• Tag Archives Paul
  • Paul and Sarah – Before They Left

    Summer                                                           Under the Lily Moon

    Over to the area of Lake Calhoun near the Bakken Museum today.   The lake had people biking, running, exercising, doing yoga, lying on towels.  A busy place with people grabbing the Minnesota summer when it let up from rains.

    An open house for Paul and Sarah Strickland.

    Paul and Sarah have a place in a great part of the world, on the St. Croix River, looking across the river the land they see is New Brunswick.  The famous Bay of Fundy is not far from them and the tides there are legendary for their extremes.

    Saw Bill and Regina, Warren and Sheryl, Mark Odegard there.  Scott Simpson and Yin were coming as we were leaving.  I came home to get a nap before the drive out to Woodbury.

    This part of Woodbury has very upscale homes settled on Wild Canyon Drive and Wild Canyon Trail.  It’s lovely, with mature trees, some elevation and many homes set far back from the road.

    The ceremony tonight featured Paul and Sarah and how their friends, their family, the “people who see us” as Sarah said, had connected with them and sustained them through the years.  Warren and Sheryl, Tom and Roxann, Stefan and Lonnie were there representing the Woollies.

    I confess to some dis-ease with the Native American cum Mayan slant to the ceremonial part of the evening.  It feels like poaching, taking this and that into a melange that ends up being a little hokey.*  If I put that aside, the evening allowed for time together with Paul and Sarah, a chance to chat with others and a chance to express feelings of loss and connection.

    Ross Levin, a financial planner who writes a column for the Star-Tribune was there, as was Eric Utne of Utne Reader fame.  They were part of Paul’s second men’s group, the Outliers.

    It was a classic Minnesota summer evening.  A twilight with rosy clouds backlit the St. Paul Cathedral and the Minnesota Capitol Building, framing, as they did, the business center of downtown St. Paul.  The Mississippi reflected back both the darkening blue of the  sky and the rose and gold tints in the sky.

    An evening, in the end, of good-byes.

    *addendum  I know this may be harsh and in one sense my inclination is to say so be it.  But.  While the frame had questionable elements, the caring and love demonstrated did not.

    In that vein I realize that my judgments on these matters may reflect a concept of purity and authenticity too strong for these instances.  Cultural patrimony is always fluid and cultures do absorb and adapt learnings from others all the time.

    All of these folks have a genuine spiritual journey on which a Native American sensibility has come to have meaning.  In the end it is not the container but the ancientrail that is important and the ancientrail here is one of love and care for each other and for our mother, the earth.  Blessed be.

  • Art and Friends

    Beltane                                                       Waning Garlic Moon

    Two meetings today.  The guides group met today to focus on continuing education.  A lot of very good ideas were thrown out and compiled.  Over the next week or so I’ll organize them and put together a mailing to go to our list, asking for more input.  After that, we will create a specific communication outlining possible avenues for dealing with the problem created by no longer having Monday’s available and declining attendance on Thursdays.  This may create a vehicle for organizing the three guide councils and for communicating our ideas further up the museum organizational chart.

    Morry was a gracious host in a lovely home.  He provided meat, cheese and crackers along with beverages while other folks brought desert.  The only oddity of the day was those chairs in the master bedroom.  Those of you who here there know what I mean.

    Woolly’s tonight.  Charlie H. has decided to retire and move out of the condo, up to the woods of Wisconsin.  Bill continued to express appreciation for his brother Pat in words and in deeds, a website and an upcoming service for Pat in Ankenny, Iowa.  Paul was back from his vision quest in the Santa Cruz mountains.  He reports that going without food for that length of time heightened his senses and made his dreams more vivid.  He wants to be a person of impeccable love and kindness, starting with himself.

    Jim was his usual bigger than life self.  He had an article in the South Dakota magazine along with several of his photographs.  He has a show opening soon in Aberdeen and has begun negotiating for one here, too, perhaps at MCAD.

    Mark’s knee has him in rehab and ahead of schedule, looking forward again.

  • The Patio of the Schwarzwald

    Beltane                                        Waning Planting Moon

    The Woolly brethren gathered yet again at the Black Forest, sitting outside near the fountain with the metal sculpture, a twisted geometric of aluminum.  Warren, Frank just back from Ireland, Bill, Paul, Tom, Stefan and myself shared the stories and the shorthand that comes from having been together for so long.

    When Tom and Paul ordered Erdingers beer, we had a laugh about the restaurant with a rock, a very large rock, in a conspicuous location near the entrance.   We discovered this restaurant, this rock and Erdinger’s beer in Hot Springs, South Dakota during our pilgrimage to the Woolly Mammoth site there.  It seems the rock just wouldn’t give way to the folks building the restaurant, so they said the hell with it and built the hotel and restaurant around the rock, leaving about four feet or so of rock exposed through the floor.

    Paul has experienced, so far, positive results from his iron chelation and looks appreciably better.  Stefan recounted stories from his trip to Arizona to see Taylor and announced that he and Lonnie have purchased or in the process of purchasing land in Peru.  Frank had a good trip to Ireland, all but one day without rain, which is unusual.  Warren and I talked about his articles on the GAMC mess which has all but defunded health care for the poorest of the poor in Minnesota.

    What was it Humphrey said?  You can tell the quality of a society by how it deals with the most disadvantaged?

    This gathering of the clan keeps our friendships and our bonds alive.  It is important, even essential to our ongoing health as a group.

  • Friends

    Spring                                                  Waxing Flower Moon

    The Woollies met last night at Stratford Wood where Bill and Regina live.  The topic of the evening was friendship, requiring time one said, trust another, play yet another.  We evoked our history as a group of men who have given each other time, trust and vulnerability.  We talked about the vessel, the container we have created, a place of safety and love.  We wondered about men and the trajectory of men’s lives that leads away from the easy friendships of youth and into the barren land of male competition and ambition.

    One of us spoke of his wonderful physical.  His doctor commended him on lowering his blood pressure through diet alone.  All looked well.  Until the phone call.  Which said his hemoglobin numbers were well below normal.  Since then he’s been endoscoped, colonoscoped and even put on film by a small bowel camera.  No joy.  No explanation.  Only shortness of breath going upstairs and fatigue.  He sees a hematologist this week.  Kate thinks the hematologist will probably take a bone marrow biopsy.

    My swollen hand and bruised middle finger got some attention.  We discussed, again, the bees.  Charlie said I should get an epi pin right away.  Kate, who sees a lot of bee stings in urgent care, has a more moderate evaluation.  A localized reaction to multiple stings.  I think she’s right.

    Cybermage Bill Schmidt’s brother in Iowa still lives, though in hospice care.  Another brother, Bob, had a near deal with sepsis.  Life is fragile and wonderful, treat with gladness.

  • A Locked Car Mystery

    Imbolc    Waning Wild Moon

    The Woolly’s met tonight at the Jasmine across from the Black Forest.  Food is noveau Vietnamese, French accents.  I had spring rolls and mangoes on sticky rice.  Just right.

    Got to give everyone a head’s up on labyrinthitis.  Tom has a friend who visited him yesterday and may be dead from multiple myeloma in two months.  Whoa.  Paul and Sarah have purged their home, shined up and have neared the day of the first open house.  Changes.

    Stefan locked the keys in his car while x-skiing at Hyland Park.  He asked a cop if he could help.  The cop said sure and gave Stefan a ride down.  When he got out to work on Stefan’s car, he inadvertently locked his keys inside as well as Stefan who was in the back seat.  In a police car.  A locksmith had to be called for both cars.

    The trip in is always worth it, a chance to connect and renew the connection.  Got several happy birthdays.  Guys just don’t remember birthdays well.

  • Seeing and Being Seen

    37  bar rises 29.59  0mph SSW  windchill 37  Samhain

    Waxing Crescent Moon of the Long Nights   Day  8hr 57mn

    Lunch with Lonnie.  We ate in Gallery 8, the first place in the city of Minneapolis I saw when I came to seminary in 1971.  I met Lonnie back during the Leadership Minneapolis days, probably 1983/1984, sometime in there.  She was a consultant to the program and did a good deal of work on creative leadership.

    My fellow committee chair, Gary Stern, and I were so creative in our response to the question of defining leadership that the entire board got fired the next year.  Although I don’t recall the process, Gary and I facilitated that years class as it sought to understand leadership in its terms.  We all came up with love, justice and compassion as the key qualities of leadership.

    Turns out the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce, sponsor of Leadership Minneapolis, did not think those terms fit their idea of leadership and cleared out the whole board the next year to start over.  They never did give us their definition, but they must have felt a little stupid when Neal Pierce, a national columnist who focused on urban issues, wrote up our effort and commended its results to a national audience.

    The chair of Leadership Minneapolis that year was Sarah Strickland.  Not long after I finished my year as a participant with a year on the board (the one that got fired), Sarah’s husband, Paul, and Lonnie’s husband, Stefan invited me to join the Woolly Mammoths and the rest is hysterics.

    Friends of diverse backgrounds and from different facets of life make life richer, like a soup with several ingredients.  There is the comfort of being known and knowing, of seeing and being seen.  Lunch today with Lonnie gave us both.

    Today was mild.  Pleasant.

  • Undercurrents and Subtext

    74  bar steady 29.75 3mph W dew-point 49  Summer, sunny and pleasant

    Waxing Gibbous Thunder Moon

    A party.  Kate and I are not party people.  We both prefer a night at home or the theater or classical music, but we’re headed out tonight because of Paul Strickland’s kids.   Kate Strickland, oldest, heads out in two weeks for Japan.  She’s going to Kyoto prefecture to teach English as part of the JET program, a government sponsored ESL that places applicants in the Japanese school system.

    The backyard party at their 4900 block Colfax Avenue home in Minneapolis had many people we did not know, but Stefan Helgeson and Lonnie were there.  Stefan, Paul and I represented the Woolly Mammoths.

    Such parties have, like family reunions, undercurrents and subtext.  The lines of relationship, for example, the casual observer would assume ran strongest among Paul, Stefan, and me.  Only partly true.  Lonnie and Sarah (Strickland) were friends of mine for a couple of years before their husbands pulled me into the orbit of the Woolly Mammoths.

    There was Kate Strickland’s closing of this chapter in her New York life.  Why?  Unsaid.  There was Lonnie’s recovery, less than a month along, from cancer surgery.  A rare great outcome.  No chemo or radiation needed because they caught the uterine cancer at its earliest stage.  Paul’s work, entangled with his across the alley neighbor, is in uncertain times.  Stefan has had a come to Jesus moment with Lonnie’s cancer surgery, “I find it difficult now to not do the things I want to do.”

    Overhanging the whole is the generational tide sweeping those of us over 60 toward years of a new time while our kids go to Japan, have their own children, become 2d Lts in the Air Force, head off to college, or graduate from college.

    This event was in no way unusual in these subtexts and undercurrents and I’m confident there were more, perhaps darker ones, about which I know nothing.   Any time we human beings gather we bring with us the scent of our current life and the trail on which we have walked to get there.  As social creatures our scents intermingle creating a perfumed community while our paths (ancientrails) intersect and deflect, generating paths of a slightly different direction than the one we were on before.  This is life as we live it, as we must live it.

    Running through my mind today has been a bumper sticker I saw years ago during the controversy over the Boundary Waters.  I was in Ely and noticed a local pickup truck.   Plastered on the gate the bumper sticker read:  Sierra Club, kiss my axe.  That was redolent of a real debate, an actual conflict between parties with drastically different visions.  Politics and its cousin the law are the arenas in which, in a democracy, we slug out conflicts without, hopefully, violence.  I like conflict and the clash of ideas, the taking up of the sword in defense of an ideal, a vision.  Being back on the battlefield brings sparks to my eyes.  Fun.

  • A Houseless Life

    72  bar rises 29.73  0mph WNW dew-point 62    Summer, pleasant

    Waxing Crescent of the Thunder Moon

    “It is not how old you are, but how you are old.” – Jules Renard

    Elizabeth Odegard has West Nile virus.  She’s lethargic, stays in bed.  Not much to do, but support your body and wait it out.  Mark thinks she may have gotten it in Thailand when they stayed on a houseboat.  Mark has the most unusual current lifestyle among the Woollies.  He and Elizabeth, then real estate agents, sold his house in Marine of St. Croix, pooled their retirement funds and began living a houseless life.

    He often refers to himself as homeless, but what he actually is houseless.   His home is the Twin Cities and he’s rooted here.  He and Elizabeth went to Hawai’i three years ago and got the Cambridge certification in teaching English as a second language.  With that credential and a cash flow generated from investments (managed by Scott Simpson) they have moved from spot to spot:  Buenos Aires, Peru, Shanghai, Bangkok sprinkled with returns home.  Here they housesit for folks they know.

    They leave for France later on this summer, where they will spend time with Mark’s brother and his family before heading off Morocco or Turkey or Chile.  Sometimes they work, sometimes one does and the other doesn’t.  It’s been all ESL.  Mark worked on a healthy sexuality exhibit in Thailand, for example.  They ponder a commitment in Japan, where the English language jobs require a year contract.  Most of their stints have been four months or less.

    We talk about travel often at the Woollies.  We are a well-traveled group.  Paul and Sarah made a round the world trip early in their marriage.  Paul jets off to Africa, Syria and Cuba now and then.  Frank is in Ireland right now for the eight or ninth time.  Bill spent over a year in Japan building a nuclear power plant.  Tom travels the US every week.  Charlie Haislet and Barbara cruise in Europe, go to Africa now and again.  Stefan has been many places.

    Last night Stefan talked about a childhood trip to Egypt.  “It made me want to be an architect.  Karnak.  With those great pillars shaved back and sloping upward.  And the details on the gate.”

    We are atypical as a group in so many ways:  level of education, diversity of employment, life paths dominated by values, intimacy among men that has lasted over two decades.  Our level of income is high.  We lead lives of privilege in the most powerful country the world has ever seen.