The Shadow, Renamed…

Most people my age have had numerous pets of their own, and also have had their children’s pets to contend with. In addition to that, I have a soft heart for strays of all kinds and have successfully passed the gene on to my daughters. I have grandpets. I truly know the joys and sorrows of pet ownership. Most people my age could live very well without any more pets, thank you.

But there was this small cat, barely out of its kitten hood, that my brother and his wife found. It was under their car as they were leaving a graduation party this spring, mewing pitifully. It was skinny, wet and cold, probably hungry. And it was black. For some reason, being black is a strike against a cat. They are least likely to get adopted once they are abandoned. My brother tried but could not find the owner and since the cat was overwhelmingly friendly, they took it home.

More than that, they had their vet look the little creature over and give it some drops for its eyes and an appointment to be spayed. It was litter trained already and acted grateful for a warm bed, food and people petting it.

This is where I came in, thinking that the husband might enjoy having a cat to pet and take care of. He’s retired and spending a lot of time at home without much to do. He’s gotten attached to cats in the past. It seemed reasonable. And the first few days, when the cat was tired and half starved, were peaceful days. And then it got frisky.

Now, several months later, I am very much reminded of what cats do. I have wiped up mounds of semi-digested cat food from the carpet. I have awakened in the middle of the night to find the cat sleeping on my chest. I have taken to smelling any pile of laundry left on the floor for the all too familiar odor of cat pee. I frequently walk around the house feeling like the cat is tied to my leg with string, trying not to trip over it. I sneak to doors and try to get through them before the cat hears me. I could go on – you’ve all heard about cats, if not experienced them yourselves.

So Shadow, as my niece named her before I took her, finally got well enough to keep her surgery appointment. We thought she might be in heat because of the way she kept running to open windows and trying to get through the screens. It was hard keeping her inside. I was glad she was getting spayed.

The vet called later that morning. “You have a very lively cat”, he told me. “She’s unusually active (which made me wonder what kind of fun they had anesthetizing her) and it took a little longer than we had anticipated. Oh, and by the way, we couldn’t find any female organs. She must have been spayed already. We looked extensively to make sure so she’s going to be pretty sore for a while.”

She was. There were a few more peaceful days until she had recovered somewhat. I cautiously let her go outside to sit in the sun. That’s what I would have liked to do if I were a cat. I would leave the sliding doors to the patio open just enough for her to squeeze through. She was definitely an indoor/outdoor kind of cat, who loved both worlds. She came running when I called her and loved to nap inside, but was just as eager to get out again.

It wasn’t long after that when I realized what she was doing outside. She was hunting. One morning I found a mostly dead mole, inside the house. I found him by following the trail of blood spatters on the floor and wall. It had to have been a tortuous way to go. This was followed in short order by several frogs who also bled and lost body parts. I got suspicious of her antics any time she seemed to be having fun “playing” with something.

I knew her skill was increasing one day when she brought in a bird. She had it cornered under a bookshelf and I was able to rescue it. It was so tiny and had a numb, dazed look in its eyes. I took it outside, wondering what to do with it, when it flew away!! I had saved it! I wish I could have done the same for the next two she caught. But I had to wonder… how is she catching birds?

We were having dinner on the patio one pleasant evening. The cat was also out and we were watching her tear around the lawn. Without hesitating she aimed at a tree and went up it like a squirrel to a fairly high branch. Hugging the dark branch, with leaves all around her, she was hard to see. I think that’s why the large flock of sparrows flew into the tree all around her and perched – poor unsuspecting things. So now we know she doesn’t wait for them to come down. She goes up and gets them.

This brings me to today. This morning Shadow brought in a small grey mouse and let it get away. She was waiting patiently by the couch where it had fled for shelter, waiting for it to come out and play again. I got down on the floor with the flashlight and witnessed it scurrying back and forth, trying to find a safe escape route. Definite mouse panic. I felt sorry for it, but what could I do? I couldn’t get under the couch either.

I don’t know where the mouse is. I came in the living room this afternoon to find the recliner upside down – the one the husband usually sits in. He’s doesn’t know where the mouse is now either, but he’s pretty sure it was in/under the chair. I think we now have two house pets.

Do I hope the cat will catch the mouse? I can’t quite decide. But I am renaming her. I’m calling her Shadow of Death because it fits her very well. Just sayin’…

Being Independent on Independence Day

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It was Independence Day, a holiday, and somehow I had forgotten to plan any memorable activity. Everyone I encountered was meeting up with family, going to the beach, cooking summer food – they had a plan. I didn’t, which was very unlike me. I’ve just had other things on my mind and well, I forgot.

Fortunately I did find someone else with no plan. My mom was sitting in her living room trying to feel good about a day in front of the TV or reading her book. She claimed not to mind, but I knew differently. Being in the same predicament, we decided to do as all strong, independent women do – we made our own plan for our memorable 4th of July.

This is a hotdog to die for, so good.

Since food is a prime feature of all our fun, memorable times, we started with food. Hot dogs. We both love a good hot dog and Mom, especially, has to have some texture and crunch in hers. We made some coleslaw and loaded the dog up real good. And watermelon, the perfect summer food. I always remember the gorilla who could sign words and decided to call watermelon “candy water”, which is so true.

We wanted something a little more active than eating to balance out our day and, you’re not going to believe this, we decided to go up to Lake Namekagon, a picturesque place with a favorite resort and restaurant that we like to visit – called Garmisch.

We go several times a year to the restaurant but I had never been out on the water there, so we decided that would be an appropriately adventurous thing to do, maybe a jaunt on a wave runner or kayak? You would be surprised at what my mom will do given the right amount of encouragement.

Wave runners are machines – the kind that I would normally avoid because they malfunction regularly. But they can be rented and presumed to be reliable. They can actually be rented at a marina fairly close to our location. They even can be rented with a trailer and transported to the lake of your choice. Let’s just say we did that.

Did you know that there are police on lakes, especially on holidays like the 4th of July? There are also rules about which lakes allow different kinds of boating and which do not. These rules are good things to know. We know them now.

I hitched up the trailer to my truck and we made the half hour trip to Lake Namekagon without incident. There is always a bit of a rush when I’m doing something I haven’t done before, something adventurous that I’m hoping will go off without a hitch. I was definitely feeling it.

Unloading a wave runner into the water is really simple. I’ve watched it done several times and had no trouble with it. Getting on is not too hard. Even operating it is fairly intuitive, especially for people who don’t want to go fast or do tricks. That describes me and mom perfectly. We like to stay close to shore and look at houses and people. Maybe that’s what made us look peculiar to the water police, I don’t know.

So, I will always be thankful that we did this before having dinner at Garmisch restaurant because there was not a trace of alcohol anywhere on us. There are also rules about that. We were just two white haired ladies trolling the lakeshore on a lake where power boats are prohibited, a fairly minor offense to my way of thinking. And the man questioning us kind of thought so too, as his warning was given gently and his fine was small (in comparison to other fines, I guess…).

We had enough of our adventure at that point anyway. After loading up the wave runner and taking it back to the marina, we went home and pretended we’d been doing jigsaw puzzle and watching TV all afternoon. Nobody had to know. Just sayin’…

I’m thinking about and practicing writing fiction these days. There might be some parts of this story which are fictionalized.

More Reasons

September 5, 2018

Here we sit, early on Wednesday evening, at the local Perkins. Hayward is not a big city. It has been a town of about 2300, give or take a few, ever since I was living here as a child. Of all the common chain restaurants, only Perkins, Subway, McDonalds and Dairy Queen have survived. Because Perkins runs a special on Wednesdays, allowing seniors half price off select meals, we have been here every week since our move. It is Lois and Wendell night.

Meet some more of my “up north” family. Mom was blessed with siblings Pearl, Donald, Olive, Ervin, Wendell and John. They were spread out over enough time that the younger ones, Wendell, Mom and John were almost like a separate family. Their brothers and sisters were out of the house and married, leaving the threesome to be companions to each other. They are the survivors in the family and strangely enough, they all three have ended up here in the communities they know and love.

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On Wednesdays, Wendell and his wife Lois drive into Hayward for shopping and appointments. They are usually done around 5 pm and give Mom a call to join them for dinner at Perkins. They have become overly familiar with everything on the senior menu. The waiter jokes with them like they are old buddies and seats them at the same table most every time. Even the husband and I have entered into the rituals. I know to close the blinds so light from the setting sun doesn’t shine in Lois’s eyes and we all know not to order the grilled asparagus and that the blue cheese dressing is homemade and really good.

Wendell has been a schoolteacher for much of his life, which would explain his love for books. As he neared retirement he went into the paperback bookstore business and actually built a store next to his retirement home in the nearby town of Stone Lake. Stone Lake is even smaller than Hayward – you can drive through it in less than 30 seconds.

However, I have always thought of my Uncle Wendell as having a secret love for farming.  I remember him coming to help my mom and dad on their farm when I was a child. I think he would have sought this line of work had it provided enough for a living. As evidence of this secret love, my uncle of 80+ years still has a tractor, which he enjoys driving, that is, up until a couple of months ago.

Thin, wiry, agile for his age and indomitable of spirit, Uncle Wendell was out with the tractor one day when his daughter and granddaughter were visiting. I have heard them say they felt guilty for what happened since it was because they were there that the tractor was being demonstrated. On the other hand, had they not been there, it might have happened anyway and the outcome could have been much worse.

Although I have seen semi-demonstrations of what happened, it’s difficult to visualize and has an aura of the near miraculous about it. Standing on the tractor, near the one who was operating it, my uncle reached forward for one of the levers, lost balance and tumbled off – under the moving machine. He was, however, on the roll and managed to somersault through and out the other side. He got up, dusted himself off and with help, walked to his brother’s house where he was whisked off to the Emergency Room. Consensus was that it was better not to give details to Lois, who did not witness the event.

Of course, she eventually got filled in since it was hard to hide the broken shoulder, bruised ribs and back brace that he wore for weeks. He was not allowed to drive during this convalescence which was quite an irritation to him, and when the brace was no longer needed he joked about being released from prison. Now that he is better, he is again driving the 20 miles into Hayward for our Wednesday rituals. Did I mention that he is indomitable?

Nevertheless, Uncle Wendell does not drive long distances and even last winter when I visited I was “hired” to drive them to a doctor appointment in Ashland. Aunt Lois is a good match for him in spirit but she has vision problems and relies on him in many ways. The two of them are looking ahead at what difficulties winter might give them and asking God for wisdom.

Well, it seems perfectly clear to me that I am “up north” to help mom, but also to help the whole family in whatever way I can. God puts us in family groups because there is safety in numbers and how wonderful it is when we can help each other in practical ways. And because it is the way God works, there is benefit for both the helpee and the helper. I get a bit protective of the elderly people I love and don’t mind sounding bossy. I’m encouraging them to move closer for the winter and let me drive for them on the longer trips. We will see what they decide.

Concluding, this seems like one more good reason why I am supposed to be where I am. It seems wonderful to me and I’m glad to I have a part to play, just sayin’…

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Another reason for being here, someone has to use all these coupons we’re collecting.

 

 

One Reason for Being Here

20180904_1813045661508336183345620.jpgSeptember 4, 2018

This is not the first time I’ve come in Mom’s room and found her horizontal surfaces covered with stacks of old letters, poems, pictures and memorabilia that she’s sorting through. She puts items that go together in zip lock bags ready to be offered to the person most likely to be interested in them.

 

“Do you think anyone will want to read these letters? They have a lot of family history in them, but I don’t know how to contact any of the people anymore.” 

It’s habit with me to think of Google for anything I don’t know and I suggest she plug in some names and try it. She pulls out some faded black and white photos on thick cardboard with finely scalloped edges. They are Christmas cards from three different years picturing a family.  In one, parents, four children and dog are sitting, close together, on the floor in front of a fireplace. The room is darkened and light from the fire is glowing on their faces and casting shadows behind them. The father and his son are wearing suits and two of the girls have matching dresses. The mother is in shadow except for the top of her face and she is smiling. She wears glasses. They all look peaceful, happy as they gaze at the flames.  Handwritten below is “A Merry Christmas from the G. Wesches”.  I wonder who was taking such artful pictures back in 1950. 

Another one has the children lined up in order of height and age and this one is signed by the parents and the names of the children are listed. They are Harold, Geraldine, Patricia and Alice Jean. I pick up my smartphone and plug the name Harold Wesche into the search bar. Mom explains that these people were not relatives but the family of a local doctor in her hometown. The doctor made house calls and impressed her as being such a kind man – and one who sent cards to his patients at holiday time.

 The search engine comes up with over 100 records of this name and as I look at them I find one who is 82 years old – that would be about right. The website gets to work collecting and verifying information on Harold. I know they are going to charge something at the end, and that we are not going to buy anything from them, but the small paragraph they give us for free does help Mom remember. He is the Harold in the Christmas picture. She remembers more.

There was one summer that this family vacationed at Meyer’s Log Cabin Resort on Round Lake. Mom’s friend Donna was asked to come with the family to help entertain the children. They let Gwen (Mom) come along to keep Donna company. This was quite a treat for both Gwen and Donna to have a week at the lake. The Wesche children were cute kids too, so it was not an undesirable responsibility.

One day the parents took the children with them on an outing. Donna and Gwen were given the day off to do whatever they liked at the resort. They decided they would take a boat ride. They went out into the middle of this fairly large lake and felt very adventurous.

This story interests me because Meyers Log Cabins was less than a mile from the farm where Mom and Dad went to live after they were married six years later. I grew up visiting my friend Barbara Meyer and swimming in Round Lake at that resort. I have never heard of Mom’s experience there and she said she would not have thought to tell me of it if the Christmas pictures had not been found. She is still trying to pull out the end of the story from the memory bank. 

“I don’t know what we did but it might have been something that made us feel a little guilty. I think it had something to do with hot dogs. Maybe we took more of them than we should have…” I laugh, because Mom still loves hot dogs.

“Do you think it might not be good to dig through all this stuff, all these memories from so long ago?” she asks.

I tell her I think it’s okay, and the truth is I think it’s a gift to remember stories from the past. It’s an opportunity to think of people, to wonder about them, and especially to mention them in prayer. It is never too late to care, to look for someone, to possibly even get in touch with them and tell them a story.

So, if Harold Wesche or any of his family reads this story, Mom wants to know if you’d like to have these pictures of your younger self.  If not, I will keep them to remind myself of one of the reasons I am glad to have come back to Wisconsin to do life with Mom. I want to hear more stories that I’ve never heard before.   

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The Birthday Blessing

November is the birth month of  both my mother and my father, who is now deceased. Last week the family was missing him and reminiscing about the birthday rituals in our past… The story of the birthday blessing needed to be refreshed, and here it is. 

 

It was 1961. Sunday mornings were undoubtedly stressful for the mom – how could they not be with four little boys to dress. It would be comparable to the circus act where the man balancing spinning plates on the tops of poles, would have to keep rushing back to give the first plate another spin before he got the last plate up and balanced. A completely dressed child would spill something on his shirt, an uncomfortable shoe would be kicked off and forgotten, a squabble would break out and hair would be mussed up, someone would discover a missing button, or perhaps escape outside and find some dirt. Fortunately the oldest, a girl, had learned to dress herself pretty well and even helped with the boys on occasion. It was somewhat safer when all were in the car, but even then… who would get to sit in the front seat on the way to church?

The small white church on the corner lot was where the family had worshiped for the last two generations. Mom and Dad had met there when they were teens. For decades life had revolved around the weddings, funerals, potlucks in the church basement and “youth group” activities. The wide “foyer” (such a funny word) was up a flight of cement steps and through double doors. The bathrooms and classrooms and kitchen were down the stairs to the left. Coats were hung on rods on the long wall which was bisected by another set of double doors with glass panes. These doors were often shut to guard the sacred quiet of prayer or teaching, but were wide open if service had not yet started.

Inside the sanctuary were two sections of wooden pews (another funny word for long benches with arms at the ends). A wide center aisle and narrower side aisles led up to the front of the church where the organ was on the far left next to another door going to the basement, and the piano on the far right. The raised stage was small, only having room for a podium for the speaker, and a short half wall behind which the choir sat. A door on the right side of the stage opened to a small room, where the pastor supposedly constructed his sermons, but most of the children knew it as the place where they waited nervously for their part to come in the Christmas program.

Most Sundays the children would enter, walk up to one of the first pews on the right and slide into place on the smooth wood. They would sit, not still, but sit, as the Sunday school superintendent (often their grandfather) would open the service with a welcome and some songs from the small chorus book. Their mother was often playing piano or organ. Their friends were usually sitting close by so the whispering and giggling would start. Big sister often got to sit with her best friend, but the boys needed to be monitored a little more closely.

Reading scripture was always a part of the opening. Better yet were the times when the “super” would give the Bible reference and have everyone compete to see who could find it first and get to read the scripture out loud. Announcements were given, an offering was taken (often by their father who was an usher), and then, “Who has had a birthday this week?” The honored ones were invited up to the front where a birthday offering was put in the little wooden church bank – coins to equal the age.  A jar full of new pencils would be brought out, if the birthday child was old enough to choose one for themselves. Then the congregation would be led in the birthday blessing.

“Many happy returns, on this, the day of thy birth

May blessing and sunshine be given,

And may the dear Father prepare you on earth,

For a beautiful birthday in heaven.”

It was memorized. There were no bulletins, no screens with words, no theater lighting or electric instruments. There were only families together with their God, doing Sunday school and church, worshiping, fellow-shipping, having birthdays and feeling blessed. And for those younger people, the words were said with little idea how meaningful they would become as time progressed.

 

#AtoZChallenge: My Favorite Things C

C for Cows

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They are curious and will always look at you, which is good for pictures. Photo credit: Esther Armstrong

Back in the old days…

Often in the late afternoon, when it was time to do the milking, I was sent out to find the cows. Sometimes they would be waiting to be let into the barn (depending on how uncomfortable they were, needing to have their udders relieved). But since they had many acres of grassland on which to feed, they were at other times, nowhere to be seen. I would head off, running or on bike, in the direction they had last been seen, opening gates as I went. The cows tend to follow each other in a line, wearing a path about a foot wide, dotted with what we descriptively called cow pies. Being able to yell in a voice that carried, was also helpful. Our cows answered to “Cum boss!” and we always made the “boss” long and loud like a fog horn.

Once I found them, and got their attention, they would stop grazing and start toward the barn. Slowly I would urge them – we were not to make them run. Cows must think, because the thought of going to the barn would sometimes cause them to let down their milk. Nothing looks more counterproductive, not to mention painful, than to see a running cow with a swollen udder flapping between her legs, spraying milk this way and that as she trots. All in all, they liked coming to the barn where they knew they would get food, water and relief.

Our cows were all named, and they all had their own places in the barn. The barn was always prepared beforehand, with stanchions opened and turned the right way, and hay or silage laid out on the floor in the manger area. The automatic watering cups were checked to make sure they were clean and working and full. The smart cows would walk sedately to their place, stick their heads in the stanchion and begin to eat, waiting for us to come and close them in. The smarter cows would quickly stick their heads in a place other than their own, eat a few mouthfuls and then scoot into their place. They aren’t dumb when it comes to food.

Cows are large, warm, smooth haired with long pink tongues and breath that smells like hay, most of the time. They are very curious and will come running to investigate new things that appear in the field.  After being held in the barn over our cold Wisconsin winter, they would be let out in the spring and race around kicking up their heels, which was quite comical because cows are not the most graceful animals. They just aren’t.

Today I was taken back in time, as I once again went looking for the cows. I had a file on my pc, and wanted my favorite cow pictures for this post, because, yes, I had enough of them to have favorites. The cow file was nowhere to be found. This digital age has given them too many pastures in which to hide, except for these few stragglers who have finally heard me yelling “cum boss!”

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These were the only cows I could find. They knew I was taking their picture and would have been on me in a second…

So, who has ever accidentally landed in a cow pie?

#AtoZChallenge: A Few of My Favorite Things B

For this year’s A to Z Challenge I’m being Julie Andrews and going on about my favorite things. I suppose there are people young enough to have no clue who Julie Andrews is or when she did this. Seriously, you need to watch “The Sound of Music”. It’s part of classic movie knowledge. Remembering your favorite things will keep you from being afraid, and who doesn’t need some of that these days…

Barns

I am seriously in love with old barns, wherever I find them. I love their muted colors. I love their changing shapes as they age, sag, and fall. I love the stories that are hidden in their walls, stories of people working, of animals taking shelter, stories of changing culture and times past.  When driving through the Midwest particularly, I have been known to brake suddenly and pull off the road to get a photo of a ghost of a barn so picturesque that I could not pass it.

One time visiting my parents in northern Wisconsin, my dad wanted to show me a barn he thought I would like. He didn’t know who it belonged to but it looked abandoned. And indeed, it was. Dad stood by the gate as I trespassed  investigated the barn inside and out with my camera.  The memory of that time will always be burned into my memory, with the help of those photos.

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Dad, keeping watch while the photographer was busy
Old Barns
This was an unusual barn with angles I couldn’t figure out.
Old Barns
Hinges, latches, distressed wood beauty
Barn and daisies
Countless views in this field of daisies
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And just as beautiful in other seasons. I couldn’t resist going back.

I think the fascination comes from my own childhood, growing up on a working farm, and gradually seeing the barn I knew well change roles. It contained the hayloft that was at once both the perfect playground and the source of my scariest dreams. It was the dairy barn where I learned to milk cows and hunt for new kittens. Later it was the storage place for furniture and machinery no longer in use. One section of it became the hen house for our flocks of chickens. As the leaks began and it leaned a bit, it was propped up with braces and attempts were made to put metal on the steep sloping roof. And then one night, in a storm, it went down completely. We weren’t ready for that and it was shocking.

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One storm, and it was a pile of rubble…

One of my favorite barns is still in our family. It belonged to my grandfather, and is now a landmark in the greenspace surrounding my brother’s small housing development. Photographers sometimes pay to take pictures there.

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The patchwork tin roof, where my grandfather regularly risked his life fixing leaks.
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My favorite view from inside the barn

Barns stand for a way of life that is becoming less common. People used to build their barn before they built their house because it was a priority. Now they are more likely to be adornments on the “gentleman farms” of the wealthy. I am afraid they will become extinct. And that is why I take pictures of these beautiful reminders of the past.

What part of the past do you like to photograph, to keep alive?

*All photos are property of Shirley Dietz. May be used with permission.

 

Ordinary Times and Travels: Florida Off Road

I am blessed with an eclectic family, people that are willing to share their lives and experiences with each other. As a result, I have had an entertaining afternoon at River Ranch, Florida. It’s not really a town. It’s a community of people bonded by their attraction to off road vehicles and the camping lifestyle. Think classy redneck, lots of flags, dust, dirt, mud, throw in a few guns and lots of food, trailers and serious off road vehicles. That’s River Ranch.

In my family are men who do work with machines – clearing land, building structures, hauling stuff – and that is how they came upon River Ranch. Having done a lot of work there for others, my nephew now has his own campsite and comes up from the city to relax and have fun with his family. Early in the development of River Ranch people picked their campsites and claimed them much like the old-fashioned land rushes. My cousin had his site fenced off and outfitted with a well, outdoor showers and an upscale outhouse.  The camp section is crisscrossed with sandy lanes and trails and covers a lot of territory. There are a few permanent residents but many are weekend regulars in RV’s and trailers that they park under shelters they have built.

For this outing our families had a sandwich making assembly line, packed a cooler of drinks and loaded up our vehicles. A few weeks ago a wildfire went through much of the camp area and destroyed a lot of property. We started our trek through this burn area. All the roads and paths are dirt and sand, and since there has not been much rain it is very dusty. That is why many of us had dust masks and  head coverings. Our next stop was the “play pen” where our twelve year old guide showed us how to get down and dirty. We toured my nephew’s campsite and then headed out into 8 square miles of Florida wilderness.  We had our picnic in an area called “the oaks” for a very obvious reason. We traveled on to the water hole and then back to our starting point. Come with me on a picture rendition of our 5 hour journey!

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These were the multi-person vehicles that we used, along with several single person ATV’s. The small blue one was built by my nephew’s son – it didn’t go with us.
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Our caravan starts out through the pine burn area.
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Trey, our very own “Evil Kneival”, led the way all afternoon. They call this “sugar sand”. It is possible to get stuck in it, yes.
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Sadly, fire travels swiftly through dry palmetto and underbrush. Many buildings and vehicles were destroyed but since it was during the week, few people were present.
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We enter the “play pen” with Trey demonstrating how to play. Mud reigns. Some of these puddles are deeper than others.
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He’s often on two wheels. His dad says he has never gone over, amazing. Funny thing, none of the rest of us did this.
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The stunt man parks his four wheeler on a tree at “the oaks”. Picnic time.
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A tasty lunch, a little tree climbing and swinging from ropes while we rested up for the rest of the trip. There were lots of families with kids out here and they all looked to be having fun. A little dirt doesn’t hurt anyone.
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Trey, not quite sure of what to do with this bump in the road???
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Actually, now we’re sure. We are going around this part of the trail.
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Our guide opens the gate at the campsite. Shower stalls and the outhouse are prime features, along with a nice fire pit.

Many thanks to our host and hostess for an interesting afternoon “off the road” in Florida!

Ordinary Times and Travels: North Carolina

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View out the kitchen window. Could it be prettier? No.

I am in North Carolina for about 10 days, staying with eldest daughter Julia. She has recently moved here to start a new job with Carolina Equine. She is an equine veterinarian. She left her previous work in Jacksonville, FL over Christmas vacation and is gradually getting moved. It hasn’t been fun or easy for her, and moving is quite often a risky endeavor. How do you know it will be better for you in the new place? You don’t, really.

North Carolina has been a dream of hers for a long time. I think it started when we visited a friend’s house in the Nantahala area. It was cooler than Florida and had interesting terrain with streams, mountains, and forests.  Later on, we went hiking on the Appalachian Trail and saw more of the state’s mountainous western side. We’ve spent a week in Charlotte years ago. We’ve heard glowing tales from friends who have moved to the state – that’s it. Somehow the dream grew from these beginnings.

I feel that it was divine providence that Julia found a temporary place to live. She was worried about finding an affordable rental that wouldn’t require a long lease. She wants very badly to find property of her own where she can finally settle and unpack. She has not had a place she could really call her own since she left for school eight years ago. One of the clients of the practice she works for has a small rental house on their horse ranch and offered it to her. She can’t unpack and is still surrounded by boxes but it is a comfortable abode and the ranch is so beautiful it is going to be hard to leave.

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Over 100 acres of field and woods, loved and cared for by Cesario the ranch hand.

Of course, the husband and I are interested in all this because she is our daughter, but also because we have entertained the thought of moving here as well. We have been wanting to live nearer to family, specifically our daughters, for a while, praying about it and considering where and when.

So, here I am, determined to find out some things about Greensboro, NC. I am learning my way around the roads, looking at the neighborhoods and trying to imagine living here.  I’m trying to help while I’m here by fixing some meals and, as usual, cleaning the old food out of the refrigerator. I find it strange that after years of not liking to cook, it now seems that is one of the ways I am most useful to people. I had better start to like it. I clean, I take care of pets, I get groceries. Ordinary times are the norm, and that’s good because ordinary times are wonderful.

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Horse trailer, pick up truck, Tess the dog, Todd Rogers the cat – all part of ordinary life with Dr. J.