Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Thief of Hearts...


It is really unfair you know, that a heart can be stolen so easily by a child. I couldn't stop looking at her, being charmed by her smiles, her looks, and her huge saucer eyes.
She is Lily. And she is a precious child like a flower.
She just turned three years old before Christmas. She is my youngest son's daughter. A joy to behold in so many ways.

She and her dad visited for 4 days.
Sigh.
I so hope that it will not be another whole year before I see Lily again.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Back in Time


I'm taking a moment to take a leap back in time. These photos were sent to me by my brother after he read about Uncle Freddie and Santa. He said these would have gone well with that blog post and I have to agree. I am the one in the glasses.
Always wanted to be a cowboy, yes I did!
I noticed the stick horse in my cousin's baby carriage. I have to grin. My sister and I were dressed as cow-girls and my cousins are dressed...as well, little girls.
Guess I was just meant to be a 'tom' boy.
And wow check out those great cowboy boots I am wearing!

Um...I still have a stick horse, but not the kind that grandma used to make. That particular horse had to have it's stick replaced by midsummer.

Great memories. Thanks Brother!!!

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Incredible Journey


I awoke from to the noise of gale force winds Sunday morning. I looked as I let Morris outside as quietly as possible-- so as not to awaken my son and his wife.
Poor Morris went flat on his back when he hit the concrete driveway. Overnight it had rained leaving ice in spots. I listened to the winds howl overhead and the branches creak and clatter. The sounds were ominous.

By 1:30, I'd decided that I'd go ahead and drive to my Stepdaughter's house -- generally it is only a two hour drive. The DOT site had said the roads were in good driving condition.
Gee, little did I know.

I'd told Steph my route I planned on taking and stated *If I'm not there by dark come looking for me*.

What I didn't know is that it had begun to snow and the 50mph+ wind gusts were creating whiteouts and blizzard conditions on the route I'd chosen.
I was in the Gallant Cavalier, as I now have dubbed it. [I'm sure this will amuse my son who was the previous owner of the Cavalier]

I had planned on driving with music playing, but with the roar of the wind and the rattle of the GC, I was terrified of something being blown off the car. Bits and pieces of trees were pelleting the vehicle along with occasional periods of pure white blindness. At one point I wished I could find a spot to turn around and head back to my son's house. But the section of road I'd just gone over was so bad, I was too frightened to face driving it again.

Morris curled up quietly on my heavy winter coat on the passenger seat next to me. He'd lift his head when I cursed or nearly came to creeping crawl. He was a comfort, although I'm not exactly sure why, it wasn't like he could save me!

The roads in fact didn't get better, they got worse. I didn't think I could drive in worse. But thank goodness the other people on the road were not in a hurry or foolish. Perhaps they were afraid as I was.

When I finally pulled into my 'daughters' house I was exhausted with relief. I was pleased though, that I'd just made their place--before darkness.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Uncle Freddy & Santa


This is a true story as best as I can remember since I was a 4th grader.
It was getting to be that age where Santa was questionable.
My schoolmates of course had told me there was NO such thing as Santa.
I was one of those modest, quiet types in school ... but this generated a call to arms and resulted in some punches being tossed and a trip to the Principle's Office.

That Christmas Break we traveled North to where Grandma and Grandpa lived. A long trek in the 60's.

That Christmas Eve we went to Aunt Marian's house to stay. I can remember groaning a bit at first, then getting excited for the opportunity to spend time with my two girl cousins! The only drawback to the whole scenerio is that my aunt and uncle had not yet put in 'indoor' plumbing. The outhouse was a long walk through deep snow.

The tree was magnificent of course, it must have been 100 feet tall. [kid memories are distorted, you know].
Our mom's could barely get us to bed, we were so excited! But finally under some sort of threat, we ended up in the bedrooms, each of us bunking with a cousin. Of course we couldn't go to sleep right away, we were too excited.

We listened to the adults talk downstairs through the heating vents.
Then IT happened.
We heard sleigh bells. We looked at each other wide eyed! Jingle Jingle Jingle.
Then the tell tale: *HO HO HO, Merry Christmas!*

We leaped out of our beds and ran downstairs. There he was as big as life itself. Santa! He had a sack of toys that we ripped into all the while watching him grin through his beard. [If memory serves me correctly, I think my Dad was somewhere with his camera.]

Too quickly Santa told us that he had other children to visit and needed to go. His reindeer were pretty fired up and wanted to get going.
Awesome.
We heard more sleigh bells and hollers of *HO HO HO!*

While we sat on the floor and played with our toys, Uncle Freddie came in from the barn, his face flushed from the cold. We excitedly told him WHO he had missed! He seemed amazed by it all, why Santa must have come while he was working in the barn!
In fact, that would probably explain all the reindeer tracks around the house.

We of course had to go see. And in fact, yes there were reindeer tracks in the yard!

I went back to school 'all knowing'. I'd seen Santa for real, heard his sleigh bells, and seen the tracks. My belief in Santa had been renewed.
And I made more trips to the Principle's Office for fighting about it.

What I didn't know at the time:
Uncle Freddy had dressed up ... he was not working in the barn. He led two of his tame heifers around the house to make 'reindeer' tracks. He was the Santa. How could we have not known?
All it took was a little magic and we believed.
The kid in me says--it wasn't Uncle Freddy, it really was Santa.

And I'll fight anyone that says different.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Whether or Weather

If one were to believe the people that call themselves 'weathermen'...or is it 'weatherpersons' now [one needs to be politically correct right]? ...We are in for dire weather these next few days!

In that case I will have to dig out the Tonka Truck from the garage from the last storm when I played with it...[helping hubby clean up snow...he was amused].

One weather forecasts FzgDzl for tomorrow morning and for Friday too! My question is this, what is FzgDzl? The picture looks like ice.
Ah hah.
Freezing Drizzle. We also have the following choices, Wintry Mix, and Patchy Fog.
Put those together.
FzgDzl, PtchyFg, WtryMx, and it sounds like something gone very very bad. But!
Hold on there is more! There is also Rain/Snow Likely.

The forecast has changed three times in the past 8 hours to include all of the above choices in the next 48 hours. But being from Wisconsin, we shrug and look up. If there are snow flakes, it is snowing.
If the sun is shining we simply smile and admire the blue sky.

I'm thinking the weather forecasters ought to just simplify things by saying:

We don't know, but there is going to be weather!

I'm banking on the fact that by the time I am ready to travel across the state, it will have changed again.
Just in case though, I'll take the Tonka Truck with me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Discoveries


Today I discovered a wickedly wild and funny blog, I'd read some of her stuff before and was incredibly amused and entertained. Her style of writing is witty. I wish many days I could find that kind of crazy wit.

All I have is a JRT named Morris The Cat, who isn't sure if he is a dog, a cat, or a person. He is rather sure though that things should NOT be moved in the yard without his perimission or he will have to growl and bark at it...[a pile of snow...or a vehicle parked in the wrong spot].

Then there is the issue of the dog that keeps appearing in the mirror unannounced at the bottom of the stairs. Morris will see this mirror image of a JRT who looks exactly like him, but surely must be an impostor in his house. More growling of course.

Last night he was quite perturbed that I had not re-made the bed by the time he felt I should be going to sleep. He kept pacing back and forth until I tossed the last blanket on. With a leap and a very audible sigh, he settled in for his evening rest.

Well back to my discovery...if you get a chance to stop by and visit All 23 Bunnies, do so, you might just make it a favorite like I have.
I just love the explanation about Rudolph, it makes so much more sense now!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Winter Sunsets...



I don't really know why, but as soon as I got home, I grabbed Morris and we took a walk 'to watch the sunset on the ridge'. The sunset was really beautiful ... not in the spectacular bright color beautiful, but in the subdued pastel beauty that can come with a cold winter's eve.

I wanted to see where the sun was setting so I could go up Thursday night and mark the approximate spot of the winter solstice [Friday night should find me in Kenosha].

I like to watch the sun crawl across its axis [is that the right word?]. I like to keep track of the movement in order to 'shoot' the best sunsets I can. Years of watching have been paying off. I can nearly mentally know where the sun is going to set on my landscape at any time of the year.

I think it is the job of a good photographer to learn these things. That and patience! I've been by this particular spot many times on walks, rides, and driving to work. Yet I have never stopped to look at a sunset from behind the beat up mailbox.

Frankly I was surprised at the image I got. It caused emotion. When it causes emotion to me, then I have got 'it'.

Getting 'it' is what photography is all about to me. Someone else may see the same photo and not get the excitement I did, but that fleeting moment will come back every time I view this particular shot.

Wow, I felt good tonight.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Done!


To celebrate finishing my final exams, I took Morris and my snow shoes and went on an 'adventure'. The photo of me was taken with a remote and a tripod. I thought it would be fun to take a shot of me with my glamour outfit on.

When I took the little camera off the tripod and went to put the Olympus back in my holder, I saw that the battery door had opened! This has never happened in the four yrs I've owned it.

It couldn't have happened at a worse time!
Morris froze his little butt of while I frantically dug and sifted snow looking for an itty bitty black battery. It isn't one of those ones you can replace with AA's. It is one that would have to be ordered if they still made that kind!

I dug with my bare hands and grew more frustrated each moment. This was looking like a total loss...and all for just a picture of me in my stupid winter outing clothes.
When my numb fingers grasped something hard and square I was so happy I could have shouted.
I didn't.
Just sighed and dried it off. I secured the battery and the camera and began heading towards home.

I still had a great time and came away with some fantastic shots.
And best yet....
School is out!!!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Last Blog til Finals are done

I have to concentrate on getting my finals finished. My coding final encompasses 450 points. Yikes.
So until the coding final AND the Critical Thinking Final are taken and turned in, I will not be doing anything else...[sad face]...at least not on my blog.
I plan on taking a small hike tomorrow to try and get some good cold air into my body so I can refresh myself and dig into the last tasks of this semester with a clear mind.

Yes I am still very very tired. But I have 5 days to do the finals!!! Yikes.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Exhausted!

I think tonight is another one of those...just get under the blankets and snuggle in deep.
The drive home this afternoon was 'interesting'.
The high winds were blowing piles of snow across the road. In one place I came on a rather sizeable drift of snow. I could see clearly on this stretch of flat open road...so I held on tight and drove down t
he middle of the road through the drift.

Pow! The Cav hit it sending explosions of white snow blasting everywhere. To my surprise, we came through it nice and straight and stayed on the road. I patted the dashboard and thanked the powers that be. Our gravel road was a bit worse as it is not traveled much.

I hope the town plow comes through before I have to go to work tomorrow.

I'm still not over my 'crud' me-thinks. I came home last night and after supper went upstairs at 6:30 PM to take a short rest.
I woke up at 6AM.

Today I left work early as I felt so exhausted and wiped out.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Storms & Snow


Well there is no let up today. We are either going to get 1-2 inches or 4-7 inches combined with ice? It all depends on how the front drifts.
So I elected to stay home and work on school.
Yuck.
Besides, my voice has not come back yet.

Later...
Well the snow kind of petered out but from wh
at I understand, those south of us were not so lucky. Ice.
Lots of it.

So I spent the day working on essays...finished all of them for this week! Coded half of my week's assignment...and only have two quizzes and two finals to take.
Yuck.

But then I can have OFF until January 8th I think!
Doing the happy dance....cough sputter...
But I am doing better tonight, I think all that sleep cured me...mostly.

I leave you with a piece I created tonight:



Monday, December 10, 2007

Sleepy Monday


Today was just one of those days.

Last night I had turned in my Quizzes, assignments, and was looking forward to finals week. It is a heavy load yet to do this week.
Hubby looked at me this morning and said--You are confined to bed. [I hadn't slept well, only two hours at a time before the sore throat forced me into getting up to have hot tea].

So I called my boss and he made mention that he was worried about the billings. I croaked out to him that everything was up to date on Wednesday of last week. But I'd be happy to come in and share Strep with him. He said--no, no ...just get better.
I let it irritate me for no good reason. Here is the fella who is a slacker in the worst way and then has the nerve to make an issue of it. [It could have been my clogged thinking that made me take it that way]

Hubby left to take mom to her doctor's appointment -- I took a big old heavy towel and covered the window. I fired up the vaporizer, got a hot pack, and shut the world out.
Amazing.
I woke up at 4PM. I'd laid down at 9AM.

Rest. What a wonderful healer. I feel better this evening, good enough to even read my textbooks and look at my assignments for this coming week.
And finals!
I also got some throat spray to ease the pain and it is working wonders. Against my better judgement, I am going back to work tomorrow. I need the $, and it will only take me about 30 minutes to get caught up!


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Strength


Red and Green
Originally uploaded by Xena~
Wow today was tiring! I did get outside to assist in opening gates for hubby while he put out round bales to the critters.

They were very happy to see him. I sat down and made this 'mandala' the old fashioned way. I took a so-so photo and used a protractor to get the measurements I wanted ... okay it was a protractor from this site:
http://www.myjanee.com/tuts/spiral/spiral.htm

I copied, flipped and edited until I came up with this!
So I used my brain some today...even if it still seems to be in a super fog.
I hope this sore throat thing really takes a hike soon.

Morris has been taking very good care of things around here. He makes sure I don't oversleep and that I get up at 6AM whether I need to or not.
When I get up and come downstairs, he sits and looks at me quizzically while he sits at the heater.

I think he did feel sorry for me and knew I didn't feel well, because he snuggled right up close last night...and snored.















I did make another design today that was kind of fun....here it is----

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Strep sucks


Horse Ornament
Originally uploaded by Xena~
Well the low down is this, short and sweet. Step Throat & an Ear Infection which is a complication of Strep. How do I feel? Well not sociable at all.

Tea, water, and foods that don't hurt when I swallow. My head is in a fog and I have two school tests to take yet. I've been messing in Adobe Elements 5 to sort of take my mind off things.

Elements is no way anything in comparison to the commercial version of Photoshop CS? I've worked with. But with a little patience I can do everything I want with it.
Off to rest now....
Now I know why kids cry with an Ear infection. Dang, it does hurt!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Grrr. Got the Crud

Well it looks like I'll be staying home today with the 'creeping crud'. It isn't fair to go to a doctor's office and see people while suffering from a severe sore throat.

It hurts just to swallow. Yes my friend Niki, lots of juice but no elderbery...not in our neck of the woods!

So the transformation of hair will be put off and I'll stay home and make soup and drink tea...and do homework.

Oh what the heck -- we are supposed to get around 2-4 or 3-6" of new snow between this afternoon and tomorrow morning. Might as well enjoy the weather from here.
Currently we are at -10. At 3AM it was -13, so it looks like we are hitting a warm spot!


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Changes

As a typical woman, I never seem satisfied with how my hair looks. Each season, it seems I do something different with it. For two years I let it grow out past that ugly stage to shoulder length.

Now I'm tired of the same old thing every day and am looking to 'put' something on that looks tidy and professional--gosh knows I can't make that limp winter hair look exciting.

So tomorrow, I see the scissors mistress, who has taken me from long to short...short to long. She has tinted, dyed, and permed [oh the perm was a dreadful mistake!] And onto yet another style.
I've hooked up our wireless and now can work at the long table with my school books open! This is great!

I feel a scratchiness in my throat, best not be getting the creeping crud!

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Making of my Christmas Tree





Everyone has their own specific way of doing their Christmas trees. Me? I used to let the kids toss on all sorts of things, homemade stuff that they did in school, tinsle, garlands, anything that could hang on one ... went.
Now I don't have kids at home anymore. No one really spends Christmas here, but that doesn't lessen my joy of putting up the tree.
Only I get to do it exactly as I wish. I don't always do it the same. One year I didn't bother with lights, I just decorated my 'fake' ugly tree with Christmas floral arrangements. It was pretty. The next time I experimented with just lights and glass ornaments of certain colors...red and purple. That was nice too.

This year, I went different yet again. I took the red and the purple glass ornaments and put them on with white lights [always white lights--don't know why]. Then came all the hand made ornaments that were given to me over the years, this being my absolute favorite:

It was made for me by my Daughter in Law. ;-)
Then came the horses. A Carousel horse, a rocking horse, a glass blown horse, --get the drift? Horses. All kinds. I even kept some of the ribbons and tags from last year.
I don't have a photo of it..but will soon. Since there are no donkey or mule ornaments...I took a brass colored mule off the top of an old trophy and made it my tree topper.
There you go, how I do my Christmas tree...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

December 1st comes in



December 1st came in like a monster, raging across the state with a winter storm warning. Snow pounded us Saturday morning and later changed to sleet...or should I say ice particles. It came down driven by a vengeance that only Mom Nature can have.
Our little house is located below the ridge where normally winds don't bother us much...but we were rattled by the winds and we could hear the ice hitting the house...rapid taps.
The sheriff's department asked people to stay at home and not travel. Our Emergency Management Team was called out [they did an excellent job in August!], so we hunkered down for 'a long winter's nap'.
It was even ugly enough that Morris who asked to go outside...once I opened the door...he looked at me and backed up! Bad when the dog thinks it is too awful to go out!

I did however get the Christmas tree put up. It is something I like to do...more about that in another post...


This morning found us with warmer weather. So Rich went out to do chores and begin to dig us out...when it started to rain! Immediately after that the temps dropped quickly. However, we endure the joys of bad weather after all we choose to live here!
I put on snow shoes and went up to the ridge top to check the mail. It was a nice walk and Morris went along to supervise.
When I got back we found that one of our hoses had frozen solid. We've learned to deal with this dilemma each year too. Drop the frozen hose into the shower and give it a hot bath. Then drain it and you are ready to water the big tanks for the equine [we added water heaters to them today also].
Just make sure it is drained properly afterwards.
The Joys of Wisconsin weather.

The temps have dropped drastically, the winds have picked up and we are toasty warm in the house after a long day outside cleaning up.
Yum, I smell the pot roast cooking...
shhhh...don't tell anyone that I can actually cook...it would ruin my reputation!

Friday, November 30, 2007

A soldier I once knew...

This is an excerpt from something I wrote a long time ago. In retrospect, as kids we didn't understand ... I think. Being married to a veteran now, I do have more understanding.

He sat quietly most evenings in his small house. One might have called it a cottage for it was a poorly made clapboard building. It had two rooms, one was the kitchen, I mean it had a stove, a refrigerator, and a sink with a window over it. On one wall was an old black telephone a rotary phone. One bare bulb hung over the scarred linoleum and chrome table. The three chairs had torn seats with stuffing gaping from the holes. Later in life I was to wonder if he hadn’t furnished his place from pieces he scavenged out of the local dump.

I never saw the second room; I assume it was the place where he slept. All the windows were covered except the one over the sink. It looked out over the yard that my uncle owned with him. The view was of the large ancient oak tree with a kid’s rope hung to the lowest branch. The grass under the rope was worn to dirt from years of many bare feet scuffing it while swinging. Come to think of it, he must have had a bathroom, but then again perhaps he didn’t. My uncle, his brother was one of the first in the family to have a real toilet that flushed and a tub. The house had no basement; the siding was gray speckled tar paper with barn red paint on the eves and trim.

His name was Arnold. He was my Aunt’s brother in law. Lyle and Arnold had served in World War II. Of course I’d known about it, after all I’d seen Hogan’s Heroes and Combat on television. My cousins said that Arnold was weird, something had happened “over there” to make him very strange. He was deaf in one ear; they said and had lost his sense of smell. This caused great fun if someone was sitting near him at a meal and passed gas. We kids would watch his face for some sign and would giggle behind our hands while our folks would give us dirty stares.

My dad once chastised my sister and I when he caught us planning to play tricks on Crazy Arnold with our mischievous cousins. Dad explained that Arnold was Shell Shocked and not quite right. We just knew he was weird and weird meant he would be the brunt of kid’s pranks.

One night our parents were gone and we were left to our own devices. I don’t know how it came about, but one of us had to walk across the yard and borrow something from “odd” Arnold. Somehow I drew the short straw. I stood on the wooden step and knocked lightly, then louder. Slow steps came to the door, the curtains parted, then the outside light flicked on. I trembled in my bare feet which were wet and cold from the summer dew. I crossed my arms across my chest and squinted into the light. “Um, those guys sent me to get some sugar, we’re making, um…koolaid.” The curtain dropped back into place and I heard the lock click open. That in itself surprised me—no one locked their doors, after all it was 1968 and we were in the middle of nowhere.

Arnold stood before me, a short man with dark hair that was rapidly balding. He was dressed in work jeans that were still covered with concrete dust. His jean shirt was rolled up at the sleeves. His hands were clean but looked rough, I guess part of trade as a brick layer. His dark eyes flitted over me and then through me. finally, without speaking a word he backed up and motioned me inside. I stood in the small kitchen nervously clutching the cup I had in my hand. He motioned me towards one of the chairs.

“Sit”, he said. He pulled an enamel coffee pot off the stove and poured himself a cup. He glanced at me and smiled, “It’ll stunt your growth.” He sipped the strong smelling coffee and picked up a cigarette that was in the ashtray. He smoked it down to the butt staring at the smoke as it curled and eddied being pulled out the window by a faint breeze.

I waited not knowing whether I should just bolt out the door or wait. Even as young as I was I felt that he was waiting to tell me something. On the wall was a photo of him and my uncle Lyle in dress uniforms. Lyle had been cavalry that much I knew.

“You and my uncle were soldiers weren’t you.” It was a statement really. He squinted his eyes as he cupped his hands to light another smoke. “Yes,” he said quietly, “we were soldiers. We fought the Germans. It was…” he shook his head slowly and pulled deeply on the cigarette and followed it with a sip of coffee. “It was war... things happened.”

“Like worse than on T.V.?” I asked. He looked at me and then that far away look came to his eyes. “Worse,” he nearly whispered but not to me, to the room, “but in color.” I wiped my hands on my shorts.

“So like did you have to kill people and stuff?” I immediately regretted my words. No one I knew ever talked to Arnold about the War, no one. “I’m sorry,” I stuttered, “I shouldn’t have said that. Um maybe I should leave.”

He sighed and crushed the smoke out on the now over flowing glass ashtray. A faint breeze stirred some of the ashes onto the table top. He put his fingers in them and pushed it back and forth.

“That’s all right,” he sort of grinned around his moustache, “no one has asked me before, I guess they really don’t want to know.” He looked directly at me and straightened in his chair. “Very bad things happened. I’m sure I shot and killed the enemy."

He closed his eyes for a moment; even as a kid I could recognize the pains distorting his face. He lit another smoke and inhaled, I saw his hand trembling. He saw worse I suddenly knew, but nothing he would horrify a young girl with. He pushed himself away from the old table and with the cigarette dangling from his mouth his searched his cabinets. He squinted through the smoke and handed me the bag of sugar.

“Here you go,” he nodded, “watchya came for.” I took the sugar and thanked him. He mumbled something around the smoke and opened the door for me. “See yah.” I said. He nodded. Then closed and locked the door.

I never really talked to him again. Oh we nodded or waved to each other. But I stopped participating in the games the others played on him. Sometimes Arnold would disappear for weeks or days at a time. He’d return in the middle of the night and usually park right under the rope hanging from the oak tree. I guess it was his signal that he really didn’t care to be bothered.

When we played hide n’ seek at night his lights would be out but we knew he was watching from the glow of his cigarette behind the sheer curtains.

Call it Battle Fatigue-- call it PTSD. He never got over it, he never got help. You didn't do that in the 60's.

He lived like a hermit in that small house until he died. He died a bachelor, a loner, a mystery…perhaps too a man in pain. I look back and feel blessed that I was able to share a moment part of his life. At the time I was too young and didn’t understand PTSD, oh I really don’t understand it fully even now.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Walk


Taking a walk on a cold November day is my idea of fun. It isn't an ordinary walk like some people do. My walks are more like hikes with adventures. When I hike along I'm looking for things...observations that need to be made. I can sometimes stop and sit by a 4" waterfall and listen to its music. I may stop to look at a weed. And recall that in September it was glowing with golden colors, while now it was faded to white.
I notice where the sun is at this time of year. I've been watching its pattens over the past 10 years so that I can tell when Winter Solstice is to arrive ... and the sun will begin its trek back across the sky.
It is the little details that interest me. The green blade of grass encased in ice. The foot prints of many animals on the sandy banks of the creek.
Or the story the forest tells me of the windstorm that came through in August. Fungi now frozen until spring's thaw. Plants that have wilted to the ground to lie in wait for the warm weather.
No, my walks are never boring, never anything less than relaxing and good for clearing the mind.
I need to leave my schoolbooks more often.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Legends of the Fall...


Many years ago my grandmother Pearl told me a story about why oak trees kept their leaves.

It was such an intriguing story that I never forgot it and have decided to share.


We were sitting in a wooden fishing boat on the Little Balsam, the waves gently rocking us as our hooks lay dangling from our cane poles in the water...this is the story to the best of my knowledge.

Legends Of The Fall


Many years ago in the fall, all trees kept their leaves, but they would change to their glorious fall colors and remain that way until spring when they would turn green again. The trees were so proud of their colors so Mother Nature developed a small test for them.
One fall a small lowly sparrow came to the grand red maple tree and rested in its branches.
The sparrow was shivering and asked the maple if he could spend the winter in its branches where the beautiful red leaves would keep him warm.
The maple tree shook its branches angrily and told the sparrow that only birds with bright and beautiful feathers could stay in its branches during the winter, no ordinary ugly birds would grace its branches.
Dejected and cold the sparrow left and flew through the forest finally landing on a stately elm tree; it leaves the color of gold. “Please,” begged the sparrow, “my family and I need a tree to spend the cold winter in, may we stay with you and your beautiful golden leaves?”
The tall elm shook and swayed, “No,” the tree replied, “a sparrow is a lowly, ugly little bird, you may not spend the winter in my branches.”
Again the sparrow flew off. Nearly exhausted he landed on an apple tree, filled with bright red apples glistening in the chill of the autumn air. Again the sparrow repeated his request, hoping against hope that he would find a warm tree for his family to spend the harsh winter.
The apple tree replied, “With all of this heavy fruit on my branches, I could not let a bird such as yourself stay with me, get on with you!”
It seemed that no matter which tree he chose the answer was the same. The sparrow was too ugly or too lowly to find comfort and warmth in the leaves of all those beautiful trees in the forest.
At last he came upon an old Oak tree which stood tall on a hill. The sparrow looked up, shivering for now it was very cold and a harsh wind blew from the north promising snow.
Quietly he asked the Oak tree if he, the ugly little sparrow and his family could seek shelter in his leaves and branches for the winter. The Oak stretched his magnificent limbs and chuckled, “Of course sparrow, I have branches and leaves enough for all birds of all kinds. You and your family are welcome.”
The sparrow turned back into Mother Nature and thanked the Oak tree for its kindness.
As for the maple, the elm, the apple tree and others they began to loose their brightly colored leaves and their apples fell to the ground. “Pride has its cost,” Mother Nature said, “and from now on, all trees but the humble Oak shall loose their colorful leaves come fall.”

My grandmother's stories usually had some sort of 'moral of the story' to them also. This one I have passed down too. My oldest son is fond of it, I think.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Memories of a kid...




Yes the cute one in the back of the wagon is me. Of course I want you to note that the 'hat' has not really changed in all these years. I still favor ugly hats with ear flaps. Amazing.
In the first photo we were pretending to drive the wagon, I think. We used to tie a rope to the handle and try to steer it while someone pushed.
Not always a really good way to steer, but hey we were kids and anything goes at that age.
That may possibly be the same red wagon that got multiple coats of paint over the years. I know from the backround that the photo was taken on Grandpa Lind's farm. Well, the farm he used to have anyway. I think it belonged to his son by the time the photo was taken.

I can remember having conversations with my brother and sister ...
*What do you want to be when you grown up?*
My answer was always of some sort of the same:
*I want to be a cowboy.*
*I want to be a soldier.*
*I want to be a knight.*
I think my brother would be kind enough to point out that I couldn't be those things because I was a girl. Girls couldn't be cowboys. And probably in the very early 1960's, girls couldn't be soldiers either. And knights didn't exist anymore.
Of course, being a child, I was blind to that fact and insisted on being one or the other when I grew up.
I am severely disappointed--I didn't grow up to be a knight.
But I suppose Badger, my mule is relieved.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Midterms = hard work!



I soooo want to finish up with this midterm week! It ends today, er tonight. I have 130 coding scenerios to do for extra credit. I don't consider it extra credit, I consider it exercises to help me learn. I've been doing 40 problems a day. Talk about eye strain!
I finished my Critical Thinking class and took my exam, not bad...[puff of chest], I got a 96 out of 100. But it was multiple guess so how could I really mess up?
I took my coding exam--whew. It could have been very difficult if I haven't done all the exercises in our textbook and all the ones in our 'workout' book. Half of the problems in the test were ones I've already done! Yipee!
So now I have to bury my nose in 5 books to finish up the extra credit assignment so I can turn it in by midnight.

I'm thinking many of my classmates won't get this finished as it is a tremendous effort---> and most of my classmates don't open a book until they have 48 hrs to finish their week's assignment. I work hard at it ... and yes I gave up all outside activities this week to do this. Thanksgiving was just another day for 'coding'.

I would have been further along had I not had a colonoscopy earlier this week. Yes, everything went fine, but the knock out drug they give you had me out of it from Tuesday's procedure through Wednesday night late.

Okay, back to coding!!!
As soon as I'm done with that...I'm starting Xmas 'decorates' around here!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Jingle to Me...

Yep, jingle bells to me. We finally reached the point in our house where we had to become a 2-computer household. I've been eyeing a notebook for a while and carefully weighed the pros and the cons.
Yes, there is a real true need for it. I am still in college and doing homework like mad. 'Honey bunches' is getting tired of no internet time and with winter closing in...well let's just say we 'both' need access to a computer.

I got a Dell, the Inspiron 1501. I did all sorts of research regarding it before I even started playing with the components that I wanted. Surprising how a 6lb computer can be so much more powerful than what I have now as a desktop.
Technology is amazing.

I did call Dell and talk to a rep. I'm not doing an add for them, but I do have to say that the gent was patient and very knowledgeable. He didn't try to talk me out of the 1501 and try to sell me something else. The 1520 is comparible but I got nearly the same components across the board for less.
This means I can do my homework from downstairs, or anywhere in the house I choose and hubby can read the local message board and entertain himself!
I also won't have to spend another day listening to my SIL instead of doing my essays! I can take the darn thing with me, plug in earphones, listen to tunes, and do my work!
Sawwwweeeet!

Jingle Jingle Jingle to Me! [that means I'm paying for it with my own hard earned saved up money]

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving

Good morning and Happy Thanksgiving to anyone out there who is on their computers! Our day is going to be very quiet which is nice!!! We are just having supper with our mother in law and the sister in law. I'll 'suffer' through the meal with SIL, listening to all the profound knowledge she has to offer.
She learns everything she knows by watching Dr. Phil and Oprah. Hmmm, very knowlegable!!!
Ask her about computers!!! She knows, by golly you can buy them on Home Shopping Network. You can get a Vista Computer very cheap.
Snort snort snort...she couldn't find the on/off switch on the vacuum cleaner, so how could she operate a computer? Ah, but she knows all about them from TV!

Thank goodness for midterms this week and a huge stack of homework to get done. I can beg off from staying all day and get home to peace and quiet, listen to TSO, and do my homework.
I suppose I could ask SIL to help me with my homework, after all she gives me medical advice all of the time.

Ok, I shouldn't be saracastic, this is Thanksgiving and I am really greatful that I have a wonderful family. Though, I'd much rather be spending the time with my son, his wife, my youngest son [his daughter], and my hubby's daughter [who won't make it this year because of a nasty flu bug].

I do like my relatives, but as with everything, in moderation.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Dah Big Deer Hunt...



It is the second day of the Wisconsin 9 day gun-deer season. It is all the rage you know. Male hormones rage, their chests puff up, and they go out in the woods looking for the 'big' deer. While I make fun of the hunters one must realize that they are also doing a job. The deer population for our state is astronomical. One only needs to have a run-in with a buck or a doe with their vehicle to realize how dangerous they are. The statistics are pretty eye opening.
The crop damage is also something to be considered. In the DNR pamphlet it states that there are between 1.6 and 1.8 million deer in our state. Folks, that is a lot of deer.
The impact of the 9 day season is a boon to the WI economy. It supposedly creates $535 million in retail activity, and has a $1 billion total economic impact on the state each year. That is definitely big business.

There are downsides to this 9 day season also. Some hunters are not careful, some hunters are the bad apples that leave a bad taste in our mouths.

All in all, it has been a quiet opening and a very quiet weekend.
I've spent the weekend doing schoolwork and making my calendars and gifts.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Walmart Wizard..not...

MMMM, my monitor which is a CRT monitor of old keeps changing colors. After much discussion and research I found a LCD 19" flat panel monitor of Dell's at our local Walmart. It will offer me more desk space and hubby a big screen view of things when he uses the internet.
While I was in the Walmart [I could have ordered from Dell direct, but it was $4 cheaper at Wally World and there was no shipping charges], Mr. Walmart Wizard of computers comes by to see if I needed help.
So of course I was curious as to his knowledge.
He thought I should by the same monitor for the same price built by a company that had poor reviews.
I do my homework.
His reasoning was ... why give Dell the $? Ah, duh, I thought I was shopping at Walmart.

He showed me the 1501 Inspirion Notebook and then proceeded to tell me I couldn't get it any cheaper any where else.
I don't think he liked it when I said, "Oh sure I can. I order direct from Dell, get the same components with XP OS...and a better optical drive, and pay $200 less!"
To which he said there were no computers built with Windows XP anymore.

I said, "Perhaps if you work in the computer section, you ought to research your products. Dell offers this Notebook with XP...and at a better price."

I winked and left.
I like being an informed consumer.
Mr. Wizard didn't....

But that is why he still works at Walmart after all!
[no offense to anyone employed there...okay?]

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Tin Can War




This is very very scary, if you see this deranged looking person anywhere in your vicinity, please run...run fast and far.

I spent part of Saturday target shooting in our creek bottom with my oldest son and his wife. Of course I 'posed' for this shot [the pistol is empty and doesn't even have a clip in it]...goofing off. Joy and I wear the ear 'muffs' to deaden the sound of their .45, and the two shot guns. The 'muffs' didn't exactly fit my Elmer Fudd hat well. I think that is apparent in the photo!

The Tin Can War:
We faced off the tin cans with an arsenal of firearms. My favorite being the .22 caliber rifle and my pistol.
The Cans lined up menacingly on the dirt creek bank. They glistened with all their silver glory just leering at us. I'm sure I could hear them shouting obscenities at us...
I was sure one of them called me a foul name.
I was sure they were gathering for an attack.
One can never be sure of sneaky Tin Cans lurking in the woodlands.
Lucky we had come armed as we did. Or the Tin Can War could have ended tragically.
A super hero showed up in camo and blasted the rest of them away...the ones that had been circling to attack!
Yep, we won, hands down. The Tin Cans were rounded up finally and sent to the recycling bin. A hard battle had been won.

video

Monday, November 05, 2007

Be Happy...


Life is good when you can get up in the morning and grab your favorite mule and with a 'leg up' from hubby, go for a quick spin in the fresh cold Wisconsin air. I consider myself terribly lucky. I was able to ride the ridgetop. I stopped with Badger and overlooked the expanse of sky and enjoyed the cold fresh air on my face.
Something unique happens while riding.
The worries of the world drop away.
Everything seems a bit brighter.
Everything seems a bit more alive.

Of course when that hen pheasant flew out of the tall grass next to us, I 'spooked' as my mule went stiff legged.
That broke all the tension from work and school up...
I became very happy. I trotted and loped my mule out to the tobacco shed and then back home. I was all smiles when I got back.
And I really didn't want to get off.
Can't I just stay here all day...pleeeeezeee????
Oh well, I'm happy!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

What Dreams Are???


Dreams are often entertaining or have some strange meaning. Between school and continual storm clean up, I haven't been able to go riding much since August. I've been able to steal away a few precious rides, but not near enough to satisfy my 'riding cravings'. So....

Last night I dreamt we decided to go riding and we all had to pick out Breyer horses to ride!
Seriously.
We got on our Breyer horses and two of the folks that were with us had --- run a ways!
They must have gotten hurt badly because we couldn't find them or their horses, so we called the rescue squad.
Here comes the good part.
We searched the 'house' because it was a big house...and found the 'Breyer riders' laying in a closet with their Breyer horses.
Boy, now if that wasn't bad enough, the EMT turned to me and wanted to know why I called Rescue for plastic people.

Um.
Dreams do NOT make sense.
But I'm not riding any Breyers soon, they were way too wild!
BTW, the Breyer riders came out of it, and we found the horses in another closet...and one under the bed. [I think the Dust Bison, got it]

Friday, November 02, 2007

Sitting out by myself...


Thursday night I sat by the bonfire of broken trees while the sun lowered itself into the November night. I moved closer to the fire as the temperatures dropped. Morris snuggled in close to me ... I'm sure he did it to protect me from the Hoot Owl that was calling in the woods not far away.
There wasn't much to ponder, as it was...I just sat and stared into the flickering flames and embers. Once in a while there would be a loud pop and Morris would be startled.
I watched the sky turn from oranges to deep purples and pinks...to a black violet color dotted with stars.
Very peaceful. I wanted to stretch out there and not go back in the house.
The flames mesmerized me. I think I could have stayed there and let my mind wander for hours.
I mentioned to my hubby when I went in if perhaps when the 'kids' come to visit, if we should have a little campfire.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween


Rather than report what is amusing to me today, I'm going to link to a couple of articles in our local paper that I find very amusing.
LaCrosse Tribune: Dog Shoots Iowa Hunter...
Pet Sitter Accused of abuse as pot bellied pig's wieght triples

For today, I rest my case. And ponder what is real news???

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Away they went...


There is something to be said about sitting on the stairs and having a conversation with a 20 month old [I correct my earlier post of 19 months!]. Grandpa and Dennis had a very long and intense conversation regarding...well I'm not exactly sure what it was regarding.
There was a lot of head shaking by grandpa and several big *Oh Yeah's???*
Dennis nodded and answered with some foreign language that only he can understand, but he emphasized each word with a shake and flutter of the hands.

Hmmm, is the kid Italian??

This morning, the gang was up, fed, and out the door for more great woods adventures by 8AM. The frost was still crunchy under our feet as we headed back to the meadow for a much awaited 'bouncy log' ride. We also picked leaves from red oak, white oak, and stuffed them in our shirts to carry back and show Grandpa who was very impressed.

I think I could like being a Grandma full time.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Fun Grandma



To be a totally FUN Grandma there are a few things you need to have. A bunch of logs to play on. You need a bucketful or two of toy cars for the kids to drive.
A hay feeder to use as a jungle gym...and a two wheel wheelbarrow to 'feed' the kids to the donkeys. A touch of patience, an ounce of creativity, and a whole lot of energy to keep up with a 4 yr old and a 19 month old monkey who has no fear.
You cannot care if crayons are spilled all over the floor, or be upset when you step on a 'frig' number magnet in bare feet. Don't worry about the little metal cars that are strewn about the living room. Isn't that why it is called the living room?
You can always find the remotes later, can't you?
Isn't it interesting to see if a Jack Russell will eat crayons?
See who is fastest in the race to the stairs...somehow the kid in diapers always seems faster.
Can you change a diaper and aid the 4 yr old on the potty at the same time?
[Sure you can, you are the Grandma!]

When Ariel dropped off to sleep, she murmured sweetly to this Grandma...
'You are the fun Grandma'.
Oh such sweet words.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Hooked on Harry Potter?

These two fine 'kids' are responsible for my new favorite readings. The Harry Potter books. I resisted all temptations to pick up these 'kid' books for the past few years. My youngest son urged me to read them, my oldest son and his wife made me take the first book home with me after my Kenosha visit! The dirty deed was done.
I picked up the book yesterday and just finished it tonight.
Darn it .. they were right. The book was a fun read and a good breather from my school studies!
I'm sure I'll be looking forward to my next adventure with Harry. I wonder if the movies were as good as the books?
That remains to be seen.

One of my new classes this session is 'Critical Thinking'. It seems curiously like a class on 'debate'. This ought to be fun too!

I really do wish I could fly on a broom like the characters in the book. It surely would save me fuel costs.