows of the zig-zag queue were twice as long as I thought. But there was no turning back or bailing out now. I figured I'd still make the wedding dance...besides, a murmur passed through the crowd to my left...could it be, why yes it was, Marlboro Man!

Hel-lo MM!

Please don't let that be a wide angle lens--if ever I wish they'd invented spanx that covered from the chin down, it's now.

I am SO close! Hi Ree!

Lisa went first, then, me, then Catherine. While Lisa was having her book signed, the gals handling the books and the cameras (who btw did an awesome job) came over and uttered the last words I needed to hear right then. At 3:55 pm. The wedding started at 4 pm. I was three hours away and had to stop home and change clothes.
"She's going to take a quick break right now!"
I couldn't stop myself, I begged them, "Please let me go. I'm supposed to be at my nephew's wedding. In Iowa. In 5 minutes."
They had mercy on me.

She remembered my crazy email--and didn't have me dragged away by security, all-in-all a  good experience.

Lisa was waiting for me as I came off the platform and we were a bit giddy. Then she told me that PW had told her she really had to go to the bathroom.

I felt terrible. Here I was fretting about a stupid wedding while enjoying a mild state of dehydration because I didn't want to drink anything while in line. Ree had polished off a fairly good-sized beverage and been sitting there for 3 hours.

Lisa and I then approached the table where MM and the boys were seated. The little boys were drawing.

Some of the ink made it on the paper--

I'm not sure it will show up here on the post but both boys had ink on their faces.
But then I'm also the mom of two boys who can appreciate their creativity.

I hurried through Nordstroms to my car...but just where did I park??

To be continued


I started working on my Pioneer Woman post last night--but found my thoughts instead consumed with an interview I did yesterday with Sandy and Steve Baskerville in Spirit Lake, Iowa. I met them at Spenser's Underground, a coffeeshop they opened and have operated for the past 2 1/2 years in honor and memory of their son Spenser.

The full story will appear in the April issue of Womeninc magazine but I cannot stop thinking about them. Even three years after the tragic loss of their son in a car accident, the grief is palpable--in their voices, their gestures and most of all in their eyes. The amazing part is how quickly the sadness is replaced by joy, hope and a sense of purpose as they share the story of how Spenser's Underground came to be.

Their initial plan was to create a coffeehouse that would be a place for high school students to hang out, listen to music, play games etc. They soon found that many high schoolers are busy with jobs and sports. Instead it is the middle school aged kids who fill the large funky room every day.

Sandy has developed a large assortment of coffees, snacks, smoothies and sweet treats that she serves up with a healthy helping of patience and a substantial side of her nurturing nature. She made me a fabulous spicy Thai chicken wrap for lunch.

So today as I prepare to start my day, knowing that I haven't even started thawing the turkey, I am first counting my blessings. First on the list is gratitude to God for his free gift of salvation through Jesus. Then for my family who I love and appreciate more every day. And, among my many other blessings, are the opportunities I've had over the past years to meet some of the most inspirational people I could possibly imagine and to have been given the privilege of sharing their stories.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monday with August

Having so much fun with Addie and August here--we went to Bittersweet and Have You Any Wool in Winnebago (all yarns 25% off!) for yarn and fabric and stopped in at the Winnebago Grill for a second breakfast. Great food and a plate sized pancake for a dollar. While August napped we made aprons for Olivia and niece Haley.

Proofing this morning for the January Womeninc magazine. Then it's off to Spirit Lake to for a feature article interview.

Would you like to see a photo of Marlboro Man and the punks? Here you go:

You can't really tell it on this picture, but they both have drawn on their faces. Perhaps this is why MM has the Sharpie and the punks have ink pens.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sneak peek

Yes, that's Marlboro Man. Hoping to get the post about the book signing up today. Great day at the MOA!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The big day

has arrived. I'm off to the Mall of America for Pioneer Woman's book signing. I feel guilty leaving everyone here: Addie, Tedd, August, Sam, even my sister Verla who is here from Atlanta for the weekend. She and Mom are at Mom's house and I know they'll have a good day. I will meet up with my family at the wedding reception in Iowa.
After the disappointment on Wednesday, I had made up my mind not to go. But no one is my family is a quitter and I'm not going to be either. I'm just a terrible risk-taker.
Carol, enjoy your day with your family--I can't figure out how to email on my mobile access since the change to Verizon. Hopefully I will have some pictures to post.
The Womeninc Christmas party was lovely and well-attended last night. Santa was a little late--we figured maybe he was had trouble getting down from the basket in the fire truck after the Glows parade. There was Santa in one corner and a live nativity scene in the other. I overheard one of the adolescent shepherds ask the adult wise man, "How long do we have to be here."
Just like those shepherds isn't it. They have a hard time leaving their flocks.
I know the feeling well.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

So you think you've had a bad day

Mom and I were heading to Aunt Dolly's funeral early this morning and as we rounded the curve and approached the bridge, this is what we saw

It's corn. Lots of it.

It continues for about a half mile--almost all the way to the corner.
An entire semi-load of corn on the road.

Until this rots, grows or gets eaten I'm living at the end of the golden road.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Misunderstanding--I removed the previous posts. Still looking forward to Pioneer Woman on Saturday. Plan B is to arrive early and take my turn in line for a photo and book signing.
Womeninc media contact plan officially over.
Slightly disappointed--but still looking forward to the event.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pioneer Woman--Day 6

Still no word from PW. Carol @ Yeller Dog Ranch wisely suggested that I contact the publisher but so far no luck. I just had the idea to contact the MOA and find out who is in charge of the event and see if there might be a way through them.

I'm up early this morning--just pushed the button on the coffee. I really love this time of day. Just me, a blanket and full authority of the remote control to flip between Morning Joe, HLN Morning Express, CNN and whichever local news strikes my fancy. I take Mom her coffee between 7:45 and 8 depending on what time I have to be at work. Then I tune her radio to KBEW and she listens to the news and gets ready for the day.

Coffee's ready--be right back.

I must admit I'm a bit disappointed when I open up Outlook and there's nothing there from PW. Not that I don't appreciate my word of the day and Facebook updates, but a part of me really thought someone would be checking her email.

I even checked my internet provider spam filter. Do you check your spam filter? I wish I hadn't. "Magic blue pills" "ED meds free" "discreet shipping " "check out my drilling device"  EEEWWWWW!
Officially my last visit ever. Whatever gets caught there, stays there.

Excuse me while I go take a shower. And brush my teeth. And floss. And catch up on reading my devotions.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I opened my phone to check the time during church today and it said I had a new voice mail. I didn't recognize the number and forgot about checking the voicemail until lunchtime.
It was my cousin Lonna and I knew as soon as I heard her voice that something was wrong. My Aunt Dolly, Mom's last surviving sister, passed away last night. Mom was shocked to hear the news--although Aunt Dolly's health had deteriorated over the past several weeks.
Mom finished her lunch and went to sit in her chair. After a few minutes, she said, "I think I want to go to my house for a little while. Somebody might be trying to call me."
I didn't raise any objection--Sam had to go to the school anyway and could drop her off. I realized that Mom probably just wanted some time to be alone. I picked her up late this afternoon and brought her back here. The past couple months have been a rough time for Mom-- too many losses. I am amazed by her resilience but also see some increased fragility in her physcially and emotionally.
So this week we will say goodbye to Amanda "Dolly" Falknor. A former school teacher and day care provider we will forever remember for her beautifully painted fingernails, her husky hearty laugh and her wavy strawberry blond hair that was its "natural" color to the very end.

Pioneer Woman Quest Day 3 & 4

I still haven't heard anything. But I haven't given up hope. I'm leaving comments on Facebook--tried sending her a direct Tweet but you can only tweet people who follow you.

She doesn't follow me.

 Pioneer Woman,  I am still going to see you Saturday. I can hardy wait!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pioneer Woman Quest--Day Two

Well, no word yet from my not-so-secret girl crush Pioneer Woman. Womeninc editor Katie is sending her a copy of the magazine--which is probably a good idea. I imagine PW has encountered her share of unstable, obsessive, nut-case fans.

I guess that kind of describes me, doesn't it?

So today I posted a note on her facebook page. I bet she's reading it right now. She only as 24,603 friends--how long could it take for her to come upon my message?

Am I the only one that has realized that perhaps sending a single email is maybe a minus 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 on the risky scale? Like what is the worst that could happen--ooooooh-she never reads it? Wow that hurt.

I need to get serious about getting risky.


PW, please, hear my plea from afar.

I'll make you proud.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A girl can dream

After four antagonizing phone conversations yesterday with the manufacturer of my demon possessed oven, whose name starts with the month after April and ends with a children's running game, I'm ready to take on any challenge that comes my way.

I can't believe I did it, but I actually sent this to Pioneer Woman. She's going to be at the Mall of America on November 21 and I came up with the crazy idea to try to set up a time to meet her and interview her for Womeninc.

I'll keep you posted.

Here's what I sent:

Dear Ree,

I do my best thinking in the bathtub. When this idea came to me this morning, I knew I had to act on it. I'm not a person who takes risks. Ever. But I'm not getting any younger or thinner so here goes:

I follow your blog and consider myself a loyal fan. So loyal in fact that I'm planning to attend your book signing at the Mall of America on November 21--in spite of the fact that my nephew is also getting married that same day at 4 pm. I am two hours south of the Twin Cities and the wedding is in Iowa. If all goes according to plan, I will be able to do both. If not, that's Risk # 1. You'd have to know my sister-in-law. Trust me on this one

Here's Risk #2
I am a contributing writer for Womeninc Magazine based in southern Minnesota. One of the features included in each issue is entitled "What Are You Reading?" I feature books I'm reading, subscriber recommendations and occasionally interview an author for the column. Would it be possible for me to have a few minutes for a quick interview and photo for use in an upcoming issue? I will make every effort to work around your schedule prior to the 1 pm start time. If not, I will still be thrilled to have you sign the books I am giving everyone for Christmas

Risk # 3 is that I'm that I'm going to share this crazy idea on my blog:
For my minion. I think there are 10 followers now.

And I'm sorry about the bathtub reference earlier. I'm in a hurry and I thought it might get your attention. Probably not one of my better ideas.
Thanks PW,
Nina Patten
Copy Editor and Contributing Writer
A publication of Sauck Media Group

Monday, November 9, 2009

It's Great to be Omee part 2

Olivia and I drove through the Blue Earth McDonalds to get an order of McNuggets and then join GG Patten and Denise at Subway. To the right of McDonalds is a Lampert Lumber Yard. Olivia announced, "I don't yike that store. My daddy yikes that store. That store's not for girls."

"No, honey, that's a store where girls send their daddies"

OK, I'm her Omee and I have plenty of time for the "girls can do anything a boy can do" lectures.

I think I'll just let her enjoy being a princess for now.

It's Great to be Omee part 1

August was not feeling well this weekend so came up with his own version of "feed a cold, starve a fever"

He modeled his new hat

He played with his "beep beeps"

And this morning said "Hi Omee" to me on the phone.