Category Archives: Gatherings

Inauguration Poetry

I’m not an inauguration kind of person.  I know they happen, but political speeches just don’t do it for me.  Even on a day when I was particularly glad that a certain inauguration was happening, I just didn’t want to watch.  Except for the poetry.  I can’t put the whole poem here (copyright issues) but I like this part quite a bit:

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:

That even as we grieved, we grew

That even as we hurt, we hoped

That even as we tired, we tried

I was surprised to discover that only four presidents have included poetry at their inaugurations: JFK, Clinton, Obama and now Biden (Carter had a poem but it was read at the gala not the swearing-in ceremony).   It will be interesting to see if the other party eventually decides to add poetry to their inauguration traditions.

While I’m happy about events this week, I admit I am still shaken by what the last four years has unearthed and disgorged in our nation.  So here is my haiku for the inauguration:

Breathing easier –

But still worried about us,

Too many crazies.

Any poetry speaking to you this week?  Yours or anybody else’s?

New Year

Our day and evening will be spent with our busy 2 year old grandson and his parents. We typically don’t whoop it up much for New Year’s. We will cook a nice dinner and probably go to bed early.

My mother spent New Year’s Eve of 1944 in New York City with cousins who grew up in Manhattan.  They took her to the Stork Club. We have a photo somewhere of her in a fancy hat holding a glass of champagne. The only thing she ever said about it was that she didn’t like it when everyone started kissing each other at midnight. I wish I had asked her more about the club and her experiences in New York.

What will today and this evening be like for you? Any memorable New Year’s Eves for you or your family?

Comfort Ye

Husband announced the other day that he considers Gjetost to be a comfort food. I have never considered it to be so, but he was really happy when he found some at the store earlier this month.  It is too sweet and chalky for my tastes.

This is a year that has screamed a need for comfort. It has been hard to find at times over the past ten months.  I think the worst day in memory was yesterday, as we anxiously waited to see if Daughter’s plane left Denver with her on it.  We hadn’t seen her for a year.  Her flight into Bismarck on Tuesday was cancelled, and she couldn’t get a flight home until Christmas Eve. She had an excellent  time with her grandmother. though, which was a comfort to both of them.

I was so worried all day yesterday.  I tried to distract myself with music. The King’s College Lessons and Carols service was a good start, but it was a really long day. I made some soup, cleaned the kitchen, played solitaire, did laundry, and wrapped some presents, all with a horrid sense of dread and apprehension.  Our cat must have sensed my distress, as she stayed unusually close by me all day.

The only thing that would provide comfort for me was to hear that she was boarding her plane, and then to give her a big hug (but not, she insisted, until she showered to get the Covid germs off her). She was texting us  in caps as she waited for the plane to take off.

What foods, books, music, people, places, activities, or  other things give you comfort these days?

Not Even The Queen

A grad school friend of mine from Montreal told the story of her father at meal time. They were a working class family, but at every meal her father would  proclaim “Not even the Queen is eating a meal as good as this!”

I think that was a charming thing for him to say, and may have set the stage for gratitude from his family for what they had.

What do you imagine are the pros and cons of being the Queen?  In what way  is your life better than hers?  What will you eat this holiday season that the Queen might be envious of?

Playing Naked

Husband and I played bells and sang in the choir in three church services yesterday, the last one our annual Lessons and Carols service with musicians from the local LDS Church. After each reading there is a hymn sung by the congregation and an ensemble performance.

Bell ringers wear gloves so that the oils from their hands don’t tarnish the bells. I inadvertently left my gloves in the pew in which I was sitting when I went up to play one of our pieces, and I didn’t want to hold up the service to run back to the pew, so I played naked, (without gloves,  in bell ringer vernacular). Everyone else wore black gloves.  I play in the back row, so I didn’t think anyone would notice. I  hate forgetting things.

How is your memory these days? When have you forgotten something important? How do you keep track of important things?

Proceeding Hopefully

In about three weeks,  we will be in a new month and new year.  I have never gone through such an extended period of change at work, societal upheaval,  and perpetual anxiety.  I am beginning to see some glimmers of a more  positive existence,  and have allowed myself to have some hope.

It has been a few weeks since the governor of ND issued his mask mandate, and while there are still people who go maskless, the number of people wearing masks has increased very noticeably.  It is also very interesting that the number of new, positive cases has dropped precipitously since the mask mandate was issued.  Oh, I know it will go up due to Thanksgiving  gatherings, but the trend of increased mask wearing is encouraging.

Our Tortie was near death a month ago.  Now she is thriving on a maintenance dose of steroids.

My workplace is finally settling down after our move, numerous technology changes, staff turnover, and treatment paradigm shift,  with  good administrators in charge and people getting necessary things done that were neglected for a couple of years.

I try not to wallow in political news since it keeps me awake at night, but that is starting to look more positive,  too, in terms of the changes in administrations.  I also am hopeful now that the seed catalogue are arriving in the mail.

What glimmers of hope are you seeing? What are you hopeful for in the new year?

Problematic Hymns

Our church choir, usually at about eighteen voices, is now down to five, (two altos, one mezzo soprano, and two tenor/baritones). The director is an operatic type of soprano who can sing and direct at the same time, and the accompanist is a very fine bass/baritone who can’t sing and play at the same time.  He just accompanies, and does it very well.  We sing masked and socially distanced, which is interesting in terms of listening to one another and blending.  We sing once a month.

I love to sing in the church  choir.  I have mixed feelings about sitting in the congregation and singing hymns.  I grew up in a Norwegian Lutheran congregation in South West Minnesota, and we had to sing every blessed verse in every hymn on Sunday.  To this day I just cringe when I have have to sing  four or more verses in the hymns.  I like the sentiment in the early verses, but I am more drawn to the melody and harmonies.

The folks we sing with in choir are an opinionated bunch when it comes to hymns. The accompanist, a retired high school choir director,  blanches when Amazing Grace is in the bulletin.  He can’t stand it for some reason.  The mezzo soprano, an elementary music teacher, refuses to sing Blessed Assurance  because she finds it so smarmy, and my fellow alto, a college librarian, cringes at Holy, Holy, Holy  because she had to sing it so often as a child.  I am drawn to mournful Scandinavian, German, and English tunes, but please don’t make me sing more than two verses of anything.

When I attended Concordia College in the 1970’s, the Concert Choir sang what I thought was a very odd song written by Paul J. Christiansen,  the choir director at the time,  based on Carl Sandburg’s  Prayers of Steel:

Lay me on an anvil; O God.
Beat me and hammer me into a crowbar.
Let me pry loose old walls.
Let me lift and loosen old foundations.
Lay me on an anvil, God.

Beat me and hammer me into a steel spike.
Drive me into the girders that hold a
skyscraper together.
Take red-hot rivets and fasten me into the
central girders.
Let me be the great nail holding a skyscraper
through blue nights
into white stars.

I don’t know If I would have chosen this as the text for a sacred song, but hey, it only has two verses.

What are your favorite songs?  What songs can’t you stand?  What do you like to sing?

Lights – My Way

For the last 35 years my best friend (Sara) and her husband (David) have come over to help decorate the Christmas tree.  We have cookies along with hot chocolate and Baileys.  Real whipped cream.

About 30 years ago, I was a little too vocal about how I like the lights as David was putting them on the tree.  He stopped, handed me the remaining lights and “suggested” that I should probably do the lights from then on.  He was correct.  I like the lights to peek out from the interior of the tree and for at least 20 years I’ve had lights that slowly fade on and off as well. 

Covid means no tree trimming party this year, so I was thinking there was no rush to get the lights on the tree.  YA thought otherwise and asked me repeatedly when I was going to put the lights up (we got the tree on Friday).  She even took the lights out – hence the decorated dog in the photo. 

When I eventually relented and started with the tree, she sat on the steps and watched.  Then she made a recommendation.  Then another.  I told her the story of David handing me the lights and telling me to do it myself.  She went upstairs and didn’t come down until I was finished. 

What job do you just like to do yourself?

Happy Thanks-Carb-Giving

For the first time ever, it’s just me and YA today.  Even though it’s just the two of us, YA is determined that at least the food will be the same as always.   Normally all I ever bring to Thanksgiving dinner is my Sage Sourdough Stuffing (vegetarian) and sometimes a dessert.  With at least four or five other families, everything else is covered.

I did find some nice platter-sized paper plates and matching napkins along with a paper table covering at The Dollar Store, so we’ll have a festive table.  Here’s the final menu:

  • Sage Sourdough Stuffing
  • Scalloped Cheesy Potatoes
  • Mashed Potatoes w/ Vegetarian Gravy  (YA making)
  • Sweet Potato Casserole
  • Green Bean/French Fried Onion Casserole  (YA making)
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Dinner Rolls
  • Cornbread
  • Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

Any plans for the day?  In a particularly difficult year, is there a way you are maintaining any gratitude?

A Winner

It was on this day in 1934 that Ella Fitzgerald headed to the Apollo Theatre in New York for Amateur Night.  It was a weekly event that had only been started earlier that year and to get onto stage, your name had to be drawn from a hat.  Ella was just 15 and had gone on a bet with two friends.  She had intended to dance, but the act preceding her was a dance duo; she didn’t think her dancing would measure up, so on the spot she decided to sing instead.  She sang “The Object of My Affection” and brought the house down. 

Within a year she joined Chick Webb’s band with whom she scored her first big hit “A Tisket A Tasket”.  The rest is jazz history.      

Have you ever won a drawing?