Thursday, December 25, 2008


Christmas Day is here, but feels like it has been here a long time, as it started with getting all my gifts purchased and mailed about Thanksgiving time, before flying out to Ohio. While there, we celebrated an early Christmas with Jen, her new baby, her husband and her in-laws. Then I came home where my sisters were here visiting Mom, so another Christmas was held the night before Terri and John left. Ann was here for Christmas Eve, so we made a standing rib roast dinner to enjoy after attending the children's Mass...complete with little children re-enacting the nativity scene. And now Ann left early this morning, so Mom and I had our Christmas breakfast this morning (note the beautiful tulips on the table, sent by Jen, Niels and Baby Daniel!), and will finally end this long Christmas season with a dinner at the clubhouse. You will note that I am wearing a new Christmas boot....sprained some ligaments in my foot, so get to wear this lovely support for a few weeks. That will really cramp my riding...which I have been told to refrain from for 2 or weeks. That is to be seen. So now Mom has gone home, rain is falling on an unusual cool, dark and wet Christmas week, and the house is cozy with candles glowing and lights twinkling on the little broken ceramic tree and my corner tree. Wylee is sleeping at my feet, and John Wayne is doing his thing on the TV. Soon I will limp out to visit Bart, where I will give him some apples and carrots mixed with his feed and antibiotics that he is on after a "discussion" with the neighboring horse left him with some cuts and abrasions. Then home to fix a dish to bring to the clubhouse dinner, fill our bellies with too much food, and if we can stay awake, Mom and I will end the day seeing the well-reviewed movie "Marley and Me". I have enjoyed phone calls from family and friends today, and although I miss having little children around on this day, it has been a peaceful Christmas, and one in which I am grateful for the rich gifts of friendships and family I have enjoyed. In another week, the year will be over. It has been a traumatic one for our country and I am looking forward to CHANGE. MERRY, MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

DANIEL JOEL 12-18-08

Niel's father is a professional photographer and just took these pictures, which I love! I would expect there will be many, many more taken during their two week stay. My Danny Boy certainly looks like his Daddy!


Niels parents arrived from Holland last night to meet their first grandchild. Since Danny Boy looks so much like his Daddy, it must have been like a flashback to the day they held their own newborn son in their arms. A dinner had been delivered by church members, so we sat down to a festive Christmas table, lit the candles, and had a champagne toast to the grandparents...oh yes, and to the parents, too!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


After a difficult 9 months of pregnancy, a stressful week at the hospital after delivery, and a day back to work, Niels came home last night, enjoyed a dinner provided by a neighbor, opened a few baby gifts, then stretched out on the floor in front of the fireplace fire and Daniel, and fell fast asleep for the next 3 hours. He has been a rock of strength, understanding and patience throughout the ordeal. It has been a whirlwind past few years for this long-time bachelor. From meeting Jen to engagement in Paris, big wedding and Caribbean honeymoon, a new home in a new town, and the race to start a family. He's a tough guy, but finally hit the wall last night. We turned down the lights and let Daddy and Danny sleep. Today has been a busy one with laundry, trip to hospital for nursing group, errands to clinic and Target, and now Mom and baby are sleeping, too. Tomorrow Niels parents arrive from Holland. Hope everyone gets a good night's sleep tonight!!!!!!

Monday, December 15, 2008


All is quiet....Mom and baby are napping, Daddy has gone to work, house is picked up, dishes are done, and Gramma is ready for her nap, too! My little Danny Boy is such a sweetie....eats and sleeps well, and is beginning to check out his new world with his blue eyes. The house has changed from the Generation X Yuppie digs to one of baby swings, beds, diaper bags, feeding bottles and lots and lots of gift bags and presents for the new parents and baby. Jen's feedings are going better, but she is still tense, which causes muscles tightning and cramping, so she is working on learning to use relaxation techniques. It is that tough first week of getting adjusted to the new duties and body changes. I guess it has been going on for thousands of years to billions of women, but it only happens to your body the first time once! Niels has been terrific in his calm support and encouragement. Things will eventually settle down to a comfortable routine, but the first week is always the most challenging to brand new parents! Luckily, they have a very sweet, mellow little boy who eats and sleeps well, and makes things a little easier on them. And of course, Gramma adores him!!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


It would take a lot to convince a former Minnesotan to leave her new home, dog and horse in Arizona to fly to dark, rainy, cold Ohio in the middle of December, but here I am! I arrived last night at 9:30 pm, and was picked up by my anxious son-in-law and rushed to the hospital to meet Daniel Joel, my second grandson and my daughter's first child, who was delivered by C-section that morning. Holding that precious little bundle made it worth the all-day trip with all the packing, shuttles, security checks, transfers, lay-overs, and turbulence. Mom and baby are doing well...and Daddy is handling his new responsibility with amazing calm and pride. Being the Generation X kids, they have already filled the Internet with pictures and all the details. Here is the story from their blog:

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Thanksgiving is over, and now the houses begin to light up with their festive Christmas lights. I wasn't planning to do much decorating, as I will be leaving shortly to spend 10 days with my daughter when she has a C-section to deliver my new grandson! However, as I was putting something away in my shed today, I noticed a box marked "ceramic Christmas tree", and decided to bring it in, and that would be the extent of my holiday decorating for this year.

The tree was made 35 years ago when my children were very young. I attended a ceramics class one evening a week with a girlfriend as time for myself and a chance to make some homemade Christmas presents. The tree had little openings for light to shine through from the light bulb underneath, and little plastic lights fit in the holes to give the appearance of a lit Christmas tree.

This little tree was part of our holiday tradition. The children looked forward to placing the little lights in the holes each year, and later they were replaced with colored butterflies and birds. Their father and I later divorced, and I gave up home and furniture, but this little ceramic tree followed me as I moved to apartments, townhomes, houses, to Arizona and back to Minnesota, and again back to townhomes and houses. With each move, a new crack or break seemed to occur. Eventually, many of the little lights disappeared and open holes shone light through where the colored birds used to shine. I glued back pieces, stuffed colored paper in holes, and used the remaining birds to fill the holes in the front and left the open holes in the back. A few years ago, my daughter-in-law offered to make me a new ceramic tree after seeing the sad condition of this one, but my son protested "You can't replace THE tree!", and so the tree was saved from the trash bin.

As I unpacked it tonight from it's wrappings, I noticed the tip had broken off and the star had drooped from the summer's heat. I glued the top back on, and put what remained of the birds, butterflies and colored pieces into the the front and sides. I turned the tree to try to hide the large crack and hole....unsuccessfully. As I looked at the sad little tree glowing on my table, I thought that I could look at the crack, or I could just see the pretty lights shining once again from the tree.

Then it dawned on me that this tree really was a family tree. I thought of how our family is divided by miles as we now live in Arizona, Minnesota and Ohio. I thought of how the trauma of change caused it to crack, chip, and break. Yet, though all the changes and bumps that it has gone through, love has been able to be the glue that has held our family together. And like our family, it isn't perfect. There have been some cracks and breaks.....yet love has kept it intact. And when I turned off the lights tonight, I was aware of the cracks and holes, but even more, I loved seeing the soft lights glowing from that tough little tree. Families aren't perfect, and there will always be hurts, disappointments and tears. But a family who truly loves each other, who treasures the good memories, and can still appreciate what they have cracks and all...... have truly received the most wonderful Christmas gifts of all, the gifts of love and family.

Merry Christmas to my wonderful expanding family. And welcome to another year, little ceramic tree. And I hope to see you again for many, many more Christmas seasons. You are beautiful.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Thanksgivng Day began with something those who live in the desert cherish....the sound of rain. We received the first rain on Thanksgiving Day in more than 25 years, and the first rain in 90 days. The desert has that special fragrance that a fresh rain produces, and the washes are full of rushing water. Thank you, God, for the rain!
I was able to spend much of the day with Mom. We had a wonderful dinner at her friend's home, complete with wine, turkey, a fantastic family recipe stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberries with oranges and apples, and a delicious eggnog pie and pumpkin cake! Luckily, we ate at 1, so had the rest of the day to walk it off! Thank you God for my wonderful Mother, and for special friends.
After dinner I went out to the ranch and let Bart out in the big arena to run, buck, fart, rear and roll. Then he returned to me waiting at the gate. As I was walking him back to his pen, the lightning flashed and thunder boomed. I was almost there when the skies opened to a downpour. I got under his shelter with him and put his rain sheet back on, and gave him his Thanksgiving carrot, a pat, and Wylee and I ran for the truck. Wylee is terrified of storms, so he wasn't happy about being out in one and getting wet! Thank you, Lord, for the joys and companionship of my animals.
And tonight I worked with my crashed computer again....and wonders of wonders...I was able to get my AOL 9.1 up again and my addresses and some favorites back. Thank you, Lord, for the entertainment my computer can provide when it is cooperating, and for finding a way to make it cooperate again!
I miss the Thanksgivings of my youth. We would awaken to the smell of the turkey that Mom had gotten up early to get started. Dad would crank up "76 Trombones" on the old stereo and his five daughters would march around the dining room table on Mom's homemade braided rug.We would dress in our best and walk to church across crunchy, frozen ground to the chilly church a few blocks away. When we returned, we all had our jobs. One would make the sweet potatoes with marshmallows, one would make the green beans with mushroom soup and fried onion rings, one would make a chop plate of pickles, carrots, celery and olives (the black ones never made it to dinner....Dad was as bad as his daughters in swiping one every time he walked by the table), and one would set the table with the good dishes, silver and goblets. Then we would all pick a number for the football game and put our dimes in the pot. Dinner was eaten at half-time, with each person at the table saying what they were thankful for, starting with the youngest member and working up to Dad (who usually said he was thankful that we were done with our thanks and could enjoy the big turkey!). Sometime one of my grandparents or my godfather, Bernard, would also be seated around the big dining room table. When Bernard would drive up from Minneapolis in his newest Buick, we would also be enjoying the loads of food he would bring....and that usually meant a jug of Mogan David wine for Mom, a big box of Fanny Farmer chocolates, a box of nuts, and a treat with a case of Pepsi for those of us who usually drank Kool-aid! The conversations around that old table was often humorous, teasing, loud, and fun. Then we would watch the football game and scream for scores that would let our number win the pot of dimes.
After the game we had dishes to do (no was the sisters doing dishes and singing along with the pink radio with the aluminum foil wrapped around the antenna), floor to sweep, sink to clean, copper-bottomed pots to polish....then we were free. We would put on our warm coats and go for a walk, or maybe to the ice rink if there was ice made. I can remember the biting cold on my cheeks as my nose dripped and my toes and fingers turned cold.
Today I was able to share a pleasant dinner with Mom and her friends. My oldest sister and her husband had the buffet at the casino yesterday and will be back on their liquid diets today. My next sister said she would go to the local casino and eat alone at the buffet. My next sister is having dinner with her husband, daughter and her boyfriend, as they celebrate the baby due to arrive in the spring. The baby sister (in her 40's!) will have a big, noisy dinner with her boyfriend and his family. Her son will have his Thanksgiving at a Marine base. My son will have a dinner with his wife, son and in-laws, and my daughter and her husband will have a quiet dinner provided by her church as she continues her bedrest with her troublesome pregnancy almost completed....12 days to go! And Dad has now been gone almost 5 years....wonder if heaven has Thanksgivings!
So our families have spread out, traditions have changed, and those young girls who marched around the table are now middle-aged with children grown and grandchildren on their way. Wouldn't it be fun to win the lottery and be able to pay for everyone to fly here next Thanksgiving to have a noisy, confusing dinner again? Or to be able to turn the clock back 45 years and hear the feet running down the stairs as the brass starts playing "76 Trombones" and hearing Mom and Dad laughing in the kitchen........ Thank you, God, for the gift of memories.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Many years ago I went to nursing school after graduating from high school. I worked as an RN in hospitals, clinics and nursing homes, while working towards a degree in Health Education. Obtaining that degree led to 30 years of teaching in public schools. And over a 15 year period, I sold real estate on my weekends, summers and evenings. And then.....RETIREMENT! Now, after two years of enjoying a new home in a new state, I have started a part-time job to supplement my dwindling investments and to support my horse habit. And....I am back working in a medical clinic! I work with a great group of people and have my weekends, holidays and evenings off. The salary is a far cry from my last year's of teaching, but I have the flexibiltiy to still enjoy getting away occasionally.....such as 10 days next month to meet my new grandson who is due December 9! So here I am....40 years later and back in scrubs. The circle of life.......

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lucky Day!

I received yet another one of those emails to send around and receive good luck in 4 days. I usually don't sent them on, worrying about viruses. But this one had a great message, so I chose my 11 people and waited for my lottery ticket to hit. It didn't. But I did have a special day yesterday. I went to the local western store's 20th Anniversary event. I walked around picking up samples, talking with reps, and signing up for drawings. I bought a new round leather collar for Wylee ( along with the vet telling me that he needs to lose weight, his puppy collar has gotten to the last hole) and received a free squeeky furry raccoon for Wylee to disembowel. I found a hat a really liked....and when I asked if it was on sale, was told it wasn't, but was offered a 20% I bought it, and had two nice compliments before I even got out of the store. I enjoyed their BBQ, but was able to stick with my Detox Plan by making a lettuce wrap of the burger! Then left to head for the ranch, where a girlfriend met me with her trailer and we hauled out of town for a ride. It was a beautiful locations with lots of high hills, huge saquaros, and a rock-walled canyon. Both of us were riding beautiful palominos who were exceptional on the often steep and rocky trails. The above picture is on the ride wearing that new hat! My cell phone rang....and I won a drawing at the western store...a great Ariat fleece vest! So guess I did have a lucky day... a new hat on sale, a free fleece vest and toy for Wylee, and a "legal" lunch, and a fantastic trail ride. And to top it all off....the Detox plan is working.....the scale rewarded me with a 10# weight loss. Yup, it was a lucky day. Have another one of those email to send to my 10 best friends???

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I am so proud of my country today. In high school I read "Black Like Me" and learned of college students being killed for helping people in the southern states register to vote. I saw the Governor of Alabama stand in front of a college and refuse to allow Black students entrance. I saw Martin Luther Kings speech...."I have a dream..."....and I saw him shot down. I wept during that terrible week of Kennedy's death and funeral. I have seen America at her ugliest. But last night I sat with two Republicans and had an election party....and watched history being made. Tears ran down my cheeks as I heard the healing, gracious speech by John McCain in defeat. And I felt again how I felt as a teenager when I watched John Kennedy take office and heard "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country". I felt hope, I felt pride, and I felt the excitement of thinking that this country can heal, can be better for all Americans, can be respected again by the world, and can move to a time of peace and prosperity. I prayed that God would allow the best person for our country to win this election....and learned that many others were offering the same prayer. Now I pray that our country can heal, can get behind our new president, and that God will protect and guide him. I have never been prouder of my country. God speed, President Obama!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


CJ is into the Action Figures, so here he is as the Incredible Hulk for Halloween. Hard to believe that tiny baby will be 5 on Saturday! And in 38 days, I will have a new yet unknown!

Monday, November 3, 2008


Had a Halloween party at the clubhouse for Halloween. Fun seeing the senior set in their fun costumes. Above you see the man who works as a butcher at Safeway with his new wife!!! Mom and I are on the left....she copied her winning witch costume from last year, and I had planned to go as a witch, too...but then found a gaudy dress at the thrift shop...added lots of glittery jewelry, makeup, and a blond wig, made a poster....and became a political activist. Unfortunately, neither of us won a costume prize, but we enjoyed the free pizza and beer, Halloween treats, and both won door prize drawings! It was all done by 8, so I moved on to a nearby bar that was having a costume party and Kareoke. The costumes there were wild...the singing fair to good, and the PBR was on the TV, so enjoyed a few hours....and was home by 10! Don't know if the spooks and goblins were out....but the coyotes were howling loudly as I headed for bed. And THAT was this Halloween in Arizona!

Sunday, October 26, 2008


I just returned from a 4-day Hospital Benefit ride and camping trip. I hesitated on going, as there were to be 100 riders, and Bart is not at his best on large rides. I decided to "Cowgirl Up" and give it a try, believing I could just load up and go home if he was too anxious.

I arrived on Thursday about noon, set up, and got ready to go out on the 2:00 ride. We went into Box Canyon, and saw beautiful rock formations and rode into the river. When we got back the open bar was set up and then we were treated to a BBQ brisket dinner and cobblers made in a Dutch oven. Was fun meeting new people and seeing all the various campers, RV's, and tents being set up. An early bedtime felt good!

Friday more rigs arrived and the ride went out at 9. Bart was fine until we joined the large group of horses waiting to go out, then got wound up and bouncy. I saw a cowboy standing by the hitching post, and asked him if he would hold Bart while I got off. I was not going to ride. He asked if I wanted him to take the edge off, and I was glad to hand him the reins. He stuck a spur and sent Bart flying across the open area, slid him to a sliding stop (5' slide marks!!!), rolled him sharply back and went wide open the opposite direction. He did a few more roll backs, then handed me the reins and said "He is a great horse, just needs a job to do. Keep him moving and working and he will be fine". I got back on and he finally settled down and gave me a good ride. This time we climbed and enjoyed long vistas over mountains and saguaros. I loved the layering of violets, purples and pinks of the mountains....always wish I could paint when I see views like that. I later learned that the cowboy was Tom Seacrest who has a string of horses that he takes to Wyoming in the summers and to Arizona in the winter. I have rented horses from him, as have my visiting friends, and he provides a really nice riding horse.

When we got back a great lunch was waiting, then a gymkhana. I didn't plan to participate, but again got the "Cowgirl Up" urging, so I went to the area where the events were set up. Bart again was fine until he got to the arena with all the gathered horses and commotions, but when he went through the trail class and flag race, he did great! Of course, the others were loping and galloping the events, and I jogged and loped them! I even got some applause after opening, going through, and closing the gate, but then, we do that every day at Simpsons...and he is good at gates! My friends arrived with their horses during the event, so I passed on the Egg and Spoon and went for a great afternoon ride back to Box Canyon with them. Bart could be good at egg and spoon since he is so smooth-gaited, but I figured with an arena full of horses, when they called gallop he would GO....and I didn't think that would be as fun as a relaxing ride in the cool canyon. Dinner was grilled steak and salmon with strawberry shortcake for dessert. So much for losing weight with all the riding. A singing cowboy dolled all up in big hat, chaps, jangly spurs and six-shooters strolled around as we ate to serenade us with old western songs. A fun auction of "Tacky Tack" followed, and brought lot of laughs with the auctioneers remarks on the odds and ends.

Saturday morning was another great breakfast of made-to -order omelets, biscuits and gravy, waffles, cinnamon rolls and all the extras. Bart was pretty wound up....his old girlfriend, Joe's dun mare Miss Kitty had arrived....and during the night broke loose from Cindy's trailer and spent the night with Bart! He whinnied whenever she was out of sight, so I took someones suggestion and had the vet give him a shot of ACE. WONDERFUL STUFF!!! Had an AWESOME ride! We had lunch waiting for us in a wooded area, and the horses enjoyed a nap as they stood tied to the branches. Dinner was a yummy Prime Rib dinner....then another auction, but this time it was beautiful artwork, rugs, wood work and things that went for $800-$1500. I didn't bid....and my silent auction bids didn't win anything either. BUT....a professional photographer brought her pictures from the weekend to sell. The ones she really liked had been enlarged and on display.....and the biggest one was of Bart!!!! It is the picture at the top of this page. Most people had 1-4 pictures to chose from....she had taken 18 of Bart! She told me later that he was her favorite horse...that she thought he was so photogenic (probably because he was usually so animated)! Of course, I wanted them all, but selected 5 and she gave me the 12x14. She had taken some of Wylee, me, and Bart, but she said she hadn't printed them, as they had come out too dark. That was disappointing.

A huge screen had been set up for "Movie Under the Stars"....and John Wayne's "Rio Bravo" was shown and popcorn served. I opted for a shower, clean jammies and bed! I learned later that I wasn't the only one who pooped out after a busy day in the sunny 85 degrees!

Today was a bit of a disappointment. When Cindy and Joe left with Chex and Miss Kitty, Bart was devastated. He whinnied and carried on terribly. I had him saddled, but decided not to ride him as he was SOOOOOO mad about losing his sweetie. So I packed up, drove home down that long 10 mile rough road, brought Bart home and gave him a bath, fresh shavings and some hay, and left him dozing under his tree. Then it was the truck's turn to get washed....then home to wash the dusty clothes....give Wylee a bath,and now I have my bathing suit on and will leave some red desert dust in the Jacuzzi and pool! I think I will be ready for bed right after "Desperate Housewives"!

It was a great weekend and I met some really nice people. Most of the riders were between about 50-75, and one great lady from Montana was 94 and rides every day on her sorrel, Gordie. Gives one hope! Heard great stories from the vet who had gone on a riding trip in Africa, a man who had worked in Hollywood and told stories of the many stars he had worked with, and met a 75 year old woman who driven over alone from California for the ride. I'm glad I went, although I was way out of my comfort zone without my usual camping friends, and desert camping instead of in a nice Minnesota park. Luckily, I didn't see any snakes....although one woman found a taranchula and enjoyed letting it crawl around her face and neck...YIKES! Feels good to be home and my bed will feel great! Bet Bart is twice as happy to be home!!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Bart, Wylee and I have all settled back in to Arizona living. I have been very fortunate to have met some great new riding buddies. Bets is an incredible 80+ year old woman who gives me hope for more years of riding. She has a great knowledge of the trails, and of the vegetation. She points out landmarks and various plants and flowers as we ride, and she has led me out on some trails that are sometimes challenging, and usually breathtaking in beauty.
I have also met Joe, who has an RV and rides all over the country, Cindy, who lives in Washington but winters in a park model at the ranch, Diane, who lives on an acreage with her husband and horses here in town, and hope to get more rides in with Cindy, who I rode with last year. So with all these new riding friends, I am getting out on 2-3 hour rides every few days, and Bart is really getting fit with all the hills to scramble up and slide down! I feel so fortunate to live in such a wonderful area and to have had all these fun new people to share my riding experiences. When one is out on a horse in spectacular scenery, with a bright blue sky, warm sunshine, and interesting conversation it seems that all the problems with illnesses, economy and war fade for awhile and life is full of peace and beauty......and I am grateful.

Friday, October 3, 2008


The summer is over and I am back at my little home in Arizona. The last weeks were busy with good-byes, a wedding,and then a week riding in the Black Hills of South Dakota before driving through Colorado and Utah to haul Bart back for some desert riding this winter. The top picture is Bart and me at the top of an overlook....straight down a loooooog way behind us. The second picture is my last night in Minnesota, where my son, daughter-in-law and grandson met me at the ranch for a picnic, bonfire, and for CJ's last ride on Bart. It was a fun evening, but I will miss them. The bottom picture is with two of my riding buddies all gussied up for another riding friend's daughter's wedding. Hardly recognize each other when we get all dolled up and replace our Wranglers, boots and hats with our girly outfits! The trip down went well....beautiful country in Colorado with the snow capped mountains and golden aspens, and the arches in Utah, and the impressive rocks in Monument Valley, where so many of the John Wayne/John Ford movies were made. I drove 13 hours from the Black Hills to Grand Junction, CO the first day, and stayed at a beautiful show barn. Turns out the owner graduated with my college roommate's husband in Minnesota! The next day was a 10 hour drive to Flagstaff. The steep grades and sharp drops in Colorado were challenging.....I was driving 35 mph in low gear with the semis getting over those gorgeous mountains. The ranch at Flagstaff was beautiful and cool in the pines. A herd of elk walked through right behind Bart's pen, and it was a nice relaxing rest before the two hour drive home. Bart trailered well, and Wylee slept in his crate for most of the days. I came home to a welcoming house where Mom had fixed lunch and brought over my mail. So the week has been one of unloading the camper and cleaning it, doing lots of laundry, going through many emails and snail mail, putting everything away again, and getting Bart settled in again at the ranch. I rode him for the first time yesterday, and he seemed to remember his routine from last spring, and all went well. This morning I took Wylee for a long walk, swam and did aeronautics in the pool with Mom, and will head to the ranch this afternoon for a ride. And it is now like I had never left. It is good to be back among my 'tings and with Mom, but will miss my Minnesota friends and family. Hope they come for a visit this winter!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


My summer in Minnesota is rapidly coming to an end. Last weekend was the Seester farewell party that my sister arranged to a beautiful log lodge in Ely. The "girls only" weekend was a big success that left us with sore sides from laughing and sore cheeks from grinning. We did the casino, hiked by the lakes, shopped in the revigorated town of Ely, attended the Harvest Festival, ate, drank, and giggled late into the night. The huge Jacuzzi in the room was a big hit, and we all took our turn soaking in the bubbles. Thanks, was the best!

Tomorrow I head south to pack up and say my goodbyes to friends and family, then will go to South Dakota for a week of camping and riding in the Black Hills. By the end of the month I will be back in the warm, sunny Southwest again. Will be good to be home, but it has been a fun, busy summer with yet more memories.

Monday, September 1, 2008


Labor Day weekend is traditionally the end of summer. We celebrated the weekend by renting out a campground in a state park for our group of riders. Fifteen living quarter horse trailers arrived with their horses, dogs, camp chairs and toys and went to setting up horse pens, awnings, and makeshift patios. Friday was a relaxing evening of conversations and sharing stories of summer activities.
We enjoyed two long rides in the park on Saturday, and with such a large group, we found ourselves breaking into groups....the early morning riders, the gaited horses, and I went out with a group of gals who were single or not with their husbands for the weekend. We enjoyed the smaller groups, and were able to do more loping and trotting that we can do when we are in a long line in a big group.
There is a river that we ride along, but due to a steep bank, cannot ride down to it except in one spot, and that has been made difficult by a large tree lying across the entry. Recently, we noticed someone had cut a gap into that huge tree, so we attempted to go down the bank. Bart went first, and carefully picked his way down the steep incline with the rocks and logs. He arrived safely at the river, where the other riders joined us. One rider sent her horse down, which we caught, then she scrambled down on foot and re-mounted.
We rode in the river and went all the way around an island and the horses were wonderful. The weather was a breezy, sunny 80 degrees and the day was one for the memories.
The evenings were grilled dinners and a campfire with stories and laughter until our eyelids would not stay up any longer. The evenings cooled down to the 60's, so it was perfect for sleeping with the windows open and listening to the sounds of coyotes, owls and trees whispering in the breezes.
Sunday morning started with the big Cowboy Breakfast made over the campfire in a huge fry pan. Everyone supplied the eggs, sausage, bacon, cheese, mushrooms, onions, peppers, cheese, hash browns, and our expert chef combined them all into an anticipated delicious breakfast that stuffed our tummys (to our horse's chagrin!).
We had two wonderful rides on Sunday and one more earlier ride this morning. The trail leader today took us on some more remote trails that I hadn't ridden before in this huge park, and were breathtaking in their beauty with the rolling hills overlooking the lakes, the narrow trails through the huge oaks, and across the waving meadows. Most of us agreed that this weekend of camping was the highlight of the summer, and today was the best ride of the year. It was so hard to pack up, wave good-bye to friends who I wouldn't see again for a long time, and to pull out of that park on yet another beautiful breezy day.
Now the horse has been returned happily to his pasture, the trailer has been unloaded and parked, the dog and I have had our baths and supper, and I am relaxing recalling such a perfect ending to the end of summer. Tomorrow I will head back up north to attend a funeral, then look forward to spending next weekend with my sisters for a last good-bye get-together before I head to the Black Hills on a ride, then back to Arizona. It has been a summer full of riding, golf, fishing, time with family and friends, and lots of time on the road. I almost didn't come up for this summer....and maybe won't again next year....but this one was wonderful. Now for that beautiful season of colorful leaves and first frosts......

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Had another fun day with my grandson....lunch at Sonics, seeing the movie "Space Chimps", and out to the ranch to visit Bart......and to top it all off, Paul let him sit on his lap and drive the big BLUE HOLLAND tractor! CJ thinks Paul walks on water and just loves to follow him around at the ranch talking about the machinery.

When it was time to bring the horses in, Heather opened the door and they all ran through the indoor arena to their stalls. CJ was standing by the gate, and Bart left the other horses to walk over to CJ and drop his head to say "Hi". Heather came back to see why Bart wasn't in his stall...and he was still visiting with CJ. Bart ignored Heather when she called him, but then quietly followed CJ to his stall where CJ closed the door triumphantly. As Heather later said, "That horse knows his boy". A sleepy and dusty boy was delivered to his parents by 8 pm, where he told of how he drove the tractor, moved the dirt, and helped with the horse chores. I don't know who enjoyed the day more, me or that fun little boy.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Who ever thought being a grandmother would be so fun! My only grandchild (so far....Jen is expecting her first child in December!)is a darling 4 year old with glasses, a lisp, and a great sense of humor. He is bright, thoughtful, and sooooo respectful! It is refreshing to be around a child who didn't have a whine the whole two days he was with me!
I picked him up and took him to my sister's home in northern Wisconsin. She and her husband have transformed a former gravel pit into a gorgeous garden spot with an ever-changing home. John is an incredible carpenter, and is always remodeling the home. The newest change is a remodeled bathroom with an awesome stone shower. My sister has become quite the gardener and grows all her own vegetables, plus a plethora of flowers in rock gardens all over the yard. She also has chickens, so CJ had a ball feeding them and gathering the eggs.
He was so eager to see the huge muskie statue at the Hayward Fishing Hall of Fame. It was closed when we got there, so we got a bucket of KFC and heading to the lake for a picnic and some sunny fishing from the lake shore. He had a ball swimming...and an incoming boater even took him for a short boat ride!
The next morning he was finally able to see that BIG fish and was so excited. It is such a treat to view things through the fresh eyes of a child. We also went to the Wilderness Walk, where he was able to pet deer, baby animals, and even a camel. It is a wonderful learning place for children, and such a relaxing place to walk through the woods while seeing spotted fawns following their mothers and read the informative signs about the trees, glacier formations and ecology.
I returned a dusty, sleepy boy back to his parents 30 hours later. They are fantastic parents and have done such a great job of raising a well-mannered child. I couldn't believe hearing him apologizing to my sister when he dripped some of his yogurt on the tablecloth, and asked for a cloth to clean it up! After 30 years of working with kids, I didn't think I would enjoy being around on so much....but he is special....MY GRANDSON!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


One thing you know for sure in July in Minnesota.....those warm, humid days often end with a storm. Yesterday had a beautiful sunset....but then the storm warnings started flashing across the bottom of the TV screen....and when the beeping announced a tornado 1 mile east of Blackduck, and I was sitting one mile west of Blackduck....well, it made for an interesting evening! Luckily, all we got was a spectacular lightning show but avoided the hail and wind that hit around us. The weather will continue to be erratic the rest of the, humid days followed by storms at night. Hope it settled down before the horse camping this weekend!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


When one is single, a realtor, or a nurse, many July 4ths are spent working or alone. We convince ourselves that it is just another day, and watch faraway fireworks from the back deck or a hospital window.

A friend just told me that I am now living the good life. I hold my breath when I hear this, as there is no guarantee that life will treat you gently as the years pass. At this point in my life, I am enjoying retirement with relatively financial security (as long as I remember I am a retired schoolmarm on a fixed income!), fairly good health (ignoring the issues with my eyes, joints and heart valve!), a family that is also fairly healthy and happy, and wonderful friends in Arizona and Minnesota. I find myself treasuring each day that I am able to enjoy the beauty of nature, and activities that I enjoy.

And so another Independence Day has come and gone, and it was a perfect day. It began with a clear sunny day with a soft breeze. The resort has an annual flag changing ceremony, and as that bright new flag fluttered at the top of the flagpole, I caught a lump in my throat as I noted the salute given my one of the residents, a veteran who fought battles in WWI, and is now fighting the battle with Alzheimer's.

After reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to that new flag, we were invited for rolls and coffee on the deck of one of the park model homes, and Wylee made his rounds for treats.

One of the joys of living in a small town across from the golf course, is that it is so easy to hop in the cart and drive to the first hole....which we did with three guys and me. I am a hacker golfer, so was very flattered that they insisted that I join them, and were patient with my hooks, slices and duffs. They were also very generous with praises when I would occasionally connect for a good drive or putt....and even offered some helpful pointers.

Not done, yet! The customers from the resort all met again at the Hillcrest supper club for their special BBQ of turkey, pork and beef. And as we sat out on the deck enjoying the view of the lake and cocktails, a small canon that had been beautifully made by a local retired welder was fired.

And there is more! We took our full tummys back to the resort to relax in front of a bonfire and to watch a spectacular sunset over the lake. And as dusk crept in, the fireworks began. I brought a family pack to set off, and there were other displays shooting up from across the lake, at the park, and at the neighboring resort. Finally, we used the glowing coals of the fire to make smores, and then said our good nights.

Before ending the day, the nightly game of Gin 13 was played, and I ALMOST won. And midnight arrived as we shuffled the cards, and my 61st, and perhaps favorite, Independence Day passed to memory.

Not every day or holiday will be as we would like it to be, and loneliness and disappointments cannot be avoided. But we need to enjoy and appreciate the moments.....and this memorable day was one of those very special moments.

Happy Birthday, America!