Remember when I started volunteering at Gilda's? And a walk to the clubhouse was from the parking lot!

Remember when I started volunteering at Gilda’s? And a walk to the clubhouse was from the parking lot!

I spent several days last week out sick with a summer cold.  You know the kind you tell yourself is allergies until you can no longer deny you’re miserable through and through.  As I’ve just past the two-year anniversary of my bariatric surgery, this was another opportunity to really notice how much has changed.

For starters, yes I was sick enough to not go to Gilda’s club.  People dealing with cancer are often immune suppressed.  They didn’t need to be exposed to whatever I was carrying.  The decision to “tough it out” or not was a no brainer.  What that meant is that I was taking care of myself from the beginning of the cold, rather than waiting until it totally knocked me on my ass to acknowledge it.

Remember when a "day on the boat" meant the next day in bed recovering?

Remember when a “day on the boat” meant the next day in bed recovering?

Then there’s the odd thing that happens with bariatric surgery and stomach flu.  My whole body felt like I should be laying on the bathroom floor.  But I wasn’t.  In fact I never got that kind of sick.  The physiology just doesn’t work that way anymore.  What an odd feeling, especially for someone whose history is that once I got started I didn’t stop.   No sore abdominal muscles.  No cramps.  No dehydration.  No shear exhaustion from all that effort.   More energy to apply to feeling better.

And most importantly there are all the things I did manage to get done last week.   Orion got dressed, bathed, on and off the bus and fed regularly.  Time cards got delivered, groceries were bought.  I had my allergy shots.  Orion had injections as well, and a tune up of his wheelchair and AFO’s.  We had lunch and a visit with friends.  I found time to do dinner with a friend.  I had coffee with another, along with a walk to and tour Gilda’s Club – several blocks down the hill, and back up again.

There was laundry that got done, including bedding from our camping trip.  There was a night the power went out, and all the clocks are set back where they belong.  There was no “recovering” from our road trip to South Dakota.  There is no feeling that I need another week to “catch up”.

How much nicer when the bench is for the photo op, not because you can't walk another step without catching your breath?

How much nicer when the bench is for the photo op, not because you can’t walk another step without catching your breath?

Two years ago, last week would have looked like a “super mom” week.  It would have taken me almost week to recover from a schedule like that in my “best health”.  I couldn’t have imagined doing all that right after returning from a road trip camping with Orion, even without the summer cold!

People still ask me if I have any regrets for making the decision to have by-pass surgery.  It hasn’t been all roses, but if I look at what I can do now that I couldn’t dream of doing then all I can feel is grateful.

Pink Rock

A pipestone quarry at Pipestone National Park

A pipestone quarry at Pipestone National Park

Orion and I got home late last night and I have photos to sort through this morning.  So a late posted blog because I have to tell you what we’ve been up to.

We took a weekend trip out to the pink rock country.  We visited Pipestone and Sioux Falls.  As you know this year my women’s group each adopted a diorama from the Bell Museum.  One of those diorama’s was of Pipestone.

Our adventure began by stepping into the diorama.

Standing in the diorama - you can see the pink rock cliff over the prairie in the distance

Standing in the diorama – you can see the pink rock cliff over the prairie in the distance

The tall grass prairie is in bloom at this time of year.  Several of the exhibits at the National Park talk about the herbology of the Native Americans in the area.  This is buffalo country, but the only one’s we saw were statues.

The Sioux Quartzite formations are very dramatic.  They are full of fissures and faces.  Towering above us they still embrace us, like sitting in a circle of elders.

Circle of Elders

Circle of Elders

This site is sacred to many different tribal nations, and that sacred ground is very apparent.  Walking under the cliffs has the feel of being in a cathedral.  The stones sing, as does the river that runs through the site.

Only registered Native Americans from tribes that historically mined the area are allowed to quarry the pipestone.  They still do it by hand, with respect to the land.  The quarries sometimes collapse or fill with water.  There are families who spend years coming out to Pipestone to reclaim quarries that have fallen.  Tending these sites is like a gift to the ancestors and descendants.  It is sacred work.

The oracle looks out over the prairie

The oracle looks out over the prairie

We got to talk with some of the pipestone carvers, who work doing demonstrations at the Information Center.  Carving is also a generational skill.  Travis Erickson has been carving most of his life.  He also saves the pipestone dust from his carving and makes a resin in which he embeds sacred herbs (like flat cedar).  He turns these into amulets also for sale at the museum shop.

Old man in the rock

Old man in the rock

We spent the night at Palisades State Park in South Dakota.  Our hostess reserved cabins so we didn’t have too much haul and carry.  The cabins were not “accessible” but manageable and comfortable, especially since I had help.  We had perfect weather, a late night watching the Perseid meteor shower, and breakfast on the cabin deck. Orion and I didn’t go walking through the park (except the hike to the bathrooms) but some of my friends did and judging from their stories there are some wonderful spots.

Breakfast on the balcony porch

Breakfast on the balcony porch

Sunday we spent in Sioux Falls.  We went visiting family (not mine, but it’s always fun to meet my friend’s parents) and gawking about town.  Apparently Pokemon Go functions as a guidebook to interesting sites.  We found many in Sioux Falls, and made a point to visit a few.  We went to see some of the sculptures on the Augustana College campus.  We drove down the sculpture walk and of course spent some time at the falls.

The statue that drew me to Augustana. Titled Hindsight, Insight, and Foresight it says: "Seek ye wisdom and gain understanding"

The statue that drew me to Augustana. Titled Hindsight, Insight, and Foresight it says: “Seek ye wisdom and gain understanding”

Sioux Falls runs over pink rock, but here it’s not pipestone but quartzite.  The falls powered a mill early in the development of the city.  The ruins (it burned down) form some of the park structure.  Again, we couldn’t have asked for a prettier Sunday afternoon.   Of course the park was full of people and I wasn’t getting the wheelchair out climbing on the rocks.  We did find a spot where we could stand in the spray of the falls and that was refreshing.

Standing in the spray of the falls

Standing in the spray of the falls

This pink rock is Sioux Quartzite

This pink rock is Sioux Quartzite

the old mill, much of the quarrying and construction was done by federal prisoners and indentured servants

the old mill, much of the quarrying and construction was done by federal prisoners and indentured servants

The wildlife appreciated the calmer spots in the rapids

The wildlife appreciated the calmer spots in the rapids

Sioux Falls South Dakota

Sioux Falls South Dakota


Ducks, geese and corn

This was not as fun as it sounds.

This was not as fun as it sounds.

I skipped my blog last week.  No notice.  No excuses.  No nothing.  Just didn’t write.

I hit that overwhelmed point.  I had things to say.  Too many things it seems.  I couldn’t find a focus. I couldn’t find a focus in the rest of my life either.  I missed a doctor’s appointment.  I discovered I hadn’t gotten in my time card when no check came in the mail.  I had laundry (and water) in the basement.  I had boxes (empty) all over the house.  I was a mess.

In all fairness, I’m probably still a mess, but it’s getting better.  I got out the calendar and started writing things down (rather than relying solely on the cell phone, which seems to drop appointments for no good reason.)  I let go of an obligation that was the “one thing too many” that sent me on this spiral.  I got the boxes out of the middle of the living room and into a “staging area” so I can fill them one at a time and put them back.

Getting my ducks (or in this case geese) in a row

Getting my ducks (or in this case geese) in a row

I’m working on my sleep schedule.  At least I’m sleeping, even if the hours are still a little odd.  I’m putting away laundry and watering the poor, sad plants.  I had my corn for Lammas* and decided I am not in a hurry to dig out the harvest season decorations.  I’m trying to be kind to myself – one step at a time.

Last week I got a notification from WordPress saying “Happy Fifth Blogging Anniversary!”  My goodness, has it really been that long?  I spent some time this last week wondering if I was done, if I needed a serious blogging break.  I decided that I’m still good, as long as my readers will forgive an occasional dropped post like last week.

Because it's Lammas and that means corn

Because it’s Lammas and that means corn

Having a weekly blog is one of my touch points in a rather unstructured life.  I need those now and again.  Once a week is not so high pressure I can’t handle it.  It’s not so infrequent it doesn’t matter.  It holds me accountable to take time to reflect on my life, my choices, my spirituality, my vision.  Those are good things.

So, dear reader, I may be a mess but if you’ll still have me I’ll still be around on Mondays.


*Previous Lammas posts:

Lammas – dog days and olympics

Bad Example – apparently a meltdown this time of year is not unusual

Corn Mother – because Corn!

First Fruits – harvest season has begun

Corn on the cob – it’s REALLY important



This Mexican Wolf is an endangered species

This Mexican Wolf is an endangered species

Part of the theme for my women’s group this year is wildlife.  Some of the women are exploring totemic relationships, some are looking at environment and biosphere, some are looking at social interactions within the species.  It’s all been interesting and there have been lots of field trips – including the one to visit my parents.

This weekend we took another trip, a little closer to town.  We went to the Wildlife Science Center just north of the Twin Cities.  We arranged for a private tour so we got to spend a lot of time talking about the animals.

Here's our guide, staff member Roberta, with the red wolves (also endangered) native to the East Coast

Here’s our guide, staff member Roberta, with the red wolves (also endangered) native to the East Coast

The Wildlife Science Center specializes in canids.  They have several different species of wolves, several of them endangered.  They have served as a research center and training area for wolf behavior, conservation, and preservation.  They have “rescued” many of their animals from closing zoos and from people who thought they’d make good pets.

Because they focus on canid behavior, visitors can bring their dogs (leashed and vaccinated).  We didn’t bring any of ours along, but heard a lot from our tour guide about why this is helpful.  Most of the animals here are hard-wired to protect their territories from other canids.  In the enclosures they become accustomed to the other wolves around them and the territory lines are rarely challenged.  However, visiting dogs provide the same stimulus of challenging a territory.

Grey wolves Manny, Chaves, Geobro

Grey wolves Manny, Chaves, Geobro they make a bachelor pack

There are other animals that have made their way to the Wildlife Science Center as  well.  Mittens the cougar will stalk the smaller dogs that come to visit.  So will the coyotes.  We were told that occasionally a goose (or other local animal) will make it’s way into a pen.  The ensuing interactions are also fascinating and educational.

The Wildlife Science Center was originally a DNR project, and is situated on leased DNR land.  In the early 90’s when funding stopped the current director was faced with the task of euthanizing all the animals.  Rather than do that she created the non-profit organization that the Wildlife Science Center is today.

The coyote came to the center from a university. Some student thought it would make a good dorm room pet!

This coyote came to the center from a university. Some student thought it would make a good dorm room pet!

Unfortunately the DNR lease has run out and the Wildlife Center can no longer stay there.  They have land and have started developing the infrastructure to move the animals.  The new space is MUCH larger.  There will be bigger enclosures and more modern facilities.  But this isn’t a small project.  The Wildlife Science Center is currently running a Move The Pack fundraising campaign and hopes to be able to open the new facility sometime in the spring of 2017.

We had a wonderful day.  It was fascinating to see how different the different species of wolves are, and yet how very similar to the dogs we know.

The animals mostly came out to see us, although it was still nap-time for the black bears so I didn’t get good photos there.  I highly recommend this facility for families, schools, dog lovers, or anyone interested in wildlife management.

"Mittens" - pictured here, and Pandora are representatives of a wildcat that ranges across the North American Continent

“Mittens” – pictured here, and Pandora are representatives of a wildcat that ranges across the North American Continent

Bobcats, one raised as a housecat the other an orphan exhibit very different behaviors when the keepers enter the enclosure.

Bobcats, one raised as a housecat the other an orphan, exhibit very different behaviors when the keepers enter the enclosure.


Road Trip

Road Trip

I had the opportunity this weekend to participate in a rescue mission.  That’s not as dramatic as it sounds.  My daughter, Karina, has quite the extended family given the divorces, the friends, the steps, and all the variations on “you are family to me.”

One of these family members has been in a difficult intimate relationship for some time.  There is a history of isolation, abuse, and attempts to leave the relationship.  After a conversation with Karina where she heard, “I want to come home” she went into action.

She arranged for transportation (costs covered), housing, a potential job opportunity and alerted the built-in support system of family and friends.  There will be a bus card, people willing to help with transportation in town, bedding and toiletries and probably anything else as it comes up.  When another call came, “I need to leave NOW”, Karina went into high gear and hopped in the car.

I went along, not only because it’s a long drive but also because she wanted back-up for anything she might find when she arrived.  I have family in the area where we were headed.  I called ahead.  Without knowing ANY of the actual players, they stepped in as well.

My family members met us at the home of the person we picked up.  We were taken out for dinner.  We were offered any additional support we might need along the way.  I got the bonus of being able to see family I haven’t been in contact with (outside of Facebook) for years.

Karina’s family member will be fine.  They are overwhelmed, not only by making such a dramatic change but also by the outpouring of support.  We also talked on the way home about how much of a difference THIS family member could be in supporting other of Karina’s extended family members who are struggling.  We made it clear that even when you may be needy, you can also be needed.

Very few of us expect to have real support when we are desperate.  Asking for one small thing is hard.  Asking for planning, organization, execution and a lifeline is humbling at best.

Just the other day a friend dropped off a stack of boxes for packing.

Just the other day a friend dropped off a stack of boxes for packing.

I think we all have moments in our lives when this is exactly the kind of help we need.  I know I have.  I have been fortunate, awed, and overwhelmed on the occasions when my friends and family have swept in and just taken care of business.

When I had cancer last year my women’s group stepped up and made sure that I had the post surgery support I needed.  They came by to check up on me, made sure I had food in the house, ran errands, and washed dishes.   One of them brought me home from the hospital.  Another took me out when I was going stir crazy.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude.  I had no idea what I was going to do, but they clearly did.

The last time I had work done on my house, to increase accessibility for Orion, we needed to move out for 6 weeks.  Cleaning and packing was beyond me.  Again, I had friends come in and just do it.  There was no judgement, no need for instruction or supervision, just support.  I could focus on what I needed to take with me to the hotel, they took care of everything else.  I knew I needed help, but never expected that level of support.

I am grateful that I have been able to count on my friends when I truly need help.  I am grateful that I have learned to accept help when it is given.  I’m grateful for compassion that has no judgement, simply does what needs to be done.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to give back a small bit of what I have been given.


I don’t know what to say.  Baton Rouge, Texas, Falcon Heights – that one is too close to home.  There is outrage and it is justified.

I got really angry when after Philandro Castile’s death the police I know started circulating “another look” – a video with him and his girlfriend smoking pot and being silly.  It’s racist, it’s about “justifying police brutality”, it’s a desperate attempt to “spin” the narrative.  It’s not relevant.

Who hasn’t ever done stupid stuff?  Gotten drunk, or stoned, or just been silly and stupid?  Why people film that and then post it is beyond me, but my Facebook feed is full of this kind of nonsense.

I remember protests in the 60’s.  I remember being pretty sure our phone was tapped as the FBI was looking for organizers.  I remember stories of FBI infiltrators who were often the instigators of the worst of the violence.  The shooting in Dallas, there was a lot of finger-pointing.  The message of the protest was diminished.  Both police and protesters were affected.  Who actually benefited?

We learned a long time ago to follow the money.  The money, the status quo, the old guard that is afraid to lose their unchecked power and privilege are the only ones coming out on top.

The world is changing.  The world needs to change.  What do we want it to change into?

The energy for change comes from moving against.  The actually change comes from being able to envision the future.   It’s not Utopic.  It’s messy.  Any plan is going to change in implementation.  But let’s look at a plan.  Let’s keep looking, and revising, and building towards something positive.

Let’s have a world where news and education aren’t judged based on entertainment value.

Let’s have a world where people helping each other out gets raves and support and bad behavior is not a spotlight for attention.

Let’s have a world where people aren’t afraid of the police, and where the police aren’t afraid of the general population they are meant to protect and serve.

Let’s have a world where we recognize that people generally are trying to do the best they can with what they’ve got.  If they’re not doing well then they need help, resources, education, housing, support.

Let’s find a way to have dialog rather than duels, and have productive outcomes.

Let’s find a way.


PART_1436198519103_20150704_221953Happy 4th of July!PART_1436198532749_20150704_221508








We’re off somewhere parading.   Hope you have a lovely day.PART_1436198492714_20150704_222040PART_1436198507951_20150704_222002

Catching Up

Another family photo at Gilda's A lot has changed in 3 years!

Another family photo at Gilda’s A lot has changed in 3 years!

With the long days and hot nights I’m not sleeping well.  I feel like I’m spending my time trying to catch-up with myself.  On the days when I’m busy I’m exhausted.  On the days when I do nothing I find myself dozing in my chair.

It may seem counter intuitive given my state of being, but I’ve been looking for a part-time job.  The latest news on the construction front is that the bank is worried about my income to debt ratio.  That’s a good thing I suppose, to keep me from drowning in debt.  On the other hand the work really needs to be done and I don’t have the money to do it.  I figure at the glacial rate this project is moving along I may be a couple of months into a new job – enough for it to count – before everything else (my outstanding debt for instance) is settled to the banks satisfaction.

Cardio drumming was fun enough to attract some of the kids

Cardio drumming was fun enough to attract some of the kids

It was Friends and Family weekend at Gilda’s club.  Orion and I went for our 3rd year in a row.  This year Orion has acquired a new drum and he was determined to bring it and play it.  We did cardio drumming.  That was kind of fun.  Drumming along to popular music on exercise balls in buckets.  Moving arms and legs.  Kind of like Taiko drumming for middle-aged women.

We also did the family drumming.  That’s a slightly more traditional drum jam.  Making connections to rhythms and a group apparently makes a difference in health and healing.  Who knew drumming could be so therapeutic?  Orion loved it.

Waiting for folks to arrive and the session to start.

Waiting for folks to arrive and the session to start.

We got to visit with friends, old and new.  We had a visit from a fairy (it was a hot day and she was taking a break from the fairy garden).  We had a lovely walk there and back.  And when we got home I was (again) exhausted.

Maybe I need to drink more water.

Visiting with a fairy

Visiting with a fairy


20160619_152554The summer solstice is called midsummer.  I’ve always wondered why.  To me this feels like the beginning of summer.   Here it’s come in like a rushing train.  I’ve barely turned off the heat (nights in the 50’s at the beginning of the month).  Now it’s in the 90’s with humidity.

This is the season of weeding.  My weeds are all out of control.  There are several beds I just didn’t get to and more I’ve not kept up with.  Seems my other “projects” are conspiring against me.  Or maybe the weather, it’s been rainy, hasn’t suited when I’ve had time.  Or maybe I’ve got the midsummer all I want to do is sit in a hammock and read blues.

20160619_143842The change in light (the summer solstice is the longest day of the year) and the changing temperatures have totally disrupted my sleep schedule.  Left to my own devices this time of year I’d be sleeping through the heat of the day and up all night.  Unfortunately I don’t live in that world.

This is the pause after the haying, after the planting, before the big harvests come in.  As I said earlier, weed season.  It’s also summer salad season.  I’ve made baked beans.  I’ve made potato salad.  I’ve got greens growing in a planter.  I’m anticipating tomatoes that taste like something.  I didn’t know if I’d be able to garden this year, but I’ve got a lot of pots around the house.  I just have to be diligent about watering.

20160619_132921 (1)Orion and I went with friends to see Shakespeare in the Park.  A Midsummer Night’s Dream seemed a fitting way to celebrate the season.  Perhaps it is the season to dream the dreams, summer love, vacation.  Or perhaps it is time to waken and make those dreams come true.





Public Celebration

I went out this weekend.  Not to a dance club, but I did go out.  Karina and I were celebrating her birthday. We had a lovely dinner.  We had a lot to drink.

Two women out alone.  We were aware of our surrounding.  We were sensitive to our impact on the other diners.  We got home at a reasonable hour.

We were not afraid.  Not really.  Not any more than any other night out.   It was a nice night for a walk.  At 8pm when we got there walking from the car would have been fine.  When we left?  We chose valet parking, because we had the choice.

But there are no “good choices” that protect people from haters, predators, terrorists, rapists, abusers, gunmen.  That kind of protection needs to come from the culture.

People who live their lives in love, acceptance and celebration of who they are are not “sick”.  It is the people who go out of their way to make someone else suffer who are troubled.  It is the people wanting to impose their sense of right and privilege, by force if necessary, who need help and healing.

The people killed in Orlando were no less innocent than the children of Sandy Hook.  They weren’t causing trouble, or making “bad choices”.  They were out, celebrating.  They were living their lives in love and acceptance.

Apparently that’s not enough.   The culture needs to change.

These are the victims of the Orlando massacre


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