|And what about Elevenses?|
Monday, July 12, 2004
Turtle Mocha, anyone?
We have created monsters. Nice, agreeable, polite, and typically grateful monsters, but monsters nonetheless. "We" meaning Caribou Coffee (and Starbucks, too, I suppose), and the "monsters" being those delightful customers who must create their own personal drink. Nevermind that Caribou has dozens of choices up on its menu boards already. Nevermind that one can choose from a variety of tea, coffee, Coolers, Wild Drinks, etc. No, one can't simply order a "medium latte" or a "large mocha." "Medium half-caf skim latte with half a shot of almond and half a shot of hazelnut. Please." "Small americano in a medium cup, with three Equals." "Large mocha with soy milk and half the chocolate, no whipping cream on top." Aye aye aye! I think it could become the new favorite passtime of America: state as many addendums (is that a word?) to your drink as possible, and see if you can throw off the barista. Well, at least it helps up avoid monotony. It takes all kinds of people to make a world...
Friday, April 23, 2004
My 90-year-old grandmother passed away early this morning. I've shed tears at the news, but my overwhelming emotion is relief and thanksgiving. She suffered from Alzheimer's for a decade, and these last couple years she has not known us. I'm so thankful her days of suffering are over and now she is with Jesus. She has finished her race, and kept the faith. She has received her crown.
I - and all who knew her - will remember her with love and fondness. "Mormor," the most hospitable Swede you could meet - and with a witty saying for every occasion! Thank you for being such a great grandmother, Mormor. I'll see you in heaven someday.
Saturday, March 27, 2004
The signs are corroborating with the temperatures (in the sixties yesterday!) that spring has returned to the Great North. Though the official start of spring was last Saturday, you really can't say spring has arrived until you see the SIGNS.
1) A thunderstorm. With rain. And lightning. And wind that takes out dead branches. The works. We had a thunderstorm earlier this week - I think it was Thursday. If I recall, we also had a brief one last week, sometime during the night. Very fun and cozy.
2) The return of the waterfowl. I was walking around Como Lake yesterday, enjoying the balmy temperature and the sunshine which actually felt hot against my back. Canada geese and mallard ducks and seagulls crowded the open water along the shore where the ice has receded away. I stopped to observe them for a while, and was amused by their antics. There's definitely a hierarchy going on. All is quiet until some bird has to demonstrate his superiority - or just scare the others away from a good piece of bread tossed by a young child in lavender. The geese, when feeling bold and dominant, rear up and flap their wings several times, honking loudly. Other times they lower their heads and charge the other birds, hissing angrily while the others scuddle away. Then for a while all grows calm again, and the fowl seem to forget their grievances, congregating civilly, arching their elegant necks and preening their feathers. The mallards, I noticed, are less volitile. Their clamor seems to come simply from males chasing after females, who tease and maneuver away, secretly eyeing the strutting males who pretend they don't know they're being watched. The worst offenders for noise, however, are the screeching gulls. They seem to have less rank than the more elegant waterfowl. They are relegated to the yet frozen parts of the lake, and on the ice a dozen yards away they complain loudly about their tyrannical superiors. To ease their frustrations, they take to chasing one another around, screaming insults which they hope will reach the ears of those for whom the insults are actually intended. A few of the brave seagulls venture close to the ducks and geese, paddling about the open water nearby, looking like a small gang hoping to pick a fight. For the most part, the ducks and geese ignore these rude white birds, barely deigning to chase them away when they get too cocky.
3) The Dairy Queens are open again! These seasonal fast food/ice cream stores close in late October, and come out of hibernation when the weather begins to grow warm again. I saw two of them yesterday with customers sitting on the plastic outdoor picnic tables, licking at chocolate-dipped cones or Oreo Blizzards. Looked yummy. A sure sign of spring.
4) Someone tanning in on the covered bed of their pickup. Yes, actually soaking in the rays in March. Can't blame them, as the sun felt quite warm, the sky was clear, and all of us are about done with the pasty white appearances we see in the mirror each winter morning.
So, those are the signs, folks. I'm glad I caught them. There are others, of course: people doing yard work, groups of boys playing basketball shirtless, neighbors congregating in the street, etc. While every Minnesotan has that winter-toughness pride, we never mind acknowledging that we're ready for the warmer weather. And we all get out there in droves when it comes. After all, we're only trading our snowmobiles and ice skates for jet-skis and baseball cleats.
Friday, March 12, 2004
From the personal journal of Qunicy McIntosh...
The Garden Club met last night at the 920 building. You know, I think that was the greatest idea, to transform that old building - which used to be Belle City's courthouse, and then a school, and then stood empty for several years - but they converted it into a convention hall last year, restoring the original stonework outside so it resembles the original 920 building built in 1903. There have been parties and town meetings and dances held in that large room with the smooth oak floor. Since the Garden Club has only thirty members, we met in one of the smaller rooms on the second floor. Those rooms also have wood floors, and chairs and conference tables and large windows with Venetian blinds. I like the second floor, because the rooms run along the outside walls, and there is an inner balcony so you can look down onto the large floor below. I don't have any fear of heights, so I'm always leaning way over the railing to see if anyone is downstairs. Mollie Towers practically shrieked when I did that last night. She has a fear of heights I guess. She stared at me lolling over that railing, then rushed past me into the conference room, white as daisy petals. I talked to her later, after the meeting. She just smiled feebly and said she's always had this fear of witnessing a suicide jump. (I guess her own mother witnessed one years before Mollie was born.) I assured her I had no intention of killing myself - certainly not by jumping, what an awful mess for the authorities to clean up; I'd probably choose the injection route if I wanted to kill myself. Mollie's blue eyes just looked at me as if she'd never seen me before, then she turned away, mumbling something to herself. Mollie Towers has never been known for her sense of humor.
She does have artistic talent, however, when it comes to flowers. At the meeting she presented a plan for the layout of the flowerbeds we want to put along the main streets downtown. Her layouts included red dahlias, cream-colored foxglove, and pink, orange and yellow snapdragons. For borders and filler she included white sweet alyssum, pink and red cosmos, and purple petunias. There were other flowers in her plan - some to bloom early in the season, some to bloom late - but her descriptions were lovely, and her enthusiasm endearing. We voted unanimously for her plan, and then I got to do my presentation.
For some reason, the Garden Club members - including the president, Judy Wallace, and Secretary/Treasurer Pete Matthews - thought I was the best candidate for devising a plan to raise funds for our projects. I have done some fundraising in the past: for St. Teresa Hospital, when they wanted to remodel their birthing center - that was a volunteer thing; and for the Literary Arts Club, when we wanted to sponser visiting writers to do readings at local bookstores. That was three years ago, now. We raised some good money for that - I guess there is a growing desire for raising the level of culture in Belle City, and for patronizing the arts, as they say. I'm glad; I love hearing writers read from their work, and supporting local authors especially. I'd like to become one of those local authors sometime - and not just writing gardening articles, but short stories, or a novel. I've got ideas cooking as far as that goes...
Anyway, I presented my ideas for raising money for the flowerbeds: 1) local business sponsers, who get the credit (little plaques - free advertising!) and good feeling of being involved in the community; and 2) community classes taught by members of the Club, in which people can learn basic gardening techniques, and the profits go to our project. We discussed these ideas for a while, then assigned Anne Jurney and Bill Gowan the task of creating material for community classes and bringing our idea to the Chamber of Commerce community events committee. Meeting adjourned. Several members came up to me afterward, and complimented my ideas. I beamed and felt great.
So, our plans are underway. Another season has begun for the Belle City Garden Club. It's getting me very excited for spring!
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
From the private journal of Quincy McIntosh...
"Hectic" didn't begin to describe H&R Block this morning. As I hunted for a parking space like I was circling Target at Christmas time, I again chastized myself for not learning the computer and internet well enough to file my own taxes online. How convenient, how comfortable, to crouch over the keyboard in my terry cloth pajamas, sipping a cup of Earl Grey while typing in obscure little figures! Well, maybe not comfortable after the first hour or so of hunching and peering into the screen - I'm sure it would take me a couple hours to file my taxes, I'm so scatterbrained with those kind of things. But it can't be worse than parking a block from the tax preparer's office, hoofing it through sleet to the overcrowded waiting room, and sitting in line while the stranger next to you jaws about his root canal and stale coffee wafts through the air to offend your nose! Alas, such was my experience today. But soon my taxes will be filed, and hopefully my return will be winging its golden way to my mailbox before too many weeks pass. And just maybe I'll end up taking that visit to brother Harris' place in Seattle, compliments of the Minnesota and Federal revenues...rather, compliments of me.
On a happier note, the article I sent to Gardeners Monthly is going to be printed next month. All kinds of tips on cultivating the soil to get the best results in your flowerbed this spring. That reminds me I need to prepare a presentation for the Garden Club meeting next week. I'm supposed to present ideas for fundraising for our "Improve Belle City's Boulevards" campaign. I think Mollie Towers is presenting the proposed flowerbed layout. She gets to do the fun job.
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
From the personal journal of Quincy McIntosh...
After the first cup of coffee had been enjoyed at Anthony's this morning, I reminded Selbe that my forty-ninth birthday is a week away. She was insulted. "Do you think I would forget your birthday? We've only been friends for twenty-two years."
I laughed. Of course she wouldn't forget. That wasn't my point. I was looking for sympathy; or perhaps a flattering remark - "You don't look a day over forty!" I should have known better. Selbe doesn't give insincere complements or cook up white lies to coddle anxious middle aged ladies. Of course, she's never been one herself - anxious, that is. She is a couple years my senior, but hitting the 50-year mark didn't seem to disquiet her last year. So few things fluster her - I admire her greatly for that. Some people think she's cold. Della, my hairdresser, says it's because Selbe deals with money all the time. "Managing other people's money, being concerned with the stock market constantly - Selbe Larsen doesn't have time to make a lot of friends!" But it isn't true that Selbe is cold. A bit aloof at times, perhaps. But she's always kind to me. And she told me herself - it must have been a few years ago - "I don't see the need to get in everyone's good graces. Why go to all that work to please people you don't like, or who have no intention of being pleased? No one gets along with everybody. Except you, Quincy. You're a peach." One of Selbe's rare compliments!
But back to Tuesday morning coffee. I wondered aloud if being 49 was kind of like being 29. Selbe finished her Americano and asked me what I meant.
"Well, when you're twenty-nine, you sort of stay that way for quite a few years. Each new birthday that comes, you're still twenty-nine. Then comes a point when you can't deceive anybody, not least of which yourself, that you're twenty-nine. Even the joke wears thin. But I imagine that some women might like to stay forty-nine well into their fifties. You know, forty-nine doesn't seem so old to them as they get nearer to sixty than to fifty."
Selbe just shook her head, amusement in her eyes. "You're a strange woman, Quincy." She chuckled, and flagged the waitress for another coffee.
"I suppose you never lie about your age!" I was mildly offended at her dismissive attitude.
She shrugged. "I don't have to. I tell people I'm fifty, and they stare and say, 'you can't be a day over 45!'"
I eyed her fixedly. A smile curved her red lips, and suddenly she laughed. "Sometimes you take things too seriously, my friend."
I laughed, too. Look who's talking, I thought, regarding her stern gray career suit and severe bob. Despite her austere wardrobe, though, I think my friend Selbe is one of the loveliest women I know. She has the looks I always wanted. In fact, I think I remember writing in my journal when I was just a teenager - I'll have to look it up - "I wish I were pale and dark-haired, with thick-lashed soulful eyes." Did I really know what "soulful" meant? Not really. (I still don't!) But I was into romance novels back then. That description would fit Selbe, though. Plus, her size four makes my size sixteen seem monstrous. But she's a great friend! She never compares us. In fact, I think she once said I had the most beautiful complexion of anyone she knew. I have to admit, I soak up those kinds of compliments!
Anthony's looks great now they've remodeled it. I love the new wood floor and the mint-colored upholstery of the booths. I'll have to tell them that next week...
Monday, March 01, 2004
This year's renditions of "the Oscar goes to..." has been accomplished. "LOTR: Return of the King" was certainly king last night. (That sounds like the cheesy opening line to an article in People.) I'm glad it won all those awards - the trilogy deserves recognition! It was becoming very predictable, though, as LOTR won in category after category that it was nominated for. I even began to fill sorry for the other nominees. There were some pretty good movies running against LOTR - at least, so I hear. I haven't seen very many of them, except "Pirates" and "Seabiscuit" (good movie!) and "Lost in Translation." I was interested to see if J. Depp would win best actor (as I guessed, though, S. Penn's performance took the cake - I mean, statuette). But I was mostly eager to see "Return of the King" get its deserved accolades. It was fun seeing the cast members in their red carpet best, although the "thank yous" to "all of New Zealand," as Billy Crystal put it, got a little long and repetitious. Pretty good show, all in all.
A deadpan reflection that this 17th-century poem is strangely a propos to today's Hollywood...
Out upon it, I have lov'd
Three whole days together;
And am like to love three more,
If it prove fair weather.
Time shall moult away his wings
Ere he shall discover
In the whole wide world agen
Such a constant Lover.
But the spite on't is, no praise
Is due at all to me:
Love with me had made no staies
Had it any been but she.
Had it any been but she
And that very Face,
There had been at least ere this
A dozen dozen in her place.
~Sir John Suckling
This is Who I am!
I am married to Rich Gall. We live in St. Paul, Minnesota. I am an English major and aspiring writer. I am grateful for all of God's gifts to me, but I'm especially thankful for my husband, our families, our church, Mexican food, movies on a rainy day, mystery novels, and double fudge brownies.
Favorites and Recommendations:
Rifles for Watie,
by Harold Keith
by Esther Forbes
Pride and Prejudice,
by Jane Austen
by Dorothy Sayers,
but especially Have His Carcase and Gaudy Night
The Harry Potter books (my favorite is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)
by J.K. Rowling
by Ellen Bryant Voigt
Music for Listening:
Emmanuel by Michel Colombier
Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky
The Lord of the Ring Trilogy (of course!)
Pirates of the Caribbean (for some good laughs)
Singin' in the Rain (favorite musical)
Much Ado About Nothing (great sets, classic Shakespearean repartee)
People near and dear