Wednesday, November 30, 2016

nothing says the birth of Jesus like a giant minion

We went into Lowe's yesterday to peruse the Christmas trees. The lobby was filled with these gargantuan air-filled figures. I started to laugh, maniacally. Of course, I have seen these things in yards but that experience is different from being up close and personal... I would fit in one of Mickey's arms. It's a crazy world.

I have ventured carefully back into social media because I missed the recipes and the pictures. I have gotten quite proficient at hiding posts, seeing less from certain pages, unfollowing sites that promote fear and hate, and limiting my experience to things of a more positive nature. It's hard to live in a world where it is impossible to be sarcastic or cynical enough.

I am going to concentrate on gratitude for the rest of 2016. Here is my start:

Today, I am grateful to wake up in a warm house. To turn on the fireplace, to pet my cat lying in my lap. To sip my coffee and watch the birds come to the feeder.

Today, I am grateful for my sweet husband who fills my cup before he sits down. Regis, who takes our dog for a walk two times a day, no matter the weather. Regis, who always makes me laugh. Regis, who took me on an adventure yesterday to shop for a Christmas tree and out for lunch.

Today, I am grateful for my health. I have had health scares in the past but today I am grateful to be able to walk outside as much as I like, I am grateful to be able to work with Gunnar and train with weights to strengthen my back and legs, I am grateful to feel my muscles.

Today, I am grateful for sharing. I am grateful for baking cookies and having kids within walking distance who can come to take them to their families. I am grateful that I can buy lights for my daughter's Christmas tree. I am grateful to be planning outings with all my grandchildren for the holidays.

Even on gloomy days, sunshine comes pouring through and for that, I am grateful.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

a walk in the woods

Regis and I went for a walk in the woods by they river yesterday. We had an assignment for our photo club to take pictures at a state park, but being the lazy sort, we opted for a county park. Of sorts. There is beauty in our own backyards, my friends.

When Jane was here this summer, she mentioned forest bathing. I found this about it today:

This is the healing way of Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy, the medicine of simply being in the forest. Shinrin-yoku is a term that means "taking in the forest atmosphere" or "forest bathing." It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine.

No phones or Facebook in the woods. No politics. Just the peace of wild things. 

by Wendell Berry

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

drawing the curtain on fall

I woke up this morning to feel a chill in the house. The Nest on the dining room wall, unlike the Nest in the picture, is set at Cooling 64. What the hell does that mean? I have an app on my phone to control it but since I have a new phone, I don't have the password. The front door was wide open, too. Nothing missing...just the maladjusted Nest. Seems like an odd thing for a burglar to do.

I got a good start on cleaning up the detritus of fall yesterday but I felt the urge for a nap about 2 o'clock and I am not one to resist so that was it. I was done.

I noticed on our way out for dinner that a lot of people have holiday lights up already. That sort of goes against my grain. I like to have the turkeys in the basement before Santa makes an appearance. But they are cheerful and they help move me toward a lighter space. It has been dark and gloomy the past week.

I did spend some time last night making a Christmas playlist on Spotify. Since every Christmas album ever made (Think Michael Buble and Lady Gaga.) are on Spotify, it took a while. I lean more toward Perry Como, Andy Williams, and Dean Martin. Old, dead, white guys. Haha.

So, the movies are ready, the music is ready, and the picture frame of holidays past is ready. It's my motivation to draw the curtain on fall. This metaphor might be a tad dramatic for dragging a box of plastic turkeys and pumpkins to my messy basement but whatever works.

I spent some time yesterday looking at used books. My friend, Michele, recommended the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley to me as more light-hearted mysteries. I think I need to get out of the underbelly of Edinborough for a while. When I wake up screaming because bad guys are chasing me, it might be time for a new genre. I found four of them on Thriftbooks for 13 bucks with free shipping.

I have a big pot of turkey stock that I might reduce down and make into soup today. Other than that, I am weary of left-overs. Remnants of autumn. Green bean casserole and cranberries. Blech.

Friday, November 25, 2016

the big nap

I went back to bed and slept until 12:45. I woke up once or twice to read a bit and to eat some flatbread with Hope butter. I think I am up for good now and my next goal will be to stay vertical for a couple hours. While I am not feeling energized, I am feeling a tiny bit more optimistic.

I ordered tickets to The Nutcracker Ballet for Ella and me. We did this for quite a few years when she was younger, then fell out of the habit. We'll dress fancy, see the ballet, then have an early dinner.

I'm not mentally ready to begin the next holiday yet but it will be motivation to retire the turkeys and pumpkins. The idea of dragging Rubbermaid totes up and down the stairs again is not appealing. Not yet. I opened one of the Christmas boxes a week or so ago (searching for Santa hats) and was transported by the smell of Christmas. I love Christmas lights so that will be the impetus.

I have been thinking about our Christmas movies. I have favorites and try to watch them every year. I love the different versions of A Christmas Carol and can never decide which one I like the best. 
  1. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
  2. A Christmas Story (1983)
  3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
  4. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
  5. Frosty the Snowman (1969)
  6. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
  7. The Nutcracker (Baryshnikov)
  8. A Christmas Carol (1999, Patrick Stewart)
  9. A Christmas Carol (1984, George C. Scott)
  10. The Nutcracker (George Ballanchine)
  11. A Christmas Carol (1951, Alastair Sim)
  12. A Christmas Carol (1962, Mr. Magoo)
  13. A Charlie Brown Christmas
  14. A Christmas Carol (1972, Albert Finney)
  15. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
I have dilly dallied enough this morning. I am getting up and moving away from my chair. Happy Friday!

the day after

Ella likes to dress up for holidays so here she is doing her hair, in her sparkly dress, in preparation to come over and help with dinner. A girl after my own heart.

We didn't take any pictures. Well, Regis might have taken one with his phone but that's it. What the heck happened there?

I'm tired this morning and, truth be told, cranky. When Regis goes to work, I am going back to bed to read and maybe sleep some more.

I'm tired of gray skies, too. I knew, coming onto November, that it is one of our cloudiest months, but the weather gods messed with me and we had two weeks of sunshine before they slammed the door in my face. All the weather optimists out there said, oh how nice, this will make the winter seem shorter. My ass, I said. Three days of gloom and the sunshine that came before it has been forgotten. I would welcome some snow at this point.

On a happier note, I am not going shopping today. Regis bought the paper Wednesday and what a waste of money that was. Five pounds of Black Friday ads and two ounces of  news. They could be giving stuff away and I wouldn't go to the mall.

Well, here's to optimism and good cheer. See you after my nap.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

beaucoop cooking

I didn't finish cooking until almost 9 o'clock last night. The cheesecake took a lot longer than I remembered, then it had to cool before I could put it on the porch. A nice thing about this chilly, late autumn weather: the back porch can function as additional refrigerator space.

A few of the things I have cooked in the past three days:
  • Apple cake
  • New York style cheesecake
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Cranberry chutney with jalapenos
  • Fresh cranberry and apple salad
  • Chris Schull's kale salad
  • Zuppa Tuscano
  • Cornbread muffins
  • Swedish meatballs
  • Two turkey breasts
  • A partridge in a pear tree
That's not only a lot of cooking and a lot of food, but that is a LOT of dishes.

When I finally went to bed, I read for a while, an Ian Rankin mystery. Usually his books are not so graphic but this one has some creepy chapters. About an hour after I went to sleep, I woke up in a screaming panic...bad guys were chasing me and I couldn't get a sound to come out of my mouth. When I did, Gus was standing over me and Regis was shaking me awake. I guess I'll skip those chapters.

Ella is coming over today at 9 to help with final preparations and setting up of the tables. She is a pretty independent cook now and she has opinions about where things should go on the tables. It's nice to turn it over to her. We're running this operation somewhat like a buffet. Come when you want, eat when you want, wash your own dishes. I'm serious about that last part.

We have a small house so one of the unfortunate side effects of holiday organizing is that a lot of stuff finds a home in a place where it doesn't ordinarily live. Things get shoved in closets, under the bed, in the garage. For weeks after, we are wondering where in the hell those things went. This could be how the birth certificates and the car title went missing.

I have decided to believe that Alec Baldwin really is the president. Crazy and funny but harmless. During hard times in the past, this has worked for me: Jed Bartlett was the president during the Bush years. Check out that Buzzfeed link if you want to know why. Other than that, I am still stuck in the same place...can't talk about it, can't be nice about it, can't move on. I'm still boycotting the news and Facebook so it's easy to maintain this laissez–faire attitude.

When I finish this blog post and my cup of coffee, it's time to get up and start the day. One more isn't even seven o'clock. I had a piece of lefse with my coffee for breakfast. I figure if I spend three days cooking this stuff, I can eat what I want to eat. Lefse and Hope butter for breakfast...heaven.

I couldn't think of anything more to write but I wasn't ready to get up yet, so I put grateful in the little search bar thing at the top of this page. Sigh. What a lovely thing to read on Thanksgiving morning.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

auras and aromas of autumn

One of the reasons I love fall cooking is right here. Nothing smells better than a pan full of cranberries, citrus fruit, and cinnamon sticks. This is on my cooking agenda for today. I realize I am making three cranberry dishes for 14 people. Yeah, so what.

I made an apple cake yesterday, thanks Michele for that recipe. Lots of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, apples, and pecans.

I made two kinds of cranberries...the old standard and one called Sam's Kickin' Cranberry Sauce. It has jalapenos, onions, apples, and peppers. I leaned over the pan many times to inhale.

Cornbread muffins for the Andouille sausage dressing. The first batch flopped for some reason so I made another batch. The Cook's Illustrated recipe. You can count on those folks.

I made Swedish meatballs. Sweated onions and butter, nutmeg, cloves. The smell of that burned meatball I managed to drop on the oven floor. Well, it ain't all silver saddles, my friends.

Today on the cooking agenda: cranberries, turkey breast, pumpkin pie, cheesecake, lots of onions and celery for the two kinds of dressing.

I know I said I was going to take it easy but as it turns out, that was a lie.

It's comforting to be in the kitchen. I have a Thanksgiving playlist on Spotify with lots of Jay Ungar, Molly Mason, Peter Ostroushko, Lehto and Wright. I get weepy when I hear Shenandoah. I make a pot of tea in the afternoon. And I dance.

Regis and I watched a hilarious comedian, Joe Rogan, last night. A bit raw for tender ears but mine are hardened so it doesn't bother me. Very funny and much laughing out loud. Comedy, it turns out, is my antidote for current events.

I slept well last night but the call of the mystery novel and a warm blankie might be too much to resist this afternoon. It's 34 degrees and rainy. Some snow accumulation in the dark corners from early this morning. It's a good day to be inside where it smells like heaven.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. We have much for which to be thankful.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

thanksgiving, penguins, and lydia

Yesterday, I got this email message regarding the mileage on my Fitbit.
You've earned the Penguin March badge!
With 70 lifetime miles, you just matched the distance of the March of the Penguins—the annual trip emperor penguins make to their breeding grounds. You're doing swimmingly well!
My athletic life appears to be forever linked to penguins. When I was running, John Bingham, the penguin was my guru. He claims you do not have to be fast, a truth I have affirmed many times in my life.

Distance runners say the penguins of the world have ruined their sport, but I think the slow folks have just captured some of their fun. I won a medal once for being first in my age group. Turns out I was the only person in my age group, proving that you don't have to get faster, you only need to get older. (I have used that line many times.)

I picked Elliot up at his after-school program yesterday. A little girl named Lydia, captured my attention the minute I walked in the door. She told me very earnestly about her horseback riding lesson after school, the names of the three horses and their colors, and her letter to Santa. It was heartwarming.

I reviewed the final Thanksgiving game plan this morning. Tiffany is coming over to help with the Tuesday preparations: toasting pecans, chopping vegetables, making apple cake and cranberry sauce. I wonder how the Pilgrims did it without spreadsheets. Seriously. There are spreadsheets. Put it in the google.

When we went to the store yesterday it was crazy mayhem. Shelves were being emptied faster than they could stock them. I had to ask three times where to find things which is unprecedented in my grocery shopping life. Getting down an aisle unimpeded was impossible. No U-turns were possible. Traffic jams were everywhere. There was much gnashing of teeth and copious weeping.

I noticed the shoppers, the employees who walk around with a list and fill a cart for a person who has placed an order online. They gather the groceries, take them to a van, and deliver them to your house. And get this: Free if you spend over a hundred dollars... but you have to live in Mankato. I suggest this, my friends. We place an order, drive to Mankato for lunch, and have our groceries delivered to the car at Hooligan's while we enjoy a cheeseburger and a bowl of soup. Genius.

The fellow behind me in line was buying seven cans of Bush's baked beans. That's it. I wouldn't brave those crowds for baked beans if they were giving them away.

There are so many convenience foods. I wonder if someday boxed stuffing, bagged mashed potatoes, turkey roll, and brown and serve rolls will be appealing to me. Right before meals on wheels, I suppose.

My biggest internal debate today is napkins: paper or cloth. We're using real dishes, not paper, so I might as well go the extra mile.

Enough rambling for today. Onward and upward. Let the cooking begin.

Monday, November 21, 2016


I am just passing this along. Chris, on the right, published this on Facebook a year ago, asking for folks to send cards to his brother Joe, on the left. Here is what Chris said:
My brother Joe asked today, "Do you think people will send me cards again this year?" I told him I thought they would. He said, "I'm never happier than I am when I get them." For those who don't know, my brother Joe is schizophrenic, and is pretty much a shut-in. He is also a consistent inspiration for my work. I ask folks if they have the time, desire and means to send Joe a holiday card. He loves to read your messages, see where the cards come from. He keeps them and enjoys them all year. It brings him a lot of happiness. Thanks for your consideration. - Chris Mars
Joe Mars
c/o Chris Mars Publishing
P.O. Box 24631
Minneapolis, MN 55424 
Pass it along! If you know a church group or a school class who need a kindness project this year, ask them to send cards to Joe.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

snow flake

There were some very precious moments yesterday. I had a little story about the duties of Miss Suzy Snowflake and the little ones enjoyed it. It was enough to bring you to tears when they came around the corner and saw Santa. But. Overall, that was about as cold as I have been in a long time. I was afraid to get off my throne because my feet were numb up to my ankles. I was worried that I would topple into the middle of the highway like a sparkly redwood going down. Timber, as they say.

On to Thanksgiving week. I have a few piddly chores to do today, then tomorrow the grocery buying and cooking can commence. We're trying to do the easier version of Thanksgiving this year, not the restaurant buffet version. But we'll see how that goes. I always get nervous in the end and continue my frenzied cooking past the point of sanity.

Gus is napping on the couch, Woodrow has gone somewhere to watch squirrels, and Regis is sipping his coffee and reading about political unrest on the interwebs. Time for me to get moving.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

snowflake queen

I agreed to play the part of Suzy Snowflake for the community event today. All I will say about that is it seemed like a good idea at the time. It was 65 degrees that day and I had no clue the amount of glitter this would entail. Woodrow is captivated by my crown so it has required multiple repairs with the hot glue gun which means more glitter is spewed around the house. I was thinking that after this gig is done, I would pitch the crown in the nearest dust bin (that's what they call garbage cans in the UK...too many Rebus novels) but Regis is making noises about the amount of money I spend on costumery. Several ragged segues in this paragraph.

I'm not sure how to dress like a snowflake queen when it's 26 degrees and windy. All the google searches I did resulted in costumes that were fairly skimpy for a late November in Minnesota. I heard last year's Suzy Snowflake nearly had frostbit feet because she wore little white ballet flats with no socks. Not this chickadee. I have my smart wool socks and hiking boots ready.

Ella is coming over to assist with makeup and to accompany me to the event. The girl likes glitter and glitz.

I have been enjoying the flap this morning over Pence attending Hamilton, being booed loudly by the audience, and then being directly addressed by the actor. Mr. T. has demanded that they apologize. Apparently, they are not aware of artistic license and the idea that you can't legislate respect. And that is all I want to know about the news today, thank you very much.

I've made maple bacon apple crisp twice this weekend so that's enough of that, too. I think I'll try Parker House rolls tomorrow before I clean my oven. My friend, Gayle, used to say she cleaned her over every time we had a snow day from school. I said I cleaned my oven every time I gave birth.

I looked at Facebook this morning for details of the event I am attending. I didn't go into a state of apoplexy but I knew my limits.

My trees are full of fat squirrels this morning. They're waiting for the peanut drop but it ain't coming again today. I put about 30 peanuts out there and they were on them like white on rice. I know they aren't eating them because they scoot around the corner of the house and are back in 30 seconds. I'm sure the neighbors (not squirrel fans) are cussing me from behind their curtains. The squirrels, not the neighbors. Haha! They are fun to watch and I need a diversion. So sorry.

Well, off to layer up for my afternoon gig. I will report later and may even have a few photos.

Friday, November 18, 2016

life is tricky, stay in your magic

There is magic in being able to walk down the street in mid-November carrying a just-out-of-the-oven cast iron pan of maple bacon apple crisp to a potluck dinner. The giant moon was peaking through the clouds as we made our way. My sweet husband was shining the flashlight at my feet because I said a tumble with a 450 degree cast iron pan in my arms and the subsequent 911 call would make an ugly headline. Haha. There is that.

There is magic in sitting around a table with friends, some old and some new, sharing Betsy's baked ziti, fragrant basil and plum tomatoes, garlic toast, and coffee. Gentle conversation about politics, laughter about our shared incompetence with technology, funny stories, some of which had no doubt been told before.

There is magic in being asked to play Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus at a community event. I text Regis to tell him and he responds with the big NO, but an hour later, I get a picture of wide red suspenders and a flannel shirt that he thinks will make a great costume.

There is magic in sharing fish and chips with my good friend, Kathryn. Both retired, we can linger to critique the food, the restaurant redecorating, the state of the world while others rush back to work. She plans to spend part of the winter in a warmer climate and I will miss her. I am not good at good-byes lately. probably because there have been too many.

There is magic in the little boxes I mail to three friends who I have neglected the past few months. Small kitchen utensils in bright colors, old-fashioned hankies for all our tears, bars of scented soap, Swedish dish cloths, school pictures. It costs as much for the postage as for the goods inside the boxes but I am mailing more than stuff. Nothing liquid, fragile, hazardous, or perishable. I have a laugh with Dawn over a bill from a doctor that is inflated because she asked too many questions. It's a crazy world.

There will be magic today. In yoga, in coffee with my friends, in a cozy afternoon nap after I finish my latest mystery novel, and there will be magic in our dinner with old friends this evening. We'll share good food, funny stories, and we'll be amused by our dogs. We'll talk about their plans to head south for the winter and I'll come to grips with another good-bye.

Life is tricky, my friends. Stay in your magic.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

down the road I go, fearing nothing

I suppose one day I will be tired of writing maudlin stuff and hiding out in my house. That day is not today. Regis and I are both boycotting Facebook and he is considering deleting his account, but once in a while something sneaks into our conversation and it's off the races. People say we must be kind, we must pray, we must find a way to go on. Let me know when you find the way to go on, friends. Not me. Not today.

I can count on one hand the times I have left the house since election day. The troubling thing is that it doesn't even bother me. I am content here.

Tonight, we're going to the Third Thursday potluck. Nice people. I am looking forward to it. I have a recipe for a maple bacon apple crisp that I am going to make. All the delicious flavors of fall.

We went to Schmidt's yesterday. Now there's a place that is a feast for the senses.

I've been working on cleaning up some messy areas in my house. The problem is that I can clean up a shelf or a drawer, but what do I do with the stuff that's left after I put the good stuff back? My MO is to pack it into boxes and drag it to the basement. Not a good long-term plan, I know. I like to watch American Pickers...I know what hoarders look like.

I started a mindfulness course online yesterday. I was supposed to do a guided thirty-minute body scan but it was too boring and I had to quit after 12 minutes. I'm going to try again today. I like the yoga dvd I have been doing and there is some meditation in that. Sigh. I watched a video by Jon Kabat Zinn and he says if meditation is something you feel you have to do, you shouldn't do it. It's more a way of being than a way of doing. Being instead of doing. Finally an activity I can get behind.

I was going to make coffee yesterday afternoon and Regis hollered stop. Stop! He went to the front step and picked up a box the letter carrier (who rarely carries actual letters) had just dropped off there. He had gotten us another five pound box of Wake the Dead, our favorite seasonal coffee from Just. What a nice surprise.

I have opened my blog up to comments again and will leave it that way until somebody pisses me off again.

Regis and I have been frantically searching the house for a folder containing three birth certificates and the title to the car. The birth certificates are for the folks born in where they apparently have one person whose job it is to issue duplicates. It takes a long, long time. Young Regis needs his to get some kind of transit license so the search commences. We have looked through every possible location where said documents might be residing with no luck. Hoarders don't have this problem, I'm sure. They don't recognize any possibility of finding something like that. Sigh.

Today, I am venturing out of the house of my own accord. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

ludicrous: making me crazy

Some stuff in the news has been making me crazy lately. I have not made a secret of that. Regis suggested that I use this blog to vent my anger and bitterness but that doesn't sound appealing right now.

I remember after the tornado, when we drove through town, I would shield my eyes from the west side of the street because the sight of Gustavus, bare naked without trees, was too devastating.

The other thing about the tornado was that it took a while to absorb all the destruction. The first day, I knew that my living room windows were gone and the back porch had disappeared. It took a couple days to see that my car, parked in the street, had been crushed by a giant walnut tree. Eventually, I was able to see the big picture.

That's how this election has been for me. It's been a long time since I have been able to watch the news. Well, really since that whole OJ Simpson white Bronco debacle, but I have managed to squint at a news cast from time to time since then. No more. That we could be discussing the possible election of a man who was a deplorable reality show host was unbelievable to me. I just avoided it.

In the last week since the election, I avert my eyes when I walk on the treadmill at the fitness center because all the televisions are on the news. I avoid conversations about anything that might even get close to election results or the incoming administration. It's ludicrous. I love the definition: so foolish, unreasonable, or out of place as to be amusing; ridiculous.

The saddest thing for me is that I am avoiding people.

So, how to find happiness and peace in the midst of this insanity?

They say that taking action for goodness and for humanity is a good way to cope. 

I will get there one day but not today. Today, I'm taking a dandelion break.

Monday, November 14, 2016

squirrel obesity

I spent two days making lefse and flatbread. It wasn't as much work as I remember mostly since I have accepted the instant potato fact of life. There is some kind of sacred significance attached to using real potatoes but I don't get it. Last year in a taste test, nobody could tell the difference between lefse made with potatoes and lefse made with instant potatoes. Don't tell anyone but I have also started using instant potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner.

I remember years ago when Maura ordered a bacon cheeseburger, fries, and a diet coke, then spoke this universal truth: You have to cut corners where you can. There you go.

Regis took Gus for a walk up on the hill last night. I resisted, having spent two days in the salt mines, but I did agree to sit on the hill and watch for the moon to rise. It was some kind of super moon (seems like we have a lot of those nowadays) and it was beautiful. Much more beautiful than the photo I took. Regis tried to talk to me about exposure and light meters and so forth, but you know me and numbers. They lift up off the page and drift around my head like dust particles.

I just heard the weather forecast for Friday. Rain turning to snow with 40 mph winds. Yeah. Not going out in that shit. Good day to stay home and read a book under a blanket. I finished a Colin Dexter mystery last night...four guys dead but I'm not sure who did what to who. Haha!

We bought a giant bag of peanuts in the shell the other day at the pet store. The words has gotten out among the squirrels and blue jays of the neighborhood. The obesity screening committee is coming tomorrow and will be issuing medical alert bracelets to our vermin.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

staring at the moon

Regis and Gus went for a walk late in the afternoon yesterday. I can't remember what I was doing. Probably cleaning up after lefse making. Tiffany and Elliot came for a while and we watched the squirrels make madly off with a dozen peanuts in the shell. They are so comical. We should have quite the peanut crop next summer.

I woke up about 4 this morning. The moon was beautiful again...or still. I am going to remember that. The moon is beautiful no matter what kind of assholish things people say on Facebook.

Speaking of which, I am done with social media. I thought I could put myself on a diet and only look at it briefly and sporadically, but, I find myself either blurting bullshit or spending hours writing reasoned responses in my head, which of course would do nobody any good. Not healthy for me. Done again.

I made a list this morning of things I should do in my kitchen, like clean out drawers and cupboards. We'll see how that goes. It's good to dig around back there and find the cans of clams I bought in 2005 to make chowder, but never used. Haha!

I made my Suzy Snowflake costume the other night which resulted in a glitter explosion and a pile of stuff hot glued together which may not survive the car ride to downtown without self-destructing. I am beginning to regret this. There is a gathering of women on Saturday at the community center and I would much rather be there but I am committed to this goofy thing. 

The young girl who was lost on Friday was found alive yesterday. In chest deep water of the Minnesota River, clinging to a tree. She made it four miles in her pajamas, bare feet, in freezing weather, for two days and one night. If that isn't some kind of miracle, I don't know what is.

I am busy planning my Thanksgiving meal. This year, I'm going to a more open house kind of thing. Maybe serve the meal over a couple hours so if people have somewhere else to go they can do that comfortably. I'm also, first time ever, not cooking a whole turkey. I'm making a breast and a batch of Swedish meatballs. I hate dealing with that damn turkey carcass at the last minute before serving a big meal. I might even cook that damn breast the day before and throw it in the crock pot. It is, after all, more about the sides.

We went to Best Buy yesterday so Regis could pick up his Black Friday deal on a laptop. We hate that store because it's so loud and stimulating. If we have business there, we order online and go right to customer service to pick up the item. Well, I had heard about (and now I have forgotten exactly what they're called) virtual glasses. I ask the kind helper if he would show them to me, letting him know I only want to see them, I don't want to buy them.
Regis always says taking me into a place like that is like taking a cave man on an airplane. 

Damn it. Now this stupid thing won't line up on the left margin. 
The universe is conspiring against me. Again.

So, you strap these babies onto your head. You attach your phone to the back side. 
And you can watch movies in three dimensions. 
Prepare to have your mind blown.

I'm sure the guy was rolling his eyes. Like the time I sat in front of a video game console for ten minutes playing the test patterns. 
Dude, you have to turn it on, he said.

Now I have spent sufficient time in virtual reality.

Frankly, I think I've spent enough time in real reality.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

peace on saturday morning

I'm sitting in the leopard chair, drinking Wake the Dead. I have on my old flannel nightgown that I got for a song at the thrift store. It's an Irish import and quite sturdy so I figure I just got someone else to break it in for me.

Jay Unger is on the Echo. I love Jay Unger and Molly Mason this time of year. Such sweet and nostalgic music.

Woodrow has been sitting in front of the window watching doves and squirrels come to the feeder as the sky starts to turn pink in the west.

I got up early and did a crapload of dishes. I hate it when we leave dirty dishes over night and I have to wake up to them in the morning but we do it all the time so I should probably either make an effort to do it differently or just get over it. Ah, the secret to a happy life.

We watched an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives last night on the Food Network. Usually we just salivate over the wonderful dishes and rarely go to the trouble to find and save recipes because I hoard enough recipes that I never intend to cook. Food porn, you know.

But this one was intriguing. Butternut squash and apple hash with cranberry ginger chutney. Here's the link.  I think I'll make this one.

My kitchen needs some attention before the holiday cooking commences. Oven cleaning, inventory of spices, clean the silverware drawer, that sort of thing.

The word commences always reminds me of the time I called Gopher One to report that I was going to dig in my yard, a small rock garden. They acted like I was going to dig a 20-foot deep trench from here to Kasota. They wanted to know where the nearest intersection was so the ambulance would have access. They wanted to know the kind of vehicle that would be hauling away the excavated dirt. They wanted to know when the digging would commence. I finally started laughing and had to apologize and hang up. Good grief. I think they must have gotten a lot of calls like mine because I don't see those "Call before you dig!" ads anymore.

Moving on into the weekend. Plans include a visit to the pet store for bird peanuts, a stop at the pharmacy, maybe some flatbread and lefse making this afternoon. Major lefse making will commence tomorrow.

Post Script: Avoiding Facebook has been very good for my mental health.

Friday, November 11, 2016

writing and naps

I'm only writing another post to keep myself from taking a nap before noon. The only things I feel like doing lately are sleeping and eating. Regis asked me this morning where the bag of caramels had gone that were on top of the refrigerator waiting to be made into cookies. I had to admit, with some chagrin, that the remains were in the drawer of my night stand.

I went to yoga and I went for coffee with my yoga friends, two life-affirming things to do. I went for a walk with Gus and Regis. I am going for a walk with my friend, Joanne, later this afternoon.

Now, I am going to eat a few caramels and crawl into bed with my book.

Gratitude by Barbara Crooker

This week, the news of the world is bleak, another war

grinding on, and all these friends down with cancer,

or worse, a little something long term that they won’t die of

for twenty or thirty miserable years—

And here I live in a house of weathered brick, where a man

with silver hair still thinks I’m beautiful. How many times

have I forgotten to give thanks? The late day sun shines

through the pink wisteria with its green and white leaves

as if it were stained glass, there’s an old cherry tree

that one lucky Sunday bloomed with a rainbow:

cardinals, orioles, goldfinches, blue jays, indigo buntings,

and my garden has tiny lettuces just coming up,

so perfect they could make you cry: Green Towers,

Red Sails, Oak Leaf. For this is May, and the whole world

sings, gleams, as if it were basted in butter, and the air’s

sweet enough to send a diabetic into shock—

And at least today, all the parts of my body are working,

the sky’s clear as a china bowl, leaves murmur their leafy chatter,

finches percolate along. I’m doodling around this page,

know sorrow’s somewhere beyond the horizon, but still, I’m riffing

on the warm air, the wingbeats of my lungs that can take this all in,

flush the heart’s red peony, then send it back without effort or thought.

And the trees breathe in what we exhale, clap their green hands

in gratitude, bend to the sky.

From Line Dance (Word Press, 2008).

it ain't all silver saddles and sunday parades

I am tired of thinking and writing about sad things. I allowed myself a few minutes of social media this morning and sigh it sucked. A small piece of hope and a whole lot of bullshit and apocalypse. We'll be living in a van down by the river. It's hard not to be angry and disillusioned.

Then I got up to read that Leonard Cohen had died. He was one of my favorite song writers, right up there next to Bob Dylan. But here's how it is with famous people who die. A year from now I will have forgotten and I'll play his music and talk about him as if he were still alive.

Today, because I am a great believer in lists, I am going to make a list of things I can do when I am in the depths of despair which is pretty much a daily thing this week.

I'm going to start by sitting in a cardboard box and looking smug. Wahaha. Not really. WWWD, you know.

Here's a link to a post I wrote one time when things were bleak. Silver Saddles. It's going to be one of the strategies on my list. Resurrect old funny shit I've written.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

birds and social media

I got up this morning in a better frame of mind. At least I took a shower, got dressed before noon, did three day's worth of dishes, and cleaned the litter box. Yesterday, it was every man, and cat, for himself.

This morning, I sat in the chair watching the birds. A flock of blue jays, five of them, have been actively feeding and squawking for a few days. I think several of them are young as the bigger ones are stuffing them full of peanuts and corn. They're loud and raucous but I like them. I also had three cardinals, two males and a female. We often have a family come to the feeder all winter.

I've decided to back away from social media for a while. Maybe just for today. Maybe everything but Pantsuit Nation. I can't seem to help myself from blurting out "bullshit" when I see it. I shared a post with my mom and some nitwit took it upon herself to argue with me. I was not looking for an argument, so I called bullshit, which I think was richly deserved. The problem is that it makes my blood pressure spike and the top of my head feel like it's going to blow off. This is not a pleasant sensation.

I made it through election night without drinking which was a major accomplishment. Hell, even Stephen Colbert had a glass of whiskey at the end of his show. I had to put on a flannel nightgown and get in bed at 8:30 to avoid temptation but it worked. I can't do that every night.

I made a list for Regis of everyone I am pissed at and recited it. It helped for a minute but not for long. Sigh.

Another beautiful but strange fall day. I don't remember a November when you could wear a t-shirt outside. There have probably been some, I just can't remember.

We're meeting a friend for lunch at a new restaurant in town. We always have some laughs together so we'll keep the election talk to a minimum. I wonder if this clenching in the pit of my stomach every time I think about it will go away soon.

I think I'm going to adopt the action plan of Woodrow. WWWD. What would Woody do? It's not like he is apathetic. He cares passionately about some things, like getting tuna with his lunch, being scratched under his chin at 4am, and going on the porch in the morning to watch the squirrels and birds. Beyond that, he maintains a pretty chill demeanor. I have much to learn from my cat.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

a walk of good signs


I dragged my sorry ass out of bed about noon and went for a walk. I felt like sitting down every time I passed a place to sit down but I forged ahead, finally making it to a bench on Minnesota Avenue. My hair-do friend, Mary, came and sat for a while. I kept going and made it to the coop. I found beautiful yellow ginko leaves behind the laundromat. They had my favorite dark chocolate and caramel cookies and Ethiopian coffee at the coop. I found a book in their free library. Some folks I knew were looking for a table in the sunshine so I shared my table. We traded dog stories (and pictures) and a few laughs. As I was leaving, my friend Susie came by on her bike and gave me a hug. We talked about meeting for coffee one day. 

I am feeling a bit more balanced this afternoon but I'm still not ready to do the dishes.


I went to bed at 8:30 last night, when things started looking bleak. I put on an old flannel nightgown and a pair of warm socks and I crawled into bed with my Ian Rankin book. 

I trusted Nate Silver and the others who said this couldn't happen, but there it was, happening, like the pick-up truck going down the street flying the giant Trump flag. It was about the time school got out and I wondered how someone so young could have so much hate and fear.

I woke up at 4, writing in my head. Trying to express in an articulate way, what I was feeling. It can't be done today. I can't get past two sentences without descending into bitterness and sarcasm and blame. I feel betrayed, not only by the electorate but by individuals. 

I have unfriended and unfollowed people on Facebook. I get a visceral reaction when I read the hateful untruths they post and I can't help myself. It's like finding something vile in the corner of your living room; you pick it up by the corner and fling it out the door. I won't have that kind of ugly in my life.

I've heard people say it's just politics and it shouldn't come between friends. This is more than politics. This is world view. This is equality and fairness and justice. This is personal.

My cousin in Florida sent this to me this morning.
Dear Auntie Shirley, Teresa, Helen, and Deb.I went to sleep and woke up at 2:30 to a devastating defeat.I am sad. I am speechless. I am broken-hearted that America is not ready to elect and accept a woman president. I am concerned about our rights as women.i am concerned that we have returned to being made to feel and to being treated like we are less that we are. I am concerned about rights of LBGT community. I am concerned about all those potentially uninsured. I am concerned about families that may be gathered up and worse, split apart and deported with the path to citizenship down the drain. I am concerned that the NRA now has an even stronger foothold in American politics and will continue to protect the rights of irresponsible gun ownership. I am concerned for the environment because now business and jobs will take priority over our delicate environmental balance and conservation of our natural resources. I am so disturbed that the American voters did not see the wrong in dismissing the attitudes of a man who has not only admitted but also boasted about sexual assault.  With love and solidarity from Ana and me
I appreciate and admire my friends who can be hopeful this morning. All the wonderful folks on Pantsuit Nation who have shared their stories. Paula, who remains hopeful and strong always through difficult times. They are helping me stay afloat. I'm getting other emails from friends who feel similarly distraught and angry and we are trying to find hope together. I will get there...just not today.

Monday, November 07, 2016

november light

It was a gorgeous November afternoon yesterday. Tiffany and I took the three kids (missed Zoey) to Minneopa State Park yesterday.

We drove through the bison area first. I didn't realize they would be so far in the distance. They could have been cardboard cut-outs for all I knew. Except that we did see some monster piles of what could only be poop from bison. For eight-year old boys, this is as good or better than the actual animals. I am only sorry I didn't get a picture of it.

There were signs all over to not get out of the car. I did scoot out once to get the camera out of the trunk. It would have to be a stealthy and quick bison to have noticed that.

Then we went to the falls area. I hadn't been there for a while and had forgotten about the steep walkways, the hundreds of steps, the nearness of the rushing water. I was very nervous and not very brave. I am also a rule follower so when the sign said no admittance, I turned around. Crowds of people were not so observant of rules.

The light through the trees and on the water was beautiful.

We had a good time, got some exercise, and stopped for a donut on the way home. Can't beat that for a Sunday.

Today, Monday the 7th of November, I am going to buy groceries in case martial law is declared after the election. Good grief. I'll say it again: I picked a hell of a time to quit drinking. Then I'll stop at Kohl's for my Suzy Snowflake costume and at the Thrift store for my election day pantsuit. You can't make this shit up, friends.

I hate daylight savings time. I don't know if it's ending or starting but I hate it. Why can't we just adjust to the light and dark as nature made it? I was asleep by 9 last night and awake by 4. I hate it.

There you go. All the news that's fit to print. See you in the bunker.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

easy sunday

It's been a good weekend. Yesterday, Kathryn and I went to the Holiday Fare to gather stories. Mostly, people were not in the mood to sit and think...or write.

We had a good time, though. Lots of good conversations. Lots of folks stopped by to visit and many took a post card or an autumn leaf to write on at home. All is well.

It's funny. Being writers, we could sit and write for hours. It is not daunting. I suggested that if someone had a math table and asked us to sit down and do long division, I would panic, refuse to make eye contact, and scoot on past. Sigh. We have been done a disservice by some who taught us how to write. So sad. Math...that is a whole other subject.

As I was leaving yoga on Friday, Michele asked if I would be willing to dress up in a costume and play Suzy Snowflake at the community start-of-the-holidays event. Oh, yeah. I can do that. 

This afternoon, my plan is to go to Minneopa State Park with Tiffany and the three little ones, who are not so little anymore. I have to stop calling them that.

I'm going to make another attempt at dark chocolate caramel and pretzel cookies.

I woke up in the night with blazing pain in my hips. Not like I ran a marathon yesterday so it was frustrating. It took a long time to get back to sleep. My brain is fuzzy today.

Enjoy the weather...

Friday, November 04, 2016

next five days

My goal for the next five days is to keep from going batshit crazy. I have done precious little this year to help with the election so yesterday, in a fit of pique, I made a donation, ordered a t-shirt and a hat, and plastered posters all over my front door and picture window. Today, I am going to the thrift store to find a pantsuit for Tuesday.

It's hard to keep any measure of equanimity. Very hard. I picked a hell of a time to quit drinking although I'm not sure there is enough wine in Nicollet County to assuage this angst.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

I organized my Thanksgiving binder last night and started on my grocery list. Tiffany took me out for a birthday lunch and we talked about the menu. She loves to talk about food, too. We are going with a side-heavy dinner...a turkey breast and maybe some meatballs, but face it, sides are what we live for on Thanksgiving. And left-overs. Remember my Thanksgiving parfait?

November 25, 2012
This has been my favorite meal this weekend. I call it the Thanksgiving Parfait. I put a spoonful of apple pie in the bottom of the glass, then dollops of potatoes, stuffing, yams, and green bean casserole. Top with cranberry sauce. No heating. Easy to eat while slumped over in a napping position. Toss glass and spoon into trash when finished. No dishes!
I had a good walking streak going then I subbed for five days and it all went to hell. I am trying to get that mojo back. I like to walk outside as long as the weather is so beautiful but will switch to the gym and swimming when the gales of November turn whatever it is they turn. Icy? Real lyrics: The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead, when the skies of November turn gloomy. I'd use a word with more dramatic effect than gloomy but I'm not Gordon Lightfoot.

Kathryn and I are going to the Holiday Fare tomorrow to gather stories for 600 Words. Peter got us a real banner so we don't have to use the green tarp from the farm supply store. Our theme is Home for the Holidays. We're moving up.

Must go listen to Polka til You Puke, our favorite radio show. Regis is sleeping and it won't be nearly as much fun but I'll have another cup of coffee, stare out the window at the birds, and wait for the sun to come up. Make it a good day.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

chaos and magic

I have left my cranky pants behind for today! I chucked them into the laundry basket and for today's fashion statement, I have gone with the shiny purple tuxedo trousers with rhinestones on the seams. So much better for dancing in the kitchen.

I went to yoga in the morning, then for coffee. It is a spiritual experience and I am sorry that it's only twice a week. I have yoga dvds and all the equipment so there is no reason that I can't start my own daily practice at home. Plan to start today.

I am also set up to start a daily meditation course online. Is that too much?

I went to aftercare group last night and the counselor asked how I felt about "coining out" next week. You don't officially graduate from this group as that would signify an ending. When a person coins out, a medal goes around the group, everyone says something nice about you and wishes you well. I'm ready for that and all that it entails.

I spent some time this morning writing a thank you letter to the staff at my inpatient program. I know the stats for treatment look pretty dismal sometimes and I want them to know that I am doing my best to survive and thrive. And that I am grateful for everything every single one of them did.

It's been a longish road to four months of sobriety. I started with SMART in 2014 and struggled a lot but learned a lot, too. I did a lot of sobriety-related stuff along the way and I won't say that all of those things didn't work...I think they were stepping stones. They all have my gratitude.

I don't say I am an alcoholic anymore in group. I understand that there are people who do (or addict) for their own very good reasons. I say I am proud to be in recovery and for me that means I have not used alcohol for 117 days.

Vigilant but not afraid.

This will probably be my last recovery related post. I've done enough soul bearing and breast beating. My two lives have merged enough.