Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Prayer of Saint Francis

Today is the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi, the Franciscan who loved all animals.  Some churches, both Catholic and Protestant, have the blessing of animals on this day. The prayer of Saint Francis offers words of wisdom to those seeking to live a simplified life.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

2nd Grade Class presented a living museum last spring. This boy  played Saint Francis.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

It's October Again

If you didn’t already know it, which could only happen if you live in a cave, October is breast cancer awareness month. I am a two time breast cancer survivor so you’d think I’d love this month, right? Wrong. I’m tired of the onslaught of pink everywhere.

I want to see lung cancer, which KILLS more women than breast cancer, get equal awareness along with research dollars and efforts. More lung cancer is being seen in non-smoking women. We need research to find out why so that steps can be taken to reduce the risk. That won’t happen without dollars.

I want to see the breast cancer awareness ads  let MEN know they too can get breast cancer. 1% of breast cancer occurs in men. They tend to develop the genetic types of breast cancer which tend to be more aggressive to begin with. Men are diagnosed later than women, in part because they don’t know that men can get breast cancer. Doctors are more likely to wait and watch with a male presenting with a lump. Men have to fight with their health insurance companies to get  mammograms. Put all these factors together and maybe you can understand why men with breast cancer  have a significantly higher death rate than women with breast cancer.

I want to see more awareness and dollars for heart disease, which kills far more women than breast cancer does.  It’s the number one cause of death for women. We are seeing more awareness about heart disease but more needs to be done.

I don’t want breast cancer awareness to stop. I don’t want research to stop. Breast cancer mortality has been reduced significantly from what it was 25  years ago. One reason is more women do seek medical attention sooner. Another reason is the advent of estrogen blocking drugs. But let’s give other cancers and diseases the same awareness and dollars.

My grandson does his part to raise breast cancer awareness

Monday, October 1, 2012

What's Brewin'

You won’t find a Starbucks, Caribou, or Dunn Brothers’ coffee shop in the majority of small towns. What you will find are locally owned, independent coffee shops which offer the same products, and often for less. I will always choose a locally owned and operated coffee shop over any chain. I do not drink coffee, I prefer tea or hot chocolate so don’t think coffee shops are only for coffee drinkers.

Tomahawk is lucky to have a locally owned and operated coffee ship. It’s called What’s Brewin' and is located on W. Wisconsin Avenue. They also sell homemade fudge which I understand is to die for. They offer a variety of soups, sandwiches, and baked goods. I can vouch for their onion soup, it is good, much better than most onion soups outside my own.

Like coffee shops everywhere they offer Wi Fi, which is free. The interior design is all vintage 1940’s and 1950’s. They even had an old wooden high chair should your toddler need one.

Their hidden jewel is the courtyard in the back. It is a beautiful space where you can read books, visit friends, or play cards or board games. It is so peaceful, it reminds me of something you’d find in France or Italy.

The NaBloPoMo in October prompt for today is the word mask. What does that conjure up in your mind? In mine it makes me think of a covering up or disguising something so that it no longer looks like it did. Halloween masks cover up our faces, make us look like someone else. In the courtyard of What’s Brewing you will find masked stones and small rocks. They have been painted to look like something than just plain stones. They represent woodland creatures of different sorts and are very cute.

Stop in when you’re in town and have something delicious from What’s Brewin'.

The courtyard is so peaceful

What masks are these stones hiding behind?
You can't miss What's Brewin', it's right on the main street in Tomahawk, WI

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Back to Blogging

I have been very negligent in blogging. I have no excuse, just laziness. I am challenging myself by signing up for the NaBloPoMo, which stands for National Blog Posting Month. The rule is you blog every Monday through Friday for a given month. I’m starting the October challenge so beginning tomorrow my hope is to blog every day, including the weekends. I can’t find as much information on this challenge as I’d liked. One source I found lists prompts for October. The prompts don’t fit in with the purpose of my blog.

To illustrate what I mean, here are the prompts for the first week:

  • Monday, October 1, 2012
    When you saw the word mask, was your first interpretation protection, covering up, persona, or performance?
  • Tuesday, October 2, 2012
    Are you good at hiding your feelings or is your face an open book?
  • Wednesday, October 3, 2012
    Do you enjoy acting?
  • Thursday, October 4, 2012
    How good are you at telling a lie?
  • Friday, October 5, 2012
    Do you tend to cover up your failings or admit your mistakes?
  • Monday, October 8, 2012
    If you had the superpower to know what everyone was thinking (but not saying) would you use it?

So, wish we luck.

To update one event while I wasn’t blogging. My 4 y.o. tortoise shell kitty Clare became very ill the last week of July. I don’t want to go into everything we went through, it was very traumatic. The cause of her death was two-fold. She had a condition of her spleen we didn’t know about, it was destroying her red blood cells. Her hemoglobin was 4, incompatible with living more than a few days. In addition it appears she ingested a tylenol I’d dropped, as her liver went into failure. The damage the vet saw on her autopsy was consistent with tylenol ingestion. Had her spleen been functioning she might have survived but the two together was too much for sweet Clare to tolerate. I miss her a lot.

Two weeks later I was at the vets with Clare’s litter mate, just for a well cat check and immunizations. A feral kitty had been brought in and the vet needed to find a home. So, he now has a home. His name is Cork, after County Cork in Ireland. He also has brownish ears that look like corks. He’s a very sweet kitty.

Cork, feral once, now part of the family

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mystery House Number One

When you drive by abandoned houses do you ever wonder what stories the house could tell? Maybe I’m just weird but I always wonder about who lived in the house over the years. Who had it built? Who was the last family to live there and why did they leave? Every abandoned house has a story, in fact, has many stories. I am going to try and learn, in the words of Paul Harvey, the rest of the story about abandoned houses I come across. 
This is house number one. If you are driving east on Highway 64 in Wisconsin this house is on your left, a few hundred feet into Chippewa County. I’m guessing it has been at least 25 years since anyone has lived in the house. There are a few out buildings and a large barn. The barn is in fairly good shape. I think it might be being used to store hay. There are tire tracks in the driveway.
I will be trying to find out more of this house’s history by visiting the Chippewa County Historical Society and the county surveyor’s records. When I learn more I will post the rest of the story.
There is an abandoned house in southern MN near the IA border I want to learn more about. It’s on Highway 52. It will be mystery house number two. I’ll post it next month. I hope to do one house per month.
As viewed from Highway 64 West

As viewed from Highway 64 East

The front of the house

The side of the house
From Google Maps

Friday, July 6, 2012

Tomahawk Pow Wow Days: 4th of July Parade

Tomahawk always has a big 4th of July parade, one of the largest in the state. This year’s seemed smaller, possibly because the 4th this year was in the middle of the week. There definitely seemed to be fewer parade watchers this year. It was a great parade. It was a very, very hot day. I felt sorry for the various bands who marched. Here are some photos of the parade. To see more photos go to the Tomahawk Main Street page on Facebook.

The empty wheelchair represents those veterans who have died

Tomahawk High School Alumni float

This group comes every year from Janesville, WI

Any parade in WI has to include the Packers

This was most welcomed by the dogs who attended the parade

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Toothache

When I moved here a month ago my plan was to keep the same dentist in St. Paul since I just need cleanings every 6 months. I like my dentist there and didn't want to find a new dentist. I'm continuing with my oncologist, primary care physician, ENT, GI doc, and pulmonologist in St. Paul  so I figured I'd keep my dentist too.

But last week, when I got a mail reminder about my July dental appointment, I decided no, I don't want to drive 220 miles each way to see the dentist. The dentist I had when I lived here in the 80's is still in practice and I like him. I planned to call after the 4th for an appointment to get my teeth cleaned.

Then Sunday I started getting a toothache. It has gotten progressively worse and, of course, trying to sleep is difficult because when I lie down the throbbing gets worse. I called my old/now new dentist's office and left a message, hopefully he can see me today (Monday).

My younger son Alex and his 5 y.o. son are here for the week, with his wife and 2 y.o. son coming over on Tuesday. They are staying at my former husband's place. We are all looking forward to fun activities all week with them and my daughter's girls. So I really don't want to be going through this right now. Compared to what some of my ocular melanoma friends are going through this week, with liver metastasis just diagnosed, this is pretty insignificant. I will keep that thought in mind and try not to complain too much.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Tomahawk River Walk

The Tomahawk River Walk is a short walking path between North Fourth Street at Memorial Park to the public library. It follows the river. It is only a half mile long. I get on it at the library and walk to Memorial Park. It goes under the bridge on 4th Street, which is nice. In the summer it can be difficult to cross the street from Memorial Park to the Dairy Queen across the street. I don’t like Dairy Queen so it presents no temptation to me. Here are some photos taken along the walk.

A view of the 4th Street Bridge, and Tomahawk water tower

Fishing the Wisconsin River

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Evening Walks in Tomahawk

I’ve been able to take walks most evenings since moving to Tomahawk. I am one of those people who always carries a camera. You never know if you are going to see something you want to take a photo of.  I’m happy we now have digital photography. This allows users to delete the bad photos, unlike the past when we had to pay for all photos developed, even the bad ones. Here are some photos I took on a recent walk.

A cat with a Charlie Chaplin mustache

A blue dragon fly

Can you see the 4 leaf clover? I'm always finding 4 leaf clovers.  Still haven't won the lottery though.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

An Old Wringer Washer

Do you remember wringer washing machines?  I sure do. Ours was in the cellar of our house in Cassadaga. Doing the laundry was an all day affair. You had to be very careful not to get your arm caught in the wringer or you could end up with a major injury. Supposedly the newer wringers have an automatic release. As a student nurse I saw a couple of kids who had wringer injuries. My former husband’s great aunt used a wringer until the day she died in the mid 1970’s. She got a terrible wringer injury to her arm not too long before she died. We had encouraged her to get an automatic washer but she was having none of that new fangled stuff in her house. I’m guessing there might have been accidents too where hair got caught in the wringer. The Amish still use wringer washers. Maytag quit making them in 1983 but they last forever so can still be found for sale. There are companies, or at least one, that still makes wringers but they are made out of the country. The one source I found has wringers made in Saudia Arabia. I’ll pass, thank you just the same. 
The reason I’m writing about wringers is because the other night I saw this cool thing you can do if you happen to have an old wringer washer.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Book Club

One of the first things I wanted to do once I moved here was find a book club. A group of us from Bridge View tried having a book club about 8 years ago but it fizzled out. I participated in a few book clubs at The Minnesota Women's Press. I enjoyed the books we read there but it was a different group of women for each book we read plus there was a fee, in addition to buying the book.  So I didn't continue after participating in 2 or 3 sessions.

I asked yesterday at the library if there were any book clubs in Tomahawk. There is a book club that is part of the library. The librarian gave me the name of the leader, I talked to her last night. There are 16 members, meeting once per month year round. I like that there's no break for the summer. She said it's rare that all 16 make every gathering but they always have at least 10. So I signed up.

They have an interesting system for getting each month's assigned book. The group decides on which books to read, then gives the library the list for the next few months. The library then gets enough copies of each book through interlibrary loan. Then members pick up their individual copies, and return them the day after the book is discussed. This is so much easier than having to order the books on line, or visit different libraries looking for a copy.

The book for July is State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. I  picked it up today. When I saw the cover I was thinking I have this book. I do. It sounds like it will be a very good book.

Have any of you participated in book clubs? I'm not sure why but they also seem to be a woman's thing. Do men have book clubs? We did have one man in our Bridge View book club. It was nice to get the male view. Maybe the Tomahawk book club has male members, I don't know yet. I hope so

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Many Uses for Coffee Filters

A few years ago I received an email listing of ways you could use coffee filters, other than to make coffee. I don't drink coffee and don't have a coffee maker but some of the uses on the list sounded worthwhile so I printed out the list. I even sent the list out with my Christmas cards that year. I no longer have the list I printed out but if you google "uses for coffee filters" you'll pull up many pages on the topic. The list at this site is pretty similar to the one I had printed out:

The first one I tried was putting coffee filters in the bottom of flower pots. The filter allows water to pass through but keeps the soil in. I had many pots, containing flowers and tomato plants, on my balcony when I lived in St. Paul. I found this very useful.

Another use is to use a cover filter to cover bowls or dishes when using a microwave. Coffee filters are far cheaper than paper towels and I think do a better job because they stay in place better. It's nice not to have splatter all over the inside of your microwave.

I don't drink wine but I know from others that sometimes pieces of the cork break off into the wine bottle. Rather than trying to pick the cork pieces out of the wine you can pour the wine through the coffee filter.

My favorite use for coffee filters is to use them between plates and bowls of my grandmother's good china. You prevent chipping when you put one or two filters in between each plate and bowl. I use two because I'm extra cautious with this old china. My grandmother's good china is about 100 years old now, over the years a few pieces have become chipped. But I'm hoping no more pieces get chipped now that I'm using coffee filters to protect them.

Coffee filters are cheap. I just bought a package of 100 at the Family Dollar Store for $1. Imagine that! What uses have you used coffee filters for?


Today begins the first full week I will be in my new apartment in Tomahawk. I’ve been back and forth between here and St. Paul, MN for the last 3 weeks. So it’s time to get serious about unpacking and blogging. My goal is to try to blog daily. It isn’t that I have any profound things to say but I want the discipline of daily writing so I will be ready for NaNoWriMo in November. What, you say? 

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Participants  write 50,000 words of a new novel between November 1 and 30. The idea isn’t to write the next best selling novel but to write everyday. Participants come from all around the world. All ages are represented. Some entrants, like me, have never written a novel before. Some are already published authors. If you think this is something that interests you go here:
I’m not sure why November was chosen as the month for this challenge. It’s such a busy month with Thanksgiving, writing Christmas cards, and beginning holiday shopping. I think January or February would be a better choice but no one asked me. I hope a few of you will join me in this challenge.

My little grandsons look out the window of my new apartment.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Wild Strawberries

On my walk last evening along part of the Hiawatha Trail I came across wild strawberries. I don’t see them as much as I did when I was growing up in Cassadaga. The roadside between our house and Emil Bernard’s was loaded with them. Hmm, hmm good. According to one source I consulted on the internet animals and insects that eat wild strawberries include deer, nematodes, mites, slugs, stinkbugs, spittlebugs,ants, butterflies, birds, mice, turtles, and skunks. They didn’t mention bears but around here they should be included on the list. But the most important animal of all was left off the list: humans! I love wild strawberries better than regular strawberries. I pick them and eat them right there where I find them, no washing. Who knows what I’m challenging my immune system with but who cares! Bring on the wild strawberries, and the rest of you animals stay away. They’re mine, mine, mine.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tomahawk Car Show

I spent Memorial Day weekend in Tomahawk, after my son and a friend got my furniture moved to my new apartment. I’ll post more on that later. My apartment is downtown and on the main drag. Sunday, May 27th, I was awakened by what sounded like a DJ right outside my window. I walk to the living room and I realize some sort of major event is going on. There was a DJ below my apartment. There were many very cool cars in the street as I looked out the window. It turns out that every Memorial Day weekend Tomahawk sponsors a Main Street Memories Car Show. There were cars from the 50’s and 60’s but also older cars, and a few newer ones. I had to return to St. Paul to finish getting the rest of my stuff so I didn’t spend much time at the show. Next year I plan to see every car. There is a craft area also so I will likely rent a table to sell my photo cards and knit dish cloths.
Here are a few photos:

Just getting started
The view from 2nd floor
Hula hooping is part of the show. I was told they have a contest and very few  in my age range enter so I'm going to practice to get ready for 2013.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Uffda: Moving the Cats

I suspected it would be difficult to move my cats from Minnesota to Wisconsin. I was right, and then some. Uffda, it was very difficult. The hard part was getting them from the apartment to the car. I was pretty sure they’d be OK in the car. I have a carrier but there was no way the big cats were going in there. I tried, and have the scratches to prove it. My cats have their front claws removed but they have the rear ones, and they can do A LOT of damage with them. I thought maybe wrapping them, one at a time, in a comforter would work. That was a comedy of errors. So then I thought we’d try putting them in a grocery cart, which we have in the complex, and cover them with a comforter. That was a no go also, and more scratches. Finally we tried the comforter again, got Donegal and Kilkenny to the car and in the back seat. I was able to get Galway, my small male, into the carrier and then to the car. After a long struggle I was able to get Wexford, my large male scaredy cat, totally wrapped up in the comforter and placed him in the front passenger seat. I could tell he was very stressed. So, 4 cats in the car. Oops, where is Clare, my small tortoise shell kitty? My friend Nancy and I looked and looked, could not find sweet Clare anywhere. So I told 2 of my neighbors about her, and got their phone numbers so I could check in with them later.
It’s very evident, as I was driving, that Wexford was severely stressed. His mouth would open, it was like his jaw was in spasm. His tongue was quivering and turning blue. The rest of his body was in the comforter so I didn’t know if they were seizures or what. I’d drive with one hand and stroke under his chin with the other, to encourage him to breathe. I was really very worried. This lasted for an hour. Then all of a sudden he moved over to my lap and the episodes stopped. He did not move from my lap for the rest of the trip.
Then I get to Tomahawk, pull into my driveway. I try to carry Wexford inside, and he clawed the heck out of me, then bolted to underneath the car, right behind the front driver’s wheel. He was not coming out! So I got the other 3 cats into the apartment, no easy task but they survived and I did too without too many more scratches. Then I spent about 30 minutes trying to get Wexford out from under the car. I was not having much luck. Finally I got hold of his front paws and pulled him out. I’m lying flat on the ground, then I was in a fetal position holding Wexford right next to me. I tried to get up and twisted my right knee. Ouch! Finally I was able to get up and got Wexford in the apartment. 
I placed each of the cats in the area of the litter box. They laid down together, and!  Nancy and I went to eat. When I returned they were exactly where they were when we left. I called my former neighbor, Clare still had not been found. I suggested looking on the balcony again. So she did, and there was Clare down inside an empty flower pot!! Whew, relief. Another neighbor volunteered to keep her until Thursday morning, when Nancy could pick her up and meet me in Augusta, WI, where she was going to be attending a scrapbooking retreat. I went to bed. Sometime in the middle of the night they joined me. 

Then on Wednesday Galway, my small orange kitty, was NO WHERE to be found. I looked everywhere. I was pretty sure he could not have gotten outside. He was not seen for all of Wednesday. Then about 2 a.m. Thursday a.m. he jumped up on the bed. I still didn’t know where he had hidden. When I got up in the morning he was gone again!
Thursday I drove to Augusta, WI to meet Nancy, and get Clare back. She was glad to see her Mom. We returned to Tomahawk. Still no Galway anywhere. Finally on Friday I heard a noise behind the entertainment center. Sure enough, that was where Galway was hiding. He came out and has been out since then. Now we’ve been here a week and they are used to their new home. They love the windows, from where they survey the activity on the main drag. At bedtime they fight over who gets the bedroom window.
I had moved cats once before, when we moved from Tuscaloosa, AL to here (Tomahawk) in June 1980. I drove with our 15 month old daughter, 3 cats, and 3 dogs. My Dad flew down and rode with me. There were no problems with either the cats or dogs. They were different cats and just like people, different cats have different mental health issues. The cats I have now obviously find change very difficult. If I had it to do over I’d have gotten tranquilizers from the vet.

Galway taking a last look out of the window  at Crosby Pointe

L to R: Kilkenny, Wexford, Galway, Donegal
Not sure they like this new place

Clare enjoys looking out at activity on the main drag

Saturday, May 26, 2012


On Wednesday 5/23 my son Alex and a friend Jim had spent a good part of the day loading up the U-Haul for my move to Wisconsin. Alex is a self employed professional photographer. He needed to stop back at his house to upload an order that the developer had printed wrong. So before we got on I-94 for the 220 mile trek to Tomahawk we stopped in South Saint Paul. Alex drove the U-Haul, I was driving my car. Minnesota is the land of 10,000+ lakes, you can't drive more than a mile or two without passing a lake or at least a pond.  Minnesota is also home to a bzillion Canada Geese. This time of the year traffic can come to a stop for parent geese and their goslings crossing the road. And so, here's a photo of the family that held me up for only a few minutes. I never mind stopping for goslings or turtles crossing the road.

No rush, take your time, life's short, enjoy every minute

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Typewriter

Remember back to the dark ages, before word processors and computers? Was everything handwritten?  No. We  had offset printing but we didn’t have printing presses at home. Instead, we had typewriters. We always had at least one at home, given my Dad sold typewriters and my Mom was a high school business teacher who taught typing. She was also an accountant. So I grew up with typewriters and typed all my book reports and research papers required in high school on the family typewriter. It was harder to turn out a paper with no mistakes when using a typewriter because, unlike word processors and computer programs, editing was much harder. There was a white ink ribbon you could insert and type over the mistake but you could always tell. And White Out ink always showed up too. You tended to use a lot of bad language when you typed, mistakes were common. I can’t tell you how many times I pulled a sheet of paper out of the roller and started all over again. I’m glad we now have easier ways to produce book reports and research papers. But I will never throw away my typewriter.

It’s in my car, ready for its next move to Tomahawk. My Dad gave me this typewriter the summer of 1963, prior to my starting nursing school. We were expected to have a typewriter in school. We wrote lots of papers, and while handwritten papers were accepted in high school, they were not accepted in college.

This typewriter has made every move with me. I seldom use it anymore but I will never part from it. It was a gift from my Dad. Need I say more?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Living Wax Museum

My granddaughter K's combined class of 1st,2nd, and 3rd graders held a living wax museum last week. Each student chose a person from the past or present to become. Each student wrote a paper about their person, made a display about the person's accomplishments, then dressed as the person. They then put on a living wax museum. The idea was that each student would stand or sit still as if they were made of wax. Of course, as you can imagine, not every student could pull that off. My granddaughter was one who couldn't, no surprise there. Some of the kids did extremely well at holding one position for a long time. This included K's cousin, who was Mr. Hershey. This is the first time I've seen this type of school project. It was fun to attend.

Teddy Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Mozart, Lucille Ball, John Muir, Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks, Johnny Appleseed, and Florence Nightingale were some of the historical people memorialized.
My granddaughter was author Barbara Parks.

It's not Wisconsin if Brett Favre is not included.

Saint Francis of Assisi.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


I have found, as I grow older, that change is hard. Is that true for you too?

When I was in grade school I couldn’t wait for high school. In our school district we went to grade school from K through 6th grade. Then for 7th grade all the students from the 4 feeder grade schools, one in each village, moved on to the high school. Technically we were in junior high but grades 7 through 12 were in the same building. It was a big change and one I loved, while being nervous about being at the bottom of the rung grade wise.

After high school came the first major change of my life, going away to college. That was a change I so welcomed. The entire summer of 1963 I could not wait to leave for nursing school in Buffalo, NY. There was no question then about where to live. All students were required to live in the dorms. We were located at 636 Linwood Avenue. There was a student whose home was in the 600 block of Linwood Avenue, she still lived in the dorms. There were no exemptions. Those years of nursing school and living in the dorms were wonderful, it was the biggest change yet in my life.

After graduation I stayed in Buffalo, working at the hospital where I’d trained while pursuing my BSN at a nearby college. It was a change but not such a big one.

Then I joined the Navy Nurse Corps and was sent to Newport R.I., then Great Lakes Naval Hospital. This was a major change but one I embraced and enjoyed. It was there I met my husband, who was a Marine at the time, just back from Viet Nam. We got married, and that was a very big change. Learning to live with another person involved much change and growth  for both of us.

One of the things we started doing when we got married was developing 5 year plans. We had a notebook and wrote down those plans. It was fun planning together. We moved a few times, adopted children, and then settled down in a small town where my husband had a private medical practice ,and where we planned to raise our children. We were still doing 5 year plans, planning vacations, etc. It’s funny but divorce was never brought up in those planning sessions. But it happened, and then I was left to make my own plans for our children and me.

I moved 4 hours away to Saint Paul, MN. I made some short term plans but found it difficult to make long term plans. Making plans with a partner is more fun than making plans alone. When cancer struck the first time I sold my house and moved to this apartment complex. I truly planned to stay here the rest of my life. But then more cancer and an early retirement meant I needed to make other plans. I needed to change what I thought were my unchangeable plans.

So I’m moving again. I’m finding it hard to embrace this change. Right now I’m tired from making a few trips over and back to Tomahawk. Today I hired a U-Haul so I can get almost everything that’s left moved at once. I’m feeling sad, nauseated, and just wishing that somehow life could have turned out  differently. But, as Emily Dickinson wrote, I dwell in possibility. I need to move forward and embrace each new day.

I’m thinking of my great uncle, Howard Olmstead. Howard was born 1883 in the temporary home his parents,  Wallace Gifford Olmstead and Mahala Strong, had built in Gerry, New York. I still have the birthing bed he was born in. When he was 3 years old his father built a large farm house from the virgin timber on his property. Uncle Howard used to tell us about watching the house be built. In my generation this house was always referred to as Uncle Howard’s as he inherited it. He had never married. His cousin George Olmstead and his wife Bessie were the hired help for the home and farm. Thanks to Bessie’s love of cooking and hospitality Uncle Howard’s place served as the get together every Sunday for one or met sets of Olmstead kin to visit and have dinner. Uncle Howard never spent 1 night away from this home. The thought of spending a night elsewhere made him sick. In 1960, on January 6th, he developed septic shock from an untreated abscessed tooth, and was admitted to the hospital. He died the next day, on my 15th birthday. My parents always believed he died because the shock of being in a bed not his own was too much for him. I tend to believe that too. So I come by my finding change difficult honestly. There’s some of Uncle Howard in me. Or perhaps fear of change just comes with aging, like achy knees, bad hips, and everything else that happens to our bodies.

Uncle Howard Olmstead with me and my brothers. 1955-56

Uncle Howard with Bessie Olmstead, the wife of cousin George. She's the one who made all the delicious Sunday dinners for the bzillion Olmsteads descended from Uncle Howard's parents. This is about 1958 in our front yard.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


It’s trillium season in northern Wisconsin. My route between Saint Paul, MN and Tomahawk, WI takes me by many forests where the trillium are currently in bloom. The Giant White Trillium, currently in bloom, is the symbol for Ontario, Canada. It is also the state wildflower for Ohio. The seeds are spread by ants. I have never seen trillium growing anywhere but in the woods. Picking trillium seriously damages the plant, it takes years to recover. In Minnesota it’s against the law to pick them but apparently Wisconsin has no such law, not that I would pick them anyway.

Here are photos of giant white trillium seen along Hwy 102 in Price County, WI.

What This Blog Isn't

I seemed to have attracted a follower who is anti-Catholic. I don't have objections to anyone who reads my blog nor do I have objections to anyone posting comments. But when someone is posting links to anti-Catholic web sites or blogs I have a problem. If I were posting about religion it would be one thing but posting on an entry about Flat Stanley boggles my mind. I'm not sure what purpose is served.

For the record I won't be posting topics on religion, sex, or politics. I don't want that kind of blog. I just want to share about life in small town Wisconsin, and  road trips in Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Minnesota, and Iowa.

I also have a topic I've often wanted to write about, abandoned farm houses. My plan is to take photos and then investigate the story of the house. I have 2 houses picked out to start with. One is on Hwy 64 in Chippewa County, WI. The second one is on Hwy 102 in Price County, WI.

Stay tuned.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Tomahawk Flat Stanley Visits St. Paul, MN

If you aren’t familiar with Flat Stanley he is a character in a book written in 1964 by Jeff Brown. Stanley accidentally becomes flattened and has many adventures as a flat person, entering through small places that non-flat people cannot enter. He also has the advantage of being able to be mailed to places to visit. For years Flat Stanley remained a book character. Then in 1995 a teacher, Dale Hubert,  in London, Canada, came up with the Flat Stanley project. In this project students read the book, then make individual Flat Stanleys. Flat Stanley is then mailed to friends or family members in other locations. Photos are taken of Flat Stanley visiting sites, then Flat Stanley and the photos are returned to the student. Each student in the class then puts their Flat Stanley photos on a map.

My granddaughter K’s second grade class at Tomahawk Elementary School is doing the Flat Stanley project. Here are photos of places in Minneapolis and Saint Paul that Flat Stanley visited.

The Cathedral of Saint Paul
Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis
Minnesota State Capitol, Saint Paul

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My New Apartment

My original plan was to move to Tomahawk when I turned 70, which is 3 years away. I love where I am now but the rent is going up this year and again next year. I simply cannot afford to continue living here. It just so happens I became aware of an apartment for rent in Tomahawk through Facebook. There were photos posted and I knew this was my apartment. It was like it had my name on it. It turns out I know the landlords, Jim and Pam Wise, from when I lived in Tomahawk in the 1980’s. They own the building, built in 1892, and have 2 stores on the first floor. Jim has the Surplus Store, where there’s hunting, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing clothes and supplies. He also rents snowshoes and cross country skis. Pam has the Silver Threads women’s boutique. She sells beautiful  clothes, including one of my favorite brands, Woolrich, along with wonderful clothes from India and other places in the Far East. She travels yearly to exotic locations to pick out fabrics. She also sells Minnetonka moccasins and shoes.

The apartment is above the Silver Threads’ side of the building. It has 2 bedrooms, one of which will be a scrapbook/craft room that, thanks to a door, my cats will not be allowed to share with me as they do now. Why do cats like to lick photographs? The floors are hardwood, which I prefer to carpets given my allergies. Jim has spent 2 years taking the walls down to the studs and redoing everything. The kitchen and bathroom are gorgeous, they really sold the apartment to me. The only thing it lacks is a balcony, which both I and the cats would like. Otherwise it’s perfect for me.

I will be living right downtown, which I like. And thankfully I’m on one of the few blocks, if not the only block downtown, without a bar. So night time should be relatively quiet.

Here are a few photos:

My apartment is above this store. The black dog on the sidewalk is Jose, a black goldendoodle, a former circus dog.

Entry hallway, very large space. I plan to use the walls for family and genealogy photos.

Jim Wise made this hutch, which is a very cool addition.

Looking from living room into kitchen and dinette space.


Bathroom sink