Category Archives: Gatherings

Front Yard Serenade

My nextdoor neighbor, Brian, is a school music teach and band director.  The last time he saw his “kids” was when they said good bye for spring break.  Then schools began to close, so they have had online classes but as you can imagine, band class isn’t quite the same and since Brian is changing schools this fall, he felt a little bad about not seeing them again.

The kids apparently felt badly as well because on Monday, the brass section, along with a drummer, showed up in the front yard and serenaded him for about 15 minutes.  It was a big surprise to Brian; the kids had set it up with his wife, Sarah.  By the end of the performance, quite an audience has gathered, on both sides of Lyndale. 

I know that other entertainments and festivities are happening in people’s front yards.  A young friend of mine had a drive-by college graduation and Tuey, a juggler that I like, has also been doing his show on front sidewalks during shelter-in-place.

I think this is a great way to celebrate even while social distancing.

What front yard entertainment would you like?

Darla Buys a Funeral Plot

My next door office mate, Darla, is just a joy. I have written about her  several times, and she never ceases to amaze and delight. She  monitors the services and care that Developmentally and Intellectually disabled individuals on her case load receive, and makes sure they are being treated appropriately. She has some fairly serious health complications of her own, yet is a fireball of energy with an infectious giggle and a wicked sense of humor.  Her latest quest, started, I suppose by the COVID-19 pandemic, is to have all her own end of life decisions and plans completed, and that means buying a funeral plot. Morbid, I admit, but the way she goes about these things is so refreshing and life-affirming.

Darla decided that she wanted to be cremated, and then buried in a plot near New Hradek, the small Czech community where her husband’s family has a farm, 5 miles north of our town.  She is from a German-Russian/German-Hungarian community 10 miles to the East, and has no intention of being buried in the Gladstone Cemetery.  Her parents are buried there, and she initially  thought she could save a lot of money if she and her husband were buried in the same plot, as all of them would be cremated. “How many urns can you fit in a plot?” she asked a local funeral director.  “They don’t take up that much space”.  He just rolled his eyes at her.  (They are old friends). She  got somewhat fanciful, and suggested that she and all of her seven brothers and their spouses could also be cremated and buried with their parents in the same plot, stacked like eggs in a double layer crate with the same sort of packaging between the urns.   None of her siblings thought that was a very good idea, so she returned to the New Hradek plan, and is waiting for the very elderly manager of the cemetery there to get back to her.  It is taking him a while.  “I just hope he didn’t wake up dead !” she said to me the other day.

Darla has a very specific directive for her husband if she goes first. He is to rent a coffin long enough so that all her DD clients can view her body and see and understand that she is really gone.  Then they can cremate her. I can hardly wait to hear how this all turns out.

What are your plans for eternity?  Got any good funeral stories?

Fire!

Years ago YA announced that her life would be considerably happier if we had a fire pit.  Having bonfires was a big deal in her peer group when she was in high school; if we had a fire pit, she could have friends over and life would be good.

I wasn’t particularly in favor of this, but we looked around.  Luckily this search got mentioned at my BFF’s house one night and she (my BFF) got all excited.  THEY had a fire pit that they didn’t use and had been thinking of getting rid of.  Did we want it?  YA wasn’t enthusiastic (as it wasn’t brand-spanking new) but she realized quickly that there was no way I was going to go out and spend a bunch of cash when something free was sitting right there.  So we hauled it home and she cleaned it up – voila!

Of course, the number of times it got used for her friends coming over amounted to just once.  I was pretty clear about no alcohol at our house and this was enough of a dis-incentive to her friends.  YA has never been a drinker but the crowd she ran with in high school apparently imbibed frequently (at least this is what she told me).  Our house was never a big hang-out house because of this and the backyard was just a continuation of that.

But now that we’re stuck at home, she has made it her mission to burn all the little sticks and old straw and small logs that have cluttered up the back of our yard for a while.  We’ve had a succession of fires now, always in the afternoon after we’ve done yardwork.  She does all the work – paper, kindling.  lighter.  Then she does all the fire maintenance as well, adding more sticks, blowing on it, poking it.  All I have to do is sit and enjoy.  I figure it’s going to take quite a few more bonfires to get everything cleared up and I’m looking forward to every one!

Anything you’ve started doing again in quarantine?

Breaking The Rules

Today we broke the rules, at least some, of the social distancing rules. Two dear friends, a married couple of licensed addiction counselors from the Rez came to town to sign their wills at their lawyer’s office, and we had them over for cheesecake and a nice visit over lunch. We hadn’t seen them since the summer. We didn’t hug or shake hands as we normally do (shaking hands is a really big deal with the ND tribes), and we sat about four feet apart at the dining room table, and we had a good talk. They brought a jar of tribal produced honey, and we gave them oatmeal bread, French Bread, and lefse. They showed us videos of their newborn Kiko goats, and we showed them photos of our grandson. It was nice, but odd with the lack of contact and the distance we put between ourselves. We were all very self aware of our coughing and took care to shield the others from our exhalations.

I am a pretty rigid rule follower, and this made me somewhat uneasy, but it felt like the right thing to do.

What sort of a rule breaker/risk taker are you? 

The Basement!

Photo credit: Wonderlane

I think I may have figured out how I am going to stay sane through all this isolation. I have “discovered” a new room on our house – heck, a new floor! – our Basement. Saturday (I may have mentioned here) we cleaned and organized enough that it feels comfortable down there. It’s an OLD basement (1930 era house) but at least it’s dry. There are five small windows, and the ceiling and walls are painted white, which makes it pretty light.

The joy of it is that I can spread out down there with my mask sewing project – there is room for a cutting table and ironing board. There’s an old rug under all this so my feet don’t get cold – if it feels too cool, I just add another layer. I still need a coffee kiosk, or I suppose I could go up to the “fireplace” niche in my (tiny) bedroom – the Break Room!

But the best thing about this is it feels a little bit “away” from the rest of my life now.  I have a commute – even if it is only up and down twelve steps, it will be a bit harder to get to the kitchen. And with a 900 sq. ft. house, it will give us both some well needed space. Heck, I might even get fully dressed to go to “work”.

Some of the “baboons” here (if you’re relatively new on the Trail, click on FAQ at the top) may already have this sort of space in their abode. If so,

is it useful at this time?

Is there some nook or cranny (attic, closet) at your about that you haven’t explored lately?

If you are living with others, do you have a place where you can get “away” if you want to?

3.14159265…..

I know you’re expecting to see details about Pi Day next week, but this year I’m going to change it up and write about Pi Day organization.  Here’s what it takes:

Already Done

  • Send out Evites. If you’re local, you got an evite, although I can’t guarantee they didn’t go to Spam.
  • Decide on pies. Mark the recipes with post-it notes.  11 this year – I can’t help myself
  • Make list of ingredients and then shop for those ingredients
  • Make little pie placecards and nametags
  • Make sure you have enough plates, napkins, forks
  • Check on red/white wine supply

Up Next

  • Go through recipes and sort out which are baked and which are non-baked
  • Figure out how many pie shells need pre-baking
  • Do any of those pre-baked ones need any chocolate coating or other prep?
  • Figure out what oven temperature is needed for the baked pies
  • Figure out what can be chopped/ground before Saturday
  • Make an actual schedule of the order of baking, set up by oven temperature needed

Friday night

  • Make the oatmeal cookies that become the crust for the Crack Pie
  • Make Crack Pie crust
  • Boil the condensed milk to make dulce de leche
  • Do any pre-baking of crusts and coat the chocolate ones
  • Do any nut chopping/grinding that needs doing

Saturday

  • Get up early and get started!!

Hopefully there will be time in here for a shower before everybody arrives!  Oh and here’s what’s on the menu:  Crack, Banoffee, Blueberry,  Dutch Apple, Red Velvet Whoopie, Reese’s, Pecan Dream, Shaker Lemon, Vanilla Crumb, Skillet Berry Cobbler and Pear Croustade.

Have I made you hungry or just tired?

My London Jumper

Last week, on what may very well have been the last below-freezing day we have this winter, I pulled what I lovingly refer to as “my London jumper” out of my closet. I bought this sweater over 30 years ago; it is black with various bright-colored threads woven through out – yellow, turquoise, red and blue.  It is a turtle neck and very warm so doesn’t get worn too often each winter.

When I went to London about 5 years back, I packed the sweater, thinking it might be a good thing for a chilly British evening (and, of course, it goes with anything). I did end up wearing it on the evening we visited the Aqua Shard, a restaurant on the 34th and 35th floor of The Shard, the tallest building in the U.K.   The group I was with had a few drinks and were coming down in the elevator when a young man (probably in his early 30s) noticed my sweater, or “jumper” as they say across the pond.  He gushed over my sweater, made sure everyone in the elevator noticed it and eventually put his arms around me and asked if I wanted to join his little group.  Obviously there was some alcohol involved.  I said no and at the end of the elevator ride, his group and mine went our separate ways.

I’ve told this story to a few folks over the years but last week, when someone asked me about it, they were horrified about the fact that I was “assaulted” (their word) on a work trip. Had I reported it in London?  Did I report it at work once I got home?  I feel strongly about the MeToo movement but I don’t believe that every time one person touches another, it is “assault”.  I was in a large group of people in the elevator, some of whom were with me, the young man was not aggressive, his hug did not include any kind of groping and importantly, when we got to the ground floor, he didn’t make any attempt to force me to go with his group.  I didn’t feel a moment of anxiety and I actually laughed at the time – not out of nervousness, but because I genuinely found the whole scenario funny.

So I still think of this sweater fondly as my “London jumper” as it reminds me of an amusing experience on a nice trip.

Does any of your clothing have a backstory?