Category Archives: celebration
I had a busy week this week doing a lot of socializing and catching up. Once upon a time, a long time ago I was involved in High School theater. We had a foreign exchange student from Amsterdam who joined us backstage.
The theater bunch in high school was pretty tight. We all spent whatever spare time we had hiding out in the theater shop. We were also, many of us, involved with band and/or choir – which meant pep rallies and marching band. There were days when I would get to school before 6am and not leave again until after midnight.
Many of us have stayed in the area and stayed in touch. This week we had the honor of being visited by our dear Dutch friend! The opportunity for a reunion was enough to get a few of our out of state friends to fly in as well.
I didn’t participate in all of the activities, but we did have a lovely get together and reminiscence on Monday evening. Many of us also got dolled up to go swing dancing at the Wabasha Caves on Thursday.
In addition to all of the walking down memory lane I managed to acquire the grandpuppy for the weekend. She needed some walking as well!
Another friend (this one more recent) remembered she’d bought tickets to a water lantern festival. She was going to be out of town and offered the tickets up. Different group this time, but still connecting with friends and being out and about.
I’m really grateful for the opportunities this week. Besides the public transitions of John McCain and Neil Simon there are also several others happening both in my family circle and for other close friends and their families. It’s nice to have a distraction, and to be able to share memories.
One of the hardest things with loss is that the person who dies takes your shared memories with them. That’s true with divorce, with breaking up a friendship, and especially true when a good friend or close relative dies. Getting together with my high school bunch helped me to remember, and also made me appreciate how we share those memories.
The water lantern festival (in it’s non-culturally appropriated form) is also an opportunity for remembrances. Both of the friends I attended with took the opportunity to acknowledge the people they have lost on their lanterns. I am grateful as well for the opportunity to make new memories and cultivate new friends.
I got a notice from Word Press congratulating me on my blogging anniversary. Go figure. I can’t imagine going into this with any hope of writing for 7 years, this is my 338th post. Funny how time flies when you’re having fun.
To celebrate, I had coffee and scones with a friend rather than actually posting this. Hoping when I do get around to it it’s still Monday. Lol
I’ve been doing quite a bit of out and about in the last week. Karina had me over for breakfast. I spent the weekend with my parents. Did some cooking and shopping with them. The cooler weather has made a difference. They get the new furnace/air conditioner in later this week.
It’s felt a little like fall in the air. Maybe that’s why I’ve been thinking about Lammas. I’ll refer you to past posts and take a little anniversary vacation. Thanks for reading!
I’ve been writing this blog in my head all week. I just can’t seem to find a theme I can stick with for more than a paragraph or two. Or, if I’m honest with myself, a sentence or two.
Regular readers will know a friend of mine passed away and her memorial service was this last weekend. I’m in the second or third tier of mourners. Tier one – the decision makers and those truly being overwhelmed with waves of grief. Tier two – the organizers. The ones asking the decision makers what they want and striving to make it happen. The people whose grief makes them prickly, rude, short-tempered, unclear and perfectly sure they have everything in line because keeping things in line is how they cope. Tier three – the support system for the first two tiers. The listeners. The worker bees. The one’s who are distant enough to put off their mourning until it’s convenient (at least a little more effectively).
Having the memorial made it real. That’s part of the point of course. Being gifted some mementos makes it real and personal (which it has always been, but denial is so convenient). Having nothing left to “get done” means there is no longer an excuse to put off the emotional response.
I’m sure the death certificate doesn’t say my friend died of cancer. But it is certainly the undiagnosed and untreated cancer that caused the heart failure.
I’m grateful my friend didn’t die alone at home, but had people around her who cared about her.
I’m grateful my friend went quickly, all at once, rather than having to slowly and painfully waste away.
I’m grateful her very elderly mother dared to get on a plane and put herself in the hands of a community of her daughter’s friends whom she had never met.
I’m grateful for the presence of people who spoke about areas of my friend’s life that I wasn’t privy to.
I’m angry that a cancer that large and impactful goes undiagnosed for so long. I’m angry that the complaints of a large woman (both exceptionally tall and not willowy) are dismissed by our medical community as always being about weight. I’m upset that no matter how good the insurance you’ve got, unless you know what to ask for medicine is practiced according to the insurance company guidelines rather than actual medical need.
I had breakfast today at Gilda’s Club. It’s a sort of monthly social event. At Gilda’s I am surrounded by people living with cancer, many of whom know they have no hope of a cure. I am always buoyed up by the spirit of care and acceptance. I am reminded that there is pain and sorrow, but also hope and joy.
I’m putting one foot in front of the other. Step by step.
We spent all of the 4th of July week (and both weekends) up at my folks house. It was quite the event. Small resort towns around the Brainerd Area do big celebrations. We didn’t watch any fireworks, but we could hear them. Every evening!
Because we came up, Dad got to get several things checked off his “to do” list. He went to a meeting, got his snow blower tuned up, and put new tires on the car. He also had his buddy Orion along for 3 parades and a trip up to International Day at Concordia Language Villages
Orion attended Waldsee, the German village, with his Opa as his aid for 10 years starting 20 years ago. It was fun for the two of them to return to their old stomping grounds. There were even several people there who remembered them from years gone by. The old Dean, Karl, noticed them across the way and stopped what he was doing so he and his wife could catch up with Jager and Opa.
I kept Mom occupied while the boys were out and about. Ordinarily we’d be taking things easy at home, but the air conditioning died the day I arrived. So we had our own “out and about” adventures. We decided it was too hot to be home and went out for a drive and pizza.
We collected my sister, Andrea, and ran errands in Brainerd. (That really meant lunch at Prairie Bay and Mom sitting in the air conditioned car while one or the other of us ran into the store.)
We ate pretty well at home too. When I’m there I do a lot of the cooking, or at least the meal planning. When I can stand it, I’ll enlist Dad’s help.
That’s especially true for grilling. I’m more than happy to let him set up the coals and carry things back and forth, at least most of the time. We’re still in mourning about that beautifully cooked salmon.
Dad did have a chance to redeem himself. At my request he made mussels and a fresh focaccia to go with them. Even Orion thought they were really tasty!
It was a great trip. We had a great time. It was also pretty physically demanding. The drive took at least an hour longer than usual – in both directions. The heat and humidity was draining, and it wasn’t always easy to breathe. General household chores (which I do more of up there than at home) take their toll, as do extra transfers with Orion and massage work on Mom.
Now I’m glad to be home, laying on my back on an ice pack.
Sorry about not being able to get the photos aligned properly.
Snow is coming in yet again. Not unseasonable for us here in the “cold north”. That doesn’t make it anymore pleasant when I’m stiff from shoveling and gazing longingly at the gardening catalogs filling my mailbox. I need to get in the car and run errands before the storm hits.
Orion and I listen to Sirius XM Broadway station whenever we’re in the car together. It’s the station we can agree on. We both enjoy musicals, and the Broadway repertoire includes music from every genre imaginable.
Orion is also big on filking. He has a talent for making up lyrics on the fly. He says, “If I was singing that song I wouldn’t sing it that way….” and goes on to demonstrate for me. He has some favorites. Instead of “I Could Have Danced All Night” he sings a song about being in the hospital with the catch “I Could Have Slept All Night” (if only I wasn’t woken up every 5 minutes by an alarm, a nurse, or someone wanting to stick my arm….).
Because of our shared appreciation for show tunes, Orion’s birthday present to me was a trip to the Chanhassen Dinner Theater to see Newsies. We got to go this weekend. It’s a show set at the turn of the century (not this one, but the last one) in NYC. The children of the city are working in sweatshops and on the streets. One of the jobs is hawking the day’s papers. When the big publishers decide to unexpectedly jack up the prices of the papers for the Newsies the kids decide to start a union and strike.
It’s a Disney show, so the historical content isn’t accurate. But it does reference historical events of the time. The strike that provides inspiration for the musical was instrumental in the development of child labor laws and the beginning of the 20th century.
On Sunday we celebrated “Ham Day”, in that I made a ham and invited a friend over for dinner. We also scheduled it so we could watch the Jesus Christ Superstar Live broadcast. I’m a fan of the show. I think it’s smart, musically brilliant, and generally fun. This production was impressive. It was well cast. The vocal performances were balanced.Sara Bareilles gave the best performance I’ve ever seen of Mary Magdalene’s “I Don’t Know How to Love Him”.
Somewhere I also found time to spend with my daughter. She spent most of the weekend setting up for the Easter Buffet at the pub where she works. But she deigned to include me on her Salsa dancing night. I had a good time, and even danced a little. I had more fun watching her. She shines in a crowd and really loves to dance to the Latin rhythms.
I didn’t post a blog last week. I had plenty to write about. I had photos. I theoretically had time. I just spent that time in bed recovering from being all peopled out. It was a busy week, and last week was as well.
Going through the equinox reminded me that this is all about balance. I’ve written about balance quite a bit. There is always something new for me to learn. I recognize balance is not a passive thing. I also recognize that it’s harder to maintain balance when the swing back and forth is very wide. My swing has been a little wide.
In my busy people weekend I had a great time. It turned into a weekend all about live music, what a treat! I ran into an old friend on-line. (Or as I like to remind her: I’m not her oldest friend; I’m just the one she’s known the longest.) Since I hate trying to have a real conversation through messaging (is my age showing) I asked what she was up to and if we could get together. She had plans with another of our High School friends and invited me to tag along. Music in the suburbs, good company – including the strangers who graciously shared their table, old fashioned rock-a-billy music and a lot of catching up.
Then the weekend got into full swing with both St. Patrick’s Day and Paganicon. This is Karina’s first St. Pat’s as a manager in an Irish Pub. I got several phone calls including the stories of all the “fires” that she needed to deal with. The folks I talked to when I stopped in this week had nothing but praise for her, so I suspect she rocked it. She had scheduled events at the pub all week. I went on Friday (St. Practice day) to hear Hustle Rose.
The band leader worked with Karina back in the day, so I’d met him and heard the band before. It was nice to support them both. I think they are very talented and I like their original stuff as well as their covers. David, the band leader, was even kind enough to give slightly intoxicated Mom, me, a ride home.
Part of the Paganicon line-up are the musical guests. Because I took Orion this year we were much more focused on the socializing than the workshops. Of course one of the best places to get together with folks is around the music. Saturday night is the ball, and another friend Tomi T-Time Majoros and his band stepped in when the scheduled band backed out. Even the musical guest of honor S.J. Tucker sang along. It was great to have a ball band that folks could dance too. A fun and friendly evening.
Orion and I also got to hear S.J and visit a little with her. She put out a special edition exclusive CD just for the Paganicon event. Her heart is as great as her voice.
This last weekend, as I said, was the equinox which meant ritual prep and execution. I also ran up to my folks for 24 hours (that’s 3 hours up and 3 hours back for an overnight). Dad wanted to caucus, my sister needed to do an equipment run (a hospital bed and a wheelchair coming soon for my Mom) and so someone needed to stay. Glad to be able to help even if it meant swinging that balance a little wide.
To check out my previous posts search on my blog page for:
Daylight Savings time is hard on the body, especially in the spring. I spent much of the weekend indulging my own body clock. That was great, but since I’m more of a night owl, it made the spring forward adjustment even more difficult.
I am doing better than I expected under the circumstances. I attribute that to taking some time out for a Sauna.
Sauna is a social/spiritual/cultural event. There are sauna/sweat practices in many northern cultural traditions. In the Twin Cities there is actually a club, the 612 Sauna Society that was founded to explore and share the Norse sauna traditions.
This month they’ve set up in the courtyard of the Swedish Institute. A good friend decided she’d like to try sauna (she’d never done one) and I got an invite. I chose to see this as a continuation of my birthday celebrations. Especially after last week’s snowstorm I’ve seen lots of people succumbing to the “is winter ever going to be over blues”. Part of the reason I maintain the “older you are longer you get to celebrate” philosophy is to combat that.
It was a perfect day to spend the afternoon sweating. In a Scandinavian setting sauna is usually done in cycles. You warm up to the core and then come out into the cold and cool all the way down. The “rinse repeat” can mean coming out of the sauna and jumping into the snow or a cold lake, doing a cold water splash, or just hanging out. We did three rounds, and mostly skipped the “rinse” part of the program, although it was certainly an option.
The 612 volunteers actually recommended a slower cool down. The quick splash, or even a brisk breeze at colder temperatures, can make you feel ready to return to the sauna before the core has really cooled. We drank a lot of water and cooled off by the fire. Being outside in swimsuits at 30 degrees Fahrenheit was quite sufficient, and quite pleasant.
The time in the sauna was social, but it wasn’t small talk. In many ways the sharing was as much a release of toxins as the actual sweat. There wasn’t a “timer” we were told to listen to our bodies and come out and go in as we would tolerate it. We brought water bottles and the 612 Sauna Society provided water for refills so we were very conscientious about staying hydrated throughout the experience.
It was a time without time. It was a ritual without a lot of ritual. It was an opportunity to learn more about the cultural history of sauna and about each other. It was an opportunity to get in touch and in tune with my own body rhythms. It was cleansing and healing. It was delightful.
Even better is that I can tell the cleansing and healing effects have stayed with me. My desire for just water continues to be high. My appetite is good, but not overwhelming. My aches and pains have eased up considerably. I slept really well. I’m still grumpy about the time though. It shouldn’t be this late yet!
Previous, perhaps relevant, blogs:
This is me still not feeling much like writing. At least this week I’ve been doing the part where I write my blog in my head. That’s an improvement, and better is better.
I watch everyone I know sink into the cabin fever, long winter blues at this time of year. The longer brighter days are great, but they’re not enough when we get yet another 6″ of snow. I’m grateful to have a birthday this week. It gives me something to look forward to and it gives me a reason to get out and celebrate.
I’m grateful for the neighbors, who are Karina’s age. I haven’t had to lift a shovel all weekend and I was able to get out of my driveway to spend Sunday with a good friend wandering through the Como Park Conservatory and Zoo. We are very fortunate to have this haven in the depths of winter.
When you walk in your skin celebrates. There’s moisture in the air! Your eyes delight in the variety of shades of green. The conservatory staff is very contentious about rotating the small plants though so there are always some manner of blooming orchids.
This time I was delighted by how many things were in fruit. There were limes on the lime trees, chocolate pods on the cacao, star fruit and prickly custard apple. (Now I am on a mission to try prickly custard apple or Brazilian paw paw.) We found odd buds and blooms everywhere. In the conservatory hope for spring thrives.
Thursday was an adventure. Karina had the evening off (a rare occurrence) so we’d planned for her to take me out for my birthday. Then her whiskey distributor invited her to a launch party for Jameson IPA. (They age their whiskeys in beer barrels (caskmates) and brew their Irish Pale Ale in whiskey barrels). I was game and we had a good time. It was not too big a party, probably because of the snow (the first 4″ was Thursday, the 6″ was Saturday).
We critiqued the drinks the same way we often have dinner. Debating the merits and downfalls and discussing how to use or adapt the idea. Mostly we were pleasantly surprised. Neither of us are big IPA fans, but the mixed drinks were well balanced and the caskmates added a level of nuance to the whiskey.
I’ve always maintained that the older you are, the longer you get to celebrate your birthday. I started last Thursday and I’ve got plans (so far) through most of March. That’s something else to be grateful for!
Here are a few more photos from the conservatory, in case you needed your own touch of spring:
I’ve written about the Como Zoo before:
I got to spend the weekend up at my folks helping to make a happy birthday celebration happen for my Mom. Fragile is not I word I would ever have thought to apply to my mother. She’s the strong one, who will do whatever is necessary no matter where she is at. She bounces back. Climbing mountains after surgery is something I learned from her. She’s “in charge” and keeping track of all the moving pieces at any event she attends. At 82 today, she struggles to reconcile a self image which she can no longer maintain.
She rarely goes out anymore. It’s hard for her to get around. It’s hard for her to sit in the car for any length of time. When there are a lot of distractions, or conversations going on she gets confused. My Mom has been dealing with chronic pain for a long time. Her allergies are severe and complicated enough that medicating pain isn’t an option, beyond an occasional Tylenol. Her mouth is dry, so eating and talking become impossible when she doesn’t have water at hand.
We took her 100 miles there and another 100 miles back to go out to lunch with a good sized group. I went a few days early so we could get her showered, lay out her outfit and do some massage therapy in advance. Just my presence gives her a space to gather her resources. I make sure her water glasses are always full so she doesn’t have to ask. I put food in front of her rather than quizzing her about what she might want and what is available. I do the dishes and sweep the floors, which are both really big jobs for her. She can bank a little reserve.
For her, it was more than worth it. She had a really good day. She enjoyed it so much she didn’t want to go to bed because she didn’t want the day to be over. My youngest sister couldn’t make it, but all the rest of the female children and grandchildren were in attendance. It was a girls day out. There were lots of leftovers, but she knew I would get them home and see that they were used. The wait staff sang happy birthday and fussed over her desert. We all tried to keep the table conversation with one person talking at a time. There was a lot of love.
I am so very fortunate to be able to help facilitate that kind of good day for my Mom. I’m grateful for every opportunity I have to see her out and about and having a good time. It’s a joy to watch her relax and participate and let go of the worry of being “in charge”. I wish I could do more.
Happy birthday Mom!
It’s not been a “holly jolly” kind of year. In this season, the struggle to maintain without being overwhelmed can be particularly difficult. Some of it is of course the darkness. For those of us who live in more extreme latitudes the difference in the length of days between midsummer and midwinter is considerable.
North of the Arctic circle (or South for the Antarctic) We have the land of the midnight sun. At the summer solstice the sun never sets. That means at winter solstice it never rises. Think about that for a minute. A day where the sun doesn’t rise. It’s kind of creepy.
I will tell you truthfully that even here on the 45th parallel there are winter days when it’s so dark and overcast it feels as though there is no sun. The snow helps. It reflects what little light there is and bounces it so things seem brighter. The holiday lights help. They add not only brightness but a little color to the black and white photo landscape.
The darkness can also be emotional. Birthdays during the season that get “lumped in” with everyone else’s celebrations can be great. They can also build a lifetime of resentment. A death during the season can bring people together. It can also be a wound that gets reopened every year. Being overwhelmed with Christmas Cheer, especially when that’s not part of your religion, can be an opportunity or an oppression.
Then there is the demand. There is a huge demand on time, both socially and for many people, because of year end, on the job. If you work in retail or in the food industry you can wave goodby to days off for awhile. There is a demand on the pocketbook. All that socializing costs, as do the expected gifts. When the bills are already scary this time of year can be devastating. Despite all the seasonal sales, somehow it seems that expenses still go up and up.
I lean heavily on just do it. Daily Practice becomes focused on small nitty gritty things. Cleaning up the kitchen before I go to bed is not always easy, but better to do it than not. Making my bed in the morning when I get up (even if I might want to go back) makes it less likely that I will go back. Even paying the bills is better than the alternative.
So I put my head down and write the blog, clean the kitchen, make the bed. I make the phone calls and appointments. I meet the obligations and shop the sales with an eye on my budget. I put in a few extra hours where I can hoping for some extra padding on the weekly income. I wait in eager anticipation of the Solstice. Because after the longest night each day has a little more light.