Friday, October 30, 2009


What a long day it's been for me and the war pony. I drove that fierce old van to Grand Rapids in AM so Michael and I could help Wallis get her stuff to their new home in Deer River. Then we went out to John's house on Oak Point Rd to get some furniture that she's left there. Then to Cass Lake for more things. The van was really packed and it had been snowing for two hours when we were ready to travel. Part of the bed was tied to the top of the van so I was driving between 40 and 50 mpr all the way. I had the hazard lights on and when I saw that five cars were trailing me I'd pull to the shoulder to let them pass. It was slow going but Chey had seen an owl just before we departed so I took that for a good message. I was tense and very careful. But I'm home now and all is well. The horses were glad to see me because they really wanted some grain. Tomorrow I'll be extra nice to the dogs. They were kenneled all day, last night and tonight, too. Poor guys.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Great things happen while you're waiting. I learned a lot about Les Paul and the famous electric guitar he invented. I also found out that he pioneered a lot of sound engineering techniques. The single asset that propelled him forward was the love and confidence of his mother. Not to make a fine tuned comparison but it didn't hurt Elvis that his mother Gladys believed in her boy , too. Well radio was big when I was little so I heard a lot of music when I lived with my grandparents on Franklin Avenue in Mpls. I thought that Les, Paul and Mary Ford was a trio. How could two people make so much music? I could imagine the three of them coming through the throbbing tubes into the radio and out the speaker into our house. I thought Mary was a beautiful golden haired angel. The boys Les and Paul just backed her up. Of course, I've heard Bing Crosby sing "It's Been a Long, Long Time" but I didn't know the guitar solo was done by Les Paul. He died of pneumonia in Aug. 2009. He was in his 90's.
Well Flo has come and gone. Actually it was Flo, Carter, Alice and Del who brought a load of furniture to Deer River for Wallis. Michael was at the house to help us carry it inside and we finished in no time. Then we went to Shelly's for lunch. I ran into the lovely Joan Canty and Oliver, her glamorous husband. Back at my house the window measurements were taken and there is a really good possibility of locating a used window to fill the pneumonia hole. We sat around to enjoy hot cider and brownies (made by Carter). We talked about books. I showed them what I've been reading and got leads on other authors to look for. Del and Carter interrupted our conversation when they began snoring in unison. So that wrapped up our little party.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


While making plans for a more comfortable winter I realize that I will greatly miss Cedar. We have become good friends and she is an excellent companion. As Mike has penned in "Honoring Elders" I am closer to her generation than to my children's. There is a delightful quality about our time together that will be difficult to abandon for the four months I am away from here. So I miss her already and I'm not even gone. I recall a time while telling tales at a teepee camp near the site of the battle of the Little Big Horn in Montana that an elder man turned his face away and would not look toward me anymore. Afterwards he sought me out to apologize for what he thought appeared quite rude on his part. He said, "My wife perished in a small airplane that crashed some years ago. Your story brought the image of her looking from the window just minutes before the accident." He'd turned away to hide his tears. But there was no plane in my story so I was puzzled. He added, "When you said the woman and the bear were lonely for each other even before they said 'goodbye', I was reminded of that day." We met several times while I was there. We never spoke again but he always greeted me with a dear small smile and an aching sadness in his lonely eyes.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


We celebrated with Missy last night at their home on the banks of the Mississippi River. It was a costume party and we came appropriately attired. Geezis and Cedar were black cats. Their outfits were topped off with two necktie skirts from my collection of outrageous finery. I was a splendid creature of shining blue. Not quite goddess and not exactly damsel. So I coined a word that turned out to be rather sacrilegious. I was the Blue Goddamsel. Justice was the Buff Hunter and arrived without a shirt in hunting pants and boots carrying a pellet gun. Annie was the Godless Clown complete with rainbow hair and red nose. Tom and Missy were the Dude and the Chick. Tom was the chick in a hot pink wig and velvet skirt with 'leopard skin' camisole. Missy was his bearded companion. Ceecee was a small pastel green Dragon, Maddie was the Ambassador of Transylvania. and Grandma Lila was the Queen of Good Wishes in a purple gown, lace shawl, silver tiera and wand. Of course, we took pictures. The menu was exciting and delicious. I was also presented with two early b-day gifts. From Lila an Elvis calendar and from Missy an Elvis bag.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Prior to her death my mother was adamant that she be allowed to die on her own terms. She did not want life support or any such means of prolonging the inevitable. When she was still strong enough to care for herself and well enough to drive she told me not to fret if she decided to take her own life. Her prognosis depressed her sometimes. Her plan was threefold, "drive-walk-die". She would drive to a remote place at the end of a rut road in the forest then walk so far that she could not return to the car. There she would lie down and wait for death. She thought perhaps her body would not be recovered but didn't mind being eaten by wolves. However, she eventually died in hospital with her family crowded about her. Michael McNally's book has brought other things to mind, too. As I teeter on the threshold of my seventh decade I wonder, "Have I lived too long?" I can see the possibility of becoming more and more a burden to my children and an embarrassment to my grandchildren. Such is not the elderhood I would wish to preserve. So sometimes I look out into the forest and ask myself, "How far could I walk before I fall down and die?" Perhaps I would walk in a circle and find myself back at the beginning! Furthermore, I am becoming increasingly ashamed of myself for neglecting to sustain my position and office. As my physical prowess diminishes I have slipped into an early retirement from elderhood. I've become less public and more private. Not so quick to raise my voice or my pen to protest what I view as a betrayal of trust by public officials. Even in the women's circle I've surrendered my place to younger females. I've reasoned that they need the experience to practice such leadership while the elders are still in their midst. But what about memory and example? We certainly leave that behind when we go to the other side. I remember Camp Justice, too. Mom and I traveled to White Earth several times to bring food and show our support. Larry Cloud Morgan was always there to greet us with his big warm hug, his hearty laughter and his gentle words. I can still see them sitting under the arbor, smoke binding them together. I watch as they lean forward to share a funny story, cover their mouths with their hands and laugh. They glance toward me now and love is shining in their eyes. Yes, it is important to meet death on your own terms but only after you've lived life in the same manner.

Friday, October 23, 2009


I came here old.
My final home.
Every day carries me
Far from my thin dreams.
This large box
Becomes my cell.

But a clever fire
Blazes in the wood stove
Spilling an eager warmth,
Filling dark corners.
It cheers me greatly.
Like the visit of a child.
It pops and sparks
Unaffected by self-pity.
The silly sorrow that flowed in
Has drained away again.

No school for Cedar so I came to the log house and found the coffee pot full and waiting. I mixed a cup and shared it with her. I told her it was "dancing brew". So, of course, it made her dance. It also had the unexpected effect of causing her to flutter her 'wings' like a humming bird and sing like a phoebe. Now she sits beside me drawing. There is a round red hobbit house with a great bold rosy sky all around. Beyond the green hill a blue sail boat is anchored in a lake that is as rosy as the sky. A purple sun shines over all. A narrow path is provided so we can follow it to the water, board the boat and sail away together. Above the house is a timid little rainbow. At the end of the rainbow is not a pot of gold but a very large grandmother. My assignment is to add the clouds. Nice clouds... not tornado clouds. Yes, in the past I have actually filled pages with dark menacing clouds spewing tornadoes. When the entire scene is complete Cedar turns the page and asks me to draw a bird for her to color. I produce a proud tall crested bird with long strong legs. I surround it with various bugs and a few flowers. She decides it is a lady bird and draws a vent protruding from her back end! Soon a fresh egg has fallen into a small nest below the vent. My goodness! Some children are so observant.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


When we got to the half way house for the memorial ceremony we were greeted by Wallis and several of her new friends. They were gracious and compassionate for they have all suffered grief, loss and despair. We (including the five women) gathered on the back elevated deck with the smudge, drums and gourds. One of the drums was presented to Wallis. The light icy rain fell upon us and the tall pines that stood near. Soon our hair was wet in a misty kind of way. All the dark heads around me wore the same crown of tiny crystal beads. Father Sky was leaning down to wash us with purifying tears from ishpiming. Wallis spoke first, then I offered a few words. Of course, we wept. Justice wanted to speak but he could not without weeping and so he declined. Annie sang a spirit calling song and closed with a healing song. Inside we spread a sheet on the floor and gathered around the food (wild rice and fry bread). Five of the women joined us for the simple meal. Annie sang "Beautiful Son" and many of the women covered their faces to weep alone. She also sang "Lullaby" and "I Know a Woman". Before we left Wallis embraced each of us. Then I went around the circle to shake hands with the women who had shared our sorrow and our food. Because we could not build a fire to burn the spirit dish Wallis said she would carry the plate of food to the lake. The ancestors will pluck the food from the cold water. Those few morsels will feed them all and none will hunger. Amazing!

How many times
Have I sat dumb
Upon his grave
Lost in dark despair?
One hand
At the grass.
The other
The stone.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Today we remember our beautiful Brandon who was murdered on this day 2005. He was just 17... and, Marvin, his murderer was 17. Marvin is in prison at Stillwater. I miss Brandon every day. I hope someone misses Marvin, too. Justice and I often tell Brandon stories to each other. It's good to remember. This morning I awakened to gentle rain fingers playing the rain piano and it recalled Brandon's rain drums. It was a good way to return from dream time. The dream was about carrying water. I just kept filling a bottle but when I tried to carry it away I'd find it empty. So I'd return to the flowing spring and refill it. But after a few steps it would be empty again. It seemed to be a sound container but the water kept getting away. When Annie gets home from work we are going to see Wallis and have a small memorial ceremony with the pipe and drum. The facility will not allow a fire on the grounds. Brandon and the ancestors will understand.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I read and reviewed Carll Goodpasture's book "Imagining Place" and am now reading Mike McNally's new release, "Honoring Elders". I shall submit both reviews to Baiki. I am also sending a poem. Carll's book inspired the poem. Mike mentions one of my poems in his book. Maybe I will submit that with the review. So I've been reading until my eyes bulge then I haul wood until my muscles bulge. It's been pretty wet here but it takes a lot of rain to refill the Minnesota lakes that get depleted during the summer. I may include the following in my review of "Honoring Elders". Blog friends will read it first.
I was sitting in the car with my mother and Larry Cloud Morgan at the Inger pow-wow several years ago. They were both living with diabetes and enduring dialysis. Larry leaned toward the front seat so he could talk to us. At first we exchanged funny stories and laughed heartily. Then Mom told us that when her life became so compromised that it wasn't worth living she was going to refuse treatment, enter a coma and die. To me she said, "All you have to do is honor my decision. Let me die with dignity." I kept that promise. After a long silence Larry told us that when he reached that point on his journey he prayed for courage to do likewise. They both came to that end.
Today as I prepared a lunch of tea and toast I thought it strange to be content with so little. Not strange really, but bizarre. It is both quite peculiar and extremely normal. When I was a little girl I lived with my grandparents at 607 E Franklin Av, Mpls. Sometimes Grandma Vanoss and I had nothing but tea and toast. If there was fruit she gave it to me. There were times when Grandpa and I enjoyed a late bowl of 'graveyard stew'. I laughed at the funny name and thought it was a special treat grandfathers shared with granddaughters while other people slept. It was much later, after he had died, that I realized he ate warm milk over toast because cancer had ruined his stomach.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


We are still building our winter wood pile. Yesterday I stacked wood in the little shed. Today we are working at filling the big wood shed. The wood is free to all who will go out to cut and haul it. The logs come from along the pipeline. They sure cut a wide swathe for that project.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


It's been a busy but fullfilling day. Wallis has housing, PO box, energy assistance and I got 2 small jobs! I have been asked to participate in the GR Tellathon, Nov 19. I present once at the Library and again at the Forest History Center.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


I have completed filling in on the northside of house. I even did a bit of landscaping so it won't look so awful in the spring. In the AM I went into the woods and located some standing dry wood and some fallen stuff that is not on the ground. All that can make good firewood. I brought back several bundles of twigs and dry wood for kindling a fire. I spent time sawing the wood I couldn't break. But the most wonderful event was putting a damper in the stove pipe. I did it and it functions perfectly. Before reporting for shovel duty I filled my tank with a bowl of my super spicy chili. I don't know how it got so hot but I needed the octane to finish my big job.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


The window has not returned and Cedar and I find it difficult to complete filling in the dirt around the house. So you can imagine that I have some very discouraged hours. I try to cheer myself up but sometimes the unpleasant reality of the situation gets me down. However, I was in the hardware store in DR when a man admired my hat! It's the one Annie refers to as roadkill. The one Justice wants to shoot and bury. I realize it is a bit peculiar but it is warm and serviceable. I like it. But to discover another person who finds it admirable was a great surprise. Yes, it made my day.


Cinnamon woke me up as he wanted to go out. I had to get up and build a fire to keep us both warm. So I opened the door to discover it had snowed! We got more than a dusting. I made a cup of morning coffee, dressed, went into the snowy world and brought in enough wood to fill the wood rack. When I went to the log house for water Cedar was up and dressed. She met me at the door. "I love winter!" she shouted. She put on a jacket and went out. But it was colder than she thought it would be and she wasn't gone too long. She hadn't dressed warm enough. But she's learning. I hope the ground doesn't freeze as I have not finished back filling around the house. The north side is about 3/4 complete. My most loyal helper has been Cedar and that is just too much work for an old woman and a small girl. We must take frequent breaks... for water and rest. Rest breaks were spent talking about the possibility of a dinosaur sighting, interesting sounds from the trees, bugs that look like sticks, what happens to bees when it snows, peacocks and silverback mountain gorillas. Yesterday we also worked in the gardens and got a lot of stuff into the compost. We tumbled some logs to a new location and visited a deer bed.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I cut a piece of rigid foam for the window and got it fairly tight. There are some gaps but I'll fix that if the real window doesn't show up soon. Annie had taken the kids out for supper at Shelly's in DR and had been gone for quite some time. Although the sun had set I decided to go for a walk. I was just about to the wide curve when a police car came speeding around the corner and toward Linda's. It stopped abruptly, backed up and came down our road. It passed me but as I turned I saw another officer in the yard behind me! I know cops aren't supposed to invade private property without good reason or a warrent. So I went back to question them. I was told they were in pursuit of a suspect and the person had sought refuge on our property. They described the perp and said he was either mentally deranged or drugged. They requested my permission to search the buildings and the property. Of course I consented and accompanied one officer into the big house while he did a thorough search. The other cop called on the shoulder radio and said he'd located an abandoned vehicle not far from us. We continued to search the house. I was surprised to find the back door was not only unlocked but ajar as well. The basement became of prime interest and I was asked not to accompany the officer down the steps. All other buildings were also searched, except the barn/kennel. If the perp had gone in there the dogs would have been barking. When my small house was searched the officer said he was glad to see Elvis on guard duty and suggested that I install a damper in the chimney. I'd been thinking that, too. I said I didn't know how and he gave me a quick seminar. Then the officer heard cracking bush beyond the barn and went to investigate. I was standing outside when Annie came. I told her what was in progress and Cedar bagn whimpering. Justice tried to pick her up but she threw her arms around my legs. Annie offered to take her inside but Cedar said, "I want Grandma." It seems I am the tower of strength small children need when facing fear and danger. I held her hand and we walked to the log fortress. Soon more police cars arrived, several officers and a canine unit. I stayed with Cedar until the rest of the family settled their jitters and then I went home. Justice walked with me as the cops were still combing the property. Before leaving he searched my dwelling. I locked the door behind him and watched a movie (Raintree County) on the laptop. I didn't know what was going on so before I went to bed I put a stool in front of the door with a bottle balanced so it would fall if the door was opened. I leaned the broom against the foam window so it would fall if the windows was pushed in, put the stove poker near me and went to bed. I heard the dogs bark a few times before I went to sleep. In the morning I walked to the fortress and Justice told me the man had been caught and arrested.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Cedar has been sick and didn't go to school today. So we have time to share. What will we do? First we will simply enjoy the bright beauty of this shining day. I got a delivery of wood yesterday and so I can have a fire if needed. It was too good to last! Before noon the clouds had covered the sun and returned us to a shadowland. Cedar and I went to pick up the mail and she expressed a desire for Shelly's mozzorella sticks. So we detoured in that direction and had lunch together. While waiting for food I showed her how the two straw covers could skate across the table. One was Scott Hamilton and the other Kurt Browning. You must know that Kurt is the ultimate man according to Cedar. Then I made two paper crowns from the flatware wrappers. I awarded both paper skaters a crown because while Kurt got the most points in the competition, it was Scott who performed the most daring feat. He turned a perfect backward flip. Cedar was dismayed because Kurt cannot flip. Well, I explained, Kurt is too tall. If he should attempt the stunt he would probably strike his head on the ice. A package has arrived from France with gifts for all. Cedar got a very nice card illustrated with many happy children. She said all the children in the picture were nice except the two on the end. She named them and dismissed them as bullies. I said perhaps they are fiends. From the package I selected eight tea bags from London for Justice, a small bottle of honey from Corsica for Annie and two vials of perfume from France. for Geezis and Kala. What an international day it has become. The clouds do not impact our joy.

Monday, October 5, 2009


My dear friend Elizabeth Arbuckle is going to Rome for the sainting of Jeanne Juggens, founder of the Little Sisters of the Poor. She will pray for me at St Peter's. I'm so excited for her, the journey, the prayerful intent and her gracious remembering of me. She also sent me a book of Scottish castles which the children will enjoy and photos of herself and her mum. I found the picture of Brodick Castle located on the Isle of Arran. Elizabeth and I visited the castle several years ago. I remember there were tall Douglas pine trees near the castle but they don't show up in the photo. Geezis did quite well in her track meet at Duluth. She came in 19 out of 138.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Today I will pursue a theme. Is there a roundup void? Yes. The correspondence basket is empty because I try to answer mail as it arrives. There is no current roundup on the desktop and I miss it. Nevertheless, I will continue with my plan to let the roundup rest until Nov 9, 2011. Why am I melancholy about that? I feel I have abandoned many friends who looked to the roundup to keep us all connected. I deeply enjoyed the opportunity it provided to share our friendship. Some of you reconnected with familiar names and there has been much reaching out across the roundup pages. I recognize the blessing and the challenge the roundup brought to me... to us. But this must be my journey of reflection and I want to do it in my own singular way. So when I embark in earnest on Nov 9th I welcome all former roundup recipients to join me as I step into my seventh decade. Yesterday I spent the afternoon with daughter Wallis and found it quite pleasant inspite of the fact that October is a painful month for us. In a few weeks it will be four years ago that our beautiful and beloved Brandon was murdered.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Today while I was watching the final episodes of Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" Cedar came running to me screaming, "I saw a hummingbird!" I was surprised as I thought they had all left for warmer climes. But she showed how the wings fluttered. With her hands she drew a long beak before her face. I could not doubt. I asked if it had a red throat. "No," Cedar said. "Well, it was Lady Hummingbird... come to say goodbye." She ran back into the room where she'd seen the bird near the window and shouted, "Goodbye, Alicia." So the bird has become Lady Alicia Hummingbird. and we expect to see her next spring. I think we were somewhat affected by the Russian drama. Cedar had watched it intermittently and I'd identifed some of the characters and tried to explain their roles.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Justice and I cleaned the garage yesterday and took a load of household garbage to the dump. In the process I discovered a paper crown from Burger King. I promptly claimed it for the one true king, entered my small abode and placed it carefully upon the regal paper brow of my classic stand-up Elvis. He accepted it with reverence and now stands with the proud and proper posture of a royal legend in chagrin. Annie drove us to GR in PM, got Wallis and went out for Chinese dinner. We ran into Scott and Frieda Hall and had a brief but delightful visit.