Sunday, December 27, 2009


Was a long Christmas season this year. It started a week before Thanksgiving with Jen, Niels and Daniels visit, and our early celebrations of Thanksgiving, Christmas and Daniel's first birthday. Then we celebrated early again with Lori and Nick's visit. The weather prevented Ann and Mick coming for the actual date, but it was a festive time, anyway with Christmas Eve spent with my cousin Linda, her husband and daughter with a dinner and intense game of Michigan Rummy (kind of like Tripoli). Christmas morning we attended Mass, then had a holiday brunch at Cindy's with her husband and mother. The mimosas and Baileys led to a nap in the afternoon after bringing Bart his carrots and apples. Then the Westpark dinner was at 5, and was fun filling the table with Mom, me, Linda, Larry and their daughter. And yesterday I received a box from Chris, Kelly and CJ with gifts CJ bought with his own money at the dollar store...which made them that much more precious.

My last gift came from Bart. I was invited to join Bets on her new mare, Lena, and a friend, Kathy, with her 4 year old warmblood mare. As I saddled, I reminded Bart that he was the senior member of the ride now, so I expeccted him to set a good example. And for my Christmas present from him, I just wanted a nice ride with no bucking, spooking or bolting. It was a chilly 50 degrees as we left the ranch, but the sun was warm and the sky was clear, so our jackets were soon opened and gloves pulled off. We rode up the trails to Turtle Mountain. It has been a couple of months since I have ridden them, due to Sweet Peas passing and Bets searching for a new horse, the rainy weather, my bout with the flu, company, Christmas, and all the distractions. Bart came through with his present, and we had a wonderful ride with three well-behaved horses and lots of laughs along the way as we observed the gorgeous views once again.

Now to try to get the house organized and picked up again, and maybe go out for a ride again this afternoon. The weather remains about 10 degrees below normal, but 50's and sunny sure beats the freezing temperatures and snow up north! Then to Laughlin on Friday to meet Pam for a few days. We always share lots of laughter and conversation....a great way to start a new year.

Monday, December 21, 2009


There comes a time when one looks around at STUFF and decides it is time to clear it out. Mom and I have talked of a garage sale for 6 months since she wanted to sell a table and chair set that was taking up room in her storage shed. We had to wait until summer was over and it would cool down and bring the snowbirds. We had to wait until after Jen, Niels and Daniel's visit and Thanksgiving, then had to wait two weeks for me to get over the flu/cold/crud. Then we had to wait a week while having fun with Lori and Nick's visit. Then there was no more waiting. It had to be last weekend or wait until next year....this weekend is Christmas, the next is New Years, then my birthday and visit with HAD TO DO IT!!!! It took a couple of days to drag stuff out and to Mom's and set up tables and clothes racks. Then, since I was an hour late in getting the ad in the newspaper, I had to make flyers and put them all over town. Then the road signs made up of purchased bright paper and placed statically. A stop at the bank to get change, and we were ready. Westparkers started poking in as we set up, and we were happy to let them buy to make more room for more STUFF! The sale ran 3 days, and each day we brought out more STUFF from the house and sheds to replace that which had left. And during the sale Mom sat busily making her scrubbies and selling them as fast as she would finish one. Finally 3pm arrived on Saturday and we were DONE! As we packed the remaining items for a trip to Goodwill, a fellow who looked young, married and down on his luck stopped in. We gave him some clothing, toys and a lamp and he was tickled pink as he packed up his battered car. Then driving around to pick up the signs and flyers, and sweep up the carport. DONE!!!!!! So it was a week of setting up, selling, and cleaning up. Today I delivered the boxes to Habitat, and put away the STUFF that I returned home. DONE!!!!!! Figuring a week of 10 hour days....I think it came down to about forty cents and hour and a tax deduction. BUT.....a lot of STUFF is gone from my shed, closets and cupboards, and Mom sold her table and chair set and about 100 scrubbies. And she is talking about "when we have our next sale.....". ARRRRGGHHHHHHH!!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Some say always get the bad news out of the way first, and that would be that my trail riding buddy, Bets, is taking Tango back to her previous owner today. The four year old mare just had too much energy for the 80+ Bets. And sadder yet, she may decide not to replace her. I have enjoyed sharing the trails with Bets, and her sharp mind would tell me the stories of the areas we road, and point out the wildlife, cactus and birds. She knew the trails so well, and introduced me to the Las Damas rides. The time comes when every cowgirl has to hang up her spurs, and it made me think about how much longer Bart and I will share the trails

Now on a happier note....I received the fantastic news that the wonderful Carole Ampe has completed her chemo and received a clean bill of health! After John's broken leg and her cancer scare, they sold their living quarter trailer and their horse, JP. They figured their riding and camping days were past, and bought a boat to spend time with family. Carole was so good to help John the past few years since his leg injury, and he has been a rock for her during her chemo. They are an inspiration as a couple. They still have their mare, Oneder, so maybe their trail riding days aren't over, yet!

And another happy sister Lori from Minnesota, and her son, Nick, who is stationed in Washington DC in the Marines, are visiting this week. Nick has been surprised by all the handshakes he has received when people learn of his service, and the round of applause he received when he was introduced at the Westpark luncheon. Times have changed. Unfortunately, the warm Arizona sunshine they anticipated has given way to unusual cool 50's and even a rainy day. That hasn't stopped them from enjoying the hot tub, however.

And a second grandson, Daniel Joel, is celebrating his first birthday today. We had an early birthday party for him when they were here two weeks ago, but I am thinking of him today, and what joy he has brought into his parent's life......and mine!

And then there was the Viking-Cardinals game. After 50 years of defending the Vikings efforts, I can't quite switch my allegiance to the Cardinals. We had a ball going to the Cardinal's stadium before the game and checking out all the tailgaters. Most of the crowd seemed to be wearing purple! And then that game......where WERE the Vikes??????

And I am finally almost over the crud...although Mom is now coming down with a stuffy nose. Life consists of the ups and downs. We celebrate the joys and endure the bad with the support of friends and family. And I have some of the best of both!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


It was 5 days of celebrating the upcoming holidays and birthdays that we wouldn't be together to share, and of discovering the fun that having a toddler in the house can provide. The house seems awfully quiet now that they are all gone, and I understand why Mom used to be so sad when everyone left her house and the quiet she felt. I'm not getting much done, as I picked up a cold, and am spending my days under a quilt on the couch watching old movies (yesterday I saw very similar themes in "Price of Tides" and "Bridges of Madison County"). They had a safe trip home, but discovered that they had left the house and car keys attached to Daniels booster chair at the restaurant! Luckily, their dogsitter had a set of house and car keys so they could finally crawl into their own beds by midnight. The keys were found, and are being mailed to them in Ohio. So all ended well. Thanks for coming, Niels and Jen.....and thanks for your work on my computer, Niels, for the Christmas gifts, and the most special gift of all.....the wonderful time with darling Daniel Joel!

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I tried to find the old pictures of my kids on their first horse rides, but instead spent time looking through old photo albums and reminiscing. I have a picture on my spacesaver that I love with my other grandson, CJ and Bart....and now Bart gets to carefully give another grandson his first horseback ride. Hard to believe that it was 40 years ago that I put a month-old Chris up on old Tater for his first feel of a horse under him. Time can go so quickly. We heard Trace Adkins sing "You're Going to Miss This" on the radio yesterday, and Jen teared up thinking how quickly the first year with her son has gone. She says his first birthday will be hard as her cuddly baby turns into an active toddler. I think the holiday seasons are sometimes joyful yet sad as we recall the memories of past holidays with family members who are no longer with us. I think of the excitement of Christmas as a child, then a mother with young ones, and now I am the grandmother. And Mom shakes her head thinking of her holidays over the past 88 years....and that now she is watching her great-grandson experience Christmas through fresh eyes....and it seems such a short time ago that she was making Christmas preparations for her own babies.
It has been a fun visit, but also one of remembering. Recalling the past, yet making new memories for the next generation to remember. No Trace...not SOMEDAY you'll miss this. It will be very soon.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Daughter Jen, hubby Niels and 11 month old Daniel arrived 40 minutes early from Ohio last night, and reached here by midnight. Daniel was good of the two flights, and slept most of the way. By the time we finished conversations and all were asleep it was after 2 am. Daniel didn't agree with the 2 hour time changes, so was awake and ready to play at 7. YAWN!!!!!

We have already gone to town and walked around to see the new statues. We just finished burgers from the grill, and Daniel is down for his second nap....and think there will be three adults joining him! When he awakens, they plan to take him to the pool....or out to see Bart and hit the pool tomorrow,

Had planned to have "Thanksgiving" tonight, but the big ol' turkey doesn't seem to want to thaw out in the frig, so will do that tomorrow with "Christmas"....then open presents. That will be fun with a little one.

He has been a real trooper....lots of giggles and grins to show off his 7 new teeth. He is starting to feed himself, wave, shake his head and says "Mama" and "Dadda". We are working on "Beautiful, sexy Gramma Chi", but not much luck, yet!

Saturday, November 14, 2009


I reported the sad day last month when my good riding buddy had to put down her mare, Sweet Pea. I thought that would be the end of the rides with this wonderful equestian who is now in her 80's. But when asked if she would get another horse, she replied "Of course! What else would I do with my time?" And last week she delivered Tango to the ranch. She is a 4 year old Morgan bay mare, who is very refined and elegant. We were a bit concerned with the young age and lack of trail experience, but she has proven to be a level-headed, calm horse on the trails. We had a great ride today, and I hope it is one of many, many more for both of them!

Monday, November 9, 2009


Nettie wearing Mom's wedding dress

Loren caught the bouquet!

Just returned from Helena, Montana where Mom and I attended the wedding of my sister Ann's daughter, Annette to a great guy, Tony. It was an outdoor wedding, and the weather cooperated by the sun beaming during the vows. I enjoyed the drive we made on Sunday and seeing some of the beautiful country near their new home. They have been in a whirlwind the past month moving into their new home, painting, stripping wallpaper and remodeling the kitchen....and it was beautiful! The flights were on time, everyone gave Mom lots of special attention, and we had a great time. Wylee was boarded at a new "Cage free" facility, and appeared to have had a fun time with other small dogs. Was a quick weekend trip, but a great time, and of course, I have always loved Montana, and enjoyed seeing the mountains, lakes, and deer and antelope. Now good to be home, and bed will feel good in an hour!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


As many know, there is a great rivalry between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers. And when they play each other, it is THE game to watch! Since the Vikings beat the Packers when they played in Minnesota, they were out for revenge when the Purple People Eaters came to Lambeau Field today.....and there were some really mixed feelings seeing their beloved Brett Farve returning in purple!

I was sure that the game would be televised down here....but it turns out it was on at the same time as the Arizona Cardinals game, so the local team won out. Not to be deterred, Mom and I dressed in purple, went to the new sports bar to see the game. We were sure that they would have one screen off the Cardinals and on the big Viking-Packer game. But to our disappointment, they said they didn't have the NFL channel. We called around, and just when we thought we were out of luck, we were told that Anitas had satellite and would be showing THE game on at least one screen.

We had an hour before kickoff, so ordered a margarita, and brought a deck of cards to play some Gin 13. My cousin Linda joined us, and we were seated next to a table of guys dressed in green....from the rivalry with disparaging remarks and horn sounds began!

When game time approached, we asked to have the TV changed to THE game. We were given the remote....found the channel that said "Vikings vs Packers".....then read that this channel was not a paid for channel! We frantically went through the channels...others tried the remote...we talked with the bar tender.....but all was in vain. THE game was not going to be shown at Anitas. So we called the Sportsbar in Morristown, and at Los Cab....but no one had access to THE game.

We gave up and came home. I went online and "watched" the game on the play-by-play. I am very happy to report that the Vikings were successful in again beating the Packers, and the Cheeseheads had to admit that our "Cash for Clunkers" program was a good idea.....our gain was their loss.

I was concerned that Brett would get carried away with the excitement of the game, and forget that he was to throw to purple and not green on his way to his next Super Bowl ring, but he proved once again the champion that he is.......and POWER TO THE SENIORS!!!!!!

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Mom and I found some costumes in a garage sale last

month, and wore them last night to the Westpark Halloween Party. Mom was the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz, and I was the Mayor of Munchkinland.....complete with a big pillow stuffed in my pants! Maybe it was the rainbow eyelashes I had glued on backwards, but I won second place and $60! Shows that you can still have new experiences as you become a senior citizen....first time I have ever won for a Halloween costume!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Growing up, Sundays meant getting everyone up for Mass, getting out the St. Joseph missals, and putting on our chapel veils. Then the Manthei clan would pile in the car and drive the 4 blocks to the church, where we would file into our usual pew in the front of the church. In the summer we sweat in the hot, stuffy unair-conditioned building (and I often walked out feeling faint), or freezing in the below zero winter months.

When we got home, Mom would be fixing a rotisserie chicken or pot roast for our half-time dinner, and we would all put in a dime to draw a number between 0-9 for the game. Then we would cheer and groan as our beloved Vikings would play. Sometimes it was in the rain, sometimes in below zero snow. We watch the expressionless Bud Grant on the sidelines and the shivering players who were not allowed heaters, as the coach felt they would be thinking of getting back to them instead of fighting for a win.

The winner of the game would gleefully gather the pot of dimes and we would dream of going to the Super Bowl. Sometimes our hopes would be high as we won the playoffs.....the again, once more were dashed as the Vikes lost yet another Super Bowl. But there was always the hopes of next year as the Tarkingtons, Foremans, Studwell's and Kramers hung up the helmets for another year.

And now I live in Arizona, where I am not always able to see the Vikings play unless I go to a sports bar and beg them to put on the men in purple. BUT then there is THIS year! The rival quarterback, Brett Farve is now a Viking! And they are playing undefeated! And today I came home from church to discover the Vikings were playing on the local channel! And it was 4th quarter with 10 minutes to play and they led by 3 touchdowns!!!!! Then I called my daughter-in-law as as I was talking, watched Baltimore score and tie up the game. I then called my daughter in Ohio as the score was one point apart with two seconds to play. Baltimore attempted a field goal to win the game.....and missed. VIKES WIN!!! UNDEFEATED IN THE FIRST 6 GAMES OF THE SEASON!!!!!!

I thought of how the excitement would have all the Manthei family rolling and pounding on the floor, screaming, praying, yelling and grabbing for the bowl of dimes. Dinner would have to wait until after the game was done. We would be exhausted from our cheering as we went to sit at the big dining room table. Dad would go downstairs to throw some logs in the furnace, and the warm air would start coming up through the grate in the middle of the room.

After dinner and dishes, we would take our skates to the skating rink 3 blocks from the house, crunching on the frozen snow and blowing steam clouds above us with our breath. At the rink we would join our friends and talk about the game, the weekend, and the coming week at school.

We returned home in the dark as the cold air chilled us and made our lungs ache from breathing it. And we would dream again of a Viking Super Bowl victory.

It was a simpler life then. Dad worked as a Game Warden, Mom was at home with warm cookies when we returned from school (later she was busy selling Avon and Electrolux vacuums and writing for the Bemidji paper), and the youngest sister was born as the oldest one was graduating from high school. Life has changed considerable since then, and no one would have guessed where we would all be these years later, and what we would be doing. But some things remain intact....the dreams of watching a Viking win on a Sunday with the family....even if it now means sharing the plays by phone or Internet. Many things change in life, and now those same sisters have children and grandchildren of their own and new family traditions have been started. Some things remain the same, such as the Manthei's sharing the good and bad plays on the phone or Internet, and now yet another generation has joined in. Jen sent this picture of her son Daniel dressed Minnesotan for today's game. He is learning to cheer and working on making the Viking horn sound. Someday, the Vikings MAY win....and hope springs eternal that THIS year THESE Vikings will finally win the big one. Yes, Hell may freeze over, but it will be a hot day on the frozen northern tundra if the Super Bowl trophy finally comes to Minnesota. And there will be an old retired game warden dancing on the clouds.....literally! GO VIKES!

Monday, October 12, 2009


When I moved from Minnesota to Arizona, I was questioning how much longer I would keep my horse and be riding. Most of my riding friends up north were younger than me, and I was thinking I was getting a bit long in the tooth for this sport, and with my arthritic joints complaining, I was thinking it might be time to hang up the spurs.

Then I met Bets. She is a typical New England no-nonsense tall, slim woman in her 80's who keeps her horse at the same ranch as I keep Bart. She invited me to join her on a trail ride, and from there, we have enjoyed riding the trails at least once a week. She belongs to Las Damas (and is the oldest member who still rides!) and has had me as her guest on the monthly and 5-day ride. When I mentioned that I may retire from riding, she scoffed that if she was still in her 60's, she wouldn't even consider quitting riding!

I have enjoyed riding with her and learning the trails, birds, and vegetation that she knows so well. She used to show saddlebred horses, and is an excellent rider and I enjoy her sharing her knowledge of horses and life with me as we ride the beautiful country in Arizona.

She has been riding a beautiful red dun mare that was called Madison when she bought her 10 years ago. Although she is an awesome trail horse, she doesn't have the kindest attitude....often pinning her ears, snapping her teeth, and sometimes taking a nip off Bets as she saddles this cranky mare. Someone commented that she was "a real Sweet Pea" when she displayed her naughty attitude...and that was the name Bets gave her . This mare with the beautiful, smooth body and gorgeous huge eye continued with her ear pinning and teeth snapping even with all of Bets loving care, but Bets loved here and understood her, and would laugh and shake her head when the mare would do her thing.

About 5 years ago Sweet Pea pulled a suspensorary ligament, and had to be on pasture rest for a summer. Since then Bets has had special shoes and pads applied, x-rays and ultrasounds done, supplements fed, and Sweet Pea has been sound most of the time. But last week as we were riding on Turtle Mountain, Sweet Pea suddenly buckled on all four legs and almost went down. She recovered but left Bets over the neck. As the ride progressed, the mare's limp became more pronounced, until Bets decided to get off and walk her in.

She gave her some Bute when we go back, but Sweet Pea remained sore on the foot. It was a difficult decision, but she decided that she had done all that she could do for the mare, and made the decision to have her put down. This morning she trailered Sweet Pea to her vet, and said her good-byes.

I had thought that I would be losing my riding partner, and that she would decide to quit riding as she reached her mid-80's. But Wednesday she is going out to look at a new horse! She said "Of course I'm getting another horse. What else would I do?"

I have so much admiration for this woman. As I feel the aches and pains after a ride, I can imagine how she must feel. What an extraordinary spirit! She is such an inspiration to so many of us who wonder how many more riding years we have in us.

Happy Trails, Sweet free!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

When living in the north country, the coming of September meant the end of summer, the knowledge that the long months of dark and cold were on the way, and the return to my duties as a teacher. It was a bittersweet time. Now that I am retired and living in the Southwest, the change of seasons is welcomed!

I didn't plan to spend the summer in Arizona, but it worked out that way after returning from the family reunions with Mom's bout with Valley Fever. I love all the sunny days, but was getting tired of the hot afternoons. During these months, Arizonans often take a break from the heat by heading north to the higher elevations and cool temperatures.

Yesterday Cindy and I hauled our horses up to Skull Valley where she takes lessons and has her horse trained in reining. While there, one of the trainers rode Bart. I always like to watch a good rider on my horse....I get to see how he moves under saddle and how he responds to a different rider. Here are some pix on Monte, a quiet rider who did very well with Bart. I often wish Bart could have an owner who rode that well, and would let him do all he has the potential to do.

When Monte finished, I rode around in their beautiful arena and lounged around under their big shade trees. It is a beautiful facility, and was a fun day with horses and horse loving people.

And now the cooler temps are coming to the valley....the snowbirds will be returning....and this will be the Land of the Sunshine that visitors love to come to escape the winter cold and dark of the north. Welcome Autumn!!!

Friday, September 18, 2009


If you grew up in the 60's , as I did, you were challenged and motivated by John Kennedy to make a better America, and then devastated by his untimely death. You cheered for the Equal Rights passage, and you prayed and worked for an end to the Vietnam War. And throughout, you listened to the moving music of Peter, Paul and Mary. When I heard of the passing of Mary Travers yesterday from cancer, and watched a recording of "Blown in Wind", it brought back so many feelings and memories of those impressionable days. I'll always remember her as the willowy blond with the long, flowing hair and passionate voice.
My daughter is saddened this week after learning of the death of a friend's young husband who was killed fighting in the Afghanistan war. Their sons were born just days apart. It grieves her to think that this little boy will soon be taking his first steps, and will do it without the guiding hand and encouragement of his loving father. This is a story that is repeating itself throughout the country and world as wars continue to be how conflicts are resolved. It is just so, so sad. And as I read of her grief, the sweet and impassioned song of Mary Travers drifts through my mind and memories. "When will it ever end....."

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Last year I took advantage of a great sale and some perks and traded in my 25 year old home for a new one in this 55+ park. I figured the old home would be needing a new roof soon, and with 25 year old air conditioner, furnace, and stove, and a sagging porch, I would be needing to spend some money that I didn't have for constant repairs. So, took advantage of a good deal and moved into my nice new home and felt I would be problem-free for many years to come. WRONG!
Within the first year of ownership, the heat pump (and AC!) went out twice, the hot water heater needed a new element, the new washer needed a part to allow hot water to enter, the ice maker in the refrigerator needed replacing , and the dishwasher needed repair. The hinge on the cabinet under the sink broke in half! I called for a replacement hinge, and was sent ones that didn't match. Then the first year warranties were done. Last month the above-the-stove-microwave went and repairs were $250 but a new microwave of that style was $500, so had to go for the repairs. No warranty. Then two weeks ago the slides holding the produce drawer in the refrigerator shattered.....both sides broke with little pieces of plastic falling to the bottom of the refrigerator.
Now I will share that I do not have teenagers or other children abusing my appliances, nor do I have a burly husband in it many times a day to browse! I have had both new and used homes over the past 40 years, and have seldom EVER needed repairs done on my appliances.....and now all this in the first 16 months!!!!!
I called GE to tell them how disappointed I was in the quality of their appliances. The reply was "That is too bad" and was offered to buy extended warranties on all the appliances for about $1000 a year! She said maybe I wouldn't have any more problems. I said if she was confident with that, would she offer to extend my first year warranty for another year. Nope.
I called the maker of my home, and got a prompt call from their customer service. She promised the next time their repair people were out this way they would see if they could bring me a matching cabinet hinge.....if they still had any of that style. I'm guessing they won't....again.
So now I am holding my breath for the next thing to go wrong....guess the only thing left is the dryer. So if you see me out hanging clothes in my carport.........
My mother had a 1945 Leonard refrigerator. As her family grew, the little frig became too small....and she replaced it with several newer ones in the next 50 years. And the last I heard, that little Leonard is still keeping someones beer cold in a lake cabin in northern Minnesota. certainly doesn't mean better! And I can hear my sister in Cameron, WI cheering that statement. She has Blue Pony Antiques and over the summer her newer refrigerator went out. Yup, she went out to the store and brought in a little 50 year old refrigerator and plugged it in.....and was able to keep her food cool until her husband brought home a large new refrigerator. Yup, that one has already gone out. She offered to sell me her antique refrigerator, but I have the feeling that she will be needing it again!!!!

Monday, September 7, 2009


I just read the president's speech for the school children that will be given tomorrow (and what president who has spoken to the schools in the past had to pre-release his speech???). I think it is excellent, and has some similarities that I used to tell students in my classes.....the "Be All You Can Be" speech. I think it is wonderful that as busy as he is with all the problems on his shoulders, that he is taking time to encourage students on their first day of school. What on earth is political (or as some have said, Muslim!) about that!
I worry for our country when I hear of a so-called Christian minister in Phoenix yesterday preaching how he hates Obama, not just his politics, but the man, and prays that God will give him brain cancer like Ted Kennedy, so he will die, too. And in Fountain Hills, where people woke up today to find "KKK", and racist comments carved into their cars and spray painted on their homes. I had hoped and prayed that our country had come so much further than that by now.
I still get emails showing Obama with devil horns, and racist jokes. It is sickening. How can these so called "Christians" be so full of hate? Doesn't their Bible say that "God is Love".....yet they spew hate and racism right in their churches.
We elected a president who represents all of our country. He is part Black, part Irish, and part Asian. His religious background is Catholic, Muslim and Protestant. Guess that gives him a better understanding of the diversity of this country than most. Then I heard someone tell me yesterday that she did not want her granddaughter to hear the speech and that her granddaughters school textbooks sounded if President Obama wrote them since getting into office in January!
This country was founded in the belief that people were equal and everyone had a right to go as far as his skills and opportunities would take them. But we still seem to predicate that with "as long as HE is white, Protestant(that doesn't look right, but spell check says it is!) and male". We have come so far since our founding fathers signed that Declaration of Independence.....and yet, sadly, have so much further to go to make this a country for the people, by the people , and of ALL the people.
I hope the parents and the schools welcome our President taking time to address our students, and I hope they listen well.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I received an invitation from Harrah's in Laughlin to a slot tourniment, with entry and 3 nights of rooms included, with a possible win of $8000, and a win of at least $50 guaranteed. I thought it would be fun to get away for a weekend and invited some friends and family to join me there. My good friend, Pam, took me up on it, and she flew in to Vegas, where I picked her up, then we drove to Laughlin for a few days of good laughs and conversations before she flew out of Phoenix yesterday after spending a few hours checking out Wickenburg on the way through.

She was shocked to discover what record-breaking 115 degrees of sunny, dry air felt like, and I discovered that unlike the winters, Laughlin is NOT cooler than here in the summer! But I love being near the Colorado River, and they were having their float weekend, where people had tubes with umbrellas, decorations and coolersy floating down from the Davis Dam. It looked so fun! Harrahs has a beautiful sandy beach area, so with the water, sand and flowers, I pretended I was on a Caribbean beach, for a moment!

We had a fun time, especially on the community pig race game, but I didn't win the big one in the slot tourniment, and the slots were not kind, so we both ended up donating to the local economy. Guess someone has to pay for all those bright lights reflecting off the river!

Friday, August 21, 2009

If you have noticed the HIWAY DOG logo on the left side of my blog, that is the brainchild of my sister, Mary. This week she was interviewed by the local TV channel, and if you go on to the link, you will see her interview, and her Blue Pony Antiques business on a gray, blustery day in Wisconsin. HIWAY DOG is a logo to let people know that a business welcomes pets, either by providing shady spots to park the car with the pet while the owners are shopping, or even offering water or walking areas. Hopefully, it will one day be as recognized as the handicapped logos are today. Click on this link, then on the "Pet Friendly" link on the right had of the screen. Are you watching, Oprah????

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Tonight Mom walked to the clubhouse by herself to join some friends in the nightly card game. I think that means she is officially on the way to being back to her healthy self. This week I saw her make a scrubbie, go to the pool, play cards at her house, go to the ice cream social at the clubhouse, and now to hear her say "I walked over all by myself!"...I think she is over the hump! She still tires easily, but paces herself and is more alert and cheerful. Was a rough couple of weeks, so is such a relief to see her old self coming through again. In fact, today she was talking about driving back up to Montana to see Ann's new house!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


After a week of recuperating at my house, Mom felt ready to return to her own home on Tuesday. I think it must feel good to be back with her "tings about her", but I think she did enjoy the company....and as she put it "The meals were good and the price was right!" She is doing better every day, but still gets tired easily, and the doctor told her not to push it. She almost was talked into having some gals over to play bridge today, but I could see she was tired, and was glad when it was cancelled. It might be another week or so before she will be back at the clubhouse playing her card games. The next hurdle will be when she sees the lung specialist next Thursday to have another chest x-ray and some blood work checked. Hopefully, they will be good, and she will just need to take it easy and let herself heal. That will be the hard part for her...she is so used to being so active, and boredom can set in pretty easily. Going to have to keep taking her to the pool, for a car ride, etc, to get her out. Just hope I don't come down with it....but it isn't contagious, thank goodness!

Sunday, August 9, 2009


There were some scary times last week when Mom was so sick in the hospital, and relief when she was discharged Wednesday. She agreed to stay at my house the first night....and 4 days later is getting stronger each day, eating better, steadier on her feet, and today was the big break though. She said she wanted to get in "her" pool (which she really shares with the other members of this community!). She was worried that she might get one of her dizzy spells, but was so happy when she was in that nice warm water. She skipped doing her aeronautics and used a floater, but she was IN DA POOL again! She said it felt like "all the shackles of the illness of the past two weeks just washed away", and she felt so good when she got home. She had dinner, and put on her jammies, and will sleep well tonight, I'm guessing!

Once she started on the medication specific for Valley Fever, she started to show improvement, and continues to get stronger, mentally clearer, and more awake each day. She isn't in any hurry to go back to her own home, yet.....but when I see her shuffling a deck of cards.....I'll know she's ready!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


It has been a scary time here the past week. After my 88-year old Mom and I returned from a fun trip for family reunions in Montana and Wisconsin, she was enjoying showing everyone her pictures, telling them of all her fun experiences, and happy to be back in her pool. About a week later she started saying that something was funny with her eyes..not painful, but some problem focusing. She had called the eye doctor's office where she had her laser surgery for catarats, and they told her she could wait a couple of months and come in when she had her yearly follow up check. I went over to see her on the morning of the 29th and found her laying on the couch with chills , nausea, shortness of breath and and headache, and not at all her usual busy, fiesty self. She said she had slept most of the day before. Making it more disturbing, she seemed to be having some mental confusion, and she is usually a pretty sharp cookie. I wanted to take her to the doctor, but she said she had to play bridge at noon! After another half an hour, she admited she need to see a doctor and I took her to the ER, as her doctor couldn't get her in until the afternoon. After a number of ultrasounds, CAT scans, blood tests and x-rays she was admitted to the hospital with possible pneumonia after ruling out a heart attack and stroke. I questioned the doctor about possible Valley Fever, so he had a blood test taken, which takes 7 days to get the result.

She was started on IV antibiotics, but daily chest x-rays bothered the doctor as no improvement was shown. The tests also showed a mass in her lung that didn't change. The doctor said it could be TB, Valley Fever, or cancer, so a Mantoux test was done. He doubted cancer as she has never smoked, and because of sudden onset. She would go from feeling pretty normal, to suddenly feeling weak, feverish, sweaty, and nauseated again. Her blood pressure and oxygen levels stayed normal, but her temp would spike up 2 degrees when she would have these episodes.

After 5 days in the hospital with no improvement, she was getting very discouraged. She loves to look at clouds and try to find angel formations. On this day she said she had seen an angel in the clouds all day and that she thought they were ready to "take her home" that night. She had me bring her Living Will to the hospital, and told me she was ready to go. She still misses Dad, her husband of 62 years that she has been with since a teen, and said she looked forward to reuniting with him and her family. She admonished me not to call my sisters and have them worrying. Of course, I disobeyed this and called my older sister who shares Power of Attorney with me. It was a worrisome night for both of us.

She lived through the night, but was no better. A pulmonary specialist comes to this small community hospital every Tuesday, and was arranged to see her. He agreed with the diagnosis of Valley Fever, and said she could go home on a fungacidal medication, and told her to return to see him in 2 weeks and have another chest x-ray and Valley Fever blood test , as the one taken in the ER came back negative. He felt it may have been taken too early to show the fungus.

So I brought her home to my house...she had wanted to go to her house, but as we approached it, she said maybe she could stay with me for the first night.

She has been here 2 days now, and has had a couple bad episodes, but now has gone almost 20 hours without one of the episodes of weakness, nausea, shortness of breath, and fever that is so scary to see. She showered this morning, packed up some of her things, but now has returned to bed and is sleeping. She says she feels like when pregnant...just the sight of food makes her nauseated. She has eaten some fruit and pudding, but little else. She says cold things taste best, so I am stocking up on fruit, cottage cheese, popcicles and will get some ice cream today to try to up her protien intake. She has craved bananas and pears!

Valley Fever is caused by Coccidioides immitis, a fungus which produces spores and is found in soil in the southwestern US and parts of Central and South America. It is spread through the air, and when soil is disturbed due to construction, agriculture, archeology, ranching, etc, the spores can be released and if enough are inhaled, can cause Valley Fever, or Coccidiodomycosis.

Although about 60% of people never develop any symptoms, the rest develop flu-like symptoms that can last from a few weeks to several months. Some cases are very mild, and other can spread outside the lungs to the brain, bone and skin. Without treatment, it can lead to pnuemonia, meningitis and even death....especially in the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. It has been on the rise because of the number of people moving to areas such as Arizona, and all the resulting contruction.

There is no vacine available yet, but may be in the future. The only prevention is to avoid exposure to dust and dry soil, or wear a mask when disturbing the soil or during duststorms. I guess that helps me better appreciate the laws in Arizona which require those in construction to be watering the soil that they are working in, and why there are sprinklers on round pens and arenas that are put on before events.

We just learned yesterday that a friend of my mothers has a husband who also has Valley Fever. He was in this week to have the spot on his lung biopsied. They are not optimistic, as he is a former smoker, and is having a lot of difficulty breathing and has no energy, and they feel his mass is cancer. If Mom still has the spot on her lung when she returns to see the pulmonologist in two weeks, he will send her to a larger hospital for a biopsy, too.

So that is how I have spent the past two weeks! Has been a frightning learning experience, a time of wondering if I would lose my wonderful mother, and of time of contemplating the "what ifs". I am glad I was here for her during this time. I had considered returning back to Minnesota with my horse for the remainer of the summer after bringing her home from Wisconsin. I was also supposed to be in Flagstaff this weekend riding with a Singles Lone Ranger riding group, and had looked forward to riding in the cool air in the pines and the mountains. I haven't been doing much riding lately in this summer heat of Arizona which has broken records for July, night time temperature, etc for the past month. Now I am glad it all worked out so I could be her for her.

So that is your education on Valley Fever!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


This is the first summer that I have spent the majority of the hot months down in Arizona instead of hauling Bart to Minnesota. Some adjustments needed to be made. Today I put up a sunshade on Bart's pen and hung a mister over his shelter. In Minnesota he would be in a big grassy pasture with many other horses. In Arizona he stays in a 20x20 pen with a shade shelter, as most of the pastures that aren't irrigated are all dried up, anyway. In Minnesota he has to endure a cold bath or hosing off. In Arizona the water gets hot in the hose, so has to be run for a minute to cool it down to bath water temperature.....and he LOVES being hosed off...even his face! In Minnesota he ate pasture grass all day, plus had a generous portion of grain mix twice a day. Here he was getting alfalfa fed twice a, leafy green stuff. That seemed to be a bit "hot" for this temp, so changed him to grass hay in the morning and alfalfa at night....and just a cup of senior mix with some wheat bran. In Minnesota I would be taking him camping with friends on weekends and for afternoon rides in the park. Here I go out at 6am for a 2 hour ride before it heats up, and would need to trailer up to Prescott or Flagstaff for some cool camping and riding....maybe next month? In Minnesota I would be spraying him to keep off the flies and mosquitoes, and checking him for woodticks. In Arizona I spray him for flies and watch for snakes when I ride! In Arizona I look forward to the end of August, and then to 10 great months of riding in nice weather. In Minnesota I dread the end of August, as frost...and gray...and snow...and ice...and freezing weather isn't far behind! But I do miss my wonderful riding friends in Minnesota....and the rides around the lakes....and the gorgeous fall leaves....and sitting around the campfires on a cool evening.....hopefully next year I can have the best of both worlds again, and head for Minnesota when the weather heats up, and back to Arizona when it cools down up north. My horse and I intend to be SNOWBIRDS!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Chris tries for a fish on Dad's old flyrod

Carol bums about having cellulitis and missing the horse camping

The Manthei clan gathers at Siren Jen's baby, DanielC

Daniel can stand in his Pack and Play (we worried what Jen would think when she saw this!)

4 generations

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Uncle Chris introduces Daniel to the joys of boating.
I got to babysit Baby Daniel while Jen and Niels celebrated an early anniversary night. He was so good, and gave us so many laughs!

Wine tasting, waffles the shape of Texas, and could that be GEORGE????

Roy Rogers and the REAL Trigger!

"Sons of the Pioneers "sing as we have our Chuckwagon dinner at Branson's Shepard of the Hills

The Petersons of Kansas City

Cheese samples (we bought blueberry cheddar!)

Touring the "Titanic"

The Manthei Seesters and their Mom

Chris, Niels, Jen, CJ, Kelly, Me, Daniel and Mom at Chris and Kelly's cabin in Siren

Proud Mommy Jen and Daniel Joel. We had so much fun seeing him giggle and chortle....and he loved his ride on the pontoon....and was almost ready to try to crawl. What a sweetie....I miss him already.

Yeah, caught a fish. Whoopee.

Jen and Niels introduce Danny Boy to the fun of playing in the lake. Kelly provided the fun boat

They may be living in Ohio, but Niels, Jen and Daniel know the right team to cheer!

My wonderful friend, Carol, who so graciously let me stay with her while visiting Dayton. Wylee loved being with his buddy, Hershey. Hope Carol will let me return the hospitality

Mom meets her newest great-grandchild...Andrew John, Terri's first grandchild

Mom and Ann share a laugh before lunch at the newest Helena cafe....YUM!

CJ and his pet turtle Tiny Tim....who ran away shortly after this picture was taken.

CJ shows great form riding Heather's wonderful gelding, Alex at Grosser's Longview Ranch

Happy Hour with Lori in Hibbing

Caught our limits of walleyes and some bluegills and northern on Blackduck Lake. THANKS, CONRAD!

Ready for a boat trip down the Missouri following the path of Lewis and Clark with Kevin's wife and two boys, and Michael's daughter, ElMarie

3 generations...Ann, Michael and Mom

And who would miss a tour of the Idaho Potato Museum???

Beautiful Bryce Canyon National Park with it's hoodoos

Stopping to admire the horsehair pottery and jewelry near Page, Arizona. Would have bought something, too, if they had let me use their potty!!!
Just returned from a 5000 mile family reunion trip topped by 3 days in Branson. We started out going to Helena, Montana to visit my sister Ann and all her children and grandchildren who were all in one place with Mom for the first time in 20 years. From there it was to northern Minnesota for some walleye fishing and catching up with friends in my hometown. Then to Hibbing, MN where Mom spent time with sister, Lori, and I went to Dayton to visit my riding friends....and got in on a graduation party, bonfire with the Longview boarders, a trail ride to Crow Hassan Park, dinner out with girlfriends Heather, Sue and Ginger, and lots of catching up with great friend Carol. Then off to Wisconsin to meet Mom at sister, Terri's, then to family reunion in Siren, Wisconsin at my son, Chris' cabin where 33 family members, 4 dogs and 2 newest great-grandchildren enjoyed lots of good food, laughter, and tubing at Kelly's parent's cabin. From there we went to sister, Mary's, then on to Kansas City to spend the night with the Peterson's who have been friends of my parents for many, many years. From there it was on to Branson for a night....which stretched on to 3 nights! I went through a time share presentation which allowed us to have 2 free nights at the Surry Inn, 8 show tickets, and 3 meals. We heard so much about the "Shepard of the Hills", so we spent another night and took it in and heard the Sons of the Pioneers, Roy Rogers museum, Elvis impersonator, Dolly Parton Stampede, and several other musical shows. We loved driving through the beautiful hilly Ozarks, but were ready to finally leave on Friday. We drove to Shamrock, Texas the next day, and on to Holbrook, Arizona last night....and arrived safely back in Wickenburg at 1 this record setting heat. We are tempted to wash our clothes, get our haircuts and pedis and head up to Prescott for a month with Bart and Wylee!!!! We figured that we traveled 5000 miles through 12 states, and stayed in 6 motels and visited 6 casinos (frequently successfully!). Mom and I agreed that it was a wonderful trip, Wylee was the perfect traveling dog, and we were very pleased with Mom's 10 year old Honda getting over 30 mpg and making it safely home....although the bottom protector fell down in Holbrook, and we had to have it wired up to get us home!

Now clothes are washing, Wylee is napping, and I am anxious to see my golden boy, Bart. Cindy will haul him back to Simpson's tomorrow morning before it gets too hot...and Mom will get back to her pool and bridge games, and I will hunt down my mail....nothing in my mailbox when I got home. And did I mention is is 112 degrees outside????? Yeah, yeah....a DRY heat!
Was wonderful seeing all the family again, and great friends, and beautiful country. America IS beautiful!