coming soon: the big 70
1 October 2015, Minneapolis MN
Very busy day made busier by a potential hurricane off the East Coast. My sister’s flight to NYC was an hour later than originally scheduled. After dropping her at the Lindberg Terminal, I hied it out to the southern region of Bloomington for lunch with friend Ted. He’s doing well enough to no longer qualify for in-home physical therapy, which is good progress; he’s going to arrange outpatient PT. Just as we were ready to leave for lunch, another friend of his arrived. So of course we visited for a while (and my growly tummy stayed pretty quiet). We ate at Sawatdee, a great local Thai restaurant chain. I hit the freeway toward St. Paul just in time for rush hour. Called Judi B. to tell her I’d be late at her place. She’d invited several friends for an early dinner to meet her friend from Latvia who was visiting. Lots of good conversation along with the food. By the time I got home, I was pooped … so this ends here.
Spent the day in Northfield with 90-year-old friend Lois. She took a fall getting out of bed about a month ago, and her leg still bothers her. It’s hard for her to walk any distance. We had a delightful lunch in the King’s Room at St. Olaf College where I met David Anderson, the current college president (Lois’ late husband Sidney had that role for many years). I remember Lois telling the story of David’s first day at St. Olaf when he met his two roommates, David Anderson and David Anderson. Only in Minnesota … or maybe Norway.
It’s awfully dark at 6:30 am these days. That’s the downside of walking around Lake Harriet at such an early hour. The upside is getting to some gorgeous sunrises. I hope the photo I took this morning comes out so I can include it here.
I’m a huge consumer of mysteries, police procedurals, suspense novels and films from many lands. I bought the entire “The Girl Who …” series in English in Poland long before it was available in the US. So I am curious to read the newest by the author who’s taken over from the late Stieg Larsson; that book’s on m wish list. Today I saw in the NYTimes that my favorite Swedish author has died, Henning Mankell, the “dean of Scandinavian noir.” I’ve read many of his books, and I’ve watched the entire Kurt Wallander series twice, in the original Swedish with subtitles and the Kenneth Branagh version from England, thank you, Netflix. Whenever I get to Sweden, Ystad, a small city on the Baltic Sea where many of his stories take place, will be my first stop.
So, I’m walking downtown to the Minneapolis Club for a 7:30 am fund-raising breakfast (oh, the things we do for your friends). It’s a perfect fall day for a walk and, I hope also, for sitting in the queue of semis, flat beds and vans waiting to get into the convention center. They are around the block. As I approach the Holiday Inn Express, I see one of those big “land yacht” buses with a name that looks vaguely familiar. When I get closer, I looked for something more identifying … and there it is — Gillespie, Illinois 62033. The bus company is from the small town in Illinois where my mom grew up and my cousin still lives. Small world.
Following in the foot steps of my friends Lois and Cathy R., I entered the Minneapolis Club by the front door, something that was a “no no” back when I moved here and for some years after. Those two women, walking from their respective downtown offices, saw no need to detour to the back of that bastion of male commercial dominance and entered by its front portal.
Today would have been my late brother in law Jim’s birthday. I haven’t seen much of Jim in the years since his oldest brother and I divorced, but he was still family. In my mind he was always that cheerful boy who was in our wedding. Joan, his widow, has lost a brother, son and husband in the last year. I don’t know her well but I do know something about how she’s feeling and I want to help her if I can. We talked for some time on Monday night. And today I talked to our sister in law Elyse, wife of the only surviving Hagen boy, Steve. She says he’s doing pretty well, under the circumstances and keeping busy. Steve’s a lot like my dad (and they were great pals, those two Steves). Doing something is the best tonic. And he’ll have more to do later this month when Elyse has her shoulder surgery.
I took a sick day today. Dinner last night with Marilou was a great time, as usual. Our conversation was sometimes serious, often times not but always enjoyable. And dinner at one of our favorite places, Red Lobster, was delicious … and disappointing. The company that made their to-die-for, best-anywhere Key lime pie went out of business. We shared a delightful piece of chocolate cake, but it wasn’t the Key lime pie we both craved. Garçon Jean, as our waiter referred to himself, was most apologetic but unable to produce said pie.
Something I ate yesterday didn’t agree with my gastro-intestinal system, and I’ll leave it at that for fear of TMI. My stomach didn’t feel 100 percent when I awoke in time for water ex. Instead of getting up, I rolled over and stayed in bed. Didn’t get into real clothes until almost noon, and have been eating chicken soup and rice crackers all day. Also doing some laundry and catching up with another HBO series that I’d been meaning to try … and now love: The Ladies’ No. 1 Detective Agency. It’s based on Alexander McCall Smith’s books; I’ve read all of them to date. And it takes me back to my years of living in Africa — the beautiful African people (from the incredibly industrious micro-entrepreneurs to the con artists), the colorful women’s dresses, the dusty roads and concrete block houses, the businesses with improbable names like The Go Go Handsome Mens Bar, the unbearably hot sun and deep darkness of no streetlights.
Arrrrrrgh! I got so involved in watching television that I totally forgot my Polish class tonight until my sister called. That really %^&*(^($%@) me off. Tomorrow I’ll call to tell them I am still interested.
Travels today have all been within Minnesota but nonetheless exciting.
I left at 9 am for Jan’s granddaughter Maddie’s 10 am Bat Mitzvah in St. Paul because I wasn’t sure where the interstate was closed for road work. Ended up taking Lake Street … and hitting all the lights on green. That never happens. Arriving at 9:25, I was the second guest. Maddie’s sister Gracie had to open the locked door for me. Oh, walking to the synagogue’s entrance, I spotted a woman rolling toward me on the sidewalk using a knee caddy and wearing a copy of Das Boot. She looked like a woman on a mission … and I know how she felt. I stepped out of her way.
The Bat Mitzvah was lovely. Maddie used the story of Cain and Abel to talk about over-reacting, very fitting in today’s world. Luncheon afterwards including homemade cookies, bars and cakes made by not only her grandmother but the mothers of others in her class.
Before leaving for St. Paul, I hadn’t checked email at all. So after changing into jeans and a tee-shirt, I fired up Mac and found an email from friends Sue and Nancy with the obit of my former boss at The St. Paul Companies. And the visitation and service started in 75 minutes. I’d learned that the section of I-94 that’s closed is between St. Paul and Woodbury, just where I needed to go. A quick call to friend Rosie, who lives there but was up north near Brainerd, got me an alternative route. Back in my Bat Mitzvah outfit and off I went, arriving in record time again. Saw only three old TSPC friends as well as Kent’s widow. I’m glad I made the trek.
Finished the evening having dinner with my sister and nephew at Eastside, a just-opened restaurant downtown. The starters (a flatbread pizza and brussels sprouts) were terrific. Barbara and Christopher had chicken sandwiches on pretzel rolls that they both raved about. My mixed grains salad was tasty though I’d’ve liked a touch of onion. Having OD’d on sweets at the luncheon I didn’t indulge, but again, the hazelnut tart got top marks from both Barbara and Christopher.
While waited for our starters, we talked about the weekend of my birthday party when our brother and his wife and friend Alfreda will all be coming to town. We made dinner reservations for Brasserie Zentral, the Austro-Hungarian restaurant where we had the fantastic lamb.
I picked the hottest day of the autumn (83F/28C at 3 pm!!!) to do the clothing change over and clean out unused items for TurnStyle (sale) or Salvation Army (donation). Lots for both. Of course, I’ll spend all winter wondering where thus-and-such went. My actions were spurred on by Tomery and Barbara who came over and moved all of Tomery’s remaining clothes, shoes, coats, hockey equipment and mystery boxes to her new condo. Now friend and neighbor Maryanne and I can schedule a storage cleaning day. Hurray.
My friend Mayna sent this clip about words and phrases that we wouldn’t know were rooted in racism, like “hip, hip, hooray” which comes from the Nazis. I’ll bet you didn’t know that. Open the link and click on the video to get the scoop on that and five more common phrases. The author provide some interesting facts in a very presentable manner. I’m going to look for more of her videos.
Mayna and I emailed about the “peanut gallery” which now usually refers to disruptive or unwanted behavior. Originally the term referred to the balcony where African Americans were confined in theaters and movie houses back in the ‘20s. As kids in the ‘50s, both Mayna and I watched Howdy Doody on which Buffalo Bob often referred to the peanut gallery where kids were sitting; it was ironically devoid of black faces.
Marilyn and I often chide Jan about an HR comp project that she has undertaken as a freelancer because it’s a mass of Excel spreadsheets composed of information dragged from myriad reluctant sources. When Jan took on the update, we told her she wasn’t allowed to kvetch about it; we wouldn’t listen any more. Well, I’ve been helping a friend in Poland with an awards application. She gathered info from her always-busy colleagues in three other countries and added her own, sent everything to me and I drafted the document for her. While it has definitely been fun to be “composing” again, it hasn’t been easy … and I’ve avoided kvetching to Jan and Marilyn. Today I emailed off the final, final document. Whew.
What a remarkable start to the day — Linda and I saw four eagles during out morning walk! One made a noise as it soared high overhead on the east side of Lake Harriet, then another joined it and they rode the thermals together. As we stood and watched this spine-tingling sight, a third and then a fourth joined the pair. Our very own Blue Angels.
|Eagle soaring over Lake Harriet|
The Minnesota Lynx just won their third national basketball championship in five years!!! Not a single men’s professional team in this city has come close. They took the championship all the way to five games and won at home, just what the fans asked for. The scene that I saw on television reminded me of the Minnesota Twins’ World Series win 20 years ago.
|Theater sign on Hennepin Avenue|
The Lynx not only play incredible basketball, they are a class act all around. They provide the kind of role modeling you can’t find in men’s sports. They don’t abuse animals, children, other adults, each other. They speak complete thoughts in sentences with subjects and predicates rather than duhs and ums.
|Inside Target Center|
I heard that Prince was giving them a private concert at Paisley Park later tonight.
16 October, Minnesota Lynx Day as proclaimed by Governor Mark Dayton
Maryanne and I dressed for the cold and braced against the wind to watch the Lynx parade and attend the rally in Target Center afterwards. What an event!
Up before dawn and dressed for moderate cold. Time to walk around Lake Harriet with Linda and Desi before the day gets off. Lots of little things to do before the birthday bash and out-of-town folks arrive. Today I’ll go to Litin Paper and get plates, napkins etc. Stu the cat moves over early Thursday, Dan and Ann arriving Thursday sometime, Alfreda Friday night.
Yesterday Barbara, Chris and I looked at the party room where he lives, and it’ll be great venue for the party — it’s like one huge, well decorated living room-dining room with small kitchen. Last night Marilyn, her daughter Laura and I went to Minnesota Jewish Theater to see The 27th Man. Thought provoking and well acted as always. It’s about Stalin’s round up and killing of Yiddish writers in the early ‘50s but also the nature of who is a writer. If a writer has never been published, is she/he still a writer? Virtually all of what I’ve written, save this blog, has been published under someone else’s name … or remains in draft on this laptop. Wonder if blogs count as publishing in today’s world?
Later … Another great day of lake walking. Not only a pink sunrise, but we saw an eagle, a loon and a drone. Yes, you read that last one correctly. We actually saw a drone and later met the man and woman responsible for it. They said it was taking photographs of the bandshell area for a video. We surmised that would be in support of a coming request by the park board for more money.
|Drone over Lake Harriet|
Stu (Barbara’s cat) arrived this morning, and Brother and wife, Dan and Ann, and Precious, their cat, arrived tonight and my friend Alfreda arrives tomorrow night. Neither cat plays well with others, so I’m babysitting Stu while Dan, Ann and Precious stay with Barbara. Stu was a happy boy today as I wasn’t feeling well and skipped water ex and Polish lesson. He got a lot of lap sitting and petting time, both of which he loves.
I met Alfreda when we were both working in Macedonia, and we’ve stayed in touch since. A few years ago when she was in Senegal and I at a board meeting in Poland, we connected in Paris and had a great time traveling in France for 10 days. Alfreda went from Senegal to South Sudan. Now she is back in DC and heads out to Africa later in the fall. In the meantime, since her condo is rented, she’s in a residential hotel.
23 October, the date my parents wanted me to arrive
And of course, being me, I didn’t. They were born on 23 July (Mom) and 23 August (Pop) and wanted me (first child, supposed to be a boy) on 23 August even though the doctor predicted 24th and I finally made my entrance the night of 25th.
Andrew’s shallow-water water ex was muchly welcome this morning after a day of laziness. Spent the rest of the day running errands in the rain, then went to dinner with Dan, Ann, Barbara and Tomery before picking Alfreda up at airport.
24 October, the final day of my 60s
Lovely day so I took Alfreda on a short tour of the Minneapolis area with a few errands and lunch included. At Land’s End, I learned my jacket is a petite, just has longer-than-I-need sleeves and that I look “good” in orange. I threw on an orange sweater to ensure the jacket was generous enough. The sales woman and Alfreda immediately exclaimed at how good I looked in orange, as did the check out fellow. So, I now have an orange sweater. And I kept the aubergine boiled wool jacket.
We checked out the party space again, then had lunch at Doolittle’s and a quick “hello” with Jan F. Alfreda and I stayed with her son Matt in southern France when we were there. Back home, we vegged out for a while, then met Barbara, Dan and Ann for dinner at Brasserie Zentral. Disappointed that they had no lamb (out of season, per the waiter), but Dan found an excellent Swiss white wine. Yes, that’s right Swiss wine. Dan and Ann lived in Switzerland for five or six years and had found some great wines. But because Switzerland doesn’t produce a lot, it’s not often available on the export market. I’m glad we found this one as it was very good.
25 October, Happy Birthday to me and to Amy
Amy is a Peace Corps friend with whom I not only share a birthday but also a college sorority. I am, however, 20 years older.
As for me, I had THE most fabulous birthday ever. I’m so glad I let my sister talk me into it. Great to see Mary and Stan who now live in Michigan and happened to be in town. Now I’m pooped. So to bed and more, with photos, another day.
|Brunch Bunchers: Nonam Margaret Mary, |
Doug & Larry (that's the top of Mary Haller's head)
|Nephew Craig, back left; brother Dan; |
Chris' Jen; sister Barbara; nephew Chris, back right
|Dan with his wife Ann and Chris' Jen|
Since everyone in my family had July and August birthdays, and my brother was born on Fourth of July and my sister on Davey Crockett’s birthday, I used to feel a bit “left out. But not now. I see in this morning’s “faces” column in the Strib that my Peace Corps friend Amy and I share a birthday with Katie Perry, who was 31 yesterday. I learned that she sings “Roar,” the song the Lynx played at the pep rally and a song that I recognized and like. Now I know the artist’s name. Two other famous folks, from my generation also turned 70 yesterday: author Pat Conroy and actress Jaclyn Smith.
Opened today with breakfast with Janet and Ed, Marie who flew in from San Francisco for the party and was leaving this afternoon, and Dan and Ann who like our mom, will depart at about 4 am tomorrow for Reno. It was such a treat to have all of them here for the party.
Friend and neighbor Maryanne and I cleaned our storage units. I got rid of an old bike of niece Dyana’s and a very rusty metal shelf. My trunk is full of paint cans and such that need to go to the hazardous waste dump. Now I have room to store the deck furniture.
Dinner at Black Sheep Pizza with Barbara, Dan and Ann. Somewhere along the way I lost my car keys. Have started the hunt in the house, garage, outside but no luck so far. Argh!!!!
Key karma works! Karen, one of the Swimmin’ Women (new name for our water ex group), lost her keys at my party. Actually they dropped from her pocket outside another SW’s house; Bonnie was carpool driver for the party. Bonnie’s husband found Karen’s keys in the leaves near where she arrived for her ride. She sent me an email about this, and just as I was going to read it, my buzzer rang. Someone had found MY keys. I apparently dropped them near the trash cans, and the kids next door found them. Well, worth the $20 reward.
31 October, Happy Halloween
After helping at the Hennepin County Lbrary’s Family Heritage Day event, I drove up to Andover to spend Halloween with Craig, April and the boys. Pumpkin carving and “halloweening” as we called “trick or treat” when I was a kid are always great fun, as you can see.
|Romanian Genealogy Society rep|
|Nephew Craig makes a face ....|
on his pumpkin