Friday, July 30, 2010

My Aunt Fran continued Week 34 Sepia Saturday (Click here to see other posts)

I continue with my Aunt Fran Amerine, her married name from last week.  Most of the older photos I found of her  I sent on to my cousin, Paula, her daughter in CA; we are in touch and often comment on how we are the last of the old family.  Here is the last one I have  of Francie from earlier days,  1947 and I do not know where this was taken but this is prior to her marriage and she is still Frances Konesky (Americanized version of Kochanowski.)  I have sent all the other photos off to Paula, her daughter so that the grandson and  grand daughter can enjoy them.  I hope they do.  Wherever this photo was taken,  there was snow and by this time she was wearing eyeglasses.  Last week I mentioned how she changed her age to suit whatever was facing her. 

She married a younger man, Paul Amerine who was a career Air Force chief master sergeant, the highest rank without becoming an officer, Strategic Air Command and that accounted for their living in different parts of the country and world.  He was very handsome and very likeable. I may have mentioned that Francie could be haughty and a bit snobbish.  That did not go over at all with her  father, Teofil, who once told Paul, her husband to come visit as much as he wanted but  to leave his wife at home!  Now that is a walk on the wild side for a Polish father to say about his daughter, but it gives you a taste of how beloved Uncle Paul was and how Aunt Fran could be different.   Uncle Paul was really a prince of a man and I never heard anyone in the family ever say a negative word about him, except for his wife, my Aunt Fran.  Seems she could pick at anything. He died young in about 1968, tragically suddenly of a massive heart attack.

Easter  Paulie Fran and Paula Jean
 I suppose negativity  was a family trait among her and her sisters but  for a long time I  thought it was just my mother.  However, her daughter, my cousin,  Paula, and I have talked a lot about our family experiences because I know more about  our grandparents than she does.  I learned that Paula had some similar experiences with Fran, her mother, as I did with mine, Helen so, who  knows??  I don't know how genetic that would have been because my grandma Rose was the sweetest woman who ever lived, so her daughters did not get that from her!

 Paul and my Aunt Fran married, I am guessing appx. 1949-50 and they had  two children, a daughter and a son.   The photo to the right shows Fran  with her son, Paulie and daughter, Paula Jean in 1956 for an Easter pose.  I am not sure if this was in Atwater, CA or Nebraska. She always called her son, Paulie Wallie Doodle.  I don't  think he enjoyed that as he got older!    

I said last week, Aunt Fran visited home in PA often and the following photo 1957 shows her in PA with her mom, (Grandma Rose), Paulie, Paula Jean, Aunt Fran and Aunt Marge (Uncle Carl's wife and yours truly squatted in front, as I was the big girl when the little cousins came to visit.
 Oh I remember this visit because Aunt Fran wanted to buy me a new pair of shoes to start the school year. Maybe it was because growing up  she never was sure to have new  anythings for school, but everyone, my Grandma, my aunt Jinx, my Mom told her that I would certainly have a new pair of shoes to start school, but for some reason she was set to do that. This was in August I believe and so one afternoon she and I went downtown to the shoe stores. My Grandma Rose had warned her, "Francie, Patty has her own ideas and when she makes up her mind that's it.  You told her when she was as a baby to have Big Ideas and she does." (Remember last weeks' picture of her holding me as a baby.)    Francie was soon to learn that I already was extremely opinionated about what I would and would not wear! We had 3 shoe stores in our town then and I had determined that the shoe I would have was a fancy flat while Aunt Fran had some oxford in mind. Grandma Rose tried to warn her," Francie, maybe you better not take her because Patty is used to getting what she wants now, so don't argue with her."  Francie  thought to herself, "sure, how much trouble can a  12 year old be? " Well she  soon learned.  When she tried to explain to me that the oxford would be good for school, I was not having it!  I turned up my nose and promptly  put my own shoes back on explaining that I already knew  the shoe I wanted and it was in the store across the street!  I don't know what else I might have said nor what faces I might have made, but we went across the street where I pointed out my desired shoe, which engaged her to explain to me that it was not the right school shoe.  I  said something like, I didn't care, it was my feet and it would be that shoe or none, that she did not have to buy these because I could wait, since school was not starting and my Grandma would see that I had what I wanted!   I think Aunt Fran was really astonished.  She did buy me the flat I wanted, but I remember Fran telling my Mom later, "She embarrasses you, the poor saleslady didn't know what to think.  Here's this girl with her big opinions."  My Mom only shrugged her shoulders and said, "Francie, we tried to tell you.  She is used to having things her way, Mom and Jinx always see to that."   After they returned to CA or Nebraska or wherever they were living, that  fall, Aunt Francie sent a package of slippers for me on my birthday.  I  thought they were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, flats with a gold crocheted  thread of sorts that stretched.  I suppose she meant it to tease me, but I loved them and wore them for as long as I could.  I learned to sing a Gospel Spiritual song "OH Dem Golden Slippers" from Daisy, a black lady who was a friend of my Grandma, and when I put on my slippers I danced around and sang that!  She always remembered sending me those slippers and we laughed for a long time about those!

Here she is with her family when they  lived in Spain about 1965; Uncle Paul, Paulie, Paula Jean and Fran.

I may have mentioned that she was my inspiration for wanting to go to CA which I did and where we lived for 40+ years.  When we lived in Fair Oaks, another of my dreams was to have  a swimming pool, which we had.  We had  many gatherings and  in 1973  when Aunt Fran came to our home to meet up with her Aunt Francie (my great Aunt Francie Mroz) for whom she was named. All the Mroz's came to stay  for a long weekend with us and it was a great reunion.

 Uncle  Paul was long gone, but Aunt Fran carried on quite well as a widow.  She always said that there was no substitute for having good friends.  She knew that because she never had family living close to her and neither did I.   Her independent streak rubbed off on me and has helped me  through many life events.  However in her later years she suffered many health problems, surprisingly.  She always took the best care of herself, as I  shared last week, but ended up with heart conditions and diabetes!

1980 Paula Jean with her mother Fran
When my Mom and aunt Virginia  (Jinx) visited me in CA in 1996 for their last trip, we went to see Francie who was living in Vacaville.  We knew then that things were not right; she gave us the wrong directions to the home where she had moved and the wrong address.  I had to go to a pay phone and call ,  to get the correct address (this was before cell phones).  But here is one of the last photos of the three sisters in CA 1996.  Right after this Fran would suffer another heart attack, be hospitalized and moved into assisted living.  The  good thing was it was close to where  we lived and I could go to visit her.  At the end with dementia she  thought I was her girlfriend Mary Jo from her WAC years,.  Right to left, my Mom, Helen, Fran, Aunt Jinx.

1996 last visit of the three sisters 

This may be one of the last photos taken of Fran with her grand daughter, Caitlin, Paula's daughter. Fran died at age 83 in 1999. As I visited with my cousins, Paula & her brother Paul who is the spitting image of his father, Paul,  I laughed that they were unsure of their mother's age; the adventuresome Kochanowski girl who changed her name to suit her circumstances, getting older to join the WACs in 1942, getting younger to marry a man younger than herself and all around keeping her age a mystery was one of a kind.
This has been a Sepia Saturday post, click on the title to link to others in our international community to see their photos and read their stories. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hoedown walk through the park

Copying is the most sincere form of flattery, so here I go; a  week or so ago, Beatrice, a bloggy friend at        posted their adventures at an auction, browsing but buying not.   I commented that I used to enjoy those so much but have tended to avoid them and flea markets and estate sales these days lest I be tempted.  I have enough accumulation of stuff and so do not want to be tempted to add to things when in reality I should be downsizing, but here it is all coming to me later in life, collections and trinkets and treasures from my family members who pass on, adding to what I have already accumulated.  Funny but when we moved to MN from CA I shed many belongings, donating to the Goodwill, Salvation Army, the Cancer Society Thrift Store and the church for future rummage sales, a necessary step toward moving into retirement and to a different part of the country.   But today, I have just as much, maybe more.
The last source, as you know was my Aunt Jinx who passed on in PA last year; while clearing her home for sale we discovered box after  box packed neatly away in the basement filled with knick knacks, collectibles, some valuable which I'd have picked up at sales myself once upon a time, some just nice and some mysterious. I recalled her admonishments to me when she visited in CA and I dragged her and Mom along to sales, antique shops, etc, "don't buy that junk, someday you will have too much!"   Little did I know the truth and prediction in those words. She  gave me something every time I visited her, but I think she had long forgotten about these  boxes packed tidily away in her basement, many with items from the Irwins (her husband's family.)   I had already amassed enough to bring back home to MN, with crystal and cut glass items alone. I left behind a beautiful 12 piece place setting of china that would go with some of ours, not a replica  but same silver and grey tones.  But our hutch is full and I have boxes setting inside my closets already so what would I need with more.  Besides I  don't use it as much here because I seldom host big gatherings; this is how weird life is, once you get the stuff to do what you think you want to do, it's over, no more.  I thought surely I'd be the entertainment queen of La Crescent, but not so, not that many people to gather around together and mostly we gather out at the Legion or restaurants.      

So in PA, every item I picked up Jerry would look at and say, "now where are you going to put that?"  I would sadly leave it for Sandy, the woman we hired  to hold an estate sale to clear the home.  I now possess a full comprehension of  why families leave items like china, vases, trinkets and the like to be sold.  It just becomes overwhelming when you are faced with the task and you do not live near by, so have limited time to sort and discard.  I even left a shoe box of unlabeled black and white photos, recognizing that someone might see it and say as I have, "how sad no one wanted these pictures..."  But as you know I am engaged in sorting and discarding through an accumulation of ever so many photographs of our own, along with ones from family that I need not have added to the mess with ones of I know not whom nor what.  I will admit that periodically I get pangs of remorse remembering some trinket, object, utensil, that I wished I'd have kept, but water under the bridge.  We just do our best and try not to look back.

So I have turned the corner avoiding  what  was a fun past time, browsing flea markets, antique booths, estate sales, etc.  On Saturday though we headed up the road to Houston, MN and their annual Hoedown.  This is a weekend long celebration of all sorts of things,  games, carnival, parade, gatherings, foods and a big open flea market in the park.  "Well, I probably wouldn't look very long there anyway," so I said to myself and to Jerry, who nodded and replied, "well you never know."  I have this relatively new little camera which I just insisted I must have to carry around in my purse (which I seldom carry BTW) so off we went, with myself armed and dangerous thinking, "I can take some neat photos for the blog like Beatrice did.  Yes, that will give me a reason to look and perhaps keep my fingers from purchasing. "  Actually, most of the prices vendors put at these things now are beyond what I want to pay, when I was acquiring I was only looking for bottom bargain prices, it had to be inexpensive or I would not  purchase it. 

The photo above of the horse pull is from our La Crosse Tribune newspaper.  We learned a funny story about this event from our amusing friend Richard, former mayor of Houston, retired teacher, and all around jokester.  He said that Saturday's 32nd annual Minnesota State Horse Pull  was his inspiration; years back they were sitting around and thinking of what kind of attractions Houston would host.  They determined that there was no "State Championship horse pull" and so they named theirs that, which it still is today causing them all to laugh and raise their beer mugs in deference.  This photo of 72 year old  Lawrence Anderson with his draft horses says a lot; these horses pulled over 3,000 pounds, and he himself is not light weight.   Most of these horses and farmers are from working  farms and they do enjoy this sport.  Read the story of this  team and the WI event too at
                                                                                   The flea market in the park at Houston was a great way to pass a few hours looking at an endless variety of things, like these home made willow contraptions and talking to the man who made them who was sitting in the shade, not caring if he sold or not. These are a bit too rustic for my tastes, as I prefer the fancier, white wicker furniture in our sunporch room. Victory continues as I was not tempted. But as I said, he didn't care much one way or the other, this is a sideline hobby and as he shared, it wasn't important to sell in Houston because , sooner or later someone will buy them at a fair; and he expects the city people near Minneapolis would be happy to get such bargains, but not here in the southeast corner of rural MN, the market is not as good and buyers are more selective. I guess at one time I might have been one of those city folks willing to buy anything handmade too.
Unfortunately several vendors must have that attitude because sales were slim, lookers were many and there was no bargaining with these vendors.  I asked one woman at this booth, where Jerry's browsing (back to us in photo)  how long it took her to set up; in my opinion she had overpriced glassware and such.  She said about  4 hours with  3 or  4 of them working.  And I asked then didn't she want to sell and wasn't that a lot of work for nothing in sales?  But she too said, this is her hobby and she just enjoys meeting and talking with folks.  (I think I'd just take my lawn chair and not bother especially with wrapping and setting up and taking down.  But to each his or her own. )

These boxes of dishes, cups, vases, things were plentiful and sported right uptown prices.  I know that many of the vendors go to auctions and sales and pick these things up for nickels and dimes and then cart them around selling at a big mark up. Jerry is browsing selectively at the tables where I could honestly not find a thing that called my name.  No temptation here either, so far so good.  I have been noticing the past year on my infrequent trips that even the local Goodwill Thrift store in La Crosse/Onalaska has more uptown prices, which I find ridiculous as it is all freely donated to them. Of course, the items remain on the shelves lots longer too today than a couple years ago. 

I  was fascinated with this woman's  woven rag rugs.  She said  explaining  useable fabrics, "if I can rip it, I can weave it."  And she does into very hearty  rag rugs reminiscent of old time styles.  I asked her to pose for me so I could put it on my blog which intrigued her as well to more discussion, as though I am a famous writer and here she was to be discovered.  I am always astounded when folks are fascinated by my blog.   She said she wished she could write; funny as it comes so easily to me...

The blue rugs above are of old discarded denim.  She does teach her craft at different community education sites and here she was explaining to an interested customer.  I know my grandmother made her own rag rugs too, and when I was small I remember making potholders of rags.  She had one of her looms set up so customers could see the work in progress.   

There were many  young families looking about as the Hoedown has ample entertainment for kids, including a  fair sized playground right there in the park with swings, teeter totters, and the like, ponies, baseball games and more.  One young boy's loudly insistent impatient whine, "MOM ! C'mon Mom! Why do you have to look at old stuff!" gave me a good laugh, remembering so many years back when it was me dragging a young son along through such things where he'd rather not be. Mom just kept rummaging and her face straight ahead as the other son reluctantly followed more quietly and the husband hung back, covered his mouth to keep from laughing out loud! Here they are, youngest son trying to get Mom away from the old stuff and the older standing quietly. I laughed at him and said, "I know it doesn't make any sense, does it how we like to look! "

Maybe if  she could have dragged him down a ways, he might have been interested in these old toy trucks....didn't Tom T Hall write a song about little boy toys, little toy trucks zooming round the bend, doesn't it make you wish you were a little boy again?  Nope, Google tells me it was Roger Miller and went like this,   
Old toy trains, little toy tracks
 Little toy drums coming from a sack
Carried by a man dressed in white and red
Little boy, don't you think it's time you were in bed?

 Another interesting vendor  made  flower bud vases  from butter knives and  spoons, an industrious venture which attracted many looks.  In a way it made me sad to see quality sterling silver so altered from its original state, but if he is recycling that which is just cast aside, why not?    One of our friends bought several of these for Christmas gifts. 
I had made a trip to the mall days before and commented that the clothes are getting uglier and uglier just when I thought it couldn't get any worse.  And so following what seems to be a fashion trend there were booths offering ugly clothing too, all made in India, Honduras, and of course China. This was the only such booth  as most had unique handmade or real flea market attractions.   I was surprised at the women and  girls attracted to  this booth  with assorted tie die rags, gauzy flimsy things that surely will not last through several washings, but then maybe this is some of the disposable clothing,   to be the thing of the furture for travelers; just buy and toss,  and eliminate need for suitcases!

No end of tools, gadgets, and collectibles of bygone, even tobacco tins, some of which I think may still be on the market. Several months back, my friend Samdy, in CA inquired about wood planing tools and told me to look carefully through my uncle's things in PA as we are cleaning out his home. I noticed several booths had such things for sale here too.

A local hunter/trapper offered an array of knives with bone handles in sheaths with  remnants of fur of beaver, muskrat, otter, rabbit and the like. 

I am not a salt and pepper shaker collector though some of these older ones made in Japan and of lustreware caught my eye.I had almost talked myself into a purchase of a pair of birds to go with my bird collection, but  I restrained my fingers from reaching into my wallet.  These were all under $5, a bargain.The previously unforeseen benefit of taking the camera, became apparent,  while taking pictures I would not be buying! Recently while visiting with a friend who is a professional seamstress and part time flea market vendor shared  her secret of big sales is to advertise, "Buy old, buy now, not made in China anyhow!" I thought Pat's slogan would go well at these booths. Really wouldn't someone rather have a bit of history, something unique not made today and certainly instead of today's cheaper looking trinkets?
There is something beyond nostalgic to these items, something connective to other times, places and people? 

Which brings me to the hay lecture. Every time Jerry goes to these sales he gravitates to the tools and old farm implements. No exception at Hoedown when I caught up with him, he began to explain the purpose of this array of things that I thought rusted beyond recognition. But he knew just what these were, citing his MN farm boy growing up years. It was quite a complicated explanation which I did not retain, likely because I have little interest in tools and implements, though I recognize a painted up tractor seat when I see one.  But I was corrected and advised that was a mower seat not tractor, the one to the left with openings. 

The item below and to the right looks like a torture mechanism, but Jerry explained how it was used to pull hay along and then attached somehow with ropes/pulleys to the contraption in the first photo and so swept up hay to get it to the bale stage.  Something like that anyway! 
And if one gets thirsty, the hospitality of hoedown includes unlimited free glasses of water.  Sure there are booths selling lemonade, snow cones, etc but the nice cold fresh water was great and avoided having to buy a plastic bottle of water which is commonly sold at events.  This makes lots more sense! 
Real home made canned goods and produce were among other booths.


Now for our purchases, you knew there would be something didn't you?  Well one lady who is also from La Crescent we learned, visiting with her, had  baskets of the old glass knobs which we have on the antique bedroom set.  Trouble is that over the years from the early 1800's the knobs were damaged and are not all the same on the vanity dresser or one of the bureaus.   I spotted the basket of knobs and Jerry found what could be the right size.     But we took the woman's card who said we could get them in town from her or that she would be set up Sunday.  So we did return on Sunday and purchased 4 of the smaller knobs.  The bigger size she had were too big, unfortunately.  This is the first time we have found the knobs as they are getting harder and harder to spot.  But this is  one purpose to going to these kinds of events, now I have a reason to browse!  

However, we did buy this sign from the Rag Weaver's booth who sold other things as well as her rugs.  This made me laugh and I think we can enjoy it downstairs  in the  TV room.  Jerry has now  decided it can also go along in the motor home with us on journeys, as it seems to speak to & fit with  parts of our lives---

And on our way back to the car, I could not resist this  lovely home with a grand old porch!  Noticing it was for sale, we  discussed how it might serve as a Bed and Breakfast, not something I want to do, but someone might!  It comes with nice screened  side porch and gas light out front! 

At one time in my life I would have loved to acquire a nice old place like this, but projects enough entertain us with our current modern home and these old ones take money to  update unless one is willing to rough it without  many  amenities, and I am not.  Now, if there were someone who wanted to invest in such a venture I could be interested in participating, with plenty of advice and ideas!

I can just imagine sitting on the porch sipping a nice cup of tea or an icy frothy margarita! No one was out on this porch though, maybe they were all at Hoedown activities. Actually with the comfort of  air  conditioning,  it is less common to see folks out on porches, another relic pastime of times ago. The house I grew up in in PA had a big front porch and in her later years, my mother spent much time sitting out there, not inside watching TV.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Aunt Fran Konesky Amerine Sepia Saturday Week 33 (click here to other Sepias)

This week I introduce, my aunt,, Frances Kochanowski (aka Konesky) Amerine, who was the intrigue of our family and the reason I so wanted to live in CA which I did for many years.  There will be more later to share about her, but for today, suffice that she was the  eldest, first born of Rose and Teofil, my Mom's parents and my grandparents.  Born in 1916, but she  changed her age so frequently that when she died in CA in 1999 even her daughter and son did not know her true age.  The only time she could not lie about her age was when she was around her sisters, who would not tolerate that.  This is the earliest photo I have of her, similar to Uncle Carl's at the Renton School, taken in about  1923.

Aunt Francie was the most  adventuresome  as well as he most argumentative of the family and enlisted in the Women's Army Corps (WAC)  in  1942 to the consternation of her family. If Uncle Carl her brother was going to enlist, so was she and she did, with her first stretch of the truth about her age when she made herself older, the only time she increased her age! I always thought that was so brave of her; she never served abroad though she claimed to be wanting to do just that, but she traveled all around the country serving where needed.  I am uncertain what she did in the WAC's, likely some sort of office work, I do not believe she went into nursing.  This photo is from about 1942 and you can see how pretty she was and quite happy to be out and about in the world.

 She wanted to travel and did so much of her life, after marrying Uncle Paul, who was career military Air Force. For their marriage, sometime between 1947-1948, she made herself  younger because he was younger than she.  There were many family discussions about that and even Francie's father, Teofil could not understand why she did not just admit her age and be over with it.  There were many things he did not understand about this daughter. 

Well she was on her path and one thing she wanted was out of the Polish poor family and onto the world.  At times she rather looked down on her roots; but her family accepted her, referring to her "big ideas."  I liked that from early on, believing that we should all have big ideas.  I  never knew as a child that there was any negativity associated with it.  The next photo is about 1943.

She visited home often and the next two photos are in 1945 when yours truly was among us.  The photo of her holding me looking toward the bridges and the river was one I remember my Grandma Rose saying, "there was Francie holding you and telling you there was a world to be had and seen beyond the riverbanks of PA."    I believed her from this time when I was only  several months old.

Here she is holding me beside her sister, Helen, my Mom the  widow.

I will have more photos and stories next week or so about her.  She died in CA in 1999 and we lived there at the time so I was able to see her.  For someone who always  practiced  good health habits, never smoked, nor drank alcohol, ate extra healthy preferring little meat and large amounts of vegetables and didn't even drink caffeine, it seemed not right that she would have heart problems.  One of my visits to her in the hospital I mentioned that and she said "yes I always took care of my health and look where it got me, on the way to death anyway!"

As I said more to come later about this intriguing though at times haughty aunt Francie, named for my grandmother's baby sister, Great Aunt Francie Mroz whom I wrote about  Sepias ago. She did not get on at all with her brother Carl, especially after their mother passed away and she did not come home to PA for the funeral.   He has never forgiven her to this day despite his dementia for ignoring her Mom's funeral.   As always click on the title above to get to other Sepia Saturday posts.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Prayers everyday and thoughts

I was browsing some blogs I follow at times and see that Nancy over in Life in the 2nd Half wrote about prayer can get to her blog here,   As I commented to her I was reminded of some talks I had given on prayer  in CA when I was a Conference certified Lay Speaker for the United Methodist Church;  while I enjoyed  that activity I soon became "too popular" with multiple requests to fill in  at churches in our area  when pastors were  away, etc.  It was all I could do to keep up with my own day job, career in the state bureaucracy and so  really had to curtail my speaking assignments to my own home church.  One of my  pastor friends encouraged me to keep my  talks in files and then reuse them at other places, which I did.  That saved me some work. 

Well Nancy's post took me to my file on my prayer talks and it was enjoyable for me to  reread what I had spoken.      I will  now have to retype it  here, because back in 1995, I saved it to something called a floppy disk, an ancient device that is no longer readable on any of my computers.  Well I think I will first try to scan it and that  will take me some time. 

I was raised to pray, weren't all good Catholic girls?  But over the years though I have always believed in the power of prayer, I am not always diligent.   However I seldom miss my last words to the Creator though as my head hits the pillow, and this is the throw back to that old childhood prayer, "now I lay me down to sleep..."  which is one I learned in Polish too! I confess that my prayers sometimes are a one way spontaneous conversation from my end, without listening for a reply, like, "What now!  Are you crazy up there, out there or what are you doing anyway!  Never mind I don't even think I want to know....."  or, "if you are listening at all,  would you mind,,,,,," 

Before I   move along to scanning my talks, I will share poems by one of my favorite theologians, poets, authors Ted Loder, former senior minister of  the First United Methodist Church of Germantown, PA.  I have several of his books which I browse from time to time, and while looking over my talks on prayer I was reminded how much I enjoyed his writings.  That took me to  browsing my shelf today and pulling his books to look through.  Wonder what he's doing today as I heard he did retire from the active ministry.  Well, I'll have to Google and find out.  This is how my time gets away from me, one thing on the computer leads to another on the  blog and then another and so it goes...Well I needed a break from pulling crabgrass out of the lawn in the sun which is now too hot in early  day in our clear pure MN sky without smog or other filters.  So reading poetry is a good diversion for the of my  mentor bosses in the state bureaucracy once told me I have the attention span of an English spaniel, I guess that has not changed.....    

           Here from Loder's "Guerrillas of Grace:  Prayers for the  Battle"                                     

   How Shall I Pray?

How shall I pray?
Are tears prayers, Lord?
Are screams prayers,
or groans
or sighs,
or curses?
Can trembling hands be lifted to you,
or clenched fists
or the cold sweat that trickles down my back
or the cramps that knot my stomach?
Will you accept my prayers, Lord,
my real prayers,
rooted in the muck and mud and rock of my life,
and not just my pretty cut-flower, gracefully arranged
bouquet of words?
Will you accept me, Lord,
as I really am,
messed up mixture of glory and grime?

Help me to trust that you do accept me as I am
that I may be done with self condemnation
and self pity,
and accept myself.
Help me to accept you as you are Lord,
hidden, strange, unknowable,
and  yet to trust that your madness is wiser
than my timid, self seeking sanities,
and that nothing you've ever done
has really been possible,
so  I may dare to be a little mad, too.

"God.....Are You There?"
God, ...
are you there?
I've been taught,
and told I ought
to pray.
But the doubt 
won't go away,
yet neither
will my longing to be heard.
My soul sighs
too deep for words.
Do you hear me?
are you there?

Are you  where love is?
I don't love well,
or often,
or anyone. 
But when I do,
when I take the risk,
there's a sudden awareness
of all I've missed and it's good,
 its singing good.
For a moment
life seems as it should.
But I forget, so busy soon,
that it was
or what or whom.
Help me!    God,....
Are you there? 


Monday, July 19, 2010

Lollin' round the bluffs and river (Click here for Minnesota Marine Art Museum)

Yesterday we drove the 20 miles up the river to Winona to the Maritime Museum, one of my very favorite places that we don't get to often enough. It sits right on the Mississippi River in Winona, which is also home of the Polish Museum and the Watkins Museum! Click on the title to this post to get to their website. Actually I love museums, but this one is special because the exhibits change frequently and there is always more to see and such a diversity that Jerry doesn't grumble about going as there is usually something he enjoys as well.

The primary attraction for me this trip was the Norman Rockwell exhibit of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn which was so wonderful as it reminded me of the tales, 16 signed prints that define the characters  created by Mark Twain.  Two original print books from the  30's are out for public display and better yet, the public can pick the book up and ruffle through the pages, matching the artwork to that on display.  I love touching things in museums and in most museums that is a big time No No.  But not at Winona, we are invited to touch.  This exhibit will only be  here until August 1, on loan from the Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA.  Every summer I like to read a classic  novel or two, and after yesterday I will reread Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn this summer.  

There are several  galleries inside and one has the most magnificent marine related paintings and other artwork, by Story, Renoir, Monet, and more. Sadly as most museums, no photographs of any kind are allowed.   Private collections often loaned to the museum for a brief time are all there, in the inner galleries, where knowledgeable curators abound.  But even in that inner sanctum, I can touch the frames of the great works.  I do so ever so lightly and just thrill to the tactile awareness.  The last time we visited Henry Bosse's work, all in shades of blue, ala blue prints of the Mississippi River abounded and the high bluff country was the featured display. He is of interest to me because he was born November 13, 1844 exactly 100 years before me.

Speaking of tactile sensations, another small corner  had costumes to be worn in the current Winona Feted Great River Shakespeare festival  featuring Othello.  There were  costumes from previous years, Lsdy Macbeth and Macbeth right there displayed with the sketches and swatches, and available to touch.  Here is their website  So far I have not had the opporutnity to attend on eof the plays, but it may surface to the top of the bucket list this season. 

Yesterday one gallery displayed the  Titanic Survivor's Story.  We have seen other Titanic artifacts there but yesterday one of the famous deck chairs was on exhibit.  I recalled my career days and my best friend Roberta who often said, we  fiddled in the bureaucracy of state government rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic when we should have been heading for the life boats!  Yesterday's exhibit featured the diary pages  and personal letters of Laura M Cribb, a young survivor of the Titanic disaster.    I am in awe reading around the display and shuddering to think of what happened, recalling John Astor and his wife.  I loved the Titanic movie and could hear Celine Dion singing, "near far, where ever you are,,,,,,,my heart will go on and on.... "

Museums are great places for me to lose myself, always have been.  I remember taking the bus from our town to the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh all alone to spend a day more than once in my senior year of high school because I could not convince any of my friends to go along.  I suppose my  love of  museums accompanies my love of history. 

While I amused myself Jerry departed to the gallery featuring thousands of fishing lures, historic lures from prehistory to today, fishing memorabilia, advertisements, photographs about one favorite past times.  He no longer fishes but  remains interested and "Hooked" so the exhibit  is titled did just that to him.  This collection is on loan from Dan Basore  until September 4.  It  has cases of  18th and 19th century  European lures brought to America by immigrants, early hand crafted lures, and  19th and 20th century factory produced lures. 

This museum is in a beautiful place along the Mississippi and yesterday there were many empty barges in the river, awaiting to be filled with grain, or other goods and shipped down the Big River for ports southward bound.

Well my fascination with all things museum leads me to consume more time inside, than many folk,  Jerry being no exception, so he has to spend time awaiting and at the Winona  Maritime there are beautiful fields and  flora surrounding where he can sit and watch the river and wait for his dawdling wife to reconnect. As I  came outside, I found him there amid the black eyed Susan's waiting ever so patiently!  Hah!   

 Winona is one  busy port along the Mississippi in Minnesota, but one can merely cross the bridge and tootle down the Wisconsin side as well, which we did yesterday ending up in Trempeleau, a nice cozy fishing village.
 By the time we arrived in Trempeleau,  named for the French fur trappers, we were thirsty and needing a snack as well, so we stopped at the famous Trempeleau Hotel, Bar, Restaurant to have an adult drink or two and visit with locals.  We enjoyed their famous walnut burger meatball appetizers to take the edge off.  That was a good way to try those out, and  about the only way Jerry would sample them being a guy who prefers his burgers to be beef. I think I enjoyed the  walnut burger meatballs more than he did, but again it is something to experience; wished I'd snapped a photo, but I was consuming and enjoying a great glass of Chardonnay while he quenched his thirst with his usual, Budweiser beer.  I found the walnut balls,  quite good and crunchy,  pieces of crushed walnuts and all sorts of breading and spices, deep fried with a spicy mustard  alongside for dipping.   He commented that they reminded him of stuffing which I found weird as he never eats stuffing, something I alone enjoy!  The hotel bar was just beginning to get filled for the dinner time crowd, but we had a pleasant talk with the young bartender and other locals while we quenched our thirst. 

Then I missed the photo op of all time as a guy walked in from the river side patio with a woman companion, they were both  about late  50's or so, not young, but he had unruly unkempt  blondish greyish hair, sticking  outside his cap and down his shoulders, a much greater hairdo than hers.  I would not have noticed them if not for his appearance as it is not the sight we usually see around these parts and I said something like "look what's coming" but once again Jerry was way ahead of me, as he  signaled the barteneder for another beer, "For cryin' out loud, he's wearing a dress!"  I had not noticed at first, and sure enough, what a sight continued through the bar out the other door to  the hotel entrance.  It was not a dress but was a woman's gauzy ruffled longer skirt  with his tank top tucked inside and flip flops on his feet! I really wanted a photo because I have seen nothing like that since CA and the transvestites.   The bartended said the man's name is Gary and he lives there in the hotel upstairs and all things considered is a nice person, he said that if I'd asked I could have gotten a photo and here I sat small camera in my purse wondering. 

Well after that we departed for home where no more surprises awaited.  It had been a very pleasant afternoon, ending with sights we could laugh about and wonder once again acknowledging that it takes more than all kinds to keep the world spinning round, no matter where we live...... .