Gratitude week 28

  1. Summer! The weather has been perfect.
  2. For my days in the sun spending time on the sailboat.
  3. For a sense of humor. Our family went sailing on the 4th and I brought a whole stack of beach towels. One of the towels was of the British flag. So yes, I had a British flag towel flying off the back of our boat on Independence Day. Whoops!
  4. For the first pedicure of the year.
  5. For the baptism of my brother and niece today.
  6. For the start of my birthday week.
  7. I received my allergy testing results back. I can have eggs, blackberries, kiwi, rice, crab, and perch again! Yeah!! And my dairy allergy dropped from very high to low. There were a few things that didn’t change and a few new things were added like cranberries, but overall I am very happy with the results.
  8. For working hard and keeping busy yet still taking time to relax and read.
  9. Healing and growth.
  10. For having the strength to withstand difficult times.

The real up north

img_0999

This past weekend we traveled to the farthest northern point of Wisconsin.

If you aren’t familiar with our state, we are located in the northern mid-west of the United States. We are surrounded by bodies of water on each border of our state, except our southern border which has Illinois. To the west, we have the Mississippi River. To the north, Lake Superior. To the east, Lake Michigan. With so many lakes, it is a wonderful place for fishing, sailing, and water sports of any kind. The diehards even go fishing on the lake’s ice on the coldest days of winter.

img_0991

Most of our population lives near our biggest cities of Madison, Milwaukee, and Green Bay. It takes approximately 8 hours to drive from the southern most point to the northern and 5 hours from the farthest west to the east. A lot of our lakes are practically deserted…peaceful, serene, and quiet.

img_1032

Wisconsinners are very hardy folk by nature. We have to be to survive our winters. We are known for the Green Bay Packers, the Great Lakes, brats, and beer. Unfortunately, we are also known for being one of the drunkest states hosting some of the drunkest cities in the nation, if not world. Drinking is a huge part of our culture.

img_1039

The far northern portion of our state has a lot of wildlife not related to drinking. I captured a picture of Paul fishing. But in doing so, I may have gotten a little too close to an otter den. I was chased down in the water by hissing otters. I can’t say that ever happened to me before. We also saw deer that were too numerous to count. This part of our state tends to get the largest snowfalls and coolest temperatures.

img_1061

I love taking pictures of our state’s beauty. The northernmost part of our state is rugged and wild with the lowest population.

On the way home, we stopped for brunch at what was rumored the best restaurant in the county. It was almost a 2 hour wait, so we decided to skip brunch and headed towards home. It took us over an hour to find another restaurant. Was it the only restaurant in the county?? Gas stations and restaurants are scarce. But even rarer is good cell reception. You might be in trouble if you run out of gas on a snowy winter night without cell reception. Even the highway traffic is minimal. I think we saw more deer than cars.

But I would have to say, even though I’ve been to many beautiful places, that Wisconsin is still on the top of the list. I wanted to share that beauty with you.

Thailand, parting thoughts

This is going to be my last post about Thailand…parting thoughts…general observations and comparisons..

Really, though, comparing the culture in Thailand to that of the US is like comparing apples to oranges. We are all fruity in different ways. Seriously though…there are so many ways that I wish we were more like Thailand, and other ways I am glad we are not..

I had a hard time with the young Thai girls with braces in the clubs. Technically, there is no pimp in prostitution there. If a customer would like to borrow a girl for awhile, he needs to pay the club owner a ‘fee’ to take an employee from their work shift. It bothered me to see young girls in this position.

In America I think most prostitutes would fall into the category of drug addict or runaway. In their culture, they view it as a girl (or lady boy) providing a service. A lot of these young folks take the money they make and send it home to support their families. I could never accept money from my children that was made in that way, but I also was never in a position that I had to.

Our tour guide gives some of his paycheck to his elderly father. The father spends a lot of the money on the lottery. Again, that would not fly in America.

The Thai people also think that putting a parent in a nursing home is a big no-no. The Thai people are very family oriented. Divorce is not common. There seems to be a cohesion of the family unit that is quite lacking in America.

The people dressed and acted very similarly to one another. The school children wore uniforms. The men and women dressed very plainly and modestly by our standards. Most wore monochromatic light colored clothes, not bright clothing with wording. They didn’t have dyed or crazy hairstyles. The women didn’t have tattoos nor shaved hair. They didn’t have gauges or seem big on piercings. Even the prostitutes looked very similar to each other. In America, we take individuality to the extreme.

The culture is very peaceful and relaxed. The people are not at all rude, hurried, or unfriendly. I suppose it is a little easier to deal with life if you strongly believe in karma or that someone you don’t like will come back in the next life as an insect. I personally think that Christians could learn a lot from the Buddhists in how to get along with each other. Here we squabble and fight over ever little issue. How are we going to handle an eternity in heaven together?

The people of Thailand did not generally beg for money. They took pride in bargaining and selling their wares at the market.

In Thailand, if people talk negatively about the king, they could face incarceration. I love the freedom of speech. But, geez, don’t Americans take it too far sometimes?? All we hear is fighting about religion, politics, and practically everything really. There is no respect anymore for someone that has a different opinion and yet we tout ourselves as being tolerant. We try to teach our children to respect authority, yet we dis people left and right. Enough already.

I think all schoolchildren should see what life it like in another country. Heck, maybe everyone should travel. Not only did I get the opportunity to see another culture, but I got the chance to see my own beliefs and culture differently. It enriched my thinking. I learned something about someone else and myself in the process.

Some of the things I thought were important really don’t seem all that important anymore. I don’t even care if the toilet paper faces up or down anymore. I am now happy to have toilet paper. I have a new appreciation of western bathrooms, even the crappiest ones.

img_0295

The restrooms in Thailand were quite different from ours. The hotel rooms had a regular toilet with what looked like a kitchen hose sprayer next to it. How were we even supposed to use it? We were a day into the tour when I experienced the first bathroom without toilet paper. I started carrying some around with me after that.

This was a public bathroom that we stopped at. I really didn’t even know what I was supposed to do. Plus there wasn’t any soap to wash your hands with. The public school bathroom was very similar. The western bathrooms there were tiny in comparison to ours. We had to pay at times to use the restroom. One of the perks of paying for the bathroom at the floating market was free internet. Seriously? The bathroom wasn’t wonderful enough that I wanted to hang around for the internet.

What a fascinating place and culture. I’m sad that our journey has come to an end. But I have a lot of pictures, all 750 of them, to remind me of our travels.

Blizzards, hurricanes, and airplanes

My husband and I are flying to Florida next week…or at least we are (were??) planning to.

As you may have guessed, we have become obsessed with the news coverage of hurricane Irma. We are going to Orlando for a conference and decided to go a little early to spend a few days at Disney without the kids.

I was surprised to see people sharing things on Facebook about it being the end of the world. Major hurricanes, wildfires out West, and a solar eclipse…but all of these things have been happening since the beginning of time. At least we have modern technology to know about the storms before they hit.

Some people also have been thinking that the world was ending for awhile too. I remember hearing stories in my lifetime of people waiting on their rooftops for the end of the world to come. They would’ve died waiting too…which sends my thoughts to wonder how many fell off their rooftops? I wouldn’t want to climb out on mine, especially in winter.

Maybe people are talking about the end of the world because it seems like America is getting hit with some pretty nasty natural disasters.

Did anyone proclaim the end of the world when eBola hit Africa?? What about during the Salem witch trials, the year 666, and during the bubonic plague??

My brain might explode!

Do I believe that someday the world will end?? Yes, perhaps so, but I believe that the world has been ending since it first began. Kind of like life…people will debate over when life begins..Does it begin at conception or birth? But no one would debate that the minute something is living that it begins the process of dying whether it is a plant, human, or animal…

Wow, that is morbid and deep…okay, enough of the philosophy.

I don’t know if we will be flying out next week…As a Midwestern girl, I know nothing about hurricanes. I’ve only dipped my toes in the ocean a handful of times. I’ve never seen a shark in the sea. I’ve never seen an alligator or crocodile in its natural habitat. I couldn’t tell the difference between them.

All that Wisconsinites know about is blizzards.

Most of us know how to drive in a foot of snow. Some people around this neck of the woods can manage driving in a foot of snow drunk. I wouldn’t recommend it.

We rarely shut down for more than a day for a snow storm…usually a few hours. Most people have a truck, snowmobile, or 4 wheel drive. We’ve gotten used to white out conditions, sliding into snow banks, and leaving the house when it is 20 below without gloves and hats. We can live 3 months barely seeing the sun. We’ve become accustomed to seasonal depression. We shovel the snow out of our driveways with snot dripping and freezing onto our jackets. We are so desperate to get out that we fish on the ice. The bravest of us see how long we can make it before turning the heat on.

But hurricanes, I don’t know anything about that! I can’t even comprehend its impact.

I suppose I too am guilty of being self-centered. I am worried about myself, my flight, my ability to get away for a few days. I seem to be more concerned about the storm for my purposes then the people that have lost everything even their lives.

I admit I am rather happy that all of the news on Facebook isn’t political rants, rioting, and that weird stuff about statues. But I feel horrible about the stories of devastation that are replacing them.

Oh, and I never did read that article about the end of the world.

 

Election Reflections

I tried to stay up last night to see how everything shook out. I think I made it until midnight right after the commentator said that what we will witness tonight will be something we will tell our grandchildren about. No such luck, future grandchildren, I fell asleep after seeing our state of Wisconsin turn red. This is the first time this has happened in my state since I was a little girl.

My 18 year old daughter went to vote the first time this year. I want to tell her that it is not always this exciting. This is the most exciting election that I have ever seen. I have never been more interested in what the state of Pennsylvania thought before..

I can’t remember the first time that I voted. It probably wasn’t right after I turned 18 like my daughter did. The first time I remember voting was when I was 22. It was the Clinton versus Dole election year.

I remember 1996 like it was yesterday. It was right around the time that the 80’s hair styles were settling down. The cars were small and boxy, not curved like they are today. Growing up with a family that ran a small town automotive business, I could almost identify every make, model, and year of the cars on the road back in those days. It was expected.

Many of the cars sported the bumper sticker ‘Dole for Pineapple’. Shortly after, the Packers won the Super Bowl and most of those cars sported the ugly Packer flags that would extend from both back windows to flap in the frosty air. Those were the days with the Packers flags and Dole for Pineapple bumper stickers! Our state hasn’t been a red state since way before that time..

I remember voting on a paper ballot. Do you? I remember taking my paper ballot to a musty smelling booth covered by a sheet that wasn’t see through. Then years after that we had a ballot that we had to connect the lines with what seemed to be invisible ink. We waited a long time in silence so intense that you could hear a pin drop. No cell phones accidentally rang.

The first time I was introduced to voting was with Aunt Grace. I asked her who she was voting for after she took me along with her to vote. She said, “Alissa, we do not talk about religion or politics. But we own a business and we are Republican.”

Many years later, a Presidential candidate visited our small town rural church on my confirmation day. I wanted to put his sign in our yard because he came all that way to see me. But he was a Democrat. A friend of my brother also had a mother running in local politics, but we didn’t leave her sign in the yard either since she was a Democrat. It probably didn’t help that she let her kids run wild and they always came asking for food.

It is my own personal opinion that a lot of people headed out to vote for Trump not necessarily because they liked him, but because of their dislike for Hillary. Or maybe it was from all of the people posting about their Obamacare premiums doubling or tripling in price. Who knows?? Predictions don’t always translate to predictable outcomes. It was a pretty close race.

Ever since I have been alive, the country’s pendulum swings from one side to the other every few years. It doesn’t seem all that shocking to me. Although, apparently it is for some people, since I heard that the Canadian immigration site was down.

The funniest thing I heard on Facebook was from an African friend of mine. He said that his uncle came over to America and now he might get deported. They all were pretty happy about it since he hasn’t called or wrote home in awhile. Hhmmm, okay..

I am glad that the election is finally over…

Regardless of what the next chapter brings… I am going to trust God and try my best to do my part in making America great..