Tuesday, October 30, 2007


So, this is my 100th post and you know what that means? Party time! Come for coffee and dessert and settle back as you find out everything you ever wanted to know about me. Just think of this post as an invitation to your old friend's house to see the slides from her extensive 60-day trip around the world. You don't want to disappoint her--you know how she can get--but this could go on for hours. You might want to call the babysitter.

Let me fill up your cup, have another piece of pie and read on.
(hint: there are only 50 instead of the obligatory 100 'things about me.' whew!)

1. I was born in a town called Pocatello, and raised in another called Blackfoot. Both in Idaho.

2. My grandmother called me Noni but I never found out why.
3. I was on a bowling league when I was pregnant.
4. I look like I could be Native American, but I’m not. If I were I’d be called ‘Long Raven Feather.’
5. I love dogs.
6. My first real job was cleaning motel rooms.
7. I’ve always wanted a vintage VW beetle.
8. I love slapstick, stand-up comedy and comic strips.
9. Knitting is my favorite craft activity but only seasonally.
10. I still have my sled, which is now over 50 years old.

11. I am a child abuse survivor.
12. Snakes scare me.

13. Fresh scones make me smile. Donuts too.
14. I watch art films. [La di dah]

15. I’ve had two close calls: one from an angry mother and one from Junior Mints.

16. I taught myself to cook.

17. The underdog is whom I root for.
18. I have a secret crush on Hugh Grant.

19. I was baptized twice before I was 5, once Methodist and once Catholic, so I'm good.
20. Once I met John Sebastian of the Lovin’ Spoonful and Rosie Greer of the L.A. Rams.
21. I’ve been a legal secretary, teacher’s aide, h.r. assistant, and worked on a potato harvest.
22. I do all of my own stunts.
23. I might forget your name but I’ll never forget your face and would always be able to pick you out in a crowd, or lineup.
24. I enjoy riding on motorcycles.
25. I met my husband when I was 16 in McCall, Idaho at a state Young Democrats’ convention.

26. I have had two c-section deliveries resulting in two wonderful daughters and a great scar.
27. A titanium rod as a result of a spectacular fall down the stairs holds my right leg and ankle together. (see #22 above)
28. Music of most any kind makes me very happy.
29. When I was eight I decided I wanted to marry Charles, Prince of Wales. Glad that didn’t work out.
30. I have a huge sweet tooth. (see #13)

31. I’m a loner by habit but also a loyal friend.
32. Libraries have always been my favorite places to hang out, work in and to take my children.
33. I once spent a year on a farm where I ‘owned’ a sheep named Toby and rode a horse named Paint.
34. Nostalgic and sappy, I collect small pitchers, old photographs, china cups and saucers, blue depression glass, buttons, and so on.
35. I’ve lived in seven states: Idaho, Washington, Virginia, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Minnesota.
36. I’m a big coffee drinker (see #13).

37. Baseball has always been dear to my heart. [My uncle played in the minors with the DiMaggio bros. I could hit a softball out of the playground.]

38. I used to ice skate on frozen cranberry bogs in Massachusetts.

39. In seventh grade I recited the Gettysburg Address from memory over the intercom at school. I’m still a little embarrassed. . .

40. I love to shop in ethnic and neighborhood groceries and bakeries.

41. I still have a sense of humor.
42. Growing flowers come naturally to me, passed down from my mother’s family.
43. Knowing as much about a topic is always my goal.
44. I am a people watcher and eavesdropper.
45. I do crosswords with a goal to just once finish the Friday New York Times.
46. I taught an‘art-goes-to-school’ program for elementary students where I introduced them to art history – fun for them, fun for me.

47. I’ve always worn my hair long.
48. I’m a dreamer—and usually have to scheme and think about something a long time before I do it, then ending up taking a nap first. Is that called ‘lazy’?
49.I am a reader and a writer.

50. I love ice cream.

Monday, October 29, 2007

"Sometimes you have to look reality in the eye, and deny it."**

His soul has in its Autumn, when his wings
He furleth close; contented so to look
On mists in idleness--to let fair things
Pass by unheeded as a threshold brook.

John Keats from The Human Seasons

Lurking round is that old familiar super-sized combo of ennui due to the World Series ending--too quickly--and sinusitis from staying too long outside since the days have been perfectly blue, gold and cloudless the past week, with days in the 60's.

Allergies make me a little dopey and disinterested in anything that usually makes me happy...bleh And I miss Audrey and Erica even though the days are long gone when they would partake of any Halloween pumpkin carving or costumes. I can still see Erica in my mind's eye the last year she went trick-or-treat-ing dressed as a rabbit coming out of a huge hat. Sweet, sad and priceless! So today I sat and counted the millions of leaves that have fallen from our trees when I wasn't reading On Beauty by Zadie Smith, recommended by Erica for Smith's writing talent but more importantly because of 'our family's star appearance!' on every page.

I know if those guys were home for Halloween we'd all be sitting down to enjoy this recipe that we made nearly every year:

Dinner in a Pumpkin

1 medium pumpkin
1 lb ground beef sauteed with onions & celery
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 T brown sugar
4 oz mushrooms (fresh or canned, sliced and drained)
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups hot cooked rice

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 10" circle in center of a foil-lined baking sheet; set aside. Place pumpkin on a firm surface. Using a sharp knife, cut out stem end and about 3 inches around stem. Cut on a diagonal by slanting knife from outer edge of pumpkin in toward center (important so the lid doesn't fall in!) Reserve top. Remove seeds and pulp; discard. In a medium bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. Spoon mixture into pumpkin. Replace top. Place pumpkin on greased baking sheet. Bake about 1 hour or longer in preheated oven until pumpkin is tender. Serve cooked pumpkin along with meat filling. Makes 6-8 servings.

[scarecrow in vacated garden spot along the road]

Thank you, God, for this good life and forgive us if we do not love it enough. Garrison Keillor

**title also Keillor quote

Monday, October 22, 2007

Life is some scary stuff!

This October is an anniversary month of sorts for me: I turned 57, I left my library job on October 13th last year and this week marks a year since the movers dropped off our life's belongings and I began unpacking. I let the rain last week irritate me until I realized I was moping around under the spell of the 'anniversary reaction' but this week I'm beginning to think of myself as a Minnesotan. A year of adjustment, exploration and healing of mind & body has literally flown by and here I am feeling a new sense of belonging in my space on the planet. During this period of adjustment I've had the luxury of not working an outside job but that prospect is looming again. Here's the part where I can make the admission that 'I don't wanna!' and not get slapped or laughed at. I'm a homebody to the depths of my melancholy heart and nobody enjoys her freedom more than me. . .not to say that I'm not a good worker, etc. and admittedly I miss library work, but finding a job is always a scary proposition for me. Not one to rush into things, I've found a creative way to address my fear using Eleanor Roosevelt's mantra about facing fear and the 'Be Brave Project' on the delightful blog Diary of a Self-Portrait where Josie explains about doing one thing every day that scares (the hell out of) you . She is also a talented artist so her illustrations are beautiful as well as witty and encouraging.

Our weekend took us west to St. Joseph to visit the St. Benedictine Monastery and an exhibit called THE VISION UNFOLDING: From Eichstätt, Bavaria, to St. Joseph, Minnesota – 150 Years about the history of the Benedictine Sisters in America. 'Six nuns from St. Walburg Abbey in Eichstätt, Bavaria, emigrated to St. Cloud in 1857 to teach the children of European settlers and later relocated to St. Joseph in 1863 to build a monastery. The nuns have engaged in a variety of work, from farming to the domestic and fine arts. They baked, cooked, cleaned, laundered, sewed, bound books, wove cloth, designed vestments and made candles. They have been administrators, organists, liturgists, catechists, archivists, librarians, poets, mentors, tutors and advocates for the poor.' (St. Cloud Times, 7/07) I was interested in this monastery because I spent six years of elementary school taught by Benedictine nuns who originated from this first convent in the United States. My own experience wasn't the best, remember that was the 1950's, but I still have great admiration for their courage and faith. As I walked through the cemetary I realized that most of the young nuns who came after the first seven arrived had died from poor living conditions, weather and tuberculosis. The average age at death was 28 for several years running.

St. Joseph's Orphanage at St. Paul, MN - 1880

Every wall is a door.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dave & Pashka, my Husky-dog

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Queen for a Day

As my first act as Queen, for one day I would command that

Shelter doors would open and each orphan, hard luck kid, lost dog, unwanted mother cat with kittens, and runaway would find someone standing there to welcome them home. Others too.

Amnesty would be declared in the land for those who are innocent, confused, have overdue books, owe money in third world countries, couldn’t read or speak English but still tried to assimilate, hard workers who were rif-ed, the simple, grandiose and delusional dreamers.

SUVs would gladly be auctioned by owners who would share the profit with their neighbors who need a car or a new pair of shoes, while finding a cleaner alternative for their own family--up and down each block, each town, each state, each province. I would expect my people to be creative in their zeal to clean up after themselves, sow new seeds and remember to leave the place cleaner than they found it.

Little children, older people, those who returned from wars, mentally infirm, challenged and forgotten, and all the sick would be given what they need and these gifts would be distributed by all my strong, brave-hearted people. Some would set the table and some would cook and everyone would eat together, just once. Just a reminder: no animals would be eaten, the Queen is a vegetarian. One long table with cushions, chairs, mats and plenty of clean water for everyone to wash down the generous helpings. No one would go away hungry or thirsty. And I would be a handing out doggie bags for everyone to take home.

All people would be required to look up from their burdens, give thanks in their own way to their Creator then turn around seeking their place in the fabric of the planet. Gold threads would be considered as important as the hands that move the shuttle.

Relief would show in my people’s eyes, smiles would be broad, shy, toothless, hair-lipped or capped. For one day my people could feel safe, free, hopeful, refreshed and encouraged. All creatures would live another day.

A Queen can dream, can’t she?

You can read other dreamer's ideas
here at Sunday Scribblings.

Rain, rain, go away

A trip to a favorite local antique shop to help banish the rainy day blues yesterday unearthed exotic buttons and old photos to add to my collection -- these fragile old things called to me and then started asking questions. The photos I bought had belonged in a scrapbook made by Vaughn Lovejoy who lived in Minneapolis in the early part of the 1900's. The story goes that she was a very privileged, rather spoiled, only child whose scrapbook showed she also had many admirers and a wacky bunch of relatives. She dressed stylishly and many of her photos showed her in wonderful hats like the one she wears in this photo with a male friend.

Families, you gotta love 'em! But would it have been too much for the photographer to remind the goofy kid in the front who had obviously eaten too many jelly beans that he left the barn door open?

This group made me smile--a precious commodity these days--and I especially liked the girl with her arms around her mom (?) and how about the guy in the back who missed the whole concept!

I fell in love with this photo of Vaughn's mother. In many of her photos she maintains a 'distant' countenance, usually standing tall and stately but avoiding showing her soul to the camera.

Families are like fudge - mostly sweet with a few nuts.

Author Unknown

Monday, October 15, 2007

in the company of miners

I know many beautiful songs from your home county,...and I hitchhiked through there and stayed in the homes of miners. Pete Seeger

Have camera, will wander. . .last weekend to the Lake Vermillion area of the Iron Range in northeast Minnesota west of Duluth for Dave and Audrey to descend into the Soudan Underground Mine (and me to wander above ground). As our luck would have it, an electrical storm had just that morning rendered the mine's 'cage' and rail cars inoperable. As this had only happened one other time in the state park's history, we couldn't help reminding each other that, once again, we could write a chapter of our own in the "Stupid's" series. We used to read these books when Audrey and Erica were preschoolers and even though they're a tiny bit un-p.c. twenty years later, we had fun. . .and unfortunately we've been able to identify with 'these good natured dummkopfs' ever since. So, the area was mined for iron as well as available nickel, lead, gold, silver, and zinc ores and several open pits remain with the red iron rock protruding at many angles above ground. Autumn always arrives early in the northwoods as does the cold weather.

"On Spaceship Earth there are no passengers; everybody is a member of the crew. We have moved into an age in which everybody's activities affect everybody else."-Marshall McLuhan

Friday, October 12, 2007

' Summer's gone but a lot goes on forever. '

A Black-capped Chickadee has been hovering around the autumn remants of my little slab garden the past couple of days. This guy keeps flitting from bamboo sticks to tall plants to somewhere so near the window it seems he might gotten in somehow. Today I took a better look and found my feathered friend's focus -- the dried seeds from the mini-sunflower Caroline gave me at the beginning of the season. Of course, I overwatered the plant and, alas, it would certainly have lived longer in the deep dark earth. . .luckily I had the foresight to capture it on film before execution day. Then I had absent-mindedly stuck it behind my 'gate' to dry. Chickadees are a favorite of mine and I was delighted to know they hang around Minnesota year round. Their dee-deeing reminds me of an experience I had many years ago. That's a story for another day, but suffice it to say that when I hear them I know God is watching over me.

Speaking of birds, I heard about a community garden called the Hua Mei Bird Garden in the Sara Delano Roosevelt Park in New York City's Chinatown. It seems that early each morning, Chinese men bring songbirds, including the garden's namesake, the scrappy little Chinese Hua Mei, in fancy bamboo cages. In 1993 legend has it that three Chinese men hung birdcages between two trees in this park because they wanted to establish a bird garden like the ones in their homeland. A segment on NPR's All Things Considered in August includes some of the sounds in the park on a Saturday morning.


"On weekdays, a dozen songbirds can be heard in the park, on weekends as many as 50. Most of the men who come to listen to them are retired; the oldest are in their late 80's. We are old men. We like bringing the birds and drinking the coffee. We feel better.” (NYTimes-July/2007)

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song. Chinese Proverb

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Friday's Flowers. . .in a way

My photo collection of the various mushrooms growing around the apartment complex with all the rain we've been having the past week or two. . .the rain we really could have used this summer, I might add. They aren't flowers, I know, but they did come poking out of the ground, they are beautiful in their randomness, probably deadly and very mysterious looking.

Don't lay any certain plans for the future; it is like planting toads and expecting to raise toadstools. John Billings

Audrey comes for a visit tomorrow, staying through the weekend. I've been busily trying to make the place look like I keep it dusted and picked up all.the.time. Some chicken simmers away for homemade chicken soup, sourdough bread, fresh Honeycrisp apples (developed right here at the U of Minnesota), and Dave's famous root beer floats.

Also on Sunday is the 2007 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon that my friend Caroline will be running, all 26.2 miles. This event is billed as 'the most beautiful urban marathon in America.'

Good luck, Caroline!