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