Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Life reimagined

The end of the year.  A day of eating and playing and friends.  A day to look back and look forward.  Looking back, I play the "what if" game.  What if I had never walked into the wrong room and discovered debate?  What if I had never listened to Miss Loosewheel and not taken the ed block just in case?  What if I hadn't been fired from my first job?  What if I hadn't been unlucky in love...the first time? What if I hadn't developed the amazing friendships I have?  And god forbid, what if I hadn't been lucky in love the second time?  Can't imagine.  Looking forward, I play the "can't wait" game.  Can't wait to see what comes next.  Can't wait to enjoy the time with friends.  Can't wait to see new places and experience new things.  Can't wait for my coffee this morning...so will quit playing games and simply say...I can't imagine a better life!  Happy New Year...with all my love!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A very good day...so far

It started well.  Early, but well.  Plans and documents have been created for the high tea on Saturday.  Puzzles and coffee were consumed.  Then, throwing all caution to the wind, and with no regard for the weather gods, we jumped into the car and left town...realizing the capriciousness of such an event during this time of the year.  We were to meet our godchild for lunch in Brookings.  We did.  No problem on the road.  No problem in finding the place (in the Market Galleria).  No problem with the place.  Great food, pleasant service, great ambiance.  Following lunch, we toured Aquatec..a company for whom she does PR...and then headed home.  When my eyes were open, I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the snow drifts along the fences.  They swirled.  They peaked.  And where they peaked, the sun glistened on the tops.  It was the most beautiful shade of pure white.  Made even more beautiful by the fact they had been formed BEFORE we were on the road.  It made the enjoyment much easier.  Once home, we did a little grocery shopping and I just returned from a brisk (okay, colder than...well...I'll leave those comparisons to your imagination.  I was, after all, a crude young man!) 2 mile walk and now, since I am old, we are preparing for an early supper.  Tomorrow is friends and games.  Another very good day!  Hope yours was as good, and you remember to love and that you are!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Powdered sugar

Or if you prefer, confectioners' sugar.  To my knowledge, a topic on which I have not opined.  Oh, not because I don't think of it often.  No!  There are days it is on the top of my mind and the tip of my tongue.  If it weren't for this little bit of white gold, there would be no cream cheese frosting for the carrot cake.  There will be no drizzle of pure decadence on the scones.  There would be no lemon glaze for the lemon bars.  Life in the universe would change drastically without this commodity.  And yet, to have never written about it?  Absurd.  And those are just its useful features.  What about the absolute way it has to spill over everything simply when you open the bag?  What about the fact that it can seep into the tiniest of crevices, eschewing any and all cleaning techniques.  What about the fact that no matter how many layers of plastic I use to keep it fresh, it somehow still manages to clump, requiring sifting every time it is used?  Freud would probably refer to my attraction to this substance as a love/hate relationship.  Hmmm.  I wonder if Freud ever wrote about powdered sugar?  I have too much time on my hands.  And you are loved!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

It must be love

My connection to football.  Equipment manager.  Eighth grade.  Since then, my connection has been my wife.  That's probably true with baseball, soccer, racquet ball (ask her how she lost the bottoms of her two front teeth!) and Texas Broom Hockey!  She is the epitome of a fan.  If you bounce it, throw it, or hit it, she will follow it.  And oh, the things that I have learned over the years.  I know where each team is located.  I am familiar with the names.  I've visited the arenas.  And in truth, it has never hurt!  Oh, osmosis stops way before getting excited about these events.  But I will go.  And I will watch people.  And I will truly hope her teams win.  That makes her happy.  And that makes me happy!  In case you're wondering, her Vikings beat the Bears today.  I know because I checked out espn.com.  A painless way to discover whether the ribs in the oven are celebratory or conciliatory.  They are the former.  And you are loved!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille


Sometimes, things in the universe coalesce into one perfect experience.  In the almost 17 years Rocci has been a member of our family, it has been amazingly difficult to capture her in graphic form.  Something about a black puppy.  For some reason today, as I was looking at the picture I had just taken of our orchid, blooming happily in the sun
I noticed that Rocci was intent on my activities.  A quick switch from view to shoot, a lucky juxtaposition of fate and a little help from a workshop I took this summer, and the result was clear.  Ms. Rocci was ready for her closeup!  It's hard to believe the love an animal can generate.  And not only that, the orchid was pretty, too!  May the universe bless you with experiences to enjoy and remember, and know you are loved!

Friday, December 26, 2014

The year in review

As we approach the new year, it seems only fair to look back at 2014 through the eyes of memory.  We laughed.  A lot.  We cried.  A little.  We traveled.  A lot.  We rested.  A little.  We enjoyed a lot.  We were bothered.  A little.  We ate.  A lot.  We fasted.  Darn little.  We played.  A lot.  We worked.  A little.  We learned a lot. We regretted.  A little.  We made new friends.  We lost good friends.  In short, like the 64 years that preceded it, we were amazingly blessed.  And it's not a view through rose colored glasses.  It is, instead a choice.  In each instance, the parallels could have been reversed.  But attitude is everything, and attitude is a choice.  So as 2015 nears, I will strive to remember to make it good.  And I will remember with great love those that continue to make life the amazing miracle it is.  I will remember you!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

And let it begin...

with me!  Peace and love!

Jeopardy answer...Tigger and my wife

Question:  what are two things that bounce?  Of course, there is a story.  And in the spirit of the holidays, it has a happy ending.  Up early to do the buns I talked about yesterday, I decide to start the dressing.  As I am tearing up the hot dog buns purchased for that very purpose, I hear a bump and my name in a register that immediately seizes me with cold dread.  I sprint up the steps to find Cath on the floor of the kitchen and the dog, headed for the door.  Cath directs me to get the dog out the door.  I head that direction and step square in the reason the dog was headed for the door!  Hopping to the door on one foot, I get the dog out, paper toweling to clean me and the floor, and get the story.  It was Cath's night to sleep downstairs to care for the dog (another story, another time!) and having slept through the night, the dog woke in need of relief.  Cath is right behind her, shooing her toward the door as the dog intermittently does the relieving thing.  In the shooing process, Cath slips on the tile floor, takes a header into the corner of the hutch, and ends up on the floor.  No blood.  No broken bones, and no concussion, at least that we can discern.  But one huge goose egg that currently is changing color.  The woman continues to amaze me.  After half an hour, we're headed on a walk to Taco John's for breakfast!  As I said...bounce!  Our own little Christmas miracle!  Tis the season, and you are loved!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

'Twas the night before the night before Christmas

For darn close to 65 years, the anticipation of Christmas has lifted my mood, excited my psyche, and, at a younger age, caused me to bounce off the walls.  There's just something about food and friends and paper and bows and good will that get me.  (English teachers out there, I dare you to count the inappropriate number of ands!)  Tomorrow I shall bake buns in the morning, go to church with Aunt Edith and Cath in the afternoon, and head out to Cath and Chris's for supper.  Christmas day will see us in the car, headed to Ipswich to spend the day with my sister and part of her family.  It will be the first Christmas in a long time that we have just enjoyed the labors of others!  For some reason, it doesn't seem right, but I really am planning on enjoying it!  Good food, good conversation, and good people.  That part seems amazingly right!  So, as you prepare to prepare for your holiday festivities, allow us to wish you a very happy holiday.  Celebrate the love you have and the love we send to you!

Monday, December 22, 2014

The beets are peeled...

as are the potatoes!  The mushrooms are stuffed and pre-baked.  The chicken tenders rest comfortably in a bath of buttermilk.  The bread is rising in the proofing room (that would be the bathroom with the electric heat turned up to "oh my god, it's hot in here!").  And the pie.  The pie awaits consumption.  I'm not sure, but I think I may be happiest when I'm preparing food to share with others.  Or maybe, preparing and eating food shared with others. And that's quite a statement, since I choose to be happy most of the time!  There's that whole "food is love" thing at work.  Anyhoo...tonight, we entertain a former student and his wife.  One of our favorites, he has come home to roost, and continues to make a difference in the community and in our lives.  She is a delight, teaching this old dog new tricks.  Hopefully, a good time will be had by all.  And that, my friends, is what the pie is for!  Everyone needs a guarantee!  Enjoy the ones you love, and know that you are!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

On this, the shortest day of the year,

Funny, I thought they all had 24 hours!  But oh, how exciting to realize that we will have more time to not see the sun for the next six months.  Hidden somewhere in the fog, that re-energizing orb will grace us a little longer, and that, my friends, is an amazing thing.  But let's discuss what can be accomplished on the shortest day of the year.  Breakfast at Hardee's followed by a Christmas run to Wal-Mart to finish shopping for the kidlings.  A brisk walk to church to see the great niece and nephew in their Christmas "pageant" (and at one point, it did indeed look like "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever").  Walk home.  Do a toughie of a crossword puzzle, have a bowl of home built tomato soup, mix up the ingredients for a carrot cake, prepare the Cornish Game Hens and broccoli salad for supper, enter today's post on Facebook, and finish up today's blog.  And half the day is left!  I'm anxious to see what kind of trouble into which I can get.  (Oh Lordy, but that thing about prepositions at the ends of sentences can be a real pain in the...brain!)  The day "light" indeed may be shorter, but the length of love remains the same.  And you are!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Spell check

Okay, I have been reveling in the fact that the Christmas letter has been published.  I now am quite contrite realizing that knowledge is not spelled correctly.  Pride goeth before the fall!  Alas.  Only a teacher would find a way to incorrectly spell that which he tried to instill for 34 years!  Then of course, there's the philosophy of building a good readers following.  Publish one day and take the next day off.  I don't believe that instills confidence in the new reader that there is any consistency to this process.  In the spirit of the holidays, I can only hope for forgiveness!  And in light of my expectation of moving forward rather than dwelling on the past, I can only hope the knowledge that this post imparts will help educate.  Thanks for being here, and know you are loved!  (PS...it is now spelled correctly!)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The annual Christmas letter!



'Tis the week before Christmas
And not from this house
A Christmas card sent yet
My gosh, he's a louse!

The stockings are hung 
in the kitchen this year
To find them?  Much harder
The coal I do fear.

The year?  Like so many
Was filled with great things
From Florida warm
and Black Hills, joy did ring!

The cards at the table
Ran hot and ran cold
For us, bridge is tempting
It never grows old.

We're older and wiser
Some aches and some pains
But willing to try things
Consider the gains.

But one thing is stable
On that we do bank
The friends who support us
To you we do thank

And know in this season
of trees like above
We send you good greetings
We send you our love!

Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good ... year!
Cyberly yours,
bz and cz

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

It's almost official

We've been to city park to see the lights!  It's Christmas.  We've had lutefisk and lefse.  It's Christmas.  We toured the town to enjoy the lights.  It's Christmas.  We just enjoyed a group of young carolers.  It's Christmas.  Now, if there were only peace on earth...then it would truly be Christmas.  Know you are loved!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

tonight's the night!

If you have ever heard me speak, you probably recognize today's title as the punch line to one of my favorite all time stories.  Tonight, however, it takes on a totally different meaning.  I have often been asked (frequently by me) why on earth anyone would choose to live in South Dakota in the winter.  Cold.  Snow.  Ice.  Cold.  And on any given day, I may have trouble explaining that choice.  Not tonight.  I just got back from a brisk 2 1/2 mile walk.  It is DROP DEAD GORGEOUS out there.  The stars shine so brightly.  The air is so clean.  The Christmas lights glisten and reflect on the diamonds in the snow.  My lungs are filled with sparkling air.  My eyes are filled with a landscape that literally defies description, my soul is filled with the peace that comes from such an experience, and my mind is filled with the answer.  Tonight's the night!  And you are loved!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Fortuosity

We were scheduled for a trip to Sioux Falls today for a band concert and an eye appointment tomorrow.  In a stroke of luck, we opted early this morning to exercise our "oh my god we're old and don't care to die on the highway" prerogative and are currently ensconced in our front room watching the horizontal snow and somewhat smug because the concert we were scheduled to attend has been cancelled!  The weather has resulted in a hectic day of bridge, puzzles, SAVING MR. BANKS, and listening to Christmas music whilst we play on our electronic devices!  A day unscheduled!  Amazing!  Rib eye for supper, a nap on the horizon, and the realization again that plot shifts can be extremely positive!  Bloom where you are, and know you are loved!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

foggy memories

On my way out to the dollar store for essential materials (disposable pans in which to place fudge!), I was amazed at the thickness of the fog.  Except for the idiot ahead of me who obviously didn't care whether anyone could see her or not (no lights on), people were driving defensively...and well.  For this, I am appreciative.  Having purchased 40 disposable pans (it is Christmas, after all!), I headed home, and like often happens, the strangest things trigger positive memories.  It was a few years ago.  Cath's folks had a cabin at the lake, and we had dibs for the weekend.  Just the two of us.  We woke up Sunday morning to the thickest fog I recall.  Not a whisper of a breeze.  I suggested a trip around on water skis.  Cath obliged.  Now understand, this was before Dr. Thompson had given me the gift of sight (and I had left the coke bottle glasses on shore).  We took off, and as we rounded the cove, for me the boat disappeared.  I was suspended magically by the rope in front of me with nothing but ultimate faith in the driver.  For approximately 10 minutes, I was totally and essentially skimming the water...alone...and it was the most amazing feeling I have ever experienced.  Peace.  Pure peace.  And I was smart enough to let it envelope me.  For those 10 minutes, I was the only one on the planet.  Now understand, that is, in most instances, the most frightening of thoughts.  But somehow, for this period of time, I was totally relaxed and in the moment. 

Three things.  First, realize what a gift it is to have someone in whom you place all your trust.  I was absolutely certain I would be safe.  Second, realize that experiences like this are rare, and one should carry them with one.  Third, the fog was a little more enjoyable when I got home!  Memories can do that!

May you find that special place that makes a memory for you, and know you are loved!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

I'm embarrassed that

--I'm smarter than my phone.  To use it, I flip up the top half.  I dial the number.  I speak into the phone.  When I'm done, I flip it back.  No key board.  No texting.  No internet access.  A phone.  To talk on.  When I want/need.  Hmmmmm
--I still use Microsoft Office 2003!  I know how it works.  It does EVERYTHING I need it to do.  I have other things that require my learning curve.  Like how to fold napkins into Christmas trees--something I saw on my desk-top computer--not my phone.  See note above.
--I gleefully embrace the holiday concept of good will toward men (women, too!).  It may be outdated.  I should probably be shopping to buy presents.  I should probably be fretting over how I can put extra pressure on myself during what should be the most calm and serene time of the year.  Instead, I will simply use every opportunity to let the people I admire and love know that I do.

I lied.  I'm not embarrassed!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Thank god for...

---interruptions.  I had it all planned.  I would finish my book, take a leisurely shower, cut fudge for tonight, and enjoy a nice supper with the neighbor and my beautiful bride.  All but 30 pages of the book done, and there was a knock on the door.  She who shall remain unnamed interrupted the conclusion of my book!  As we do every time we are together, we talked!  She is an amazing woman, a delightful friend, and much better than finishing the book.  It would be there after the speech.  She wouldn't.  Reminder to self.  You are unbelievably lucky to have such interruptions.  And swsru, thank you!  I know you will read this, and let's do it again.  We didn't get it all said.  But we never do!
---realtors.  And all associated personnel!  They were the audience tonight.  So many wonderful people!  If you are reading this, remember your assignments! And be safe out there....
---enough energy to read 30 pages.  At least, before I fall asleep.  If you want a good read, try THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES, by Jussi Adler-Olsen.  MOST entertaining!
---you!  Stop back tomorrow, and know you are loved!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Deep insight

I've made my share of mistakes in this lifetime.  I've been fired.  My first fiance.  The maroon polyester suit with the platform shoes and the velvet bow tie.  All have been growth stimulators.  I've learned.  It does not, however, mean I won't be making more mistakes.  Like today.  For example.  I'm putting together a list of educational professionals in our district.  I misplaced the list of senior high individuals.  I call.  Joan (who has saved my butt on numerous occasions) gets the list ready.  I go to school.  Dumb.  Dumb.  Dumb.  Dumb.  Dumb.  It was 3:31.  School dismisses at 3:30.  Parking?  Yeah, right.  Quietly sneaking in in my yoga shorts (neon green)?  Yeah, right.  Getting out of the parking lot to come home.  A true test of patience.  My insight?  I could have gone at 4:30 and avoided all the hassles.  Live and learn.  If I hadn't been fired, I'd never met my second fiance (first and only wife), and if it hadn't been for the suit, I never would have been called Billy Bow Tie.  Clever moniker, don't you think?  Live and learn.  And you are loved!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Just another Tuesday

Some days are just normal days.  Like today.  Started in the normal fashion.  Crosswords, coffee.  Then, the tires needed balancing, or the wheels needed to be aligned, or something had to be done to those round things that make the car go, so out to the dealership I go.  They do what they have to do.  Back in the car, I notice the light for low gas is on.  I look at the computer prognostication of miles left.  It says four.  Four!  I head for Casey's so I can use our mileage card from Hy-vee.  I look at the computer as I pull into the station.  I swear it said pray!  Put 20 gallons in our 20 gallon tank and headed home.  Afternoon was spent visiting with our aunt and preparing for the retired teachers' program on Thursday.  Visitation at the funeral chapel was followed by a stop for Chester fried chicken.  I do believe we (okay, I) may frequent that place a little too often.  Last week they asked if I had been sick since they hadn't seen me in two weeks, and tonight, before I even said hello to the cute young thing behind the counter, she asked me if I wanted my usual 8 pack.  Light bulb!  My usual 8 pack may well be destroying any chance I have of developing a six pack, but that's a different topic!  Now, it's an old movie (Private Benjamin) and a nap on the horizon!  I kinda like normal!  And you are loved!

Monday, December 8, 2014

No matter how you say it...

I abhor it.
It is an abomination.
I despise it.
I detest it.
I loathe it.
I feel antagonism toward it.
There is hostility in my reaction to it.
I hold a rancor toward it.
It is anathema.
I feel animus toward it.
I have an aversion to it. 
I feel antipathy toward it.
There is a malignity about it.

So tell me.  How would you say you feel about the treadmill?  But you are loved!



Sunday, December 7, 2014

A "Sound of Music" morning

"Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens!"  My guess?  That's all that's needed to know where this is headed!  Having frosted and wrapped the six pork loins for supper tonight, waiting for the first load of clothes to come from the dryer (that would be the first OVERSIZED load [of two!] of sweats--guess what time of the year it is?), I have a wondrous event--time to contemplate my favorite things.  If I were to list them in order of favor, I could give you number 1, and from there on, they simply exist to give my life meaning and joy.  And if you have read this blog before, you will know #1 is the woman who continues to amaze the world (and me) by loving me!  And I shall list!
Health--enough to do the things I want and enjoy the process of doing.
Wealth*--see above.
The opportunity to perform.
My dual fuel professional range.
The puppy (that would be the almost 17 year old puppy!)
All puppies!
Chicken--fixed any way.
Truly funny movies.
Well written literature.
Smutty literature!
Travel.
Playing bridge.
Playing all sorts of other games.
Our families.
Home made caramels.
Pie.
Okay, most anything sweet and/or salty.
French Fries (once a year!)
Growing older.
Not getting old.
Christmas.
Trying something new.
Warm sandy beaches and crystal clear warm waters.
The snowblower!
Isn't it amazing?  The load of clothes is done.  In that short amount of time, I've listed 25 of my favorite things.  Think what it would have been like if I had just started the load?!  Sometime today, between the rush of events that is norm and the chance to refresh tonight, allow your "hills" to be alive with your sound of music!  And realize that I lied.  Just a little.  If I had to order my favorite things, I could give you one and two.  You know one.  And with any luck at all, you know two.  You!  And you know you are loved!


Saturday, December 6, 2014

The power

It was cooking class day.  Christmas goodies.  Truly a two day process.  A good two days!  But I'm tired.  A good tired.  It started with breakfast with amazing friends.  Then off to work.  Great group of "students"!  New faces!  Old faces (oops, I mean faces I knew)!  And a young lad who was back for his second class!  Cool!  But among the blessings that overflowed, I was reminded of the power of friendship.  My boss is an amazing young lady who makes the process so enjoyable.  The returnees support the class and me give me reason to continue.  And the lifers who were there made the day special.  You know the type.  If you need a look of encouragement, it is there.  If you need a kind word, it is there.  They are a part of the joy of living.  And the hugs.  Oh, the hugs!  Christmas music plays in the background as I write.  Appropriate for the day and the mood.  I am blessed, and you are loved!

Friday, December 5, 2014

you are loved

To me, the most amazingly healing statement you can hear...and say!  We celebrated the life of a good friend's mother yesterday.  I never really knew her, but she raised three amazing children.  The friend of whom I speak--we'll call him Gary--lives a distance away from South Dakota, and we don't get to see him often.  He was a classmate of Cath's, and we had his children in school.  Amazing kids!  The bonus to the celebration was his son (another good friend) stayed with us while he was here.  The story of his arrival is best saved for another time.  This particular episode is about his father.  Gary is the type of friend that whether you are actually in his physical presence or not, you know he has your back!  You know the type.  You don't see them for months/years and when you do get together, it's as if you lived next door?  Anyhow.  He makes me laugh.  His sense of humor and his obvious compassion and zest for life are legend.  And, he gives me crap!  Knowing how I sign off on my facebook page, he teases me about the titled phrase.  But here's the deal.  When it came time to say goodbye, he looked at me with the one serious bone in his body and said, "You are loved!"  It made the day better.  The world was brighter.  And I?  I'm still smiling.  Say the words.  Live the words, and know you are!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

God bless the inventor of...

adjustable waist slacks.  You know of what I speak--the kind that have an elastic insert so as I meander between "you look great" and "you ate great", I can still be somewhat comfortable.  If I were to find one specific descriptor of my size guise, it would be Yoyo!  Like the ursine creature that I resemble, I apparently have decided that hibernation is in my future and have packed (the body) accordingly.  I blame it on my doc.  He said not to run any more.  That was 10 pounds ago!  And I ain't speaking positively.  Okay, in truth, it has been  positive gain, but only on the scale.  Mentally?  Not so much.  It has nothing to do with the caramels.  It has nothing to do with the bread (which, by the way, is utterly amazing!).  It has nothing to do with the almonds that jump into my hand.  It has everything to do with the no!  All I have to know...is no.  But, it's Christmas.  And there is that insert....  Have an outlandishly good holiday, and know you are loved!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

They also serve who sit and wait

The car needs attention.  Oil must be changed.  Signal light must be replaced.  Tires must be balanced.  Bill must wait.  This is not Bill's forte!  So off to the mall goes I in search of a particular Christmas gift.  No luck.  Stop at Hy-vee for Chinese lunch.  Luck!  Now, I'm back at the dealer.  And I wait!  Family Feud is on. Doesn't help.  Hence, the blog.  Ms. Loosewheel used to say "Wait for it. It will be better."  One could only hope!  You don't have to wait to know you are loved!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A hairy situation

I always thought I would be able to definitively determine when I was old.  I would talk at length about my bowel habits.  I would share stories of my colonoscopies.  I would prefer talking to doing.  All, perhaps, are yet to come.  But today I was reminded I was old.  It started out like any normal day.  Coffee and crossword puzzles, followed by a few minutes (okay, a few more than a few) of on-line bridge with my favorite partner (in every sense of the word!).  It was she who suggested road trip.  I, of course, acceded.  Now understand, this road trip was with a specific goal in mind.  She needed a hair cut, and the best barber we know used to be married to my sister and lives in Milbank.  Into the car, and on the way up, we do a little Christmas shopping!  God, how I love that mobile hot spot!  Anyhow, we arrive.  Cath's hairs are cut.  Then, it was my turn.  Here's the rub.  The process took about 10 minutes.  8 minutes were spent cutting the hair in my ears, on my ears, in my nose, and trimming my eyebrows.  Yup.  Old.  And you are loved!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Twice as nice

Ever since I had my slice and dice (I believe the correct term is Radial Keratotomy), I have relied on mono-vision.  My right eye was for reading.  My left eye, for distance.  Enter the cataract era.  Right eye was amazingly blurry.  It became next to impossible to read things in smaller than 18 point print.  Colors were faded.  Life was not fun.  Magic.  Cataract removed.  Clear.  Beautiful.  Stunning.  One hitch.  Now, my right eye can see at any distance.  So when I look into the distance, both eyes focus...unfortunately, they seem to do so independently.  If one distance item is good, two must be better, right?  I'm working on retraining the devils to work in synchronicity.  I'm not being very successful.  And when I get tired, they get tired, and forget about working together.  Sounds like a return trip to my miracle worker to see what cure he has!  Until then, if you want to be twice as good, stand at a distance from me when I'm tired, and as much as I love you, it will be doubled!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

In years gone by...

We would have been done decorating on Friday.  Trees would have been up and lit.  All the peripheral pretty would have been placed, and we would have enjoyed the fruits of our labors.  It is now Sunday, and there are two rooms left to go.  And we are enjoying the fruits of our labor--with a little less intensity and a lot more enjoyment!  If the kitchen doesn't get done until tomorrow, so be it.  And my room is started--at least the tree is up and lit!  Who knows.  It may be finished as well!  The process was interrupted by an insane plan to clean the paint room so we had room for things.  Like all good cleaning processes, the contents of the paint room threw up onto the basement floor.  There were coats to go through, mittens and gloves to match, single gloves to cause questions and then be disposed, and of course, for the remainder there was the decision of keep, throw, keep, throw, throw, throw!  Entry to the paint room has been achieved.  Access to the back wall is much less perilous.  And we now have a zoo for the giraffes to winter, whilst shepherds and wise men and little drummer boys take their place.  Give us another week, and we'll be ready.  Or not.  But all is good, and you are loved!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

sometimes all it takes is one

For some reason, I have entered that contemplative part of the day--you know--where for no reason, thoughts occur to you.  And of course, since I blog, I am required to share them.  Today, I speak to the response.  Whether it be to a question or to an action, there is really only one chance to "get it right."  Wrong expression?  Ouch.  Wrong initial response?  Ouch.  Unexpected negative response?  Double ouch.  And we have all been the giver and the recipient of each of these.  Unintentionally, we have popped a balloon, increased stress and decreased worth...with a simple response.  Unless, of course, we have done it intentionally, in which case, shame on us!  Likewise, we have been the popee, the stress increaser and the self abaser based on our interpretation of that response.  Unless we simply like to feel bad, in which case, shame on us!  Granted, we usually don't have time to measure each response.  That would truly eliminate any spontaneity at all.  Therefore, I have a proposal.  When confronted with a reaction option, a positive approach to life will help you avoid the negative consequence.  If you begin with the belief that attitude is everything AND attitude is choice, we certainly can work on making it positive, can't we?  And then perhaps the answer to that all important question, "Do these pants make my butt look big?" might not be an eye-popping, jaw dropping, "Oh my god.  Huge!"  Instead, it could be...well, I haven't figured that one out yet!  But I know it'll be based on attitude!  Respond well, and know you are loved!

Friday, November 28, 2014

What would you do?

Let me set the stage.  We ordered a personalized product early in November, hoping to have it by Thanksgiving.  Imagine our surprise when we received notice that it was shipped the next day!  Wow.  We received the tracking number.  After three days, we checked the tracking of the parcel.  It had been delayed due to the blizzard out east.  Understandable.  We checked a week later (now he middle of November), and it was en route.  Cool.  Well, what with the rush during the holiday, we just kind of placed it in the back of our minds...until today, when we both remembered it wasn't here.  Back to check the tracking, only to discover that it had spent at least one day in Watertown, but wasn't delivered because our name wasn't on it.  Oh, don't get me wrong.  The address, that would be our legal address, was correct, but since the addressee's name wasn't ours, the carrier arbitrarily marked it for return to sender.  It now resides in Greenville, North Carolina!  Billy consumer was upset.  I call the company to see what could be done.  Spoke with Willette, who was apologetic and immediately re-ordered the personalized objects and shipped them rush delivery.  At no cost to us.  Even though it wasn't their fault.  Customer service at its best.  HOWEVER, I still had a problem with the delivery (or lack thereof).  I contacted the postal service.  They said the carrier was "being trained".  Then they said we should have our name listed as the addressee.  Hmmmm.  Wonder what happens when someone visits and should receive a letter.  Apparently, although the legal address is correct, the carrier can arbitrarily choose not to honor that address.
Sometimes, face to face is better, so Billy gets on his broom, er, I mean in the car and heads for the postal office.  I allow all other patrons to go before me.  I speak to the delightful former student who is tending the window.  He seems surprised that delivery wasn't attempted, gets on the phone, and calls  for the supervisor.  Out comes a young man who says the supervisor sent him to take care of the problem!  I introduce myself and shake his hand.  He does NOT tell me who he is.  I explain the situation.  He tells me our name should be on the parcel.  I explain to him that I really don['t care whose name is on the package, I object to anyone not delivering mail to a legal address.  He goes back to get the supervisor.  He comes back...alone...and tells me "they" have made a note to deliver all parcels/letters to us that have our address.  Imagine that. They're going to do what they're supposed to do!  His parting shot?  If we get mail not for us, we'd better not call to complain!  Before I can say anything inappropriate, I choose to leave, fuming but thankfully quiet.
Rarely does one experience diametric opposites concerning the same item in the same day.  Both speak volumes.  The company--amazing.  The Postal Service?  Not so much!  Hopefully, the supervisor at the postal service will some day realize her purpose is to serve her customers.  But I won't hold my breath.  If I did, I might turn purple, have my photo taken, want the picture personalized, and have to deal with her again!  They ticked me off, but you?  You are loved!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Everything's just fine!

It was an amazingly enjoyable day.  16 people for dinner.  We missed our niece's family who is expecting her third child quite literally any day, our niece who lives in Louisville and spends her special days caring for special people, and our nephew's family in Missouri as he continues his policing, making St. Joseph a better place in which to live.  Then of course, there are those who have gone before.  We did channel Ms. Loosewheel this morning when we ran to the grocery store to pick up something we had forgotten.  The food worked.  The kids worked to clean up.  As I said...enjoyable.  Now, it's time to convince my expanded stomach and active medulla oblongata to prepare for the day dedicatied to bringing the Christmas spirit indoors!  As I sink into the stupor that the quantities of food produce, I will smile and give thanks for a day of joy.  And tell you you are loved!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mess...my kitchen is a mess.

And it is a good feeling!  It means I have accomplished something.  The pumpkin pecan pies are in the oven.  The cranberries are macerating in the refrigerator (frisky little devils that they are!).  The coffee is on the timer, and the kitchen upstairs has been cleaned of the turkey, potatoes, gravy, and dressing residue created by pre-preparing tomorrow's dinner today.  Cath has beautifully set the two tables and as soon as the pies are done, mama in her kerchief and I in my cap will settle right in for a long winter's nap.  Oops, I just jumped a holiday.  Sorry about that.  The paper with the Black Friday ads has come and gone...I refused to look at them.  There is absolutely nothing in the world that I need, much less to shop for on Thanksgiving day or rise early on Friday.  No temptation = no temptation!  In short, let the feasting day occur!  And know the answer to the question, "For what am I thankful?", is you!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Anticipation

Food frenzy on the horizon!  Christmas lights waiting to blaze!  Relatives coming to visit!  Lord, how I love this holiday!  Guess you could say I'm thankful.  And you are loved!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Minute 14

I received a questionable call from "the IRS" this morning.  I was directed to call a particular number.  I didn't.  First, the call was a recorded voice.  Second, the call came through on my cell phone.  Third, they said they had been trying to contact me.  Red light.  Red light.  Red light.  Being Billy Consumer, I immediately tried to contact the IRS.  They didn't want to talk to me.  Literally.  I called the Aberdeen office.  They don't take calls.  I called the Sioux Falls office.  They don't take calls.  I went on line.  I went to IRS.gov.  After perusing several menus, I found a number to call.  I called.  I went through seven menus.  Some were repetitive.  I finally got to the part that said if I didn't hear what I needed, I should remain on line.  I am.  The approximate wait time was 15 minutes.  That expired 8 minutes ago.  I'm still on hold.  As I understand it, I provide the funding for these offices.  I would appreciate a little customer service from the local branch.  I would appreciate a little customer service from the national branch.  "Our representatives are still helping other customers.  Please continue to hold." is not my idea of effective customer service.  Alas!  Cath's suggestion was to call the Better Business Bureau.  Tried to get that number.  All I got was a form.  Submit it on line.  I'm just trying to be sure no one else gets this "threat" (and that's what it was)!   I shall continue to hold until it's time for yoga.  I shall then hang up and medicate (Freudian slip.  I meant meditate!)  Time to consider the universe in total will probably reduce the import of this issue.  But right now, I'm ticked!  I'll let you know how this turns out, because I love you!

Quick update.  I just spoke with Mrs. Wilson.  I was informed that the IRS does not handle issues in this manner.  That's what I thought.  And for the record, Mrs. Wilson WAS very courteous and polite.  It was nice after the wait!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The real tree

Should you drive by, you will notice the tree on the front porch has been changed.  It is now a 7 foot blue spruce, purchased and hauled from Menards this very afternoon.  As of yet, it is not lighted.  Something to do tomorrow.  The thing is, it's real.  It looks real.  That is to say, imperfect.  The trunk is crooked.  There are spots where the foliage is a little sparse.  But there's something just right about a real tree.  It's what we had when I was a child.  It smells wonderful.  And it fits outside.  I think the major attribute of the tree is it reminds me of the friends I love.  Not perfect.  Different shapes.  Different foliage.  The term is unique.  Despite their "flaws", they are real.  And that says it all.  So as I look at the tree, I will remember those friends, and thank god for the imperfections!  The season, after all, is about love!  And you are!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The family we choose

I have been amazingly blessed indeed in the family department.  Genetically, I have been supported, loved, and encouraged.  Had I chosen rather than been so blessed, I could not have done better.  In-lawly (I can't wait to see what spell check does to that one!) the same would be true.  Wisdom in choice or just blind luck, I can't say, but I am extremely blessed!  That being said, it probably is unfair (I've witnessed far too many people who are not "familially fortunate!) that we have also been "adopted" into two other families, and how richly they have added to our lives!  We're included at family reunions.  We're selected to sit at the "family" table.  And we are supported...and loved...and encouraged.  As the week before Thanksgiving comes to a close, I need you to understand this...if you can say you are loved by friends, be thankful.  If you can say you're loved by family, be thankful.  If you can say you are loved...and you are...be thankful!  I am!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Tis the season

There are things that just jump into my cart.  Wal-mart.  Pointsettias.  Red.  White.  And then...



Never had seen the orange.  Had to have it.  After all--it fits at Thanksgiving.  And I do.  Give thanks.  That we can afford to buy it.  That we will have family to enjoy it.  That we will over eat, and over laugh, and over love--all three of which are darn near impossible.  I know it's a week away, but give it some thought, and know you are loved!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Goals?

So...I'm out on my walk today, heading home, when I notice I'm on the same route as the garbage truck.  Just as I pass it, I notice a four block stretch of garbage cans waiting for up picking and say to myself, "I can reach 10th street before the truck does."  My pace picks up, my spirits pick up, and the garbage truck picks up!  My primary goal?  10th street.  My secondary goal?  To keep at least one garbage can ahead of the truck.  A little winded, a little elated, I reach both goals.  By the time I get home, I start to analyze my behavior.  I'm not ordinarily extremely competitive.  But I was.  I like to think of myself as goal oriented.  I now spell that OCD!  But I did win, and you are loved!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The height of....

It was one of those days.  Early breakfast with Aunt Edith.  Yoga.  Yoga holiday party at Willy's.  And the afternoon.  Oh, the afternoon.  As busy individuals, we rarely get to see our favorite shows during their airing.  Enter the DVR.  Then we can watch them at our leisure.  Yah, right!  Leisure!  Well, this afternoon was one of those rare occasions.  Hunkered down with our blankets at hand (okay, I was buried in mine!) we watched four episodes of NCIS!  Four!  It was simply amazing.  There was popcorn.  There was sparkling water.  There were no naps.  None!  It was the right thing at the right time.  Sometimes, the mind and the soul need escape, and the boob tube was just the vehicle.  Probably won't see NCIS again until the next such afternoon.  By then, we'll have NCIS Los Angeles and NCIS New Orleans to supplement our DC adventures!  I've said it before.  I'll say it again.  Life is good for this old fart, and you are loved!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Finding Sleeping Beauty

It's cold.  It's snowy.  It's definitely blowy.  In the terminology never allowed in my classroom, the weather sucks!  Yeah, it's pretty...pretty white.  And it keeps coming.  Thankfully, when one looks for it, there is usually a saving grace--an upside if you will--to every crappy situation.  As I was bemoaning our fate this morning I happened to look around our front porch.  And there they were.  In the middle of winter, a reminder that beauty does exist.  And since I'm the kind of guy I am, I will share.  Find yours, and know you are loved!



Monday, November 17, 2014

To Dream the Impossible Dream

Hear me now Oh thou bleak and unbearable world,
Thou art base and debauched as can be;
And a knight with his banners all bravely unfurled
Now hurls down his gauntlet to thee!
For some reason, every now and again, the score to Man of La Mancha swirls through my head.  It's been darn close to 50 years since we sang it in choir, and yet, I can hear the melodious air, I can image the tilting at windmills, and I am transported to a Broadway stage that I shall never see to be Don Quixote!  You see, in a totally unprepossessing way, I believe every teacher is Don Quixote.  Our destiny called, and the wild winds of fortune took us onward to something akin to glory.  To make the difference in a mind, an attitude a life.  Granted, at times the outlook was bleak (remember in-service?).  But never unbearable.  For there was always the challenge...always the reward.  As I told my kids, life ain't fair!  But I followed that up with the fact that I personally hoped I never got what I probably deserved!  I seem to be rambling.  Probably not one of those nights where my prose with move someone to rhapsodic criticism.  Sometimes, you just gotta share.  So tonight, I shall dream the impossible dream, fight the unbeatable foe, and reach the unreachable stars.  Or, I will dream I've gone to school naked.  Either way I will go where the brave dare not go!  Find your windmill, kiss your Dulcinea, and know you are loved!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

memory jogger

I am always amazed at how a little thing can create a big memory.  I was cleaning the kitchen in the basement.  I needed room in the cupboard.  There was something precluding the Pam from moving far enough to the back to shut the door, so I took out the offending items.  And there it was...in the back of the cupboard...a time of my life that changed my world.  And it was basically an innocuous thing.
Back story.  The year...2000.  The event?  Our first meeting of the 2000 state teachers of the year in Dallas.  I was overwhelmed, to say the least.  Dallas.  In January.  In the presence of amazing teachers.  On the night before we were to leave, a group wanted to head out and see the sights in the West End.  I demurred.  I was tired.  But they talked me into it, so I grudgingly went.  It was a riot.  We ended up at Dick's Last Resort.  The whole concept of the place was unruly servers insulting the guests.  And they were good at it.  Of course, I rose to the occasion and gave back in equal doses.  Bonds were formed that night.  Bonds that distance and time simply can't erase. 
As I finished cleaning, I was laughing and crying at what impact that night--that whole year, had on my life.  And while the award was momentous, the people so overwhelmed its impact that to say it was life-changing is understating!  15 years later I can remember little things about all 55 other teachers.  Give me a state and I can give you a name.  Give me a name and I can give you a story!  I hope some of them read this.  Heck, if they show up, I'll pour them a beer in Dick's glass! 
We are the result of our choices!  And I made the right one.  May you be so lucky.  And know you are loved!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Food, glorious food!

It's a gourmet club night.  Looking forward to Hungarian!  For those of you who don't know our process:  each couple hosts once during the year.  That couple gets to pick the theme and the recipes.  Those recipes are distributed to the other five couples and that is the dish they bring.  Fantastic concept.  We get to try new things, both in the creation and the consumption.  Some have been better than others.  Truthfully, some recipes don't need repeating, and that's okay, too.  You see, it's never been about the food.  It's always been an excuse for the 12 (11, 10, 9, 8 depending on busy schedules!) of us to be together.  Six of the twelve are former students!  All 10 of the non-Zubke's are amazing individuals, with diverse interests, occupations, families and have an amazing relationship with their spousal units.  We've watched their kids grow into outstanding young adults...literally.  We will laugh.  We might sing.  We will drink a little (?) wine.  We'll probably belch and fart (the latter surreptitiously!).  And we'll revel in the fact that there is a love that binds us together--more as a family than as friends.  Life for me is about the food...and the people with whom you share it.  The gourmand in me anticipates new tastes.  The friend in me anticipates good times.  And the appreciative writer in me thanks you!  Know you are loved!

Friday, November 14, 2014

It was the weather

Everything else is blamed on the weather.  It was too hot.  It was too cold.  It was too windy.  It was too moist.  It was too dry.  Choose one.  Any one.  That's the reason I didn't blog yesterday!  Truth is, with everything that we did yesterday, I just plain forgot.  Until 3:00 am this morning.  Then, as the dog and I did what old dogs do in the middle of the night (sorry about the visual), I remembered.  And thought about writing.  And promptly said to myself, it's 3:00 am.  Go back to sleep.  So I did.  But not until a title for a blog passed through my head.  This, I can remember.  So before it slips into the nether regions of my minimalistic gray matter, here it is.  I celebrate the right to write.  I have always loved manipulating words.  It doesn't mean I'm good at it.  It means that I love to play.  There's something about the cadence of pairing certain words that strikes a chord in the rhythmic learning section of my brain.  There's something deeply satisfying in those rare occurrences that I find just the right combinations.  And there's something real about putting them on paper.  So I write.  And you, thank god...you read.  So for those of you who even realized I was absent yesterday, thank you!  And for those of you who could care less, thank you!  (You are reading this now, aren't you?!)  And "weather" or not you believe it, perhaps the best juxtaposition of words is this.  You.  Are.  Loved!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The joy of surprise

Vodka bottle reclaimed and in hand, I was ready to leave the parking lot when my phone rang.  An old friend was passing through town.  Would I like to have a cup of coffee?  Of course.  Lock the booze in the car and proceed to drink coffee and reminisce.  We head home and he decides to spend the night.  While he and Cath catch up, I take the dog to the vet and we head out for supper.  In preparation for tomorrow, fudge is made and pie is baked.  Time for old people to go to bed, but there's this movie we decide to watch.  It wasn't Robin Hood.  Here's the point.  The day could have passed like any other, but the surprise of friendship made it special!  May your days be interrupted by that which makes them memorable, and know always you are loved!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Robin Hood

There's something intriguing about a story about the robber who stole from the rich and gave to the poor.  There must be for I sit here watching yet another remake, enamored with the story.  Perhaps it has to do with my belief that right will out.  Perhaps it has to do with actually having been to Sherwood Forest!  Or perhaps it simply comes down to the fact that I am a hopeless romantic!  Whatever the reason, I'm loving it...and you!

Monday, November 10, 2014

I love SD

8 inches of snow.  Cold temperatures.  High winds.  And snow plows that do their job, which means I need to do mine.  Not exactly setting the stage for the title line, am I.  And yet, it was due to all the above that I reached this conclusion.  You see, I had blown earlier during the day.  I was feeling pretty good about myself.  Went out to play bridge.  Came home and the plows hadn't been by.  Watched an episode of NCIS we had taped.  The plows went by.  I quickly went out to clear out the driveway.  First thing that happened--the snow blower plugged up with the leaves I hadn't raked.  Epithets later, I took the handle of the shovel and extricated said clog.  When I turn around, the neighbor across the street was there, shovel in hand, breaking up the snow so it would blow more easily.  And while he was at it, he threw a few shovels out of my way.  I am embarrassed to tell you I can't call him by name.  Gabriel would be my guess based on the good he did!  I managed to finish the driveway, clean up the neighbor's driveway, and as I moved down the block to help the neighbor to the south, I was met by her neighbor to the south who came with his snow blower and helped her clean her driveway.  (Both neighbors to the south are former students.  They must have been learned good!)  Now here's the point.  This is exactly what South Dakota is.  Friend helping friend.  Neighbor helping neighbor.  It's always that way.  Always has been.  Hopefully, always will be.  We're a proud, hearty people, and dag nab it, we know why we're here--to help someone!  L.A. might be warm.  But I love S.D.  and I love you!   

Sunday, November 9, 2014

anticipation

When I was a child (just a few years ago) and the promise of a blizzard loomed on the horizon, I would hold my breath waiting for the glory that is winter.  Blizzards meant no school.  Blizzards meant snowball fights.  Blizzards meant everything would be clean and white.  Now, no longer a child, and the promise of a blizzard looms on the horizon, I hold my breath waiting for the worry that is winter.  Will everyone be safe?  Will people use common sense? Will the snow blower start?!!!  Amazing how age adds perspective.  I do hesitate to say this, but there is that child-like part of me that also anticipates the fun.  Since we don't HAVE to go anywhere, and since I trust the wisdom of those around me (I told you...child-like!), the anticipation to actually relive those past excitements reappears.  And when, after three days promise of the event and it doesn't materialize, there is that part of me that is disappointed.  Because, you see, the snow blower does start!  Enjoy whatever is to come, and know you are loved!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Customer service

So, we were having some issues with technology (surprise!) so we head out to our provider...A T & T.  As we hit the parking lot, we get a phone call, so our entrance into the store is delayed.  As we sit there, three customers go in before us.  Rats.  We enter, totally prepared to wait our turn.  There are three techs on duty.  Combined age?  Lucky to hit sixty!  Oh goody!  My socks were completely blown off.  All three greeted us.  One called us by name.  (We've been there before!  Often!) The first young man without a customer (Taylor) waited on us.  He fixed all our problems.  He graciously spent the needed time to make us feel as if we weren't stupid.  From one problem to the next, he never made us feel as if we were wasting his time.  I happened to notice the other two techs, (James and Gabe) doing the same thing with the customers they had in front of them.  We have had the opportunity to deal with each of them before, so we were able to chat while they were working.  What an amazing atmosphere!  That's the way I would expect to feel when dealing with people my age.  These youngsters make me smile.  There is no doubt that I will be contacting A T &T to let them know.  These three definitely put the service first!  Our equipment is ready for the blizzard!  Enjoy the upcoming polar plunge, and know you are loved!

Friday, November 7, 2014

The pit...

Old house.  Traditional basement.  Holes in the ceiling for wiring.  Painted cement floor covered with old carpets no longer used...at least in part.  In others, vinyl that is cracked, broken, and just plain worth what we paid for it.  And in some cases, displaying one of the three shades of paint (or all three) that have been used.  In short, a utile space but not open for inspection!  Readers of this blog and/or my Facebook page will recognize that quite frequently, I am forced to pick things up that have accumulated so I can access the things that I need.  I am convinced that as long as there is nothing that is placed in "storage" somewhere on the basement floor, there is no problem.  However, once one item isn't put in its appropriate place, like Gremlins, a plethora of items appears.  I truly believe that a-sexual reproduction occurs on the floor.  You begin to visualize!
Well!  Let me share with you the most exciting news.  I have redecorated part of the basement.  It is bright.  It is cheery.  It is I!  And it obviously was time.  I can't believe what a difference it makes.  The pendulum has shifted in my pit.  What was drab and depressing is now exciting!  Who would have thought it possible.  And yet, there it is.  May you find joy in the small things, and know that you are loved!

Showers of color!
 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Stuffed brownies

It's bridge day for the Mrs. Zubke.  She is entertaining (as she always is) three of her PEO sisters for a marathon bridge game.  That is probably more information than you thought you would ever need to know.  Well, here's why it is important.  As hostess, she must serve a "goodie" at the end of the game.  Today, it is stuffed brownies.  This particular batch is stuffed with dark chocolate, and divided into half peppermint pieces, half cream cheese.  The amazing thing about stuffed brownies is, one can be creative.  They don't have to be done the same way every time.  In fact, they rarely are.  And it seems to me that it makes them a little more adventurous.  I'm sure sometime I will discover a blend that just doesn't work.  But at least I will have tried.  Ah, there it is, the life lesson.  If you do the same thing in the same way, you may be successful, but you will never grow.  Experiment.  Switch it up a little.  Should you fail, it's an event, not a label!  And is often the case with brownies, if you start with a good product, you can't go far wrong.  Enjoy the sweet things in life and know you are loved!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Back to school!

I know I've told you about getting to play with college teacher wanna-be's and how much I enjoy it!  As I was preparing to do that again tomorrow, I found myself at a loss for a tactile representation for one of the points.  Let me set the stage for you.  Topic...making school work--by the numbers.  Rip off of David Letterman's top ten.  Number three is "teach them the RMB's."  Respect Must Be...Lost.  Responsibility Must Be...Accepted.  Reputation Must Be...Earned.
What could they touch to emphasize these three concepts?  It hit me!  A bulletin board!  So today, I designed a "bulletin board in a folder".  It has foam cutouts.  It has matching colored posters.  It even has a diagram as to how I would put it together!  Pretty spiffy, huh?  And I learned as I worked.
-->Sharp scissors should be a supply item for all teachers!  I'm sure they won't run with them.
-->You can't get exact duplicates by cutting three of the same letter at the same time.  They shift!
-->I am soooooo glad I don't have to do bulletin boards any more.
Hopefully, they will not see me as a dinosaur who should have died years ago!  What I want them to learn is this: no matter how common the core, an uncommon teacher can make it more interesting!  I will report back!  Know that you are loved!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Today it was my privilege

It surprises the bejeebers out of me.  How can it possibly work?  Letting every person have a say in how our country is run.  It's insanity!  And yet, it has worked (more or less) for over 225 years!  Today, we exercised our right to select the people who will represent us.  Orderly.  With pencils instead of weapons.  In a safe and hopefully inviting environment.  And as I wait to see how my choices faired, I understand that even if I'm 100% wrong (according to the vote of those around me), I have done what millions of people do not have the ability to do.  I have made a difference!  Oh, not because of the results.  But because of my action.  I have demonstrated the acceptance of my responsibility as a citizen.  I have made my choices.  I have had my say.  Now, we'll wait and see.  With anticipation.  With hope.  And with no small amount of pride.  Not for me, but for a country who once again proves a representative democracy still works! And if you happen to hear Kate Smith singing in the background, good for you!  God Bless America!  And god bless you!  You are loved!

Monday, November 3, 2014

transitions

Different people mark transitions differently.  When I turned 21, I transited to legal.  Exciting, but no big deal.  When I turned 23, I transited to married.  A very big deal!  When I turned 40, I transited to middle age, at least chronologically.  No big deal.  When I turned 55, I transited to retired.  A big deal.  When I turned 62, I transited to government assisted.  No big deal.  Next year, I will transit to Medicare.  A big deal.  Each of these transitions was/will probably marked by a milestone event, as well it should be.  Now, however, we need to get real!  The most important transition that faces me now is...shorts or sweats?!  Then, the question: good shorts/sweats, or grubs?  The first choice is made simple by the calendar and the thermometer.  If the day falls between March and November and the temperature is 40 or above:  Shorts.  If not, sweats.  From November through February, the question becomes; what color?  You have to understand, in either case, I have saved/worn either piece of mentioned wearing apparel since I transited to middle age.  Do the math!  Comfort or class;  that's the question.  Tonight we celebrate Aunt Edith's 95 birthday.  We're taking her out for supper.  I am wearing my GOOD gray sweats with a black turtleneck and a gray sweater.  I look mahvelous!  Hopefully, I will transit from hungry to full.  And look good doing it!  Be comfortable in all your transitions, and know you are loved!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

they're lit!

I have adhered to the rule!  The sixteen trees in the back yard are officially wired and lighted!  Understand, they will not be lit until Thanksgiving, but the aforementioned rule says this process must be done in shorts!  Being somewhat reticent to dressing in this apparel choice when the weather is inclement, today seemed like a good idea.  Of course, the previous statement is a bold faced lie!  I have been known to shovel snow in my shorts.  But this was a bit more comfortable!  Now, for the front porch.  I love the holidays...and you!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

appearances can be deceiving

At first glance, this may seem to be a poorly spaced, simple welcome, complete with rolling pin and measuring spoon.  In fact, this artistic endeavor was the result of a tandem effort taking close to 1/2 hour.  You may notice that it appears on a pastry cloth.  And, you may also be able to discern that the letters are formed using flour.  It was, after all, a course in making pie.  A little less judgmental?  Now understand what you see is actually a reflection in an overhead mirror used to demonstrate techniques from behind the stove to the students sitting in front of the counter.  That means the welcome had to be created in reverse so as to show correctly.  After experimentation, consternation, and an occasional epithetical retort, success was reached, and each student was greeted with the appropriate message.  Of course, not one of them noticed it pre-mention.  Hence, being unable to garner the expected awe and admiration of the class, I decided to post it here, hoping that at least non-verbally, I would elicit a few smiles, some affirmation, and a heart felt "atta-boy!"  
I have always maintained that cooking and philosophy are inextricably joined.  Actually, I've never thought that but I need a segue into my deep thought process.  Sometimes, when we don't know how they got to where they are, we judge people on initial appearance.  They don't look like they were spaced with any planning.  They don't look symmetrical.  They don't seem to be complicated at all.  When truthfully, they are amazing individuals with stories to tell and lessons to teach.  Instead of sloughing them off as no big deal, we probably should look a little deeper and find what they have to teach.  And perhaps, it is we who should look in the mirror!  Know you are loved!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Today, I am a hedonist!

I had to look it up. It said pleasure was an intrinsic good.  I can think of no better way to describe a massage than one hour of true hedonism.  Of course, the pleasure was heightened as my masseuse arrived in a white tutu, long green "hair", and a set of white wings!  Okay, the ultimate hedonism is a massage on Halloween!  When finished, I asked her if she could feel me smiling!  She said no.  I was.  I still am.  Intrinsic.  Pleasurable!  Know you are loved!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The devil is in the details

As I sit here in my well equipped, second floor penthouse kitchen at Hy-vee, watching the smoke from the ethanol plant head south before it can head up, I am reminded that cooking is not so much about cooking as it is about the preparation!  The thirteen people in class tonight will see about one and a half hours of cooking.  To facilitate this time frame, we've been working off and on since 9:00 this morning.  Understand this is NOT a complaint.  It is what I love to do!  And the amazing thing is, I believe it is possible to be too prepared.  Last class, I had everything pre-measured and combined for its intended purpose.  I then proceeded to grab the crumb topping ingredients and try to make pie crust out of them. Didn't work so well!  Tonight, the ingredients await, but there has been NO pre-mixing.  Fool me once....  And I believe tonight will go smoothly, because the devil is obviously pre-occupied...with the wind!  Know you are loved!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

That time of the year

Should we turn the heat on?  Should we bundle up?  Heat?  Bundle?


We choose bundle! The tiger Biederlach is 30 years old, and yet one of my favorite fuzzies.  Some how it just feels right!  Find what keeps you warm and know you are loved!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

This old house

As I was trying to quietly move from the kitchen to the basement to the kitchen to the front porch to the basement to the kitchen to the front porch, (something about memory and what I was after/and what I forgot to get!), I realized how futile my premise was.  It simply is impossible to move quietly in this house.  As I descended to the basement, the stairs each sang out the burden they were encountering.  As I moved from the kitchen to the front porch, a cacophony of creaks, moans, and groans eminated from the floor boards.  Even the chair announced my presence as I delicately lowered myself into it.  Now this is the point.  You may think I'm complaining.  Not so.  We have been in this house for over 38 years.  With minor adjustments along the way, we have made it ours.  It's comfortable.  It has character.  It's sturdy.  And it's ours.  Cath laughs at me when I frequently sit in the front porch and say "I like our house!"  (Of course that's not the only time she laughs at me!). But I do!  It is a blessing in my advanced years.  And truthfully, it would seem that all the creaks are in the floor boards.  This old house I've had for almost 65 years creaks and groans also!  I think I'll keep them both!  Love where you are, and know in turn you are loved!

Monday, October 27, 2014

29,965

When I started this blog, I truly did it selfishly.  Okay, it was precipitated by a challenge at an AARP workshop, but where else could I say anything I wanted to say and exercise a little literary practice at the same time?  I never expected that my pages would be visited 29,965 times (and hopefully, by the time this is one day old, the magic 30,000 will happen!).  Now granted, that probably (definitely!) doesn't mean that 30,000 people have read what I have to say.  It means they opened the blog.  By mistake?  Out of boredom?  Because you're my friend?  It really doesn't matter.  30,000 is in my estimation worthy of celebrating.  In your honor, I will drink a glass of wine in thanks!  Maybe two.  Maybe there won't be a blog tomorrow?!  If I'm here, there will be!  But for now, you have to know that I am appreciative, and YOU are loved!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

philosophical quandry

As I sat waiting for today's inspiration, I held in my hand a smooth, pointed stylus.  I think it was used for scratching things off a Valentine's card last February (who says I don't put things away?).  It had a great feel--smooth and gliding past my fingertips.  I then started to think.  If I had to give up one of my senses, which would it be, and if I had to keep only one of my senses, what would it be?  In sixty-five (almost) years, I've seen a lot, but don't want to quit.  My olfactory senses are directly related to my sense of taste, and we know I wouldn't want to lose those.  Obviously, based on the stylus, my sense of touch is a blessing.  That leaves hearing, and I've seemingly started to lose that.  Couldn't hear music?  Ouch.  Couldn't hear the laughter of a child?  Ouch.  But if I had to lose one....  (I probably would change that on a daily basis.)
Now to the flip side of the coin.  If I had to lose every sense but one, what would it be.  Trick question designed to get to today's point.  The only sense I pray to god I never lose is my sense of humor.  What a difference it makes in my life.  The ability to laugh with others and at myself has more than once retained what little sanity I have.  To put it as succinctly (not exactly one of my traits) as I can, I would quote you the magnet on the refrigerator door.  "Life is too important to be taken seriously."  Psychologically speaking, I think you could say I definitely have come to my senses!  And you are loved!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Rechargable batteries

I have always been enamored with rechargeable batteries.  The very thought that you could use things up. regenerate them and use them again seems almost impossible.  And yet, my camera is working, even though those self-same energy sources were completely depleted only yesterday.  Miraculous!  If it works for batteries, why not for human beings?  And you know what?  It does.  Don't get me wrong. At the end of a long day, I don't plug myself in and recharge.  It happens all day long.  When I have the opportunity to spend time with friends...recharge.  When I remember how lucky I am to have mi esposa...recharge.  When I see someone do something nice for someone else and expect nothing in return...recharge.  When I take time to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us...recharge.  When a former student says thanks...turbo charge!  All I have to do is plug in to my surroundings, and I'm ready to take more pictures.  I understand that rechargeable batteries will eventually lose their ability to regenerate.  When that happens, I'll get new ones.  And when my internal batteries refuse to regenerate, I think I'll probably leave for a while...and come back...I've always wanted to be a standard poodle!  Sleek!  Classy!  But please, no haircuts!  Rejuvenate when you can, and know you are loved!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Choices

It was a Thursday afternoon, not so different than the hundreds of Thursday afternoons that had come before.  Oh, it was unusual in that it was the 23rd of October, the sky was blue, the sun was warm, and the temperatures were hovering in the lower seventies, but other than that, a pretty ordinary day.  We were faced with one of those seemingly omnipresent choices.  With company coming, we needed to prepare food, to clean bedrooms, and to scrub toilets.  Or, we could act on an impulse (provided by descriptions from a friend) and simply get in the car and head to LaBolt to see the dam and walk around the lake!
Enjoying the ride there, noticing the trees bereft of their leaves and the unusually green grass for this time of the year, we come into town enticed by the only thing we know about LaBolt
The LaBolt Farmers' Elevator.  How could you listen to any local radio station and not be aware of the existence of this iconic structure?  It was during our extended tour of main street (?) that we discovered
Not having had lunch, we stop.  The two proprietors meet us at the door.  They have just shut down the noon special, but we can order from the menu display.  I opt for a piece of fresh pumpkin pie.  Cath has a hamburger with a toasted bun.  Good food.  Sustenance to carry us onward to the siren that called us there.
Never have we felt so welcomed!  Not deterred however, (we had no fireworks, we weren't going to start a fire, the alcohol was to come later, we don't carry guns, we didn't go swimming, and we never stood still long enough to loiter!) we proceeded.  Imagine our surprise to discover not only the lake, but
The path around the lake was actually a disk golf course, with holes that were difficult and yet, absolutely beautiful.  But I get ahead of our walk.  We actually started toward the dam, and found a way down to the trail that invited us.
Our meanderings took us through trees, around bends, over bridges, and as a side trail, to an amazing
under one of the walkways.  The shadow of the tree pointed the way through.  Another day, we thought, and went back to the main trail.  Emerging from the forest primeval, we were greeted with yet another South Dakota biome
The colors and the contrasts immediately caught my eye, and just beyond the tree lay true South Dakota gold.
From forest to prairie in one short walk! 

I have neglected to mention that up until this time, we had the park completely to ourselves.  Imagine our chagrin when a car pulled up, and from it two disc golfers.  Nice kids.  We let them stay.  In fact, I caught them in the act!

The whole concept of the game was heightened by its surroundings!
 In fact, I was especially drawn to what I have dubbed the pretzel tree
The trip round the lake was about a mile in length, and was truly an amazing way to spend a Thursday afternoon.  But, the cleaning called, the pie crust had to be made, the fudge needed to be cooked, and there was bridge to play (after all, it is Thursday), so back into the car we go and head for home.  Smartly we had asked the proprietors of our dining establishment how we should go home.  There answer was quite succinct.  Head south on the paved road.  When the paved road seemed to end, turn left onto the next paved road.  Always turn left.  What the hey, the tasks could wait a little longer.  Voila.  We end up in Strandburg.  We have never been to Strandburg.  It was here that the only disappointment for the day occurred.  Rivens General Store was not open!  Somewhat despondent, we headed south (on the paved road) and eventually ended up on Hiway 212.  Familiar territory.  Passed Bren's corner.  Passed Goodwin.  Passed Kranzburg.  Wait.  We've never really seen Kranzburg, so we do the tour, coming out just by the Tip Top.  Of course, we had never done the Tip Top before so we HAD to stop.  One beer later (and an order of amazing Chislic) (and the greeting when we walked in of  "Oh, two teachers out for an afternoon") (You can't go anywhere without being noticed!) we sadly bid adieu to the wandering wayfaring and hello to the mundane.  But oh, what a delight we have had!  Beauty surrounds us.  We need but look.  And the chores?  Well, they were still there, but so much more fun to do!  Know you are loved!


From my recliner

 comfortably ensconced in my recliner, I happened to look out at our tenacious maple trees (you know, the ones that refuse to shed their leaves until there's snow on the ground and they make a horrendous mess) and winking at me was this slash of green amidst the gold.

Intrigued, I went to the tv stand where my camera was supposed to be stored...and it was there!  Braving the typhoon like weather (slight breeze with three-four raindrops) I snapped the picture.  Of course, I immediately thought of the rule of thirds and knew my photography mentor would roil, so I took several more photos...none of which I liked as well.  Frustrated and somewhat disheartened, I headed back inside, and on a whim, changed the settings and took one more.  I like it!



No prizes, I'm sure, but like those leaves, a little tenacity made me feel better!  Hang in there, and remember you are loved!