summer solstice

June 28, 2010

well, i have been defeated by monday’s crossword puzzle. MONDAY! possibly one of my saddest admissions on this here blog.

that said, i’m picking myself up by my boot straps and trying to do something more productive: blog.

we’ll start with weekends past – the summer solstice weekend during which we ventured to the wild land of minnesota. i had the clever idea of breaking up the 10 hour drive into 3 and 7 hour chunks in order to go visit our dear friends, the quams, up in sheboygan as we moseyed northwest. for the past few years, we have fallen into the awful habit of only visiting them during the fall and winter months during which we spend all of our time clustered around the woodburning stove in the living room – not a bad thing, of course, but certainly lacking the sweet expansiveness of summer.

that said, we really indulged in the elements during our wisconsin stopover. we spent the afternoon wandering around the quams’ wildly blooming backyard before going over to the beach where we smashed through the very cold water (mark actually swam) and drank iced coffee in the sand. after a riverside dinner, i passed out on a couch mid-conversation with an ear infection (yep, another) around 1am and then we were back on the road again before 7am.

perhaps as a psycho-somatic ode to the bride (with whom i have shared many a menstral-related evening of lament) i woke up saturday morning with horrendous cramps to accompany the already irritating ear infection. sigh. that said, i spent most of that 7 hour car ride crumpled in the backseat of the car, heavily drugged, coming to occasionally to notice the sunny sky and the surprisingly peaceful conversations from the front seat.

the wedding itself was incredibly beautiful – exactly what you would expect a minnesotan wedding to be, with a riverside ceremony, sweet, stitching grandparents, and a reception at a game farm. sarah was glowing, steve was dapper, joy and love was deep in everyone’s hearts. to make the happiness of the occasion even more tangible, it so happened to take place on the summer solstice way up north where the sky was brightly lit until 10:00 that evening.

it’s a funny thing, having gone to all these weddings this year (not to mention the weddings of years past). they are obviously such incredibly momentous occasions and i guess at times it feels sort of funny that we have been to so many. its a great blessing and gift, to be sure, and i cry like a sap at every one of them, but there are definitely times when you have to pull yourself out of the routine of celebration, the variations of color schemes and flower selections, and remind yourself of that this is a holy covenant that you are participating in by way of your presence and support. there are some weddings where this is more of an issue (at, say, the marriage of your distant, co-habitating cousin who you see twice a year). then there are weddings where you sense the glow of that mysterious fusion of souls weeks and months in advance, where prayers of thanksgiving cling to your heart without you consciously putting them there. there are weddings where you know the complicated storyline that brought the two together, the series of seemingly impossible events, the precision of timing, the intricate prefaces that all feed into this narrow moment that serves as a gateway to the multitudinous expanse of marriage. there are weddings where you deeply sense the transformative presence of the Holy Trinity through which the two are truly unified as one and so participate in the greatest mystery of our faith.

sarah and steve were the celebrants of one such wedding and for that i am very grateful. i’m grateful that a friend as faithful and sincerely good as sarah has found a similarly faithful and good partner who affirms and accentuates her. i’m grateful that i have been able to witness and support so many other devoted celebrants at all these weddings this year. i’m grateful for friends who have been married many years (like the aforementioned quams) that demonstrate continual patience and fortitude in their union.

i really have enjoyed being married so VERY VERY much. i don’t really blubber about that too much but it is true – i have never been so happy, content, peaceful as i have this past year – this past ONE year in fact, as we just celebrated our first wedding anniversary on saturday. mark has gently and consistently challenged and encouraged me, has devotedly loved me, has made me laugh all along the way. it’s been a great thing.

this makes me all the more excited for the lovely souls that are being drawn together in this same bond.

cheers!

celebratory.

June 15, 2010

perhaps as a surprise to many of you, i am a hockey fan. not a sports fan, per se but a hockey fan. i like hockey. played by Blackhawks. that’s pretty much it in the realm of sports love for me.

my family has historically been really huge blackhawks fans. i don’t really remember when it started. but one day when i was little my dad didn’t play hockey and then the next day he did and ever since our collective lives have been punctuated with hockey-associated activity. we followed the Blackhawks through a variety of media and would watch my dad play in his pick-up league on weeknights (definitely a great disparity in ability between the 2 leagues). in the winter we would go ice skating on the local ponds where my sister and i, avid figure skaters by age 8, attempted in vain to teach my dad how to do backwards crossovers. my earliest lessons of anatomy came from the x-rays that accompanied the various casts and slings my dad would wear home after particularly violent (or clumsy) games he played. a graphic picture of former Blackhawk Bobby Hull – bleeding profusely from the face – enjoyed a few years tenure over our fireplace.

in short, we were hockey people.

so needless to say, the Stanley Cup win was a pretty major deal for us. i have, in fact, been experiencing a weird elated sensation ever since last wednesday night – like everything is all right in the world somehow. mark and i attempted, in vain, to go with my parents to the parade/rally on friday morning before his cousin’s wedding but the grand clusterfuck that that whole celebratory situation was outdid us. we made it for about half an hour in the sweltering crowd before anxiety set in and i had to drag mark back out. as i have a legacy of vomiting/passing out during family activities that involve extreme heat my parents seemed relieved that i was leaving by choice and not on one of the stretchers that various EMT were dragging through the crowd. still, it was sort of a let down to not get to see Patrick Kane drink Bud Light out of the Stanley Cup.

i guess now i sound like a bro.

so anyways. that’s how the weekend started: 2 million Blackhawk fans + sweltering heat + mild nausea.

and then we went to Tracey and Rob’s wedding –  a long anticipated event, to be sure. any franzen family event is wild and this was no different. there was the customary yelling and clapping during the wedding ceremony and various speeches (and not at the times when one is supposed to yell or clap), auntie birdie dancing on the table, everyone over serving themselves, etc. a pretty good time for the most part. i came home chock full of family secrets that i didn’t really want to know. it was about par for the course.

the rest of the weekend we ran around Chicago sight-seeing in the rain with my brother-in-law’s new girlfriend and getting together with various family members who were in town. we played golf on sunday as a pre-fathers day celebration for mark’s dad – and by ‘we’ i mean mark and his brothers played golf with his dad and i rode around in the golf cart with them keeping score. it’s really not as bad as it sounds. my very urban lifestyle makes golf course landscape exceptionally pleasing to be in so i mostly sigh in wonder at all the full trees and admire flowers while getting in the way of their shots.

a good but exceptionally full weekend. i developed an ear infection sometime between the wine on friday and the daiquiri on saturday and now today the right side of my face is all puffy and soft in solidarity with the swollen ear canal. great fun. several rounds of self-medicating troubleshooting have only seemed to make things worse. ah, well. i guess it sounds about right, though, that i’d have good health on the weekend and poor health during the week.

we leave for minnesota on friday for wedding #6.

i’m working for the weekend. for sure.

stitch and bitch

June 8, 2010

i estimate that at this point of the year, i can be found eating lunch in the background of roughly 4,000 photographs taken of the red fountain in daley plaza. i don’t quite see the draw of it. the water kind of looks like blood – i would think that would be a deterrent to assembling your german children in front of it for a family picture, but that’s just me i guess. the whims of tourists continue to elude me.

strike 1 against daley plaza as a lunchtime destination: tourists with cameras.

strike 2: locals with clipboards.

i also estimate that i sign about 2 petitions each day. i can’t help it, i’m all for democracy in the form of more names on the ballot. however, i’m not all for strangers asking me to do things for them while i eat lunch – the pure sanctuary of uninterrupted loitering and sunshine during the work day. i suppose i should start looking for some other cement playground to spend the 1:00 hour. or maybe just another job that doesn’t make me feel like daley plaza at lunchtime is a sanctuary. geez.

ah well. enough about work-related musings.

the wedding season is indeed in full swing. i have been spending every saturday in chicagoland’s banquet halls, sipping white wine, eating rich food, and making small talk. not the worst of lives, to be sure, but i do indeed miss the laziness of the weekend and time outside. i have yet to indulge in the close proximity of the lake, yet to pull out my swimsuit, and the one day we did go on the boat with my parents, we spent the whole afternoon huddled in the cabin away from the rain. alas. of course there are far worse things than celebrating the love of friends and family every weekend. i just wish we did more of this celebrating outside. like on a beach. in swimsuits. with popsicles in lieu of wedding cake.

anyways.

that said, i am really missing time at home lately. i’m starting to realize that i am a bit introverted, at least in the sense that i get socially exhausted pretty easily. the weekday hours between weddings have been stock full of a random assortment of things – shows, time with friends, lots of hockey games, etc. whenever i do have an evening in, i am at a total loss as to where to begin: there is so much cleaning, planting, and crafting to do and all i really want to do is sleep. and so we combat the draw of the bed as best we can…

i’m trying to become more spontaneous with my sewing (faithful readers will remember my troubled relationship with spontaneity in all forms) and work on projects in whatever moments i have. last night i “spontaneously” made a drawstring bag for spinach – a weird, potentially unnecessary project, sure, and one that taught me a lesson about the reliability of sewing projects found in gardening books. lesson: they are not very reliable – unless, of course, you were trying to make a drawstring bag that is constantly partially inside-out no matter which was you turn it. the spontaneous nature of the process, i think, dulls the pain of its failure. i haven’t planned on making this bag for weeks and weeks and daydreamed about the outcome. i just did it, it doesn’t look great, and yet it is still housing our freshly picked spinach in all of its ugly splendor. not too bad…

the impetus for the above-mentioned project came after spending some hours in the garden last night. i felt like i needed to do something nice for the coming harvest after i spent the evening doing to the spinach what you are supposed to do to the basil, and doing to the carrots what you are supposed to do to the cucumbers. just another gem of an experience made possible by the discombobulated library that is my skull… i’m now working on greening my thumb through the process of more careful reading and more vigorous note-taking. st. francis would be rolling in his grave, to be sure.