Metamorphosoup

photo by Bonita Blumenauer

photo by Bonita Blumenauer

In the Twin Cities we are blessed with a wide variety of performance art options.  Some of my favorite events are community based, like the May Day Parade.   At this end of the seasonal cycle Barebones Productions puts on its Halloween Extravaganza.  This is an evening event, outdoors in a park late in the fall in Minnesota.   For the 21st annual production Barebones presented Metamorphosoup.

In line at the entrance

In line at the entrance

This year the weather has been perfect for this kind of event.  Last night when I attended the temps were in the cool, but comfortable 50’s.  Much better than some years, but still nice to be bundled up. This year’s presentation seemed shorter than some.   There is often a theme or story associated with the production.   This year seemed more pageant than play.

pre-show entertainment

pre-show entertainment

The audience entered through the mouth of the great whale and found their seats on hay bales under the trees.  Actors/street performers dressed in Halloween visions of carnival characters directed people to seating and kept us engaged.   There are 5 performances with a total attendance around 8,000 people (maybe more this year due to the fine weather).  We watched the new moon setting over the trees as we waited for full dark, for the audience to settle, for the main show to begin.

Fire spinners dancing  photo by Bonita Blumenauer

Fire spinners dancing
photo by Bonita Blumenauer

Complete with puppets, aerialists, fire spinners, dancers, singers and musicians we watched the cycle of birth and death and rebirth play out before us.  This was the story of the cosmic soup, the great cauldron of creation.  This was a pageant of evolution and destruction, of limited resources and greed, and the bounty of stone soup.   There were moments of profound loss and grief and moments of awe and joy.  There was an acknowledgement of ancestors lost and of remembrance.

all things come from the sea photo by Bonita Blumenauer

all things come from the sea
photo by Bonita Blumenauer

That description hardly does justice to the wonder that is the Barebones.  There were dinosaur puppets, bones perhaps not to scale, but certainly representative of the size and scope of actual dinosaurs.   The great wave of water brought the scene to the ocean filled with floating luminescent creatures lighting up the darkness.  Fire spinners dances in glorious numbers, circles and forms.  Each time they appeared the fires beneath the great cauldron seemed to glow brighter and the cauldron grew bigger and bigger.  In the end there were the ancestors, and the stars.

The plesiosaur came out after the show.  This is an animated puppet on a grand scale.

The plesiosaur came out after the show. This is an animated puppet on a grand scale.

Even after the presentation there is still production happening.  This is not just a play, but an event, a community ritual.  There is a beautiful Hungry Ghost Altar set up around the tree for people to spend time honoring their ancestors, beloved dead and unknown dead alike.  There is paper to leave notes and messages, candles available to light, offerings made with the great tree as witness to all that happens at its feet.

The Hungry Ghost Altar

The Hungry Ghost Altar

The Jack Brass Band(the Brass Messengers on other nights) played music into the night.  The brass band echoing on the wind is reminiscent of a New Orleans style funeral procession, somber on the way in but joyous and celebratory on the way out.  Sisters Camelot had hot food available for those who stayed and needed a warm-up.  There was also some merchanting, another source of funding for this amazing production.

photo by Bonita blumenauer

photo by Bonita blumenauer

 

This is one of my favorite ways to celebrate the season.  The bounty of the harvest, the acknowledgement of loss and change and transformation, and the honoring of the ancestors all tied up into a community event.   Happy Halloween!

 

100

October 2013

October 2013

I don’t know why the numbers make such a difference.  Ever since my bariatric surgery the question I get asked most often is “How much have you lost?”   Since the answer to that question depends a lot on where I start counting from even the numbers are ambiguous.  Do I start with my “top weight”?   Do I start with the weight on my bariatric surgeon’s chart from my first visit?   Do I start with the weight I had on the day of surgery?

It doesn’t help that I can be very casual about numbers.  I’m good with math, but I don’t really remember numbers well.  Every time I’ve moved (and it’s not that many times) I get my checks changed immediately, so I can LOOK whenever someone asks my address.  It takes me months!  The best thing about cell phones is that I get to keep my phone number.  I didn’t change plans until I could.

I can’t even remember how old I am.  My kids remember.  I could do the math, but if someone is asking I figure if they really want to know THEY can do the math.   I was 23 for 3 years, it was a number I could remember.  I’m bad with my kids ages too.  I don’t believe Orion just turned 26, but I’m sure he’s right.

I didn’t go into the bariatric surgery with my eyes on the numbers.  I cared about energy and mobility and health.  All of those things are noticeably improved.  I can stand longer, do more and am more comfortable.  I no longer shuffle when I walk.  I even put on a pair of heels.   I can curl up in my favorite chair.  I don’t need as many pillows in my bed.  I don’t get winded coming up the stairs.  These are the things that matter.PART_1413728483170_20141018_142123

Still, there’s that number.  100.  It makes a difference.  It shouldn’t, but it really does.  Hitting the 100 lb weight loss mark is a milestone, like it or not.  It doesn’t matter what percentage of my weight I’ve lost, or how much I have left to go.  It’s just that number.

I’ll hit it several times, depending on where I count from.  But I suspect the impact of the milestone will only hit me this once.  So, I’ll claim it.  Let’s hear it for 100!

Crafting

PART_1413213481581_20141013_101451Last week was time again for the Women and Spirituality Conference at Mankato State University in Minnesota.  I’ve done quite a few blogs on this conference and my experiences at it.  (There’s a list of links at the end of this post.)  I don’t see any reason this year should be different.

I didn’t take pictures this year.  I thought about it.  I know the mantra of public speakers is “document, document, document” and still I couldn’t bring myself to dig out my cell phone and snap a reasonable shot.   Maybe it was because the fall colors were somewhat muted this year.  It’s still a beautiful drive especially along the Minnesota River valley, but it wasn’t “vibrant”.   Maybe it’s was because this years conference seemed slightly under-populated.  There just didn’t seem to be as many attendees, merchants or even energy as there has been in previous years.  Maybe (and this is the story I’m telling myself) I just wanted  to be in the moment.

For all of the underwhelming impression, it was a really good conference this year.  The keynote speaker, Layli Maparyan, was very dynamic.   She packed an impressive amount of information and hopefulness into her presentation.  She definitely set the conference off to a great start.

The prayer beads that start the workshop "Daily Practice Sucks"

The prayer beads that start the workshop “Daily Practice Sucks”

An event like this provides the universe an opportunity to send me messages, and this year was no exception.  I gave my workshop Daily Practice Sucks twice, and in both sessions I was asked if I ever did workshops on making prayer beads.  This is something I’ve been kicking around, but it was nice to learn that there is a desire out there.  In fact I keep getting the “ping” that I need to be doing more with crafting and creative projects.

I am so very resistant to arts and crafts that this is a real challenge for me.  There is a phrase that suggests “leaning in” to those things that challenge you.  Apparently I’m looking at a year of leaning in.  One of the workshop proposals I sent to Pantheacon involved a long term art project.  I took a handmade card making class at Gilda’s Club where I volunteer.  Last week my GOM girls had me playing with clay.  Just in case I missed the point, as I was packing for the weekend my prayer beads broke and I had to restring them.

Genesha

Genesha

Perhaps I can attribute that “dullness” I experienced as simply my resistance to what the universe is offering me.  I can choose to lean in and stretch my own boundaries or I can live in a “toned down” vision of what’s possible.  I’ll even admit that there is some appeal to calm, predictable, and low-key but I know in my heart there is only one choice I can make.    I guess I’ll roll up my sleeves and try my hand at some crafts.

 

http://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/grandmothers/

http://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/conference/

http://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/pain/

http://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2011/10/18/daily-practice/

 

 

Brujería

I often start the autumn decorating in August, with the first harvest.  Then add and subtract all the way through Thanksgiving.  This year though it’s taken me until now to start thinking about Halloween decorating.  It’s the neighbors that got me started.  All those walks around the block are becoming inspirational.

Orion in Mazatlan

Orion in Mazatlan

I was surprised at how few actual Halloween decorations I could find.  I suspect several of the things I know I’ve got somewhere are too practical to be tucked away.  I know I have a few serving platters and baskets.  The gourds and corn may have all been tossed.  Over the years they can get a little nasty in the damp basement.

What I did find was my Brujeria.   I picked her up in Mazatlan when I was there with Orion for his High School graduation trip.  She’s too delicate to ship well.  (I’ve been glueing bits back on ever since.)  But I loved her attitude.  Halloween, Samhein, Dios de los Muertos all come together for me in this little witch.

I’ve always enjoyed the fall.  The cooler weather appeals to me.  In Minnesota fall is much more dependable a season than spring.  Denial of winter is easy as long as the snow doesn’t get too thick on the ground.  I’ve trick-or-treated in snow pants and boots, but most of the time those early snows don’t linger.

On the other side of the year it doesn’t seem like spring until something green is poking out from the ground.  That doesn’t often happen when there’s still melting snow.  In Minnesota spring can last a day or a week, but fall can go on for months September-October-November.  Sometimes it feels like fall in August, but it’s still summer at least until Labor Day, regardless of the weather.

It’s a good time of the year for fires in the fireplace, or even a bonfire outdoors.  It’s all about being dressed in layers.  Sweaters, woolens, deep pockets and hats but mostly sweaters.  It’s not unusual to see a sweater with shorts, or a wool coat and shoes – no socks.  There are plenty of people here who will hang on to wearing sandals until the snow really flies.

Brujeria

Brujeria

At this time of year it’s easy to be aware of the presence of our ancestors.  I think about the fishing and hunting this time of year as a way to gather enough to make it through the winter.  I think about my own ancestors wishing for a little more warm to get in the crops and a little more cold to make refrigeration possible.  When I pick up sticks in the yard I’m planning kindling for when the woodpile is buried under the snow.

The Brujeria thinks like this at all times, in all seasons.  She lives in harmony with the world around her, even when she is at odds with the culture.  She gathers her ingredients when the time is right and uses them at her own discretion as the need arises.  She feels the changing of the seasons in her bones and readies herself and her clients for whatever she foresees.

This year I’m hoping she’ll help me with that!

Growing Up

Orion tried his hand at drumming last weekend.  He seemed to really enjoy it.

Orion tried his hand at drumming last weekend. He seemed to really enjoy it.

Orion turns 26 years old this week.   I can’t even wrap my head around that.   He’s approaching this birthday with typical enthusiasm.  He’s excited to have a theme to use in his interactions with people, especially when he knows they’ll all wish him well.  He’s excited about going out to a new restaurant he learned about from the guy who delivered his new wheelchair last month.  In fact Orion invited the guy and his wife to his birthday dinner and still holds hope they’ll be there.

For me every one of Orion’s birthday’s is a little bittersweet.  I love seeing him so happy.   I love watching him shift and grow as he explores new ways of being in the world.  I love that he doesn’t care at all about presents, he just wants attention and hugs.   His upbeat attitude is contagious.  I don’t know what I’d do without him.

But I also understand the limits of his independence, which become more obvious, more pronounced as he ages.  He doesn’t have aspirations for a career, or even a job.  He’s happy to help out when he’s asked and able, but even his day program hasn’t found a part-time volunteer placement for him in the last 2 years.   His future possibilities get smaller and smaller with each passing year.

There’s also my part in all of it.  I’m not sure that it’s still the best option for either of us to be “tied at the hip”.   As his primary caregiver I’m very much aware of how little I’m able to do to move him forward.  That’s been particularly obvious these last few months when our mobility has been additionally limited by my recovery from the surgery.   Caregivers are hard to come by.  Orion needs stimulation and he’s become too comfortable with the status quo to be motivated to move forward.

I took Orion to Mazatlan when he graduated HS.  He's always game for an adventure! - And the locals were very impressed with Orion's Spanish.

I took Orion to Mazatlan when he graduated HS. He’s always game for an adventure! – And the locals were very impressed with Orion’s Spanish.

When Orion was born we were told that he’d probably be a vegetable and would be dead before he was 5 years old.  I didn’t think that the evidence supported that conclusion then, and clearly rejecting that comment was a good decision.   I have an enormous amount to be grateful for.  Orion has been such a blessing in my life.  He’s an inspiration, a delight, and a wonder.

Orion, may you continue to take joy in the world around you.   May you continue to work at developing social interactions and the skills to build relationships.  May you find ways to do the things you enjoy that are also productive and sustaining.  May you always be open to new experiences, new people, and new possibilities for your future.

Happy Birthday!

Autumn

PART_1411156911626_20140919_124335With the Fall equinox upon us I’ve started to notice the signs of autumn creeping up.   The leaves are just beginning to turn.  The trees that have been severely stressed by our odd weather are further along, but the majority are just hinting at colors.

That stress is definitely in the air.  One day the highs are barely above 60F  the next they’re well into the 70’s.  Mornings are cool, almost cold when they are damp.  There’s been hard frost further north and it would not be unseasonable to see some here in the city.  It’s difficult to dress for such unpredictable, changeable weather.PART_1411157001023_20140919_124008

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The sun shines, equal with the darkness.  It still carries warmth with its light,  but that warmth seems more focused.  It gets hot in the car, if it’s in the direct sun, but the warmth doesn’t creep past the edges of the shadows of the tree line.PART_1411156928515_20140919_124253-2

I’ve had a fire or two in the fireplace, trying not to turn on the heat.  It’s difficult to crawl out of bed when the temperature in the house is below 65.   When I do turn on the furnace (because it’s impossible to get out of a warm tub when the air is that cold) I try to remember to turn it off again.  Sometimes I get to wondering why I’m so hot before it occurs to me I’ve forgotten.PART_1411156884393_20140919_124529

At least with the heat on the air is filtered.  The cool and damp is ideal for mold – one of my worst allergies.  It will get worse before it gets better as leaves fall into mulch.  Soon I’ll be begging for the hard freeze, but I wouldn’t begrudge a few more weeks of summer weather after. PART_1411156845480_20140919_124552

Happy Autumnal Equinox!

 

Previous Equinox blogs:

Darkness

Harvest

Balance

 

 

 

Wedding

family wedding

family wedding

We went to a family wedding this weekend.  I’m at that age where I really appreciate “weddings and funerals”  as an opportunity to get together with the extended family, the relatives I don’t see very often.  Even at these events people tend to cluster with their “immediate” families.  Still, it’s nice to see how everyone is doing, aging, and whose kids (the names I can’t keep track of) are now grown.

Wait, not THAT cousin!

Wait, not THAT cousin!

THIS cousin!

THIS cousin!

This wedding was particularly special.  On my Mom’s side of the family I’m the oldest of the girl cousins, and Becci is the youngest.  Additionally our families have been close.  We used to camp together growing up.  My Mom and my Aunt would plot to sneak the leftover marshmallows into the other one’s camp kitchen to take home.  S’more’s are essential camp food with kids, but neither family had any real use for marshmallows in their day-to-day lives.PART_1410784645960_20140913_145511(0)

My Mom is the oldest girl in her family and my Uncle the youngest.  Their age difference is about the same as mine to my Uncle.  That’s about the same difference as between me and my cousin.  That’s about the same difference as between my cousin and my daughter.  Becci is getting married in her 30’s.  She’s breaking the chain.  But waiting for “Mr. Right” seems to have held her in good stead.

The wedding was particularly well attended.  Both the bride and groom come with large extended families.  Both of them also have a presence in their small town communities.  People have watched them grow up, build careers, and wished them well throughout their lives.  It was a nearly impossible task to keep the guest list numbers down.PART_1410784731108_20140913_142650

Those of us who’ve had weddings know there are a certain number of invitations that get sent out with the expectation that those people will never come.  They are invitations that are necessary to send, as announcements or because of an obligation of manners.  PART_1410784600505_20140913_164549 People spread out in our society and traveling 3 hours, 6 hours, 9 hours, 12 hours, days “just for a wedding” gets expensive.   However, for Becci and Caleb people were willing to do just that.  There were so many responses they had to change the wedding venue.  Instead of getting married in the church where her Uncle preaches, Becci got married in the Auditorium of the High School where her brother teaches music.  They filled the seats!

It was a beautiful event.  They did a lovely job decorating the space.  The service was personal and joyful.  The caterers served good food to nearly 500 people and everyone ate in less than 1 ½ hours.  (We tended to have meals in town at the restaurant that catered the event.)  The DJ’s did a good job with the music and Orion got to dance with the bride.   I even danced a little!PART_1410784193553_20140913_205121

Being in Wisconsin, we even had time between the wedding and the reception to sneak over to the bar.  There is nothing like fresh fried cheese curds for an afternoon snack!  Wisconsin beer, however, is off my menu post the bariatric surgery.

As Orion so eloquently told everyone the next morning, “I have nothing but love in my heart for the newlyweds!”

Busy

Riding Metro Mobility in the early morning rain.  The only way to get us to an appointment without me lifting the chair!

Riding Metro Mobility in the early morning rain. The only way to get us to an appointment without me lifting the chair!

It has been a busy week, which is kind of nice.  We’ve had medical appointments, adventures, and a day in the park.  I’d say it’s been ups and downs, but actually it’s been mostly ups.  Sure the challenges have been there.  I’m still not putting the wheelchair into the car so logistics are complicated.  But all the potential roadblocks were addressed and things continue to move forward.

The needles are painful, but it's fun to tease Orion about his "wrinkle-free" legs.

The needles are painful, but it’s fun to tease Orion about his “wrinkle-free” legs.

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It really was a week of medical.  All of my standard appointments, plus Orion got his quarterly botox shots (to help with the spastic tone in his legs) and I had another CT following up my ER visit a few weeks ago.  That’s what I thought this blog was going to be about at the beginning of last week.  Then I started having fun.

 

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Girls night out!  We were the "guests".  The friend with the tickets took the photo.

Girls night out! We were the “guests”. The friend with the tickets took the photo.

A friend got tickets to a concert by the Cactus Blossoms and invited me and another friend to join her.  Girls night out and fun country music, why not?  We had a grand time.  Even the opening act was delightful.   Andru Bemis proved to be an impressive musician and entertainer.  I didn’t get up and dance, but by the end of the concert I was on my feet rocking to the music.  Nice to be able to do that again!

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Minnehaha Falls

Minnehaha Falls

The day in the park was for Pagan Pride.  Our community has been doing a Pride event for a long time.  In the past few years Pride has presented itself in a very public way at Minnehaha Falls Park.  It’s nice to be out under the oak trees, but it’s also nice to have some visibility in the larger community.

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When Pagan Pride first started it was indoors at a closed school.  Now it's out doors and very public.  Times have changed.

When Pagan Pride first started it was indoors at a closed school. Now it’s out doors and very public. Times have changed.

There are vendors, public rituals, music and dance performances and a lot of chatting with old friends.  Members of the Reclaiming community set up a labyrinth and other groups have booths promoting festivals and local events.  It’s a large community so there’s always something going on.

A beautiful day to be in the park

A beautiful day to be in the park

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It was a beautiful day to be outside.  In fact it was a beautiful weekend, cool but warm in the sunshine.  I even got to have dinner out Sunday with another group of friends.  A side order of humus should keep me in lunches for a few more days.  “Small portions”  has taken on a whole new meaning, but I’m feeling good and really enjoying being out and about.

Sailing

I'm game to go again!

I’m game to go again!

I promised I’d let you know how sailing went.  It was delightful!   We had a pretty calm day so we drifted back and forth across the Mississippi River at Lake Pepin.    Three middle-aged women in the middle of nowhere on a perfect day just chatting was exactly the right way to treat myself to a “time out”.

That was the whole point of going sailing, to take a real “time out” and do something fun just for me.   I had the whole day so the hour and a half drive down and back was not rushed.  We saw eagles and turkey vultures flying over the bluffs around the river.  It was a lazy day, but a stimulating one.  I love being on the water.  It relaxes me in a way that nothing else can.

I haven’t really been sailing.  I’ve been on a catamaran on the ocean.  I’ve been in canoes.  I’ve been in motor boats and pontoon boats.  I’ve always wanted to sail.  There’s something about the water and the wind that appeals to my sense of imagination.  It seems like there’s a freedom in sailing.  The potential is there for speed, but also quiet.

Captain Beth

Captain Beth

We spent all afternoon on the water.  When we came back to the marina and got the boat put away for the evening I felt I’d made a new friend in Captain Beth.  My first words ashore were, “Can we do it again!?”

I think it’s important for all of us to treat ourselves on occasion.  Sometimes that’s a quiet solitary retreat.  Sometimes that’s trying something new and challenging.  Sometimes that’s making a dream come true.  Whatever it is I am starting to be more aware of things that actually feed my soul.  I’m starting to prioritize making those things happen for me more frequently.

It’s challenging to do things “just for me.”   I’m finding it’s also very worth the effort.

Lake City Marina

Lake Pepin Marina

Reboot

It seems Tansy is happy to grow just about anywhere regardless of the conditions.

It seems Tansy is happy to grow just about anywhere regardless of the conditions.

Have you ever had that perfect storm of a day where every one thing adds on to the trouble of the last, ending in disaster?   Have you ever had a lovely simple plan fall into a deep abyss of obstacles and limitations until you just had to let go?

That was last Friday for me.  I had the perfect storm of physical trauma and pain landing me in the ER for the weekend.  Now I’m back at Monday knowing the only thing I can do is pick up the pieces.

Resilience, the ability to recover quickly, to bounce back, is easy to measure in physical terms.  It’s harder when you start looking at bouncing back from an emotional blow.  The thing is, we live in our bodies and very often those physical traumas carry an emotional impact as well.

Brown-Eyed Susan always looks so happy, even if it has too much or too little water.

Brown-Eyed Susan always looks so happy, even if it has too much or too little water.

I find it helps to recognize that I have choices about my point of view.  I can choose to see this as starting over from scratch, or I can choose to see it as a fresh start.  I can choose to focus on the limitations or I can be grateful for all the help and support I receive.  I can choose to continue to be miserable, or I can choose to pick myself up and move forward – wherever that might take me.

It’s like rebooting the computer.  Sometimes things get stuck, there’s a little glitch.  A quick turn it off and turn it back on again straightens the world around and gets things moving.  I’d like to think that’s what this weekend was for me.  A reboot.  A little “enforced time out” to regroup and get my body back on track.  A reminder to take things slowly and not try to do too much, too fast.

I'm not even sure what this one is, but it's rising above everything in my "weed bed" and blooming for all it's worth.  Maybe a hibiscus?

I’m not even sure what this one is, but it’s rising above everything in my “weed bed” and blooming for all it’s worth. Maybe a hibiscus?

The tricky part is not to do too little either.  It’s okay to get a little tired.  It’s not okay to get tired because I’m bored from sitting around all day doing nothing.    It’s okay to take it slow, it’s not okay to always take the easy way out.  It’s another one of those balancing acts that changes every day.  I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised if I don’t always get it quite right!

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