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.

 

 

 

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Life Does Not End after Ren Faire Season

OK, it might slow down, and the fumes from the turkey legs and memories of the performances might have to carry me for a while. I might end up going to the much smaller Faire at Stronghold the first weekend in October and will see if I can convince Hubby to go to the Janesville Renaissance Faire next spring.

Earlier this summer, I went on line and made notes in my calendar to remind me of upcoming events. In September, there’s a pow-wow near by and there’s a couple of spiritually oriented events that I’ve made tentative plans to attend; in October there’s the Stronghold Olde English Faire; but in November…oh, is there something to attend in November.

Finally, after many years of wishing and hoping, Garrison Keillor will be doing his one-man show at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora on November 13. This is only 20 minutes from my house. The tickets are on the way.

Most Saturdays and many Sundays, I’ve listened to “Prairie Home Companion” faithfully. Lake Wobegon has been and continues to be an oasis of calmness and decency in a world growing crazier by the day. I’m glad that it’s continuing. It will be different this fall, yes, but I will still have my two hour vacations and soundtrack for dinner prep on weekends.

It’s a little bittersweet to see Garrison. The whispered word is that it’s likely his last tour due to age related health concerns, but no matter. Finally I will get to see him in person.

Hubby and I were able to see a live streaming broadcast of “A Prairie Home Companion” some years ago at a local cinema. I know that this show will be just as good, even with the knowledge that this will likely be the last one. I’m just grateful that I’m able to attend.

I’m also grateful that I have a new perspective on Labor Day this year: it may be the end of the season at Bristol, but it’s the start of the countdown to see Garrison.

The End of Eras

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Photo by Brian Hanna via freeimages.com

 

Garrison Keillor hosted his last “Prairie Home Companion”  yesterday. Of course I listened. Just as I have for the majority of Saturday evenings since–OK, you caught me–I was in junior high. There will be “best of” rebroadcasts, I’m sure, as NPR has done with “Car Talk.” It won’t be quite the same, but I’m sure that my fellow fans will still be able to count on two hours of respite from the lunacy that is the world these days.

Another end came up in my news feed yesterday, too, one much closer to home. The mom (no pop) shop where I’ve bought some of Oakley’s supplies since his first week home was sold.

The bittersweetness was mitigated by knowing that both transitions are likely for the best.  Garrison’s leaving the show in the capable hands of Chris Thile, a mandolin player I look forward to getting to know better. He is cut from the same cloth as Garrison, and will do well as he puts his stamp on the show. The new owner of the pet supply store is a local chain that has the same values and commitment to providing customers with high quality products made in the US as the mom does. They’re keeping all the staff, so that’s a good thing.

Both changes are for the better. Garrison is 73. In one of the many articles covering his retirement he quietly mentioned some health concerns as well as a desire to get back to writing. Under its new ownership, the store can expand and serve more people and pets now.

I still spent a lot of time sighing yesterday. Sighing for the passage of time. I took Orion to the mom store the last couple of years of his life, followed by a then-scrawny semi-feral Oakley.  Wondering how I arrived at the age I am now even though I still feel twenty most days. Sighing for yet another round of changes and letting go. Not exactly painful, not earth shattering, but just change.

Yet, there is consistency. Both Garrison and the mom ensured that the high-quality entertainment and pet supplies continue. We’ve been left in good hands by both. It will play out for the best and highest, I’m sure. In a mass produced world, it’s good to see the unique continue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Much I Believe

We have a storm creeping up from the southwest. It’s due to arrive late this afternoon. We ran out for a walk this morning. I already went shopping to make sure that we had the essentials such as biskies, tea, and chocolate.

I’m grateful I have that done. The impending predicted storm and preparations for tomorrow’s Super Bowl have joined forces in triggering an advanced case of guano-psychoisis.

The greater Chicago area, including the soybean field and points west, will get precipitation starting around 6pm-ish, emphasis on -ish. It will start as everyone’s favorite meteorological event, freezing rain, then switch to snow. We will be under a storm watch from 9 pm tonight (Saturday) until the same time tomorrow (Sunday). This mornings’ weather reports varied greatly in estimated totals ranging from 4″-8″ to up to an honest foot complicated by blowing and drifting.

This much I believe in spite of the currently blue sky with its deceptive thin overcast: that we will get snow. I believe that I will make sure my cell phone is charged should I have to bitch out notify Com Ed due to an outage. (For some perverse reason, we get power failures more frequently on sunny quiet weather days than days where the wind nearly took off the roof.)  I believe we may, or may not, have a significant amount when all is said and done. I believe Oakley and I will get out for another good walk before the predicted meteorological spaghetti his the fan.

I believe we’ll listen to Garrison Keillor; we’ll watch a good “International Mystery.”

And I believe that I’m going to have some chocolate.

“A Prairie Home Companion” Turns 40

Last week brought one disturbing news story after another. Last week brought a lot of changes, some welcome; others not so much. Changes in a family member’s health were not good. Pending changes at Oakley’s day care were quite maddening. More on the latter as it develops.

One thing that hasn’t changed, thankfully, is turning on my NPR outlet at five on Saturday evenings for “A Prairie Home Companion.” Since (self-dating alert) junior high, catching up on the “News from Lake Wobegon” and the live, real, hand- and heart-made music and comedy have provided the backdrop for dinner preparations most Saturday evenings.

After a week of involuntary and unpleasant changes, it was good to eat pasta and broccoli while listening to the Wailin’ Jennys and an ad for Bertha’s Kitty Boutique, still located in the Dales after all these years.

How long this refuge overproduced music of questionable quality and news reflecting the worst in humanity will continue I can’t say. Garrison Keillor, the once and future host, still rips out the weekly scripts in about two hours as well as his short stories, novels, and essays. He is not old by any reasonable standards in his early seventies, and hopefully he won’t retire any time soon. The show will continue in some form, I’m sure, thanks to the light side of modern technology.

Perhaps in another forty years, it will still provide a touchstone, an anchor to supply some stability in the waves of change that had slap a person around, providing grounding for the week ahead.

A Trieste on Music

A person could be deceived into thinking Midwestern winters are not that bad today. The sky is a cloudless, cliche-ridden blue. The ground is another story, however. The stiff wind bringing tonight’s anticipated storm and arctic cold from the northwest sculpts the snow already on the ground like Martha Stewart trying to get just the right ripple effect on a cake’s frosting. 

A pleasant distraction is in order. This evening’s entertainment will be “A Prairie Home Companion,” just as it has been most Saturdays since I was in high school. As I create the cauliflower-crusted pizza (http://detoxinista.com/2012/01/the-secret-to-perfect-cauliflower-pizza-crust/ and it works just as well with plain ol’ mozz in the crust instead of goat cheese–oh, and you can mix the cooked drained and dried cauliflower, egg, cheese, and herbs in the food processor), I will be listening to performers who do what they do out of love and a deep desire to keep traditional music genres alive and well.

 

I need to have music as I cook. Sometimes it’s jazz, others classical, and there’s something about folk music and Saturdays that mesh just right. Classic rock (from the Police on back) is mostly for driving. But whatever I’m listening to and whatever I’m creating, the ingredients and the tunes have to be real.

Tonight, I need a serious palate clearing. The Grammys are on tomorrow night; the last two days have been filled to the brim with coverage of Justin Bieber’s latest act of stupidity. I am left unimpressed by the artists featured in the clips promoting the former and disturbed that the mainstream media has lost its collective mind over a marketable but questionably talented teenager who’s on the fast track to be a victim of his his own excesses.  

I’ve been spoiled since college by friends who are musicians, and who by rights (extreme prejudice warning here) should have been on “Prairie Home Companion,” but some things just don’t work out they way they ought to in a perfect world. I’ve also dabbled in singing lessons here and there, and been in recitals, and I will tell you, Dear Readers, there is a lot more to the preparation and execution of a performance than looking pretty and enticing fans. 

My own performance experiences have made me quite the demanding critic, just as my cooking has made me quite the pain in the butt over restaurants. I don’t want technotronics, fancy lighting effects, or plates arranged like tableaux from art museums. Just give me the best of either, and plenty of it,  and I will be a happy girl. 

And if we can send Justin back to Canada and get Gordon Lightfoot in exchange, I will swoon in ecstacy.

The Day As It Is Given

One more weather related cancellation or postponement and I will not be responsible for my behavior.

We had the post-Big Storm Big Thaw yesterday. Warmer temps melted the snow from last weekend’s dumping. That’s a good thing.

The bad thing: we had a pretty hard rain go through. Sheets, buckets, cats, dogs, and a few pocket pets thrown in for good measure. The ground is frozen nine inches down, so there’s nowhere for it to go. The runoff is regrouping in the form of seasonal ponds and black ice in inopportune areas. Nothing livens up your Friday like driving through standing water on black ice. 

After a week of rescheduling and postponements, I was ready to go out for a good walk with Oakley, then out to lunch with a couple of friends. Not so fast. The superintendent at the park was waving people away from the mirror-slick trail, and my road started freezing up again despite a salt truck driving as if in the Indy 500 trials to get the roads covered before the temps tank out again this afternoon. My road follows a hill, curves along a row of telephone poles, then goes straight along a creek .    

I’m erring on the side of caution. I would really like to get out, but what would I be driving into or on when I’m on the way home? I’ve spun out a few times and landed in a ditch. No, thanks. I don’t want to add landing in a creek to my driving resume. 

It’s a good day to practice acceptance. Again. I was able to get out and do some shopping yesterday, so we are set for the duration.  I forgot almond milk, but I will live. 

I have a variety of creative projects to work on, and will delight in the entertainment of “Prairie Home Companion” this evening likely followed by the rest of “Dances With Wolves.” I might even run the vacuum.

But I’m not that desperate yet.