Friday, May 28, 2010

Not an orphan


Not long after my mother died nearly 5 years ago, the oddest thought popped into my head: Oh, my, I'm an orphan now.

What makes it odd is that I'm not an orphan. Well, not exactly. Because I have an "other" mother and a "father-no-papers." Their names are Kay and Ron. And I adore them.

Kay was the last wife my Daddy ever had. I wasn't thrilled when he remarried (I was in college at the time) and I was sure I'd behaved downright rudely to Kay, but she swears I never did. I still think I was brat, but Kay sees the good in people and lets the rest go. It's one of the many many things I love about her.

Several summesr ago, Kay and Ron came up to Minnesota to soak up  some North Shore (of Lake Superior) goodness. Among the many wonderful things that happened during that short visit, one that sticks with me is that I realized I adored Ron and really wanted him "adopt" me. So I asked him. And he took my request "under consideration." On the last day of their visit, Ron told me that he had decided to say yes to my request. So he's officially (no papers, though) my "other" father.

That's how I came to have a "stepmother" and "stepfather" who are married to each other. On June 1, they'll celebrate 20 years of marriage. Theirs is a relationship I watch carefully. It's hard to take my eyes off them, they're so beautiful.

Kay is probably more like me than anyone else in my family. She jumps at the chance to go on an adventure, likes big dogs, prefers clothes from outfitters like REI to dress-up attire, wears Keens, is attracted to ethnic jewelry, has a fierce streak of independence, and is an outdoor girl (she even came up to Minnesota from Austin, TX, to go kayaking with me). I also love her Georgia accent, something I wish I had.

And Ron, well, it's just hard to put into words the kind of man he is. Awesome comes to mind. Loving, smart, compassionate, witty, present, respectful, generous, kind-hearted, principled, honest, and courageous are a few others.

He's had a run of of bad luck on the health front of late. And right now he's in the hospital, beating back some pretty serious stuff. I want him out of that place in the worst possible way. I want him home, stirring his compost pile, experimenting in his garden, doing biostatistics, going to marshall arts class with Kay, eating breakfast tacos at his favorite Mexican restaurants, building schools and clinics in Mexico, watching birds from his big bed first thing in the morning, eating yummy chocolate ice cream, and pretending he's retired. I wish it were up to me. But these things happen in God's time, not mine.

So for now, I'm going to look at some pictures of Kay and Ron and their garden and beam some love and healing thoughts their way. Please feel free to join me.

Backyard serenity

Native plants in the front yard (wish I could remember the name!)

Grasses, a perennial favorite of mine

"Flourishing flora"

Kay and the fountain she built (check out the Keens!)

My hero, my father-no-papers

Blessings on you Kay and Ron!

Thursday, May 27, 2010


RockStarSon, youngest of 3, at age 6: "So, Ma, if you got one of these, there would only be room for one other person, right?"

Me: "Yep."

RockStarSon: "Hmmm, I really think you should get it."


Before the day I swore I'd never purchase another drop of gasoline some 5 years ago, I fully intended to one day buy myself a sweet little Mazda Miata.

Those days are gone, and now what I'd really like is a truck. Yep, a little beater that runs on trash. I don't think that's going to happen any time soon (unless someone wants to donate one to the "cause" *).

Meanwhile, we've all been lolling about a bit too much . . .

Ginsberg's trademark sleeping pose

Cora taking a break

Charlotte sharing her favorite spot on the "palace" with Ginsberg

. . .so Ginsberg, the girls, and I are gonna put some miles on this baby . . . 

. . .at least till enough snow falls to bring out the sled.

Please try not to be too jealous.

* Transportation for the pack, the sled, and me to mushing events

Saturday, May 22, 2010


The most precious gift we can offer others
is our presence.
When mindfulness embraces those we love,
they bloom like flowers.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Friday, May 21, 2010

Remember this guy?

The Ent that caught my eye last year at the dog park

I was just making my way through my blog roll and discovered that a photo I took made it into one of the funniest blogs I follow: Faces in Places. I feel so, well, special now!

If you haven't checked out this blog, you simply must! I swear it'll change your world view.

I see faces EVERYWHERE now. I kid you not.

This one's not the best shot, but it still cracks me up (and yes, I am easily entertained). I saw it just outside the bunkhouse where I go mushing.

Easter Island meets the Northwoods of Minnesota

Do let me know when you start seeing "faces in places," too, won't you?

Thursday, May 20, 2010


"Strive each day to make your life
purer, richer, and more luminous.
You will subtly and imperceptibly
lead all creation heavenward."

~ Omraam Mikhael Avianhow

Image from flickr

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Birthday girl

The beauties: niece Lauren, birthday girl Erin, niece Taylor

I met her a few times before she came into my life.
She was quiet and beautiful and mysterious.
She was the answer to my prayers.
I'd been a "lone" for 10 years.
My mother brought her home while I was in school.
I could think of nothing else.
I pedaled my no-speed bike home as fast as my skinny legs allowed that day.
My mother was tenderly feeding her fruit cocktail as she sat in the thrift-store high chair.
Her eyes like saucers as I burst through the door.
Her eyes have always been like saucers.
That night she sang herself to sleep in her crib.
Her crib, so close by my single bed.
I didn't sleep much.
I watched through the darkness.
I listened through the darkness.
I loved through the darkness.
My sister.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


What scheme is Ginsberg hatching now?

Mr. B sent me a text message Monday just as the plane I had boarded was about to take off.

Mr. B: Guess who figured out how to get out of the house?

Me: Just tell me you found him.

Mr. B: I found him.

Me: OK, now you can tell me how.


I decided not to tempt fate, and 3 hours later I got the answer: Ginsberg, my 4-month-old Alaskan Husky pup had figured out how to open the front door.

I suspect he learned quite by accident. He's big enough now to leap up and look outside the front door window, and he's particularly prone to do so if someone he adores is outside, which is pretty much everyone.

But a part of me thought it was just a fluke, a one-time episode. Until tonight.

My sweet pup, Charlotte, who is mightily (and hopelessly) vying for 2nd place in the pack, was giving me the old hang-dog look after I returned from walking all 3. Sucker that I am, I decided she needed a little extra attention and that I should give her another spin around the block. I let Ginsberg and Cora (reigning alpha dog) back in the house, closed the front door, and off we went.

Upon my return home, my heart sank. The front door was wide open. The two left behind were nowhere in sight. Ginsberg, it seems, had just scored more 2nd-place points with Cora by opening the door so they could both enjoy a "free" run. 

Fortunately, the story has a happy ending. After calling his name cheerfully (as we learned in puppy kindergarten) for 5 minutes, he came bounding toward me soaking wet from  somewhere down the street. One runaway captured.

They do love their free runs!

Mr. B had gone the other direction calling Cora's name. And out of nowhere, the big hairy beast came dashing up, plumage of a tail wagging, tongue hanging from her grinning face. 

The pack is reunited now, and I have learned not to underestimate what I have been told over and over and over again by musher after musher:

Alaskan Huskies are notorious escape artists.

Is it possible he could learn to open a dead-bold? 

For now, all I can say is WHEW!
Always looking for Cora's approval

 Plumb tuckered out: Ginsberg & Charlotte

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Calling all hopeless romantics . . .

Picture in your mind's eye the ever-delightful radio show, A Prairie Home Companion

Now, zoom back in time about 90 years.

White-washed houses . . . hard-working bachelor farmers . . . green hills . . . fields of corn . . . immigrants from Europe facing hard times . . . a world war . . . suspicions of "others" who are "different"

Such is the setting for a movie I simply can't get out of my mind. It's, well, sweet. But not in a sappy way. It's just plain lovely.

I'm talking about Sweet Land, a movie adapted from a short story written by Will Weaver, someone I had the privilege of hearing deliver the commencement address when RockStar son graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris last year.

Here's a quote from the director:


Sweet Land tells the story of Inge Altenberg, a German mail-order bride sent to Minnesota in the paranoid and nationalistic days following the First World War to meet her future husband, Olaf, a Norwegian bachelor farmer. After hurdling the obstacles laid out for them by the government, the church and the community, they finally get together in the same house and Inge cooks for Olaf. As he enjoys the meal that is apparently unlike anything he has ever experienced,he asks,“Is this German food” 

Inge replies, “No, just food.” 


Love builds slowly in this film, but quietly, tenderly, and awkwardly it gathers the kind of strength that ultimately transcends the often-unchallenged barriers that separate us even today. 

It's a small-budget film that uses its constraints to its advantage.

I found it sumptuous.

Inge would say it's "just food."

You be the judge. 

Monday, May 3, 2010

May you find beauty

"Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play and pray, where nature heals and gives strength to body and soul alike."
~ John Muir
Image by vgm8383

Saturday, May 1, 2010

'flash of a firefly . . .'

"What is life?
Is is the flash of a firefly in the night
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime
It is the little shadow which runs across the grass
and loses itself in the Sunset."

~ Crowfoot
a leader of the Blackfoot nation

Image by lumierefl


Blog Widget by LinkWithin