Northwoods Journal: Summer

It is sinking in that summer is really, finally here. This usually happens about four weeks before it gets cold again, so I am being very much in the present, eyes wide open, walking without a jacket, swatting at deer flies and even getting a bit warm at times.

It is getting late, almost 8:30 but I have sunlight still and it’s been a few days since I walked the wetland trail. We’ve had regular rain so the meadow is green. There are a few clouds but no wind. The sunset is getting better by the minute.

Even with the rain, the creeks and ponds are low but I love the way this one looks like a ribbon of reflected light.

The first sections of my path go past fields where milkweed plants abound. They are in full flower now which makes for a rather stunning plant. I often see deer in the fields in the evening and tonight I got to lock eyes with this young fellow. I thought he was stunning too.

Farther out in the marsh, I’m seeing “my geese”. I’m getting a sense of ownership – after all I’ve watched them grow up. Most of them look like adults now. Tonight they have the company of a pair of sand hill cranes. None of them seem to mind that I am taking pictures of them so I spend quite a bit of time watching.

Passing the wildflower field makes me happy because the black eyed susans are the color of happy. Passing the wildflower field also makes me sad because black eyed susans are a mid to late summer flower and I don’t want summer to be over anytime soon.

Splashes of color are everywhere, if you look for them.

I am reminded that this beautiful greenspace used to be a small golf course every time I see this sign, which now makes me laugh. It’s all green so I guess we can exit anywhere we want to.

The sun is nearly down and I am feeling like I’ve just had a shower of peace and blessing. Even the deer flies have gone to bed and are no longer following me. Time to be thanking God for helping me to be here in this place, at this time. Time to rest. Thanks for coming along.

Northwoods Journal: July 15, 2022

Up north where summer is cool (except when it’s 100 degrees F.).

We are having a family reunion in, roughly, two weeks. This time we number around 45 individuals from the east coast, the west coast and in between. They are coming from Alaska, and Florida, from Washington, Georgia, Michigan and North Carolina. By plane and by car. The meeting place is Hayward, WI and thankfully that is close to the middle, however it is also over two hours from the nearest airport. Everyone flying in has to shuttle, rent a car, or find someone to give a ride. Travel arrangements are getting wildly complex.

Family reunions are somewhat about food, since we all need to eat. But it’s not that simple. Everyone has favorite meals and food traditions that we like to recreate. Like most families, we love grilling outdoors, pizza, good coffee for breakfast and cinnamon rolls. We love popcorn and ice cream. We love a meal out at an interesting restaurant. We have kids who only eat one food. We have adults on special diets. Food arrangements are getting complex.

We love to sit around and talk, and for some of us that is the most physically active we can be. We have others who would add a silly game, a movie night, or a campfire to their talk environment. There are some of us who have to float the river for four hours or it’s not a real reunion. There are some who have to be on wheels, or boats doing something potentially dangerous. And all of us care about sharing worthwhile, memorable experiences with each other. And although I have never felt that boredom is a fatal condition, I would prefer that no one remember our time together as BORING. It’s getting complex.

The next couple of weeks this reunion is going to be on my mind pretty regularly. My four brothers and I, along with Mom, are the linch pins of the event and are talking, calling each other, and figuring out all these complexities. I appreciate how it draws us together, joining our particular skills, taxing our creativity. It’s work, but good work. It’s going to make some interesting journal entries and I hope I have time to write them.

I love that our complex family cares enough about these periodic reunions to consider planning, spending for them and coming to them. I know it probably will not always be possible. Our families are getting larger and developing groups within groups and that will change the when, the who and the where for our future get-togethers. That is okay, because no matter the size of the gathering, we are teaching the tradition to the next generation. We teach cooperation. We teach sacrifice. We teach commitment. We teach fun. We teach family.

All photos are from past reunions. This one in 2018.

Do you have family reunions? If so, do you look forward to them? Are there special traditions or ways of handling complex arrangements that you can share?

Northwoods Journal: July 11, 2022

My senior assisted living community has gone down by two – a whole 50%. I still have the husband and Mom to help but my uncle and aunt, both in their 90’s, have gone south to live near my uncle’s children.

Me and Mom. Glad I still get to help her. She’s fun.

They lived near a town, about 25 minutes away, out in the country where we had trouble getting cell service. They had neighbors, but I was always worried about them being able to contact someone if they needed help. My aunt was disabled with Parkinson’s, and nearly blind. My uncle was the main caregiver for her and he was getting tired. On top of that there was the difficulty of keeping warm and plowed out during our severe winters. Something had to change, and it did.

My aunt had a crisis on Friday, July 1st, and after a week in the hospital recovering it was obvious that she needed nursing home placement. I was surprised to find out that there were no available beds for her level of care anywhere in our small community. None. But there was a place for her in a care center in the town where my uncle’s daughter lived, and they were willing to accept her. I am in awe of the social workers who helped get this done so quickly that it about took my breath away. I also think it was God’s plan to give my uncle some good time with his daughters after many years of just seeing them for occasional visits.

Caregiving… my aunt and uncle didn’t require my time on any regular basis, but more as a problem solver and go between with their doctors. I helped a little with their legal and financial affairs and often with their tech problems. Cell phones and computers drove my uncle to frustration. So, you would think I would feel free and have lots of extra time now that I don’t have those responsibilities. I guess that’s partly true – but I’m mostly aware of how quickly it all happened and how I miss them. Strange.

And that is one of the strange things about caregiving. It’s often hard, restricting, physically tiring, stressful, and has distasteful elements but it is also rewarding and more meaningful than a lot of other things I might be doing. Although I’ve been a paid caregiver and felt the weight of responsibility for my clients and the importance of being faithful and dependable, being a family caregiver is that and so much more. There are no 8 or 12 hour shifts, seldom a vacation, no weekends off, no differential for nights and no overtime. There are times when it feels like I’m handing over my life to someone else.

But, it is my life, and I know I made intentional choices that determined my present circumstances. Like many other aspects of life, the challenge is in taking what comes to me and making something of it. I must make plans but I must also expect the unexpected and figure out how to respond. I want to respond to situations in ways that won’t make me disappointed in myself at some later date.

In case you haven’t noticed, preaching to myself is one of the ways I’m meeting those challenges. It helps me to remember that God has given me specific skills to use for the good of others, and that he will strengthen me and keep me in the game until I’m no longer needed. Knowing that I am in the right place, at the right time, for a good purpose makes me satisfied and gives joy. What more could I ask?

Northwoods Journal: Hayward, Wisconsin

Riding around Hayward, not in a car, but on a bike – that was my joyride yesterday. It was a relatively slow ride, not a race of any kind, and I took care to be noticing everything. It was a great way to tour a small town. I’ve always loved Hayward, but I kind of “fell in love” over again. I’m pretty sure you would like Hayward too.

Many changes have taken place in our town since I was a child. Of course, one of them was the paved bike path I started on. It follows the perimeter of the business and residential districts, starting very close to my condo, and circles around to end up at the starting point again 12.5 miles later. I probably put in a few extra miles going through quiet streets, just looking at houses and yards because that’s what I like to do.

On my ride I started at what used to be my Grandfather Smith’s property, and the house where he raised his family.

Not too much later I rode past the house where my Grandfather Boone used to live, and the field where my mother and her brothers used to play.

I rode past three water towers. Except for the giant fish, I think maybe it’s our town’s mark of distinction to have three of them, although none of them are very attractive – a little rust, a little graffiti, lots of sirens and satellite dishes hanging on them.

I crossed the same river twice, and rode along it for long stretches. The Namekagon River valley is where Hayward is situated and I saw several smaller streams on their way to join the main river. Lake Hayward is the result of a dam on the Namekagon. The area grew as a logging town and for a while the lake was a collection point for logs. I rode past the water arena where lumberjacks still show their skills to the public, log rolling, climbing, chopping and sawing.

I don’t know if this entrepreneur was ever a lumberjack but I am pretty much in awe of his skill with a chainsaw. I rode past his outdoor lot where he sells some amazing log art.

Is that Jack Link’s jet? I don’t know.

Near the end of my ride I went past Hayward’s airport. You could probably charter a plane to bring you to Hayward but there are no major airlines serving this town. Many of the planes, jets and helicopters belong to people wealthy enough to fly in and out, rather than drive the nearly three hours to Minneapolis or six hours to southern Wisconsin cities.

Riding a bike is a friendly way of getting around, similar to horse and buggy days when stopping to talk with someone you knew was common. I rode past the house of some friends and saw one of their kids outside fixing his car. I thought a minute, and then turned around and went up the drive to say hi. Why not?

Last stretch of the bike path leading home.

I have decided to ride bike more often this summer. It really is a pretty good way to get around for moderate distances. I thought that it might be my next challenge (gotta have a challenge…) to ride 100 miles a month, for the next four months, until it snows again. But today it is raining and I’m already losing my enthusiasm. Haven’t learned to love riding in the rain, yet.

That’s all for today for this northwoods journal.

June Journal: Goodbye Beautiful Month

I haven’t seem much of the geese since the tall grass around the pond was mowed. This pair and their young’un saw me coming this evening and high-tailed it into the pond. Most of the families have gone further into the wetland marsh.

June 25, 26

The weekend did not bring answers to the electrical problem in the garage. I unplugged the garage door opener one night and the fault still occurred. The only conclusion I can make is that none of my appliances are causing the problem. It’s going to be up to an electrician I’m afraid.

I went back to church on Sunday and it was good to be involved in the music. I am the oldest on the worship team – never thought that would be my badge, but I’ll take it. We have an eclectic pool of people to man the different instruments and lead. Teenagers, married middle-agers, seniors, even some middle school volunteers (because they are so good running slides on the computer). It feels like a privilege to worship with them.

The husband wanted to eat out again! We had lunch at Perkins and then went next door to get a DQ hamburger for Mom. The line for ordering was 10 cars long. That place is crazy ever since Covid started.

June 27

Major accomplishment today was getting my aunt (96 years old) and uncle (91 years old) to the doctor for wellness checks. I drove the 18 miles to their house, helped them get in their car, drove back 18 miles to the clinic with them. Their appointments were easy enough, but then we also had to stop at the pharmacy and get their Covid boosters. The return trip, another half hour there and half hour back home. I have to laugh at their car. I used to be worried about all the warnings of tire pressure being low, the loud clacking of the fan, the smell of decaying mouse, and the unpredictable door locks. Not any more. We just go.

June 28

More doctor appointments but this time it is for me and the husband. We lived in Florida for 30 years and need to get our skin checked for cancers. It turned out to be a little unnerving for me since she found six suspicious places on my face and used her “freeze” gun on them. It hurt but I can’t see that it did much to them. In addition she looked at my hands and decided to do x-rays and blood work to see if I had rheumatoid arthritis. I wasn’t expecting that.

I went home and spent the evening pulling weeds in Mom’s borders around her condo. There’s nothing like doing a job that really needs doing to calm me down. The border improved, one small weed at a time – and me, marveling that there were no mosquitoes, amused by the bullfrog sounding from the retention pond out back. So ended the day.

June 29

Fighting a headache all day. I read to the husband in the morning and we finished a book. Reading is not the best for headaches though.

Before it was filled in with dirt, this silo foundation was home to a large pig!

We have an historic silo foundation behind the barn. It has had various plantings in it and is also a graveyard for Scruffy, my brother’s dog who left us a couple years back. At times it’s been featured in family photos, and since we have a reunion coming up, I wanted to get it weeded and respectable looking. Once again, pulling weeds is therapy, this time for my headache. I feel such power, deciding which things stay and which things go. I might have made a good dictator.

RIP Scruffy.

I took the husband out for a wheelchair ride on our street after dinner. I’m glad that he is able to get outside, if only for a few minutes, but there is something about doing this that saddens me. It makes such a statement.

June 30

The last day of June, sob! A third of our summer is over.

The headache is still hanging around, so much so that I wondered if I was getting second Covid, long Covid, or whatever it is called when it comes back. But I had no fever and felt better after medication.

Spent some time with my client at New Life. She is a delightful young mom who likes to sit and talk, which I find very refreshing.

The only other redeeming thing I did today was clean up my closet a bit. Decided it might be safe to box up my winter socks – a fitting way to say goodbye to June.

The flowers change with the months. Daisies are still in style but the late summer blooms are starting already.

June Journal: Appointments Driving Me Crazy

Appointments, yes. But what is really driving me crazy is the GFS outlet in the garage that keeps tripping and shutting off power to all the outlets where my second refrigerator, and my freezer are plugged in. Every day a new tactic, trying to isolate the problem…

June 19

We are not having our usual company after church today. We are not going to church. The husband keeps asking if we are doing our normal things and I have to remind him that we are staying home because I have had Covid. I did go out and watch the geese. They are getting big.

The adults are always watching – good parents.

June 20

Today was over 90 degrees and windy. I could easily have imagined I was back in Florida. I passed up helping the Boys and Girls Club with their canoe trip. The cold water would probably have felt good but the heat made me feel sick, even being inside. It’s probably too soon for me to be doing something that strenuous. Glad to stay home.

Except for the chiropractor appointment that the husband thinks he needs. Once again, I had him go in by himself while I sat in the car and watched their hanging baskets twirl and wilt in the heat and wind. They came out to check on timing for another appointment and I said it was okay, but don’t have my calendar with me to be sure.

June 21

Mom, brother Dennis and I are back on our morning meetings, discussing the day ahead and doing some reading. I had two appointments. The first was with our financial advisor, a quarterly update. He’s had Covid too so we were in about the same shape and not too worried about catching it anymore. To be proper we met outside on the patio. It was hot but not quite as bad as yesterday.

The second appointment was to look at a camper that some friends of friends were willing to rent us for the reunion. I drove out to the Schrock’s and met Erik and Julia. Their camper is nice and I think it will make a good abode for my brother Ron and his wife. Once again, I’m aware of my passion for other people’s campers, and how I will probably not ever have one of my own. Whatever…

June 22

Cooler today. An exciting morning in the garden, hand weeding the beets. Some of them are growing good and some are not and I’m not sure what the difference is. But it was nice to be outside and breathe fresh, cool air. Some neighbors came over to say hi.

After spending several hours wishing I didn’t have to go anywhere – I found out I actually didn’t have to go anywhere. The program manager at the Resource Center met with my client in the morning, assuming I was still isolating with Covid.

June 23

I hate it when I have mistakenly made appointments too close together – usually because I don’t have my calendar with me. Wondering how to have the husband at the chiropractor at 12:15 and still make it to my haircut appointment at 12:45. But, guess what? The salon called and said I had two appointments for the same day and one was at 9:45! Once in a while my appointment mix ups actually go in my favor. I took the early one and cancelled the other.

I had time to brave Walmart to pick up prescriptions for the husband and get some groceries. He had been wanting some slippers without a back that he could put his foot into easily, and I found some in his usual size. But no, they felt too small, so later I walked back to Walmart for the next larger size. Again, no. They felt like “shackles” and necessitate lifting one’s feet up with each step. I am done with the slipper game.

Like “shackles”, I’m told.

Welcome distraction – a Zoom call with my daughter in Seattle and her husband. We are working on a newsletter for the family reunion in August.

June 24

Why are my strawberries small and orange? They taste great, even when they don’t look ripe, which most of them don’t. Just in case they aren’t getting enough water, I put the irrigation on them for a good spell.

Highlight of the day – I got invited to go out for fish fry this evening at a restaurant! The husband decided to go too. I was worried about that, but he did okay in spite of being too hot (we sat outside) and not wanting to eat fish.

This week has left me wondering about my mental health. I can’t seem to apply myself to anything. Waiting for some kind of change, I guess.

At least the freezer and the extra fridg are now plugged in where they won’t be shut off every night when the GFS faults

June Journal: Week 3

Life in the northwoods of Wisconsin, one week at a time, in the brief but beautiful summer.

The geese, always the geese…

June 12

I felt tired today, and with an attitude that I can’t quite find a name for. It made me a little less smiley everywhere I went, quieter, maybe a bit sharp in my inner talk and resigned to having to hold it in. No sense in letting impatience, crabbiness and frustration show when it would only make things worse.

Church, family brunch in the party garage, and then my friend Gwen and I got on bikes and rode the trails for 10 miles. That was the best part of the day. That, and the moon which I noticed as I was pulling the blinds shut before sleep.

June 13

Still tired. Still crabby (under cover). I wonder if this is my way of having Covid…. although it seems I would have at least one other symptom. It can’t be Covid this week because I have too many medical appointments for myself and others – precious appointments that we’ve waited forever to have.

At the follow up visit to my foot doctor I told her how the heel pain wasn’t changing all that much and she gave me a few more suggestions. She liked my new athletic shoes. I knew she wanted to see them but I wasn’t sure which shoes to show her. I have clean ones and dirty ones that I wear most of the time. In fact, I probably change shoes four or five times a day, trying to protect my sensitive feet outside and trying to protect the floors inside.

It’s laundry day. Not that I consistently do laundry on Mondays, but that I consistently do it when the baskets are full and there’s no more clean underwear.

Over at Walmart I discovered that I could edit the part of pictures that I wanted printed. Eureka!! For twelve more cents I got a better representation of Simba, one with a head. Mom and I made a collage of family pets for the reunion. We are quite the animal lovers.

June 14

Big accomplishments today were returning a book to Delores, checking the garden, cleaning the garage, and moving furniture in the living room. Dennis is having trouble steering his walker – the path from the recliner to the bathroom has to be wider.

Fenced, mulched, watered and growing.

June 15

After watching an ad for apple cider vinegar gummies (can’t remember why this interested me) I decided to take some vinegar the last two mornings. I didn’t dilute it very much today and it about tore my throat out. I thought that was why I felt kind of sick with a bad headache.

Dennis had been waiting for days to get in to the chiropractor so I took him in the afternoon. I wore a mask and didn’t stay in the room with him but waited outside. Went to Walmart after and picked up a home Covid test.

I HAVE COVID, after more than two years of avoiding it. And it would have to be now, on the day I have a massage scheduled. Wonderful.

Here comes the ‘Rona virus I never wanted to have.

Spent the rest of the day cancelling my life for the next week or so.

The good thing is that after testing, Mom is negative for the virus. She has to be able to keep her appointment on Friday or she won’t be seen until January 2023!

June 16

Second day of headache, even though I’m throwing everything I’ve got at it. The fever is making my eyes hurt. Had I been well, both the husband and I would have had doctor’s appointments today, skin checks. I would also have seen my client at the Resource Center.

I got my SoloStove cleaned out and packed in its case for the bonfire night at church, which I won’t be going to. Emailed around to find another keyboard player for Sunday worship, which I also won’t be going to. Cancelled a visit with my cousin from Indiana which would have been on Saturday.

Spent a lot of time going back and forth from my recliner to the bed, trying to sleep/rest. My neighbor brought chicken soup for us.

Dennis doesn’t seem to have any symptoms and I hope he doesn’t get it. I try to spend as little time around him as possible, but meals are hard. I didn’t want to cook supper so asked him if he wanted a shake. He looked disappointed and didn’t answer for a while, then said “You know I don’t really like steak all that much any more.” We got that figured out to our great relief and satisfaction.

June 17

I slept pretty good last night. The headache has changed and is no longer continuous. It’s now periodic sharp stabs of pain in the temples, and somehow I prefer that. I’m coughing now and still have a low grade fever. I have little interest in productive activity – it’s the recliner and the bed for naps.

Den (brother) took Mom to EauClaire for her appointment with the eye specialist.They did a biopsy and won’t know for several days whether basal cell carcinoma is confirmed or not. They did tell her that this surgery takes a hospital stay and it is not something to look forward to, but might be necessary.

It seems like there are a lot of unpleasant surprises lately and it makes me wonder what we are doing right that makes the family such a target.

June 18

I am determined to be more normal today, and it is working. A beautiful morning outside where I had my breakfast on the patio. Mom came over to sit with me a while and we caught up on each other’s news of the last four days since I’ve been isolating. She doesn’t feel real well and thinks she has Covid too, even though she had a negative test a couple days ago. She told me that if she dies of Covid, we should wait and have her memorial during the family reunion in August. That way she would have some people at her event. Always the practical one… At this point there is no reason to think she won’t be alive and well in August.

I picked flowers. This is what June looks like in Wisconsin.

Grass is getting tall and wild chives are blooming.
Daisy time
The second variety of lilacs, late bloomers
And the iris and hawkweed.

June Journal: Week 2

The geese, again. Look how big the little ones are getting.

June 5

Today was Pentecost Sunday where, in the Bible book of Acts, the promised Holy Spirit was sent to empower all Jesus’s followers. It was a pretty wild day, and a very important occurrence – like the birthday of the first church. The husband was quite disappointed not to hear anything about it in church, and it seemed a little strange to me too. Especially since it is the only biblical holy day that churches remember anything about now. Hmm… Fortunately we heard a message about being merciful in our judgments which seemed to be something we could apply to the situation.

Six of us had family dinner tonight (or supper if you’re from the farm). We don’t do this every week, but often enough that we are starting to think of ourselves as the BlueBloods of Hayward. Our table isn’t as big and we have nothing to do with law enforcement or running our town, but we do eat and sit around talking after. We have our own brand of less dramatic drama and it suits us fine. The critical conversation was about making gravy, which as everyone knows, is not the easiest thing to do.

June 6, 2022

I panic now that it is getting to the end of dandelion season. Lilacs are also turning brown on the edges. Next thing will be daisies, then black eyed Susan, then goldenrod and no more summer. But I need to not give precious time to dreading winter, when it’s June!

All that to say it was great weather today. Things are up in the garden, even though some of it is barely visible. We were out to the “meadow” and got a trailer load of wood chip mulch which I started spreading to keep weeds down. One of the boondockers staying at Denny’s watched me in the garden for a while and came over to say how sorry he was to see me working so hard. I felt sorry for him having nothing fun to do except watching me. The garden is my fun spot, and when it stops being that I will stop doing it.

I took the husband for a wheelchair ride on the paved driveway. He needs to get outside and he doesn’t think of doing it himself. He doesn’t try to walk far anymore.

June 7

I really wanted to get out in the garden again and finish unloading the mulch. Instead I went to town with a list of things to buy. Filled the car with gas and although it took my breath away, I will probably soon be remembering when a full tank only cost $76.

I bought some stepping stones and intend to make a platform for my SoloStove fire pit. It’s a project – more on that when I get it finished, if I do.

I was at Walmart and only beginning the list when I got a call from the husband. He needed some help in a delicate matter. Left with the decision of whether to finish the list or come back later, I went through the checkout and rushed home, although the speed of doing things at Walmart is hardly ever described with the word “rush”. The place is nearly always a zoo during the summer. I went back later.

Before I could get out to the garden, I got a call that my clients at the Resource Center were waiting for me. I thought their appointment was on Wednesday. Rushed over there.

I did finally get to the garden and stayed so late that the only thing I could think to make for supper was a Super Shake. Banana, avocado, yogurt, milk, peanut butter and dark chocolate syrup got stuck in my bullet blender. I could not get the container free from the machine and had to put it all in the refrigerator to wait until more muscle was available.

June 8

Early morning excitement. Denny was able to get my shake out of the blender. I had it for breakfast.

Today there were a few things I felt I should do for Lois and Wendell in Stone Lake. They are 90+ and I know I don’t pay enough attention to them. I am the only one brave enough to cut Lois’s hair and she basically can’t be seen through her bangs at this point. The other thing needing attention was their. landline phone. It was already nonfunctional for a couple weeks and there was a work order out to the company to check it but Wendell had forgotten to tell them that their emergency alert system was connected to that line. It was going to take another ten days until the scheduled repair. Several of us were uneasy with that.

My phone calls to the company got me thoroughly acquainted with their robotic algorithms, punching every option there was hoping to get a real person who could listen to my explanation. I did finally get in line to speak with a rep, with an estimated wait time of 170 minutes. (Thinking to myself, “isn’t that about 3 hours?! Can they do that?”). Don’t ever sign up for service with Century. Link. Just don’t. You’re better off with no phone and no frustration.

The purple oxalis, which endured being inside all winter, loves the cool, rainy weather. These water droplets looked like jewels glued to the leaves and practically begged me to take their picture.

June 9

I finished a good book last night, after some obsessive reading. I woke up feeling the house was cooler than usual and suddenly remembered some windows I had left open. Actually, I had forgotten to go out to check doors and windows and had left the patio open too. And a few minutes later, Mom came in. She saw our lights on way early, and the garage door open, and had tried to call me twice with no answer. She was relieved to find no carnage of any sort (axe murderers abound…). I noted how reading late into the night can disrupt routines. Embarrassment, yeah.

It occurred to me that the problem with Wendell’s phone service might be his equipment, so I went to Walmart and got him a new landline phone. Mom and I went back to Stone Lake to see if that solved the problem. It didn’t.

Stopped to see Mary and Jerry to see their house one more time before they leave it forever. So many parties, so many memories… Ended up buying some of their left over garage sale items. I took a bunch of her fabric which I will now have to figure out where to store. I couldn’t help myself. My mind thinks I still sew, Out of touch with reality I guess.

I went to return the good book to Delores and found out she had tested positive for the virus, not a good thing. I am also starting to feel a little garden sore.

June 10

Found out yesterday that my son-in-law, Ryan, got accepted to the cutting edge trial for treating lymphoma! Such excitement! My phone keeps blowing up with notifications. We are happy to see treatment beginning today, and relieved, and thankful

Today was shower day for the husband. We were both exhausted when it was over. He was cleaned up. I was sweaty. But it has to be done, doesn’t it? Actually, I’m examining that question carefully.

I felt pressure to be in the kitchen in the afternoon, having invited two lady friends for supper and promising Delores some chicken soup cure. But the whole time I was hoping there would be time to finish up the project off the patio with the paving stones.

Last year I spent a lot of money on a retractable awning over the patio. I decided that I didn’t ever want to see that awning go up in flames or melt from the heat of my occasional outdoor fires in the SoloStove. So the platform of pavers sticks out a few feet into the lawn, out from under the awning. I had an hour to work before supper, and had already dug out the sod. I lined the hole with sand and set the pavers. It looks like it’s been there forever. I can’t wait to have a fire now.

My simple soup supper was good. Bread and soup and watermelon, but it does sound a little strange now that I see it in print. It was the conversation with Mom, Misty, and Barb that proved most interesting. I have found two more individuals that someone could write a good book about, if they could just spend enough time with them.

June 11

It’s 6 pm. The sun has finally come out after a normal Wisconsin day of clouds, coolness, and unpredictable sprinkles. I went back and forth between the husband and Mom, reading aloud, listening to a good message about humility and un-called for judgment, and eating. Mom had donuts from the bakery. Dennis wanted vegetables and cheese, and we are going to finish with soup left from last night.

“Garden sore” has turned into “heating pad sore”. I fell asleep in the recliner instead of biking with Gwen. I need a rest.

The evening is more than lovely and I have ended the day with a fire in the SoloStove, on the new pavers. No one else, just me and the cat, Shadow.

I am reading another book and will probably stay up too late. God knows my obsessiveness. He loves me anyway.

June Journal

It’s lilac time. Lest you think we overdid it,,, we shared with others.

June 1

June started on a Wednesday. Our usual morning trio was increased to a quartet since cousin Kim is up from Florida for the week. Mom has been getting up early to see the sunrise, which is now around 5:15, but it has been less than spectacular. There are too many trees and houses in the way of the horizon, and it is either too cloudy or completely clear, neither of which make a great sunrise.

I thought a lot about my daughter and her husband who left Seattle in the afternoon to fly to Bethesda, MD to investigate a cancer treatment trial. At this stage it is still an adventure for Ryan, well, except for the stress of decision making and waiting for other’s decisions to be made. The opportunities come suddenly and they had only a day to get mentally prepared for this trip. I pray that it will be productive and that they will feel well cared for.

I spent an hour in the afternoon with a young mother. She was happy to sit on the couch and talk, forget studying anything or counseling of any kind. She was without the children or their father and hardly knew what to do with a whole hour to herself. I prayed for her not only to myself, but also with her after asking her permission. I don’t think she is often in conversation with God because talking to him brought tears, good ones.

June 2

Read to the husband this morning. Besides our Bible passage, and a spiritual growth book, we read the first 7 days of “Sac Prairie Journal”. It totally inspired me to write this month. Life is 99% average stuff so a writer just cannot afford to wait until something explosive happens to write. I’ve known that but the confirmation was good. This author feels the same way I do about the woods, and I should quote him. Yes, I will.

My biking friend couldn’t keep our date to meet for a ride in the afternoon, and I was tempted not to go at all. But thank God, I went anyway and was glad I did. I went on the CAMBA trails at the hospital, and I mean ALL of the trails. It was an 8 mile ride. I didn’t go fast and furious, and I often go alone just so I won’t have to match anyone else’s pace. I stopped and took a picture along the creek. It was a lovely day and I managed all the rocks, bumps, bugs and wind in my face without having any spills or times when I had to walk up a grade.

June 3

My calendar says “Patty will clean house.” This was a birthday present from my Mom who gets her house cleaned by Patty every other week. I have a bad case of “cleaning before the cleaning” syndrome, especially since my house smells somewhere in between a nursing home and a kennel. Having someone from the outside come in and deal with my mess takes a little getting used to, but the payoff is having clean floors and a whole lot less dust. Worth it.

I biked the same trails this afternoon with Sue, but this time it was harder and I didn’t make it up a couple of the grades without stopping. I’m tired from yesterday. Sue, a physical therapist, said I just needed to learn to use my gears. I’m not sure the bike has gears that low.

June 4

Saturday, the last day of the week. I wear my loose, crazy pants to remind me not to do things that aren’t restful. Did a lot of reading today and took Mom in the golf cart to all our favorite places on the farm – Mary Pat’s spot overlooking the pond, Scruffy’s gravesite in the silo, the lilac hedge and the peony bushes and the perennial garden. We drove slow and savored it all while we talked.

Later I went back to MP’s bench and just sat, looking at the water reflections, the clouds, the sunset.

The Canadian geese families were wary of me for a few minutes but later decided I wasn’t dangerous and let their young charges march up to the wildflower field to snack. I say march because they stick together almost in formation. I am amazed at how fast they can waddle. They must eat a lot because they are getting big, fat almost. The two adults spend most of their time upright, looking around on guard duty. They seldom duck down to nibble anything. I’ve seen how fast they can get their brood back in the water at the smallest threat. They know how to do family.

On guard

It is so peaceful – I long to share the quietness of this scene with others.

“Hugh observed that nature was as necessary to some men as opium to the opium eaters… Opium eaters of a different kind. Perhaps – though it is not to say that nature is escape, because every nature lover knows that all is not soothing peace close to the earth, but rather that there is manifest always a ceaseless war, the endless struggle to survive, the marks of which are everywhere to see at all seasons. No, this kind of opium eater has about him a core of inner strength no one else ever has. Something there is that marks his kinship with the earth, something that makes itself manifest in the lingering of an eye upon a bird, the way his body takes the winds, something that rises to quicken the pulse in mid-winter at the thought alone of spring. The necessity of nature to him is stronger even than he; take him away from nature, and an essential part of him will shrivel and die… Nature is the kind of opium that quickens every sense a man has, that enriches and enlivens his appreciation of the earth on which he lives, and to which he ultimately returns as a part to its whole.”

from “Wisconsin Country, a Sac Prairie Journal” by August Derleth

This time of year the sunsets are more interesting than the sunrises, but you have to be up till 9:30 pm to see them

Zarf: Okay, what?

The last post of the 2022 A to Z Challenge is always welcome in my world because posting for 26 nearly consecutive days is truly a challenge. My Z word today doesn’t have a direct link to my theme of relationship building, but then most of the other words weren’t direct links either. But here’s the final, true thing – because relationship with others and with God are the most important things in my life, almost everything in life becomes indirectly linked to those priorities.

I attribute many things which others call coincidences, or serendipitous moments, to God and his desire to give me a smile, a laugh or a touch of some kind. I happened to be looking at this scene in Julia’s kitchen on the day that I was searching for a post on Z.

Zarf, the little metal handle and the ring attached to it at the bottom. Top left corner, some extra zarfs, or maybe zarves. I don’t know.

A few minutes later I came upon the word zarf and realized I was looking at one and never knew what it was called. It brought to mind the many times Julia had made an espresso or latte for me and how I had enjoyed holding my zarf while talking with her.

I don’t know how it came about that someone initially roasted a coffee bean and soaked it in hot water. It seems that ever since coffee has had some kind of crazy hold on civilization. I’ve read a lot of stories about pioneer days in our country, how they were ALWAYS making coffee on their cookstoves or over their campfires. If you had nothing else, you had coffee, and maybe biscuits.

Our family has many people who enjoy coffee, and more than a few who might be called fanatics. Some go for the fancy, expensive kind from the shops that abound in our towns and cities. Most are content with a cup of plain, good tasting brew. I have to admit that coffee is a standard, a hub of our social gatherings. That is the indirect link to relationship building.

Mmm, hmm.

Rarely do any of us refuse a cup of coffee and a donut, or a homemade cookie. This beverage accompanies the best of conversations. Some of us feel secretly linked by our love of coffee. Coffee rituals abound. We have our favorite cups and we have signs on our kitchen walls, clever coffee quotes on our T-shirts. It’s okay. It’s even fine if someone wants to drink tea instead of coffee, as long as they don’t tell anyone what’s in their cup.

So, here’s a toast to that hot, fragrant, brown drink in the clear glass held by a zarf, and to the many relationships furthered by “coffee time”. (And to the end of the 2022 A to Z Blogging Challenge!)