Apr 192014
 

Today marks 15 years since the passing of the one of the most remarkable women I knew.

As I tell others who have lost loved ones, it does get easier as the years go by, but that loss is never gone.  Neither are the memories, because those are what I draw on in life.  Sometimes they keep me grounded and other times they bring about a goofy laugh.  However they affect me, I know that they are there to keep me moving forward, striving to be the best that I can be.

On April 19, 2011, I wrote the following post and have featured it each year in remembrance of a woman of tremendous love, strength and humor, and who I am proud to call my Mom.

:::

This time of year is always hard for me.

Not just because I’m so sick of winter that I could puke and crave the warmth of the sun and the fresh spring air.

No, it’s another reason that brings about a lot of memories.  I wish that I could say that these were good memories, but they are not.  They are reminders of an event that was very painful for me, and others in my family.

You see, 12 years ago today I lost my best friend:  my Mom.

This picture was taken when she finished nursing school in the mid-1950s.

As I’m sure you have guessed, today is not the only day that I think about her, but it is one of several days a year that I miss her the most.

When she quietly passed away, she was finally free from the pain that she had endured from Rheumatoid Arthritis for 7 years.  For those years, she was unable to do the things that she loved the most:  garden and crochet.  She had to end her nursing career early on in the disease because her entire body became affected, and at the time there was no medically known way to deal with it.  She became a guinea pig to the medical establishment, whose doctors were the best in the world.

I was looking back at some old files on my computer the other day, and found something that I had written around this time 8 years ago.

A real keepsake does not need to be a piece of jewelry or an item that is displayed in a home.  I feel that it can be something that a person carries with them in their mind and heart.  It has special meaning; a presence.  For me, it is my hands.  I look at my hands and see my mother, and the gifts that she gave to me.

She taught me that my hands could make meals that would feed my family.  They could dig the ground to plant seeds that would grow to can vegetables to store for future meals.  They would work the land, feel the dirt and pull the weeds.  They would also nurture delicate flowers to blossom and grow; to show beauty.

Her love for playing the piano that she passed down to me with lessons, encouraging me on with her words as my fingers played the notes and listened from the audience as I played in concerts.

The patience and time my mother would take to teach me how to knit and crochet… to create beautiful slippers, potholders, and afghans.  The blankets that I make, asking for her guidance as I work each stitch, hoping that they will turn out as beautiful as hers always did.

My hands look older than their 38 years.  They have planted many gardens, crocheted blankets for babies and families. Blazed trails and built bridges.  Flipped burgers and cleaned tables at restaurants   They have wiped tears and nursed cuts.   I look at my hands and see a lifetime.

My children often ask me what my mother gave me that I cherish the most.

And I tell them about my mother’s hands.

These are just a few of the things that come to mind when I think about her.  There are many other wonderful memories, like how we always used to spend our birthdays together (since they were a day apart) either getting our hair done, going out to eat or meeting up at a casino to gamble (one of her favorites).

One thing I never do is make this a sad day for myself, because there are so many wonderful things that I have in my life because of her.  The many things she taught me that I am able to pass down to my children and grandchildren.

I have to tell you I am not a fan of these kinds of posts.  I do not like to talk about sad things.  So instead of this being something sad, I would like to think of it as the remembrance of a truly remarkable woman and all of the good and happy things that her life represented.

Thank you for allowing me to share this with you.

Phyllis Mary (Papenheim) Larson

October 22, 1935 – April 19, 1999

Apr 122014
 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  It was a rough Winter.

Now that warmer weather is teasing us, the snow and ice dams on the roof of the house are melting great guns.  We’ve never cleared our roof in the winter as many people in the upper part of the state do.  Mainly because it’s got a decent pitch and normally we’ll have some days throughout the Winter months that will melt some of that snow off so we don’t have any damage.

Let me reiterate the word “normal”, which this year is not part of anyone’s vocabulary in the Northwoods.

IMG_6953.1

Since we didn’t get those nice little breaks of warmth during December, January or February, teenie tiny mentions of melting caused huge ice dams to build along the edges of the roof.  And when warmer temperatures started descending on us a couple weeks ago, they didn’t want to melt all nice and purdy.  No, they decided to turn into glaciers of destruction.

One casualty was our back deck.

IMG_6950.1

I was collecting sap across the road when I heard a gawd awful crash that I’m sure scared Thor out of his fur.

Reality check:  I was standing on the thing 10 minutes before it turned to kindling.

Thank goodness decks can be replaced.

Apr 042014
 

Everyone who is sick of me complaining abut the snow and cold raise their hand.

I raised both hands.

Fortunately, the weather gods may be shining upon us soon.  The extended forecast calls for more “Spring-like” temperatures in the forties, flirting with fifties.

But before that happens we have to live through one more major dumping .  So instead of me grumping about it, I decided to just give you some before and action pictures of the homestead.

Sometimes pictures speak louder than words.

IMG_6792.1

IMG_6794.1

IMG_6790.1

IMG_6800.1

IMG_6789.1

IMG_6796.1

IMG_6788.1

IMG_6799.1

IMG_6791.1IMG_6798.1

About a foot of fresh powder that will hopefully be nothing more than muddy puddles in the next couple of days, then maybe with any luck the trees will start cranking out the sap so we can get busy making maple syrup.

 

 

Apr 012014
 

Right after I uploaded my last post regarding the mood swings of March, it started to snow.  Hard.  So I immediately started placing blame.

First I went to Facebook and blamed my son-in-law Erik for the snow, because he keeps ordering it and sending to the wrong zip code, namely mine.

Then I decided I should blame my co-worker who was laying on a beach in Hawaii sipping some drink with an umbrella in it.  Of course it could be her fault because she didn’t want any bad weather while she basked in the sun and surf, so she sent it all here.

While I was at it, I tossed the blame at Al Gore because, well, Global Warming my ass!

Then it dawned on me who the real culprit was:  March Madness.  That damn basketball tournament does it every year.  Who knew that basketball players were the catalyst for Winter storms.

Now here we are, on the first day of April, and guess what it’s doing outside.

Snowing.

Big white fluffy flakes.

Yes, another well played April Fools Day joke by Mother Nature who is probably off to some exotic land full of unicorns and rainbows getting her nails done.

Oh, and if you expected a picture, there ain’t none.  It’s snow people, if you’ve never seen it before, come up and visit.  I’m sure it’s going to be around for a while yet.

Mar 212014
 

Spring has a whole new meaning in the Northwoods.

I’ve ranted numerous times about how this particular month can have mood swings that range from sunshiny days in the 60s to don’t-pack-away-the-long-underwear-yet-because-you’ll-probably-still-need-it frigid temperatures.  As per the usual we’re seeing the spikes and dips on the thermometer that brings roof melting and 8 inches of snow.  Sometimes in the same day.

March never seems to disappoint.

IMG_6777.1

But because of these temperature fluctuations we have to be on our toes, because March beckons Sugarbush in our neck of the woods.  And this year Rick wanted to go full commando on the Maple trees.

For 3 hours last weekend we went around the property and tapped 40 trees.  This is the most we have ever done, and if the weather cooperates (HA!) then we will be very busy making maple syrup once the trees start giving out their nummy sap.

We actually had company this year, courtesy of grandaughter Kayla.  A month or so ago, she asked me if I would like to participate in a project her class was doing called Flat Stanley.

Reader’s Digest version:  Flat Stanley is some dude that while sleeping one night had his bulletin board fall off the wall and flatten him.  Nobody could figure out how to fix this malady, so now he learns about the world and different cultures by being stuffed in an envelope and visiting different people to learn about where they live.

I’m always game to help the munchkins out, so I agreed and Flat Stanley showed up in the mail a couple weeks ago.  Only, for some reason it wasn’t a Stanley, more of a Stella or Sarah because mine was wearing a dress.  Either the Stanley who had visited the previous participants didn’t quite make it back in good shape or he was a cross dresser.  Not being one to judge, I just went with the flow.

Before tapping the trees, we took “Stanley” on a tour of the rez and into Hayward to get pictures of “him” in front of areas of interest.  I can’t even imagine how many odd looks we got from people wondering what we were doing taking pictures of a colored piece of paper.

Ahhhhh, the many things you do for your grandchildren.

IMG_6778.1

Seeings how Flat Stanley was supposed to learn about our community and the activities therein, it seemed only appropriate to involve him/her with the start of Sugarbush.

Since all good things must come to an end, Stanley is once again en route via First Class Postage to Kayla’s 1st Grade class in Arkansaw, WI,  with a written (and pictorial) account of his/her adventures up North.

IMG_6755.1

And I can thankfully say that no harm came to our visitor.  Even Thor was on his best behavior.