Monday, June 30, 2014

"Standing Stones"

I love to read good historical fiction because I love to travel to other places and other times, but in so many books, if the setting is accurate the story falls flat or vice versa. 

In “Standing Stones”, author Beth Camp got every just right. She actually takes the reader to that time and place, where you feel the cold and the ache that the characters feel, where you smell the things they smell and taste the things they taste. For the price of a book, I feel as if I got to not only travel around the world, but I did it in a time machine! Not only that, Beth tells the moving story of the McDonnell family with such skill that I feel as if I have met each and every one of them.

Caring as much about the main characters as I did meant this saga was sometimes painful to read. Yet I couldn't put it down. Set in Scotland during the mid-1800’s, Moira and her brothers are only one family affected by the new Lord, whose mission is pretty much to run off all of the locals so that he can raise sheep on the land where they have lived for hundreds of years. It's hard to imagine that other human beings could inflict such physical and emotional pain on others. I conjured up pictures of how hard life had been for my own father living in Germany in the early 1900s before his family moved to America.

And finally, believe it or not, 30 years ago I went to college with a girl of Scottish heritage who had siblings named Moira and Colin, just like two of the McDonnells. Beth certainly did her research! I cannot wait to read the next in her series, “Years of Stone”. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Stomp out Cancer

Fifteen years ago on June 18, my sister and best friend passed away from cancer. People will say that someone lost their battle with cancer. But I don’t see it that way at all. My sister lost her hair, she lost a lot of weight, she lost living 50 more years on this earth with the rest of us, but she never lost the battle. Never. She never gave in to cancer and she never gave up to cancer. After waging war for seven years, it was just her time, and God called her home.

The following year, I started a team for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.  Team PALM (for Patricia Ann Loehmer Memorial). I know, ingenious of me wasn’t it? But I’ve blogged about that before.

Yesterday was the Relay for Life here in town. I haven’t been formally involved in the Relay for years, but the hubby and I have continued to faithfully show up and walk a few laps, buy a few raffle tickets, write a few luminaria bags. A month ago, the woman who heads up Kinship asked for volunteers for the Relay and I said I could put in a couple hours helping out wherever they needed me. Which turned into eleven hours, but that’s what happens when you don’t wear a watch.

I ended up in charge of the luminaries. If you are not familiar with what that is all about, for five dollars people will purchase a white bag on which they can write a message in memory of or in honor of a loved one. A candle is placed in each bag and at dark the candles are lit and all the participants walk around reading the bags and it is very touching. Or that’s how it’s supposed to work.

It had been hot and humid all day, but luckily a wind blowing kept things comfortable. There was a chance of thunder showers in the evening, so we kept watching the sky, wondering if and when it was safe to put out the luminaria bags.

We finally said the heck with it and set out all the bags on a path along the river. As darkness began to settle, we settled into lighting the candles in each bag. And the wind continued to blow. After a dozen or more bags caught on fire, we gave up, extinguishing the candles we had already lite.

Was it a failure? Let my pictures of the day answer for you.
 Some times cancer seems like a long tunnel and you don't know if you will get to the other end.
 But with help from family and friends, you can come out on the other side. 
 You may feel like your wings are damaged and you can't fly straight -
 Or that life is out of balance - 
 Or that you don't know what to say - 
 Or you are just plain too tired to finish the job - 
 but a smile always helps.
 You may also feel like it is all an uphill battle - 
 but sometimes the sun comes out and it all looks better from a different perspective. 
 You may feel like your heart is ripped in half - 
 Or that part of you is completely missing.
 Then things can seem completely out of control and what do you do? 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Not really the streets of Hatchet Creek

I haven’t walked any streets this week, but I walked some roads nonetheless.

I’ve written before about how cemeteries fascinate me – the stones, the names, the stories I imagine in my mind. But with all my traveling, I have neglected the cemeteries in my own hometown, thinking that there was nothing fascinating among those stones. Wrong.

My hubby was the grounds’ keeper for Greenwood Cemetery for, I think, seven years. He shared lots of stories about those stones. And loved to say that it was the perfect job – he had a thousand people beneath him and none of them complained. (That’s a very good thing.)

There are a few old stones in main part of the cemetery.

But if you go straight back and into the woods, you find these.

The hubby says that it used to be the catholic cemetery but years ago they moved the catholic section to Calvary south of town. Families who couldn’t afford to move the graves of their loved ones, or if there was no family left, those graves got left behind.

In October 2003, Chris Erickson cleaned out this section as his Eagle Scout project. Too bad that it has mostly gone back to the woods.

I would love to hear from you if you know whether the story of this old part of Greenwood is true.

Monday, June 23, 2014

That's what friends are for.

Saturday, we held our first “friend-raiser” event for my daughter’s nonprofit organization, Tumaini Volunteers. Last month, I blogged about what I thought a “friend-raiser” is, so I won’t explain it again. I will tell you that getting together in the park with a group of family and friends is always a good time, whether you make new friends or not. 
 The weather started out pretty dreary, very overcast and cool, even though the forecast was for highs pushing 80. Suddenly at 3 pm, the sun came out and I bet the temperature went up by 15 degrees. 

 Our team members wanted to be sure that no one driving by could say that they missed where we were at.

 And to be doubly sure, we put up lots of signs.

 I put out my display of Kenyan arts and crafts. That blue suitcase under the table? My daughter has taken that to Africa three times now, but it feels as though I have put more miles on it dragging it from one craft show to the next.

 We even had some unexpected live music. 

These two little girls put a lot of effort into pounding this stake into the ground.

They got the job done, though, by working together. 

Coz, after all, that's what friends are for. 

(OK, they really were sisters, but you get it.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Walking the Streets of Hatchet Creek - Day 2

I’m on a roll now. Or at least I hope so. This week I started my walk of Tomahawk at Memorial Park, heading back around Riverview Nursing Home and south towards the old Sacred Heart Hospital. I tripped coming into the parking lot, which put a damper on my travels, so I walked west on Lincoln Avenue, back to Fourth Street and then north to the Park. I promise that by next week I will post a map here. I just need to get it together (as in my head, and not necessarily the map).
 This is the back side of Riverview Nursing Home. This would be where Dr. Henderson’s hospital was many years ago. That was where I was born, and I won’t tell you what year that was.

 The army surplus store called this its home for many years. A while back the surplus store moved into the old Tomahawk Drug Store building and this one became the Jester Studio. Last time I was by here, there was a lot more activity. It looked pretty desolate; I will have to investigate this further.

 I remember when Family Dollar was the IGA. Was it Jack’s IGA for a while? There used to be three grocery stores in town, this one, Hanke’s and Nelson’s. Mom always shopped at Hanke’s, but I will have to write about that another day.
 And back to Memorial Park.
 This is the M4A8 Sherman Medium Tank which has a special place in the heart of my family. And here is why.
 Some may think that this was some kind of vandalism (and I am so thankful that no one has vandalized this tank), but they are the initials of the kids who painted this tank back in 2003 as part of my son’s Eagle Scout project. His would be the initials “NC”. He sure had us sweating back in those days, as he got his Eagle requirements turned in just days before the cut off (his 18th birthday). He still leaves us wringing our hands in worry sometimes.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Dog's Life

Well, hello, everyone, it is me Dino. I know you haven't heard from me for a while, so I thought I would slap the old paws on the keyboard and type up something for Mom. She has been down the last few days - a headache, not sleeping, hurting all over. I heard her tell Dad that she thought she had Lyme's. Of course, she won't get checked for it. Dad says she is bull-headed. Her head doesn't look anything like a bull's to me.

So, what have I been up to? Not too much, sleeping all day, pacing half the night, getting Mom and Dad up early in the morning. Mom still goes for a run a couple times a week. She always takes me with, but we haven't gone as far as we used to go last year. There are a few new houses on our road and she doesn't like running past them because their dogs or their people are usually in the yard. We usually end up running on the highway. where there aren't many houses, there aren't any trees and a lot of cars go by. But the highway is wide enough that the cars don't even get close to us. So that is good.

Oh, one other thing that I have been thinking about. Do you all know how to pronounce my name? Coz sometimes I have heard it said so that it sounds like you are about to say "dynomite". Which would be ok if you were that skinny black guy from that old TV show. (Once in a while they let me watch TV Land.) And also since my name is short for dinosaur because it comes from the TV show The Flintstones (Mom and Dad used to watch way too much TV), where their pet dog was a a dinosaur. But really my name sounds like Beano. I know, it's weird, but that's how it is and that's my name.

Oh, one other thing, I went to the vet last week. Mom said I was really naughty. I don't know, there are just too many things to smell at the vet's office and then two labs came in and all I wanted to do was be friends. Honest. I wasn't trying to be naughty. But the vet did give Mom treats to give me once a month to keep off the fleas and ticks. She told them how much I hated the smelly stuff she used to put on my back. And this year she bought a collar but it wasn't kept off any ticks coz Mom pulled off five of them just while we were waiting for the vet. I hope the treats work better. If Mom does have Lyme's I sure don't want to get it.

I't's a rough life. But I hope everything is going well for all of you.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Are You a Servant?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 
2 Timothy 3:16-17New International Version 
I was taking a walk around my town this week and had to take a picture of this door. It used to be the main entrance to Grace Lutheran Church, before they put on an addition, changing the narthex to the other side of the building. Now, this door is titled the “servant’s entrance”.

I think we all have a good idea what is meant by a “servant’s entrance, but I still had to google it. Most websites led me to a movie from the 1930s by the same name.

Free Dictionary however says it is “an entrance intended for the use of servants or for delivery of goods and removal of refuse.”

A website, “Scouting NY” had this to say when the writer of that site found a similar sign in New York: “Servants? Tradesmen? I imagine it’s been quite a number of years since this sign has had any applicability for the building’s tenants, but I love that it still exists as a fading relic of a bygone era.”

“A fading relic of a bygone era”? Is that saying that such signage is no longer around, that either there are no servants or they use the same entrance as everybody else?

I think that in this day and age such verbiage is totally in vogue when used on any house of worship. Shouldn’t we all be servants? Shouldn’t we all be welcomed into the house of the Lord as servants? Shouldn’t we all serve God and man?

Make me a servant
Humble and meek
Lord let me lift up those who are weak
And may the prayers of my heart always be
Make me a servant today.

(Words and Music by Kelly Willard)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Only Clouds - a personal photo challenge

This month's personal photo challenge was stormy weather. That sounded like fun. I have a few stormy weather pictures in my files, but I thought that surely the weather would cooperate and create the necessary storminess. Alas, most of our June days have been sunny or have produced only the white fluffy clouds. Such as these - they don't look so stormy, do they? 
Finally yesterday, my luck changed. All afternoon, from the window at work, I watched threatening clouds roll across the sky. "Just hold out until I get out of here," I kept whispering. As soon as I had my chance, I bolted from work and drove to the best place in town with a great view of the sky. And I stood on that dock patiently waiting for these clouds to do more than tumble to the east. 

 Looks like rain in the distance. It should be heading straight for me.
 Rain circling to the north. The clouds keep moving.
 A few splashes of rain on my arm. That's a good sign. Now we just need some lightening.
But alas, the clouds gave way to the early evening sun.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Walking the Streets of Hatchet Creek - official Day 1

I seem to be getting off to a very slow start with this “WalkingEvery Street of my hometown” thing.  Last night was my first actual, official walk. I only went a few blocks, or ten blocks, it depends on how you count them.

 I had a writer’s group at the Library at six, so I got there early, parked the car and headed up the street. On this walk, I ran into not just one, but two people I know, who I stopped to visit with. Of course it is a good thing to run into people and to stop to visit, but do you suppose this is going to be a trend? I will never finish by the end of the summer if that is the case.

I have another issue going on right now. I haven’t figured out how to post a map with my route highlighted. I tried pulling one off of the internet, and when that failed I thought I would just scan my city map, highlight each day and scan it as I go along. But for the last two days, my scanner hasn’t worked. Seems like the stars are just not lining up for me.

But, you aren’t here to read about my woes, you are here to hear about what I encounter out on the street.

When I was a kid this was an actual service station and the place where the Greyhound bus stopped. A few times I took the bus to Wausau to see my sister. I can’t even believe I typed those words. Wausau is currently forty miles away. My geography skills continue to be fair to mediocre so how did Wausau get so much closer to Tomahawk in the last 35 years? When I was a kid, it was a major planned trip to go to Wausau. My sister and her family would come up for the weekend and spend the night because it was too far to drive here and back in a day. We didn’t just jump in the car and run to Wausau to buy cereal at Sam’s. Times have changed, haven’t they? Whatever happened to Greyhound?

Fast forward all the way up to my senior year in high school. The Beking Chinese Restaurant was the A&W then. I worked at Tomahawk Drug after school a few days a week and would stop at the A&W for a milk shake and fries on my way to work.

I always thought this garage was cool. I don’t know why. My imagination pictures it being filled with mysterious old gadgets and mildewy antiques.

The Fit Factory used to be a church. Maybe if you can’t get in shape, you can at least pray about it.