Category Archives: seasonal

Take 2

This is the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Plant sale. Another gray day. But much more productive.

This is the third blog post I’m writing today.  The first one was lovely, until it wasn’t.   I started somewhere and ended up doing a writing catharsis exercise.  No one needs to read that.  Self indulgence happens sometimes.  It generates ideas sometimes.  It generates beautiful tortured poetry sometimes.  This time it needed to be put aside so I could move on.

Blog post number 2 was perfect.  I took my theme and ran with it.  I had photos all cropped and pasted just where I wanted them.  I had a message, love, family and all that.  I also somehow managed to create it as a page rather than a blog post.  I set it aside and ran off to a doctors appointment thinking I could fix it when I got back.  Nope.  Somehow I managed to erase all but the first and last sentence.  Irretrievable.

Mother’s Day at Eat Street Social. I didn’t think to pester the waiter to do it again after our surprise guests arrived.

So here I am again thinking it’s Monday after Mother’s Day and I really “should” put out something.  Orion promised me he was looking forward to reading what I wrote while he was at his day program.  Haha.  (I think he just wanted to see the photos he was in.)  But now I’m tired and crabby and the sun has disappeared behind the clouds.

In the post I lost I talked about gardening and spring and after I wrote it I was looking forward to getting my hands in the dirt this afternoon.  Given the sudden shift in the weather, and the fact I still have some writing to do, I don’t think that’s going to happen.

Some days just go like that.  Maybe the sun will come out tomorrow.

Lot’s of herbs and tomatoes, eggplant, squash, tomatillo and a begonia. I’ll get to it eventually, honest!

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Some Assembly Required

I went to the car wash. Then I parked outside under a tree. Now I need to go again.

We went from 2 feet of snow to 85 degrees up here in Minnesota.  It’s crazy weather and has me behind in the yard.  I’m always behind in the yard, but this year that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.  The consensus up here is that it’s now summer and we had 1 beautiful day of spring.

Some of the season’s work isn’t actually in the yard at all.  I took a load to Goodwill.  I took my car to the car wash.  I’m trying to figure out what to do with all the “stuff” I’ve brought back from my parents house.  It’s not easy keeping motivated.

One day this weekend I threw my hands in the air and bought one of those outdoor storage benches.  I wanted to get the yard furniture cushions out of my dinning room.  I expected to shove a bin in the back of my car.  Silly me.  Instead it was a box, and directions.

This is before I realized it was supposed to be a 2 person job.

Apparently the current world view is that pictographs are much easier to follow than words.  That’s only true if you’re in translation with a bad editor, but hey.  I was more than half way through the project before I got to the step that said, this step requires 2 people.  I DON’T HAVE 2 PEOPLE!   But I am determined and managed despite having “inadequate tools” for the job.

I seem to be in the one step forward two steps back mode.  (I know, it’s supposed to go the other way around but it sure doesn’t feel like it.)  I did 5 minutes of trimming brush before I got wacked on the head with a buckthorn.   Little branch, hit me just right.  Thorn cut the skin, head wound, lots of bleeding but actually no big deal.  Still, it made me much less ambitious about the project.

Gardening is dangerous work!

I did give myself a reward by making a lovely dinner.  If only I could figure out how to use the grill….

Dinner was lovely though.

Cabin Fever

My indoor plants are trying to be hopeful

I’m tired of snow.  So is everyone else.  There’s a whole lot of grumpy going on.

This last batch I’m sure many people just left to melt.  Indeed, the parts I didn’t shovel are pretty much cleared with the day’s sunshine.  Unfortunately I couldn’t just ignore it.  Orion’s transportation depends on a clear path from the road to the house.  Pushing the wheelchair in even 1″ of snow is a whole different chore.

I have a huge blister on my palm.  It’s from a sugar burn I got last Thursday.  I’ve been fortunate that I haven’t broken it yet, but it is a challenge.  It made shoveling especially exciting this morning.

My Facebook feed is filling up with photos of blooms.  Even here people have their seeds started indoors and there are pretty little sprouts peaking up.  Not me.  I can’t even bring myself to look through the garden catalogs.

I tried picking up some tulips.  The “happy flowers” helped for a day or two.  I tried a fire in the fireplace.  That was great until I ran out of inside wood and couldn’t bring myself to trudge through the snow to unbury more.  I tried baking (see above sugar burn).  Even getting deep into a good book is difficult.

I’m antsy.  I have spring fever.  I want to open the windows.  I want some light.  Instead I’m curled up in a sweater with a cup of hot tea scrolling through re-runs.

What’s your cure for cabin fever?

It’s a Musical

more snow is in the forecast (and in my bones)

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….).

The Chanhassen was kind enough to post an article about the actual history

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”.

A flight of Scotch, hand picked by Karina

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.

Looking for trouble?

Equinox

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.

old friends

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.

Paganicon!

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.

“St. Practice Day” at Claddaugh with Hustle Rose

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.

Sweet of SJ to sign the CD for Orion

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:

Balance

Equinox

Ostara

Paganicon

Losing Time

Photo by Gianna Olson (one of our group this weekend)

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.

The 612 Sauna Society sets up their portable sauna

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.

Inside is inviting and peaceful

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.

Refreshing to be in a swimsuit in the snow

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:

Daylight Savings

My first Daylight Savings post

It’s not the first time I’ve been to the Swedish Institute in birthday season

Resistance and Gratitude

Somebody appreciaes the snow

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 have the best neighbors!

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.

It’s a mini tropical vacation

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).

Don’t know what we’re getting into, but we’re game.

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.

“After party” because Karina needed to do a little more “homework” checking out local hot spots

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:

Even the ferns are having babies!

Cocoa pods in the tree

Bright colors breaking up the greens

 

I’ve written about the Como Zoo before:

Apparently it’s a good place for me to go when I’m “resistant”

They’ve finished the expansion, but we didn’t see any great apes Sunday

 

Happy Birthday Mom!

How thoughtful to write Happy Birthday on the desert plate

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.

There are a few of us when we all get together and we can be quite raucous.

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.

Karina went to work straight from lunch. They were having an “ugly sweater” party. She made us all smile in her get up.

Happy birthday Mom!

Darkness

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.

Even a little bit of color helps

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.

Even thinking about a fire seems like a lot of work.

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.

Deck the Halls….

Yule Tree and presents

I seriously debated pulling out all the decorations this year.  It’s not as though I’ll be entertaining.  I’m not even sure I’ll get to baking (although I’m thinking I’d like to try.)  Thing is with so much greed and anger in the world, and the days getting longer and darker, and with unseasonably warm weather and no snow I’m struggling to have any holiday spirit.

Found a spot for the horses and reindeer to gather

Of course that’s all the more reason to dig out the boxes and dig in.  That’s what I’ve been doing in fits and starts all week.  Clearing space felt pretty good.  I’ve needed a new printer for awhile and it’s been sitting in the box since my pre – Thanksgiving shopping.  I pulled the old one out and set up the new one knowing I would put the tree in front of it.

I cleared out shelf space as well.  Since I’ve not had  a kitchen my coffee/tea cups have been sitting on the buffet.  It was definitely time for that runner to be washed.  I did a little dusting (and in a few places some serious dusting).  I also had to make space, in my room full of kitchen boxes, for the ornament boxes to live for the season.

Traded space for my holiday mugs and runner

Orion listens to holiday music all year round.  We have a rule about our shared music spaces (like the car): Holiday music only after Thanksgiving through New Years Day.  So I’ve been playing the holiday music channel during dinner and leaving it on over the weekends.  I have yet to put on my CDs, but I’m getting there.

I’ve spent my evenings watching Hallmark movies with a bowl of popcorn in my lap.  I’ve also had a needle and thread at hand and bit by bit have managed to string a sufficient amount to trim the tree.  I make a point of turning on the lights.  When I’m up early, especially if it’s a grey day, I find myself turning them on in the morning and leaving them to brighten up the house.

The tree again, view from my chair.

Packed up the summer seashells and dug out the bells

I pick up presents when I see them and stash them in my closet.  So I pulled everything down to inventory what I have and what I still need to buy.  Apparently I’ve been busy because I only have a gift card left to purchase.  Santa often makes a last minute online run for movies, but Santa’s budget is bleak.  It’s a relief to know I don’t have a lot of shopping left.  Well, except for the grocery store if I get to that baking…………

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