Category Archives: Gatherings

Chance Meetings

We always seem to meet interesting people when we travel, and this trip is no exception. We arrived late in the evening into the Albuquerque airport and had to wait for our prearranged shuttle to take us to Santa Fe.  We waited with a fellow shuttle rider named Abdul. He was an Egyptian man, about 65 years old,  who had just arrived in Albuquerque from Alexandria via  Abu Dhabi and Los Angeles. He was very tall, well over 6 feet, and a professional chef who had worked for years in Santa Fe and was coming back to spend time in a cooperative community of scientists and artists outside of the town.  He gave us some sage advice on good restaurants to try, and which hyped ones to avoid.  He described preparing food as being just like composing and conducting music. We talked about how he manages his diabetes and how he loved teaching classes in Mediterranean cooking. I regret not being able to eat dishes he prepared.

Our second interesting meeting was with a man named Steven, a white man who owned a dusty shop chock full of indigenous art prints and native  ledger art.  He was in his late 60’s and was whittling bear root, an expectorant, to make into tea to help clear his chest from an attack of Spring allergies.  He and I had a serious talk on why the Kachina figure I have in our living room gives me nightmares (he said I had to change my way of living). His art prints were in huge stacks that would take hours to go through.  Husband plans to go back for more conversation and to look at more prints before we leave.

Tell about interesting people you have met on your travels.

Quantity Cooking

On Saturday night I finished baking the last of the 10 dozen sweet rolls for our hand bell choir’s Easter breakfast. We plan to serve sweet rolls and egg bakes to our congregation on Easter Sunday as the first fundraiser for our trip to New York in November when we play at Carnegie Hall.  They are quite large, and can be cut in two for an astounding number of rolls.  The other bell choir members are supplying the egg bakes.

The rolls are in our freezers and just need to be thawed and iced on Easter.  I will set them out to thaw in the church kitchen on Saturday when we rehearse with the brass quintet that is accompanying us on one of our pieces. We have two ovens in the church kitchen and we can have four egg bakes cooking and four keeping hot all at the same time.  It will take some coordination as we play at both the 9:00 and 10:30 services and will need to bake and serve and play bells, since people will be eating from 8:30 until 10:30.  I think we will be exiting and entering the sanctuary all throughout the services in between playing.  I just love doing things like this.

In true Lutheran Church Basement Ladies fashion, members of the funeral service committee have volunteered to help out.  It will be an exciting day.

What is the largest meal you ever helped prepare? What would you serve a crowd? 

Cookie Time!

Suddenly Girl Scouts and their cookies are everywhere. In the last few days I’ve come across Girl Scouts selling their wares at Cub Foods, at the liquor store, at the hardware store and even in the lobby of my concert Friday night!

This is rough on me because I am a sucker for a kid selling stuff for their cause, even if it is something I wouldn’t normally spend a dime on. Fruit from Boy Scouts, discount booklets from the high school basketball team, wrapping paper, candy bars, cookies, holiday wreaths, pizza.

When YA was a Girl Scout, she was the top seller for her age group in the Minneapolis area. She was ruthless – hitting on folks from my office, folks at church, all my friends and family.  She even talked with relatives out of town, convincing them to donate cookies to Second Harvest.  These sales paid for her trip to Girl Scout Camp every summer.  She was also a top fund raiser in school for years.

I think about her selling cookies whenever I come across a troop with a table full of goodies. Not a good value, of course, but it’s easier if you just think of it as charitable, tax deductible and edible!

Have you ever had to sell anything? Any good at it?

A Wonderful Life?

Today’s trail post comes to us from Occasional Caroline.

My aunt died at the end of January. She was ninety-onederful and a truly remarkable woman. She lived her life with purpose and gusto. In the late 60s, she created one of the first on-site daycare centers in the country, for the children of employees at a large hospital in her city. She marched with MLK in Selma. She was a trailblazer, a world traveler, an adventurer, a humanitarian, an influencer, a sailor, an animal lover, and an avid reader who instilled a love of reading in countless children. She had strong beliefs in justice, equality, and human rights, and she didn’t just believe in them, she lived them.

My cousin’s son wrote a wonderful tribute to her, that he read last week at her memorial service. Another eulogy read at the memorial, was written by the minister of the church she had attended for many years, before moving to Florida about 4 years ago. The eulogy started out normally enough, stating her date and city of birth, the names of her parents and sibling (my mother), and some accurate biographical information. Then, random events from someone else’s life began to be interspersed with the things we all recognized. I thought throughout the reading that there were things there that I didn’t recall, but I had never lived in the same city as my aunt, uncle and cousins, so even though we kept in touch quite well through the years, I accepted that I might have missed out on hearing about some aspects of their lives. However, the description of a family road trip when she and my mother were children, I couldn’t explain away.

My cousins and I discussed the service later that afternoon and we had all had the same reaction; WTH? There were life events scattered through the eulogy that none of us had ever heard of, and certainly had not submitted to the minister for inclusion in the service. When I got home, I went to see my mother, almost directly from the airport, and read a copy of the eulogy to her. My burning question was about the story of my grandparents and their two daughters taking a road trip to Mexico, having car trouble, eventually locating a mechanic who was able to order parts but couldn’t get them for several days, so he (the mechanic) invited the family to stay at his home until the parts arrived. When the car was fixed, the road trippers bid farewell to the kind mechanic and continued on their journey to Mexico. Enroute, they saw a man painting a mural and stopped so my grandfather could chat with the artist, who turned out to be Diego Rivera! My mother assured me, in no uncertain terms, that this was not something that had ever happened in any family she’s ever been a part of, or known about.

It’s a mystery, but we have two possible theories as to how this and several other heretofore unknown “family” events made it into the memorial service. Perhaps my aunt wrote her own augmented obituary, left it at the church with instructions that it be opened in the event of her death, just to mess with us. Or, more likely, the minister used a eulogy for another recently deceased woman with the same first name, as a boilerplate for the one she wrote for my aunt, and forgot to delete all the bits about the other dead lady.

In any event, the random additions to my aunt’s life story make for a quirky memory that will live on (and possibly be embellished) in family lore for years to come.

How would you “enhance” your obituary?

What Day Is It?

In December I picked up (on sale) the 2019 National Day Calendar: The Official, Authoritative Source for Fun, Unusual & Unique National Days. Thought it would be good for possible blog posts, but I’d kind of forgotten about it till now. I notice that March is full of them –  we’ve already missed:

– Read Across America Day – March 1, also called Dr. Seuss Day, and

– Fat Tuesday – March  5 – which was also Multiple Personality Day. (I wonder how you celebrate that?!)

However, we haven’t missed:

– International Women’s Day – March 8, of which you may be aware. And we know

– Pi Day – March 14 – is coming up next week, thanks to VS’ parties.

Here are more holiday highlights from the rest of March that you can still celebrate. I’ve found online explanations of how some of these “holidays” came to be. (I’m not taking time for details on all of these gems, so feel free to give us details on the ones I’ve neglected.)

 – Worship of Tools Day – March 11 ..“a day to go out into the garage, the tool shed, the storage closet or where ever it is you keep your tools. You can clean them, reorganize them, make something new with them or maybe go to the store and buy a new one.”

– Plant a Flower Day – March 12

– Good Samaritan Day – March 13

– Corned Beef & Cabbage Day – March 17   (not surprisingly)

– Awkward Moments Day – March 18

– Common Courtesy Day – March 21   (also French Bread Day)

– Near Miss Day – March 23 ..“an annual reminder of the day in 1989 when an asteroid nearly collided with the Earth.”

– Tolkien Reading Day – March 25 ..“organised by the Tolkien Society since 2003 to encourage fans to celebrate and promote the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien by reading favourite passages.

– Joe Day – March 27  “Enjoy a cup of ‘joe’ with all of your friends named Joe, Jo, Josette, Joey, Joseph, Josephine, Johanna, Joann, Jodie or any variant of the name Joe every year”

– Take a Walk in the Park Day – March 30

What holiday do you wish we could celebrate? When on the calendar would you put it?

Straight River

The sun was thinking about poking out of the clouds as tim and I drove down to the Central Park Coffee Shop in Owatonna for the launch of Straight River by our own Chris in Owatonna.  There was a nice crowd to welcome Chris’ new book, which is a “prequel” (is that truly a real word?) to his first book Castle Danger. Chris read a chapter from the book and also introduced the head of his local Big Brother/Big Sister organization.  A portion of Chris’ proceeds goes to support BB/BS, a group he has volunteered with for years.

It’s been three years of hard work for Chris, re-working, editing, sending the book to beta readers, re-working some more and editing some more. It was a nice launch for the book (cookies and lemonade too) and I’m looking forward to reading it.  Maybe this summer it can be one of our Blevin’s Book Club titles.  (It’s available already on Amazon in kindle format and Chris has links on his website to other ways to purchase it.)

Congratulations Chris – hope the third book in the trilogy comes a little easier!

You’ve just written a book.  Describe your main character!

Schwanda

I sometimes think that I am a pretty strange person. Take, for instance, yesterday when I made Martha Stewart’s yeasted pancakes and a pound of bacon and very strong coffee for three Ogalala Lakota Medicine men who were travelling through on their way back to  Pine Ridge.  We had a wonderful discussion about the stresses and universality of healing. They spoke of their “Uncle Russell” Means, who they knew well.  He was a traditional healer, too, and they said he spoke very eloquently at funeral ceremonies,

I also wonder about myself when I hear a piece on MPR and say without having to think,  “Oh, that is the Polka and Fugue from Schwanda the Bagpiper, an opera by Jaromir Weinberger”.  Who knows things like this? I played  the piece in concert band in college.  It is the sort of music that just sticks with you. Look up the synopsis of the opera. It is the silliest thing imaginable.

 

What arcane knowledge do you possess?