Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 exits tonight

"My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near"
If I had to choose just one poet as my favorite it would be Robert Frost.  While scanning and sorting more photos I  found these photos of Uncle Carl with horse and primitive sleigh.   No identification of dates or place but I am thinking this is the late 30's or very early 1940's before World War II looking at Carl as a young guy here.  Where in Pennsylvania  who knows.  When I saw the horse drawn sleigh I thought of, no not Jingle Bells, but Frost's  "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" a poem I have used through my life for different events. I have put quotes from that poem with these photos, it seems to suit them, don't you agree?  One of my projects for the coming year  is to create my own greeting cards using thoughts, sayings, poems, reflections. 

What is that tied up into the tree behind the horse in the first photo?  A box?  For what?  A marker for the hunt, but I see nothing to confirm that and this looks like a wide open field,  new  snow or the last of it ?  So many questions and thoughts generate from just a couple photos. 
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.

"Promises to keep" the refrain that ends the poem was the theme I used for my Business and Professional Women's presidency year back in the 70's in California.  It's an appropriate refrain for life, much to do and press on, "...we have promises to keep and miles to go before we sleep."  The political leaders of this country would do well to read and understand that refrain. 

Now  in moving to the New Year which will happen  quietly here for the two of us, we have no desire  to be out and about on this of all nights.  Jerry laughs, "It's the worst of nights, too many amateur drunks out there."  The warm comfort of our home suits us just fine.  There is much to be said about contentment.  Truly I do not think I have seen a  midnight hour since I don't know when, my eyelids will not stay open that long, so tonight will be no different.  Tomorrow is the Rose Parade and bowl games, we here on the Wisconsin border will be rooting for Wisconsin in the Bowl and watching with interest,  Monty Ball, Wisconsin Badger go to guy and whom I say is my cousin.  Based on the DNA research that has done for me I have 7th and 8th cousins all over, so who knows.  Somewhere in the Ball genealogy are many secrets.....This New Year's poem by Edgar Guest is a great way to close the old and welcome the new year.   Happy New Year to all of you.. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friends are the family we choose

A good blog  friend sent us the most lovely Christmas card, Bea,  yes you did, with a wonderful photo of a cardinal on a snowy branch. with handwritten lines, "friends are the family we choose."  So very true.   Here we are two empty nesters anticipating  more of the care free life and at a time when we  should be free of responsibilities tying us down.     I miss my old folks, or maybe it's that now I am the oldest survivor,  the family historian.  For whoever cares.  That's the point, hardly anyone does care. We have been thinking more and more about things in general this year and how to begin to really live our lives as we choose, not by obligations dictated by the needs of others.   Tomorrow is promised to no one. Good friends recently reminded us of that; another good friend  has suffered strokes and is now debilitated.  We have been blessed with good health.    

December  2012 Florence right seated, blue and gray
 in the SNF with Santa, the annual Christmas party.
For someone who will be 96 in January, not bad.  
 Our retirement move here from CA was to provide a better quality of  life for ourselves. However we had another problem, that remains with us, MIL,  who continues going rather strong physically just as she continues further along the dementia road at almost 96 .  Wherever we moved we had to bring her along and  at the time she still had a sister, aunt Marie living here so she was amenable to return  home to MN.

Florence in the middle uprooting  Jerry and his sister,  Dianne
from MN  for CA 1950
Jerry is a saint he deals with everything without any assistance only from me,  although he has two siblings, neither of whom are involved and neither of whom would be even if they lived closer.  In 1950, shortly after the sudden death of her mother and despite advice and pleadings to not do so, MIL  left MN with Jerry and his sister for CA , to  marry Lyman.   Jerry left CA  returning  to MN alone to live with his grandfather and then enlisted in the Air force at 17, stretching his age to enlist. After Lyman died in 1990, MIL became Jerry's responsibility. She has been one of those women having to be cared for, looked after by someone else all her life and it has worked for her.
Florence and Lyman their 25th anniversary in CA

My career in long term care along with my family gave me an abundance of expertise and experience yet it is tiresome.  Jerry's  full sister has been dead for several years but the other two, his halves, the  younger Larson children,  roll along merrily without any responsibility for their mother. I suspect if they think of anything, could be that they will not inherit the $$ they thought they would; it is being paid to the SNF which has enhanced our lives. Still it is the  overseeing, frequent check in visits, follow ups with medical issues, appointments, my doing laundry, keeping her in clothes, buying, and on it goes.  We have more freedom to travel today yet hesitated to plan too far ahead, the back of our minds nag,  "what if...."   It makes me laugh out loud when some of the "family" say that they would like to come to see her, but then they never give up any part of their lives or plans and so they merely chatter along.  So many excuses.

But slowly we are working through this trial just as  we have others in our lives. Today we booked a 20 day land tour and cruise package to Alaska for August 2013 John Hall's Alaska, the Klondike, the works.  It is expensive, but we are also looking forward to spending our  hard saved money while we can.  Here is the link to the tour package by a local MN company out of Lake City.  They will even babysit our car and take us to and from Minneapolis for the  connecting flight.   Destined to become good friends,  that's what happens when you lack family, you choose friends. 

Our own plans are going to take first place, if we do not do this for ourselves,  there is no one else who will.  Besides all that, we deserve it in spades. It's a new attitude.  Make way for us.  This is our time of life,  our friends have assured us of this repeatedly.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas in Blogland 2012

1950 sign by Uncle Carl
Merry Christmas to all my blogland friends, followers and passers by.  Sometimes life gets in the way of blogging as it has here.  Despite my vows to keep things easy, and doing less this year, there is much that took up time which has rolled oh so merrily along.  I have had to be off blog, postponing  Sepia posts until later.  

The Noel sign is another done by my late Uncle Carl Konesky.  This year, as a present to ourselves coinciding with the Michael's framing sale we have framed several of his sketches from the late 1940's while he was attending art school.  (See my previous Sepia  post  this blog  on November 3,;postID=1589432087801379346  This Christmas sign is the smaller version of a larger one he did for a local merchant, his mock up and I share with you for the sentiment of the season.  As soon as the last are framed, Carl will have his own gallery wall in the bedroom entry. 

The  funniest card we have received this year came from Chris, grandson of another late uncle John Irwin and because we both got such a laugh I scanned it so you can see it too.  This is the  kind of mindless activity that can happen if one does not pay attention and I know that all too well.  I don't think I will look at a hand dryer the same ever again and those who may find me chuckling  while air drying my hands at these will probably wonder what's with me. 

Laughter, memories and the many contacts from long time friends in the lives we lived long ago are the best of the season.  Hearing from longtime friends once a year makes the season bright.  Fondly exchanging gifts with friends afar and buying or making   something that we know will be  enjoyed brings holiday cheer.  It takes a little thought, a bit of perspective, recognition, recall, all those caring gestures that in the commercialism of the holiday seems to have ruined the effect for so many.  Nothing wrong with point and click ordering so long as there is thought put into it,not so, for "this."  

We chose to spend $$ generously on others who are appreciative.  I don't mean falling all over us but simple sincere prompt thank yous.  Besides the young hard working bar tender putting himself through the University by working and shoveling snow and mowing yards and not living at home but really out there on his own, the garbage collectors, the paper delivery people, the postal delivery woman, and a favorite waitress, we adopted  two veterans from our local Mosher Home and bought everything on their  wish lists, which were sparse and down to earth, Listerine, white socks and gift cards from Burger King.  

We were not  sure if we would be home or on the road over Christmas but here we are.  Likely for the best because the snow blew in sideways this week, coating all with that wintry white.  Had we been in Mobile, AL as thought we would have had a worse experience  as they had tornadoes.  All in good time, we will head south.  Texas is calling loudly. 

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and partridges in pear trees to fellow bloggers.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Shoe trees on the Mississippi and season transition

Shoe trees along the Mississippi
  When we would visit  family here while we lived in CA, Jerry would call out, "shoe tree" as we passed by this grove of trees along Interstate 90.  I never paid much attention even though that was prior to having a smart phone or tablet to distract me while he drove.  

After  living  here all these years, I seldom pay any attention to these trees now, although they are spreading from what was a solitary tree to several.  Because they are unusual  and native to our area, at least we have never seen them elsewhere on our travels, I give you these La Crescent Shoe trees.  Another phenomena is the wide diversity of shoes, heels, boots and sizes now  adorning the  limbs, what began as tennis shoes has mutated into all styles, something for everyone.    These remain all year long, through rain, wind, snow, sleet and sun.  Less visible in the spring and summer when the trees are leafed out, they are starkly there when the trees are barren.  Likely some young individuals get a kick out of contributing to the blooming. 

 While our December weather continued  to be balmy on Saturday, I stopped to snap these photos of the shoe trees.  A cousin  going along the Interstate noticed us and called later to ask if my shoe shopping was successful.  
Close up of boots, styles, shoes, notice the Nike

Likely most people unfamiliar with our area or just passing through do not notice this native species.  There is a small turnout along this grove, but then  no other place to turn along the I 90, so likely if someone saw the shoes growing, they would scratch their head and wonder what they might have just seen?  It's a part of the river road!

The very next day we did not travel the interstate because winter arrived.  People who have lived here forever need reminders of snsnow driving techniques, lest they become ditchers.  If you follow me on Facebook you know that from these wintry wonderland photos.  The first snow of the season has arrived and we are all white.  The front rose garden has transitioned to white glow,  from this

to this
with the freshness of seasons changing dramatically.  OOps  I must retrieve that apple basket   autumnal garden has been blalmy for so long that I forgot it.

Look at the miniature Alberta Spruce to the left,  resembling
a woman wrapped in cloak and arms folded infront

The front bayberry bushes from this

To this

You have the gist of it, we are white and ready to enjoy the cleanness;
we are most fortunate here in the Coulee region, our streets and
roads are always  clear and we are not bound inside.  Unless we so choose to be. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Squirrels three in the tree

While our unseasonably December  with green grass and the good weather holds, inspite of a cold bite to the wind, I like to get outside to walk, breathing in the cold crisp clean smelling  air.  So, Wednesday I walked a couple miles  up town to the post office, library and stopped for a short visit and back home again.   Along the way across 11th street as I  walked up the hill across the ball park,  I heard a  lot of noise like squeaks and creeks.  When I crossed the street I could tell it was coming from this tree, which you can see looks ill, greatly split and gashed as if it needs to be taken down.  I wondered if the tree was preparing to commit suicide and end itself right there in front of me.  I needn't have worried. 

A closer look made me laugh at the trio of squirrels who were inside, standing their ground and yet so loudly warning me to keep away, stay off, do not approach, halt right there!

Fortunately  I had my smart phone along to snap these  shots....if you look you can see the gray trio, two  departing up the  limb and one still inside.  They were so comical as these critters can be,  all atop each other, six beady eyes looking at me  and all chattering in protest, "We told you to stand back!"   This photo surprised me, what was that, look at the y of the  limb that is most right in the photo.  Is that another critter crawling away, a possum or hedgehog, could it be?  Maybe that's why they were so excited, it wasn't me after all..

Go on, study the photo more closely, it is just another limb indeed that has been  taken off or broken, but for a moment I thought I'd captured wildlife in action.  Appearances can be deceiving....we do not always see what we think it is at first glance. 

As I walked along, I created this little rhyme 
Squirrels, squirrels in the tree
Why are you so ticked at me?
I am merely walking by,
I  won't touch your nut supply.  

Squirrels,  three you chatter so,
Do you miss December snow?
Is it odd for you to see
Grass so  green beneath the tree?

Squirrel trio,  do not fret
There will be a winter yet.
Mother Nature will  soon blow
Icy northern air with snow. 

Squirrels up that limb so fast
Do not flee I'm almost past.
Store your nuts and hide them deep
All the winter yours to keep.