Sunday, October 31, 2010

it's 4 a.m. and i am awake

I can't seem to stop waking up at 4 a.m. I don't mind it as I'm a lot more productive at 4 a.m. than I am at 5 p.m. but the rest of the world is not really set up to deal with an early riser. You can't make phone calls or visit people or go shopping at 4 a.m. Regis is able to sleep longer some days so I don't like to bang around in the kitchen too much either. Today, he is awake too, so we sit in front of our little fireplace, drinking coffee and ruminating about the days behind and the days ahead.

Today, we're going to spend my birthday with Mom. I have a box of red wine, some costume things, and a squash to take along. Squash might seem like a funny thing to take but it's a lesson from my Aunt Vi...always take something edible. I don't remember her ever coming without a box of flatbread or a package of lefse or some apple bars. Later this afternoon, we'll get dressed up to pass out candy to the little kids. Some of them are so cute it brings tears to your eyes. I love Halloween.

We had a nice time last night but four little kids sure change the dynamic of a party. Last year the little boys just sat in one place and we pretty much just sat and admired them. This year they chase the dogs, pick up all the breakable stuff, try to drink your wine, and head for the nearest stairs. It was fun to get them together, though: Ella (almost 5), Alex and Elliot (almost 2), and Gabe (just turned 1). We heard "mine" a few times as Alex and Elliot decided whose ball was whose. They take a lot of energy those little ones so it's a good thing babies are born to young people.

We're taking a leisurely trip to Canby today. Nobody does leisure better than we do, believe me. We'll go down the road and stop for breakfast and maybe take some pictures along the way. We have a spot in New Ulm we like to have lunch so that will be a stop tomorrow. We don't take big trips but we sure enjoy the little trips we take.

Happy Halloween, friends. Be safe but be sure to have fun!

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Halloween Fun Run

great time at the fun run

Regis was at Tom and Betty's taking pictures this morning. I like this one because he says it looks like I think I'm Jay Leno or something. Workin' the crowd. I spent a lot of time in the run this morning talking to people I know (Jill and Larry), hugging friends (Edna), looking at babies (Ethan and Owen) and waving my arms around. And apparently pointing at people. It was a hoot.

quick review of the last week

Ella came over last Sunday to play dress up with me. I have a perfect house for dress up play. I have lots of jewelry, lots of quirky clothes, feather boas and velvet purses, and hats. We had a wonderful time.

Ella is a good subject. She's photogenic and she loves to mug for the camera. So do I and it makes us a good team.

 She wanted to surprise her Popop so we got all dressed up in the bedroom then walked out wrapped in shawls. Surprise!

This is a bad picture of the front door of Madden's Classic Restaurant in Brainerd. I went up to a conference and Regis came along. We had a room at the other resort up there where the rooms remind you of Dirty Dancing and the food is not very good. We always make time to wander over to Madden's where the food is superb and the atmosphere romantic. As always, a wonderful time. We went early so we could watch the fire on the patio. We lingered until dark and enjoyed the fireplace, the twinkling lights, and the mood. Lovely.

Regis took this gorgeous picture of the full moon. I posed it on Facebook but don't think I shared it here. Amazing that you can take a picture like this from your own front yard. It looks like something an astronaut would take out of the window of a space ship.

I feel like the past few weeks have gone so fast and been so busy I haven't even had time to run it through the processor. (The conference I went to was on neuroscience and learning and it was fascinating.) We got back from Brainerd late afternoon yesterday. Returned the school van to its stall in the garage. Picked up flowers sent by old friends in Iowa. Stopped at Patrick's for a glass of wine and to pick up my insurance card that I dropped there last week. Came home to relax. Our bags are still sitting by the front door.

This morning, I'm running in the Halloween Fun Run. Last year's was my first race ever. I always feel funny calling them races because I'm not racing with anyone. I'm just running along scattering flower petals. Like Opus.

This afternoon, Betty and Tom are having their annual Halloween/Birthday bash. They invite all our kids and grandkids and lots of friends. It's always fun. Betty is going to get a hair-do this morning so I wonder if she'll have spider webs again this year! If I can convince Regis to be the photographer, we'll have pictures!

Tomorrow we journey to Canby to spend my birthday with my mom. She likes to dress up and pass out candy, too. I'm sure a glass of wine will be consumed. We'll have a good time.

I wonder if I am remembering to do the necessary things like pay bills and take out the trash.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Regis cautioned me, gently, the other day to watch myself for signs of big headedness. With all the attention from the half marathon and a couple of very nice things that have happened as a result, he said it is possible to become too full of one's self. To think that a guy is all that, I guess.

I wasn't offended at all because I know he has my very best interests at heart. He has been my greatest supporter and champion and coach through all the days of pre-surgery, weight loss, exercise, and dietary changes. So, when he suggested this to me, I spent a couple days thinking about it. What have I been feeling?

Mostly I feel gratitude for this chance. I feel overwhelming gratitude for the medical expertise of the doctors at the Mayo Clinic for helping me finally beat down the weight monster. I feel grateful to all my friends and family and the online support group I belong to for cheering me on and for holding me up on dark days. I am grateful to Rachel and the other ladies at the Pulse for teaching me that exercise can be a force for good in my life. I even feel grateful to the naysayers, who all along the way, have forced me to examine my motives and to articulate my reasons for making these changes in my life.

I can't find a way to say how touched I am by all of this. Maybe it's part of the gratitude. It's been a wonderful adventure. I will be vigilant regarding the big head, and I will be forever grateful for the chance to do these things I never dreamed I could do.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

thirteen miles ain't for sissies

I was probably a little cocky. I wasn't worried about this half-marathon because I had gone ten miles before and wasn't too worried about my time. I just wanted to finish. There was a point, around mile 10, where I had my doubts. If that guy would have traded his bicycle for my half a peanut butter sandwich, I would have been gone. My knees hurt, my leg muscles were tight as hell, and I needed something I wasn't getting from the pavement.

I started to get passed about mile 10 by marathoners. You would not ever mistake me for one of them as they are scantily clad, they run with a fierce and focused look, and they have an amazing form. Ah, well. I don't do too badly for an old gal.

It was an amazing experience. I lined up with almost 2000 other folks, we ran down the streets and onto the country roads together. I talked to hundreds of volunteers who passed out water, offered encouragement, and   in the end, asked if I was alright.

As much as I hurt in the end, I wanted to run in and I did. As I came around the corner by the Pub 500, I ran. I ran down the alley and to the finish line. I am not ashamed to say I wept. The crowd cheered. The announcer said my name. I was wobbly and my legs hurt. I needed water. Regis was right there to take my picture. What an amazing experience.

I'll say this: I enjoyed it. I talked to many people along the way. I thanked as many volunteers as I could. I saw a couple sitting in front of their bonfire on a hill and waved to them. I enjoyed the Red Jacket Trail through the woods. Regis said maybe I was like Opus the Penguin, running down the street throwing flowers over his shoulder. Yes, I think I was like that. What a day.

Friday, October 22, 2010

why i hate clubs and why i should have clobbered that guy

I've never worn hats in my life, but a few weeks ago, I impulsively bought this hat at Kohl's. I love it. So last night after our lovely dinner of stuffed peppers on the grill, Regis and I wander down to Patrick's for a glass of wine. I wear the red hat. As we walk in, two of the characters sitting at the bar, start hooting about the Red Hat Club. I snorted. No, I am not a member of any Red Hat Club and I don't think those old ladies wear over-the-knee boots with three inch heels, I say. What the hell.

The younger guy comes over later to say he meant no offense but his mom is in a Red Hat Club so he just thought...I say keep walkin' pal, you are just digging yourself in deeper.

I'm not fond of clubs. Since I quit the Girl Scouts in sixth grade, I've been resistant to clubs. I was a member of a garden club for a while but it started to feel oppressive when there were expectations.

I can see myself wearing a hat and going out to a bar and having a good time but the part where everybody has to wear the same color on their head is where I draw the line. Clubs are not for me.

Regis and I had a most wonderful day yesterday. We went to Mankato and did some fun things, had a nice lunch at Pappageorge, drove up to LeSueur and stopped at the Cheese Shop for some Dubliner and a few other cheeses we've grown to like, and we cooked peppers on the grill again.

We chopped one of these peppers and added it to the cheese/Andouille sausage mix that we stuff them with. Holy cow, they were smokin' hot. I'm not sure I'll do that again.

Today is race preparation day. The forecast is for chilly rain tomorrow which makes the clothing choices critical. I don't like to be cold so I'm planning layers of things that can be taken off and either discarded or tied around my waist. I have to eat something along the way so I'm planning to take a peanut butter sandwich. It's worked for me before. I bought some of the gel things that some runners use but they look like big packets of cake frosting. Ugh.

Kristine, my friend from the Pulse, is also doing the half-marathon. We talked yesterday and we share the same goal: to finish and be vertical. Neither of us want to ride to the finish line in the Sag Wagon.

Maybe I should wear the red hat in the race tomorrow. That would be a good one.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

what i did and what they did about it when they caught me

That's not really the subject of my post this morning but it is the title of a poem by John Engman from his book Temporary Help. I liked it so I borrowed it.

Regis and I are sitting in front of our little Duraflame Ben Franklin stove. We have enjoyed that little stove so much already. We sit here every morning and every at one end of the day and wine at the other. Kramer loved to lay right where the warm air comes out. We miss him often and hear the sound of his nails on the kitchen floor even though we know he's gone.

I got a last brochure regarding the Mankato Marathon this morning. I was distressed to learn that they have something called a Sag Wagon. If you aren't done by 2:15, the sag wagon comes along and picks up your sorry ass and hauls it to the finish line. If I'm not done by 2:15, I will be taking a nap on someone's lawn. Sag wagon. Uff da.

Of course, I imagine something that looks like this being trundled down the streets of Mankato, with the legs of weary runners poking out the sides. I bet it's more like a mini-van, though, but this is much more imaginative.

Regis is my pit crew. I'm not good with details so he has been reading everything and making a plan. What would I do without him? He said he would be my sag wagon and if I need roadside assistance, I should just call him and he'll meet me. With our new phones, he can locate me by my GPS.

We've been enjoying the last grilling days of summer. We cook with charcoal and it gets too hard to keep the temperature up when the weather gets cold. On these cooler afternoons, we stand in leaves up to our ankles and huddle over the fire to stay warm. We made steaks the other night that were so good we licked our fingers like peasants. It was delightful.

We're going to Mankato this morning to do a few things...pick up our favorite coffee at Aldi's, look for some socks that will stay dry on Saturday in the rain (plastic socks?), and check out Halloween stuff at the costume shop.

Check out the party lights poem post below. I added a picture. I better look for some Thanksgiving party's expected of me!

Here we go. Happy weekend!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

that kind of party

Thanks to Bob for sending this poem!

That Kind of Party
Patrick Swaney

I go to the party wearing a strand of lights around my neck
like a scarf. It turns out I’m the only one at this party

wearing lights as a scarf and even though people tell me
I look fabulous I feel self-conscious and regret my decision.

I get drunk because it is a party and tell everyone that these
aren’t my lights, they’re borrowed from a friend. Yes, but

do they work? they ask. If you plug them in, but really
I never wear lights, normally, I try to explain. I’m led

to a corner where I spend the rest of the night against
the wall tethered to an outlet. People love the lights

even more now and the party expands around me.
The lights paint my face a strange color and the few bulbs

that touch skin are painful but people keep bringing me
drinks, clapping me on the shoulder, and complimenting

me on my lights. And I have to remind them that they
aren’t my lights, I only borrowed them from a friend.

Monday, October 18, 2010


This morning, we had to have our little dog, Kramer, euthanized. He has been declining for a while and for the last few days had more trouble walking. Yesterday he wouldn't eat or drink and he seemed to be in some distress. Never an easy thing to do, this was particularly painful for Regis. He and Kramer spent a lot of time together in the last couple years and he'll miss him terribly.

On Saturday, I did my practice run for the half-marathon. I put on my little shoes, packed a peanut butter sandwich in my pocket, and down the road I goes. (Isn't that the way a Shel Silverstein poem ends? I wraps my hair around my bare and down the road I goes...) I made it a little more than ten miles and wasn't even winded when I got done which probably means I could have gone faster. My goal was not to go too fast, was to see if I would survive that distance and apparently, I will.

There are 2,000 people registered for the marathon, half-marathon, and 10K on Saturday. Regis joked that I could just pick up my feet and be carried by the crowd. I can't imagine that many people running down a city street. It will be incredible and I'm quite sure I will cry because I always do at the beginning of parades, when Santa comes out at the end of the Thanksgiving Day parade, when the bride comes down the aisle...all can evoke my tears. You can see it doesn't take much, really. I cried during the 4th of July Fun Run. I think I was overwhelmed and amazed. How could this be real?

Regis is going to drop me off at the starting line and he says he will be there at the finish line for me. I'll come home to take a bath and a nap and then we're going out to celebrate. I'm excited about it now and a few weeks ago I had a real bad case of the dreads. This is better.

I have two days off this week. What is historically been known as MEA vacation, the state teacher's union convention, is really a couple days off during the most beautiful time of the year. We have no plans other than to go to the cheese shop in LeSueur on Thursday and to Mankato on Friday to pick up my race packet. That's it. We should probably think about raking the leaves but we'll see. I refuse to go into a long weekend with a to-do list.

The following week, Regis and I are going to Cragun's for a conference. We leave Wednesday about noon and won't get back until Friday afternoon. There are worse things than going to Brainerd in the fall. We like to go to Madden's for dinner Thursday. This place is on a golf course (yuck) but there are no golfers this time of year and it's beautiful. The food was delicious and the setting sublime.

Every day is shorter. This morning it was dark until past 7:30. I don't dread winter...only the dark. I think I better get out all the party lights and string them up everywhere.

We made stuffed peppers on the grill tonight. It's one of our favorite meals. We decided that our favorite grill meals are: carne asada fajitas, stuffed peppers, stuffed mushrooms, and pizza. We're going to try and squeeze them all in one more time before we put the grill away for the winter.

Well, that's it for Monday, my friends.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

a guest post by my friend bob bergstrom

Bob sent this by email the other day and I thought it was so funny, I asked if I could post it here. So, with his permission:

On Saturday -- fueled mostly by the guilt of seeing that the elderly neighbors to our west had hired the family to their west to cut, rake, and mulch their yard -- I spent many hours doing the same to the part of our property that adjoins theirs and then, despite the fact that we have a lawn service from Little Falls that comes each fall and spring to do the complete clean-up, I kept moving across the yard until the piles of leaves were so deep that I was no longer visible and could only be found at dusk by Marilyn because she followed the sound of my whimpering and there, having little or no mercy because, after all, Yellowjacket Lawn Service could be here any day, or no understanding of how far guilt can drive me, she merely tied one end of a piece of twine to my foot and the other to the front door knob and said, "Follow the string when you're ready to come in." Well, OK, most of that's not true, but guilt did send me out and I did clean up some of our front yard, which looked pretty good until Sunday when all the leaves came back.

That's my kind of yard work. My anal retentive neighbor has been in his yard for an hour with a gas-powered blower. I have closed every window in the house but it's still like sand paper on my nerves so I retreated to the back office with a glass of wine and piece of string cheese. A person should not have to listen to that after working in EBD facilities all day. I'm sure there is a law.

Thanks, Bob!

early tuesday and a tribute to rachel

I woke up at 2 and finally got out of bed at 3:30. Good grief is all I can say to that. We had conferences last night so I think it was a combination of over-stimulation and being out of my routine. When I got home, Regis and I had a glass of wine and some cheese while we visited about the day. It just wasn't enough time to cruise into sleep mode.

I'm going to the Pulse at 5:00 to run seven miles. I've been lacking the running mojo lately. Just out of my groove since school started. I did a nine mile run once but that was the longest and that was three weeks ago. The half marathon is coming up in a few weeks and I'm not sure what possessed me to sign up for it. Peer pressure I guess. Even at my age...we're vulnerable.

I've examined all the reasons why I might be slacking in the exercise department. I have blamed the half marathon. I'm a little oppositional at heart (still an adolescent, Amanda!) and when I feel like I have to do something, suddenly I don't want to do it even if it's something I chose. I have blamed the start of the school year and my inability to balance all the things in my life. I have blamed my natural tendency toward waddlesome slothfulhood.

I think the truth is that this is a hard thing and it takes continued dedication to get up every morning and do it. I just got lazy. It has been hard to balance everything but there's an answer to that...make this a priority again. I can do that half marathon because I'm not really concerned about my time. I'd rather not be there as they're picking up the orange cones, but if that happens, so be it.

For most of my conscious history, I have thought of myself as non-active. I didn't exercise and I would drive around a parking lot several times to get a spot close to the door. I never stood when I could sit. I had one speed, slow.

I like this so much better. My joints don't ache. I can do things I could never do before like run and jump and carry things. I can perform feats of derring-do (I checked the dictionary for the spelling) in bars.

Saturday night, we met some friends at a restaurant down the road. I had a glass of wine with dinner (only by way of explanation for those of you who might jump to the conclusion that I had over-consumed) and we went into the bar for an after-dinner drink. We sat on bar stools at a tall table. I had on heels of a height I have never worn in my life and sat with them hooked over the rung of the chair. Kathy said, "Lean over for a picture with Jack and Regis!" As I leaned, I lost my balance. I was tipping, the table was wobbling, coffee and wine and sodas were sloshing out of their cups. Regis jumped off his chair to assist. I reached over and grabbed the railing that was about shoulder-height...and pulled myself upright. This would not have been possible in my pre-workout days. Disaster averted. A few splashed drinks but no broken bones. Ta da!

On to Tuesday, my friends. Make it a good one.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

sunday morning

Yesterday we motored up 169 to Dangerfield's. Motored seems like the right word since we left early and took our time. We met Jack and Kathy at 5:00 because we're old coots and we don't like to be out too late or drive in the dark. We sat on the patio, enjoyed a glass of wine, watched the leaves fall in the river. Lovely time.

This picture was taken with the new phone. Jack has a Droid, too, so he and Regis talked phone technology. Jack showed us an app called Bump. He took a picture with his phone, then he and Regis simply bumped their two phones together...and magically the picture went into the other phone. Amazing. This morning, Regis emailed the picture from his phone to my computer.

We're having kids and friends over for burgers on the grill tonight. Easy menu: burgers, roasted vegetables, squash, apple crisp. The birch leaves are thick on the patio so there may not be much patio sitting but it's beautiful. In the sunlight, they look like drops of sun and fire.

I'm putting out my Halloween decorations and the mess always gets worse before it gets better. I love fall and I love Halloween. My friends and family who are so good at remembering me on my birthday, often give me Halloween-related gifts. Such fun. I love getting the orange tubs out and recalling where the stuff came from: The Witch is In sign from Jill, the ghost candle from Joanne, the haunted house from Mom.

This year, we're going to Canby to celebrate my birthday with my mom. Tom and Betty are having the traditional party at their house on Saturday, but on Sunday we'll go to Canby so I can spend my birthday with Mom. It's been a lot of years since I did that and it will be fun.

I am getting up now to prepare for the day. Pictures will be posted later.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

taking a cave man on a plane ride

Regis and I have always been pretty cheap about cell phones. We didn't want the latest thing, we wanted the least expensive thing. But we were getting more and more frustrated with our phones, so we splurged and bought the Droid X. Oh, my. This is amazing. Here are some of the things we've discovered:

  • Monday I had no idea what an app was and now I have a bunch of them.
  • Sometimes, information gets in my head and I'm not sure how. Did it come via email or text message? This thing integrates it all so smoothly that it's hard to tell. Well, for me anyway.
  • I opened up the google calendar app which we use on the computer. There, on the phone, is the google calendar with our plans for tonight. How do it know?
I'm sure I will keep adding to the list.

Today, we're going up to Shakopee to meet an old high school friend and her husband. The weather is so weird, though, that I don't know what to wear. I put summer clothes away three weeks ago. What now?

Off to weekend fun.

Friday, October 08, 2010

my brain filter

I try to have a brain filter, a good one. I use it for this:

  • To not pay attention to things that are not my business
  • To ignore things I can't do anything about
  • To identify problems that don't have solutions
  • To find the simple do-able parts of complex problems
  • To separate the drama from the real issues
  • To ignore things I don't need to know about like stuff on the news
It makes life a little easier.

The weather has been absolutely breath-taking. We've cooked on the grill a couple times this week and one night even ate on the patio as it was too gorgeous to come inside. We made stuffed peppers and I had mine with a nice glass of malbec. Oh, my. Delicious. Last night, Regis cooked steak and a couple pieces of fish, halibut and salmon. Another feast.

It's Friday. Made it through another week.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

coming to terms with all kinds of weird and discombobulated shit

I suppose the subject line of my post will be censored by the place that I work. That's why I bought a Droid X.

The last two weeks have been hard. This afternoon, I discovered that it was because I needed a better filter. This afternoon, I dealt with problems in a rapid fashion, dispensed advice over the phone, gave directions rapid fire. At the end of the day, I felt better.

I came home to a charcoal fire on the grill, stuffed peppers ready to go, and a glass of malbec. Nice way to end the day.

More tomorrow.

Monday, October 04, 2010

getting ready for my birthday

October is my birthday month. If you know me, you know that I love my birthday and start reminding people far in advance that it's coming. I don't think of this as self-absorption, but as something I really enjoy so I better make sure it happens. You don't get to whine about missing the celebration if you don't take a hand in it yourself.

Tonight I talked to me dear friend, Betty. For the last several years, we've celebrated my birthday at their house with food and wine and camaraderi. We like to pass out candy to the little kids, dress up in crazy costumes, cook up a bunch of good food, and generally act crazy. They invite all our friends and kids and grandbabies so it's a wonderful time. I'm looking forward to it.

Tonight I made a menu for the coming week. For the last two weeks, things have been so crazy, I have neglected many things and that's just one. Regis is shopping for groceries tomorrow morning so the larder will be stocked again. Now, Peter can come home.

Well, here you go. I've passed the evening and it's time to go to bed.

oh crap where did the last month go question mark

In a lame attempt to get caught up on my blog, I'm posting random pictures in no real order. Kind of like my brain has been for the last month. The photos above are of Highway 169 north of St. Peter. If this is really what that road looks like, it could be a while before we travel that way again. I guess the sandbags didn't help.

After school today, we went out to Fred's (it was his 64th birthday yesterday) and bought mums and pumpkins. Aren't they beautiful?

This is the chicken (named after Fred) in the recently cleaned up garden. I am embarrassed that the garden looked so shabby this year. I lost interest for some reason. I decided to clean it up good this fall so in the spring it's ready for the make-over. I'm tired of some of that stuff I've had in there for years. Many of the sunny perennials need to be moved out and replaced with shady perennials. The chicken looks good, though, eh?

I have neglected some aspects of my life in the last month. The start of the school year seems to be harder on me every year. I don't have the energy to do much in the evening. Probably because I get up so early, too, but  there it is. I have a long list of things to do but I have forsaken lists as I've gotten older. I hate to feel burdened by oppressive lists of crap to do. Life is too short.

So, right now, I am going into the bedroom to put away some clothes that have been piled up for several weeks. I'll be back.