December 2008 Archives

Queen Frostine- a lesson in grace

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Queen Frostine- of Candy Land fame

My son Lake is a lot like me-- we are both early risers. In these early mornings we often play Candy Land. Queen Frostine is the jackpot of Candy Land. In the last couple of days Lake has taken to stacking the deck, in mom's favor.

"You go first mom. Look! You got Queen Frostine!"

I've often puzzled over the meaning of "grace." Other people seem to understand grace more intuitively than I do. I've had some first hand experience with Grace- in fact I perceive it is a rolling theme that I struggle to understand in my own life. A few months after our daugther Milly died, a little girl showed up on our doorstep-- literally. She was an adorable, clean, well-dressed baby of about 18 months. She was too little to talk, but could walk. I didn't recognize her from the neighborhood. Alma (then just 3) and I took in this baby- changed her diaper, played with her. I called the police. When I tried to hand her over to the policeman she cried and clung to my neck. The officer asked if I could keep her until her parents were found. After a couple hours the frantic mother burst in my front door and scooped her baby up (she had toddled away during her nap time). "Grace! Oh my darling Grace!" the mother sobbed into her baby's neck.

Lake extends Queen Frostine "Mom! You got Queen Frostine!" surprise- surprise. And it is grace-- it is grace handed to me at 5 am by my 4-year-old son. Grace in the form of his disposition towards kindness.

And for me the lesson somehow lies in the acceptance of that grace. That God's gifts can be manifest through me--imperfect and frail.

Waiting for the Blizzard to Come

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Warm home- calm before the storm

We had a blizzard last Sunday-- more wind than snow- but an entire day of white-out. This was combined with deadly wind chills. The winds were gusting to 60 mph.

This picture was taken on the warm (relatively) evening before the storm. You can see the snow falling down- not racing horizontally across the plains. We were snowed in for 2 days- school closed.

We talked over dinner how anyone could live here without heat and light. Seems infathomable- impossible.
I remember to be grateful for a warm, bright house.

15 Months to Get Off-Road

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Photo Credit: Baikal Ice Crack (anon)

How did it take me so long to get off the road? Off the trails? It took 15 months.

Every morning I walk the kids to the bus and then head out on my own. The road provided enough beauty, interest, safety that I never really thought to leave it on this morning ritual. Until yesterday.

I went cross country behind the abandoned farm stead and delapidated windmill. Through the plowed field, across the prairie. It was cold- 0 degrees and I'm wearing my new Carharts which are stiff-- this is harder than running. Just lifting my knees against the heavy canvas overalls through the snow. I followed footsteps- deer, pheasants, Happy's and a mans. I was surprised to find a man's footprints- Mike said there were hunters out a few days ago.

I pushed my way through head-high, thick reeds towards the slough. There are a lot more muskrat lodges this year. I walked out onto the ice. It was so clear and smooth it looked like open water. I stand looking into the crystal clear ice, the few cracks help me gauge the depth of the ice- 6 inches? There are areas of ice where the springs gurgled up and made cloudy ice. I observed this last year and now in winter #2 I know these spots are springs where the ice is built up and tan.

My heart pounds-- the ice might be thick-- but I'm alone. On a pond. In December. Before the sun is up. There are springs scattered around "our side" of the slough. I walk out to a snowy area in the middle of the slough and make a snow angel. This greatly disturbs Happy who barks loudly in my face at my being prone. High strings of clouds are sailing by-- but the wind is not bad here on the ground.

I see my house to the north and make a bee-line. My bee-line takes me past my bee hives. I get on my hands and knees and put my ear to the hive entrance. I can hear them buzzing. Blessing to you little ones on this cold day. I dream of the honey I'll harvest next summer.

Up my porch steps- ruddy cheeked. The sun rises as I stand on my porch. A new day.

With a Grateful, Singing Heart

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Jim Ed and Dale- MPR's Morning Show

Jim Ed and Dale have brought an eclectic mix of show tunes, folks songs, and more to Minnesota Public Radio for 25 years. Truth be told- much of the soundtrack to my life comes from these two characters.

In grad school (hope Dr. Graham is not reading) I spent two years of long, hot baths listening to these guys before I got on my bike to ride to the St. Paul campus. When best friend Char left for Ecuador there was the "Char show" on the Morning Show.

When Mike was courting me he sent cassette tapes of the Morning Show to me in Arkansas.

When my babies were born I danced around the sunny morning kitchens with them in my arms. When Milly was being delivered I was singing "You are My Lucky Star" over and over. I had heard it on the Morning Show the day before and it came to be the theme song for that darling babe.

In grief and in joy. In rest and in work. I've found comfort, hope, joy, laughter from these two.

Today was their last day in studio. I danced with each of my children to their songs this morning.

Thank you for your years of entertainment Jim Ed and Dale. Many of our lives were touched by your show. Every best to you in this next journey.

Looking for an Echo

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photo credit- St. Paul Lutheran, Michigan

'Cause we were looking for an echo an answer to our sound. A place to be in harmony a place we almost found ooooh....' (lyrics by Ol' 55)

Last night was the elementary school holiday program. An original score and music by our very own music teacher Tammy Ragan. Do you realize what a gift she has and that she gives to these kids and our community? What's more the band teacher (James Pope) is a miracle worker. The 5th graders played Jingle Bells. Keep in mind that they've only had instruments in their hands for 10 weeks (at best).

We need the brightness of children and music in these short, cold days.

Because the news is not good. And it's not just bad "news" -- it is bad reality. Hard times are here for many and soon to be many more. I'll refer you to Sharon Astyk for a heartfelt and eloquent article on the seriousness of the times.

Musically, I've found the perfect echo. It is the best sound chamber I've ever entered in my life. The U of M St. Paul campus gym women's shower room. I know-- because I've been singing there. I've been singing this lilting, dark December songs that reflect the news of our times.

Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears,
While we all sup sorrow with the poor;
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears;
Oh Hard times come again no more.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2008 is the previous archive.

January 2009 is the next archive.

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