Thursday, December 31, 2009

thanks 2009

2009. Seems like it was here, then poof, gone so fast. I have to say, it was a wonderful year. . . in a steady, relaxed way for me. This is the year I became comfortable and content with my life, just as it is right now. I realized it's more helpful to remember the past rather than reliving the past. . . to be truly grateful for this moment right now. . . and that the future holds so very much. My word for the year was threshold. Not a word I considered much until I read an essay about thresholds last December. It just seemed to fit where I felt I was a year ago. And I honestly believe a threshold was where I was more often than not this year. Standing between the past and the future, able to look back at the past, but mostly preparing to move into the future.

This is the year I learned how to live a happy life. I chose to be happy with how my life is right now. I planned for happiness, and more often than not, I found it all around me.
Maybe not exactly how I had imagined it, but it was there.

This photo was taken on one of favorite days in July. I took the day off from work and set out on an adventure, driving south on Hwy 35 in Wisconsin to Pepin, where I had dinner at the Harbor View Cafe. I arrived just before they opened for the evening and gathered among the others waiting in line outside the restaurant. It was a gorgeous afternoon. The menu is written on a chalk board hanging on a wall. I walked up to get a closer look and the woman next to me sighed and remarked that everything is fabulous here. I said this was my first visit. She smiled and said, "Girl, I love seeing a woman who takes care of herself, and this is a great place to do just that."

I savored every bite of that delicious day. And of this year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

i'm back. . .

I've sort of missed not blogging for the past four days. I must have created a habit during my 30 days of intentional cyberspace blabbing.

I had a request earlier to tell this story. So here goes.

There are three things that I consistantly could care less about - really, not like at all. And they happen to be things most people typically enjoy: parades, fireworks, and football. To separate them more, I find parades and fireworks utterly boring. Perhaps the first time I saw a parade and fireworks they might have been exciting, but after 34 years there's nothing much new or fresh about either in my book. Pyrotechnics haven't seemed to change, at all. And they still throw that woman up in the air and the Vulcans still run around acting obnoxious. Stale and boring.

Football. I completely detest football. To my core. (I do want to see The Blindspot, however, because the story seems to be more human interest than football). I remember happily telling a guy on my freshman floor that I considered Super Bowl Sunday one of my favorite days of the year. . . because it means it's over for a few months. I left him speechless. But he wrote about my comment in his weekly campus newspaper column. I vaguely remember him calling me unpatriotic or not human for my admission.

Well, imagine the sheer delight that came over me this year at the U of M Ultimate Homecoming when I learned that I would have to partake in these three things all in one night. (Apparently it was the "ultimate" homecoming because the blessed stadium, after all the years of whining and complaining about the Metrodome and then talking about building it, followed by the years of building it, was finally finished. And the U, to our credit, decided to start a tradition of showcasing our academic and outreach missions in addition to pride and spirit during this week).  Actually, I didn't have to participate, but because I love my coworker Erica to pieces, I told her I would volunteer for our CLA Homecoming Parade experience. I thought I would just have to direct CLA alumni who came to march in the parade. Then I'd go home. Oh no - I ended up having to march in the parade and carry a sign because we were short volunteers - and I'm not even an alum of CLA. To make it even better, the act in front of us was none other than the bouncing girl. And those Vulcans were running around everywhere. Really, I thought? This isn't a city parade. Really, those two acts have to be at the U of M parade too? They have nothing to do with the U of M.

It gets better because the parade route (which was only a few blocks long) ended at the stadium, for a football game pepfest with fireworks. The saving grace at this affair was the marching band. We have a fabulous marching band. I love listening to and watching them. And I love that they now have a great new home in the new stadium. Those kids so deserve it.

So, there I sat in the new stadium, singing the rouser with my coworkers, clapping for the spirit squad and watching a ridiculous message from Coach Tim Brewster on the jumbo-tron. Then the pyrotechnic specialist set off fireworks on the field. And yes, they were unremarkable to me. 

The parade: ok, it moved along pretty fast.

The football team: supposedly "preparing" for the game at the Radisson Hotel near campus, so I didn't have to watch them prance about the field. Also thankfully, I didn't have to attend the game the next day.

The stadium: meh. It's fine. The inner corridor is a massive wind tunnel. The bowl section wasn't as cold as I thought it would be that night. I'm sure it will be a great venue for U2 next summer.

But because I'm a good aunt, a few weeks later I went to Iowa to watch my nephew play football. And yes, I watched the game and cheered. Although from the backseat of my sister's car. I giggled when I realized his school is so small that some players and cheer squad members were dashing around to get suited up to also play in the half-time marching band show.

And I discoverd just how much my mom loves nachos. And just how good the nachos are at the Akron-Westfield field. And that Andrew's game was sort of fun, mostly because I was watching him and because there wasn't a parade or fireworks in sight.

Friday, December 25, 2009


Merry Christmas! I hope you are enjoying a beautiful day with family and friends. I was probably four or five in this picture. My sister made the duck I'm clutching along with my Woodsy family that lived in that fabric log. The Woodsies remain one of my all-time favorite gifts. I carried them everywhere. Papa, Mama and Baby Woodsy were squirrels or woodchucks or chipmunks. They were dressed. They squeaked. And the door of the log folded down so the Woodsies could sit in chairs at their table. The whole thing came with a book about their lives. I wonder if it's all still in my parents' attic. I need to look. Other favorite gifts were the My Friends dolls, Merlin and Fashion Plates.

December 25 marks my 30 days of blogging each day. I made it - and accomplished one of my 34 to-dos of the year! Thanks for reading along. I hope to keep it up.

Love and peace.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Christmas 1975. I was a month old and Jodi was almost 17. Mom was 41 and dad almost 41. I was exactly a month early, and was supposed to be born on December 25. Mom tells everyone that I finally started to look "normal" on Christmas because my first month I had a staph skin infection from the hospital. But I made a quick recovery just in time to enjoy my first Christmas with my family.

Mom still sets out the nativity scene in the background. And that tree came home with dad one day. 1975 was a big year for him: a new kid, a new car (a blue GMC Pacer - not a long-lived model - looked like a circus clown car), a color TV, and this tree. And maybe that snazzy shirt. Mom told him she didn't want to deal with a real tree, so he went to Montgomary Wards and picked this one up. From the front it looks fine. It was really missing half a back, and we would set it up so the missing back faced out the window. I laughed at it for many years.

Christmas Eve is big in my family. We open family presents, typically have mom's homemade spaghetti and meatballs (although Swedish and German, she uses a recipe from an Italian family), and church. When I was little mom and Jodi went to the late night service. I remember mom would wear a bell necklace and I would listen by the door in my room for it to stop jingling and then I would sneak out for a while and gaze at the tree, all alone in the living room. . . and watch for Santa out the window.

And when I'd wake up in the morning that Rudolph had left behind evidence of very messy carrot eating.

Enjoy the wonder of this night.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I love this picture of my dad and me. I think I was in sixth grade. I'm happy I scheduled these posts for the next few days, thinking I would be at my sister's now. Most of my holiday cheer has been sapped right out of me. Hopefully some will return tomorrow. Being three instead of six last year just seemed like a blip and I easily shook it off. Two years in a row isn't as easy to shrug my shoulders at, especially since we don't see each other that often. I've learned a valuable lesson this season: always, always have a backup plan. Which I do because my parents are close, and I'm thankful for that. I'll spend the next two days with them. I was hoping to shake up our Christmas Day a bit and go to a movie. Just to get mom and me out of the house and around others. I'm not holding tightly to that idea anymore. It sounds like traveling around will be pretty difficult. Wait and see I guess. I'm eagerly looking forward to December 26, and similarly, January 1.

And I'm grateful I'm not trapped in a snowy ditch, or airport, or that we're seperated because we don't get along. I think watching the Grinch right now will help my mood a bit!

The highlight of my day was receiving greetings from my Ireland trip friends in Austraila and Chicago. Email is a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

bed time

Someone (ahem. . . ) wasn't looking forward to going to bed during the holidays in this classic holiday photo. Turns out she's really a night-owl. No wonder she was upset.

Monday, December 21, 2009

go with the flow

Some days are just sort of odd. Today was one of them. I started when I, still asleep, answered the phone and my dad told me we aren't going to my sister's because of the weather. I don't think I said anything to him, and just hung up. When I got up and hour later, I was completely confused as to if that was a dream or not, so I called home. No, not a dream and yes, we're not going to Iowa for Christmas and my sister and her family are staying put as well.

I felt disappointed for most of the day. This is the second year in a row that we're all not together. The roads are already full of ice where they live. So now we're all rethinking menus and doing last minute shopping to re-prepare for the holiday. On the upside, I did enjoy spending time at my place for the holiday last year. I think I might have some extra time to read and hang some pictures that have been leaning against my walls for two or so years. Yep, this Christmas might just be the time to do these things!

Also adding to my "off" day was staying home for most of morning waiting for a building inspector to come by to "inspect" my new patio door. His inspection involved looking mostly at the clipboard he was carrying, and not at the door. Odd.

Tonight I got a call from the mom of a guy I went to high school with. We (the mom and I) have remained friends, strangely enough. Technically I'm friend skipping over my mom because she met Ginger when Dave and I were preschoolers. Then we all re-met when Dave and I entered 9th grade. He and his brother went to St. Joe's and I went to public school. I had a huge crush on him all throughout high school, which Ginger and my mom (and probably Dave) knew. He's married now and lives in Milwaukee. He friended me on facebook over a year ago, which I didn't know because his facebook name is Bucky Badger, and his photo was nondescript. I ignored his friend request, until he sent me a message explaining that he is Bucky. I accepted. A bit strange. . . and we haven't communicated since.

Here's the best part of that story: Ginger tells me at least once a year that she wishes I was her daughter-in-law, yet says I'm too good for David and that I probably wouldn't enjoy being married to him. It sounds like she's not supportive of him when I say it like this, but that's not the case. She loves him to pieces and wishes the best for him, but realizes he's (in her words) "not the best communicator." I just laugh when she says this to me because there was a time in my life, oh so long ago, when I would have died a thousand deaths in sheer delight to hear her say she wishes I was her daughter-in-law. Now she's a loving sorta mom-like/sorta friend-like presence in my life. I guess we've double friend skipped over David and my mom to wind up still talking to each other after all these years.

So, truly, the lesson of the day is to go with the flow.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

kitchen redemption

I feel like the Rocky theme song should be playing right now. I redeemed myself in the kitchen today, twice. Whew. I was worried after last weekend's cookie debacle and my mid-week "I'm off food" phase that this holiday season was going to be a complete bust in the enjoyable eats department.

I made some really good banana bread this morning, from a recipe a Starbuck's employee gave me a few months ago. Supposedly this is Starbuck's new banana bread recipe, from when they decided to start baking with real ingredients. So, that's all ready to go to Iowa for Kane Christmas 2009.

Tonight I roasted some vegetables. Among them, parsnips. To the best of my knowledge, this was the first time I've had parsnips. I like them - at least I do roasted with yellow onion and golden beets, sea salt, pepper and olive oil. I combined the veggies with these very tasty tiny ravioli I found at Trader Joe's. It just might be the perfect pasta in my book. I made a lovely cold pasta salad with them and lots of fresh veggies and TJ's Italian Balsamic dressing this summer. Boy, that was good. That dressing is now my favorite, along with their orange vinegar mixed with a little olive oil.

I must stop. I'm making myself hungry and it's 11:40p.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

holiday daily

Adding to my holiday daily album, almost on a daily basis. I need to play some catch-up this weekend. You can see my progress here.

Friday, December 18, 2009


It's 10pm on Friday night, almost a week after I baked the sugar cookies, and I'm finally motivated to frost them. Kitchen, here I come.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

he sees you when you're sleeping

Ah, Santa. The Santas around my home have captured my attention much more this year. For a while Santa's secularness and connection with the material part of Christmas sort of drove me nuts. So for the past few years I've been kind of down on the idea of Santa. This year I'm back to liking Santa more. I started thinking how hard my family worked to keep the magic of Santa alive for me when I was young, and what a true gift that is to me. My sister submitted my name somewhere so I would receive a letter from Santa, probably when I was two or three. My mom kept it, and added it to the Christmas decorations I put up in my room each year. It was big deal for me to pick out the cookies and the milk glass I'd leave for Santa on Christmas Eve. And Santa wrapped his gifts really well, and always in Santa paper.

The pictures are of a Santa decoration I've had since I was probably five or so. I believe it was a gift from a neighbor. Now I'm struck by the craftsmenship of it - it's so rare to see wooden toys and decorations now. It's always hung in my bedroom - at my parent's, on my closet door, and now at my place on my bedroom door. There's a little pull string on the bottom that moves Santa's legs and arms, which makes the little bells tinkle. I love it.

When I was in college I enjoyed watching my nephew, Andrew, live in awe of Santa. I would help him pick out cookies and pour milk and write his note to Santa. I'd stay up with my sister and help assemble toys and cardboard blocks and wrap Santa gifts. One year Santa came out to my sister's house and Andrew had a personal visit with him. He asked for a "comfortable quiet." My dad laughed so hard and couldn't believe how Andrew could know what we would all want for Christmas. If you knew Andrew at the time, this was completely fitting. He was perhaps the loudest, and somewhat obnoxious, little 3 year old. When Santa left, Andrew looked at us with big eyes and asked, "Santa drives a Ford Taurus?" (my brother-in-law worked for Ford at the time, so that's how Andrew knew about the Taurus). And after he drove away, I watched out the window as Andrew and my mom stood out in yard and walked all around the house, little Andrew pointing at the roof and mom explaining how Santa will find a way inside to deliver presents on Christmas night.

These memories simply delight me. Many of my Santa gifts are long gone, but the thoughtfulness and care my family took - and the enjoyment I've had "on the other side" of Santa - keep me believing in the magic people bring to this season.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Tonight I was reminded what I enjoy most about Christmas as an adult - spending time with family and friends. I didn't feel well today, so I came home from work early, with all the "I still need to get this done" thoughts running through my mind. I slept for most of the afternoon and woke up feeling a bit better. My sister called and we had a fun conversation talking about our food menus for next week. And that's when I was reminded - the gifts, the wrapping, and the decorating are beautiful and wonderful ways to prepare for the holiday, but spending time with my loved ones is what matters most.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I have a lot of ironing to do tonight. I'm also feeling a bit melancholy today - and the mound of ironing isn't helping the situation - but it's something I can control, so I'm going to take care of it now. I'm hoping after a good night's sleep, tomorrow will seem a bit brighter.

Monday, December 14, 2009

gone missing

Isn't that a funny phrase, gone missing? There's a piece of paper in my world that has gone missing, and I've searched high and low for it tonight. Just can't find it. And am not yet to the place where I can let it go and trust that it will turn up. I'm thinking in another 15 minutes, I'll reach that place. At least I hope I will.

The search continues. . .

And it's a way to put off frosting holiday cookies for another night.

UPDATE: at 11:30p, I found the paper. And I had stopped looking about an hour and a half earlier. Works everytime.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

holly + peppermint

Ha! I can't figure out how to flip the bottom photo, but it goes along with my spirit today - a bit out of sorts - with holiday baking to be exact.

First the holly. I love holly. It's so winter to me. Nature understands complimentary colors. Red and green are compliments, and opposites, on the color wheel. Holly is just stunning to me. I took the second photo in Ireland. Holly grows there year-round and it's common to see it used for landscaping. This plant was outside our hotel in Tramore, Co. Cork, a seaside town in the south. It was gorgeous. So I've decided to use it each year in my holiday daily book. You can see this year I added some text (with picnik), and it's at the start and end of my book. I still need to get some photos taken of my progress with this journal. I'm a bit behind, but I'm really enjoying it.

I purchased a few bunches of holly and boxwood at a garden center today and made the arrangement in the first photo. It's great, and so adds some "living" to my living room. I hope I can keep it looking healthy into January. That's my goal.

Perhaps all my creative energy is going to crafting this holiday season because I'm really down on baking. Just blah about it. I was excited when I bought a holiday shape cookie pan at Crate and Barrel last weekend. It's a breeze to use. The first batch of gingerbread cookies are hideous looking. And I don't think they taste that great either. They might end up in the garbage. I frosted them with squeeze frosting from the store (never again) and added red sugar. And then broke out laughing that a 34 year old created the ugliest cookies ever. A two year could make something more visually appealing.

I also made peppermint brownies. Those are good. And in the freezer. I'm not really interested in eating them. I went back to the cookie pan tonight and tried a new recipe for peppermint chip sugar cookies. Way better looking than the gingerbread. They taste much better too, at least to me. I'm not interested in eating those either. And I got bored after making 4 dozen so I tossed the rest of the dough. That was difficult because I don't like to waste food, but I couldn't deal with the peppermint smell anymore. I think I'll whip up a simple buttercream frosting and crush some small candy canes and lightly frost some of them tomorrow. Then in the freezer they go. I need to bring some treats for yet another work potluck on Wednesday (yes, we do work at the U). And that's it for cookie baking for me. I do plan to make spiced pecans next week. Those sound delicious.

I wrapped up the baking with eating an apple. Seriously, I don't think an apple has ever tasted as good to me as it did tonight.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Hey, this is post number 50 for me. There was a time this year when I thought this blog idea was just another thing to do. Now I'm rather enjoying it.

Today I'm celebrating three years of working in development for CLA at the U, along with Emily and Eva. We've learned a lot together, and it's meant the world to me to for us to be newbies together. After three years I can finally say I have an understanding of the U works. It truly took that long. . . and I doubted all those who told me it would. I'm a fast learner and catch on quick at jobs. Calendar time at the U goes by very quickly. Projects and decisions aren't typically made quickly. Efficient or not, the reason is academia is a highly consultative culture. It's an odd time continuum to live in sometimes. I'm blessed to have found my way back to U, which was a goal after I graduated from Morris in 1998. And I'm blessed to work with fabulous colleages, and talented and motivated students.

We had a small anniversary and graduation celebration this afternoon in the office. My coworker Kaylee walked in graduate school commencement today as well. Her parents, husband and best friend joined us for the party. The only person missing was Mary because she had a chemo appointment, but we know she was with us in spirit. We're nearing a celebration for her too because she's almost finished with her third and last type of chemo treatments.

It was a good friday indeed.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

it isn't always holly jolly

Today was somewhat a day of extremes.

1. The garage door on my end of the garage wasn't opening this morning, so I had to go out the other door. Not a big deal, but I knew I needed to call it into our management company. Turns out another owner had manually shut the door earlier this morning because it wasn't shutting all the way. Just like all of us, he didn't have time to post a note in my building to let us know what he did. It's a good thing he shut the door for many reasons I won't go into. I made the call, he apologized for not also calling, and the door was fixed. Teamwork!

2. 94 was a mess this morning, so I exited to University, along with everyone else. I love my job, but the commute really gets to me some days. Yesterday I was literally trapped behind someone going 15 on the River Parkway from Shepard Road to the U campus - basically the bulk of my commute. I'm all for caution, but when you're going so slow that your car doesn't have enough momentum to keep traction, that's also a problem.

3. I'm finally getting another string of visits with prospective donors! You really have to be like a duck and just let all the no's and ignored calls/emails be water that just rolls off your back. I'm fortunate to work with a great team who gets the stigma attached to raising money. We support and cheer each other on and that's wonderful.

4. I completely enjoyed potluck #1 of the day with my coworkers, and even one new colleague who will start next week. We gave our director a really nice gift certificate to Meritage and recognized the difficult year we've lived through with the economy tanking, a new dean, a new CEO at the foundation, the U in an ongoing precarious budget situation, and a few of us dealing with aging parents and grandparents and our director fighting cancer. We've really been through quite a year together!

5. Another condo issue this afternoon. I'm praying the common sense fairy will visit a certain unit tonight, wave her wand, and greater personal responsibility will be the outcome. Fingers crossed!

6. Potluck #2 this evening with friends from Hennepin. Lots of laughter and good food. I had sweet potato pie for the first time, and believe I like it more than pumpkin.

7. This is really from yesterday, but I noticed again the beautiful card from a friend and it just lifted my spirits after I wrote another email to the people who need some common sense. I'm so happy the post office is still around just to receive beautiful mail.

8. Super excited that thirtysomething season 2 will be released in January. I was sort of bummed to finish the first season that released in August in about a week, and thought the other seasons will be released who knows when. I'm hoping 3 and 4 will follow. Such a great show.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

holiday bokeh

What is bokeh you say? It's demonstrated in this photo - the blur, or aesthetic quality of the blur, in an out-of-focus photo.

I snapped this on campus as I was leaving tonight. Somewhat by hasty accident, and quickly realizing I've wanted to take more photos this way, but just haven't seized the opportunity when it's upon me. This is a part of my typical (outside) walk twice a day. Through this little courtyard called Lilly Plaza that workers have been scrutinizing over the light hanging for a few days. It's near Northrop Auditorium and Morrill Hall and one guess is someone in either of those buildings hasn't thought the lights were just right. . .

I'll have to snap a picture of this another night, but fear it just won't do justice, but I also walk by a frat house that on my home is playing synthesized holiday tunes complete with a choreographed outdoor light display show. They do it every year. It's quite something. I give those boys credit. It's really a sight.

I sort of fell into a long winter's nap this evening and think I might have missed posting for 12/9/09. Maybe I can back date with the clock setting. . .

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Wasn't quite ready for the snow to start falling. Campus sparkled in white glittery flakes as I departed for the day, and I was quickly reminded how tired driving in snow makes me feel. Good night.

Monday, December 7, 2009

we need a little christmas

Have you heard this holiday song?

Haul out the holly,
Put up the tree before
My spirit falls again
Fill up the stocking,
I may be rushing things,
But deck the halls again now.

For we need a little Christmas,
Right this very minute,
Candles in the window,
Carols at the spinet,
Yes, we need a little Christmas,
Right this very minute,
It hasn't snowed a single flurry,
But Santa, dear, we're in a hurry.

Climb down the chimney,
Turn on the brightest string
Of lights I've ever seen,
Slice up the fruitcake,
It's time we hung some tinsel

On that evergreen bough.

For we need a little music,
Need a little laughter,
Need a little singing,
Ringing through the rafter,

And a little snappy
Happy ever after,
Yes we need a little Christmas now!

When I was little I remember my mom playing these Christmas records. . . and occasionally they would skip and skip and skip. This song was and still is one of my favorite Christmas songs. I associate this one with my mom decorating our house, so I've been humming it all week. I loved all our special decorations, especially these hanging gold ball things with tinsel coming out of the top of them. She used to hang those in the doorways in our living room. I also vividly remember these small caroler and tree candles she would set out on my dresser with white glittery batting for snow. And the santa face mobile she would hang from my ceiling light. That mobile sort of freaked me out though, like my sister's santa doll. I remember calling mom into my room one night convinced the mobile was going to "get me." She turned on the light, which of course made it less scary. Then she turned the light off and I pulled the covers over my head. Apparently santa frightened me a lot as a kid.

I'm almost finished decorating. Brought in the last of my trimmings from my garage storage unit tonight. This is a chore. All my holiday stuff is outside in our garage, in a wall storage cage. I can't reach into the cage without climbing on a ladder, of which I really need a new one. (Christmas present from dad maybe?) And the tubs are really dirty so I clean them off first, then sort through and haul most of the things I want upstairs in my handy blue Ikea bag. The tree and ornament bin are their own trip. Then another trip to bring back the empty bins. Each year I think maybe next year I won't put up the tree, and just put up my tree village. I would miss my ornaments though. They're what I enjoy most about the big tree. And I'd probably miss the process of decorating my home. I do think I'll keep the decorations up longer this year though, maybe until MLK Jr. weekend.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


My tree is up and about 95% decorated. Yipee! I have just a few more ornaments and the tree topper to go. I'll probably work on it for a few minutes before work, then bring in just a few more decorations after work tomorrow. I'm scaling back a bit this year.

The ornament above is my oldest ornament. It was given to my mom for me by a church member named Fern Novotny. She and her husband Ed passed away many, many years ago. It's a sweet ornament - made entirely and intricately - from wood. Probably by hand too, for sure the painting is hand done. I love it. I always hang it near the top of my tree.

I'm looking forward to a less hectic week. Two potlucks. One at work and one with the young adults at Hennepin. I'm making my "potluck go to recipe" - layered taco dip - for both. Easy.

Today during our church service Pastor Bruce talked about a meeting he had with other downtown pastors and the chief medical director at HCMC. The meeting was about a likely need for a public health care option to happen at the state level, since this part of the federal health care reform remains a lightingrod issue. As predicted when the state budget was passed last spring, HCMC and Regions are now to the point of withholding medical care for under- and uninsured persons in need. These hospitals have always been the resource other Twin Cities hospitals have sent patients to when they learn patients are unable to pay. Our advent theme is Welcoming the Wild One, and Bruce challenged us to begin thinking how the "wild one" would work on the public health care option, and where Hennepin's place is in that work. Challenging issue. Something for me (and I hope for others) to pray about.

In the midst of this, my little angel ornament will continue bring me hope.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Whew! This has been a busy, yet fun, week. Full week of work (after five days off - always an adjustment) and five full nights of activities. Holiday gatherings #1, #2, and #3, combined with music, colors, storefronts and a general excitement for the season I've felt from others has put me in the holiday - joyous and peaceful - spirit.

I had breakfast with a former co-worker this morning. If you ever go to the Good Earth, I highly recommend the cinnamon french toast. Then it was on to Grand Meander on Grand Ave in St. Paul. I met friends from Hennepin Ave we were all over the avenue with many others. Took the trolley up to the Macalester area to see a penguin from Como Zoo. He is a warm weather penguin, so the zoo worker was spritzing him with water to keep him cool. He had enough social time and went into his little cage for some quite. Animals amaze me. We also saw an Irish wolfhound on a walk. It was almost the size of a pony. Wow. Imagine a dog that size in your house.

Lately I've become more interested in looking at clothes in small boutiques (often way too expensive), vintage shops and consignment stores. Grand Ave has plenty. I was taken aback to spot a familiar label, Avoca (from Ireland), in Karma on Grand. There were quite a few scarves and a hot water bottle cover (I've always wondered about hot water bottles. . . ). I remembered the idyllic original (and still operational) weaving mill we toured in Co. Wicklow. I think it dated back to the 1800s, which is young compared to some of the sites we saw. I guess even quaint Avoca has discovered the world market. I smiled, remembering I had on a scarf from the source :)

Becca commented she couldn't believe how courteous people in St. Paul seem to be, compared to Minneapolis. Maybe something the smaller twin can can boast in the seemingly never-ending rivalry between the two cities.

Friday, December 4, 2009

no coast

Really enjoyed the No Coast Craft O Rama at Midtown Global Market this evening on my home from work. It's open tomorrow too. Holy Land Deli has great falafel and Salty Tart Bakery was voted a favorite bakery in the Twin Cities. Check it out if you can!

Thursday, December 3, 2009


If I wasn't so tired right now I'd go to the kitchen and get my camera and download the photo I took of the snow this morning on my deck. But I am way too tired to do that, so words will have to suffice for this evening.

Good day. Productive day. Visited with two donors I've really enjoyed getting to know and connecting them to what they're interested in at the U. Survived having 8 glasses of wine fall off a serving tray on onto my dress and boots at our holiday gathering for donors this evening. Went to dinner club at King's Wine Bar in South Minneapolis and visited with people I haven't seen in a while. Decided that I really want to go on a walking tour of the Cinque Terre in Italy for my big trip next year. Came home and decided that scheduled events each evening of the week is a bit too much for this introvert. A brief night off tomorrow night, then the SPCO with mom on Saturday night. I hope I don't sleep through the concert.

Have a good sleep, as our Irish tour guide would tell us.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

not THE candle. . .

But a good photo fill-in because it's dark in my place and I'm a bigger fan of daytime indoor photos. And I don't want to light THE candle just yet!

THE candle is a Thymes (local company) Frasier Fir. If you're near one this season, smell it. It's the reason to not have a real tree. On my way home from tutoring this evening I picked one up at Gerten's Ladies Night Out Wednesdays. 30% off - which was needed. I still gulped when I paid for it. But the Aveda Shampure candle above is almost burned down and I knew I would need a new go-to candle soon. I'm looking forward to this Frasier Fir. I'm thinking it can be an all year candle. In the summer it will remind me of northern Minnesota.

Today I was inspired by the beautiful and functional creations of U of M art students. I visited the annual holiday art sale on campus and picked up a cup and some cards made by intaglio printing. I'd love to take an intaglio class. . . and hope MCBA might offer one sometime. Or I guess I could look into taking one at the U. . .but I'd have to take it for a grade to take advantage of the Regent's Scholarship for employees. Grades = stress I just don't need in life anymore. Decisions, decisons. . . I was also reminded how much I enjoyed pottery classes in college. It was a frustrated enjoyment actually. Man, that wheel throwing is tough. I could watch my instructor's gracefulness all day, in awe. All in all, those pottery classes provided great balance at that point in my life, which was a true blessing.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

the dice game

Tonight I enjoyed holiday party #1, with friends from a book club (hi to you all because you're the majority of my readers, at least those I know of). We had a great time laughing and eating good food. And we played the always popular dice game. I walked away with a Santa head cookie jar, which is great because I don't have a Santa head cookie jar. And it sort of reminds me of this Santa doll that is my sister's, but for some reason it never moved with her so my mom would put it under our tree every year. Actually that doll sort of freaked me out when I was little and would be in the living room with just the Christmas tree lights on. It has "follow you" eyes. I remember getting to edge of the kitchen and running really fast around the corner through the living room and into the bathroom or my bedroom. I haven't thought of that memory in a long time.

Back to the dice game. It was intense. The most wanted item seemed to be the movie The Holiday. Carol is the proud winner. I love that movie. If it wasn't 11:22, I'd watch it now. Beth gave us lovely poinsettias and Melissa in all her craftiness made us bookmarks. Thanks ladies for a fun night!