Monday, February 28, 2011

One year anniversary continues

Here is an excerpt from the blog I wrote a year ago. And no, I am not going to just repost all my previous blogs for the next year. I just found it interesting to see where this all started.

Let me start by telling you how I ended up where I am in my life.

I have wanted to write ever since I could write, starting about the time I was in third grade. I took an entire notebook and wrote a title on every page, things such as “My favorite animal” or “What would I do with a million dollars”. I intended to go back and write a story to go with every title, but well, that never happened.

When I graduated from high school, I dutifully went off to college. I officially declared my major as undecided for the first two years, and then boldly announced I would major in mass communications. My dream was still to write, but mass communications made it sound like I planned on getting a day job to support myself. As it turned out, I dropped out after three and a half years, when I ran out of money and didn’t feel secure enough to take out a student loan.

I moved home, got a job at the deli at Nelson’s grocery store and eventually rented a mobile home with my friend Brenda. She was working the late shift at Hardees, when she came home at one am one morning and woke me up.

“We have got to get out of Tomahawk. Let’s just up and move somewhere.”

So I dragged myself out of bed and pulled out the atlas. We made a list of places we thought would be cool to live in and mailed letters to their chambers of commerce asking for information. This was 1984, way before the internet was in everybody’s home.

The place that came out the winner was Castle Rock, Colorado.

We packed up Brenda’s car the end of August and drove 1200 miles to a place we had never been before. We arrived around one o’clock on a Friday afternoon, checked into a hotel, and by noon the next day, we each had a job. Brenda at the McDonald’s, me at Daylight Donuts.

That night we went to Pizza Hut to celebrate. Being ever the klutz, I dropped a piece of pizza in my lap. We started to giggle, but right then the waiter came over and asked how we liked our pizza. We controlled our laughter and managed to tell him that it was fine. He promptly came back with, “Does that include the pizza in your lap?”

Here is a new trick I learned over the weekend. Click right here and you will be automatically sent to this original blog. See, I am still learning. Someday I will figure it all out.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Galaxy

Last Sunday, I took the girl I mentor through Kinship to Kovac’s Planetarium, the world’s fourth and largest mechanical globe planetarium. What a cool place!

When you drive up to it, all you see from the outside is an average size pole building. Nothing too exciting. Even when you first walk in the door, there are a few displays of planets and moons, a telescope, but again nothing out of the ordinary, nothing that you couldn’t find at the school library or even in a lot of people’s basements.

Then you go in the globe itself and the first thing you notice is how much bigger it looks on the inside. Then the lights go off and all you see are the hundreds of stars overhead. Though they are only 22 feet above, they look as if they were light years away. Finally, the globe starts turning slowly around you. You get to witness an entire night worth of stars in a matter of minutes.

What an amazing thing! Living in the countryside of northern Wisconsin, I am privileged to be able to go outside on a cloudless night and view all those countless stars. It feels as if I could reach out my hand and pull them down.

The most amazing thing though is that God created every single one of those stars, those planets, the galaxies we see over head at night. He created all the heavens and earth. And He took as much care in creating each of us as He did when he made each star.

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place— what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Psalm 8:3-4 (New Living Translation)

Friday, February 25, 2011

One Year Anniversary

Wow! I cannot believe that Monday it will be an entire year since I started this blog. I would love to have a giveway, and offer all my faithful followers a chance to win a fantastic prize. But since I haven't gotten any books published yet . . . well, I suppose I could come up with something. Maybe a weekend stay at my house (so my husband and I can get away), and the real bonus is that you would have the privilege of being Dino's slave for the weekend. You know that he needs to lay across your lap when you watch TV and sleep on your feet in your bed at night. He is only maybe 60 pounds - just a puppy. He also gets up at six am, seven days a week, but he is usually willing to go to bed by nine.

The other thing that I am thinking about is changing the look of my blog. I don't know, make it more sazzy. What do you think? More or less pictures? Do you want other stuff to read about on the sidelines?

I have even had a crazy idea to start a second blog. The original one would stick with the story of my past and the new one could be about my future - that book that I will actually get published one day and how I plan to achieve that. Or do you think that I already have enough to do?

So please let me know your thoughts. And please post your thoughts here and not on Facebook. I get so depressed when I never have any comments on my blog. But still, thank you so much for reading along. I know I get boring at times, but I just go where life leads.

And I'll keep working on something to give away. In the meantime, here is a video that I managed to download. (Yet another thing I wanted to try.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Green Bay, again

I sure can’t say that the family vacation of 2002 was anything spectacular. It was a difficult year for us so we didn’t stray far from home. Green Bay, less than two hundred miles away, is usually a safe bet. My husband Himey knows the city pretty well, and who in Wisconsin doesn’t want to go to Title Town?

We watched Packer training camp for a few hours the morning after we arrived. Himey even got to have a little discussion with Tom Barrett, who wasn’t yet so well-known as he would be years later. It was a warm morning, though, so we didn’t stay much longer after the sun came up over the Don Hutson Center. We left for the train museum.

I was there with the kids way back in 1994, so I won’t belabor the visit. (But you can go to 2010/10/green-bay-in-1994-summer-after-my.html). If,however, you are ever in Green Bay without anything else to do, visit the National Railroad Museum. And take the train ride around the grounds.

We got back to our hotel by late afternoon, and the housekeeper had not yet been there. Having worked that job at the Marriot Hotel in Denver, it would take a lot for me to criticize anyone in that occupation. All I ask is that you empty the garbage and make sure we have enough clean towels. I can certainly make my own bed and what else needs to be done when I am only going to be there two nights?

And by then, I wasn’t the only crabby one in the family. Delivery pizza for supper did help somewhat.

Monday, February 21, 2011

“Hannibal and Nauvoo”

August 8, 2001, our last official day of playing tourist in Missouri. So, of course the logical stop would be the city of Hannibal, home of Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer, Becky Thatcher and Huck Finn. Another romantic little town along the Mississippi, full of charm and history.

Ever since I was a kid, after reading the adventures of Tom Sawyer, I wanted to go to Hannibal, see the white-wash fence, take a riverboat ride, explore a cave. Ok, but I knew I couldn’t do the cave, claustrophobia again rears its ugly head.

We still did enough touristy things and then it was time to head on up the road. We were heading to Illinois. Now, I have already shared with you two of my secrets – I can’t hold my liquor and I freak when in any enclosed place. It is time that I reveal a truth about my dear husband Himey.

He hates Illinois.

Shortly after crossing the border, he claimed we got lost. We never got lost, he was just already starting to panic. Then we stopped to buy gas. It was $1.24 when he started pumping (isn’t that hard to believe!), and then the price went down by a penny. He completely blew a gasket when the attendant wouldn’t honor the lower price.

Excuse me, honey, whether fair or not, that amounted to seven cents.

Then he thought we got lost again. Whether we did that time or not, I don’t remember, but that was about when we stumbled on the town of Nauvoo. It is like a Midwestern Williamsburg, only smaller. It was founded by the Mormons before they were persecuted to the point of heading further west to settle in Utah. We didn’t have much time to spend there, but several years later, we did go back for the day (believe it or not, I got Himey to go back to Illinois), so I will share that story when we get to it.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


"Are you the one who gave the horse his prowess and adorned him with a shimmering mane? Did you create him to prance proudly and strike terror with his royal snorts? He paws the ground fiercely, eager and spirited, then charges into the fray." Job 39:19-21 (The Message Bible)

Sorry to write another blog about horses, but that is just how it goes sometimes.

We watched Secretariat Friday night, so naturally I spent half the weekend surfing the internet researching the famous racehorse, seeing how much I could remember from my childhood of following everything I could find on any horse, with the limited resources of three channels on TV and outdated books at the library. Of course, my study didn’t stick with just the winner of the 1973 Triple Crown. I read about all the famous racehorses from the early 1900’s to the present. It is amazing that I ever get anything done around the house.

What also is amazing is how far back they can trace the bloodlines of some of these horses. The great Man O’ War, from the early twentieth century, can trace his family to the Godolphin Stallion of 1700’s. Some of Man O’ War’s descendants also went on to greatness such as War Admiral, Seabiscuit and Riva Ridge (a stable mate to Secretariat). Others however lived in obscurity, never racing, never earning a name for themselves.

I am sure that we all have the same kind of pedigree with some ancestors we can be proud and some we don’t admit to ever having heard. All I know is that I can’t trace my family roots back any further than the late 1800’s.

The New Testament of the Bible opens with the genealogy of Jesus Christ. What an interesting list that is. Tracing 42 generations, the names include great leaders and faithful followers of the Jewish religion. It may surprise you but that list also includes the names of foreigners and even women of ill repute.

Sometimes we think that God would choose as a family for His son a bloodline that is completely true, without blemish or stain. No matter how great or wonderful someone may have been, though, they have still been sinful and imperfect. Jesus is the only one who has walked this world living a perfect life.

Even Secretariat didn't win every race he ran.

Friday, February 18, 2011

“Looking down and looking up”

The Exotic Animal Paradise, in Springfield, Missouri, is one of those places where you stay in your car and drive through the animal exhibits, buying expensive bags of wafers to feed the deer, ostriches, and camels who stand in front of your car holding you hostage until you give them more treats. During our vacation of 2001, my husband and I arrived at the animal park shortly after they opened at eight am. Our plan was to get there before it got too hot and the animals were all bedded down in the shade somewhere.

Unfortunately for us, but probably lucky for some family of pre-adolescent children, in addition to the many upright animals, we also found a dead burro at the side of the road. We sat in the car staring at the carcass for the longest time making sure it wasn’t still breathing, but the flies hovering around it were pretty much a dead giveaway (sorry for the bad pun).

Halfway through the park was a stopping off place, an area to buy more wafers or purchase a t-shirt, stuffed animal or other random souvenir. We tracked down an employee to report the burro demise. She thanked us, but did not seem terribly surprised by our find.

When we left there, we drove up to St. Louis to see the Gateway Arch. It is really big. I mean, really big. I've seen lots of towers and monuments and things, but this one was really big. We would've taken the ride in the little tiny car inside of the Arch to the top, but just because the Arch is big on the outside, does not mean it is big on the inside. Another revelation about me – I am very claustrophobic.

We did, however, take the riverboat ride, which was all right. At least we were outside in the fresh - and hot and humid - air.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Olive Garden

My husband is going to kill me for writing this. Well, actually I am sure he won’t, instead he will be massively amused. He will shake his head and think, “why does she really want to tell everyone this?”

We were driving all around Missouri that frightfully hot August of 2001. We had been living as cheaply as possible the entire vacation, only visiting free or dirt cheap attractions, eating most of our meals out of the cooler, staying in hotels which offered free continental breakfast. But there in Springfield, after checking into yet another Super 8 motel, we decided it was time to splurge. Himey took me out to eat at the Olive Garden.

Have you been to Olive Garden much? I don’t know about you, but it always seems like my waiter is this young cute male, working his way through college, and he knows exactly how to work me.

“Would either of you like a complimentary glass of our house wine?” he asked, not so innocently. He knew what he was doing. His name was something like Michael or Andrew or Barnaby, not Mike or Andy or Barney.

Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t drink, maybe a sip of my husband’s cold beer during a cookout or maybe a fancy drink with an umbrella when I am out to eat with my girlfriends. I haven’t had more than three alcoholic beverages in a year since I was this waiter’s age.

“Sure, I’ll try a glass,” I impulsively answered, fielding a shocked look from my husband. He shrugged and ordered a Bloody Mary.

Half-way through our salad and first round of breadsticks, Barnaby offered to refill my wine glass, or perhaps I wanted a mixed drink instead. Well, after one glass of wine, a brandy old-fashioned sounded fantastic, so I ordered one.

By the time Himey was half-way done with his chicken fettuccini and I had made a good dent in my chicken parmigiana, Barnaby returned, asking if we needed another drink. When Himey declined, I was still sober enough to follow suit. Not sober enough however to avoid some more fluttering with the young student.

When the bill, which totaled $33.41 came, Himey asked how much of a tip to leave. “Is five dollars enough?”

“Give him at least a ten,” I nearly slurred my words. And because my husband, the sweet thing that he is, always listens to me, that is what he did. And he has yet to let me hear the end of it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

“Nuclear Babies and Civil War Gunfire”

Carthage, Missouri, turned out to be the finest surprise of the vacation of 2001. Incredibly enough, the Civil War Museum downtown opened at 8:30 am. The next best thing about it was that it was free. My husband Himey and I didn’t think our day could get much better than that. But it did.

After a drive through the historic Park and Oak Hill Cemetaries, we ventured into our next pleasant surprise. Precious Moments Place.

You know those figurines of little children who have big heads, big lost eyes and usually are saying something that makes old ladies go, “awe”? My sister Pat hated them and called them ‘nuclear babies’, because only kids who had been exposed to radiation could possibly look like that. My mother-in-law, on the other hand, well, she always thought they were precious.

I have to admit that I was nearly stunned by the beautiful grounds, the fascinating chapel and the story of the creator, Sam Butcher, a deeply religious man. We again only took in the venues which were free, but could easily imagine returning to spend some serious money and take it all in.

Since we were so close to the border by then, we decided to randomly drive into Arkansas just to say we were there. A good decision. Other than the man at the visitor center who wouldn’t leave Himey alone, our short drive through the northern most section of this southern state turned out, again, surprisingly awesome.

We took the driving tour through Pea Ridge National Military Site. It’s where a civil war battle took place. I can’t remember the whole story and am too lazy right now to look it up on the internet, but it was definitely worth the $4.00 admission charge.

The only downer of the entire day was Branson. I just must totally not get it. We drove through downtown coz we thought we should and –yuck – nothing but crazy traffic and ignorant pedestrians.

So, here’s my question for you all for tonight. Why do people flock to Branson, Missouri? The shows, I suppose, but – um, really?

Sunday, February 13, 2011


If you have been following my blog much at all, you know a few things about me. You know I love horses and dogs and kitties. You know I was born with wanderlust running through my veins, and that thanks to both my parents, I am kind of a bum. One thing that you probably have not picked up is that, also thanks to my parents, I am a Packer fan.

It’s one of those things that just can’t be helped. When that game is on the TV every Sunday afternoon for the entire season and your dad is swearing at every miffed play or giving the dog a high-five when there’s touchdown, it kinda sticks with you. (Just like the Milwaukee Brewers, but those stories will have to wait now til summer.)

So last Sunday, just one week ago, the Green Bay Packers met the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Superbowl. I admit it. I cried when the Pack scored first and I cried when the Steelers blew it on fourth and long with seconds left in the game, giving the Green and Gold another championship.

In addition to winning, the Packers have another tradition, which you already know if you follow the Pack at all. During training camp each summer, fans come down to watch them play. When practice is over, the players will pick a kid from the crowd and ride their bike back to the locker room. What a thrill it must be for those boys and girls, what an honor.

Is being a champion just about winning? Is it about being the greatest? Maybe it’s more about greatness.

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”Mark 9:35-37 (New International Version, ©2010)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

“Into Missouri”

After a day in Iowa, at the start of our 2001 vacation, my husband and I checked into the Super 8 motel in St. Joseph, Missouri. Following an uneventful evening, we rose early the next morning, a Sunday, and thought we would take in the sites of St. Joseph. I especially wanted to see the Pony Express Museum, the Pony Express having been yet another romantic time in our country’s history.

Alas, it was not to be. I will admit perhaps it was my poor planning, but it wasn’t until one pm that anything much opened on a Sunday in the city of St. Joseph, Missouri. We sucked it up and just drove on down the road to Kearney.

Kearney boasts the birthplace of Jesse James, so naturally his home and birthplace are open for tours and includes an adjacent museum which shows off all sorts of artifacts from his boots to the lid of his original coffin. Of course, the general feeling throughout the grounds was that he really hadn’t been such a bad guy and that he got a bum rap. I didn’t buy it, but the log cabin he was born in and the addition purchased by his mother from the Sears catalog in 1893 were still cool to go through.

Next stop was Independence and the Truman Museum and Library, followed by a tour of the Harry S. Truman Home. Very neat. Mr. Truman had been my father-in-law’s favorite president, so my husband was pretty psyched by the whole thing. And that’s what matters most sometimes – when your spouse is psyched about something.

Trivia question for you. That night we stayed in a small town which seemed to have fallen right out of a Frank Capra movie. This city was the hometown of Robert Heinlein. What is the name of the town? And, please, without looking this one up, do you even know who Robert Heinlein was (my husband said at the time that he had never heard of him)?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Romantic Iowa

August of 2001 the family vacation turned into the parent’s vacation. My husband and I dumped the kids at their dad’s in South Dakota and headed to Missouri. Of course, that meant driving through Iowa. Now, I know what you are thinking, Iowa nothing but cornfields. Au contraire.

I think that someday I would like to take my entire one week’s vacation in Iowa. Honestly. That one day that we had to drive through the state we visited a tiny house on a street corner in the town of Winterset, the home was the birthplace of Marion Morrison (aka John Wayne). We drove up this incredibly steep hill in the city park in the middle of Winterset to see Clarks’ Tower, a 25 foot tall tower built in 1926 as a tribute to the first pioneer families in the area. From the top of the tower there were fantastic views of the surrounding countryside.

Of course, the most famous attraction in Madison County would be the covered bridges, thanks to the movie with Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood. On our first date, Himey and I talked about the book by Robert James Waller and on our next date he loaned me his mother’s copy of the book to read. Who would have ever guessed, back in 1995, that our travels would someday take us to the Bridges of Madison County?

We visited four of the six restored bridges. At one time the county boasted 19 covered bridges. What makes them so romantic? Surely we all thought that before Mr. Waller’s book made these particular bridges famous.

I think it must be the way in which they harken back to a past time, past lives, when things were simpler. When every family was the Waltons, when there was no TV, certainly no internet. When a young man and a young woman, on their first date, would walk down to the stream at the edge of town and wade in the shallow water in the shadow of a covered bridge.

Holliwell Bridge, where we met two women who were visiting all of the covered bridges of Madison County, taking pictures of their three foot tall snowman on each of the bridges.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Living in the Light

One of the worst things about the month of December here in northern Wisconsin is that we never get to see sunlight. We wake up in the dark, drive to work in the dark, get to see a little bit of daylight through the windows during the day, and then leave work in the dark and drive home in it.

By the middle of January, we start coming out of this darkness. And now, by the first of February, we actually have daylight in the morning and in the evening.

It is easy to get depressed when we feel we are living in darkness. In fact some people get so down during the winter months that they are diagnosed with a medical condition – seasonal affective disorder. One of the proven treatments for this illness is to sit in front of a bright light for a certain period of time each day.

There is another darkness which many people live in. It is a steady ongoing lack of a spiritual light in their lives. It is the darkness of not having a relationship with their savior, Jesus Christ. I would rather have the darkness of winter year-round than that kind of darkness.

Hopefully you are one who is living in the light, the eternal light.

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.” John 11:9-10 (New International Version, ©2010)

Friday, February 4, 2011

I am just a bum

Wow, sometimes, I am just a bum. I’ve been reading the Travel Log which I kept from 1997 to 2005, and some years I really put on some miles. I’ve pretty much decided not to bore you with each and every road trip, but here is a list of the places I went from February 2000 to October 2001:

Stayed in hotels at the following places: 1) Green Bay for a weekend away; 2) throughout the UP on a family vacation; 3) Madison just for the heck of it; 4) AmericInn at Belle Plaine, Minnesota, for the Renaissance Festival; 5) back to Minnesota a month later to visit our old Pastor and his family, as well as my friend in LeSueur; 6) Milwaukee for a union trip for Himey; 7) Bettendorf, Iowa, for his nephew’s confirmation; 8) Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to take the kids to their dad’s for the weekend and back to my friend in LeSueur again; 9) back to Milwaukee for a meeting for me; 10) a week’s vacation in Missouri, having dropped the kids off in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, again, first; 11) and lastly one more trip to Madison for my nephew’s wedding reception.

Camping at: 1) JW Wells state park in Michigan; 2) national forest near Eagle River; 3) state forest near Minocqua; 4) camping at Lost Lake near Laona.

I know I’ve already filled you in on some of the trips, and probably will detail a few more of these. But seriously? You surely do not want to hear about all of them. And seriously, when did I ever get anything done around the house?

While camping at Lost Lake near Laona we had a visitor
Clark Tower in the city park in Winterset, Iowa
Nieces Leann and Paula, niece-in-law Ann, nephew Brian, brother-in-law
Claude, sister Judy at Brian and Ann's reception in Madison
My husband's brother John, his wife Teresa and their two kids Jacob and Ann. (This was at my house, not at Jacob's confirmation - but well - sue me.)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

No place like northern Wisconsin in the Fall

Morgan Falls, some 20 miles west of Mellen, Wisconsin
Looking north from the top of St. Peter's Dome

We woke up one Saturday, late in September, 2000, and decided to take a ride to look at the fall foliage. Nick, age 14, at the time, pointed us in a north-westerly direction and we never questioned it. As we drove, we concluded that we would find Morgan Falls, in the middle of the Chequamegon National Forest and take the several mile hike to view it and possibly attempt to scale St. Peter’s Dome.

What an amazing coincidence that just as we were pulling into the parking lot of the trail head, Nick’s best friend Josh and his family were crawling out of their Suburban. Truly amazing, wasn’t it, Nick?

We had a fine day and it was good that my son had someone else to trek up the steep slope with instead of his pokey parents. One of these years, I will have to write about the misadventures of Nick and Josh. That would be quite a book.