Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sunday night...total 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 it...like 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!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Yesterday after my volunteer job, I stopped and bought a bushel of tomatoes. I wasn't sure how much that would result in, but I figured if I am going to make a mess, I might as well do it right. Well, a bushel makes 8 quarts and 12 pints. That is a lot of tomatoes. On the menu this winter will be chili, spaghetti, and more chili and spaghetti.

I haven't canned much in more than 20 years. Not sure what got into me this summer.

Oh, I see the little © symbol on the bottom of my photos. It's not that I think I am in danger of someone stealing my tomato pictures for nefarious purposes but I follow some photo Facebook pages and people who take real pictures and publish them always use it so I was experimenting. Apparently, I used it once on Picasa and now it always puts it there. I keep forgetting to delete it. Ah, well.

I have another project. Last winter, I was introduced to homemade cosmetics. I love it! I just ordered a bunch of supplies and plan on making body butter, lip balm, bath salts, and anti-aging serum. My next phase is getting rid of chemicals in household cleaners.

Most days we get squat for mail. Today was a bonanza. I got a lovely thank you note from Vickie, a CD of the Heritage Blues Orchestra, a box of business cards for 600 Words, and three books. No wonder I run out of money by the middle of the month. I better work more.

I have about run out of gas for the day. In order to be vertical and able to put dinner on the table, I think I will retire to the boudoir and read for a while. I'm reading a book by Daniel Silva, an espionage thing that requires a bit too much attention for my taste. I can't keep track of all the aliases. 

I'll be back.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

forces in the universe

My doctor used to explain my insomnia by saying there are forces in the universe. I believe it. Regis slept poorly last night, I slept poorly, and my friend, Joanne, slept poorly. There you go. All the proof you need.

I have been awake since 5. I made myself useful though, and made two loaves of bread. We had an eggbake I made last night for breakfast. I did the dishes. Yay me.

I have a tiny yen to can tomatoes but I just looked up the directions and it looks messy. If I have the gumption to go out tomato seeking this afternoon, that will set the groundwork. I could do it tomorrow.

The EF is coming tomorrow to gather junk but I haven't had time to collect any. Not to say I couldn't do it quickly in the morning...if I am not canning tomatoes.

See ya later.

Monday, September 14, 2015

gathering stories

Here's a link to our blog 600 Words Project. It was an incredible experience.

Rock Bend was a hoot, as always. This year it was more about the story gathering than the music, but that's ok. I found one band I really liked and discovered they will be playing in Mankato in December. I ordered a CD by another band I really wanted to hear. My friend, Mary, told me their music made her cry. Got to love a band with that kind of power.

Rock Bend is also always about friends and food and family. We had plenty of each.

Elliot writes a story.

Tiffany, Emily, and Bob relax in the sunshine.

Alex and Mario

Tim and Shelly with DJ Lil Miss

Nana and Elliot

Peter and Zoey

Zoey with her kitty, Opi

Tiffany and Elliot

Last week was busy with subbing every day. This week will be better.

My goal for September is to do a blog post every day. We'll see how that goes.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

cancer fears

I learned yesterday that another friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her first diagnosis was ten years ago. Now this. I have to say, aloud, how frightening this is. I can know in my mind that it is futile to worry and be afraid, but before those thoughts come to mind, the fear seeps in like a low voltage electric current. Sending a blog prayer for light and love for her. Visualizing her surrounded by healing energy.

the start of a busy week

The weekend is a bit of a blur. We started on Friday, preparing for the Labor Day Pig-Out. Regis smoked a pork shoulder, a stuffed pork loin, and pig wings. The menu is as follows:

Pulled Pork w/ 3 Sauces
Glazed Pig Wings
Stuffed Pork Loin
Neely’s Sweet Corn Pudding
Macaroni and Cheese
Tom’s Fire and Ice
Jerry Harty’s Pickles
Ree’s Chocolate Sheet Cake
Apple Pie
Banana Bread

All the chow got rave reviews and there was not a scrap left when the eatin' was done. We celebrated Tom's birthday and Bob's birthday, and of course, American workers everywhere. The day was rainy off and on so we didn't do much outdoor sitting but the canopy, which sheltered the cooking area overnight, was moved to the front yard for a while after dinner. Ah, it was fun.

I'm working every day this week, subbing for my friend Joanne, who is in Illinois helping her family make decisions about her father who has been falling. It's a sad time for them all as he fears losing some of his independence. Not easy, even at 90.

A couple of exciting and serendipitous things happened this week. Kathryn and I have been dilly-dallying with our 600 Words projects for what feels like months, but could be as long as a year. Finally, a week ago, we went to a municipal liquor store in a nearby town for a couple hours on a Monday afternoon, hoping to capture some stories. No such luck, but we did have some good conversation and we came up with some good ideas.

Last Thursday, we made our first stop at Ecumen Prairie Hill to meet with a program coordinator and two prospective story tellers. We'll be back on the 20th to meet with Clara, Michelle, and anyone else who has a story to tell.

This weekend, we are excited to be a part of Rock Bend Folk Festival on their 25th anniversary. We borrowed a canopy, made a sign, met yesterday to talk about plans, and have begun gathering our supplies. We have so many cool ideas and we can't wait to meet with people and hear their stories.

There's more. I had coffee with my yoga/ballet/writing/cancer/Livestrong friend, Michele, yesterday. She teaches a first year seminar called Tell Me a Story and has invited Kathryn and me to partner with her students on the community outreach portion of the class. We aren't exactly sure how this will go yet, but we'll go up to meet with her students next week to see what ideas they have. The possibilities are boundless.

So far, we have a blog called 600 Words and a Facebook page. Check them out, like us, and follow our progress. And of course, send us a story!

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Ah, sweet autumn!

I love fall. I love fall food, fall clothes, fall flowers, fall holidays. There isn't much about fall I don't like. Maybe the shorter days, but even fall evenings are pleasant.

It's been a good start to fall. I started a new session with my trainer, Gunner. He gave me quite a compliment this morning when he told me I jumped up off the floor better than a person half my age. Ha! Here's to strong thighs!

I have a few sub days lined up. We'll see how that goes. One I signed up for was already cancelled.

I signed up for an online writing class called The Spiral Path. Very excited about that.

Kathryn and I are finally moving on our 600 words project. We have an appointment at one of the care facilities this afternoon. We tried to get a booth at one of the local festivals but were told we didn't really fit their notion of "art". What the hell. They let people in there who make bras out of dried corn kernels. That's art and oral history isn't? Maybe we should stage a rebellion and just set up a card table in a corner. Think they would have us arrested?

Off to be a busy person. Make it a good day. Soak up these gorgeous fall days!

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

this week i talk to...

This week at work, I talked to:
Kathy, who I worked with at MSH from 1979-1981.
Myrna, who I met in 1980 when she worked for Nicollet County.
Sarah, who was in how-to-have-a-baby class with me in 1987.
Tamara and Jen, who came down to have drinks on the patio in the sunshine.
Joel, a lonely man whose wife passed away.
Edna, who I worked with for many years.
Tim, who celebrated his 60th birthday last week.
Jim, who helped clean up my yard after the tornado.
Gail, who knows Nancy in Omaha who knows my friend, Linda, in Brookings.
Sabrina, with beautiful red hair.
Barb and Bill, old teaching friends who share my joy in retirement.
Lola, who knew my Aunt Vi many years ago.
Jane in Iowa...many stories, many laughs, many tears. Friends since 1975.