Saturday, May 28, 2011

Images from a Recent Project - with Jean Rehkamp Larson, Architect Extraordinaire

The kitchen. Ann Sacks tile, La Cornue range, cabinets by Jon Frost (love his work!)

Lovely CW Smith chest in the entry with Laura Kirar mirror from Baker.

Wowser! The powder room with Osborne and Little wallpaper.

An amazing piece we found in NYC at Flair - 40's French, vellum front doors.

Overall of the beautiful living room - French doors and tracery on ceiling.

Florence Knoll chair in Rubelli brocade! A personal favorite.

We will be photographing this project in the next couple of weeks with Susan Gilmore.
But I had to get a few of my own shots for my portfolio - some details. Lots more to see, but here's a sneak peek.

Hippie Salad Recipe - Otherwise Known as Kitchen Sink Salad

The salad - this is what the carrots look like.

Sprouted beans from Linden Hills Coop - in a small bag near the other sprouts. They add the "crunch" to the salad and are just delicious! The restaurant used black-eyed peas, but I don't want to cook the dried version. Too lazy.

I over-promised and under-delivered. I told you I'd have this up 2 days ago....hope your lettuce hasn't wilted in the wait.

So, since I made this up based on what I saw and tasted, I don't have a real recipe. Just use my hands for measuring. This makes enough salad for both Lee and me to have a big plateful for lunch.

A handful + some of mixed greens.
A handful + some of Micro greens (these take it to the next level
if you can find them! I get mine at the coop or from a local farmer /
farmer's market. You could try a good arugula instead.)
A small handful of alfalfa sprouts
A small handful of sprouted beans (also from the coop in the produce

A small handful of sunflower seeds
A large carrot - grated with a potato peeler into strips

About 1/2 of a juicy lemon - may need more if it isn't juicy (maybe 2 T.)
Best quality olive oil - REALLY, it makes a difference. About 3 T - 1/4 c
Touch of salt and pepper
The salad at the restaurant had about a Tablespoon of pesto added. I have
done it with and without and both ways are fine.

That's it. You could add thin slices of purple onion if you really love onion.

Add a bran muffin with raisins and you are set to go. (That may have been the wrong thing to say. :-) Well, lets just say, this is lots of good fiber and your body will be really happy.

The whole thing makes me feel like I should be wearing faded bell-bottoms, a pucker top, and my Kork-ease, listening to Maria Muldaur while making stuffed green peppers from Diet for a Small Planet (for those of you who are too young, this is about 1975 - 76.) I really did all those things.

Happy weekend! Buon Apetito.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Back to Mad-town: Fromag Nation and Underground Kitchen

The Brussels-esque exterior of Fromag Nation.

The enticing sandwiches.

Notice the dried magnolia decorating the perimeter.

A display of the unimaginable assortment of cheeses.

Well, life got in the way and I never finished my posts about Madison.

It must be said that Madison is an incredibly sophisticated food town. It is just crazy how hip it is given the size and, frankly, location in the middle of the Midwest.
I did not have a bad meal the entire weekend. I can actually say I had only great food all weekend. And I am a very picky critic.

The most impressive place was a shop called Fromage Nation. I just love the name. It is so grandiose in a funny way. It is honestly better than any cheese shop I have seen in NYC or Italy or anywhere, for that matter. Many of the cheeses are made in Wisconsin. Daily, there are samples. Voluptuous sandwiches are served. Swags of magnolia border the shop. The exterior looks like something you might see in Brussels. The whole thing is just ridiculously charming, all the more that no one is dressed in black with a cacophany of Prada and Hermes labels hanging around.
Instead there are sweaters and jeans and stocking caps and darling babies. It makes you want to part with your inheritance and load your refrigerator with cheese!

The other place we went that was impressive is a super hip place called Underground Kitchen. Well, even the name makes a slightly counter-culture person like me happy. Started by a group of 20 and 30-something foodies, the place makes its own TONIC, for god's sake!, charcuterie, bread, (natch) and the best hippie salad since the ones I made out of Diet for a Small Planet in 1973. I can eat the thing every single day. It is the new diet dish. I paid attention as best I could after the lovely ginger - gin drink and made the salad at home. Will post the recipe tomorrow. Salute! (as they say in Italian, meaning "to your health!")

Photos from Underground Kitchen:

One of the owners working the bar.

The hippie salad.

I love how these glasses look - filled with lemon zest, lime zest, olives, accoutrements for drinks!

Lee's goat stew. Yes, goat.

The gin and ginger drink. Refesh-alista!

The flannel shirt crowd. Hats allowed indoors.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Flower Basics

One of my clients asked for a guide for how to do flowers. Since I follow the KISS formula (keeping it simple, stupid) I just sent her what I know. Realized it might be helpful for others, too....The photos are some of the arrangements I've done to give you an idea of how simple this really is.

First,I buy my flowers 3 places in Minneapolis: Kohler and Dramm for branches, Lunds for orchids, roses, lilies and whatever else inspires me, Bachmans have lovely larger roses and occasionally something else interesting.

For a dramatic, branchy arrangement (my favorite!), I love flowering cherry in the Spring. You just have to go into the cooler areas and see what they have - it will change seasonally. I use cherry, forsythia, curly willow and whatever else I can find that is a branch in a vase like that one. The vase should be about 18" high and about 8" around. I like clear glass best. But good with other options, too.

A secondary vase - at about 14 - 16" with a top that kind of opens at the top is good for bushier flowers like lilies, tall tulips, lilac - anything that gets bigger at the top or spills over the edge.It can be used for slightly shorter flowers that still have a big dramatic effect. White lilies are great - and then you just have to see what is available that is around 24" tall. Buy more than you think. You can always use the extra somewhere else.

For the smaller container - my standby is a bunch of roses. (Containers at about 6" high and 3-6" opening. I love orange, white and yellow roses, especially - small to large - all okay. It will take one full bunch for a smallish vase.Start by cutting one - put it in the vase and the head should just come over the rim. The stem should be at the bottom.Pull off some of the leaves or it gets too messy.Then you can cut the rest the same length - maybe a couple just a bit taller for the center of the vase.Most roses should be bought 1-2 days before a party so they will be opened properly.

I also like tulips - get lots! Cut them a touch longer than you might imagine. They shouldn't be bunched like roses.

Other great flowers for shorter bunches are dahlias (from Two Pony Gardens in Orono! and always, peonies.

To make any flower open, put hot water in the vase.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mad-town: Part 3

Flowers - even though 45, windy and rainy.

A baby carrot top!

The beautiful spring asparagus.

Isabelle shopping the market.

OMG. I hope I make it out of here alive. I have never, ever seen people able to drink so much - and still stand up. After Day 1, I took a vow of moderation. So, while others started at 11:00 a.m. with a Bloody and a Beer chaser (the ONLY way a Bloody is served here), I primly drank another glass of water. While Izzy and her 7 roommates and their mildly small families polished off a keg of some kind of very fancy Wisconsin brew, I sipped red wine because I know what that does to me. I just can't keep up. But....people are having a good time!

To this point, here is a CRAZY YouTube about the drinking in Wisconsin. Warning: "F-Bombs" heavily dropped.

Yesterday morning in the most ridiculously awful weather (45-degrees, wind, and mist) we went to the farmer's market, which wraps itself around the block of the beautiful icy white capital building. Isabelle says it is the largest purveyer's farmer's market in the US - the owners have to be on site at the market. It was fantastic - and busy - even in this heinous weather. The masses of darling babies, young couples, and a handful of older people were really charming. There were more than a few "HOT DADS DOING COOL SHIT" as Izzy calls darling fathers doing cool things. (She thinks this should be a blog and I totally think she is right!) One dad, about 35 - 40, had on a cute stocking hat, Elvis Costello glasses, his 6-month old baby girl in a front pack and he was carrying a bunch of tulips. He moved by me too quickly to get a shot. But the point was taken.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mad-town: Part 2

The non-descript building where we went for dinner.

The sign points to the basement - home of "The Greenbush Bar" (really a bar and Italian restaurant.)

Signs of protest on the wall. I love how it isn't "framed" just tacked to the wall. This is very good design. Pay attention, restaurant designers!

The sausage pizza - heavy with anise. Look at all the cornmeal left on the plate.

Kelly and Tom at the bar.

To these points: We went to a bar / restaurant around 3 to have a drink. The owners started the Slow Food movement in Madison and word on the street is that the fried cheese curds are amazing The place had 50 WISCONSIN beers on TAP! They had another 75 bottled beers. This is where people, including the waitress and 4 of Izzy's friends started speaking in "beer" . I am not fluent in beer and had no idea what they were saying. I said "dark, please" and Izzy's friend, Gino, told us what kind of beer we should order, based on my crude and un-nuanced description.

For dinner, at 9:00, we went to a true hole in the wall - The Greenbush Bar. This is the kind of place that someone on the Lower East Side of Manhattan would KILL to own - or recreate. There is NO sign outside. It is in some funked up building called the Italian Workmen's Club. You will see photos here. Inside, you walk down into a basement and the place is packed - but not so loud you want to run screaming into the night. The service was really friendly and the pizza and salad were divine. Isabelle claims it is her favorite pizza crust ever - coated in corn meal on the bottom. The homemade sausage was flavored with anise and the salad was simple and fresh with lemon and oil. Izzy's comment on the place? "One great thing about Wisconsin...everything is genuine." I couldn't argue in this case.

The beef dishes were made with local grass fed beef. This didn't look like that kind of place. "Farming is Wisconsin. They support the local farmers," she said.

As I looked at the appetizers she'd purchased for earlier in the evening, sure enough - all the amazing cheeses were local including a lovely fresh goat cheese made yesterday - even the crackers - Potter's Crackers were made in Wisconsin. This pride reminded me of much commitment to sustainable local food.

The weather sucks, the view out my window isn't great, people have funny accents, but you gotta love a place that knows how to make great cheese and celebrate.

Mad-town: Part 1

The refrigerator of the condo where we are staying the weekend.

My daughter's closet.

The "promenade" - the name given to the back deck by Izzy and her roomies. It looks like an al fresco version of an AA meeting to me.

The Living Room.

Ay-yi-yi. A Jim Morrison flag decorates the wall. Beer cans decorate the front railing. Izzy's shoes sleep huddle in a pile like a new batch of puppies, the back deck looks like it is set up for a therapy group - the talking stick is probably a bong. Where am I?

If you guessed my daughter's college house in Madison, Wisconsin - where she lives with 7 other women, you are right. We arrived yesterday after a harrowing drive on 94 West - the trucking hell of a highway. 5 hours - 3 of them white-knuckling our way along the asphalt ribbon with semis swaying across the center line with the gusts of wind.

I remember why I never visited my daughter once in college. I dropped her here in August of 2007 during a time of my life when I was having some kind of breakdown - insomnia, anxiety, generally falling apart - like a tsunami of hormones had kidnapped Alecia. The experience was so grim (including a storm - with tornado - that prevented me from seeing even the front of my own car, let alone the semis that had me blocked in on all sides, some of them tumbling into the ditch.) I vowed never, ever to return until the day she graduated and I have kept my word. The whole experience left a very sour taste like post traumatic stress and I simply wasn't mature enough to overcome it. To be fair...Lee lived and worked in NY during this time and she was in Madrid for a year.(We DID visit her in Madrid!)

I adore Isabelle, so I would send her a ticket to come to NY to visit, or a ticket to come home, but I couldn't find either the time or the courage to return to I-94 heading east. Now, I have returned and it is 50 and cloudy and windy and it is May 14. (Of course, it is 45 in Minneapolis today. God help us.)

We are here to celebrate Izzy's graduation from UW Madison - here with uncles extraordinaire Kelly and Tom. I bought Alexander a ticket to fly in from Houston and his flights have been cancelled - twice now. He is not coming. Lee is here with me. In the 18 hours that I have been here I have learned FOUR things about Madison:

1. They drink a lot here. I really mean A LOT.

2. They speak a strange language. "Beer-ese" - saying things like "hoppy" and IPA or APA. I have no idea what these terms mean.

3 Madison is into food.

4. People here have an accent that is even funnier than in Minnesota.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thank you overdue

I just want to say thank you for reading my blog - and for all you brave souls who comment! That makes my day.

love, happiness, peace.


Monday, May 9, 2011

News Flash - Hot Flash

ugh-o! The hot flashes have hit. I'm 57. My mother never had them. I thought I'd escaped the strange somatic phenomena. But, no. They started about 6 - 8 weeks ago. Night after night, I fall asleep under my down and within hours, am kicking it off like I'm suffocating. I need a plastic wrap around my mattress like an old person to protect the new mattress from my sweat. During the day, I turn beet red, sweat like LeBron James in the playoffs and lose all capacity for concentration.

I am seeing my acupuncturist. He swears he has saved women going through menopause from the wrath of their children, husbands, and sometimes entire towns by calming the overwhelmingly icky symptoms which makes you just crabby.

It seems to have taken over my life. My eyes are puffy. I was actually caught putting frozen spoons on them this morning to shrink the puffiness. Unfortunately, I almost peeled the skin off my lids because the frozen metal was so cold, it practically stuck to the skin! Lee saw me and threatened to call a mental institution. I am not sleeping of course because I awaken every 2 hours drenched in sweat, with my blood pressure rising. (Yes, I can feel it!) It makes me sad or something - that my dear husband will think less of me as a lover. He says I'm being silly. But, still, you kind of wonder. Crazed, sweaty woman without periods. Does that sound attractive? I know it is dumb. Men go through their own "menopause" too. I call it "mAnopause."

Whatever. It bugs me. Usually acupuncture does the trick - I'm still working with it. If you have any great tips, let me know.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Weekend Update and Mother's Day

DInner - took 20 minutes! Grass fed tenderloin from Linden Hills coop, organic everything good! (Beats Heidi's steak at 4 times the price.) Mixed greens with olive oil, gorgonzola and walnuts. Roasted asparagus.

Mixed berries for dessert. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries. 1 T. sugar brings out the juice. Top with cream.

I follow Alice Waters' recipe for tenderloin. Let meat sit out to come to room temp for 45 - 60 min. with olive oil, salt and pepper. I cook mine on a griddle at medium heat - 4 min per side for med rare. 5 min per side for medium. At some point, I poured a touch of my red wine (right out of my glass!) over the meat. Just a touch.

Roasted asparagus - cut tips back to about 4". Spread out in baking dish. drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in 325 degree oven for about 15 min. Check them with fork. If too hard, leave in a couple more min. Don't overcook!

So, I had the weekend of all weekends. I had NOTHING on my calendar. Not a social engagement! (Don't get me wrong - I love to see my friends, but I was still weirdly jetlagged. Acting like I was on vacation and unable to concentrate. Balance my checkbook? Oh, who needs it!) A free calendar is like someone gave me the Hope-fricking diamond. NOTHING I had to do. So, I did whatever I wanted when I wanted it and that is the greatest luxury in the world to me.

Saturday...omg. There was sun, the temperature approached 70 and there was no wind. Lake Harriet was placid, like a mirror. The first turtles were out sunning themselves. Lee thinks the female ducks are on their nests while the dads seem to be a bit nervous. Pressure. I'm not sure. We saw a giant raccoon on a branch in the daytime. Maybe he thought he was hiding, but the thin leaves gave him away. No matter - the walk was bliss.

Yesterday, I met a client, organized my new "closet" which is really Izzy's old bedroom. Our 1920's apartment is short on closets, so I keep my clothes on a rolling rack. In our bedroom, it was certainly convenient, but it was a mess - the lighting is bad, and it had to be horrible feng shui to sleep in the beehive of clothes that were strewn at the end of the bed. At night, on my way to the bathroom, I inevitably tripped over a pair of Frye boots.

So, with no one coming home this summer (we both pray for ourselves and for our daughter's sake) I can take on the empty room. There is a double bed for the rare times we have guests, of course, but right now it is a horizontal organizational tool - keeping my shoes, out of season clothing and those items that are dancing between "Keep it - you never know when you will lose five pounds" and "Please. Pass is on. You will never lose five pounds, you menopausal matron!"

Then, napping, a little blogging, shrimp dinner on Saturday, reading about the Medici family (fascinating!) On Sunday, the New York Times hour with cappuccino, yoga at 11, plenty of time at my desk in my pj's, talking with Lee about Jung and James Hillman, talking to my kids and my mom and the most delicious steak dinner! (Tenderloin from the coop - 100% grass fed beef, but how do they feed beef grass in January????)

The Mother's Day part? My kids did the phone call on Mother's Day thing (one is in Houston, TX and the other in Madison, WI) and sent a sweet email card Izzy whipped up. Zan told me I have been the "perfect mom". Schmoozer. (Highly unlikely, but I'll take it.) I realized that not being with them is somehow just right- that they are so engaged in their own lives is all I could ask for them.

My kids just rock right now in my eyes. Zan and his girlfriend, Jessie, just got jobs teaching in Brooklyn at The Uncommon Schools (charter schools for low-income students of color). I'm so excited to know that I'll have them for Sunday dinners in NY. Izzy graduates from Madison (UW) next Sunday - so we are going to party, party, party all weekend with Kelly and Tom (my brother and brother-in-law - the uncles extraordinaire.) Zan coming from Houston to join us. She's interviewing for jobs in the real world.

In many ways, when your kids are good, life is good. When our children are troubled, it is worse than being troubled ourselves. Motherhood is such a lovely state of being. From the minute you see their first breath to their adulthood. The responsibilities may recede slightly, but the soul quality of motherhood is never, ever is diminished by time. Tell me about your Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Run, Don't Walk to See "Bill Cunningham NEW YORK" - zeitgeist films - Edina Theatre

Last night Lee and I went to see the movie, "Bill Cunningham NEW YORK". As a dedicated fashionista, I could hardly wait to see it. Bill Cunningham is the 81-year old New Yorker who rides around the city chronicling the fashion on the street for the New York Times. He's worked for the Times for decades, had an unhappy stint at WWD (Women's Wear Daily) in the '70's and an extraordinarily creative position with the original Details magazine, where he was given free reign to do whatever pleased him - much to the benefit of the reader.

Every Sunday, I sit with my coffee, turn to page 4 of the Styles Section before looking at anything else, to see what fashion trends Bill has seen on the streets this past week. He shoots in New York traversing the chaos of that city by bike. On and off all day long and well into the evening to shoot the charity events, he snaps photos of shoes, hats, full outfits, legs, decollete - generally looking for people with great, great style. (He's on his 29th bike now as the other 28 have been stolen.) He goes to Paris twice a year "to fashion school" - referencing the fashion shows.

But his real love is not the model and he actually seems to disdain the celebrities "in their free dresses!" He passionately loves the everyday woman (and man) on the street, with their budgets (some of them large! others not so...) their creativity, their courage to express themselves. He passionately loves people of all ages. He followed Lady Astor to her 100th birthday. He follows Annette de la Renta, Diane Keaton, the Laurens, and two of his personal favorites, Anna Wintour, of American Vogue and Anna Piaggi of Italian Vogue.

Anna Piaggi wearing Chanel with Karl Lagerfeld

Anna Piaggi...well, being Anna Piaggi

Anna Wintour

(None of these photos were taken by Bill, but give you an idea of why he might want to photograph these women - and they aren't 20!)

I really don't want to say more - to give anything away. IF you love fashion, this movie is a must for that reason alone. Bill Cunningham may be one of the most important people in the fashion world. If you just want to see something lovely, something uplifting, something that isn't about nuclear radiation poisoning or Bin Laden or something that Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, or Michelle Bachman said that sends us all running for the bottle - then you will love this movie too.

I have to add one thing. It really made me miss New York. I liked Rome. I HEART NEW YORK.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The story of a cancer patient

I spent this past Thursday with my parents at Mayo Clinic. I may have mentioned in previous posts that my dad is very ill with lymphoma of the bone marrow. He is 82. My dear mother is 80 with the physical energy of a 50-year old (most days.) She needs it because there is much to do when one's beloved is in pain, is wobbly on his feet, and needs help with many of life's simplest tasks. She is a saint and has been for most of my life.

She emailed on Wednesday:

I am wondering if you would be free tomorrow,Thursday, to go with us to Mayo? Dad is a bit weak and wobbly this week, and an extra person might be nice. I know this is very short notice; and it is perfectly okay to say no if you cannot go. His first appointment is not until 9:30, for blood, so we do not have to leave at the crack of dawn----if we leave shortly after 8:00, it would be fine. His last chemo may not be over until nearly 6:00, however, so this might mean you would want to stay over here Thursday night, or even tonight.

sorry to spring this on you, luv, Mom

"Sorry to spring this on you." From the parents who diapered me, fed me, clothed me, educated me, loved me, nurtured me, taught me to garden and cook and sew and told me to act and design and love.

"I can go," I said after clearing my schedule.

I went. I left at 6:45 a.m. (I am sooo not an early morning person.) Their Camry was warming up when I arrived. Dad drove. He can't stand the thought of losing his independence. We drove west out of Northfield on Highway 9 toward Hwy 52 which takes us into Rochester. More than once, I commented on how beautiful it was. The black dirt, newly turned for the seeds, the wispy brown trees feathered with lime green buds, a white clapboard church with its proud steeple, the barns red, the color of dried blood, fields of green patch-worked among the dirt. The road curved, it climbed soft hills and descended into quiet misty valleys. At one point, I said, "This reminds me of parts of Tuscany, the beautiful hilly farmland. The cypress trees are missing. Okay, and the Medieval fortresses on the hills. But otherwise, the colors and the feeling are similar."

After parking, gathering our gear for the day, which included backpacks and water, we made our way to the entrance where dad found a wheelchair and I became the driver. My mother was grateful alone for this blessing! Having to push my father all over the clinic has become too much for her.

Like good soldiers following orders, we moved from one appt to the next - from having his blood drawn to meeting with my father's doctor of thirty years, Dr. Louis LeTendre, a hematologist and oncologist. A direct, proper man - perhaps only a few years older than me - Dr. LeTendre treated my father for lymphoma thirty years ago when it first appeared in a lymph node, then for a secondary cancer ten years later. He has "cured" my father of cancer two times. When he saw Dad walk into his office last October, he knew he was dying - without so much as a test. In fact, the tests revealed that some form of lymphoma had awakened from its long sleep and rapidly spread through his bones - in a matter of months. At his May 2010 check up, there were no signs. By October, he was weeks away from death. Dear Dr. LeTendre said, "Mr. Krebs, I've given you bad news before. This is different. I cannot cure you this time." Then he went on to ask my father, "Have you had a good life?" Every time I think of this level of care, I weep. It means so much to my parents.

He said there are only two options: hospice or chemo, which may or may not help. He said, "The right choice is one you choose." Dad chose chemo. Apparently, he wasn't quite ready to die. He told me he wanted to make it to the 60th anniversary of my parent's wedding, which was in Mar this year. Dr. LeTendre backed the decision and suggested 6 rounds of chemo, once a month for 6 months. Each "round" is 3 different types of chemo for a total of 5 hours of poison / medicine dripping into his veins, causing chills, nausea, vomiting, exhaustion. Hell in a bag I call it. But, the poison that wracks his living body, also kills the cancer.

It has been 5 months since the chemo treatments began. I sat in the office with the doctor, my mother and my father. He, in his examining gown, on the edge of the examining table, thin, hairless legs dangling, shoulder blades like the remnants of angel wings on his shriveling back. The hair on his head is not even gray, but just pale and sparse - this from the head of thick black hair he had most of his life. His face is gaunt, sometimes ghost-like to me, his sharp, elegant nose more prominent now.

Watching the doctor examine my father, it seemed old=fashioned somehow. Instead of technology, he used the old tools of the trade, testing reflexes, listening to his lungs, pounding on his chest, using his hands to feel his neck and around the orbits of his eyes. He watched him walk, asked him to stand on his toes, raise a leg - when he couldn't do this, he began a new line of questioning and testing with a feather. "Can you feel this? This? This?" as he moved the feather from his thigh to his hips to his feet. After spending 45 minutes in his office, I agree that Dr. LeTendre deserves the reputation he has in our family. In fact, they think Dr. LeTendre walks on water. 45 minutes. When was the last time you spent 45 minutes with a doctor? His care for my father was palatable, caring, and kind.

He went to the first chemo treatment, sitting in a chair in a room with 5 others receiving chemo at the same time. My mother thinks its "neat" how it's set up, how the nurses bring snacks around. I don't quite share her view. It seems remarkable how they care for the body at Mayo - but I don't think I would describe it as "neat" - or, in the vernacular of my own generation, "cool." After one hour, during which mom and I found something to eat in the cafeteria, we wheeled dad to his next session - a fairly new German chemo drug developed by a man with the last name of my father (Krebs). Seems a coincidence, no? For this one, he is in a single room, in bed for the whole 3-4 hour drip. He would rest - so would we. Mom and I went to the Mayo quiet room - a heavenly dark room with a circle of recliners and soft, clean flannel blankets in a pile in the corner. Mom and I both napped for an hour or more. What a good idea this is. I realize how exhausting the emotional work can be.

We returned to Dad's room with fresh coffee to keep us going. It was now 4:30 and he had another 2 hours to go. (Remember we left Northfield at 8:00 a.m.!) He had the chills and could barely speak. This was so upsetting to me - to see him shivering, unable to say what he needed. I asked the nurse for more blankets and she brought two warm ones. It helped. He was in a great deal of pain - there is cancer in his back and ribs and it can be incredibly painful. I felt he needed to be alone - so I left the room and left mom there with him.

After an hour or so, I went back in; he was almost done, the clear bag flattened and soon the beeping began. Chemo over for today. The nurse came in, prepared him for leaving. It was 6:30 in the evening. We would have to leave at 5:30 the next morning to make the 7:00 a.m. chemo treatment the next day. He began to vomit, although with almost nothing to eat all day, it was mostly dry heaves. I don't recall seeing my father sick like this in my whole life. At least not in a way that made me feel so helpless - there was nothing I could do but be there for them, to help him get to the car, wobbly and weak from the chemo, exhausted, in pain and probably tired of it all.

On the drive home, we again, took Highway 9 west toward the sunset. I drove. My mother couldn't have done it - emotionally ripped apart by this process each and every month. My father sat next to me in the front seat, eyes shut, trying to hold back the nausea, but miraculously able to tell me where to turn, what speed to drive, that I had a green light and when to get over from one lane to the other. Some things never change.

The beauty of the landscape - the iconic images of the farmland in the spring - and the matter of driving my father through it all brought tears to my eyes. I thought of how this would be the
last spring he would see, this man who grew up on a farm, who farmed until I was ten, and then continued to work with farmers in the insurance industry. A man who knew exactly what he was seeing in the soil, knew what was green in the pastures, knew what would likely be planted where. Without a miracle, this is the last spring he will see and the last spring I will say to him, "Isn't this farmland beautiful?"