Toast to My Sister on her Daughter’s Wedding Day

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Hey Dee.

I’m Toasting you today because so much of who you are…who you were…is alive and well in your beautiful daughter and I want you to know that’s doing okay.

She was nine. Hugging her Molly doll, a blanket wrapped around her, that morning in the ER. She ran to us when we got there. And held on. Then she grabbed a hold of her cousin and they sat together while I joined Annie in your ER bay.

You said two things to us.  “Call Mom.” and “Take care of Shey.” And we agreed. Of course. Of course. Your swollen body was wrecked from infection, your lungs ready to burst, filled with fluid. But all you wanted to know, needed to know was that Shey was going to be okay.

And she is.  Cuz of Annie, her “mom” who stepped in and continued raising her with a fierce devotion and commitment. And hopefully, a wee bit, cuz of me. I gave her shelter. I understood anxiety and grief.

She’s okay.

What runs the deepest in her, though, I think, is what makes her like you. What  you gave her. She always believed in love. She searched for it and gave it generously to  her friends and family. She struggled with the pain and confusion of losing you but she never stopped believing in love. So when Kevin came into her life she was able to see clearly the future she wanted for her and Taelyn, for him and his boys, and now…for their next little Parshall girl on her way.  So much love, Dee Dee.

Today, Sheyenne is getting married and I’m weeping over my morning tea. Mom is here. She’s sore and tired but she made it. And know what else? She’s giving Sheyenne the wedding of her dreams, what she couldn’t do for us, she’s doing for her grandchildren and that’s all from love.

Shey’s doing okay, Dee. She’s more than okay. And so I toast you, my dear funny sweet sister, so missed in the flesh but with us in spirit. All the old rock tunes and pop songs of the 70’s are gonna be played for you.  I know you’ll be there standing at the altar with Grandma and Michael, I know your heart is filled with joy.

Here’s to you, Dee Dee. A Toast! to you.

Love you


A Toast! to Bird- my daughter. 4/365

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Okay, gonna write this one fast so that I can attempt to contain my emotions.

I am the luckiest, most blessed mama in the world because I am Bird’s mom.

When she was born she was named Lanee Faye, Faye being the middle name of my older sister, Dee Dee, who was my confidante, helper and birth coach. Dee Dee called me Buddha when I was large and round at the end of my pregnancy. She’d feed me chili cheeseburgers and spaghetti. She made me laugh so hard I’d nearly pee my pants. And when I was in labor and they told me that I needed a C-section, Dee held my hand and told me watch her face, focus on her and it was going to be alright. And she stayed there by me as Lanee Faye entered the world.

Bird didn’t get added to Lanee’s name until much later, when she was a teenager, discovering and developing her artistic voice. Bird is actually my grandmother’s name. Priscilla Bird.  But it resonated with Lanee as she dug deep into her Native roots and created soulful art so invoking and intriguing, she got into the prestigious San Francisco Art Institute- self taught and awarded a Portfolio Review Scholarship.  She took her connection to Bird, my grandmother, and created her dream.

So we call her that now and just makes sense.

I think that’s the true gauge of our actions- if they feel right and just make sense.  When I see my daughter and I say Bird, when I get to hug her, which is not often enough now that we’re on opposite coasts of this country, it makes sense. She’s taken her artistic prowess to New York City and making a name for herself there. We’e couldn’t be prouder. I couldn’t miss her more. And even that, as a parent, just makes sense.

For this post I searched for a photo of an owl because that’s the Bird I think she is. I think she exudes owl spirit medicine. I think she’s wise and intense. I think she’s transparent, direct and sees all. I think she’s touched with something older than this world. I think she makes people see who they are. I think she’s magical.

And she’s here. We’re together. We had dinner with family last night, preparing for my niece’s wedding and I got to sit across from her at the restaurant and watch her laugh with abandonment. I got to feel her showered in love. I got to be there in her space. I got to.

I get to…and I’m blessed so today’s Toast! is to her. My daughter. My Bird.

Toast! to Breakfast 3/365


My body shakes and shivers with the memory of breakfast back in the day.  Mountain Dew. Marlboro Light (cuz you know, it was healthier than Marlboro Reds) and a pop-tart if I was treating myself. The goal was to get as much sugar and caffeine in my system as quickly as possible.

I didn’t pay any attention to what I was doing to my body or to my heart or soul, actually.  So does that mean that breakfast is supposed to be moving shit around in your soul?  Well, no. I guess not. But it can and that’s kinda cool.

I eat my morning oatmeal and think about being a kid and how oatmeal was made in a big pot to be shared with my brother and sisters.  I think about my grandma, for some reason. Even though I know the reality is that she didn’t always live with us and when she did she left early for work at the local Campbell Soup factory, so did she make us oatmeal?   Maybe it’s a Saturday. Or I just connect comforts of my childhood with her.

My mom didn’t fix breakfast for us kids every day. We didn’t have the tradition of her being in the kitchen to greet us. Not everyday.  Sometimes my big sister cooked for us. But usually we were on our own so it was a bowl of dried cereal and milk, some scuffling, bitching and whining with my siblings and then out the door to school. I think it was the cold Minnesota mornings with freezing winds that were waiting for us at our doorstep that I’m remembering now. These were special occasions when Mom would fix us hot cereal.  I wish I had more memories of her taking care of us.

Oh… coco wheat. That’s what she’d fix…now it’s coming clear to me. I can almost taste it. Yummm.  Hot. Lumpy. Extra sugar. Thick milk. That shit would pack in tight against my ribs and I’d be set to head out into the world.

When Bird was born I decided we would always have breakfast together. That meant many mornings of getting up early, running around a bit so we could make it to the table to eat together. Just me and my girl. I loved fixing her breakfast. Making the healthy choice for her and knowing that she at least had food in her as she ventured out to school everyday.  When she got older, in middle school, some of that, “let’s sit together” began to change.  Mornings included the radio cranking out current pop hits, some Gwen Stefani “Hollaback Girl” with Bird not singing all the lyrics (she didn’t swear in front of me until college. Weird rule. I know, cuz I cuss like a fuckin sailor) But anyway…some mornings I’d get out a cassette or DVD of something fun and funky. And we’d dance in our tiny kitchen. This happened more often when she discovered the joy of The Breakfast Club and that her mother could dance like Molly Ringwald.  She played me music she liked when her crush on Usher revealed itself by the posters that adorned her bedroom wall. I played her old new wave and early punk when she discovered The Clash. She lit up my mornings! And yeah, probably not too cool to be dancing with your ma over breakfast but she did and she’d laugh as we began our day with love.

These days she’s more of a bagel and a coffee heading to the train New York City kinda girl. Or she cooks for herself. I hope the days she can actually sit and enjoy her breakfast, she has fond memories of us, too.

For me, breakfast is oats with fruit and flaxseed.  A sprinkle of stevia. Some cashew milk and a big mug of hot roobios tea.  I start some mornings slowly like this. Soothing like this. Being kind to my body while flooded with memories.

Toast! to my…..ass…? Yup. 2/365

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I feel a Toast brewing for my sister. Her daughter, my beautiful niece is getting married on Saturday and my sister can’t be there due to the fact she’s in heaven, or hanging out someplace heavenly listening to classic rock music and watching over us.   I ache to have her here but I can’t write that Toast! just yet.  Not yet.

So I’m gonna write about my ass.

I haven’t been too nice to it lately. Actually, I don’t think I have ever been. There was the fat filled diet of my childhood which made it get rounder and rounder. And then there was beer.  Lots and lots of beer. Cheetos, beer and cigarettes were my diet staples for my college years.  And of course, there were that dancing thing. You  know, not exercise or aerobic but induced by long island iced teas and club funk, I could be found shaking my ass on some table or bar stool somewhere.  So yeah, I wasn’t too nice to my ass in my younger years.

When I got kicked out of college and had to go home I lost weight. Lost ass size. Which was cool. But then when I got pregnant and gained weight that became the baby weight I spoke of for about 20 year (YES, I SAID 20 YEARS) before it was gone, my ass was larger. I was larger.

But then I lost weight. Lost ass size. I even was able to slide my body into a size 6 dress AND SIT DOWN.  That’s an accomplishment. I’m taking huge credit points for that!

But then I did something that I’m having no control over. I aged. I am aging. And that slowing metabolism bullshit, The Pause weight gain, arthritis in my lower back (ahem…fell OFF those bar stools too many times, probably) and now bone spurs in my arthritic knee, my ass has been taking the hit cuz I say not so nice things to it.

But that will stop.  I may not be able to fully repeat the words on this picture but I’m working on it. And it begins with this morning’s Toast! to my ass.

A Toast! to….toast? Hell yeah. 1/365

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Cynthia Newman Martin has a beautiful blog with “1 true thing” per day. For the year. Amazing. Everyday she writes something. A word, a paragraph, longer essays and observations. It’s telling and poignant and it gets the creative juices flowing, which as I stated yesterday, I want coming daily to Toast to do for me.

This morning I woke at 4 am (yes, nasty habit) and thought about this post and what I should write about and sure as shit, my critic popped in (she must have been waiting bedside, eager to fuck with me before I even opened my eyes).  She shot down every idea I had about what to write about.  She even said that I had nothing of value to say and that’s when I said “hold up.”  That’s not true.

Whatever my thoughts are are valuable. My opinion does matter. What I love or wish for or need or am hurt by, whatever it is that I feel I need to say is valuable. Damnit.

And I remembered that Toast is a blog designed to celebrate, to point out what is good and give it light. Even if it comes from a place of pain and confusion, to Toast! it is to acknowledge it’s goodness in my life.  So there, take that, critic bitch.

So what do I Toast! today? Friends- I’m floating on the joy of two mornings this weekend with old friends. Family- we got a wedding happening NEXT SATURDAY and that’s all about family, for sure. Film- my livelihood. My work. The industry that I’m trying to etch out a place for me.  Politics- women ROAR! Sex. Youth. Children. The weather. Minnesota. Los Angeles. Belize?!  (future travel idea) There are plenty of things in the world to celebrate and that doesn’t mean they require a bigass parade or huge fanfare.  I can, you can, Toast! the smaller things that bring joy, or comfort or just make you smile.

So today I am Toasting…toast.

Yup. I have a deep love for toast.  An addiction, probably. Thick grainy bread. Jams. Honey. Avocado, Bacon, Tomatoes, Nut butters, margarine and cinnamon. The list is long with what you can do with toast but for sure, I gain comfort (and a soothing tummy) when I pour a mug of hot tea and have myself a slice of toast.

Toast.  Peace.  This is day 1/365