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Category Archives: Life Happens

Leave Me Out of the Obituaries and Facebook

For the past week my morning routine has been disrupted. I usually wake up to an alarm at 6:00 am each morning. It’s not a pleasant sounding alarm but it gets me out of bed.

Last week when Daylight Savings Time ended I somehow changed my alarm settings on my radio and I now wake up to a local radio station. It’s a change but I’m not sure for the better.

Each morning this past week when I woke up to the radio station it has been a depressing way to start the day. At 6:00 am on this particular station they read the obituary notices for the deaths that occurred since yesterday and the upcoming funeral arrangements in our area.

I suppose I’m looking at this all wrong. I shouldn’t be depressed because I am here living on this earth another day. Starting the day with the obituaries just isn’t the way I would choose to begin my day. Maybe tonight before I crawl into bed I will remember to reset my clock to wake to the alarm instead of the radio.

As I lay in bed listening to the obituaries being read I keep a mental tally of the ages of all those who have died and quickly average the ages by the number of those who have died. I breathe a brief sigh of relief as I calculate that I am younger than the average age of all those who have died recently. There is always hope for a few more good years, that should be a positive thought but there is a negative thought lurking in the back of my mind at the same time.

After I process the average ages in my mind contented briefly I then move on to my next train of thought which is how many years do I have until I reach the average age? There are not nearly enough years between now and then to carry out all that I had hoped to before I die.

Some people choose to read the obituaries in the paper each day and others discuss them over lunch at work. In our small town we used to know when someone died without reading the obituaries by just driving past the funeral home. If the outside light was on then someone had died and the conversations would start with “Who died?” or “Who is in the funeral home?” or “I saw so and so’s car at the funeral home so it must be someone related to them”.

Most families around here now opt to have the wake at the church instead of the funeral home the evening before the funeral so then the conversation switches to “What’s going on at the church?”, “I wonder if someone died?” I live in a small town of 400 so a death in the community is usually someone I know, some more than others. Hearing about the death of a family member or friend over the radio seems so impersonal.

I’d love to leave instructions for my funeral that my death not be announced over the radio like the local sports scores from the night before but passed by word of mouth among friends and family and definitely not as a Facebook status. Status:Dead …. How cold!

 
 

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Clinging

It’s been a while since I’ve posted.I’ve enjoyed reading all my favorite blogs each day even though I haven’t had much time for commenting or new posts.

I’ve been busy with getting ready for winter in Minnesota. We’ve been raking leaves, putting away lawn furniture. taking out the boat and boat lift from the lake and winterizing all of our toys against the cold Minnesota winter.

Yesterday when I was mulching leaves with the lawnmower so I wouldn’t have to rake and pick up any more leaves I noticed this apple. It was the lone apple left on my tree. It was too high to pick from the ground, too high for the deer to munch from the ground and it had stubbornly clung to the branch on the tree after all the leaves had flown away in the cold winds.

I am very much like this apple in the fall. I try to hang on to anything and everything that reminds me of the summer and the fall that I love so much not wanting to give into winter. There is always the hope that there will be just one more nice day for a motorcycle ride or a ride in the car with the top down. The chances are not that great for most of my favorite activities. There is snow forecast for tomorrow evening in our area.

Today I filled my bird feeders with sunflower seeds not wanting my feathered friends to have to search beneath snow for their meals. They give so much entertainment during the long winters that I enjoy enticing them with the choicest seeds. Only their favorites.

The hardest part of this season for me is the darkness. I get up and go to work when it is dark and it is dark when I return to my home. My favorite part of my day is when I can take a long enough lunch time to drive the four miles home and see my surroundings while it is still light. I don’t think that I would mind the cold as much if only it weren’t so dark so much of the time.

Each winter I try to find some new interest to learn about or a new hobby to take up some of the long winter evenings instead of just watching television. I am open to any suggestions for favorite books others have read or new hobbies you are exploring. Last winter I spent learning about my new camera and the Photoshop program. The winter really did seem to go faster and I actually learned something worthwhile by the end of it.

I would love to know what some of you do to pass the winter days and evenings.

 

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Wrestling Bathtubs and Other Remodeling Moves

Tonight my husband and I went to help our oldest son with his latest home improvement project. He is finishing his basement into a family room, bedroom and bathroom. We are helping with the bedroom and bathroom.

On our way to his home we stopped at Home Depot to pick up some sheet rock, 2 X 4’s and a bathtub/shower combination for his bathroom. We managed to get in all in the pickup truck and secured for the last half hour to his home. He doesn’t own a pick up truck so we have hauled whatever he can’t fit in his Impala with the seats folded down. I’m amazed at what he can fit in his car.

After arriving at his home we unloaded the truck and decided it was time to tackle carrying the bathtub into the house. His home is a split level entry so we went in the front door and started down the steps to the basement. My husband was at the bottom and my son and I at the top.

We made it through the front door with the beast but soon realized that we would have to change our plan of attack so it was back outside to turn the tub a different way and then back inside to try it again. We had to lift it high over the railing and head down the stairs.

We got to the bottom and got stuck. Back up the stairs to remove the hand railing to give us more room. Did I mention that the tub was made of fiber glass and by now we were itchy and had cuts on our hands from the fiber glass? Not fun.

Before we could remove the hand railing we set the tub down on the stairs only to wedge my son’s foot into a spot under the tub that we were having difficulty removing it from. He felt a little claustrophobic. We got it out and the railing off.

Back down the stairs with the tub. At the bottom of the stairs we needed to turn the tub 45 degrees to the left. Not enough room so we had to remove the packing feet from the tub. Still not enough room. My husband had to remove two studs from the wall at the bottom of the steps and the sheet rock from those spaces to negotiate the turn. We thought we were done with demolition last weekend.

After tonight we are taking tomorrow off from home improvement to take Dad’s sailboat out of the lake for the season. There may be large quantities of wine involved after tonight’s wrestling match. Then it will be back at home improvement on Saturday and Sunday. I hope we survive and his home.

 

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The Bicycle Gang and Childhood Destinations

This morning as I was looking for another photo I ran across this one. I took it a couple of weeks ago on a Saturday morning out my office window. At first it was only the two boys on the far right and they were quickly joined by the other five. They waited patiently as the one boy added air to his tire and then they were off as quickly as they came.

I was transported back to the 70’s when as a girl of 11 my friends and I would gather at one of my friends homes or mine just as the boys had done that Saturday morning.

We had important things to do. A trip to the mall was our destination. Now you may think that a trip to the mall was no big deal but it was. There weren’t many malls back then. In fact in our area of Minneapolis, this was the first. The mall was a mile and a half from our homes. We headed off with instructions from our Moms and Dads about safety along the busy roads with our bikes. There was no talk about being wary of strangers, it was a different time for sure.

We would head out first thing in the morning. The mall would open at 10 am. This was a whole day adventure. We didn’t plan on buying much, mostly looking but lunch was definitely part of the deal. Each of us would bring our hard-earned babysitting money or allowance if we got one. Saturday morning chores were done before we could go.

I still remember the wind blowing through my hair as we pedaled our bikes down the road. I loved then and still do now looking at all the different types of homes along the way and how the yards were landscaped. Once at the mall all the displays caught my eye which of course they were meant to do. As I look back now perhaps there was a different occupation other than teaching that I should have pursued, architecture or some type of design.

There is no mall for the boys to explore in our small town of 400. I imagine there are places just as exciting for a boy’s bicycle gang to explore in Tom Sawyer fashion with a small river and lakes nearby.

 

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Detroit Reflections and Investigating the Thumb

We are on the road again. My husband and I flew out of Mpls. on Tuesday afternoon for Milwaukee, WI with a destination of Flint, Michigan. We are once again combining business and pleasure. We decided to seek out some fall colors. He purchased two cars both in Michigan that we will drive back to Minnesota through a northern route of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

We had an hour lay over in Milwaukee around sunset. Loved our flight with Frontier except for the sales rep that sat two seats behind us and never stopped talking to a women also sitting behind us. I think he tried to impart all his wisdom in that one hour. It’s a good thing that our flight wasn’t any longer I fear he might have run out of knowledge to impart.

Before we left our Super 8 in Flint, Michigan this morning I had to take a picture of one of the oddest things I’ve seen in a motel.

I don’t know about you but the last place I want to talk on the phone is in the bathroom. There was another phone on the night stand in the room. I forgot to ask before we left if all the rooms had a phone in the bathroom or was it just our room.

We headed for downtown Detroit because neither of us had been there before. We found a great restaurant downtown The Sweetwater Tavern. They had excellent food and it reminded me a little of the Cheers bar from the tv show.

My favorite part of downtown was the reflections I saw on buildings of other buildings. Both looked like paintings on the other buildings.

This was my favorite of the two but both were fun to photograph.

We rode the People Mover around downtown before we left. It took about 15 minutes for a lap around the city above the street. Just 50 cents a piece to ride. What a bargain.

After we left Detroit we headed north up the east side of Michigan affectionately called the thumb of Michigan. We stopped at Port Sanilac, MI

After we left Port Sanilac we continued north to Harbor Beach, MI where we planned on finding a room to spend the night. We tried to find a hotel using the Magellan navigation system that we purchased in Detroit. We followed the directions and ended up on a dead-end street near this pier but no hotel.

 We didn’t find a hotel to stay in this town so we headed west to Bad Axe, MI which was where we planned on going in the morning to pick up our second car that we are driving home. We looked to see if there was a hotel in Bad Axe for the night. Our Magellan told us there was a Holiday Express in Bad Axe. We followed the directions which took us all the way through town and out-of-town, right off the main road out on a gravel road and proudly announced “You have arrived”.

I don’t think so, we were surrounded by corn fields. We turned around and went back into town and found out that everything in town was booked. Apparently there are a lot of construction workers erecting wind generators and have snatched up all the rooms. We asked at the Econolodge if there was a Holiday Express in town and they directed us to it.

I waited in the car while my husband went inside to see if they had any rooms. He was in there for a long time while the desk clerk called all over town for a room for us. There were none. He said “We have one more possibility.” Someone had a reservation but had not arrived yet. They tried to run their card for the room but could not get it to go through. They tried calling the phone number provided to confirm the card number for the reservation but could not reach the party. It was 9:30 already and they hadn’t checked in yet. They gave us their room.

I am thankful for the room but can’t help but wonder if someone will arrive later this evening to no room in a town with no vacancies.

Tomorrow the adventure continues north and west.

 

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The Birds Revisited

I am a great fan of Alfred Hitchcock movies. When I was in college I spent an entire quarter studying Hitchcock movies.

Yesterday brought back memories of watching the movie “The Birds” by Alfred Hitchcock. I looked out my livingroom window and saw the lawn covered with black birds. I think they are grackles. When I opened my window the birds all took off and flew up into the trees in our yard. Then after a moment or two they flew back down to the ground covering it once again.

They were busy eating something in our lawn. I was just thankful it wasn’t all the grass seed we had just planted. Something spooked them once again and they all took off and flew over our house and then began eating again on the south side of our home. Everywhere I looked I saw birds.

In the early 70’s I lived in Minneapolis, MN.  I was about 12 then. We had an entire summer of evening entertainment. All the Dad’s spent the summer trying to move the grackles from our neighborhood to the next.

They were successful in moving them a block or two away but then just a few nights later the grackles would be back again. It reminded me a bit of the antics in the Caddy Shack movie of trying to get rid the golf course of gophers.

As fast as the birds came, they left.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2011 in Life Happens, Nature, Photography

 

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Fall: The Best and Worst of Times

I have a love/hate relationship with the fall season. It is my favorite season in Minnesota because of the changing colors and scenery. Harvest times are special watching the farmers gathering their crops and gardeners, the produce from their gardens. Apple trees full of apples begging to picked and made into cider, pies, and apple crisp. I love how certain flowers in my garden are most beautiful in the fall like my Hydrangea.

I love the cool crisp mornings and the fresh air. I am energized by the aisles of school supplies. I always loved the start of the school season especially when I graduated college and started teaching school.  Setting up my classroom with a theme for the fall and for open house was always a highlight. I loved meeting my new students and watching them wander around the classroom to see what there was to look at and finding their desk for the first day of school.

While I love the changing colors of the trees, hillsides and flowers it only reminds me all too soon of the shorter days and the colder temperatures to come. All too soon I will be leaving for work in the dark and returning home from work in the dark. The shorter days seem to take my energy with them.

We live by a lake and it is always a sad thing to remove the dock, boat lift, and boat from the lake each fall. Each year we help my Dad take his sailboat out of the lake as well. Too many summers we have helped put his boat in the lake in the spring without ever taking the time to go for a ride before it is time to take it out in the fall.

I love sleeping with the windows open listening to the frogs in the nearby pond or the waves lapping against the shore and the call of the loons as I drift off to sleep. Fall nights turn too cold too soon and it is time to close the windows at night and close out my favorite sounds as well.

It’s been four years since I quit teaching. The workshop days at school and teachers talking about preparing their classrooms make me long for my classroom and bright smiling faces of the students entering the classroom eager to learn.

This fall is different than past 25 years. No students in my home, no classroom for teaching and no students to watch grow over the course of a year.

I could always go stock up on school supplies for old times sake.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2011 in education, Life Happens, Nature, Uncategorized

 

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To Clean or Not to Clean

This morning as I sit in my recliner marks the beginning of a new state in my life. Yesterday my daughter and grandson moved full-time into their apartment along with my other daughter. Today is the first day of classes in the fall semester at college for them.

As I was reading my emails this morning and looking around my all too quiet house I noticed the french doors for my sun room. They stand open from the livingroom inviting you to enter the sun room. At the angle they are open and where I am sitting I can see through the panes of glass. They are completely covered with tiny fingerprints and nose prints.

My grandson loves to play in the sun room. Most of his toys are in there. After he learned how to open and close the doors he would close one side and stand inside the porch and make faces at us through the glass as we sat in the livingroom. His version of Peek A Boo.

We had a great last couple of days with my daughter and grandson. We left Thursday evening for the race track where my husband was racing in a two-day event. My daughter and grandson came with us. It was a long two days for my daughter to entertain her son and figure out nap times and bed times away from home but she was good sport about it.

Thursday evening my husband won the “The King of Dirt” title in his division so he was pretty excited and my grandson was so excited about the trophy that he gave it a hug.

The second night of racing didn’t go as well with my husband being hit late in the race and spun into the wall. It will be the end of racing until some major repairs are made.

Yesterday morning I watched as my daughter loaded up her car to leave. Most of their things are already at the apartment but all the favorite last minute items were loaded last. We got our hugs and kisses goodbye and watched them leave to start a new chapter in their lives.

I think I will leave the window pane just as they are for a little while…..

 

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Sticks and Stones

Tonight after work I was outside taking clothes in off the line when my daughter and grandson got home. He stayed outside with me while she unloaded her car. While we were outside he found a stick and walked around in the yard poking the ground and everything with his stick until he broke it in two.

No tears were shed when he broke it. He just picked up the other half and walked around to the side of the yard where the steps come down off the porch. He started using his sticks like drumsticks on the bottom step.

After drumming for a while he put his sticks down and headed to my garden. When he got there he was distracted by something up above.

When I looked up to see what he was pointing at I saw a flock of birds flying overhead. I’m not sure what kind they are but this was just a small portion of what flew overhead.

After the birds passed by Jack picked up some small stones from my garden and promptly trotted down to the lake. When he got to the shore he threw one stone in and then the other. He turned around and headed straight back to my garden for a second and later a third set of stones to throw in the lake until the mosquitoes drove us inside for the rest of the evening.

Who needs fancy store-bought toys when you’ve got sticks and stones?

 

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Great Advice in an Unexpected Place

When I was checking the weather over the past few days and for the next few days to schedule some flying time the low ceilings of the past few days and forecast for the days to come reminded me of this post that I wrote this winter but never published. It was shortly after we returned from our first trip to Florida for a few days vacation away from the Minnesota cold.

This morning my flying lesson was canceled due to low ceilings. While in town I decided to take care of a few errands. I had my backseat of my car filled with bags of clothes that my youngest had cleaned out of her closet this week. After dropping of the bags at Goodwill I headed over to the mall to get a long overdue haircut.

I pampered myself and said yes to have my hair washed, cut and styled. I rarely leave the hair salon with dry hair. Usually a quick cut and out the door with wet hair and back to work. This morning was a treat. It was as close as I’ll ever get to going to a spa.

 Two weeks ago our local grocery store’s roof collapsed due to a heavy snow load. It has forced me to change my shopping habits and actually plan out my meals. While in town I went to the grocery store to pick up food that I needed for this weekend to feed our family and some guests for Sunday evening.

 I gathered my groceries and headed to the checkout lines and surveyed which line I thought I might move faster through. Each of the lines was long so I just got in line in the closest checkout. As I moved forward in line I noticed that the clerk was a small-framed older woman I guessed to be between 75-80 years old.

 The closer I got I watched her efficiency in her task of checking out the groceries and loading them back into the cart to be bagged by me later. When I was by the register I noticed the pin on her smock that said 5+. I assumed that it was her years of service at the store and asked her about it.

I said,  “Have you worked here for 5 years?”

She said  ”No, almost 9 years.”

I don’t usually engage clerks in personal discussions because they can sometimes lead into awkward subjects but I was curious as to why and almost 80-year old woman was checking out groceries.

I asked her “So do you have to work here or do you want to work here?” I was curious as to whether she was one of the many elderly that need to supplement her income or was there another reason that she was working.

“I just had to get out of the house” she replied. “I lost my husband a few years ago and the house just seemed to big and quiet.”

“How long were you married?”  She replied “54 years”

“Let me give you a bit of advice dear” she said to me. “Do all you can while you are young and able because you never know when you won’t be able to do what you planned. My husband and I did some traveling but always planned to do more and then one day he was gone and everything changed.”

A bit of advice I plan on using…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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