Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday on Wednesday

Our poem is late this week. The temperature has turned and fall has really come to Minnesota. We bravely wore our shorts on Saturday one last time and the next day had to take our coats out. I'm speaking of our "light" coats, of course. They come in stages: light jackets, light jackets with sweaters, heavy coats, heavy coats with sweaters.

Anyway, I'm not adjusting well. You know how I get. At least I know I'm crazy, right? Today I was rehearsing some music and sang this beloved Swedish hymn. I just burst into tears right in the intro and didn't stop through the reprise and tag.

I'm sure if I bake a few muffins and buy a new cardigan I'll come around, but until then enjoy this hymn which is as good today as it was in the 1800s.

Day by day and with each passing moment
Lina Sandell
Translated Andrew Skoog

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,
I've no cause for worry or for fear.
He, whose heart is kind beyond all measure,
Gives unto each day what He deems best,
Lovingly its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day the Lord Himself is near me,
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear and cheer me,
He whose name is Counsellor and Pow'r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
"As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,"
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then, in every tribulation,
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith's sweet consolation,
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E'er to take, as from a father's hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till with Christ the Lord I stand.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Today's Temperature High

Hurry, Dahlia!! The time to bloom again is now! Now, I tell you!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Writer's Block Friday

Blah, blah, blah . . .

1. I didn't want to bore you with another whole blog entry on this week's accident, but I am truly irritated at the local news coverage. For whatever reason, their coverage is slanted towards the accident as being the kid's fault when the two witnesses I know say that her car was in his lane. We may never know what happened -- maybe she had a stroke, maybe she lost control, maybe there was an animal. It just makes me angry that clearly this news team didn't talk to anyone who was actually at the accident and are making up their own answers for a more sensational news story. In one of their pieces the woman's family was interviewed and asked if they have any animosity towards the boy. What an awful question to ask when no one knows the truth for sure.

2. The older boys are on their way home today from the two night overnight fifth grade field trip. I thought I would be racked with worry, but I have felt very positively about it. Brent reported via email that everything was going "pretty good," and called this morning to say that Colin had earned enough stars to try the orienteering challenge on his own.

I haven't had another call, so I am assuming he made it out of the woods. I should know in about another hour.

Toddler D has been known to get up at night and wonder around. Since I am a heavy sleeper, I was concerned that I would not hear him, so for the past two nights, I let him sleep with me. He took up two thirds of the bed in constant thrashing and movement. I suspect we will all sleep a lot more soundly in our own beds tonight.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Whirring update

Yesterday when I finished my blog, I thought about how nice it would be to write and tell you that I didn't know the people involved. I thought I would be able to tell you it was a strange relief. I would have been sad for the people involved but -- happy isn't the right word -- naturally relieved that it wasn't someone from town.

But it was.

It was 16-year-old on his way to school who was hit head on by a lady from out of town. My sister-in-law Pam was one of the first people on the accident. She had a chance to talk with the woman. Pam wishes she could have talked to her more. It was quickly crowded and crazy and as soon as the emergency people came to the scene, Pam got out of the way.

The boy is the son of people I don't know well, but could certainly say hello to and use their first names. He is still in critical condition. The helicopter was for him. The was another helicopter on its way for the woman . . . but she didn't make it.

How strange to get up in the morning and get ready for your day -- a day like any other of the rest of the 90 percent of your life -- and have it end so differently. I'm talking about everyone that morning: the boy, the woman, their families, Pam, our emergency drivers who certainly don't go to fatal accidents every day. I wish I knew something smart to say about it.

I don't.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Whirring in the silence

It's quiet out here in rural Minnesota. I don't mean devoid of action -- although it's probably that too -- but I mean literally quiet. Sometimes a dog barks or a kid shouts. Car alarms occasionally go off at the dealership down the block. Generally it's just quiet.

So when a helicopter flies over my house, I notice.

It's never a good thing when a helicopter flies to town because, urban beloved, it's not the swat team or the traffic observers. It's the air ambulance. My city dwelling friends and loved ones, do you know what I mean by this? We have a very good hospital, but they are not equipped for severe life threatening injuries. The air ambulance usually means an accident. The air ambulance makes my neighbors and me fall to our knees and reach for our phones because it's a small town and someone we know or love is in trouble.

Do you remember last week when we talked about the school out in the middle of no where. I joked that you don't want to be out there after school when the kids are trying to zip back into town in their clunker high school cars. What I didn't tell you was that, although there are the regular fender benders, there have also been several fatal accidents out there. I can think of three off the top of my head. I might be blocking another. Wouldn't you?

This morning on their way to meet the bus for the two night overnight field trip (I'll come back and fret about this later), Brent and Colin had to be rerouted around the accident out by the school and shortly after the helicopter came over my house.

The neighbors kids left for school after Brent called. They are okay. Brent and Colin are okay. I am searching Facebook for signs from Chief Babysitter (CBS) Andy. I am sure extracurricular activities called him to school long before 8 o'clock.

The helicopter took off about 40 minutes after it arrived, but I am still praying -- for whomever got transported, for their family, for the medical personnel, for the others involved in the accident.

And I am waiting -- waiting to find out about my neighbor, my friend whose life changed this morning while I sat in my house in the quiet.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

Toddler D and I have survived our first morning at ECFE. I am the oldest mom in the room, but I will try not to obsess. No one needs to hear someone constantly going on about how they were in high school when you were born. (cough)

It's a gloomy wet day here in West Lake Woebegone, so let's have a fall poem by John Keats who died very young of tuberculosis.

Ode to Autumn
by John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Craft Emergency Preparedness

I bought two packages of construction paper in the back to school supply clearance at Target the other day. I managed to make it to the area in my home where I store the craft supplies only to discover I had many many packages of construction paper down there already. Apparently I am storing up for the winter like a little squirrel, only instead of nuts I am getting ready to craft.

If you have followed my blog for any amount of time, I know you are now chuckling merrily to yourself. Crafting isn't really my strong suit. Well, now, that's not true. Finishing crafts isn't really my strong suit. Remember last Thanksgiving's apron? How about this Spring's counted cross stitch eyeglass case? Right. Not so good at the finishing. So what -- exactly -- do I think I am going to make with all of that construction paper. Homemade Valentines for all the U.S. troops in Afghanistan? Rainbow colored snowflakes for holiday decorating? I can't even think of anything else. Perhaps I need to find myself a book on construction paper crafts.
No, not really.

Maybe I should get into scrapbooking. Ohhhh! I'm sorry! I was almost able to say that with a straight face. Do you realize what a mess I would make of scrapbooking?!

Maybe next year or so, I'll give Toddler D a safety scissors and just let him go to town.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Writer's Block Friday

Blah, blah, blah . . .

1. I've been nursing a bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper so long this morning, I finally had to go get some ice. What's wrong with me? Usually it takes me no time at all to knock back a Dr. Pepper.
** Bonus points if you can identify one of my favorite movies here.

2. Got my flu shot yesterday . . . among other annual procedures a 40 year old woman must have, not to be discussed in mixed company. It made my arm hurt all day.

3. Daniel got his flu shot today. He took it like a man -- shiny band-aid and Thomas the Train sticker and all. How come I didn't get a shiny band-aid? My industrial looking bandage left a sensitive skin rash on my arm. Why was this shot so much more difficult for me than my two year old? Perhaps you shouldn't answer. I have the feeling words like diva or whiner or wimp might be used, so let's not go there.

4. S'on Jeremy was by last night to pick up his new-to-him car. He looked ever the responsible music teacher driving away.

5. I'm sure you're wondering how my counted cross stitch eyeglass case is coming.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Slug Update

I was zooming past the front flowerbed this morning because I was late -- which is not new or surprising -- when this caught my eye.

Yes, it is poor slug eaten Dahlia making a valiant last minute comeback. And, yes, that is a fall leaf right next to it. I don't think you can see it from the photo, but Dahlia is even going to try and bloom.

Way to rally back, Dahlia! Good for you!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Haiku for Wednesday

I don't think I can really top the poem from yesterday. I hope Brenda will forgive me for posting it. It just really spoke to me right here (pointing to nose). You know what I mean?

So, on my Facebook status today I said I was thinking of writing a ragweed hating haiku and I got these responses.

From Cyberspace Sarah:
Ragweed I hate you
Ragweed fills my head with sludge
I am over you

From my lovely friend Georgia:
Ragweed is pretty
But its looks are deceiving
Sneezing and itching

Allergenic scourge
We're pining for the first freeze
For then you will die

As I'm sure we all are from time to time, I was in a Jack Kerouac mood this summer and was inspired by his desire to burn, burn, burn. I offer this:

Die, die, die, die, die
Ragweed plant allergy scum
Die, die, die, die, die

Little friend Carol J offered to do a limerick. "There once was a ragweed from Dublin," but it seems this is a work in progress.

Sniffle, snort.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

Friends? (snuffle) Loved ones? (snort) Is dat you? Da change of season is wildy, wary hard on by sinuses. (wheeze) I found dis blog poem dat says it all. Bless Brenda's heart. It's da best poem I've featured all year. (achoo, moan)

Ode to Ragweed blooming season: I hate you
by Brenda Gail

Ragweed and my nose

Oh, ragweed I hate you I hate you I say,

I hate you tomorrow and I hate you today.

You clog up my pores, you clog up my head,

You cause me to hate and you cause me to dread,

You cause me to talk funny when I get out of bed.

Oh, ragweed oh ragweed I hate you I say

I wish, how I wish, you would just go away

You bloom little green blooms that make me so sad

You bloom so profusely It makes me so mad

I close up the house,

I pull down the shades,

But in you creep, into my house, and up into my nose

and into my brain, and the Tylenol just doesn't cut it

and the Sudafed is not to be found, thanks to the methheads,

and my poem does not rhyme anymore,

Oh, ragweed, oh ragweed I wish you would go

Oh, well you will be here until we see snow.

The end

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sinus Evil

Friends and loved ones, I am going to mix myself a lovely fall sudafed/benedryl cocktail and put myself to bed for a little nap while Toddler D takes his. Ah, beautiful fall in Minnesota.

While I'm away, why not ponder this strange little pop culture event from the MTV awards this weekend. Cutie country star Taylor Swift was interrupted by rapper Kanye West who thought Beyonce should have won.

Enjoy this article from People magazine and give yourself a break if you speak out of turn today. At least you didn't do it on cable television.

At least we know we're crazy, right?

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Smell

Having established I am not the best housekeeper, I have been hesitant to tell you about the smell in my kitchen.

I worked with a woman who had a rat chew through her television cord. It was electrocuted and died under her TV. There were those who sighed about her housekeeping, but she was a perfectly fine housekeeper. These things happen, but people will judge.

So, anyway, there was an unidentified smell in my kitchen. We just couldn't pinpoint it. We sniffed around. I cleaned out cupboards. Nothing. I would have said it smelled a little like lunch meat. Colin came home from school (which is going just fine so far, thank you for asking) and said, "Why does it smell like ham?"

Well, that was that. I started ripping things apart again and came across a perfectly innocent head of garlic which was a little softer than it should have been. It looked normal. It wasn't oozing or emitting a green cartoon like cloud of stink, but if you got really close, there it was. Lunch meat. I threw it and waved around the Lysol and lit candles.

I hope that was it. You may never know. I may not admit if it wasn't.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

It's me, isn't it?

Do you remember a few months ago when Patty from Pennsylvania suggested not everyone understood what I was talking about? I am too lazy to find the link. You'll have to trust me. I agreed and then didn't think too much about it.

I'm starting to now.

A couple of weeks ago beloved friend Rita and I had a very confusing conversation about Aunt Flo. You and I shall not go into it now in mixed company. Again, I didn't think too much about this.

On Sunday, I approached little teacher friend Judy with this opener, "So you're back to school this week." And she replied, "Not this year." To which I said, "Oh, are you substituting?" To which she said, "I've had the same teaching job for three years." We went around a couple of more times until it became clear that I meant she was "going back to school" to teach, and she meant she was not "going back to school" herself.

Okay, well, that could have happened to anybody. Then last night I say to my dearest husband of 15 years. My life partner. My soul mate:

I need to buy a button. Seemed simple enough to me.

"What?" He said.
A button.

"A what?"
A button. I need to buy a button.

What do you mean? I need to hold up my pants.

"What does that mean?"
What do you mean, "What does that mean?" My button has broken. I need to replace it so my pants will stay up.

"So you need an actual button to hold up your actual pants?"
I . . . yes!!

Friends and loved ones, do I speak so abstractly that even my own husband does not know when I need to do a minor sewing repair job?

Let me make it very clear. That was a rhetorical question.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

First Day Blues

Colin made it through the day despite the thunderstorm. His biggest concern when he came home was that the day was too long. Well, of course, it was. The first day of school is always too long. It was a major worry at bedtime as well when everything seems so much worse.

I don't remember if I worried about school. Yes, I think I did. I missed the first day of seventh grade with a migraine. I couldn't move my head. I remember being up half the night before eighth grade. Before and after those years I have no idea. I remember the terror of going to my first college class. It was "The City." It was boring even that first day.

I came to love college -- both times -- and if I could do it all again I would in a heartbeat. I don't think education is ever a waste of time.

Except when you're a fifth grade boy.

Colin way back in his carefree pre-fifth grade youth three weeks ago.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

Colin got on the bus very bravely this morning. Now it is thundering which is something he has a difficult time handling. It's a sudden loud noise. Lightning is the same thing -- sudden flash. So, I'll probably have a second cup this morning. I'm sure he's fine . . . way out there . . . at the big school . . . with an entirely new staff around him.

We have prayed earnest prayers for him yesterday and today. Nothing more can be done but to trust.

Meanwhile, let's crack open Grandma Malmberg's poetry scrapbook from her days as teacher at a country school. Here's a nice one from Carl Sandburg.

Haze Gold
Carl Sandburg

Sun, you may send your haze gold
Filling the fall afternoon
With a flimmer of many gold feather.
Leaves, you may linger in the fall sunset
Like late lingering butterflies before frost.
Treetops, you may sift the sunset cross-light
Spreading a loose checkerwork of gold and shadow.
Winter comes soon -- shall we save this, lay it by,
Keep all we can of these gold yellows?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Breaking up is Hard to Do

I broke up with the Schwan's man yesterday. Do you have Schwan's where you live? Of course you do. You must. Just in case you're an international reader, the Schwan's man brings frozen food to your door.

We had a Schwan's rep for eight years I LOVED. I bought the entire line. I mean if he had come in one day and said, "Mary Lisa, got a two for one sale on liver and onions today," I would have shouted, "AND HOW!!" My home economy is manufacturing based, and it's been a little tight the last year or so, but I bought Schwan's with reckless abandon anyway. Just loved my Schwan's man.

Then he quit. One day Stranger Danger comes to the door. "Where's Alan?" I asked in a sort of hysterical whisper. "Oh, he quit about a week ago." I started laughing a crazed laugh. "What?! Hahahahahaha. You're kidding right? RIGHT?! He didn't even say good-bye!!!!!!"

No, as it turned out, he wasn't. My Schwan's man had been replaced by New Guy. I just never took to New Guy. I started hiding from him, or I'd meet him halfway down the sidewalk, "Just a bag of chicken nuggets today. No need for you to come anywhere near the house or to try and make conversation with me."

New Guy though he was funnier than he was. New Guy thought he was smarter than he was. New Guy didn't eat the product. A couple of weeks ago I asked him about a certain flavor of ice cream. He answered (and this is a direct quote), "I don't know. Ask my kids. I don't eat this stuff."

Friends and loved ones, maybe I come from a small town. Maybe I worked in my small family business. Maybe I don't understand how the real world works, but it seems to me if you sell food door to door, you should know what it tastes like or at the very least fake that you do.

So that was the last straw. I called the very friendly customer service line and told the man (are all Schwan's employees male?) that for financial reasons I no longer wished to receive service.

But you and I know the truth. It just wasn't working out between us.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

More on Middle School

. . . because I'm not done yet.

I reread what Roxane wrote and, I see now, she was agreeing with me that the school IS out in the middle of nowhere. I'm in such a tizzy, I don't know if I am coming or going.

Colin is fine with all of this, by the way. I made him go out with me again yesterday and practice his locker combination. He didn't get it the first time probably because I was shouting, "RIGHT!! RIGHT!! NO! WAIT! I MEAN LEFT!! LEFT!!" I told him I would be quiet and he got it perfectly the next time.

Then Daniel found an adult scissors and started running around in circles. I don't want to talk about it. I just froze on the spot and prayed this silent prayer, "Please, God. Please, please, please, please, please." Colin tackled him and I wrestled away the scissors.

The "middle school" is actually just the fifth and sixth grade. Consolidated elementary schools crowded that group out to the high school. They are in a separate wing and can be completely shut off from the rest of the school except when they have to go to the other side of the building for music.

The one teacher I had at my pre-consolidated high school who is still teaching (Brent's are all dead. I'm kidding . . . um . . . sort of. They are, by and large, dead.) will be Colin's choir teacher this year. When I introduced him to my son, I promised that Colin would be better behaved than I was. I'm sure this is true. I wasn't a bad kid, but I may have had a bit of an attitude.

I thought Colin was going to have to take a different bus home than he had been, but I learned today this is not true. It was going to be the one last thing, I just could not handle. Too much change. Too much. And then, it turned out I was panicking for nothing -- as, I suspect, will be true of most of my concerns this school year.

I guess if one of us has to be a little worried, a little shall we say . . . okay . . . psycho about this, I'm glad it's me. Colin should be glad for a change of scenery. He should be excited about a new school year. He should be confident he can handle it.

And I should, definitely, have my little panic attacks alone where he can't see.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I spy

Friends and loved ones, I'm not stalking you per se, but I do have a little tracker that shows me where you are. I'm sort of a geek that way. I find it interesting. I don't know who you are, so if you are my old boyfriend pining away for how smart, attractive and amusing I still am and how your life really turned out to be a pittance without me, rest assured, your secret is safe with the Google tracker, Clay Carter. Oh, wait . . . Anyway, shout out to you, little friend in Duluth, Georgia. I was recently in Duluth, Minnesota. And, of course, when I see Houston, Texas, I know in my heart of hearts it's Beth Moore laughing and praying away for me personally.

Well, in other news, I survived M___ Middle School orientation last night. "Middle School" is a bit of a joke here in West Lake Woebegone because there are only two schools -- the elementary school and the everything else school. Colin will now be going to the everything else school. It's a relatively new school built with state incentive money 20 years ago. The money went to schools willing to consolidate their high schools with nearby towns. Wanting to be fair, the communities built this school out in the middle of nowhere, although they do have a nice view of the lake.

There are certainly pros and cons to its being out in the middle of nowhere. Children aren't wandering off campus in the middle of the day, for example. I would advise, however, NOT to drive out that way after school when all the new drivers in their clunker cars attempt to make a left turn from the parking lot back into town.

People have gotten hurt.

** Roxane has written me this morning to say the school is not in the middle of nowhere. Technically, she's right. It's on a road between our town and a neighboring town. What I mean to point out is that it's not actually in town . . . nearby, where this mother could patrol past in her car to make sure everything is all right and her child wasn't outside screaming in fear. More on my reaction to "Middle School" versus Colin's later.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

How about some Walt Whitman for Labor Day next week.

I Hear America Singing
Walt Whitman

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand
singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, or
at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of
the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows,
robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.