December 1, 2011: This Dog's Life

At the Iowa State Fair four or five years ago my husband Mark and I happened upon an agility exhibition sponsored by Des Moines Area Dog Obedience Club. We watched amazed, as handlers directed dogs large and small, purebred and mutt, through obstacles on the arena floor. Responding to minimal hand signals, the dogs, some barking joyfully, jumped fence sections, scampered up a teeter totter, ran in and out of tubing, and shimmied through weave poles.

We started studying breeds and talking about a dog but waited several years, until our work loads diminished, to acquire a puppy. A miniature golden doodle, "Scrabble" came home with us from her birthplace in eastern Iowa July 7, 2010, at twelve weeks of age.

Scrabble's extreme cuteness helped us endure her chewing phase, her digging phase, and the ups and downs of house breaking. We lucked out on personality—our dog is more interested in people than her food dish, loves road trips to Washington Island and Chicago, and will fetch for a tiny piece of kibble.

I visited Des Moines Area Dog Obedience Club headquarters this past spring, shortly after Scrabble's first birthday, and enrolled her in a beginning class that started in June. Being around other dogs, wearing a training collar, and learning basic commands were stimulating and exhausting for my young dog, and me.

One evening after class I stuck around chatting with DMOTC dog-fancying volunteers. The owner of a standard poodle was a quilter too and recognized me from TV. As the two women answered my questions about agility trials I realized that participating in such competitions involves purchasing a camper, staying in campgrounds, and finding dinner in campground areas.

Scrabble now has her basic obedience training certificate, and we're currently enrolled in intermediate level. She's beginning to understand heel position, and her sit/stay has been praised by our instructor. A class called "Tricks" is coming up early next year.

No matter how well she does, though, there is no camper in Scrabble's future.

 

 Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:
You will spend time with your pet.

 

 

Posted on Thursday, December 1, 2011 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | Comments1 Comment | References19 References

November 9, 2011: Democracy in a Small Place

The only town where I've ever exercised my right to vote is Winterset, Iowa, county seat of Madison County, population 4978. At age 20, I moved here from Texas, where legal voting age had been 21. My first presidential election was in 1972, Richard Nixon vs. George McGovern.

My voting place for local, state, and national elections has been in several locations over the years—the county fairgrounds, VFW and American Legion Halls, the county courthouse—but the voting booths have always been the same. Each time I've voted, whether for President of the United States or on a community school bond issue, I've stepped into a tiny metal-framed cubicle and placed my ballot on a narrow shelf where my instrument of democracy was not the handle of a voting machine, but a thick wooden pencil tied to a corner of the booth with a piece of string.

Many people feel an individual's vote doesn't do much, and that may be true, but I am personally moved each time I stand inside the small square of freedom made private for me by a short, stiff curtain of red, white, and blue striped fabric. The names on my ballot often briefly blur.

Each time, I remind myself that others before me secured the right to vote for women. Others made property-ownership as a voting requirement illegal. Others insisted upon suffrage for American citizens regardless of skin color.

In Madison County, Iowa, I don't risk my life to cast my vote; all I do is pick up a pencil.

Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:
You will treasure your freedoms.

 

 

 

Posted on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | CommentsPost a Comment | References8 References

September 17, 2010: My Personal Night Shift

Over the past few months I've been busy traveling, sewing, and doing research for a novel I hope to begin writing next year.

My husband Mark and I visited France and Switzerland in May, and I spent a delightful week in Barcelona, Spain, with my youngest daughter Rebecca in June. In July Mark and I acquired a puppy, and later in the month all three of my daughters joined us at our vacation home on Washington Island, Wisconsin, for a delightful family gathering.

In recent weeks, my oldest daughter Hannah has begun graduate school in New York, my daughter Mary has made three new quilt tops, and Rebecca has fallen madly, and continues to be, in love. As for me, I am more inspired than ever about the projects I have in the works.

Lately, I head for bed a little before 10 pm. Mark and I prop up on our pillows and work on a crossword puzzle for a few minutes before turning out the lights. I fall into an instant deep sleep, but then awaken, feeling fully rested, around three in the morning—that's when my night shift begins.

Instead of tossing and turning, I lie on one side or the other, sometimes on my back, enjoying the comfort of my bed. Mentally, I work on my correspondence and other writing. I create to-do lists, prioritizing the items they include. I take little breaks as my thoughts drift to my family and count my blessings. Though I am physically horizontal between sheets and quilt, in my heart I am a runner, crouched at the starting line, ready to spring into action the moment the "go" shot is fired.

For me, the starting signal is dawn's early light, when it is appropriate to rise and begin my day shift. I make the coffee and take the puppy out. I dress and go to yoga practice. I turn my attention to the papers on my desk and the fabric in my sewing room. Quite possibly, I enjoy a little power nap in the afternoon.

Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:
You will receive energy from an unknown source.

 

Posted on Friday, September 17, 2010 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | Comments5 Comments | References2 References

April 14, 2010: Run for Your Life

My daughter Mary is home in Winterset to tape some TV episodes with me. When she came flying down the escalator late last night at the Des Moines airport, we ran joyfully to each other's arms, thrilled that we'll be working together for a couple of weeks.

Earlier in the day, I tidied the three upstairs rooms that were once my daughters' bedrooms, wondering which one Mary would choose for her stay. Some sixteen months ago, after surgery at Mayo Clinic followed by many complications, Mary was in Winterset with Mark and me for much of the winter as she tried and tried to recuperate.

I smoothed quilts and fluffed pillows, remembering how my ill child occupied each bedroom for several weeks. We kept hoping if she changed rooms, she might feel better. As it turned out, until an ongoing infection was addressed by new doctors in Chicago, nothing I could do would really help. Even after that, more surgeries, setbacks, and compromises were ahead.

Today the spring morning dawned under blue skies. I was drinking coffee in the kitchen when I heard Mary come downstairs. She was dressed in running shoes, shorts, and T-shirt. With no Bikram yoga studio locally, her plan is to run the streets of her old hometown each day.

When asked how she slept, Mary replied, "Great, Mom, and I woke up smiling—it's so wonderful to be home!" And off she went.

Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:
You will wake up smiling.

 

Posted on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | Comments3 Comments | References2 References

February 22, 2010: The Shape of Our Hearts

When my longtime friend Valerie Fons learned we’d acquired a vacation cottage on Washington Island, Wisconsin, she whooped with joy. She and her family are full time Island residents, and our new home meant we would now see each other all through the year instead of just briefly each summer.

“Once you’ve heard the ice break on the ferry crossing in winter, you’ll never forget it,” she exclaimed. “Winter is more spectacular than summer, I promise.”

The usual 30-minute trip across Death’s Door on one of the Washington Island Ferry Line’s car ferries takes a bit longer after the shores of Lake Michigan have iced up. The Arni J. Richter with its reinforced hull makes only two round trips most days in January, and you must reserve a space for your car in advance.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband Mark and I made our first deep winter trip to our cottage by the big lake. Our crossing on the afternoon boat the day we arrived was ice free.

As it happened, though, we provided transport to the mainland for Valerie a few days later, delivering her to the Green Bay hospital where she is undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

We drove onto the morning boat under an immaculate blue sky. Wrapped in robes and blankets, with her hospital gear at her side, Valerie was snugly stowed in our warm back seat. Once underway, though, we heard the hull of the Arni J. Richter begin breaking ice, and my dear, determined friend invited me outside. “Since I was a little girl,” she said, “I've always crossed on deck.”

We made our way to the boat’s leading end, she supported by her hospital walker with its tennis-ball pads and me beside her holding the blankets and trying to shield her body from the wind.

We leaned together against the steel railing, arms around one another in the frigid air, as the big boat forged through the ice toward the mainland like an unstoppable locomotive. Huge white floes of ice glittering in the bright morning sunshine dotted the surface of the lake.

“Look,” I shouted over the deafening crunch, “ice giant lily pads!” And indeed we gazed out on hundreds of rimmed circles being constantly pushed aside and destroyed by our hull.

Then we saw simultaneously not only round lily pad floes but here and there among them elongated heart-shaped ice pads, broken and reshaped from circles into hearts just as the stones on Schoolhouse Beach, another Washington Island treasure, are moiled and turned by the water into the world’s most perfect skipping rocks. If you look carefully, as I have, you find rare heart-shaped ones among the round.

“They’re hearts! They’re hearts,” we called in unison. “Look at that one! Look at that one! Ooh look at that one,” we shouted again and again as our vessel plowed toward the shore.

Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:
You will see a sight you will never forget.

Photo by Paula Hedeen



Posted on Monday, February 22, 2010 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | CommentsPost a Comment | References3 References
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