Saturday, February 28, 2009

What I'd rather be doing....

In lead: Uno-Tuk and Chloe
At wheel: Eleanor and Balto
Driving: "BBK"
Holding up a tree: DJ
When: March 2008
Why not right now?: Only God knows
What I'm doing instead: Blogging
What I'm doing next: Finishing up some work before my brain checks out
What I'm supposed to be doing: Attending a birthday party
What I did most of the day: Rested my brain
What it looks like outside: Beautiful...blanketed with dusk-colored snow

Friday, February 27, 2009

Why I love Chinese restaurants

Ever since I can remember, I've been going to Chinese restaurants. I love them beyond reason.

My mom told me that she and her family would take me to their favorite haunts when I was a toddler in Houston. I'm not sure, but I think they may have preferred Chinese cuisine to their own Mexican food--and we even have cousins who run their own chain of Mexican restaurants!

When I was in grade school in Palo Alto in the 60s, my mom, dad, and I would go every Friday to an establishment in Menlo Park that served spicy Chinese food. I loved going with my parents, loved learning to use the chopsticks, loved the low lighting and red-velvety walls, and especially loved the steamy paper-wrapped chicken and sizzling rice soup.

In Minnesota, where I've lived for 22 years, I have two favorite spots: The Great Wall and Kwans. And while I still love the food, I find that I absolutely adore the proprietors.

The lovely man who owns The Great Wall knows the names of each of my kids and he keeps up with their activities and whereabouts. He often comes by our table to visit for a bit. Once when Sean (my eldest son) hurt his ankle in soccer, Andy brought out a tube of Chinese ointment and gave it to him. When my daughter Laura was looking for a job, he encouraged her to work there. But the most amazing tale involves Erik, who worships with his whole heart and stomach the sesame chicken dish at Andy's. He loves it so much, he would spend his own hard-earned grocery-bagging money to buy it. The folks knew exactly who was placing a phone order for sesame chicken with extra rice. "Baker, right? It'll be ready in 10 minutes." So when it came time for Erik to graduate from high school, Andy provided endless servings of sesame chicken for his open house. Now, how's that for generous?

I've known her for years, but yesterday was the first time I actually learned her name. I joined 2 pals for dinner at Kwans, something we do from time to time to catch up while we laugh ourselves silly. Last night with all the snow that fell, the place was practically empty. So Min sat down with us as she took down our orders, which she really doesn't have to do because we're so predictable. We ended up getting very silly about names and we started calling her "Mean Min" and she learned that my nickname is "KKB" but she kept getting confused and calling me "BBK," which just made us all the more giggly.

One thing led to another and Min, looking out the window at the drifting snow, asked us if we remembered the Halloween snowfall of 1991. That was the year that snow came down as the trick-or-treaters were making their rounds and didn't stop till nearly 3 feet had piled up. Min and her husband had arrived from China Oct 30. Let me repeat that. They moved from China to Minneapolis one day before one of the biggest snowfall in decades. Min to this day remembers with great fondness how Minnesota drivers stopped to help them get their car unstuck several times. She still can't get over how no one will accept money for the help they provide on those snowy roads. (It's just one of those "Minnesota nice" things we get ribbed about but really is nice.)

So the evening drew to a close at Kwans and Min divvied up our checks and said how much "BBK" owed and we cackled again and paid our bills. And as we walked out the door, I happened to notice something I'd never seen before. On a bulletin board right by the cash register was a little round red sticker with the following words: I voted.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


"We are here but for a little while
to bear the beams of love."

--William Blake

I took this picture last April in Saguaro National Park on the first vacation Randy and I took alone since we were married 28 years earlier. Don't the cacti look like they're reaching toward heaven? We had 8+ inches of snow and drifting today. I'd show you a picture of that, too, but I lost my camera last fall, and unlike my little iPhone (Feb 24 post), it hasn't found its way home yet.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Magic eye

"The universe is full of magical things
patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper."

--Eden Phillpotts

From Word for the Day at

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What are the chances?

So, I had a little iPhone that Randy bought me as a gift. I especially appreciated how idiot-proof it was. Over time, I grew fond of it. And one day I discovered that I was rather attached to it.

I came to that realization because I lost it. On the bus. I wasn't exactly devastated, but I did feel, I'm afraid, a little lost myself. I retraced my steps and I called MetroTransit lost-and-found for two days, only to hear
that it hadn't been turned and probably wouldn't be.

It took a couple weeks to stop feeling so sad about it. And I learned to work with an old phone that once belonged to my son Erik, and even came to appreciate how I could use it while wearing my winter gloves. But I still missed my iPhone, which is just so silly when you think about it.

And then....

Last week I heard from my dear friend Julia. She had just received an e-mail from friends she'd been thinking about recently and hadn't seen in a long time. They had found an iPhone--with her name and number in the contacts. And, yes, it was my phone.

The little phone had been in a snow bank a couple streets from my bus stop, along with another one that apparently was stolen. A recent thaw had exposed them.

Now, I ask you, what are the chances?

Sometimes Julia calls God "Stella."

That Stella. I just love her sense of humor.

Monday, February 23, 2009

To love so much

One afternoon, when Erik was 4 years old, he flung his little arms around me and said,
"I just love you so much."

And so I asked him,
"What does that mean, to love so much?"

He pondered a moment.

And then he answered.

"Your breathing helps my breathing."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Coming to my senses

"The Guest House"
by Rumi

This being human is a guest-house
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture

still, treat each guest honorably
He may be clearing you
out for some new delight.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Day 10 post ice slippage

Thank heavens for pals, podcasts, pets...

Funny cards, a beautiful bouquet of flowers, pictures of babies, loving words, rides to the doctors, cheerful phone calls, homemade cookies, homemade dinners, prayers. I am a lucky lady to have received all these gifts. Thank you.

I just listened to the remarkable yoga instructor Matthew Sanford, author of the memoir Waking, talk about reclaiming his entire body after an car accident left him paraplegic at age 13. I needed to hear his message. Maybe we all do.

(As soon as I figure out how, I'll embed a video here.)

Here's what "resting my brain" looks like. That's Charlotte, the healing dog. I like what Andrej the acupuncture wizard said recently about pets:
"I think one of the things about pets is how they mark time for us. How many people comment that they got their cat right when such-and-so happened, or they've had their dog longer than their spouse, etc. And since pets are the perfect emotional projection device... well... I'll let you ponder that. "
Thank you Andrej. Thank you Charlotte.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I fell on an icy sidewalk yesterday, crash-landed on the back of my head, and have a concussion. I'm supposed to rest my brain and limit screen I'm signing off for as long as I can stand it.
The ice may be slippery, but it sure is beautiful.
I rest my case.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

New law?

"There's a self expansive aspect of gratitude. Very possibly it's a little known law of nature:
The more gratitude you have,
the more you have to be grateful for."
--Elaine St. James
I love starting my day with this
wonderful Web site's Word for the Day feature.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


"Humankind's survival depends on our ability to stop rushing."
--Thich Nhat Hanh
Peace is Every Step

Monday, February 9, 2009

Full moon

Can you possibly trump a full moon on a clear Minnesota winter night? You can't. But a full moon rising over Lake Superior in August is also a sight to behold, a promise of days to come.

Behold, a promise...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Breakfast at Maria's cafe

Every Sunday morning, our family congregates at Maria's Cafe on Franklin Street. Amost every Sunday. The size of the gathering depends on who's in town and awake early enough. The service is heavenly, the corn pancakes are devine, the time with each other a God-send. Always room for one more. 9:30 am. Ask for Amber.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


"But I understood all of a sudden that my family is like this old sweater--it keeps unraveling, but then someone figures out how to sew it up one more time; it has lumps and then it unravels again, but you can still wear it; and it still keeps away the chill."
--Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies

Friday, February 6, 2009

Sweet prince

I got Randy's text just minutes before he walked in the door: "Loro died."

The squawky Red-headed Mexican parrot who joined our family 3 years ago passed away today at the vet's, just as he was coming out of anesthesia. Loro needed his beak trimmed twice a year. Like most things Randy brings home, Loro was a castoff. He couldn't fly. He couldn't talk. His beak was deformed, and so were his feet. He'd been abandoned, and that's a quality Randy can never resist in a living being.

Loro somehow always knew the minute Randy's feet first touched the floor in the morning, and he could dependably tell us when Randy's car pulled up. Loro would squawk louder and louder and louder till Randy took him from his cage, set him on his shoulder, and walked around slightly hunched. Rather like a resigned pirate.

Loro was 32, a lucky bird who found a rescuer who adored him. And sadly, Randy has lost a creature who loved him back with abandon.

Grief is so raw, isn't it? And by the grace of God, we move on, never forgetting, always protecting a spot so tender, a fleeting memory will let loose a flash flood of tears.

Randy drove all the way from St. Paul to Minneapolis, holding his beloved bird close to him. At home, we sat and wept, held and stroked Loro. All the other animals--the two dogs and the cat--paid their last respects, too, sniffing, pushing their wet noses along Loro's feathers, and then snuggling next to Randy or climbing onto his lap.

In his death, Loro's beautiful green wings enfolded him as if he was wrapped in the arms of a feathered celestial being.

Good night, sweet prince. May flights of angels...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Remembering Longfellow

I have a lovely, wilted copy of the Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Found it at my favorite resale shop. It fits nicely in my hand, the pages are felty, and on the faded red-cloth cover is stamped in gold a torch-bearer in mid stride.

Outside, the night air is warming just a bit, and so the closing lines from the poem "Woods in the Winter" beckoned:

Chill airs and wintry winds! my ear
Has grown familiar with your song;
I hear it in the opening year, --
I listen and it cheers me long.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


"The most radical thing a woman can do
is rest when she is tired."
--Bumper sticker

Monday, February 2, 2009

Mighty cold out there

I've come to love winter. Good thing. I live in Minnesota. But I'm a half-breed (as my Dad liked to say) from Texas, so loving Minnesota winters is a big deal. I don't have the right genes for this place. But I've got the heart. Still, the cold got to me today: 4 degrees and blustery.  

So, for those who are braving the cold tonight...

May you find a break from the wind
May the night be short, but the dreaming be long
May the sunrise come soon enough
May you find what you seek
I want to know your story


Blog Widget by LinkWithin