Sunday, May 31, 2015

a week of nice people

Genevieve who brought me 10 wild flowers for my garden
The man in town for his 50th reunion at GAC who asked lots of questions about St. Peter and who loved his BBQ lunch
The customer who said he was late because two lanes of traffic were stopped so a family of ducks could cross the road
Old friend, Sharon, who made a Saturday morning splendid with shopping and breakfast and chatter and who, everywhere we went introduced me to her friends
The lady at the tea shop who gave us samples of strawberry white tea and shortbread cookies
Tom who gave me tickets to the rodeo
Darlene in Black Dog Antiques who told me the story of how the crocheted skirt I was buying was commissioned to be made for her in Malta
Kim at Encore who is always happy to see customers come through the door
The ladies at Salvage Sisters who are friendly and creative
The dishwasher at the Nakato who told us he has been washing dishes his whole life
Neighbor Jean who brought us garlic soup with Cajun croutons
Susie and Heather who shared their rhubarb with me
Kathy who came to have tea in the garden and brought me book marks, market bags, and books
Mary who cuts my hair and hugs me when I leave
Gunnar, cute as a button, who will start whipping my sorry butt into shape on June 8th
Judy, my oncology research nurse who has been an angel through all of my cancer experiences
Tom and Betty who squired us around the country-side on Memorial Day for beer, pizza, and pork carnitas
Julie who sat on the patio with us one evening
My yoga friends, Michele, Pat, Elizabeth, Ginny, Colleen, and the rest who practice yoga, break bread, and ask for blessings
Long distance friends who I have never met in person but who enrich my life: Paul in CA, Karen in NJ, Karen in UT, Joey in NY, Elaine in England
My old school friends who still think to invite me to parties
Richie who brought me the issue of City Pages with my picture in it with a sticky note that said "Pin up girl!"
The families who came in for dinner last night celebrating birthdays and graduations and grandparents in town from Africa
My Humans of New York friend, Elaine, who lives in England and wrote the sweetest note

life is good, friends

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

catching up again and not in order

I can't seem to get back in the habit of blog writing again. Weeks go by and it becomes harder and harder to get to it. Tomorrow, I am getting back into the exercise habit so maybe the writing habit will follow.

Yesterday, we took our annual Memorial Day road trip with Tom and Betty. We head down the road, stop at a cemetery or two, and a beer joint or two. Yesterday was no exception.

We headed to New Ulm, found a little tavern called Mowan's where the beer was cold and the pizza was frozen. The woman behind the bar was a character and brought us some left-over poppy seed muffins from the morning breakfast buffet.

We stopped at a small family cemetery on Old Highway 5. Many of the graves were from the 1800s and were well-tended.

My lilac can smell it when you walk out the door!

Gazing globe purchased at Running's in Canby

Strawberry rhubarb pie under construction

Hung the flag on Memorial Day

Strawberry rhubarb pie

Beautiful rose from Mary's Flowers...where fun and flowers meet.

Tom and I at Mowan's in New Ulm

It's going to be a busy week. Tomorrow...Zometa infusion, haircut, appointment with trainer, coffee with a friend. at Lone Star and consult with butterfly lady. Friday...and so it goes.

We're watching re-runs of Law & Order. The commercials are for something called Marriage Boot Camp. Seriously. Someone produces this garbage for an audience. Waste of bandwidth.

I went rhubarb hunting yesterday morning while there was still dew on the grass. I found some at Bob and Emily's new house and some at a friend's house. I have made a pie, rhubarb muffins, and at my next opportunity, I am going to make Rhubarb Ginger Jam.

This news flash from Regis: I made myself a bit of lunch. Consisted of Tom's homemade refried beans and a little pork carnitas. I went to see if there was more coffee and your f****** cat jumped on the table, snatched a piece of pork, and made for the hills. Gus and I chased him and the son of a bitch protected that meat like it was one of his own kittens. I've never heard him growl that loudly.

Last week, we had our first Third Thursday potluck. There were seven of us and we had a wonderful time and such good food. The menu: chicken enchilada casserole, grain salad, spinach salad, apple crisp, and rhubarb cake. Many stories and much laughter.

Well, there you have it. I took two naps today so I may have trouble sleeping tonight. Sigh.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


One of my current projects was sorting photographs. I bought a nice re-usable bag for each family and filled it with photos, albums, framed photos, and other memorabilia. I gave them out on Mother's Day. They had fun looking through their things...but the next day, the bags were still here. Frowny face.

We had a nice time, though, with a simple meal of pizza from Papa Murphy's and ice cream for dessert and a fruit salad. A no-stress meal.

Lovely cards and flowers.

And we got a new driveway!

Kristi, my Livestrong instructor, lost her husband last Monday. He had been sick with cancer for three years but lived a rich, full life right to the end. I went to the service yesterday, with a plastic tub full of sugar cookies stenciled with a W for Wes. They were a mess to make but cute in the end. Next time, I'll do some research on stenciling cookies. It's got to be on Pinterest, right?

The service was lovely and profound and quite non-traditional with feathers and smoked sage. So much beautiful music and so many beautiful words. A sweet way to mark his passing.

Sunday, May 10, 2015


Yesterday I sat in the sunshine with my beautiful daughter and watched Elliot play soccer. His mom and dad were a little disappointed that he wasn't more "in the game". I think he was looking at the blue sky and the butterflies. Nothing wrong with that!

I have been working really hard on my garden. Every day I can be, I am out there weeding and transplanting and spreading mulch. It's going to be a good garden year.

I remembered when I had neighbors who worked hard on their house and yard. They had a pear tree, a trumpet vine, many perennials. It was beautiful. Then they sold the house to a banker who promptly tore out the trumpet vine, cut down the pear tree, and let the flowers go to seed. It broke my heart to see the trumpet vine going down the street in the back of a pick-up.

I've seen it happen many times. I know people have different needs and desires but when it comes time to sell our home, I have to find a person who appreciates my garden.

The bird bath and lawn chairs. One of my favorite places to be this summer!

I planted six canna bulbs in one of the only sunny spots in the yard. They attract hummingbirds. I also bought these three pots from Emily and planted million bells at the end of the walk.

I love this little shady spot. Those are bee balm coming up. And some garden art.

My library has some cook books this week and some new children's books. We get a lot of visitors!

Some of my hostas. Thanks to friends who have shared over the years! Jill, you are one!

We love to watch the birds in the yard. On May 2nd, I put the long lens on the camera and sat quietly on the patio. First the female came to the bath. Then flew in to the apple tree to preen and dry her feathers in the sun. The male came in for a bath, dipping down, spraying water. They sat together in the tree for a long time fluffing and flirting. It was beautiful.

Today we celebrate moms in families. Mine is a great mom. I'll share this poem again that I wrote in 2011 for her. (Here's the tribute I wrote that year.) She and my dad also taught us about birds and plants. You can see those lessons stuck!

What She Taught Me

For Mom

She taught me knitting, sewing, Teeny Tiny,
and reading every night before you go
to bed. She taught me how to make things for
people you love. She taught me how to make

stuffing by letting the butter and chopped onions sit
on the stovetop overnight. She taught me how to
make spaghetti from scratch
and that leftovers make a good meal and that pets,

even messy ones who come through the screen door
during thunderstorms, are part of the family.
She taught me that it’s more important to bake
fresh cookies or to read a book than

have a clean house. She taught me that having piles
of books around your house is decorating and that wearing
a flannel nightgown until noon doesn’t mean you’re
lazy. She taught me that you invite people over

if you’re lonely. She taught me how to always
believe you can fix it yourself and to keep on learning
and that when you go on vacation you should
stay with relatives. She taught me that cookbooks make good

reading and if you don’t have what it calls
for, you use something else. She taught me that hunting
down a good deal and taking a long nap in the afternoon is
the only exercise you ever really need in life.

When my dad died, her husband of more than fifty years, she
taught me that you cry but you go on. You go on living. You keep
the ashes in the window sill, you tell stories about the memories
and you laugh and you cry. But you keep on living.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

when the going gets tough

From On Being

Monday, April 20, 2015

When the Going Gets Tough...

When the going gets tough may I resist my first impulse to wade in, fix, explain, resolve, and restore. May I sit down instead.

When the going gets tough may I be quiet. May I steep for a while in stillness.

When the going gets tough may I have faith that things are unfolding as they are meant to. May I remember that my life is what it is, not what I ask for. May I find the strength to bear it, the grace to accept it, the faith to embrace it.

When the going gets tough may I practice with what I’m given, rather than wish for something else. When the going gets tough may I assume nothing. May I not take it personally. May I opt for trust over doubt, compassion over suspicion, vulnerability over vengeance.

When the going gets tough may I open my heart before I open my mouth.

When the going gets tough may I be the first to apologize. May I leave it at that. May I bend with all my being toward forgiveness.

When the going gets tough may I look for a door to step through rather than a wall to hide behind.

When the going gets tough may I turn my gaze up to the sky above my head, rather than down to the mess at my feet. May I count my blessings.

When the going gets tough may I pause, reach out a hand, and make the way easier for someone else. When the going gets tough may I remember that I’m not alone. May I be kind.

When the going gets tough may I choose love over fear. Every time.

From Random Thoughts n' Lotsa Coffee
Find Your Tough


When one is amidst the storm, seeing no further ahead than the darkness will allow, courage to continue moving forward comes from a primal place so deep within your soul, you never knew it was there.
~J.V. Manning

There have been many times in my life when things were so bad, I was sure I would break. Times when I was convinced I would not have the strength to face another day, another heartbreak, another problem. Moments that seem to stretch into years of nothing going right and absolutely everything going wrong. I have walked through some of the darkest days life has to offer, doubting with each step I took that I had what it would take to see myself through them. When one is amidst the storm, seeing no further ahead than the darkness will allow, courage to continue moving forward comes from a primal place so deep within your soul, you never knew it was there.

It has been there all along.

Even at your weakest, you are strong. If you allow yourself to be. Sometimes, those victories seem small. Opening your eyes in the morning to face another day. Getting up and dressed. For some, this requires an incredible inner stalwartness. Perseverance. The refusal to give in. Baby steps lead to achieving more as time goes on. For others, strength comes forth from necessity. Life situations that force you to think on your feet, times when others are counting on you to pull through for them. Life teaches you. Life beats you up, but at the same time, shows you exactly what you are capable of.

I watched my baby brother and sister in law these past few weeks find a strength neither one of them knew they had. When it became apparent that my nephew, who wasn't supposed to be born until the 20th, was going to be coming three weeks early. There were some very serious medical issues with my sister in law and with the baby's heart. I watched as both of them overcame every fear with steely resolve. Fighting back the panic to do what needed to be done. Both of them reaching into that primal part of their soul to find the strength they needed to bring baby into the world, through heart surgery at two days old and to fully embrace being new parents. I am in awe of them. The strength I saw, as they stood in front of the surgeon who had just operated on their son, was palpable. It was fierce.

Now that baby is home and growing stronger with each day, a new strength is being born. Adapting to a new reality. Shifting perspective and priorities. It takes courage to change. Even when the exhaustion threatens to overwhelm them, they dig deeper. Finding what they need within. That internal spring that never runs dry, we just must remember it is there.

During a life coaching session, one of my clients, who I admire greatly, said to me; "I will never be as strong as you." "I can't face anymore, handle anymore or deal with it anymore." Her "it" isn't important. We all have "its" but what is important is the desperation I heard in her voice. It echoed the same tone I have heard in my head over and over again. Just because I am strong, doesn't mean I don't battle being weak. It just means I am stubborn broad who refuses to give up. Ever. We all have the power, we all have the strength. What we all don't have - is belief in ourselves.

When you are in the thick of something, your strength is in each step, however small, you take to get through it. It is loving yourself in the process. It's being gentle with yourself. It's being a champion for your life and your sanity. Life is complicated, sometimes. It's hard. But, the hard doesn't last forever. Though, believe me, I know it feels like it. You don't have to be Hercules all the time. It's okay to feel weak. It's natural. It's okay to be tempted to just throw in the towel and give up. What's not okay is giving into those temptations. The world around you may have gone to shit, for one reason or another, but that doesn't mean you give up on your place in it. It means you lick your wounds for a while, dig deep, deeper still and pull yourself out of the darkness.

Think about this: Your track record for getting through all the horrible, painful, undeniably awful days... is 100%. Know how I know this? Because you are sitting here, reading this. When it all gets to be too much, remind yourself of this. Your track record is 100%. Impressive my friends. Maybe you are Hercules after all.


This was a draft post from a while back. Not sure what I planned to say about any of this but here it is. Kind of a funny collection of stuff.

loving spring

I'm loving this spring so much that I haven't taken time to write much here. I think I'll have to get in the habit of posting from my laptop or ipad while I sit on the patio. Ah, well. There are worse things than enjoying spring.

This is a mandevilla. A smaller version of the giant ones you usually see. It has bright red flowers and is attractive to hummingbirds.

Pansies are thriving!

Regis takes a selfie with the 35 mm camera. I'm in the background giving the peace sign. Ha!

One of the projects I completed this spring was the photo sorting. Early one morning, I dragged four tubs and three boxes of pictures up from the basement. I sorted them into a tub for me to keep, a tub for kids to go through, and a bag for each kid. Such a good feeling to have that mess cleaned up.

It's only May 2, and I have already raked the entire yard, raked the garden, moved plants, started a compost pile, painted my two patio tables, and planted my patio pots. There are still things to do but it's so much easier to transition into summer when I'm not teaching. Back in those days, I wouldn't get to yard work until June. Ugh.

I was out on the patio taking pictures of the plants and Gus and Woody kept an eye on me. They love the new door with the full glass view of the yard!

Last night I went with friends to get our first pedicure of the season. We took this picture in the parking lot of Pappageorge after we had dinner. What a good time.

This is a jack-in-the-pulpit. It had been growing in the back yard behind the air conditioner since we moved into this house in 1997, almost twenty years. Every year, I intended to move it and every year I didn't get around to it. This year I did. Ta da! I discovered that there were several small shoots, too, so maybe it will multiply in its new location! Last fall, I also managed to move the fern leaf peony and the rhubarb into sunnier locations so we're looking for better results from them!

We are hoping the asphalt men will come this week to put in our new driveway.

This week, I'm going to paint the wood around the new door and I'm going to paint the back hallway into the basement. That's another project that has been waiting a long time to get done.

I'm going over to Mankato to pick Elliot up at noon. He's playing soccer this year and I can't wait to see one of his games. The other kids are coming at three. We're going to play on the patio, walk down to Lone Star for root beer floats, and maybe stop at the park for a picnic.

Well, this all makes for a busy day so I think I'll get started. Get outside and enjoy the day!