Sunday, April 26, 2009

Shooter, sixguns, and such

Last Sunday we were to Joe & Becca’s farm with some indigenous locals and a few foreigners from Iowa and Australia where intended to get our bellies full and then fire off a lot of ammo, takin’ care not to disturb the neighbors or alarm the Amish mares, Kayla and Carla, who were new to the farm – we were bein’ partickler about safety, anyway. The mares back in their stable never flinched and we didn’t hear nuthin from nobody else. It was cold and drizzly all afternoon, but it didn’t discourage anyone as Joe led us across muddy ditches to the other side of his fields.

At first we had intended it to be a small hunter/gatherer party, but as word leaked out more and more would-be gunners came out of the closet until we finally said, no more. One friend who’d never shot a gun before said the previous evening he’d been with friends who cried out that the only difference between the southern Bible Belt conservatives they knew and their current Mpls church group was their Minnesota accent – mainly, they all owned GUNS! This discouraged him from revealing where he was going the next day. However, we fancy this could be a new model for “outreach” (Fired-up Evangelism. Or… no, don’t get started.) for our church as there were a goodly number of folk with us who don’t generally consider themselves people of faith. The were warmly received and really into it.

We arrived with enough firepower to arm a militia. And I thought I’d try to post a several videos. Even though I’m totally handicapped and the lens of my camera had moisture on it making every scene, you know not what…fog? Gunsmoke? And my breathing and laughing. Ugh. On a more peaceful note – the last video, if you’ve ever wondered if adolescent chicks cluck or do they still peep (not tweet)? Joe and Becca’s chickens were fun to watch.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Creative Process

Although this was about typography I thought Ned Shalanski captured what is true about other things like writing. Dying yarn. Planting a flower bed. Composing a tune. I’m never far from the voice in my head that tells me – That should be perfect, you slob. Doesn’t matter from email to the lemon curd birthday cake I’m making today.

NS: Mistakes are beautiful. They are such a relief to see in a culture that over-emphasizes perfection. I think it’s so fantastic when the pretenses of a methodology—in this case, clean, straight lines—get broken down. One of my favorite things Ed Benguiat always says is, “You’re gonna draw a type by just looking at the computer? Forget about it! You need paper, man! You need pencils, man! You can’t just go to your computer screen and start from scratch! You’re crazy!” The creative process with hand drawing is more intuitive because you are connecting with that piece in a deeper way. I feel that many budding designers get too easily caught up with the product and forget about the importance of process.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Packing for home

In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.Moses.

Some very dear passages from Exodus popped as I read today. Of particular interest was Miriam, Moses’ sister, who led the women in singing a hymn to the Lord. She “took a tambourine in her hand and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing.”
This took place after what must have looked like The End. There was no escape. They had fled into a trap, mountains on either side, the sea ahead, and the Egyptian army closing behind them. What could they do, encumbered as they were with their little ones, their grandpas and grandmas, and all those sheep and goats? The Israelites’ rescue has never been forgotten, the images are embedded in our language. Miriam sang and danced: Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea.

Aside from wishing to be more like my current African Christian sisters who dance in worship, I am curious about the tambourines. Directly on the other side of this event Miriam digs through her luggage and pulls out a tambourine? If you are a refugee packing for the wilderness in a time of national crisis and hostility would you say, oh, this will probably come in handy? Not I.

Perhaps it’s a reminder that we travel home not only with bare necessities, (and remember they were fleeing for their lives) but we must also carry the things that flourish and embellish life. The extra serif on a letter, the violet on a plate of salad, the countermelody that floats above the line, and even the decorative metal etching on the rifle stock.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sabbath shoot-out is a-comin'

24 hours til the big shoot-out.
The SOB stew is simmering.
Cowboy beans are in slow-cooker.
A has spears ready for roasting brats over the fire.
D is bringin' Annie Get Your Gun Buns and Jessie James Juice. (I don't know.)
In other kitchens, elsewhere animals are being slaughtered, saucey mixes are brewing, and vegetables are being hacked.
DH has guns and targets ready.
P has ammo and rifles packed up.
The sheriffs have been notified.
Joe says, to the other side of the farm for all that bangin' and shoutin'. His two Amish-raised Percheron mares must be considered, and the chickens must not delay growing up to lay their eggs.

But first we'll go to church.
And we might pray that it won't rain.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Rare Night

Last Saturday night was a oner. Treat night in St. Paul. There is a life there even if people on the coasts aren’t aware of it and so what if we can’t figure out who will be our next senator. The evening was more than we would have allowed ourselves, timid and beggarly as we are… But it was a gift. I’ve been saying “thank you” all week.

Dinner at The Meritage – a Frenchy sort of open, warm upscale café with a great menu. I probably embarrassed our hosts by taking a pic of everything (it looked and tasted great) we ordered. But I’d like to think that’s why the chef came out and talked to us. Maybe he thought I was a critic (I am, but not of that).

Favorite dish: an “Amusement. Tiny Tuna Tartar Taco. Just one leetle, leetle taco with marinated raw tuna. About two bites. Was uncomfortable with name - reminded me of the book Amusing Ourselves to Death. And later I thought, no, that’s not what our evening was about. It was about being alive. It was about pushing back loneliness. Enjoying friendship, creativity, appreciating the art of, having a taste of what’s to come.

My entree, the Scottish Organic Salmon en Sous Vide looked as if it leapt from a pond of green algae (pureed spinach, yogurt, and baby artichoke). Yes, possible to eat without teeth. Mmmm.

Dessert: A molten chocolate cake with salty caramel ice cream. Nice contrasts.

Then we walked to the Ordway for a production of Grey Gardens. It’s best not to think too much about Musicals before hand; I just don’t
lalalala when I’m opening a can of soup….but once you get settled and let the story take you, which can happen when the right ingredients coalesce … it did take us. It’s based on the lives of two women related to Jackie Kennedy - was alternately hilarious and heartbreaking. And tonight at 8 pm (April 18) HBO airs the film with Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lang Btw, there’s also an older documentary based on their lives available through netflix.

After the play Ron suggested the Artists Quarter where a good jazz trio was playing. It was up to me. Who often goes to bed early. I’m not sayin’ how early. But I still had chocolate in my veins when we entered a dark club where people were quietly enjoying the music. I’m po’ly educated in jazz, but I liked it, especially the bass player who was the same size and shape of his instrument, and who you could tell loved it very much.

I’d do it again, but not for awhile. Stay up that late. Share it with friends.
Cram it all in.
Lent is over.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

IRS, you can't touch me

Looking at the date, April 15. Is it really the 15th ? Why hasn’t our tax person called us to sign forms? It’s been a month since she’s had the data. Now I think of it she was late last year, too. But this doesn’t bother me. She’s in control. She promised to take care of it and pay any penalties. She also promised to go to jail in case agents showed up at our door. And she did. I mean she took care of everything. That’s the beauty of Hillcrest Accounting. Walking into Melinda's office, even for a few minutes is as good as going to an all-day spa, though I wouldn’t know for sure since I’ve never been. Sitting opposite her desk, gentle waves of confidence flow over me. I feel pleasantly dizzy like I’m drinking patchouli and eating chamomile. Every year she disarms dangerous numbers, scoffs at IRS threats, and offers us a peppermint.

Memories of this bad day are faded now as I sit at Caribou enjoying a coffee. If anything, Denis is organized and a darn good administrator. He keeps careful records and it was only last year that I convinced him we could stop writing down the mileage and gas cost every time we filled up. It seemed so pointless, but who am I to say since the only numbers I like have to do with document word count? And only a year before that he let me throw 20 years of tax records. The preciseness of his nature has kept us from ever needing to file an extension, which is good because I’m only good at throwing air punches at whoever writes the forms. But I do remember the first time we turned them in at one minute to midnight, and had to drive to the main post office. I had no idea. There was a traffic jam. Cars were lined up being directed by cops, and a p.o. employee stood at the curb receiving envelopes as people rolled past and hand delivered tax forms that needed to be post-marked April 15. Sort of improves your self-esteem, knowing you’re not the only slug in the universe.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Hot Cross Buns

Yesterday was Maundy Thursday. A rare day, a good day. One of those days when I felt like I was twenty and could do anything I put to mind or body. First thing in the morning, I took a plate of hot cross buns down to the coffee shop. Not such a big deal, really. (I’d made them the night before.) But to them, yes, it was a big deal. If I could do it every day, I would. Just to get the strokes and the joy. It’s conflicting to live with personal corruption.

But the reward for paying mind to the people who every day show up and make good coffee for their customers, is that over the past months the manager has become a friend and we know most of the employees. When I make the buns, I love cutting the cross in the dough as it rises and after they’re baked filling the depressions with glazed icing. It overflows in sweet runnels and puddles around the bottom. It’s probably the only place I allow such blatant Christian propaganda in my life. Here: have these buns, see the cross in the middle? They’re tender and sticky with bits of raisin and apricot surprises, and perhaps you, too, will some day be surprised by Holy Week, by Christ’s tenderness and suffering and you’ll eat that joy.

For centuries Hot cross buns have been baked and eaten on Good Friday and were originally connected to the celebration of true Easter.

Monday, April 6, 2009

What's in the bag?

Went to a bridal shower for a niece last Saturday and contemplated the rituals women must enjoy or endure when we marry. Perhaps it depends on how you look at it or how much freedom you have to insist on this or that. It was held in a church fellowship hall. My niece was looking beautiful and hardly more than a day old, though I happen to know she was nervous. It’s hard to keep from it when everyone is lookin’ at you. Each gift must be greeted with smiles and thanksgiving even if it’s a crocheted toilet roll cover. My lively, beautiful sister sat beside her, repressing some sort of mischief as usual. I loved seeing my Mom who wanted to sit in the back row so we could yak - talk at length about trivial or boring subjects (to you maybe). There were four rows of folding chairs in a semi-circle in a room full of women (all ages) around the bride and the mothers. Beside them was a table loaded with gifts. But first. It’s been a long time since I played shower games – a feminine tradition I hoped had been lost to history. Unscramble common words from the wedding ceremony. Like: mogro. I didn’t win. You’d think otherwise, since I’m a boggle queen… Then there was the famous “What’s in your purse?” game. You got major points for things like a to-do list and tweezers. My mom almost won having both of those and a lot of other stuff, too. And then we guessed the number of jelly beans in a jar.

I totally perked up during the devotion when the lady suggested we learn to pray for our husbands using body parts as a guide. She included a scripture reference for each one. She began well with the head, moving on to the eyes and the ears. But right after the mouth, inexplicably, she dropped to the feet, and I was left curiously wondering what she did with all those major body parts left out of the list. I’ll bet I could find Bible references for every one of them. But…another time, maybe.