Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year

Well we have made it to the new year. Happy 2021 to all of our listeners around the world. It has been fun getting to know some of you and finding out where you are from. Along with our listeners in many of the states in the USA, we also have been fortunate to have listeners from 11 other countries around the world. I am amazed constantly at how we all can connect through the internet and this podcast. It is deeply appreciated that each of you take the time to check us out and listen to us. THank you all so much

We decided that this year we would like to get to know you more by starting our postcard club. We would like you to message us, either through the podcast or through our website at and tell us how you came to listen to us and where you are from and any other thing you’d like to share.

Leave us a postal address in the message. When we receive your message and address, we will send you an official authentic Minnesota postcard personally addressed to you from Solid Rock Minnesota. It is just a chance for us to connect on a personal level with each one of you that have been listening to our podcast this past year. 

There are no strings attached, we will not send any solicitation or requests for donations and we won’t keep your address unless you want to stay in touch with us. In fact, we will just send you a Minnesota postcard, with a USA stamp and delete your address. This is a thing that has been done in the Ham radio community for many years. A person will make contact with another radio operator and will receive what’s known as a QSL card with their call signs. Some operators have collected cards from around the world. 

Here is hoping 2021 will be a year full of goodness and kindness to our friends and neighbors around the world. Happy New Year and we will excited to hear from each and every one of you.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas

Hi, it is Sue from Solid Rock Minnesota wishing all of our family, friends, Blog

and podcast listeners a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

This year’s Christmas is very different from Christmas’ past. Many around the world  are in quarantine and lockdown as the Covid virus continues to wreak havoc worldwide. Many are not working and without an income. For many, just putting food on the table is a challenge. And there are many that for the first time, will be facing Christmas without a loved one sitting around the table with them.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you that the New Year will bring new hope. Hope that we will all soon be on the other side of Covid and the havoc it has caused our world. And hope that soon we can get back to a new normal we can handle and cope with.

For me, Christmas Eve has always been a special time, since I was a kid waiting for Santa Claus to come. As I have grown older, it has become more of an anticipation of newness; of changes that can bring joy to my life, and to the world. A moment of reflection of all that has passed by and all that is yet to come.

The song, Silent Night starts out, silent night, holy night-all is calm, all is bright. It reminds me of this Christmas Eve. Yesterday we had our first blizzard of the season. We got almost a foot of new fresh snow and 30-50 mph winds which made it impossible to see your hand in front of your face. It raged on for several hours. But this morning, the sun is out, the winds are calm and it is a crisp peaceful day after a stormy yesterday. New hope has arrived that we will make it through another day.

The grandkids were together and we recorded Silent Night the other day. As I watched and listened to them I started to once again think about that thrill of  hope that awaits us on Christmas morning. Our Covid weary world is in need of some hope and rejoicing. Merry Christmas, be safe and well.

Many Blessings to you.

Friday, December 18, 2020

The Tootsie Sisters

Last weekend an old friend of mine stopped up for a long overdue visit. It had been over a year since we had last seen one another. The time lapse had nothing to do with the Covid pandemic and the lockdowns and isolation we have been going through the past 10 months. But it had everything to do with daily life and time making its incredibly fast fleeting moments. Our last time together was at her sister’s cabin further up North about a year and a half ago. It had been a pre-planned event to meet up with her sisters and all of our spouses. It was a great day of pontoon rides, eating, soaking up the warm sun and laughing with all of them. When everyone else was busy chatting and looking at the cabin, my friend and I headed down to the dock and hopped on the paddle boat. We paddled out to the middle of the lake and just floated along towards the eventual shore. 

It was a chance to get away from everyone and have that visit that only the two of us could have and be meaningful. A chance to reminisce with each other about our wild teenage years and how we met. Out there on the lake where no one could hear us laughing so hard we were creating an echo we were reminded of the crazy teenage years and we laughed over all the things that got us in trouble when we were in High School.  Four years of an all girls’ Catholic High School had given so many stories and events to laugh over that day. I reminded her of how on graduation night,our principal, Sister Mary Eileen, handed me my diploma, shook my hand and whispered, “Saints be praised, we did it”. 

After High School, my friend and I applied for a job at the Minnesota State Fair as ticket takers at the entrance gates. We were the very first females to be hired into that position. It was 1976 and the State Fair had always been and at that time was still “the good old boys club”. When we showed up the first morning at 5:30, we were met by most of the all male crew giving us the stink-eye. We were told to go stand on the sidewalks and take tickets from the pedestrians walking in. We realized within minutes of taking the sidewalk that we were given the worst possible job available. Literally thousands of people walked by us throwing tickets our way in a pretty unorderly fashion. There was no method to the sidewalk madness and that day I am certain many people got into the fair without handing us their tickets. They'd be able to use them again or give them away or if they were smart, scalp them for a cheaper price outside the gates and hope to not get caught.

Eventually , when the rest of the crew realized we were OK, we got to work in the car lanes with the rest of them, which was quite a bit easier and more fun. We got to hop on the tour busses of the Grand Stand performers and let them in. Imagine the excitement when WIllie Nelson’s bus pulled into our gate. Although he wasn’t on the bus it was just way cool to see it. There were cases and cases of beer there and the faint smell of pot.

That first year, once that we proved ourselves OK to work with, we got the title of “The Tootsie Sisters” by our boss. And that name stuck with us for the next 20+ years we worked side by side for those 2 weeks at the Great Minnesota Get Together. 

TIme moved on and sometimes the State Fair would be the only time my friend and I would get a chance to see each other. We both were married and working other jobs during the rest of the year. We were both married and had been in each other’s weddings and we had kids that kept us super busy. Time just moved on and eventually got too busy to even work the State Fair.

Since this was a time before cell phones, texting and Facebook, we could go a few years without seeing each other. There would maybe be a Christmas card or word from other friends about each other. Occasionally we would meet up for lunch and catch up on life. And make the solemn vow to not be so long in getting together. But time kept pushing forward at an incredibly fast pace. Our kids were older and moving out, getting married and we were becoming grandmas. And then about 10 years ago came the news that her husband had fallen over in the back yard and had a stroke. Life changed so completely for my friend and her husband at that moment. He suffered some cognitive damage and no longer was able to help her in the ways she was accustomed to. All of a sudden my friend had to do all the major decision making, financial things and worst of all...she had to learn how to cook. She always had let her husband do that as he was so good at it. We did manage to talk on the phone a few times during his recovery time, but her life had just gotten double busy learning her new roles.

Over time, we’ve sent each other texts of encouragement, or silly memes or we will chat back and forth while at work and on breaks. Sometimes replies have been quick and few and far between, and other times texts have been lengthy with both of us needing to hear the others encouragement and take on life.

The past 4-5 years we have grown older and have realized that time isn’t standing still. We have become more intentional in trying to stay in contact with each other. When we do get a chance to visit, it is a special time for both of us. A chance to stop the craziness of our busy lives and laugh. Laugh at our past, laugh at our spouses and kids and grandkids, and mostly laugh at ourselves and where our lives have wound up. If someone back in 1976 told us we would both be happily married with kids and grandkids it surely would have had us laughing in disbelief.

As much as my friend has endured over the past decade since her husband’s stroke, she will acknowledge the sadness and loss of the man he was, and then put on an attitude of gratitude and find even the smallest thing to be grateful for. Once it was the fact that she was able to buy a complete ready for thanksgiving meal she didn't have to cook and make her family suffer while eating it.  She has teared up talking about the struggles with me, but never once has she had a pity party for herself. She is just that kind of person. She has a strong faith and just knows that these are the cards she’s been dealt and carries on with that inner strength she gets from her faith.

Our times together are still filled with fun and lots of laughter we share in the stories of our growing up days and early adult years and our current lives. We have over the years developed an inner quietness and peace between us that only her and I can understand. That day floating on the paddle boat on the lake, not a ton of words were spoken, but so much was understood between us. I guess that comes from over 45 years of just being real to each other and always being there even if it wasn’t in person. My friend and I have a friendship that has endured much, and even when we don’t see each other for years at a time, we are always able to pick up right where we left off. That truly is what I call a sacred friendship.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

The Heart of the Home

I was recently sitting at the kitchen table with a mug of tea. I was  gazing out over the backyard and field beyond just contemplating life in general. Time continues to fly by and now, more than ever, I find myself thinking back on the years gone by. I’ve been thinking of the years gone by, where we are right now and what lies ahead for me and the Love of My Life as he nears retirement in the next several months. We are starting to make retirement plans for the future.

Sitting there, it dawned on me how many memories have been made around that rickety old kitchen table. There have been 4 generations at some point in time gathered around that  table. I can remember sitting at the table with my grandparents and my young kids chattering non-stop at them. And they listened intently and responded to each one of them. Those are some of my kids favorite memories also. Having a captive audience.

At that table, recipes had been handed down. I remember the last Christmas my mom was with us, we sat at the table rolling out the dough for homemade doughnuts. It was a family recipe that was her grandma’s.  We chatted  about so many different things, from being pregnant to the two of us fishing for Bullheads up at the cabin. To this day, I make those doughnuts at Christmas and think of that day with my mom. It is always a bittersweet moment.

Besides the usual cooking and eating at the table, family budgets were worked out. Decisions between buying a gallon of gas to get to work or a gallon of milk for breakfast cereal. There were times that the kids had hot cereal with a scoop of ice cream on it. To this day that is still how Malt-O-Meal is made around here. 

Heated discussions and all out arguments happened around the kitchen table, kids have been told they were “grounded for life” only to be reversed when cooler heads prevailed. While there were arguments at that table, it always ended with sitting around the table and resolving the arguments.

I think back to so many meals when the kids were younger; stories of how their days went in school. Stories in graphic detail of a kid who puked up their lunch in the cafeteria, who got in trouble, what teacher was cool and what one was mean. Typical stories around a table full of teenagers. One night, the 2 boys who were in high school at the time, were towering over me and hovering around in the way while I was trying to get supper going. They were eyeing each other and chuckling at some secret joke between them. When we finally sat down for supper and I got up to get something I saw it. They had dyed the top of their heads in the high school colors of black, bright red and white. It was homecoming week. We all had a good laugh on how I never caught it until they were sitting down. From that moment on, the short mom jokes began and continue to this day as the grandkids are starting to tower over me.

As the kids grew up and moved out, the table became the meeting place, the place where we would sit down and they would fill us in on their lives. There was exciting news of marriage proposals, pregnancies and adoptions. There was also news of sadness and sorrow of friends of theirs killed in war, miscarriages and relationship breakups. That table always allowed all topics to be discussed no matter how hard or difficult.

For some reason the kitchen table became the safe haven where the kids could sit down, maybe eat a meal or snack and spill their guts to us parents. So many life changing decisions have been made at that table. It is where our youngest daughter came home and sat down with us. She told us she had enlisted in the Air Force, much to my dismay and concern and outright protest. There was so much instability all over the world. I was afraid for her. That was 10 years ago.  For her it was the right decision. It is where she has made a career, met her Marine husband, and had a little girl 5 years ago. And that little one is giving both her parents a run for their money with her questioning important things in her world. That little one definitely keeps her parents on their toes and her mom grounded. I've realized my daughter has a daughter just like she was when she was little. And I love to watch the two of them together.

Recently several of the grandkids were sitting around the kitchen table chatting and laughing with each other. It was such a complete joy to see that generation #4 will carry on the family tradition of making the kitchen table the center of activities here at our table and in their homes around their tables. I eventually sat down with them and they were full of questions about when I was a kid and also had questions about their other grandma who died in a car accident years before they could have memories of her. We laughed and there were some unshed tears welling up and I realized this was one of those moments that will be cherished and put in the memory bank for a time when I may be sitting at the table alone.

Memories and life lessons have been passed around that old beat up table as much if not more than  Tater Tot hotdish. For our family whether there is food on it or we are just all crammed around it in chairs and on stools, it has always been and will continue to be the heart beat of our home now and for generations to come.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Making Thanksgiving Memories

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in the United States celebrating and to those outside the US, I hope your day is going well. Has it been a quiet day for any of you? Or has it been an eventful day with family and food and football and lots of noise? It is a very different Thanksgiving this year for many of us to say the least. While we did celebrate with a traditional turkey and all the fixings, we definitely had a more quiet thanksgiving than usual. About 10 days before Thanksgiving our state was issued a new Covid-19 executive order. Restaurants, bars and fitness centers have closed down for at least 4 weeks. And there is a mandate to prohibit gatherings of more than one household. Covid has been ramping up here in Minnesota. It took 6 months for the first 100,000 positive new cases originally. But it has only taken 42 days to add another 100,000 new cases. 

These new mandates had left many in a quandary regarding what to do for Thanksgiving. Do you comply and not allow anyone in and scale way down the cooking and prepping? Do you ignore the mandate that’s trying to keep the hospitalizations down and carry on as usual as in past years? Or do you find a safe happy medium that may still not be in compliance with the mandate, but hopefully will be a safe alternative? 2020 just keeps on being a whirlwind of trying to make sense of all the craziness going on. And this is just one more layer of icing on that 2020 cake. Thanksgiving in the past was never a life or death decision, it pretty much just amounted to figuring out what everyone would be bringing to eat and my mom’s reminder to my dad to not discuss politics with my uncle..

When I was a kid, we always had Thanksgiving at my grandma and grandpa’s house. There were their 3 kids and spouses and then us 13 grandkids scattered throughout the families. We had food beyond anyone’s imagination, turkey, homemade stuffing, corn pudding, gravy, side dishes of vegetables, squash, and pies. Several types of pies, and cookies in the shape of a turkey that my aunt would haul in by the gallon ice cream pails. To this day we all remember the turkey cookies. 

As the years went on and we grew up and had families of our own the numbers multiplied, but, we continued to go to my grandma’s. My grandpa had passed away several years before my grandma. As time went on, there were several friends from various family members with nowhere to go for Thanksgiving, they would wind up with an invitation from Grandma to come ot her house for the day. She never wanted anyone alone on a holiday and she would open her house up to our friends with no family in town. Her last Thanksgiving, there were 63 people in that small house! There were tables on her enclosed back porch, her front porch and every room in the house. We all had a place to sit and for the first time, there really wasn't an official designated “kid’s table”.The younger ones just sat in groups on the floor or wherever they could find a spot.  There were tables everywhere! And there was food, so much food and yet still leftovers for people to take home and enjoy the next day. My grandma welcomed all to her table. We would bless the food (in every denomination’s prayer that was represented. One year I think we had 5 different prayers) and then sit down for hours of eating, visiting, nibbling on desserts, putting away leftovers...and hauling them out to eat again before everyone started making their journey home. You never left my grandma’s house with an empty stomach. It was more like a ready to explode belly full of incredible food and treats.

Grandma has been gone for a long while. All of us that used to go there now have our own generations of families to share the holidays with together. And I do believe through the years we all have taken many of those traditions from grandpa and grandma’s house and thrown them into our own Thanksgiving traditions. There’s even some that still serve up the turkey cookies.

Whatever your day has looked like, I hope it was one that will be put in the memory bank of your mind to pull out in the years to come. Memories to think back on. Hopefully a day of giving thanks, however different it has been this year. Whether it was a great day with family, a quiet day with maybe zoom or skyping family not with you, or somewhere in between, just know today you were making memories that will carry on through the generations. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Grandma Always Said, "We will make do"

As I sit here this morning, looking out on the back field, the snow is once again coming down in a furry of flurries. The night before last, we had about 6 inches of an icy snowy mix. Our son was in from California for a few days to visit, so he was able to have a true Minnesota experience. When he arrived it was 67 degrees, when he left it was 27 degrees. 

Most of the family was home the other night for an evening of some crock pots of chili and cornbread. And an evening of playing music and singing with all the grandkids and kids. And along with that, a few innings of baseball in the slush until it got too hard to see the ball with all the snow coming down.

As the evening went on, it became obvious that our daughter and her 8 kids would be spending the night due to slippery and impassable roads. The roads were just too slick to make it the 35 miles north back to their house. Her husband fortunately had left earlier with the truck to get back home to care for the horses, goats and chickens they have.

While the 14 grandkids were ecstatic that a sleepover was going to happen, the adults were figuring out the logistics of it all. Where do you put an extra 9 people? We found all of the blankets in the house and doled them out to all of the kids. After a little conversation, we settled the 3 younger boys with their Uncle on the floor. They were ecstatic to sleep by the window and watch the snow coming down, pretending they were cowboys out on a cattle drive sleeping under the sky.

The girls all went downstairs to where our other son and family are currently living. There they shared beds and bunk beds. Most of the night they stayed awake and did makeovers on each other until they were told that 1am was a good time to call it a night.

The older boys commandeered the family room and tv, watching movies all night until they fell asleep around 2 am.

With everyone in their sleeping spot, I crashed into bed around 10, content to have almost all of the family home under one roof, and exhausted. I never woke to one of the little guys waking up looking for his mama. Luckily  his uncle walked him into where his mom was sleeping soundly with the 2 year old. We made it through the night with just a few minimal disturbances.

Morning came around 6 am, and I could hear the chatter and laughter coming from the other rooms. I sensed that it was going to be a long day with some really exhausted kids. But to my surprise, all was well and the kids were all in great moods, despite the lack of sleep they had. They’d get through being here and probably melt down when they got home. And at that point, not my problem.

Breakfast happened and the only thing I could find to make stretch for 18 people waiting to eat was a box of chocolate Malt-O-Meal cooked in the largest kettle I could find. Along with some chocolate chips, ice cream (to cool it down) and a squirt of whipping cream, it was their best breakfast ever. All sugar and minimal nutrition to be sure, but everyone got filled up in spite of being out of bread, milk and other breakfast food. We just had to make do as my grandma would say about living in the Depression years.

After everyone got shoveled out and left, and I dropped our son off to head back to California, I sat in the quiet of the house reflecting on the past few days and whirlwind of activities. I started to think all of the things that 2020 has brought to us in regards to having to “make do”. We’ve been on lockdown for several weeks at a time, wearing masks everywhere we go, and keeping 6 feet away from those we want to be around. We have been enduring a pandemic that is running rampant. We have stayed away from those that are at higher risk of getting Co-Vid to keep them safe. We have definitely been inconvenienced for a good part of 2020. But to be honest, for the most part, our family and friends have been riding it out just like we do in a typical Minnesota snowstorm or blizzard. We have made the best of situations we now find ourselves in and have hunkered down as needed.

We’ve settled for a bowl of Malt-O-Meal with some sugary toppings instead of the prime rib at a fancy restaurant. We have learned to make do.

What lies ahead for all of us in the future? It seems hard to know. Will there be another lock-down coming our way for a long period of time? A lockdown to try and flatten the rising curve again until a vaccine is readily safe and available? It is just too hard say what lies ahead for 2021.

The only thing I know for pretty certain is this...if it is asked of us, we can do it. 

Let’s make do with what we have and together ring in 2021. It has to be a load  better than 2020 going out. 

Under the Mask

I live with a partially deaf person. The love of my life was born with hearing in only one ear. And as the years have passed and with the daily wear and tear on his hearing, he has about 60-70% hearing loss. He does have bilateral hearing aids which are only as good as the person that will WEAR them. 

I have Tinnitus (the ringing in the ears), more like constant chirping in my ears. I have likened it to having about a million cicadas chirping right next to your ear. What I am finding, as I age, my hearing certain tones has diminished significantly. The audiologist report has shown that it is progressively getting worse. Hearing aids may help, they say, but at the cost of $3000, it is not a sure guarantee. Health insurance does not cover Hearing Aids. But that is a whole nother agenda as we boomers age.

So I have learned a few tricks to give me some relief from the chirping. Earbuds and music help in the wee hours of the night when the house is quiet and the only sound is the annoying chirping. During the day, there is usually enough white noise around that will distract it enough. Only when it is quiet as in the quiet of nature, will it be somewhat aggravating.

And then it is actually painful to hear that constant noise in my ears.

I have discovered that with my hearing loss, I have unconsciously relied on lip reading when in a place that I can not hear a person. I will look at their mouth and read their lips. And I never realized it until the age of Covid-19 and masking, how dependent I am on lip reading. My husband, at an early age, in school for the deaf and HOH was taught to rely on lip reading at a young age. Me, I have picked it up along the way as my hearing deteriorates.

With the virus running rampant and masking in public being required, this has presented a few problems for us. And I am sure many others who have hearing loss may be able to relate. Negotiating around in public with people masked is a challenge. No longer can you lip read what they are saying. With half of the face covered, along with the mouth covered, much of a person’s outward personality is no longer visible. The person talking to you, are they happy, are they upset, are they just hanging on by a thread…it is just hard to know.

Yes you can see into a person’s eyes and get a feel for their emotion, but without the lower half of the face you may never know. You miss out on their smile, their grimace, even their clenched teeth.

I have found myself, these days, trying to listen to a person speak under a mask. I’ve tried to not keep asking them to repeat themselves, unless I think it is important. I also find myself extremely on edge and tense trying with all my being to actually hear them and understand what they are saying. And I am finding this to be an exhausting task. I have gained much new empathy for people who are hearing impaired or totally deaf. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if all masks had a clear shield around the mouth so those that need it could see the face and read the lips? Or if all of us were taught from the moment we could learn, American Sign Language as a second language? But I have digressed.

What I really have been concerned about is our lack of being able to see the person in front of us as a whole person. In this day and age, we are separated enough. I want to be able to see a person’s smile again, see their total emotion on their whole face. I want so bad, to be able to see and hear what a person is saying to me without exhaustion setting in. WIll this come soon?  I don’t know.

But for now, I am hoping we all can abide with the masking mandate for the good of all of us. It is an inconvenience for many and an actual disability for others. I hope we can all be on board as a nation to knock down this awful, debilitating and life-changing virus.

Let’s all pitch in and do our part. And if you come across a person that looks confused or maybe aloof as you speak to them, please understand it may be that they just aren’t hearing you as you speak. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Election Day in the USA

Today is election day here in the United States. We are voting to re-elect the current president or vote in a new one. This is a day that sparks so much emotion for me every time it comes around. And this year is no different for me, except the possibility that I am watching history being made in a new way. Voter registration is up alot this time around. In Illinois alone, it is reported that voter registration is up 400%! Is it just that more people are out telling people to vote and assisting them to register? I’m not sure.

I tend to believe more people across the country are seeing a new urgency and are being called to vote this year. Maybe in past years, there wasn’t such a feeling of this urgency.

The news is filled with Rallys, speeches, town hall discussions, and commercials stating why we need to vote for a certain candidate. This candidate will lower my taxes, but so will the other one according to their commercial. This one can’t be trusted...but neither can this one. And on and on it goes until my head is spinning out of control. It is no wonder that most of us can’t think or talk about anything else these days.

Over the past several months, as the candidates ramped up their campaigns, one thing is for certain, I needed to do some homework as to who I wanted to vote for. There are many openings besides just for the president of the US.

This year as a result of Covid, and the thought that there were going to be many more people voting, we decided to vote absentee ballot style. We vote in a tiny little old school house that just a few years ago got propane heat instead of stoking the woodstove. It can hardly  hold 20 people at a time pre-Covid days. But now with social distancing the maximum capacity would be closer to 10-12 people. That, along with a premonition that it is going to be  a record turnout this year got us voting absentee. We just din’t want to have to wait in a line outside that angled its way to the highway. Not in November, with cold and snow.

A few Sundays ago, me and the love of my life, pulled up to the kitchen table with a mug of our favorite hot drink,, our laptops and our ballots  in hand.  We had all the time in the world that morning to figure out who we were going to vote for. We were able to look each candidate up online and get a feel for what they stood for. We did this from presidential candidates all the way down to members of the school board. While we both had an idea of who we were going to vote for on our ballots, it was nice to reaffirm what each candidate stood for. 

When it was all said and done, we filled out our ballots, put them in the designated envelopes and took them to the mailbox in town. And we were able to track them to make sure they will get counted. Just as when I would pull the voting arm in person, the emotions began to flow through me as we mailed our absentee ballots.

Everytime I cast my vote for how I would like my country to be run, I get teary-eyed and full of goosebumps. I am reminded of my two grandmas who didn’t have the opportunity to vote in their early years because they were women, but then got the right to vote when the 19th amendment was passed. That was not that long ago. My one grandma always told us grandkids that we must vote and if we didn’t we would have to keep our mouths shut and not complain how the government was run. My grandmas both were wise women. I vote because I honor them in so doing.

And I think of my family members who fought in the military to keep our country free and working for all of us because we have the right and the duty to vote. They all came home from the wars, but some are still fighting inner wars from their tours of duty.

And lastly, I have grandkids that count on me and their parents to vote to keep this country working for all of its citizens, regardless of our views and walks in life.

So yeah, voting makes me emotional, it is just that important. 

If you haven't already, please go out and vote for a better country and a better world. Tell them Sue sent you.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

How time flies these days. Since our last podcast, 8 months have passed! I was just getting the feel for retirement and once again our house is full. Our son, wife and 6 kids moved to the downstairs. They are back from living in North Carolina the past 2 years. Our lives and the world have changed dramatically.

No longer can we cruise into a store, stop spontaneously at a restaurant, walk in for a haircut, or walk around the enormous MOA just for exercise. Prior planning and reservations are now the norm.

How many times have I run into the Kwik Trip gas station for a gallon of milk? In and out in less than 5 minutes. Or stopped unexpectedly at a restaurant in the spur of the moment to get a quick bite to eat? Or had a free hour to run up town to get my hair cut. I do miss those days like most people.

Those days were wiped out last Spring when Co-Vid hit the shores of America. In Minnesota, our state was for the most part shut down. Only essential businesses were allowed to be open. Grocery stores, hardware stores, gas stations, clinics and hospitals were left open. I can honestly say that I am grateful for retiring from nursing right before the pandemic hit. I have had friends and co-workers become Co-Vid’s victims. Some taking weeks to recover, some months. And one that died from the lingering effects of the illness. 

As schools have re-started, businesses reopened and as political rallies with hundreds to thousands of people crowded together have popped up throughout the state, people have let their guards down regarding masks and social distancing, Many have decided that masking and distancing is not needed. Minnesota is again showing the rise in positive tests and hospitalizations. It has been heartbreaking watching as our state has just surpassed over 100,000 cases of Co-Vid and nearing 2000 deaths.

Time will tell how this “new Normal” will pan for all of us. Will we have another state shutdown? Will it go nationwide? Will we just decide to let herd immunity kill off the least likely to survive? WIll more people we personally know die from Co-Vid? So many uncertainties that exist. 

For now, this is one person who will continue to take care of myself and my family. I will wear a mask when needed, I will keep doing my part to social distance when around a group of people. I will keep hand sanitizer in all of the vehicles to use when I leave the stores and safely back in my car. And I will stay close to the proximity of my home state. Will it be hard? Well we have done this for the past 5-6 months and have managed.

Will this make a difference in keeping Co-Vid numbers down and at bay? Probably not if it is just me doing it. But as for me and my family, we are choosing to do our part and mask up and socially distance. I am hoping there are others like us.

And now for some mask etiquette for those who may be just choosing to use a mask now:

If you encounter a person who chooses not to mask, avoid shaming them or muttering under your breath as you pass them. Just turn your head as you pass by and pray they don’t sneeze, cough or snot on you.

If you are wearing a mask, please remember to cover both your nose and mouth. Co-Vid is spread through coughing, and is taken in through the nose. So don’t give it, don’t get it.

If you are alone in your car driving...please don’t wear your mask. You give us a reputation of not being knowledgeable of transmission of Co-Vid.

Masks are only reversible between washings. Don’t breathe in your Walmart outer mask when you go get gas.

And finally...make sure you mask up when you head out to do your duty at the polls on November 3rd. Remember it is your vote and it counts!

Social Media is Making Me Crazy

I need to quit watching and listening to the news these days. It actually wears me out watching one group of people saying one thing and another group of people saying the complete opposite. And then the tit for tat that follows. 

I also need to probably stay away from Facebook and other social media, at least until after election day. Everywhere I look, every post I read seems to be a political take on some current event. I will read a posting from someone and then proceed to read another 25 comments on that posting, as to why the post is not accurate, it should be fact checked, and basically telling the person who posted it that they are morons for posting what they did. And usually somewhere in the comment there will be a link to Snopes or some other fact checking source debunking the original post. I know I am not alone here, there has to be many who see this happening or have had it happen to them...or perhaps you are one of the ones commenting on a post. And I have to admit, I have at times fallen into each of these categories. I have tried to post things that I think aren't political and within minutes there will come a rebuttal or an all out unkind comment. I have learned to rarely post anything except funny stories, family activities and maybe a humorous meme here and there. And this time of the year, it is best I stay far away from social media...and yet I continue to peak at it like it has some kind of fixed spell on me

I love Facebook and all of the friends and family members that I follow. I love the dog pictures, kitten snapshots and pictures of family and friends doing fun stuff. I love that Facebook has allowed me to connect and stay in touch with people from years ago,people I grew up with or went to school with. And I even like trying a new recipe that gets posted every so often. Usually that is my social media experience.

But nowadays, as we come upon the elections of new people in government, my puppy and family pictures are few and far in between. It is mostly posts of politicians asking for money to slam the one they are running against, or friends with different political views as mine, posting mean and unkind things about people who may not agree with their take on the current issues. Sometimes it is just plain hard to scroll on by.

I really don’t post anything about who I vote for or where I stand on many of the current issues. It just always feels like a disaster waiting to happen, a person challenging my views angrily. I just don’t choose to do life in a constant battle of who is right and whose view is wrong. I try hard to be a firm believer in “to each their own”. 

But a few weeks ago I had read an article, written by an Evangelical pastor, regarding voting and the difficulty some people, many Evangelicals, have when it comes to pro-life and abortion. It was well written from a Christian’s view on the sanctity of all life. He openly admitted that he was anti-abortion. The artice spoke about pro-life needing to be pro-life after a child is born. It was about respecting life thru the entire life-span, not just at conception and while in the womb. While I am not doing justice to this article,and there will be those who disagree with it, it was well written for anyone who is torn between voting only for people or a party line who look at anti-abortion as a single issue and voting for people who want to respect a woman’s right for medical treament and yes possibly abortion. It spoke about how if a woman chooses to not abort a baby, we then as a society have a duty to help that baby grow into a productive place in society. Does that mean allowing the mom and baby to live off handouts and welfare forever? Absolutely not! But it does mean that we are to come alongside them and give them a hand up as needed to become the people they were meant to become.

Well like a fool I thought this article was so impressive, I posted this on Facebook without any comments whether I agreed or disagreed. While I had many comments from friends and family from all political opinions thinking it was a good impartial article, I had one friend who in all caps told me I was siding in with Homocide, Genocide and the “Libtards”. How could I possibly post something about murder? How could I call myself a Christian? And on and on the lashing went.

You can imagine the shock I felt when I read this comment, especially after debating whether or not to even post it as it was political. And I don’t post political stuff. What should I do? Should I delete the post, should I delete the comment, should I leave it? It was a brutally cruel comment that was so unfiltered and full of hate and swearing, that I knew I wouldn’t leave it there. Had it been done in a non-threatening way, I probably would have just left it. But this was so hate filled, I needed to remove it. So I did.

I then messaged my friend of over 50 years and told her I did not allow hatred on my facebook page, so she was deleted from the comments. More accusations and more hatred came back to me in the message. I realized this was going nowhere and just said, “ sorry, but I am going to block you from commenting or seeing my posts. Basically I told her goodbye. It was hard to do, but I also realized I do not want such hatred and anger creeping around my life. Was it the right thing to do? I am not sure, but this person had been warned 2 or 3 times before this that I didn’t tolerate hate comments on my Facebook page...yet she persisted. I feel there was no other alternative. She is still a friend from the growing up days, but It has been a choice I had to make to remove the hatred and bigotry from my life and those around me.

I pray daily that we can all learn to live in a world of differences of opinions and life choices. It’s hard. It’s hard to silently disagree, it is hard to make a choice to verbally challenge another’s beliefs and lifestyles. But what I do know for an almost absolute fact….posting a meme, an article, or a comment on something I disagree with on facebook has never ever changed a person’s take on their opinions and thoughts.
To Each Their Own…..

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Living the Dream

It has been about a year since I retired. I was an RN triage nurse in a busy rural clinic of about 15-20,000 patients. Life was busy from the minute I came to work until well after I was scheduled to go home. I would receive calls from patients with questions about everything from possible bat bites received at Walmart, ATV accidents, someone bucked off a horse to suicidal thoughts or attempts and even sexual assaults. The calls ran the spectrum of human concerns.

Every Friday at about 4PM a call from a patient referred to as Bud (Lite) would come. He would call and tell me he was about ½ way thru his 12 pack and thought maybe he should stop drinking. Every Friday at 4PM. And every Friday, I would tell him if he wanted to, we could get him help to stop drinking. And then he would laugh and tell me he would think about it. And that was our conversation, every Friday at 4PM.

Many calls that would come in could be treated over the phone quickly and successfully with the patient agreeing to follow the advice or come in and be seen. It went well, for the most part. But there were always the calls that would come in and when the recommendation was given for them to come to the clinic or Emergency Department, they would beg to differ on the advice that was given. It made a person wonder why then were they calling? I would try and explain in a different way why it was important to come in rather than stay home. If the patient continued to refuse, I had learned to ask them matter-of-factly if they had someone with them in case or when  they lost consciousness they weren’t alone. You know “is there someone there that can call 911 if you collapse.”.  That usually worked and would get them to come in and be seen. 

Oftentimes shortly after taking a call that needed the patient to come to the ED, there would be an overhead page “cardiac team to ED STAT” or the whirling of the helicopter at the landing pad by the ED could be heard. They would transport a patient to the Cities hospital. And the triage nurses would always know it was their patient. It usually would cause a sigh of relief from all who knew what the call had been.

After 12 years of doing that job on a daily basis, I was both ready for retirement and somewhat afraid to stop. I had been successful and comfortable doing this job. In looking back, it was as stressful making the decision as doing the actual job itself. Questions like can we afford it financially, what will I do with the time on my hands?, Would I be happy and content? The questions I am pretty sure most people ask when nearing retirement. I never did get any solid answers to the questions I was wrestling with in my mind.I just did it. ANd to my astonishment, it has worked without a problem.

A few months after retiring, our nation went into a pandemic with the Covid-19 virus hitting everywhere in our nation. That more or less stopped thoughts of traveling too far away. I more or less became homebound except for getting groceries. But never fear, I found more than enough to keep my life busy.

First order of business was to declutter the house..the closets, the garage, the house. As we call it here in Minnesota, I was “Swedish Death Cleaning”. What a feeling of accomplishment to clear the clutter. Spring came and there was 10 acres of land needing some attention. Gardens were planted, trees trimmed, sheds painted. One of the grandkids and I even built a shed for a chicken coop. We now have 11 chickens and 2 roosters occupying the “Chicks-Shall-Lay” coop. Fresh eggs once again after many years too busy to keep chickens. And my favorite thing about retirement is being able to hang out with the grandkids and teaching them music and learning from them so many things. 

The past year, I have had the great opportunity to spend time doing so many projects that were on my “future list” to get done. You would think by now the list would be pretty well cleaned up and getting empty, but that is not the case. Things get added. 

It has been such a blessing to be able to retire. Are there any disadvantages?...Nope, none that I have encountered yet. Would I recommend retirement for anyone that is ready and able to retire. Absolutely! Over the past year, my life has been a journey, both physically and spiritually. There now is time to quiet down the brain and see all that life has to offer. I have finally been given the gift of living life in the moment, in the now.. I’m living the dream right here, right now, right in this moment.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Married to My Best Friend

41 years ago today, I got to marry my best friend.We were young, 21 and 22 years old. In fact I was 20 when we applied for the marriage license and had to get my parents to sign off on it. We were young and full of great dreams of what married life would be like. Little did we know on that day, what would ly ahead over the first 2 years.

Our first 2 years of marriage, my mother-in -law died, we lost a baby, my mom died, and my dad died within the year of my mom passing. They were all so young, in there 50’s.About a year before my mom died we lost a baby from an ectopic pregnancy. I had to have surgery and was told that we may not be able to have kids as it would be harder to get pregnant due to the surgery.

So much loss in those first 2 years of marriage. And yet we continued to muddle through each day going to work and coming home. The stress was high just learning how to live together day in and day out. We argued, we fought, we made compromises, we made up and the days passed by.

Shortly after losing the first baby, I became pregnant again. The ultrasound showed the baby was in the right spot and was growing perfectly. It was exciting and I was so thrilled to tell my mom  and dad. We all celebrated.

I was due the following June and it was November when my mom got terminal cancer. The following January, I was sitting on her bed at the hospital as she lay there dying. She was in and out of sleep and consciousness. Tears were flowing down my face as I watched her labored breathing, knowing she wouldn’t ever get to meet her grandbaby. She woke up and reached out and put her hands on my stomach. She smiled and all she could say was, “It’s a girl” and fell back asleep. As her hands were on my stomach, the baby gave a good kick and wiggle. That night when I got home and had gone to bed, I received the call that my mom had passed peacefully in her sleep. A few months later our healthy baby girl was born.

While the first few years were filled with a lot of sorrow and sadness, the next years were a whirlwind of having 3 more kids all 18 months to 2 years apart. Our lives were full of activities and just plain busy keeping food on the table and shoes on their feet. The two of us would always laugh when we thought of the awful outlook we were given regarding getting pregnant. We just smile as we watch our kids raising their kids. We sit back and smile realizing what an incredible life we have had so far.

Our marriage has been full of sorrows and blessings and oftentimes just mundane day to day living. Have we had marital issues, arguments, all out fights? You bet we have! So what is the secret of keeping a marriage together 41 years?

I guess there are a few things I can think of that have made it work. The first is getting to marry your best friend. Not that we were best friends the day we said “I Do” on our wedding day. We were still discovering stuff about each other and learning to live together. But as each day would go by, we became friends, really good friends. As life’s ups and downs happened, we shared the journey together. We turned to each other and became best friends. We came to rely on each other for honesty, and comfort.

The other thing that has kept us together all these years is how we set the table. Not the dining table, but the marriage table. It is a matter of what we choose to use as the centerpiece. Just like a beautifully set Thanksgiving table, it is all about the centerpiece. Where the eyes land first. Is there a great turkey setting there, or maybe a flower arrangement? Whatever is the centerpiece will be what will be focused on.

Through all the years of our marriage, we have had several changes of centerpieces on our marriage table. But there is one thing that we have never had. And that is divorce. In our marriage, early on, we made a deal that divorce would never be an option. In doing that, we have had to reach for a lot of side-dishes, like talking it over, arguing, giving in to what was not important and lots and lots of heaping helpings of compromise. By removing divorce as a centerpiece, we always could get filled up on the side dishes. Divorce was never an option so we always had to find another solution.

41 years have gone by. There is little arguing left and mostly our time is spent chatting about life, hobbies, family and the dogs. We are best friends and know the other down to the core of who they are.

I have been so blessed to be able to say I am married to my best friend. I look forward to years ahead. Every person should have the opportunity to marry their best friend. Or become best friends along the way.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Retired, and Living the Dream

Back in September, after 25 years of being a Registered Nurse, I decided it was time to retire. It was with much thought, fear and anxiety, number crunching and prayer that I turned in my resignation. There was no turning back.

The day before I retired, my son and family from North Carolina drove up to visit and to spend 3 weeks with us while he was working in Minnesota for his job. He and his wife, 5 kids, ages 5-15, and their dog Tiger packed into their Suburban and made the trek North. Between backpacks, pillows and sleeping bags, you could barely see the kids buckled up beneath all the stuff.

So we made preparations to keep them here at the house. Along with them, our daughter and family live downstairs here with their 8 kids, ages 1-14, their dog Tac and 2 kittens.

For anyone keeping count, that is me and the love of my life, our 3 dogs, my son with 8 and their dog, and my daughter with 10 and their dog and 2 kittens. A grand total of 20 people and 5 dogs and 2 kittens under on roof, for 3 weeks, with 2 bathrooms, 2 washers and dryers, and mainly the one kitchen we would use upstairs.

But there would be more at the house during the day and for “field trips” and getting together. You see my daughter and son married siblings from another family. So along with them are two more families making the total over 40 last count. We always count in the siblings as that side of the family has no grandparents as they died early in life. 

The first meal together, we decided we definitely needed to organize a plan for meal time. There was no way we could feed so many all at once. Luckily it was summer and much of our time was spent outdoors. We gathered all the lawn furniture, picnic tables, and chairs we could find, along with stumps for seats also. Our front yard looked more like a state park picnic area than a residential yard. We are fortunate we live in the country with not many around us. The kids could run and make noise and not get in trouble.

Back to meal times ...we decided to eat in shifts, feeding the youngest little ones and then the older ones and finally adults or anyone who missed the first two rounds. While it worked well, we seemed to always circle back to the little ones who had finished their meal a few hours earlier, now looking for a snack before baths and bedtime. But usually by 7-7:30 PM the kitchen was cleaned but never really closed. The teens would watch the Twins baseball game and then afterward would have a late night snack of bagels or cereal. But they had been instructed to clean up their mess and complied. Usually they would then settle into their designated sleeping areas.

Sleeping areas...there was a tent pitched on the upper deck off the family room where the kids rotated sleeping in, 3 couches upstairs, a cot for the 15 year old who was a night owl, and the rest slept downstairs in their cousins bedrooms. Eventually the tent got folded up when evening rain and mosquitoes invaded the it because the 10 yr olds forgot to zip shut.

The days were filled with going places and meeting up with the other cousins. We would load up a 15 passenger van and the 8 passenger Suburban, along with another van if needed. The field trips involved packing lunches for 15-25 depending on who was going. Pre-teen and Teenage appetites almost were the death of me. It was hard to keep up. 2 huge coolers, one with just sandwiches, one with fruit, and bags of chips, snacks and such. Each day when the love of my life came home from work he would stop and pick up 4 loaves of bread and 2-3 gallons of milk. Supper time meals were always mass portions of hotdishes,  salads and lots of pasta to fill them up. 

I must admit, taking so many to the zoo or the beach, I was worried about losing some or the little ones just getting tired. But I was so proud to watch the older kids looking after the younger ones. If a little one got tired, an older one scooped them up for a carry. 

In our family when a child turns 13 we celebrate and have a blessing night of food and cake and fun. And those that are 13 are prayed for that they grow into the person they are meant to be. It has become a rite of passage in our family and the kids each look forward to turning 13.

This year we had 5 that turned 13. We had waited until we could all be together on one of the last evenings and had a cook out of hot dogs, chips, s’mores and a special cake for the 13 yr olds. The cake was beautifully decorated and said “Bless the children, Pray for the parents”. The person at the bakery had to ask twice what we wanted it to say. And had to write it down, all the while laughing when we told her what it was for.

The night was filled with 40 people praying for the 13 yr olds, a feast of campfire food, a field of loud cheering kids playing ball by the cornfield, older ones sitting and helping little ones cook their s’mores to perfection and me realizing as I watched it all, I have such an incredibly cool life. 

By the time the 3 weeks were up, I was into a whole new routine of waking up early, visiting with the early risers and making breakfast for 20. Then I would sit and rock a little one and read a story, maybe even hit a few balls out to the kids playing out back. I would watch the game on TV with the older kids, cheer right along with them, and eventually pass out in bed from exhaustion. A content, happy and complete exhaustion.

The kids all left for home after three weeks, including my daughter and family moving into their new house. The state park yard was cleaned up and furniture put away, the campfire extinguished one last time. The basement is empty now of people and furniture and noise.

Retirement had an unusual beginning a full blown 3 week party, and only now does it feel real as I sit here in an empty house with the 3 dogs sleeping at my feet. There is 2 feet of snow on the ground, it is 3 degrees outside. Today it is quiet.

And now to begin to plan all of the things I didn’t have time for when working. To start, I am planning a trip to Arizona, and California to see the kids and grandbaby that weren’t able to make it out in September. When will I go? How long will I be gone? Whenever I want and as long as I want....afterall, I’m retired.


From Mother Teresa: Yesterday is gone, tomorrow has not yet come. We only have today. Let us begin

The New Norm

Lately in many social media posts and magazine articles, there are many stories on the topic about multi-generational living. The US census Bureau defines multi-generational families as those consisting of more than 2 generations living under the same roof. In 2016, a record 64 million people (20% of the US population) lived with multi-generational generations under one roof. And it is on the rise as baby boomers age and housing prices continue to increase.

We live in the country, we have a ranch style walk-out house that we were fortunate enough to raise our 4 kids in over the past 2 decades. One by one, they graduated high school, went on to college, jobs, the military and some got married and went on to have families of their own. It was a whirlwind of activities during that season in our lives. Within a few years of our oldest moving out, we found ourselves watching the taillights of our youngest daughter’s car as she drove off to go to college and eventually enter the Air force.

At long last our house was empty, it was just the 2 of us now living in the main level of the house. The downstairs where the kids’ bedrooms had been, were quiet and way too empty. It was hard after 20+ years. I found myself tearing up every time I had to go to the downstairs. We were officially called “empty nesters” by our friends and family.

Our empty nest lasted for about 5 months. Our daughter was over one day with her kids. At the time her and her husband had 5 kids, 3 of which had recently been adopted. I’m not sure how or when the conversation turned to what to do with the very vacant downstairs . Before very long, we had a plan to convert it into a separate dwelling place and that they would move in for a short time to regroup, save some money and eventually move to Duluth about 90 miles away.

The conversation involved moving the kitchen cabinets from the upstairs to downstairs, putting in a bathroom and laundry area. Fortunately our son in law is a carpenter and cabinet maker, so in short time the project was completed and they were moved in to their new place. And once again we had noise and movement downstairs. There were little ones running all over the backyard. When I looked out, there were tears of joy seeing the 2 generations out in the yard playing ball in the field.

While both of us had our own entry, kitchen bathroom and laundry, we began our journey together of multi-generational living under the same roof. As best we could, we all tried to respect each others space. But with 5 little ones in the house, they floated between parents and grandparents daily, with the absolute knowledge that mom and dad were the ones to turn to for permission for stuff and the final say.  Grandma and Grandpa were just the ones to go to for the extras, undivided attention, rocking, cookies, and refrigerator art. 

The 2 years they were living with us were filled with activities and lots of help from them with house activities. There were some challenges that needed to be worked out, but for the most part, we all managed. The key was honoring each others space and lifestyles. But the time came that they were ready to move to their new place in Duluth. Along the way, they had a 4 month old son that had been born while they lived with us.

Once again, for the second time, we were faced with being empty nesters again. My husband let our son know that the downstairs was free if he and his family wanted to join us in the country and they both had a good laugh. But a few hours later he texted with the message, they were thinking about it, so they could save for a house. Within another few hours, the next text said…”we want to move in downstairs. Is it still ok?” So within the week of our daughter leaving, our son, daughter-in-law and 5 kids were setting up their household to live with us for the next 2 years. Once again the downstairs was full of activity that bustled over to the upstairs and out to the yard. Early one morning at dawn, we were greeted with the screeching of a recorder beneath our bedroom window. The 5 yr old was playing us a song. Yeah our house was full again. And by the time they were ready to move out, we had a new grandson. They had 6 kids. 

Our son and family lived with us about 2 years, before making the decision to move to North Carolina and find work there. It was a hard and sad good-bye when got in their Suburban and headed out, not knowing when we would see each other again. They have been in North Carolina for the past 3 years.

For a second time we were faced with being “empty nesters”, with a vacant downstairs and empty swingset in the backyard. We now had 3 of the 4 kids living 1000 miles away or more from us. Our daughter and family was about 2 hours away. It would be visits few and far between to see them. I had set up a group chat room so the grandkids always could contact us or their cousins. That became our lifeline for the next 3 years. We began to adapt our lives as empty nesters, remembering to lock the house when we left, stop the mail when we traveled. A task we never before had to do with all the people living here.

About 1 year into our empty nest lifestyle, we got word that our daughter in Duluth and family were considering moving in for a bit again while they built a house 30 miles away from us. One weekend, when they were coming for a visit, they showed up with a trailer with all their belongings. THey made the decision to move back. BY nightfall, the kids were all tucked into their beds in their new , old home.

My daughter was a few months pregnant when they moved back and started going into pre-term labor. She was put in the hospital until the baby would be delivered. Our little 2 lb grandson was born 3 ½ months early. He and our daughter would spend a total of 5 months in the hospital and NICU. Between their dad and my work schedule, we were able tot keep the other 7 kids home and maintaining a somewhat normal daily routine. I can’t even imagine what would have happened had we not been living together again at this time in their lives. Our grandson came home to the family and is about to turn 2 years old in a few weeks. He is lively and healthy and has caught up in development. He is our little miracle. It has been such a blessing to have him living downstairs with his family and be able to watch him grow during that time.

A few months ago, our son and family were home for 3 weeks and our daughter and family was living here also. We had 20 people living here under one roof. That is multi-generational living at its best and craziest. Everyone is gone home now and we continue to adapt to this empty nest living. Those times of muti-generational living have been a true blessing for all of us. None of us would change it for anything. 

Last week, our son called and told us he had accepted a position with his job that has a facility here in Minnesota. The conversation started out with,” Hey mom is the downstairs available for about a year…? “. And so the empty nest will become full again.