Friday, August 30, 2013

The Times They Are A Changing for Prairie Grlz

"What?  I won't be able to enjoy reading The Prairie Grlz 
blog 5 days a week with my coffee?  Bogus."
Prairie Sherry and I have wandered off the prairie and back to our classrooms.  This week has been full of mind-numbing meetings, as described in Sharon's mind-numbing post from yesterday.  (I'm kidding!  Geez.  Lighten up.)  I  have spent a lot of time looking at my hooves, I mean feet.  I really, really need a pedicure.  I haven't decided what color yet.  But definitely not coral, light pink, or silver.  Coral=old lady.  Light pink=yuck on 45 year old toes.  Silver=corpse.  Luckily I have more meetings tomorrow to further contemplate toe nail color.  

Things will improve greatly once we get to welcome our new students on Tuesday! 

"I guess I will just stand by this cold wall 
and wait for the next prairie girl post."
Sadly, Sharon and I will no longer be able to post blogs five days a week.  After Labor Day, we will only be posting on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Here are more things we won't be able to do:
  • Sing rousing protest songs at the Wisconsin Capitol (but maybe you could go in our place???).
  • Have extended business lunches at Mickey's.
  • Photograph "naughty" tomatoes.
  • Eat Dunkin Donuts' Munchkins (the sugar crash isn't worth the sugar buzz).
  • Talk whenever we feel like it.
You may be asking yourself, what will the Prairie Grlz be able to do?
  • Unveil their Etsy site, Sunday, September 1st.  Yay!  Yay!  Yay!  Come and check us out.  Just search for Prairie Grlz on  In the Tim Gunn spirit, we are going to "Make it work." 
  • Be at the Williamson Street Fair, Sunday, September 22nd.  Come on out.  Enjoy the food, music, people watching, and hang out with us! We will be the ones wearing the Prairie Grlz t-shirts.
  • Continue to help support Matilda with profits from Etsy.  (See the blog, "Meet Matilda," if you haven't had the pleasure of meeting her yet.)
  • Make art - whether it be collage, canning, writing, gardening, photography, accessorizing, doodling, etc . . .
Thank you Prairie Friends for making our summer so darn fun.  Without you, it would just be me, Sharon, and boxes of tomatoes.  
Prairie Eydie

P.S.  Oh.  Yeah.  We will also continue to celebrate Prairie Sherry's birthday each and every day.  If any of you feel like taking some of the burden off me, shoot me an email.

Sharon has had more birthdays than even Bob Dylan.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Art of Surviving Teacher Inservice.

For those of you who always wished you could subject your 9th grade algebra teacher to the same agonizing boredom that was served to you in his/her class, this post should make you feel better.

I, like many other teachers across this great nation, have just completed two days of "teacher inservice"--aka "just desserts", "payback", "retribution."  Lord, it was ugly and painful.

Yesterday I went into the situation (a four-hour meeting) fortified with two cups of french-press coffee and a hearty bowl of fiber-filled cereal.  I brought my spanky-new notebook, calendar, and freshly sharpened Ticonderoga Number 2 Tri-Write.  I also brought my trusty iPhone just in case the girls at home needed me.  Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I was ready to commence year number 34 as a professional educator and master teacher.  Things sort of went downhill after that.
The BEST pencil ever created.

During the first 55 minutes, I:

  • Filled in my daughter's volleyball schedule into my calendar.
  • Texted Eydie across the room to see where we were going to go for lunch.
  • Discovered that the school network filter was blocking my Facebook account.  Damn!
  • Made a shopping list for dinner.
  • Texted Jo to remind her about the dog's 2 PM pill.
  • Went to the bathroom because of the two cups of french-press and hearty bowl of fiber-filled cereal.  Took the very quickest route there, but the looooooong way back, networking with several colleagues en-route.
  • Started this blog.
  • Tried Facebook for a second time and then a third time.
  • Played two games of Hooked on Words on my phone.
  • Doodled my name in various scripts on the front of my spanky-new notebook.
  • Texted Eydie to see what she was doing.
In short I was "off task", "inappropriately socializing", and "making poor use of time and materials."  And then I had three more hours of the same.

During the afternoon we were permitted to "collaborate with colleagues"--aka "get stuff done."  I was fine in that department. I met with another teacher, and we actually completed a respectable amount of work--stuff that will tantilize the minds of our students next week.  

And then came this morning...

This was the Opening Day, when the entire staff of our district came together for the Big Send Off.  The Launch. The Kick Off. I will not subject you to a minute-by-minute, blow-by-blow reiteration of the mass of information that was thrown at our brains utilizing a narrow variety of mind-numbing methodologies (Teachers as well as students do not handle lecture well.). 

It was like dumping 10 square yards of topsoil into a 5" flowerpot. I was totally overwhelmed, so I totally shut down.  Rather than think of "educator effectiveness" or "integrity and ethics in the classroom", my brain bounced through the following:

  • Does our decline in Russian readership have anything to do with the Edward Snowden affair?  Does Vladimir Putin read the blog?  If so, has he "liked" us on Facebook?  Hi Vlad!  Can't we just get along?

  • Why am I thinking of mojitos at 9:15 in the morning?
  • How am I going to sell two cases (40 lbs.) of heirloom tomatoes at market this Saturday?  How can I effectively hawk their delicate sweetness to customers at $4 per pound?
  • Miley!  Seriously!!
  • Is that a protein bar Eydie is sneaking out of her purse?  Does she have another?  IS THAT A SNICKERS?????
  • I forgot to buy markers for my classroom.  I am boycotting Wal-Mart.  Can I get Eydie to go to Wal-Mart for me to pick up 10 packs?
  •  Would it be disruptive to crawl over 6 pairs of legs to get to the aisle and eventually the bathroom?  Perhaps I should give up the fiber-laden breakfast cereal...the two cups of french-press.
  • Where are we going for lunch? 
In short, is any of this really any different than the drivel that occupies the minds of my 8th graders as they tune out my scintillating presentation on helping verbs? Is my behavior any more justified?  Have I grown up at all since 1968?  Am I a total loser?

Would I be as fraught with such uncertainly and self-loathing if I had gone into orthodontia? 

Oh, did I mention that tomorrow is day three? 

Do you feel any better about that 9th grade algebra teacher? 

Prairie Sherry  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Prairie Grl vs Prairie Dad

Prairie Dad uses the large prop technique
to make himself look like a Keebler Elf. 
Every Spring my dad and I start our "Who Has the Most Awesome Yard" gardening competition.  I start out strong.  (My strong start is due solely to living farther south than my dad.)  I plant containers of  pansies in late April and artfully arrange them around my front door.  I even add this folksy Tin Man made of soup and cat food cans.  Then I leave my dad a message:  "I'm winning!  I have seven pots of pansies planted and you still have snow!  HA!"  

(This thing is scarier than a clown.  Someday
Mr. Tinman is going to meet Mr. Recycle
Bin.  Oops, Eydie, I have no idea where
your little tin friend went.)

I feel smug for about three weeks, or the amount of time it takes for the snow to melt around dad's house.  (My parents are the only people I know who UP-sized after their kids moved out.  Dad wanted a bigger yard and my mom wanted to buy more teapots. ) 

Then Dad kicks it into gear.  He works steadily all day long.  (did I mention he is retired?)  Mixing potting soil.  Choosing vibrant annuals at greenhouses around the state.  Fertilizing.  Watering with mad abandon.  All this takes place while I am at school dealing with kids who think summer vacation started March 15. I get daily updates from Dad on how many pots he has planted.  44 pots, 73 pots, 121 pots.  I stop answering his calls.  I feel defeated, and my pansies are already starting to look straggly.

Dad then enters the next phase of the competition.  Emailing me photos of his obnoxious gardening successes.  The photo below was titled "Plover Man Broke Record for Growing Biggest Astilbe EVER!"  Meanwhile, my sad astilbe hadn't even reached my ankles.  I tell Dad I'm obviously growing dwarf astilbe and they are supposed to be petite.  He also emailed me photos of his huge hydrangea blooms, but I think I deleted them.  Oopsie .


(I had no idea what an astilbe was
either.  I'm still not sure.  Do you eat it
or smoke it? Is it legal?)

Fast forward.  I was at my parent's house over the weekend.  My dad was giving me the extended garden tour despite my sour disposition.  The dazzling daisies.  The impressive impatiens.  The handsome hostas. (Such insipid alliteration...)  I had obviously lost the competition again.  BUT WAIT!  WHAT WAS THAT??!?  Perched on one of his decks were two very, very sad tomato plants.

"Ah, my sweet little tomatoes, grow big and
strong for your dear old dad."

(Yikes, these are a bit pathetic. Eydie
made fun of my tomato plants all summer.
Mine look gigantic next to these.)

Woot!  Woot!  I happen to have the most fabulous tomato plants that I grew lovingly from seeds.  My dad bought his tomato plants from Aldi's (gasp) or Wal-Mart (GASP).  I had offered him some of the precious tomato seedlings I had grown in Keurig cups (Yes folks, that is what you do with those little bits of plastic waste.).  But dad said that he couldn't waste his time with my little plants.  The growing season is too short.  He needed larger and hardier transplants.  My question to dad is "Who is eating BLTs now?  Huh?" (Eydie is not eating BLTs.  She has eaten so many tomatoes since she started the tomato sorting gig that her mouth is a mass of canker sores, and she has sworn off tomatoes for the rest of the season.  She thought she was dying of some strange disease until I pointed out that man and womenkind were not meant to down three pints of cherry tomatoes and two giant Big Boys in a single 24 hour period.  Remember my discussion with dear Eydie about self-control?)

(And now Eydie is teaching her sweet
daughter, Lulu, to exaggerate.  Mommy's
 tomatoes are not that big.  Lulu, you
know it, I know it, and your mom
knows it.)

So I lost 98% of the challenge.  That is okay because I now know his weak spot.  Tomatoes!  Yep.  I am already planning my garden for next year. 

Prairie Eydie
The gauntlet is thrown down for next year's



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Prairie Protest Revisited

I am not sure how to get into today's post.  The Prairie Grlz never intended for this blog to be a forum for our political views, although both of us are very passionate about what is going on in Wisconsin right now.  I'll try to sidestep the politics a bit, and focus on the emotions.

Yesterday I came as close as I'd ever imagined to being arrested. In fact, I may have been arrested.  I was told that I had been identified as an unlawful protester. I was asked if I would leave. I said I would not.  My sign was torn from my hands, and then the police officer reached for my hands to cuff me.

That is when a scuffle broke out on the other side of the capitol rotunda, and the officer ran to assist.  I picked up my sign and continued singing.  The police left, taking several protesters with them.  I assumed that they would come back for me, but they didn't.  
After the last protest song echoed through that great expanse, I packed up my sign, and song book, and headed for the door.  I wasn't quite sure if I was evading my own arrest, but no one yelled after me.  I did check over my should a few times.

So I escaped a misdemeanor charge and a $200 fine.  Part of me is relieved.  It is the end of the summer, and I haven't seen a real paycheck since June.  I can't afford the fine.  This was my fifth trip to the capitol, and each time I saw people around me taken away--a 14 year-old, a clergy-person  a firefighter, an 80 year-old. The capitol police force is not substantial enough to arrest all, so they single out up to 20 people a day.  I figured my time would come, and I guess this was the day--sort of.  Disappointed?  A bit. Perhaps more than a bit.  I wouldn't have been there if I wasn't sure of my convictions.

And what was I thinking about as I stood among those lawless Americans?  Well, I thought a lot about my mom.  She was an ardent supporter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I was about ten when she told me about peaceful civil disobedience, and tried to explain how important it is.  How sometimes you have to break a bad law in order to get a better law passed.  How you can't always accept what those in power tell you, even when you are scared. 

I thought about my daughters and grandchildren.  My youngest came with me to the capitol one day.  After the hour-long protest, she joined me from the observers' balcony.  She hugged me and told me how proud she was of me.  What an incredibly sweet moment.

My youngest, Maia, is on the far left with Prairie Eydie.
This was my last day at the noon protest.  Summer break is over, and I have to be in school this morning at 8 AM.  I feel sad.  I will miss the camaraderie, the quirkiness, the essence of Madison.  As I brown-bag-it at my desk, I will be at the capitol in spirit.

And this is a picture of the Wisconsin State Capitol that I took last Saturday.  My farmers' market stand enjoys this view every week.  I love this building and what it stands for.  Inside the rotunda dome is a gorgeous mosaic of Lady Justice.  I've been thinking about her a lot lately. 

In a pensive mood,
Prairie Sherry

Monday, August 26, 2013

Prairie Protest

Recently, Prairie Sherry and I have been heading to the Wisconsin State Capitol for the noon day sing-a-long.  We have been singing classic protest songs like "This Land is Your Land" and "If I Had a Hammer" to help protect our First and Fourth Amendment rights in our beloved state.  Since attending the protests, I have had trouble sleeping.  Not because my rights to free speech and to peacefully gather are in danger, but because repetitive protest songs are marching through my head.  

Often I have to make the choice of protesting or going to gym.  A Grl only has so many hours in a day.  Luckily I have found many ways to combine working out and protesting.  PLUS, if I get arrested for singing, the ticket would equal that of a 4 month gym membership.  It is a definite win/win.  Here are some of the moves that have kept Prairie Sherry and me swimsuit ready.

Lets start with the solidarity arm raise.  A MUST at all political gatherings.  It is a great way to work those flabby triceps.  (I don't know about you, but my triceps keep on waving even after I stop.)  The solidarity arm raise is easily modified.  You can use one arm to support the other arm if you are a beginner.  Or you can use the more advanced "Double Arm Raise", as shown by Prairie Sherry.   WOW!  Look at Sharon's arms!  All this solidarity has given her Madonna-esque arms.

One must never come to a sing-a-long unprepared.  The more stuff you carry, the more calories you will burn.  Sharon is an expert at weighing herself down.  Note how she has the umbrella, a tote of water bottles (a grl gets parched singing for an hour!), a handbag, and the hefty song book.  Sharon DOES lose points for not holding her sign in addition to everything else.  Tsk.  Tsk.

Think of the all the fat the Raging Grannies have burned.  (You can "friend" these courageous ladies on Facebook.) They have been showing up at the sing-a-long for almost two years, weighted down with hats and  multiple pins.  Keep on singing, girls!

I have perfected dodging from the police.  I really don't want to get arrested for singing and scuttle to the center of the singers where my chances of being ignored are greater.  (Prairie Sherry hangs out on the fringe, hoping for a set of handcuffs to be slapped on her wrists.  Are we surprised?  No.)  Nonetheless, I have been getting my cardio in with multiple sets of "bobs and weaves."  This is great for those large muscle groups.

I know that I have thrown a bunch of advanced moves at you.  But don't be intimidated, Prairie Friends.  You can take a load off and sit down for your rights too. 

Prairie Eydie

P.S.  I know.  I know.  It is Michael Landon Monday.  I have undemocratically decided to change it to Musical Monday until the holidays, when our angel, Michael, will fly back to us.  Sharon made the mistake of telling me that she can't bear to look at photos of her "Dear Jon" from the eighties.  This is for you Sharon!!!

I have kept uncharacteristically quiet during this post,
but I must say that as much as
I love Jon, the body hair and the bacteria-laden
hot tub are enough to put me off of my Wheaties
for a week.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I Forgot!

Blighted Potatoes--YUCK!
I totally forgot that it was my turn to write the post for tomorrow. I have an excuse. I organized a pile of papers (I didn't just shuffle them into another pile.). I helped my youngest through a high school crisis (all is well). I discovered the stink under my sink was a potato that somehow didn't make it to the compost bin. Whenever I have to deal with a spoiled potato, I think of the Irish Potato Famine.  Imagine an entire country smelling like that! (Most people would just imagine throwing the spoiled potato in the garbage.  Seriously.) 

So, I am guessing this post won't have much cohesion to it since I am writing this entirely on the fly.  I will just flop along with a few random thoughts.  First, my darling daughters were very kind to me last night.  I came home from tomato hell around 6.  Jo, my 19 year old, had dinner ready for me. That has to be heaven on earth.  A meal on the table, and I didn't even have to stand in the grocery store looking forlorn and confused as I tried to figure out what I could do with a couple of pork chops or a chicken breast.  
Eating just one of these makes a person feel very noble.

After dinner, my youngest, Maia, decided that Mom needed ice cream.  And she was right.  The two daughters ambled off, promising to bring me a treat after they finished working out at the YMCA. Thankfully I had done my arm curls with those giant beef steaks, so I could skip the gym thing.  

I was dozing in bed around 10 PM when they appeared with one of those itty-bitty individual tubs of ice cream. The kind that hold the amount of ice cream you are actually suppose to consume at one sitting--5.5 fluid ounces.  With it, they had three spoons.  "We didn't have enough money, so we just got this and thought we would share."  What?  5.5 fluid ounces?  Why that is like a teaspoon each.  I would have given them cash, a credit card, my half of the Prairie Grlz business empire.  (OH NO YOU WOULDN'T!!!)  Even in my dazed state, I got a bit panicky.  It was at that point that they pulled 10 of those little tubs out of a grocery bag and lined them up on my bedside table for me to choose.  Have I mentioned that I have really good kids?  (I have to say that Prairie Sherry has AWESOME daughters!)

I should probably confess that I ate two of these tonight, inhaling a satisfying 11 ounces of creamy pleasure.  (Geez Sharon.  Why don't you try some self-control?)  So much for nobility.  What I would really like are some cookies to go along with that ice cream, but I'm still not quite right with my cookie sheet (see "The Art of Surviving a Dump", July 10).  Sigh.  (Hugs.)

Tomorrow Eydie and I have our last day sorting tomatoes.  I suppose that this might cause us to venture into another of our photojournalism forays.  We will need pictures.  The last slicer placed into a case.  The final pint of cherries tucked into a box. The closing trip to the compost heap.  Eydie is expecting that the crew is going to hold a big surprise farewell party for us.  (Don't ruin the surprise for me!  I am still planning what I should wear.)  Eydie is the type who often thinks there is going to be a big surprise party.  I am guessing that she may even dress for the event--a darling sundress instead of her usual stretched T and tattered shorts.  (Don't forget my tie-dye Bon Jovi head band!)  I'm thinking that a party probably won't happen.  Then she will be disappointed, and I will have to let her listen to Allen Stone all the way home.  

We did have our final working lunch of August this afternoon.  Here are the last portraits of the summer.

Looking like she is going to miss those slicers.
(or miss listening to Allen 
Stone while sorting slicers. 
I look like I should have used some translucent powder 
BEFORE Prairie Sherry stood on a chair to take this photo. 
 I never want to hear the word "slicers" again.  AUGH!!!)   

You can see that I am working on the
head tilt.  (You look absolutely lovely!)
Prairie Sherry 
(Prairie Eydie)

Top Insights from the Grlz's trip to God's Country

(What does this horse picture have to do with anything?
It was taken in Old World Wisconsin a month ago.)  
(I know.  I know.  But I needed a photo to kick off the blog with.)
Yes.  It is time for the top insights from the Prairie Grlz trip to Northern Wisconsin. 

1.  Bargain Bill's is totally over whelming.  (If you need a recap on Bargain Bill's revisit, The Grlz Head North.)  Go in with a plan and stick to it.  I left with really ugly paper that Sharon used as "Protest Paper" (more on that Monday).  I also bought some stupid pink stickers for $4.50.  I am surprised that I didn't leave with a 6 pack of crutches.
(I would like to point out that these crutches were
 $3.99each.  Like you need one crutch??)

2.  Sharon will do anything for attention.
(I was merely showing our readers
these fantastic Christmas balls.)

3.  I got a little out of control with my eating on Thursday because I usually don't let myself eat.  (More on that Wednesday.  Don't worry, it won't be anything like Portia de Rossi's memoir.)  After a couple of wine spritzers, I told Sharon I was going to throw away the dark chocolate because I wanted to eat it.  Mild mannered Sharon SCREAMED at me, "You just have to learn some self-control some day!"  And then she proceeded to scarf down the entire chocolate bar in front of me.  Geez. (I had to eat it in order to save her.)

4.  Eydie will do anything for attention.

(I refused to post bail.)

5.  BLTs make awesome breakfast sammies.  Prairie Sharon cooks her bacon in the oven and insists on Miracle Whip.  We also added chimichurri sauce to the mix.  (You are NOT paying attention if you don't know that the chimichurri recipe is also in The Grlz Head North.)
(Eydie forgot this picture.)

6.  Sharon did not know who Warren Zevon was.  Say what???  At first she didn't like the thumping, marching music that accompanies many of Warren's songs.  But soon, Sharon was won over by such classics as Porcelain Monkey, Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner, and My Sh*ts F*cked Up (definitely my favorite).  (Sorry.  To our more delicate Prairie readers.)  Sharon then had to endure a soliloquy about how my first born son, Leonard, was almost named Warren.  (Warren is his middle name.  More on that some other time.)

7.  BLTs make really good snacks too!   If you are cutting calories, (or have a friend who insists you consistently use self control) just use a sturdy romaine lettuce instead of bread.  Also, make sure to blot excess grease from bacon before serving.  (Blotting grease is not in my culinary vocabulary.)

8.  Sharon REALLY likes (loves) Jon Bon Jovi.  Even eighties Jon Bon Jovi.  (Seriously, she has no right to tease me about Allen Stone after this picture of JBJ.) (AS=geek and JBJ=hot)

"Bed of Roses"=Best Song Ever

8.  Friendship rocks. (I agree.)

Prairie Eydie (and Sherry)  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Prairie Grl Stuck

I must admit, I am in panic mode.  This is my last week before I head back to my teaching gig.  While I have gotten a lot accomplished this summer, I haven't gotten a lot accomplished.

Clean grout.   See "Prairie Eydie Gets Her Turn
Interviewing Prairie Sherry", August 13.

Actually, this is just what we completed at the cabin.
There is much, much more...

Not Accomplished:

For those who know me well, this is entirely out of character.  I am the woman who spends the first two weeks of every summer cleaning the house from top to bottom.  This includes removing floor and wall registers and washing them.  This summer was different. Today I looked under the kitchen sink and decided that I really should probably investigate that strange smell that has been growing since June...then I forgot about it.  

I am in an uncomfortable place.  I sort tomatoes today and Friday. On Saturday I work at the farmers' market.  This leaves me Thursday and Sunday to get this house in order--this life in order. This probably won't happen.  I have been busily scheduling social events for those days. I have to see The Butler with a friend.  I really must have that final cup of coffee at that little coffee house I discovered.  I am certain that Eydie and I need one more working lunch at Mickey's.  

The only other time I recall going into a school year in this state was the summer I fell in love.  Love makes a messy house seem OK.   Actually love made lots of messes seem OK, and I am not talking about something as minor as a fungus growing under the sink. I am not feeling so OK.

Another reason why I am feeling a little more than stuck is that I have a daughter leaving for her first year in college.  I have been through the kid-in-college thing, but the first one lived at home as she entered the hallowed halls of upper academia.  This is my first time packing up a sweet young thing to throw her out into the big, bad world.  Rather than clean, I find myself roaming through Target buying her energy bars, and waste baskets, and laundry soap.  And I am thinking that perhaps I should run out and buy some condoms. Condoms would be a very good idea.  That idea popped into my head at 2 AM and wouldn't leave. These are the thoughts that keep me up at night and hold my vacuum hostage during the day.

I leave for the farm in just two hours.  I suppose I could investigate that smell before I leave, but I might uncover more than I can handle.  I think I may have learned something from the grout fiasco. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Here is a good procrastination recipe.  Make these instead of cleaning a cupboard or sorting through that pile of papers.    

Different-But-Really-Good Lemon Bars

1 cup butter 
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour 
1 1/4 cup old fashioned oatmeal

Cream the butter and sugar.  Add the flour and oatmeal.  The results will be crumbly.  Pat 2/3's into a greased 9X13 pan.  Set aside the rest.

Juice of 3 lemons
Zest of 2 lemons
Zest of 1 orange  
1 (14 oz)  can of sweetened condensed milk.  

Combine all and pour over crust.  Top with remaining crumbs. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes until golden.  Slice into squares when cool.

Prairie Sherry