Category Archives: Seasons

Spring Blossoms

We are starved for color in winter and early spring  in the northern Great Plains.  Husband and I have been fortunate in our travels since April to be in places when the flowering trees and shrubs are at their peak.  We were in Brookings, SD last weekend and the flowering crabs, plums, and apple trees were beautiful. In Santa Fe we saw  blooming fruit trees of all types. I was amazed, though, when we were in Los Angeles and I saw blooming Jacaranda trees for the first time.

I have never seen trees that shape and size with blue/purple flowers.  I have no idea what they look like with their leaves.  It is said to be good luck if the flowers fall on your head. The seeds and sap  are said to be quite poisonous, though.  They are  found mainly in tropical climates, but have survived to winter temperatures as low 19 degrees Fahrenheit. I don’t think they would winter over very well up here.

What are your favorite and least favorite trees and shrubs?


Time to Slow Down

Last Wednesday I  began to feel somewhat tired with a sore throat. I hadn’t been sick all winter, and  knew that I was due for something. I see a lot of children, all who lately seemed to be dripping, sneezing, or coughing over me and my office.  My work schedule had been grueling and there had been multiple special meetings of my regulatory board due to vexing issues.  I went home early on Wednesday, tried to pace myself at work on Thursday and Friday, and then got hit with the full effects of a nasty respiratory virus on Saturday. I was home all day from work on Monday.  I made it to work on Tuesday, but just barely.  Every day I woke up and thought “Well, it should be getting better now”, and it seemed to be worse instead of letting up. I have been doing nothing except playing solitaire and napping since Saturday.

I so very rarely get sick that I view episodes like the one I am dealing with now to be a sign from the universe that I need to take better care of myself.  To that end I decided that I am not taking my laptop with me to Los Angeles this week. I usually travel with it just in case I have to do some work for my regulatory board. I figure the world of regulation will do just fine without me for four days. I will not check my work email while I am gone, either.  My coworkers will do just fine without me until I get back. It is time to slow down,

What are signs to you that you need to slow down? How do you “do” self care?

May Day

I read a couple of advice columns every day – makes me feel better about my life choices. A couple of days ago, the advice seeker was complaining about how much work his wife was putting into preparing their kids’ lunches.  She has cookie cutters for decorating their sandwiches, debates with the kids about which items goes in which lunch box compartment, includes little notes.  The writer thinks this is a complete waste of her time.

I am that woman. When YA was little I usually had wheat bread and light wheat so that I could use cookie cutters to make dual-toned sandwiches.  Until she was about 11 we had some seriously over-engineered birthday parties with themed games, food and goodie bags.  (Child enjoyed these very much at the time although she says she doesn’t remember them well.)  I make little treats for my office mates on various holidays, send mountains of greeting cards; those of you in book club know that I can’t stay away from bringing a potluck item themed to the book we’ve read.  Can we say Pi Day?

This is not competition. In fact, when I meet someone who also likes to celebrate like I do, we usually end up comparing notes and collaborating.  I met a woman about 4 years ago who can outdo me with one arm tied behind her and she gave me a great tip.  Whenever you get a new stamp set or die, you have to make at least 4 cards with it before you’re allowed to put it away.  Life changing for me.  I sent her a thank you card.

So all of this is to say that today, about the time that today’s blog was being posted to the trail, I was sneaking around my neighborhood in the dark, delivering May Day baskets!

What would you like in your May basket (size is no object today)?

Simple Gifts

We had almost too warm weather the week before last, and then, this weekend, we had a couple of inches of very wet snow.  Husband and I didn’t mind at all.  We consider this late spring snow a gift.

“Late spring snow is the poor farmer’s fertilizer”, say the almanacs.   This wet, nitrogen-laden snow greens up the pastures and ranges out here, protects the winter wheat, and give us hope that we won’t be in a drought.

What are some simple gifts you received or given lately?

Spring Tableside

On Saturday, as YA and I drove around, it seemed as if every restaurant in SW Minneapolis had chosen that day to assemble their outside tables and chairs and begin their outdoor service. Lots of folks were taking them up on the offer too.

Then on Sunday morning, when I let the dogs out, a fresh rainy burst of air hit me – aah, the smell of Spring. Finally.  Made me wish I has sat outside at a restaurant table the day before to sip wine and appreciate the first truly warm day of the season.

Do you have a favorite outdoor restaurant/dining spot?

The Annual Migration of the Timpani

I saw four enormous birds soaring over town in migration a couple of weeks ago . They were whooping cranes, probably on their way to Alberta.  I have only seen migrating whooping cranes one other time in all the years we have been here.  We also have had geese fly over, and the owls, hawks, meadowlarks, and vultures are back.

Yesterday Husband and I assisted in the migration of  two timpani from the college band room to our church in Husband’s pickup. They are needed for a piece  our bell choir is doing on Sunday with a brass quintet. (Our bell choir director failed to see how funny it was when she kept saying a few weeks ago that she was one trombone player short of a brass quintet. She didn’t get it when people replied to her that they had always thought that).

When I grew up in Luverne, we usually had timpani in my church on Easter. They came from the high school. All the high school band directors in my youth were Lutheran, and we always got the timpani for special church services. No one from the community ever complained about it as being unfair or a misuse of public property. Our bell choir director teaches at the college, and I guess that is why we have the timpani for Easter. Our church probably has the most music of all the churches in town, and not all of them have the space for such things even if they had the musicians.

I wondered yesterday just how many timpani in the US are migrating from schools to churches for Easter services.  I like to imagine that there are many in transit, and that it is a brief but yearly migration. I like to see cooperative use of such things. How many timpani does one small town need, after all?

What migratory birds have you seen lately? What percussion instruments would you like to play?  What are some successful public-private cooperative ventures you know about?

April Fool

One of my children is very adept at pranking me on April 1, usually with plausible texts about rash decisions or changes in career that I fall for every time. This year I turned the tables and it was satisfying, albeit subtle.

On Monday morning I sent the following text :

In honor of today I thought of sending you a text asking you to please not play an April Fools trick since my newly diagnosed heart condition couldn’t handle it, but I thought that would be a mean thing to do, so I didn’t.

I got the following response:


Then, after a few seconds I got the following text:

So, no heart condition I’m assuming?”

I assured the recipient (someone who is always concerned about  my health) that no, there was no heart condition, but thought to myself “Yes!! I got them!!!!”

Tell about neat tricks you played on someone or tricks someone played on you.