Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Clare's Well moment

by Kathleen Kimball-Baker

Pulling into the gravel driveway,
dust plume in my wake,
my heart bursts
as if barn doors have been flung open
and all the creatures freed
and only love is left

Lacy greets me first--
fur, burrs, and chiding a
lazy yellow cat on the stoop

And then I say
"I'm home!" -- as if it's true

From a place within the farm house
where lunch is simmering,
a lithe figure, wooden spoon
in her hand, rushes forward
and plants a kiss on my cheek.
(Sister) Aggie!

There is no welcome like
one inspired by a saint.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

3 Big Things

I cried twice yesterday, and did my best not to cry a third time. Here's why:

Evidence that love prevails
I sure didn't expect to see in my lifetime what happened yesterday. Marriage became at last simply marriage. Not same-sex marriage or traditional marriage. Marriage. When I read the news about the Supreme Court's decision, it was as if the  Berlin Wall was coming down again. Like a part of one's body that is always in pain, some region of my heart had learned to live with hurt for a long time. That hurt came from the very idea that this country, built on principles of inalienable rights, could withhold so fundamental a privilege from a segment of its people.

Yesterday, I cried. The tears were of joy. But they were tears of deep relief that the pain was gone. I didn't even realize it had hurt so much until that moment.

I am a woman who loves a man, so I will never know the depth of the pain that discrimination has inflicted on women who love women and men who love men. But if the pain I felt for them and for my country was any indication, I think it would have flattened me.

Now it is behind us, but we must never forget the wrongness of the many years before. Love will always prevail.

Amazing grace
Who knew? I sure didn't. He paused to summon his courage, and then the first stanzas of heart-breaking beauty were lifted up in song before a congregation of mourners.

I never doubted the gifts of this man, not even when so many detractors would have me believe otherwise. But Barack Obama's voice yesterday was truly a surprise, a deep, resonant, confident surprise. Where has this voice been for so many years?

I was driving on the freeway when I heard our nation's president boldly and without accompaniment begin to sing Amazing Grace as part of his eulogy for another man who had been gunned down during a violent act of racial hatred. The emotions were so overwhelming, I had to pull off the road, because I could no longer see through the tears. Obama's voice pierced through something yesterday, and it was healing. 

That moment is behind us now, but I'm pretty sure it will remain unforgettable. I would like to think that someday, again love will prevail.

Min-nesota nice 
My hubby picked up the first clue. The parking space kept exclusively for patrons of this tiny Chinese restaurant was gone. Ever the optimist, I suggested that maybe it was part of a new leasing agreement. But when we walked in the door, the air had altered. Min was nowhere to be found. Nor was her husband.

I can't begin to tell you the dread I felt. We've gone to Kwan's Chinese Cuisine for years. It's been one of those incredible little secrets -- constants, really -- that you share only with people for whom you have great affection. Kwan's is where you find red red pleather booths, plastic replicas of jade sculpture, daily specials at $6.99 that come in raised stainless steel dishes with domed tops, and best of all, two of the most reliably cheerful people I've ever known.

Min and her husband came to Minnesota from China one day before the biggest snow storm I've ever experienced in nearly 30 years in this state. And somehow they stuck it out for years. Min knows her regulars' first names and what they're going to order before they say the words. She's pretty much the only one who takes orders, and she moves around the place like a surgeon. Her husband, when he isn't cooking, can be seen hunched over the table closest to the kitchen practicing calligraphy or preparing green beans.

They and their restaurant have been comfort people, place, and food to my husband and I. But we managed to suss out with discreet questions here and there that they'd sold the restaurant, were taking a "vacation" in China, and their return to the US was uncertain.

Whoa. It was like taking a blow to the belly. But I managed not to cry this time. Maybe I was tapped out.

I don't know if I'll ever see Min and her husband again. It's hard to think those days are behind us. But to be sure, I will never forget them, and love will prevail.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

There's a new girl in town

I'm so excited to introduce to you the newest member of of my mushing team: Agate.
Or Aggie. 
Aggie has a "parti" eye - that's when part of the eye has other colors. So pretty! Like a pinwheel!
Aggie came into our lives from the Ohio kennel of the amazing Amanda Povraznik. Aggie is 1/2 Seppala Siberian, 1/2 Alaskan Husky and she's absolutely perfect - all 42 pounds of her, which is mostly legs!

Aggie is roughly the same age as Ginsberg (who's being a complete poop about our new team mate) and a girl with a TON of drive! That's exactly what've we've needed to get us down the trail. While Ginsberg has been a wonderful wheel dog (the dog that helps steer the sled and is closest to the sled), he's just not ever been focused enough to run solo lead. Aggie on the other hand will ONLY run lead. So they're a perfect match.

She's an adorable "talker" who woo-woo-woos up a storm. She's crate-trained, house-broken, and rides in a car like a dream. 

I've taken her to the dog park a couple times, and she's an excellent judge of doggie character. 

Aggie is completely fascinated with airplanes and migrating geese!
I've seen her charm the heck out of a little Bichon with two front legs that work and two back lacks attached to wheels. He rolled as fast as he could to keep up with her. She works her magic especially well with shy dogs and will speak her mind when she thinks other dogs are being too rough or ganging up on a smaller pup.

We're completely smitten, and can't wait to get out for some spring training with our scooter.

So far, I've had people tell me she looks wolfie, like a fox, and like a coyote! So silly. She's just a gorgeous little sled dog who has made our world a lot sillier and much more delightful!

Now, if I can just get Ginsberg to stop being such a grump!

Monday, February 2, 2015

A friend and I kind of RAN into each other on Sunday

So I have this pal who works at the University of Minnesota, one building away from where I work. I hardly ever see him on campus. 

But we kinda ran into each other Sunday at the Subaru Sled Dog Race at the City of Lakes Loppet. His name is Ricq and he races Samoyeds. 

The story behind the shot is that I was on my belly on the frozen ground, elbows firmly planted to steady the camera so I could get some good action shots as the teams flew by seconds after the start. The very icy and fast trail was not especially well marked, and Ricq's team (not Ricq, of course) figured going "haw" (left) looked like a great fun.  

I just kept snapping and thinking to myself, "Hmmm . . . I wonder if this is one of those times when the object in the mirror (or viewfinder) is closer that it appears?" Until I heard Ricq shout:

And here are two amazing things that followed:
  1. He missed me by millimeters, if that much, and
  2. Nary a swear word left this man's mouth. 
Frankly, I thought I was toast, which, oddly enough, is one of the reasons I like this sport so much: the THRILL! By the time I opened my eyes, another musher friend had grabbed his leaders and redirected them back on the trail.

He finished the rest of race unscathed. So did I.

But still . . . I just didn't know there was such a thing as a musher who refrains from swearing when he or she is about to collide with a tree -- or an amateur photographer. Until Sunday.

I lived to tell the tale, and I'm here to tell you, there really are gentleman mushers!


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