My own personal tsunami

“Being on tour is like being in limbo. It’s like going from nowhere to nowhere.”

~ Bob Dylan

While I haven’t been on tour the past week, I feel a little like Minnesota native Bob Dylan might: In limbo.

Going from nowhere to nowhere (like a rolling stone?), I feel like I’ve been treading in pudding. A colleague suggested to me that everyone chooses their own personal tsunami — an event that turns the world upside down — as an opportunity for transformation.

Isn’t it interesting to view a giant wave of water that flattens everything in its path as an opportunity?

The times, they are a-changin’.

Growth is an erratic forward movement: two steps forward, one step back. Remember that and be very gentle with yourself.”

~ Julia Cameron


Minnesota Transplant gets pissy about health care again

You know those old people who are so consumed with their health and the health of their friends and neighbors, that’s all they can talk about? Yeah, this post is going to be like that.

What a week.

We all have weeks like this, I know, and it’s my turn. Everything seems to happen at once. I can’t get into it all here, but let’s say this: I do not look forward to be ever more involved with the health care system as I age.

Here’s one thing I can tell you: Don’t sit around in your wet swimsuit after swimming in the Wisconsin River at the Wisconsin Dells. A big no-no. I was warned, too, and I arrogantly thought, pooh-pooh, I’m impervious. Well, the pooh-pooh was tougher than me, and I got a urinary tract infection. Not fun.

Some women suffer all the time from UTIs, as they’re known in the business (that’s the health care business to you). Thank God I’m not one of those women. I’ve never popped so much cranberry extract and Advil in my life. I couldn’t even drink coffee — coffee, man! the elixir of the gods! — because it aggravated my already urgent need to go.

So a visit to my primary care doctor was in order. Since I hadn’t seen him since my last health care debacle (click here for that story, brilliantly told), he insisted he see me in person.

Thank God he got me in 4 hours after I called. I could. Not. Have. Waited. If you know what I mean.

All I wanted was a simple prescription for antibiotics, but I had to be weighed (down 9 pounds from two years ago — yay for me!), blood pressure cuffed (118/78, thank you very much), temperature checked (boringly 98.3 degrees) and pulse monitored (83 beats per minute, which I thought was sorta high but I guess is uneventfully average).

Anyway, it turns out that my menopausal chemistry apparently sets me up for a greater risk of UTIs (so that decision to sit around in a wet swimsuit after wading in the unsavory waters of the Wisconsin River was even worse for someone old enough to know better).

Click, click and the prescription was issued and I picked it up at the pharmacy literally 10 minutes later and consumed the first dose with the bottle of water also purchased at said pharmacy.


I should be grateful because the system worked as it was designed and my problem has been solved. As a side note, I’m reading Diana Gabaldon’s Dragonfly in Amber (yes, that makes me, what? six books behind this week’s best seller?), and the main character who’s traveled back in time to the mid-1700s has an interest in healing properties of herbs, which comes in real handy when doctors of the time have to perform amputations with whiskey for anesthesia and the idea of “comfort” in a hospital means having a bed at all, let alone a private suite. Thank goodness modern health care isn’t that.

But, and there’s always a but with me: I can’t wait to see the bill. See, my doctor, as gentle and helpful as he was, wouldn’t have gotten paid if he simply wrote a prescription without seeing me. So he had to get me into his office on a week in which is was highly inconvenient for me to be there (because of everything else that was happening in my life, which I just can’t get into here). And now I’ll have to pay for the privilege of being told what I already knew.

What a pisser.

If you know what I mean. And if you’ve ever had a UTI, you do.

Wisconsin Dells, by way of Marrakech

After two weeks at home juggling New York connections for a jet-set client, I took an early morning drive from land-locked Hampshire to arrive at the heavenly still waters of the Holiday Shores Campground & Resort in the heart of the Wisconsin Dells in time for a sun-kissed afternoon in the shallows of the Wisconsin River. Goodness — what a pick-me-up.

My dear friends Kathi and Jeff, hostess and host extraordinaire and sound-board for all things related to near-adult children and stepchildren, were entertaining for July Fourth with a bevy of close friends, thus justifying my holiday weekend sojourn (I was back in the Village of Cardboard Boxes two nights later).

* * *

Does this sound like the Minnesota Transplant you’ve come to know (and, oh, you must admit, love)?

Probably not. It’s a bit too Vogue for me. I was imitating Hamish Bowles (Hamish? What a lovely name, an Anglicised form of Scottish Gaelic Seumas) as he recounted one of his recent trips in the May issue. Here’s his prose verbatim:

After three weeks on the road for the fashion collections in London, Milan, and Paris, I took a dawn flight from gray and glacial Orly to arrive at the heavenly Riad Madani in the heart of the Marrakech medina in time for a sun-kissed breakfast. Goodness — what a pick-me-up.

My dear friend Gordon Watson, purveyor of twentieth-century furniture and exquisite objects to the likes of Madonna, Mick Jagger, Valentino, and Donna Karan, among others, was celebrating a Very Big Birthday with a bevy of close friends, thus justifying my moonlight flit (I was back in the City of Light the following evening).

As I read about the Moroccan city of Marrakech, I thought, “How exotic. I wonder if I could do that with my recent trip to the less exotic but no less tantalizing Wisconsin Dells.” Sometime a writer needs to try on a new style, don’t you agree? Let’s proceed.

The Thursday-night festivities were far too much fun, and on the morrow, not quite at my freshest, I leaped back into my hosts’ pontoon with a couple of friends, my Beloved and three young studs (our progeny for the most part), and we hightailed it to the bewitching Sandbar, the destination of dozens of other Dells denizens. (The water level was increasing almost unnoticeably but incrementally, thereby erasing whatever temporary shore existed earlier in the week.) The crowd made do with neon lawn chairs and scrubbed-clean boat decks — we were bound to get wet anyway — and established a tableau of Purple Haze and native beers (some with limes sprouting festively from the necks).

We didn’t make it until the fireworks blossomed later, but we hadn’t meant to: We accomplished our goal of chilling lazily in the sunshine, absorbing one of summer’s all-too-rare near-perfect days.

‘Careless Whisper’ makes a rocky comeback

Monica Lee:

While working out together earlier this week, I remarked on some bit of music my Adored stepson chose to get us PUMPED UP (think Hans and Franz), and he said he liked covers. The music was some Godsmack cover (I don’t remember which one, Pink Floyd?), and at almost the same moment, we both said, “Like that old Wham! song, ‘Careless Whisper.’ And with that intro, I bring you the first moment my stepson and I realized we occasionally had the same taste in music:

Originally posted on Minnesota Transplant:

Remember George Michael? The guy from Wham!? (Yeah, Wham! with an exclamation point.) The very poppy band from the 1980s?

I was sitting at the kitchen table doing some work (yes, no rest for the weary, even on a holiday weekend, not when we have a convention coming up in two weeks), and 14-year-old Cas is messing around with his Ipod. With the speaker on. So I can hear it. (I am in the kitchen, after all, not my office.)

And some very guitary strains of a familiar song start playing. And I start singing the words. “I feel so unsure as I take your hand and lead you to the dance floor…”

Cas looks at me like I’m crazy. “You know this song?”

“Um, yeah, I guess. But not like this. This is a remake. I think it’s …” and I wait for the chorus. “Yes, it’s ‘Careless Whisper’!”


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A month with a lot of exclamation points (!)

July arrives, and poof! 2014 is half over. Heck, it’s already July 2nd before I realize July is here! (That’s what Mercury in retrograde does to a person — thank goodness that’s done). Here’s what I’m looking forward to this month:

  • Happy birthday, youngest nephew! I remember the moment you were born, six years ago today. I’m still thrilled to have been included in the delivery room receiving party for all three of my sister’s sons.
  • Fireworks over the water! Sitting in a pontoon on the river last Fourth of July in the Wisconsin Dells, I had what I consider the best seat in the house, and I think I’ll get to have that same view this year.
  • Corn on the cob! The local garden store starts stocking fresh corn on the cob in early July, and my mouth is already watering.
  • Another milestone birthday! My stepson leaves his teenage years behind when he turns 20 this month. Wow!
  • Family reunion! My mother’s family will gather once again to eat Chex mix and exchange entertaining stories, and I can’t wait.

I’m sure — I know — a lot of other events are in store in the coming month and second half of 2014. I’m excited! What are you excited about?

Waxing nostalgic for an old-fashioned apparatus I once hated

The king-sized, extra-thick mattress pad never gets completely dry in the clothes dryer, and I inevitably put it back on the bed in a slightly damp condition, hoping my Beloved won’t notice.

But not yesterday.

Yesterday, I hung it out to dry.

The summer sun was blazing, and the heat was the perfect foil for my laundered but slightly damp mattress pad. I haven’t wished to have a clothes line in, well, I’ve never wished for a clothes line, but one sure would have been handy yesterday. I settled for the deck chairs.

The backyard in the house where I grew up had a multi-lined implement that I damned every time Dad made me mow the lawn because the twine was exactly the same height as my neck. Our laundry room was in the basement, so hanging the clothes outside required lugging heavy, wet laundry up a flight of steps.

I was in charge of laundry beginning at age 11 or 12, and I quickly learned to stuff wet clothing into the dryer before Mom could tell me to hang it on the clothes line. Failing that, the clothes got hung on lines in the basement laundry room.

But Mom had a point, at least about bedding: Sheets dried on a clothes line outside smell so good! Crisp, line-dried sheets define good bedding.

Then today I heard on a rerun of the Nate Berkus show that the clothes dryer is second only to the refrigerator when it comes to household appliances sucking down electricity. So the clothes line is a green, too.

I’m tempted to install a clothes line in the back yard. Is my nostalgia crazy?

Cheekbone collagen contrasts

Let’s discuss cheekbones, shall we?

Cheekbones are the gift God gives 40-year-olds.

Loni Anderson recalled in her memoir “My Life in High Heels” how her cheekbones became more prominent in her 40s.

Remember Loni Anderson’s cheekbones? The woman who played buxom blonde receptionist on “WKRP in Cincinnati” had great bone structure to begin with, but she was in her mid-30s when she was on TV; she wasn’t some 20-year-old flavor of eye candy.  (What? You don’t remember WKRP? It was a sitcom that ran from 1978 to 1982, OK? Anderson was married once to Burt Reynolds, too, for the record.)

Another example: Have you seen that commercial for Cindy Crawford’s Meaningful Beauty skin care line? (Yes, I’ve been watching too much HGTV this weekend.) Images of Crawford at 28 and 45 clearly show the contrast in her cheekbones.

A woman’s cheekbones emerge as she ages because she loses her baby fat. Well, actually it’s collagen. That stuff that makes a 20-year-old look fresh-faced and well-fed diminishes as we age, causing fine lines and loss of volume. On the wrinkle front, loss of collagen is a bad thing. But those of us who had fat faces in our teenage years, loss of collagen is a gift (at least until we get that hollow-cheeked look of an old crone).

Thirty years ago, I had my high school graduation photos taken, and I hated the result. I looked like a bloated 30-year-old housewife. I got my hair cut short on an impulse about a week before the shoot, and it was horrible; I endured a Bad Hair Year after that hatchet job. I hated the photos so much, I still hate my high school graduation photo and I therefore refuse to show you the whole thing.

But I will show you my cheekbones:

cheeks in 30 years - Page 002


You might consider this navel gazing, but I can assure you: I won’t be showing off pictures of my belly button.

I weigh about 15 pounds more now than I did in 1984 (that fact that I know that stat points to an obsession, but facts is facts), and I’m not wearing makeup today. I think you still see more cheekbones in today’s photo (more freckles, too, but at least those owl glasses are gone — another benefit of aging! The shape of my eyeballs has changed so much I no longer need glasses for close work). My cheekbones aren’t Loni Anderson cheekbones, but hey, they’re there.

I often lament this business of aging, but today I’m embracing the contrasts.