Monthly Archives: March 2021

This is South Dakota

I’ve been reading with interest about all the people out there who are interested in making the move to South Dakota. I have to admit, this is a new one on me, because I always thought the migration in our state was out of the area, but, good for the people who are recognizing the benefits of a small state.

South Dakotans are traditionally pretty proud of the state (at least, those of us who have made the decision to stay). I, too, am a proud member of the Sunshine State. While not all of us South Dakotans agree on what there is to be proud of, we can all agree that the state has some wonderful redeeming qualities. Nothing beats South Dakota on a lazy August afternoon or a warm and lovely May morning.

I worry, however, that the people deciding on our state are doing so on that May morning or and that August afternoon. They need to be aware of the fact that South Dakota has other faces and we are not called the “Land of Infinite Variety” for nothing. I’ve mentioned this to people and most will say, “Yes, yes, we know it can get hot and sticky, but really, that doesn’t happen too frequently!” I beg to differ. I’ve lived in South Dakota all my life and the one thing I can tell you is that if I hang a wrinkly blouse in the closet because I took it out of the dryer too late, I can go back two days later and wear that blouse because the humidity has smoothed out the rough places. South Dakota is not next to any large body of water, but the whole state is a humidity factory.

Then, there are the bugs. I once visited Germany where they not only had no screens on their windows, but they frequently left them open to the night air. I was fascinated by this folly. If you leave an unscreened window open on a lovely evening in South Dakota, you will look like a test lab for flies and a breeding ground for mosquitoes! We take our bugs seriously, and we work hard to keep them outside, but they are here in great abundance!

Winters, however, are the thing I want to talk to you about. You really cannot judge South Dakota until you’ve spent a cold, icy, blizzardy winter here. Not all South Dakota winters are equal and it is important to remember that a mild winter, such as the extraordinary one we have been experiencing this year, can turn on you and suddenly resemble the picture that I have included above, of the road in front of my house.

The only variable is how cold or how snowy it will get. The cold can be tolerated by bundling up in every winter wrap you own and then walking stiff-legged to your vehicle, which depending on its tolerance may start or may say, “Are you kidding me? It’s colder than Frozen out there! I’m not going anywhere.” Cold is insidious and it causes the bravest people to put on extra socks, layer their gloves and mittens and wear stocking masks that far pre-date the current Covid masks and are twice as confining!

As for snow, it is the great leveler. No one, no matter how rich or powerful, is any more likely to go anywhere than the most meager person in the state if there is a good snowfall on. Since most snow in the state is preceded by a nice layer of ice, that makes walking equally treacherous! And if the wind is blowing, and take my word for it, the wind will be blowing, then you’re lucky if it doesn’t pile the snow in against your doors and windows and keep you home until it melts!

I believe I already mentioned that South Dakota is the land of infinite variety and I truly meant that. We have temperatures in the 60s, when people dig out their shorts and break out the barbeque grill. A day later, we are layered in every sweater we own and the barbeque grill is under a foot of snow. Then, when we are convinced the snow will last forever, it turns to slush and then to mud. Is that varied enough for you?

Perhaps you get the impression that I do not love my state. That is not true, but I believe in full disclosure and I think everyone thinking about being in our fine state needs to know….this is South Dakota!

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Feeding the pets

I had unbuttered toast for breakfast this morning. I realize this may seem like a random remark, but it truly ties in with the subject of my blog this week. It all relates back to the dog in this picture, who is in her natural pose, hunched over her food, gobbling it down as fast as she can as though it will disappear otherwise.

It is safe to say that I am not a particular animal lover, so those who love their dogs better than their mates should probably stop reading now. For the rest of you, the complaint I have today may seem familiar. Dogs and cats have no boundaries when they believe there are unguarded victuals somewhere in the vicinity. They also have no manners, scruples or pity when it comes to taking care of their own stomachs.

I don’t have enough space here to recount the number of cookies, cakes, half-full bowls of cereal and other unguarded foods have gone down the dog’s throat. She particularly likes when my grandsons are here, because they are even more careless and the opportunity for random food choices runs rampant. I still recall the day she double-dipped on my four-year-old grandson, who was sitting on the floor with his bowl of Fruit Loops, watching cartoons. While Curious George was getting into all kinds of fun shenanigans distracting the child, the dog casually walked up and slurped a large quantity of milk and cereal straight from the bowl. When my grandson turned to complain loud and long to me, the dog added insult to injury by nimbly cleaning up the Fruit Loops and milk that had been adorning his face.

The dog has long believed that any food within her reach is fair game and believe me when I tell you, she has a long reach. I set a pair of steaks out on the counter to thaw one afternoon. I went to change laundry in the machines and when I came back not ten minutes later, the only thing left on that counter was a set of muddy paw prints. She is both swift and efficient.

She does care deeply for my health and weight issues. If she sees me with a candy bar or a cookies, etc., she is always willing to swoop down and snatch them. I have literally had her eat a cookie out my hands. I was complaining to a friend that she will try to eat anything chocolate she can, complete with wrappers. My friend exclaimed, “You can’t feed her chocolate, it could kill her!”

“You understand, I am not feeding this to her, she is helping herself. And if she eats one more chocolate covered, Bavarian-cream filled roll out of the bakery bag I was saving it in, I may kill her!” I presume my friend’s hasty departure after that was to alert the Humane Society to keep me under surveillance, but honestly, the DOG is the abuser here! In the same day as the roll incident, I put a plated pork chop meal on the table for my husband and told him to go have supper. I was in the bathroom washing my hands, when I heard my husband say, “Hey, where’s my dinner? You gave me an empty plate.” The dog is a food thief and no mistake.

As bad as the dog is, the cat might be worse. If I fail to rinse out the cereal bowl when I put it in the sink, I am always reminded by the delicate clink-clink of the spoon against the dish as she leaps up into the sink and licks it out. This is an old, fat cat, but she stays in shape climbing on the kitchen cabinets, looking for after dinner opportunities.

I never see her on the counter, but there are things which indicate she’s been there. The sink or the coffee maker will suddenly develop a white fur coating; a package of chips or potatoes will spring a chew-out hole where she has inspected the contents. Her worst habit is coming upon butter that is not put away or bacon grease that has been poured into a container to congeal. And she is a discerning animal, she tends to taste things and then move on, so anything I unthinkingly leave on the counter overnight is suspect. Once, she literally left a tell-tale footprint on a cake I had made for a special occasion. I awoke to a neatly imprinted paw mark in the plastic-covered cake. No one seemed to want any of that–go figure.

This tale of animal feastings brings us back to the beginning and the tale of my unbuttered toast this morning. I did plan to eat the bavarian cream filled roll, but the dog talked me out of it by the mere expedient of leaving the torn up bakery bag it was in lying in the middle of the living room, licked completely clean of chocolate. Very well, I will have toast. I started the toaster and took the cover off the butter. It was then that I noticed the neatly smoothed off corners of the stick of butter. “Honey, did you leave the cover off the butter overnight?”

“Oh, yeah, I did. But when I got up this morning, I remembered and put it right back on,” he answered.

Maybe she did nothing and I’m just paranoid, but nonetheless, that butter went in the garbage. Unbuttered toast is better for you anyway, right?


Filed under Humorous Column