30 June 2009


I recently unearthed some photos that my Aunt Shirley had put together for a slide show at our wedding reception. It's fantastic, and I was glad I could figure out how to get some of the photos to transfer. Some of the originals were damaged when Shirley scanned them, because they were those weird, stiff, curled-up Polaroids or whatever film my dad was using at the time.
I remember Aunt Sharon and Uncle Gene's home based on this wallpaper, and green shag carpet, and the strangeness of a split-level home layout, which no one in my whole hometown had. Oh, and Deron and Dawn each had their own bedrooms, which I coveted terribly.

I would guess this photo is late 1974/early '75, with Dawn not yet a year, me a year and a half (in the center, with the fancy hair bow), and Deron less than 4. Does that sound right, cousins? At any rate, there is little in this world that reminds me more of the innocence of childhood than these kinds of pictures.

If it makes either of you feel too exposed, let me know, and I'll remove the post. But I hope you both know that even though it's been years since we played together, I think of you both every day.

26 June 2009

Seven years

Happy anniversary to my favorite partner in crime.

25 June 2009

The annual peony photos

So as I was about to post this, I thought I should link to the last two or three times I posted this flower. I love it so much, I was sure I must've posted this every summer I've blogged. But no...I couldn't find any mention of this fancy peony in last year's posts. I had to go back to 2007, and it was tacked on the end of a post about 4 different things.

But I love this peony. The bush was here when we moved in, and despite my constant, insistent neglect, it continues to bloom every spring. It smells sweet and looks like a crazy rose-peony hybrid, and I am so happy to see this prettiness every year.
I've been blogging for 3 1/2 years. Sometimes you have to recycle topics, people. Cut me some slack....

23 June 2009

I mean it this time.

My cousin Deron just posted on his blog about how important comments are: for him, especially, it helps so much to hear from readers and know that someone is out there. In thinking about it, I am always surprised when I'm out and about and see someone I know, who tells me "Oh, hey, I read your blog all the time!" Really? Because according to my comments, there are only 4 readers on earth.

When I worked at the nursing home as a nursing assistant, we would occassionally be reprimanded by our bosses for taking more than our allotted 15 minute breaks. That was the hardest job I've ever had, and sometimes, when you had your feet up and a cold soda, it was hard to get back out on the floor. But we did try to keep everything kosher, honest. One day, one of the RNs wrote in the day book that by taking 20 minutes instead of 15, we were "stealing from the residents." Now, I suppose in a way that's true. We could've been caring for the elderly instead of reading People magazine. Then again, those five extra minutes may have been just what we needed to recharge enough so we could face another supper of serving pureed fish, or dealing with unimaginable amounts of bodily fluids.

Wait, I'm digressing. My point is, I write this blog for a lot of reasons. I write to keep my loved ones informed, and I write to (hopefully) entertain sometimes, and I write because it's better than talking to myself. But if you, dear readers, don't comment? Ach. I'm not even talking every time...just once in awhile. Say, once every 5 or 6 posts. If you can't do that, then you're stealing from me. And if you keep it up, I may soil myself and blame you.

21 June 2009

A post in which I tell you a story about me to make a point about my sister

Nearly a week ago, now, my kid sister had surgery to reset her jaw, which, since she was wee, has not allowed her top and bottom teeth to meet. She's had to cut her corn off the cob, for example. And so, though this was an optional surgery, it will hopefully benefit her quality of life in the long run, and help keep her teeth healthier overall. It's strange, because at this same time we have family members with very serious health concerns, so this surgery feels a little... frivolous. And I'm not saying that just because it wasn't my surgery: Jess posted to that effect here. Anyway, she came through like a champ, and aside from some interesting yellow bruises and an unappetizing liquid diet, Jess is doing great. Though this was not a typical surgery, I was surprised how much it affected me, and it made me think of the only time I've ever been under general anesthetic.
When I was in fifth grade, William Wainwright rounded third base and headed for home, where I was the catcher in kickball. I was more than willing to take one for the team, and when he put his head down and bowled into me, I flew up in the air and came down on my left hand. By the time I got over to the carpeted, moveable gym steps, my wrist was so swollen I could barely see my watchband. As he helped me get the watch off, Mr. Timmer, our phy-ed teacher, solemnly told me I must have a bad sprain, because broken bones don't swell this much.
My aunt Beverly drove me to Halstad, where our old-school Dr. Brown had his practice. (My dad was in the field, I think, or nearly so, and my mom had to teach). My wrist had more than doubled in size, and it was throbbing, but the consensus was still that it was just a bad sprain. We waited for Dr. Brown for almost three hours, and in his exam rooms with too-thin walls, we heard him discuss with the elderly patient who got seen before me the state of her houseplants. I was only ten, but I knew that wasn't cool, even if my arm WAS only sprained.Finally, the nurse took me for an X-ray, and both she and Doc Brown were shocked to see both bones in my arm were broken. No wonder it hurt so much. My ulna was so badly broken that the doctor wouldn't even set it for me. They slid my x-ray into a manilla envelope and sent us off to Moorhead.
By now it was 5 pm, so mom was done teaching, and someone had tracked down dad. I don't remember who drove me to the hospital (did I mention my arm hurt?) ?), but I remember the nun who was my nurse at St. Ansgar's, and the long-faced white haired doctor who explained why they would put me under: the bone was so far apart, they thought they might have to do surgery, and to try to set it while I was conscious would be too unpleasant. I remember feeling very small in the big hospital bed, with Mom and Dad and Jess all standing around, trying not to look too concerned.
In the end, no surgery was needed. They popped my bone back together and wrapped me up in an old school plaster cast halfway to my shoulder. My family got to come and see me while I was in the recovery room, and I guess Jess, who was only in third grade at the time, was understandably freaked out. I don't remember this, but I guess she was saying sweet sistery things to me, and I did not reciprocate. In fact, I think I may have sworn at her.
I'm sorry, sissy; I didn't know what I was saying. And now I know what it's like when your sister is just out of surgery and kinda goofy in the head, and you're just sooo relieved that she's okay. I love you. Can I be there when you eat your first corn on the cob?

14 June 2009

Sprinkler weather

I remember the thrill on those hot Hendrum days when mom (at least I think it was mom) put the sprinkler in the middle of the yard and turned it on. We had one of those metal ones that swished water on one side, then up and over to the other...you know what I mean? And we'd literally run through the water, leaping over the metal bar...except when we missed, and tripped, and hurt our toes. But otherwise, it was exquisite.

So yesterday around 12:30, V and I went to the playground where there is also a wading pool, which opens at 1:30. But I forgot so she didn't wear her swimsuit, and when all the other kids at the playground ran over to the pool at 1:25, I had to get V back in the car to go home. Feeling like a bad mama, I offered the consolation sprinkler, which V had never done before. She was immediately interested, even though I don't own one of those old-school metal ones.In fact, the one we have doesn't even move. It took her a little while to warm up to its watery goodness.

But soon she was running like she'd been doing it her whole life.

Oh, summer: I do love you.

Chenille plant

So Auntie Jess has been helping us to clean our house these last few weeks (yes, I keep that kind of house. The kind that takes weeks to clean. Back off) and so we've gotten to spend lots of time together recently. I try to buy her lunch and give her things at every turn to try to repay her for her work, but there's just no way to show her how much she helps me. And then she showed up the other day bearing a plant. A fabulous hanging basket full of a plant I'd never seen: a chenille plant. It's also called a red-hot cattail plant (how cool is that name?) and I think it looks like it's covered in fat caterpillars. Isn't it crazy?
My research says that those caterpillars can grow to 18-36 inches long. Dang. Also, because it always makes me sad when annuals die, I'm happy to see I can convert it into a houseplant come fall. AND it's supposed to propogate easily. What a dreamy addition to our garden! Thanks, Auntie Jess, for the crazy plant. I love it.

13 June 2009

Thrifty loot

We found these two mugs for 25 cents each at the ARC yesterday. They are the same design, so I'm showing you each side. My sister was supportive, except when she said "Which 2 cups will you get rid of to make room for those?" I told her she can't use the beautiful new mugs, and also, she can stuff it.
Don't you wanna come over and have some peppermint tea with me? Unless you're my sister, of course. Then you're busy stuffing it.

09 June 2009

Johnson Sister's Tree Trimming Service

We have a big old pine tree in our front yard (spruce? conifer? what should I call it, proper?) that's grown over the driveway a bit much. It bent our antenna all to hell a couple of years ago, and annoys people when they come to visit. It annoyed my sister so much that she finally decided to trim it yesterday. But she forgot to bring a saw, so demanded I fetch her one. The serrated kitchen knife I brought out first wasn't cutting it (bwah ha ha! Punny!), and the only full-sized saw I own belonged to our great-grandfather, Christ Dyrendahl. My father owned it, and told me when I was nine years old that, as his oldest child, I would inherit it when he died. So I did. Plus, Jess probably didn't want it anyway. She's not very sentimental, usually, that sister of mine. Which is fine, because I'm sentimental enough for the two of us.
Here is her handy-sister hand on the worn handle of a saw our great-grandfather used. (Those are his initials, see...) The wood is worn smooth where his hand held it, and the crisp edges of the wood are soft from his sweat and the heat of the work. The blade is still sharp enough to cut through thick pine branches. Together, we made quick work of it, and aside from letting me take these pictures, I don't know that she thought much about being the fourth generation in our family to use this gorgeous saw. As she worked, though, I saw our father and great grandfather cutting their own tree branches from their own trees. And it made me glad.

It's real. Honest.

Last Monday V and I were at Saver's (as we are most Mondays). We've discovered that there's a regular Monday morning crowd (One color tag goes to 99 cents on Mondays, see. So people line up waiting for the doors to open at nine), of which we are clearly a part. Anyhoo, we walked past a lovely woman with black hair nearly to her waist and a pheasant feather stuck in her hair. She saw V (who was sitting in the cart like a good girl) and kind of gasped. "Hello!" she said, gazing upon my daughter. Then she slowly reached out her hand and touched V's hair. Now, I totally understand people being struck by V's vocabulary, or startled by her shouting of the Star Wars theme song. But usually strangers don't touch her without asking. I liked this lady's feather, though, so I was cool with it...and then Feather Lady says, "Is it real?" referring to V's hair.
Okay, first of all, people tell V she has beautiful hair all the time. I usually invite them to come over and comb it in the morning and see if they still think it's pretty. But no one has ever asked if it's real before. At first blush, it's just the same sort of thought: whoa, she's got a lot of hair for such a wee girl. But then I started thinking about it. What if it hadn't been real? That would mean that either I'm that rare mother who shops religiously at Saver's but puts her kid in a wig for vanity purposes, or the child is sick. Either way, is it appropriate to draw attention to this? Shaun said I should've burst into tears and started rambling about chemo and remission...

Instead I guffawed and said, "Oh, heck yeah. It's real." And we went about our bargain hunting.

I'm thinking, though, of getting her a crew cut before next Monday. Just to see people's reactions.