Tuesday, July 22, 2008



There are so many reasons to love this clip --- not least of which is the 8 track straight out of my growin' up years. LOVE IT!!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Heading for the Hills

And now for the next episode in my blog-catch-up: Family Vacation in the Black Hills! It was a short week, but really quality time. On our way out, we stayed with Sponheim family friends, Jack & Mary Mortenson. Such warm and generous hosts! One of the things that stands out (one month later) from our conversation is the commitment they have to respecting and caring for elders. They’ve regularly hosted their elderly aunts and uncles for Sunday dinners for some years, and now that hospitality is extended to their neighbor George McGovern, (yes, I’m talking about the elder statesman) who spends most Sundays there, and sat in their family room to watch the SD Primary returns and Obama’s ensuing speech!

Mary made the most delicious meals for us, and sent apricot scones with us, which sustained us on the long drive through the Custer State Park wild life loop later in the week.

We stayed in Hill City at this one-man owned “Resort” called Quail Crossing. Nothing fancy, but it was perfect. We were looking for something non-chain, non-huge asphalt parking lot, sort of close to nature … and this worked. We had a little kitchenette, and a balcony with a grill that overlooked the creek and hills behind the motel. We ate almost all of our meals out there, including buffalo cheese burgers! There was an old horse, a bike trail, a campfire pit, 2 playgrounds, a pool and a teeter totter. What more could we want?

We did a couple of the requisite touristy things:

Wildlife at Custer State Park

Methuselah the 120 year old Tortoise at Reptile Gardens

The Amazing and Brave Team of Snake Handlers

And we observed Micah’s 8th anniversary of arriving in the world by

commemorating the city of M’s birth at the Des Moines River rest area

and finding Mica (the element) all over the Black Hills, including this road sign:

When we returned home, we had a proper celebration with friends at the Apple Valley Pool!

Wow. Micah is EIGHT. And for some reason this birthday feels like a more significant jump than some of the last few, that sort of gradually crept from one year to the next. I can't quite put my finger on why that is. He just suddenly seems older, and I realize how quickly these childhood years are zipping by. Sigh ... But more than regret or anything like it, I celebrate this wonderful, smart, sweet kid!

But I'm feeling like getting out the baby pictures.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Ahhhh ... the North Shore in June. The grandeur ... the spaces to sit and just be ... the trails and lake that call me to move and be a part of creation. It is simply gorgeous.

I got to travel to the North Shore for the annual SOTV Women's Retreat, which, lucky me, I get to lead. We had a few snafus preparing and actually implementing the thing, but in the end, it was an amazing experience. The theme this year was "Journey to Wholeness" and the plan was to use a prayer labyrinth as the core of our program. Here's where it gets interesting. I worked with the labyrinth maven of the Twin Cities, Barbara Kellet, to procure a large canvas labyrinth, as well as some of her books and some prayer shawls, and was all ready to facilitate my first labyrinth with the SOTV women ... but! The conference room that was available to us was nowhere near the 40 feet across I had been told it would be by the management. So I had only a few hours to find a space where we could hold our labyrinth session the following morning. Panicking a bit, I called the pastor of the Lutheran church across the highway from the Bluefin resort where we were staying ... Long story short ... the pastor and his wife had a labyrinth built on their property! On the shore of Lake Superior! Four miles from our resort! With accompanying meditation garden ... Um. I'm pretty sure this was a God thing.

Seagulls soared above and songbirds trilled. The waves rolling in, the fresh air off the lake and the warm sunshine ... the wood chips crunching under our feet ... toadstools and wildflowers decorating the path ... women walking and praying, turning and pausing, receiving what God handed to us that day ... it was a completely unexpected gift.

And there is more to this wonderful story ... the pastor that I mentioned earlier, his name is William Christ ... his wife is Beryl Singleton Bissell, the author of the lovely memoir, The Scent of God. I had been wanting to read her book, and had just missed a couple of opportunities to hear her speak. And here I was, walking on her labyrinth, and enjoying her beautiful meditation garden. Beryl was not there that day; she was at a writers' workshop. About 20 of us bought her book, though. I received a lovely note from her a few days later, along with a book plate with her signature for my copy, and an offer to come and speak to our group next time we are on the North Shore. I have been savoring The Scent of God in the weeks since, not wanting it to end. I highly recommend it.

Thank you to Lisa Gustafson for her beautiful photos!

June 12 ...

was the last day of school and the beginning of a very busy patch!

Micah finished up 2nd grade with flying colors, Luke graduated from Preschool, and on we go. Our nanny for June and July is Christy, a wonderful young woman from our church, who recently graduated with a teaching degree, and is providing fun, structure, and care for the guys while Eric and I toil away at work.

The evening of June 12 was particularly lovely. Eric and I walked over to the Zoo, and caught the kick-off of the Music in the Zoo series, Aimee Mann! For some reason, both Eric and I have had the Magnolia soundtrack (of which Aimee wrote 75% or so of the music) in heavy rotation lately, so we were really excited to see her. Last time I saw Aimee was in the early 90's and like the dweeb that I am, I wore that old T-shirt!

The concert was just wonderful. First of all, a summer night ... just a little bit cool, with a breeze ... a huge Heron gliding about to add to the ambience .. and the band! So awesome! Most of the songs were keyboard and acoustic guitar-based, so no lead guitar, but I counted something like 13 keyboards on the stage! And the two keyboardists were amazing, but they cracked me up. One was a long haired, bell-bottomed hippie guy who created his very own little side show; the other was the workman-like computer-geek on the opposite end of the stage. The highlight of the night for me:" Wise Up" ... so ethereal and achingly regretful. I love me some melencholy, baby.