A Special Woman 2017

     Six years ago, I wrote the first post celebrating an important woman in my life, my very special Auntie Arlene. I updated the post in 2012, in honor of of her 94th birthday. Today, Auntie Arlene would be 99 years old, but she went home to Jesus in January. It feels strange, this first birthday without her in my world. I spoke to one of her daughters today, my cousin, Jane Buelow Luepke, one of the twins mentioned in the very first post. We reminisced and Jane shared a few details I had not known before. 

     My Auntie Arlene was unique in that she was the daughter of a twin, she married a twin, my dad’s brother, Elmer, and she became the mother of twins, my cousins, Jane and Janice. Additionally, she became the great grandmother of twins, which I always thought was fairly awesome! Why was this woman so special to me? It was through her that I was able to purchase the original Buelow homestead in rural Shawano county, which became my home for thirteen years. Living near her allowed our relationship to blossom and we spent a fair amount of time together, many lunches shared at the table in her apartment in town, many heartfelt conversations. We talked about everything- especially family history, much of which was recorded in her Bible. We discussed religion and politics, all those things one isn’t supposed to talk about in polite company. We didn’t always agree, but we could say anything and share a chuckle over our differences. She kept me informed about local events, and we discussed world events as well. For me, the most treasured piece of our relationship was that she was always in my corner, my biggest encourager. When I was debating grad school and ministry, she advised my to go for it, an affirmation I received gladly and gratefully. When I got my first Master’s degree in Christian ministry:pastoral counseling, I took that diploma to her and we opened it together. It was huge, much larger than the bachelor’s diplomas and we had all kinds of fun with that big diploma; it was like a scroll and I said I felt like the mayor of Oz, which caused a fair amount of laughter. She held on to one corner and I unrolled that diploma while my cousin, Jane, took pictures and joined in the fun! When I received my Master of Divinity (Mdiv) diploma this past May, I spoke with Jane and we agreed that her mom/my aunt was indeed smiling at, and cheering for, me. And while I knew she was in a better place, I missed being able to take a diploma to her one more time.

     Auntie Arlene was my faithful encourager. When I was looking for confirmation of the path I had chosen, she reminded me why I was there. And that is the reason she was so special to me. I knew without a doubt that she was praying for me during my cancer battle and throughout my grad school journey; she told me so, regularly. She was a prayer warrior for her entire family, and I was blessed to be counted among them. 

     My Auntie Arlene was an influence from my youngest years. The Buelows were a large crew and on any given Sunday, any number of aunts and uncles with all the cousins would show up to share a meal and an afternoon of socializing. She had a ready smile and always welcomed everyone to her table. 

     Enjoy the photos; I have so many it’s hard to choose. We took a selfie every week when I visited. We had a system where I’d focus my phone camera and hold it, while she reached up and pushed the button. Below  is one of my all-time favorite photos, Auntie Arlene and me, approximately 1959, on the front steps of the Buelow homestead.

Arlene and LeeAnn 1959

We re-staged that photo in August of 2011. Of course, I didn’t sit on her lap, but we had lots of fun and shared laughter, as you see. 

     Please share in my bittersweet joy as I reminisce. She lived long and she lived well. I hope that each of you has someone who supports and encourages you as unconditionally as she did for me! And as I say often in these pages, hold those you love close and tell them, regularly and often, how very much they mean to you. Be blessed †                    

                                My very special  Auntie Arlene would be 99 today.  

 

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HAPPY 63rd Anniversary, Mom and Dad !! 2017

 

 6.12.1954     Regular readers know I celebrate special days. A week ago today, our family noted  my mom’s 86th birthday, which wasn’t posted as usual,  due to site updating.  

     Today we celebrate both my parents in honor of their 63rd wedding anniversary. Yep, one week after my mom’s 23rd birthday, she and my dad, a not-yet-ordained minister, married in Rhode Island, a long way from a farm in Shawano County. After a honeymoon in Washington, D.C., they traveled  to Wisconsin and spent the summer at the Homestead with my grandma, aunt and uncle and their three children. The city girl was visiting the country for the second time; in her absence Grandma Buelow had  hired a contractor to install indoor plumbing – for Mom, a most welcome addition. They came from different backgrounds, but had similar values: faith and family. Dad was one of ten children born and raised on the wonderful old place I used to call home, a homestead in a rural Wisconsin  county. Mom was an only child from the East, a city girl.  Their love and commitment have sustained them all these years.

          After their Wisconsin summer, they set sail for Germany and grad school for my dad. Now expecting me, they packed everything they needed to set up housekeeping in a foreign country for one year with a baby on the way. I cannot even imagine the magnitude of the plan; they went by ship with all their belongings in two steamer trunks, one of which is a treasured possession of mine.  In a day without Internet, cell phones or digital devices, they set off, leaving home and families behind. I believe news of my birth was telegraphed to family in WI and Rhode Island. They laid a foundation that has held firm for 63 years through all the trials and tribulations common to humankind. 

     When their year in Germany came to a close, they flew to Paris for a few days; Mom says, precocious baby that I was, the time in Paris might have been when I developed my love of all things French :).  An interesting side note: I was the first baby to fly Lufthansa after it reverted to commercial flights following World War II; it even made the papers. And in those days all three of us traveled on my dad’s passport. They settled in Shawano, WI, where my dad was ordained and installed as a pastor at St. James Lutheran Church.  

     They had three more children, all boys, before Dad accepted an invitation (known as a Call) to serve in another church, and the family  moved to Green Bay in 1965, where Mom and Dad remain to this day.  Once the nest was empty, they built a custom home with a music room for Mom and a study for Dad. Faith and church are still central  in their lives. They work together, Mom serving alongside Dad at the church they planted in 2013. They have a piece of woods on their property and an added four-seasons room, where they share their meals, morning devotions, host family gatherings, and enjoy great views of wildlife and changing seasons outside their windows. 

     They’re a team – when Mom teaches late, Dad prepares dinner, sets the table for two and they eat together when she’s through. When Dad has a meeting, Mom prepares; together they clean up.  It’s actually amusing to spend time there; after meals, I have learned to just get out of the way and not interrupt their routine and rhythm. Breakfast is a treat – Dad makes my egg, slices my grapefruit into sections and I’m privileged to share their post-breakfast devotions. That’s how they begin every day. A couple years ago, faced with extensive repairs on Mom’s vehicle, they spent a few days away at a favorite place and on their return, purchased a new Buick, having decided to become a one-car couple, and it’s working out well. They are truly a team. 

     They travel frequently, taking a major road trip at least once a year, along with frequent trips to visit family in Kentucky, along with whatever other opportunities present themselves. Mom schedules and books the trips, on which, Dad drives and Mom navigates. They play together, sharing an enjoyment of miniature golf, theater, and fine dining. Last week, they did an overnight to Milwaukee, for a Brewers’ (baseball) game, Dad’s birthday gift to Mom. They shop together on their travels, often coming home with new suits for Dad, complete with great shirts and ties, and dresses and ensembles for Mom, as well as gifts for family that they discovered along the way. My dad has a penchant for choosing absolutely beautiful cards, which Mom treasures; she says the cards, themselves, are gifts. They’re patient with one another and at 86 and almost 92, they have spent considerably more than half their lives together. Enjoy the photo below taken at their 60th celebration in 2014. In February, ’17, Meghan Lee, Brian, and I met them in Atlanta where we walked the entire Atlanta Aquarium, billed as the world’s largest indoor aquarium. I walked behind them for the fun of watching them wander hand-in-hand; always connected, a photo of which is below, also.    That wraps this celebratory post, which I am thrilled to share with y’all! 

                                                           Joyeaux anniversaire de mariage!!  Je t’aime!        

Navigating life hand-in-hand!

 CELEBRATION 6.8.14

60th Anniversary celebration

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HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO ME: 2017 UPDATE!!

 

     Yes, indeed, I am one fortunate woman, sharing my story and my joy with y’all. Eleven years ago, Easter Sunday was April 16. Visiting daughters tricked me (they lied, actually) into my truck and drove to the small local hospital. After a CT scan, the emergency room doctor delivered the findings, prefaced by the words “I cannot believe you can walk with the size of that thing growing in your head.”  I was shipped off to Green Bay, interrupting everybody’s Easter dinners. Two days later, Tuesday, April 18, a neurosurgeon and his team took a buzz saw to my skull and a scalpel to my brain. Later he delivered the news that the tumor they had removed was malignant and I had a fairly virulent form of brain cancer. 

     Waiting daughters, family, and friends had already been given the information and the stats were not great; conventional medical prognosis for that cancer is 12-18 months to live. In my worldview, the clinical folks leave out a huge piece and that piece is a fairly major game-changer. My Father had plans and as He says in His book, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

     Those plans included handling that tumor and eleven years later, despite enormous odds and severe statistics, I surely do have hope and a future and I am on a mission to share the blessings and the joy!  This is also a bittersweet day because I  have lost two friends to the same disease, one in the last two years and the other five years ago, the day after my  survival anniversary. Yet here I am alive and well, and most content.

     I wondered, sometimes aloud, during my friends’ ordeals, asking the perennial questions about the mind of God when He wrote the story so long ago. Why are some folks here for longer or shorter durations than others? What is the plan? Those are unanswerable questions in this temporal world, but in my heart of hearts, I believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful Creator God, that did, indeed, write the story before the world began, as we first talked about eleven years ago when I was diagnosed.  

     My friends are gone, their families grieved, each in their own way and time. Yet I know on this warm April morning in South Carolina, that my Heavenly Father has the plan firmly in hand and that despite my friends’ families’ losses, they would not begrudge me the celebration of this anniversary in my life. I will celebrate that I am here, that for whatever reason, God has still got me on my feet. I am most grateful to be here, to have family and friends with whom to share this post, and I will continue to move forward and play my part in the story, hopefully with grace and dignity.  

     As I say repeatedly in these pages, hold your loved ones close; tell them regularly and often how very valuable they are to you. Share with me, please, my joy that eleven years later I am alive and well!  Thank you for joining me in in giving thanks and celebration; be blessed 

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HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO ME!! 2015 UPDATE

 Yes, indeed, I am one fortunate woman, sharing my story and my joy with y’all. Nine years ago today was Easter Sunday 2006; my visiting daughters stuffed me into my truck and headed to the small, local hospital, where doctors were stunned by what they found. A fairly large mass in my head, so big that the ER doc explaining it, said, “I can’t believe you can walk with the size of that thing growing in your head.”  I was shipped off to Green Bay, interrupting everyone’s Easter dinners. Two days later, a neurosurgeon and his team took a buzz saw to my skull and a scalpel to my brain. Later he visited me in the night and delivered the news that the tumor they removed was malignant and I had the most aggressive form of brain cancer. Waiting daughters, family and friends had already been given the word; stats were not great. But the clinical world leaves out a huge piece and that piece is a fairly major game-changer. My Father had plans and as He says in His Book, (Jeremiah 29:11)  “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Those plans included handling that horrible cancer and nine years  later, despite enormous odds, severe statistics (my favorite doc says a study currently under review says only 12% are still breathing five years out ), and side effect challenges, I surely do have hope and a future and am on a mission to share the blessings and the joy!  

Today is also bittersweet; two years ago this day, I attended the funeral of a friend who lost his five and-a-half-year battle with the same cancer I had. Yet here I am, well and most content. During my friend’s ordeal with this ugly disease, I pondered life, asking the perennial questions about the mind of God when He wrote the story so long ago. Why are some folks here for longer or shorter durations than others? Why me? What’s the plan? Those are unanswerable questions in this temporal world, but I still believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful Creator God, that did, indeed, write the story before the world began, as we first discussed nine years ago when I was diagnosed.  

We talked about this last week around our Easter dinner table, shared grins at the memories and reminisced about events of those confusing days. Today on this beautiful, sunny morning, I am celebrating  that I am here, despite all side effects and odds, just four weeks shy of completing my first Master’s degree and that, for whatever reason, God’s still got me on my feet. I am most grateful to be here with loved ones and friends, to play my part in the story, hopefully with grace and dignity.  

As I say often in these pages, hold your loved ones close; tell them regularly and often how very valuable they are to you and share with me, please, my joy that nine years later I am alive and well!  Be blessed†

 

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Christmas Countdown 2014 – Seven Days

     I began countdowns back in 2008, with the launching of this site; I kept them up for a couple years, mostly counting down to upcoming trips, holidays spent with daughters in fun places, things like that.  Then came college completion – two undergrad degrees and now grad school, one semester shy of  an MA. I still took the celebratory trips to the South and the Northeast, but the prep was usually hectic, coming at the end of a semester during which household maintenance (dusting/washing floors) was not a priority.

It became a quick blast through the house, not as thorough as it was at one time when I followed my mom’s example for leaving on vacation. That is something I’ve not outgrown, though Mom remembers it differently. Just the other day in talking about my upcoming travels, a friend said, “Oh yeah, you’re one of those women…” and we both smiled.

This week the tasks loom large.  My living room has become a repository of textbooks and reference books, sorted into stacks; some of the books will simply be re-shelved here today. Others will be boxed according to owner, mostly divided between my dad, whose vast personal library is a treasure trove and my friend/study partner, whose educational path I am following and from whom I’m able to borrow textbooks. 

 What used to be the dining table is now an expanded desk, full of papers, folders, receipts, etc., that will be addressed tonight and tomorrow. Then, to quote Rosanne Rosannadanna, from back in the day, “it’s always something.” Yep, an unexpected power outage around 11:15 this morning.  I did, however, handle all the stacks in the living room during the outage.  

     I’m back at my computer – dining table, cleaning, laundry, packing – still ahead, but all is well and I will just keep moving, counting down the days until planes have taken off and landed, hugs have been exchanged, and we  begin celebrating – seven days.  Be blessed, make it a memorable Christmas with family and friends; I sure will.  

     We will be celebrating the reason for this holiday season – Christ’s birth. Enjoy the music, dance around your kitchen; be merry and blessed †

                                                        Joyeux Noël !!

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HAPPY 60th ANNIVERSARY TO MY PARENTS!

   

WEDDING DAY, 6.12.1954

WEDDING DAY, 6.12.1954

 Regular readers know I celebrate special days.  Last week we celebrated my mom’s 83rd birthday. Today we celebrate both my parents in honor of their 60th wedding anniversary. Yep, one week after my mom’s 23rd birthday, she and my dad, a not-yet-ordained minister, married in Rhode Island, a long way from a farm in Shawano County.  After a honeymoon in Washington, D.C., they came to Wisconsin and spent the summer here at the Homestead with my grandma, aunt and uncle and their three children.  The city girl was vising the country for the second time, during which my Grandma Buelow hired a contractor to install indoor plumbing – for Mom, a most welcome addition.  They came from different backgrounds, but had similar values: faith and family.  Dad was one of ten children born and raised in this house I call home; Mom was an only child from out East.  Yet they had a lot in common and it has sustained them all these years.

     After their Wisconsin summer, they set sail for Germany and grad school for my dad.  Now expecting me, they packed everything they needed to set up housekeeping in a foreign country for one year with a baby on the way.   I cannot even imagine the magnitude of the plan – remember, they went by ship with all their belongings in two steamer trunks, one of which has a featured spot on my back porch.  In a day without Internet, cell phones or digital devices, they set off, leaving home and families behind. I believe news of my birth was telegraphed to family in WI and Rhode Island. They laid a foundation that has held firm for 60 years through all the trials and tribulations common to humankind.

     When their year in Germany came to a close, they flew to Paris for a few days; Mom says, precocious baby that I was, the time in Paris may have been when I developed my love of all things French 🙂  An interesting side note: I was the first baby to fly Lufthansa after it reverted to commercial flights following World War II.  And in those days all three of us traveled on one passport – my dad’s. They settled in Shawano, where my dad was ordained and installed as a pastor at St. James Lutheran Church.  

     They had three more children, all boys and answering a Call, moved to Green Bay in 1965, where they remain to this day.  Once the nest was empty, they built a custom home with a music room for Mom and a study for Dad. Faith and church are still central and foundational to their lives.  They work together, Mom serving alongside Dad at the church they planted since their last anniversary. They have a piece of woods on their property and a few years ago added a four-seasons room, where they share their meals, morning devotions, host family gatherings and enjoy great views of wildlife and changing seasons outside their windows. 

     They’re a team – when Mom teaches late, Dad prepares dinner, sets the table for two and they eat together when she’s through.  When Dad has a meeting, Mom prepares.  Together they clean up.  It’s actually amusing; on the occasional evening/night I spend there, I have learned to just get out of the way and not interrupt their routine and rhythm. Breakfast is a treat – Dad makes my egg, slices my grapefruit into sections and I’m privileged to share their post-breakfast devotions.  That’s how they begin every day. 

     They travel, taking several trips each year.  Mom books reservations at their favorite places and on road trips, at least two annually, Dad drives and Mom navigates.  They play together, sharing an enjoyment of miniature golf, theater and fine dining.  They shop together on their travels, often coming home with new suits for Dad, complete with great shirts and ties, and dresses and outfits for Mom. My dad has a penchant for picking absolutely beautiful cards, which Mom treasures. They’re patient with one another and at 83 and almost 89, they’ve spent considerably more than half their lives together.   Enjoy the photo below taken at their celebration four days ago.         Joyeaux  anniversaire de mariage!!  I love you! 

SAMSUNG CSC 

                                                 

                                                                                              

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Happy Birthday, Mom – 2014 Edition!!

 

Regular readers know I favor Special Days. Often they are birthdays of people important to me.  And that is the subject of this  day – the third version of a birthday blog about my mom, a woman about whom I have rarely posted, other than teasing about the habits I believe I inherited from herToday, my mom, Carola Esther Buelow, is 83.  As you can see from the picture below, taken at Meghan Lee’s wedding wedding in 2012, she doesn’t look her age.  She’s active, vibrant and works virtually full-time teaching piano, which she loves.  She also works side-by-side and hand-in-hand with my dad in the church they planted since her last birthday.

 I called Mom to get some background for the original 2012 post; I rediscovered and learned some interesting facts. I’ve always known her to be an intelligent woman, graduating summa cum laude ( “with highest honors”) from University of Rhode Island as a member of Phi Kappa Phi, an academic fraternity, on June 8, 1953, the day on which she also became engaged to my dad.

I have a harder time picturing her as a sorority gal, which she was – Alpha Delta Pi.  Between my daughters, Mom and me, there’s a joke that “Grandma smoked cigarettes and dated sailors,” back in the day. That’s a fact that I post here with her permission.  It makes us all giggle, probably shared for the first time on one of our ten annual four-day weekends in Chicago, trips that holds many special memories. Just look at her photo below, see the twinkle in her eyes.

This is a woman who has taught dozens of people, young and old, to make music; I know many of her students and those families cherish their relationship with her, many of them multigenerational.  She’s a teacher at heart, even taught French at the Lutheran elementary school my brothers and I attended. 

This is a woman ahead of her time.  After marrying my dad, she moved with him halfway across the country and spent the summer on the farm, yes, right here at Her Father’s Homestead, where as a “wedding gift” Grandma Buelow had installed indoor plumbing.  The city girl, an only child, lived at The Homestead, filled with family, for three months before traveling by steamer across the ocean to Germany in a day when cross-country and transoceanic travel were not common, leaving her parents on the East Coast.  And in Germany, far from family and friends, she gave birth to me, when fathers weren’t allowed in the delivery room and she was in a foreign country with limited knowledge of the language. 

I’ve told my daughters often, usually referring to the Buelow side of our family, that we come from hardy stock.  Writing these words has given new meaning to that picture.  My mom, known as Grandma or Gma to my daughters and CEB in my own writing, is as hardy as the best of them.  I am most happy to share her with you.  Joyeux Anniversaire, ma mére.  I love YOU!                                               

CEB, 3.24.12

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THE 4th ANNUAL LIST OF DAN – 2015

The first List of Dan was published in 2012 and numbered 19  items. The list has steadily grown, last year numbering 25. This year on Dan Meyer’s birthday, the 4th annual list has grown to 28 and I’m posting the complete list. Enjoy 🙂

  1.  Who do you call with computer issues regularly, sometimes daily?
  2.  Who do you call when you need someone to care for  pets and home when you’re traveling several times each year?
  3. You need to fix a broken window, who supplies the extra pair of hands?
  4. Who will haul salt for the water softener into the scary basement?
  5. Who will brave the scary basement to change the furnace filter?
  6. Who will help your daughter purchase a new computer long-distance?
  7. Who will help you find the best laptop deal?
  8. Who repairs your GPS and returns it to you wrapped as a birthday gift?
  9. Who saves the day when the GPS dies for good and you hope to retrieve those invaluable saved locations to import to a new device later?
  10. Who locates the new device and successfully handles the import?
  11. Who do you call when you tipped over the lawn tractor, yep, it’s literally laying on its side?
  12. You’ve run out of propane and it is wicked cold. Who drives out to let you sit in his car, seat heaters on high, till a propane delivery arrives and the house warms up?
  13. Who do you call when the sump pump freezes mid-winter?
  14. Who do you call when your snow blower dies?
  15. Who do you call when the rear window on your truck literally falls out of its frame in the winter?
  16. Who do you call when you absolutely backed through the center support post of your garage, destroying post, both doors and completely shattering the truck’s rear window?
  17. Who supplies a newly painted basketball backstop to match his rebuild of your garage support post and both doors?
  18. Who always witnesses your absentee ballot?
  19. Who adjusted and permanently stabilized a tool shed in the yard without being asked?
  20. Who comes to the rescue when a bat appears and a terrified piano student has bolted out the door?
  21. Who taught you the finer points of baiting a mousetrap to spare sensitive fingers?
  22. Who came to the rescue after last winter’ 2013’s fall on the ice resulted in a concussion and brain bleed, getting you to the hospital and handling admission?
  23. Who delivers and installs the water filter annually after your initial attempt resulted in flooding the kitchen?
  24. Who drove out here to accompany you on a frightening walk across the ice to the garage, then ran up to the road and retrieved the mail?
  25. This is really two, but we’ll combine due to similar context. Who figured out a quick fix for a malfunctioning door switch on the truck and then a quick fix for a phone system that seemed to have died?
  26. Who was able to get into the garage when both door openers were locked in the truck inside and the service door (no key) was locked as well?
  27. Who do you call when you are at the sink doing dishes and the water stops running?
  28. Who do you call when you have locked yourself out of the house and just the week prior had brought the outside spare into the house? As you can see, it’s been a busy year for Dan 🙂

All 28 questions have the same answer – my cousin, Dan Meyer.  I am so blessed to have Dan and his wife Susan, so gracious in sharing his time, fully supporting me here.  If you are so fortunate as to have a Dan and Susan in your life, let them know how much you appreciate them!!

Today, March 17, 2015, Happy Birthday Dan Meyer and thank you again and again!!

 

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The Ugly Coat Came Out Today!!

That’s right, this coat has a name and few people have ever seen it; I can think of five including myself, Erin Lee, Meghan Lee, the original owner and her daughter, who is no longer with us.  It is ugly, which is one of the reasons it ended up with me 🙂  An old friend who dislikes brutal cold even more than I do had purchased it years ago, then was forbidden by her daughter  to wear it in public.  When I moved out here to the Homestead, my friend gifted it to me figuring that living in Shawano Country, it probably didn’t matter how ugly the coat is, it may well come in handy.  My daughters rolled their eyes, and the coat became an annual joke.  I comment every year when the coat comes out; it’s my temperature gauge and for it to come out means it’s fairly cold.  I should keep track of the date each year.like an almanac of cold; haven’t done it so far, but today it’s going in the planner, to be transferred on New Year’s Day to the 2014 planner for future reference 🙂  

How ugly is it, you might ask?  I’ll try to explain in words and a visual just what it’s all about.

Faded purple, puffy everything, hood, even an emblem of something on the sleeve

Faded purple, puffy everything, hood, even an emblem of something on the sleeve

 

 It is big, HUGE, puffy, doesn’t all fit in a single photo and full-length   That’s right, no short little thing that leaves your behind exposed.  This comes right down to the top of my boots, even has a hood and large sleeves that allow for several layers.  It’s so heavy that it has to go in a closet on a double hanger.  I tried hanging it with the  others on the back porch coat tree, but it tips the whole thing over. I”m one who collects jackets and coats, the fact that this one item outweighs all the others combined should give you some idea 🙂  

Thinking about that, I could wear it around the house for exercise, maybe it would act as a full body weight instead of the girlie wrist and ankle weights I use; perhaps it could be like a personal sweat coat.  Who knew that it could be multipurpose, all the while in the house where no one but Soleil can observe and he promised never to tell:)  As far as I know there are no photos of this coat being worn because even here in the country, I’d be hard pressed to wear this into town.  It has not yet been that cold, even in Wisconsin and I do have a fur that is much more attractive.  Either way, the outfit is completed with my ancient white Sorels – big, insulated, waterproof, you know the kind that last forever, you just update the liner occasionally and yes, they are very white.  I bought new gloves a few weeks ago, supposed to be guaranteed to keep hands warm and dry to  -30º, we’ll see :).  Now that The Ugly Coat has been taken out of storage, I’m ready for for whatever.  

And there’s one more thing – the ice cleats that go on your boots.  Used to have a pair, lost one and found out the hard way last winter that one is generally insufficient to keep a person upright.  In the interest of staying on my feet and avoiding another concussion, when the back steps were slippery yesterday morning, I went on the hunt for a PAIR of cleats, which I found and now own.  That said, now I may be ready for whatever.  

As good ol’ King Solomon said back in the day, every season has its time.  I’m not so sure I’ll ever agree that there’s a time for brutal cold, or even just regular cold, but I am as ready as I can be now that The Ugly Coat has shown up again.  Stay warm, be blessed!!

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A Much-Anticipated Event 2013

 

Today I’m updating what is becoming an annual post.  It’s time for the gathering of cherished friends, a group that I believe may be fairly unique. We have a name and each year we migrate to the North Woods of Wisconsin from as far away as Florida. We’re old friends, some among us go back literally 58 years, the rest anywhere from roughly 30 to 50 years. We graduated from high school together 40 years ago last week. This is the year we are 58 and our annual gathering begins in just two days. Our host is Lana, the youngest of the group; for eight years we’ve invaded the North Woods to stay at Lana’s fabulous property north of Eagle River on a chain of 22 lakes. Our name, The Gazebo Girls, comes from the fact that we spend a fair amount of time in the awesome gazebo on the property and have a group photo taken there each year by a neighbor as seen below. 

Ten G's in a G

Ten G’s in a G

This is our fifth year with a theme.  Themes began with the year of Gazebo Gangstas, due to the fact that the Dillinger movie starring Johnny Depp had recently been filmed nearby.  We dressed in 1920‘s costumes and had dinner at a restaurant famous for being the site of an actual Dillinger shootout.  That was followed by the year of the Gazebo Pirates, in which we hired a pirate ship that cruises around the chain of lakes and is great for special occasions.  Picture eleven women dressed as pirates on a big ship flying the skull and crossbones, with blaring pirate music as we cruised the chain of lakes for three hours.  That was followed by Gazebo Cowgirls – more costumes and a trail ride. Last year we staged a Gazebo Wedding and that is enough said.  There will be the traditional Saturday on the pontoon boat with sun and food and lots of laughs.  Saturday night is our big dinner, prepared by our very own chef extraordinaire, Mary B; she always amazes us.  Coffee with, you know, that fabulous whipped creme in a can, is another tradition, as is Patti’s creation of a signature drink to complement our theme.  We’ll sing old favorites, loudly perhaps, laugh a lot, share a year’s worth of photos and bring each other up-to-date.  In just two days, we’ll gather for West High Story, the theme for this year, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of our graduation from Green Bay West High School.

   Two years ago at the beginning of our weekend, two of our group members lost their moms. A third old friend’s 29 year-old daughter passed away.  When the rest of us left the North Woods, we headed home to attend funerals.  We’ve shared family rites of passage, marriages and grandbabies; supported one another through death, divorce, cancer and remission thereof and the safe return of a son serving our country. We know each other well and while this is about shared history for sure, it’s also about making new memories together.   I’m getting excited to get there; we’ll have a blast – celebrating life and friendship.  As the childhood song says, “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.”   

12 Gazebos in 2012

12 Gazebos in 2012

 

 

This group of old friends is as precious to me as gold and I’m looking forward to another great gathering!

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