Entertainment – A Very Long Dark Night: “Death of a Salesman”

The first read through (table read) occurred on 2/9/2020 and will open 20 months later on Thursday 10/28/21. Purchase tickets at https://bdact.org/death-of-a-salesman/

In our October 25th post we chronicled the 19 month COVID19 delay of the Eagles Hotel California tour from April of 2020 to October 2021. Today’s post chronicles the 20 month COVID19 delay of “Death of a Salesman” at the Beaver Dam Area Community Theater’s Fine Art Center located at 117 West Maple Ave. in the Kamps Auditorium in Beaver Dam, WI. Tickets available at https://bdact.org/death-of-a-salesman/ and at the door.

The first cast read through, frequently referred to as a table read, took place on February 9, 2020. The play will at long last open on October 28, 2021.

This Arthur Miller written play was first staged in 1949. When asked if the play is still relevant in 2021, Director Diane Lutz said; “Absolutely, one of the main themes is pursuing your American dream. That’s never going to go away. The idea of wanting to be number one is never going to go away.”

For those who are not familiar with Arthur Miller’s classic drama. The story centers around a cognitively failing patriarch named Willy Loman and his dysfunctional, but loving family.

Sixty year old traveling salesman Willy, once a top producer for the Wagner Company, struggles with declining sales success and his failing driving ability. However, Willy (Paul McMillan) and wife Linda (Holly Sina) are ever hopeful for his future success and the success of their sons Biff (Dan Nugent) and Happy (Tim Cwirl) Loman.

From left to right, the Loman’s, WIlly (Paul McMillan), Linda (Holly Sina) talk about his last business trip to New England, while Happy (Tim Cwirla) and Biff (Dan Nugent) chat about their night on the town and what the future might look like for both of them..

The play takes place while Willy is nearing the end of his career at age 60. Many scenes show Willy reverting back to conversations and interactions with characters from previous times of his life while interacting with characters in real time.

Willy is preoccupied by two events in his life. Both of which could be considered ‘opportunities’ brought to Willy by minor characters in the play. Willy regrets both encounters, but for different reasons.

Opportunity number one is with his older brother Ben played aptly by veteran BDACT actor Rick Ramirez. Ben made his fortune in Africa as a young man, and returns to offer Willy a chance to start a business in Alaska.

Side stage view of Willy pleading his case to big brother Ben who enters the jungles of Africa at age 17 and walks out rich at the age of 21.

Some of my photos were taken at the back of the auditorium during Act 1 while some were taken side stage during Act 2.

Opportunity number two comes at the hands of a character simply named Woman, played by Jena Berg, who offers Willy an equally attractive proposition that can also bring business to Willy.

Woman (Jena Berg) and Willy recounting an opportunity from Willy’s past. Note that real time wife Linda is also in this scene while Willy’s mind wanders back and forth between now and then.
Willy pleading with second generation owner of The Wagner Company Howard Wagner (Dan Landsness) to be reassigned from traveling sales to floor room sales.

There are many significant minor characters who interact with the major Loman family characters. Primarily next door neighbors uncle Charley (Jim McMillan) and cousin Bernard (Kevin Cushing) whose function in the play are to help the Loman’s along their troubled way.

While this is a drama, there are several tension breaking moments of levity and humor.

Jim McMillan is, as always, superb in interjecting humor into the many interactions that he has with Willy concerning the future of eldest son Biff and the Loman’s ongoing financial issues.

Dan Landsness plays second generation owner Howard Wagner of The Wagner Company, the business that Willy sells for. Howard’s only scene happens in Act 2 when Willy shows up hat in hand asking to be transferred from traveling sales to in house floor sales.

The scene begins with Howard playing with a new technology recording machine. Landsness’ complete preoccupation with his new toy while being completely disinterested in Willy’s plight is humorously entertaining. I’m sure it would not be as funny with any other actor playing Howard.

Fortunately the funniest scene is performed by yours truly. Stanley (Ron Wilkie) a waiter at Frank’s Chophouse who has a lively and entertaining conversation with Happy while waiting for Biff and Willy to arrive for lunch. Happy, like the old man, is a womanizer and becomes distracted by beautiful young “struedels” Miss Forsythe (Maylee Kok) and Letta (Lauren Kile).

The cast is rounded out with Barb Vockroth playing the dual parts of Jenny, uncle Charley’s secretary and the unseen voice of the hotel operator.

The major characters played by Paul, Holly, Dan and Tim are daunting assignments. They have all been stellar. Special kudos to Holly Sina who took over the role of Linda due to an illness 2 weeks before opening night. I’m in awe!

With that said, director Diane Lutz, producer Bobby Marck, and Stage Manage Lee McMillan must be given a big ovation for assembling a great cast under a tough time constraint and COVID19 restrictions enacted by the theater management. They had 6 weeks to start five actors from scratch, and a sixth actor only got two weeks from scratch.

For my money, the minor character actors are what really rounds out a great overall performance. Diane and Bobby hit a home run on this one. Jim McMillan, Kevin Cushing, Rick Ramirez, Jena Berg, Dan Landsness, and yes Ron Wilkie hit their characters and their moments to add depth to the story.

Patrick Lutz and Gary Taurick put up a wonderful two story home set in the same time frame! It looks great. James Steffen and Scott Eberle provide lights and visual effects. Greg Richart and Kaitlin Hollbrook provide sound and sound effects. Costuming by Laural Connolly.

Diane is correct. Pursuit of the American Dream never becomes passe. See you at the Fine Arts Center this weekend.

The Loman family argue about Biff’s business opportunity.

Entertainment – Eagles In Concert: 2 For 1 Bucket List Evening

On October 2 Beth treated me to the Eagles at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN. It was a two for one bucket list evening. I got to see the Eagles and Vince Gill on the same stage.

On March 3, 2020 Beth surprised me by buying tickets to see the Eagles at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN. The concert was to be April 4, 2020 at 8:00 pm. On March 24, 2020 we were sent an email stating that due COVID19 the concert was delayed until October 17, 2020. On May 1, 2020 we received further notice that the concert was further postponed until October 2, 2021.

We were offered a full refund and it was a seriously considered. Why? Well, the age of the band members for one. Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Steven B. Schmit are all in their 70s. COVID19 complications are worse for those over 65. Would they make it one year without losing a key member or just decide the risk is not worth the effort? Anything was possible on this front.

The decision was made to keep the tickets and take our chances. This concert is a chance for R Dub to check two boxes off his bucket list. Vince Gill was added to the band for his high tenor vocals and his awesome guitar work. I’ve always wanted to see both the Eagles and Vince Gill. No brainer, as they say. Take our chances and keep the tickets, hoping for the best.

The best was what we got. Thank goodness.

One year passed quickly. Beth reserved a hotel within walking distance of the XCEL Energy center and off we go for another adventure. It was worth every penny spent and all of the worry expended wondering whether or not the event would actually take place.

The XCEL Energy Center is the home of the Minnesota Stars NHL team. Our seats were in section 104, row 1, seats 5 & 6. If you are familiar with this venue you may be interested in knowing that that is the home team penalty box! We wouldn’t have know that on our own. The usher who guided us to our seats informed us of this novel fact.

The concert? It exceeded our expectations. The opening number of the 2021 Hotel California tour was…Hotel California. R Dub could not have been more stoked. I expected to need to wait until the encores to hear this tune. To hear it right out of the gates set the stage for a great night of live karaoke without a lyrics monitor. But really, who needs a lyrics monitor for Eagles tunes!

Hotel California opened the 27 song evening. From left to right is Vince Gill, Timothy B. Schmit, Deacon Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Steuert Smith.

While driving up to The Cities from Beaver Dam, Wisconsin four Eagles songs played on Pandora. Hotel California, Life In The Fast Lane, New Kid in Town and The Last Resort. The first three songs of the concert? Hotel California, New Kid in Town, and Life In The Fast Lane. The last song of the first set? The Last Resort! Coincidence? I think not.

My two favorite Eagles tunes? Hotel California which led off the concert and Seven Bridges Road which led off the second set. I’m a sucker for harmony and the Eagles excel at harmonies. Adding Vince Gill strengthened this attribute.

Seven Bridges Road to open the second set. Awesome harmonies!

Vince Gill was utilized vocally with his high tenor back ups and featured in several tunes. Specifically; New Kid in Town, Lyin’ Eyes, Peaceful Easy Feeling, and Tequila Sunrise. More importantly, the Eagles let Vince do what he does best, play guitar. I typed that this concert checked off two boxes on my bucket list, but to be honest, it makes me long to see Vince again in his element.

Vince Gill playing a solo rhythm guitar on Seven Bridges Road, but it is his lead work where he excels! Gill was lead vocal on New Kind in Town, Lyin’ Eyes, Peaceful Easy Feeling, and Tequila Sunrise.
Joe Walsh still bringing his classic guitar riffs at the age of 73. Joe’s vocals are featured on three of his solo career songs; In the City (depicted in this photo), Funk #49 (beautiful guitar duo with Joe and Vince Gill), plus Rocky Mountain Way during the encore.

Added to the last two tours with Gill is Glen Frey’s son Deacon Frey whose vocals and guitar are featured in Already Gone. Deacon holds is own on stage with a heavy weight group of musicians and song writers. Don Henley placed Deacon front and center stage, exactly where his father Glen always stood.

Most songs featured the voice of founding member and front man Don Henley. But this was a stage full of good voices with great harmony. All and all, probably my most expensive evening of live karaoke ever. Beth had her camera set on live photos. My voice could be heard singing along on just about every “shot.”

The Eagles frown on recording video during the show. While her photos my not be technically video, we will not risk posting them.

I will be keeping an eye on Vince’s solo tour dates after this tour is over. The 18 months in limbo was well worth the wait.

Deacon Frey
Don Henley out from under the drum set for a few songs during the concert hinting that this may be the final time touring for the band.
The finish of the final encore song, Best of My Love.
…and the final bows…

Cooking – Sauteed Pole Beans : Autumn Garden to Plate

1 lb of Pole Beans in our cast iron skillet. Easy peasy and delicious. Drizzled with avocado oil, 1 tablespoon butter, seasoned to taste with sea salt, ground pepper, ground garlic then sprinkled with 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese.
The garnish is bacon infused sauteed Panko crumbs. Wow!
Pole beans planted August 25 as part of our late season garden experience. We’ve harvested beans the last two weeks. This round garnished 1 lb.
Container pole beans planted September 1st. They are utilizing the trellis netting. More ladder assisted harvesting!

Our autumn planting pole beans are way outproducing the bunch beans that were planted last spring. The bunch beans produced 12 to 24 beans per week. Pole beans? Roughly one pound per week the last two weeks. We had a mild frost last night, it will be interesting to see how temps in the low 30s the next few nights effects future production.

Either way, we know that pole beans are the way to go next year. Plus, even if frost kills them off this weekend we have great compost material for next year!

In the mean time we enjoyed the entire pound of this Thursday’s harvest last night. The preparation and recipe is easy with delicious results.

We sprinkled bacon infused Panko crumbs over the medley, which was an awesome addition, but not necessary. We made the crumbles as part of a different recipe for Saucy Pasta (for a different post).

If you wish, brown 1/2 lb of crumbled bacon, remove all but 1 tbls bacon grease from the pan and saute 1/2 cup Panko crumbs until golden brown. Add back the drained bacon.

This could be a side dish, but it was our entree last night. For vegetarians, skip the bacon and saute the Panko in vegetable oil. For vegans skip the cheese and bacon.

Preparation:

Snap the stem ends off and place evenly in the skillet. We prefer cast iron, but any skillet will work.

Recipe:

1 lb whole pole beans

1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup bacon infused Panko crumbs

Course sea salt, ground pepper, ground garlic to taste

Drizzled Avocado or Olive Oil

1 tbls butter

Cooking:

Evenly place beans in skillet, drizzle oil over top of beans, add 1 tbls butter add seasonings to taste, and cook covered over medium low heat for 15 minutes or until al dente.

Remove heat, uncover and top with Parmesan cheese.

Plate and top with bacon/Panko crumbles.

Eat!

Health: There Will Be Other Variants…

We’ve changed little in terms of daily supplements since COVID19 broke out in early 2020. My first blog on the subject was entitled “There Are Other Viruses Ya Know” Which is true, but lets deal with the variants first there R Dub.
Beth has been taking Vitamin B Complex the entire pandemic, R Dub just added it recently. Melatonin has been our lights out supplement for years.

On March 4 we posted a blog entitle “There Will Be Other Viruses Ya Know!” While true, the subject of variants and breakthrough infections need to be dealt with first

What are variants and breakthrough infections? Good questions.

Virus variants are changes in a virus. Some might use the term mutation. I honestly do not know if the terms are synonymous. A variant does not change the way that a virus works, but it changes that way that the virus acts. In the case of COVID19, variant Delta is spreading quicker than the original virus, it is easier to contract. Variant viruses also effect how well vaccines work.

Breakthrough infections are defined as a vaccinated person becoming sick from the same illness that the vaccine was designed to protect them from. The incidents of breakthrough infections is on the rise. The most recent and famous breakthrough case was the death of fully vaccinated former Secretary of State, General Colin Powell.

People are beginning to line up for a 3rd shot. It is likely that the virus will vary a few more times despite or due to the shots. What will the efficacy be? Breakthrough infections are happening.

We certainly do not want to get sick. What to do?

For us…supplement.

I will review what we take and why we take it. But first lets talk about Antioxidant supplements, Free Radicals and Anti-inflammatory supplements.

The National Institute of Health defines free radicals this way. “In the past decades, accumulated scientific findings confirmed the pathogenic role of free radicals damage in respiratory virus infection.” Free radical allow the SARS CoV 2 virus to cause a chain reaction in our cells as the virus replaces our RNA with its RNA. Antioxidants fight free radicals, slowing down and stopping the chain reaction of the virus.

Inflammation from fluids causes tissue to swell. The lungs and heart do not function efficiently when they are inflamed. Fluid in the lungs clogs the alveoli which restricts the passage of oxygen to the blood. Fluid around the heart puts stress on the pulmonary function. Anti-inflammatory supplements help reduce inflamed body tissues.

To save time and space, here is the list of vitamins and supplements that we take daily. In the morning before leaving the house: Low Dose 81 mg Aspirin, 8000 IU of vitamin D, 360 mg of Vitamin B Complex, 500 mg of vitamin C, Zinc 30 mg to 50 mg, Quercetin 500 mg to 1000 mg. In the evening just before lights out and bed; 10 mg of Melatonin.

Low dose aspirin, according to WebMD, lowers the risk of infection by 29%. For those who test positive for COVID19, low dose aspirin reduces the effect of blood clotting and its effect on the heart and lungs.

Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin at all. It is a hormone that the body naturally produces when exposed to sunlight. Most people are not in the sun enough hours of the day to produce much vitamin D, so supplements are needed. According to a University of Chicago study a full 80% of COVID19 positive patients are vitamin D deficient. We take 8000 International Units per day, but I’ve seen advice to take as little as 800 IUs per day will help. Over 10,000 IUs is too much.

Vitamin B Complex contains vitamins B1, B2, B6 and B12. Vitamin B helps the body create red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the body, which boosts our immune systems. We take 360 mg per day.

We take 500 mg of vitamin C per day. Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant which fights free radicals.

Zinc may be the only supplement that is more important than Vitamin D. Zinc is an anti-inflammatory, and reduces blood sugar. But most important in the fight against SARS CoV 2 is its ability to keep the virus from entering cells and its ability to stop the mRNA of COVID19 from replacing your RNA with the virus’ RNA. We take 30 mg of zinc per day.

There is a Zinc caveat however. Our cells do not like to readily absorb zinc. That’s where the Quercetin comes in.

Quercetin by itself is great for the immune system too. The best part is that this plant based pigment derived from fruits, veggies and grains carries zinc into cells with it. Double benefit. Quercetin is both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant, reduces blood sugar and blood pressure.

Finally, every evening we take 10 mg of melatonin and turn out the lights. 15 minutes later, yours truly is asleep. Immunity and virus recovery require good sleep. Melatonin is a natural hormone that your body creates when it is dark and encourages sleep. As we age we create less melatonin. Supplemental melatonin is the best way to assure a healthy sleep each night.

I know this is a plethora of daily vitamins and supplements, but we’ve been doing this for years and rarely do we get viral infections. That includes the flu. Knock on wood, neither of us has contracted COVID19 despite working in environments that has exposed us both to infected people on multiple occasions.

Be smart, be careful, think and act for yourself. It puts your health back in your hands.

Safety – All In The Family: One Death Is Tragic, Three More Is Unthinkable

Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

Those of us who grew up in agricultural areas or have been in the safety business know this story all too well. The names change, but the scenarios rarely deviate much…

Here’s a real life scenario. You are working with a small group of two to four people and one person must go into a small area to check on something. The area is not only small it has limited entry and exit. Maybe there’s a problem in this area that needs to be fixed or a stage in the process needs to be checked. There’s a pool of liquid, they walk through it and withing seconds you see them fall to the floor.

What do you do? Rush in? Something else? What if the person down is a relative, a close friend, your lover?

I just read a story about a similar scenario and it brought me back to one of my jobs from a former life.

Four men died of asphyxiation in the fermentation operation of a family owned vineyard in Paola, Italy.

Dead in the incident were two men aged 70 and two men between age 45 and one 50. Two of the men were brothers. I presume that the brothers were also part of the family that owned the winery.

It is suspected that an uncontrolled release of carbon dioxide (CO2) was the cause of asphyxiation. Tragic. Worse yet 4 times more tragic than necessary.

Why 4 times more tragic than needed? Good question.

As is common in this type of tragedy, one of the 70 year old men was overcome while stirring the vat creating a large release of CO2 gas. The other 70 year old comes in to rescue man number one and is overcome, enter would be rescuer number two, then his brother for would be rescuer number three. Alas 4 dead.

Why does this story remind me of a job in a former life? Another good question.

A large and important part of my old job in safety sales was training people about the uses and most importantly the limitations of the safety equipment that they purchased and used on the job.

When training people on gas detection equipment there was one line that I always said and repeated. “Year in and year out, there is one common and tragic fact; for every four confined space deaths, three of them are would be rescuers.”

In many of these tragedies every death will be from the same family, or a close nit work force. Frequently on a family farm in the grain silo when the grain ferments and produces a lethal dose of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) or a lack of oxygen displaced by the NO2.

A grandson goes in and dies, a brother goes in to find him and dies, dad goes in to find them and dies, finally grandpa goes in too and dies. Google it, this happens far too often.

Work environments with the potential of producing a toxic environment must be monitored for the specific toxin, oxygen levels and combustibility. For this application most employers will have a common 4 gas reading monitor. This type of monitor typically has sensors that will read oxygen, carbon monoxide, combustibles and hydrogen sulfide.

Typical 4 gas monitor. Explosive material, oxygen, CO and H2S. Use primarily is sewer type environments.

In the case of this Italian winery CO2 and/or a lack of sufficient ventilation are suspected as the culprit.

How could the first death in these situations be averted? Which, of course would avert all four deaths. Proper ventilation for one. Continual monitoring of the atmosphere too. Which unfortunately is not always enough to prevent the first death. Why? Another good question.

In the case of standing fermented liquid like in a sewer type confined space, or in this case fermented wine in a vat, the act of stirring up the liquid will release all of the gas at once creating the lethal atmosphere. In the case of a sewer, hydrogen sulfide is released when a pool of sewer water is walked through releasing all of the gas at once. In the winery case it was CO2. The only way to prevent death in either event is a Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA). That’s the type of respirator that firefighters use when entering a dangerous space.

SCBA. Probably a 30 minute cylinder of breathable air.

As for the dead would be rescuers. What was their mistake? Yet another good question.

When a worker is in a potentially deadly environment, setting up and using retrieval equipment is the the only way to assure that a rescuer does not need to go in. If no retrieval equipment was set up and rescue needs to occur, the rescuers wear SCBA to get the victim out.

Retrieval equipment. One person in and one watching over them ready to crank them out fast and safely.

Over kill? Maybe, but I’d ask the families and close friends and coworkers of any of these victims.

The really tragic part of our dead would be rescuers. They were most likely trying to rescue a corpse. When an environment becomes Immediately Deadly to Life and Health (IDLH) the victim is dead within a couple of minutes or even seconds. Rescue is almost never feasible.

The first rule of thumb when attempting rescue; don’t become the second victim. Plan ahead and proceed with caution. When the victim is a close coworker, friend or relative that becomes VERY difficult. Probably why these multiple deaths are frequently in family owned and run businesses.

In reality you should be thinking body recovery, not saving a fellow human being. That’s cold, but it is true most of the time.

Gardening – Late Harvest & Planting: 4th Quarter 2021

Photos of many things still in the garden. What’s not pictured, west side pole beans and cabbage, plus 6 container Brussels sprouts.


Plus plans for attempted cold weather crops. When we are in, we are all in.


This year has been more experiment than results oriented. With that said, we’ve been very happy with some of the results, disappointed in other results and hopeful that lessons learned will be applied to next year.

Pods and blooms are appearing on the 2nd round of peas.
Bed B. Beets will be harvest ready soon We moved container pole beans into this bed and it is utilizing the net trellis. There are a few walla walla onions yet to harvest. Unseen, yellow wax beans that continue to produce.
Yellow wax beans continue to produce. It’s only a couple of dozen per week now, but they sure are tasty once per week.
Tabasco peppers are finally turning red. They will be more center piece than food, but we like this addition to the garden.
After being dormant for about a month, the Beaver Dam Peppers have blooms and a handful of peppers growing.
Our Pepperoncini’s continue to be the most reliable producer.
After being dormant for a few weeks this jalapeno plant has a couple of new peppers and several blooms. We put it in a small portable greenhouse to help along this plant and a two sweet pepper plants during this warmer than normal autumn.
Our San Marzano tomatoes are hanging in there. While there is ample fruit on the vines, ripening has been slow. The taste of these fleshy tomatoes is fabulous. We will have more than three plants in 2022 for sure. Perhaps dedicate an entire bed to them.

Fall succession plants are beginning to bear a harvest ready crop, and some of the original spring seedlings are still producing.

Second round radishes have been plucked and eaten.

Second round carrots need another month.

Sweet corn planted in late July was eaten by use in salsa and by the neighborhood squirrels.

September pole beans have climbed to the top of the bamboo trellises but do not have beans yet. July planted beets can be pulled anytime, we will wait for them to grow some more.

Swiss chard is about half way to harvest ready size, they should be at their sweetest after the first snow (we will wait).

Second round summer squash, thanks to our friend Lacey, is just producing fruit.

July planting of Brussels sprouts are a month away from harvest.

Second round leafy greens of Mesclun and Spinach have been cut once and are coming again.

Planting is complete, correct? Not so fast my friend.

I just put 3 cabbage plants in the ground that should be able to handle cold down to 25 degrees F or so. Garlic has been planted in containers and should be ready to harvest next July.

We will plant more leafy greens, probably more spinach and some arugula when the beets and onions are pulled.

Most of the herbs have been moved inside and we started micro-green mustard seeds both hot and mild under the grow lights.

Operation Green Thumb should continue through the winter and into 2022. We have learned much and need to apply the knowledge next season. Yet there is much more to learn…

Potent Potables – Garden to Glass: Cucumber Mint Martini

Shaker ready to fill a martini glass with cucumber garnish.

Cooking and canning salsa was fun and satisfying. So much so that Beth kept us on the garden to gullet roll with a slightly out of the box way of using fresh mint and cucumber.

Beth surprised me Saturday afternoon with martini’s made from fresh mint and a cucumber. Both from our garden. Imagine that!

We introduce to you the: Cucumber Mint Martini.

6 sprigs of mint, one medium sized cucumber sliced thin and 4 shots of either Gin or Vodka. Poured over ice in a shaker then strained into 2 martini glasses. Drink.

We couldn’t decide whether to have Vodka or Gin so…one of each!

Beth and R Dub enjoying a refreshing potent potable to celebrate a tasty batch of homemade and canned salsa.
Our mint plant from a cutting that Beth got from our friend Lacey. Since moving it indoors, it has flourished.
The cucumber in back was the perfect size for our drink.

Cooking – Garden to Canning Jar

Home made salsa readying to be placed in a water bath. The remainder in the bowl went from bowl to spoon to mouth.

Salsa! Easy to make, tasty to eat. Beth thought perhaps a little hot. Perfect for me!

One of the many activities we shared this weekend was making and canning salsa from ingredients mainly plucked from our garden. Ingredients included: sweet corn, tomato, onion, green pepper, jalapeno pepper, beaver dam pepper, cilantro, and dried carrot tops.

Not from the garden? Salt and ground peppercorns to taste, and lemon juice.

Cilantro and coriander from our herb garden.
Some of the tomato and pepper used to make this batch.
Sweet corn plucked from our stocks. The local squirrel population stole our largest ears before we could get to them.

Operation Green Thumb became more tasty this weekend. Is it almost over for year 2021? Not yet. We still have peas, carrots, leafy greens, tomato, beets, beans, peppers and herbs waiting to be harvested. Herbs should be available year around now.

Crafts – A Place For Our Stuff: Act 2 The Finished Product

Our glazed pottery. The process was long (for many reasons), but it has finally come to a finish. Beth’s beauties at 11:00 and 5:00 while mine are at 8:00 and 2:00 in this photo.
The project’s beginning, just off the spinning wheel on March 31, 2021. Finished in September 2021. It’s along story, but we’ve got the time to tell you.

We began the process on March 31, 2021 after being invited to Art On The Town craft shop in downtown Beaver Dam. We had several options of learning a craft and chose to spin some clay into pottery.

The picture directly above shows our pottery as wet clay freshly off of the spinning wheel waiting to dry and be glazed and the first picture just below the title of this post is the finished products glazed and kilned. Beth and I picked them up Sunday afternoon.

Why did it take almost 5 months to complete this project? Good question. It’s a complicated answer.

As stated, we accepted an invite from a friend to learn a craft at Art On The Town in our current home town of Beaver Dam, WI on Sunday March 31, 2021. Upon arriving we were given a few options for craft classes to participate in. Spinning clay into pottery was our choice of instruction for the day.

We each got 2 slabs of clay, the use of one spinning wheel, some handy tools to spin accents or designs into our creations and instruction from the owner of Art On The Town, Kris Schumacher. Oh yes! Also included, for a nominal fee, was some nice Cabernet Sauvignon…

Our friend Tracy molding some clay on the spinning wheel.
Beth and I mugging with our masterpieces. Photo by Kris Schumacher.

The spinning part of the project with instruction, clean up and wine consumption was bout 3 hours give or take a few minutes. Then our art pieces were set aside in a drying room. When they became dry enough, we would be called back in for the glazing and kilning process.

After a few weeks without feedback we called the studio asked if we’d missed the notice. Unfortunately, due to an unusually rainy spring that caused high humidity our pottery was not drying very fast. We were assured that they had our contact information and would get a hold of us at the appropriate time.

Art On The Town did call us at the appropriate time, and then some. However, now we were at busy times for work, scheduled travel plans and my involvement with the BeaverLand MustSki waterski show team, we kept putting off the glazing and kiln process of our project.

If I had to guess, they probably left messages at least 3 times over a 2 month time frame. The good folks at Art On The Town tried, they really did. We just kept putting them off…and when I say we kept putting them off…R Dub didn’t return the phone calls. My bad.

Finally, Beth and I did go over on Sunday September 6, 2021 to learn how to glaze our pottery. We were provided with our choice of 2 glazing finishes, as many brushes as we’d need to glaze each pot 3 times with each glaze, instructions from Kris’ daughter and, of course, more Cabernet Sauvignon for a nominal fee to keep us hydrated during the process.

Beth glazing her pottery.
R Dub glazing his pottery. The apron matches my outfit…

On September 18th Art On The Town called to let us know that the glazing process was complete and we could pick them up during normal studio hours. When did we go there? Over a week later on Sunday September 27.

Interesting side note: every day we were there was on a Sunday…To quote The Bangels from Manic Monday…”Sunday is our fun day.”

Gardening – What Ate Our Sweetcorn!

I was greeted by this sight last night when checking out the garden for crops to harvest. This ear was taken from the container 3 spots east of where they ate it! I guess the corn is ready to harvest…

Part the daily regimen during our 2021 year of Operation Green Thumb is checking on the status of the garden when arriving home each day.

Luckily pests have not been a huge issue. We’ve not lost any crops due to a pest all season…until Thursday 9/23/21…

Oh sure, we’ve had a few leaves nibbled on by insects, but until yesterday an entire fruit or veggie had not been consumed by anything other than a human.

One Supersweet ear of corn was stripped from its stalk, carried or dragged about 4 feet east, husked on one side and then eaten. It was a sinking feeling, but at least we know that the sweet corn is ready to be harvested and eaten.

We are guessing that the thief was either a squirrel or a racoon. Most likely a squirrel.

Tonight or Saturday morning we will harvest the ears and use the stocks as part of our Autumn decorations on the front patio. Lemonade from lemons!