Friday, November 21, 2014

Mulleygrubs (aka Mulligrubs)

I decided a while back to try to take this whole writing thing a little more seriously and learn how to do it a little bit better. So I pinned a lot of articles to a Pinterest board for eventual reading, and joined a couple of on-line writers' groups to help improve my writing. I'm pretty sure that all this reading hasn't improved my writing one bit, but it has brought me immense pleasure reading other people's thoughts, and in turn stimulated some new thoughts of my own. All of which is a context for what is about to follow - a post written in response to an irresistable prompt. . .

The Cure
Lying around all day
with some strange new deep blue
weekend funk, I'm not really asleep
when my sister calls
to say she's just hung up
from talking with Aunt Bertha
who is 89 and ill but managing
to take care of Uncle Frank
who is completely bed ridden.
Aunt Bert says
it's snowing there in Arkansas,
on Catfish Lane, and she hasn't been
able to walk out to their mailbox.
She's been suffering
from a bad case of the mulleygrubs.
The cure for the mulleygrubs,
she tells my sister,
is to get up and bake a cake.
If that doesn't do it, put on a red dress.
--Ginger Andrews (from Hurricane Sisters)
I have never heard of the mulleygrubs but a quick google search turns up three identical definitions for "mulligrubs" along with pictures of a band and a preschool that call themselves Mulligrubs. None of which was needed because I had already correctly inferred that the mulligrubs were "the blues."

I will confess that I have been a little blue with the early onset of ice, snow, and bone-chilling cold.  I am just not quite ready for winter, or the holidays, or the pressure I put on myself at the holidays.

I've only had my Fall wreath done for a few weeks! I want my seasons to come in neatly ordered three-month intervals, not the six-two-two-two of extreme north and south. While I'm whining and wishing, I would like my holidays spread out a little more: I need more than 30 days between Halloween and Thanksgiving and between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And since I'm rearranging the calendar, I would also like to move all the family birthdays to less populated months (except Mom's - she OWNS September!)

So to the prompt: What is my cure for the mulleygrubs? I do think that Aunt Bert is on the right track; when the mulligrubs arrive, bake a cake and if necessary, don a red dress. I have been baking (and eating) lots of banana bread. It's quick, easy, delicious and requires that I get off the couch at least three times in 90 minutes. Since wearing red tends to be a wardrobe staple for me, I have been sporting my gold and purple sequined Pashmina scarf under my purple car coat. It makes me feel exotic and warm.

I have also found a few other pursuits to keep the mulligrubs away:

  • Reading: I finished reading The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin yesterday. Not always escapist, and in some places very sad, it was an engaging book that sent me searching for more information on the subjects (Ann and Charles Lindbergh) and gave me lots of room to consider the whole idea of a "fictionalized biography." 
  • Silly TV: For the mulligrubs you need a special TV formula, one that's centered on the absurd.  My current absurd television watching is centered on Raising Hope. It's definitely low-brow: I love it. I love the characters, its goofy premise, the hilarious parental flashbacks, the happy daycare provider, and Cloris Leachman's unpredictable Maw-maw.
  • Crafting: I'm playing with wreaths these days instead of stamping. My sewing machine seems to be humming a siren song from it's cabinet in the corner and I kind of want to try something new. 
  • Lexulous/CandyCrush/Websudoku: and who am I kidding? Jungle Mahjong, various forms of Solitaire, BubbleSpin and Christmas Crunch as well. (Not sure this is good for the mulligrubs - it should actually probably be avoided when mulligrubbing.)
  • Showtunes: It's difficult to stay down while singing along with Spoonful of Sugar, Hello Dolly, Matchmaker, Matchmaker or even Climb Every Mountain.
  • Crockpot cooking: I have come to love my crockpot with a passion. And any day now I am going to break out the bread machine. I should probably set up a Pinterest board for the bread machine . . . then I could probably have company for dinner!

So, in a nutshell, I think the cure is to do something, anything, when the mulligrubs threaten. Doing something distracts me and helps me move past the can't-get-going burden of the mulligrubs. The list looks pretty much as it would have back in Texas, with one glaring ommision: swimming. Swimming in November is just not an option in November when one is 1100 Miles North.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Regret and Rejoice

As I shared my plans for the next few months with a group of new friends here in Blooming Prairie, one of them asked me if I ever regretted coming here. As I pondered the most diplomatic way to respond, the phrase "regret and rejoice" came to mind and I said "I regret and rejoice in that decision every single day." And I do! The scale seems perfectly balanced.

Most days there is some inconvenience that makes me wish I were back in Austin (or at least living in a city):
  • The local grocery store is out of some kind of fresh produce
  • I can never go anywhere without running into someone I know
  • I want BRUNCH on a Sunday and the only local choices are Subway and Dairy Queen (which don't change their menus on Sundays)
  • I haven't found Tex-Mex food that's up to my standards closer than the south suburbs of Minneapolis
  • People are too modest to volunteer for stuff - they wait to be asked (and I don't always know who to ask)
Likewise, there isn't a day I don't rejoice in my new life because:
  • People are so helpful! If my car gets stuck I will have all the help I need to push it out!
  • There's a huge sense of community - when they cheer on the Blossoms they are cheering for kids they actually know.
  • People work hard to preserve each other's dignity - they don't gossip, but they will privately share information that might contribute to my understanding (this one had a tough home life growing up, that one lost their job two years ago and is still trying to recover financially)
  • The members of the community are entirely accountable - if they say they will do it, nothing will prevent it from getting done. They find their own subs, step up for each other, and just make it happen.
  • I get to see my church kids in their context - riding their bikes past my house, playing at the park, waiting for the bus, and almost every one of them will wave when I go by!
The cost benefit analysis is endless and probably, in the end, pointless. I am here and there are things I treasure, and things that frustrate, which is exactly how I felt in Austin. And the people of both places always tip the balance to an overall good feeling.

And for those of you who read this for a taste of my small town life:

The Awesome Blossoms (coached by people from my church) are playing in the semi-finals for the state 1A Title in football tonight - against Minneapolis North. It is characteristic of this community that after seeing this video the kids formed the conclusion that even if they lose, this will have been a great game.

And, also characteristic of a small community, tonight's performance of South Pacific had to be cancelled because of tonight's game. Not because of audience drain, but because so many football players were part of the show, including the quarterback - who has an important role in the show.

After Tuesday's elections, our precinct was the last to report its results because there were 34 write-in votes in local races. I need to explore whether there's ever been a successful write-in campaign here - I'm guessing there has.

Anything is possible - I'm 1100 miles north!