Monday, October 21, 2013

Shadows & Spirits of the State Capitol

We have such a variety of quality events in Minnesota but I find I do more unique experiences when we have guests in from out of town.  This past weekend my sister-in-law and her husband came into town.  We were so excited but as it was somewhat short notice we hadn't planned any fun excursions. 

When they called I happened to have a brochure from the Minnesota Historical Society sitting in the middle of my desk.  As a member I look forward to the brochures to see all the unique upcoming events.  I was sure I would find something we could do I just hoped it wouldn't be sold out. 

Sure enough I hit on Shadows and Spirits of the state capitol.  In the evening for two weekends you can tour the building with only the historic lighting from when it was constructed from 1896-1904.  It had been many years since I toured the Capitol Building but I remembered how taken I was with the building.   

We would see the Capitol Building often when we were downtown.  Driving by I would tell my husband, who hails from Ohio, we needed to visit but there was always something else that would capture our attention. 
We arrived just as it was getting dark.  The thermometer had just hit 40 degrees and the golden light that shown from the doorways and windows beckoned us in.   Climbing the steps we turned to see the Cathedral on the hill across the way, and were awed by the beauty that is St. Paul. 

Walking the halls with the historic lighting was such an evocative experience into the past.  We were met by the 'spirits' of the building who recreated famed historical people and experiences of Minnesota's past.  Telling of the art, building and legislative fights of our history, such as the fight for women's vote, were a former night watchman, an army general, a suffragette, and a building foreman. 

As we left the building, my husband and our guests agreed that this building is as beautiful as many in Washington D.C.  When you mention Minnesota, out of state people mostly speak of our cold weather, but we have a lot to offer in our state.  It made me proud of my capital.  Just one more thing that is worth a visit in beautiful Minnesota.
If you're moved to visit during the evening there is only one more weekend this year.  Tours are Thursday till Saturday, October 24-26 - 6:30, 7, 7:30 & 8 PM.  Cost is $9 - $12 ($2 discount for MHS members)  Reservations required.  651-296-2881.  It makes for an entertaining and learning evening.  Flash photography is prohibited but with a night setting you can still get stunning photos.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Within Reach

My novella Within Reach will be coming out May 2014 in e-Book form published by Melange Books.   It was a story I wrote when I was coming to terms with my mother's dementia and subsequent death.  While the story is based on my mother, it is not the true life story of her life and death, instead it was a tool for coping.  For the sake of simplicity I changed a lot of details but the essence of my experience is intact.

My mom, Marlys, was a gentle and sweet woman.  She had a wonderful sense of humor and an infectious laugh.  A brilliant woman who seemed to have the answer to everything when I'd call her with a question about children, cooking or something that upset me.  Sometimes now, I wish I could tell her, "Mom, you were right about everything."  Many days I think, "I have to tell Mom" and find myself on the way to the phone before I remember she is no longer with us and I am left with a hole that will never be filled.  She was hardworking, holding down a full-time job and raising five children, not to mention volunteering at church.  I think I got a lot of my creativity from her--she tried painting, embroidery, refinishing furniture, crewel work, and decorating.  When I was fifteen she was diagnosed with lupus and was chronically ill from then on.  Rarely complaining she continued working and still kept her house cleaner than I can seem to.  Her health kept continuing downhill until she was diagnosed with dementia, then t-cell lymphoma. 

Dealing with dementia is a heartrending experience that is described in my story as "realizing she was being stolen from me one fragment at a time".  I struggled with losing my mother before she was actually gone from this world.  Letting her have her dignity while making sure she was safe was a balancing act I'm sure I didn't always do gracefully.  It was a mentally and physically draining time and I wish I had been more prepared to know how to help her.  Although there are medications for some forms of Alzheimer's we had no such weapons in our arsenal to fight the type of dementia my mother had. 

There are many websites and resources to help those in need.  The Alzheimer's Association is one of the places we turned to for information, and part of the proceeds from this story will be donated there for future research and caring for those who have the disease.

I will be writing more on Within Reach when we get closer to the release date but here's the official blurb for my story:

Within Reach is the story of Emma, a woman coming to terms with her mother’s increasing dementia and the everyday challenges associated with it.  Inexplicably, she finds herself ‘re-living’ specific events from her past.  She soon wonders if her own sanity is slipping, and only her mother can help find the key.

In memory of Marlys Joan Tonder Fick with love and remembrance.