Category Archives: Gatherings

FRFF 2020

I have come to love Winona’s film festival , which happens each winter after the Superbowl, and celebrated 15 years this past weekend. At the same time, I sort of brace myself because I know I’ll probably attend close to a dozen films or film sets over the span of five days, and there’s precious little time for anything else.

The films are documentaries from 4 to 84 minutes in length, concentrated on Saturday-Sunday on the WSU Campus. At the atrium of the Science Lab Center are food vendors, ticket sales and merchandise, display booths, and conversation corners for those who would like to continue discussing what they just viewed. Other local venues include the Winona Cinema 7, Senior High School, and this year there was an early day of films in Lanesboro, MN, the previous weekend. Clusters of shorter ones include the Adventure Set, Moving Mountains Set, Indomitable Spirit Set, a Local Set…

Husband and I volunteer as ushers/ticket-takers for two of the sets, which gets us a weekend pass to all films. (!) My favorite mind-bending films this time around began on Wednesday evening with Hillbilly – how we have stereotyped people of Appalachia, and how that has created the perfect “soil” for Trumpism.

Frozen Friday was wonderful:

– at the Library: I wish everyone could see The Economics of Happiness, an overview of how globalization has changed the world, and how we might survive this.

– at the Sr. Friendship Center:  Love is Listening: Dementia without Loneliness – who knew this is how to get under all the surface stuff and just be with people?

– at St. Mary’s Univ. Student Center:  The Francis Effect – the impact the current Pope has made in the world, on groups and individuals.

Saturday, I started out with The Serengeti Rules – a cadre of nature researchers have discovered that the natural world operates differently than previously though (another “must see” in my opinion), if you look over the long term. While “working” as ushers, we viewed Singing in the Grain, highlighting the music that holds Minnesota’s Czech communities together, in New Prague et al; and Blood Memory, on reparations just now being made to First Nations People who were impacted by adoption/foster care forced on them in the last century.

Sunday featured a rather disjointed but still powerful film (produced and narrated by Jeff Bridges), an overview of our current global situation:  Living in the Future’s Past.

Lest you think it sounds way too “heavy”, I also saw a horse painting pictures (My Paintbrush Bites), a goatherd high in the Tibetan steppes on her cell phone as her son played stick hockey (Jagrlama), and a club that predicts when celebrities are going to kick the bucket (Riplist).

What was the last documentary you saw?  Do you ever attend film festivals?

Book Tour

Last Thursday I met a friend at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for a book tour. These are free tours that they provide every Thursday night (although never go on the third Thursday…..) in which the docents pick whatever pieces they want to illustrate some aspect of the chosen book.  This month the book is The Great Reckoning by Louise Penny.  As one of my favorite authors, I didn’t want to miss this one.

My friend and I are always curious to see what the docents come up with. There are no required choices and I discovered a couple of years ago (long story about going twice in one month with different friends) that each docent chooses their own artwork to spotlight.  So you never know exactly what you’re going to get.  On Thursday it was all modern artwork and even after the docent explained her reasoning for choosing a couple of the pieces, my friend and I were still a little mystified.  This isn’t a problem, as no matter what the reasoning, we’re getting to see art and talk about books.  Hard to go wrong there.

Next month the book is The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg.  I’ve heard of the author but not the title.  I have it requested from the library; hopefully I’ll get it in time.

What book would you like the Institute to add to the tour list? And if you had to choose a piece of art to go with it?

Chinese New Year

Happy Year of the Rat!

When I adopted YA from China, there was an enormous amount of support for the new family I was creating. There were adoption magazines, online forums and a very active local chapter of Families with Children from China.  You know me, I dived right in, learning about traditional holidays in China as well as taking part in gatherings with other adoptive families and even subscribing to two adoptive magazines.  We even traveled to Illinois once to go to an adoptive family conference when YA was 3.

I dropped the magazines early on; they were really depressing, overwhelmingly focused on all the negative aspects of adoption and very few of the joys. Then when YA was about five and I was signing us up for another “culture camp” (these were annual weekends), she said “Do we have to go?  They’re boring.”  So that was the end of culture camps and big FCC gatherings.

When she was in middle school I was informed that the Chinese delicacies that I had taught myself to cook for CNY weren’t that great. Could we just have take-out instead?  Okey dokey.

Then when she was in high school and I was in a whirlwind of cleaning before Chinese New Year (it’s traditional to really clean the house before CNY so the kitchen god and goddess give a good report on your household to the emperor of heaven), she said “You know, I don’t really care about this, so if you’re doing it for me, you don’t have to.”

So here I am, several years later, still caring about this holiday that I embraced when she was a child. I still have little figurines of the kitchen god and goddess; I still try to get the house spiffed up before the new year and I still have a my best friend and her hubby over for a nice take out dinner to celebrate the new year.  I don’t put out a lot of decorations, although there are a few things I’ll put out.  I had a toilet tank topper made from some fun Asian-designed fabric last year, so that’s a must and a great dragon flag for the front of the house.  I do make a few CNY cards.   YA just rolls her eyes.

What will you be up to while I’m celebrating the Year of the Rat?

RIP Terry Jones

Amid all the insanity this week, the saddest news to me is the passing of Terry Jones.

I discovered Monty Python when I was in high school. This was before the television show but I had all their record albums.  One of favorites was Eric the Half a Bee:

Another favorite was An Elk:

By the time I got to Carleton, the television show was airing on Sunday nights and I was a founding member of the 4th Burton Penguin Society:

We got together every Sunday night to watch the show and drink Fosters (do not ask me why we thought we needed to drink Australian beer while watching an English comedy show – I don’t remember at all). All of us in the “club” had a small ceramic penguin; I still have mine and keep in my studio

When Monty Python and the Holy Grail came out, I laughed until I cried and went back to the theatre three times in the next couple of weeks. I have it on DVD but it loses a bit on the small screen, especially the moose credits at the beginning.  YA doesn’t even begin to understand the appeal of Monty Python.  But I loved the irreverence, the silliness, the fun graphics and the craziness of some of the sketches.  This was a great team.  It was sad to lose Graham Chapman too soon and now Terry Jones.  I gave all the record albums to tim last year because I didn’t have a turntable anymore, but I am enjoying the tv shows that are running these days and, of course, you can find a lot of it on youtube, but it’s not quite the same as crowding around a small black and white tv set in a dorm room on 4th Burton, seeing them for the first time.

Who has made you laugh over the years?

 

No More Booze Cruise

In the news this week, the Spanish Balearic Islands have decided to re-brand themselves. Apparently the islands (which include Majorca and Menorca) have a hard-hitting party buzz and it’s becoming a problem.

Starting this week there are several new laws being enacted to try to get the problem under control: no more party boats with the drinking the only agenda, happy hour specials are prohibited and once the clock strikes 9:30 p.m. no more alcohol can be sold until 8 a.m. the next morning. In addition pub crawls will now be against the law, as well as “balconing” (which I had never heard of) – the dangerous craze of jumping off balconies into swimming pools.

The new laws will be in place for at least five years in attempt to encourage “respectful tourism”.

Any bad behavior you’d like to blame on too much imbibing?

Weddings and Rice

As I was walking out of the co-op the other day, I looked down to see a large splotch of rice in the parking lot. The kind of splotch that can only be achieved by having your bag of rice break open while you’re carrying it to the car (you can guess why I know this).  My first thought was that the local birds would be happy but then I remembered that supposedly uncooked rice is bad for birds, which is why they throw birdseed now at weddings.

Then when I got home, I discovered that YA had received TWO “save-the-date” cards.

Wedding reminder #3 was when I was watching Cake Boss that night and one of the bakers (sorry I don’t watch this enough to know any of their names) was celebrating a milestone anniversary with a big party and a wedding cake. When the couple began to cut the cake and feed each other, I cringed, hoping they wouldn’t smash the cake into each other’s faces.  I detest that.

So all these wedding reminders in one day made me think about weddings how the traditions have changed over the years. My first wedding, which was completely orchestrated by my mother, was fairly traditional.  Church, gown, reception, cake (unsmashed), lots of people I didn’t know.  My second wedding was the exact opposite, we met the judge at  Good Earth restaurant and were married at the table with our server, Philip and the server from the next section, Sarah, as our witnesses.  Honeymoon at Day tons that afternoon.  I am much more fond of my Good Earth wedding memories than my traditional ones so it makes me wonder why so many brides and bridegrooms adhere so stickily to all the “musts” when getting married.  Why not do something different, stretch their boundaries, find things that are meaningful instead of just traditional. Those of you with psychology degrees, any ideas?

If you were planning your wedding today, how would you like it to go? (Like all good fantasies, money is no object.)

Tissue Time

I went over to Tom and Lori’s last night to help them with some last-minute packing. When I got there, Lori handed me a small bag with my name on it.  “We got this for you at the State Fair.”  What you need to know is that Lori and Tom love the State Fair as much as I do.  We usually meet up once or twice a year, although we don’t spend long periods of time together, as we like different things.  They love to shop in the Grandstand and Lori loves to sit through lots of radio shows.  Oh and she loves Math on a Stick.

When I started to open the little bag, I said “this isn’t going to make me cry, is it”? They both said no but as you can guess, it did make me cry.  A little rock with the Chinese character for friends.  It’s exactly the kind of item that I would never acquire for myself but will now keep forever.

So we cried a little last night and I’ll go home mid-day today to wave goodbye as they depart the neighborhood – so probably some more tears at that point too. Remind me to take tissues.

What can make you tear up?