Friday, June 30, 2017

Flashback Friday - who could throw these away?

I have yet to make a dent in the boxes of old pictures from my mom’s apartment. Every time the subject came up when she was alive, she would say that she should just throw them out. As I’ve started going through them, I have thrown a few out, but very few. Most of them, no matter how faded or bent they are or whether or not I know who the pictures are of, each one is a precious memory of a precious time in someone’s life.

I’m going to start posting a few of them here periodically. I may have shared some of them before, but I’m not going to look back at every one of my blog posts over the last few years to figure out which ones you may have already seen. But anyway, I don’t know if or when I will ever get done scanning them all.

One of the oldest pictures I’ve come across so far. This is my great-grandma; my mom’s grandma.
 My mom’s parents worked together at a logging camp in the Northwoods – he as a logger, she as a cook. I could be wrong but I think that Grandma is the second woman from the left and Grandpa is next to her. According to the back of the photo, the little boy is their son, my Uncle Robert. If that is the case, the picture had to be taken around 1918.  
Grandpa with my Uncle Robert and Aunt Helen, in front of their first barn, around 1929
 This is the earliest picture of my mom, as a baby, in 1927, being held by (she thought) one of her cousins. 
 My mom with her mom around 1937. 
Grandma and Grandpa in 1942, I think in front of their house. 
 I love this picture. The favorite that I have found so far. Mom and her friend Marion Paul, sometime in the early 1940s, on the Big Rock in the woods behind the house where I grew up. 
 So, like really? Who would want to throw these pictures out? Or at least not until after they were scanned into the computer and saved. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Primates in the Park

After visiting a crocodile farm, a giraffe center and a baby elephant sanctuary, on a Sunday back in April in Kenya, when our driver Samson said we were going to last go to the monkey park, I thought it would be another organized zoo-type place. We pulled up to the City Park and still I thought there was going to be various monkeys all behind bars somewhere in that park.


On the drive, there, Samson stopped and purchased bags of peanuts from a street vendor. I didn’t think much of it; maybe he was taking them home to his kids, until he started handing them out to us in the parking lot of the park. I still wasn’t thinking much of it – was I just exhausted by then or just overwhelmed by seeing all these animals all day?  

We walked into the park and within just a few moments, Sykes monkeys began cautiously approaching on the ground and jumping through the trees. As soon as they realized we had nuts on us, they went nuts, begging and stealing as much as they could. 
 Samson showed us how to do it. 
Most of the females were mommas with babies clinging to them. 
 At first Rachel wanted nothing to do with the monkeys, but she warmed up to them after a while.

 Everyone else took their turn as monkeys jumped on their shoulders and snatched whatever they could. 

 Kenzie was probably the most enamored with the little primates. 
 After already enduring more than my share of accidents on this trip, I really didn’t want to risk having one of them scratch my arm wide open or give me rabies. Instead I let this little mommy stay on the ground and eat gently from my fingers. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Got it Figured Out

My Tuesday morning Women’s Group has started reading the book, “God Speaks Your Love Language” by Gary Chapman. As with any book I’ve read lately, it has taken me awhile to get into it.

The five love languages are supposedly 1) words of affirmation, 2) quality time, 3) acts of service, 4) gifts and 5) physical touch. Even before I took the quiz, I knew which one was me and which was not. But even knowing that, I think that at certain times and with certain people, your language is going to be different. Or even if I am acting on, say, the language of acts of service, I really want the person on the receiving end to utilize quality time.

Or maybe I am just being complicated.

In any event, I’m still on chapter 3 in the book, so I shouldn’t act like I have all the answers, but I do know that God has all the answers and He knows what to do to make me receptive to Him.

This past week I wrote not one, but two rather gloomy posts here. I’ve not been to the point of desperation, even if it sounded like it. I know that God is still out there and that He hasn’t given up on me. I know He still speaks my love language but I hadn’t figured out why I wasn’t hearing it.

I got in my car the other day after work, turned on the radio and the Newsboys were just starting to sing “It is You.” My favorite Christian song. Takes me right back every time I hear it. Every single time. Back to a time when I had it all figured out. Which maybe hasn’t been much the last five months, but I figured it out the other day in my car listening to this song. Again.

Thank You, Lord God, for always speaking my love language. I’m sorry that sometimes my sinful nature or the sinful nature of the world gets in the way. Help me to remember, though, that You will always continue to speak to me, in the language that I know. Amen.   

Friday, June 23, 2017

How Things Really Pass

Believe it or not, I hadn’t vented last time about everything going haywire with my life. I thought I should finish up that rant and then move on.

On Tuesday, I complained about the day job, mourned my mom’s passing, missed Kenya and fretted about “Where the Sky Meets the Sand”. After I hit the publish button, it dawned on me that – as hard as it seems – I missed a few things.

Such as the various aches and pains which have settled throughout my body. The left Achilles has been going on for four long years now. The back, though not nearly as insistent, has that beat by nearly thirty years. The fingers and hands have more bad days than good ones. I don’t know what it means, but the pain seems to move from hand to hand and finger to finger. The only consistent one is the right middle finger which has been locking up for a couple years now.

But I shouldn’t complain as I haven’t had any migraines for at least a year.

Yet another thing that’s been going on has to do with my affiliation with the state society of medical assistants. I’ve been a member for – it must be – 28 years and have been either a committee chairman or officer for at least half that time. The last couple of years, since I don’t have time for a big commitment, I have only been a member on one of the committees. My main duty is to maintain the email accounts for the 32 officers and committee chairmen on the executive committee. Really the only time of year that I have much to take care of is after all the new people take over and they all need access to their email, and I have to change all the passwords, make sure the accounts are working, send the information to all these people and talk them through the process if they have problems. And of course, that time of year has been the last month.

Even then, it’s not a huge chunk of time, but it is still something I have to take care of when I really only want to lay in the sun during the day and curl up in my bed at night.

With all this going on, you would think that I wouldn’t worry about my weight, coz who has time to eat. Not the case. When a person doesn’t have time to cook, it doesn’t mean they don’t have time to eat. They don’t have time to eat healthy, but they sure can find junk food in a heartbeat.

And I know that eating right and getting enough exercise are two of the things which make a person feel better in general and can help them cope with stress. Yet those are the two things which get the least amount of attention. Of course, with my initial complaint in this post being the chronic pain I’m starting to have, things like running bring on more pain. But I know that the correct exercise done consistently is really going to help that.

I will power through all of this though. This too shall pass. As the saying goes, it may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.

Thanks everyone for putting up with me and supporting me. Next time I post here, I will be upbeat and back on track. Promise.   

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Feeling like Humpty-Dumpty

I went to bed last night not able to decide what to blog about today – our camping trip last month, our trip to the Brewers game last weekend, more about my travels to Kenya in April or maybe just a complaint about the crazy weather we’ve been having or even world events. I woke up this morning thinking that instead of all of that, it was time to come clean about how I’ve really been feeling the last five months.

It started around the first of the year when we started losing people at the clinic where I work. When fully staffed we are at four physicians and four advanced practice providers (i.e. nurse practitioner or physician assistant). Right now we have two NPs, two full-time doctors and one doctor working three days a week. A new NP just started, but she is not up to speed yet and won’t be for a while. We have two doctors coming in to help out a few days a week, but they are mostly seeing walk-ins and not really picking up the slack of our regular patients with their chronic needs.

You would think that at least this would mean we have plenty of help with these few providers, but we have lost as many patient care staff as we have providers. Also, management has made cuts to some of our ancillary staff as well, so those of us who are left are doing multiple jobs.

And finally, add to that that we went to a new electronic medical record on February 14. No one cares too much for the new system. Everything we do in it seems to take a few extra steps and I am getting too old to remember all of that. I come home late from work every night wanting to do nothing but crawl into bed.

Then, as you know, the very next day, my mom passed away. I was ready for it and have written about it here already. I know that a person doesn’t just get over the death of a loved one and I have to deal with it over time. Shoot, I’m still not over Dad dying 24 years ago or Pat 18 years ago. I suppose that’s part of the problem. How many people can I keep stored up in my heart without giving them wings to fly free?

I really, really, really thought I was coping, though. Then I went back to Africa. Only people who have done volunteer work in a third world country can understand what kind of a loss one feels when they return from such a trip. And having returned from Kenya four times now, each time that feeling is stronger.

Since October the one bright star on my horizon has been that my first novel, “Where the Sky Meets the Sand”, was going to be published this spring. However, through a series of events on not only my publisher’s part, but mine as well, that process continues to get moved back. All of the internal work on it is now done, I am just waiting for the cover to be finalized. But I still don’t have a date for when it will be released. I’d like to start marketing it, but without that date as well as the finished cover, it makes it tough. Besides, along with not feeling like doing anything else, I don’t feel like doing that.

So, my to-do list, which I have not been tending to includes: marketing that novel, scheduling some book-signings, writing a business plan for my writing career in general and that book in particular, cleaning the spare bedroom where a bunch of Mom’s stuff ended up, scanning all the old family pictures I inherited from Mom, starting to plan the next trip to Kenya with Tumaini Volunteers, promoting Tumaini Volunteers, setting up some arts and crafts sales for Tumaini Volunteers, finishing writing the second novel that I am half-way done with, trying to work out and getting in shape and I am sure there are about ten more things I should be doing.

So, yea, it’s overwhelming and I try to sit back and not worry about it all. Try to just enjoy the simple things, appreciate family and friends, my house, my yard. But I feel like Humpty-Dumpty – just don’t see how the pieces are all going to fit back together. Hoping that getting it off my chest is cathartic. 

But right now, I really should be getting ready for work. I will keep you posted. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Fathers Day and the American Pastime

 Fathers, do not be too hard on your children so they will become angry. Teach them in their growing years with Christian teaching. (Ephesians 6:4 New Life Version)
I have so many memories of my dad as I was a kid growing up. Playing cribbage, sitting on the couch next to him watching TV shows like The Art Linkletter Show and later on Columbo. Helping him in the potato patch, or more like watching him plant or hoe or dig up potatoes. And on hot summer nights, with windows open, one fan blowing and only one light on in the house, to supposedly keep it cool, we’d listen to Bob Uecker give the play-by-play on the radio for the Milwaukee Brewers. Dad would make us chocolate milkshakes using the electric hand mixer, as we didn’t have a blender.

I vaguely remember going to a Brewers game in the old county stadium, but for the life of me can’t remember when that was or who I went with. Maybe I dreamed it.

In any event, I went to my first game at Miller Park this past Friday. Beautiful stadium and a great game. I just wish Dad could have been there with me. Oh, but maybe he was. In spirit.

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there. And to you kids whose fathers are still alive, take them out to the ball game.

Lord God, thank You for blessing me with a dad who raised me right and left me with so many good memories. And God, thank You for being my Father in Heaven forever. Amen.  

Friday, June 16, 2017

My Crocodile Diary

Surely one of the more misunderstood creatures in the animal kingdom is the crocodile. We tend to view him as nothing but a vicious carnivore who has one thing on his mind – food and killing to get it. I can’t say that I’m so different though, except maybe about the killing part, but the eating part is pretty high on my radar during my every waking moment.

I recently saw a video of a man with a pet crocodile (or in all honestly it could have been an alligator – there are a lot of differences between the two but I think we see both of them as killing machines). So this guy was swimming with his reptilian friend and kissing his scaly snoot. I would never suggest doing that or think of doing it myself, but I think every creature needs a friend.

There are fourteen distinct species of crocodiles. The most aggressive, largest and most common is the Saltwater Crocodile. Second in each of these categories is probably the Nile Crocodile, which is most common in Eastern Africa. Here are my encounters with that ancient beast on three different trips to Kenya.

On safari in 2006, we saw him from a significant distance. I zoomed the camera in as far as I could and still zoomed some more when I put the picture on my computer. 
 On safari in 2015, at least he was on my side of the river.
This past April, we visited the Mamba Village Nairobi Crocodile Farm. Though they look pretty docile dozing in their enclosure, you don’t want to fall in with them.

Then there are the young ones. Who can resist the babies of any species? 
At first, I thought, "I am never gonna hold this critter."
But we did kind of bond. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

First Camping Trip 2017

Hard to believe that it was almost a month ago that Hubby and I took our first camping trip of the season. Also hard to believe that it got down to 33 degrees outside both nights (probably hovered in the 40s in the camper!). The rains have continued since then. Hubby wanted to go in the early spring to see waterfalls when the water was high. Ha! At the rate the weather is going, his wish would still be granted.

We stayed at Bewabic State Park, just west of Crystal Falls Michigan. My sister Pat and I had camped there a few times in the early 1980s. At that time, we mostly wanted a site which was private and level for our tent. Now, with the popup camper, we need a larger site which is easy to get in to. Can’t get much easier than a site you can drive through. I think I could even park here by myself, but Hubby has serious doubts about that. 
 My side of the camper. 
 Hubby’s side. Ok, this was after spending a night and a day here, but my side was still as neat as when I set it up. 
 Bewabic sits on Fortune Lake. A little cold that weekend for anyone to go swimming except for the geese. 
  A few miles up the road is a roadside park with a well-marked trail to Canyon Falls on the Sturgeon River. 
 I want to post more pictures sometime, when I have scanned the pictures from those earlier trips. 
 Canyon Falls. Some day I’ll have to share a comical story about this spot from one of those earlier trips.  
 Powerhouse Falls on the Falls River just outside of L’Anse. I don’t clearly remember having been here before, but it was a little like Deja Vu.
 One of our other goals, besides seeing waterfalls at full power, was checking on our favorite campground, McLain State Park. There had been more erosion over the winter. Incredible the power of Lake Superior, huh? 
We’ll return to camp there again some time, but not this year. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Look for the Rainbow

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” Genesis 9 (New International Version)

I was having a hard time last night coming up with something to write about here this morning. I wasted time, as usual, scrolling through Facebook posts. Someone had shared a picture of a rainbow, and I thought – ah-ha – that’s it.

Why are we so fascinated by rainbows? Why do we drop what we are doing when we see one? Or if it is late in the day and it’s been raining when the sun suddenly comes out, why do we start looking for the rainbow in the eastern sky? (Or am I the only one who does that?)

A lot of people have read the passage above or at least know the story of God sending the rainbow after the flood. But I think that without even knowing this story, we want to look for something beautiful after the storm. We have an innate desire for there to be something better on the other side. God knew this about us when he created us and so He sent the rainbow to Noah and Jesus to the rest of us.

Thank You, Lord God, for all that you send us, for granting us something good at the end of every trial. But mostly thank You for sending Your Son to save us. Amen
 While in Kenya in April, we witnessed not one, but two rainbows. The first one was as we were going into the Rift Valley one morning after a rain shower
 The second one was late in the day right in town while we were waiting for one of the girls to get her hair braided. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Baby Elephants!

I once again frittered away much of this week and woke up this morning realizing that I haven’t posted here since Tuesday. There are so many adventures (misadventures, more like it) that I have left to share, but my laziness leaves me with only time to post pictures.

While in Kenya, two months ago today, we spent the day touring various animal parks in and around Nairobi. I feel I bonded with the baby crocodile the most, but that is a story for another time, since today I wanted to just share the baby elephant pictures instead.

All these pictures were taken at the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage. How can you not fall in love with an orphaned baby elephant?

For more information on these elephants and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, click here.