Labor Day 2016

Labor Day Weekend 2016

I wrote this  on a Labor Day weekend, a few years ago and today, on the eve of this weekend that signals the end of summer, I sit here and reflect on what those weekends meant to me. Melancholy has a way of creeping into my brain on the eve of this weekend. On this night, chances are Joanie and I would have been on the road headed for Minneapolis and St. Paul with a stop in St. Cloud at Joe and Joni’s. I read this again, and really couldn’t think of much I would change about it, so I post it again as a reflection on happier times.

Both Joanie and my youngest sister, Joni are both gone now, and I think that adds to the bittersweet remembrance that comes to me every year about this time.

A Reflection.

It was our weekend for years.

On a Thursday or Friday, we’d point the car toward I-94, bring along some cassette tapes, pick up some coffee and not look back

It was Labor Day weekend and it was ours.

Joanie wanted to go to the Renaissance Fair. I’d never been to see it, so that was the plan. I thought it would be a one time deal when it started in the early 80’s, but it went on well into the 90’s.

The trip became something special to us. We both loved Minneapolis/St. Paul, and how the pace of the life slowed down there on a holiday weekend.

We’d stop on our way down at Mabel Murphy’s in Fergus Falls, and often follow that with stopping in St. Cloud at Joe and Joni’s place. Joni was my younger sister.

After a night there, it was on to the Cities, and for years after that first trip, we would leave Joni with this, “We’ll meet you by the bear at noon.” The bear was this huge carved statue, located in an open area, not far from the main entrance to the grounds, and we would be there on Sunday.

Our Saturday’s in the Cities were spent just roaming around with no agenda. We’d look for new restaurants or bars to drop into. We’d find places like St. Anthony’s on Main where there might be live music on a plaza, and we’d park there until searching out somewhere else. In the evening, we treat ourselves to a good dinner, or find a place like Guadalaharry’s to settle in for some margaritas, food and fun with the staff.

Our Saturday nights always ended with a Bailey’s at the hotel bar.

Sunday morning, it would be bagels and coffee, and the Tribune at Byerly’s in Edina, and then it would be time to head to Shakopee and the Renaissance Fair, and the first thing we did when we got there was to get some flowers for her hair.

We would meet my sister Joni by the bear, and at least one time she brought her daughter Audrey with her. She would get flowers for her hair as well, and then we’d be off to wander the expanse of the grounds.

We came to love those Sunday’s at the Renaissance, for they were a riot of color, sound, humor, characters, music, food and drink. We loved the characters like Rat Catcher, Grave Digger, Puke and Snot, The Pickle Man. We got to know places like Folkstone Well, Bad Manor and all of the various stages around the grounds.

The food was good, the music and Joanie would spend a lot of time wandering through the various shops. We also collected a very large collection of ceramic wine goblets over the years, and I still have them. Each one has the year we got them painted on them.

We stayed each Sunday we were there until they closed, and one of the highlights we looked forward to at the close of the day was the dance. There in a large open area, they would bring out some big kettle drums, and members of the cast and crew of the fair would begin pounding out a rhythm, and soon, in the late, warm afternoon light, an unseemly sight began to take place. Cast members, vendors, customers of the fair were gathered in a circle and soon people were dancing with an abandon that was infectious. I even managed to get Joanie to join in a couple of times. It was always a feel good way to end our day at the Renaissance.

So on the eve of this Labor Day weekend, I sit here sipping some wine from one of those many Renaissance goblets, and I think back on those weekends that were ours.


I think back on how much fun it was to go to the Fair, to get some flowers for their hair.

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She Makes Me Wonder

Bailey continues to make me wonder.

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I have this carrier.  You know, the ones with a door on the front and a top that opens. What one uses to transport a small animal to and from the Vet’s clinic.

I took Bailey to the Vet on Monday morning in that carrier, and she objected to being confined in that small space, and did so quite loudly, all the way to the clinic. Once there she quieted down, but still was not happy.

When I picked her up on Wednesday afternoon, I put her in the same carrier for the trip home, and again she objected loudly and longly, all the way home.

Once home, I released her from her “prison,” and left the carrier sitting on the living room floor. She was happy to be out, and home.

This afternoon, I found her sleeping in the carrier. I was surprised, but thought, “She must be comfortable, so leave her alone.” I did. She didn’t even come out when I came home later.

She stayed put unit I got out some of her kidney friendly food, which she has taken a liking to. She came out, ate a good amount, which made me happy, and then she went back to the carrier to lay down.

I figured, when I got her home from the Vet, she would not want to go near that carrier again, but she fooled me today. As I write this, she is once again curled up in the same carrier she hated just a few short days ago.

She continues to make me wonder at the wonder of it all.

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Bailey, a Tale of a Cat

First things first. Thank you all for your wishes and thoughts while Bailey was enduring her visit to the cat hospital. She is laying next to the computer on the table as I write this, and I think she appreciated all who wished her well.


Secondly, the clinical aspect of what happened. I took her in because she had lost some weight, and wasn’t eating or drinking enough. In retrospect, I tell myself, I should have taken her in earlier, but didn’t.

Now then, they first looked at a Complete Blood Count, along with a chemistry panel, and it showed them exactly what her problem was, kidney disease.

When I met with her doctor, she showed me the numbers, and I felt like I’d been there before. The CBC is the same thing they do with humans, but the ranges on everything are different for cats. What is clear, is that when a range is exceeded, they see the problem.

With Bailey, her Creatine and BUN numbers were above the range. Those numbers are key indicators of kidney function, something I learned a long time ago when reading Joanie’s blood work numbers. In Joanies’ case,for instance, her Creatinine was high enough for several years that they wouldn’t give her contrast when they were going to do a CT scan because the contrast itself would be hard on the kidneys.

I went through all of Bailey’s numbers they found on the first day, and after they had spent well over a day and a half giving her an IV and flushing her system, and getting her to eat, they checked her numbers again, and this time they were within an acceptable range, giving me some measure of comfort.

So, right now, on the Doctor’s recommendation, I am trying to get her on a kidney friendly mix of food, and so far she seems to have taken to it. Since she got home last night, she has been eating well, and that gives me some hope that we can control the progression of any problems. Even Brandy seems to have a taste for the same food, which can’t but help her as well. I didn’t know until today that kidney problems are fairly common in house cats, and Siamese are one of the breeds mentioned in the list.

Now then, as to my feelings around this event. This is not the first time I have taken a cat to the vet, and had to leave her there. In 2007 I had to take Muffin to the vet after they found a severe infection. That was about the same time that Joanie was going through a difficult time, and so while I loved that little fur ball, my main concern was Joanie, and how she would deal with the fact we would have to put her down. I wrote about the loss of both Muffin and Peaches in Where The Popsicles Are, and how Bailey and Brandy came to our home.

This time, dealing with a sick kitty was different for me, and harder. One of my friends on FaceBook saw it. Laurie Kaldor-Bull wrote on one post: “I’m sure that part of your suffering now is remembering.”

She was right.

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May 10, 2016

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Birthdays count years.
They are markers we use
To measure the time of our lives.

From the first to the last,
They tell the world a person was,
And how long they were.

Birthdays tell the world a person was,
But they don’t tell why a person mattered.
That’s a job for the people they touched.

It’s Joanie’s birthday today.
This is the day that marks her time
From the first to the last.
She would have been 66.

Tonight, I will be alone, but not totally.
I will have a Martini and remember, why she mattered
To so many others, and to me.

Bailey and Brandy will get treats.
They won’t know why, or wonder,
But I will tell them, “We’re having a birthday party.”

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April 9, 2016

Today marks the eighth anniversary of the night Joanie died. All of us have dates in our lives that we can’t ignore, nor wish to. The poem that follows was written April 9, 2014, and I posted it on my blog. Some of you may have seen it before, others may not have. Anyway, as I mark this day, I decided to repost it.

She Danced.

She danced with death

All of those clouded years.

Never asking, never knowing,


She danced, and when the music changed,

She never asked the orchestra for a different tune.

The longer she danced,

Her feet gave rhythm to the music of her soul


In the end she danced into the light

Never asking, never knowing,




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