Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

Pastor Mike married us. And he baptized both kids.

A few years after that he moved back out to the West coast; a place where his soul really belonged.

We’d message on FB occasionally. He was learning to play guitar and I’d ask what he was listening too or what he was learning to play.

Johnny Cash was a common subject for both of us. Johnny’s ‘American’ series of recordings were some of our favorites. Mike would give me a verse from Tennessee Stud or Delia’s Gone and I’d give him the next. It was a neat way to connect with one of my favorite people.

Mike died of a brain tumor this winter.

I’m lighting a production of ‘Ring of Fire’ at the Rochester Civic Theater. It’s a Johnny Cash retrospective. Not much story, just a lot of his music played by 5 different singer/musicians. The other night at rehearsal they practiced Delia’s Gone.

I thought of Mike and how, maybe to no-one but myself, this show was for him.

I left rehearsal and headed for home. Checked some fields along the way. Stopped to check on our neighbor’s house since they are gone on vacation, stopped to close the gates at the end of our driveway and saw a motorcycle coming down the road. And I sort of groan inwardly… dang bikers. Thought I better get the gate shut quick.

As the bike gets closer I see it’s more of a scooter and a couple about my age on it. I say Hello and pull one gate shut. They pull up a little closer and call my name. And when they take the helmets off, it’s John and Mary.

Pastor John who was associate pastor with Pastor Mike.

I’m pretty sure Mike sent them out to see us tonight.

And I thought of this group of Baboons and Serendipity again.

Got a favorite religious person?



Ode to Gardening

You all knew that you weren’t going to get through the summer without me waxing rhapsodic about my garden at least once. Wait no longer; today is the day.

The flowers are wild in the front… just about any color you can imagine but it’s my straw bales that are bringing me joy right now. Everything is flourishing beyond expectations.  The basil has exploded (pesto, here we come) and all the tomatoes are growing out of their tomato cages, with green tomatoes starting on all five plants.  Even the jalapeño is breaking all records for us.

And thanks to Linda, I have raspberry canes that are starting to pop. Today was the first day I picked enough to carry into the house (the last couple of days, raspberries went straight from cane to mouth).  Looks like there will be plenty of berries in the weeks to come.

As a city girl who never gardened growing up, all this generosity on the part of Mother Nature makes me absurdly happy. Every day I pinch the little flowers off the basil, pull the stray tomato stalks up through the tomato cage, water all the floral baskets, sigh deeply.  And then I think about Nathanial Hawthorne and his thoughts on gardening.

“I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green.”

~Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from an Old Manse

What should I do with all my basil? Extra points if you can do it with a haiku.

Independence Times Two

As the parent of a 23-year old, I am constantly reminding myself that it is my job to raise her to be independent and that it’s her job to grow up and forge her own path, separate from mine. Knowing this and living with the reality are two completely separate things.

We have two traditions on Fourth of July – the small neighborhood Tangletown Parade and the larger Richfield Parade. The first is walking distance from our house – kids on decorated bikes and trikes, dog with red and blue bandanas do a short parade down to the park where there is music, food and games.  Richfield has a more traditional parade with politicians, marching (& riding) bands, some military and local businesses.  And, of course, candy for kids.

I was a little disappointed when YA got up early and then started talking about going to the Mall with her boyfriend, but then I reminded myself that I could go without her and it would be OK. So I was surprised when she said she wanted to go to the neighborhood parade (and happy).  Of course, then it poured rain and neither of us went.

As I was getting ready to go to Richfield, she told me that the boyfriend still wasn’t ready and she wanted to go to the parade with me. Woo hoo!  Two stadium chairs, ice water, phones and umbrellas (which protected us from the sun and eventually the rain) and we were on our way.  It was a fine parade, with some planes flying in formation (a first) over the parade route three times and a giant grocery cart (also a first).  About 75% of the parade had gone by when the rain started and YA said she still wanted to stay until the end.  So we sat in our orange stadium chairs under our umbrellas and continued to wave our little flags at the remaining paraders.

It was nice to spend the day with her, especially after I had steeled myself to do the parades alone. I guess I have a year to steel myself for the next Fourth of July.

Have you ever had to declare YOUR independence?


Last Friday I got off work at noon and spent the next 4 hours weeding my brains out. We have a 20 X 10 foot garden bed on the north side of the drive way that contains perennials and vegetables like beets, turnips, chard, carrots, and celeriac. The weeds were horrible.  Not long after I finished weeding, the most lovely, gentle rain began, with no wind or hail.  It was perfect.

When have things worked out just right for you?

Loincloths `R Us

After a really busy week, I spent half of Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday binge-watching Tarzan. So here’s my question.  If Tarzan was raised by apes, who do not wear clothing, why does he wear a loin cloth?  When he was a child, who sewed that loin cloth?  When he returns to Africa after his stint in England, what tailor does he go to, to get his loin cloth?  OK, I guess that’s three questions.

What’s your favorite piece of comfort clothing?


Baked vs. Fried?

Yesterday morning YA got up earlier than her Sunday usual so we decided to go out to breakfast, choosing Blackbird as we hadn’t actually been since they re-located. I couldn’t decide between sourdough flapjacks or the huevos rancheros.

We talked about being picky eaters last week and I had to fess up that I have an issue with how foods feel in my mouth. Mushrooms and eggplant are the biggies on my “ick” list but I also have to say I’m not crazy about cooked raisins and cooked zucchini.  I like the flavor of all these things but just don’t like how they feel. Corn tortillas fall into a third category, where sometimes I can like them and sometimes I don’t like the “chewiness”.

This is what I was thinking about while I mulled over huevos rancheros this morning. I was in a good mood so figure I might as well give it a go.  After all, if I’m not happy about the corn tortilla, I can always eat all around it.

It looked fabulous as it came to the table and as I took my first bite I knew that the chefs at Blackbird had outdone themselves. Instead of just heating the tortilla, they fried it so it was crispy!  I’ve had huevos rancheros in many restaurants and have never before encountered one with a crispy tortilla.

When was the last time YOU were surprised by something different?

The Frog Prince

I have a cousin who I find astonishing. I think he is my second cousin. His mom and my mom were first cousins. Our grandfathers were brothers. We are the same age and graduated from Luverne High School together.  We used to chase each other around the grade school play ground. He always had a fascination with reptiles and amphibians. Baboon Krista knew him from his work with the Minnesota DNR  as well as the Rock Bend Music Festival (Free, Free,  Free). He used to examine frogs to see if they were missing legs.  PJ knows him from their Danish Heritage Society. His  dad was Danish.

His recent Facebook posts reveal that he doesn’t work for the DNR  now, but for some reason  he is travelling around Madelia conducting field surveys trying to find and count Great Plains Toads.  I wonder how you count toads? How do you know you haven’t counted them twice? They jump around!

My cousin is also a luthier, and creates the most beautiful mandolins, Hardanger fiddles, nyckelharpas, and Viola D’ Amores.  What a range of interests. How on earth does this happen?

Who are some of the most astonishing and fascinating people you know?

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