Sunday, April 18, 2021

Ice Out!


It has been a long winter. The snow started in October and we have had about 6 months of winter. We have had a few warm days that have managed to thaw the lakes. And joy of joys, it is ice out here in parts of Minnesota! For those that may not know the term “Ice Out’, it is when the lakes thaw and the ice is off the lakes. It is a day that many look forward to and some even place bets on what date it will happen.

During the winter I watched as the lakes became thick with ice. That thickness turned the lakes into roadways for ATV's, snowmobiles and trucks to negotiate a path to an ice house or a favorite fishing spot. Over time the lakes became dotted with ice houses, vehicles and left over trash from some of the more irresponsible ones that would come out to fish or party in their ice house and leave behind their garbage.

While all of this activity prevails above the lake, beneath it, is business as usual. The only way that anyone would know there is life beneath the thick ice would be to drill a hole through the few feet of thick ice to have a peak beneath where you are standing. To do this with an auger that is not powered is a very slow process. But once a hole is made, it is incredible to see the life that is beneath the cold frozen barrier of the ice.

Today I drove by one of the many lakes in the area that is now open water. I could see the white caps as the winds ripped across from one end of shoreline to another. And I began to see the many items that have washed up on shore from the winter. In time, volunteers and the DNR will gather all of the garbage and haul it away.

Once the ice is completely out and the sunshine warms the water, I will launching my kayak and take to paddling. On a calm day, what a vantage point I will have sitting so close to the water in the kayak. I will be privy to look deep within the pristine water and see the new signs of Spring; tadpoles, sunfish and maybe even a walleye.

Today, watching the thawing and ice out on the lakes, I hope that deep within I can also thaw my heart and have it melt all the negative things that can build up over a long winter of darkness and cold. Just like the clear pristine calm lake after ice out, let my heart have that melted, pristine calmness on the water to paddle on in life.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Mrs. Auntie Jo, The Legend


There is one aunt left in our family. It is my Dad’s baby sister, my Aunt Jo. She is about 85 now and has been the matriarch of our family since our grandma died about 25 years ago. To me she is affectionately called Mrs. Auntie Jo. 

When I was about 11, my mom got cancer and was in the hospital and then out and undergoing radiation and stuff as an 11 year old kid, I, knew nothing about. The only thing I remember was that I would spend my summer vacation days at my aunt BC’s or Mrs. Auntie Jo’s. Either place was a great day as both ran a daycare out of their homes and there were cousins and other kids to play with.

The days at Mrs. Auntie Jo’s were filled with running and playing with all my cousins and their friends who lived in the neighborhood. While my cousins would call her Mom, the neighbor kids would all call her Mrs. Retter. Back in those days you always called your elders Mr or Mrs. To this day I call all my friends’ parents Mr or Mrs. Old habits die hard.

Everyone had a name for my aunt and so I decided that I would call her Mrs. Auntie Jo since she wasn’t my mom, but she was taking care of me like I was going to her day care. Yep Mrs. Auntie Jo it was. Well that name stuck with her and to this day, 55 years later she is still my Mrs. Auntie Jo. And she still answers to it and signs her cards to me, `` Love, Mrs. Auntie Jo”. Those were some of the best times ever as a kid. She would take us to the park for picnics, have homemade cookies and treats for snacks, much of what I was missing at the time with my mom being sick and my dad working and taking her to radiation every day. Mrs. Auntie Jo kept my life normal through what could have been a pretty scary time for an 11 year old kid.

When my mom got better, I didn’t see Mrs. Auntie Jo daily, but there still were all the family functions and get-togethers. Life and time marched on. She and my uncle Rich were there for all the milestones, graduation, my wedding, the birth of all 4 of our kids, the graduations and weddings of all our kids.  My parents died when I was in my early 20’s and Mrs. Auntie Jo was there to help fill that enormous gap of my parents being gone. 

As time went on, my uncle Rich was struck with Alzhemer’s. He was only in his late 50’s when the changes started and within a few years he had full blown Alzhiemers. Mrs. Auntie Jo stayed home and cared for him better than any institution could have. Every day for several years, she was by his side caring for him. I remember her wearing wrist braces on her arms. When I asked how she hurt herself, she laughed and said , “Your uncle Rich grips a little harder these days”. She wore them to prevent getting hurt when uncle Rich didn't want to do something and would squeeze her arm. 

The funniest thing ever was how Mrs. Auntie Jo got my uncle Rich to quit smoking after decades of daily smoking. She was afraid he would catch something on fire with his Alzhiemers affecting his thinking. So she replaced the pack of cigarettes he carried in his shirt pocket with some Dum Dum lollipops. Uncle Rich would out of habit reach to his pocket for a cigarette. And there would be a sucker waiting for him. Each and every time he was amazed it was there. He had quite a sweet tooth so that sweet sucker did the trick. She once in a while would remind him he never smoked. She had a way of making him believe he never smoked, he just ate lollipops that were in his shirt pocket.

TIme has passed, and Mrs. Auntie Jo has outlived her husband, parents and 2 brothers and her youngest daughter. She is the last of the generation that goes before me and my siblings and cousins. She is our matriarch and the keeper of the stories from the past. They are always good stories of her growing up years when she was a kid on the farm. Of time spent with her grandparents. Of her pet pig that lived in the house on the farm. Of living in San Francisco when she was 18 and Uncle Rich was in the service..  

While last year my sister-in-law and I would take Mrs. Auntie Jo out for lunch, it became necessary to meet at her house and eat there. So once a month my brother, sister-in-law, a few of my cousins and me and my best half get together for lunch over at Mrs. Auntie Jo’s house.  

Word got out and pretty soon more people have been coming to her house on those days. Covid locked her up in her house for most of the past year. But she now has gotten her second vaccination. She has more of a “bring it on” attitude these days. The monthly lunch has become pretty special for all of us because we get to see Mrs. Auntie Jo. We all bring some kind of food and we have a great time. We get there, visit with everyone, hear some stories from Mrs. Auntie Jo, get caught up on all the family news and then eat. It is always fun to sit around the table and visit. Mrs. Auntie Jo, our matriarch and keeper of the stories and connection to the past and where we come from....

Mrs. Auntie Jo, the legend.


Sunday, April 4, 2021

Easter, Passover and The Hatch


Three weeks ago I decided that I was going to try my hand at hatching some of our chicken’s eggs. I got an incubator and set to work at figuring out what I needed to do. The incubator was pretty easy to operate and not much fussing over turning the eggs and keeping the temperature at a constant 99.5 degrees and humidity at 45-55%. This incubator did it all. So it pretty much was a matter of gathering 22 eggs and putting them in the incubator. 

The first few days I was quite OCD about making sure the temp was constant and the humidity set to perfect. And that the egg turner was doing its job. And each time I checked, all was good. So it was just a matter of waiting to see if I got chicks in two more weeks. The instructions kept saying to not mess with them no matter what, which of course made me feel like I should be checking them and holding them to a bright light to look inside. Dang it was hard to wait….and wait...and... wait.

On day 18, 3 days before they were expected to hatch, I was supposed to do a lockdown of the incubator. That is turn the egg turner off, increase putting water in the tray so the humidity would go to 65-75% now. The anticipation was starting to become a little overwhelming. But I did exactly what I was instructed to do. It was only another 3 days after all.

Every morning for those 3 days I sat on the piano bench and just would stare at the incubator hoping to see movement or hear chirping….anything to show that new life was in there. That the past 2 ½ weeks had paid off. And every time the same old thing...just the motor humming and the temp and humidity numbers flashing. A mama hen can’t possibly put this much thought into hatching her eggs. Any time I ever see one of our hens get setting on eggs, she looks like she is gazing off into the distance, or napping. Me, I kept hearing the old Carly Simon tune, “Anticipation”, playing in my brain.

Day 21 finally arrived and I woke up expecting to see an incubator full to the brim of baby chicks. There was nothing, not even an egg looking like a chick maybe was pecking its way out of the shell. The whole day was just me sitting by the incubator hoping to watch an egg hatch, and nothing. Hours passed and nothing. I went to bed with no eggs ready to hatch, but as I was turning out the light, I heard it..a chirp from within. But since I had to work early in the morning, I went to bed instead of staying awake to watch.

Morning arrived and there it was...a flailing wet, ugly little tiny black chick staring out at me from inside the incubator. There was this new life chirping loudly, and calling to all the other chicks in their eggs to come out and celebrate their new life. I went to work with instructions to the grandkids to keep an eye on the incubator and no matter what, don't open the incubator. I made them criss cross their hearts and promise that they wouldn't open it. I went to work. A few hours went by and I got a text with a picture of more new chicks. There now were 5 and then 6 . By the time I got home there were 7 chicks all different colors. They were dry and hopping all over and chirping really loud. Time to take them out of the incubator and put them in there brooder….which for the next two weeks until it warms up, was in my knitting room.

Thinking all the other eggs were maybe not fertilized, I was ready to take down the incubator. As I was doing it, I heard a faint chirp and a hole the size of a BB. There was another chick going to hatch. I left it and went to bed. About 2:30 this morning I got up and went to look at the egg. Nothing had changed ,the same size hole, a sporadic little faint chirping. I watched for a bit and then did what you are not supposed to do, I opened the incubator and picked up the egg to listen for pecking or chirping. I heard chirping and as I went to set the egg down, it cracked more and the chick was trying to get out. It had to work so hard to make a small hole, it was struggling to get out. It finally fell out of the shell and flailed about alone in the incubator. Out of that struggle came new life. 

Eggs are oval in shape, no beginning and no end. Out of that egg that has been developing and growing will come a new and transformed life, completely different than what it was. Easter is about new life for Christians as a result of the belief in Christ’s resurrection. Passover is about a people being set free from Egypt, also the beginning of a new free life. Each year around this time, many celebrate their spiritual traditions. This year for me, watching those little flailing wet ugly floppy chicks hatch out of their old shells and become fluffy little chicks cruising around self sufficient in their brooder has kind of given me a new outlook and insight into our Easter and Passover traditions.

This is Sue from Solid Rock Minnesota wishing you all a happy and safe Easter and Passover.





Sunday, March 28, 2021

On My Knees


I was watching a news clip the other day concerning Covid and the effect it and the lockdowns and quarantines have had on the kids around the U.S. Especially the kids in the teenage  range of 13-18 years old. 

While there has been an increase in anxiety and depression in all age groups since the pandemic hit us, it is the 13-18 year old group that has been most affected. It has resembled mental health issues on steroids. The statistics report a jump in self harm to that age group, with a phenomenal  increase of anxiety and depression. 

Our kids have been facing the fear of parents losing incomes and jobs and how that will affect them. They also are feeling the strain of not being able to in person connect with friends. Friends are so important during this time in a kid’s life. Good friends teach a kid how to openly talk about stuff that is important to them. This has been missing to a certain degree. Zoom and texts are not as effective as an in person conversation.


Our kids are also missing out on so many milestones and celebrating those different things that we consider to be rites of passage...16th birthdays, prom, driver’s education, and graduation. And even some more sad and somber things like funerals for grandparents or other family members. Our kids aren’t being given the opportunity of putting closure on happy or sad life events.  So many things they've had to postpone or give up completely over the past year. SO many things have been left open ended and up in the air. It is no wonder anxiety and depression has become like a runaway train for our kids. 

I’m starting to wonder if mental health issues with our teens is going to be the Covid Longhauler problem for some of them. Like the long lasting and ongoing physical symptoms affecting some Covid survivors, will anxiety and depression have a hold on our kids long after Covid is a memory? 

While I am not here to judge how families deal with mental health issues in their families, I am asking that we all keep our kids in our DAILY thoughts and prayers that they will get through this pandemic and the effects it is causing; that they will rise up on the other side of Covid. 

Here is a song I wrote just thinking about all the problems we are facing these days with the pandemic (you can hear it over on our podcast). For me my only conclusion for some kind of peace instead of anxiety and depression, is to pray daily before I do anything else. In that prayer, I include all the kids who may be suffering mental health troubles. Peace be with each of you today, and with your families and in your future.


On My Knees

Rolled out of bed this morning, forgot to hit my knees.

The day attacked with no warning, made a fool mess of me.

I cried Jesus, can you hear me when I’m calling

I’m so broken Lord, I’m falling

Help me fall on my knees


So I knelt down for a long while, time just slipped away

About the time I got up, I could finally face the day.

I cried Jesus can you hear me now, I’m calling

When I’m broken and I’m falling

Help me fall on my knees.


Seems the day goes a whole lot better

When I can start out with a prayer

Asking my Lord and Creator

To keep me in His care

I cry Jesus can you hear me when I’m calling

When I’m broken and I’m falling


Keep me falling on my knees

Help me fall on my knees

Lord I’m falling on my knees.



Monday, March 22, 2021

WOW! THANK YOU !


Hi this is Sue from Solid Rock Minnesota. I just wanted to take a minute and thank all of the people who have encouraged us and are listening to our podcast, and now reading our blog!

When we started this journey last Fall, we never expected it to take off like it has. We now have close to 1000 listeners and readers from the podcast and blog and they represent 19 countries throughout the world! It is truly amazing.

We have heard from some of you through messaging the podcast or contacting us at our website at www.solidrockminnesota.com. We would love to hear from all of you. Please feel free to hit the Follow button on the right of the screen so you won't miss any of the blogs.


Also we have a postcard campaign that is free for anyone. We would love to mail you an authentic Minnesota postcard, with a U.S.A stamp just for you. There are no strings attached, we won't ask for money or donations...we don't even keep your address unless you ask us to. It is just our way of saying hi and thank you for continuing to listen to our podcast or read our blog. 

All you need to do is send us your name and an address where you would like the postcard to go. That's it, pretty simple right? In return we will send you a postcard from Minnesota. That's all there is to it.

Have a great day and Many Blessings

Sue




Sunday, March 21, 2021

Home Alone (Revisited)


There are 10 people living in our house these days. In the upstairs it is just the 2 of us. The house is long enough and big enough, we can lose each other when we are at opposite ends of the house. My son, his wife and their 6 kids all live downstairs in a finished off walk out basement apartment. While we all like to think we are living in separate dwellings, there are only 13 steps with doors closed at each end that separate our households. We all do what we can to respect each other’s space and privacy as separate households. And for the most part it has worked well with whoever has lived downstairs over the last 10-12 years.

We also have kind of have separated the outdoor space somewhat so each family can have their space for activities and outdoor things like swings and grills and stuff like that. They use the backyard out to the cornfield and we use all the front yard down to the dirt road. The side of the yard is everyone’s land. It has the garden and pump and some more big open space with a fire pit nearby for when family and friends get together for a bonfire. It’s where our chicken coop and their duck pen with a small pond set. Oftentimes we do meet in the side yard while doing stuff outside.

While we all try and respect each other’s space, there still are 10 people living under one roof and it can be quite noticeable for all of us at times. We are not the quietest people upstairs. We are walking across hardwood floors, flushing toilets, running the dishwasher or washing machine and dryer at all hours of the day and night, and yelling from room to room when someone doesn’t have their hearing aids on. I am sure our noise can outdo the downstairs noise by quite a bit.


But there are 6 kids ages 5-16 and 2 people parenting these kids downstairs. So just by being outnumbered 4 to 1 the noise level is there. But it is the kind of noise that is welcomed here at our house. It is the sound of kids out in the backyard running and chasing each other while they play soccer. It is the low quiet conversation while they are plotting and planning an adventure in the woods. It even is the squeaking back and forth rhythm from the swingset when someone is on it pumping their legs as fast and hard as they can to “reach the sky”. It’s the sound of a mom teaching a 5 year old how to read while sitting in the sun beneath the upstairs kitchen window. It is the excited, happy yell throughout the house from everyone that “Dad’s Home”. It brings me back to all those years of raising our own kids and the constant chatter and noise. And I never tire from it. 

But, back to those 13 steps inside the house that separate our households. Several times a day I will hear the door downstairs open, the running up the steps and the little knock on our door at the top of the steps. There will be 1 or 2 or sometimes more of the grandkids stopping by to borrow something or return something that was borrowed. A lot of times though it will be just to say, “Hi Grandma, what are you doing?”. And I always will stop whatever I am doing and visit with whoever wandered upstairs. I treasure those moments to get to know each of my grandkids as an individual. Lots of times, I will pull up a chair at the kitchen table, or a stool by the counter and figure out a snack or lunch or a glass of juice so we can sit and visit. With the age range from 5 to 16 living here, I am always amazed at the different levels of conversations we can have going.

When our daughter and son-in-law and their 8 kids were living here a few years ago, it was the same thing. The best memory was every evening about 6:30 the 9 year old grandson would stop up just to say hi for a few minutes. We teased him and said he was doing his welfare check on his elderly grandparents. From then on he would tell his parents that he was going upstairs to do his “farewell check” on us. Out of the mouths of babes.

With 15 grandkids in all, it is hard to have separate time with each of them. But we always try to take them aside one at a time and see what is happening in each of their lives. I am always so amazed at each one of them and how they are growing up into great people. It makes me so proud of them and their parents for doing a great job raising them.

Last week the downstairs family decided to take a 2 week trip and I am currently home alone throughout the days, at  least monday thru friday. The house is incredibly quiet, there’s no outside voices, no squeaky swing, no one doing their school work under the kitchen window. There isn’t the evening yell that “Dad’s home”. It is just too quiet around here, being home alone. I can even hear each clock ticking in the house as I sit here. I have survived one week of an empty house, with one week to go before they get home and the chatter resumes.

Fortunately, the evenings still involve the shouting back and forth across the house to the man who took his hearing aids out. After an intensely silent day at home, I kind of have welcomed stomping my foot loudly until the floor vibrates and then shouting at him across the house. I guess I will just let him keep his hearing aids out. At least until I am no longer home alone.


Sunday, March 14, 2021

Welcome All!




Welcome to our new blogspot for Solid Rock Minnesota. Our podcast has taken off and we have new listeners daily. But we had a request that somehow we get out our stories in written word for all of our friends and family in the deaf community. So starting today all podcasts will now be in written form here at the Solid Rock Minnesota Blogspot. We look forward to messages and comments here from those who will benefit from the written stories. 

Many Blessings

Solid Rock Minnesota 🤟