Gratitude week 83

  1. Remember last week how I said that Arabella’s boyfriend broke up with her? Well…I found out about the break up on a Friday night and hung out with her until I went to bed around 11 PM. Arabella said she was going to be okay because her friend Kami was going to come over and hang out after I went to bed. I just found out a couple days ago that on the way home from our house that night, Kami fell asleep and totaled her car. I am grateful that Kami is okay after the accident. The last teenager I knew who fell asleep driving died.
  2. I’m grateful for more time with my cat. He was sick the past couple of weeks and I thought I might have to put him down. He is also 15 years old. But it turns out he has an eye infection and will be okay. I do think he used up one more of his 9 lives over this. He is one of my all time favorite cats.
  3. My daughter Angel and her fiancé have a wedding date picked out. They have an appointment with a wedding chapel this week and if all goes well I think they will be ready to book the hall.
  4. Tomorrow Paul and I will be celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary.
  5. Paul has been working out of town the last couple of days and sleeping on our boat. He forgot his medicine at home so I went and surprised him after work. He was really happy that I thought to bring his pills to him and to see me unexpectedly.
  6. Since I went to the boat Friday night, we were able to play cards with out boat neighbors and it was a lot of fun.
  7. Paul had to work again early Saturday morning, so I drove back home, fed the pets, took a shower, and headed up north. I was able to visit my mom, brother Luke, niece Gracie, and my aunt Jan and her husband. Then this morning I headed back home and will be heading back to the boat to spend a couple days with Paul for our anniversary. I’m grateful that for the most part I’ve overcome my fear of long distance driving. I don’t think I could’ve done all of this otherwise.
  8. Yesterday up north we were able to find a new hiking place. I’m grateful that it was on the water and the bugs weren’t bad. It was nice to spend time with family.
  9. My mom bought me some blueberries for my birthday and Dan brought over some zucchini from his garden. So I made blueberry muffins and chocolate chip zucchini cake which everyone loved.
  10. Summer! It’s cooled off considerably around here. I turned off the A/C. It almost feels fall like, but it is very comfortable because the humidity is gone.

Snow way!

Last week I left you with a bit of a cliffhanger…I told you that we were driving across the state in a snow storm and I haven’t been heard from since…until now, that is.

The snow storm started on Friday. It was the first big snow storm of the season. As expected, a lot of Wisconsinites forgot how to drive.

Paul went ice fishing for the first time.

Last time I talked about the weather, I was saying how warm it was in November. Then December came and it seems like the temperature dropped from 60 to 20 below just like that. A few schools in the area already had closures for the wind chills. So it has been cold. Cold enough to form a solid layer of ice on the lakes.

While Paul was out fishing, he had a bit of an accident. His ice auger rolled around in the back of the truck spilling gas all over the place. How was I going to put sleeping bags in the back of the truck for our weekend trip when opening the back of the truck made my eyes burn? We had to do some major cleaning..

Saturday morning we left in the snow storm…after Paul shoveled 6 inches of snow that fell overnight. We made the 3 hour drive across the state in 4 hours. The roads were snow covered and slippery. For most of the trip, the highway was down to one lane. We passed cars in the ditch with people inside of them. While events at home were cancelled, we made the trip across the state along with other friends to visit family for the holiday only to turn around and drive all the way back home the next day.

Then after our 3 hour (4 hour) drive to my brother Luke’s, we were faced with another 3 hour (4 hour) drive to pick up Angel from college. Thankfully my dad offered to pick up Angel from college. I have to give my dad a lot of credit here. He hasn’t always been the world’s greatest dad, but he really helped us out big time. I really appreciated his help.

The time spent at my brother’s went by really fast. We had a great time, then we were back on the road again..The ride back home was a lot easier. The roads were in better condition. The sun came out and pierced our eyes as it gleamed off of the fresh snow. The wind chills were around 20 below.

We came home to a couple more inches to shovel. It was starting to get dark. Since Paul did all of the driving, I offered to shovel. Growing old sucks, but there is something good about being a woman in my 40’s. I don’t feel cold often anymore. All my life I was the girl curled up in blankets on the hottest days of summer. Not anymore! The cold doesn’t phase me anymore. Sometimes I even feel hot when it is cold outside.

What can I say? I am 42 and hot! Ha ha.. Sometimes half of my body is cold while the other half is hot. As strange as it sounds, I sometimes am hot and cold at the same time. Hot flashes, cold sweats…So, shoveling while it was 20 below wasn’t that bad..

Anyway, not what I was planning on talking about..

It has been great with Angel home. She appreciates us so much more since she left for college. The first day home, she bought me flowers. She helped take the burden off at work and has offered to do some of the housework. She said that she feels good when she gets things accomplished during the day. That’s my girl! We spend the evenings in deep conversation.

Now that she is an adult, she has become a really good friend.

I just wanted to let you know that we made it home safe.

I hate following a blog, hearing that the said blogger is taking a trip that may or may not include danger, and then not hearing from them ever again. Seriously, are you okay?? One never knows on this sphere where some of my best friends don’t have names..

I am such a warrior! Did I just say that? Whoops! I meant worrier…Hmm..Oh well.




Snow spring

Wow, it’s been a rough week. I tackled a lot of big topics this week from my failures, fears, and feelings about my mother-in-law’s cancer diagnosis. So I decided to lighten things up today. Nice and light and fluffy like the newly fallen spring snow.

Happy spring! The full spring sunlight today was brightly reflecting off of our new snow. We didn’t end up getting the ferocious blizzard that we were expecting. We ended up getting about 6 inches of snow over a layer of ice. Not the light and fluffy snow either, but the heavy wet snow that is hard to shovel.

After the snowstorm ended yesterday, my daughter wanted to go see her boyfriend as they had lunch plans with another couple. She needed to put gas in the car, so I told her that would be a good time to check out the road conditions. Ideally, it would be great if she never had to drive on questionable roads. But we live in WI, so that is not our reality.

My daughter didn’t even leave our driveway before she got stuck in a snow bank that she couldn’t get herself out of. She called Paul and I at work to come help her. It was almost noon, so we were about ready to come home for lunch anyway. Paul got into her car and pushed the front seat back. Hiding under her front seat was her spare set of car keys. Paul couldn’t get her out of the snow bank from inside of the car. When he got out of the car, he accidentally hit the lock button. He locked both sets of keys in the car while it was running and stuck in the snow bank.

It was fun to call for assistance. “Yes, I am in a safe place. Yes, my driveway. That’s right. No, I am not in the ditch. Well, yes, my car is running in my driveway with the keys locked in it. Oh, by the way, the car is almost out of gas as well.” Most of the tow trucks were busy making lots of money getting cars out of the ditch. But because the car was running, we were able to get someone to come out. A huge tow truck arrived at our house to unlock the car doors. How funny was that?? It gives the neighbors more stuff to talk about. 

My daughter learned the valuable lesson of respecting WI winter (spring) weather. Plus making sure her extra set of keys are not in the car. After the last couple of days, I learned that it is risky going home for lunch.

Grace uncommon, part 6

Aunt Grace lost her driver’s license.

Another uncommon quirk about Aunt Grace was that she was always in a hurry to go somewhere. This may not seem that unusual on the surface. The strange part was that once she got where she was going, she was always in a hurry to leave. For example, a couple times a year Aunt Grace would make the one hour drive up north to the cabin during the off season when it was all closed down. She would get there, look at the cabin from inside of her car, see that it did not burn down over winter, then turn around and drive back home.

There were countless times that this happened. The biggest example that I can give you was when we went on the trip to South Dakota. Aunt Grace signed up for women’s church conference. My mom, dad, Luke, and I accompanied her on this trip in her small car. Thankfully my dad did all of the driving!

When we got to the conference, Aunt Grace checked in and received her conference bag. Then we looked around the conference hall, left, and didn’t come back. I convinced Aunt Grace to go to a water park 2 hours away. Once we got there, Aunt Grace asked for a tour of the water park. I saw lots of kids having fun and couldn’t wait to go. After the tour was done, Aunt Grace said that I saw the water park and that it was time to go. I cried and begged her to be able to go. She didn’t seem to understand. She said that it was time for lunch instead. I refused to eat. I stayed in the car. Aunt Grace was upset that I didn’t eat and called me an ungrateful child. I told her to shut up. To Grace those two words were like the worst obscenities in the world. She never forgave me for this, ever. I complained to my mom, “How could we tour the water park and not go?” My mom replied, “Aunt Grace is paying for the trip so we will do what she wants to do.”

After that Aunt Grace wanted to swing through Wyoming to see the Devil’s Tower. We stayed there for about 45 minutes then started the trip back home to WI. Except that Grace was not ready to go home yet. She wanted to stop in Canada to buy her favorite tea. So we drove many hours out of the way to get her tea. We sat in line at customs for an hour to go into Canada for 20 minutes to get her tea. On the way back through customs, they searched our whole vehicle. Who drives all the way up to Canada for 20 minutes?? Aunt Grace, that’s who.

Over time, the hurried trips became fewer and fewer. Aunt Grace’s driving got worse than it was before. She stayed closer to home.  My grandma complained that she was all over the road. Other people started commenting to us about her poor driving. When it was time to renew her license, she did not pass the vision test with glasses. She lost her license and was beginning to lose her vision as well.

This was also the beginning of the end. Sometimes I sit and think. I try to make sense out of everything that happened. I don’t understand. What Grace did to me was cruel. But I don’t think that she ever meant to be cruel. That is what I don’t (can’t) understand. She didn’t relate with others in a normal way. Sometimes I wonder if Grace was in the Autism Spectrum. Is this the line where everything started? 

Grace was not the only one that seemed anxious going or staying somewhere. My grandpa and Uncle Harold would only go somewhere if they had to. When they got there, they would stay for the shortest amount of time that was socially acceptable. My grandpa would drive my grandma to the store and stay in the car. I have never seen him go in a restaurant. He didn’t even go to my wedding. Now my dad is showing the same pattern of behavior. He doesn’t go to the kids events. He shows up for parties for the least amount of time that is acceptable or finds excuses not to show up at all. Once when Paul and I were in a real bind, my dad stayed with our kids while we were gone for the night. He sat in the car all night. He did not come in at all or even talk to the kids.

I don’t understand. I can’t relate. But if I did, would I take on these strange family traits?




Grace uncommon, part 5

Sometimes when I was with her I felt like I was suffocating.

Aunt Grace not only wore navy blue clothes, she bought navy blue cars as well. Except for the two tone two door gold Olds Cutlass. Aunt Grace was hands down the worst driver I ever knew. I often felt car sick riding with her. My stomach churned as I watched cars move towards us then stop quickly. It seemed like the windows were always up without A/C. It was always hot, always suffocating. I was trapped in the back seat. There wasn’t any way out of it. I often felt like I was on an amusement park ride that I thought I could handle, but found out I couldn’t.

Aunt Grace drove through red lights. She never stopped at 4 way stops either. She was oblivious to the rage of others and to our terror. When she was on the two lane highway, she drove at least 10 mph under the speed limit. She drove with half of the car on the road and half on the shoulder. People never seemed happy when she cut them off then drove slow in front of them. People tailgated. Some people thought that the shoulder was another lane and would pass her even if there was oncoming traffic. They would often honk at her or flip her off. She never seemed to notice.

My grandma once told me a secret about Aunt Grace. When she was young, she got pulled over for speeding and received a ticket. Not Aunt Grace, it didn’t seem possible. I wonder if it was after dark? She would never drive after dark, it was one of her rules. 

Aunt Grace often times would go into the ditch while backing out of my parents driveway. They live on the top of a small hill so their driveway is on an incline with 6 ft ditches on the bottom of both sides. We always looked out the window when Aunt Grace left, especially during the winter months. At times she would slide into the ditch and get trapped in her car by the snow. If we didn’t watch, she might not be able to get out to ask for help. Sometimes we had to push her out of the ditch. It sure was a good thing Uncle Harold had a wrecker to pull her out with when she got really stuck.

I told my mom that I didn’t want to ride in the car with Aunt Grace anymore. My mom was also afraid of her driving and worried when she took us places. But grandma always rode with Aunt Grace, especially after grandpa got sick and could no longer drive. My grandma never drove a car. 

Letting go of the present

I think that my focus this new year is going to be letting go. Now before you start to get any ideas, I am not planning on letting myself go. I just finished an 18 mile run. Well, I think that it was 18 miles anyway. Twice during my run I accidentally hit the emergency stop button on my treadmill which upset me because I did not know my exact mileage at the time. The second time I almost got propelled into my TV. Nothing like being thrown into a crime show. LOL

Not only do I want to start the process of letting go of my past instead of outrunning it, but I am also faced with something that I never thought would happen. I am not needed as much anymore. My kids are growing up. My oldest will be graduating from high school this year. If everything works out as she has planned, she will be leaving our house in 5 months. She will become an adult. Gulp. Yesterday my middle child drove a car for the first time. He got his temps this week. Last night my youngest child babysat so someone else could go out for New Year’s Eve. I don’t even need a babysitter anymore for my youngest child.

When this whole process started, I never pictured in my mind that someday my babies would grow up. Some days I wished for it after sleepless nights with a newborn, toddler temper tantrums, potty training, math homework, etc.. When did time change from wanting them to grow up to wanting time to stand still for a little longer? In five years, I will be done with this job. I’m doing the best that I can so I don’t look back with regret. Despite some relatively minor teenage issues in comparison, the burden of responsibility is starting to lift. I will finally have time for the first time in my life to do what I want to do.

It’s time to start letting go…

Snow tires

In our school district, we have a late bus that drops kids off at various locations after after school activities. The late bus has been a good experience, well except for that one time. What can I say? Snow tires!

When my son was in middle school, he took the late bus to the drop off spot after wrestling practice. One dark, cold, winter Friday night I went to pick him up and had a little adventure. I attempted to make a Y turn and slid on the ice into a snow bank. So here I was with the back end of my car hanging out sideways on the road. My headlights were buried in the snow and I was afraid that oncoming cars would not be able to see me. Yeah, right about that time I had the image in my mind of getting hit by the bus. I called my husband in freak out panic mode. He was in the middle of making supper and couldn’t get there right away. 

Right after I called home two men, that were strangers to me and each other, showed up and pushed my car out of the snow bank. I really appreciated their kindness. Immediately after that, my son showed up on the late bus. He got in the car and exclaimed that he forgot his homework and wrestling gear on the bus. Big problem because the wrestling meet was the next morning. So here I am trying to flag down a school bus in the dark. The first stop I tried to send my son to get his stuff but the driver didn’t see him and left. So here I am driving along side of the bus waving and honking trying not to hit kids wandering around in the dark. Finally my son got his things off the bus. 

In the meantime, my husband set aside supper to help get me out of the snow bank. Except, I was no longer there. He was getting really worried that perhaps by snow bank I meant ditch. Or something really bad happened, like the bus driving around with my car in its front grill. I tried calling him in the process, but he already left. Thankfully, we all made it home safely that night. This winter I will be sure to have good snow tires.  

If running doesn’t kill me, it will make me stronger!

On my way home from work this past week, I followed a drunk driver. He was weaving all over the road, in and out of the ditch almost taking out some signs, just missing mailboxes and garbage bins. I felt anger towards the man in the truck as I thought of the school bus returning the little neighborhood kids meer minutes ago. Then it hit me. I wasn’t safe either. Neither were the other bikers or runners. 

At my last doctors appointment, I was told that I was in great shape. My already low cholesterol levels dropped 50 points. My blood pressure was low. I am the epitome of health (something I always remind the doctors of when I am sick). My weight was perfect. Absolutely everything was wonderful. I attributed this to all of my running. I thought the doctor would prescribe me cigarettes, liquor, and a sedentary lifestyle. Seriously, how else is she going to make money off of me?? Injury, well yes, I suppose there could be that. 

There is no doubt that running has made me stronger and healthier. But my anxious mind also thought about how it could kill me. Here are my 50 ways to kill a runner:

1. Getting mauled by a bear, wolf, or dog. 

2. Getting struck by lightening. 

3. Getting overheated. Warm running days don’t happen that often in WI, but when they do we are not prepared for it. 

4. Freezing to death. 

5. Sweating to death. 

6. Tripping over my own feet and hitting my head on the control panel of my treadmill. 

7. Getting struck in the head by flying debris. This could happen when a truck carrying rocks goes over a bump or when someone tosses a beer bottle out the window. This happens, I see all of the crap that you throw out your window. 

8. Dehydration. 

9. Drunk drivers. I try to run in the mornings to avoid this problem.  

10. Dark trails in the woods that happen to be next to a gun range. What? That is a homicide waiting to happen. 

11. Getting hit by a stray bullet. 

12. Getting attacked by a swarm of angry birds or bees. You never know about the birds and the bees. 

13. Delivery drivers, they are always in a hurry. 

14. Now that I think about it, maybe my mail carrier. She never smiles or waves. 

15. Getting caught in white out conditions from snow and getting lost or hit by a car. 

16. Getting hit by a car. 

17. Getting hit by a car!!

18. Getting hit by a car!!!  At least you have a chance of outrunning the rapist. 

19. Getting swept away by a tornado. 

20. Did I mention flash floods?

21. Slipping on ice and bumping my head. 

22. Those service truck guys who ask for directions. 

23. Electrocution from downed power lines. 

24. Running so fast that people don’t seem to see you. 

25. Items that fall from overhanging trees. 

26. Trying to save a cat from getting hit by a car and getting hit by a car. 

27. New drivers. 

28. Old drivers. 

29. Getting hit by a train. 

30. Getting an infection from all of the chaffing. 

31. Getting West Nile, malaria, or Lyme’s Disease from bugs attracted to a sweaty stinky body. 

32. A deadly sunburn. 

33. Being scared to death by a runner that sneaks up behind you. 

34. Choking on rehydration products. 

35. The smell of stinky sweaty running clothes is enough to kill someone alone. 

36. Getting hit by a school bus due to kids distracting the driver. 

37. Training for a marathon. 

38. Infected bloody toenails 

39. Getting pneumonia from running in the rain. 

40. Running in the dark. 

41. Running barefoot and stepping on dirty needles. 

42. Idiot drivers that are texting. 

43. Women who are doing their hair or makeup while driving because they are late for work again. 

44. New parents distracted by a crying baby or the kid who snuck out of his car seat again. 

45. Is there really nothing good on the radio people who veer the direction they are changing their radio station in. 

46. Did I tell you about the wooded trails?

47. Creepy guys in white unmarked vans. 

48. People so in love they can’t keep their eyes on the road. 

49. Falling over in exhaustion. 

50. Seriously, do you know hard it was coming up with 50 ways to kill a runner???

I used to think that running would prolong my life, but now I am not so sure. 

Truly scary

Sometimes the scariest stories are the true ones. This story happened many years ago when I still lived in my parents house. It happened this time of year. It happened in the middle of a dark night like most scary stories do. I awoke to the flashing lights of police cars. We lived in a rural area outside of an unincorporated town, our closest neighbor a half mile away. I was afraid and woke up my dad. I remember my dad telling me that the last time he saw this many police cars near town that the bank had been robbed. 

Sadly, a bank robbery in the middle of the night would have been preferable to what really happened. What really happened?? A car full of partying teens, young and full of life, had been out drinking recklessly abandoning their seat selts and good sense. The driver thought it would be fun to drive fast, really fast. He hit a patch of black ice, rolled the car multiple times, and flipped the car into a ditch ejecting the passengers. The driver walked away with a few bumps and bruises. Two of the passengers mangled bodies were taken to the morgue that night. The field was a graveyard of broken bodies, broken glass, shattered lives, and a damaged car. It was my uncle’s job to take his wrecker and remove the car remains from the field. 

The next morning it was as if the night before never happened. Well, not exactly. It didn’t turn out like that. My mom was taking a walk near the scene of the accident. She saw something so mortifying that she called the police. She was really shook up on the phone. She exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, someone needs to come out here right now, they forgot the face”. “I took anatomy and physiology in college and I know what a face looks like”. “Please come it’s an emergency!”  “I don’t want children to see the faces that you left behind”. The police came back that morning. My mom showed them the faces that she found half covered in snow. But they were only masks. The accident victims decorated the inside of their car with car accident Halloween masks. Gory, mutilated, mangled masks mocking the shattered lives left behind that night in the cold unforgiving snow. 

Grounded for life, part 4

It was the summer right before my 17th birthday that I got grounded. It was the first and last time that I got grounded. I remember being pretty upset about it at the time. I just wanted to hang out with my friends. I never thought on that 4th of July that a spark would set off a chain reaction that ended up saving my life. At the time, all I saw was red from the fireworks exploding in loud angry cracks. 

My mom told me that I needed to come home right after the fireworks. Randy showed up that night in his 1970’s big boat of a car with my new boyfriend and a friend of his. Perfect, I set up my boyfriend’s friend with my friend Connie who I invited to come live with me that night. Connie had a rough life. Connie and her younger siblings spent the summer living with whatever friends would take them in. She never had many clothes to wear, no winter jacket, and her mom would leave the kids for days at time with only cough drops to eat. She never called to look for Connie when she didn’t come home. Eventually, the kids ended up in foster care but for those couple of weeks I took Connie in like a stray cat. Connie had a horrendous upbringing, but that is her story to share. Growing up the way I did, I had a hard time relating to kids whose biggest problem was a bad hair day. 

After the fireworks that night, Randy had every intention of taking us right home. However, he decided to take the guys home first and then drop Connie and I off last as we were on the way home for him. It would be a half an hour out of the way to take the guys home, not really a problem. The problem was that Randy said that he knew a shortcut to get back home. After taking some back country roads, it was apparent that we were lost. We wandered around aimlessly for over an hour, turned around, stopped when the road dead ended in a field, turned around again, and eventually ended up in a town over an hour away from my house. I wish I could say we had a map in the car or a cell phone to call home.

We eventually found our way back and rolled in the driveway after 2 AM. So much for coming right home. How do you explain getting lost for hours when you know the route home like the back of your hand? Oh, and by the way, I brought a new friend home that is going to stay with us for a couple of weeks. I almost felt sorry for Connie, it probably wasn’t the best time to have a new friend live with us. Being grounded that night stopped Connie, our boyfriends, and me from what happened next. It would have been tragic.