Taking Refuge in Lake Wobegon

 

 

(from cardcow.com)

 

“Chocolate cake.”

Until last week, those had been two of my favorite words. Hearing them spoken by  The Wearer of Ferrets as he discussed the moment during a dinner with China’s President Xi when he gave the green light to bomb Syria put a considerable pall on them. I may never be able to eat either again. If there is a positive, the sound of his voice echoing around my mind is aversive enough to keep me away from both as efforts at weight loss continue.

While desserts have their charms, taking refuge in them too often is not a good idea at all. Just ask my jeans.

Where, then, does one turn to escape the rampant insanity ? I’ve tried to keep the TV off with mixed success. Two PBS shows I love run late morning, and then there’s the midday news that a couple of minutes of won’t hurt, then perhaps a couple more, and next thing I know it’s 1:00 and I have to ice down my middle fingers from overuse. Not a good idea.  Limiting time tuned to WCPT  (independent progressive talk) and NPR to short bursts in the car helps somewhat as well. Somewhat.

In times like these, we need refuge from current affairs to prevent a collective slide into madness. I find mine in visits to Garrison Keillor’s fictitious hometown of Lake Wobegon, Minnesota. Blessed be the tuneIn app that delivers the stream to the Sonos system that fills the house with his soothing baritone, gentle wit, and delicious sense of absurdity.

There are days when one needs to hear stories of hair raising escapes from fishing sheds as the ice breaks beneath one’s feet (especially when the shed in question is an RV). There are days when one needs the tale of a homecoming parade inadvertently but rudely interrupted by the queen’s father’s front loader that just excavated a septic tank. And there are days when one needs a slice of rhubarb pie and fresh coffee at the Chatterbox Cafe.

Based on the quick news summary just now on WFMT with the sabre rattling, I think I’ll take the pie, please. And if there’s any vanilla ice cream, a scoop of that on the side would be most appreciated.

 

 

 

Enough is Plenty

I took Oakley for one of our rides this afternoon. We drove on the back roads beneath the sunshine, investing a couple of hours in nothing but the pure joy of being. The first grasses reached towards the sun like a baby reaching for a parent’s finger. A few temporary lakes caused by the rains earlier this week mirrored the cloudless sky, adding some notes of blue to the landscape.

We stopped at a forest preserve for a walk. Only two other walkers and a couple of fisher people went about their business; otherwise we had the place to ourselves. We walked the circular trail in compatible silence with me looking up at the new leaf buds and Oakley inspecting things closer to the ground.

The afternoon was warmer than expected. I forgot to bring water. I did have four quarters and some smaller change, however. With that, I treated myself to an iced tea and a cup of water for Oakley. His long slurps sprinkled droplets around the front seat and treated the people in the car next to mine to a laugh and one of his best smiles.

I smiled, too. The afternoon had been woven of small joys, of the moments that too frequently get discarded in the chaos of the world. I had the time, the gas, the working car, the dollar and change, and good weather.

I didn’t need anything else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recovery from The Great Iced Tea Disaster of 2016 and Other Notes For a Monday

I had to take my MacBook Pro to the shop last week to rectify a situation that I created last summer. It wasn’t pretty, but it could have been exponentially worse than it was. Parts and labor came in at two-thirds less than the original quote.

Let’s rewind to last August. I had a big Mason jar of tea in the fridge, a reward for a hot walk with Oakley. I put it on a coaster on an end flap of a cover that I had draped over the sofa arm. When I sat down with my laptop on my lap, the flap moved, flipping the tea onto the computer. With a bloodcurdling shriek, I dried it off with a towel, then ran upstairs to get my hair dryer. I put the laptop back on the desk and positioned the dryer to focus a concentrated air stream onto the key board. Then I mopped up the sofa, the rug, and myself.

It would have worked, but in my distress, I neglected to check the temperature setting.  The up-down-left-right and shift keys had curled like bacon in a hot frying pan.

When the dry heaves stopped, I just left the laptop alone, choosing to let nature take its course. I used a lot of Rescue Remedy the rest of the morning.

Of course Hubby came in that afternoon. He’d had another round of disasters with repairs and renovations. I didn’t say anything, not wanting to listen to him hyperventilate about the incident (he takes care of most things technical) and because he was of good cheer. He crashed on the love seat, Oakley also crashed next to him. Did I want to disturb that? Hell, no. I poured a glass of rose, spiked it with Rescue Remedy, and told The Mystery to send more of the peace, please.

I needed to take it in. I just couldn’t. The combination of distance and parking (our nearest Mac store is in an otherwise lovely suburb that involves picking and dodging through traffic some 45 minutes east of here only to end up in the third circle of parking hell), embarrassment and self loathing (really, am I ever going to be grown up enough to use tools properly?), and terror of the repair bill played factors in the procrastination.

Fast forward to a little over a week ago. I’d been able to work around the melted keys, but the battery wasn’t charging, and the laptop shut itself down  when there was an interruption to the power supply.  Hubby, to his credit, didn’t judge. “Shit happens,” he said as he set up the appointment to drop it off for repairs.

It was just the battery, not the motherboard. The problem is that MacBook Pros have their batteries glued to the top panel (with the keyboard), so the whole top had to be replaced. Very well. See you in three to five days.

The call came. I had my laptop back, and all was again well with the world, or at least my little corner of it.

Next purchase will be a water bottle for making iced tea. One with a pull top or spout to mitigate the odds of future damage.

On we go into spring. The scent of new grass gently floats through the air. It’s good to hear the birds again.

I signed up for a yoga class. That starts tomorrow. Been ages since I took one. I don’t have the discipline to keep at it on my own.

So we begin again.

 

 

Storm Report for 3/3/17

March came in with rain and falling temperatures. February pitched a hissy fit as she left.

Oakley had spent the afternoon at day care flirting with his girlfriend Jazz and singing with his friend Willy. After I’d picked him up and brought him home for dinner, I had a strong gut feeling that I should check the weather on TV. A good thing I did. All kinds of red and yellow blobs covered the screen.

I made my dinner, too, then settled in to watch the storm coverage. During the course of the evening, one of the twisters headed east along the I-80 corridor to Morris. That’s a 20 minute drive from my house.  The track of the twister ran about ten miles south of me, so despite the admonishments from the siren, we stayed on the sofa, watching, listening.

The lights didn’t even flicker. No sounds of breaking glass or crunching metal. Just steady rain.

We stayed with the storm coverage except for a break to watch a mystery on one of the PBS substation instead of the happenings in Washington, DC that night. A wise choice. The TV is new to us, and I likely would have done had things to it had I watched the events in DC.

Oakley and I stayed up as long as we could, trying to ride out the rain so we could make the final potty run in relative comfort, trying to see what was happening to the south and southwest of us. At bed time, we knew that the the town of Naplate (just outside of Ottawa) had received a kicking.

When we went to Starved Rock or Buffalo Rock State Parks, we would drive back through Naplate. They had, and please, Mystery, may they still have a main street divided by parkways. Each one hosted gardens, benches, and sculptures, including a Greco-Roman temple at the east end. Between those and the mid-19th century architecture of the homes, anyone passing through had a taste of life in the Civil War era.

Yes, I choked up a little. For the people of the town, and for the loss of that street. The cherry on the icing of good hikes at the parks was the drive through town.

However, the good outweighed the bad. There were two passages caused by a tree falling on a couple of men, sadly. The good news was that all the residents of the county nursing home survived, even though its structure was heavily damaged.

Cleanup started. The new normal will be implemented in due course, I don’t doubt that.

The questions that I have concern global warming, climate changes, and the biggest one: was this an omen? Was this an energetic cleaning and clearing?

We will just have to wait for the answers.

 

 

 

The Time of Grace Has Come

Oh, my…dear and gentle readers, forgive the absence. I can’t go into details to protect the other involved parties’ privacy, but a load of personal issues came to their respective heads. I will tell you that third party intervention has been called upon in resolving these matters. They will play out as they must.

The Cubs won the World Series. Let’s start there. That was a good thing. Even if I missed it. I dozed off, only waking up to the crack and pop of fireworks and gunshots from the down the road neighbor. An invasion? Robbery? Nope! The Cubs won.

I had hoped that it was an omen of better times ahead. Not so much.

We will skip over the election.

Holidays were pretty good. I was able to hang out with my brother and his family for an extended period of time. While I was there, Brother found this by Steeleye Span. I hadn’t heard it in years, had no idea what the lyrics were other than that they are in Latin and chanted more than sung. I read the translation over his shoulder as we watched it on You Tube. The time of grace has come. Even though this is not my path (they are practicing Catholic; I’m, well…not ), I don’t ignore anything that causes shimmers in my soul while I sit up straight.

The two top definitions for grace: 1. simple elegance or refinement of movement and 2. unmerited, free favor. The period of my absence was filled by both. I am deeply grateful to my friends who supported me while the mess unwound. I am deeply grateful to the Mystery for gifts, merited or not.

So I’m back. Tomorrow, depending on your view, is either Imbolc, St. Brigit’s Day, or Groundhog Day. The two former acknowledge that the light is returning. The latter annoys the hell out of some rodents. Take your pick.

Even as the sun comes back, there is darkness. Even in this darkness, I’m hoping that we can be instruments of grace, vessels of light, bearers of peace–for one another and for the ones further marginalized by the events unfolding in DC. I’ve felt physically ill more than once in the last few months, and have reposted links and written emails while weeping. I’ve been scared for many of Hubby’s former coworkers who are decent humans with the misfortune of getting caught up in this geopolitical nationalist cluster bomb of a crap storm. These times try a person’s soul.

But I’ll tell you what….Photo on 2-1-17 at 2.59 PM.jpg

Here’s my hand. Hang on to it so you don’t get lost or if you get scared. If we all take each others’ hands, we’ll be able to stick together as we continue towards the light.

Lessons of the Leaves

Oakley and I completed our morning constitutional by 8:15. What breeze there was rustled the leaves, inviting them to dance. We went to the observation platform overlooking the green glass river, then retraced our steps to the car.

Today won’t be as bad as initially predicted temperature wise, but it will still be sticky for the next couple of days. It is equinox, autumn, the first day of fall, and we welcome it.

I shed no tears for this summer’s passage. In fact, if it had a rear end, I would send it off with the admonishment not to let the door hit it there as it left.

While it wasn’t all bad, it just wore on and on past its useful purpose. The two trips to Ren Faire went well, thankfully. The never-ending string of sticky days, mechanical and technological failures, loved ones facing health challenges, and Oakley’s colitis flare-ups just wore me to a nub. I had too many days of non functionality because of fatigue and the heat, but know I will perk up as autumn unfolds.

The leaves have started letting go, gracefully travel on the air currents to land on the earth, weaving tapestries to protect the ground and newly seeded life from the elements. I envy their grace and ease as I do my own letting go: cleaned out my social media lists; deleted some contacts from my phone, including the number of  a friend and teacher who passed almost two years ago; let go of some false hopes about close real life relationships and dreams.

As the release of the leaves from the trees makes way for the new ones next spring, I await the arrival of the new with curiosity and advance gratitude.

The Week that I Wish Wasn’t

Well, it was a little more than a week.

9/3/16 was good. We went to Ren Faire. All good and magical things happened, except for getting separated from Hubby. I had to visit the nearby Flush House of Easement (ladies’ room). He managed to miss seeing me walk out. I didn’t see him and returned to the bookstore where we’d shopped before the pit stop. He’d left his phone in the car, so my call landed in the voice mail box. I did hang up before I said anything. We finally found each other and decided that we needed to go home if we were that tired.

9/4-9/7 Hubby’s back acted up on him. Not much to do except hot and cold packs and feed him Advil. He was supposed to be tending to some outdoors chores best done before the weather gets too unstable. Still not a bad few days. He learned a software program to help him design woodworking projects. Coupled with the Labor Day “Downton Abbey” marathon, it wasn’t bad at all.

9/7 my crown fell out. Luckily it stuck to a piece of hard candy that I spit out. At first I thought it was a big popcorn hull, but upon further inspection realized that a trip to the dentist was in order. X-rays, an exam, and the good Dr. S. and her assistant cementing it back into place with their combined body weight pushing down on the crown made for a rather interesting experience.

9/8 the upstairs air conditioner died. This is the third time in two years this unit has given us problems.  A rather rude tech came out, gave the unit a cursory glance, then told Hubby it was a bad coil and would cost $500 to be replaced. Without testing said coil. And not coming up with a good reason for the cost except to inform Hubby that someone had to pay his insurance. And charged $100 for the service call. We decided to 1. wait until next spring and 2. in the meantime find another heating and cooling company.

9/9 seemed like a good morning for scones. A misty rain fell; we didn’t have to be anyplace. I looked up recipes on my iPad. Suddenly a convincing-looking window popped up saying that there had been a firewall breach and my device would be immediately shut down if I didn’t call Apple with the codes right now. I took it to Hubby, whom you may retired last year after more than 35 years in telecommunication engineering. He called the number. They said that I could take it to the nearest Apple store to get fixed, or they could do it for us if they could have our IP address and a credit card number. Hubby hung up. He called Apple, verified that it was a scam, and downloaded a bunch of security software from them. It was harrowing and embarrassing. We debated calling the sheriff and the states’ attorney, but somehow that dissipated.

9/10 made it better. Another cool rainy morning. This time, however, I went to a non corrupted site and found a great scone recipe.

Hopefully, that energetic purge will be the last for a long time to come.