Category Archives: What Is On My Mind Today

What Is On My Mind Today? Demise of the Last Childhood Tooth Filling

 

dentist office

This household has started out the New Year with a bang!  My quarterly cancer tests showed a cancer marker had returned.  So, I will get re-tested in six weeks.  My husband was diagnosed with his first cataract.  And, the very next day while eating, of all things, meat loaf, I lost a tooth filling.

Now, for most people getting a filling replaced is not a big deal. But, for this gal, with all of the bone hardening drugs that I have to take for my cancer damaged bones, going to the dentist could end up with complications that could give the most stoic of souls nightmares.

After my tongue found and fell in love with the sharp hollow crater, I  immediately reported the loss to my dentist.  An appointment time was set for the next day.  It wasn’t too long before the dentist’s office called me back to ask if I could come in a half hour earlier.  No problem!

When I got to my dentist’s office there wasn’t even time to get my new insurance card back into my purse before I was called back.  My dentist of many years came in and informed me that the filling I had lost was a very old one. She acknowledged that it had done very good service, but it was now time for a crown.

It was show time.  Needles delivered pain, then numbness and sun glasses went on.  The high whine of the drill, the only sound more obnoxious than finger nails on a chalk board, resounded throughout the office and my brain.

As the drilling commenced in earnest, I tried to mentally focus on my favorite place, the Trail of the Cedars in Glacier National park.  I could see the the water falls cascading hundreds of feet straight down into the icy cold crystal clear glacier lake.  I could almost hear wind whistling through the craggy mountains peaks.  Almost, but not quite.

Dentist drills are hard to ignore.  I started thinking about that old tooth filling.  My last from childhood? Instantly, I slipped away from peaceful mountain meadows right into an over-sized antique dentist chair in Litchfield, Minnesota.

dentalchair

Dr. Farish was our family dentist.  He had curly grey hair, wore glasses and a white lab coat, and seemed to be always leaning over me with a drill bit the size of a car jack clutched in his fist of enormously fat fingers as he threatened, “If you don’t sit still, you will get Novocaine”.

dentist drill 2

Somehow trips to a medical doctor in those days always ended in shots….in your end.  A successful trip to the dentist was not the absence of cavities. It was avoiding a Novocaine shot to the head.

dentist drill

It was an experience sitting beneath the well-oiled cables and spinning pulleys that sprang into action when the drill began its work. The drill was so big and slow that your whole face shook as it came into contact with the offending cavity.  You knew the dentist was getting somewhere when you could smell the putrid smoke of your burning teeth.

There you sat with your tiny hands clutched to the arms of the dentist chair as if your life depended on it. Your focus centered on the prevention of wiggling, grimacing or groaning.  Wiggling, grimacing or groaning was to be avoided at all costs as it sent you straight to the head of the line for the dreaded Novocain shot.

Many a sin was repented in that chair.  Hoping a loving God would prevent your demise by drowning in your own spit or the perspiration dripping off of the dentist’s forehead.  As your mouth overflowed with juices, the good doctor shouted above the whine of the drill that if he stops for spitting, it is only going to take longer.

dentist sink

Prayers were said for courage so that you wouldn’t shame yourself by crying, as your siblings were usually watching in the doorway. Going to the dentist was an officially sanctioned farm family group activity and was considered a form of entertainment in the spectator sport category.

Visiting, a long lost communications art form where people politely talk to each other face to face, was widely practiced during my youth. Even, in a dentist chair.  With a mouth full of huge dentist fingers and equipment, a nod or well-timed grunt sufficed to keep the conversation going.

During each visit my dentist would retell the story of his heart attack while on the local golf course. More details were included with every appointment.

The basics of the story were that my dentist was golfing with his good friend who was a surgeon.  This surgeon not only practiced at our local clinic, but he had written a book about making a surgeon that had topped some list that impressed adults.  He was a local celebrity to be sure.

There my dentist was, golf club in hand when he was dropped right to the ground. Not by lightening, but by a heart attack. As he laid on the green drifting between life and death, his golfing buddy, the surgeon, began screaming, “Somebody get a doctor!”

Once the heart attack story was completed and after the last of the squeaky metal filling had be pushed into your tooth with the same tool grandma used to get walnuts out of their shells, the aqua blue paper drool bib held together with alligator clips was removed.

Your reward for “being a good little girl”  was picking a plastic gemstone ring out of the little square orange box, that would break before you got home. Or, a colored animal shaped pencil eraser that smeared more than it erased.

Off you’d go, happily skipping away with your hard earned prize and a new tooth brushing kit.

Of course you’d have to try out that tooth brushing kit as soon as you got home.  Into the bathroom you’d go excited to use the little kid’s sized tube of toothpaste on the new toothbrush.

Then, after you gave your pearly whites a rigorous going over.  After a quick inspection in the mirror of your glowing smile, it was time to put the pink pill that came with tooth brushing kit in your mouth and chew it.

dentist plaque-tablet-1

When you opened your mouth the red dye from the pill made it look like you’d bit your tongue off and were bleeding to death.  I am convinced that whoever invented that pink pill had no intention of ever having any child successfully pass the toothbrushing test.

The day’s adventures ended as an exhausted youngster said her bedtime prayers with pink teeth. Or in this case, with a new crown.

 

 

 

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What Is On My Mind Today? Buying a Bomb at a Garage Sale

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/01/06/active-world-war-ii-style-mortar-shell-turns-up-in-all-places-oregon-womans-shed.html

This story from Foxnews about a live World War II shell in an Oregon’s women’s shed  reminds me of when I bought the bomb at the garage sale.

Yup, I bought a 90 mm solid brass artillery shell at a garage sale in Shoreview for $3.25 to use as an umbrella holder in my entry way.

It looked like a huge solid brass 22 shell. The fellow had brought it home from WWII. The shell had been in his living room for over 60 years.

When I got it home, transported of course in my red Corolla with my daughter in the car, a neighbor boy looked in it and said, “Pat, there is shit in there!.”

So, we got a flash light and sure enough, the detonator was still in there and when I flipped it over the percussion cap was still intact on the bottom.

My neighbor, the one who has the brain tumor now who is a veteran, happened to be outside and hollered to keep that thing away from his house.

That was when I realized, I was $3.25 and a bang away from paradise.

I went indoors and called an army surplus store to see if it was dangerous. The nice fellow that answered the phone gently and calmly explained that explosives explode. Large explosives explode largely.

So I called the police, who called the bomb squad. It’s just how things go some days.

They told us it was safe as long as it was laying on its side. We all took a step back.

A discussion commenced. It was pointed out that I had no fear of the thing when I was driving all over with it in the trunk of my car.

Reality changes perspectives.

I tend not to lose arguments, if I decide to take one on. As former Secretary Mark Ritchie once complimented me after I learned that I was too short to be a Civil War soldier, without missing a beat and with a big smile on his face, he responded, “Oh, they’d take you, you’re a fighter.”

Recognizing when a cause is truly lost is a gift. The gifted officer, a true credit to his department, demonstrated an exemplary commitment to public service and bravely, and as soft as a feather, laid it on its side. He put it into the trunk of his car and hauled it away.

I arrived back in the house just in time to hear a television news station announce that a woman in Centerville had bought a bomb at a garage sale. My ever dignified and quiet husband said he was going to his room as the phone rang. It was his grandmother from Pine City who just said, “It was you, wasn’t it!”

The bomb squad had to blow it up and I never got back a single piece of brass. A shame! It was a nice piece of brass. It had 3-5 dynamite blasting caps worth of powder still in it.

After that I did see more bombs for sale at garage sales in Shoreview,. People had stolen them from the Arden Hills arsenal. I never purchased any more, not even the homemade dumb bells made with large live artillery shells, much like the one pictured below, duct taped to each end. A situation that clearly illustrated the difference between a dumb bell and a dumb ass.

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but DAMN!

bomb

 

What Is On My Mind Today? International Bread Recipe War: Swede vs French

What is on my mind today?

The difference between being a Swede and French.

I have just spent the past 24 hours making Brioche bread. I wanted to see how different it was from a buttery rich Swedish Egg Bread.

This process was very reaffirming for me and I learned a very important lesson.

Apparently, I like people the same way I like a good bread recipe….the more pragmatic…the better.

What Is On My Mind Today? Turning 59 and a Maraschino Cherry Birthday Cake

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Hiking in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, June 2017

This two-time cancer survivor turns 59 today.  Wow!

pat 59 day1_n(2)
I removed my cap for this birthday photo to prove I have hair and some of it is grey. 

To celebrate, I am going to make a layered maraschino cherry cake with cream cheese frosting.  My only issue is that the cake uses four egg whites and I have this thing about wasting food when so many others in this world go hungry.  So I will have to make more of my grandmother’s spritz cookies to use up those yolks.

Folks, there will be extra spritz cookies on the cookie trays this Christmas!

My birthday wish is that this day be filled with kindness, love and peace.

God bless all of you!

cherry-cake-slice

Maraschino Cherry Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two eight-inch round cake pans.

Ingredients:

16 ounce jar of Maraschino cherries, well-drained, save cherry juice.  Finely chop the cherries. The chopped cherries should be blotted dry with a paper towel and very lightly coated with flour.  This will help ensure that the cherries are evenly distributed through out the cake and not all sunk to the bottom.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cup sugar
2-1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
Maraschino cherry juice (reserved from cherry jar) combined with water to make 1 cup.
4 egg whites, stiffly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium-sized metal or glass mixing bowl, with an electric hand-mixer, beat egg whites until stiff.  Add vanilla. Combine and set aside.

In small mixing bowl combine dry ingredients: flour, salt and baking powder.  Stir to combine

In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar.  Add flour alternatively with the cherry juice.  Beat until well combined.  Gently fold in beaten egg whites.  Fold until no white streaks remain.  Fold in cherries and gently mix until just evenly distributed.

Evenly divide the batter into the two round cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup  butter, softened
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened 
1 teaspoon vanilla

3  cups powdered sugar, plus more as needed

In a large mixing bowl with a hand-mixer cream together butter and cream cheese.  Turn mixer speed down to low and slowly add powdered sugar.  Once powdered sugar is combined, turn up mixer speed to high and beat until smooth, fluffy and creamy.  Add vanilla and mix until completely combined.

If the frosting is not thick enough add small amounts of powdered sugar until desired consistency is achieved.  If the frosting gets too thick, add a teaspoon of milk or cream to loosen it back up.

This pink and white cake also makes a lovely Christmas dessert.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Family’s Farm Christmas: It’s the people, not the presents!

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter

In 1997, I wrote this story for my young daughter.  After my thyroid cancer diagnosis when she was only 14 months old, I had adopted the tradition of writing her an original story, with a soft moral “mom” message each year as a gift.  I wanted her to have something special from me to remember me should  I have croaked from the cancer.

This story was created to introduce my children to their extended family and be a record of some of our family’s Christmas traditions.

This year is the second Christmas since my second cancer diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma.  I feel wonderful, am filled with joy and am looking forward to many more years of making holiday memories.

I hope you enjoy, “A Family’s Farm  Christmas.”

In your great-great grandfather Ole Larson’s house, which is more than 100 years old, many years ago our family gathered making Christmas memories untold. This story is…

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What is on my mind today? Ghostwriting for Governor Jesse Ventura

ghostwriter

What is on my mind today? The woman of many voices.

I spent many years working in government as a ghost writer.  Often, it is the task of a communications writer to be the written voice of others. Throughout my career, working in various state agencies and at the Minnesota State Capitol, I have found myself writing letters, press releases and speech talking points for elected officials.

As a constituent services writer for the House of Representatives, I wrote for all of the members that received constituent mail regarding my committee assignments. Then, of course, when I was a Senate staffer, I did the writing for my senator.

At times, I have been the voice to the citizens of Minnesota for several Constitutional officers; such as Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, Governor Tim Pawlenty, Govenor Mark Dayton and my favorite voice of all….Governor Jesse Ventura.

That’s right, I was once upon a time the voice for Jesse Ventura.  This opportunity for professional growth occurred when I was a staffer at the Department of Human Services. Our department received the letters sent to Governor Ventura from folks who had health and human services questions or comments. Usually more commentary than inquiry as I recall. Anyway, on occasion, I would be selected for the honor of drafting the “Governor’s Response.”

The one letter that comes to mind that always makes me grin, was when a prostitute wrote offering her services to the governor in exchange for a tax break. I do recall there being a picture.

Naturally, I had to give this one some thought. After considerable mirth control and a bit of reflection, I wrote something to the effect that he had decided to kindly decline her thoughtful offer and that everyone has to pay taxes.

The wheels of  government tend to move slowly.  It took quite a while for any letter, even one of such importance, to travel up through the chain of command that is government management. During a missive’s journey, the writer had no input on how many changes were made to the original draft by the higher ups. Rarely, did the person who drafted the response get to see the final result. However, one day, I received a copy of the Governor’s signed letter from the commissioner. It was exactly what I had written with the commissioner’s comment of “Good job, Pat!”