Joan Gunnus’s memorial

We were a large group at Joan’s memorial service, and no wonder due to the remarkableness of Joan.  I love this picture. Though I rarely saw her looking this fancy, the picture captures her lovely essence.

Many people spoke about the different aspects of Joan’s life including her daughter and her neighbor who eventually introduced Joan to her husband John. My favorite speaker was her neighbor who recounted the story of house hunting and hearing that the woman who owned the blueberry field was magical.  Truer words have not been spoken. She also touched on Joan’s doubts and I learned that Joan was a writer of letters.
After the speakers had spoken we had a dance party and sent Joan off the best way we could. She will be missed.

A brief Cottey reunion

Teresa and I attended Cottey College together. In our “senior”* year she was head receptionist of Robertson Hall and I was a resident assistant there. We were good friends–good enough that I flew out to Lincoln, Nebraska for her wedding, even though I was unemployed at the time.

(*Cottey was a two-year college where all freshman were called “freshman” and all sophomores were called “seniors.”)

I hadn’t seen Teresa since 2001, but she and her family were visiting the Seattle area and so I took a day trip on the train to visit her.

We met up at the Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park in Renton. Teresa’s mother was visiting her sister, who lives in Renton and there was a family reunion of sorts. I enjoyed this park, situated right on Lake Washington.

After the park, we visited several thrift stores and Targets, so Teresa’s son Ethan could look for Hot Wheels. I also came home with a robe for our upcoming trip and a new skirt. In one parking lot, we also spotted a Lamborghini. Here Ethan takes a picture.

Standing next to the car that needed to take up four parking spots.

It was great catching up with Teresa, Brian and meeting Ethan for the first time.

I cold have used another few days, but we did what we could.

Miss Joan Gunnuss

Miss Joan Gunnuss died today. I know her because her husband John is one of my former co-workers. She died of cancer, and like probably all cancer deaths, it’s a shame.

Joan was one of those good people that there should be more of.  She was kind and curious and was always glad to see me.  I’m guessing she was always glad to see hundreds of people.

My first encounter with her was an observation.  It was back-to-school time and everyone was getting into the swing of things.  For me and two other teachers, it was the first time we did the back-to-school thing at this particular school. It was hectic and tiring and there were so many new faces.

One of the new teachers, Ariel, was going out of the school, passing through the vestibule–a passageway I could see from my desk.  A woman was coming in and Ariel and the woman locked eyes.  There was some sort of recognition and exclamation and hugging before Ariel continued out the door and the woman came in.

The woman was Joan.  She had taught Ariel dance, or possibly yoga, when she was a girl.  Ariel was glad to see Joan and Joan was thrilled to run into a former student all grown up.  They had a connection, even after all the years had gone by.

I officially met Joan later that day and we had a connection too. Because Joan wasn’t the type of person to give you a cursory once-over and a “nice to meet you,” then slot you into a category and be done with the meeting.  She really looked at you. She was genuinely happy to meet you.  She remembered things about you.

Joan was a hippie in the best way. She taught yoga. She had long hair.  She was full of joy. She lived in a tiny old house on a blueberry farm that was surrounded by a huge suburban housing development.  She was long and lean and moved with grace and purpose.  She loved her dogs, her children, her husband and seemingly everyone else.

I remember at her and John’s wedding watching her walk to the alter.  She took time to look everyone attending in the eye. “It was like she was thinking, ‘I want to remember everyone who was here,'” my co-worker said later when I remarked on it.

Aside from movement, Joan loved music.  She was always up for a sing along, played guitar and loved to have at least a couple songs where the choruses were whistled.

She will be missed by many.  I’m glad to have known her.

Highlights from the Avenue of the Roses Parade

Friends Mark & Amanda live at the end of the Avenue of Roses Parade route and host a party. I love a good parade, especially a good small parade, so I went. Here are some highlights.

While 82nd Avenue does have problems with prostitution and I certainly support this group’s efforts, I kept imagining the questions posed along the parade route, “Mommy, why don’t real men buy sex?”

Who doesn’t love a good scary dragon?

I was intrigued by these characters, and unfortunately, missed capturing the group’s name.

Gotta love returned Peace Corps volunteers.

I also loved this cool holder for the saint carried by this Catholic church. It allowed for smooth carrying and left room for waving.

These puffy air-filled dinosaurs were delightful. I’d never seen puffy characters before.

Some cool parade goers make some noise and wave the flag.

It became apparent that the classic cars were turning right off of 82nd, and we were to the left, so we missed them, but we did get to see a lot of the parade. Thanks to Mark & Amanda for hosting.

John & Hank Green, on tour.

Thanks to Kelly, I got to experience John and Hank Green on John’s book tour for Turtles All the Way Down. (When you are a successful YouTuber with your brother, you BOTH go on book tour, even if only one of you wrote the book.)

Here’s John reading from the book.  When I read the book later, I realized he read from two different sections.
We had a visit from Hank disguised as Dr. Lawrence Turtleman. He taught us about tuataras, which are reptiles from New Zealand which are NOT lizards.  Unfortunately, Dr. Turtleman’s PowerPoint wasn’t working, so the good doctor did the PowerPoint from memory.  We had partially obstructed seats which gave us a view of the various people working backstage to try and get the PowerPoint to work.

Hank did some singing and we got our own personal Dear Hank and John Podcast (parts of which made it on the Dear Hank & John episode #114 that compiled this segment from several cities).  We finished the night with a lusty rendition of the Mountain Goats’ “This Year” as sung by the crowd, John, and played and sung by Hank.

Last time, when Matt and I saw John and Hank on book tour, they had a van.  Things have changed.

Here we are, fourth from the end.
It was a fun night. Thanks, Kelly.

Minnesota State Fair Day One: Winding Down

We visited the shopping area under the grandstand.  There were many ways to part with your money, including some ice cream, spread thin, and then rolled up.  Sara and I opted for this photo. You can see Shawn and Sara also took pictures here when they visited the fair a few days before I arrived.  

At this point, I was very thirsty, and Shawn and Sara decided to partake of some roasted corn. We first visited this ticket booth (right next to the gator on a stick) to get tickets that would allow us a “pop” (me) and sweet corn (Shawn & Sara)

Then, it was a matter of getting to the front of the large conglomeration of people all headed in the same direction.  There was no “line.”  I used my skills–moving through crowds is one of my secret talents–but got stuck for a long time in front of a woman who had a technique going.

All of those kids in the picture below new their jobs. One or two people pulled corn out of the oven into bins, bunches of people pulled back the husks (leaving them on–they served as holders.) Then other people would grab an ear of corn in each hand and walk up to the counter.  People would hold up their ticket, and exchange it for an ear of corn, usually stopping to pour salt or a cinnamon sugar blend (?) on their ear, or wrap it in foil.  Every once in a while, someone would squeegee off the counter.

The woman in front of me was getting perhaps 10 ears of corn. But she would look at each ear going by and only hold up her ticket if it was a particularly big ear.  So it took forever for her to clear out and for me to step up to the counter.  Once I got my drink, I just had wiggle back out of the crowd.

Corn eaten, pop drunk, we headed for the shuttle buses.  There was a long line (as with everything at the fair) but it gave me a chance to get some photos of the changing lights on the Ferris Wheel.

When it was time for our shuttle we were ferried home in “choir bus” luxury.

Day One at the Fair was a grand success!  I was so glad to attend with seasoned fair-goers.  I would have been overwhelmed without them there to show me the ropes.

Minnesota State Fair Day One: Yarn Bomb

Walking up to the Grandstand shops, we were afforded this nice view:

And also the great Minnesota Yarn Bomb.  Much yarn bomb knitting on display!

Also, these women, getting their photo taken, plus another woman who was either incredibly aloof, or just not with them.

Yarn bomb horse! (With corn dog) Minnesota nice, and the works of Crochet Twin Cities

Another horse

A view of the crowd.

Sara was enlisted to take a photo of some fair-goers, so I took the opportunity to take a photo of her taking a photo.

A knit Elvis

And more ways to illustrate the crowds.

Fun, food-inspired yarn bombs, with model, complete with foot kick.

Some memorializing of Prince

Minnesota State Fair Day One: Let’s visit the animals

These bunnies have a black stripe down their back.

We watched this goat contest long enough to see the winners.

The announcer said a lot of words into his microphone, but they weren’t very articulated words, so I caught pieces here and there.  (Acoustics might also have contributed to the problem.)

We were sitting in the bleachers, but many people stopped wandering and watched the contest.

Some post-contest chatting.

Grooming stations.

Cows! I was starting to lose the light and animals tend to be too twitchy for low-light situations.  Thank goodness these two were sleeping.

Past winners.