Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Christmas in the desert! No snow and lots of sunshine, and picking up poop is a good way to work up an appetite for Christmas dinner! And nothing beats being outside on a nice day with my two guys! Now if I just had my grandson here with me.....and my friends.........

Sunday, December 23, 2007


For those of you who have never been to Arizona, perhaps your impression of the state is a colorless land of sand and cactus. But the beauty of this country is never more spectacular than when the sun sets and turns the mountains into glorious shades of pinks, purples and lavendars. And when the full moon comes up as the suns last golden gleams hit the horizon, Arizona really does herself proud. Tonight was one of those nights. We had just come from a family drive to neighboring Aquilla, then out to the desert to let my brother-in-law walk his hunting dog out to check for quail. As we headed back to town, we watched the full moon rise and the sun set, and had to stop the car for a quick snap. It is times like this that I wish I had my sister's art talent. It is easy to understand why artists flock to this area to paint. I just love to sit and watch the sun go down and the colors stretch across the mountains. Just when you think it could never be more spectacular.....another sun sets in Arizona.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


As a child, one of my favorite Christmas books was "The Littlest Angel". My parents bought me a record with the story read by Loretta Young, and I used to peer over the top of the old 78 record player watching the record turn as I heard her beautiful voice tell the story of the little angel who yearned for the things he left on earth, and who had a box containing things like the collar of a favorite dog. At the end of the story, as the Birth of Christ approached, he had nothing for the Christ Child. Timidly, he offered his box from earth, and that was proclaimed the greatest gift to this baby who would live on earth....and his gift rose until it became the shining star over Bethlehem.
I still love that story, and thought of it this week as my good friends, the Grossers, dealt with the illness and finally death of their beloved Golden Lab, Buddy. His name fit him well. They had adopted him from a shelter, and brought him to their ranch, where he loved to chase their son, Tommy, as he walked, then biked, and later 4-wheeled to his friends. He once visited a neighbor's farm where a hog butchering was in process. Buddy proudly carried home the heavy head of that hog to present to his non-appreciative family.
When my 3 year old grandson would visit the ranch to see my horse Bart, who was boarded there, Buddy was always there to greet with a wagging tail and sloppy tongue. CJ had a lab of his own, so had no problem holding his own around the campfire when Buddy would try to share a marshmallow. CJ had learned the stiff-arm approach to preserving your food around a moocher like Buddy. When Buddy would lay down to relax, CJ was often seen laying down next to him and using Buddy for his pillow.
Buddy was having some lame issues, which may have been caused from some buckshot he picked up on one of his neighborhood visits. He had lived a good life at the Grossers in his 9 years, but as they were Christmas shopping, a call came from Tom that they needed to hurry home....Buddy was having a seizure. They took him to the vet and he had surgery for a twisted gut, and never really recovered. Finally, the difficult decision was made to let their beloved Buddy go.
What do you say to friends who are grieving a family member during this holiday time? All I could think of was Buddy, now free of the limp and pain, romping happily through the Heavenly Gates, and seeing a party ahead, trotting up and looking for the food. So I told them to tell Baby Jesus to watch out....Buddy was at his best begging for a treat, and was great at snatching a piece of birthday cake! So as we celebrate the birth of the Baby Jesus, just think of the babe laying in the manger with a big yellow lab laying beside him, with big brown eyes watching that baby carefully for any treats that he might drop his way.
My friend, Carol, sent this poem to Tommy. I think of the other precious pets who have passed on this year.....and I think this goes out to their owners, and anyone who has lost one of their wonderful, loving animals in 2007.

The Last Battle

If it should be that I grow frail and weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep
Then will you do what must be done
For this…the last battle…can’t be won.

You will be sad, I understand
But don’t let grief then stay your hand
For on this day, more than the rest
Your love and friendship must stand the test.

We have had so many happy years,
You wouldn’t want me to suffer so
Take me where my needs they will tend
Only stay with me till the end
And hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see

I know in time you will agree
It is kindness you do to me
Although my tail its last has waved
From pain and suffering I have been saved.

Don’t grieve that it must be you
Who has to decide this thing to do:
We’ve been so close…we two…these years,
Don’t let your heart hold any tears.

-author unknown

Saturday, December 1, 2007


Growing up in Minnesota, and later as a teacher in the public schools, the blizzard warnings were always watched with great anticipation of a storm strong enough to close the schools. Now I live in Arizona where I no longer have snow days......but learned what can happen when rain can come after months of sunshine. The TV weather forecasters were delirious in their bringing the big news of a pending storm. They must get pretty bored with their 2 minutes of "75 degrees and sunny again" reports....this week they had 10 minute segments!

The rain started about noon, and was just a drizzle until about 9, and as I was getting ready for bed at 10, the winds began to howl and rain came down in sheets. It finally quit about noon today, and the sun returned. But those 2 or 3 inches of rain filled washes that were empty just moments before, and I saw first hand the flash floods that I have been warned about. A lot of riders use the washes, but head immediately for higher ground if it starts to rain. I scoffed at the urgency until I saw it happen this morning. There is no warning....it just goes from dry wash to surging river in moments.

So Bart was blanketed with a rain sheet up in the open barn stall, and Wylee scowled at going outside to potty in the rain. And I had to turn lights on in the house during the day! But all is well, the excitment is over, and 75 sunny degrees will return for the rest of the week. At least I don't have to shovel today!!!!

Monday, November 26, 2007


My daughter, Jen, and her husband of 4 months, Niels, visited over the long Thanksgiving Day weekend. They crammed in the maxium for the 4 days....Thanksgiving dinner at the clubhouse, sunning and swimming in the pool, a hike up to form their names with rocks by the other family members and visiting friends, a day trip to Yarnell, Jerome, Sedona and the Grand Canyon, lots of Gin 13 games, good food, Mass on Sunday and watching the Vikings game at the Mine Shaft afterwards, and the usual tour of Wickenburg. They are now safely home and resting up from their vacation! Mom finally got to meet Niels, and we took them to the shuttle this morning then Mom went for surgery for her eye cataract. The kids are now safely home, and Mom did well with the surgery and is sleeping on my couch as I type. I will take her back to her doctor tomorrow for her follow up visit. I am noticing Christmas decorations going up around the park, and the cactus down the middle of the road are all wrapped in lights. As I drove in after coming from the ranch from feeding Bart, I saw this sunset behind the clubhouse, and the lit icicles glowing from the eves. So my prayers for safe travel and surgery were answered, and another beautiful day ends.

Friday, November 9, 2007


My sister, Lori, has about ended her 10 day visit. It was packed with eating, watching Packers at the sports bar, swimming in the pool, playing Gin 13 and Scrabble (think she still owes my big time at Gin 13, but the kid sister now beats me in Scrabble!), eating, drinking, going to the Rancher Bar for swing dance lessons, drinking, eating, more pool and cards, helping feed Bart, church, eating out at Anitas and Twin Wheels, toes done in Surprise, drinks under the starry skies by the bonfire, cigarette walks with Wylee, and did I mention eating.....chocolate, walleye, scallops, partridge and wild rice, homemade soup.....and she thought I couldn't cook!!!!!! Was fun having her here, and there will be a big empty hole here tomorrow when she leaves. Have a safe trip home, baby sister, and make a snow angel for me!!!!!

Monday, November 5, 2007


It has been a whirlwind past few weeks of packing up, driving to Arizona with horse trailer, horse, dog and boyfriend, then unpacking, connecting utilites, picking up sister from airport, taking boyfriend to airport, and going to the Halloween party at the clubhouse.....where Mom tied for third place in her witch outfit! It is in the 80's and sunny, and we have enjoyed using the pool and Jacuzzi, and today will finally get out and work Bart a bit. Wylee seems to know just where he is, and using his old bathroom spots outside, and trots right over to Mom's house when we go for walks.

Have everything pretty well together....except the den, where I swear papers reproduce themselves at night! Always something to do, and the days go by quickly. At least this year I am not into painting and fixing up the place...although would like to recarpet bedroom and always wanting to GET ORGANIZED!!!! So let the winter begin!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


It was a busy and fun last week in Blackduck. I had my initiation into ATVing, had a video movie marathon during a couple of rainy days, made a trip to the casino and came home with extra money in the pocket, had a shopping trip to Bemidji and saw the new George Clooney movie, took in two auctions, and enjoyed having my two sisters visit the resort. Lori brought a ton of Ranger food, and Terri took all our money playing Gin 13. It was difficult leaving the beautiful resort where I enjoyed so many great times over the summer.

And now it is time to pack the trailer and truck for the trip back to Arizona. It will be sad to say goodbye again to my friends and family. I guess I am fortunate to have the best of both words living in "WickiDayDuck", but will miss everyone in the north country. Carol has been such a fun person to share a home with in Dayton, and Wylee will also miss her and Hershey. Mom will be glad to have me back close by, and it will be good to be near her to lend a hand when needed.

The winter is already filling with lots of fun plans. It has been a wonderful first year of retirement. I have moved to Arizona and set up a new home, met new friends, and had lots of visits from old friends. The summer was busy with golf, fishing, camping, trail rides, class reunion, wedding, and fun visits with family. As always, I have loved spending time with my grandson and watching him grow into a fun little boy. His parents have done a tremendous job of raising him.

So another chapter ends and another will begin. Who knows what joys and heartaches will lie ahead. I am so grateful to those who have blessed my life with their friendships, and pray that they will stay safe. Every day is a blessing, and I am so appreciative of all the joys of the past year. Thank you friends and family. I love you all!

Thursday, October 18, 2007


As someone who loves to ride a quiet natural trail on horseback, ATVs have not been my favorite machine. When riding on a trail while listening to the crunching of pine needles or dry leaves underfoot, it is often irritating to hear or see a noisy ATV ripping along while tearing up the paths. A horse will walk right up to a deer when on a ride, but a loud ATV can send a horse bolting in panic.

However, my last week up north this week was to include hunting for partridge. Growing up, this meant walking the colorful logging trails with a gun carried carefully in both hands, and with a little luck, a dog running ahead to spot the camouflaged bird. But times have changed, and so I ended up riding a big Artic Cat 500 machine. It was daunting at first, and continued to be challenging as I lumbered over ruts and fallen logs, and through mud holes as we covered over 20 miles of isolated trails. Twice we had to use the wench to pull a machine (mine, of course!) out of mud when bogged down, and also had to stop to use a chainsaw to cut through a tree that had fallen and blocked our path.

Although we were successful in bagging some birds, after 6 hours of bouncing over ruts and trees, nearly tipping over a few times, having a face splattered in mud, and arms strained from keeping that heavy machine going where it was supposed to, I was ready to load up when we reached the parked truck and trailer again. It was an interesting day of stretching my limits and being involved in a sport made for the younger set. I was proud of being able to do it, and we had a lot of laughs as we got covered in mud, but the muscles are feeling it today in my arms, shoulders and back.

So this sixty-year old lady is still trying new things, but I have to admit, as exciting as it was, I was thinking of how nice it would have been to be silently riding through those trails on a certain golden palomino I know......

Sunday, October 14, 2007


My son's family had to say good-bye to their 14-year old Labordor/Pointer dog Friday. Tabby was a silly name for this wonderful retriever, but fit her well in her role as my grandson's buddy. Chris already had Tabby when he met his future wife, Kelly, and Tabby was there when they brought home their newborn son 10 years later. Tabby was CJ's support when he made his first steps, and was his pillow for CJ to curl up to when he read or watched TV.

But age is cruel, and Tabby never fully recovered from hip surgery last years. The latest indignity was the inability to manage her bladder, and she would wake up in a wet pool. This forced them to have her stay in the garage, and as the cold weather approaches, this dog who has been used to sleeping on the floor next to CJ's , would be in the cold. So the decison was reached to have the vet put her down.

Kelly called and asked me to take CJ for a couple of hours while they took Tab to the vet and brought her home. They had tried to prepare him by telling him that Tabby was old and sick and would die soon. He protested, and said he didn't want her in Heaven....that he wanted her by him to give hugs. He worried about her dying when being sick, as he had been told he was sick with his cold. And when told she was dying because she was old, he was worried about Grampa and Gramma dying because they were old. How do you explain death to an almost-4 year old?

I took CJ to a friend's home. Kandy just had her second book about her greyhound, Minnesnowtoes, published, so we took her book to be autographed and for CJ to meet Minnesnowtoes. He had a fun time playing with her granchildren's toys, then went to meet his mother, who took him out to eat before taking him home, and telling him Tabby had passed away.

Chris had built a beautiful box with Tabbys name, dates of life, and silver cross in which to bury her. I was not with them when CJ saw the still form of Tabby or said his last good-bye, but I can imagine the sad day at their home, and the big hole in their lives without her.

They left the next day for their cabin in Siren as a distraction for him. Tabby is free of her limp and pain, but her memory will last for a long time in her little buddy. He has been told that he will be with her again when he is old and goes to Heaven. It is a comforting thought to think about reuniting again with those who have gone on before. Tabby....run free and happy, and maybe you will see Dad who would love to take you hunting, and Johleen and Mandy and Moochie and Lolly will be there to run with you, too. Watch for me...may we have golden paths to walk and many more loved ones to meet again once again. Sleep well, friend.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


I just returned from a weekend horseback riding and camping at Maplewood Park.Unfortunately, we were about a week too late for the peaking of the leaf colors, but the drought and recent wind and rain hastened their fall. But the weather was warm and sunny, and the trees still had color, and the golden aspen and red maples reflected off the many lakes we rode around. We had a group of 16 people with 8 living quarter rigs, and enjoyed poking fun, telling jokes, past riding memories and catching up around the campfires. Paul had his big pan out for our cowboy breakfasts that everyone brought varied ingredients to make it unique. We ate well, laughed much, and enjoyed the companionship of friends and horses that makes trail riding on horseback such a treat. After a summer of rides, the horses no longer spooked at strange logs or rocks as they did when fresh in the spring. We saw many deer flash their white flag tails, and the horses looked with interest, but no fear (well, except for Sue's Spinner when a large doe stood right in front of him on the trail to look over the approaching line of horses).

Today was 80 degrees and humid, but the cooler weather is predicted. And Mother Nature had a last chuckle with us, as she gave us a sunny 70 degree start for our long weekend, then threw in a thunderstorm overnight, a chilly morning that made the long underwear feel good, another nice day to ride, then a foggy morning, burning away to a sunny, hot afternoon, then another rain at night and drizzly rain on the last day. A little of everything with temps from 40 to 80 and sunny to rain. Ah, autumn!


I have the most awesome sisters. They are there when times are tough, when a caring ear is needed or when sharing great news. They know me better than anyone...all my strengths and weaknesses. And they are the ones I turn to when I need a shoulder to cry on or to have a laugh. I spent a whirlwind 24 hours with two of them last weekend. Number 3 daughter, Mary, was having a rough week with work, concerned about the slow sale of her farm, concerns about a money transfer not being completed, and frustrated with continuing mud and rain. Number 4 sister, Terri, met us at Mary's farm and antique business. By the end of the 24 hours, Mary was laughing at the casino with silly penny machines (Terri walked out well ahead, Mary somewhat, and I, of course, donated to the Native American economy). We shared some wine as I taught them Gin 13, and we fought, argued, and tried to cheat. And the one who taught them the game, of course, was the one who lost the money to them. So 24 hours later, I left cash poor, but rich with laughter and more memories. Everyone should be as lucky as me with angels in their lives called SEESTERS!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bart and CJ

Horses are incredible animals. My palomino gelding, Bart, will carry me up the steepest hill, across a flowing river, over a rattling bridge, past flopping tents, or chase a steer and cut it off with great agility. He will carry me long hours through prairies, forests, up a mountain side and through the deserts on trail rides and never seem to tire.

But this same strong, athletic animal can be so gentle and docile when with a child. Today I took my 3 year old grandson out for a visit to Bart. We walked way back to the back pasture where he was grazing with his friends. When he heard us call and approach, he raised his head, then walked over to join us. He lowered his head to have the halter slipped on, then patiently followed us with me holding the halter and my grandson holding the lead rope.

As we approached the barn, CJ insisted on leading Bart by himself....and did as this beautiful palomino quietly followed behind. I was anxious, worrying about if he should startle, other horses gallop up, etc, but Bart was very careful around this boy he had known since CJ first visited as an infant.

Horses have that wonderful insight about children. This horse can be so strong and aggressive on the trail or working cows, yet was as gentle as an angel around this young boy. I have often thought this special horse was an angel put in my life, and today was a guardian angel to a little cowboy who loves him.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I had a letter to mail yesterday, but when I started out the door, only one of my sandals was by the door. Rather than go upstairs to get the other one (don't ask), I figured for some reason to just go to the mailbox wearing just one sandal (again, don't ask....was just one of those things).
After a bit of walking on the sharp gravel, I was beginning to think this wasn't a very good idea. Then it occured to me....this walk was like life. One step was comfortable, the next painful....but if I kept going one foot ahead of the other, accepting that there was going to be a sharp discomfort between the easy step, I would eventually reach my destination at the mailbox.
The driveway seemed a bit longer than I had figured on....but at one point I was able to take a bit of a break by walking on the mossy side of the path. Maybe that is like those really happy times in life.....beginning a new relationship, a wonderful vacation, or a happy occasion....but then it is accepted that I would soon be back on the sharp rocks, just keeping one foot going ahead of the other. I appreciated the comfort of my Ariat sandal when I stepped on my right foot, and was prepared for the sharp rocks when it was time to step on my left foot.
I thought of how this has been like my life....I have had times of complete joy, others of devastating sadness. There have been times when I considered suicide, as I just couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was in a marriage that I thought I had no way out, money issues were too overwhelming, or I was depressed at a long, dark winter and experienced SAD. I think we have all walked with just one sandal....we accept the bad times because we know they are temporary. And if we quit walking when we stepped on the sharp stones, we would not know the relief and comfort of walking in the soft sandal. Life is not supposed to be always calm....but when the going gets rough, we have to hang on, knowing that there are wonderful times ahead.
My kids kept me from doing the action that I planned out so carefully....the music I would have playing in the car in the garage, what I would wear, the note I would leave, etc. I just didn't want them to have to deal with their mother's suicide and their wondering what they could have done, and their growing up without a mother. I have made some good and bad choices in my life, but at least I didn't choose suicide when it seemed my only option.
So as the dark days of winter approaches, and the Sunlight Affective Disorder sets in, I hope you remember my walk to the mailbox with just one shoe. Keep on walking....one step at a time....

Sunday, September 23, 2007


One of the things I look forward to the most about returning to Minnesota for the summer is going camping and trail riding with my friends up here. And now, as the first frost has brought out the colors in the trees, my favorite time of the year has arrived. The bugs are gone, the humidity is low, and the rides are among the glorious reds, golds and oranges of the maples. The sky always seems to be at it's most intense blue during September and October, and the sounds of the honking geese as their formations start heading south, the breeze blowing the drying leaves in the tree, and of hooves walking though the fallen leaves forms a music that is autumn's own.

The fall rides are beautiful, and the weather fluctuates between the warm 80's and can plummet to a frosty 25 at night. I am now bringing my silk longjohns along, and am packing the warmer horse blankets. My chili was a big hit last weekend when the weather was in the 20's at night, but today the cold drinks will taste good after a ride in the 80 degree sunshine.

Hopefully, I will have 3 or 4 more camping trips before packing up to return to Arizona. I will have wonderful friends and trails there, too, but it is hard to beat the camping in Minnesota in the fall. I treasure these last remaining days and the friends who make them so wonderful. And I am so fortunate to have my palomino buddy to share the miles....he is patient for me to find a picnic table for mounting, trusts me when I ask him to cross a stream, bridge or muddy patch, and willing to be alone on a picket line at night. He is one of those "once in a lifetime" horses that are such a blessing. Perfection doesn't exist in horses or people, but to me, he is pretty close.

Time to get off this computer and RIDE!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


The news was full of forecasts for frost warnings last night, and this morning my sister's garden in Hibbing was hit with 28 degree freezing. The good news is that the mosquitos and bugs will be gone, but it also means summer will be gone as well. The shorts and sandals will be replaced with jeans and sweatshirts, and crockpots of chili will be bubbling in many kitchens this week. I noticed Bart's coat was showing an indication of a winter coat already. Hard to believe the air conditioner was blasting full blast just last week.
And as I notice the geese beginning to flock and form V's overhead as they anticipate their journey to the warmer southern country, I find myself also getting into that preparation mode. As I bought groceries yesterday, I thought that I probably wouldn't need to buy them again before heading to Arizona next month. When I cleaned the car today, I thought of needing to remember to put it on storage insurance, and pondered as to where I would store it this winter. It has been a very enjoyable summer with daughter's wedding, class reunion, fishing, golfing, camping and riding trips, and spending time with new and old friends.
Last week Mom flew up from Arizona to get out of the ongoing heat for awhile and see her family. She had a relaxing week up north at the resort. She came on a hot day with the AC on and she put on shorts for a pontoon ride. A few days later she experienced rain, which she hasn't heard all summer in Arizona, then dug out the jeans and sweatshirts as temps dropped to the 50's. It was fun having her, and when I put her on her plane for her flight home, reminded her that I would be back down there with her in about 6 weeks!

Monday, August 13, 2007


Over the weekend I attended a 4-class reunion in my hometown. Ours was the class of 1965, a group who were celebrating their 60th birthdays. It was strange to see some looking as slim and youthful as they did on graduation day 42 years ago. Others were looking quite different with weight and hair changes.....and how could people just MY age have those wrinkles!!!! It was such a fun occasion, and everyone seemed genuinely happy for each others accomplishments, and for a tiny northern Minnesota town, the number of professionals and successful business people was impressive. Some were now widowed or divorced, and one was even on his 6th marriage! One emotional moment was when balloons labeled with the names of classmates who have passed on were released. As this baby boomer group close in on retirement and social security, our mortality loomed as we sadly missed some of our friends who have died in accidents, war and illness. It was so wonderful to again see those people who made my school years days of such happy memories. We all agreed that we hoped to have another reunion to celebrate our 45th in 3 years....when some of us might be collecting our first social security checks. It is hard to belive all these years have already passed, and sobering to have to accept that there will be more balloons released at the next reunion. That class of 1965 was the best!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


It's done! My daughter, Jen, is now a married lady! As is so common now, both she and her husband are in their 30's, have their homes and professions, and chose to put on their own wedding ("so we can do everything OUR way!"). As my mother did at my wedding, I came to Ohio more like a guest, with all the arrangements having been made. Most of the guests were her friends, and my son, his wife and his son, and I were the only family members on my side, although her dad, his wife and her two daughters also attended.

Jen had put a lot of thought and planning into the event, and the weekend was crammed with preparations and activities. Guests and families arrived from as far away as Holland, as well as Michigan, Minnesota, Canado and Ohio....and one couple were able to attend as they were on a month's vacation from their job in China. So it was an international event....and they made plans to reflect that.

The weather was hot and muggy, as usual for Ohio in late July, but rain was avoided and the sun came out for the picture taking after the wedding. She arrived in a horse drawn coach, and was married in a gazebo surrounded by a lake. Her friends provided the music, and all looked impressive in their plum and platinum attire. Jen wore a beautiful long white gown with beading and was the traditional glowing, smiling bride.

After a buffet meal, cake and music for dancing, the couple left for a honeymoon night in Cleveland near the airport, where their flight to the Caribbean left at 6 am the following morning! I envy them walking the beach by the sea today!

I went to the Football Hall of Fame Monday morning before flying back to Minnesota. It was quite impressive, and of course, I concentrated on the Minnesota Viking exhibits. The Super Bowl rings were incredible!

So all the wedding preparations are over, and Jen is now a married lady. The wedding Princess Bride will return to reality next week with house to clean, meals to prepare, bills to pay,....but also presents to open and Thank You's to write!

I am also back to reality with unpacking, laundry, bills, and pictures to send. Would love to go out to ride Bart, but it is oppressively humid and 90 degrees, so will visit him instead and give him a nice shampoo and put him in his stall with a fan. A few more days of unwinding, then pack and again drive north for a friend's 60th birthday party and a class reunion the following weekend. This has been one busy summer!

Tomorrow is August first....a day I dreaded when I was teaching, as I knew summer was coming to an end and in a few weeks I would be back for teacher's workshop. Now I just think of 90 days until I will be back in Arizona! It has certainly been a busy, event-filled summer!

Monday, July 23, 2007


Growing up, and in the early years of my marriage, a card game was often "dessert" after a meal with friends, or a way to spend an evening with a neighbor. I have thought about how that seems to be a dying past time in today's life of computers, email, and electronic games. I see my mother enjoying going to the clubhouse at her 55+ community, and enjoying catching up with her friends over games of bridge, gin, or pinochle.
I think in days past, the wife was home all day caring for home and children, so when the husband came home from work, the house was clean, fresh cookies or brownies had been baked, and the homemaker was eager for adult conversation. After dinner was done and kitchen cleaned, it was fun to call a neighbor to "come over and play some cards". It was an inexpensive evening and one of conversation, gossip, and laughter.

Today, the housewife shares the workload with the husband, and they both arrive home from work stressed and exhausted. They bring home a carry out meal to share, and also for their children if they are not off to sports, working out, or in some activity. They dish up their meal, and he goes to watch the news and she turns on her email while they silently eat in front of their screens. Perhaps they go to the gym for a workout or for a walk (wearing their ipods so again not needing to converse with anyone), then home to stare at a screen again, and finally to bed to rest before another busy day at work. They would not think about having another couple over to play cards....the other couple is as tired, the house is waiting for the weekend to be cleaned, and there is nothing baked....and besides, it would not be on the South Beach or other current diet.

Dan Rather wrote of the passing of "The Greatest Generation". There were so many positives this generation brought to the world.....saving to pay cash for purchases, owning their homes, sticking through the tough times in their marriages, talking with friends directly rather than through emails, spending time with the family with board games, picnics, the beach, and evening games "before the street lights came on".

I am now visiting my home town. So many memories of my life growing up in a small town return. I remember not locking the house when I left, riding my bike out to the lake a mile away for the day without worrying about being abducted by a stranger, knowing everyone in town and waving as I rode by, bringing a gun to school for show and tell or to be ready to hunt after the final bell, and knowing Mom would be home with fresh cookies when I got home.

The past generation was not perfect. Racism, sexism, and intolerance raised their ugly heads. Although I think I would have now liked to have been a doctor, attorney or journalist, at the time I felt I was limited to being a nurse, teacher or secretary if I worked outside the home. There was "men's work" and "woman's work", and it was a questionable person who crossed the line.

Time brings changes....some are for the better, but perhaps, sadly, some are not. I have been playing a game of Gin 13 every night with my friend, and have noticed I have been doing a less television viewing. I have been golfing in the morning (with no tee times or dress codes!), walking the dog with no leash in the park, and going out fishing in the evenings. All of these activities have involved conversations...some thought-provoking, some humorous, some sad, some teasing, and some argumentative (politics!). This morning I had coffee at the senior citizens building. The men sat at one table, and women at another. Some things in small towns haven't changed much in 40 years! Then someone pulled out a deck of cards and starting shuffling......

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Bluegills aren't the biggest fish, but have a lot of fight in them for the size, and are tasty eating. Enjoyed a day on a small nearby lake trying to find a hot spot for them. Didn't limit out, but did enjoy some nice sunshine and conversation, and the view of the beautiful yellow and white waterlillys floating on the smooth water. A sunny, low humidity 75 degree day on a Minnesota lake can't be beat!

Friday, July 20, 2007


One of the joys of summer is the arrival of fresh raspberries. Yesterday we were invited to pick fresh berries at a friends patch. It was a fresh, sunny morning and the berries were plentiful, big, and sweet. We ate some, froze some, and make a fresh raspberry pie, which was heavenly! Unfortunately, it appears that I am still allergic to raspberries, as I had to reach for the Allevert as the hives developed, but the taste of those fresh, sweet berries was worth the itch!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Just 11 more days and my only daugher will be a married lady! She has waited a long time for this special guy, and I am so happy for her. I have often prayed that if there was someone out there who would love her as deeply and faithfully as she would love him, please help them find each other. As he was born in Holland, it is understandable that it took a bit longer for them to finally meet, but thanks to God and Match.com, they have, and now the big day looms for them.

So now my two children will both be married and settled in their beautiful homes, and perhaps my only grandchild will have cousins one day. So the circle of life is completed, and whatever positive genes I might have have been passed on to another generation. Mindblowing.

This is one of my favorite pictures, taken when Niels and Jen were in town for Jen to introduce her man to friends and relatives in Minnesota. This was taken when they went out to see her brother and his wife, and Niels met Jen's nephew and Godchild for the first time. It appears that it was a good meeting for all!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Blackduck Fishing

Have just spent a wonderful week back in Blackduck where have been golfing, fishing, stawberry picking, garage saleing, and enjoying the fresh weather of northern Minnesota. My former roommate and her boyfriend came for the weekend, and we did some marathon fishing from bass casting, to walleye trolling to night bobber fishing. The result was some nice fish and a yummy fishfry....with fresh strawberry and blueberry pie for deluessert!

We found a great bluegill lake where we were catching big bluegills as fast as we would drop the line over the side of the boat. The weather has been warm and sunny, but a big change came today with rain and 40mph winds. I will reluctantly head south and leave the resort, but am looking forward to spending some time with my gorgeous palomino again!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

South Dakota Trail ride and FIRE!


Six months ago my trailriding/camping group made our reservations for our annual week-long trail ride to the Black Hills of South Dakota. This year, we decided to try out French Creek Horse Camp in Custer State Park. My going got a little iffy at the end....the pain I was having in my side was diagnosed as a broken rib, but I finally got an ok to go, and started out 4 hours behind the rest of the group, and connected with them at Wall, where I was greeted and assisted with unloading Bart and getting him watered and penned.
The next day we drove to Custer and set up camp. It was 90+ degrees, so we were delighted to discover that electricity had been installed 3 weeks before, and we could use the air conditioners in our living quarter trailers! We relaxed and explored the campground, then had our bonfire conversations late into the night.
The next day we had a gorgeous ride along a trail with many water crossings which allowed the horses to get drinks in the heat. We rode by buffalo, some of which preferred to lay on the trail, forcing us to ride over the hill to get around them. After 2 hours of riding, we found ourselves clammering up a very steep hill, and had to rest the horses half way up. When we finally reached the peak, there was a complete silence as we discovered that the only way down was a sheer rocky drop with a narrow trail. I was where the trail dropped over the edge, so Bart and I went down first. I talked to him all the way down, encouraging my brave mount. He kept his head down and watched where he placed his feet and slowly and carefully proceeded down the sharp drops with falling, slippery rocks. One wrong step and we could have both gone over the edge. The other horses followed, and we all gave a cheer (and many thanks!) when we all safely reached the bottom. My heart swelled with pride for a job well done by my golden boy.
We arrived back in camp, washed off our sweaty horses, and put them in their pens, and relaxed with lunch, then a swim at a nearby lake. We decided to let our horses rest that afternoon and we played Scrabble, read, went for walks or just napped.
The next day we enjoyed another fun ride, and even had ice cream cones at the Blue Bonnet campsite with our horses. It is an old, rustic area and very beautiful. They offer trail rides, and had 80 horses waiting riders.
We returned to camp, and I turned on the air conditioning and crawled up on my bed to read and fell asleep. When I awoke, I decided to take the garbage out and see what the rest of the group was up to. When I opened the door, Carla was running up to me saying we had to evacuate....the forest was on fire and heading this way! I thought she was kidding until I looked out to see campers putting up awnings, packing up and loading horses! Everyone had thought someone else had already told me! Carla helped me put down my awning and Mac helped me roll up my fencing, and I threw everything in the trailer and got ready to load Bart as we were told to "HEAD OUT NOW!"
Our caravan of 9 rigs headed out together for the buffalo correls. We could see the wall of smoke behind us, and prayed we wouldn't get lost on the narrow road that didn't have room to turn our large trailers around. What a relief when we saw the roof of the forestry building and the heavy buffalo fences appear! We had CBs so were able to stay in communication. We weren't there long, when we were told we had to leave again.....the fire was coming our way and the firefighters needed this area.
Where to go??? We headed out of the park, and one of our group has undeveloped land about 30 miles away, and we were going there when Cindy thought to call Plenty Star Ranch, and for some lucky reason for us, they had room for 9 rigs! We gassed up at Hot Springs, which was earning it's name as it was 107 degrees! We reached Plenty Star to find full hookups and spacious clean covered pens for the horses. We all hugged and worried as we heard that the fire was heading towards the beautiful Blue Bonnet area, and we worried for all the horses there that had been waiting for riders this morning.
We enjoyed some wonderful rides at Plenty Star, but the excitement continued as a blast went off near us as someone dynamited very close by and we saw the cloud of dirt go up, and some of the horses really spooked. Mac was having a bad day with his pretty paint, Tiger, and did a lot of backing him up.....and we suggested he get back up lights of beepers put on him!
The last day we rode in the morning, and as Kris was washing her horse, she left a long tie, and stepped on it, frighting her mare who reared, and the rope flipped Kris up, and she fell landing on her wrist which broke in 5 places. I saw it, yelled for everyone, and we splinted it and she left for the ER in Custer.
It was quite an adventurous week, but what I remember most was how everyone was there for everyone else. When I arrived late, the guys all came to help me unload and settle in. When we were evacuating, everyone made sure that the group was all loaded and ready to go before anyone pulled out. We all encouraged each other and watched out as we rode around the buffalo and slid down the "Hell Hill". When Kris was hurt, we all rushed to help her, put away her horses, pick up her brushes and tack, make sure the horses were watered and penned, and someone lent an unhooked truck so they could depart quickly.
Horse camping is about exploring beautiful nature trails, scenery, and bonding with your horse. But it is also about friendships and being there for each other. I treasure the memories of the trips I have taken with my horse friends. We have shared laughter, fear, heat, unexpected animals on the trails, indecision about which trail to take (and sometimes where we even were!), great meals, and injuries. But no matter what is thrown our way, we can always count on wonderful friends to be there for each other, and to overcome whatever obstacle we might encounter. I am so blessed to have friends like these.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Father's Day Tribute

As a daughter of a long time Conservation Officer in Minnesota, I was brought up to think of the future of our hunting and fishing. When we would fish, our unwritten rule was to release any walleye over 4 pounds to let it produce eater walleyes for the years to come.
I was fishing on a lake in my hometown last weekend, and my fishing buddy and I landed an 8# 29" beautiful walleye. His plan was to fillet it, but I refused.....we were near shore, so I insisted on taking it in for a quick picture then releasing it. To him, a bigger fish simply meant more fish in the pan to eat. A discussion included my threatening never to fish with him again if he killed that big fish. I said if he was THAT hungry, I would buy him a pound of hamburger!
We did go in and take those pictures, then quickly and carefully returned the big gal to the lake. She swam around the dock for about five minutes. She was probably just de-stressing and getting her bearings, but I chose to believe she was showing off her beauty and saying thanks. A number of people at the resort came down to see her, and enjoyed seeing the big fish swimming about.
Later, after she had swam off and we had returned to our fishing spot, I asked if he really didn't enjoy watching the excitement of everyone exclaiming over the fish as much as a big fillet, and I think it began to make sense to him. A new convert to catch and release!
So, a little of my Dad's conservation came through as Father's Day approaches. I thought of him as I was fishing, and remembered all the times we had fished on that lake, and the thrill when we landed a 28 pound sheephead one evening about 35 years ago. The many years that he served the state as a Conservation Officer might not have left his daughters rich at the bank, but did leave us with a legacy of a love a nature and respect for protecting our natural resources. I still miss him, love him, and wish him a very happy Father's Day in that great fishing lake in the heavens.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Spent a week with my boyfriend in northern Minnesota doing some fishing, golfing, grilling, shopping and even a bit of dancing at the ambulance fund raiser, where we won some Twins tickets, t-shirts, ball caps, gift certificates, and even some great T-bone steaks! To top it off, we landed a beautiful 8# walleye, which we released. I am big into releasing anything over 4 pounds. I don't think they are as good eating and are too flaky at that weight, and also, I like to see those bigger fish return to the lake to produce good eating sized walleyes in the years to come. This ol' gal swam around the dock for about 10 minutes before she swam off to deeper waters. I'm sure she needed some time to de-stress and get her bearings, but I also like to think she was saying "Thank you" for her freedom, too!

Sunday, May 20, 2007


When we left Friday for Wild River State Park, it was a warm, sunny day. We set up camp and went for a nice ride through the pines. Our friends began to arrive with their living quarter horse trailers, and soon the park was bustling with campers unloading horses and setting up camp. After another nice ride in the afternoon, we enjoyed a nice campfire, conversation, adult beverages and dinner cooked outdoors. Saturday we again ventured out to explore the trails, and by the time we got back in for lunch, the sun was hot and we changed into shorts and sandals. Suddenly, a strong wind blew through, and the temps dropped for 85 to 60 and sent us scurrying for jeans and jackets. It was actually too cold and windy to have a campfire, so we all ate inside our campers. We got up to 38 degrees and huddled around the campfire awaiting our strong, hot coffee to stay warm. Ah, Minnesota....if you don't like the weather, just wait an hour!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


One of the joys of returning to Minnesota is being part of the Walleye Fishng Opener. A friend has a resort in the northern part of the state, and my sister and I were fortunate enough to have him take us out for the opener. We caught lots of northerns, some nice walleyes, and I even pulled in one keeper perch. It was a fun weekend of dancing at the Legion fish fry, fishing, eating fish, and arguing with and antagonizing each other. Fun to see the baby seester again!

Thursday, May 3, 2007


Had a safe trip back to Minnesota. Found 2 great places for Bart to relax overnight in New Mexico and Kansas, and he is now back at Longview Ranch where he is being called "Hollywood" as he is all sleek and glossy and the other horses still have some winter coat.
I am staying with a girlfriend who has a beautiful home and has made me feel so welcome. She has a lab mix named Hershey, and Wylee is enjoying running around the big park-like yard with his new friend. I keep my horse trailer here, and am only 1.5 miles from Longview, so very convenient.
I have had a chance to spent some time with my grandson, CJ, who has grown but is still funny and was so happy to see Bart and everyone at Longview again. He had to put on his cowboy hat, boots, jeans, plaid shirt, chaps, and vest which Sue and Paul got quite a kick seeing.
The weather has been great, and I have been riding Bart in the indoor and outdoor arenas and he is going wonderfully. I had trail rides to Crow Hassan Park planned for tomorrow and Sunday, but now rain is predicted. Welcome back to Minnesota....gotta grow those mosquitos!

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Can't believe my first winter of retirement in Arizona is almost over. Just a few more days to pack up, close up, and Bart, Wylee and I will be heading back to Minnesota for the summer. It has been a much busier winter than I anticipated, and I have loved living in my cozy winter home. Bart and Wylee are feeling at home, and will be interesting to see how they take the change and long journey north. It is a bit daunting to think I have to pack everything I will need for the next 5 months....for me, the dog and the horse! It looks like it will be a crazy summer, too, with my daughter's wedding shower in May, wedding in July, family reunion trip in August, class reunion in August, and many trail rides and camping trips have already been added to the calendar. And, of course, I'll want to spend time with my grandson, sisters and friends. Add in some golfing, fishing and casino runs, and the summer days will be busy ones. It will be interesting to live the gypsy life, staying with friends instead of my own home in Minnesota. But this is not to be scary.....it is an ADVENTURE!!!!!!

Friday, April 6, 2007


My Minnesota guests just left, and I miss them already. They were fun to have, and we enjoyed shopping, sightseeing, the pool, eating out, steak dinner on the grill, and seeing "Wild Hogs" last night. This morning we walked around the neighborhood admiring the blooming cactus before they left. They head back to Minnesota with snow and 5 degrees......BRRRRRR! I have less than 3 weeks left to enjoy my Arizona home before following them to the north county. But I will be looking forward to joining them camping and trailriding again this summer. Here are some of the blooms....look how many more came out on the Easter cactus today!

Monday, April 2, 2007


The glider is all assembled with no leftover pieces or short any bolts or nuts. WHEW! Remind me not to tackle a project like that again. It is like having a baby....right afterwards it is "NEVER AGAIN!", and later, one sees a cute baby and forgets the pain of bringing the last one to fruition.

So here is the new glider with Mom and Wylee having their morning coffee. With the full moon tonight, it should be baptised with a fire and a toast with wine. Who wants to join me?

Spring has arrived in the Arizona desert. The sunny 80 degree days have brought forth the cactus blossoms. Here are three in my front yard.

Friday, March 30, 2007


Have you ever seen a fairly small box with a picture on the side of a cute piece of furniture.....on sale....and decided to purchase it, spend a few hours putting it together, then enjoying it for years? Well I did. The sales person said it would just take "about 2 hours" to assemble it to look just like the one on display at the store. I bought a glider tete a tete....two gliders joined by a table that I thought would be perfect in front of my new fire grill in the backyard. It sat on my carport for a week while I had company and the weather decided to offer rain. Now we are back in our normal sunny 75 degree weather,I am between winter visitor company, so I decided to spend a few hours and assemble my pretty glider set.

Opening the box presented me with hundreds of screws, bolts and odd pieces of various sizes along with numerous wooden slats and pipes of strange shapes and sizes. A bit daunting.

I assembled the required wrenches and screwdrivers (and thanked my son for his thoughtful gift of a power screwdriver and tool kit), and got out the huge instruction sheet to begin my 2 hour job. At the end of the day I had the two bases assembled, taken apart, and reassembled properly. The next day I got one of the chairs assembled, taken apart, and reassembled properly. Now I will tackle the second chair (now that I know that the shorter pipe is for the glider and the longer one is for the chair), and hopefully will finsh my 2 hour project today. Then I can relax in front of a nice fire in my grill with a nice glass of wine......or use the @#^*+ glider as fire starter!!!!!!

Saturday, March 24, 2007


For only the third of fourth day all winter, we have had RAIN...1.5 inches worth, and since we only get 7 inches a year, that is a lot! But I should was reminded of how solar-powered I am....just no energy the past few day. All I wanted to do was snack and watch TV. I did almost finish the book I started on the plane on the way to Ohio last month...but with no riding or swimming and with all the munching, I probably gained 5 #! The sun is supposed to return this afternoon and tomorrow is predicted to be glorious. TRAIL RIDE!!!!!
I am beginning to get the snowbird fever...when one starts flying home, the others nervously start flapping and honking about heading north, too. I am starting to plan on getting Bart's spring immunizations done and health certificate, shoes re-set (both are done much cheaper down here), and need to think about cleaning up the horse trailer living quarters, shed, address changes, and all that other fun stuff that goes with leaving home for 6 months. Sign. Guess I will have another cup of coffee, and curl up on the couch with a quilt and finish that book.......

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Jen's engagement pictures

Since Niels father is a photographer, her pictures of her big engagement day in Paris are stunning! Check them out!http://picasaweb.google.com/nodejong/SomePicturesOfOurEngagement

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


I just got off the phone from a long distance call from Holland from my daughter, Jen. Her boyfriend, Niels, from Holland proposed to her in a flower garden under the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.....and of course, she said "YES" to this wonderful guy. I met him last month in Ohio, and he wanted to wait until she met his folks and he met her Dad before he actually proposed. She sounded very happy, and my prayers for her to find that special man she has sought have been answered. They will be married in Ohio in July, and will live in the beautiful home he bought last month in Ohio. They are so far away, and I am so grateful for phones, emails and Skype which allow me to talk with them to hear the happy news, and also to talk to his parents, who will be here for the wedding. I am so, so happy for both of them!!! Congratulations to the future Niels and Jen de Jong!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2007


When I first arrived in Arizona as a newly retired, newly post-home sale and moving sale, and a new Arizonan, I thought I had a long leisurely winter ahead. I thought my day would consist of a visit out to see my horse and some riding, returning for a swim in the pool and jacuzzi, perhaps a little nap, and a relaxing afternoon. Now, with 5 weeks left in Arizona before returning to Minnesota, I have found that the winter flew by. I had visitors in December for a week, met friends in Laughlin for a week over New Years Eve, spent a week in Florida with a friend for my 60th birthday in January, went to visit my daughter in Ohio in February to learn of her wedding plans, had another friend here for two weeks this month and who left yesterday.....3 hours before my sister and husband arrived from New Mexico. My next guests will be here the first week of April, then another friend will fly in on April 23, and drive back with me on the 27th.....and my first winter in Arizona will be over! I have been to Sedona twice, Laughlin twice, Rocky Point, Mexico and to Camp Verde a couple of times. Having company has been fun....going to see places I might have put off otherwise, and certainly never a dull moment! I have not done as much trail riding as I expected, and did not get in on any team sorting at all. My camper/horse trailer has only been hitched up twice, and I have only camped in it once. And to think I was going to get a part time job down here! I have met many wonderful new friends, enjoyed visiting with visiting old friends, and done lots of sightseeing and shopping with them. Five more weeks to go....and I am already receiving emails from my Minnesota horse friends who are setting up reservations for summer trailrides and camping trips. With a nephew's high school graduation party, my daughter's wedding, and riding, camping, time visiting a resort up north, and time with my grandson, I am sure the summer will fly by just as quickly, and all too soon I will be making plans again to return to sunny Arizona. I have heard that the first summer of retirement and warm southern living brings the most visitor. That has certainly proven true for me! Thanks to all who came down and made my first winter so fun!!!!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


I thought I might be bored being retired and was looking for a part time job. But the days are flying by, and I seem to be always busy! I thought I would be doing more trail riding, team sorting, and camping with my horse, but I have been on the run way more than I expected. I had company in December for a week, met friends in Laughlin in January for a week, went to Florida for a week for my birthday in January, had more friends here for a week in February for Gold Rush Days, went to Ohio to meet Jen's beau a week ago, and now having another friend arriving today for two weeks. And another couple are coming the first week of April, and then end of April I will be heading north again! Poor Bart is getting soft and fat in his big paddock eating that rich alfalpha hay. I figured I would ride every morning, then spend some time in the pool in the afternoon, and write in the evenings. I haven't been in the pool for two weeks, haven't ridden in 3 days, and writing seems confined to emails and blogs. When would I have time to work??????? Here are Ampe's after they rode from the ranch to Westpark!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Back in Arizona

Am watching the bad weather moving into the Midwest and am so glad I am back here in warm, sunny Arizona! Wylee was estatic to have me home, Bart was more "Ho Hum...where are the carrots?". Jen and Niels seem very happy together, and have made manythoughtful, exciting plans for the future. He closed on the house Thursday, and they are making plans to get moved in, buy appliances, and decorate. They went to Canada this weekend for Jen to meet some of his friends, then go to Holland for her to meet his parents, then on to Paris for the official engagement. What a world traveler she is becoming. It is such a relief and joy to see her happiness!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

I'm in Ohio!

I know....I'm nuts leaving sunny, 80 degree warm Arizona to travel to Ohio in February! But my daughter invited me to meet her future husband, help on the closing of their new home, and give them some decorating ideas....so being the loving, devoted mother I am, I IS HERE!!! They met me at the airport with hat, gloves and scarf and bundled me up to prepare to walk out of the terminal. It is only 20 here and snowing today.....and I thought I had left this kind of weather behind forever!!!!!
However, they took me to eat at a fabulous old brewery and I had wonderful garlic stuffed steak with grilled asparagus, mushrooms in ale, and white cheddar potatoes. Niels and I had the exact same thing....with a local brew...and coffee...I'm gonna like this guy!