Thursday, October 08, 2015

bark bark bark

I could have titled this post Why I Don't Keep a Gun in the House but I thought that might bring down the wrath of the FBI. And who needs that shit?

My days of late have been a cacophony of sound. On the south, I have dogs...barking barking barking.

Another Reason Why I Don't Keep A Gun In The House
Billy Collins 
The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house
and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
barking, barking, barking,

and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
had included a part for barking dog.

When the record finally ends he is still barking,
sitting there in the oboe section barking,
his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
entreating him with his baton

while the other musicians listen in respectful
silence to the famous barking dog solo,
that endless coda that first established
Beethoven as an innovative genius.

Yesterday, I opened up the bathroom window and glowered at them, whispering, "Go in the house. Go back into the house. You are making me insane." They paid me no attention.

On the west, I have a construction company making hash of my boulevard, my grass, and maybe not my patio although it, too, has their paint markings on it. Two giant vehicles are clawing at the sidewalk, digging portions of cement, dumping them in a waiting truck, beep beep beep.

On the north, I have a neighbor obsessed with lawn cleanliness. He chases five leaves around for 30 minutes to route them into the gutter. He could pick them up and stuff them into a sandwich bag in five minutes. But no, his method requires multiple gas powered machine.

On the west, again, I have a neighbor who does not believe in mufflers. They, in his eyes, must be the work of the devil. His motorcycle sounds like a jet is launching itself down 4th Street. His vehicle sounds like a fleet of John Deere's. His lawn tractor sounds like you should wear ear protection if you live in the next town.

Why am I burdened with this bullshit? It's not as bad as cancer (which I have) or osteoporosis (which I have) but it is a pain in the rear. I pray for quiet.

I am currently hoping my neighbors do not read my blog. Although as Sinclair Lewis said, if they didn't want to be in my writing they shouldn't have been such assholes.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

if it ain't one thing, it's another

I spent two days this past weekend in the yard and accomplished much. Only a couple things left to do.

As I was watering the new grass, I remembered when my brother Steve was little, I would sprinkle the grass and throw pennies down at the end of the rainbow when he wasn't looking. He thought it was the pot of gold. In some ways, it was.

Ella and I planted daffodils and tulips. She carried each one so carefully and gave them each a name...old names like Ethel and Herbert. I asked if she would remember them until spring but she didn't think so.

I have friends with cancer recurrences again. Mary is having a mastectomy on Thursday and will come home on Friday. I think I would demand more time. Kathryn's cancer has traveled to her lungs and bones.  Carol's breast cancer has turned into thyroid cancer. Not sure of the medical details of how that happens but it did. This afternoon, I visited Don, who is in the care of hospice.

But then I see Ann and hear about her husband's mother who had breast cancer 50 years ago and just celebrated her 100th birthday.

I started my online class last week but am frustrated that I have only gotten through Lesson 1.

Regis and I are cooking this lovely pork loin on the grill. We were going to stuff it with the same concoction we used last time but Ginger dropped off three jars of homemade sour kraut so we used that instead...with some apples, brown sugar, and cream cheese.

I took Mary a little gift before her surgery. Ann was there with two pounds of butter for me from the Hope Creamery. Oooh la la. The first time I tasted Hope butter, I nearly swooned.

I read the results of the bone density scan I had last week. Of course, my biggest worry is that cancer will get into my bones. I get an infusion of Zometa every six months which I like to think will protect me from that but I don't think that is a medical fact. I think I made it up.

So, here it is.

DEXA bone density is performed of the left hip and lumbar spine.
Comparison: 2/25/2014.
Left hip: ROI appropriate, total T-score -2 (however, the individual
left femoral neck T-score is -2.6)
total BMD 0.697 grams/cm squared (0.4% worsened since 2/25/2014).
L1-L4: ROI appropriate, total T-score -1.8
total BMD 0.851 grams/cm squared (4.8% improved since 2/25/2014).
The lateral view of the spine (LVA) is of limited diagnostic quality,
but no compression fractures are suspected.
IMPRESSION: Individual left femoral neck osteoporosis indicates high
fracture risk according to WHO criteria.

So, I quickly send off messages to my trainer who promised me good results from my strength training, my regular doctor who ordered this test and could interpret it for me, and my oncology docs and research nurse. So far, I have only heard from the research nurse. She said the deterioration was only 0.4% and the improvement was 4.8%. She said she didn't think I needed to panic. Ok, I will try not to panic. 

Saturday, October 03, 2015

my list of things to do today


  1. Clean out refrigerator- Done
  2. Do the dishes- Done
  3. Clean off the table- Done
  4. Tidy up the house- quickly- Done
  1. Dig up canna bulbs- Done
  2. Water the new grass- Done
  3. Mow boulevard- Not done
  4. Plant hostas- Done
  5. Plant tulips and daffodils- Done
  6. Put away some of the patio chairs and cushions- Done
  7. Put out suet feeders for woodpeckers- Done
  8. Make a pile of garden waste in the red truck: tomato plants, canna stalks, milkweed- Done
  9. Go to the compost pile- Done
  1. Halloween decorations- Done
  2. Do two lessons for online courses- Not done
  3. Make my finger labyrinths- Not done
  4. Make tomato pie- Not done
To finish on Sunday
  1. All the things above that didn't get finished- Mostly done
  2. Pick up Zoey's doll- Will be done!
  3. Birthday party at 5:15
  1. Grocery shopping
  2. Flu shots
  3. Dog diapers
  4. Coffee at 10:00
  5. Score papers

Friday, October 02, 2015

it's been a weird ass day

I went to work out with Gunnar at 7 instead of 8. Holy crap, the guy tries to kill me and I like it.

I went to work at Lone Star at 11. A guy about 55 walks in with his wife. They have seen the billboard on their way from Mpls to Fairmont. He looks and sounds so familiar. I finally go back and ask if he is a P_____ from Fairmont. Yes, he is. Stunned. His sister and I were on the same dorm floor in 1970 and later shared an apartment. I knew his parents, his siblings, and probably even him although he was young at the time. Wow. Small world.

Regis and I went to Mankato. I stopped in a funky little craft shop that's been there for many years. Dusty, Neglected. We both had the feeling we had to buy something because it looked like she hadn't made a sale in a long time. He held up a couple things. We finally settled on this. An orange pumpkin.

We had dinner at one of our favorite pizza places. Yum pizza and wine and desserts if you have any room left. Talked to a lovely young woman who signed us up for birthday notifications for all the grandchildren. So...if you get a card in the mail, don't be mf'ing us. Wahaha!!!

So that's all my connections for today. Carry on.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sunday eclipse of the moon

We got home from Canby mid-afternoon on Sunday and were too tired to cook so we went out for a bite of Mexican food, then decided to stay awake and watch the Super Moon and the eclipse. It did not disappoint.

These pictures aren't in order even though I did publish them on Facebook in order. The first one is the Super Moon just as it came up. The eclipse was spectacular. The shadow started on the left side, moved over the moon for the next few hours, and just before and just after the total eclipse, we saw what's called the Japanese Lantern Effect...I think the second picture shows that effect.

This is close to the total eclipse.

Japanese Lantern Effect

More Japanese Lantern Effect...just after the total eclipse.

At some point, we had the camera on the tripod and a plane flew between the camera and the moon. Cool effect.

We used the fill light feature in Picassa to show the stars that aren't visible to the naked eye. I'd like to try this some night when we are supposed to be able to see Northern Lights...but don't.

Off to earn my daily bread.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

uh oh 45 years

We went to Canby to celebrate my 45th class reunion. I was one of 150 students in the class of 1970 and 55 of us showed up to this gathering. What a hoot. We were almost to Buffalo Ridge when I asked Regis if he had, indeed, brought the camera. He gets a funny look on his face, pulls over to the side of the road, and begins to root through every possible spot in the car. He gets back into the car, makes a big-ass U-turn and speeds back toward town. He said his last memory was of setting the camera on the roof of the car while he changed out the lens cap. Uh oh.

Sure enough. In my mom's driveway is the camera. It appears to have only a cracked lens filter but we switch spots so Regis can check it out. Everything appears to work so we continue back toward Gary, South Dakota. Let the fun commence.

These pictures pretty much sum it all up...lots of goofing around, photo bombing, hearty laughter, back slapping, and hugs. It was a sweet evening.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


I spent three hours at my first pow wow ever. The Mahkato Wacipi is held in Mankato every year and has been since the early 70s. Why I have never gone is a mystery. I knew people who went but my thinking was that it was a Native event and that I would not be particularly welcome there. I was so wrong.

Ella and I arrived in time for the opening ceremony.
The Wacipi begins with the Grand Entry of all the dancers entering the arena. Leading the Grand Entry are the flag bearers. These flags may include the eagle staffs of various tribes and families in attendance, US flag, tribal flags, service flags and the P.O.W. flag. Flags are usually carried by veterans. Native Americans hold the United States flag in an honored position. For us, the US flag has two meanings. First, it is a way to remember all of the ancestors that fought against this country. Second, it also reminds people of those people who have fought for this country. 
An eagle staff consisting of 38 eagle feathers was made by Glynn Crooks (Dakota) in 1979. Each feather commemorates one of the 38 Dakota executed in Mankato on December 26, 1862. It also commemorates those veterans who have served in times of conflict. 
Following the flagbearers are other important guests of the Wacipi including tribal chiefs, elders, and royalty. Next in line, are the men dancers followed by the women dancers, then the children. Once everyone is in the arena, the entrance song ends. The entrance song is immediately followed by a song to honor the flag and a song to honor the veterans. This is followed by an invocation.
This was one of the most moving and poignant things I have witnessed. I wept and held Ella closely. The drums were powerful, the dresses (they are called regalia, not costumes) were colorful and beautiful and in many cases made their own kind of music, and the dancing was gentle but dramatic.

I was touched by the welcoming spirit of the speeches and the invocation. The Dakota people are forgiving and compassionate.

We spent a couple hours at the Nicollet County Historical Society table in the education tent who had displayed a series of panels called Commemorating Controversy. I was a little nervous about that part because controversy is not one of my strengths. I avoid it like the plague. But everyone who stopped to visit was very friendly and complimentary of the display.

And, the connections. I can't tell all the stories here because they are not mine to tell, but I met a man who told me about the Renville Rangers and his family's part in that group. He told me how his great great grandfather came to this country from Ireland. He told me the role his great grandfather played in the conflict.

It seemed like everyone I met knew someone else I knew, knew the person I had just talked to, knew someone else they knew...the air was blue with those connections. I met a man from North Dakota who is related to the family of my cousin in Arizona. Of all the people I could have stopped to photograph. I took a stunning photo of him in his regalia but I am uncomfortable posting I said...not my story.

This afternoon, Kathryn and I went on a story hunting mission to one of the assisted living facilities in St. Peter. We had five participants this week...and we heard amazing stories of being kidnapped at age two, being dumped by a husband after a diagnosis, we heard beautiful poetry recited from memory, we heard the story of a brother's suicide and the dark writing the family found after his death. Incredibly personal and touching stories.

Ella was with me when I heard the stories about the conflict. I told her I would write them down so she can read them when she studies Minnesota history in 6th grade. I didn't want her to be fearful so I reminded her that some of those things happened more than a hundred years ago. I know, she said. She is a good listener!