Tuesday, June 30, 2015

summer morning and musing about the 4th of July

Yesterday morning was so lovely that even though I gathered up my grocery bags, my list, and my intentions to shop...I never made it. I went for a walk on the Gustavus campus instead, then went up by the hospital to look at the wild flowers, and then to Whiskey River for breakfast and bird viewing.

The flower beds at Gustavus are lovely. The cannas there are blooming already and are such vibrant colors. They look like tropical birds.

By following a couple of Facebook photo sharing sites, I have gotten interested in editing. The picture below is the original, probably not set up very well, but the next two are edited versions.

This is my view of the valley as I walked near the hospital. The minute I opened the car door, I could smell the prairie grass, the warm sun, and that earthy smell you get in the heat of summer.

I was awake too early this morning. As we get older, different things disturb our sleep. For Regis, it is light. If I turn on my iPad to read, he wakes up. For me, it's sound. About 3 am, one of his alarms went off...and he has many alarms, some of too high a pitch for him to even hear. If a thing has an alarm on it, he sets it.

I harvested my lettuce crop yesterday. It had a fine crop of tiny birch trees in among the lettuce so it all had to go. Good thing the lettuce grew faster and taller than the trees so I was able to cut the lettuce right at the tree tops. Don't want to be eating birch trees.

Here are some more experiments with photo editing.

Warhol effect

Ella and I are going to drive a golf cart in the 4th of July parade and sell water for the Chamber of Commerce. I think it will be a hoot. We'll get to see the parade but won't have to sit in the hot sun for hours. She is trying to get me to let her drive the cart. I said she needed a license and she wondered if her school ID would work. Nope. I don't think so.

I have some Independence day apparel coming in the mail tomorrow. A flag tunic, a long scarf, a hat, and sunglasses. Of course, I do. Ella will be similarly costumed. We love holidays.

I don't know what it is about parades that I find appealing. I usually hate noise and crowds, but I can't resist a parade. There are elements I don't like...the vans blasting radio music and the fertilizer trucks, but the whole, I love. The bands, the queens, the Shriner cars, the politicians although they have been banned from our parade which I think is disgusting since Independence Day is to honor our independence of which they are a part. Our theory is that the Chamber is a conservative organization, they banned politicians because the DFL is strong in our county and they make a great parade showing. I wish I had a photo of the lone grump guy driving a pick-up for the GOP. So sad.

Some other favorite photos from parades past.

I always get weepy right at this point.

This is a poignant moment in the parade.

Grace Engesser was the Grand Marshall in 2006.

We can have this apparently, but not politicians. Hmmm....

I love this!

The shirtless guy in the background is in almost every picture. Dude, put on a shirt!

Love bagpipes and men in kilts!

The drum line...a proper finish!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

happy saturday

So many things to celebrate this weekend! Elliot spent a few days here this week and we had a lot of fun. He got to play with his cousin, Alex several times, we spent time with my old friends, and on Saturday, we celebrated Patriarch's Day. We call it Patriarch's Day because we have men in our circle who might be the father, but who are important in our lives. We honor them all.

April had to work so Peter and Zoey came to the party. Peter had taken Zoey to Art Splash in Mankato and waited in line for an hour in the hot sun so she could get her face painted like Hello Kitty. Awwww...so sweet.

We had a small problem in the kitchen when the pork juice cooked over and created a large greasy cloud of smoke. Regis took a beer and a cigar and headed for the patio. Smart man. Tom and Betty to the rescue...they got the pork shifted to another pan, and cleaned up most of the mess. 

After dark last night, Regis and I went outside and saw this spectacular sight. We didn't take the photo, NASA did, but it's the brilliant triangle of Venus, Jupiter, and the crescent Moon. Beautiful!

This is my dad, about 60 years ago. Happy Patriarch's Day to all of you dads, grandpas, uncles, and men who make our families strong!

Friday, June 19, 2015

what fun we had

Here I am with five of my high school friends. One still lives in Canby, one lives in Omaha, two live in the Twin Cities area, and I am in St. Peter. We try to get together every summer, usually at someone's home. I don't have enough room to host the even at my house, but I invited them to town and said I would create the agenda. Since we are all retired, it's a pretty loose agenda. Here we are on the patio at Lone Star where we started with lunch. Left to right: Kathy, Rita, Teresa, Cindy, Peggy, Brenda.

After lunch, we headed to Chankaska Creek Vineyards for some gabbing, some wine, and some cheese. We had a wonderful time.

Regis was driving the transit so he picked the girls up at the hotel and toted them out to the winery. They took the transit back to town about 6.

Here we are inside at the winery. Much laughing, many stories, good friends. We always share family photos and updates on classmates we know about or have seen in the past year. We're looking forward to our 45th (gasp) class reunion in the fall at Buffalo Ridge.

Elliot spent a few days with us and got to know my friends. He hugged them all goodbye this morning. On the way home, he wanted me to take his picture on this big rock. He told me to write All hail, Elliot! under the picture. Ha!

I'm working tonight. Ugh. Friday night and I have to work. Our 17th anniversary is on Monday and Regis has to work. Aren't we too old to do this?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

learning new things

I follow a couple of Facebook pages on nature in Minnesota. Many of the photographers are able to capture pictures of tine things very close up. I'm learning how to do that without buying an expensive lens for our camera. The top insect is a crane fly and the bottom is a Monarch caterpillar.

I also learned how to make the © symbol, as many of the real photographers do. I'm not sure if just saying something is copyright protected means it is necessarily so, but it was fun to learn. I really don't care if someone snatches my pictures anyway.

We have been trying to enjoy the patio but as always this time of year, the bugs are waging a major campaign against us. We cooked on the grill the other night for the first time in a month. I think we're going to cook some brats made with Yuengling beer tonight. I'm using the Challah bread recipe to make buns. I hope that isn't a sacrilege. 

Dan, the city forester, came to cut down our red maple the other day. It suffered during the drought, then had some winter die back. Not a good result. They cut it down in short order, trimmed the locust, and will be back to grind up the stump and plant a swamp white oak. It turns a gorgeous red in the fall.

Back to rhubarb jam making!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

jobs, work, and volunteering

Since I retired, I have had some difficulty deciding how to spend my time. I find something I think I love and then, it starts to feel like work and I don't enjoy it so much.

I started at River Rock the day after I retired. That was great fun for a while but after a while, it became overwhelming. There was too much to do, too much to learn, too many responsibilities. I left when I was diagnosed with cancer and never went back.

I volunteer at the historical society and I enjoy that a lot but the pressures of promoting their events is starting to wear on me. I woke up at 3 am, worried that I had forgotten something and sure enough I had. Sigh.

I work at Lone Star and always enjoy once I am there but the idea of having to go somewhere and miss things I would like to do gets old. I told Mary one day I might be getting close to too old to work that hard. Sigh. Maybe I am just lazy.

I've been very productive in the past few months, even at that. New door installed, new driveway, garden is in great shape, read many books, trying to learn about dragonflies and photography, cooked a ton of rhubarb, started working with a trainer, had a bunch of fun.

I read an article this week called The Disease of Being Busy by Omid Safi. This is one of my favorite parts:

In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is yourhaal? 
What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know. 
I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul. 
Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence. 
Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch.
And this sweet ending:
I want us to have a kind of existence where we can pause, look each other in the eye, touch one another, and inquire together: Here is how my heart is doing? I am taking the time to reflect on my own existence; I am in touch enough with my own heart and soul to know how I fare, and I know how to express the state of my heart. 
How is the state of your heart today? 
Let us insist on a type of human-to-human connection where when one of us responds by saying, “I am just so busy,” we can follow up by saying, “I know, love. We all are. But I want to know how your heart is doing.” 
Seems like a good goal. Be less busy.

Guest blogger: My mom!


My day today reminds me of the old song: Over the River and Through the Woods.   My neighbor called and wanted to know if I would like to go to church.  I eagerly said, "Yes".   You see I had not been anywhere for a week and I like to think I am a people person.

I walked over to Linda's home and she had her car parked on her lawn.  We took a little-used road going through the woods; it was drivable but just barely.  It was what I would call a low-maintenance road.  We went north, east, south and finally west to get to my church.   We had coffee after church and were home by 11:00 a.m.

You might ask why I could not drive myself and go to church on a city road.

A crew of men is working on the road in front of my home.  They are replacing water pipes, sewer pipes and storm sewers.  They are also going to redo the road with new curb and gutters. They would have moved my car, but it would have been a least a block away over a rough stretch of road. I told them I would be fine; thinking it would be a good time to get all those things done that I have put off until another day.

The first day I pulled out a lawn chair and thought I would spend a half hour watching the big cats work.  Wow!!  They were like a well-oiled machine.  One big cat would dig a deep trench, another would place the pipes and connect them together, another would cover up the trench.  Another machine would come along and pack things down.

Friends would call each day to see how I was doing; I had to admit I was fascinated by all of the action taking place in front of my home.  There were young men down in the trenches, who with a flick of their finger would tell the cat operator to move the huge claw over a fraction of an inch or two. I worried someone would get hurt, but they certainly know what they are doing.  I do not know when they planned their strategy as they work long, long hours.  Usually by 6:30 a.m. they wake me with their little bells; they do not call it a day until 8:30 at night.

Each day, I would pull my lawn chair out where I could have the best view of what the crew was doing on that particular day. They all have green tee shirts on and they told me if I needed anything at all just yell at a guy  with a green shirt and they would see all of my needs were taken care of.  I must say I have a new admiration for road construction people.  They are all very polite and helpful.

Needless to say I spent most of my week sitting in the sunshine watching the crew do their job.  I had my camera outdoors so took many pictures of the men, machines and the work  they were doing. People have asked me, "Didn't you get bored and did you get a lot of things done?”  I had to admit I was not bored and no, I did not get a lot done.  However, I did not think it was a waste of time at all. I learned a lot of new things which is what life is all about.  I learned there are very nice people in all walks of life. I learned there is a talent in running huge machines. I learned people watch out for each other. I learned every job is needed and the people who know how to do different jobs are all a very important part of our society.

My friends are watching out for me, just as the workers watch out for each other.  My friends call me several times a day. Linda brought me groceries and took me to church.  Betty and Gary brought over a wonderful coffee cake and stayed for a cup of coffee and chat.  Nadine walked over to return a book to the library. Paul said he would bring me whatever I would need.  Thanks to all of them.  I played games on my computer and read several books.  I had a wonderful week. Tomorrow I may make cookies and invite the construction men to enjoy them…and to thank them for a week of entertainment.

Sorry boys, no cookies today. 

I have spent the day watching them work about twenty five feet from my house.  They have a huge hole dug down about twenty feet. I watched as they cut down a forty year old maple tree in a matter of minutes. They are all very efficient and know exactly what they are supposed to be doing.  There are local plumbers, electricians and others to help with the placing of pipes.   They would first place the sewer pipe in the trench next a sheet of insulation then the smaller machine comes along and covers everything.  Today they had a short lunch break and the big Cat operator stepped out of the cab with a roll of paper towels and a can of spray cleaner.  I watched as he lovingly cleaned the arm (or whatever it is called) of his big Cat.  You could tell by his actions he loved his machine.

It is a huge mess right now, but in about a week I should have a new road going by my home with new water and sewer pipes.   I have enjoyed watching the progress each day and knowing they are very careful about doing their job correctly and carefully.  

Cookies?  Maybe tomorrow.

 Shirley Saum

Monday, June 15, 2015

Yeah, so I haven't done so well on writing regularly.

I think I am putting my creative energy into Facebook which is a ridiculous place to put it, I agree.

It seems like things go on swimmingly and then Regis spends two weeks in the hospital or I get shingles. What the hell. Every time I think I would like some calm normalcy, I remind myself that this is normal. This is how life is.

That handsome fellow in the photo is a dragonfly I found clinging to my screen one day. I follow a Facebook page devoted to dragonflies and someone there identified it as an immature something or other. Can't remember now.

I review my blog stats. I like to do that every once in a while, just so I remember how much blah blah blah I have been putting out since I started this in October, 2006.

2,286 posts
Almost 200,000 page views (I don't count my own anymore.)
20,00 page views from the Ukraine (Among other far flung places.)
another post is the most popular of all time (You can find it here. It's no masterpiece.)
One of my personal favorites, Oh, Betty, has 968 page views.

Besides surgery and shingles, things are pretty much the same around here. Here are some recent happenings:

  1. We sold the truck to some hapless stranger who offered us $250. Regis was honest about it's lack of a functioning driver side door and he didn't seem to care.
  2. We bought a bright red, Ford Ranger. It's used but in good shape with no rust.
  3. We went to the Blues Fest and had a blues blast.
  4. We heard our first music on the patio Friday night at Lone Star.
  5. We had the first salad greens from our garden last night...micro greens!
  6. The orioles are back in full force and the yard is full of baby birds.

Baby robin on the back of a lawn chair. Looks grumpy, eh?

Spicebush swallowtail butterfly visits a wild flower.

Old truck

Blues Fest. I am on the far right.

Friday night at Whiskey River, clowning for the camera.

Gus on one of his many summer walks. He loves to chase balls.

Monarch caterpillar


Kathryn and me at the Blues Fest

Joel and Mike at the Blues Fest

New truck

There you go. Going out to sit on the patio for a while. Enjoy the evening!