in the thick of it

More snow in Minnesota. Traffic moving at a snail’s pace. I find that comforting, moving slow.


A Prairie Home Companion’s 1273rd Show

I was inspired by last nights live performance of “Prairie Home Companion”, the unique, one-of-a-kind radio show that’s produced out of St. Paul at the beautiful, old Fitzgerald Theatre, to write this simple ditty. (for more details and to listen to the show, check out I have included some bad photography from our charming, second-tier box seats.

A little background:

The usual cast of characters and musicians were even more entertaining of course, seeing them live and in person. The surprise for us was that Garrison Keillor who began the show in the seventies and is know nationally for his News from Lake Wobegon, was not hosting the show. In his place, if that’s at all possible, was Sara Watkins, a singer, songwriter, and fiddle player, who, at the age of eight won a Grammy.

I was charmed by her soft beauty and wondered if she was chosen for her Swedish-looking, round-cheeked face. Then the show was on the air and I was equally amazed and dazzled by her huge musical talents. Other guests equally enchanting included banjo player Abigail Washburn and her old-time, indie-pop band; and guitar and vocalist Tom Brosseau originally from North Dakota.

In addition to the fabulous music was the hilarious “The Adventures of Guy Noir”, in which private detective Noir stumbled on a liberal conspiracy to impound all the vehicles in the Twin Cities area by snowplowing them into the curbs and then making it impossible to relocate said illegally parked vehicle, finally achieving the goal of forcing everyone to ride public transportation by 2012. It was doubly funny because my friend had her car towed and had a similar experience recovering it. If anything can make cold, snow-bound Minnesotans feel loved, appreciated, and understood, this skit can. It can also make us laugh.

My favorite of all, though, was, no surprise, Garrison Keillor’s News from Lake Wobegon. His mastery of timing, his almost mythic presence under the spotlight, and the jokes were worth double the price of the tickets (which are unbelievably cheap anyway since the production is being funded by the entire country and tickets probably pay only for the room rental).

Here goes:

I loved the way she threw her leg out backwards
when playing merry fiddle or she sang.
I loved the funny skits they did on towing
Cars in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

I loved to watch musicians; one young woman
who strummed the banjo strings so sweet and true.
I loved the crooning blonde from South Dakota
whose tenor voice could reach into the soul.

I loved the silly sounds, the many songs, the merry notes.
I loved the stories told about the cold.
But most of all,The Old Scout in the spotlight,
His news from Wobegon, I was still charmed.

My plan for the daily blogging I signed up for, which, so far, has been every other daily or so, is to write poetry (of the non-poet version), fairy tales and an occasional folk tale (ie, story from my life). (Reader beware: plans are what you make and meanwhile, you’re life goes its own Mary way).

If you’re interested in a lay man’s guide to writing and reading poetry, check out “The Ode Less Travelled” by Stephen Fry. Wonderful, useful, hilarious, like an evening at the Fitzgerald Theatre in Saint Paul.


I almost went home and buried myself in bed this morning after taking my son to high school. Traffic crawled. Bad hair day. Coffee shop noisier than usual. Thought it was time to give up.

Went to my massage appointment (a freebie I had won), and felt the mind let go as the muscles released. Now I’m getting a hair cut and color.

I’m thinking, treating myself like a princess may actually be a necessity in Minnesota in winter.

Love that survives wrinkles

Two questions to answer from the internet sphere space: what do I value most and what do I want to be remembered for?

I value my relationships with people most of all, especially family: two sons, husband, four sisters, two brothers, mom and dad (deceased but still in a relationship with him), grandma, grandpa (both also deceased but they often visit me in my dreams), aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, friends, their families, and people on word press, teachers of my sons, my sons’ girlfriends, my sons’ friends, the Poor Clares, my in-laws, the coffee shop owners and waitresses. Just everyone I talk to, write to, and say goodnight to. People.

“People who need people are the luckiest people in the world,” sings the old crone, Barbara Streisand. Though I don’t listen to her music much, I love many of her movies and I love her love.

It would be people and love that I value the most, those two things. My Rumi lecture this morning reminded me that it all comes from within, all that love, and well, of course it does.

Is being remembered for love count? How do you remember love?

To answer my own question, stories, songs, poetry, art is one of the ways that people remember and are reminded of love. Which brings me to my “blog theme”, my screenplay, Monkabeans. Or should I name it Monkey Beans, or the Beings of Monkey Mind? I’m bantering that one around but basically, it’s romantic comedy and the theme is love, of the forever kind, as in love that survives being married. I don’t want to preach but it is something I know only too well, that love that survives requires a powerful withinness that goes way beyond simple romance. Or maybe we could redefine romance and have it includes wrinkles.

I want to love, I want to be loved, I want to be remembered for my love and I want love in spite of my wrinkles.

an “Aha” for the “A ha” or how to write comedy

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, A Toltec Wisdom Book by Don Miguel Ruiz says to “not take things personally.  I would like to add, especially the things you tell yourself about you! If you can manage that, then you’ve got some great material for your “a ha moments”.


I get the most laughs from people when I am self-deprecating.  And man, have I got the material for that.  It’s all there: age, sex, bad hair days and stupid remarks. Yes, I am masterful at putting myself down.  I’ve had years and years of practice. (I am past the half century mark).

Now I just need to be objective about it.

So this year, I am writing a screenplay, a romantic comedy.   It is probably too autobiographical but I find I am more motivated to write about me as a character than pretty much anyone else.  Woah!

(Once again, mustn’t take my remarks about me personally!).

Back to the main character, Lou.  She’s getting up there in years, approaching sixty. She’s been married to the same guy for over twenty-five years and she’s struggling a little with that, with finding the spark in her marriage.  Thus, she’s on the prowl, sort of. Along comes a ghost, Bebe, a former Miss America from Minnesota.  She and Lou cross paths so to speak and in the process, Bebe teaches Lou a very important lesson about love!

Look for it in your local theatre in 2012! It’s called “Monkabeans” after the haunted massage parlor turned coffee shop.

female_orgasm_facts.jpg from – StumbleUpon

female_orgasm_facts.jpg from – StumbleUpon.

Check out this light-hearted and graphic (meaning that they used graphs) display of facts that we baby boomers learned many, many years ago, though the movies still like to have love-making look like its all about penetration.

Perhaps I could edit my 2011 resolutions to lose weight to reflect this bit of info from StumbleUpon. It could just be the cure for my sugar blues.

Funny how I’m afraid someone will read my blog and think I’m some kind of pervert. What do you suppose that’s about, Miss Daughter of the Catholic Church?<a href=”; data-count=”vertical” data-via=”maryalterwoman”>Tweet</a><script type=”text/javascript” src=””></script&gt;

2011 resolutions

None.  Well, one. Lose weight but who doesn’t have that one for the month of January.

So far, not good, though I have been taking some great walks through snowdrifts and subzero weather. Horray for me!

Still, can’t seem to kick the sugar habit I reinstated over the holidays.  It’s hard to find good, fresh fruit in Minnesota this time of year.

O.K., so this is a pretty lame blog. Mostly excuses. Right?


And tomorrow is a new day! (also Thursday, thank God).  Sweet (low-calorie) dreams!

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