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!