Monday, June 25, 2007

Rare days in June

My mother-in-law, God rest her soul, had little "isms" that seemed to define her joie de vivre. One I remember well was her describing the perfect summertime day as "like a rare day in June." We all knew exactly what she meant: around 80, little humidity, birds singing, flowers blooming, grass greening, kids happy -- just one of those "ahhhhh" days. We had one of those at the lake on Saturday, except for the humidity part. Seems we always have that in Minnesota these days. Daughter No. 1 and the boys were with us, so that was a pleasure, as usual.

We had blueberry pancakes for breakfast, and in my grandsons I have found two young men who truly appreciate my cooking. "Omigosh, cake-cakes!" Owen cries, eyes level with the griddle. This is followed by a half-hour of stickiness and blue faces, hands and tablecloth. (Geez, I had forgotten that the Indians used blueberries as a kind of permanent dye.) This culinary excitement is diminished only by a second favorite -- hotdogs for lunch -- and a third, being allowed to eat dinner at the coffee table on one's knees, watching "The Lion King." (I know, I know, the TV dinner is a bad habit for which I will not apologize. I'm just trying to compete properly for the Cool Nonna title.) Alert parents, please note: I pledge not to introduce them to soda. The Mr. Freeze pops were Bumpa's idea. I'm just sayin'.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Old Love

Happy anniversary to us! Mike and I were married 30 years ago today. We must be having a good time, as time is flying still. How does it feel to have been married so long? Well, for us, I think "happy" about sums it up. Minnesota singer-songwriters Neal Hagberg and Leandra Peak have a beautiful folksong, "Old Love": "We don't have to say I love you / Quite as often as we used to / Old love just goes without saying / But we'll still say it anyway."

I remember wondering, even striding confidently out of the church on my wedding day: Is this going to work, or am I making the biggest mistake of my life? Thirty years later, I can say it's been a wonderful adventure. Some days have been like chocolate mousse with a glass of good port -- a sweet adrenaline rush. Others have been like a baby's rice cereal: nasty tasting and thin but good for you in the long run. It takes a bit of both for a good marriage. Otherwise, you'd be kinda undernourished.

When I witness the rash of divorces among my contemporaries, I can't help but ask, "What is so hard about being married?" Plenty, I guess. But here we are, doing something really hard and actually enjoying it. I guess we've always been grateful to God that, at least, we have each other. We could have lots less. That gratitude is what keeps us humble and growing.

The down side, of course, is that we're at the stage of our lives when death and separation seem more imminent that they did in 1977. The threat of loss is palpable, and I find myself pondering the unthinkable. How ever will I endure someday the loss of my great ally, my dearest friend? I know he thinks about the same thing. And it goes way beyond filling out life insurance applications and working out the will. I feel an ache in the pit of my stomach just thinking about it, but think, I must. So we work extra hard to make these our best days ever. That sounds corny, I know, but love means that you take special care in making memories, each for the other.

We're having dinner tonight with some good friends who, incidentally, were married on the same date as we were. Like us, they're still married, too. It's nice to know there are some of us left! So, as Forrest Gump says, that's all I have to say about that.

Friday, June 15, 2007


It's Friday. Why do we say "TGIF" and why do most of us bounce out of bed Friday mornings? It's all about the anticipation: Yippee, Saturday morning sleep-in! Hurray, lazy Sunday! Woohoo, kissing the office buh-bye for the weekend!

The reality is, we had too much on Thirsty Thursday, fought the bends on Friday morning, woke up with the birdies on Saturday, skipped church and felt guilty Sunday, and poof. The weekend's gone. By Sunday evening, we're exhausted from cleaning, shopping, running and playing. We try to pack those 48 little hours with all of it, just in time to start all over again on Monday. Not that I'm not a glass-half-full kind of girl.

But yes, next Friday, I'll have that Friday excitement. Who knows what a weekend will bring? Enjoy yours, gentle readers.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


I can remember a time when I used to sleep so soundly on my stomach, arms at my side, that I didn't even wake up with pillow hair. Now I look like like 2004 Bega Bad Hair Day organizer Chris Murphy when I get out of bed. (Leave it to the Aussies to come up with a celebration of the occasion.)

Anyway, menopause brings with it not only nasty hot flashes, but killer insomnia. I have no trouble sleeping like it's the end of a binge for the first two hours. But, by about 1 or 2 a.m., I'm hotter than hell and wide awake. Not "hotter" in colloquial usage either -- just plain, old organic hot, as in feeling like a blast furnace. It wakes me up, so I head for the icemaker and a glass, padding into the kitchen, fanning myself, until my sheets cool off and I can come back to bed. But then what?

The nights used to feel like they went by in a minute, and I'd hit the snooze alarm five or six times before dragging myself out of bed in the morning. Now these hours feel like thousands of minutes that I've watched tick by on the digital clock, one by one by one, until the alarm goes off, and I'm relieved to be upright again.

What do you do when you can't sleep? In case you've never listened, middle-of-the-night talk radio is a real adventure. I can't imagine what these people who call in every night are doing in the daylight world. There are truckers, of course, who love it when the announcers invite them to "rip one off," i.e., honk the horns on their big rigs. There are some with disabilities, some who never leave their homes, some who have lost their jobs. There are the very old folks who call to share their World War II memories or fume about their medical problems. There are the weather spotters who call to say it's hailing in Cottage Grove. And then there are the authors who have written books no one will ever read, and WCCO's overnight guys are their very real friends. I sleep so irregularly that I feel like I know some of these people. Strangely enough, I've imagined what they look like and remember the last times they called in.

Kevyn Burger says when she can't sleep she sometimes mentally walks through the houses she used to live in when she was a child. I suppose I could do that, but Mom and Dad had one house, and it's pretty small. One of my friends gets up and bakes or irons. Now her whole family is overweight; I imagine they can't even get into those freshly pressed shirts. I'd get up and write, but I don't want the clicking keys to wake anyone, and I usually just lay there in the dark and listen to the oddball callers or radio ratings-killer shows like "World of Aviation" and "Imagination Theater." Gives new meaning to the expression, "The Dark Side."

When the sun comes up, I step into the shower and wash my hair. I'm a morning person, after all. It's the best time of the day.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Playdates and other nonsense

I do media relations for a living, and a query that came across the desk today was from a national parenting publication. The subject: "playdates." I never heard the term before my grandsons were born, and now I hear about "playdates" all the time. There's something inherently wrong about making a date to play. Playtime is spontaneous, unplanned, devil-may-care and past your bedtime. Playtime can mean something will get broken, like a window with a golf ball, or that Barbie's bangs will be sheared to the roots. And a date? That's something planned and calm, like dinner with candles, a darkened movie theater or maybe the opera or a nice walk along the river. A date is what leads to playtime, I suppose, or is it vice-versa? Hmmm. You tell me. But this whole "playdate" business sounds suburban and snooty to me. It just screams "Woodbury!"

And screaming (ya like that segway?) is just what this young and innocent couple from Minneapolis will get used to when their six new little babies hang in there. Good luck, Morrisons. More than that, actually: I'm praying for those little guys. They're your beautiful little miracles. And I want you to have, well, playdates.

Friday, June 8, 2007

I left my heart ...

Well, back to reality. Spent late last and early this week in San Francisco, home of great gastronomy, at least two seasons a day, and the ever-popular Lefty O'Doul's, a bar with limitless potential for inducing women to behave badly. I so enjoyed the Irish piano player and a few too many Irish ales at this SF eatery, but it was well worth it. I bounced back the next day for a great late lunch at the House of Nanking, a popular but not-to-be-missed dive in Chinatown. Other highlights: a trip to the wharf for some seafood, shoe-shopping and people-watching in Union Square, a sun-and-wine run up to the Napa and Alexander valleys on Sunday and a ferry to Sausalito on Monday, capped with a peak dining experience at Wolfgang Puck's Postrio. I left my heart (and my wallet) in the city by the bay.

Note to self: Next time, bring warmer clothes. In this city, there's really no need for air conditioning. In fact, the Kensington Park Hotel where we stayed didn't even have it. Speaking of the hotel, this was a nice, convenient one. Service was good and the price was right. I'd stay there again, but never during a heat wave.