Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Poem for Brent

Woody Guthrie - NYC 1954

My Battle

Show me how, how to fight my battle in life
Show me how to fight
And I'll run away with you

Teach me how, how to fight my hard times in life
Teach me how to fight
And I'll run away with you

And I will never dread the day I will die
‘Cause my sunset is somebody's morning sky

Show me how, how to face my troublesome fights
Show me how to face them
And I'll run away with you

Teach me how, how to win my union in life
Show me how to win
And I'll run away with you

And I will never dread the day I will die
‘Cause my sunset is somebody's morning sky

Show me how, how to win for all of my people
Show me how to win
And I'll run away with you

Teach me how, how to love this battle of life
Teach me how to love
And I'll run away with you

How to fight, how to win, how to love
Teach me how, show me how, teach me how
How to love
How to fight, how to win, how to love

Sunday, September 28, 2008


I belong to an online book trading club. Tonight I got one ready to send to Hawaii. I was so excited. I wrote on a little post-it note, "Wish I were there!" and I underlined "there" for emphasis. I think for a Minnesotan to imagine such a life as one might live in Hawaii is nearly impossible. It's raining now. The rain is bringing in a cold front. At the end of the week the high will be 56 degrees or something. What even would it be like to live in a place with such a moderate climate you never had to check the weather forecast because it would always be the same? We Minnesotans brag that we would get bored. We love, love, love the change of seasons, we say -- as though a few brilliantly colored leaves made up for 50 degrees below zero windchill.

I don't want to sound grumpy. I have made a choice to live here and I do it gladly. I'm sure I wouldn't like living in Hawaii . . . for long. Garrison Keillor has said something to the effect that living in Minnesota makes us a heartier, more interesting people. People who live in Florida or Hawaii don't have to work their weather the way we do. I think there's something to that. I look at it this way: A blizzard gives us a snow day to sit inside and make Rice Krispie bars. (What is my marshmallow obsession?) A hurricane gives our tropical friends a basement full of water. Wait. They don't have basements, do they? You understand my point. An arctic climate may not have the most beautiful plants and fruits, but we don't have many poisonous snakes either. Sure it's so cold that we can't make snowmen until spring, but look at our lovely pale complexions. Hmmmm. That's a bit of a reach, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hidden Talents

You know . . . it's about 45 minutes past the time when I should be in bed, but I came across this photo from our trip to Wyoming this spring. Frankly, it brings me joy to know that when I leave this earth there will be something for people to say about me.
Was she the greatest singer? "She was all right. Flat." Was she the best writer? "If you like that sort of thing. I didn't understand her half the time." Was she much of a homemaker? "Well, no. My sock once got stuck on something sticky on her floor and there was a smell in her bathroom I could never describe, but, you know, she had the right kind of nose for hanging a spoon on and that certainly is something."
I also treasure this photo because I think you can just make out that my aunt Rayna has made a Cherry Coke Jell-O. Marshmallows in Jell-O? No, thank you. Coca-Cola, a trough of sugar AND a can of cherry pie filling in Jell-O? Yes, please!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I'm it.

My sister, Cyberspace Sarah, has "tagged" me again. You'd think she'd know me well enough to know I'm not very good at running games. I often remain "it" because I can't catch anyone.

Let's see. Here's what she wrote:

The "rules" of the game are as follows:

1. Post the rules on your blog

2. Write 6 random things about yourself

3. Tag 6 people at the end of your post

4. If you're tagged, DO IT and pass on the tag

Oh, good heavens she's bossy. Look at the capital letters in number 6. Six random things about myself. Random. Yes. All right.

1. My bedroom has orange carpet and, after eight years, I am learning to like it . . . sort of.

2. I have a low tolerance for marshmallows. (She said it had to be random, not something you didn't know.)

3. I would love to have shoulder length hair. I just can't. It doesn't grow.

4. All the trees in my yard are ash and they're going to die as soon as that bug gets here. (She said it had to be random. She didn't say it had to be cheerful.)

5. Right now I am reading American Wife by . . . someone. So far it's a really good book.

6. No one reads my blog except my sister and my mother . . . and, I guess, Molly because she didn't feel sorry for me after viewing my last entry, so I feel excused from tagging anyone else.

It's a good exercise, Cyberspace, but I don't have a following like you do. (sad violin music plays out)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dear Hallmark,

This blog is dedicated to our friend Jeremy J.

Does Hallmark carry a line of divorce cards? Perhaps something sympathetic? In your time of sorrow . . . I don't think that would be quiet right. Or maybe something funny. How do you get rid of 125 pounds fast? DIVORCE! No, I wouldn't feel comfortable with that either. Maybe it should be simple: Congratulations AND I'm sorry. Yes, I think if Hallmark made a card to that effect it would be a big hit. Maybe they already do.

Having lived as part of a blended family for 15 years, I can tell you for sure -- divorce is not easy. Even when everyone is perfectly pleasant and doing what's best for the kids -- divorce is not easy. Sure, I have seen pictures of Ashton, Demi and Bruce. Whatever. Either these people are completely shallow and do not feel human emotions OR they benefit from the publicity. Probably both.

When I was getting married and becoming a stepparent I was doing some postgraduate work (and then went promptly back to my old job, but that's another story). I had a great professor who told me he'd been divorced and remarried 20 years or something at the time. He said he and his ex wife got along very well. Their daughter loved both of her stepparents very much, but in her heart of hearts she wished her parents were still married. He thought perhaps she would like it if the stepparents married each other and they could stay one big happy family.

Jeremy and Shelby's step dad is a great guy, but I think they know that wouldn't work.

Being part of a family which has gone through divorce . . . well, I wouldn't trade them for anything . . . but it has been a major road on our journey of faith. Brent and I have learned that God loves us no matter what we've been through, even when we made bad choices. He equips and strengthens us in situations we thought we could not get through. He blesses us in spite of ourselves and brings us peace and joy.

So, Hallmark, here's my card:

(picture of cherub holding flower)
I am sorry things could not be worked out and you have had to go through this. Congratulations on getting through this far. We will be thinking of you and praying for you as you rebuild your life and your family.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A crime of footwear

I just bought Baby D fur-lined Crocs. I know. Please don't say anything. I know it's wrong. I know they look like a big plastic hoof. I'm not sure Minnesotans should be allowed to buy them in the first place. They are a summer shoe. What I mean to say is a shoe for those who live where it's summer all the time, not just barely three months of the year. And to line them with fur. I know. It's just wrong. Just wrong. Are you supposed to wear them on a snowy beach?

Here's the thing: Baby D has THE chubbiest feet. No, not high arches as some have assumed -- chubby, chubby feet. I bought him two pairs of tennis shoes this fall that took a team of parents and/or siblings to hold him flat on the floor and wrestle on. They are Velcro shoes and the Velcro barely stretched over the top of his chubby, chubby feet. I finally broke down and bought a third pair of extra wide tennis shoes. These were not easy to find.

The Crocs fit the foot chub and he can put them on himself (although not always on the correct feet). Laugh at my poor child if you must, but please take into consideration his feet.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

And another thing . . .

I have one more thing to say on politics and I swear I'll be done. I think celebrities should just stay out of it unless they are running for office themselves. I enjoy Barbra Streisand at Christmas time, who doesn't. I know she has a huge, loyal following, but do most Americans really sit around going, "Well, I'll make my decision once I hear what Barbra says." If so, I'm going to think about moving to Canada even if they are plotting my destruction with marshmallows.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I want a real Minnesotan

Growing up the daughter of the local newspaper publisher, the truth of the matter is -- politically -- well, I can usually see both sides. Even the Pope County Tribune was non-partisan. I guess if I had to tell the absolute truth, I lean more right than left these days. I heard a great Winston Churchill quote (which winstonchurchill.org says is falsely attributed to him) to the effect that if you're not a liberal at 20, you have no heart and if you're not a conservative by 35, you have no brains. I have run that course. I don't usually get too hot under the collar when the subject of politics comes up.*

One conversation in Minnesota politics has really got me burning this fall and that's the race for senate. Norm Coleman, a native of Brooklyn, New York, and former mayor of St. Paul is running against Al Franken. Franken admittedly grew up in St. Louis Park, but has spent the majority of his life NOT living in Minnesota. I ask you: Which one of them can get to my home in West Central Minnesota without a map? Which one of them can name any other town in my county beside the county seat? How about the largest lake in my county? Who is it's largest employer? What is the name of my town's festival? Do either one of them own the kind of clothes needed for ice fishing, an extremely popular activity in my community? Do they know how the firefighters and other community services are funded in my community? Have either one of them sent a child to Minnesota Public Schools? Which one of them has a clue about my life in rural Minnesota? Does either one of them know the struggle, the strength and the pride that comes from choosing to live out here, and how can I be sure that either one has my best interests at heart and is not just using the name of the great state of Minnesota as a stepping stone for their own personal political career goals?

I didn't think so.

* I really like that scrappy Sarah Palin, though.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Marshmallows and Canadian Invasion

Back in my wild liberal college days I took a class on civil disobedience. You know, what to do if the Canadians invaded or something. I can't remember one thing about what to do, so it's a good thing they haven't yet. I do think I have the books around here somewhere just in case.

I know one thing for sure, if they try to torture me by making me eat Jell-O with marshmallows, I will sing like a canary. The President's cell phone number, the best way to get to Minot, North Dakota, where to get coupons for the Mall of America -- I will tell all.

I have texture issues. Specifically, I have texture issues with marshmallows. That ooey, gooey mushiness is making me cringe right now just thinking about it (shudder). Jell-O with marshmallows (shudder, gag) . . .

I have a few exceptions. I can eat Lucky Charms as long as they don't get soggy. Once a year I can eat a smore. I probably could eat a smore more than once a year, but I don't get to a fire that often. There are a few rules about it though. It has to be real chocolate, not frosting or peanut butter or any of the other things people make smores out of. The marshmallow cannot burn. If it does, I have to start over. The marshmallow must be fully cooked. It cannot be lightly toasted and still "raw" on the inside. It's very complicated. It's probably good it's only once a year.

If any one sees Canadians start coming across en masse with Tupperware, let me know. I have to dig out those books.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First Day

So, yeah, I was all excited for school to start so we could get back into more of a routine and now . . . well, it's sort of quiet. Baby D and I haven't been sure what to do with ourselves. We watched a movie. We had a snack. We prayed for Colin to have a good day at school. Now here I am at the computer with no one asking me if I'm done yet. Grandma has not called Colin too early on the phone to tell him a joke. All of the Goldfish crackers are still in the box on the shelf -- not strewn about the kitchen as if someone were eating them while looking for a bowl.

What is this weird job of motherhood? Our number one function is to protect our children and at the same time create independent adults. If we are successful, we work ourselves out of a job. How horrible to be standing in the rain trying not to cry because your fourth grader decided to take the bus to school this year and does not want to be dropped off his first day. The lump in my throat was a mixture of worry and sorrow and regret . . . and the greatest, greatest pride.

If we knew how emotionally exhausting motherhood would be, would any of us take it on? Once we have become mothers, would any of us give it up?