Thursday, December 29, 2011


Adieu to the frustration of a failed job search (392 applications since July 2010) and 16 interview rejections. Tallyho to irritating family members who don’t accept me for who I am. Toss out all the people who ignore me because of my weight or white hair. Throw over the men who don’t find me appealing. Farewell all the troubles and turmoil internally in my soul. Goodbye to the world’s woes… of 2011.

Technically, the New Year begins with the Winter Solstice but we’ll use January 1st. I continue to hope that the next year will be better. Best wishes to you, your loved ones, and let’s expect that our fellow inhabitants of this tiny planet make better choices in 2012. We have to plan for the future generations. What we do today directly affects every tomorrow.

Choose well.
© 2011 Ima B. Musing

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Blasted bugs have invaded my houseplants. I tote my tropical houseplants outside each summer when the weather rises above 60 degrees. They grow happily in the partial shade of my backyard. This year I decided to try to extend the existence of vegetable plants inside. I successfully over-wintered pepper plants, mint, and parsley last winter.

This fall I brought in peppers, eggplants (never produced during the summer), basil, and oregano plants. The goal is to have them survive to be planted outside in the spring. Recently I noticed that an eggplant leaf was covered with aphids. They won’t harm humans or cats but they will kill a plant. I didn’t want chemicals on edibles so I purchased Bonide Insecticidal Soap from the store. Sprayed the plants in the bathtub and sneezed. I’d prefer to utilize ladybugs but they are hibernating right now.

I have always had a chronic problem with tiny black flies, not fruit flies but little buggers. They were in the house when I moved in and I have never been able to rid myself of the colony. I went against my no-chemical vow to purchase Bonide Systemic Houseplant Insect Control for use on the tropical plants. Nasty but I want to protect my veggies from whatever may be prowling the non-edible growth. Perhaps it will rid me of the dratted flies.

It is important to keep the vegetation watered during this dry season. The botanicals are located in my office due to the south-facing window. I close the door and turn on a wee space heater when I am on-line so the room gets warmed up after about an hour. I suppose that dries out the plants faster. I will water them for a couple weeks with dishy water, a gallon of water with a couple drops of liquid dishwashing soap to help flush out the bugs in the roots. After the prepared spray runs out I’ll mist the leaves with dishwashing soap to discourage bugs. A mild concentration of soap does not harm the plant or fruit in any way. The result is fewer aphids and one worm that tried to make a run for the hallway but died in the process. Tiny black flies remain to my distain.

The flora makes the office smell better. The humidity is nice. Delighted to harvest a ripe red pepper from one of the plants I brought inside. Some of the other plants have small peppers so I have been diligently watering them in hopes of further harvest. The lack of sunlight is not good but I don’t have any artificial grow lights to add to the window. I made the mistake of fertilizing with fish emulsion and the stench was horrific. Whirled fish bits are for outside only.

Fly away bugs!
2011 © Ima B. Musing

Monday, December 26, 2011


Please read the beginning part of this adventure that began on Day One posted December 19th and Day Two/Three posted on December 21st. This is the third and final entry.

Tillie was almost back to normal on the fourth day. I could tell that she was uncomfortable but the doctor advised against painkillers since she would probably overexert herself. Pain slows her down. If she were crying, I would definitely procure some pain medication. However, she would probably spit out the pills like Zozo.

I took off the boxes blocking the low jumps. Tillie quickly leapt on the warm radiator to sleep in the sunshine and look outside. I kept boxes on the tables in an attempt to keep her from high jumps and no stairs until the fifth day. Tillie was thrilled to be able to have access to the basement again. The wound looks okay but sore. She has been licking it but not excessively. I will continue to check it several times a day to make certain that she doesn’t open the wound or make it leak. The wound has an internal mound the size of a pinto bean but that is due to the suture glue they used instead of stitches.

I really ought to take her in for a check-up with my regular vet but I can’t afford the visit. She is playing with Zozo and running amok so I’m not too worried anymore. I’m sure her belly is chilly since the hair is so short. She is eating a lot to grow hair and heal. I’m relieved that she is okay and that there will be no more horny episodes to experience. I really didn’t like to have her butt in my face and neither did Zozo. I meant to get her operated upon over a year ago but delayed until I procured a job, heavy sigh.

Spaying or neutering is a necessity. A fully reproductive feline can produce 11 million offspring within nine years if they all survive and mate according to the Kindest Cut. ELEVEN MILLION CATS, wowza! I’ve never had to buy a kitten or cat because people willingly give them away. People constantly offer me cats but I decline since two critters at a time is adequate. Animal Humane Societies and other nonprofit shelters have an array of animals needing a home. I’ve been fortunate that all three have been mostly healthy. Momo didn’t get ill until the end of life, Zozo had leg issues at the age of one year but healed, and Tillie had the stomach upset this summer. Taking care of animals isn’t free but they give a lot in return. They certainly assist me with reducing anxiety and increasing amusement.

Oh, what we do for the furry bundles of love…
© 2011 Ima B. Musing

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I’m a white head, not due to age but heredity. Many members of my dad’s family had their hair turn white before the age of 40. My auntie dyed her hair for over fifty years until she let it go white. My normally honey-blonde locks began to morph in my mid-twenties. It blended well because my regular hair was a light color. I dyed it a few times but didn’t really like the result. I just let it transform completely white by my mid-thirties.

Decided to color my hair. Not out of vanity but because of the job search. Most people assume that it is just a very light blonde until they look closely. Personally I don’t care. I went through the curl up and dye stage when I was young. I contorted my hair with permanent solutions when I was in grade school since a curly pixie was the fashion. Why do they call it permanent when the treatment only lasts a couple months? It was a horrible process and then I had an allergic reaction. I dyed and shaved my hair during my early 20s. I got too busy during graduate school and lost interest.

I can’t afford to have age to be a factor in hiring. I’m only 40-something and have at least twenty years of full-time work ahead of me. I have very few wrinkles so some people assume that I have had a facelift and retired or else I am 30 years old. It is weird to have such a range of assumptions. During an interview I was asked how long I intend to keep working. The interviewer was clearly older than me and I felt offended. I never hear people questioning the age of men who turn prematurely white like Anderson Cooper, Julian Assange, or Phil Donahue & Steve Martin (30 years ago).

If dyeing my hair will get me a job, then I’ll do it. I hate coloring my hair. My hair is very thin and tends to fall out when it gets colored or permed more than once. It’s a smelly messy process and I dislike the dryness of the scalp afterwards. A good color and cut at a salon can cost close to $100 so I purchased a $10 kit from the drug store.

I carefully read the instructions. Mixed the ingredients and felt ill from the chemical stench. Applied it to my hair and scalp and had to wait. I actually wrote this blog entry while passing time. It was extraordinarily difficult to resist scratching my scalp during the process. It didn’t sting or burn but felt creepy. The result is negligible. I need to procure a darker tone and try again. Ugh!

I despise blonde jokes. There is nothing funny about them. They are pure discrimination against people with a specific hair color. I stop people when they start to share degrading humor focused against anyone. I won’t allow it in my home and all my friends know that fact. I was born with blonde-white hair and my intelligence has nothing to do with hue. Hell, I qualified for MENSA!

Goodbye Grey.
© 2011 Ima B. Musing

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Please read about the operation day posted on December 19th, first.

Didn’t sleep very well. Aghast to discover that I had left the garage door open overnight. I felt panicked but thankfully nothing was stolen or harmed. I must have forgotten to close it as I was bringing Tillie into the house. I am surprised that none of my neighbors called to ask why it was open. Perhaps the cold night dissuaded prowling thieves. Tillie was much perkier and happy to be released from the bathroom. She was perplexed why all the chairs had been removed and boxes stacked on the places where she would normally jump. She scratched at the basement door. Zozo growled at her so I had to keep them separated. Tillie would shuffle backwards in hopes of dislodging the Elizabethan Collar and walked with a high step because she had the collar in her visual field. It was rather entertaining; I wish that I had a movie camera to film her antics.

I picked her up to sit with me on the couch. It was nice to cuddle with Tillie. She relaxed enough to sleep for a bit while I watched the morning news. Lowered her to the floor because she ought not be jumping. I felt a bit guilty to place her back into the bathroom while I ventured upstairs to the office to conduct job search. I reopened the basement door so that Zozo would have access to food and litter downstairs. She used Tillie’s box and food in the bathroom when the basement door was closed. I let Tillie out of the bathroom when I was downstairs but returned her when I had to leave for an evening gathering and bedtime.

Maintained this for 36 hours after the operation. On the second morning Tillie was a bit lethargic and had not gone to the bathroom. I decided to remove the collar. She immediately ran to the food and water bowl even though she was able to eat and drink with the collar on. Within one hour she utilized the litter box and was much happier. Not that I love the smell of cat poo but I glad that she was functional. I was worried that the gastrointestinal tract trouble of this summer had returned.

Zozo continued to hiss at Tillie. I kept them separated when I was gone or upstairs. I didn’t want them to get into a tussle and the incision site harmed. The Kindest Cut staff said that she needed to remain as quiet as possible for at least five days. Difficult to contain a cat since I probably should not duct-tape her to the floor. She was very tired and likes to sleep with her body under the blanket and her head just below my chin. I am her recovery mattress.

Sleep, sleep, perchance to dream.
© 2011 Ima B. Musing

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


“We are mailing you this letter because you are currently receiving Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC). If you run out of EUC benefits, the next program would be the Federal-State Extended Benefits (EB). However, the EB program is ending soon. As a result, you may have only limited eligibility for that program. If you run out of EUC benefits before January 8, 2012, you may be eligible for ED Benefits through the week of January 8, 2012. Under federal law, the EB program will end in Minnesota with the week of January 8, 2012.”

Quoted above is the letter I received from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Ho-ho-smackdown. My EUC benefits have been exhausted and I don’t know if I qualify for the EB program, which will be ending because Minnesota’s unemployment rate has dropped. That is completely unfair to those of us who are still seeking. I hope that Governor Dayton is able to procure a waiver so that the EB program will be continued.

I am frightened of not being able to locate temporary work to pay the bills as I continue to seek permanent full time employment. It will greatly reduce my time to seek a job since it takes many hours to locate positions on line. The Internet has not made the process easier. It reduces the cost of printing and mailing resumes but the time spent looking at 100 websites instead of an hour or two with the Sunday newspaper is not a fair trade. I’ve sent out 374 resumes and been rejected by 16 interviews. Fear and anxiety are raising and I don’t have insurance coverage to see a psychiatrist. I just hope that depression doesn’t get added to the mix, it is torture to be anxious and depressed simultaneously.

I am utterly frustrated that United States Congress has not passed the extension of EUC and EB benefits. They plan to cut low-income energy assistance, employment training, and FEMA programs, which are safety nets for people like me. Congress plans to increase funds for the military despite the ending of the Iraq war, which is totally ridiculous. (NOTE: Members of the Armed Forces should never get pay or benefits cut. Funding should be reduced for hiring contractors and lining the pockets of corporations.) The Tax Zombies are holding everyone hostage. I applaud the efforts of for showing how stupid pledges are for any elected official.

Hire the long-term unemployed, like ME!
2011 © Ima B. Musing

Monday, December 19, 2011


One always fears complications during surgery. I was filled with dread as I dropped off Tillie to be spayed. I felt a bit guilty for taking away her food the night before. Tillie and Zozo sleep in the basement so Zozo was also denied nutrition from a normally open bowl. Before they went to down for the night I gave them a treat. They happily gobbled a quarter can of wet food each.

Tillie experienced her first heat earlier this year and has tortured Zozo and I myriad times with her come hither dance. There are several resources for bargain price spay/neutering in the Twin Cities area. Pet Haven of MN provides free services for people with very reduced income. The Kindest Cut and MN SNAP is $50 for low-income households, and Animal Ark offers $150 certificates to anyone. I qualified for and decided to utilize the Kindest Cut since their schedule and location were convenient. Contact for information or to donate. Danke!

Both felines meowed with an urgent tone for food in the morning. I let Zozo eat but had to comfort Tillie as she whined about experiencing hunger. Loaded her into the carrier and dropped her off filled with trepidation. I decided it was best to remain busy. I went to the food shelf to procure calories since my shelves and refrigerator were nearly empty. Though the food shelf pantry was sparse, I brought home enough to sustain me through the month. Humbled that I have to receive food when I normally donate items or money to help others. It is a triple-whammy because I usually work in the nonprofit or educational arena and my life energy is now deviated by the endless job search. Drove home, unloaded auto, and shelved the groceries. Please contact to assist people in need. Merci!

Commenced to cleaning the downstairs bathroom. Animals need to recover in a sanitary environment. It doesn’t have to be spotless but at least swept and mopped to remove dust. Washed some sheets for her to use as bedding and changed one of the litter boxes into a clean paper pellet box. Regular litter can irritate wounds so paper pellets are better to use until the injury has a few days to heal. Procured a cardboard box to place over the toilet seat to prevent her from hopping upon it and rigged a barrier around the sink to keep her from leaping. Jumping could rip out her internal stitches.

Toted up empty boxes from downstairs to place on the radiators and benches to keep Tillie from springing up, much to Zozo’s dismay because she would be restricted too. I placed a piece of pink insulation to block off the stairwell. I still was worried that there would be complications during surgery but was relieved that she was fine when I arrived to pick her up.

The Kindest Cut staff was very friendly. They really need a portable heated tent for outside their van, it was quite cold. It also would be helpful if more pre-operation and post-operation information was on their website. I tried to remember what my veterinarian had told me what to do with Zozo six years ago but it was a bit fuzzy. If you have a heated tent or funds to donate to them please contact the Kindest Cut directly.

Tillie didn’t cry much on the way home because she was woozy. The weather was below freezing but the car was warmer. I brought her into the house. Zozo growled loudly and hissed so I took Tillie into the bathroom. She was happy to get out of the pet carrier but she was a bit wobbly from the events of the day. She almost tipped over a couple times but I caught her. Distemper and rabies vaccinations and a microchip implantation added to her discomfort, but they were very cheap to procure.

Tillie was famished so I gave her about a teaspoon of the Science Diet Id wet food for sensitive stomach. It was a leftover can from when she experienced a stomach flu during the summer. I wasn’t sure if she would vomit so I kept the amount small. I sat with her. It looked like she peed on herself during the operation but the incision was only about a half an inch in length. I stayed with her for about a half an hour to make certain that she didn’t get ill. Every hour I gave her about a tablespoon of the wet food until she had used up the half a can. I wanted her to rest so I didn’t sit with her the whole time. She purred very loudly for the food. I gave her a small handful of dried food and that stayed down. At 9pm I gave her a bowl of dried food.

At the 9pm check in I noticed that she had been licking the incision site because some to the sterilization orange dye had been removed. Much to Tillie’s dismay I had to place an Elizabethan Collar on her neck. I used Zozo’s old collar from when she injured her leg about five years ago. Zozo had to wear it for four months. Tillie fought the collar, she tugged and scratched but it would not come off. I tightened the gauze so that I could still place a finger underneath to make certain that it wasn’t too tight and choking her. I made certain that the dried food was heaped in the bowl duct-taped to the shower floor, two bowls of water in case she tipped one over, and uncovered the litter box for easy access. She was fine at 10pm so I went to bed.

To be continued…
2011 © Ima B. Musing

Friday, December 16, 2011


Reeking of liquor and cigarette smoke is my first memory of meeting “Santa Claus.” I was a little over four years old. My mom’s best friend, Ronnie, took me to meet him at the only grocery store in our small town while my mom worked. He was positioned in front of a fake fireplace. I told Ronnie that I didn’t want to go close but she gave me a shove. St. Nick plopped me on top of his lap and burped. I was perturbed. A photo was snapped of me looking very unhappy.

Much to my parent’s consternation I announced that Santa wasn’t real. They tried to convince me otherwise but I was certain that it was a big hoax. A few days after my encounter with Smelly Santa I was loaded into the car with my sisters and taken on a long drive. We bounced over country roads and ended up on an isolated farm. At the end of a road was a hutch, which was painted white and decorated with candy canes and other holiday décor. The inside was warmed by a potbelly stove and crammed with Christmas paraphernalia.

A jolly Man In Red with a real white beard greeted us. He smelled of soap. He knew a lot about me and my skepticism ebbed a bit. Why the heck would Santa bother to sit in a tiny building in Minnesota? Doesn’t he have a lot to do besides talk to a kid? I was never completely convinced but played along because it made my parents happy.

After that experience I began to question everything. If Jolly Old St. Nicolas wasn’t real, what was? What other lies had my parents told me?? My journey into esoteric thought began… and hasn’t ended.

© 2011 Ima B. Musing

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Cloudy days during winter are the pits. I’d rather have it sunny and cold than cloudy and warm. However, I was happy for the rain because it will help the trees and perennials survive the dry cold air. My seasonal affective disorder/syndrome is in full reign when the clouds block the sunshine. I crave carbohydrates, especially a sweet treat and salty treat simultaneously like cookies and potato chips.

Add in my monthly menses and all I want to do is sleep and eat junk food. Not helpful. I have a full spectrum light, which I have on a timer to make certain that I don’t forget and operate it for an hour after sunset each night. I generally wake up okay so I don’t need it in the morning. However, on overcast days I will turn it on whenever I am near just to trick my brain. I take a daily dose of St. John’s Wort and that seems to be enough to alleviate the blues.

Stress and anxiety of unemployment makes SAD worse. I have learned that distraction is a good thing. My main life focus right now is job search. When I have extra time I work on projects around the house, read, blog, herd cats, and hang out with friends. I strive to be physically active but the cold bothers my lungs and malls cause me to sneeze. I’ll be shoveling snow when that falls. I need an inhaler for my asthma but that will have to wait for the job…

Long night’s journey into day will begin soon (winter solstice), though the temperatures seem to dip into the recesses of the Artic for a couple months afterwards. Gloom and doom. Difficult to hold onto optimism. I want to be self-sufficient again. I’m accustomed to taking care of myself and prefer to help others than be a recipient. It isn’t about arrogance; it’s just that I feel better when I am assisting others. This bee wants to buzz!

Seeking Sunshine!
© 2011 Ima B. Musing

Monday, December 12, 2011


Dear Mr. Kringle,
All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth. Actually, I seek a full-time job with benefits so that I can afford to have my two front teeth crowned. I have temporary caps right now and one chipped last year so it looks horrible. I cannot afford to get it fixed until I procure employment.

I don’t expect the perfect position, just one that pays enough to cover the bills. I would like to do a job that I am good at and enjoy but I’m willing to do almost anything. I would like a nice boss who doesn’t micromanage and co-workers who are nice. It would be most amenable to be within ten miles of home, on a bus line, or within walking distance of home. A real office with a door would be a treat since I don’t do very well in a cube.

I live a very modest life (no cable, 12 year old car, no smart phone, etc). I don’t get a thrill from the acquisition of stuff. I need dental and health care insurance because it is blasted expensive to procure on my own ($279 per month with no vision coverage). I desperately need new eyeglasses because my old ones are scratched and blurry due to aging eyes.

The cats need checkups, vaccinations, and Tillie spayed. The house requires electrical and plumbing updates. Two lights aren’t functioning and some of the wiring is very old and must be replaced. The shower isn’t working, the bathtub leaks, and two faucets drip. The piping is steel and has buildup inside. The front walkway has crumbled. The basement floods easily so it needs trench drains. Lots of preservation is desired for this nearly 100-year-old abode. I want to pay for all these repairs by working.

I’ve been a good person and diligently sought a job. I’ve sent out 368 applications and been on 16 interviews, thus far. I network as much as possible. I volunteer regularly to help others and gave vegetables from my garden to others. I helped two neighbors with designing and seeding their own native perennial yards. I’ve provided a lot of free babysitting for friends and consulting work. I strive to better my community.

Thank you for your time and contemplation of this request.

Safe travels,

Believe in hope.
© 2011 Ima B. Musing

Friday, December 9, 2011


Tales of the City series of books by Armistead Maupin, Part II of review. Please read Part I posted on December 7th, first. Mr. Maupin has also authored several other books but I haven’t had the opportunity to read them, yet.

Significant Others (5th in series) Three and a half worms
Calamity returns! The characters get back to silly chaos and humor. The Grove sounds like more fun than the Wood but what happened to Frannie’s retreat? Serious topic of HIV and AIDS included, though very little was known about the disease at the time. Characters seem to have abruptly ceased chemical use without explanation.

Sure of You (6th in series) Three worms
No murder mystery or kidnapping, just solid character development though one person has devolved. The holiday in Greece was most amenable. Nickel-Dime chapter is a frank discussion about terminal illness and those left behind.

Michael Tolliver Lives (7th in series) Three and a half worms
Single narrative voice is a modification from the multi-character storyline. Strong storytelling and humor. Some of Michael’s viewpoints are repeated to the point of exasperation, once is adequate. Relationship status should not define a person.

Mary Ann in Autumn (8th in series) Three worms
Return to a simplified multi-character storyline. Interesting twist with the return of a character, though it was obvious to me after the email scene. Several good passages augment character development. Perhaps one or two more books will continue the story…

Spoiler Alert! Don’t read this paragraph if you haven’t read the books, the plot line will be discussed. Michael is my favorite character. He is a “nice” person who muddles through the roller-coaster of life. Mary Ann became unlikable. She morphed into an unfeeling monster and only showed a little vulnerability in the last book. Mrs. Madrigal is fascinating and deserves a biography-style treatment. I like her wisdom about change, “You don’t have to keep up dear. You just have to keep open.”

Stay open to change.
© 2011 Ima B. Musing

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Summary of Volume I was published on November 6th. Decided to review a series of books by Armistead Maupin. Intrigued by the scandalous BBC miniseries rebroadcast on PBS (nude scenes severely edited) to read the first three books about fifteen years ago. It would be cool if BBC would film another miniseries. Too bad Thomas Gibson won’t be included; he was deliciously naughty in the BBC show.

Tales of the City (1st in series) Three worms
Story line is a bit choppy but that is probably because it began as a newspaper column. Limited space makes the story terse at times. I especially enjoyed Michael’s diatribe about the holiday conspiracy.

More Tales of the City (2nd in series) Four worms
Stronger narrative flow with better developed characters. Events woven together for the adage of “small world in a big city.” Once again, the voice of Michael is the most poignant. His “Letter to Mama” could be used for the current “It Gets Better” campaign. Thankfully, our culture has become more inclusive but we have a ways to go to accept people for who they are instead of merely tolerate or openly despise them. Michael would definitely be a Little Monster fan of Lady Gaga and gleefully sing out “I was born this way!”

Further Tales of the City (3rd in series) Three worms
Storyline becomes a bit fantastical. Chemistry lacking since of the main characters is completely absent. The thriller aspect kills off the humor. The writing is strong but I miss the whimsy. Odd that the characters continue use of mind-altering substances despite aging.

Babycakes (4th in series) Two and a half worms
Creative bookends to the storyline, I like how the beginning and the end are tied together. Overweight people are maligned and the Little People of America (or the English counterpart) should have been consulted for respectful verbiage. Ending is a bit too sweet and tidy.

Other notable:
Visited the 1968 Exhibit at the Minnesota History Center and thought of death by macramé, which occurs in one of the Maupin books. The exhibit starts with the Vietnam War and then moves into politics and arts. The grade-schoolers who were there giggled at the old voting machine, which I remember being awed by as a little kid. It sounded so cool with the lever jingle and looked like the wizard’s booth in Wizard of Oz. Exhibit ended with the Apollo program. The display cases need rounded corners, an audio tour option, and better exit signage. All I remember about 1968 was being in the hospital for a tonsillectomy.

Reviews of the series will be continued in the next edition.
© 2011 Ima B. Musing

Monday, December 5, 2011


Simple guidelines to improve any art crawl. Attendees will greatly appreciate efforts made to develop the experience. Location refers to the site of artist’s display; it could be a building, studio, or home. Timing is everything. It is advisable to offer a variety of open hours. It is great when the event starts on a Friday evening and is open both Saturday and Sunday during the daytime. Don’t hold it on the same weekend as a major competing event, such as the Minnesota State Fair. It is good to coincide with other events in the area; a Zombie Art Crawl would be a fun addition to the Zombie Pub Crawl in downtown St. Paul.

The sponsoring organization or committee can easily increase attendance with clear information. The website should be updated with as many details as possible, include directions and a map. If there is construction nearby, offer advice regarding bus, alternative routes, and parking. Improve logistics with a detailed map available online and print some to be handed out at each location. Free parking is essential. Procure a trolley bus to ferry people around at large events. Make certain that the trolley makes frequent trips, at least every fifteen to twenty minutes. Invite neighboring businesses to participate by offering special deals for art crawl attendees.

It is okay to request donations to support the sponsoring group, as long as it is a nonprofit entity. Obvious signage is essential since many of the art crawl patrons are unfamiliar with the area. Post large signs with big print at each location (one for each entrance). Make certain that they are big enough for someone driving by to notice. Sandwich boards are helpful when a sidewalk is involved. Balloons or streamers are nice to add movement to the signs.

A smiling Welcome Host should greet patrons at all entrances to the building. It creates a positive attitude for the visitors. Hand out or post interior maps of each building. It is nice to have wandering Information Guides in large buildings to help people who become disoriented. Display a schedule of special activities occurring in the building, like performances. Clearly mark what areas to avoid, such as loading docks. Clean bathrooms with toilet paper should be indicated. Elevator and accessible buildings are essential. Utilize food trucks to supplement dining at large buildings or isolated locations with no restaurant.

The artist is the most important element of a successful art crawl. Friendly artists who actually want to show their artwork establish the tone of the event. Consider each guest as a customer. They may not purchase art during the crawl but harbor potential. Don’t display every piece of artwork but a few examples of each series. Prices should be clearly displayed with good lighting. Create an atmosphere with some background music and scent. The display space should be accessible for wheelchairs and strollers. If outside, make certain that the yard is cleared for walking and post additional signs if you want patrons to follow a specific pathway. Pets should be positioned away from the display because they may scare or become frightened of the art crawl attendees.

Good to have friends or family to help but always focus on the patron visiting. Be available for questions. It is fascinating to watch demonstrations or view a display of the process the artist uses to create their work but don’t ignore the guests. Business cards should be available with email and phone number. Simple refreshments are fine but extra points for homemade items, beverages, vino, and compostable plates/glasses. At the very minimum have a website or Facebook Fan Page featuring the artwork; create a separate account for personal friends and family. Twitter, blogs, and other social media accounts are good, too. If your exhibit space permits, invite an emerging artist to display their work and highlight all social entrepreneur activities (such as a percentage of sales get donated to a charity).

I felt honored to attend and review these events during 2011.
Reviews Posted:
Art-A-Whirl on June 23rd
St. Paul Art Crawl on October 24th
Highland Fest & Art Fair on August 5th
LOLA Art Crawl on September 21st
Powderhorn Art Fair on August 25th

Thank you artists!
© 2011 Ima B. Musing

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Each signature written in blood adds to the walking dead, the No New Tax Pledge Zombies. Their infected kin lurch through the corridors of Congress and all levels of government. They feed upon reasonable ideas and bring deathly stalemate to the democratic political process. Bitter Tea Party and the Americans For Tax Reform Retrobates act like the mafia thugs to strong-arm elected officials into joining their ranks and seek to destroy anyone who opposes them. Tax Zombies are no longer fully human.

Yes, government must be fiscally responsible and operate in a cost efficient manner. Since the cost of living or inflation rises each year, the price to operate government at the same level increases yearly. It is foolish to believe that taxes should not be increased at the same rate. Government exists for logical reasons. No government would be anarchy and we have seen the results in Somalia. Millions of people displaced and killed due to war and no government for many years.

I had hoped that the currently elected members of Congress and the Minnesota Legislature would stave off the zombies. They must see the error of no compromise and implement reasonable reform. Americans must not re-elect anyone who will not retract their so-called Taxpayer Protection Pledge signature. A few brave souls have and they must be supported in their reelection efforts. John Huntsman is the only wise Republican candidate for President who refuses to sign the pledge in his blood.

We need a strong pro-government, pro-tax group. The Occupy Wall Street aka Occupy Movement is a countermeasure but it hasn’t been able to stave off the Tax Zombies. Use logic as the weapon to bring life back into government. Support positive candidates and vote.

Raise my taxes, please.
© 2011 Ima B. Musing

Monday, November 28, 2011


Terribly disappointed not to have been offered the job that I interviewed for on the 18th. It would have been a good match. I have an interview for a part time position later this week, position #16. Painful to be frequently rejected for such a sustained period of time.

Multitude of hours spent in front of a computer applying for 348 jobs, thus far. Numerous employers, including the federal government, have cumbersome application processes. I am willing to work for a corporation though my heart lies elsewhere. I expanded my search to include part-time and contract work. Part-time with no benefits is cruel. I should at least get pro-rated benefits at 50% of a regular full-time employee. However, I will take any job that I can procure.

My extended unemployment benefits will be ending soon. By no means did I expect to exhaust them. I have never had so much trouble locating employment. It is frustrating and rather frightening. I fear a catastrophe that would cost money. I panicked when the furnace ceased to function. My accounts are dwindling at the credit union. Many employers don’t hire from Thanksgiving until mid-January. I’ll just sign up with temporary agencies and do that for a while. I am sick and tired of searching for employment. I don’t have anyone to fall back on for financial assistance. My friends provide emotional support but I know enough not to ask for money.

Winter is a lousy time to be unemployed. Cold and cloudy days don’t improve my mood. I keep the house cool at 56 degrees to save on heating costs. Holidays add extra pressure because people expect happiness. I don’t feel happy right now. I’m worried and stressed. I don’t want a handout; I just want a full time job with benefits that pays the bills.

One bright note is the Tea Tasting Event at Mrs. Kelly’s Tea this weekend, December 3rd and 4th. It is located in the old Grain Belt Brewery Warehouse in NE Minneapolis. Social entrepreneur activity with donations benefiting charity of a $2 admission or food shelf item. Delicious and exotic teas to sample and food vendors, too. They have some of the best tea that I have ever consumed. The Green Tea Jasmine Pearls don’t taste like a swamp. More information is at Hope to sip with you there.

Hire me, please!
© 2011 Ima B. Musing

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Life offers unending challenges but it is imperative to be thankful for the positive aspects of ones own existence. Here are my top ten thanks for 2011.

You: Blog Readers (viewing my odd opinions)
Friends: My Logical Family (loving relationships of choice)
Felines: ZoZo and Tillie (furballs of love)
Unemployment Checks: Extended Benefits (financial safety net)
Food Shelf (fills the tummy)
Heatshare: Energy Assistance Program (warms the home)
Faith Community (soul food)
My This Old House (love it though it needs repairs)
Garden Growth (flora, fauna, edibles, and critters)
Library & Art Crawls/Fairs (brain food)

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Attitude of Gratitude.
© 2011 Ima B. Musing

Monday, November 21, 2011


Friday, November 18th, was an exhausting day. Traveled twenty miles to interview number fifteen and it went well. I am one of three finalists but I have learned not to get my hopes elevated. I have to obtain and accept a job offer to end this unemployment journey. I have been ready for over a year and a half…

As I was walking into the interview my cell phone rang. I answered since few people have my number. It was one of the companies who visited the house on Thursday to submit a bid for the furnace replacement. They sent their bids to the Repair Program Coordinator who is in charge of crisis work. One bid was accepted and that company called me. Apparently they were planning to start at 8:30am and could not find me home. Apparently, the Repair Program Coordinator had forgotten to inform me.

The interview took about an hour. I am acquainted with the Executive Director so I told her that I was a little preoccupied with furnace issues. She was sympathetic and we had a good discussion. I would enjoy the organization and work. The only challenges would be the long commute and not quite full-time. However, I would say yes.

Zoomed home, changed clothes, and prepared for the replacement. Toted cat paraphernalia up from the basement including the litter box, food, and refreshed their water on first floor. I didn’t want the cats to get in the way or dirty during the procedure. Plus, they might run out an open door. The basement isn’t too messy but I moved aside some boxes that I had taken out from under the stairs during the swampy summer. I have to improve ventilation in that area before I return the boxes. Unblocked the basement access door and waited.

The replacement crew arrived a bit after noon. Friendly guys who just wanted to get to work so I showed them the way. After they hooked up the draining hose I opened the standing radiators to bleed water out of the system. It took almost eight hours to tear out the 56 year old radiator, which weighed almost 300 pounds, put down a chimney liner, and install a new 83% efficiency system. Lots of pounding and horrific sounds terrified poor Zozo. She hid behind the couch most of the time.

The new model is about a third the size of the old one. When I moved in nine years ago the entire house would rattle when it turned on. I added some insulation to the pipes in the basement so the rattle was reduced to a low hum. The new system is so quiet that it purrs. I hope that it will reduce my heating bill accordingly. A thirty percent drop in cost would be wonderful. My body doesn’t tolerate cold as well so perhaps I can keep the house a bit warmer this year.

I am profoundly grateful to the Energy Assistance Program for paying for the replacement. I was rather panicked about the cost of $4,000. I qualify due to low-income status. The Federal Government works to help people in need because I have no other resources. I’d much rather pay for it on my own but unemployment sucks. As soon as I am financially able, I shall donate to the Heatshare Program. They saved my home from freezing, literally. It snowed three inches on Saturday and the temperature remained below freezing for nearly two days.

Warm thoughts.
© 2011 Ima B. Musing

Thursday, November 17, 2011


It has been one of those years, lots of stuff not working. I strive to focus on the positive and seek the good side of every situation but my patience is wearing thin. The proverbial straw that broke this camel’s back is the furnace. It has ceased heating the water boiler. In a cold climate that is very bad news. If this were the bowel of winter, like the end of January and early February, it could be deadly.

Thankfully, it is only the chilly beginning of the season. The house was 48 degrees Fahrenheit when I woke up this morning. The sunshine is warming the first floor fairly well but its only about 50 degrees on the second floor where my office is located. I am wearing several layers of clothes along with a hat and scarf and I am still shivering. I wrapped a heating blanket around me and that at least keeps my torso warm. The poor cats are puffed up to retain heat. At least they won’t be shedding until the heater is repaired.

I qualify for the Energy Assistance Program due to my low income so I called for help. The nice Repair Coordinator sent out a contractor who looked at the boiler and was not optimistic. I phoned the coordinator and he said that another contractor would contact me for a second opinion and drop off space heaters. If that opinion coincides that the 56 year old furnace is dead then it will have to be replaced. The basic model of 83% efficiency is about $4,000 and I don’t know how much of that I will have to pay. I don’t want to completely drain my savings account. I was planning to purchase the 97% efficiency model next year for $6,000 but it all depends upon my employment situation.

I’ll do whatever they recommend and my dear friend Allie said that I could borrow money from her if needed. I hesitate because money usually messes up relationships. It is better to seek a loan from a bank than pay the heavy price of destroying a relationship. I doubt if I would qualify for a loan right now. I dare not borrow from my parents because the siblings would get in a snit, though two of them never repaid our parents for their personal loans.

Just to add to my glee the car battery is hesitating so it needs to be replaced for about $150, Tillie is showing signs of being in heat again (she needs to get spayed), I can barely see with my glasses (I need a new prescription), and my monthly menses cycle has begun. I’m cold, tired, and feeling a bit crabby. I have some yard work to complete before snow falls but not in the mood today. Dang cold outside too.

I need to conserve my physical and mental energy for an interview tomorrow. The job would be great since I have an interest in the work and I like the supervisor. However, its only 80% time (30 hours per week). I’d have to find another part-part time job and is located about 20 miles from my home. Commuting during bad weather would suck big time. I am getting desperate so I’ll take any job right now. The urge to scream, “Hire me,” is palatable. I have been seeking employment since July 2010. I have sent out nearly 350 applications and gone on fourteen interviews. It’s an unrewarding chore to search and not procure employment. At times I feel hopeless and afraid. Will I lose my home? What happens if I get injured or ill? What is wrong with me? Why won’t anyone hire me??? ARGH! Sorry, I just needed to vent today.

Seeking warmth.
© 2011 Ima B. Musing

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I am so sick and tired of dogs hogging the limelight. It is not the animal’s fault but the humans involved. Canines get more attention from the media, larger section at the pet store, frequent veterinary appointments, and public adoration. I love dogs AND I love cats. They are both special for different reasons. I grew up with a dog in the house and cats outside on the farm.

There are so many myths floating around about cats. Two cats share my abode, Zozo and Tillie, Momo died last year. I’ve written about their antics in previous blogs. My felines are very affectionate and expressive. They want to cuddle and be in the same room with me. They cry when I shut the bathroom door with them on the other side. I can understand a lot from the tone of their vocalizations, aka Meow-lish. They display a range of expression on their furry faces and body language. People who distain cats should spend three days with some affectionate felines and perhaps their hearts will open.

No, I am not into spoiling or pampering my cats. I am a servant for their companionship. I make certain that they have regular veterinary appointments, good food, fresh water, cleaned out litter box, trim their nails monthly (much to their chagrin), toys, space to run around, and affection. They are spayed and keep their front nails (they have never damaged furniture). I do indulge their tummy rub request at least once per day. Visitors to our home give the cats treats and that makes the felines happy to greet guests. They stay inside because it is safer in an urban environment.

I really want a dog but cannot afford one until I am gainfully employed. Plus, dogs are so social that they need at least two people around and I’m single. If I could take the canine to work with me or could afford to drop it off at doggy “day care” a couple times per week, I would definitely add a canine or two to our home. I’m sure that Zozo and Tillie would have fun with a pet puppy.

Cats are cool.
© 2011 Ima B. Musing

Monday, November 14, 2011


Victims are never to blame. A child never coerces an adult into a sexual situation. The victim is tricked, bullied, threatened, seduced, beaten, or talked into an inappropriate interaction. Pedophiles are predators. They stalk their prey and leave a trail of broken lives.

I was sexually assaulted by my step-grandfather when I was a young child. He threatened my siblings and I into silence. I submerged the memories until I was in my 20s and they came back in a flood. I was overwhelmed and frightened. It explained the nightmares and fear of being touched by a male (even my best friend who was gay). I eventually went to therapy and it helped. Occasionally, I have nightmares or jump when touched but I can’t quite shake the fear of men. Perhaps that is why I remain unmarried. I will forever be haunted by the abuse, which occurred more than 40 years ago. No one protected me from harm.

Every single person at Penn State who was aware of the sexual abuse must be fired and have his or her pension revoked. Period. End of discussion. The only exceptions are the subordinates who feared for their jobs, they could keep their pension. The supervisors who knew about the abuse created an atmosphere where it was tolerated. The glorification of sports is part of the problem. A criminal is a criminal; it doesn’t matter about his or her physical abilities. Penn State students must be educated so that protests are made against the criminals, not the victims. Anyone at the Police Department who did not take action should be fired, too.

Mandated Reporter Law exists to protect children under the age of 18 and vulnerable adults. Anyone who is aware that someone is being sexually, physically, mentally, or financially abused is REQUIRED BY LAW to report it to their supervisor. The supervisor is then required to follow organizational protocol to protect the victim(s), document the abuse, and contact law enforcement within 24 hours. Law Enforcement is then required to act upon the information and protect the child or vulnerable adult. If the supervisor doesn’t report the abuse, then it is the responsibility of the subordinate to contact law enforcement directly.

They all have “blood” on their hands for not stopping the predator from claiming more victims. They are Accessories to the crime. Criminal and civil action must be taken against them. The County Prosecutor must persue all involved. Penn State officials must internally punish all people who were a part of the conspiracy. They and all learning institutions must make certain that nothing like this ever occurs again.

If you know of a child, vulnerable adult or anyone being abused report it. Don’t sit there and be passive because you then give permission for the pain to continue. If you are being abused, report it. You deserve not to be harmed. Even if the abuse occurred years ago, get help. Attend therapy and heal your soul. It took me several years and three different licensed counselors(art therapy worked the best for me), but it was worth it.

Support all victims.
© 2011 Ima B. Musing

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Fifty gallons of black gold is excavated out of my back yard every fall. Nutrient rich compost is organic, very low cost, and easy to make. Mining the compost bins is the crux of the process. The bins are 3 feet square and four feet tall. Stuff in the yard and food waste, add water, and voila compost! Well, it really isn’t that simple.

I procured the bins from the county’s environmental program several years ago when they had a sale. Thirty dollars per bin made out of recycled plastic slats and assembled from a box was a bargain since the normal retail price is ninety dollars. I purchased four and realized that I needed more. Last year a neighbor bought a different bin and gave me their old one. I don’t bother staking them into the ground, I just anchor the bin in a couple inches below the ground level and they have not needed any more securing.

Yard waste comprises the majority of the input. All household paper products that don’t contain chemicals such as Kleenexes, paper towels, napkins, and paper plates are added with food scraps and used tea leaves (I’m not a coffee drinker), though no bones. The bins have a lid but I like to keep the contents exposed to air and moisture. Pests such as squirrels and raccoons like to feast on the contents so they must be kept at bay. I constructed a double layer of chicken wire about a foot wider than the bin. It is secured with long vegetable stakes that slightly poke through the chain-link fence next to the bins. I add a couple bricks on top of the wire and no pests have broken through the security measures. City critters are fed well enough; they don’t need my compost ingredients to add to their feast.

Each empty bin is filled with layers of new and old waste in the fall. I place the hard to break down materials on the bottom, like raspberry canes and black-eyed susan stalks. The next layer is smaller material with a gallon bucket of not-quite-done compost poured on top. I tamp it down with a shovel. Don’t get into the bin and stomp on the contents because they will be too compacted and not able to disintegrate. Continue layering new material with old waste until the bin is full. Secure the top with the chicken wire and wait for it to cook, aka rot. All it can do during the winter is freeze dry and collect layers of ice and snow.

The waste deteriorates when it is above freezing and moist, not drenched. Mice and voles tunnel in and consume the edibles. Worms inhabit moist areas and munch some more. Microbes nibble at the remainder. During the summer I turn the contents every two weeks or so. I use a short potato pitchfork to dig out the contents of one bin and dump it into a wheel barrel. I mix the remainder of the bin around the bottom. The bins are positioned next to each other so I then dump the contents of the neighboring bin into the partially empty bin. After the final bin is mixed I transfer the wheel barrel contents in and I’m done. At this time I check for moisture. If the bins are a bit dry I add water whenever I water the garden. If they are too wet I put on the bin covers over the chicken wire to let them dry out a little. The bin does not stink unless a lot of food waste is near the top and when you stick your head into it. My neighbors have never complained.

The first year I added coffee grounds and compost enzymes. They are no longer needed since I can use the not-quite-done matter to the new materials and pass along the microbes. Every fall I clean out the bins. This is the most physically challenging task. I place the covers on the bins as soon as the weather turns to fall, meaning that the first frost has occurred. The bins need a couple weeks to dry out or else I could be mining mud.

Pull one bin out of the ground and empty the contents onto an old plastic shower curtain. Place another plastic curtain on the ground and center the empty bin. Empty five-gallon buckets are placed inside the bin and to each side. I take off one layer of the removable slats and position a homemade screen over its top. My neighbor constructed a quarter-inch heavy gage wire mesh screen to fit inside the top of the bin. The wood sides of the box are four inches tall so I can load a lot of compost onto the screen. I ladle the compost onto the screen and gently push it around. What falls through is ready for use, the remaining bits are placed into the wheel barrel to be added back in with the new material and have another year to cook.

Screening the cooked compost is the most physically demanding part of the task. I split the task between two or three days to avoid exhaustion. Compost is a lot better than manure or chemical fertilizers. My garden grows well as a result. I store the five-gallon buckets in my shed. I cover each with a lid and place a brick on top, otherwise the voles tunnel in for supper. The mined compost continues to cook during warm weather and I target where I spread the compost for best results. If you use it for indoor plants make certain that you sterilize the compost to kill off any seeds that still may be lingering. Place in an old cake pan and bake in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour, let it cool before you use it. Stay nearby because it can catch fire if it becomes too hot or dry.

Happy mining!
© 2011 Ima B. Musing

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Updated rankings of books that I have previously read. I have adjusted ratings of a few to get them aligned with other books and alphabetized by author. Don’t bother to read anything below three worms.

Five Worms (Crème du la Crème)
TBD (to be determined) still searching for the perfect novel!
Suggestions are welcome.

Four and One Half Worms (Excellent):
* Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
* Plainsong by Kent Haruf
* Spiral by Paul McEuen
* Under Fishbone Clouds by Sam Meekings

Four Worms (Very Good):
* Half Life by Roopa Farooki
* Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Hurston
* Oyster: History on the Half Shell by Mark Kurlansky
* Black Mamba Boy by Natifa Mohamed
* Pirate Queen by Barbara Sjoholm

Three and One Half Worms (Good):
* I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive by Steve Earle
* Hit By a Farm by Catharine Friend
* Blindness of the Heart by Julia Franck
* Song Yet Sung by James McBride
* True Grit by Charles Portis
* Little Indiscretions by Carmen Posadas
* Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie
* Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
* The Help by Kathryn Stockett
* The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson (first half of novel)

Three Worms (Fair):
* Stormchasers by Jenna Blum
* Healer by Carol Cassella
* Reign of Madness by Lynn Cullen
* Sheepish by Catherine Friend
* Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man by Steve Harvey
* Private Patient by P.D. James
* Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer
* Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
* The Eight by Katherine Neville
* Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin
* I Think I Love You by Allison Person
* Nemesis by Philip Roth
* The Secret History of the Mongol Queens by Jack Weatherford
* To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
* Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeannette Winterson

Two and a Half Worms (so-so)
* Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show by Frank Delaney
* Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich
* The Way Things Look To Me by Roopa Farooqi
* Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
* Absent a Miracle by Christine Lehrer
* Midnight and the Meaning of Love by Sister Souljah

Two Worms (oh-oh):
* Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom
* Busy Body by M.C. Beaton
* Cat’s Eyewitness by Rita Mae Brown & Sweetie Pie Brown
* The Aloha Quilt: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel by Jennifer Chiaverini
* Cat in a Topaz Tango by Carole Nelson Douglas
* Metro Girl by Janet Evanovich
* Motor Mouth by Janet Evanovich
* The Cat Who Went to Paris by Peter Gethers
* Wicked Lies by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush
* Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov
* The Wilding by Benjamin Percy

One Worm (heavy sigh):
* Troublemaker by Janet and Alex Evanovich
* Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch by B.J. Daniels
* The 13 ½ Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers

Not Rated (due to special circumstances):
No One in the World by E. Lynn Harris and RM Johnson

Most recent review was posted on October 17th.

© 2011 Ima B. Musing

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Seeking humor, watch a Sasquatch Search show on cable tv. It is hilariously stupid. The idiots do everything to scare away the creatures. One bunch of fools played rock and roll music and sang. If I were a Bigfoot, I’d just run away.

The searchers wear lights, constantly talk, and probably have a crew of people swarming around. The electrical equipment makes a high-pitched whining sound that most humans ignore but probably scare animals. The homo sapiens are probably silly enough to wear perfume and bug spray, too. Don’t they realize that smart forest dwellers can see and smell foolish humans? It would make more sense to set up motion detectors with cameras and walk away.

Sasquatch, Bigfoot, Yeti, Abominable Snowman, Swamp Ape, or however you refer to the primates, they are another branch of the family tree. Yes, I believe that several species of primates still need to be documented. Valid researchers have found hair and fecal samples, which cannot be identified as a known species. Nature can consume a dead mammal within a few days so we may never find a skeleton.

I have a friend in northern Minnesota who has seen a Forest Brother (the local nickname). She said that it was about six feet tall and traveled in a small family group. One time her brother got too close and the adults threw stones and sticks at him. He backed away and they calmed down. The locals would never admit to the Forest Brother because they don’t want a bunch of idiots to plod around and disturb the animals.

A Forest Brother was brought to the Minneapolis Veteran's Administration Hospital in the early 1970s. I know someone who got lost and ended up in the VA Medical Center's basement. He heard a loud sound from a locked room. He asked a janitor what was going on and got a quick glimpse of a hairy creature which refused to wear clothes, speak, or use furniture. I’m certain that a record of the animal is somewhere and perhaps other employees have information about the purported Bigfoot. My friend said that the closest to the sound he heard is actually the groan on the opening credits of the sasquatch search show, at least the producers got that right.

Get Harry.
© 2011 Ima B. Musing

Monday, October 31, 2011


I am a skeptic. Almost all encounters 99.99% with “ghosts” can be logically explained without involving paranormal activity, please refer to the blog posted on October 26th. However, I have encountered a few unexplainable instances.

The first occurred when I was about seven. My teenaged sister had received an Ouiga Board for Christmas. She soon tired of it and placed it in the abandoned toy area of the basement. The pointer has always moved on its own for me so I got out the board. I thought it was funny and probably due to subconscious urges to spell out certain words. It started spelling mean words and phrases. I didn’t like it so I walked away; when I looked back I saw a dark shadow emerge from the Board. I packed up the game and hid it; I didn’t want bad stuff coming into the house.

During college, some of my dorm friends wanted to use an Ouija Board so I dug it out of the basement and brought it to campus. I refused to play with the game and warned them of the dark shadow. They laughed and played with it anyway. I went back to my room to study; within an hour they knocked at my door and threw the board at me. It brought in something negative to their dorm room. I went to the room and I saw a dark image sitting near the couch, which then slipped out the window. The residents of the room brought in a preacher to bless the space and pray for me. That was creepy, both the dark shadow and the minister speaking “in tongues.” I haven’t touched an Ouija since then and destroyed the old board since my sister didn’t want it.

If the “spirit” isn’t neutral, then the haunting falls into the category of angel or demon. The argument continues that if you believe in angels, you must also believe in demons. I know that positive and negative energy exist but I don’t think that “God” or the “Devil” control it. I’ve encountered the negative shadows brought in by the Ouiga but only one poltergeist. A friend of mine lived in a big renovated barn. We were in Junior High School and Donna’s family was having a rummage tag sale in their garage, located in the other half of the barn. She wanted to show off something in her room to me, I was about to walk up the stairs to their home when something dark oozed out the front door. I froze at the bottom of the stairway and knew that I should not go in. I told Donna, she was irritated but didn't press me to enter. I learned the next year that they had been dealing with a full-throttle poltergeist. The spirit moved items, made noises and smells. The local priest had blessed the home but only got stuff thrown at him. A special team of Archdiocese priests had to come from the Twin Cities to bless the house and talk with her elder sibling. The older sister was having emotional issues and the priests concluded that the poltergeist was feeding off her excess energy. After their intervention, the problems ceased.

These encounters are atypical. As I stated before, most people mistake hauntings for electromagnetic memory images imprinted upon a place or object. The possibility of a real ghostly spirit is virtually nonexistent (pun intended). The barn poltergeist and a couple other odd instances are the only unexplainable experiences of my entire life. Perhaps I'll write about those phenomonon at another time.

© 2011 Ima B. Musing

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


WoooOOOooo! Don Knotts in “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” encounters bumps in the night, creaky floors, and odd sounds which make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. He concludes that there must be Paranormal Activity in the mansion. Not! Almost every instance that anyone reports can be explained logically. It is a hilarious film, though.

Most “ghosts” are merely electro-magnetic (EM) imprints. Humans are energized bags of water; a weak EM field surrounds us (our aura), which becomes stronger during times of high emotion. Perhaps the EM leaves an imprint in a place. Somehow the space absorbs a bit of the energy. Some people are sensitive to the EM imprints. What they think is a ghost is actually a memory of what occurred in that location. Like watching a few seconds of silent film flickering on a wall.

I think that ghosts are possible but exceedingly uncommon, approximately .01% of the time. Ghost implies that it is a Sentient Being aware that it is nonphysical and conscious of current conditions. More likely “it” is caught in some type of purgatory where it can latch onto physical items in current time but not really aware of the situation. Maybe it is a feedback loop, parallel universe, or time-space-continuum issue. Perhaps a theoretical physicist will explain the phenomenon someday.

If it is a sentient being, it is probably neutral. My best friend during high school, Mike, lived on a farm. I had visited numerous occasions and oftentimes we would be alone (no hanky panky since he was gay and I was saving myself for marriage). Anyway, we were watching a videotape one night and in the next room I saw two baseball sized balls of light bouncing around. No one else was home and no pets. I calmly asked him what was causing the lights. He said it was probably the ghost of the person who died in that room just before they bought the house. It would show up once in a while but never bothered anyone. I wasn’t afraid; I went into the room and watched them bounce around for a while. It was much more interesting than the movie.

More ghost stories later...

Happy Haunting.
© 2011 Ima Boo Musing

Monday, October 24, 2011


Blood splattered sidewalks and a few skull posters were the only reminder that the streets were filled with lurching zombies groaning for a drink the night before. The morning offered gorgeous blustery summer weather for art viewing in St. Paul, MN. Parking is free on Sundays so I located a central spot in Lowertown, visited the Farmer's Market, toted purchases to the auto, and then began crawling on October 9th. No zombies in sight but Central Corridor Light Rail Transit destruction continues to haunt the area.

Consistent signage is direly needed by the St. Paul Art Crawl. Most sites had balloons but I couldn't always determine if it was an official participant. They need to adapt LOLA's (Longfellow neighborhood, Minneapolis) huge neon yellow signs because they were much easier to notice. Encouraging messages on the stairwell from Caprice Kueffner Glaser compelled me to trudge to the fourth floor of the Jax Building, worth the effort but an elevator is sorely needed. She builds and paints wood tableaus at Took the wrong stairwell and ended up in the smelly Jax loading dock. Better interior signage is needed for the art crawl. Visited about a third of the locations due to lack of time and energy. Eighty plus degrees Fahrenheit can be rather draining. and

Saddened by the lack of hospitality. Very few artists seemed happy to have visitors. Perhaps they were grumpy because the Minneapolis-St. Paul Zombie Pub Crawl VII scared off patrons on Saturday night. If you can't kill the zombies, then invite them to join the art crawl! Zombies should visit the sites and purchase artwork. Lisa Jaster wins the Congeniality Prize. She was personable, had terrific munchies, vino, and altruistic. She shared her space with a youthful emerging artist who is nine years old and displayed items from the Pet Haven of Minnesota nonprofit organization. She creates great photographs, too. definitely an artistic social entrepreneur.

Please contact the artists mentioned in this blog and let them know where you saw their name. I wish that I had a digital camera so that I could include photos of their work.

Best of Show:
Shout out loud for the big bold and brassy work of Diane Simon. Jasper Johns would be impressed by Dyne’s huge murals, painted furniture and accessories. 651-235-4200

Honorable Mentions:
* Zombies may have died on the floor (paint spatters) but DeAnne L. Parks artwork is quite imaginative and dream-like.
* Bright enameled eruptions dance across canvas for Christina Habibi. Fantastical images open one's visions.
* Band-aid plasters are ingeniously repurposed by Beth Barron into wall mounted sunbursts. She creates wonderful fabric art.
* Fairies would approve of jewelry fashioned by Amy Purdes, who wears wings, blithely spirited designs at
* Calm meditative landscapes with exquisite Maxfield Parish inspired skies are painted by Tom McGregor.
* Stunning aurora borealis and funky jewelry are Marla Gamble’s forte. 651-224-6711
* Flowing fabric falls into woven masterpieces by Sara E. Williams

LOLA art crawl reviewed on September 21st. This review was completed and then some stupid zombie computer glitch ate it so I had to reconstruct the words, thus delaying this posting. ARGH!

Zombies eat AAARRRTTTT!
© 2011 Ima B. Musing

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Toto was the family pet during my childhood. My first memory of Toto was when I was around three years old. She was a brown mass of fur that wiggled when I petted it, licked me a lot, and smelled funny. My eldest sibling, who was eleven at the time, convinced our parents to adopt this animal because it was being neglected. Toto was a small terrier mix and weighted about twenty pounds. We had had another dog but it grew too large for being in town and was given to friends who lived in the country. Unfortunately, the neighbor of our friends didn’t like the dog and shot it.

Toto was about one year old and belonged to an elderly woman who kept her outside all the time. The newspaper delivery boy would spray Toto with water and hit her with the rolled up newspaper. Thus, she had a lifelong abhorrence for young boys, anything rolled up or in a tube, bicycles, and getting wet. She would transform from a sweet puppy into a vicious wolf when confronted with these items. Her neglect and abuse haunted her until she died. She must have considered me to be a member of her pack because when I would annoy her she would only growl and move away. She never bit me except an accidental nip while we were playing.

Every Easter, I recall the basket incident. My siblings and I had ventured to Grandma Daisy’s farm for Spring Break week. I was five years old and still believed in the bunny. On Sunday I received a small basket with a note from the Easter Bunny stating that my big basket was at my parent’s home. What a conscientious bunny!

Upon arrival home, I rushed to see what the bunny had delivered. I plunked my luggage onto the bed and grabbed my basket. One quick glance was enough to show that the bunny had only given me jellybeans and foil-wrapped mini chocolates. I was utterly devastated because I had really tried to be “good.” I couldn’t hide my disappointment and began to quietly cry. Mom walked into the room and asked me what was wrong. “The Easter Rabbit must not like me because he only gave me jellybeans and I don’t like them,” I sniffed. She put her hands on her hips and frowned. The tone of her voice was serious when she replied, “I know the Bunny left you some chocolate, I saw it myself.”

It was a great mystery because my siblings were with me, my dad doesn’t like chocolate, and my mom always kept her own private stash on the top shelf of the cupboard. This was back in the day when no one locked their house doors in a small town and everybody left their car keys in the unlocked vehicle with driver’s license and charge cards in the glove compartment. She was probably wondering if someone had come into the house while my parents were at church to play a trick on me. All I knew was that I there was no chocolate or my favorite sugar coated malted milk “robin eggs.” Jellybeans got stuck in my teeth and I didn’t like their flavor. The foil wrapped chocolates always tasted a bit tinny and was usually dark and bitter.

I was feeling sad and my mom was mad. Toto had already zoomed into woof hello to my sisters and finally made it to my room. She looked at me with her big brown eyes and could see that I was sniffling and my mom was irked. She tail stopped wagging her plump body as her head lowered. Her tail went between her legs as she tried to sneak out of the room. My mom grabbed Toto and placed her on the bed right at my eye level. She said, “Dog, what did you do?” Mom pried open Toto’s lips to reveal a ring of chocolate. A tiny bit of foil was on a tooth, where she had attempted to peel open a covered treat. The mystery was solved!

The commotion caused my siblings to investigate. My mom told them what had occurred while I told Toto that she was a bad dog. She laid on the bed in a submissive pose and let me rub her soft treat filled tummy. One of my sisters asked if chocolate kills dogs. Mom said yes. My heart sank. I was angry that my goodies were gone but I didn’t want Toto to die. I was bereft with guilt, because candy kills. I grabbed the wiggling dog and sobbed loudly.

We lived in a small town and there was only one veterinarian who treated small animals. My mom called him and interrupted Easter dinner because it was an emergency. Dad was irritated that the call would cost money for the stupid dog. The vet said that it was too late to pump Toto’s stomach. All we could do was make her comfortable as she went into shock and died. Mom broke the bad news.

I erupted into full panic. I dragged Toto into the living room and held her in my lap expecting her to drop dead at any moment. I clutched tighter and tighter as she squirmed and woofed. She was darn energetic for a critter nearing the end. Finally, she broke free and was running around at full speed. This perplexed my parents. Dad called the vet and asked what we should expect. The vet was shocked, usually little dogs who consume a half-pound of chocolate toxin die within an hour or so.

Toto did not pass on. She was awake for two days and ran around endlessly. We concluded that she was among the small percentage of dogs not allergic to chocolate. The silly mutt didn’t even get diarrhea! She was thirsty but absolutely fine. After that she would dance on her hind legs for “candy” and gleefully nibbled chocolate.

End of this tale.
© 2011 Ima B. Musing

Monday, October 17, 2011


I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive by Steve Earle Three and a half worms
Ghostly tale of characters fighting to survive on the outer fringes of society. Befittingly, the characters swore a lot. Addiction is horrible and leads to terrible consequences. It would be intriguing to learn the fate of the two characters that follow the butterflies.

Reign of Madness by Lynn Cullen Three worms
Well-written tale of the woes of the European monarchy. Many generations of inbreeding create monsters. The main character’s mother would have been more fascinating subject. Happy that both a map and genealogy chart were included. Loosely based on historical fact.

Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man by Steve Harvey Three worms
Good humor, practical advice but a subtle under-current of chauvinism. He mixed in some specific theology, which was not needed. When will men see equal partnership as not threatening?

No One in the World by E. Lynn Harris and RM Johnson Not Rated (see note)
Reads like a soap-opera movie. Intriguing plot but should be placed in pre-DNA era because the crime scene would have been checked. Needed a concluding chapter taking place a few years after the climatic scene to learn the fates of the characters.
Note: This book is not rated because it was not completed by the primary author but based upon his notes.

The 13 ½ Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers One worm
One of the most tedious books that I have ever encountered. I nearly stopped on several occasions and then a brilliant page or two would inspire me to read more. Highly creative ideas but the journey was never ending. The editor should have trimmed out about a third or half the book, it would have been much better.

Most recent review was posted on September 15th. I am searching for the “perfect book” if anyone has suggestions, please send me a note. The book needs to be available in the MELSA library system since I read only library books at this time. Alas, I can’t afford to purchase literary volumes…

Read on!
© 2011 Ima B. Musing

Monday, October 10, 2011


Love and hate entertaining simultaneously. I have to clean, set up the place, prepare food, prepare myself, provide the party, and then clean up while exhausted. Thankfully, people remain on the first floor so I can ignore the upstairs and basement. I prefer company during the summer because we can sit outside, weather permitting. Let the ants and critters eat the crumbs instead of having them scattered throughout the house. Adults can be just as messy as children.

The house transforms into an oven facilitated by hot weather due to lack of air conditioning. During late August I had about a dozen people over since friends were visiting from out of town. We were able to sit out under the oak tree; the only problem was the acorns falling. I had to warn people that they might get knocked by an acorn or bit of husk from a squirrel munching above. We really needed umbrellas to shield ourselves but at least no one became angry when a husk fell into their drink or food. A few years ago a squirrel would purposely chuck acorns at dogs and humans. It zapped me numerous times. It had really good aim but either died or moved on.

I have to clean extra when people stay overnight. A single person can use the guest bedroom on first floor. Couples have to use the master bedroom upstairs so I have to clean second floor, too. Whenever my parents visit, I clean intensively. My mom was a domestic worker for many years so she is picky about cleanliness. I strive but never seem to get it clean enough. My worst downfall is paperwork. As a result, the office is chaotic. I can never keep it in order no matter how much I file. I really need a cabinet to organize my items instead of using boxes. I haven’t had very many overnight guests since my shower quit working, no one wants to take a bath and I can’t afford a plumber right now.

Socializing takes a lot of energy. As a geek, I have to really concentrate on the interactions of humans. It is so blasted complicated and I often make mistakes. I’ve learned not to be too controlling during a gathering. It is just best to not regulate people. One friend, Peter, likes refreshments and sweets. It is not unusual for him to have three types of drinks and four desserts in front of him. I endeavor not to criticize his greed. Sweets are his weakness but he should wait until everyone has had a taste before he indulges in seconds, thirds, and etcetera.

A current complication is the fixing of the spare room closet on second floor. I made a huge mess to complete the task. Ugh. This DIY project is taking much longer than expected and I don’t know when I’ll complete the task. Of course, my parents are visiting soon. Plus, I need to haul in plants from outside before the frost nips and freeze kills them. I have to clean up the office to make room for the plants since the window faces south. A homeowners and gardeners job is never done. I’m a better guest than host.

Invite me, please.
© 2011

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I adore parties. It’s wonderful to chat with people, sip refreshments, and nibble on food. During the cool months, I attend a Fun-and-Games (FNG) gathering once per month. Two friends share a large house and they have hosted this assembly for years. People bring along food to share and pitch a couple dollars into the “bucket” to pay for the cost of hosting. Very few people consume alcohol since it would interfere with the ability to play.

Some of the FNG’ers are serious gamers; they are competitive participants. The hosts probably have fifty types of board games but guests bring along others. Usually the Guitar Hero karaoke is turned on and people are transformed into musicians and vocalists. I am not a fan of karaoke unless the vocalist is good. My dear friend Walt is a wonderful person but I wish that he would not sing… There are those of us, like me, who play an occasional game but focus on socializing. We are mostly geeks.

Every January the focused gamers hold a Dune Marathon where they start the game after work on Friday and play until about 10pm, adjourn until 10am Saturday and play until the end of FNG, and finish the game on Sunday. Way too involved for me. I know that many of the attendees engage computer competitions, and on-line sport at home like World of Warcraft. I haven’t become interested in that, yet. I suppose a high-speed Internet connection would assist.

My favorite board game is Rumicube. It is basically rummy with tiles the a bit larger than dominos. It is easier for me to play because my brain has difficulty differentiating between spades and clubs due to the dyslexia. I can make faster decisions with colors. Mexican Train is okay but takes too long. I don’t really like games that consume more than an hour or are terribly complicated. One time I tried a game where a book had to be consulted for every move, it took about five minutes for each player and I got bored during the two and a half hour endurance contest.

I am shocked that few of the new games are inclusive. Fifty percent of the characters should be female and include diversity. Gamers tend to be smart people so I am surprised that the gaming community hasn’t raised this issue. I don’t like it when someone who knows the answers plays a game. Usually, it is a game that they own and have played enough to learn its nuances. They have an unfair advantage. I went to a MENSA game group and they only played brand new games. That was fun but the group was not welcoming.

The FNG gang is very convivial. There are probably about sixty people in the mailing list and twenty are regulars. We can bring along friends at any time, just need to RSVP. I usually meet a friend or two before the gathering to eat dinner and then we go to the house. There are lots of game groups in the Twin Cities area, especially during the chilly months. has a very good listing and most are free to join.

Game on!
© 2011

Monday, October 3, 2011


My first memories of flight are from the late 1960s and early 70s. We traveled from a small regional airport in Minnesota to St. Louis, Missouri to visit relatives every other year. It was in economy class and not luxurious like the tv show Pan Am. I was young enough to sit on my mother’s lap and my siblings were nearby. The flights were crowded and people smoked. I didn’t enjoy the experience. I only fly because it is fast, though expensive.

About fifteen years ago I experienced a near mid-air crash from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Nashville, Tennessee. I could see the faces of the people in the other plane as we suddenly gained altitude. The meal had just been served and I don’t think that anyone else realized our peril. The Flight Attendant noticed my shock and brought me a free beverage. I profusely thanked the pilot when we landed. He and the other plane’s pilot had only moments to avoid the collision. The flight was mentioned in an expose in the Star Tribune a couple months later. There would have been no chance for survival at that speed and altitude, strike number one.

Another misadventure was from MSP to Los Angeles, California about ten years ago when the co-pilot’s windshield cracked at 30,000 feet. An odd flat tone sounded in the cabin and the Flight Attendants turned pale and went running up to the front. When my area’s Attendant returned I asked him what was going on, he looked grim, shook his head, and wasn’t allowed to say. He urged me to go to the bathroom if I needed, I did. The pilot came on with a somber voice and calmly explained that we had to return due to an issue with equipment. Thankfully, no one panicked and the Attendants made sure that every item was stored away.

The plane turned around and I could hear the loud whoosh of a full load of fuel being dumped as we descended for an emergency landing. We were greeted by a parade of emergency vehicles flashing in the night. Everyone cheered as the wheels touched down and then the Attendant could tell us about the windshield. Again, I thanked the pilot and co-pilot upon exiting. The crack looked like a spider web and would have been deadly if it had blown into the cockpit. We had to transfer to dirty plane and didn’t get any compensation. I was irritated because I missed a dinner party in LA and had to endure another alarming circumstance. A friend of mine worked for the same airline and told me the seriousness of the situation. Apparently, the leak was beginning to decompress the pilot’s cabin so they had to wear oxygen masks, strike number two.

Most recently, on a flight from Atlanta, Georgia to MSP the navigation computer ceased functioning. The plane itself was fine but they didn’t want to rely solely on instruments. Considering how busy the skies are these days, I understand completely. It was disconcerting to have to return to Atlanta, switch to another plane (which was clean but very hot in temperature), and take off again. At least we were never in danger, but I wonder if I should avoid flying.

I generally take the Blue Van airport taxi service since it picks me up from home, ferries me to my gate, and is cost effective. Sometimes I share the ride with other passengers but that is okay. I neither want to park my car in an airport lot for several days nor burden my friends with a ride to/fro. Public transport is not feasible from my home to the airport at this time. I have to convince someone to check on the cats and that is enough hassle.

I’ve learned to eat lightly, take an aspirin before boarding the plane, settle my nervous stomach by chewing several Altoids, bring along snacks, gum for the ascent and decent, and an empty bottle to fill up with water from the bubbler/drinking fountain. I wear headphones to listen to on-flight music. I wish that I could listen to the cockpit communication, but I suppose that is a security issue. I bring a book to read, eye-visor and earplugs if I want to rest. I rarely sleep because I’m too nervous. I like to sit next to the window because I feel better when I can see the earth. I despite flying through clouds or at night. I’m plump but can still squeeze into the seat. Most of the time I have a friendly person sit next to me who will chat a bit and let me lift up the armrest for a little more wiggle room. I try to get up once during the flight to stretch my legs and go to the bathroom. My sister has had thrombosis so I am careful about monitoring for blood clots.

Statistically it is safer to fly than be in an automobile. I’ve been in several car accidents but none were life threatening. America’s public transportation system is pathetic. I wish that the United States had super-fast trains (curse Wisconsin’s Governor Walker for blocking the fast train service from Chicago to MSP). I’ve enjoyed train journeys from San Diego to Los Angeles and north to San Jose, California and from MSP to Chicago. Sadly, Amtrack is slow, never on time, and the routes are limited. I don’t like driving; it takes too much mental energy and is physically stifling. Buses can be uncomfortable for many reasons. I love to visit new places but loathe the journey.

Beam me up Scotty!
© 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Oblong pools of orange, spots of yellow and white surrounded by black edging. The wings of a monarch butterfly are like beautiful stained glass windows. Each butterfly has a slightly unique pattern. Their black bodies are speckled with white dots. Each spring they start their journey from the jungles of Central America flying northward to Canada, a journey of several thousand miles. I’m in the Twin Cities, Minnesota area so it is still a long distance from the mountains of Mexico. Early summer is official when the first monarch butterfly flits by.

My yard is filled with native perennial plants and I purposefully grow a plot of about 50 milkweed plants. They are not particularly attractive but their blooms smell wonderful. I place them inside a fenced area because they tend to tip over mid summer. Monarchs lay eggs on the milkweed plant and the caterpillar larva eats the leaves. Unfortunately, approximately one in one hundred eggs will mature into a butterfly due to weather conditions and predators. I aim to increase those odds by gathering caterpillars and raising them inside. Not all live to maturity but more than ninety percent in my care survive to become a butterfly.

Caterpillars need a space to eat, poop, and a location to attach their pupa chrysalis. They all have bands of white, yellow, and black but there is a lot of variety in the pattern. Last year I had a larva that was mostly black with tiny bands of white and yellow. Their job is to consume calories and grow. In ten days or so they will enlarge by 3000%. They procure all their nutrition from milkweed leaves. However, the frass (poo) is rather gooey and smelly. I will explain the best method to set up a Monarch Caterpillar Hotel. As soon as I see the first caterpillar I prepare the hotel, usually during the first week or so of June in the Twin Cities.

First, obtain a growth tank. I acquired an barely used plastic salamander cage from Goodwill. It is about twelve inches tall, eight inches wide and fourteen inches long. Most importantly, it has a lid with air holes. It is imperative to have good airflow for the caterpillars. Secondly, make a vase for the milkweed plants. I use two disposable plastic containers 2 inches tall and 4 inches square, which perfectly fits the bottom of the cage-hotel. The lid is prepared by poking holes about on fourth of an inch in from the corner and in the center; it looks like a five of dice. Make certain that the hole is about the half the diameter of a pencil so that it will accommodate the stem of the milkweed plant. I extended the hole with cross hatches (like the plastic lid of a soda-pop cup, with an expandable hole to hold straws of various sizes).

Thirdly, prepare the tank. Make certain that it is clean; use a 10% bleach solution (one cup of bleach to 10 cups of water). After it is dry, place a couple paper towels on the floor of the tank. This will sop up any errant fecal matter or chrysalis fluid. Put water into the plastic containers. Place a layer of wax paper over the top of the plastic containers (the wax paper should be a bit larger than the size of the floor of the tank. It will catch the poo as it falls. Make certain that you always close the lid or the caterpillars may crawl out.

The fourth step is food. Pull out some small milkweed plants from the garden. I concentrate on the “volunteer” plants that grow outside the designated milkweed patch. Take the small plant and treat it like a flower, keep the leaves on the stem, just cut the stem to the point that the stalk can be shoved into the hole in the plastic container but not taller than the lid of the container. Usually, mature butterflies lay their eggs on small plants so you might end up with a bonus caterpillar! I use a magnifying glass to look for tiny caterpillars. Don’t attempt to pluck them from the plant, just bring in the whole leaf. Place one plant per caterpillar in the tank. Depending upon the size of the bug and the leaves, they eat about one or two leaves per day. They will chew on the stalk if the leaves are gone. The caterpillars will starve and die very quickly if they do not have adequate food. Don’t touch the larva because they are delicate. I use a dry artist brush to move them if they don’t stay on a leaf.

Maintenance is the fifth step, Replace the stalks every other day or whenever they look droopy. I clean out the whole tank on my back steps because it is too messy to do inside. I temporarily relocate the bugs and the old leaves onto a couple sheets of newspaper while I wipe out the tank, wash the plastic containers, replace the layer of wax paper if it is falling apart, and put in new stalks. Carefully check the old leaves before composting them because sometimes little caterpillars will be on them. Gently transfer the bug to the new leaves. Gently return the caterpillars to the new stalks and they will eat again.

Tillie, the cat, likes to sit on the lid. I have moved the tank to several locations but she still climbs on board. At least she only weighs about eight pounds. I think she is attracted to the smell since caterpillars don’t move much. Sometimes the bugs will climb onto the inside of the lid to molt their smaller skin as they grow. It falls to the floor of the tank. It takes about ten days to two weeks for the caterpillar to reach maturity. When it is at about an inch and a half long, it climbs to the lid and attaches itself. It takes about a day and it will shed its exoskeleton skin to form the chrysalis. It is enthralling to observe a larva dance out of its skin.

Inside the chrysalis, the bug takes about ten days to transform into a butterfly. It is interesting to watch the pod slowly elongate, occasionally wiggle, and then wings can be seen. The pod turns translucent just before it breaks open. The new butterfly emerges with a large abdomen and shrunken wings. It only takes a few minutes and the butterfly forces the fluid from its abdomen to inflate the wings. Fascinating to watch. The wings are very fragile because they are not dry. Don’t mess with the new butterfly until it starts to flap its wings. I take the whole tank outside and gently open the lid. Oftentimes, the butterfly will alight off into the wind. Sometimes, it isn’t quite ready to fly so I coax it onto my finger and I carry it out to the milkweed patch. Gently attach it to any open flowers or a leaf so that it can finish drying its wings. I place them in a sheltered spot so a bird doesn’t swoop down upon the newbie.

Finally, don’t wait to place the butterfly outside. It needs food and flight. It could die very quickly if you leave it inside the tank. I don’t like visiting Butterfly Houses because the bugs are not allowed to reproduce and may not have access to food. They are purely bred for human enjoyment, it is a zoo. Captivity can be cruel. However, I do keep two felines but they would only live a couple years in the wild and they purr a lot.

A second batch of caterpillar eggs are laid approximately the last week of July through the first couple weeks of August. I repeat the procedure above after thoroughly cleaning the hotel with the bleach solution. Otherwise, they will be prone to disease. These hearty creatures will start the migration to the winter grounds in Mexico. Five generations later, a new crop will arrive in my garden to start the process over again. My grandparent’s farm was on the migration route. If your timing was right, you could watch them mass together in the tree branches at night and as soon as the sun warmed their wings, they would fly off in the morning. Alas, after my grandparents died the farm was sold so I can’t watch this wonderful sight.

2011 totals: 31 in summer batch and 19 in fall batch, twice as many as last year since I was super diligent about looking for wee tiny caterpillars. Next year, I’ll note their gender when releasing them. In the fall I collect some milkweed seeds to reseed the area in the spring. is an excellent source of information.

Wish that I could fly.
© 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011


Attended concert of the Johann Strauss Orchestra conducted by Andre Rieu on Friday, September 16th in St. Paul, MN. Procured tickets which were donated to a nonprofit where I volunteer and took my dear friend, Allie. Our seats were in a good location but the seats themselves were not comfortable. Allie banged her leg on the beverage holder, which is black and not obvious in the darkened Xcel Energy Center.

Performance began with the musicians marching in carrying their bows. Clever method to perk up the audience on a windy and chilly day. Talented professional musicians and singers. Very solid presentation of romantic classical and rousing traditional tunes, not one wrong note. Cameras showed the members of the orchestra as well as Mr. Rieu up close. Impressive that he used body language to conduct while playing. It would have been cool to hear him solo on the Stradivarius and show off his multilingual skills.

Nice to include some comedy, the Blacksmith skit was very cute. The snowstorm was funny since it doused people with a couple inches of fake flakes. The kids loved to throw the fluff around. Balloons were popular though people popping them were rather distracting. Musicians sat on chairs with no cushion, which could not have been appealing for two hours. Female musician and vocalist gowns were beautiful but beading and lace would have been uncomfortable. It would be amenable if the men could wear colorful vests. Orchestra lacked diversity except for one musician and one profoundly skilled singer.

Maestro Rieu had to coax the audience to dance but many couples went out after he urged them. Perhaps the show producers could have “planted” some couples to start dancing after the first song. There are several amateur ballroom dance groups in the Twin Cities. Time went by quickly. Sad that there were many empty seats since Rieu’s shows have sold out before. As a kid, I would have been thrilled to attend. The producers should have invited school orchestras from around Minnesota to fill up the arena. Needed close captioning in English for the songs. Many audience members sang along with the traditional songs (I know some of the words). Allie’s dad, who died this past spring, was a member of a German vocal group and played the accordion so she got weepy during several of the songs. The show could have included another break. The encore was rather lengthy without a second break but overall it was a delightful show. American tunes were unnecessary.

I played a stringed instrument for about ten years and continue to be a strong appreciator of orchestral music. I was not a talented musician. My left hand had been injured as a child, which severely limited vibrato. My favorite classical music station was destroyed by MPR, I like The Current, but deeply miss St. Olaf Collage’s WCAL.

Waltz with me.
© 2011