Saturday, December 17, 2011

Summer Chairs, Winter Snow

Stop and rest awhile - wait, these chairs are sitting in the snow. Where did the summer go? When did Fall slip by us. We're singing O Come O Come Emanuel and we're baking Christmas cookies and soon we'll be tapping Maple trees and launching pontoons. The years tumble by us now and our part time neighbor, Fred, says that it's because of all the Nasa launchings of the past several decades. I can't remember the premise of his assertion but he is certain it's true. I don't know why but I do know that time is precious and time is slippery but the cool thing is that in the realm of philosophy, time doesn't exist. When Bing and I got married we adopted a slogan that he and his friends used whenever they were on vacation, ie, "We've got a lot of time." This slogan was meant to slow us down when things got frantic and to remind us that we can take it easy. It worked very nicely. The pictures are: winter weeds, on the trail and summer chairs.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mission Accomplished

Sue and Grandma Milli stayed five weeks and one day and the mission was to get Sue a partial knee replacement and suitable rehabilitation so that she could get back to her busy life in Minneapolis. On Tuesday, November 8th, they were able to say "mission accomplished" and they made their way back to the city. Sue was a remarkable patient and according to her physical therapist, far above the curve. They were so appreciative of the stay and we were pleased to help out. It was a good plan and Milli especially enjoyed the company, the food and her many card games with Sue.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Communal Living

Bing and I became empty nesters quite a while ago. I think it was about 1995 when the last of our three sons married and moved out. But about three weeks ago, we doubled our household members and have been sharing the homestead. My title of this post suggests living in a commune and that evokes images of a large compound with healthy looking adults and tons of kids happily coexisting and sharing the living space, the meals and the work. But our communal living is a little less intensive and in need of a lot less coordination because it's only four here, not fifty or sixty. It has been a pretty comfortable transition and will last a couple more weeks. Our fellow residents are Bing's 98 year old mom and his sister, Sue, familiarly known as Grandma Milli and Aunt Susie. For the last several years, Sue has been a more and more needed caretaker for Milli in their home town of Minneapolis. Milli lives in a third floor apartment with no elevator and Sue, of course, does the grocery shopping and carrying, etc. The stairs became a big challenge due to Sue's arthritic and painful left knee and the diagnosis led toward a need for a replacement knee. To make a long story short, the best solution seemed to be that Sue and Milli move in here for the knee operation and the rehab necessary afterward. And, so far, so good. Sue had the same surgeon as Bing and before this surgeon joined the medical world he had worked as an engineer making prosthetic parts, so he seems to do a remarkably good job with the placement and function of the part. Sue is doing very well and is now working on strengthening the recovering knee and regaining the ability to stair climb. The communal living has been fun and the biggest change is that we do an awful lot of shouting at each other. Milli is what would assume is almost stone deaf. The best way to communicate with her is face to face about six inches away from her ear and even then it often turns into a version of charades trying to get a word across. She is also legally blind but can see somewhat so the proper lighting is important too. It is quite precious to see her nod off in her rocker basking in the sun like a contented kitten. For a few days she wasn't feeling well and I noticed that this stage of her life felt to me like those early days of infancy where you checked the baby to see if he was breathing and you felt a deep deep love and concern for this oh so dependent being. But she bounced back nicely with a returned appetite and vigor for her pleasures of audio books, card games with Sue and the distinct pleasure of living with her son and daughter at this stage of her life. Our communal living will go a couple more weeks but the memories will last a lifetime........I've added some pictures of summer flowers as we say goodbye to them for the year. We're finally getting to the freezing point at night but it has been a nice long stretch of not so bad weather.....

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Puzzling Behavior

It was supposed to be a week of fishing for Bing's two childhood friends. One is a fellow from Sun City, Arizona and one is from Billings, Montana. They drive together each year from Billings, visit some relatives for a few days and cap off their trip each summer with a week stay with us. This year the weather did not cooperate at all and the fish were even less cooperative. So the main event was cancelled more often than not. But we still had great fun and the usual lots of laughs that prevail in their company. To the rescue - who knew - both of them seemed to be of the same obsessive compulsive jigsaw puzzlers as I am. Neither had done any puzzling for years but once they sat down at the table where I was finishing a 1000 piece jigsaw that Bernie and the kids had given me for Christmas - there was no turning back - we finished that one and then proceeded to start and finish another 1000 piece one. - It turned out that each of us probably had that same trait because we're all Aquarians born under the same astrological sign.
Our birthdays are February 1st, 3rd and 5th - wow, maybe there is something to that astrological stuff!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Oh Happy Days

The summer was just starting when last I wrote. Instead of the old classic, "It has been the worst of times. It has been the best of times." It has just been the second half - the best of times. The gardens are flourishing and we're keeping up with the weeds. The wood has been gathered for winter fires. We're reaping and canning and pickling and freezing the beans, cukes, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, cauliflower, rutabaga, swiss chard, kale, romaine, leaf lettuce, bok choy, beets, cabbage, kohlrabi, carrots, squash and pumpkins. When there are too many veggies for our consumption, Bing takes a load to the local food pantry. The lake has been welcoming and the weather fantastic. But, best of all, our familly gathered. All thirteen of us were here together for the first time since 2005. My love runneth over just seeing everyone laughing and talking and fitting together like pieces to a puzzle. The three sons, the wives, the six grandchildren, all so kind and loving and beautiful - it is indeed a blessing beyond measure to age and grow and see the people that your children have become. They have so much more love and tolerance and knowledge than you have gathered in your years and they in turn, are loving their children with all their hearts and trying to equip them with the values and life skills so necessary in this complicated world of ours. It was extra special to be able to get to know our youngest grandchild, Ben, of Washington State. Cori, his mom, sends us many many pictures of him as he has grown and now we know him well after about nine days in his company. He's personality plus and up for just about anything. I've added a few pix - Our three sons, Bernie, Danny and Tony, Dan, Cori and Ben and then the six grandchildren. Thanks, God, for everyone of them.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Magic of Summer

Summer's magic is happening here in the northwoods. The lake temperature is 76 degrees now and the water feels great on a hot muggy day like today. The garden is thriving and fruits are ripening. The rhubarb led the way and the cherries are pitted and frozen waiting to be made into pies for guests. Blueberries are next and raspberries will be shortly after that. Sometimes my mind just boggles at the idea that out of grungy grimy earth comes such a variety of food for our bodies. It really makes a lot of sense that our society is growing more and more cognizant of the need to nourish and protect the earth. I think one of the best projects that our nation should work on is the expansion of speedy internet service to rural communities. That way people could spread out from the crowded cities and work from their homes in more open unpopulated areas. They could raise their families with a real connection to the earth and its magical qualities..............The pictures show the last of the cherries, baby Honey Crisp apples and ripening blueberries.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Iris

The Iris stands tall and straight and rivals the orchid in beauty and variety of color. Thank you, God, for Irises.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Flowers of the Day

Today's flowers are the Lily of the Valley and Bridal Wreath. I'm naming these two together because they both remind me of our days growing up in Chicago. These two spring bloomers were always available for picking and sniffing and decorating. My mother instilled a devotion to Mary, the blessed mother of Jesus, and I often placed a big bouquet before her picture. Things that remind me of our childhood days always bring smiles. There were 32 kids in that neighborhood and we ran and played and laughed. We moved when I was 10, but that decade meant a lot and gave we three siblings a strong healthy start in life.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Spanfarkel, I Think

We went to a pig roast Saturday. I think the german name for it is spanfarkel but even if it isn't, spanfarkel is a neat name. Ray Zettler threw the party for himself for his ninetieth birthday. He rented the pavilion at Hodag Park and invited everyone to join him. He's a jovial fellow and probably knows most of the people in town. Bing used to bowl with Ray so we were among the eighty or so friends that were there. It was "special day" for the three local grandchildren so we brought them along. We forgot the camera so I don't have pics of the festivities but I googled the accompanying picture for effect. The three vegetarian grandchildren got a little grossed out at the sight of the pig but quickly headed for the playground equipment and the beach so it wasn't too traumatic.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Flower of the Day

I've been building and walking a "meandering path" around our lot for several years now and that walking time in my day is essential to peace and tranquility and a growth in spirituality. The highlights of the path are the various flowers that poke through the earth's surface and smile their helloes through the rocks and ferns that grow there naturally. I plant and weed and water in droughts but there is no perfection to the flower arrangements. But I think I'll try to do a flower feature every now and then. Today's flower feature is the Lupine. I'm starting with it because it's Bing's favorite flower. As far as I know, it's the only flower he has ever noticed or commented about so that struck me as it being a very special flower. The reason he loves it is because whenever he and his fishing friends would go to Canada in the spring, the lupines would cover the Canadian hillsides and fields. He even brought home seeds for us to get some started and they are quite prolific. Their drawback is that they only flower for a short time in the spring but when they do, they shine!.

Monday, June 13, 2011

This and That

Well, time is flying by again and I thought I'd better get back to this because it must be annoying for folks to keep checking in and there's nothing new...........So, I thought I'd just list some of the things that have kept us busy the last few weeks - 1. Once the ice leaves the channel, it's time for the boat covers to be put back on the frames and for the boats to get back in the water. 2. The big garden and the raised beds and the muck bed down the hill all get rototilled and ready for planting. 3. The fences that were protecting the cedar trees and the raspberry patch from winter hungry deer are taken down. 4. The flower beds and asparagus patch get weeded. 5. The A-Frame must be cleaned. 6. We clean the house a bit better than usual because we have four fishermen stay in the house with us for a week. 7. This year we cleaned and painted one of the bathrooms. 8. Bing gets all his fishing gear back in catching form. 9. Bing has also been cutting, gathering and splitting a woodshed full of oak firewood from the neighbor's acreage. He likes to get it while the days are still cool. 10. The garden gets planted and the pump that pumps water from the lake for the garden, gets put in place. 11. We whack the weeds around all the gardens and flower beds with the gas powered weed whacker. 12. Bing mows the grass as much as needed. 13. We always find time to play with our grandchildren, visit casinos and pray to our benevolent God. The spring is busy but most of the items are done out in our beautiful outdoors. The energy of the forest air transfers to our bodies and minds and fills us with vitality.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I Muse Over Music

I've been pondering music the last couple of years. It's a powerful part of life. It accompanies our religious rituals, evokes our emotions, moves us to dance and has been proven to heal the sick. I think of myself as a lover of all kinds of music but not as a person that understands it or how it comes to be. Within my and Bing's family, there have been people of musical talent. My mother played the piano, ( I loved it when she played boogie woogie,) and was the soloist/ organist for her parish when she was single. My dad's sister, Mary, played the violin beautifully until she died of smallpox at age 19. Bing's paternal great great grandfather was a violinist and professor of music at a university in Budapest, Hungary. And so it makes me wonder, is musical ability a genetic trait or is it something that is learned, or both? I remember back in 1952, when we moved to Milwaukee from Chicago. I was in fifth grade and very shy, hoping to fade into the woodwork and never to be noticed. (My long red braids didn't help in that regard.) At our school in Chicago, we didn't have a music class but the new school did. The grades on report cards were in numbers then, not A's and B's, and I was used to getting grades in the nineties. I still did in the regular subjects but the grade on that first report card in music, was 47!! I had no clue about sharps and flats and clefs. I still don't know much about those things but when we sing along in church, I know enough to go up and down or fast or slow at the right times. I can sing along ok if somebody next to me carries the tune, but if I'm on my own, it's not too pretty. And so, I am so proud and so amazed to see how Bernie, our oldest son, seems to have unearthed a slumbering musical talent that far exceeds any formal study he ever had. He is rapidly becoming an accomplished singer/songwriter/guitar player. He speaks of riffs and bridges and chord progressions. It's greek to me. I never realized that musicians really work at getting songs to sound right. I just thought that music just happened. At 69, I now appreciate music more. I think it's a gift and an art and a science and I will marvel at those who understand it and pursue it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Those six pictures in the last post are from 1988, not from current tornadoes. I used our digital camera to take pictures of photos from our album. These digital cameras are amazing!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Terrible Tornadoes

High winds are scary. They make you feel powerless. These last several weeks our country has been wracked with more tornadoes than ever. The pictures of the tornado devastation saturate the TV, newspapers and the internet. So many people homeless, so many people stripped of their possessions by the wind. The closest one to us was about 40 miles away in Merrill, Wi. But the broadcasters keep saying, May is typically the month with the most tornadoes. So, we stifle a little fear and hope that we dodge the bullet as we have so far. ...........We were left homeless in 1988. It wasn't a tornado, but wind played a big part. It was March 1st, and March came in like a lion that year. It was bone chilling windy cold that morning when I left for my 10:00 am start of a shift at the racketball club. When I looked back on that morning to trace my steps and try to figure out what went so terribly wrong, I couldn't find a thing. Bing had left for his 7:00am start, the boys, ages 13, 15 and 17, had all left on the 7:10 am school bus. I did a load of wash, filled the crock pot with the evening's intended meal, got ready for work, fed the wood fire in the basement and drove to town. I think it was about 1:00pm, when a neighbor

called and said, "Eileen, I think your house is on fire!" She lived down the hill from us and I hoped she was wrong, that maybe a shed was burning or maybe she was just wrong. Then another call, it was another neighbor on the lake, a few roads away from us. She confirmed it. Our house was ablaze, the volunteer firefighters from four surrounding towns were fighting it and it was bad. I called Bing at the office, got a friend to watch the club, picked up the sons from their schools and we met Bing at home. We stared as the brave volunteers fought the flames but the wind was too strong and the fire won - total loss. .........We pretty much know the feelings of the tornado victims. You are thankful to come out of it alive and together but you also know there is much work to be done. The goodness of family, friends and strangers carry you through the rebuilding. And in our case, the song of the school children at Mass the next morning gave us the knowledge that God would provide. The children sang, "You shall walk amid the burning flames and you will not be harmed." The words gripped our souls and told us all we needed to know.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Time to Awaken

I love this time of year - the snow is almost gone. The edges of the lake are melting. The birds are chattering. The neighbors" chickens are excitedly scratching the ground to find some delicious treats. The frost is out of the ground and the inquisitive little crocuses poke their pointy leaves toward the beaming sun. Our temperatures still vary from the twenties to the sixties but the twenties don't last as long and the sixties feel like Heaven. God seems to join in the spring cleaning with showers washing away the winter dust and strong winds acting like giant leaf blowers. Each day new buds and leaves will pop out as nature awakens and redecorates with myriad shades of green.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Pictures from the Last Post

Dance, Dance Wherever You May Be

Happy St. Patty's Day - tis a day to wear the green and dance a jig. I've always thought it was lucky to be born Irish and I've often wondered how my dad's mom and my mom's dad each decided at the age of 19 to cross the vast vast ocean and come to America. I've wondered how they had such grit to leave everything they knew and venture into the unknown. But I'm glad they did and they each lived to age 89, which was quite extraordinary for people born in 1869 and 1874. They witnessed so much change in those 89 years, what stories there would be to tell. If only I had listened when I had the chance. But that is the way of life - the youth think they know more than the elders until they are the elders and they realize they don't yet know half of what they should................We have our elder here at our home right now. Bing's mom, Milli, is 98 now and lives alone in an aprtment in Minneapolis, a few miles away from her daughter, Sue, and Sue's husband, Dan. Sue is on a ten day medical mission in Guatemala, so Bing picked her up and brought her here for the ten days. Milli is just as sharp as ever but seems smaller and weaker now. She's legally blind and very hard of hearing and now uses a walker most of the time. But that's pretty good for 98! We'll hit a couple of casinos while she's here but probably won't stay as long as we used to. Sue sent along a pair of headphones that connects right to the TV and amplifys the sound for Milli so we don't have to have the speakers on so loud. That's really nice ................I've included a few pictures of some activities between my last post and now - In early March, we took the three local grandchildren to Klondike Days in Eagle River. It's a winter festival that celebrates the olden days in the Northwoods. Also, the tapping of the Maple trees has been completed. Bing and Tony and the three little ones put in the 65 spiles and we now await the generosity of the trees for the sweetest harvest of the year..........................P.S. I couldn't get the pictures up from the Klondike Days but I'll add them when we figure out how to do it!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Winter Recess

I ponder and I wonder. Recess - recess - recess. When I was a child, I loved recess. Recess was the part of the school day that I just loved. Instead of focusing on reading, writing and arithmetic, we were released - free to run and jump and laugh. From sitting at attention and endless gathering of information, to ten or fifteen minutes of fun, fun, fun. Jump rope was our usual recess activity, sing-songs and double dutch - sometimes a game of tag or red rover. Recess still has a special glow about it and last week, we had a recess from winter. It was the middle of February and the normal weather for this time of the year would be the teens and twenties and often, below zero. But last week, we had about five days in a row in the mid and high forties. It brought the same kind of inner glee that recess brought - no need for layers of clothing, no icy wind whipping the flesh, the melody of melting snow dripping from the roof. Spring doesn't seem so far away now!............The pix are recent doings here: The grandkids helping us get wood for the wood stove, my 69th birthday party, and skating on the snow free, (thanks to the recess,) lake.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tense Times

Bing has had knee pain in his right knee since the eighties and he decided to consult an orthopedic doctor and see what he could do to eliminate that pain. After x-rays and examination, the doctor reported that the cartlage on the inside of the knee was worn away and the pain was being caused by bone on bone instead of bone on cartilage. A partial knee replacement was reccomended. So, after deliberation, Bing decided for the option. The surgery was scheduled for January 27th so about three weeks ago, we made a concerted effort to have Bing in the healthiest state we could so that he would have the best chance to have a successful outcome. We stopped going to places where he might pick up some cold or flu virus, like church and casinos. He stopped bowling so the knee would not be swollen or inflamed for the surgery and he even stopped alcohol intake so the blood would be ready for the various medications that would be given. It seemed to all pay off because he came through the surgery swimmingly and he's very conscietiously doing all the exercises and therapy prescribed. His doctor seemed very happy with the after surgery x-ray and thinks Bing should regain full range of motion with the knee. We had a lot of prayers from friends and relatives and we thank them and God for guiding us through these tense times. The future looks so bright, we may have to wear shades! The pictures show the leg with "yes" written on it before surgery, ( that's to help the doc get the correct leg,) , the T&C family visiting, a happy Bing after surgery and The brace that was needed just the first hours after surgery because of the nerve block they did. ( Now he's cruising around on crutches. )

Monday, January 24, 2011

I Have to Eat Crow

I wrong. Wrong, wrong and wrong. Wow, that hurts to admit it but it feels good to know that at almost 69 years of age, I'm mature enough to realize it. The Wikipedia definition of "eating crow" is humiliation by admitting wrongness or having been proved wrong after taking a strong stand. So butter and salt that sleek black bird and I'll cram it in my mouth. Here's the explanation: for the past 3 NFL seasons, I have chosen to be against, instead of for, our state team, the Green Bay Packers. The team had shut the door on Brett Favre returning to the team after unretiring a couple of times. For the 12 years before that, Brett was like one of the family. Our sons gifted me with books about him and his wife, Deanna. We hosted lots of Packer parties and he was a genuine folk hero throughout the state. I loved the Packers and true to form, if I loved something, I went all out emotionally for the team. I read all about the players, their trades, their fortunes and misfortunes. And then, general manager, Ted Thompson and coach, Mike McCarthy, decided to stand firm on not letting Brett come back to finish his career at Green Bay. I hated that decision but instead of accepting it as something that was considered good for the team - I decided that "we'll just see about that" and started hoping that the Packers would be terrible and Thompson and McCarthy would be fired. The last two years the Pack was kind of mediocre. I missed cheering for them with Bing and Bernie and the grandkids but I thought maybe if they were bad enough this year, my plan would work

- Thompson and McCarthy would be gone and I could return to the green and gold. It seemed to be happening that way this season - the Pack just squeaked out so many wins and had some embarrassing losses and it looked like they might not even make the playoffs. But no, they squeaked in and then peaked and are still going strong - next stop, Super Bowl! I do believe the Thompson/McCarthy decision was the right decision for the team. I was wrong. Who knew or would have guessed that two football men with years of experience and expertise would know more than a grandma/Brett Favre groupie from the Northwoods of Wisconsin! Oh well, at least I get to cheer for the Pack in the Super Bowl because we can't let the AFC win again. Go Pack go. I'm sorry, Bing and Bernie, that the games here the last few years were so cold. Please pass the crow.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Tales of Tucson

It hurts when people are killed for no good reason. Our hearts broke as we watched the victi ms' families in shock. The tragedy in Tucson two weeks ago was especially heartbreaking because a child was involved - a child, eager and curious about things she learned at school, a child who loved the neighbor who took her to meet the local congresswoman, a child, innocent of creating any off the resentments that caused the shooter to pull the trigger over and over.
I've never been to Tucson, Arizona, but some people we love know it well. An aunt and uncle of our sister-in-law, Marianne, moved down there a few decades ago. They were an eccentric couple, both now deceased, and they returned to Milwaukee to visit family every July. Every July, they would drive their homemade truck/camper loaded with things they had accumulated through the year. They would bestow the articles on the various family members. Fortunately. thanks to Marianne, they included Bing and me in their collections. We were the only Xl and XXL"s in the receiving group, so we had our own category. I have some pangs of guilt because we kind of made fun of the fact that the couple was "dumpster diving" way before it was considered cool and "green". They made most of their big finds near the University of Arizona where college students tossed excellent clothing, shoes, hats, sheets and towels as they moved in and out of the dorms and housing. They also collected aluminum cans and recycled them for money. Now, from a wiser point of view, I see that these two practical people were visionaries. They knew that absolutely usable items were available for the taking. They knew that their loved ones could use the items and save themselves the cost of buying like items. They acted with no regard for what others would think of them and they gave freely of their pickings. Bing is still wearing many of the t-shirts they brought for him and I have never bought a pair of underwear in the last twenty years because I taught myself to make underpants out of the material of the t-shirts they brought for me. I think of them and thank them often in my prayers. And as I've watched Tucson on the news, I picture them moving around that desert town, "green" pioneers.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hello Again

It's 2011 already and today was a good day! I had to go get my driver's license renewed. I passed the eye test and am still alowed to drive for another eight years without retesting. I feel like my eyes are still as good as ever but somehow the test scares me.........I'm inserting some pictures just to show some of the highlights of the past several weeks. One is a picture of the three Rhinelander grandchildren on a "special day" here. That day they had a dvd movie to watch so they set up theater seating in the living room. Notice the furry bear movie patrons joining them for the viewing..............Another pic shows Eli dragging our Christmas tree home for grandpa and me. Bing started the sawing of the tree on the hillside and Eli sawed the rest. It looked real nice all dressed up with lights and is our beautiful baby grandson out in Washington. He seemed enthralled with Santa..............The odd one is a picture of one of my favorite things to do. It shows the tools for darning and some of the socks worked on. Darning socks has made a comeback - it's a "green" thing because it keeps the socks usable rather than feeding them to a landfill. Also, it seems like such a waste when there is a hole in the heel but the rest of the sock is perfectly fine. Bing and I wear acrylic socks or wool socks so I use acrylic sport yarn to do the darning. We don't like cotton socks because they feel too rough. The darning reminds me of restringing racketball rackets which I used to do as part of my job too.