Monday, March 3, 2014

And when short February’s done …

28 February 2014, Minneapolis MN where the current temp is 0F (-18C)
February has seemed anything but short to just about everyone that I know, especially those of us in Minneapolis-St. Paul.  Parking is now restricted to one side of the street to make room for the tall, icy piles of dirty snow.  Record cold temps here, blizzards in Atlanta, drought in California.  I’ve been a little … some days a lot … lethargic.  Hence, no daily additions to this, just one long summary.

I did start the month in a most wonderful way … attending the wedding of my nephew John and Heather in Brainerd.  Can’t think of a nicer way to spend a frigid weekend than with family and friends celebrating a joyous occasion, made more so by the execution.  It was the most family-centered wedding I’ve ever attended — all of their siblings and spouses were part of the wedding party, and almost all of their nieces and nephews took part in the ceremony.  On the Hagen side, only my Godson Craig’s five-month-old son sat out.  Heather’s dad, a Baptist minister, performed most of the ceremony, including a warm, funny talk, to a packed sanctuary.  Afterwards, the church reception was a mini carnival complete with cotton candy, popcorn, corn dogs and more.  I think there were more children than adults at the reception, and they were having a ball.  We Hagen women had our picture taken with fake mustaches, hats and such.
Craig and Alijah

The Fargo contingent was in attendance — my nephews, Mark and Jeff, and Mark’s son Brennan, my brother-in-law Jim and his wife Joan.  Brennan and I bonded while splashing around, and each other, in the hotel pool.  The Hagens and close friends gathered in a small meeting room at the hotel after the reception and continued the good times over snacks, beer and wine.  Unfortunately the room was too small for dancing.

Joan and Jim
In other good news Jim has been accepted into a cancer drug trial at the Memphis treatment center.  He’ll start in March.  Hurray.

Elyse, Sally and Michelle

You may recall that I was ambivalent about a higher education project in Kosovo even though I’d agreed to be proposed as chief of party.  Well, one morning I had an email from my contact at the implementing NGO with ‘good news and bad news.’  He said the good news was that our proposed Kosovo partner had heard our proposal won; the bad news was the University of Pristina students had been rioting.  Although I was en route that day to the dentist (time to get my broken tooth crowned), I decided that I had to seriously make a decision — would I return to work or not.  After much pro’ing and con’ing, I decided that yes, I would take this assignment if it came our way … only to get home and find an email from the same contact.  They’d had official communication from USAID that their proposal was rejected.  I was flabbergasted … not that the Kosovo contact had been wrong or that we’d lost, that stuff happens.  But USAID making a decision on a competitive bid in 30 days?  Unheard of!  I’ve known them to take a year or more.  Somewhere in this scenario is a message to me … but how to noodle it out?

Bad weather means I have to find ways to force myself outdoors, like taking a regular water exercise class where members will ask where I’ve been if I don’t show up.  Or arranging to see a movie (“August: Osage County” with Janet), a musical (“Cabaret” with my sister, Jan and Marilyn) and a play (“The Last Five Years” with Jan and Marilyn).  Yes, it was a very cultural month.

I only made it to Northfield to see my friend Lois once due to weather conditions mostly.  When I talked with Lois this morning, she saw new snowfall and snowdrifts which concerned me.  The roads south of the far suburbs are wide open and easily drifted over. I was feeling guilty about not going because we didn’t get as much snow as predicted.  Then I heard about a horrible wreck near Northfield; three college students were killed and two more hospitalized after they skidded on the ice and hit a big truck.  Glad I stayed here and did chores.

It’s been 50 years since The Beatles arrived in the US to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show.  I was a freshman at Northwestern and remember the first time I heard one of their songs.  It was right after the holiday break, and a girl on our floor had gotten their album for Christmas and played it for us.  We swooned.  During the Ed Sullivan broadcast, I took photos of my dorm mates watching the program … the looks of joy, ecstasy, delight, on our faces mirrored those of the girls who got to seem them in person.  I watched the re-broadcast of a live special that featured old clips as well as both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr performing … and interviews with the adult versions of some of the girls at that first show.

It’s always fun to have Stuart Little visit for a while.  My sister Barbara flew to New York to see her daughter Tomery, so Stu kept me company and warmed my lap whenever I sat down.  He is a big fella but acts like the undersized kitten he used to be, romping and chasing and begging for his breakfast at 6 am.  I miss him and though I’d love to get another cat or two, I have “miles to go before I” … settle down.
Stu and I

Did anyone see the hype about Facebook buying WhatApp?  Well, I got a text headline on my iPhone from CNN (or maybe BBC, I get them from both) that said Facebook had bought a “massaging” service for multi-billions.  Got quite a laugh when I read it … and less than an hour later a corrected message (massage?) arrived.  Wonder what happened to that copy editor?

My friend Margo’s husband died, and she asked if I’d help with the funeral, including being the “emcee/referee.”  While they had been separated for 13 years, they were cordial and continued to work together on the Northeaster and NorthNews weekly newspapers they owned.  However, a girlfriend was involved and potential family issues might arise too.  The situation was fraught, as the ‘little guy’ on Allie McBeal would say.  I agreed with the assessment and to take on the task. Plus Margo just need to “be” not to “do” like she usually is.  The Heights Theater was almost filled with their newspaper, community, music friends and family.  Cafes and coffee shops from Northeast Minneapolis provided tasty refreshments that Margo’s friend Noreen and I sampled to be sure nothing was poisonous.  Since I rarely eat at such events, I knew I was nervous when I dove into the cheese tray, dessert bars, edamame pate …  But all went well, I reconnected with several former clients from my enterprise facilitation days in Northeast, and I even received compliments about how nicely I handled things.

Played airport limo driver several times this month.  My niece Michelle’s return from San Francisco had to be this month’s “trip from hell.”  I was supposed to meet her on Tuesday evening, but the flight was delayed, returned to the gate and delayed, then cancelled; she’d arrive Wednesday afternoon.  I was timing a trip to the Apple Store in Southdale mall with the airport run and had decided on a layover at Janet and Ed’s between Apple and airport.  Haven’t seen them in a while.  And it’s all south of the city.  Michelle’s early morning flight was delayed but finally took off more than two hours late.  She looked exhausted when she arrived; she’d been up before 4 am. I was glad that I had brought her some homemade vegetable soup and store-bought croissants to have for supper.

Made a bunch of airline reservations this week.  The Flying Nanny returns to DC on 20 March for a couple of weeks.  The combined Boston Marathon-Alexis and Marcus wedding trip has taken on an extension.  It was cheaper to buy two separate round trip tickets (MSP-BOS-MSP and BOS-PIT-BOS) than one circular ticket.  So post wedding, my college roommate Karyn who lives in Connecticut will meet me at the Boston airport, and we’ll drive to Cape Cod to see our long lost roommate Karen for a couple of days.  Haven’t seen either of them in decades although Karyn and I have periodically been in touch over the years.  Looked at flights for my May board meeting in Poland that will include the month in Scotland.  Again, two round trips are cheaper than a circular trip — go figure.  The beds are filling fast.  In case you’re interested in joining me, send me an email ASAP — suzihagen@

And with that I will end this last minute run-through of short February.  Weather forecasts for Minneapolis in March aren’t much different from February … so I am grateful to be leaving and hoping for decent weather in the DC area.
Parking at the Y

Before I forget, I am giving up my Earthlink account shortly.  Please be sure you change my email address to  

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