Napatree

In my mind I am often on Napatree. You're welcome to come along.

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May 31, 2015

 

Owing to a delightful set of circumstances I have a crafty-type toy, not really a toy but a spinning loom, in front of me. The spinning loom, used for making bracelets and accessories according to the box, comes with 18 skeins of different colored embroidery thread. The box also says it has been rated as a platinum toy and that it is for ages 8 and up. I qualify.

 

I have a past that includes making bracelets. My medium, gimp. I don’t remember learning to make these bracelets as it seemed to be a skill I was born with. As a Camp Manitou camper, I spent all my ‘store money’ on the flat plastic braiding material called gimp. Square stitch, barrel stitch, lanyard stitch. I had them down. It was a happy day for me when the camp store started stocking metallic colored gimp because a great looking bracelet could be made combining, say, yellow and the new metallic copper color.

 

With my past bracelet making experience and the LOOP DE DOO instructions in front of me, I’m going to give it a go. I am a little disappointed though, as there is nothing in the assortment of embroidery floss in the way of metallic thread.

 

7:02 am cdt | link 

May 30, 2015

Last night it rained. Not a thunder and lightning event but an off and on again heavy rain.  Watching the rain fall into the pond, the wind blowing sheets of water against the grasses, made me think of something I read, years ago, about being a parent and about parents loving their children equally. The writer said this. You love each child for their individuality so you love each child equally. But the child you always love the most is the one who is away from home when it’s raining.

6:15 am cdt | link 

May 29, 2015

 

There are seven children under five at the picnic table. One of them, probably not yet a walker, sits at the end of the table in a stroller. The children’s names could be Kerrie, Meg, Emmy, Leslie, Paige, Tom, Shirley, Sam, Steven, Chris, Julie, David, Rick. The mothers of the children, there are three of them, one very clearly pregnant, work at planting vegetables in the community gardens. The mothers could be Barbara or Judy or Wendy or Marian. One of the mothers is me.

 

It is a sunny morning, a beautiful day, and the voices of the children, who eat snacks, color and play with toys at the table, drift over to where I am working. It is the most ordinary of scenes, nothing about it is unusual. It is a perfect picture beginning then and reaching into the future. Something, the high voices of the children, the color of their T shirts, the camaraderie of the women, have the strength to pull me back.

6:19 am cdt | link 

May 28, 2015

 

A recent facebook I was sent posting memories of college food, had me laughing out loud. It got me thinking about my college food and what I remembered of it, which was very little. Swedish meatballs, rye bread and red jello, served in a parfait glass, topped with whipped cream are the foods I can recall.. That and gaining the 'freshman 15.' Asking others I got these responses. “Pancakes, we had great pancakes and I’ve always been partial to breakfasts.” “Mystery meat.” “A flaming pudding at Christmas.” “A salad of  pineapple rings, bananas and maraschino cherries.” “Lamb with mint jelly.” “A good meat loaf and excellent ice cream because the college owned a dairy farm.”  “Cake donuts and coffee in the dorm breakfast bar.” “Meal tickets."

 

I also heard about dining halls where coats and ties and dresses were required, dining halls where sexes were separated, cafeterias where waiting lines were forever, a weekly night when students could ask a professor to dine with them, linen tablecloths, round tables where food was served family style, a dining hall called a refectory, holding up fingers to indicate how many glasses of milk you wanted and a grace that was sung. And this irreverent blessing. “Rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub. Yeah, God.”  

6:05 am cdt | link 

May 27, 2015

Make way for ducklings. Or goslings. I know, I know. Geese are aggressive, dirty, annoying. They can be too many in numbers and out of control. They can overrun a habitat. But wait a minute. The two adults here, walking tall, proudly parade their brood of 11 downy babies on the grassy boulevard of a busy street. Walking in a straight line as cars stream by, they follow their inner GPS and go where they feel they must go.  Geese. Noisy, messy, invasive. And breath-catching beautiful debuting, on a misty morning, their young progeny.

6:55 am cdt | link 

May 26, 2015

 

My friend recently loaned me a book entitled “Masters, major works by leading artists.” The book is an expansive survey of art quilts from forty international quilters. I pick this book up and study it for a few minutes, then put it down. I have to think about what I am looking at before I can return to it again. I have several favorite artists in the book, Fenella Davies from Bath, England, one of them.  Davies’ work is contemporary, painterly and utilizes old and worn fabrics which connote time.

 

All of the quilts featured in the book take the revered art of quilting into a new era. These are not your grandmother’s quilts. But I am quite certain your grandmother would like them. 

6:00 am cdt | link 

May 26, 2015

 

To cheers and applause, the Minnesota Golden Gophers bound on to the court, skate on to the ice, run on to the field. A Minnesota golden gopher, or thirteen-lined ground squirrel, can also be seen, on a daily basis, scrounging for seed under the bird feeders here. The animal occasionally rummages in the pots that contain the morning glory seedlings.

 

The University of Minnesota mascot is a creature that looks much like the more-familiar- to-me, chipmunk. It is small, tan and has a four inch tail. It has a cute face and an even cuter way of rearing up and sitting tall. Striking the pose of the gopher that it is.

 

I like the name gopher for a sports team. And to a Minnesota fan, it is a good day when a gopher, a tiny thirteen-lined ground squirrel, can best a Badger or a Wolverine, a Wildcat or a Nittany lion.

 

6:40 am cdt | link 

May 24, 2015

 

“Wait,” the uniformed man selling poppies in front of Econo Foods called out. I was rushing, had my arms around two bags of groceries and was already late for where I was supposed to be. But I went back and grinning, the veteran placed a poppy on top of the potato chips in one of my bags. “Don’t bother paying for it,” he said, “just take it."

 

How could he know that I was connected to that red paper poppy by a warrior father, not a code talker but a scout. A scout who drew maps of France and Belgium in advance of Allied troops, a man who stealthy moved by foot and bicycle through enemy terrain daily risking his life.

 

War is as old as time and I have no understanding of it. None. War is responsible for breaking bodies, minds and hearts. The red poppy I now have wrapped around a button on my jacket is, for me, a reminder of war, its horror and its unspeakable sadness. But it is also a reminder of my dad, the soldier that I loved. I wear the poppy proudly.

 

7:17 am cdt | link 

May 23, 2015

 

I write things down on scraps of paper. Things that are important, things that I want to look up and find out more about, things just because I like the arrangement of words. At one time I had recorded these two words on the back of an envelope for a reason now unclear to me. “Recognizing reality."

 

Yesterday was an ordinary day in the way that no day is really ordinary. Early in the morning I saw a woman wearing pajamas and walking her dog. I saw a huge snapping turtle in the pond idling, until Dude swam close by at which point the turtle dove and Dude, recognizing danger, quickly lifted up and off.  I saw four women running together as they pushed their babies in three wheeled baby joggers, I saw two grown women dressed as twins. I saw Bells of Ireland seedlings pushing through the soil where I had planted cosmos.

 

Recognizing reality. I saw all these things, every one of them.  Maybe I saw them on Mulberry Street.

 

7:55 am cdt | link 

May 22, 2015

It is spring in Minnesota and everything’s arrived on time: the swallows who skim across the pond, the rhubarb in showy leaf and early this morning an overwintering Mourning Cloak warming himself on the edge of a raised flower bed. It’s a new season and nature a pretty girl posing in her prom dress. Showing us, what she’s become.

6:16 am cdt | link 

May 21, 2015

 

Yesterday my husband received an email from his alma mater. An email with a very poignant message The university was looking for the family of my husband’s football teammate, a teammate whose plane was shot down in Viet Nam shortly after his college graduation. The remains of this pilot had been found in the early nineties but now, twenty plus years later and with his parents dead, the air force was trying to locate, through this man’s university, any remaining family with the reason being this. In the last few weeks a watch and knife had been found in Viet Nam bearing this young pilot’s name. A very common name. The air force wanted these items in the hands of a relative, someone for whom found items would have meaning.

 

A few days ago I copied these few words down from something I was reading. I did not note it so do not remember the source. “After a while the story becomes bigger than the person the story is about."

 

I think of these words in the context of the recently received email. The futility of war, the theft of so many lives, the weaving far into the future the reminders of our bad decisions. This story of a war is so much larger than the story of a single person, larger than the person whom the story is about.  

6:46 am cdt | link 

May 20, 2015

 

As I write the egret and the great blue heron are looking for breakfast. With my field glasses I can see that the white egret is snagging many little fish and that the great blue shakes, for several minutes, a still wiggling frog. The pond is a poem of their colors, their activity. The pond is a poem I could never write.

 

Dude, I am happy to report, is healing. He daily swims with the flotilla of mallards and on occasion I have seen him with Ruby. Feathers are missing on his breast but the wound looks good.

 

Near here an old man tends a bed of tulips. Tulips need no tending but this doesn’t matter. Driving by daily and seeing him bent over arranging chips, watering his flowers with a sprinkling can, pulling up an errant weed, makes me happy.

6:16 am cdt | link 

May 19, 2015

 

The temperatures last night were to plummet, by early morning, to 35 degrees. To a gardener with raised beds and several rows in the field recently planted with annual flower seedlings, this temperature is too close for comfort. So we cover. But the weather forecast was also for cloudy skies and a brisk wind which are both helpful for keeping frost at bay. Contrary information confusing the situation. All in all thirty degree temperatures are iffy compounded by the fact that the wind is fickle, the frost is fickle. It can touch and destroy certain plants in the same garden leaving others untouched.

 

Now every gardener and farmer knows the rule. You are not safe from frost until Memorial Day. Memorial Day is six day away.

6:11 am cdt | link 

May 18, 2015

Lance and Alicia starring in, “Happily Ever After.”   Cheers, Lance and Alicia.

5:56 am cdt | link 

May 17, 2015

Dude is hurting. An encounter of some sort wounded his breast, left his feathers parted to expose a ragged hole, has him moving in a painful way. Dude is a male mallard duck, partner of Ruby and a regular to the seeds that fall to the ground from the bird feeder, a daily peeper through the patio door. The ducks are a part of life here and I have made a connection to their existence on and around the pond. A beautiful existence until Dude’s encounter with a fox, a dog, a car, comes as a reminder that the story is the story and we cannot turn away.

7:19 am cdt | link 

May 16, 2015

I write these words when the still pond reflects the possibility of everything I am unable to see. What I can see is more than beautiful.

6:47 am cdt | link 

May 15, 2015

 

Like most people, I speak only one language. I have a little Spanish, a little French but have command only of English.  Wanting to be fluent in another tongue, I have regard for those who are. I especially enjoyed the words of a Dane explaining, in Wallace Stegner’s book, Spectator Bird, his fellow countryman’s ability to speak languages other than Danish.

 

“If a Dane fell into the sea and washed up to the south, he would have to know German. If he fell into the sea and washed up to the west, he would have to know English or French. If he fell into the sea and washed up to the North or East, he would have to know Norwegian or Swedish, Finnish or Russian. So every Dane was compelled to prepare for the day he fell into the sea."

 

I must be very careful near the shore, when visiting Denmark.

7:04 am cdt | link 

May 14, 2015

 

This past week has been Minnesota Nurses Week. Nurses, particularly school nurses, are my heroes. One of my closest college friends went into nursing and spent her long career as a school nurse. We kept in touch over the years and when her Christmas cards arrived each year I always pictured her in a cute little elementary school taking temperatures and checking out sore throats.

 

When we got together again, after I returned to Minnesota, I told her about my idyllic, long-held mental picture. Laughing, she looked at me and said this. “I spent my career in city elementary schools, city middle schools and city high schools. I did take temperatures and check out sore throats but I was the first responder for head injuries and seizures, broken limbs, peanut allergies, drug problems, pregnancy situations, sick kids with multiple handicaps, behavioral problems, severe nose bleeds, asthma attacks and everything else. I also listened to and dealt with the problems of the school’s staff!"

 

Yesterday the kids took math tests in the computer lab. During the testing one of the little girls looked up from the computer beseechingly and promptly threw up. “Would someone please, go get the nurse?”

5:54 am cdt | link 

May 13, 2015

 

My history includes lilacs. There were three lilac bushes of the pale lavender variety in the backyard of my childhood home. There were lilacs, white ones, in the yard of the Connecticut home where my children grew up. At the house by the brook, we had French lilacs of a darker, magenta color.

 

Right now, this very minute, we are approaching the peak of lilac season. Cutting lilacs to bring inside must be done carefully.  Lilacs can be iffy. Lilacs, I have found, should be well open when cut. If they have too many flowerets that have not opened, they will quickly droop. Cut them when they are mature. And cut them early in the morning, at an angle, with a sharp knife. Do not smash the ends of the branches, just cut them at a sharp angle so they can absorb a great deal of water.

 

After cutting, put the lilacs in warm water to which a flower preservative has been add ed. Make sure the vase you use is very clean and that there are no leaves beneath the water. Then, cross your fingers and hope that the lilacs hold up for a few days so you can enjoy their fragrance.

6:16 am cdt | link 

May 12, 2015

 

Our post Mother’s Day assignment is to write a seven word biography of our mother.

How does one find the right seven words to tell the story of one’s mother?

 

Marion…Swedish woman who loves children, dies young.

 

Marion…Wavy haired worrier, good friend of many.

 

Marion…Loved her family, also loved her hats.

 

Marion…The mother wearing business suit, is mine.

 

Marion…Bookkeeping lady, who loves the newest clothes.

 

6:10 am cdt | link 

May 11, 2015

The eaglets now spend much time perched, looking out, on the edge of the nest. Periodically they walk within their aerie, flap their wings, crane their necks. On occasion a parent eagle appears with food but lately when I check in, the two are alone. Wind ruffles their feathers which are now pretty much the color of their parents’ feathers, though their heads are not yet white. I am struck, watching them, how they are poised on the edge of their nest world, the only world they have ever known, looking out into the world where they will spend their lives. There is, in the picture of them there, inevitability, promise, the freedom of flight. There is what will be the story, of an eagle life.

6:03 am cdt | link 

May 10, 2015

Remembering on Mother’s Day with love, Marion, Edith and Trudy.

7:01 am cdt | link 

May 9, 2015

 

The greenhouse fills with life. The calendula, larkspur, statice and stock seedlings are large enough to sell, to plant. But beware of rushing a Minnesota garden. Frost can still happen even when the lilacs are in bloom.

 

Some evenings are good, some evenings quite wonderful. And some evenings are close to perfect.  A night at the museum was just that. Perfect.

6:41 am cdt | link 

May 8, 2015

 

The Wadsworth  Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut,  is where I encountered the painting, "Europe After the Rain II", by Max Ernst. A painting that depicts not rain, but the horrors of war. I remember, upon seeing it, being startled. Studying art a few years later, I learned more about surrealism and the Dada  movement. Education brought appreciation. But today, in spite of insight into the painting and why it was done, it is the title, not the painting, that holds me,

 

Last evening we had rain. It came in a rush and stayed only for a moment. But even as brief as it was, the landscape had to take a breath and admire what she had become. The field, the pond, the stretch of woods to the south had been washed with life. After the Rain.

6:11 am cdt | link 

May 7, 2015

 

Becky broke her arm falling off the jungle gym. A compound fracture requiring surgery. I broke my arm, actually my wrist, when I was eleven. I was climbing a wall. I told Becky I remember how awful I felt when I made contact with the ground, and I remember how nice everyone was to me at the hospital. We compared stories.

 

What I didn’t tell Becky was that somehow during the healing process I was able to wiggle my arm out of the rigid plaster cast so I could go into the water those summer afternoons that I spent with my friends at Half Moon Beach. A fact I also neglected to tell my parents and the doctor. How when it came time to change my cast, which was sawed off with a circular type saw in the cast room at the hospital so another could be put on, the Dr. remarked how healthy my skin looked under the old cast. Nor did I mention to Becky about the painful arthritis I now have in the wrist I broke due, of course, to my past cast behavior.

 

Becky’s cast is beautiful and pink and made from some space age material. She will not have to polish it with white shoe polish when she goes to a birthday party nor will she have to have it sawed apart with a scary looking saw. As Martha Stewart would say, “It’s a good thing.”

5:55 am cdt | link 

May 6, 2015

 

This pond is rich in stories. Every day I listen and I watch.

 

Earlier this morning, on the shore opposite me, a red fox of good size moved along the small pond’s muddy edge. Out in the water the mallard drakes paddled five across. Two geese, leaning forward as they do, swam with their eyes on the fox walking with intention. The fox watched the birds, the birds watched the fox. As I observed the watching, I held my breath. When the fox reached the tall grass area, the seven birds swam, together, close to the shore, the geese rising up out of the water and violently flapping their wings, the ducks swimming in circles around them. The fox then slipped into the marshy area near an end of the pond and out of my line of sight.

 

Nests, eggs, ducklings, gooselings. I’m unsure how this story ended.  

6:41 am cdt | link 

May 5, 2015

 

Sports stadiums in the twin cities. Like most everyone, I have a take. I am not a football fan, have no interest in the “Vikes.”  But, I think that a professional football team of long standing should have a crowd-drawing place in which to play. I do enjoy the game of soccer and feel that a venue for soccer games should also be on the table. In fact, I would give a soccer  facility priority over a football stadium anytime and for these reasons.

 

Soccer is the up and coming American game. As I look out my window a child, waiting for the school bus, is dribbling a soccer ball. Last night many teams practiced on the fields near here. With immigrants continually being absorbed into American culture, they bring with them their skill and love for the game of soccer. Also as we learn more and more about football injuries and their life-long effects, the game is losing its appeal. Football may soon become, as other sports rise in popularity, a game of the past. And this. Soccer, the game without expensive equipment which can be played just about anywhere anytime, where a team can be comprised of two or ten players, is far more universal, It can include the other half of the population.. It can be played by women and girls.

6:21 am cdt | link 

May 4, 2015

 

My poet friend just sent me a poem entitled "Mending." She said, in her mail, that she thought I would like it. And I do. Fabric, thread, thimbles and scissors, words, and things, I like. I love to sew, I even like to mend.

 

My mother had a wooden tool called a darning egg. She stuck it in a sock when a hole needed to be darned. I’m quite sure she didn’t do this often, my mother worked outside the home and preferred bookkeeping to mending, but seeing her do this even once was memorable. The image of her using a darning egg remains in my mind.

 

I don’t own a darning egg and I have never, that I recall, darned a sock. But I do own a sewing tool I would be uneasy without. My necessary tool is a pair of embroidery scissors. Gold, the scissors are shaped like a long-billed bird, the bird’s beak being the scissor’s blades. These embroidery scissors are common enough in design, nothing, really that special, but I found them years ago on a city street. On my fingers, they feel just right.

11:01 am cdt | link 

May 3, 2015

 

A few years ago six-word stories and biographies were popular. NPR prompted their writing and aired the best; writing groups everywhere encouraged the penning of them.  Yesterday I was purchasing scones when I heard these twelve, picture producing words.

 

“We just heard your wonderful news!"

 

“Found out news is double good!”

 

 

8:38 am cdt | link 

May 2, 2015

 

The month of May has appeared without the prelude of April showers. In spite of little rain, we do have the flowers. the bulbs and the blooming shrubs, the blue booms of vinca minor. Childhood Mays were ushered in with baskets of candy hung on the door handle of our screened in front porch. Thinking back, I am not certain where those baskets came from. Possibly our neighbor Mrs. Kotz down the street, my mother’s friend Madge or, my godmother Vi Tillison.

 

In the spring a song was sung at Boyd Elementary School called, “It is the Month of May-ing. ”Though I recall only a few of the song’s words. I do remember that my friend Helen and I sang mating, instead of Maying. Delighting in our naughty change of words.

 

I have been listening to the amorous frogs, watching the male mallards vie for a female duck’s attention. Love is in the air and Helen and I were right on. It is the month of mating.

6:28 am cdt | link 

May 1, 2015

 

The rhubarb was plentiful, fat and pink, and I had eggs in the refrigerator. I also had a cup of cream, left over from another baking endeavor, waiting to be put to use. So with time on my hands in late afternoon, I made a pie. Rhubarb custard pie. Flavored with nutmeg and sweetened with a few strawberries, also left over, it was delicious.

 

When newly married I made my first rhubarb custard pie. We had two couples for dinner and the pie was what I served for dessert. I remember very clearly one of the guests, the husband of a woman I played bridge with, raving about the pie. The best pie he had ever tasted he told me. I basked in his compliment. But as I got to know this man over time I came to like him less and less. He was arrogant, hard driving and career wise, no one stood in his way. My friend divorced him after a couple of years and I saw him rarely after that. But I remember his praise of my rhubarb custard pie and choose not to think he was lying.

6:54 am cdt | link 


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