Saturday, November 26, 2022

Thanksgiving 2022 Ever Changing

Well it is a few days past Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. I like to cook for a crowd and I love that we get together with no super scheduled plans in the day, other than to eat. The only real objective is that everyone coming needs to come by the time we eat. It usually is an early meal around 1 pm with leftovers dug out of the fridge around supper time before everyone goes home. It has been that way forever, since I was little and going to my grandparent’s house to be with all my cousins and family and those outside the family who would join us to celebrate the holiday. My grandma’s last Thanksgiving there were close to 65 people at her little house. She always had a heart to take in all who wanted to stop by. And somehow she always had room in her little house.

In the past years we have usually had our kids and grandkids and possibly a few people who had nowhere to go because their family wasn’t located close to them at our house. Our house has always been open to anyone wanting to come join our family for the day. There have been years past where we have had close to 30 here at the house to feast on a few turkeys and all the sides. And of course pumpkin pie and other sweet things to graze on throughout the day. Somehow there is always plenty of food as everyone usually brings something to share. There is never a lack of food, no matter how many people show up.

The year that Covid left so many home and alone, we managed to have our kids and grandkids that were living in Minnesota over for the day. It was still a fun time to let all the grandkids race around the house and outside if the weather permitted. There was noise and lots of activity while the grown-ups sat around and visited about the sales on Black Friday and scoping out their plans for shopping. For me, it was a time to sit back and watch the flurry of activity from the grandkids and listen in on the strategic shopping that would be happening the next day. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. When I was a kid, getting to see all my cousins was always a great time. And once grown and having to “adult” my way through Thanksgiving, I have come to work my tail off getting everything ready and then, just  like my Grandma, the day comes and I sit back and watch the flurry of activity. It is at that moment I realize all of the blessings surrounding me. There are many.

One by one, I try to get some time with each grandkid and visit with them. They might tell me a funny story or sit on my lap while they eat their 3rd or 4th pumpkin bar. It is always safe on my lap because the parents are busy chatting and not paying attention to what the grandkids and I are doing. It usually is safe territory. As I sit there and listen to them, I am made aware of how much they are growing into incredibly great people. Just one more realization of what a great life I have been given. 

This year, while being another great Thanksgiving, it was different compared to others. The past 2 years, while only having our daughter and her family here, it has been more subdued. The other kids and their families are all out of state and do their own thing. It has been well over 4 years since all 4 of the kids and their families were all back here at the same time. Between Covid, jobs, travel expenses and just trying to get everyone on the same schedule to come home at the same time, let’s just say it is somewhat like herding a bunch of cats. I am pretty sure it may never happen again in my lifetime, or at least while I am coherent enough to appreciate it. If I were to think too hard about that, it could make a person downright sad.

Even with fewer people together and less family gathered around the table this year, I still found myself sitting back and taking inventory of all of the blessings that continue to surround me. As I was sitting next to the 4 year old, he looked up at me and asked me if I was happy he came to my house to eat turkey? I got a little choked up for a second looking down at him beaming from ear to ear. This is the grandson who was in the NICU his first 5 months of life due to being born too early. He weighed in at a little over 2 lbs when he was born and now is 35 lbs and a typical 4 year old little guy. I scooped him up and held him tight and all I could say is, “Yep you made this grandma’s favorite day”. He just smiled back and grabbed another pumpkin bar. 

Sunday, November 20, 2022


A few weeks ago My Best Half walked in with a present for me for our anniversary. It was a beautiful light weight, high powered electric chainsaw! He placed it in my hands and I was mesmerized by its beauty and power and ability to down large branches and limbs like a knife through hot butter. I do believe it was one of the best gifts ever received given to me by him.

I am not much into gift giving or for that matter gift receiving. Especially when it is from my Best Half. Over the years, if there is something I need or  think would be good to have, I buy it when the finances can afford it. I am not much for getting stuff that isn’t practical or will sit on a shelf and collect dust. It just isn't really my style. I am more of a Fleet Farm and Menards kind of girl. And I really feel bad when my Best Half will walk in with a gift that is so far out there from being what I would use or want. I used to think he really didn’t listen or think things through when he bought me gifts. Especially in the earlier days of our marriage.

But in all honesty, I can’t really fault him for giving me gifts in the early days that were so far removed from what I wanted. I never dropped hints and never was in need of much. But that didn’t keep him from trying to find me a present for special occasions over the years. I received gifts that would include big bouquets of expensive flowers, books I would never read or gadgets for the kitchen that would get put up in the cupboard and never used. This was never his fault, I realized I never let him know what types of things I would want or need. That all changed about 10 years into our marriage when I finally spoke up and said I really didn’t need gifts from him. His gift has always been to just tell me to get what I need be it a special occasion or just on a whim. 

But he is a giver of gifts no matter what. It is what makes him the person he is. So he has continued over the years to give me gifts that were welcomed. But most women would probably shake their heads if they saw the list of what he has given me.

For instance, I have been given a miter saw, a pvc pipe cutter, rubber wheels to make a kayak hauler, a small row boat to take the kids fishing when they were little and a kayak when I started going by myself once the kids were grown. He has actually given me at least 2 kayaks, 4 canoes and 2 motorboats over the decades of our marriage. And multiple fishing gear. He has also given me handguns, a conceal and carry class, and a Henry .22 rifle that I drooled over when I was a kid. That was the year he declared our anniversary the Guns and Roses year. Along with the rifle, there were a dozen red long stem roses. And now here I was holding an electric chain saw. 

I took that chainsaw out to the fire pit and surveyed the job that had been staring me in the face all Summer. There had been much tree trimming over the Summer by my Best Half,and there was a huge pile of brush and larger tree limbs lying directly on the fire pit. For some reason, still unknown to me, my Best Half had just kept piling brush and large branches and tree limbs on top of the fire pit. It was now about 15 feet wide and at least 8 feet high. All sitting in our 4-5 foot wide fire pit just off the side of the house about a few hundred feet away. 

So with my new chainsaw in hand, I set out to clear all the brush and timber from the fire pit in order to safely put it all back on the fire pit in small bundles to burn it. I spent the entire day slicing through the brush and chopping the 8-10 foot long tree limbs into 2-3 foot lengths. Slowly but surely I was able to get some of the thick stuff stacked for bonfire nights and I got the brush in little batches to toss on the fire pit. 

It has been a couple weeks since getting the chainsaw and all the brush and wood is cut and stacked. The brush is just waiting for a safe day where we can sit down at the firepit and burn it all. Unfortunately, I am not sure when that day will come. We are pretty dry and the winds have been blowing hard and steady for weeks. No burning is allowed until there is some good rain and the wind dies down a bit. But in the meantime, I continue to use this treasured gift…my chainsaw. My Best Half has been staying clear of me when the chainsaw is running and I am yelling “Timber”.

 Along with being a smart gift giver to me, he is also a smart “stay out of my way when you hear timber” kind of guy. As I was surveying the dead 40 foot pine tree the other day, he gently took the chainsaw from my hands, saying it needed re-charging. Carrying it back up to the garage I heard him mumbling and shaking his head. Probably one of the times it was best I didn’t hear what he was saying.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

If I could Turn Back Time

Another Season has passed by and it has been a week or so since turning back the clocks an hour. While I should be celebrating adding an extra hour to my life I am once again looking at myself in the mirror seeing reddened eyes with bags under them from lack of sleep. It is the end of Daylight Savings Time 2022. We have turned back time officially.

It amazes me that as the day to turn back our clocks approaches, some of us here in Minnesota seem to prep for it. Not in the way we prep for the fishing opener or deer hunting. No not in a large scale way, but more in a subtle hardly noticeable stealth way.

There are of course the usual things like setting the clocks back an hour. But also there are some things it seems we do, maybe unconsciously or with full knowledge, to ease our way into the new time zone. A week or so before we go back in time, I have found myself delaying the supper time for us. Instead of the usual 5-5:30 supper time, I start moving the meal times a little later each day until it is a good hour later or more than the “normal” time we eat. I figure that way, when the clock reset happens, I won’t be starving at 4PM. I try to maintain meals around the same time my body is used to. Does it work…kind of.

A few days before setting the clocks back I have noticed my Best Half staying up later than his usual 10-10:30 and sleeping a little later than normal. I realized that was his way of trying to get his sleep cycle in sync with the time change that lies ahead. Does It work?  For him maybe, for me, I wouldn’t know. I am that person that sleeps 6 hours and then is awake and ready to face the day. So depending on what time I want to wake up will usually depend on what time I go to bed. That has been my alarm clock for many years. To be honest, I don’t even know how to set the alarm clock by the bed.

And now on to setting the clocks throughout the house. We have 7 or so that need resetting twice a year. And that becomes my Best Half’s job. While I will just spin the clock randomly to what I think the time is, he will look at his watch and precisely set each clock to the correct time. And all 7 clocks will show the same time. 

My job is to reset the clocks in all the vehicles, 3 of them to be precise. And I will spend a good 15-20 minutes in each machine resetting the time. I think my Best Half gets off pretty easy just having to do the 7 clocks in the house. Afterall it’s not like we have a VCR anymore that needs resetting. Me on the other hand, I have to dig out the owner’s manual for the radio and figure out how to set the clock for each vehicle. Each one requires a different way to reset the clock. And it usually involves a paper clip. Trying to find a paper clip around here is like trying to find a pack of peanut M&M’s in the candy jar after the grandkids have been around. I usually wind up using a toothpick.

But eventually I find something to use to stick in that tiny hole of the radio in the vehicles. And I will poke something sharp in the hour button with no results…until it will start racing numbers forward like the spinner on Wheel of Fortune. I will go around the 12 hours a few times until I can get it exactly on the right number. Halfway done, I’m thinking. And now on to the setting of the minutes, because somehow they got all jumbled up while I was messing with the hour. 

While it should be the same process setting the minutes, for whatever reason I can never get it to go slow enough to get to the right number. So I will make several attempts and finally stop and chalk it up to “that’s close enough”. Usually I manage to come within about 5 minutes of the correct time. And for me, that’s good enough as it usually is 5 minutes fast so no worries of being late for anything.

Well that process usually will take me a good hour to cycle through the vehicle's clocks. For whatever reason it also usually involves it being a cold, blustery and a rainy day. So who knows how much gas I burn up sitting there running the heater to stay warm while I do it. The only good thing about being in charge of the vehicle clocks is that I am the only one who really uses them and knows the correct time after adding or subtracting the minutes messed up when I was resetting. Everyone else seems to pull out their phone. And that is usually when I get told my clock is off. I always respond that they are free to reset it correctly. So far I have not had one taker on wanting to set my clock straight.

Once we are all prepped and ready to set the clocks back, the change over to Winter seems to happen pretty dramatically. The sun goes down and it is dark by 4:30. By 7 PM it feels like midnight with the surrounding darkness. It is now night for a good 14-16 hours a day it seems. And I have to focus all my energy on trying to remember that it is not hibernation season for us humans. Although, I think the bears have a pretty good take on all the darkness…just sleep it off til Spring. Might make it not seem like forever.

Well, a week or so has passed since we reset our lives an hour earlier. I always feel I have gained an extra hour of my life’s journey the night the clocks go back. As I age, each hour seems to count more and more in the greater scheme of living. I guess I will take all the free extra moments I can get. Another week and I am sure I will be into the time change once again for the season of winter. At least until we spring ahead come March. As for right now, I am staring out the window into the dark Abyss listening to the wind blowing and the faint sound of a coyotes howling out in the back field. And it is all of 5PM. Here's to all of us holding off the cabin fever for a few more months.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Reunion Time

Last week I had a chance to meet up with old high school friends that I haven’t seen in about 40 years. While many people don’t like Facebook and are not part of that community, I find Facebook is a chance to stay in touch with family and friends that are scattered all over the world. For me it is a way of staying connected with my kids and friends that I don’t see often. So I log in daily and catch up on what is going on in my world. That being said, I also don’t let myself get sucked into the politics on Facebook. I realized a long time ago, before Facebook, that no one can really change another’s mind once they are set in their beliefs and thoughts regarding controversial things. Doing that has saved me many a hassle in life and it keeps my blood from boiling over memes and comments that I don’t agree with.

But back to meeting up with friends from high school. A couple of them that live out of state mentioned they would be in MInnesota for a bit and it would be fun to get together. After many messages back and forth, we finally had a plan made to meet up on a Friday afternoon halfway between the Southernmost and Northernmost people. All of this was planned and reservations made long distance thanks to our Colorado buddy. She always was the best at getting things planned and organized.

So text messages were sent to those not on Facebook and everyone was planning to come that day which was a week away. It gave me a week to think about what it would be like getting together after 40+ years from seeing one another. All those dumb questions running through my brain…Would we still have things in common?,Would the whole time be spent just talking about the glory days?, Where had life taken all of us after all this time?

Back in high school we were all pretty closely connected and did many things together. Mostly it consisted of hanging out together and maybe a few times getting in trouble with things like skipping school, smoking in the girls room (not me…I wasn’t a cigarette smoker), and of course our famous Senior Skip day down at Minnehaha Falls. It was all fine and fun until the police found us that day. But being we were from an all girls Catholic high school and not being too loud, the Minneapolis police just had us gather our stuff and leave. Back then most of us were 18 and that was the legal drinking age. And I don’t think they wanted to deal with 30-40 high school girls with no female police officers there. 

Well the day came and off I set driving an hour into the Cities to meet up with everyone. We had reservations made at a sports/family bar and restaurant, the halfway point for us. It was a nice place, and we had a table for the 7 of us. Drinks were ordered and as our waitress left lots of greetings and hugs were passed around. Other than gray hair for some of us and bifocals to read the menu, there wasn’t much change in anyone’s physical appearance. Amazingly, we pretty much had all gracefully aged without much change. I would have known each of them at first glance had we run into one another somewhere else.

The next few hours as we had lunch together, we did talk about the “glory days” of high school. We had some great laughs over some of the things we had done and of the escapades we had gotten away with back then. We got to remind each other of the times spent in the principal’s office and having to speak with the guidance counselor a few times throughout the high school years. And honestly, we all pretty much spoke of gratitude for being educated in an all girls high school by the Dominican and BVM nuns. They truly cared about each of us and we all got a good education, even if we got in trouble here and there along the way.

As we sat there together we shared pictures of our kids and grandkids, and talked about our careers that have recently ended or are about to end with retirement. Each one of us had a story to tell of life together when we were teenagers and life pursued into our adult years. There were stories of sadness and loss and there were stories of accomplishments and not losing sight of where we all have come from. It was a great day to get together and be grateful.

As the time came to an end, we all walked outside and decided we needed to find a spot to take a group picture before we all parted ways once again. You just never know how long it will be until the next time we can be together. We walked around until we came to a place that had a bench in front of the building. But it was in the shade and not a great photo spot. 

So what would the “younger” us do to get a good picture? One by one we walked over  to that bench by the building and picked it up and hauled it over to near the parking lot where there were some trees and sunshine. As people watched and thought we were stealing it, they started coming our way. We let them know we were bringing it back in a few minutes. So they just watched us. We assured them that 7 women in their mid-60’s weren’t stealing their bench. I mean how far could we carry this bulky bench anyway?

One by one we each found a place to sit or stand behind the bench. A person that had been sitting in her truck watching us got out and came up to us. She asked if she could take the picture for us. After hearing this was our first time together in 40-some years she took a bunch of pictures for us. 

When we were done and the bench returned to its proper place, a group hug and many promises to get together again were made. Off we all went in different directions, back to our homes out of state, to our lives and families post-high school years. As I drove home there was a big smile on my face. I have a feeling the smiles were on all of our faces as we drove home. Safe travels until we are together again, old friends.