All posts by Barbara in Rivertown

Brain Exercise

My mom lives at St. Anne Extended Healthcare, the nursing care wing of St. Anne of Winona complex here in Winona. Added on later were the assisted living wings, Callista Court, where she lived briefly until her fall a year ago. Callista’s main entrance is clear at the other end of the block from her SAEH room, and even though they’re connected by a little skyway, we don’t often travel that far when I visit.

Because it was so warm the other day, I took Mom outside in her wheel chair to walk the block to Callista’s entrance, and we checked out the “café” inside. It was pretty full due to a craft  project, so we went on to the (quieter) Library and found a square table with decks of cards nearby. I thought, “What the heck, she taught me to play solitaire when I was a kid…” So I laid out a game of (Klondike) solitaire to see how much she would remember. We were both delighted to find that, although she probably could not have laid out the game, she still remembers basically how to play – i.e., that the rows of declining numbers alternate black and red. After seeing it done once, she could put the aces up top, and she caught some of the moves without prompting. When I laid down some cards in front of her, she asked “Is that The Pile?”

She said afterward that she liked doing that – it was good for her brain. I now have a deck of cards in the “mom bag”, and we’ll play whenever time permits, and we find an open table.

What do you do that’s good for your brain?

Twilight Time

Have you ever been waking up in the morning and hear the phone ring, then become fully awake and realize you just imagined it? If so, you may have experienced an auditory hypnagogic hallucination.

In August of 2015, Dr. Laurence Knott of the UK wrote:  “Hypnagogic or hypnopompic hallucinations are visual, tactile, auditory, or other sensory events, usually brief but occasionally prolonged, that occur at the transition from wakefulness to sleep (hypnagogic) or from sleep to wakefulness (hypnopompic). The phenomenon is thought to have been first described by the Dutch physician Isbrand Van Diemerbroeck in 1664.[1] The person may hear sounds that are not there and see visual hallucinations. These visual and auditory images are very vivid and may be bizarre or disturbing.”

And Wikipedia describe it this way:     “Hypnagogia is the experience of the transitional state from wakefulness to sleep in humans: the hypnagogic state of consciousness, during the onset of sleep. Mental phenomena that occur during this “threshold consciousness” phase include lucid thought, lucid dreaming, hallucinations, and sleep paralysis.” As you can see, there are several other “conditions” mentioned, that I don’t have the time to explore here.

I love what is sometimes called the “twilight time” as I drift off to sleep, and frequently have little vignettes play out before my eyes. Rather than thinking of it as a medical condition to be “treated”, I often wish they would last longer.

Do you experience any sort of hallucinations upon waking or falling asleep?

Old Favorites

Two iconic restaurants in St. Paul will be closed by the end of this week. This saddens me, because I love a good neighborhood restaurant, and hate to see them replaced by the chains or the glitz that seems to accompany so many newer restaurants. (Even although I’ve never lived in St. Paul, these two were well enough known that I had made my way there all the way from Robbinsdale.)

The St. Clair Broiler, a burger and malt place (visited by Al Gore), closed at the end of September after 60 years in business. Back in the late 70s, we used to meet a St. Paul friend for a burger at the Broiler, followed by a movie in a theater on the same block, if memory serves. A St. Paul Pioneer Press article  reads: “With the recent boom in neighborhood restaurants, staying competitive has been a concern for the Broiler, which underwent an extensive menu change and decor refresh in 2015 in the hopes of attracting some younger customers. Apparently, the gamble didn’t pay off, as the restaurant was no longer profitable…”

And it breaks my heart that Muffuletta is closing this weekend, Nov. 11 being its last day after a run of 40 years. A European style bistro, its wonderful outdoor patio was a huge draw in the mild months of the year, and the indoor space was cozy in the winter. If I could, I would drive up for one last brunch with a friend (including a nice glass of wine), followed by shopping at Bibelot and a tour through Micawbers Bookstore, both on the same Como Avenue corner. Apparently upcoming street construction is a factor, but even this icon hasn’t been a money maker for some years. Sigh.

What are some of your favorite places that are no longer with us?

Juggling

Today’s post is from Barbara in Rivertown

I just made a list of activities for the next several days, and made a copy in case I lose track of it. We are preparing our friend – I’ll call him Will – to move from a 3-bedroom house (with full basement and 2-story studio out back) to a 1-bedroom apartment in downtown Winona. He has Parkinson’s disease which has progressed over the past year, so there is a core group of six friends who are helping with this project, and a son arriving on Saturday.

Having just moved ourselves over a year ago, we’ve at least had practice, and remember (most of) what needs to be done. Of course there are differences, and a few wrinkles, like a bed delivery, in addition to the usual phone connection transfers and truck rental. Since Will is pretty slow moving, there is still a lot of sorting to do before stuff can be packed. And once he’s in, we need to seriously get going on house selling. It feels like we are juggling a lot of balls in the air, and I just hope I don’t drop one.  I used to be able to juggle three balls, wonder if I can still do that.

When have you had a lot to juggle, either figuratively or literally?

What’s Up, Doc?

OK, so I missed International Rabbit Day by a few of Earth’s rotations. I discovered this when opening Saturday’s bing.com… Saturday’s bing.com  Who knew?

The following paragraph is from Wiki Wiki :  “Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha, found in several parts of the world. There are eight different genera in the family classified as rabbits, including the European rabbit, cottontail rabbits, and the Amami rabbit. There are many other species of rabbit, and these, along with pikas and hares, make up the order Lagomorpha. The male is called a buck and the female is a doe; a young rabbit is a kitten or kit.”

I got curious about the long-eared jumpers when I lived on the California coast, next to a vacant bunny-populated lot… loved watching them chase each other and jump in the air. I read half of The Secret Life of Rabbits by R.M. Lockley in the mid-70s (before leaving it on a plane); collected rabbit tchotchkes for a while; and still receive occasional rabbit gifts, most recently some beautiful note cards.

Some of my favorite rabbits are from children’s books – Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit books, of course, and Dubose Heywood’s The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes. But even adult lit has come up with good rabbit tales – Watership Down lingo Watership Down lingo has stayed with me for decades – silflay, hruduru… and I loved the characters’ names – Bigwig, Fiver, Efrafa, Cowslip…

Take a gander at more of these rabbits in literature

Do you have any rabbit stories?

What’s your favorite literary animal?

Its Own Magazine

Turns out the Mississippi River has its own magazine. I have finally finished reading my latest issue of Big River, which covers news of the Mississippi River from Minneapolis, MN, down to Muscatine, Iowa. Its byline is “Covering the heart of the Driftless Area for 24 years,” although there is usually some news about the Twin Cities. (The Driftless area includes Hastings and Red Wing, as well as La Crosse and Prairie du Chien in Wisconsin, Dubuque and the Quad Cities in Iowa, Galena in Illinois.) It is published six times a year here in Winona.

I devour this magazine. First I read all the Big River News segments, which give updates on everything from the Gulf of Mexico’s Dead Zone to a new plastic pollution problem:  tiny plastic particles from people’s microfiber jackets. Besides environmental issues, these paragraphs cover items like a new bike rental system in Clinton, IA, and an expansion of the National Eagle Center in Wabasha. My favorite tells of a new happy hour in St. Paul – the Kellogg Park Craft Beer Overlook: 3 to 6 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays till mid-October. This September-October issue also has a special sidebar detailing and picturing which ditch weeds to NOT PICK because some part of them is poisonous (poison hemlock, giant hogweed, wild parsnip, and cow parsnip).

Feature articles range from “A Tale of Two Neighborhoods”, about North Mpls. and Northeast Mpls, to a short two-pager on kestrels. For the exploring traveler, an article details sights and places between La Crosse, WI to Winona, MN. Restaurant and book reviews are regular features, as are lots of glossy ads – I don’t mind because they are for things and places that interest me.

I just checked, and Big River is available at Minneapolis’ Central Library, but only for “in-house” use. I’ll bring some back copies next time I get to BBC (Blevins Book Club – see top left of this “page”, under Blogroll).

What river, anywhere in the world, would you like to explore?

Name That Carrot

Husband is now able to put some weight on his right foot, by using one crutch and his walking cast. Yesterday he was able to do some garden harvest; he came up with some lovely carrots and potatoes, and of course thousands of cherry tomatoes.

In past years we have unearthed some wonderful carrots – here is one we called Carrot Man from 2014…

And today I can’t resist taking a couple of pictures of one special (set of) carrot. I had a caption ready for it/them, but thought it would be fun to let the baboons come up with a caption

Do you have a special vegetable memory in your past?

Name That Carrot.