November 30, 2014
9:37 am cst | link
In the last few days I have heard about various Thanksgiving
celebrations: friends who took off skiing in the White Mountains as a break from relatives, a friend who was cooking for her
family of twenty, a friend whose son is temporarily home from Iraq and my Manhattan friend who was preparing only her second
turkey ever. But this story, emailed me by a friend who lives in Lakeville, made me laugh out loud.
The four adults, the two grandparents and the six children ranging in age from nineteen
years to fifteen months old, were dining on turkey and mashed potatoes when the doorbell rang. It was the police responding
to a 911 call. A call that had been made, during the pre-dinner hub bub, by one of the young children. A young child
who was slow in tearfully confessing and who initially blamed his older brother for the call. The police coming to dinner
will be part of this family’s stories passed down.
November 29, 2014
7:02 am cst | link
It is 36 degrees on Napatree this morning. I checked. A
good day for a winter walk. Dress warmly though because there will be a wind; there is always a wind on the North Atlantic.
And in November the wind can be bitter. You must wear a hat.
We are certain to see another brave walker, maybe more than one. Let’s walk to the point on the ocean side
and return along the Little Narragansett Bay side heading towards the yacht club. The leeward side of the point won’t
be, I’m sure, as cold. If we are hungry when we get back from our walk, and I’m certain we will be, I know the
perfect place to get a bowl of soup.
November 28, 2014
6:59 am cst | link
Thanksgivings fold and unfold. They shift and bend. The
stage can change, the actors in the Thanksgiving production can change, too. The turkey can be a goose, a chicken, a hamburger
eaten at a great aunt’s, a china-laden table seating sixteen, a restaurant just off the highway.
Yesterday my friend from Manhattan emailed that she had a turkey in the oven, only
the second turkey, she added, that she had ever prepared. She was hosting her son and his new husband, her son’s new-in-laws.
Her email sounded happy.
Thanksgiving is now over
our shoulders. The media tells us it's time…to shop!
November 27, 2014
8:27 am cst | link
Pease pass the cranberry sauce. And the stuffing. Happy Thanksgiving!
November 26, 2014
8:53 am cst | link
A Thanksgiving story.
One of my childhood Thanksgivings was not celebrated with my grandparents, as was tradition,
but instead was spent with friends of my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Herman, at their cottage on Lake Wissota. The Hermans had a
daughter, Fritzi, a couple of years older than me, and a son, Eddie, a couple of years younger than my brother. Though I had
been to the Herman cottage in the summer, a November trip there seemed exotic.
During the turkey dinner at noon it started to snow. Hard. It was decided that our family could
not drive home in the difficult weather and would have to spend the night. An unexpected treat. While the parents played cards
inside the cottage, my brother, Eddy, Fritzi and I played outside in the snow until we were called in at dark.
The cottage was warm from a fire in the stone fireplace. Leftovers
were spread out on the kitchen table. I was aware that my mother was my mother but, strangely, she was not quite my mother.
She was silly and not worried about cold, wet kids. My down-to-earth mother was slightly tipsy from an afternoon of playing
cards and drinking wine.
The Lake Wissota Thanksgiving
was wonderful. My memory of it, and of my very jolly mother, is graced with a smile.
November 25, 2014
8:37 am cst | link
Today I learned this. People, many, many people, are selling
their silver dishes, bowls, cups, charger plates, pitchers, tea and coffee sets, pickle forks and you name it, in other words,
their old silver wedding gifts, on ebay.
morning I opened a box I’d brought with me from Connecticut. A box I had forgotten about. In this box was a silver baby
mug that had belonged to me as an infant. On the side of the mug was a tiny etched image of a rabbit. A very pretty little
design. A marking on the bottom of the mug read, Luxor E.P.N.S. Wallace L2201. Wanting to learn that my baby cup was
rare and valuable, I turned to the web where I saw not my exact baby drinking cup but comparable silver baby cups. Lots of
them. And I saw pitchers and bowls similar to ones I had received as wedding gifts. Again, lots of them.
Rarely do I see silver pieces listed on a wedding registry. Candy dishes, no more.
This maybe is a good thing. I had to spend lots of time polishing my silver baby mug to find that if I was lucky, the bidding
would close out at $7.99.
December 24, 2014
9:36 am cst | link
Over the weekend I went to a performance by a Taiko drumming
ensemble. I enjoyed it. A lot. And I enjoyed learning about Taiko drumming about which I had known nothing.
Taiko is a word that refers to a broad range of percussion instruments but most often
it is associated with big drums. Huge, actually, Taiko drums can measure up to eight feet across. Taiko drumming is a Japanese
art form with origins in China and Korea and it accompanies religious ceremonies, theater performances and military action.
While watching the drummers’ movements I was reminded of the martial arts as there is much physical movement and shouting
in tandem with the drumming.
In the last few days
I have been to a Hmong New Year’s party with singing and dancing, a performance of Indian storytelling which included
dancing and music and, most recently, a performance of Japanese Taiko drumming. The world is both a big and small place. We
are connected by our music.
November 23, 2014
9:00 am cst | link
And here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson.
November 22, 2014
8:45 am cst | link
I read a newspaper. My newspaper history reads like this:
The Eau Claire Leader Telegram, The New York Times, The New York Herald Tribune, The Hartford
Courant, The Philadelphia Inquirer, at times The Boston Globe and The Providence Journal,
the Glastonbury Citizen, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, The Northfield News. And, the US News
which you get, from hotel or motel, when you are traveling.
More and more people read a paper, or papers, online. Sometimes I do, too. But I enjoy a newspaper that I hold in
my hand, spread out on my desk. I like working on a crossword puzzle which I can put in my purse or fold in my pocket and
carry with me. And the occasional Sunday New York Times, which lasts me a week, is a wonderful indulgence. Newspapers
are predicted to soon disappear from our reading landscape. But the thump of a morning newspaper against a door is among my
favorite sounds. A sound I’m not ready, to let go.
November 21, 2014
9:03 am cst | link
Thanksgiving on the horizon, I’ve been thinking about
turkey stuffing, also known as turkey dressing. Stuffing tastes are personal. To some, stuffing is almost as important as
the turkey, to others, not important at all. Stuffing, at one time, was regularly crammed into the turkey to absorb fat which
was, I suppose, how it got its name. Now cooks are encouraged to bake stuffing in a separate dish. Things in the kitchen
My mother’s turkey dressing, or
stuffing, consisted of dried cubes of bread mixed up with chopped celery, raisins, chopped onions and pieces of apple. It
was moistened with chicken broth and seasoned with sage and poultry seasoning. I loved it, loved, as a child, that it did
not vary from year to year. Now, not being much of a traditionalist in the kitchen, my own turkey stuffing endeavors have
jumped around. Turkey dressing made with cornbread, with wild rice, with sausage, with walnuts or pecans, with dried fruit.
One year I made turkey dressing that included roasted chestnuts. The word rubbery comes to mind. Our first Thanksgiving in
New England my husband and I were invited to our landlord’s home for dinner. I was surprised, and maybe a little
shocked, that the turkey stuffing included oysters. Turkey dressing made in my kitchen has never included oysters.
November 20, 2014
7:20 am cst | link
Yesterday’s Star Tribune had an article about
amaryllis and the pleasure their easy-care beauty brings to the winter season. I am an amaryllis fan.
Once I sent a second grader off to school with a kit for his teacher containing an
amaryllis bulb, a pot filled with planting soil and a simple set of instructions. It was a holiday gift for both teacher and
students. When I remembered I asked my second grader if the bulb had bloomed, if it was gracing his classroom window. He told
me the red/orange flower was not in the window but was blooming on the Hawaii table. Are there shells and beach things on
the Hawaii table I asked him imagining a table filled with tropical items the teacher had put together to counter the cold
outside? He said that the Hawaii table had only the amaryllis on it because it was the table where he and the other kids sat
with their teacher for one-on-one reading time. It was the table, my student said, where the teacher could not be reached
because it was too far away. It was in Hawaii.
a wise teacher. A table in the classroom where she could sit and observe everything that was going on and still pay close
attention to the individual she was working with. A table, “in Hawaii,” so distant the other students could
not continually interrupt her.
November 19, 2014
7:55 am cst | link
I was somewhere recently where the conversation veered to
the topic of locking doors. Front doors, back doors. Everyone locks their doors. But doors weren’t always locked.
On Saturday mornings, those Saturday mornings of then, Bert
Williams shouted out, when he entered our back door with a wooden box of groceries, “Farmer’s Store!”
With or without an answer from anyone, the delivery man would unpack the wooden box filled with groceries and place them on
the table in the breakfast nook. Bert would then put food that needed to be refrigerated in the refrigerator, frozen foods
in the freezer. Bert would do these homely chores even if no one was home. Our backdoor was always left open.
November 18, 2014
9:14 am cst | link
There are days when we travel great distances without going very far at all.
Days that manage to explain the equation, days that manage to expose all sides of the building when you have, before, been
aware of only one. There are days, too, when you are reminded of the kindness of strangers, days you observe the intricate
pattern of a scarf, the fresh and lovely face of a child being pushed in a stroller. There are those special days when the
sunshine arranges bright rectangles on an old floor.
November 17, 2014
1:29 pm cst | link
Shorts and summer
out of sight, back of closet.
Warm jackets now norm.
hats, wool mittens,
scarves that cover up our
This is what we wear.
temperature drops, snow covers earth.
We pause to admire?
November 16, 2014
8:06 am cst | link
I’ve pulled out my knitting needles. It is knitting weather. Not long
ago I was out of town and stopped into an unfamiliar yarn shop with nothing particular to buy, yarn-wise, in mind. Along with
the yarn I decided to purchase, two skeins two shades of blue for a scarf, I was treated to the sight of a group of women
of varying ages at the back of the of store sitting in a circle knitting on their various projects. A regular scene found
in yarn stores everywhere. This particular knitting scenario, though, had the added attraction of a huge glass bowl, filled
with candy, in the center of the knitters. This homely scene looked, and sounded like, a place where anyone would like to
November 15, 2014
7:08 am cst | link
Some days are so ordinary they become windows into what
you do not expect to see.
Yesterday, at breakfast
I looked out to notice three squirrels, on a nearby tree branch, grooming each other in ways I have seen monkeys groom one
another. Carefully. For long periods. What I found amazing about their behavior was something I can best describe with the
word affection. I observed squirrels showing affection.
Later I was driving by a church when I saw a crane hoisting the church’s steeple off of a flatbed truck and
onto the lawn in front of the church awaiting the bell to be reinstalled. A steeple swinging through the air was a less usual
And on a day when the temperature was single-digit
cold, I saw a woman in a ski parka, mittens and biker shorts. She was wearing hiking boots and short socks exposing her legs,
proudly, I’m sure, one of which was almost completely tattooed.
November 14, 2014
7:09 am cst | link
The first snow of the season is here. Clumps of it caught
in the evergreens, dusted on top of the unraked leaves, capping the fences and the iced-up water bowl set out for the birds.
Too early for snow I think, we were spoiled by a perfect autumn. But for the skiers among us, and for the snowsuit crowd,
the snow has arrived on time. The right time.
moves quickly as we age, in part, I have heard, because of our experience. We have experienced many Thanksgivings like we
have experienced many snows. With experience comes lack of surprises and surprises make time move slowly. No matter. The snow
is here and sticking around, encouranging me to locate that basket of mittens.
November 13, 2014
6:35 am cst | link
Last week I had coffee with a friend who had lived, for some years, in England
and a women, who I had just met, visiting Northfield from her home in Sydney, Australia. We talked about Brussel sprouts.
We all agreed that we liked Brussel sprouts but that many people are not fond of them. The Australian visitor said that she
liked the sprouts roasted but if they were boiled soft, she did not care for them at all. My friend who had lived in England
said Brussel sprouts were served at school lunches there and his children, who hated them, stuffed them in their pockets where
their mother would later find them. I like to grow Brussel sprouts, those little cabbages on a stalk, and I am fixing them
tonight. Lightly steamed. With a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
November 12, 2014
8:49 am cst | link
Yesterday was Veteran’s Day. Or Armistice Day, as
it used to be called. November 11th is a day I associate with red poppies and my father who was a soldier in the Canadian
army, a cyclist who biked ahead of the troops and drew maps of the French and Belgian terrain where the fighting would take
place. He and his brother, my Uncle Harry, enlisted in Canada and fought for England. My dad was 17 years old.
Once, as a brownie scout, I sold red paper poppies downtown
on a street corner along with members of my scout troop which included my friend, Sandy. As reward for our efforts we were
treated to lunch at the VFW hall. A childhood memory that remains with me. Yesterday I looked online at the incredible installation
of ceramic poppies on display in London. Looking at this display I thought about wars and warring, Flander’s Field and
the living poppies there. Mostly, though, I thought about my dad who came home from a war to become an advocate of peace.
November 11, 2014
8:59 am cst | link
It is a school day. Becky has stories. She tells me her grandmother told her
that evil spirits can live in trees and that her grandmother wants the trees behind her house chopped down. I listen. I tell
Becky that a quarter is worth five nickels or twenty five pennies or two dimes and one nickel. Becky is more interested in
the evil spirts possibly dwelling in her grandmother’s trees than she is in learning money facts. We stop into the cafeteria
to see what will be served at lunch.
November 10, 2014
9:03 am cst | link
The world is big. Sometimes, so immersed in my own place
in it, I forget. Yesterday I went to a Hmong, New Year’s Party. I have a small container of jelly, a stick of nougat-like
candy and a short length of thick, white string with a knot, to show for it. I also have wonderful mental pictures of dozens
of men and women in traditional Hmong dress who danced, sang, acted and modeled clothing, much of it red, white or black and
heavily spangled, beaded and jeweled. And of course there were the hats, the beautiful hats like elaborate cakes, which added
to the wearers’ beauty. I loved the hats.
was one of only a handful of non Hmong at the large celebration where curries, stir fries, rice, egg rolls and tapioca cake
were served, where much of the speaking was done in a language I did not understand. But I understood the words of a tall
woman in a Muslim headpiece when she approached the slight Hmong woman standing near me. “I just want to tell you that
you look beautiful in your native dress,” she said. “Happy New Year.”
November 9, 2014
7:09 am cst | link
Once, when we lived in Philadelphia, I went barefoot on Thanksgiving Day.
I remember my delight in that mild autumn, the lingering warm weather. Today, November 9th, I put on a heavy jacket and tomorrow
I am going to search out my basket of mittens; the weather people are forecasting six inches of slushy snow. Northfield is
further north than Philadelphia. Winter has stepped out, from around the corner.
November 8, 2014
7:23 am cst | link
Last night I saw words: bouffant, Eskimo, blubber, macadamia,
serendipity, galoshes, artichoke, bulbous and tuberculosis turned into actions which turned into movements and became dance.
Carleton’s Semaphore Dancers
performed in their youthful, clever, serious way. The stage became their stage to entertain and amuse and we were amused and
entertained and appreciative of their efforts, skill and grace. Human beings can walk and we can run. Best of all, we can
November 7, 2014
6:00 am cst | link
Yesterday, late afternoon, the sky was unusually beautiful.
Minnesota skies are, I think, unusually beautiful. The prairie, the farmland flatness, enables you to see the big sky picture.
To describe most skies requires a denser language than the
one I own. Much of the time I am too busy, to preoccupied, to look up. When I remember to check in with the sky, I am never
disappointed. The sky is as familiar as my name and as mysterious as magic.
November 6, 2014
8:42 am cst | link
Becky is seven. She is missing two teeth. Her hair is black and her eyes are
blue. A beautiful combination. Becky tells me she has a hamster named Peanut and a sister who is in middle school. Becky’s
teacher tells me that Becky has been tested as to why she is struggling to read. None of the labels now applied to kids, according
to Becky’s teacher, seem to fit Becky. Becky and I sit outside the classroom on little chairs and page through some
books. We talk about the illustrations and I enjoy hearing her laugh. I look forward to spending time with her tomorrow.
November 5, 2014
8:49 am cst | link
A voting story.
Two years ago on election day I wore my ‘I voted’ sticker to my afterschool class of
foreign born children or children whose parents were foreign born. The excitement level that afternoon was high. The kids
had voted in their regular classrooms, they understood what voting meant. In the course of the afternoon I stopped at a table
of boys to help with math homework when one of the kids pointed out my sticker. This prompted the group to share with me who
they wanted to win the presidential election or that their mother or parents were going to vote. One boy, a very needy and
tough little troublemaker, said his parents
couldn’t vote. He did not say why.
the class was over and the kids were lining up to take the bus home, the boy who had mentioned that his parents couldn’t
vote sidled up to me and asked if he could have my sticker. I peeled it off and gave it to him. The next day this boy
was wearing the ‘I voted’ sticker on his t-shirt. And, as this child often wore the same shirt for days running,
the next day and the next.
November 4, 2014
7:58 am cst | link
November 3, 2014
10:20 am cst | link
Yesterday I bought a container of caramel from Fireside
Orchards. I bought apples, too, the purchases a gift. While there I saw caramel apples for sale and I was tempted. I showed
Caramel apples are a favorite and this
is caramel apple season. There are caramel apples in my past. My mother made them in the fall, and I remember receiving them
as Halloween treats. I recall with much pleasure the caramel apples my friend and I would sometimes purchase on our walk home
from downtown. The apples were sold in a bakery on Main Street, a bakery kitty corner from Lee’s market where my mother
sometimes bought meat. In the fall this bakery, whose name I have forgotten, would make and sell caramel apples. One day my
friend and I each purchased an apple on our walk home. I bit into the apple and left a tooth in the caramel. At the loosing-tooth-age,
this gross event was cause for much laughter. It really was the best of ways to lose a tooth.
November 2, 2014
9:14 am cst | link
Last night I sat at a table where the subject of economics
was being discussed. My knowledge of economic theory is little or nothing in spite of once taking a class in the micro economics
of Scandinavia. So, I semi-listened to the conversation, my mind wandering to a catalog we had recently received in the mail.
A catalog bringing to light how we spend our personal, economic resources. How we can foolishly spend our money.
Perusing this catalog you are quickly aware that you need
not a single item contained in its pages. Who, really, has a pressing need for a pop-up wine glass, a mini vacuum cleaner
for their desk, a gun that shoots potato pellets, the world’s smallest voice changer? As for the personalized cheese
board, the air guitar which plays tunes with infrared light, and the Holy Family nesting dolls, I just don’t know.
But there is pictured a glitter nail art pen set with eight
shimmering colors, originally 19.95 but now down to 14.95. About that little item I can think of someone who might be interested.
November 1, 2014
9:42 am cdt | link
The spooks and witches and action figures, have come and gone. This year only
about twenty trick-or-treaters, including four college students who were seeking canned goods for the food shelf. The best
costume making its way to the front door was a Rubik’s cube constructed and worn by a ten-year-old boy. Each ‘tile’
in every side of the cube thoughtfully painted. There were no Halloween incidents, a quiet evening. But now there is the problem
of leftover candy. Almost a full bag of 100 Grand candy bars, a half dozen Peppermint Patties and a handful of Three Musketeer
bars, all calling my name. And I tend to listen.
To view the archives, click on the links above to view by month.