Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Right under our noses, locally

Brochure for this one day event.  Often we  do not attend events locally
when we would if we were visiting.  But the history offered was too tempting for me to miss
The Chateau on Cass St.  Front  with the original structure.
Saturday, May 16 was frigidly cold here so my plans to go on the architectural tour of some of the wonderful historic buildings in downtown Lqa Crosse changed.  The walking guided tour was to begin at 11:00 but one was free to go along at leisure until 5:00PM, so about  1 o'clock I decided to brave the frigid air and go across the river.  I really wanted to see the Chateau, aka Mons Anderson House which is a high end operational restaurant where there are intimate small dining experiences.  They serve the finest wines and champagnes and the food is exquisite I have been told by others who have enjoyed their meals at this restaurant. So many others were curious about this place as well as I saw  once I got over there, bundled up, walked the short distance from our bank where I parked.  I wore my Austrian wool hat, a cuddle dud under my sweater, knee socks under my riding boots and my packable down winter jacket that has served me so well for two seasons.  Was it really May, brrrr.  

Addition to left of the original structure
All the limestone came from right here, Grandad's Bluff in La Crosse
I was most impressed with the multi million dollars spent renovating the Chateau on Cass and fascinated with it's history.  I was appalled at some of the people on this self guided tour and applaud the Ewesr, owners for being gracious and opening the business to curious folks,  and yet, I wonder, have these people never been to any historic home?  Although Ms. Ewers detailed the history and the saga of this place they call home with their 3 children and invited people to walk, she shared it is and has been a work in progress, attributing the massive costs already to maintaining the historic integrity of this beauty. 

Ms Ewers tour guide and owner, notice the parquet floor
in one of the downstairs dining rooms
 She invited people to stroll throughout the entire place leisurely, as all rooms including the kitchen were open, with exception of the family's private living quarters, yet, anyone with an ounce of decorum would know not to touch paintings, the fine crystal, the wines, etc.  People, are so tiresome as some roamed and touched any and everything and then some who were more feeble, complained about the stairs, really, I thought.  WTH did you think it's an 1800's structure, why are you here if you cannot walk stair cases.  It is definitely a place I will want to dine for something special, perhaps taking advantage of their limousine pick up service as well for an anniversary.  

This was sponsored  by the Downtown La Crosse  association of merchants, amidst the graduations of the UW  underway at the convention center and other weekend events. From their brochure here is a synopsis of this home:  F. Mons Anderson House 410 Cass Street
(Le Chateau Restaurant) 1854, 1878 Guided Tours all day

One of the finest examples of mid-nineteenth century residential architecture in western Wisconsin. The home is a rare blend of Gothic Revival and Italian Villa styles rendered in locally quarried limestone. The home has a fascinating history; from a peak of late Victorian era opulence in the late 19th century, to neglect and near ruin by the later part of the 20th century, to its current state of complete restoration and recognition as one of the most historic and architecturally significant homes in the city of La Crosse. Not all areas handicap accessible . 

These 2 photos are of one of the ladies rooms on the first floor, opulence
When the Ewers bought the Chateau several years ago now, t
he owner from the 1980's had  used it as a bed and breakfast,
left only chandeliers when he moved away.  This
is but one downstairs, notice the ceiling too.
One of the fireplaces, this one in what is now
the library where space is available for larger
dining parties.
More photos are on my Facebook page where I posted directly about this event last week and then shared my pictures. I really tried too get photos without the people.  Finally I left after thanking them and learning about the availability of the limousine service for special events.  I detest crowds and so I did not venture down to the downstairs, basement, aka where the bar and salon will open this summer, down this wrought iron staircase.  I did not want to meet someone going down when I was coming up, no room to pass, etc.  But be sure I intend to return to at least sample some wonderful wine and appetizer.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Springtime blooms in our Region

Taken from my passenger side, along the Mississippi 
This area is part of the Driftless region or often we hear, Coulee Region.  I thought the term Coulee odd, the only reference I had previously was related to the  Chinese coulees who worked building the western railroads back in the 1840's in CA.  I learned here the Coulee is the bluffs along the Mississippi.  From Wikipedia, here is a summary of: Driftless Area or Paleozoic Plateau is a region in the American Midwest noted mainly for its deeply carved river valleys. While primarily in southwestern Wisconsin, it includes areas of southeastern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa and extreme northwestern Illinois. ...Retreating glaciers leave behind silt, clay, sand, gravel, and boulders called drift. Glacial drift includes unsorted material called till and layers deposited by meltwater streams called outwash...Overall, the region is characterized by an eroded plateau with bedrock overlain by varying thicknesses...the river valleys are deeply dissected. The bluffs lining this reach of the Mississippi River currently climb to nearly 600 feet (180 m). In Minnesota, Karst topography is found throughout the Driftless area. This is characterized by caves and cave systems, disappearing streams, blind valleys, underground streams, sinkholes, springs, and cold streams. Disappearing streams occur where surface waters sinks down into the earth through fractured bedrock or a sinkhole, either joining an aquifer, or becoming an underground stream. Blind valleys are formed by disappearing streams and lack an outlet to any other stream. Sinkholes are the result of the collapse of the roof of a cave, and surface water can flow directly into them. Disappearing streams can re-emerge as large cold springs. Cold streams with cold springs as their sources are noted as superb trout habitat. 
Flowering tree at the Y

But enough about the topography, what I want to share today are some of the beautiful blooms around town. I think because we have four seasons, that spring is all the more appreciated and living here, each year as the green reveals and the blooms start, I cannot be sure if it's my favorite season or if I prefer summer, or fall. One of my friends said today, "gotta go thru winter to really know spring." Perhaps that's the key, even if there is sunshine in winter, we miss the green and blooms. This has not been as wet a spring as last year, and some blooms are later some earlier, but the show of more flowers daily and the wafting scents of the lilacs, apple blossoms as we work out doors cannot be beat. The reddish and pinkish flowering crabapple trees are abundant around town and so lovely right now. However today we are enjoying a spring drizzle and rain predicted for a couple days, so most of the flowers will give way to leaves only within a couple days. Walking amidst and by these spring blooms all around town, up the hills renews one's soul when walking.

Two homes down, almost to the end of our cul de sac,
 starting our hike around

Downtown La Crescent, along the highway,

Red bud tree starting

Along Elm St, main drag. One of the few
fences around.  This homeowner has
cultivated mounds of  phlox

One shrub which I became fond of as the first to show it's blooms in early spring in Northern CA was the flowering quince. Oddly, that is uncommon here but one home along Elm has a flowering quince, which I am thrilled to see each year. I do not know why these are not grown locally. I know that I do miss the dogwoods that flower in PA this time of year, the local dogwoods are nothing like the PA dogwoods. There is a shrub locally that I actually laughed at when someone told me it was a dogwood, but then I know the real thing. 

The only flowering quince I've found locally

Flowering crabapples at elementary school

Nature's artwork on a stump

The fungi above caught my eye. This time of year many locals go out into the woods to hunt morel mushrooms which are a rare delicacy. I have not engaged in that activity because I would not want to pick poisonous mushrooms. But those who find them often sell them to be transported to Chicago and New York where the finest restaurants serve them; they get a good price, $50 or more per pound. I rely on someone sharing with me. I had never heard of morels until we moved here and frankly, yes they are good sauteed in butter, but to me not any better than other 'shrooms.

Massive old Weeping cherry &
   flowering crab apple
May time walking, anything lovelier?
Finally I share the lilacs, wish you could smell them. The white's I call Betty's Whites. They are down the block from us, planted by Betty, an elderly lady who still lives in her big home and tends her flowers. Although she tells me she doesn't do near the lawn work that she has in the past. Well, she's ener. titled at 89, she hires someone to mow fo her, but like me she trusts no one else with her flowers. Gardeners live longer, maybe it's being outdoors in fresh air and sunshine, maybe it's the physical activity required or the enjoyment when the results are seen.  
Betty's Whites
Our lilac hedge

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Wishing happy mothers day has problems.

This is a first,  I have never before shared my Facebook posts  on this blog, because I get so much more feedback on FB from friends.  However, today is wistful and here is my  brief:

  From a friend's page with my story. It's why we should give away smiles, they cost nothing & can make someone's day. I always try to say something cheerful to cashiers, salesclerks, etc. They earn their money dealing with people. You just never know.  
.This is so true, today's evidence---each Sunday I pick up a Sunday Pioneer Press, MN newspaper at the local gas & foods place & I get to know the cashiers. We always converse weekly about our day, the week we had or? Today the young man who's been there about 6months, about whom I know some things such as he would love to have a motor home & travel like we do, he's had some health issues the past year, including when he was gone a couple weeks, hospitalized with kidney stones. This morning he greeted me with, "is it safe to wish you a good mother's day." I replied, "sure, thanks but why do you ask?" He said, "Well one customer just yelled at me because she is not a mother." Me, "aww, that's too bad. Maybe she was having a bad day." He,"She usually is grumpy, not like you." Me laughing,"Well you must get all kinds in here." He, "yes, but there is something in your eyes, can I ask if everything is ok." Me, "oh it's nothing, this day is bittersweet for me, my mother died 12 years ago, my only son died almost 8 years ago, I never liked the commercial Hallmark card aspect of this holiday. That's about it." He, "oh I'm sorry, should have known." Me, "how could you know, & please do not worry about that." He, "your eyes, there is something deep there, I should know. I lost my children, my son too several years ago, and my daughter 7 years ago. It's always in the eyes." Me thru tears,, "shoots, now I'm going to puddle up my face" he reached over, grabbed my hand & said, "you have a real good day, now I know another reason I like you." I told him I was sorry about his family and said,"It never gets easy, but at least the jagged edges scab over & it doesn’t hurt so much all the time. You have a blessed day now."
Most people not only do not know the trials of the person near them, I say that many people here where I live don't know much about anyone unless they have known them all their lives, common around these parts.  Even when they do know they ignore, so different from living in CA.  Maybe because there we were from everywhere maybe because here they have been only here all there lives.  Don't they realize how that fells?  Guess not.  They don't ask, do they think that is  being polite or do they just not give a fig?  I admit it is why I find  people here cold, not open.The neighbor on one side of me waves, is cordial if I see her outside, yet I have never been invited into her home.  This is very strange to me.  Whatever, they are enclosed with themselves.  Maybe it is left for souls like me to  make head roads.  Yes more and more I appreciate that I outreach to others.    

I copied my post here from FB because I wanted to remember this. 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Short attention span

Oh look out, trouble ahead for the likes of me.  I have always been fidgety, I guess today they would diagnose me with Attention Deficit Disorder.  My relatives lovingly referred to it as having ants in my pants, I fidgeted, especially when in church--mass was in Latin or Polish, and a child like me paid little attention, sitting still and absorbing was not something I practiced. Back then my grandma never would have thought of bringing along a book to distract me or a toy, no sirree, I was to be at mass and that was that.  

Today, I can get easily distracted, for example when I set out to tackle a domestic chore and navigate to the computer, or even my tablet, checking Facebook or any number of things. Or when I am trying to sort out old photos, discarding most because why keep them?  I find I can begin to browse, thinking about when this or that happened.  Pretty soon hours have gone by and I have accomplished little outside my head.  This was supposed to be a project for me this winter when we did not snowbird, I would sort out the room wide mess I have downstairs to discard old photos.  I have made very minimal progress.  Fortunately this room is downstairs and not needed so not used and that allows me to keep the mess out.  I used to search for photos for something on Ancestry, to post or whatever so I began to just leave them spread out, why have to pack away and unpack.  So there is the mess.  

Just today I was catching up waiting for a load of laundry to finish and went on to reading on the Elderly Blog, 

There was a comment about attention spans growing shorter, that a gold fish has a longer attention span.  Wow!  One of my bosses once told me I had the attention span of a cocker spaniel, which had me bust out in laughter, but he was right.  It served me well in career days, multi tasking worked to my benefit then.  Not so much today, I start and can wander off elsewhere especially if the task I began is not appealing to me. Here's the blog writer's comments:

 "The Telegraph reported earlier this year:
"According to scientists, the age of smartphones has left humans with such a short attention span even a goldfish can hold a thought for longer.

"Researchers surveyed 2,000 participants in Canada and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms.

"The results showed the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000, or around the time the mobile revolution began, to eight seconds.

"Goldfish, meanwhile, are believed to have an attention span of nine seconds."
Did you get that? Goldfish for god's sake"

 Reading this statistic and relating because I enjoy using my smart phone or tablet and posting fast to Facebook, I could see trouble ahead.  For someone like me, with a life history of attention span shortages, what is next?  

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Happy birthday Granpap

1945  Teofil
While doing some of the never ending work on Ancestry.com I noticed that today is my maternal grandfather's 129th birthday.  Teofil Kochanowski, whom I called Pap because my Mom & aunt did and Granpap, was born in Zarsyn Austria, now Poland in 1887.  Yes, he was a character who spent most all his life as a coal miner after immigrating to this country in 1904.  I remember some of his stories about stealing a cow from a farmer to sell to get passage to this country. He told me many times how he regretted that he never repaid that farmer for his cow and "so never steal no matter what, Paruhka."  He always called me the Polish for Patricia, Paruhka, I am unsure of the spelling. I would tell him after I received my first holy communion and learned about confession that if he would just go to confession he would feel better about it.  He would laugh and tell me, "yes, I did that years ago.  I did my penance, but I still regret.  That man worked for his farm and it was not right of me to steal that cow."

 I look over his naturalization papers, and notice the statements he signed, "I am not an anarchist."  But I suppose he might have been considered a criminal, a thief back in the old country.  So today when we have yet more concerns, rightfully so, about immigrants and who should come into our country, who should not, on and on, I think of my own Granpap.  He was so very proud of his citizenship.  Mom told me how they as kids teased Granpap while he would be practicing for his citizenship test and he would get very angry with them. He told them it was so very important and they did not know how lucky they were to be born here.  "Don't you never laugh about me."  Three of my grandparents were immigrants and the fourth, my maternal grandmother born to immigrant parents.  In a way this makes me ever sympathetic to those who wish o migrate here.  But yet, do it the right way and for heaven's sake, do not get charity the moment you enter the country.  It was a different time,  workers, laborers were needed in the mines, the factories.  Yet today, many of the immigrants provide labor for jobs that Americans will not do.  Maybe things are not so very different as they seem.  What worked then doesn't now?  Why

Teofil told me how he rode the rails as a young guy, hobo style, looking for work.  All his life he kept that soft spot for hobos and  I remember my grandparents would give them a meal.  I have written some  stories about Granpap elsewhere on this blog, I wish I had someone today to talk to about the missing links in that family. 
1954 Charles Krolicki visits Rose & Teofil

 He had a half or step  brother, Charles,  who lived near Chicago, but the brother's last name was Krolicki. It could have been through a series of misspellings and immigration and census takers, who knows why the names  differed.   I do not remember him at all and yet I have a photo of when he visited my grandparents sitting in their living room.  Because I spent more of my time with them than at my own home, I am surprised I did not know about Charles' visit.  Some research on Ancestry has been helpful but so many unanswered questions.  Then again, what difference does it make, the line stops here with me and so will the stories.  I guess that is why I take them to the blog, someday, somewhere out  and off this cyberspace, someone might be researching years from now.  Who knows.  

For today, though, Happy birthday, Granpap. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

The weight of the world lifted and the sun shone even brighter.

The last few years in particular, well OK for about 9 years now, I have seriously pondered returning to the religion and faith of my raising, the Catholic church.  Oh one thing and another always had me putting it off.  I admit, I was so very worried about what the priest might say to me, I am married to a non-Catholic for it will be 49 years this October.  Jerry is not a church goer and he has listened to me ponder and wonder over the years.  He has said so many times,  "well just go find out already".  It was as Father shared in our talk, "like avoiding a dentist until you have a major toothache and then you imagine they will have to pull all your teeth, you will need dentures, you will suffer....we build things up in our mind and imagine the very worst situation.  

On this blog previously, October 10, 2011  at this link, I wrote about my  anxiety.  What to do?  So this has not been a spur of the moment decision.  Not just a whim.  Indeed I have wondered and wandered over this for so long, stewing would be a good description.  

And so it has dragged on and on.  I have not attended the former UMC here in town for almost a year now.  I just could not abide going to church and encountering myself in the midst of a community center gathering.  I missed the liturgy.  So I started going to mass routinely not just on the days I always attend like Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, etc.  So in this Year of Jubilee, so proclaimed by Pope Francis, a man for whom I have deep admiration I finally did it.   

Yesterday two weeks  after running into Father Havel at a cousin's bedside, a cousin on Jerry's side who is awaiting death in a local nursing home, I had an appointment to go talk with the priest privately.  I waited a week to make the appointment and then talked to myself once again, "well wait until next week,  maybe later,"  The doubting voice began to intimidate me. And time can continue.  In the nursing home hallway I told Father that I am a very lapsed Catholic and needed to talk.  He assured me, "when you are ready, just call, anytime."  I quickly told him how unsure I was and that I had been attending mass for sometime, but still.   I could hear my grandma Rose's voice laughing at me as she said so long ago, "Don't talk crazy, Patty.  Once a Catholic always a Catholic.  You don't just decide you are not."  Father smiled knowingly.  Indulgently, he assured me, "there is nothing that cannot be fixed, Just  come talk to me when you are ready."

Yesterday was my day!  After  our long discussion and his listening to how I thought I was doing well enough but that I missed taking communion.  When I attend mass, I  always hang back and do not go forward, although I also shared that there have been times at funerals for loved ones where the priests and Monsignors have told me to partake.  I told him about my Grandma again and he laughed.  I told him about my late friend Roberta who tried to encourage my return fully to the faith on our attendance at mass in CA, how her  husband tried to facilitate the process with me with their Irish priest, Father O'Brien.  How many times I avoided, wondering, after all I had been lapsed for so long.  

He listened patiently to my stories, my trials, my struggles, he answered my questions (I had many), he counseled me with some scripture and offered that I might consider taking some of their ongoing faith classes.  He asked me, "who told you that you are no longer Catholic?"  I stammered, "uh, I guess myself."    He shared how when he meets with an ecumenical group and the Protestant  pastors discuss their church rolls and  rules and when someone is no longer a member of their church he is amazed.  They ask him what he does and he said, "nothing.  Once a Catholic always a Catholic." 

 I opened my mouth and he smiled, "yes, your grandmother was right.  Once a Catholic always a Catholic."  He asked me if I thought I was excommunicated?  I stammered again, "well I haven't been faithful, ah  um,uh  but..."  He laughed and  admitted to teasing me, then asked me if I was ready for Reconciliation.  My mouth fell open again, "Right now?  Right here?"  He said, "yes, here now unless you are not ready."  So with my continued  amazement, we  proceeded.  My following his words, my Act of Contrition and Confession( my first  in about 40+ years).  I felt tears of relief.  I will not go into detail for my own privacy, but when it was all over I beamed and could only say , "WOW."  Why had I waited so long?  

I had read online about Catholics returning: "If you haven’t been to Confession in a while, the Catholic Church wants to welcome you back, and invites you to participate in this beautiful sacrament of healing. Take a step in faith. You’ll be surprised about how free you feel after taking part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. So many Catholics describe incredible feelings of peace, joy, relief, and love that they never expected. Jesus is calling you to experience His mercy in this way too."

I share here that I have never felt lighter, better. I couldn't stop smiling.  So much was lifted, I never appreciated confession more ever.  I never felt better, more blessed even though I have been blessed many times. Such glorious feeling, nothing ever compared.   Not even when following my heart attack a year ago, the  cardiologist told me I would need no surgery, treatment, etc because there was no damage to my heart and that my guardian angels came through.  I truly felt lifted, blessed, so relieved, so happy that I can now fully participate and receive communion.  I fairly floated home as I had walked up town for the meeting.  I am still in amazement today.  I know my Grandma is smiling from Heaven with my late friend Roberta. 

I will write more later sometime but I wanted to be sure to document and share this day. Yesterday will always be another birthday for me, my true home coming. And Saturday when I attend mass I will be receiving communion!  Thank you Father!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Warm weather abounds

Front shrubs, snowball tree, barberries trimmed thanks to Lucas 
We have turned the corner into a lovely spring, it's been in the 80's all weekend, perfect for me although some days it  felt a bit too warm too fast, but I am not complaining.  The sun's rays here in unfiltered clean skies of MN do tend to scorch me a little,  despite sunblock, then again I prefer a  little coloring to pale winter white skin.  It's time for shorts, tanks, sandals, my kind of weather. 

   I  spent most of Friday, Saturday working outside, clearing the rose beds of winter mulch and  trimming and clipping. We were able to hire someone from a Landscaping service to trim some of the shrubs and I was very pleased with Lucas'  work which saved me a couple days, well worth the $$ spent.  With his power equipment he was done in less than an hour, I was in awe.  
Apple Jack Rose bush is already filling out with leaves
As I do each year once I start, I cannot quit, so I overdid it and by Sunday I decided my bones needed a break that they were demanding.  Despite weight toning that I do twice weekly at the Y,  those long  hours of gardening labor had my body protesting with vehemence.  Cartloads of mulch, at 50 some gallons a load up and down the hill to our side  dumping ground, back and forth in addition to the trimming and pulling are a way to add a nice few miles and  over 6000 steps to my GearFit measuring watch.  

One small pile of limbs to drag up the hill to shredder
On Thursday  I spent a good hour and half dragging huge downed tree limbs to where Jerry was operating the shredder,  making wood chips for the garden beds. He had done some serious pole trimming but left  the big limbs laying there.  No one took them over night, so, that was another project the next day.    It was easy to give in to my body and bones that yelled out, "would you  puleeze stop for a day" by Sunday morning  

 I love this outside physical work, the smells and the ground and am thankful I can do it, but I suppose I could learn the art of pacing myself. Still one of my cousin's reminded me that as her mom, my aunt said, "If you do your own housework and yard work, you will be strong, healthy and never need to go to a gym."  I do though maintain my Y membership and  spend my quality time there, zumba, weights, toning, yoga, then I come home and hit the grounds for free workouts.  

Clear blue MN skies  above our tall pines out back
It's the most wonderful time of the year and love especially the grilling that is underway on the back deck.It keeps  Jerry busy too making good use of that gas grill.  .    As always more detail as it happens on Facebook, look for me there. 
Grill Master at it, side table hold his Busch,
 which is not for pouring on the burgers these were the first this year, winners.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

RIP Sandy

Me with Sandy October 14, 2015
My heart tore off another piece of itself yesterday, after Jennie's phone call, "I have sad news."  My reply, "Yes, I have been expecting this."  My last very close friend in California died Friday evening, April 8.  She had not been well for years. I am thankful we were able to visit for a bit when we were in CA in October.  This picture is me with Sandy at her home in Woodland.  As we left to drive back to  our motor home I told Jerry, "She's not going to last long.  I will never see her alive again."  He agreed.  And yet, she looked better than I was expecting, but I knew in my heart where we know beyond doubt. 
She was 78 years old if I am correct and had she made lifestyle changes years ago along the way, I would not be writing this today.  

 In our lives, we meet many people, some we call friends but those who really become friends take time to grow the relationships from acquaintance into full "framily", my word for those closer than family to me, very dear friends.    These are the rare ones  of life.  Once I was blessed with 3 now there is only me.  She was a sister I never had. 

Sandy was never one I could have foreseen becoming so close to.  I met her at the CA State Employment Development Department (EDD)  in career days,  in 1991 when I was managing the establishment of a group to guide quality improvement through the entire behemoth organization.  We were interviewing candidates to work with on a team that would be known as Leading the Quality Team.  That effort would take multiple pages to explain, suffice that it was new and daring, in an overly bureaucratic traditional state agency as was EDD.  In came our next candidate, a white haired "old lady" I thought, when I first saw Sandy who was only 6 years older than me, but she had lived hard and large and was a devoted EDD staff person venturing up  from one of their field offices into headquarters.  It was not a typical interview because we wanted extra ordinary staff.  Sandy blew us away with her demonstration removing any doubt I had that she had the stuff to "train" and present to management above her pay level.  We hired her and that began in what I never expected to happen, the growth of a deep friendship for the rest of our lives.  

Here is just a bit  from a letter I wrote to surprise her on her embracing the faith and taking the Walk to Emmaus in 2007, I frequently think of all the spiritual activities that you are now so fully embracing and am more than amazed.  Sometimes I feel like a proud mama.  Sometimes I feel like a teacher whose student has far surpassed expectations.  Sometimes I feel like I helped create a Frankenstein!   But overall I am so thankful that God placed me in your life or you in my life.  What a joy to have played a small part in your journey back to the God who never left you even when you didn’t pay much attention to Him!  From your joining the Woodland church to your studies and your Emmaus walk, you are growing in faith and learning more and more about our amazing God and Jesus.     

I recall that white haired lady who had the nerve to interview to be a facilitator back those many years ago at EDD. (Well that’s the note I made on my interview sheet “white haired lady” to distinguish you from the rest!  Back then I thought I might not remember you from the rest of the crowd!)  Little did I suspect that through many years, miles, tears and smiles you would become a dearest friend, an extra ordinary link in my life.  It’s been a long time since ’91. 

I recall that same white haired lady who took her sewing machine along to Santa Rosa training; I thought that was an odd thing to bring. For me who was far more interested in clothes and matching shoes with outfits I couldn’t imagine what would a person do with a sewing machine and how/why carry such a thing around?  Little did I know then of your passion for art and quilting.  I learned how you would retreat within yourself while stitching away and recharge your spirit. 

 Sandy "found religion" at my and her sister, Jennie's example as Methodists", and then Sandy became almost addicted to that for years taking every class she could, questioning and researching.  We were friends through thick and thin, past retirement which she began and enjoyed ahead of me, and with me in the tragedy of my life, the loss of our son Steve, with me even though we moved from CA to MN.  We talked on the phone almost daily for years. She  thought she would come to visit us for several weeks, I would take her around this area to different quilt shops,  and she would take in the Midwest,  but that never happened, her illnesses began to prohibit any travel, it became a pipe dream.

Sandy was an accomplished
Our "Salute of Roses" quilt by Sandy.  
artistic quilter  beyond excellence and  adored fabrics and working them into designs.  We have a beautiful handmade quilt on an antique bed.  It is a true interstate quilt, she worked on it in Woodland, CA, her renowned quilter friend in Washington designed the templates for her,  I sent her fabric from Wisconsin, she ordered fabric and batting from Paducah, Kentucky and it graces this patriotic bedroom on an antique sleigh bed in our home in MN today.  Sandy set about making this quilt when she knew I would inherit that bed and it was the last quilt she would make, as illnesses brought frailties to her.  It took over 2 years from the idea to the finality.  Here is  an excerpt from Sandy's documentation letter to me in 2010 upon its completion:  
Date: Wed, 28 Jul 2010 11:11:31 EDT
Subject: Quilt related Info
Finally here is the letter I had penciled out on the 22nd!!!!!
Dear Pat, Well, the label is on. I had asked my friend Joan Mack in Sequim, WA( Sn award winning quilter and use to be neighbor) to make the label and her equipment couldn't do it, so she asked her friend in Seattle, WA to make it! Walla, a label was born! Just another wonderful reward of having friends during this earthly journey.
 As you know "Salute of Roses" went in to the big floor frame for hand quilting in March, 2008 after several months of searching for the perfect fabrics. It was the beginning of a new journey I was super excited to start. Since we had decided the fabrics were perfect via snail mail and telephone from CA to MN I prayed for perfection of my hands and needles.

But this is not about the quilt which could consume this posting, instead, I am saying farewell to my friend, Sandy.  As she  began to fail and suffered through hospitalizations and nursing home stays her world got  smaller and smaller.  She  spent her last few years rather confined to her home and was on oxygen 24/7.  The last year I noticed her dementia that she joked about was increasing, she repeated herself more and more she didn't remember.  I worried about her living alone, although she had an adult son who lived in what had been a garage and then her quilt  studio, under the guise of helping her, but how much help is a 50+ year old dependent unemployed. That is another tragic tale, his alcoholism, rehabilitation and  continued slip back into addiction and Sandy's enabling of the situation.  
Sandy 2010

In better days, Sandy had a bit of latent Phyllis Diller in her, the same coarse laughter, a consistent positive trait diffusing a remark with humor sometimes to the point of the macabre, Sandy enjoyed my writing and nagged me beyond belief to publish, it was her way to encourage, to nag.  She especially was fond on my blog and one reason why I started writing here. She scolded me for not keeping it up but I have substituted physical activity. 

I knew the time was coming but not when.  Her last bout with pneumonia would hospitalize her and then send her to the nursing home. This time like her other  SNF times I was sure she would not get out.  But she would prove me wrong, she would eventually return to her home and her isolation, if only briefly.  As she refused to eat she weighed only 86 pounds when she died, significantly less than her 130's pounds in her prime.  She refused therapy.  She  went back  again to smoking heavily on her porch.    I close with one last picture of Sandy from 2010, far better days in her life on this earth.  

Goodbye 'old friend, see you someday on the flip side.Later, much later, who knows?. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

One a Penny two a penny

Only a week until Easter so begins again my annual hunt for authentic hot cross buns, which apparently have gone out of fashion like so many things of memory. I remember this Mother Goose rhyme : 
Hot-cross buns!  Hot-cross buns!
One a penny, two a penny, Hot-cross buns!
If you have no daughters, Give them to your sons;
One a penny, two a penny, Hot-cross buns!
Wikipedia says "The earliest record of the rhyme is in Christmas Box, published in London in 1798.[1] However, there are earlier references to the rhyme as a street cry in London, for example in Poor Robin's Almanack for 1733,"  

Imagine that, a child in the 1950's grows up reciting a poem from the 1700's and remembers it today in 2016.  As I ponder many things of the past, I wonder, am I getting that old that I think back more and more?  Perhaps.    Here in  the tenuous Minnesota spring time weather which can bring sun one day and dust with snow overnight as t did last night I wonder about all sorts of things.  From my Facebook morning posting, two photos a week apart. 
Back deck with new bistro set covered, snow
dusting overnight March 19, 2016

Back deck Bistro set covered with tarp as Jerry insisted
March 11, 2016, to my protest, he cautioned, "It will
still have some winter weather could have snow." He was
right of course, I go for the sun as my long rooted in  California mind is fooled once again
 I like to go outdoors for a  walk of 4-5 miles, adopting the habit of young European mom's I saw in Germany and Austria who put their kiddies in strollers and off they push around town for a mid day breath of fresh air.  Good for the soul to be out there, as friend Lisa says. We live in a lovely small town that is very amenable to walking, so I can easily cover those miles.  If I want to stay closer to home I can trot 1/4 mile down the street to the high school quarter mile track where round and round I go getting in a few miles easily.  

The other day walking, I thought about my late aunt Jinx and a gallon jar filled with coins that she left behind with the label, "Money we have found walking."  When we cleared her house after she passed in 2009, we found her jar pushed back on a closet shelf with over $300 assorted coins, apparently found here and there by herself or late Uncle John, her husband on their walks or in parking lots, or wherever.  I too used to find money frequently sometimes even currency.  And somehow I began to think that  today in all the miles I walk I never find money, none, not even a penny.  Was it that long ago that I would stop and pick up a loose penny on the ground, recalling, "a penny saved is a penny earned."  as others might just walk by, leaving the copper coin there. 

This reflects how rare use of cash is today.  While Jerry remains "old school" and likes to pay with cash, I seldom carry more than a couple dollars, instead use my handy ATM debit card.  That was another annoyance in Europe to be using different cash currencies in the different towns.  Last October in California at a restaurant with cousins and aunt, Jerry pulled out cash to pay the bill to the astonishment of my 80 some year old Aunt Pearl who asked wide eyed, "Do people still use money today?" 

Think about it, cash is rarely used.  Many are addicted to "points" they accumulate from charging  everything on plastic cards.  They consider accumulating points wise, a rebate, a bargain, I find them  annoying. For example our Verizon points, over 300.000 and not a thing worth our cashing them.  Most of their offers require additional cash for something we would not buy anyway.   So the Verizon points sit and pile up, useless.  We have used some points on other cards for cash yet the $100 or even $10 is not nearly what we have spent. 

We have never been charge card type people, which has likely given us a much  easier lifestyle today in retirement.  Often we hear these adds about consolidating debts, stretching the finance payments out and I am grateful that we never got into that lifestyle.  Other than our home mortgages, we did not owe payments.  If we charged anything it was paid for fully the next month when the bill arrived. We were frugal, savers, we did not waste our hard earned money and did not live beyond our means.  How different were we from others?  Yet, our frugality has afforded us a debt free retirement, a nice life style. 

We used to save spare change, coins that accumulated in purse and pockets went into a basket and then  periodically Jerry would roll them up into the  distinct paper coin wrappers and take them to the bank.  Today that basket takes longer to fill, as I mentioned I admit to seldom using cash so I have  less change to dump and Jerry often leaves his along with the tip at the restaurant, or spends it.  Not too long ago when he took the last stack of rolled coins to the bank, they had to open each and dump into the coin machine to count, a sign of the times.  The teller said it was now the policy because some unscrupulous people used to plug the rolls with  fake currency.   

Money, yes, I always stooped to pick up a penny, coins.  And yet today, no spare change drops from pockets.  It's probably a good thing people do not drop their plastic cards, that would be a terrible find in the hands of the wrong person.  How different life is today from when we skipped along chanting and holding up and down our fingers,
"Two shiny quarters,
Before the day was done
One bought a sucker,
Then there was one.
One little quarter,
I heard it plainly say,
"I'm going in the piggy bank
For a rainy day!"
Pocket change

And that's it for today, when few anticipate the possibility of that rainy day.  We were raised differently in different times, when money was cash, one spent what they had or less.  And yes, tragic circumstances, misfortune can foil the best laid plans, but still saving money, planning was a good thing.  I am glad we did.