Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Technical Difficulties

I know, all of you are waiting patiently for a picture of me. Because I know all of you are curious as to how a peri-menopausal goddess looks. For those of you who haven't looked up the term peri-menopausal, it has nothing to do with vampirism which would render me unable to be photographed at all! At any rate, Colleen managed to capture me Sunday afternoon in some most flattering overcast light. In various corners of my backyard. What we seem to have going here is a Mac versus Windows incompatibility issue. Colleen e-mailed me a photo and while the file will download successfully to my computer I am unable to find an application that will open the darned thing! So I decided to out-think my electronic cohort by copy/pasting the url of the photo attachment directly into the blog! But that didn't work, either. I guess we're all going to have to be just a little more patient until Colleen gets all the photos cropped and polished and burned onto a cd. Because I'm most certain that my primitive computer skills can deal with that. I am not a technophobe! I actually have an iPod and possess the ability to add to my music library and create a playlist from that library. And then go so far as to download that playlist onto my Shuffle! Both of my geek sons have informed me (with a wicked gleam in their eyes) that it's a good thing all the iPod incarnations contain something called backward compatibility. Otherwise my ancient music wouldn't play on it. I sweetly reply to them that the reason they are both so very smart is because their smart mother drank her milk and took her vitamins when she was pregnant with them. So there.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Not Photogenic

My friend Colleen is a national award winning graphic designer. She is also a great photographer and a bit of a perfectionist. Okay, seeking perfection is an all or nothing proposition, it's not something that can be done by degree. Colleen is a perfectionist! But in a way that I understand and fully support. We finally got our exhausting personal schedules to line up yesterday and she came over armed with fresh-baked bread, salmon spread, grapes and cheese. And her camera. And we attempted for hours to get some acceptable pics of yours truly to post here. We had hoped to go outside and take advantage of the gray, diffuse lighting but the gray, diffuse light turned into a downpour of rain. So we experimented indoors with lighting, props and costumes and did our best to come up with a decent picture of me. But I neglected to tell her one thing. I'M NOT PHOTOGENIC!!!! Colleen is kind and says I'm a difficult subject to capture but I know the truth. The lens does not love me. When captured on film or digitally I can almost gurantee the result will be from my bad side, and i seem to have a limitless supply of them. And this isn't a confidence issue, I also am aware that I am a very attractive woman who cleans up nicely. I am simply much better live than Kodak. On the plus side we did spend several enjoyable hours together and consumed the contents of nearly two bottles of wine along with the lovely treats she came bearing. And she got re-acquainted with Newton and Einstein. Last summer when I adopted them from Colleen's little farm north of town she was sad to part with them. Don't cry for her, however, she still has 27 cats, three llamas, a dog, and several of the most personable chickens I have ever encountered to keep her company. Einstein was skittish at first but was soon cuddling right up to her. Newton, who was the most outgoing of that crop of kittens, just would not warm up to her at all, maybe he has some lingering issues from kittenhood with his first adoptive mother. I have had a chat with him this morning and he is aware that I expect much better behavior from him today when she returns to attempt once more to capture me in a flattering light. The rain has stopped and the sun is out so maybe we'll get those outdoor shots this afternoon. Between now and then I have coffee to drink, a Sunday paper to peruse and piles of laundry to tackle. With a little luck, the right light, and Colleen's expert eye I should have a photo or two to post here tonight.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Shrinking Family Tree

Maybe this is just another aspect of being over forty. Like growing hair in odd places. And experiencing peculiar hormonal shifts. And realizing that if I had started standing on my head twenty years ago that possibly I could have begun counter-acting the effects of gravity on certain body parts. But it seems that my family tree has been shrinking in a very real way. It's certain that it was on something of a decline prior to my realization, but that's part of my point. Things have changed according to my personal perspective and that's the only way anything becomes real rather than a statistic or a news story. Just over seven years ago I lost my last living grandparent, my maternal grandmother Esther. The Norwegian one. The one who would stir up a cake out of her head, her way of saying sans recipe, and toss it in the oven along with whatever was roasting for dinner to make optimal use of the heat that was generated. She picked up rosemaling later on in life, that's Norsky for rose painting, and painted a lovely profusion of flowers and scrollwork on pretty much everything in sight. She and my grandfather were married for over fifty years, something I admire, especially from the standpoint that so few couples from my generation will accomplish that. Esther taught me a love of gardening, the importance of family, and an appreciation for what I have. Since she departed this life three of her four children have died, leaving my mother the lone survivor of her family of origin. And a month ago Mom was diagnosed with stage III multiple myeloma. The prognosis is grim but she is determined to go forward with treatment with the hope it will put the MM into remission. This is all happening in a surreal fashion for me because Mom lives 1700 miles away. And I am grateful to my sister who lives near her for shouldering the burden of helping her through this difficult time. I feel sad and angry and helpless about my mother's illness. It's a reminder of the random and ravaging way life can throw any of us a curve and see how we cope. As well as how absolutely important it is to be present in my own life and recognize how very precious it is.

Friday, March 16, 2007

My Magical Plant

I lived in a dormitory my freshman year in college. The northwest corner room on the third floor with a picturesque view of I-94 out the window. I believe there were thirty-two girls living on the floor. Thirty of us survived the first year. A girl named Diane left in the first couple of weeks. In that short period of time she came to the conclusion that she preferred the life she had come from to the academic/party atmosphere she had just taken the plunge into. Sometime later in the fall a girl across the hall from the room I shared with Shelly from Hibbing also left. Linda left rather quickly and travelled light, she gave away many of her possessions as she was packing to leave. She had a number of plants in the room she shared with some girl from Aberdeen, SD, so many plants that their room seemed to be jungle-like to me. Linda gave me one of her plants. I pretended to be thrilled. Well, maybe not thrilled, but at least pleasant if puzzled at her gift. It was an odd looking plant. Kind of a stick in some soil with two leathery looking, battered leaves perched near the top of said stick. I set it on my windowsill. A couple of days later as I was watering it, both leaves fell off. I felt like Charlie Brown when he hung the ornament on the pitiful little Christmas tree and feared he had killed it. I was now the proud owner of a stick in some dirt in a cut-off creme rinse bottle. Being a procrastinator I did not throw the thing away. And a week or so later I discovered tiny shoots protruding from the dents where the two original leaves had dropped from. I thought, hmmm. The tiny sprouts continued to grow and soon were sporting new leaves. Over the course of that winter it grew like crazy and seemed to thrive on my brown-thumbed neglect. Cool, I thought. A plant that I can't kill. I came to learn that the plant was called a hoya. A tropical plant that is actually a parasite, it lodges itself opportunistically on trees and sometimes ends up killing the hand that feeds it. It has been known to grow and twine about whatever is in the way, even the tree branch that is its source of water and life. The hoya is almost magically heliotropic, you can watch the newest growing tendrils track across the room in a dance with the moving light of the sun. I was often asked if my hoya had ever bloomed for me and the reply was always no. I was told that they prefer lots of water/sparse watering, fertilizer/never to fertilize, direct light/a light filled room in order to bloom. I inadvertently tried all of these combinations as I moved from address to address and placed my hoya in whatever window seemed the most suitable. Over the years it grew into a monster of a plant with resplendent waxy, deep green leaves. I gave cuttings from it to probably a dozen people, about half of whom reported back to me that their cutting had bloomed. What nerve! I went so far one time as to take a cutting and place it in another room at the other end of the house to see if I could fool it into blooming. Nope. Then, ten years ago I moved the hoya into my small sunroom in the new addition on my home. It has an east-facing patio door that creates a lovely pool of morning light, bright but indirect. This, it seemed, was what my hoya had wanted all along. It developed many blooming nodes that would produce an umbrella shaped display of tiny, pink, star shaped flowers that emitted an intoxicating, honeysuckle scent. It was a miracle to me. After twenty-five years I had finally gotten it right and it bloomed reliably for years, producing these lovely little blossoms from March through September. Imagine my heartbreak when a year ago I discovered that it was infested with some nasty little mite-like bugs that resisted eviction as well as eradication. The infestation turned out to be systemic and I had to dispose of the entire plant. But I had a small cutting that had broken off the main plant months earlier that was in another room and had escaped the plague of mites. I brought it into the sunporch and hoped, but last spring there were no flowers. I am watching it carefully now for signs of blossoms but so far there are none to be found. It is thriving, however, and I expect if it does not bloom this season, it likely will a year from now. I have learned two things from owning this magical plant. The first is patience. That some things are, indeed, worth waiting for. The second is that the true value of a gift is not always apparent upon initial inspection. Some things take time to reveal themselves to you. My hoya reminds me that life is a journey, not a destination.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Tuesday Night Volleyball

I don't know why I play volleyball. I'm really not that great at it. I've been playing in a winter volleyball league off and on for 25 years. More on than off. I took time out when I was extremely pregnant and my center of gravity made it perilous to take part in athletic activities that require moving about. Which ruled out volleyball. Then I took two years off when most of the members of the team I had been playing on decided to retire and take part in more dignified activities. Like going directly to the bar and drink beer without wasting any time getting a little exercise. I have played for teams that had silly names. Like the Downtown Dames. Our shirts had a little cartoon of a very busty big-haired blonde balancing a volleyball in one upraised hand and a mug of beer in the other. I also played for the local JayceeEttes team, and a team called The Core which was sponsored by the downtown, or "core area" merchants. Our shirts had a large screenprinted apple core on the front. I currently play for a team called the Adversaries. My friend LeeAnn's law office sponsors us. She loves to play and says her firm can use the tax deduction for paying our park & rec fee. Yes, I do realize it's Monday night and the title says Tuesday. We normally play on Tuesday nights but there are more teams than court spaces and time slots so a couple of matches get bumped to Monday each week. Like I said, I'm no star player, but I do enjoy it. I have a pretty reliable serve and at least once during each game I make some play or move that astonishes me and my fellow teammates. Then I lapse back into bumping and setting with no apparent sense of direction. This may be my last year, I haven't really decided yet. I will miss playing if I do retire. And last winter for a couple of months I was playing really well like I did twenty years ago. I think it was my new shoes and the magic has since worn off. I think what I like best about volleyball is the interesting and diverse group of women I've come to know over time. It gets me out of the house one night a week during the gloomy months of winter when I would otherwise hibernate. And the beer and comraderie make losing, as we often do, a little easier to bear.

Thursday, March 8, 2007


This is simple. The cake is the relationship. Sex is the frosting. In pretty much every single significant relationship I've ever had with a man, I did things in this order. First the frosting, then the cake. Not that this is necessarily the wrong way to do things...but it is often the awkward, scrambling for reason, cart-before-the-horse way to do things. Waking up together without little forethought as to how I really felt about the guy and then wondering if he was my boyfriend, I was his girlfriend, what does this mean. So now that I'm older and wiser, I'm hoping that I can accomplish this thing in a more reasonable order. I fully intend, despite what the hormone-intoxicated monkeys in my head are advising, to properly bake the cake first, then apply the frosting. The monkeys are big frosting freaks which shouldn't surprise anyone. They want frosting and they want it now!! In different colors, flavors, and textures! Not that there's anyone knocking on my bakery door demanding to dive head-first into my bucket of personal frosting. Nosirree, my personal bucket of frosting is safely tucked away in storage and hasn't seen the light of day for some time. I must admit that while I would really love to have a man in my life right now, I'm nowhere near desperate. I don't need a man to provide for me or procreate with me. I feel perfectly complete all by myself, thank you. But I miss the warmth and comfort of being in a relationship with someone I feel bonded to and in sync with. For the most part I have almost everything else I want in life, and all that I have would be so much richer and more meaningful if I had someone to share it with. And if he knows how to bake a cake, so much the better. And once that cake is out of the oven and as near to perfection as we would like to have it, I hope he has some creative ideas about how the frosting should be applied. Because I know that I most certainly do. Sprinkles and whipped cream optional.

Sunday, March 4, 2007


Just in case anyone is sitting on the edge of their seat...I did not win the ten bucks at cards last night. I did, however, hostess the evening successfully and with great enthusiasm. With the exception of purchasing a deck of cards that were entirely in pink, well come on, I really like pink, but the suits were indecipherable in their pink and white two-tone loveliness. Pat had a deck delivered from home that was normal. So far as cards go. The evening itself wasn't entirely normal, at least not for me. Hence the title of the blog this evening. Movement. Have you ever experienced seeing someone in a different light? Someone that you've known for a while but really hadn't considered, shall we say, seriously, before? Since I have now consumed the lower half of the bottle of Blue Moon Oregon Reisling, the top half of which I consumed last night, I am in a mildly inebriated as well as thoughtful state. There has been movement within me as far as this particular person is concerned. And said movement has left me feeling warm and generous toward him where before I had considered him only in an amused and detached sort of fashion. And I have no idea where this is going or if it will amount to anything. My only observation is that since my luck seems to have run out where cards are concerned, maybe, just maybe, my luck where love is concerned may be on the upswing.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

10 Point Pitch

Let me make one thing perfectly clear. I am not a card player. I do not play card games. And up until two years ago I had never played cards except grudgingly and with little joy. For twenty years I was married to a man whose family enjoyed playing cards and board games. I could tolerate, say, team Trivial Pursuit but when it came to any variety of cards I always bowed out. I don't know if it was simply a lack of interest on my part in the same way that watching sports on television as an activity completely eludes me. I just didn't think playing cards was any fun. Then my friend LeeAnn needed a sub for her cards group. The game was 10 point pitch. It was easy, she said, didn't require an enormous intellect or skill level. I wasn't sure if she was trying to put me at ease with my tiny brain and abilities or if she was insulting me by ackowleging my tiny brain and abilities. I now know that she lied to me! 10 point pitch involves paying attention, bidding, a poker face, and a chilly demeanor. With great trepidition I agreed to play. Mostly because there would be food and wine involved and she was designated driving me. And I was acquainted with most of the people in the group so I would be socially at ease. The first time was confusing and I wasn't sure exactly how to bid and played cautiously. Over time my confidence grew and I learned to read the other regular players in their bidding process and their body language. I now play with a reckless bravado that for the last two months has made me the high point player. That means I get to take home ten dollars! We all throw in a buck at the beginning of the evening and the low point player suffers the additional humiliation of having to throw in a second buck at the end. Tonight I am hosting this rowdy bunch of card players so I need to go vacuum and make room for card tables and throw together some food. I wonder if I'll scoop up the ten dollars at the end of play tonight for an unprecedented third time in a row or if I'll be somewhere in the middle of point accumulation as usual. So far I haven't been the low point person, my luck has carried me that far. And let me make one thing perfectly clear. I'm still not a card player! But I do enjoy an occasional evening of 10 point pitch.