Sunday, March 10, 2013

SOPD: There's No Calling THIS Meeting to Order

On this counter, about one-third of the spread.
Last night was our traveling Sisters of Perpetual Disorder quasi-monthly “business meeting” and dinner. These amazing women-only events, which move from home to home each month, feature a smorgasbord of potluck food, spirits, occasional singing, and lively discussion. The SOPD began a few years ago with a dinner attended by fewer than a dozen women, all 50-ish or older. They have since blossomed into gatherings of up to 30 women or more, including younger newcomers, occasional visiting drop-ins, and multigenerational female kin. Last night’s dinner included 19 women. Seriously…60 Minutes should do a story.

The SOPD dinners are life-giving events for us all. For example, one time, a dinner-goer fell and cracked her noggin. Imagine 20+ women scurrying about to manage her care (check out for the whole story). On another occasion, we showered our support on a dinner-goer whose daughter had been diagnosed with breast cancer. And I got a huge, healing “shot in the arm” from my SOPD sisters at my first dinner back after my stroke—it was a blast of love and good will that I was absolutely counting on, and it’s why I went to the dinner, even though I was still having trouble walking, talking, thinking, and staying awake.

The dinners are sometimes themed, sometimes not. Last night’s was loosely 1950’s Madmen-ish. Ray and I have been hooked on The Americans lately, so I took Cold War Double-Agent Borsch to the SOPD dinner. Making borsch is the sort of long, several-day ordeal one would only want to undertake once a year or so. Fortunately, I always cook enough food for a small village, and borsch freezes well (borsch pictured is served in pottery bowl by local artistic genius, Mike Hill -

5-Day Cold War Double-Agent Borsch
Last night's banquet also included roast beef, baked salmon, casseroles, salads, and one entire table of desserts. Lulu, our mixologist, mastered two-fisted “Everything but the Kitchen Sink” chocolate martinis, and there was also wine, beer, pop, Ovaltine, and Tang. We ate, drank, told stories, laughed, interrupted each other as women do, and caught up with friends. We divvied up leftovers for home. The night’s only “disaster” was a spilled water cleanup that resulted in spilled wine, and me knocking a wine glass out of our hostess’ hands in one of my post-stroke off-kilter missteps.
She plays 'em like maracas.

The meeting was eventually adjourned on account of sleet-turning-to-snow, which meant a hairy drive home for those of us who live beyond the borders of Little Town. But the text & phone tree went into immediate action and made sure everyone eventually checked in, safely at home.

THANK YOU, sisters, for another beautiful, hilarious, cathartic evening. The robins are returning, the peacocks are parading, Ray is grateful for the dessert sampler I brought home for him, and you've all buoyed me up once again, as spring slowly crawls toward the prairie. So until our next meeting, may Saint Martha, patroness of hostesses and dinners, watch over and bless you all.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Pre-Spring Warning

It’s March on the Row—spring break at Little Town U—and an animal’s fancy turns to love. Our young peacock, Frankie, has grown a gorgeous train (tail feathers) over the winter, and he’s been putting on quite a daily show for the girls. If you’ve never seen the peacock mating dance, it’s pretty elaborate and a little silly…not that different from the beer-fueled mating rituals I’ve seen in our local Little Town bar.

Here’s a short clip of Francoise doing the dance last spring: If you make it to the end of the video, you’ll get a look at his gorgeous blue neck and hear the thrumming of his feathers, a sound that still fascinates me. Francoise, who is older (wiser?) and has been ousted this year by the young, buff, black-winged Frankie, has been spending most of his time in the rafters of the loafing shed, where he’s out of the wind and can keep his 6-foot feathers suspended and neat. The dominant peacock gets the harem, so Francoise seems a little bored.

In addition to peacock love, there are other signs of spring at the Row. Bluejays drown out prettier birdsong with their annoying hoodlum shrieks, while woodpeckers telegraph staccato messages. Barn pigeons do big lazy loops over the yard. Rabbits hopscotch in the farmyard twilight, then late-night country roads turn into raccoon speedways. And I ordered two new pairs of Birkie sandals. O yes, these are hopeful harbingers. But don’t be fooled. Prairie people know not to trust these early tricks. Each year, Ray reminds me that the last big snow comes AFTER the robins return, and the robins aren’t back yet. So here’s my annual cautionary poem, and please...keep the parka & shovel handy.


The seer was right to warn us,

beware the ides of March.

It's a dangerous time, peering

through iced windows at the jeweled

tease of crocus and daffodil.

We've weathered another season

of deep-freeze, locked up tight

in muscle and mind. We're tired

of winter's grey and gritty leftovers.

But this is no time to get careless,

toss a floorboard heater through

the beveled glass and go out,

where Spring flashes her flannel petticoat

embroidered in pinks and greens,

leaves us gaping, breathless,

in air still cold as a knife blade,

stripping off the down.