Friday, May 29, 2015

It meant something to that one

I read a story once about a man walking on the beach and as he walked he was picking up sand dollars that had washed up on the sand, and he was gently tossing them back out into the water.  
A passerby said, "You can't save them all you know, you can't really do much about them dying."  But as the man tossed one of the sand dollars back out into the water he replied, 
"Maybe not, but I made a difference to that one."

I think about that story often, and try to remind myself to just do the little things.
Today, as I was driving to meet a friend for a lunch outing, I noticed the car in front of me swerved just a bit to miss something laying at the edge of the road way.  We were on the bridge on main street in Rice Lake so there wasn't much leeway.  Once I was closer, I could see it was a turtle, alive, trying to find safe passage to, well, who knows where.
And yes, I had a glove in the car, while I was anxious to help, I have my limits.

I couldn't not help that turtle, so I drove on, got turned around and then found a place to park just off the bridge.  As I was walking up to grab him, I cringed as a car missed him by less than an inch.  Lucky for me (and the turtle) the traffic broke and I safety picked him up off the roadway.

I carried him around the side of a building where I could see there was access to the river.  Yes, he was going to have to navigate a big of high grass and weeds, but the river was reachable from where I left him.  I'll never know for sure, but let's assume he made it safely.

Yup, I made a difference to that one.

Life is good, for humans and snapping turtles.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

We want the best for our kids

It's a no-brainer, we all want what is best for the children of our family, and all children.  It doesn't always work out.  Making decisions and accepting the consequences come easier to some than others.  For some, the path is easy to see, obeying laws, living a good life and avoiding the pitfalls.  For others, the choices are not as easy.  Choosing friends and lifestyles that are on the wrong side of the law and accepted societal norms is attractive to some, but comes with a price.
The family members suffer when left in the wake of an arrest, rehab, bad behavior and lies.
So it is with one of my great nieces.
Her recovery seemed to be amazing and her attitude so positive, but now choices made have returned her to the life she once worked so hard to escape.
As we hope for her recovery and for her to once again choose a healthy lifestyle, her family suffers.
It isn't their fault, yet they find themselves confused, disappointed, hurt and sad.
For a sister & auntie to post a photo with this comment, I think it says it all.

No, I will never ever you can trade a little boy for anything, much less a life of substance abuse.  I will never understand how you can hurt the ones who have loved you and helped you and encouraged you to be well.  I will never understand how you can disrespect and endanger your sisters with your behavior.  I will never understand how you can ignore what is happening to your family.  I will never understand how you can think you are exempt from laws and from acceptable behavior.  I will never understand, but I will always love you L.
Please come back to us.
We just want what is best for you.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Am I brave, or what!

On Saturday, I worked outside planting my pots and cleaning up around the yard.  I'm pleased with my work but there is more to do.  I had piled some old hanging pots and other items at the back of the garage, to be dumped and put away at a later date.  
As I was back there looking to see if the chicks & hens were growing, some kind of critter darted out from under a plant.  It scared me to death, I jumped and yelled and then tried to think of what I had seen.  
It was too big to be a mouse, and I hoped it was not a rat.  
The more I thought about it, the more I knew I had to move all those pots and see what I could see.  I didn't want to provide a home for something I didn't want living in the yard.
Flopsy or Mopsy or Cottontail?
After moving and dumping the pots I was surprised to see this guy hiding in plain sight.
He's a cutie and I left him alone and he has moved on.  I've seen Mom in the yard so no doubt he found her again and has found a better hiding spot.

At least I know my heart is good.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Ready for summer

I worked on planting on Saturday.
I have many pots around the yard, 2 have tomato plants and the rest have flowers.
I'm almost done and then I can just sit back and watch them grow as I water.
It's bittersweet this year as I am usually getting ready for Dad & Ev to come and visit.
Getting my yard looking good for them gave me a lot of joy.
I find myself thinking about them quite often as I move the planters, plant the impatiens that they loved, ready the deck for sitting in the morning and afternoon, and hanging a fresh American flag.

I'm not ready for them to be gone, but I guess I am ready for summer.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Decoration Day

I'm a little sad that the name was changed to Memorial Day.  I kind of like the idea of cemetery plots being decorated in memory of loved ones, and I like the notion that military honors are decorations, whether it be a medal, a stripe or a marker on a grave.  
I visited the West Denmark Cemetery yesterday to plant a couple of perennials and also place a pot holder and flowers.  It was a perfect summer day.  When I first arrived, I was the only one in the cemetery.  I took care of my planting but then realized I needed water to help those plants survive the move.  When I returned to do the watering, the cemetery was busy.  Lawn was being mowed, flags were being placed on the veteran's graves and family members were coming to decorate the graves.
I think Dad and Ev would like how their bench looks today.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

It's good when things are good

Owning a cabin Up North is nice, but is always a worry whether someone might break in and do some damage.  We had one attempted break in a couple of years ago, but otherwise so far, 
we have been lucky.
The White Sled at The Sandcastle
We have been also been lucky over the past few years to have a group of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources research folks need a place to stay in that area and have taken advantage of our offer for them to use The Sandcastle.
They are always appreciative and take excellent care of our place and leave it cleaner than we do.
And having someone in the cabin, reduces the risk of a break in to about zero.

Today, I took a drive up to the cabin to check on things now that the WDNR folks have moved out and to measure a cabinet.
Of course, everything was perfect.
They left us a nice Thank You note.
Thanks from our DNR pals.

And they left some cash.

And they left refreshments.
Nice beers

Oh, they also left a replacement knife for one that broke.
We would have never known that one of our crappy knives was missing!
At least now, we have one good knife.

And, lastly, they left firewood.
The inside wood-box was full and the woodpile had been added to.

They also left this funny note.
I take this to mean that they caught the mouse.

These folks are great house guests!
I hope they will want to come back again next year.

It has been two years since the German Road Fire in this area, and I am just amazed at how different everything looks up there.  Most of the charred trees have been removed, so it is growing up with lots of green now.
Pano of Sand Road & Connors Meadow Road
This area was all pine trees before the fire.
After the fire, this intersection was completely charred.
Now, it looks like sand prairie.
Mother Nature is good.

Monday, May 18, 2015

What's in the box

On Friday night I went to the State Theater again, this time to see Jay Owenhouse, Illusionist.

I had ordered my ticket soon after the show was announced, so I was seated in the front row of the balcony right, box seats.  
A perfect view, and far enough away the tigers could not eat me, if it came to that.

The show was amazing.
Two bengal tiger twins, one white & one orange, each appeared in a box, by magic.
His daughters are his stage beauties and they were great.
Jay's manner was calm and the show moved at a relaxing pace.
One of his big tricks involved a motorcycle disappearing from a crate held up off the ground and then being ridden in from the back of the theater.  While you might figure there could be two motorcycles, I still don't know how the first one disappeared!
His last illusion was one using a wooden puzzle of geometric shapes.
I'm still trying to figure that one out.
I was not expecting the show to be of such professional caliber so was very delighted.
I love magic and by the sound of the nearly capacity audience, I am not alone.

As I was leaving the theater, I heard a Mom ask her ~8 year old daughter if she liked the show.
The little girl responded "In the box, Out of the box, In the box, Out of the box."
I guess that sums in up in the simplest form but for me I'm still wondering "how did he do that?"

Friday, May 15, 2015

Off the grid

Going off the grid is not something I'm not very comfortable with doing.  It happens from time to time, but generally, I like the idea that my cell phone can connect me to someone in an instant.

When I was leaving the Bridge Retreat on Wednesday morning, my cell phone suddenly stopped functioning.  I'd had the Note II for a couple of years or more, and I loved it & it had been reliable.  
I had planned to do a wellness check on our cabin, 
but without a working phone, I would not take the risk.

So, when I got back to Rice Lake from Up North, I tried a couple of fixes that I found  on Google, but to no avail.  Next, I called the Sprint Store in Eau Claire and of course, they  suggested I come in and they would try to help me fix the phone or replace it with a new one.

Quickly, I got the car unpacked and then drove off to Eau Claire.
Matt, my technician, was nice & very helpful in explaining the new phones and plans.
After some diagnostics, it was soon time to shop for a new phone.

I love gadgets and technology so while this is an inconvenience and an expense I don't need, I rather enjoy having new fun toys.  Since I keep most of my data on either the mini SD card in the phone or in Dropbox memory, I wasn't worried about losing anything important off my old phone which was good since nothing was accessible now.

As the technician was activating the new Samsung Note 4 phone it occurred to me that I had saved all the text messages that I had sent over the weekend when Dad had his surgery, became critically ill and died.  I had always planned to somehow reconstruct my activities & communications during that period of time but had not found the time or right frame of mind to face remembering each detail.

I asked Matt if my saved text messages would be accessible, 
but he said unfortunately all would be lost since the old phone was DOA.

I was disappointed and relieved all in the same moment.  
As much as I thought I wanted to read all those text messages again, there is not one thing I can change about the sequence of events of that weekend.
And so it goes. 

Coincidentally, the monument folks have added Dad's date of death to the bench at the cemetery.

And so...
Life is better on the grid.
I know can't change the past.
Letting it all go is both hard and also liberating.

Life is Good.

Bridge Building

Much to my delight, playing Bridge has been the key to making friends in my Rice Lake life.  I could never have guessed that so many played in this community, but the more I play, the more people I meet who are avid players.
Last weekend, I joined 8 other women in retreating to a resort in the north-woods for 2 days of non stop Bridge play.  
We arrived at The Hoinville House @ Heartwood Conference Center & Retreat, near Trego, WI, on Monday afternoon.  The house sleeps 10, has 3 bathrooms and 2 family rooms.
On a nice day/evening, in the backyard, there is a fire-pit with a view of the lake.
Back Yard - Hoinville House
Hoinville House @ Heartwood
All moved in quickly; foods stuffs & other items were stored and then the cards were dealt.  Planning had been done to provide a framework for tournament pairings and small prize games were explained and then the first bids were made.
Two tables of play
With 9 players, it worked out that one person would be on 'time out' every 8 rounds.  Each round consisted of 6 contracts.  After 6 contracts, partners switched.
We played 18 rounds over the course of the stay, so with two 'byes' per person, 
everyone played 96 contracts of Bridge.

Total scores were tallied at the grand prize winner was awarded with a small prize.
Taking tricks with a 2 involved a traveling gift landing on the last person to be so lucky.
Having 'honors' got you into a 'white elephant' competition, and after stealing and swapping, each ended up with a prize, new or slightly used.

The house is very nice, big fireplace in the upper family room, gas fireplace in the lower family room.  Over sized windows gave great natural light and a wonderful view of the woods and lake below the hillside just off the backyard.

We had enough food to stay a week!
Everyone pitched in on the work and the fun.
There was much laughing and teasing and many great hands of Bridge were played.
Before leaving to go home, we took a couple of group photos.

For fun, I brought some silly sunglasses that I had found a couple of years ago.

We are already planning the next time that we will retreat to build friendships while playing Bridge.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Forget Me Not


It's a Hallmark holiday, some folks say,
But why not honor Mom's, for at least one day.

Three women were Mom's to me through the years,
Each leaving too soon and for that I've shed tears.

My Other-Mother Betty, Step Mom Ev & my real Mom Pauline,
Each left me with fond memories & for a day, they each should be Queen.

So, on this day I will smile and remember them,
Each one leaving me with memories, precious as a gem.

And those gems are like a treasure,
And most memories bring such pleasure.

So, here's to the three Mothers who have passed through my years,
With Forget-Me-Not Flowers from my yard, I'll say Cheers!


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Little visitor

Usually I can hear wrens in the yard, but for the first time ever, today one stopped by the feeder.
He sat there showing off and singing, he didn't come for the food.

House Wren, stopping by to let me have a look

I went out back to get a new photo of the Trillium and then saw two wrens in the trees.
House Wren, singing to his partner, probably house hunting.
The wrens have nested in one of my bird houses for the past few years.
I hope they are considering moving in again.

The thicket is getting pretty dense, but I squeezed in to get a new beauty shot of the trillium.
Another fine day in 'Sconny.

Friday, May 8, 2015


Spending the day at home today and it's a good day to see some color in the yard.
Blue Jay

Female Baltimore Oriole

Mourning Dove

Male Baltimore Oriole
And, in the black & white category, new today and eating the jelly, is the Gray Catbird.
Gray Catbird
Cleaning up under the feeders, the Common Grackle, looking pretty in the sunshine.
How does he get his feathers to be so shiny?

Common Grackle
Just about supper time, I noticed this flash of color at the feeder.
Blue Bunting

This time of year brings a bounty of birds to the feeders.
It's wonderful to see the leaves popping out too.
Life is Good.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The love of my life

My favorite flower of all time is the Trillium.
I'm lucky to have one trillium in my woods that blooms each Spring.
I've never seen it before it opens before, it's a beauty.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

An evening with Frank

Sometimes it's just too much trouble to see if anyone else wants to go, so I decided to get just one ticket for the Chippewa Valley Jazz Orchestra's performance of Frank Sinatra's Live at the Sands.

I'm also experimenting with different seats in the theater to find my favorite, since I like going to events at The State.  The State is a refurbished movie house and a great venue.  Recently I saw the Andrew Lloyd Webber show performance of Jesus Christ Superstar.  For that show, I got a box seat (remember where the old guys sat on The Muppets).  I liked that seat and will gladly sit there again.

This show, I sat in the front row of the balcony.  A very excellent seat for sure.
The View from Row S
It was really a perfect seat for a performance like the Jazz Orchestra.
I loved all the music in the show and as I was driving home from Eau Claire, humming Fly Me To the Moon & Luck, Be a Lady Tonight.
Fun, and great talented singer & musicians along with a good seat, made for an enjoyable outing.
I am often reminded what a small world we live in.
When I sat down in my theater seat on Saturday evening, the couple next to me said hello and when I turned to return their greeting, I could see he was very familiar face to me & then I realized why.
He used to the be the Optometrist at Target in Eau Claire where I go for exams and glasses.
They proceeded to tell me that they saw Count Basie with Tony Bennett in Florida, 45 years ago, on New Year's Eve, while on their honeymoon.
I asked if they were married on New Year's Eve, 
but they said no, but that they were married on the 27th of December.
Since that is my birthday, I will from now on always think of these nice folks on my birthday.
Life is funny sometimes.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

It feels like summer

The weather has warmed, and many of my perennials are making their way to be a flower or bush.  As you can see, the sun is bright, the sky was clear on Saturday, 
allowing temperatures to reach the mid 70's.  It's been awhile since it has felt that warm.  With a warm spike comes risk of storms for Sunday and I saw my first June Bug, but otherwise, 
Life is Good.

I've long wanted some kind of comfy seating on my South facing deck.  The table and chairs there are fine for eating, but not for lounging.  Since my friend, Bruce, was making a trip to Rice Lake with his pick up truck, I got busy and found a patio set that would work.  He hauled it to my garage for me and then all that was left, was some assembly.

I don't mind projects like this.  Once I read the directions, and set up a chair in the sun, it took me about 2 hours to have a completed set of furniture.  
Only one re-do was required after I noticed the seat was upside down on the couch.  

Still working on the arrangement, but now I have a comfortable sitting spot and hopefully, I'll use this deck a little more often.  It has the bird feeder action to entertain anyone who sits a minute here.

A friend has asked that I 'beta read' her first novel.
The manuscript arrived a few days ago and I devoted a Sunday, with no other obligations, 
to diving into the story. 
The birds busy in the background made for a nice setting for reading.
I'm enjoying the book, at about the half way mark, it has been interesting and the imagery pleasing.
Well, back to the story...


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