Category Archives: Gatherings

An Apple a Day?

My dad was a big baby about getting sick.  Luckily he didn’t get sick often – mostly when my mom would just be recovering from something.  Right about the time she was feeling a bit better, he would come down with whatever bug had afflicted her.  My sister and I had always joked about it but then it got really funny the summer before my junior year when he caught my mom’s “persistent stomach flu” and it turned out she was actually pregnant. 

That old trope about women marrying men like their fathers hit a little too close to home with my second was-band.  He was pathetic and unbelievably whiny when he was ill – to the point that I was usually out of patience within the first 24 hours.  Me!

With these shining examples, I’ve pretty much always kept my sicknesses to myself.  Since my doctors figured out my adult-onset allergies, I’ve actually been quite healthy for the last 20 years, including managing to get through pandemic so far without contracting any of the variants.  Then last week I came down with a cold (yep, just a cold; I’ve tested twice).  It’s the first time I’ve had a cold in at least 10 years. 

Being retired, I didn’t need to call in sick so except for an occasional “stuck with a summer cold” text, I was pretty much just laying low.  As the weekend approached, I realized I might have a couple of conflicts that didn’t jive well with having a bad cold.  First was my other book club that was scheduled at my house on Saturday morning.  One of the members is a little fragile; didn’t want to her to catch the cold and honestly I wasn’t up to cooking and getting the place picked up.  On Friday morning I contacted everybody and re-scheduled.  Was still hoping to attend Steve’s celebration in person – tripled masked and standing in the back of the room.  Saturday morning I was still too symptomatic so switched to the virtual celebration.

It made me feel a little silly, bowing out of commitments I had made, just because of a cold, and I worried a bit that I was blowing my cold out of proportion, acting like my dad or my was-band.  But if pandemic has done anything good, it’s made me realize that I really shouldn’t drag my contagious germs around and expose innocent folks, even if it’s “just a cold”.  And I did put on a dressy shirt and earrings for the virtual!

Guess I have a couple more days of laying low and looking up silly sick memes.

How do you take care of yourself when you’re sick?

Suiting Up

It’s amazing to see what folks wear to the State Fair.

In addition to just walking around, YA and I have two times every day at the fair to just sit and watch the fair world go by: while waiting for the dog dock diving show and the parade.  For both of these, you really need to score a good seat about 30 minutes ahead of time.

The basic uniform for the fair is shorts and a shirt.  Of course, shorts covers a lot of ground: khakis, cut-offs, lycra/spandex.  Long, short, shorter and really short.  All kinds of colors.   Men tend to t-shirts – lots of sports logos and graphic tees, although not very many political slogans this year.  Women wear a bigger variety of shirts – some graphic tees but more casual print tops.  From very loose to painted on.

An overwhelming number of woman wear sandals, some high heels, some tennis shoes.  Men are almost all about tennies.  A few sandals but not many.

Of course, there are lots of other outfits – joggers, yoga pants, jeans, the occasional dress or skirt.  Some folks are strutting their stuff, others are pretty well covered up. If you can imagine it, somebody is probably wearing it at the fair.

Me and YA?  We’re right in line with the majority of fairgoers.  I’m khaki shorts, print top, birkenstocks.  YA is black shorts, solid color top, birkenstocks.  Every now and then I might wear a t-shirt, but not so far this year!

Have you ever had to wear a uniform?

Aaaaahhhhh

You all know that Irish Setters are the first dogs in my heart.  But the last Wednesday of every August, Golden Retriever Day at the Fair is one of my favorite days of the year.  There is just something about a whole bunch of Golden Retrievers together, all fluffy and happy, wanting nothing more than to be petted and loved on by an adoring public.

This year I counted 29, although there might have been a couple more.  There was an agility demonstration, an obedience demonstration, field retrievals and flyball.  And more than just about any other breed, these Goldens are amazingly happy to strut their stuff.  Most dog groups do their demonstrations and then bring the dogs over to the fence for the audience to meet and greet.  On Golden Retriever Day, they START at the fence, then do demos, then come BACK to the fence.  Because there is no such thing as too much attention for a Golden.

We probably spent close to an hour up at the Pet Pavilion and I have to admit that as we walked away, I felt a wonderful sense of release and peace wash over me; therapy dogs without any vests.   I think I could have stayed all day.

Anybody know the names of the very first two Golden Retrievers (from 1889)?  What name do you think is good for a dog?

Paradise Farm

Because our green beans were hailed out in June, we went to the local farmers market to get some. Green beans from the garden are so good.

It was a busy day at the farmers market, as the local tomatoes are just now coming in, and there is lots of other produce. The high school marimba band was playing as a fundraiser, so it was even more festive than usual. I can’t imagine the amount of work that these local gardeners have to do to get their crops to market.

I find a lot of peace and satisfaction gardening. I wondered what life would be like if I gardened full time and became a market gardener.

Hard work, but fun. I certainly wouldn’t want to have to make a living doing it. In my garden fantasy I see us putting in a couple of acres of butternut squash and cantaloupes, harvesting lovely, pest free crops and selling them to happy, grateful consumers. A dream, I know, but nice to have when life gets hectic.

If you were a farmer, what would you want to grow and produce? What is some of your favorite marimba, xylophone, or vibraphone music and musicians?

What’s My Line?

Wednesday night, husband and I attended a meeting at church for the people in the congregation who volunteer and serve most often. There were about fifty of us there, and the aim of the meeting was to brainstorm to identify and recruit more people in the congregation who could also do what we do. Our pastor is worried about burn out for us. There are about seven hundred active members in our church.

There are a lot of committees and groups that are essential for keeping our services and programs running. At the meeting were the ushers, people from the altar guild, the assisting ministers, the musicians, service committee, and Wednesday School teachers (we have Wednesday school instead of Sunday School). Husband and I are primarily assisting ministers and musicians. I was fascinated to observe how the jobs we volunteer for at church seem to fit our various personalities.

The folks in the usher group were the most gregarious in the meeting. Ushers like to meet and greet, and we had to keep shushing them so we could hear what the other participants were saying. Husband and I were in the group that was coming up with names for the assisting ministers. I I noted our group was made up of all professionals and the most educated of all the participants. We were also the most serious. The assisting ministers serve communion and read the lessons, which can be sort of sobering.

The altar guild makes sure the front of the church looks perfect before services, and that the altar cloths are wrinkle free and even, the wine and wafers are all ready for communion, the candles are lit, and the decorations and banners are seasonal and tidy. While the rest of us were seated haphazardly in the meeting room I was tickled to see that the members of the altar guild were all seated perfectly evenly spaced around their table.

The money counters were the quietest participants. They come on Wednesdays and count the Sunday collection and bring it to the bank for deposit. It seemed to me that as a group they don’t want to draw a lot of attention to themselves with the money in their safe keeping.

The service committee decorates the rest of the church that the altar guild doesn’t decorate, and provides and serves the food at funeral lunches and church potlucks. They were more likely than the rest of us to see congregation members in venues outside of the Sunday services, and seemed to have the low down on the names that were suggested for various committees. “Don’t ask Marlon to be an assisting minister. He won’t want his wife to sit by herself during the service,” and “They can’t help as youth mentors unless they have childcare. They have little ones at home, you know”.

I suppose it isn’t surprising that people are drawn to activities that suit their temperaments, but it was just delightful to notice now blatant were the differences between the groups.

Are there tasks you are drawn to or repelled by in the groups or organizations you belong to? What old game shows did you watch when you were a kid?

Puppy’s First Pow Wow

Last Saturday we drove 70 miles to Twin Buttes, a small community on the Fort Berthold Reservation to see dear friends there at the pow wow. It didn’t go well.

Our friend, Linda, was back home and ill. Her husband was there in his camper, so we could hang out with him and his extended family. Unbeknownst to us, Puppy had ingested a whole bunch of grape vine bark from our deck before we left, and hurled in the van on the way to the pow wow. He was terrified of the drumming, even though we were in the campground and fairly far from the arbor where the drums and dancing were. The dancers in their regalia frightened him. (He is Czech, you know and was expecting polkas.) There were lots of clumps of mowed and dried foxtail grass where our friend had his camper, and Puppy started to devour them in an attempt to hurl up the remaining grape vine bark. The grass stuck in his fur and in his throat, and he coughed and gagged, and he was not receptive to the attentions of our friend’s great nieces and nephews who wanted to pet him. He continued to hurl grape bark and foxtail grass for a couple of days after we got home. I am still combing fox tail burrs out of his fur.

What frightened you as a child? What frightens you now? What kind of dancing to you like?

A Sense of Community

Last Friday morning we got a call on our landline from a retired Lutheran pastor named Roger, who wanted to know if one of us would be available later in the morning to give his horticulture club a tour of our church garden. They were touring several local gardens as well as the NDSU Extension gardens in town. I had time, so I met him and his group in the garden along with our senior pastor, Lisa. It was a blast!

I have known of Pastor Roger for years, as he worked in some smaller communities south of us, and also was a licensed counselor. We often referred clients to one another. He is retired and lives in Medora, our cowboy town in the Badlands. He is kind of a character. As Pastor Lisa said “You never know what Roger is going to ask you”. I had never met him in person, though.

Roger and about 25 retirement-age garden club members arrived at the church garden, which is located just behind the church parking lot. Some club members were from as far afield as Valentine, NE and Hermosa, SD. I knew several of them as former foster parents . Most lived in smaller towns in our region. Lisa and I told them the history of our garden, and then the questions started.

Our garden consists of six, waist high. raised beds for vegetables, a central space with a fire pit and benches for gatherings and contemplation, and walkways with flower beds. Husband and I primarily take responsibility for the vegetable beds, all the produce going to the food pantry. We invited the congregation to adopt a flower pot to plant flowers in this spring, and there are about fifteen pots lining the walkways. We planted everbearing strawberries that are spreading all over. The children like to eat them after services. As hard as we try, there are weeds, and congregation members weed sporadically in the flower beds. The questions were numerous.

“Why don’t you have fruit trees? You should plant fruit trees. There are disease resistant varieties, you know. You could have a grape arbor, but if you plant pear trees, make sure you plant two. What kind of cabbages are those? (They are savoy cabbages). What do you cook with them? Cod bundles? Minestrone? How interesting! Where did you get the recipes? What do you use for cabbage moths? Bacillus Thuringiensis? That is organic, isn’t it? What seed companies do you get these from? Do the people at the food pantry even know what pattypan squash are? Cold hardy spinach? How do you spell that variety name? Oh, come here so we can take your picture as we give you this gift card”. I answered the best I could. I was thankful I had reminded myself of all the vegetable variety names ahead of time.

All through this barrage of questions, the club members couldn’t stop themselves from pulling up every weed they saw and pinching off the spent blossoms from the flower pots. It was as though a swarm of weeding locusts had descended on the garden. Roger lectured every chance he got about the link between horticulture and spirituality. Husband and I are now invited to his house in Medora for supper. He has some white iris to give us for the church flower beds.

I love being part of a community. I chuckled all Friday about the meeting with Roger and his group. With Pastor Lisa’s blessing, I plan to use the gift card for more iris.

What communities are you part of? What do you have a hard time stopping yourself from doing? Who were the “characters” you remember in your life?

I Love a Parade

I believe every little town in the land has some kind of summer weekend festival/carnival. The Twin Cities’ one grew into the Aquatennial. Winona calls theirs Steamboat Days, and it happened this past weekend.

Husband and I pretty much steer clear of the crowds and the midway at this point, partly because our bodies no longer enjoys things like the Tilt-a-whirl. But there are a couple of things I like to do:

– the Vintage Car Show – 3 blocks of downtown cordoned off, for a walk down memory lane. (Click on link for actual colorful photo…)

– and The Parade. Quoting from the Winona Post:  “The Winona Steamboat Days Grande Parade is… packed with great enterainment including the U.S. Marine Corp Band from New Orleans, the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, 34th Infantry Red Bull Army Band, area community royalty and several awesome high school bands…” 

The Parade at noon on Sunday is kind of a big deal – I think it’s the only city-wide parade all year. People start staking out their territory on Saturday, cordoning off their turf or setting out awnings, blankets, and lawn chairs. I got there right at noon, expecting to just stand, but was able to sit on an unoccupied stair step for a while – Husband came later.

There was an enterprising guy with a wagon stuffed with bags of kettle corn for $6. . There were Clydesdale horses, a collection of colorful Jeeps, and a person on stilts.

Winona’s Clown Club gave the Shriners some competition, and there was a group of little dancers from a local ballet studio that stole the show for a while there.

Winona’s own Little Warriors Drum Corps brought up the rear – they are amazing when they are in there element, many ages and cultures of kids who have found a place to showcase their talent. (Wish you could see the littlest guy better.)

When was the last time you watched a parade, or attended a summer festival?

Where else have you been able to gather where there are people of all ages, and from all walks of life?

Retiring? Who Me?

Photo credit:  Aaron Burden

The announcement about my retirement has finally been made (took my boss and her boss about three weeks to try to talk me out of it).

One of my co-workers, in a very serious tone said “but what are you going to do with all your time”.  She wasn’t joking (although I had assumed she was).  How could she not know me after working in the same department for 20 years together.

Without even a thought I rattled off:

    • Reading
    • Gardening
    • Cooking/Baking
    • Crafting
    • Walking the dog
    • Volunteering
    • Home improvement projects
    • Travel
    • Hang with friends

I put an app on my phone that is counting down for me.  Kinda fun.  Right now as I’m typing it’s: 1 month, 18 days, 15 hours, 53 minutes and 32 seconds.

Anything I’m missing on my list?

 

Cowboy Poetry

We were in Medora, ND last weekend to hike in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It was a busy weekend in Medora, as the 36th Annual Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering was being held in the community center. We didn’t attend this year, but we did several years ago. Cowboy poets, singers, and musicians perform, and lots of poetry is read aloud.

There are many cowboy poetry events all across the western US from, ND to CO to TX. All the poets we saw in Medora were or had been working cowboys, and their poetry reflected their experiences working cattle and being out on the range. The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV seems to be the most famous, and was started in 1985 after Willie Nelson got funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Themes for cowboy poetry include ranch work, cowboy values and practices, western landscape, references to the past, and issues with modern , urban life. Most cowboy poetry rhymes. There is very little free verse. Here is a classic example by an anonymous poet:

Oh, music springs under the galloping hoofs,
Out on the plains;
Where mile after mile drops behind with a smile,
And to-morrow seems always to tempt and beguile,—
Out on the plains.

Oh, where are the traces of yesterday’s ride?
There to the north;
Where alfalfa and sage sigh themselves into sleep,
Where the buttes loom up suddenly, startling and steep,—
There to the north.

Oh, rest not my pony, there’s youth in my heart,
Out on the plains;
And the wind sings a wild song to rob me of care,
And there’s room here to live and to love and to dare,—
Out on the plains.

Another example by an anonymous poet.

The bawl of a steer
To a cowboy’s ear
Is music of sweetest strain;
And the yelping notes
Of the gray coyotes
To him are a glad refrain.

And his jolly songs
Speed him along
As he thinks of the little gal
With golden hair
Who is waiting there
At the bars of the home corral.

For a kingly crown
In the noisy town
His saddle he wouldn’t change;
No life so free
As the life we see
‘Way out on the Yaso range.

His eyes are bright
And his heart as light
As the smoke of his cigarette;
There’s never a care
For his soul to bear,
No trouble to make him fret.

The rapid beat
Of his bronco’s feet,
On the sod as he speeds along,
Keeps living time
To the ringing rhyme
Of his rollicking cowboy’s song.

Hike it, cowboys,
For the range away
On the back of a bronc of steel,
With a careless flirt
Of the raw-hide quirt
And the dig of a roweled heel.

The winds may blow
And the thunder growl
Or the breeze may safely moan;
A cowboy’s life
Is a royal life,
His saddle his kingly throne.

Saddle up, boys,
For the work is play
When love’s in the cowboy’s eyes,
When his heart is light
As the clouds of white
That swim in the summer skies.

What are some of your favorite poems? Do you like rhyme or free verse? What topics would you write about if you wrote poetry about your job or profession?