Trial Balloon

One Trick Pony

Posted at 5:17 AM on October 9, 2009 by Radio Heartlander (23 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - barb in Blackhoof

Most of my family is of German heritage. Not a joyful bunch, really. Practical, hard-working, dependable people who went to church, didn't dance during Lent, liked a beer on occasion, laughed at jokes, but didn't have much time for seemingly useless things like music (other than polka), theater, literature, or developing skills that did not produce money or food. So, as a young child, my interaction with my grandparents could be described as pleasant but not joyful, ok but not too interesting.

With one exception: my maternal grandfather (the lone Norwegian in the town) used to entertain us royally with his tricks - useless things he did just to entertain us - just with his body and his imagination. The best trick was that he could make his nose "squeak" and we would squeal in amazement. (I know now that he created the squeak by using his thumbnails to scratch his teeth while he seemed to wiggle his nose by cupping his hands over it and moving it back and forth.) Simple but so much fun. Now that I am old enough to have grandchildren of my own (but don't) I am thinking it would be fun to have at least one trick or skill that I could do. Something pretty useless except to maybe make kids squeal and want to try to do it themselves. There are two tricks or skills in my "bucket list" - things I'd like to learn to do before I kick off.

One is easy (well, obviously not so because I haven't learned to do it yet) - I'd like to learn to whistle very loudly, like people do when applauding a talented person (or when calling some goats, maybe).

The second is more challenging. I'd like to learn to make noodles the way Noodle Masters do. A noodle master can produce long, beautiful, noodles that are exactly the same every time. The Master grabs a hunk of dough - probably flour and water only. In a series of moves that take a total of about 2 minutes or so, he stretches the gluten in the dough to make long strands - pulling, stretching, swinging and twisting until he thinks that the dough is ready. The dough gets so long sometimes that it looks like he is getting ready to jump rope. He adds a bit of water, sometimes a dab of flour - he knows exactly what texture the dough needs to be. When the dough is ready, he flours it a bit more to get the gluten strands ready to separate. and in a flash - stretch, twist, stretch, fold - the noodles appear. he cuts them and pops them into the broth for the next lucky diner to slurp up!

Check out these Chinese Noodle Masters on YouTube:

I'm sure this second trick would take years to learn - but I'm retired, right?

What trick or skill is on your bucket list?

From Dale's desk, but not necessarily from Dale

A giveaway

Enter now! Or at least before 1 p.m. Friday October 9 for your chance to win tickets to the West Bank Bash at the Minneapolis Eagles Club on Sunday, Oct. 11th at 7:30pm. Official Rules in fine print available.


Comments (23)

I think the bucket list idea is brilliant!

I have a lot of projects I'd like to get to "someday", but not your concise skill list.

This will give my brain something to work on when it wants to go to an unnamed (because I am a nice person) earworm.

Posted by catherine | October 9, 2009 6:01 AM

Good Morning, All - Happy Birthday to my old friend Janet today. her tricks are my inspiration for today's topic. she not only can whistle REALLY loud thru her teeth but she can blow snot rockets like a champion. (we decided against videos of snot rockets). very talented indeed.
sorry, you streamers, for the U-Tube videos that you'll have to watch some other time so you don't miss the music.
happy day.

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | October 9, 2009 6:05 AM

Barb, your Grandfather's trick reminds me of the I've got your nose trick. I'm sure you know this one where you pretend you have a kid's nose, but it is only you thumb sticking out between your fingers.

One of our daughters introduced me to a good trick for bread baking, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. If you haven't already tried this, and like home made bread, you will be amazed at the very good bread that can be made with only a little effort. This is a book by two Minnesota authors who developed this style of bread making.

Posted by Jim | October 9, 2009 6:57 AM

Barb - such an intriguing question you pose. First of all, kudos to your writing. You could be a published author and that's no bull! I watched both remarkable noodle making clips - you can do it! Think how great your arms will look with that accomplishment. The whistling should be a snap. Ask your dentist which teeth could be removed to help speed the process.

My bucket list contains the following aspirations:
Go whale watching
Visit Kay in Utah
Ride a mechanical bull
Find inner peace
Catch a fly with chopsticks

Have a great weekend RH!

Posted by Donna | October 9, 2009 7:13 AM

Oh Barb - I almost forgot - I also want to see your goats!

Posted by Donna | October 9, 2009 7:19 AM

Greetings - Barb, your family sounds like mine -- stoic German Catholic family but from Green Bay, WI. Not necessarily a joyful bunch, but I remember my paternal grandparents always had comic books for us to read, despite the enormous number of grandchildren they had.

Some of my informal goals include: getting my black belt, consuming a mainly raw food diet, learn speed reading and visit Ecuador.

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | October 9, 2009 7:24 AM

Barb - I think your Norwegian grandfather and mine may have been cut from the same cloth (though along with the slide one thumb away from the other to look like there was only one thumb in two pieces, he sang lustily - mostly hymns and songs in Norwegian).

My bucket list? Learning the trumpet. More tap dance (took some about awhile back - as an adult - wouldn't mind some more). Learning enough Italian that I can understand opera without needing to read the translations. And I'd love to develop the ability to maintain an uncluttered house.

Posted by Anna | October 9, 2009 7:40 AM

Oh, Barb...if only I could make noodles that way...but, in my dreams I can play the Irish penny whistle, beat the Bodhran drum in time, pick up a fiddle and do a jig at the same time...if only I could make fingers and feet do my bidding while awake....l

I love the videos...even watched while RH played in the background.

Got some frost here...trees haven't peaked yet...guess winter will come anyway.

Good weekend all!

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | October 9, 2009 7:48 AM

Now I see that I didn't get the question right. It should be things I would put in my bucket. Here are a few.

Learn Spanish; learn Tai Chi, master a musical instrument; own a Border Collie.

I've tried to do the first three, and I might still manage to do one or more of them. I don't think I will ever have room for a very active dog, like a Border Collie, but I find them fascinating.

Posted by Jim | October 9, 2009 7:52 AM

I always wanted to learn to play mandolin...And also bass guitar...And I've never been able to whistle loudly either. There's my bucket list.

Hey Heartlanders - don't forget to enter your name in the drawing for tickets to the West Bank Bash this Sunday at the Eagle's Club in Minneapolis (one of the few clubs in the Twin Cities where I don't feel old). We'll draw names from the hat after 1pm today.

And congratulations to Dave of New Richmond, Fred in St. Paul and Bill of Minneapolis who won tickets to the Over the Rhine concert Saturday at the Cedar!

Posted by Mike Pengra | October 9, 2009 8:01 AM

I’d like to get a private pilot license – learn to fly!
I’d like to help plant a farm field, and drive a combine to harvest corn or beans.
That inner peace thing would be nice.
I want to visit the birthplaces of my ancestors in Ireland, Bohemia, Germany and Denmark.

Dale, the day I was guest blogger, I posted the link on my Facebook page. I just joined Facebook about 4 weeks ago, but I wish I’d gotten in sooner because of the people I’ve reconnected with. Anyway, it would be great to have a page there for RH to encourage my friends to check it out.

Posted by Mike in Albert Lea | October 9, 2009 8:11 AM

Good morning, all!

The list of desired skills, tricks, and goals in the comments above is quite inspirational. :-)

I would like to:
1) Learn to speak and read Japanese
2) Qualify for the Boston Marathon
3) Learn to print photographs the old fashioned way
4) Write a novel

Thanks for the terrific blog entry, Barb in Blackhoof!

Posted by elinor | October 9, 2009 8:15 AM

thanks for the interesting ideas so far, Folks - it' fun to hear and good to know that lots of you have things you'd like to do but haven't yet. Jim, i hope you at least get to be around Border Collies (like at agility trials maybe). Mike, the cycler, has a really great one - trained well but still has all of the spirit of the dog. so much fun.
and Donna - kidding season is only about 6 months away. there will be baby goats to visit.
for now, i'm just sitting down after milking - this morning with a nice cup of coffee topped by the rich foam from Dream's milk. foamy goodness from from the strainer-top; after Dream there must be 2 cups left after the milk has run thru to the milk can.
keep those ideas coming - Dale will be back on Monday!

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | October 9, 2009 8:22 AM

barb great topic. great video. what a world we live in. all this stuff available is remarkable. i have had mount everest on my list for years but the movie i saw where the guys died and the frostbite kind of spoiled that for me. my asperations now are smaller. visit each continant, hold a great grandchild, get published, perform my music regularly to a small comfy venue, do the ben franklin 13 things to work on list that comes around 4 times a year, keep working on finding the true meaning of life, figure out how to work three weeks and take off one week a month. i think i could enjoy that schedule forever.
thanks for the time to reflect today barb good stuff.
think i'll have chinese for lunch today

Posted by tim | October 9, 2009 8:29 AM

Husband had a grandpa who could blow smoke out his ears. :)

I too wish I could do that loud whistle, through your teeth or thumbs or somehow.
I'd like to learn that Japanese drumming -- I think it's Taiko drumming.
I want to do more train travel, and do at least one stretch of travel in an RV.

Thanks Barb for a fun idea. In fact, thanks everybody for a very entertaining week and a half!

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | October 9, 2009 8:43 AM

I am proud to say that I can whistle loudly. I didn't know it was such an enviable skill. When I do it, people usually look at me like they are pretty PO'd about getting their eardrums blown out. I do it with the index and middle fingers of each hand in my mouth, so in this day and age of virus fears, I think people would be pretty PO'd if I did that and shook their hands immediately afterward. I can also wiggle my ears, and talk like Darth Vader; both of which entertained the kids at a childcare center that used to employ me part time. Oh and I can play "Linus and Lucy" on the piano, as well as the theme from the Exorcist. I wooed my stepchildren with these skills. I don't have grandchildren, yet, but hopefully, I can still do those things when I do.

My father used to have us make a squiggle on a piece of paper and then he would draw a funny face around the squggle. He can wiggle his ears, too, but the drawing thing was his best trick.

I am enjoying people's bucket lists! I, too would enjoy visiting Denmark where my ancesters were born. Before I do that, I would like to learn Danish so I can talk to my relatives there. I have a harmonica and a penny whistle and 2 ocarinas that I swear I will learn to play one day. I would like to knit a sweater. (I knit, but have never knitted anything complicated) I would like to go to Ireland. I would like to go to Japan. I would like to go to Greece. I would like to visit all of the National Parks in the U.S.

Oh and that inner peace thing sounds pretty swell.

Have great weekends, Heartlanders!

Posted by Darcy | October 9, 2009 9:47 AM

I'd like to learn how to tap a maple tree and make syrup. I planted a sugar maple about ten years ago. They are very slow-growing trees. Still, I may live long enough.

After that maybe I'll grow some grapes and bottle some wine.

Posted by Linda in St. Paul (West Side) | October 9, 2009 11:20 AM

i'm making cheese - time to think while waiting for milk to come to temp. it's MARK the cycler who has the beautiful Border Collie, not Mike as i said. uffda. sorry, Mark!
now while i'm waiting i will attempt to catch a fly with a chopstick, Donna.
you all have such grand dreams and goals - really fun to read about. Darcy - do you do how to whistle teaching sessions? i promise not to worry about the flu :-)

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | October 9, 2009 11:26 AM

Moening Rhers -
Fun tipic. I want ti learn to tupe without looking at the kkueys.Jow am I doinf?

Oh Oh - I guess I need a little more practice. But I truly am amazed by people who don't have to look at the keyboard and yet are very fast typers, so that is #1 on the bucket list.

Want to learn to love winter, also. I have been trying to do that for 40 - still in the beginning stages of that.

Would like to play the tambourine someday, too.

Thanks to all the guest bloggers - excellent work!

Posted by Teri in Zimmerman | October 9, 2009 11:53 AM

Sheesh - I can't type well even when I look at the keys! I meant to say that I have been trying to learn to love winter for 40 years.

@cynthia in mahtowa - had a hard frost here, so the trees seem to have turned thier leaves bright red and glowing gold overnight. And yes, winter will come anyway - sigh.

Happy weekend to all.

Posted by Teri in Zimmerman | October 9, 2009 12:03 PM

I would be happy give a whistling lesson! Maybe before next year's live broadcast from the fair! Then we can all whistle during the show. I remember that my brother taught me when we were kids. He has branched out, though and he can do it now in a more hygenic way without his fingers. When I do it that way, I get a whistle, but it is barely audible. I wonder sometimes, though if it might not always be a skill that can be taught. I suspect that it may have something to do with the shape and musculature of the mouth and that varies from person to person.

Posted by Darcy | October 9, 2009 12:56 PM

Linda...don't wait for those Maple Trees to produce sap/syrup before you do grapes. Do the Grapes NOW. I have discovered grapes are one of the few things I can successfully grow and I love them. There are several types that have been developed for our climate. Go for it, woman!

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | October 9, 2009 1:28 PM

Ticket winners!

Congratulations to Teresa from Minneapolis, Elinor from St. Louis Park and Kelsey of Minneapolis. Each won a pair of tickets for the West Bank Bash on Sunday evening at the Eagle's Club.

Posted by Mike Pengra | October 9, 2009 1:31 PM

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