Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Closing out 2008, the worst year of our life

This photo shows me and Steve New Years Eve 1969. Here it is 39 years later and another NY Eve. We were on our way to friends for our annual gathering in that phot.

Right now I am not looking forward to our trip to CA for obvious reasons. I had the dumbest phone call yesterday with Roseville Telephone CO, Surewest. Someday this will be funny but right now it was frustrating. I called them to disconnect Steve's phone. I talked to 2 fools. Both of who assured me only Steve had authority to make any arrangements for that phone. I repeatedly tried to explain, "didn't you hear me or don't you understand? He is dead. I'm trying to help you by notifying you." The second person in "customer care" was dumber than the first one--she asked, "Do you have a power of attorney?" I don't. (She is so foolish that she does not know that a POA is only good while someone is alive. But I didn't want to engage her any farther.) I hung up in disgust after wishing them a good day and saying they could do whatever they wanted. It's not my problem! Jerry shrugged it off--he said I talked to them too long anyway. Obviously they did not want my help so they could do whatever they wanted. When they try to collect any $$ that will be funnier. Then I suppose they will threaten to disconnect his service!

I called the apt. mgr., landlord today who said that it is the worst phone co in the country but he would try to contact them as he has had to have services disconnected before for deaths, etc. or when someone moves. Steve's friends cleared out the apt. and gave the keys back last Saturday. God bless them all.

Tonight for New Years we will go to the Legion for an early dinner--Prime Rib buffet for Jerry and Scampi for me. Talked to Aunt Pearl last night (Uncle Henry's widow) who said she is going to burn the calendars for 2008. I agree. Surely better times are ahead.

To top off the year, our garage door and opener has to be replaced. Jerry had found a replacement gear on line, ordered it from NY and spent Christmas Day fixing it. Saving $$ he though with the part being only $38. Well it lasted only until yesterday and then again stripped the gear. Nothing to do but get it all replaced. It is only 10 degrees outside today and even with the heated garage we em joy, too cold to be monkeying further. Well a friend recommended Overhead Door Co in LaCrosse who came out and today replaced the opener. Things are looking up. Jerry had been considering replacing our big wooden garage door with a new metal one anyway but thought it would last till spring. He thought wrong. So we are $1900 poorer but now have an operating door and the new one will be installed after we return from CA. As one friend says, any problem that can be fixed with $$ is not a problem.

Amen to 2008.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Plodding along

Christmas Eve day I kept busy scanning photos of Steve from the many loose albums. That was soothing and here is one from Christmas 1973. I emailed them to his friend Ron who is putting a slide show together in CA for Steve's friends who are gathering privately. On the same day the hospital from Roseville called me about filling out Medi-Cal papers so they can get some reimbursement. I said I would try to do what I could for them when we arrive in CA. Understandably his friend Ron decided not to be signing things. Can't blame him.

I understand that the post office has a hold on Steve's mail and that they will release it when we go with a copy of the death certificate. Who knows what bills there are. We can't nor do we intend to pay those; our finances getting drained with the funeral, flight, etc. Even dying is not inexpensive in CA. The obituary in three smaller newspapers where friends will most likely see it is costing $274.

I found a website on grief yesterday that had several letters from adults who have lost adult children. There is an org. "Compassionate Friends" for surviving parents with a chapter in La Crosse, WI. I may check it out next year. Trouble is so much of that is for those who lose children and this is different as the website pointed out. Something I read did not sit well with me--they say allow 18 months for the grief to begin to ease! 18 months! that's a long time. I know it will take time but that surprised me.

I feel a tiny bit more solace with Steve's passing. He asked us to come when he was in the hospital the first time and we did, giving up the best laid plans. And although my last days with him had some very rough moments and not the best, I am glad we went to CA. I'm still holding onto that it was his time; I can hear the Lord say, "well this is enough" as he was in the ICU, sedated, and at the last medically paralyzed. This was not my boy, not the son I prayed for when I knew I was pregnant, not the child we raised with all the hopes in the world. Hi life was too short but at least I will no more worry about what's happening with him. I know he is in a better place.

We are considering going to the Legion for NY Eve dinner; prime rib buffet for Jerry & I'll just have the scampi. I don't like prime rib. Dinner's early between 5--9 so that will work. We have not seen midnight for many years---eyes don't stay open that long.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Tree Angel

Picture of Steve with Santa 1965. Received a funny story at the end of this, got me thinking about Christmases past. This morning I woke up wondering if I am ever going to have another day in my life where I don't have tears. Yesterday was especially rough. We ran errands preceded by my early AM trip to the dentist who kindly fit me in and replaced a tiny filling that fell off along my gum line. After the grocery stop and a trip to the dreaded Wal Mart we returned to La Crescent with a final stop in the local market. There I found Jerry's 91 year old mother who is not to be out in the arctic cold but who does whatever her demented mind feels she should do at the time. So we took her home. It's only a block from the store but it is less than zero degrees with the windchill, icy all around and besides she has a terrible siege of skin rawness on her face right now, again. Long story shortened here so I can get onto our Christmas angel, by the time we got home I was beat, exhausted. I don't seem to have the stamina I had just a week ago.

One year in CA I was shopping and Jerry & Steve decided to pull out the artificial tree and set it up before I got home. That way they would have avoided trudging out to buy a tree or any other spontaneous idea I might spring on them. They knew I loved Christmas and would busy myself decorating the tree thereby leaving them to watch football or do whatever else they had in mind. But we had two Siamese cats at the time and it was a circus, especially with the male. When I got home, there sat the tree sideways on the floor. Jerry and Steve sat on the couch with arms folded muttering. The cats had been attacking the tree and they were stymied as to how to keep it erect. What a comical sight to me; they were not amused. They resolved it by using a squirt gun to spray the cats anytime they even looked at the tree.

We have a treetop angel whom we bought in 1967 for our first tree. A couple years ago, her hair was thinning so I gave her a hair transplant. She now has long blonde ringlets. Another amazing thing about her is she looks like Dolly Parton--no kidding, this angel has a shape. They just don't make angels like this anymore! She was not made in China for one thing--it's a US creation! I believe we bought her in a Thrifty drugstore near our home. I know we didn't spend much on her because we didn't have much to spend in those days.

She always sat atop the tree until we bought our newest, 7 foot fiber optic tree. Sam's had these for a short time in CA. I insisted we buy it and it was too big for our house in Newcastle. We moved it to MN where today it graces the front living room window in splendor. There is no other like it. No more frustration to Jerry of stringing lights. This tree sparkles like white diamonds and besides has the white lights built in. But sadly there is no place for the angel or anything on top of this huge tree.

So our Dolly Angel has to be elsewhere. In some years I put up another tree downstairs in the TV lounging area. This year one tree is more than I can bear. So Dolly angel goes atop a small tree. This year she is just near the nativity downstairs. Things are different this Christmas.

Now for the Santa Story that started this thought. It came as, "A Christmas Story for people having a bad day"

When four of Santa's elves got sick, the trainee elves did not produce toys as fast as the regular ones, and Santa began to feel the Pre-Christmas pressure. Then Mrs. Claus told Santa her Mother was coming to visit, which stressed Santa even more.
When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two others had jumped the fence and were out, Heaven knows where. Then when he began to load the sleigh, one of the floorboards cracked, the toy bag fell to the ground and all the toys were scattered.

Frustrated, Santa went in the house for a cup of apple cider and a shot of rum. When he went to the cupboard, he discovered the elves had drank all the cider and hidden the liquor. In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the cider jug, and it broke into hundreds of little glass pieces all over the kitchen floor. He went to get the broom and found the mice had eaten all the straw off the end of the broom.

Just then the doorbell rang, an irritated Santa marched to the door, yanked it open, and there stood a little angel with a great big Christmas tree. The angel said very cheerfully, 'Merry Christmas, Santa. Isn't this a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Where would you like me to stick it?' And so began the tradition of the little angel on top of the Christmas tree.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It is over and yet it has just begun

Photos: Steve 2004for the school district ID, three of us appx.1983; Christmas 1976 our Newcastle garage Steve & Jerry,

At 3:00AM today December 18, Steve's big heart stopped beating. The call came and it was strange that I was awake before that just thinking about how we would face this.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all you do acknowledge Him and He will keep your path straight."

Steve has gone on and we hold onto his resting in peace in the Father's arms. We trust it was his time. I talked to the ICU earlier in the evening and the probing therapy, turning him onto his belly to relieve pressure on the lungs was not working. He just could not oxygenate. The doctors did not think he would make it. The infection in the lungs could not be overcome. I have been told this happens with diabetics. Hard to believe in this day and age of modern medicine but diabetes is so deadly.

Steve is gone. I'll no more hear those phone calls, "Hi, Mom, hate to ask this but.....or Hi Mom Don't worry everything will be all right or Hi Mom everything OK there?" It's been a day of phone calls and making long distant arrangements for CA. We hold tightly to each other. We are thankful for his friends and his support system in CA. They honor us by seeing this through and helping clear his possessions, etc. One said today that this must be for the best. Had he made it through this ordeal he would have been in rehab for a long time, mayber more than a year to recover and he would not have been happy.

Steve's memorial service to celebrate his 44 years with us will be in Auburn CA on January 10. I am thankful to have my home church, Pioneer United Methodist, to back us up. We saw no need to try to arrange something during holidays. We all are faced with dreary times as is.

I know 2 hymns for the service; the first Be Not Afraid which was just played for my Uncle Henry. I love it too as it reminds me of Pope John Paul. And to close I want "You'll Never Walk Alone" which my mom wanted and which we had as her final song.

We will use a favorite poem for the memorial service.
The Traveler By James Dillet Freeman

He has put on invisibility.
Dear Lord, I cannot see—
But this I know, although the road ascends
And passes from my sight,
That there will be no night;
That You will take him gently by the hand
And lead him on
Along the road of life that never ends,
And he will find it is not death but dawn.
I do not doubt that You are there as here,
And You will hold him dear.

Our life did not begin with birth,
It is not of the earth;
And this that we call death, it is no more
Than the opening and closing of a door—
And in Your house how many rooms must be
Beyond this one where we rest momently.

Dear Lord, I thank You for the faith that frees,
The love that knows it cannot lose its own;
The love that, looking through the shadows, sees
That You and he and I are ever one!

I can gain some comfort in knowing Steve is with my Dad and they are making a great relationship--the father I never knew with the son we had for too short a time. Sometimes this feels like a nightmare, other times too real.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Steve update Scars of Life

The photo was taken in CA, 2007 Thanksgiving of me, Shelly McGrath,and Steve. Shelly is his long time neighbor sister horse friend! Took no photos this time in CA--all we did was hospitals. We wait one day at a time. Steve was not responding in ICU. At 4:30AM on Monday 12/15 the ICU nurse called to say that I would be called to make a decision to remove his ventilator and to prepare for it. It is what I feared.

All day I let people know and prayed and many prayed with us. The worst conversation was with Steve's dear friend, Kevin. I thought it best to call and give him a heads up. He broke down and then I did. They are younger and this is devastating. It is so unnecessary but I have to remember Steve is an adult and made his own life choices; his is not my life to live.

About 7:00PM on 12/15 the ICU called and I steeled myself. But this time it was a different ICU trauma nurse with a bit of hope--God's answer. They have moved him to a trauma ICU with a special bed that allows them to flip him onto his belly to alleviate pressure on the lungs for about 6 hours at a time. We pray this will help. So many of his close friends in CA have been on the watch, keep in touch and pray and are doing all they can.

I am thankful for my strong faith and as I have believed we don't know, only God does, but right now he wants us to wait and be still. I received this story from a friend today and loved it so I am posting it here as prayers continue.

I also have a doctor's appointment today to just check on my self. I think I'm bearing up well and certainly feel much better after sleeping last night, but I don't want to get ill myself. I have the strength of a life long faith, raised in the church for which I am grateful.

The Scars of Life

Some years ago, on a hot summer day in south Florida, a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole behind his house. In a hurry to dive into the cool water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind shoes, socks, and shirt as he went.

He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an alligator was swimming toward the shore. His father working in the yard saw the two as they got closer and closer together. In utter fear, he ran toward the water, yelling to his son as loudly as he could. Hearing his voice, the little boy became alarmed and made a U-turn to swim to his father. It was too late.

Just as he reached his father, the alligator reached him.From the dock, the father grabbed his little boy by the arms just as the alligator snatched his legs. That began an incredible tug-of-war between the two. The alligator was much stronger than the father, but the father was much too passionate to let go. A farmer happened to
drive by, heard his screams, grabbed his gun, raced from his truck, took aim and shot the alligator.

Remarkably, after weeks and weeks in the hospital, the little boy survived. His legs were extremely scarred by the vicious attack of the animal. And, on his arms, were deep scratches where his father's fingernails dug into his flesh in his effort to hang on to the son he loved.

The newspaper reporter who interviewed the boy after the trauma, asked if he would show him his scars. The boy lifted his pant legs. And then, with obvious pride, he said to the reporter, "But look at my arms. I have great scars on my arms,too. I have them because my Dad wouldn't let go!"

You and I can identify with that little boy. We have scars, too. No, not from an alligator, but the scars of a painful past. Some of those scars are unsightly and have caused us deep regret. But, some wounds, my friend, are because God has refused to let go. In the midst of your struggle, He's been there holding on to you.

The Scripture teaches that God loves you. You are a child of God. He wants to protect you and provide for you in every way But sometimes we foolishly wade into dangerous situations, not knowing what lies ahead. The swimming hole of life is filled with peril - and we forget that the enemy is waiting to attack. That's when the tug-of-war begins and if you have the scars of His love on your arms, be very, very grateful. He did not and will not ever let you go.

God has blessed you, so that you can be a blessing to others. You just never know where a person is in his/her life and what they are going through. Never Judge another persons scars, because you don't know how they got them.

Right now, someone needs to know that God loves them, and you love them, too- enough to not let them go.

And just to show that we must find humor, what follows is something a friend composed to respond to the Scars.....I said he has too much time on his hands.

'.......And then the PETA people sued the farmer for shooting an alligator. He was fined 500 dollars for hunting out of alligator season and without a license. The Brady gun grabbers confiscated his shotgun and the Child Protective Services bunch filed abuse charges against the father and took custody of the son. The ACLU filed suit against the author of the story for using the word "God" in his story and Congress enacted legislation which prohibited swimming in any waters which were not contained in a concrete tub. Al Gore and Michael Moore are currently working on a film depicting the incident as the result of global warming as that alligator might not have been in that pond if the water had been cooler...." Tom

Monday, December 8, 2008

Son Update

Sliding downhill continues. Phone call yesterday that son, Steve is back in the hospital. This time in ICU. He was admitted Saturday. They said infection, but not related to the wound. Yesterday I talked to the ICU nurse who said it was pneumonia and that they were keeping him sedated but that when awake he could follow voice commands to squeeze her hand, etc. They have him on a ventilator and because he would try to remove it he is sedated.

Today it is not so. He is non-responsive and they may do a cat scan to determine brain activity. They claim to have aspirated his lungs and got nothing although his breathing was rough. I asked if this could be from the sedation drugs and the pain pills they have given him.

I think I am prepared for anything. All is in God's hands. Prayers continue and we wait. I am glad that I am home in MN, even with the snow and cold. What would I do out there in CA alone?

This afternoon a winter mix storm is coming upon us with more tomorrow. Our 4-5 inches of snow is to increase to about one foot. Thankful to stay indoors.

Our tree is up and decorated. I did less this year but enjoy the sparkle of the season and so the tree is my awakening of the holiday spirit. Even without decorations it looks grand. We bought it a few years ago in CA and it's the only one like it we have ever seen--white fiber optics and white lights. It sparkles like diamonds.

Two nativity sets oversee the season--the oldest downstairs and the newest in the upstairs living room. The dining room table has the Christmas gold in abundance.

We pray for healing miracles in this season of miracles.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Battle Within

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, 'My son, the battle is between two 'wolves' inside us all..

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence,empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

The grand son thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather:
'Which wolf wins?'

The old Cherokee simply replied, 'The one you feed.'

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What a mess

Where to start. I leave CA tomorrow December 4 for MN and home. This has been a terrible experience and yet I am thankful for our friends and all the prayers and kind thoughts. Jerry was right (I hate to admit) that I should not have stayed here in CA to help Steve. But us mothers have weird sense or genes or whatever which makes us always want to try.

Brought Steve to his apt. from the hospital on Monday 11-24. Jerry drove the RV, towing the truck home to MN leaving same day and getting home safely by Wednesday. He had Thanksgiving with his cousin and family. I stayed in CA with Steve and fixed a turkey breast for Steve & me and some healthy veggies, a bit of dressing, etc. This is the first Thanksgiving Jerry and I have been apart in 42 years.

Long story short as I try to condense a heart ache. Steve is 44 years old and for some reason my presence is an annoyance and irritant to him. He can be nice to everyone but me; almost a Dr. Jekyl and Hyde monster. One major incidence was Tuesday AM, the day after he got home. He threw his walker and fell flat onto his face with that action. It was almost like the Holy Master pushed him down. He did not get hurt fortunately. By the way, he is nearly 6 foot and weighs (too much) at nearly 300 lbs. He cannot yet put any pressure on his right foot where the toes were amputated. I let him lay there facedown, walked out and went to Curves to work out. When I returned he was in better humor. Just like nothing had happened.

At his apt. all I did was cook, clean, grocery shop do more and more laundry and clean more. I washed over 30 loads of dirty clothes (mind you all at laundromats, lugging all the stuff, etc.) he had stockpiled. Instead of doing laundry he just bought more tshirts, etc. Well anyway all week we had issues. Ups and downs and many more downs than ups. Often he would go to his room and close himself in, play rap music and shout. Mostly he ignored me. Rarely was pleasant to me. But when his friends would come he enjoyed their company and behaved courteously, etc.

I kept his meals in balance, on schedule. All week he had good control of his blood sugar. Never needed an insulin shot. Just his long term Lantis (sp?) at night for which the doctor did decrease the dosage after it was apparent that it was too high at home.

Did I tell you that I got another call in CA that my uncle had died? My father's only surviving brother. Uncle Henry died Nov. 18 in the hospital in Grass Valley right at the time I was thinking about how I would like to see him and share the marvelous scrapbook I've made on my father. Got the call from my cousin that afternoon. Had I not been in CA I would not have attended his funeral November 29 so that was providence, perhaps.

While I was in Grass Valley Steve did something with his friend Kevin, took a ride? He also managed to nearly dissolve an entire candy dish filled with sugar free candies. He would argue about this because in his mind sugar free means unlimited. It does not. Saturday afternoon when I returned I knew he was not "right." That night for the 2nd time only he said he was very sore and I convinced him to take a pain pill to not suffer.

Sunday he awoke terribly grouchy. After I got his breakfast, I went to church in Roseville. I should have driven to my old home church in Auburn. But I was too tired. This is a story for another post. Back to Steve's to fix his lunch he was in worse mood. His blood sugar was high and he needed an insulin shot for the first time. He blamed me for feeding him 1/2 a bagel with lo-fat cream cheese for his breakfast. It wasn't the bagel it was the effect of the day before catching up. His friend Kevin came and Steve ate lunch and glared at me. I left with clothes baskets full to do more laundry--I changed the sheets off his bed and that made one full load. He'd had his dog visiting and she'd gotten in bed with him. His friend Kevin has been keeping his dog. Anyone with good sense would know that is good because all Steve needs is dog hair in his wound. But I have learned that he resented my being there and wanted his dog. Like I needed an animal to care for too--wait a minute I was already being a care giver to an animal as it became clear.

I stayed in the laundry room for over 2 hours. Steve had another friend stop by. When I returned he'd retreated into his bedroom. I went to the store and returned to fix dinner. He wouldn't come out of his room. This was an issue earlier as I refused to serve his food to him in bed. He needs to be somewhat mobile and using the walker from the bedroom to the kitchen table is a good thing, my opinion. It's a bit of exercise and mobility.

I waited and pondered. Finally he came out to the bathroom banging his walker into the walls and cussing. Oh boy, here we go again. But no, he returned to his room. Yelling that stress was increasing his blood sugar. At 6:30PM I knocked on his door and said if he didn't come out to eat I'd throw the rest of the food away as I'd eaten alone.

He came out of his bedroom in a fury--glared at me and told me to get out of his house. He said he'd called Kevin to take him somewhere. Words continued and I told him he was the most ungrateful person I have ever know. I know I called him a few choice names too as I said I would leave finally and was sorry to have caused him turmoil, I'd done my best and only wanted to help.

I called our friends in Newcastle, Kathy & Alex and said I needed help and would they come get me. I was very upset and as I write this it is still rough. I thought of staying in the bedroom and letting it blow over but something (that small voice) urged me to leave. I packed up my suitcases, set them outside his apt. and walked down to the street in the dark to await my friends who were there ASAP. We picked up my bags and they brought me to their home.

My goal had been to endure another week with Steve to get him to apply for Medi-cal on Monday and to his surgeon's appt. on Friday. But it was not to be.

I called Jerry who said I must not go back and was weary hearing this. He knew it might happen. I don't think he ever thought it would be so bad though. He has made me promise that I will not beat myself up. All friends have said the same; I did no wrong, I did all I could.

So I have not heard from Steve or his friends. I will not contact him. He has closed the book and drained the well. There is more to write and more to think about, but suffice it that this has been the worst experience.

Yet I know that God's will is for good and evil cannot overcome it. Yesterday I received a great email from Carlie about the Battle Within which is so appropriate. I'll be posting it on this blog after I get home.

Friday, November 14, 2008


To all who have been with us in prayer and thoughts. Thanks so much and please continue. We are in Newcastle, CA Arrived last Saturday--a week tomorrow. It's better than we first heard with Steve but still a long road ahead. Thankfully he only lost the big toe right foot and the toe next to it. And his spirits are holding up well. I'm a wreck but getting along. Have developed a lousy sore throat for which I swear I will get some Vicks and wrap it tonight. They say that's an old wive's tale, but I think it workd!!

So thankful for friends here who have a place to park our RV and open their home to us.

Jerry will head back to MN next week depends on the weather forecasts. I will stay here in CA for a couple weeks to help Steve as much as I can when he gets out of hospital. He has no insurance and no disability as a part time school district employee. He does not want to relocate to MN but who knows what happens next.

Steve's the messy one (is it Oscar)of the odd couple while I'm the neatnik (FeliX)so I will be taking a rake and shovel to his apt. so I can have some semblance of comfort while holding up here. Pray for patience for me because I don't tolerate messes and dirt.

Hospital staff have been exceptional and he is getting the best of care. We spent yesterday in Woodland with Sandy, my dear friend from the old days of working for EDD. Jerry acquired some woodworking plans from her that belonged to Bob, her partner who passed a couple years ago, and some old hand tools. He's pleased as punch. I questioned if he should take them because Bob could be cantankerous and I swear that sometimes his spirit visits us in MN as Jerry also has Bob's custom leather jacket. Jerry can give me enough "stuff" without help from Bobby's spirit!!

We ate at Morrison's in Woodland for a super birthday lunch for me (yesterday) and her (11-18) delicious and the martini was just what I needed to settle me! For my birthday there was a gorgeous harvest moon---I guess I'll not forget this 64th when I was mooned big time in CA.

But things here are worse than last year--congestion and traffic and on and on. It only confirms that we made the right decision moving. I could not survive this any longer and miss the slow pace of home in MN, Mayberry to which I've adjusted more than I knew.

Well this is the latest and better than expected physically for him but who knows what lies ahead....."yeah, the Shadow?"

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


WE ARE IN LAS CRUCES NM AT AN RV PARK, SPENDING ANOTHER DAY WAITING OUT BAD WINDS. Yet that is not the worst...we received a bad news phone call from CA -from Kevin our son Steve's friend Sunday night and the news only gets worse from here. Unchecked diabetes. Our big boy is in Sutter hospital in Roseville CA for treatments but now it looks like he will lose a foot. Talked to him this AM and he is very depressed.

We will take all the prayers we can get.

We are backing out of the conference we hoped to attend in Tucson and all other plans. We will proceed to CA. God knows there is nothing we can do but be with him.

Thankful for all the friends there who have stepped up to visit him. This may be the last blog post for several days now. Just when things look ahead---HAH!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Taos and how we arrived

We spent a very long full day here today in Taos, NM which is (was)on my Bucket list. Quite a place, an artists' enclave. Unfortunately the pueblo was closed to visitors today--so too bad for them they missed us!

I purchased a beautiful green pottery bowl from the artist, Mercedes Mercado in her gallery. It called to me--tones of green that are in our library/study at home with impressions of leaves around the bottom and up the sides in burgundy/brown/eggplant tones. And what set it off, pottery intricate beading all along the top rim and around each leaf. It resembles beading on antique silver pieces. I've never seen anything like it. It so called to me that I picked it up. That's a no no in the galleries, but I could not help it. Mercedes came right over to me, "Do you like my work?" How could she tell--only because I was nearly drooling. She told me she worked over two days producing it. Jerry's not as impressed as I am but he knew it would make the rest of the trip with us when he noticed my sighing. The bowl becomes our 41st anniversary bowl!

Other than that I purchased packets of various NM chile, including some from Hatch Valley. I'd had some of it years back from my friend Roberta whose Aunt sent it from Santa FE. The flavor is remarkable unlike any other..

Now yesterday would have been an easy drive from Denver, but noooo. We expected to arrive in Taos about 4:30PM; we did not get here until 10:00PM! CO has become much like CA and more like So. Calif, San Bernardino, etc. Lots of traffic.

For once we were glad to get to NM which is never the state we long to reach on our travels. CO from Denver to NM border is high desert--think NV! So the road to Taos was a nice diversion, into the mts. Everything was going fine. But past Angel Fire, 18 miles from Taos a 4:30PM, we came upon flashing lights & firemen in the road stopping traffic. Volunteer firemen. And there we were stopped.

There had been a fatal automobile vs. motorcycle accident along the road ahead. Guess which one had the fatality? A criminal investigation was underway. They closed all lanes so we sat for what was estimated two hours. Now this was a two lane mt. road. We in our RV bus with tow vehicle could not turn around and go back anywhere unlike the cars which did so. Ahh well, that's the great thing about the motor home--we have all the amenities so we could sit and relax. We were thankful we'd not been involved in this accident. Two hours later there we still sat. The volunteer firemen were trying to make the best of a bad situation too--they wanted to go home. We served them coffee and cookies which they appreciated. Then word came, "another two hours." Well still not much we could do..wait it out. I napped. Then the worst news came, "road will be closed indefinitely." Not good.

A highway patrol officer advised that perhaps they could let us proceed to the top of the mt. where there was a turn out which would afford us the chance to turn around and return back from whence we came. By this time it was pitch dark! They gave Jerry a ride up the hill to check it out. He decided we would proceed there and spend the night--the road would be open in the morning. I was ready to give up on Taos this trip. But we drove slowly up the hill--many switchbacks on this mt. rd. We pulled into the turn out to settle down for the night--it was now 9:10PM. Then the highway patrol officer knocked on our door announcing, "Good news. The road has just been opened, proceed to Taos." Well we were relieved but it still took another 50 minutes on a windy road, max speed barely 15 mph at times. And that is how we arrived 6 hours later than planned. But still safe.

This is a unique picturesque area of NM. Yet we must be in accident land--we saw 3 fender benders today on the pueblo road. For a town with a resident population of 6000 and innumerable tourists during the season, there is a disproportionate number of vehicle accidents. Taos is reportedly ripe with Indian spirits--perhaps the spirits dislike man's rubber wheel horses.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Traveling email address

Not sure what our local ISP--Ace has done this time....but while we are on the road please use our traveling email address which is

I have to call ACE tomorrow as they seem to have disconnected all my email--dang. I want to be able to access it via the web but they've messed up again.

Sometimes the locals with the MN nice are too dumb to know what they don't know.

I think from now on it's just easier to go with the

Yesterday we saw the magnificent Red Rocks and the ampitheater where there have been many world famous musical performances from John Tesh to Nat King Cole to opera to Grateful Dead. Nature's acoustics. Fascinating and gorgeous, when we get better set up will try to post photos. Unbelievable majesty--and interesting history. The ampitheater was a 1938 CCC project. Too bad we can't do things like that today but the attitudes of folks have so changed--no one wants to work like they did then. And of course we have too much $$ handed to people so why should they work for anything? Ahh get off that soapbox...we are different but not better today as a society.

We are on our way to the AF Academy & Taos NM today...on the road again.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

We are in Denver

We've had the best travel weather...arrived Denver Thursday afternoon. This was our first trip along I 76 off I 80 toward Denver--the area looks like NV or WY all along there--high desert...yuk.

Denver itself is another big city--lots of yuppie stuff, people eating at all the outside tables in the restaurants during this nice warm spell., unusually warm for Halloween. About 76 degrees. But the cold is on the way. We are visiting Jerry's sister and her sig. other. Downside--bunch of Obamanites....which most of Denver appears to be. This place reminds me of So. CA, shootings every day, crime, etc. Not for us. Two shootings of trick or treaters last night. Traffic all over and just like CA. Glad to head off.

Only one incident as we took the too early off ramp to get to the RV Park which is also a senior citizen (or as they say here, older peoples) mobile home park. One exit too soon had us in the worst skid row area--actually there are lots of those in Denver. Thank God Jerry is such an excellent driver with our big bus and towing the truck--somehow he maneuvered us through and out of there safely. Well we almost took some one's antenna along with us which was hanging outside their trailer---oh what a siege. I sat quietly panicking and whimpering in the passenger seat and wished I'd brought along my rosary beads. But we made it, so hope that's the big deal for this trip! I was looking at the GPS and the directions and saw the wrong off ramp, so told him, "take this one!" Wouldn't that be the time he listens to me--usually not so! Husbands! Well, you didn't think I'd admist it was my fault did you!

We leave tomorrow for the AF Academy and onward.

Monday, October 27, 2008

On the Road and a new way to thumb.

We are on the RV road again working our way toward Tucson, AZ via Denver, CO and NM. Will be in Tucson from 11-4 through 11-14 at an AWON conference. Then on through NM, to Oklahoma City then Branson, MO and places along the way. The weather will determine some of our routes. We are flexible with dates this trip except for the Tucson commitment. Meantime as we have Internet connectivity will update right here. Most of my friends know to hold off emails.

To keep my brain twisting yesterday I bit the bullet and "invested" in a Blackberry. Oh woe is me! I'd retired from the state about two months ahead of mandatory manager tethering to blackberries and avoided that pain.

The two year+ old cell phone was falling apart so action was needed. I have learned that is about their life expectancy. And the granddaughter really laughed at the old phone in July. That probably led to it's demise, being laughed at. But while it was working it was fine with me. When the screen fell out and the number keys refused to work, it was time.

Two weeks ago I'd traded up to another cell phone, a cute little pink Motorola Razr, after being blackberry tempted. I didn't want to fuss with all that extra stuff and above all I didn't want to spend that extra $$. But the cute pink did not get good reception and that was right at home. When Jerry used it and it cut out on him he decided it just would not do! We couldn't take that on the road. So yesterday as the cold north wind blew in MN and the first white flakes shed we spent the day at the Alltel stores and back and forth!

The technician explained that no new phone would work like our old Nokia. I recognize this, a way to part us from our $$. When I asked him could I have my old one back dead keys and all he really laughed. I mean why mess with success. He went on to explain that Nokia had made the very best phones, but now with progress and texting, email on the phone, etc, the only way to go was Blackberry. All I really care about is a working long distance phone! That's my main use for the cell. I never use all my minutes. I don't need to text anybody and I don't need to have email access 24/7. But here we were back to the blackberry with guaranteed best reception. So after agonizing, weeping and groaning with my head down on the techie's desk, I bit on the blackberry. Jerry said, "It's up to you. It's only money." that from him, the original tightwad unless he's buying electronics or big motor homes.

So now I'm the proud owner of Pearl--that's her name. Teeny keys! A keyboard like the computer--BUT--no way can I simply type. One must use thumbs. He assures me I'll get used to this! This is torture for someone who types automatically and does not look at the keyboard. Suddenly I must stare at this keyboard and thumb it! I find myself moving my fingers across an imaginary keyboard in my head and then looking at Pearl's keys. I'd never have though it so difficult to stare at a tiny keyboard. I remember my high school typing teacher calling out "asdf jkl;" I know the keyboard! Where in the blazes did the letters go!

I now begin to understand why spelling and writing have become lost arts. This thing offers words when only two or three letters are entered. No thinking about how to spell the word, just read it and roll the cursor to select it. And thumbing has brought the need to shorten the text. It took me quite some time to update a few addresses. Even more time to go through the tutorial entering small words like, "the brown fox." Frustrating to have your screen flash, "incorrect,try again." Well this will keep me very entertained in the passenger's side.

Pearl's reception is very good. I dismantled my email function on her because just between the two Alltel stores, a distance of 4 blocks, I received 10 emails. When emails arrive, Pearl shimmies. I'll not be using all my minutes on that. Although the techie assures me that I have plenty of minutes, I can be on email for hours so I'll not be blackberry mailing. Well maybe a limited few along the road. That is if I can get used to thumbing!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Did it again

I could not resist--just like Paul's line in Romans 7:15, "the things I don't want to do I do and the things I want to I don't" or something like that. Ancient words still fit today! This past weekend at the La Crosse quilt show, I gave in and added to my collection. (See back in my blog where I swear NO MORE STUFF! (I think I left a loophole for myself that if it really catches my eye, I can consider.

I could not resist this witchy woman. Look at her, on the broom with the cat at her side. Right now she is lonesome in our dining room. The only witch (unless I'm really in a mood!) and the only Halloween representative. We are leaving Wednesday and won't be home over Halloween so I haven't decorated with any of my other trinkets.

Looking so forward to this trip, but the down side is no fall decor to the house, inside or out. Well I did plant 3 orange mums that are blooming in the flower box, but that's it. Around here folks do decorate for Halloween and I love that so I do too.

On Laurie's blog I saw some great Halloween napkins that I'd just love to have --they say "Broom Rides 50 cents" How cool! I'm tempted to take Witchy Woman along in the motor home, but I think there would be objections from Jerry who wonders why I haul stuff like her around to our traveling teddy bears who rule the RV and would certainly object to another creature horning in. Although they have accepted our dual Christmas reindeer (on the windows) who travel year round. So I will enjoy her while we are here and then pack her away until next year.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fall colors and changing weather

This summer when the kids visited everything was green. What's that song ...",,green green green they say on the far side of the hill, green green I'm going away to where the grass is greener still." Who sang it--now I'll have that ear worm till I remember. And that will probably be in the middle of the night.

Here it is end of October and we've been enjoying the sweep of fall color changes before the trees undress for the winter. I really enjoy living here, watching the seasons change. What I've noticed though is this year we didn't get as many magnificent oranges and reds; maybe it just wasn't cold enough earlier in the fall when we were still enjoying 80 degrees. Just two weeks ago it seemed all trees along the river turned mustard yellow overnight. Likely it didn't happen overnight, but that's how I noticed it. Now, seems we've progressed to brighter hues but the leaves will be falling. Two years ago the colors were more vibrant. Our burgundy red maple out back is still keeping her leaves.

But a cold wind blows now, giving me that fall face tingle and tint. This phenomena would be otherwise known as "chapped cheeks" and reminds me promptly to add moisturizer. It doesn't matter if I'm just trotting to the mail box or off to Curves or doing gardening chores. I need to protect my skin. I've noticed some women who have lived here have very tough looking skin from the winds and perhaps the summer suns. I'd like to keep mine soft and as wrinkle free as it is holding. So I moisturize and sunblock when I venture out to trim perennials and rose branches.

Yesterday I was about that business and picked my last rose bouquet for the year. I've posted a photo alongside my blog. It shows the ruffly open flower of Soaring Spirits alongside Love with tight buds of Betty Boop in the background. Soaring spirits is right outsde our closet window and has put on quite the show all year. Had to cut it back as the canes were too tall to fit into it's box for winter. My favorite Betty Boop bush is still blooming but she will have to stop too. Jerry has built styrofoam houses for Betty and her next door neighbor "Soaring Spirits." Both bushes and others in the rose garden are from my favorite hybridizer, Tom Carruth of Weeks Roses.

In 2005, the first year we were fully here for the fall and winter we had roses blooming until November. I had an arrangement on the Thanksgiving table that made me feel like back in CA. There the roses grew year round and had to be forced into dormancy by December and January pruning. Here rose goring's easier. Jerry mulches with many piles of ground leaves which he accumulates daily from our trees shedding onto the lawns. It's a process but his fall chore. I have only to trim the longest rose branches so they do not break when the winter winds blow. Otherwise, MN rose growing is easier than CA. Nothing to do until after the snow melts in the spring. Then it's take off the mulch and trim and prune. CA was year round work. Here we get the winter off!

The vibrant fall colors attract me. I love the tones. There are some magnificent views I cannot get photo shots of--like along I#90 coming from La Crosse to La Crescent. the bluffs are magnificent in gold, green, red, umber, orange, burgundy, mustard and all similar shades. There's no walkway on that interstate bridge and no way to pull over to just shoot photos. This has been a challenge I face every year. So perhaps tomorrow I'll wander down to the Lock and Dam and shoot some of the hills and bluffs from there again. Still it's not the same. But it will have to do!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity Bill O'Reilly

Last night I closed out my latest read, Bill O'Reilly's "A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity." It is so O'Reilly and reads as if he is sitting right there in front of you, just as we see him on TV. An interesting read and in parts typical O'Reilly where he gets a bit full of himself, but that's O'Reilly!

I relate to lots of his background and principles. This is not a touchy feely book nor does it contain anything about his wife, family today. He keeps his privacy. But he discusses his parents and his blue collar home and how he developed his personality. And amazing to me he retained it and still does. Perhaps we don't really change as much as we think we do?

This book is about why he is how he is today and why he believes in his purpose of exposing the bad guys. I applaud O'Reilly's endless search for child abusers and those who let them walk. I know a bit about that horror and I say "Go Bill!" He grew up with life as we had in the 50's and 60's, playing games and sports in the streets, friends in the small town neighborhood. He attended Catholic schools, and worked his way through colleges. His family did not discuss things to death or psychoanalyze. There were no questions to the ruling adults by the munchkins. It was the way things were, period. He was not given any big breaks nor silver spoons and his success today is admirable.

I'd recommend it to O'Reilly fans and to those who tune him in occasionally. I know some just can't take him and that's OK. Your entitled to your opinion and all that.

Last night though, providence was at work. I needed to read about bad guys and that's how Bill closes this book. Good timing. Those who know me well are aware of the sordid details of how my ex-half-brother connived and stole the inheritance that Mom wanted split 50/50 in her will. He's in PA and had his name put on her accounts for accommodation--in PA that meant he got it all, despite the will. Mom had Alzheimers and I was in CA. I thought I could trust him. I thought she was making it up when she accused him of stealing. I guess she knew more than I could believe. I was wrong and yet I did the best I could across the country. Big misteak to trust.

I refer to him as ex-half-brother because I have written him off. I will not speak his name. That's how I am when I'm finished. It's my defense mechanism. His actions at Mom's death, funeral and subsequently proved one of Maya Angelou's axioms, "when people show you who they are, believe them the first time." Too bad I didn't believe that earlier, but I was a trusting person. If you can't trust family, who; he interpreted it if you can't screw family who? That's when I get in trouble, ignoring intuition or giving the benefit of the doubt to a sucker. Well, it's a write off and I would not want to be him or them. It might not reach payback in this lifetime but eventually it will. And as Bill writes in this book, do good and a knight will come along. It will work out.

Well last night my ex-sister in law sent me an email in what I perceived as a feeble attempt to connect. God and the Devil alone know why--there is nothing more they can take from me. But they are conniving; likely now have their eyes on my aunt and uncle's estates in PA. But hah, this will be the last laugh--I have protected myself and the aunt and uncle, The connivers will not prosper in that effort. I do not respond to them because I know they are up to no good--that's just what they are, liars, connivers and thieves. Best to just avoid.

What struck me was Bill's summation about bad guys. It's a Catholic thing, now I realize after Bill explained it, to know the difference between good and bad and to recognize evil exists. On page 245 he writes, "..when someone you know does something bad, beware. Don't just over look it...even if you're not the target of the bad the end, a deeply flawed person, one who embraces and excuses bad behavior will get around to hurting you..The scorpion will sting because it's his nature. Have no doubt." And that is the truth--my ex-family is the living proof.

Other neat phrases are on Page 96. From The Good, the Bad and the Ugly "When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk." That's what's astray today, we talk everything to death! And page 98, " can't save everyone. You can give people opportunities, you can try to help them, but some will not success for a variety of reasons." Amen to that. It's balm for parents who watch their kids fade from where they should be.

So here I share with you a good quick read. Pick up the O'Reilly book. As Bill closes, if you don't like it tell your enemies to buy it. That's his off handed humor. Something for everyone.

Our Town

I've been too busy to post the latest happenings. However, this is for others who were there with me through our High School Production of "Our Town" way back in 1962! I played Mrs. Gibbs. I wanted the part of the Stage Manager, who has the most lines and narrates all the happenings in this Thorton Wilder play. But oh no, when I approached Mrs. Klinke, our drama teacher she was horrified. "What could you be thinking, Patty? That part is a male role!" Well phooey, I tried and it didn't work. I was way ahead of the times in 1962. Being who I am, I just went on about my business and learned the lines for Mrs. Gibb. One of my favorites,"step outside and smell my heliotrope!"

Bobby Ormesher was my stage hubby, Dr. Gibbs. "Now Ma," he'd recite.I thought that was dumb!

I remember my tantrum. When I saw the ugly stage dress (costume) I'd wear I cringed. YUCK!! An ugly old black thing! No way! I protested to Mrs. Klinke vigorously that "I cannot wear that old rag." She did try to assuage me but nothing doing! Here was my line in the sand! It was my Diva moment! If I couldn't have something with some lace or at least pretty in some way, I'd not be in the play! You'd have had to know me; I could be dramatic. As much as I was the "good girl and top student" I had my moments! Patty's last stand was pretty close to the final dress rehearsal and Mrs Klinke already had a head of white hair. Well, "it is not my fault that you didn't show me that ugly thing before." I caused her a few wrinkles. As was my way I whined at home to my grandmother who moved in with us after my grandfather died. There was nothing my grandmother (Baba) wouldn't do for me--it was always so between her and me. Baba to the rescue; "Bring the dress home and I'll fix it for you." Somehow she prevailed with Mrs. K. to allow some "alterations for Patty." My mother looked the other way during this episode, that was her way. She likely frowned and muttered to herself, "Why does she have to be so stubborn! She's just spoiled." Baba inserted some lace pieces, black with some sparkles and sequins, still subdued for Mrs. Gibbs in Grover's Corners but the show went on. I did love my sparkles even then.

I've not thought much about that until Sunday when I went across the Mississippi to Viterbo University in La Crosse, WI. Their production of "Our Town" called to me. Having no one with whom I can attend with doesn't stop me. If I could go to plays alone in CA, I can handle that here in the Midwest. I'd take a Thursday afternoon off/escape the office and go to the Convention Center in Sacramento for a Broadway touring production. Didn't matter to me if anyone came along or not--once I'm in the theater it doesn't matter if there is someone I know next to me. Long ago I gave up dragging Jerry along to plays, theater, etc. It only ruins my good time because he does not enjoy himself. The biggest mistake I made in that venue and the one from which I really learned my lesson to "not ask and just go" happened many years ago in Sacramento. It was a fall weekend and T.S.Elliot's "Cats" was playing at the Convention Center in Sacramento. I figured we could have a nice dinner and then on to the theater. After all he does enjoy entertainers and "Cats" is a musical with great costumes, it might work. Wrong! The dinner was great as I recall, but the play was not "his cup of tea." Jerry doesn't even drink tea unless it appeals to him in Chinese restaurants and that is rare. I, on the other hand, am an avid tea drinker; daily hot green tea and all summer copious amounts of iced tea, my beverage of choice. How'd I get onto tea from the play? Oh, yes..."Cats." Well we were seated and I settled in, enthralled. Jerry settled in extremely bored and adopted his defense mechanism, primo. Near end of Act 1, during the Musical high light of the show, "Memories" that famous song, I glanced at him and there he was in complete relaxation mode, asleep! Head back, in la la land. Well at least he hadn't snored! Lights go on; Jerry awakens. "Oh for Heaven's sake," I say or something worse! To which he looks at me, like "what?" "How can you sleep through that?" Never mind, don't ask--it was easy for him. I consider the cost of the tickets and realize this is a waste of $. Lesson learned, "don't ask, just go." I've followed that lesson the rest of our years which will be 41 years of marriage on Monday. It works for us because he doesn't expect me to attend car races or even watch them on TV!

But back to "Our Town" and Viterbo, a private Catholic University with emphasis on nursing and the fine arts. Their auditorium is gorgeous, state of the art. Part of the appeal of "Our Town" is the simple staging, chairs, tables, nothing much. The actors pantomime the use of stoves, drinking coffee, etc. But today's technology allows them to put Google Earth on the stage which flashes to Grovers Corners NH, the town of "Our Town." Really cool visual effects.

Now,get this--onto the stage walks "the stage manager" to begin the play. And it is a young woman! Well now I'm taken back to 1962 and Patty's bright idea which was not considered at all bright! Proof that yet again, I was ahead of my time. Molly Pach does an excellent job as stage manager! I would have too! Mrs. Klinke you could have had a first!

To prepare myself for this I'd reread the entire play at home. Few of my lines, which I'd memorized so easily back then return to me. The years have buried or erased them. Actually, the line that rings my bell is spoken by Emily and I don't recall who played our Emily. I think she was a junior or sophomore though. I recall thinking that was unfair too since this was our senior year. But I kept that to myself or maybe to a few close friends who'd listen. One tantrum per episode must have been my self imposed limitation. Maybe no seniors were available. That line, which Mrs. Klinke demonstrated repeatedly to our Emily was "Oh, life you are too wonderful for anyone to realize you..." I do recall Mrs. Klinke becoming nearly ecstatic reciting it. To us kids of the 60's it was a snicker and a tee hee in my 60's I can appreciate how it struck Mrs.K.

There are some lines in the play that strike me today those about Polish town. I guess it made no impression on me in 1962 where my Polish heritage mattered not to me. And lines about the Methodists singing loudly. Today as a practicing Methodist but here in the Midwest where they are very quiet, I find that line humorous.

During intermission at Viterbo I browsed the lobby displays. Thorton Wilder was born in Madison WI in 1897. Our Town was first performed in May 1938. It was a musical in 1955 staring Paul Newman and Eva Marie St with Frank Sinatra playing the Stage Manager. One well known song, Love and Marriage. I'll have to check Netflix and see if it's on DVD. That would be fun to see. If we knew that in 1962 we probably were not interested.

A dramatic scene was the rainy funeral with the black umbrellas. Mrs. Gibbs is one of the dead and so I sat among them for my lines.

David Gardiner, Viterbo director wrote, "This was a different time. It was a time when wage-earners were paid less but required less, when there were swimming holes and 10 cent sodas, ....gathering at funerals in the tree-shaded graveyard behind the country church, when few locked their doors and many didn't even own a key; when deals were closed with a handshake, ...." He shares that Our Town is being resurrected around the country today. We'll glimpse of what we've gained and lost since 1901. "It measures the significance of a single human life against the life of the stars. It's a play about all of us and reminds us that the only antidote for life is death."

I don't know that we appreciated the message that deeply in 1962. Today we do, well many of us, those of us who have survived from Ken Hi 1962.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Today's campaign event at La Crosse, WI

We attended the McCain rally this morning in La Crosse, WI in VIP seating. The previous post on this blog explains how this happened. Photos appeared in the Saturday 10/11 La Crosse Tribune; I've posted two here. In the first look to the far right and midway up you can see me and to my left Jerry. In the other photo right of the blog, look drectly to the right of the little black boy and you see Jerry's head and I am blurred to the right. Today's (Saturday) newspaper had another full double page photo where we also show up but when I downloaded it the picture was fuzzy.

Even with those tickets, we waited in a line to get in and then were escorted to seats. Not bad took about 15 minutes. What was bad though is we arrived, parked and the lines were down the street and around the block. Oh no! But after we reached the end of the line around the block, a young college guy saw our tickets and said that there was a separate entrance for VIP's. This made Jerry feel very smug as he said we should have looked for a special entrance, but I marched us down the street thinking that I would be beyond furious to not get in! So we had a morning walk in by returning up the street and then entering for VIP's.

Other's who only had tickets may not have gotten in. I understand they gave out more tickets than capacity in the room. This was inside at the La Crosse Center. I estimate about 6,000 in a space for 5,000. Obama rally was outside and packed 15,000 in the streets. Another proof that Republicans are more competent at organization.

After we were seated, I and another lady needed the bathroom! What's new! We had to be escorted from our seats to the bathroom and then brought back.

Security was tighter than anything I've experienced flying or even in DC and MD federal bldgs. back in my "working" days. I wasn't thinking this AM so my underwire bra set off the buzzer and I had to be hand wanded!

There was very high energy in the crowd. And lots of young people--college students from the 3 universities in La Crosse. Joe Gow, the very popular young president of UW La Crosse was there. Surprised me, I thought all academics were Dems. Two young college girls sitting in front of us who were so tickled to be in VIP seats explained to us that "Joe" as the students call him, was not given VIP seats to Obama last week so he did not attend that rally. But the McCain camp did accommodate him. Well whatever it takes to get the votes is fine with me. There was a beaming boy scout troop up front right in front of the stage. Those were some proud boys. McCain walked to them and shook their hands as he entered.

John (Yosemite Sam) is not a very big man. About Jerry's size only. And Cindy is extremely thin! She spoke longer today than I've heard introducing him. McCain was in his element. This was not the venue where we could ask questions, we only got to see and hear him. Wish Sarah had been here as she was with him yesterday in Waukesha, WI.

Sharing the podium with John & Cindy, Dan Kapanke, WI state Senator, and Tommy Thompson (former HHS Secty. and former WI governor and now in La Crosse with Logistics Healthcare. Reminded me that I have a personal kudo's letter from Tommy from my days in CA working on healthcare when I was flying back to DC to represent CA at hearings, etc. Guess I should get that thing out and frame it--Tommy's popular here.

Tonight we are back at the La Crosse center to watch an NBA exhibition--Milwaukee Bucks and Dallas Mavericks. I guess this is our day at the La Crosse Center!

The following thought in from a friend. I thought it worth including here.

.........Now isn't this something to think about!

If Barack Obama would apply for a job with the FBI or with the Secret Service, he would be disqualified because of his past association with William Ayers, a known terrorist.

If he is elected President he would not qualify to be his own Body Guard.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Call center experience

Today I went to the La Crosse Republican headquarters to get tickets to see John McCain on Friday AM. And this morning, my old CA mind resurfaced. I knew that the headquarters opened at 9:00 and tickets were first come first serve, I thought I should get there and get in line, so I arrived about 8:15, magazines to keep me occupied during the wait. After driving around the block several times I found a parking space right down the block.

When I first drove by there were only about 6 people in line outside. Oh, good, for sure I'll get tickets. Then I mentally smacked myself awake, "dummy, you are not in CA and you did not have to get here this early!" Especially WI. Are there any republicans there? Well, yes, my cousin for one and I do know some others.

They cordially opened early, at 8:30. I waltzed in, filled out a form with our names, addresses and email and went to get my tickets. No problem. And it still was only about 8:35AM. A young man at the ticket desk asked me if I could do some phone calls for them. "Why would I?" Well if I called 100 people using their phone list I could get preferred seats at the McCain event.

This will be at 10:00AM Friday at the La Crosse Center in an area that seats only about 5,000. So I thought that might be a good thing to do. First I told them that I personally hate phone calls from campaigners, regardless of who they are, but I guess it's a technique we have to use. So I picked up a couple yard signs for friends who don't have them, got some coffee and sat around till 9:00AM when we could start to call.

Let me regress here with yesterday's horror story, which demonstrates that unleashed volunteers create confusion at a minimum and can be detrimental to an effort. I received an email from a well meaning local Republican, volunteer, Rosie. In it she said that social security numbers would be needed for identification to get tickets to the McCain event. What? I could neither believe nor accept that, so I called the headquarters. "No I've not heard of that," responded the woman on the phone. I explained that I would be more than offended at such a tactic and would not give out my social security number to anyone, even Republicans. (Maybe especially Republicans these days!) She assured me it was not true. I followed up with a rebuttal clarifying email to Rosie and others whom she'd ill advised and probably alarmed. Today waiting for 9:00 when we could begin the calls, I mentioned this episode to one of the staff volunteers. She laughed and then said, "We had several strange calls yesterday about that and could not figure it out. We thought that's how they do things in MN." Well, no that's not what MN does, I assured her. An example of what happens when people talk about that which they do not know. This is not the first time I've experienced this with Rosie. She's well meaning, but should not be unleashed. Let her stick to her one issue, which I will not discuss here because I do not share her views.

All the calls were to places in WI, towns that I have never heard of so no one would know me. There was an easy script to follow, tables with the phone banks, and an automated phone onto which responses, or not, were to be entered. That was easy--follow the phone screen and enter.

This was my first experience working a call center! Now I know I'm old. To me it was the pits, sitting right next to someone else who is chattering the same dialogue plus all the commotion of people walking in for tickets, talking, etc. And that was the most pleasant part.

Some volunteers were not able to work the automated phones or to follow a script and would look to me as their "assistant" interrupting me at my assigned task with their how to's, etc. I noticed that these were predominantly women "of a certain age" who were clearly out of their element with automation. One would not expect phoning to be so difficult.

The center had many young republicans (I assume college students) on patrol, techie types and all to help. But no the "adults" sitting near me had to ask me. Then one of the volunteers, brought over a puzzled woman who agreed to make calls, "Here sit with this lady, (Pointing to me) she is very experienced and she can show you how to do this." YEEaach! Now I'm tapped as an expert. I guess that 30 minutes on the phones and the appearance of being busy gives that impression. How hard is this anyway? Well, I guess it depends on one's life experiences. So I mentioned to one of the kids that "if I have to train as well as call, that's double duty so I'd better be given extra preferred seating." The response was the blank stare, behind which I could see their brain cells churning, "like, what's wrong with this woman?" Well, I'm cranky because when I "worked" I managed and things went my way. Here I am volunteering like a peon! And amidst the puzzled. Several times I "sshhed" people near me. I do not like to be talking to someone in one ear and hearing something else in the other. I prefer to just hear myself and the responses. Years ago while I was teaching public speaking to women, one asked me why I was so natural at speaking, wasn't I afraid, didn't I get butterflies. No, I really do not. I explained jokingly that I love the sound of my own voice, I guess. But here in the call center hearing others while trying to talk is multi tasking beyond my skill set or certainly my patience!

Well I thank God that I never had to work in a call center. It got on my nerves. Now maybe I'll not be so rabid when callers invade my home phone. Usually I hang right up with a, "not interested, thank you, bye." Now that I have sat in their seats maybe I'll listen a bit before I say "no."

This effort in political volunteerism cost me about 3 hours of time. To further entertain myself, I amassed the following informal data:

Of the 115 calls I made approximately 30 were "numbers no longer in service.." most of these to apartment type addresses. So here is an evident problem with phone banks--obsolete data.
At this time of the day approximately 50 did not answer, so I assume not at home, at work, one hopes. Many of these did not have answering machines. This really surprised me, I thought everyone had one.
Only about 10 declined to answer the five questions.
The first question was along the lines, "In this presidential election will you be voting for McCain/Pailin, Obama/Biden or are you undecided?" Of the responses I only had one man who said, "I would not vote for either SOB." Other wise, the responses were heavily for McCain. That is encouraging to me to hear from WI. This makes questionable the polls proclaiming Obamanation certainty.

Maybe there is still hope in this election. I thought McCain blew the debate last night. And I thought Brokaw did a lousy job. I enjoy Tom Brokaw's books "The Greatest Generation" and "Boom." That's his real talent and I wish he'd stick there.

And when we go to hear and see McCain on Friday morning I hope it's worth the time and effort!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Limericks, reading and rushing in

If you check in here you know, I love to write and I love words. Jerry would add that I love to talk too. In CA a group of us met once a month to discuss poetry. Even better than that we each memorized a poem on whatever subject, poet, etc. we'd select the previous month. I loved that Saturday meeting. And I have to say, these were some of my most liberal political friends, but we could come together politics aside for poetry. By the way we all loved to read too. Am I on to something here?

At our local Curves, this month we host our annual book sale, the best deal around. We bring in books and sell them to each other for 50 cents for paperbacks and $1 for hardbacks and tapes/videos. Believe me this is a steal on some very expensive books. We have not raised our price in years. All the funds raised are donated to our local library. By working on this I have become the Curves librarian, daily arranging the books by subject, authors together, etc. Today Teresa, Curves owner,who is a free spirit and a sports player, but not very educated asked me how I knew so much about authors, books, etc. I really was taken aback because I do not believe I am any kind of scholar. But I did tell her, I have always been a reader. Give me a book and I'm entertained. This started in childhood with trips to the library. Now I own a great library in my house and must pass along books or would be driven out of house and home. I am thankful that I have the habit of reading and feel a degree of sympathy for those who do not and who miss out on worlds and learning and entertainment.

I have just had an experience that proves once again that sometime things take some time to jell. Yesterday a friend sent me an email about Limericks, as you can read below. Oh how I loved these things in school....So he challenged those of us who received it to come up with our own. Ahhhh it has be a while since I've done this, but I bit right into it. Then this morning, I had a revelation of improvement that came to me very clearly when I was making up our bed.

I have found in my life that when I am puzzled about something if I let it be, a solution comes when I quit dwelling on it. It took me oh so many years to learn this lesson. I've always been spontaneous, impulsive, rush in and do it now, go in with guns blazing, ready aim fire..... It's still difficult for me to let it jell or to stop and cool down and pray about it. Of course there are times when we cannot dwell or ruminate before we take action. However, here in retirement land, fewer things need immediate action.

So today, I offer my improved limerick and you can read below to see how all this got started....

There was a retired state worker
Who left behind the offices and worser,
But the PC, email and 'net called her
Before the screen for hours she sat
Till her fingers went flat
And her eyes went a-blur from the cursor.

My first attempt
I used to be able to do this right of the top of my head, but here goes

There was a retired state worker
Who left behind the office and worser,
But the PC, email and 'net called her,
In front of the screen there she sat
Till her fingers went flat
Typing back limericks and even worse versers!

(I take license making up words...if the rhyme fits, that's all that counts.)
Here is the original invite from my friend......
Subject: Limericks?
I was thinking about "limericks", at least, that's what I think they were called and an old one came to mind. I don't remember who the author was. Perhaps, I never knew. But here it is:

There was a young lady from Niger,
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger.
They returned from the ride
With the lady inside,
And the smile on the face of the tiger.

Then I thought, "Why not make one up yourself?" So I did, and here it is:

A drunk staggered out of a bar
And started for home in his car.
He thought he could pass
And gave it the gas,
But he misjudged the distance by far!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Home Again to a High School Reunion

Today's Sunday Parade Magazine (in the papers) featured James Grady's article,"You Can Go Home Again." He wrote about high school reunions and how it is different as the years go on. It struck me as I am looking toward a 50th in 2012 (how did we get this old?) in PA.

He wrote, "Reunions change reality..The 10 year reunion is about impressing your former peers...showing them you made it...By the 20th get to just be yourself." At his 40th, "we hugged. The hugs meant we were still here." That's wisdom, to appreciate being here and to know what matters.

So I suppose we will really be ourselves at a 50th; after all who else would we be? By this stage of our age we surely know who we are. And if we are not comfortable in our own skin by now, look out!

I can remember some things about our 10th reunion that made me wonder where those jerks came from; especially one bozo who hit on me because he knew my husband was back in CA & here I was back home alone. As if I'd be grateful in his interest or him! Today I can't even remember his name, just the incident. I expect this time we will really enjoy each other.

This is the good thing about being comfortable in your skin, no need to impress. It's why I can ride my bike a couple miles to Curves in the morning, work out, and stop at the grocery store on my way home. All without a lick of makeup or hairdo. Actually it's more of a hair don't as I get out of bed, muddle a bit and take off.

I can remember that there was a time I'd never have done this. After aerobic classes I'd spiff up and always be sure there was a gloss over my lips. In CA I never ventured into town after gardening without mascara and lipstick; now I really don't care. In fact I like my au naturel look. So easy. I do the same while traveling in the motor home. I quit off all make up on our drives; Jerry's seen me in the natural for over 41 years, so if it doesn't bother him or me no one else matters. And if we stop somewhere, well, so?

Once in awhile though on the drives I think, "well I'd like better what I see in the mirror with a bit of mascara and gloss." So I do it for myself. I have saved gobs of $$ on foundations and blushes, eye shadows, all those frou frous that once upon a time I was fond of. Oh I still will make up but less. It's a blessing of aging--comfort in one's skin.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Recycling and PA

One of my friends sent me an email recently with tidbits and sayings unique to where I grew up, Pennsylvania. Perhaps I should correct that to PA was where I was born and raised because I really believe (as Jerry avows) that I did most of my growing up in CA through trials and turmoils from the age of 19. My life is proof that there really is a God and he intends good for us. Sometimes Jerry will say that I am still not grown up. Well last night I heard a 112 year old man on TV who made good time with his walker say that to live long one must keep using the mind and body. So if I do those things that cause some mind or body stress to myself or others, maybe that's my way to keep young.

We celebrated the 60th Applefest here in La Crescent Thursday through Sunday. It was a busy time and a hold over from the days when this really was the apple capital of MN. Now most of the orchards are gone to housing developments as the farmers became aware there was more money in selling out and off than working the orchards. All the small town activities and then some are available, craft show, flea market, antique car display, big small parade, kiddie events, crowning Miss La Crescent, etc. Right down our street at the "Hockey Rink--Community Center" is where the carnival and all musical activities (loud bands) convene. Our house is so solid with thick walls that we seldom hear anything outside even the near by high school football games don't phase us inside, but during Apple Fest the dark air and clear weather seem to carry the sound right into the house. The reverberating beats of some bands is more pleasant than others..We employed the philosophy, "If you can't beat 'em join 'em" this weekend by walking down the street through the carnival and to the beer tent and food vendors.

I noticed they were pouring a William Penn beer and so being from PA, I was curious. I mean we PA'ers know William Penn, our state Quaker founder of Penn's Woods. But I did not expect to find a mention of him here in MN, nor across the river in WI. Sure enough there was the face of William, but the beer is brewed across the river in La Crosse, WI. Don't ask me why they chose that name. Is it because the La Crosse Brewery bought out the PA brewery or was it the other way around? Anyway, I am more adventuresome than Jerry at trying out different beers--he's a beer purist and prefers his Bud or Busch. Wm. Penn is a bitter tasting darker more toward the ale flavor. I liked it and enjoyed several over the weekend, especially with the cheese curds. Cheese curds are a WI phenomena. At least no where else in the country have I had these. When fresh, the best, they squeak in your mouth on your teeth when you eat them. Then being WI, land of the hearty they take a good fattening product and make it more so. I know what you're thinking, but don't even try to substitute mozzarella sticks for fried cheese curds. Fried curds hand dipped in a batter and deep fried, so that you get a good crunch to melting cheese when you eat them. Well you get a ton of fat calories and a significant increase in cholesterol too, but somethings have to be sacrificed for enjoyment. I figured that I'd walked off enough calories the full weekend.

Saturday night we both worked at our Legion's steak fry. I'm an officer in the auxiliary thanks to a friend who keeps dragging me into things. Since we were in town this time, I was obligated to help. And if I'm going to and Jerry is standing near at the time of the volunteerism, he gets conscripted too. Conscripted, isn't that a colonial term? There's that PA heritage again. Back to the steak event where we served about 300 people between 5:00and 8:00PM. We were waiters/waitresses/bus persons, etc. That was a long time on the feet and busy. I always think that all my working out has me in great shape until I'm tasked like that, then I'm worn out for a couple days and wonder how come?

Last week, I also accomplished a bucket goal (From the movie, "The Bucket List") to walk across the Mississippi River on the Bridge between La Crosse and La Crescent. We are enjoying the best weather--80 degree days and crisp mornings. On Wednesday a friend visited and we hiked down our back hill and around the road to a new restaurant where we enjoyed coffee and scones. I invited her to come along on my walk over the bridge. She declined and Jerry was not at all receptive. So off I went--it's over a mile there and another mile+ across the river and then back. Quite the walk for a day. See photo for just a glimpse of the beauty of the area--you'd want to walk too!

Somehow with these activities I've aggravated a muscle or something in my shin and foot. It doesn't hurt much except at night, though when it aches like the dickens. It's improving and has meant my taking it easy and giving up my bike riding and work out for a couple days. Proof again that my mind is younger than my body. And I recall doing something like this once or twice before. One should learn to not recycle old hurts, or reinjure.

I think of PA a lot more than I ever did. Partially because we live closer now and partly because of my refound friends. I almost wrote recycled friends but how can you do that? I suppose that could become the new rage--recycled friends, just like everything else that is recycled today.

Recently I noticed that AVON is selling the old plastic big hair rollers. Talk about something to not recycle--big hair and rollers. I really prefer my wash and blow dry do to setting my hair around plastic rollers to get volume. But there before my eyes is the proof--and it's touted as a new beauty secret. Sheesh! A couple years ago I was taking a class at UW La Crosse about literature. As an assignment we had to write a short story about something. I wrote "Hairscapades" about my life with my hair, big, blond, long, short, wigs, teased, permed, etc. You name it this head's had it. It wasn't too long ago while I was still in CA career land that I'd occasionally give my self a pouf in the mornings by using some of those plastic netty type rollers in my hair while I was in the shower. But now to even think of the hard plastic rollers and long hair, hmph, hey, faah-ged 'bout it(forget about is the translation for non- PA'ers.)

A few weeks ago a young man at our church asked me where I was from to which I looked at him with a "what do you mean?" He explained, "well I can tell you aren't from here by the way you talk." Of course, I'm not a MN sounding, "sure, yah, you betcha, uff'da." It's hard for me to answer that question and I generally respond that I'm from CA because I spent more time there than PA. Sometimes I feel I should give my background, so I reply explaining my 40+ years in CA and 19 in PA give me a unique sound. I think I have no PA accent at all when I hear folks from there. But sometimes it comes out. When I was singing in a quartet in CA my voice coach spotted it right away. She worked to get it out of my musicality. Sometimes after I've been to PA I readopt some expressions, like, "you guys. " In PA, 'You guys' is a perfectly acceptable reference to a group of men and women.

One PA colloquialism unique to the Pittsburgh area is "younse." If I hear that anywhere in the world, I know I've encountered a Pittsburgher. Or should I say, Picksburgher, as the locals. Once in an airport in Dallas, I heard a man say it and asked "You're from Pittsburgh?" To which he replied "How'd djah know?"

Another phenomena that I do, is refer to Pennsylvania as 'PA'(pronounced Pee-ay) and that makes heads cock. How many other states do that? None that I've visted. Other PA facts:You know that Blue Ball, Intercourse, Paradise , Climax, Bird-in-Hand, Beaver, Moon, Virginville, Mars, and Slippery Rock are PA towns. (and the first three were consecutive stops on the Reading RailRoad). A few years ago back in PA to tend to my aunt while she had surgery I took her for a longer than planned ride. We went to a festival at Sharpsburg and on the return trip ended up in Mars. We had a good laugh about that. But look at those names again, those coal miners had active sex lives! And finally, you must be a Pennsylvanina if you know and recognize a township, borough and commonwealth....

All these terms are now recycled to me--things I once said and did and knew about and now have returned with more frequency. Our local newspaper tthe LaCrosse Tribune is running a weekly history feature for the schools about the Presidents. I discover that my PA learning has endured because I really can fill in the blanks and match the correct President with the correct little known facts. I attribute this recycled knowledge to what was taught in the PA schools.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lipstick and pigs in the mud

I don't know about you but these days I've thought about lipstick more than I have the last many months. Beginning with Sarah's "lipstick" and yesterday Ob(s)ama's pigs, lipstick seems to be making a comeback. For quite some time all I've worn is lip gloss or lip balm. Lipstick wears off easily and smudges the cup or glass I'm using. I can never keep it on and might start out with some color which is all gone soon. I can keep some balm or gloss in my pocket and smooth it on in a second. Besides I prefer a glossy shine that plumps up my lips.

When I first heard Osama's remark I didn't get that it might be a veiled insult. It took me about 15 minutes. That's fairly quick for me. I'm slow that way. There's an advantage to not "getting" certain distasteful or off color jokes and stories. I can look at the teller with the quizzical, "huh." Others around might be uncomfortable or might even laugh but often when it is just downright something I'd rather not hear my natural proclivity to not understand serves me well. Jerry attributes it to my being blond and Polish.

During my career days, I had a framed cartoon hanging in my office. It featured a big sloppy pig angrily rising out of the mud. The caption, "Never try to teach a pig to sing, it wastes your time and it annoys the pig." So watch out Osama-bama, you have annoyed the pig in the mud. The polls show it.

No one mentions that the polls currently showing that 76% of blacks will vote for Obama might reflect black pride or reverse racism. We dare not insinuate that blacks would only vote for him because he's one of them. Yeah I know whites and others are also on his bandwagon. It has perplexed me since he started to campaign why he has never presented himself biracial, but ran with the black. That's his choice. But when women gather round Sarah suddenly we are wrong; we are just going with a "woman" because we are one. That's reverse sexism! And another thing, we can't even use the expression "pot calling the kettle black" for fear of that being considered racist. What a tangled web we've woven with political correctness.

Now I'm not for Sarah just because she is a woman. I felt stuck with McCain who was not my candidate, but the alternative did not appeal to me. I was initially disappointed when I heard Sarah's selection for vice president. But you know what, the more I see her and the more I learn the more I like her. Why not? Nope I don't agree with her stands on everything. I am not a single issue voter; I believe in choice but I find that I have to vote my fiscal conservative views first. And how about Sarah choosing to have her Down's syndrome baby. Now that is choice. Why are some of us offended, if we believe in a woman's right to choose, she did just that. Here we have in Sarah the ultimate working mom.

I am currently reading John McCain's book, "Hard Call." It is about the art of great decision making and uses stories of individuals through out history to demonstrate the eight criteria John considers essential to making great decisions. This is the kind of book I relish, history with reflections for today. So far I have read about Alexander Graham Bell, Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, Marshall Fields, Werner von Braun, and others. Two qualities John considers essential in decisions are risk taking and timing. I think he has followed his own criteria choosing Sarah.

When Hillary was running I considered her. But her Bill baggage and her views just didn't wash with mine in many ways. Yet my friends have heard me say "I sure would love to vote for a woman for President before I croak."

So now along comes refreshing lipstick toting Sarah who carries the reform torch. Friends in Alaska are crazy about her. Her approval rating exceeds any other governor. Well she has something going for her. And maybe we do too now. I'm about as happy as that pig rolling in the mud watching the liberal "news" media be offended because they did not have advance notice; I heard Sally Quinn say, "we should have known about this months ago." Why? Translate that to they couldn't be ready to smear. The element of surprise at its best.

So let's keep our lipstick fresh, add the gloss and keep a big smile for Sarah. As for the other side, watch out for the angry rising pigs. As for Osama, Sarah is a far better shot than Dick Cheney and she can dress down the kill besides.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Apple pie season in MN

Simple Simon met a pie man going to the fair.....Just two days back on Thursday and Friday my friend Rachel and I made and baked 67 apple pies for our church to sell on Saturday at the city wide rummage sale. This was a repeat of our prior year feat when a farmer donated hundreds of pounds of dropped apples from the floods and some church hands gleaned them. We couldn't ignore that gift, somehow Rachel and I were conscripted to open a Methodist bakery. Maybe it's cause we are both retired and known as good cooks. Maybe it's that we are too willing to go along and help. But this is the last time...we are now officially out of business and I have recorded this on the web so that next year I can look back and vividly recall. Rachel and I are either slow learners or we are living proof of the adage that time heals all wounds including tired feet and legs and hands.

September and late August begin apple harvest here in this corner of MN which used to be the apple capital of the state. Now most of those orchards are gone to housing development. But the tradition of baking apple pies, apple squares and apple cakes continues. I don't know what's my excuse because I am not from here. Shades of the past and Apple Hill from CA. Or is it the recollection of the PA stories of Johnny Appleseed. Something about the first crisp coolness to the air and the memories of aroma of apple pies brings out our rolling pins.

We announced our retirement to all including her hubby, Glen, who helped us by peeling apples and who thought we could do this again this year. He recalled it being "fun" last year. I'm in charge of procurement which means making a Sam's run for 50 # sugar, 50 # flour, 12 # Crisco, 3 # butter and a large container of cinnamon and allspice. Then the local Woodman's for the pie tins. Glen purchased 70 # of apples, 40 # more than I wanted. But he considers this an outing of sociability and fun! That's because he sits on a stool and uses the apple peeling machine while I wash, cut and core apples, mix them with the sugar, cinnamon, allspice and flour and Rachel makes and rolls the crusts and slips the pies in and out of the oven. The day wraps with our massive clean up of the church kitchen and utensils. Glen says we are the three musketeers--I think we are the three stooges!

After standing on our feet for two long days in a row, 8:00AM till 5:30 PM I believe I've toughened up from last year. Thursday evening I was able to go to my monthly women's Bunko game and didn't feel too worn out. Oh those few glasses of Pinot wine hit the spot and rejuvenated me to shake those dice. I sure could have slept in longer Friday morning but there was not time to slip back and count apples jumping over the fences. By Friday evening I knew we had done something as did Rachel's feet and my arthritic right hand. So we advised Glen to sell the remaining bags of apples at the sale the next day and we closed up at 5:30 Friday. Slave labor ends.

All this to benefit our Missions committee with funds to distribute to needy deserving causes. I'm not even on that committee but I do this so Rachel won't be the lone ranger pie maker. Last year we had a little help both days but this year one gal's husband is facing hip replacement surgery and had presurgery appointments with him. Others did not answer their phones. Likely they remember last year's shifts and played "nobody home" when they saw my number on caller id. Our pastor's wife helped out for a few hours on Thursday taking pity on us and using this as a chance to get to know us.

Oh we make it pleasant and have several laughs. At the end of the day, we look like sugar and spice and not so nice. I thought I was the solitary sloppy cook--I am just like my grandma who wore whatever she cooked. Rachel does just the same; hoisting one 25 # sack of flour she overshot her bowl and somehow nearly dipped her nose in the sack. As it was she had flour on her glasses, through her hair. Well it didn't show up as she has white hair.

The pies were better this year and sold for $10 to $8. Last year one elderly lady who volunteered to help was stingy with the apples. She made Frisbees or pancakes, not pies. So Rachel tried to adjust some the next day by adding apples and remaking. We gave up and those pies nearly ruined our reputation. This year we knew we could regain it, but we did not solicit help widely lest she show up again. With volunteers you have to take what comes.

Friday while baking the aroma enticed sale of five pies from a small group meeting at our church. Saturday the men have a brat cook where the town comes out to feed amidst garage sale mania. Jerry & I went up to eat lunch. They also sold slices of pies this year. Finding no rummage of interest or vital calling, I even bought one of my own pies to bring home....well you wouldn't think I'd want to make another pie after home after this two day event. And there was Jerry drooling because unlike last year I'd not brought any samples home. We ate them ourselves to be sure we were not making inferior merchandise. Our pastor joined us for lunch Thursday and ate pie too. Friday he returned at lunch and sat smiling. But Friday there was no "free pie." The lure of the aroma did him in so he opened his wallet to buy a pie against his wife's advice that he did not need to eat pie every day. Makes you wonder if Eve really was tempted with just an apple hanging on the tree or if that slithery serpent baked an apple pie and the aroma was just irresistible.

It will take a couple days yet for my hand to be right again, and then I'll be making our own pies. I'd already made one apple pie and one pan of French apple squares a couple weeks ago. But for a couple days here in recovery mode, I'd just as soon not see an apple or the rolling pin.