A few snaps from the Garden of my mother, Joyce Tlustos, on August 24, 2018 in SW Sioux Falls, SD. As the sign indicates, Mom was, is, and will always be an Avant Gardener. What makes a person an Avant Gardener? I don’t know. I suspect a particular, whimsical attitude has something to do with it. I suspect age does not.
It was my birthday last week. Actually it is “our birthday”, meaning me AND my mom. We were both involved in my birth, which I understand was a rather unusual and taxing ordeal, so the day is as much my mom’s as it is mine.
This year to celebrate we had lunch in downtown Sioux Falls at the Phillips Avenue Diner. We both had the jambalaya, which as always was excellent. If you think you can’t get excellent cajun/creole food in the Great Northern Plains, think again.
Afterwards we went to the 2017 Sioux Empire Farm Show, a gargantuan celebration of all things agriculture. This year’s show was ginormous, taking up every room, every inch of hallway and probably every broom closet at the Sioux Falls Convention Center, Area, and Denny Sanford Center. One of the reasons for needing all that room was the unbelievable scale of modern farm equipment. Below are a couple of examples. My mother is in both pictures. She’s around 5′ 1″. Calling that green mountain a simple “grain wagon” seems somehow lacking, as is the “spraying rig” in the bottom photo. If someone mentions the word “agribusiness” and your mind goes to a scene from the 70’s TV show “Green Acres” or even the moving “Field of Dreams”, you may be in need of an update. It was a great way to spend “our” birthday together. Love you mom!
Thursday, January 21 is my birthday. I’ve been doing “life math” the last couple of months, and doing double-takes counting the years. Things like how long Joan and I have been married (28 year last October), how many years its been since my first radio show (1978, 38 years ago), etc. Tomorrow I turn 55. I can’t compare where I’m at against where I thought I’d be at 55 because I never thought that far ahead. I’ve already experienced and survived (so far) a number of the events which are common as one ages, and the fear that can accompany them (the loss of a parent, cancer, surgically repaired joints, the start of arthritis). 55 also has an upside, as I now qualify for another level of senior citizen discounts, including an extra 5% off at some of my favorite junkin’ spots. As Eric Idle sang at the end of “Life of Brian”, “Always look on the bright side of life!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlBiLNN1NhQ
My mother said something to me a few years back that has stuck with me. I now use it every time I talk about a birthday. It’s really not just MY birthday, it’s OUR birthday. We were both involved, and Mom did most of the work. I won’t bore you with being born details, but I’ve been told it was quite the adventure. It involved a 1960 black VW Beetle, navigating 25 miles from the farm to Mitchell in a full-blown South Dakota blizzard, me entering the world backwards butt first (poetic), and my usually calm, reserved and diplomatic Dad going ballistic when the folks at the hospital weren’t showing any sense of urgency.
I like the idea of it being “Our Birthday”, and we celebrated Tuesday with lunch and talking over her current dried flower art. She’s the talented one. I am but a small “muse”, providing her with found items which sometimes serve as objects for her to build upon. If you’ve gone to Admissions at Sanford Hospital in Sioux Falls any time in the last 16 years or so you’ve seen my Mom’s work. In fact yesterday she brought in some fresh creations. Check’em ouf if you’re in that neighborhood. I took some photos yesterday of a few of the items up or in progress at her place. Mom’s modest, but I and most people who see it know it’s art. And yes, she either grew it or harvested it in the wild, and dried everything herself.
I’ve promised to make my blog posts shorter, so I’ll end with saying thanks to Mom for putting in all the serious work to make sure I was born. I am proud of her, and I think she’s proud of me. Hopefully we’ll get to share Our Birthday together for many years to come.
(Note If you’re moved in some way by my Mom’s artistry, 1960 VW Bugs or the visual of me being born butt-first, I’d encourage you to share this blog with friends. If you want every post delivered just as it’s being born, click the “follow” button below. Plus, all my Mom wants on Our Birthday is to see me working again, so keep those gig tips comin’…)