Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In remembrance of a special lady...

She was about as special as they come. A more kind and gentle soul you could not find. Oh, that smile...like the Cheshire cat, she always had a wonderfully beautiful grin showing her pearly whites.

And how fitting, seeing as how she was the quintessential "cat lady" - always picking up strays. Imagine her surprise when the last one, Blue, bonded to her husband more than she.

When they moved from beautiful Santa Barbara to live in a nursing home near family in Colorado - they wouldn't go unless Blue could come with. And so he did.

There, Blue kept vigil over my uncle Charles until he passed away peacefully in January of 2006. Today I learned that Norma, his wife of many years and one of my most favorite people in the world passed away yesterday.

Our special bond was formed partly because we shared a common medical issue - bad hips! She had had her hips replaced more than once, and from her experiences I learned a lot about how to deal with my own challenges. She taught me the importance of attitude. No matter how much pain she was in, she never showed it. She always kept a positive attitude, and never complained about her mis-fortune. She was an amazing role model - always thankful for the small gifts she did have in life.

The other thing she passed to me is my love of swimming. She used to swim every day! Like her, I love the way I feel in the water. Gravity can't impact you in water the way it does on land. In water I feel strong. In water I forget about the pain I feel everyday. In water, I am at home. Norma taught me that. I remember being fairly young (maybe 12) and visiting them. She took me to her pool every day with her while I was there. I hadn't realized what a gift she gave me in turning me on to the water!

Norma, you were one amazing and fantastic lady. Thank you for everything you gave me. I feel very fortunate that we had the times we did even though I was unable to see you this past year. I have been blessed, and am a better person because I knew you. I will never forget, and will always love, you!

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Tradtion! In highschool, my favorite musical was Fiddler on the Roof, but I never liked the song Tradition much - it felt too much like my stuffy old parents! Maybe it's a sign of age, but now I have a completely different view of that old song. Sadly, now I understand what Tevye was singing about. Over the last several years here in Rochester, we have been developing a thanksgiving tradition of which I've grown very fond and I hope it can continue.

About 5 years ago I befriended a young couple that had just moved here from Georgia. Doug was then unemployed, and Sun-He (we call her Sunny) was just starting in a pharmacological research program at Mayo. Yes - she's super smart! I met Doug in orchestra - we were stand partners (on the violin) in the Mayo Chamber Orchestra that year. I felt motherly towards them and invited them to Thanksgiving dinner.

I had also invited an old friend from high school that I had recently reconnected with (Tim) and his partner (Russ). The last wayward soul I had invited that year was yet another friend, and fellow violist I knew from church. All guests, except Russ and my husband, were musicians, so I thought it would be fun to have them bring their instruments and we could "jam" after dinner. And jam we did. What a riot! Doug and Sunny on the violin, John and I on the viola, and Tim on his bassoon!

This year was the same crowd - we've done it all but one of the years since the first one. However, this year my step-daughter joined us on the violin and my daughter on the cello. We ate, we played, we ate some more.

John and I on the Viola

The Violin secion, from left to right are Sun-He, Doug, and my step-daughter Julia

And the "cello" section - my daughter Kaitlyn, and old friend Tim.

Tim, having just started a new job in the music department at St. Olaf was able to bring some fantastic music and we played until the kids begged us for mercy to quit!!! What a night - and a tradition I hope we can keep going for as long as possible.

In a way, it reminds me of the years and years of Thanksgivings we had as a child. My parents, and many of their friends, were all transplants to this tiny northern Minnesota town, and so every year we would gather with the same group of friends for Thanksgiving dinner. It was the Keston's, the Kelly's, the Brandviks, and us the Gallaghers. Although they didn't do a mini concert after dinner, they were all musicians or artists and thus was a similar feel. Those were great days for which I am very thankful, and I look forward to the future traditions we create in this wonderful life!

One more photo I must leave you with - my precious grandson (and me). They've only just left a couple of hours ago, and yet I miss them so...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I felt like a school girl anticipating her first kiss last night. We went to dinner - awaiting the arrival of my firstborn, the tasmanian she-devil, Kelsey - nearly 19 now! As much as I was looking forward to seeing her, it was the little package she brought with that I most anticipated. No, it wasn't the birthday present she brought - although it ranks a close second - it was that most precious of all babies - my grandson!

Isn't he the cutest most adorable little thing you've ever seen? Ok...I'm biased...but I had to share with you what I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving season and that is FAMILY! I have a wonderful family, incredible children, and loving friends. What more can a person ask for in life? I think i've hit the lottery of life to be so blessed. I hope you all enjoy your holiday feast with your friends and families!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A friend of mine from FL came visiting last weekend and asked how my hip was doing. He said I hadn't posted to my blog about it in a while. I was floored! My blog??? You read my blog??? I didn't think anyone was reading - hence my scant writtings of late. I know of one friend who reads and posts comments - but was shocked to find others are "secretly" reading it! :)

It warmed my heart...or was it the second martini I was drinking that was warming it? Well even if it was, I will go with it and assume the world is reading! (What an ego, huh?)

So - wish me a happy birthday - ok a belated birthday - it was yesterday! I meant to post a birthday poem to myself yesterday, but got so swept up in all the emotion of turning another year younger that I couldn't bring myself to the computer.

For those of us that have Novemember birthdays...do you find there's a LOT of us??? Seems everytime November pops around I'm learning of more and more people with November birthdays. Maybe it's just a person-centric thing, but seems there's lots of people born in November. But, then i did the math...and you know what is 9 monts prior to my birthday? Valentines Day! I guess my parents were romantics...at least in their youth!

And for more fun about your birthday - check this link out http://www.paulsadowski.org/BirthDay.asp

So - to all my silent friends - I have lots that's been going on, I'll write more this week, especially since I have a few days off coming up soon! Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The thin veil

In church today we celebrated Dia de la Muerta (the day of the dead), the day we remember and celebrate the lives of those who have past in the last year. For those of you who know me well, you know i have this "thing" about death. I don't know how to decribe it really, it's sort of a curiosity boardering on obsession. As I have aged, however, it's not as pronounced as it used to be and I confess I am more comfortable with the thought of dying now than I have been in years past. I think part of that is due, in part, to the feeling that should I cross over now at least my kids are old enough and could move on easier than if it had happened when they were wee ones.

They say that this time of year is when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest. I am fascinated by the imagery of this statement, and am curious about the logic behind it. I know, this stuff defies logic - but why this time of year? Why not April or May? What's magical about this time of year(except for the fact that I was born in this month)?

In my friend Ahna's house I think the veil doesn't exist sometimes, given her stories of late. Although I've had a couple of otherworldly experiences myself, I envy her. I envy her in the same way I envy that chick, Allison DuBois, from the show Medium, or John Edward. They seem to have much more control over their skill...I covet that!

In anycase - I appreciate the tradition in our church to recognize and celebrate these souls. I don't know what's on the other side of this life, but I do know that life is an amazing journey, a gift, and I love the tradition of celebrating instead of mourning for these lives that have touched us so.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

...by its right name

This is Christopher Johnson McCandless. His story is told in the newly released movie "Into the Wild" directed by Sean Penn - adapted from the book by the same name.

Last night we went out with some friends to the opening of our newly anointed Cinemagic IndieArt theatre - which is basically one screen in a regular theatre that will be dedicated to art house movies. After the champagne and hor de 'vours provided by local companies, we seated ourselves to view this movie.

So compelling is the story, so philosophical, so tragic - it would be a shame to miss such beautiful storytelling. It's moving in its cinematography, and equally stirring with its music. An amazing story of a man I never met, yet will never forget. After denying his real name and dubbing himself as "Alexander Supertramp", he realizes that everything must be called by its right name - and so signs he - Christopher Johnson McCandless - on his final epitaph. Left behind is a legacy of people who loved him, and a profound wisdom only realized as he lay dying.

If you have an opportunity to see it - you must.