Posted by: Jim E | November 26, 2016

Growing Up…An Adult…Or…Pajama Boy…

I wrote this almost 3 years ago…seems to apply today too…I heard this song again this year, just yesterday…it has become a Christmas song…one I have always liked…the song is “Toyland”, from an operetta by Victor Herbert…written in 1904…I will send along one of my blogs from February 2014…it talks about “growing up”, with references to “Field of Dreams”, “Saving Private Ryan”, “Toyland” and other things…and it holds most of the “bones” of what I believe about the cold, hard facts about “growing up”…and the joy of that transformation…and where it leads…

Growing Up…An Adult…Or…Pajama Boy…

Now in my 72nd year, it seems odd that I can still see me as I was growing up…Oh, not everything but many things…the people around me, my parents, my grandparents, other relatives, neighbors and friends…they are still at the age that they were the last time I saw them…many have died and others drifted into their own lives, as I have…but growing up was a wonderful time, many uncertainties of course, many sorrows…but mostly good memories…as I have said many times, “life is hard but life is good”…and it is that…img027

But as I remember those years, I realize that my memories are only snippets, pieces of a puzzle that we all toil over, as we grow into who it is we will become…I do remember though, I always wanted to be an adult…to make decisions that adults got to make…go places, do things…but mostly to be a man, have a job, have a family…heavens, I wanted to be like my Grandpa…he was a man’s man, he had a job and worked hard…he was talented, he could build…he built his own house…he knew about plumbing and electricity…he fixed his own car…he was faithful to my Grandma, to his family, to his neighbors, to his friends…he was responsible, was in control of his life…did not want to depend on anyone…he was a free man…he lived in that kind of world…

The world has changed a lot since those days, I know…but even today, the right and chance to be free…to be in charge of our own lives without interference from the government or anyone else for that matter…we see that kind of desire from many in our society…when I saw our own government come out with a “sales pitch” really, about Obamacare…with the picture of what some detractors havePajama Boy described as “Pajama Boy”…living at home, with his parents…a 27 year old in a “onesie”, drinking hot chocolate…it was disquieting to me…I thought, “Are there adult age “kids” like that?”…and I guess there are…but it runs against everything I believe and my Grandfather would wonder, like me, what is happening to this country?…

And though there are things which are disconcerting to me…I somehow still believe in America…I still hold on to the beliefs that established this country…based on freedom, liberty and self-reliance…I still think it is there, though there are forces which are trying to undermine it day by day…the desire to get a job, to be on your own, setting up goals and working over years to reach those goals…I believe that is still within the heart of most Americans…to move on, not be dependent on parents or the government to reach those dreams…

It’s funny, thinking about growing up…I think I remember when “it” happened…now I don’t know if it was that moment in time…but a “happening” made me believe I was on my way…and maybe you can remember the same kind of thing…it was one particular Christmas, I describe it this way, “the year I grew up”…that Christmas came and it was just not the same, we had the same kind of Christmas, the tree, presents, the meal, friends and relatives…but something was missing, I didn’t know what it was for sure…it was somehow less fun, though I still loved it…then I realized what many have said since then, Christmas is for kids…the magic of being a child at Christmas is wonderful…and even as an adult there is a certain magic about that season…but for a child, it is more, and that is what happened…there was a changeover, I didn’t necessarily like it…but knew it was good…it was what I always wanted…to become more Babes in Toylandlike the adults that were around me…and so I left childhood behind…

There is a song, from the Christmas season even…I heard it again this year…”Toyland”, written by Victor Herbert, in 1904, one of the songs in his operetta “Babes in Toyland”…in the song which is the theme of the operetta tells the story of what I am talking about…happy in childhood, that toyland, but once you pass its borders, you may never return again…I think you will remember the melody of the song…

Toyland, toyland
Little girl and boy land
While you dwell within it
You are ever happy there

Childhood’s joy land
Mystic merry toyland
Once you pass its borders
You can ne’er return again

When you’ve grown up, my dears
And are as old as I
You’ll laugh and ponder on the years
That roll so swiftly by, my dears
That roll so swiftly by

Childhood’s joy land
Mystic merry toyland
Once you pass its borders
You can ne’er return again  

And so, we who’ve passed its borders, though we may not have wanted to let it go at the time…once we have, we can never return again…and those who wish to, or try to, or remain beyond the years allotted to childhood, are in for a “rude awaking”, as my Mom used to say…life passes by with astounding speed, with experiences we must have to make it successfully through the gauntlet that lies ahead…

It reminds me a bit of the film “Field of Dreams”…at the end of the film, Ray Kinsella, having brought Archibald “Moonlight” Graham to play baseball on his field in Iowa…his brother-in-law urges him to sell the farm…The next morning Mark implores Ray to sell the farm. Karin says that they won’t need to because people will pay to watch the ball games. Terence agrees that “people will come” to relive their childhood innocence, and Ray refuses to sell. Frustrated, Mark scuffles Field of Dreamswith Ray, accidentally knocking Karin off the top of the bleachers. Archie runs to help and, stepping off the field, becomes the old “Doc” Graham. After he saves Karin from choking, Ray realizes that Graham cannot return to the field as a young man. After reassuring Ray that his true calling was medicine, the players shake his hand and he leaves. Suddenly able to see the players, Mark urges Ray not to sell the farm.

Given the chance to stay young and play baseball, “young Doc Graham” decides to cross “that line” between staying forever young and becoming the “Doc” Graham he was always meant to be…it is always the choice we all have to make…I know people who never have decided to “grow up”…they always stayed immature and dependent…thinking this was a choice they could make and things would remain as they were…but it never works that way…the ends are difficult and most of the time disastrous to all involved…an immature person is ineffective in life, making little impact in their own lives or the lives of others…

My Grandpa was forced at an early age to chose…he was sent by his father from Canada to Minneapolis to friends who said they would take responsibility for him and his two brothers…it did not go well, it was an abusive situation and at about 13 he ran away to make his way…it was a difficult time…spent some time in an orphanage, went West and worked as a cowboy and in the end fell in love, married, had a family, and grandkids…one of them, me…he was my hero, my Saving Pvt. Ryan whispersidol…I wanted to be like him…responsible, be a leader, be loyal, and all that he was…and like at the end of the film “Saving Private Ryan”…Private Ryan, now an old man, stands at the grave of Captain Miller…he remembered the words of Captain Miller, “James, earn this… earn it.”…this follows:

Old James Ryan: [addressing Capt. Miller’s grave] My family is with me today. They wanted to come with me. To be honest with you, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel coming back here. Every day I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge. I tried to live my life the best that I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that, at least in your eyes, I’ve earned what all of you have done for me.

Ryan’s Wife: James?…

[looking at headstone]

Ryan’s Wife: Captain John H Miller.

Old James Ryan: Tell me I have led a good life.

Ryan’s Wife: What?

Old James Ryan: Tell me I’m a good man.

Ryan’s Wife: You are.

[walks away]

Old James Ryan: [stands back and salutes]

That’s really all my Grandfather ever wanted…to be a good man…it’s all I have ever wanted…

Posted by: Jim E | November 19, 2016

Thanksgiving 1987…Oh, I Remember That Year…

 

Thanksgiving 1987…Oh, I Remember That Year…

This is a post from last Thanksgiving, 2010…but I enjoyed reading it again…maybe you will too…memories are a wonderful thing…hope you enjoy the story…Jim E

Most memories of special days kind of “run together” if you know what I mean…we can’t just “pull up” let’s say, Christmas 1990 for instance…or July 4th 2005…you get what I mean…unless something specific and of great import happened on that day, they just “run together”…for me Christmas has always been special…since I was a kid, I remember how important it was…we had all the traditions and what mom fixed for Christmas dinner…and all the rest…it was true for Thanksgiving too…we always had a traditional Thanksgiving feast…and leading up to those special days of Thanksgiving and Christmas, we did special things…and Judie and I have continued many of those traditions right up to the present, added a few and passed them on to our kids…so, for as long as I can remember we have carried on in a very similar way…

Is it any wonder then, that I can’t “pull” any one particular holiday out of the vast array of those special days…they just stack on top of each other, year after year…and if you asked me to tell you what the 1972 Christmas was like, I couldn’t tell you, except to say it was a lot like all the rest…so when we talk about Thanksgiving or Christmas, since they are traditional, I would be telling you about lots of Christmases or Thanksgivings, not just one…not that they are boring mind you…each one is special and celebrated as though it would be our last…but they do tend to “run together”…like glass slides stacked on top of one another, and looking down through them into our past…

So how can I remember Thanksgiving 1987???…let me tell you…it was a day to remember, one of the last that all of our kids were home for Thanksgiving…Jay, Jared, Marisa and Jess were all in college (Jared and Marisa had married in August of 1987)…Jeremy was still in high school…it was one of the warmest Thanksgivings we could remember…the sun was shining and we had to drop the blinds in the dining room because it was so hot (in Minnesota the angle of the sun is so low that time of year, it poured in the South windows)…it was in the high 50′s I suppose…and we had our traditional meal…Turkey, Swedish sausage, Down South dressing, Oyster stuffing (Sidebar…it is stuffing if you put it “in the bird”, it is dressing if you do it in a side dish…end Sidebar)…mashed potatoes and giblet gravy, green bean hot dish (Sidebar…hot dish is “Minnesotan” for casserole…end Sidebar)…some other veggies, squash, pickles, relishes, rolls, a special raspberry jello/w sour cream and marshmallow topping (Sidebar…not a desert but used like a sorbet, a “palate cleanser”, just wonderful…end Sidebar), pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecan pie, maybe cherry or blueberry or custard to make it four and whipped cream…

But you know, none of that was the reason I remember Thanksgiving 1987…this is the reason remember Thanksgiving 1987…his name was Muffin…Muffin was Jeremy’s Christmas gift the year before in 1986 (this is his picture in 1986)…he was a Shih Tzu…Jeremy wanted a dog and Judie thought it would be good for him to have a companion…thus…along came Muffin…it was an early Christmas gift that year…Jeremy and Muffin became inseparable…he slept with him and every waking moment the two of them were together…as with most family dogs, he became part of our family…and he was a special dog…even after many years being gone, he still holds a place in our home…let’s say when he had to be put down…there were many tears over that loss…but memories linger on…

But what about Thanksgiving 1987???…Oh my, the day before Thanksgiving, disaster struck…Judie had put Muffin outside while she did some things…she was busy and had to run to the store…when she got back she remembered Muffin…but as hard as she searched and yelled his name…no Muffin…when I got home and Jeremy got home we went about making up fliers with Muffin’s picture on them…we put them all over the area…frankly, I thought we had lost him for good…but drove around looking for him…and after all that effort we decided we had done all we could do…all of us, Judie, Jeremy and myself were at a loss…upset at losing such a good friend…we were heartbroken…all we could think of is that someone had picked him up and taken him…Shih Tzu’s are a desirable dog for many people…

We got up the next day…it was Thanksgiving Day…spent the morning fixing the meal of the day…but keeping an eye out for Muffin…no luck…the meal time came and all around the table were a bit down…all of us felt sorry for Jeremy, he was miserable…we were part way through the meal…everyone around the table…I went to the kitchen for something…I was at the sink looking out the window…our back yard wasn’t big, but it butted up against a large empty field…all grass and used then for grazing horses…it was lined with furrows from when it used to be farmed…as I gazed across the field on that beautiful day…my eyes caught a glimpse, way out in the field, of a little black and white animal jumping over the furrows in the field, you know how I felt…that feeling just billowed up inside me…I yelled, “There’s Muffin!!!”…everyone at the table jumped up…they raised the shades at the windows and looked out…Jess ran out the door in his stocking feet…onto the deck, out on the lawn, jumped the fence and out into the field…and that quick too…

By the time Jess got back to the yard with Muffin, everyone was out on the deck and in the yard…my mom took this picture of Jeremy, in bare feet, with Muffin…what a homecoming…everyone was laughing/crying…you know how that happens…it was a powerful moment of relief, for he was found…and emotional release, Jeremy’s dog was home…Jeremy is a special child…to all of us…and all of us were thankful…it is what we prayed for…Jeremy’s dog was found…Muffin had been gone for a little over a day…he was dirty, grass and straw was stuck in his hair but he was home…you may not be able to read the emotion on Jeremy’s face in the picture but then, maybe you can…let’s just say he was happy…no, elated and thankful, on that Thanksgiving 1987…

So we will celebrate this Thanksgiving…2010…with the same expectation…well, maybe not exactly the same but with the same thanks we had that day…so many years ago…and we will talk of that day again, as part of our Thanksgiving 2010…part of the tradition of this family, blessed beyond what we deserve…but thankful for all the blessings…

I hope you have enjoyed the story…really a Thanksgiving feast of thankfulness…pie anyone???…

No doubt, we have been busy…I always heard that retirement was suppose to be lots of long hours wondering what to do with ones self…we have not found that to be so…(I think it was a lie anyway, never did believe it)…anyway, it has not been that way for us…and we are happy to say so…

Our weeks lately have been wrapped up with getting Jeremy back on his feet, so to speak…he has had a few small strokes and with those strokes has come two hospitalizations and changes…new meds…physical and occupational therapy appointments…speech therapy…doctors appointments…changed his bed, making it lower…just lots of related stuff…we also changed some of his bathroom so it would be easier for him to use…the chance of falling would not be good, and he has fallen a few times already…so those changes were necessary…a new higher toilet, which Jared, our number two son put in, along with a few grab bars…all have worked out well, though Jeremy has had to relearn a number of things, we are all working together to make it better…so we said goodbye to the old toilet, in our own way…toliet-old-but-pretty-at-that

The garbage haulers, thought it was pretty nice…at least they smiled as we waved the old thing goodbye, and sent it off…(yes, they did think it was a bit weird but we enjoyed something a bit upbeat in a rather serious time)…so Jeremy is doing better…as most of you know, strokes, if taken seriously, people do respond fairly well to treatment…and Jeremy, though not back to his previous self, and probably will never be…is doing well…

Even in the best of days, we find our pleasures are simple…that doesn’t mean they are not meaningful or satisfying…they are that, but just different than what most people our age enjoy…and that is fine with me…I enjoyed one of the satisfying things just the other day…let me give you the picture and then the explanation…lipton-tea-and-storage

Now I would not be surprised if you could not find something in this picture to enjoy (other than if you like a cup of tea, which I enjoy every morning)…but notice the box of 104 Lipton tea bags, it is empty…and notice the Tupperware container beside it, it is full…notice also the way the bags are place in said container…yup, you would be right, each of the three levels is going the opposite way, placed smartly…and notice that the container seems to hold all of the 104 Lipton tea bags…and if you said that, you would be right…all of the 104 Lipton tea bags fit perfectly in the Tupperware container…does that not bring you a certain joy to see that???…well, to me, it somehow makes me happy all that happened…in a world that is constantly in conflict and turmoil…somehow, all 104 Lipton tea bags fitting perfectly…somehow, it becomes a thrilling thing…Ah, yes, you say, “Jim needs to get out more.”…but you know, I look for things that bring joy, and satisfaction with it…and this is without a doubt a wonderful thing…who would have guessed…

But of course it doesn’t end there…I’m going to tell you a secret and you are not to tell anyone else about it…just between me and you, or is it, you and me, Oh well…we, (Judie, Jeremy and I) have a Sweet Spot…let me show you a picture from the Sweet Spot and see what you see…you will have to look hard to see it…no, no, not the Sweet Spot, but what is in the picture…there on that wonderful summer morning, the sun was shining, the wind lightly blowing in the trees, just a beautiful day in Little Rock…and there we were with a cup of coffee and seeing the beauty of God’s creation…sweet-spot-and-spider-web-on-a-beautiful-day

There, right there in the middle of the picture (yes, forgive the sign, but look to the right) and there is a silver thread, see it…yup, a spider web…this time of year, just think back to “Charlotte’s Web”…spiders send off their offspring on windy days…they send them off for long distances in the wind…think how light they are, we had a brisk wind that day so hundreds of tiny spiders started their new life…right there across from our Sweet Spot…what a pleasure to watch it wave in the breeze that morning…a strong enough web to take the movement of the trees it was attached to, the wind and still be there for us to see, some 30 feet long or so…to the left of us was Chenal Parkway, behind us was two of our friends restaurant, Mac & Don’s…as we parked in a bank parking lot, over looking all this magnificent beauty and wonder…eating a McMuffin, Jeremy’s Biscuit & Gravy, and coffee…we sat in awe of all that is around us…this is our Sweet Spot…everyday that we can go, it brings pleasure to the senses…and the realization, in Whose Hands we are…

Psalm 117

O praise the Lord, all you nations! Praise Him, all you people!

For His mercy and loving-kindness are great toward us, and the truth and faithfulness of the Lord endure forever. Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!)

 

It was just a while ago, I read words like these: “Come on in and sit a spell”…it was a way of telling people to make yourselves comfortable, stay a while and talk, “catch up” with each other…that conversation would be a more “Southern” expression, I suppose…but my Mom had one about the same and coming from the heart of a Minnesota Mom…when a friend or relative came to the door, she would always say, “Got time for a cup of coffee?”…now that was about the same as the former greeting, just different words…

I remember when a neighbor came by and Mom would invite her in…the coffee pot was Coffee vacuum coffee potalways on…she always had a vacuum coffee pot…water in the bottom pot…and on top was a open container that kind of looked like a funnel…a long spout that went down into the water…there was a rubber stopper that fit into the lower pot…it would seal the top to the bottom…so no air could get into the lower pot…in the open top, in went the ground coffee…there was stopper inside so the grounds wouldn’t fall in the lower pot…then on the stove it would go…because it was sealed the water would never boil (atmospheric pressure and all that, check your science book)…and she and my Grandpa always said the best coffee is never boiled…they were right…the water would get very hot and though not boiling, because of the uneven atmospheric pressure, the water would rise into the upper chamber and you would wait until the water churned around and mixed with the coffee, then turned off the flame…let it sit for a few minutes and when it cooled a bit, the pressure would equalize and the coffee, now brewed, would be sucked back down into the lower pot…now you could take the top off and you have a perfect cup of coffee to share…I still love just writing about it…and I loved to watch it happen…

Judie and I used a vacuum coffee pot for years…(they used to be all glass, even the stopper was glass…only the rubber seal was not glass)…we still have one…my Grandpa worked for McGarvey Coffee Company for many years…he was, in the last years, a McGarvey Flame Room Coffeeroaster…and he knew his coffee…some of you Minnesotans may still buy McGarvey “Flame Room” coffee…it was famous, and this goes back many years, but at the old Radisson Hotel in downtown Minneapolis…it had a restaurant called “The Flame Room”…famous for its entertainment, food and of course “Flame Room” coffee…it is good…if it is still being made and sold…up to ten years ago it was…we have been gone that long so who knows…things change, and disappear over the years…like our vacuum pot…in a cupboard somewhere…we now have a Keurig coffee maker, things change…

Oh, things do change…I am getting close to three quarters of a century old…now that seems older than 75, but on the other hand, both sound pretty old…but I really don’tMinneapolis Millers, Nicollet Park care…in fact it gives me a certain joy to have all that history behind me…I have so many memories that most around me don’t have…hey, most don’t even know about Flame Room Coffee…or how a vacuum coffee pot works…they aren’t able to remember about the “old” Radisson hotel or the old Nicollet Baseball Park, on Nicollet Avenue in south Minnapolis…I remember going there by streetcar many times…with my Dad a few times but by myself many times…baseball in those days was America’s Pastime…Minneapolis’ team was called the Millers…you know wheat, flour mills…home of Pillsbury Flour, Gold Medal Flour…St. Paul’s team was the Saints…the Millers were a triple A team of the Giants…the Saints, the Dodgers…quite a competitive twin cities…I was there one day when Willie Mays played the outfield, he was amazing, “shoestring catch” and all…I think it was on July 4th that they had a double header…one played a Nicollet field and the other in St. Paul…all reached easily by streetcar…what a wonderful time to live…didn’t have the fear we have today of letting our kids go like that…

But things change as I said…both the culture (it’s in the pits) and hotels, coffee makers, ballparks and houses where I lived…it is something that not only is the old Nicollet park gone, its replacement is gone too, Met Stadium was built to house the Minnesota Twins…but it is gone too…in fact the replacement of that park, the Metrodome is now history too…in its place is the new Twins ball park near the Target Center…and in the Metrodome site is now the new Viking stadium…things change…

And all the homes that I grew up in are gone…the first one I remember is 515 Meadow house 515 Meadow LaneLane, in Golden Valley, Minnesota…it was the house we rented after Dad returned from WWII in the Navy…my first memories were there…we went there a few years ago and got this picture and when we went back some time later it was an empty lot…I had lots of good memories there…I remember my Mom doing laundry on the back porch, listening and singing to WCCO…playing in the swamp behind the house…it was a tiny house…but the only one I knew…I really didn’t know it was tiny…well, hey…I was tiny…the next house I lived in was what we called “the basement house”…it was a basement that was to become a full house but never happened…it was next door to my Grandparents, my Mom’s folks…small lot, small basement, but it was all I knew…the only time it became an issue was when I realized the kids I went to school with had Elmquist shed, BB hoop, cottonwood trees in snowhuge houses, some with swimming pools in their backyard, one with a pool in the basement…but you know, it was home…no running water, well, we had a pipe underground from Grandparents, so we had cold water, heated water on the stove…no bathroom…though we used my Grandparents often but we had an outhouse…the sink in the kitchen ran into a pail under the sink…and emptied it behind the shed, with the img019basketball hoop, what time we used to have with neighbor kids playing basketball even in the dead of winter…shoveled off the court and played until we couldn’t feel our hands anymore…that basement house has been gone for decades by now…replaced by high rise business towers…we lived there until I left when Judie and I got married…you may feel sorry for me…but you know I had great growing up years…I loved all the memories I had from those years…built rafts in the swamp behind our house…played all the games kids played…skied, sledding, adventures of all kinds…

Even my Grandparent house is gone…in fact the whole neighborhood…my Mom was Reggin house burning 1979 1there when they burned down my Grandparents house…it was the house where she was raised…in fact Judie, I and the kids lived there for about 9 months and she and Dad lived there until she sold it..she watched it burn, got a picture, not very clear…she said she was crying so hard that she shook the camera…all this could be very sad I guess…but my life is made up of all these things…things no one else has in their memories…but on the other hand, everyone has a story…not just like my story, but a lot like it…things change, as I said…but I have rich memories and though life is hard, life is so good…

And if you really look hard at the picture of the basement house…and see my Mom reaching for the door, and if you really listen closely…she is asking you, “Got time for a cup of coffee?”…and you would say to that wonderful woman…why sure, why don’t we “Come on in and sit a spell”…and she would put the coffee pot on…Oh, wouldn’t that be wonderful…I would sit and watch it brew…

Somehow when I read something, really anything, my mind goes over the last 70 years or so…and comes up with a variety of experiences and memories…not all of them good, not all bad…just lots of them…last week I got my July/August issue of Minnesota Conservation Volunteer…it covers lots of topics, all having to do with Minnesota Minnesota Conservation Volunteerconservation and management of the state’s resources…includes hunting and fishing as well as recreational opportunities like hiking, biking and the like…and the sustainable use of natural resources…it’s a wonderful magazine and one I sit down almost immediately and read…great photographs and articles written by people committed to those same goals…

Of all the great articles, I really liked the one called “Cabin Talk”…a fun, informativeListening Point cabin Sigurd Olson article…and one that made me think a bit…the author was at a luncheon held by the Listening Point Foundation, “which honors the late writer and naturalist Sigurd Olson.”…they want to preserve his legacy…to educate others about wilderness…the name Listening Point is the name of his cabin on Burntside Lake in Northern Minnesota…where he wrote and lived…

I loved the name Listening Point…the wilderness or any quiet place is certainly a place to listen…in our culture there are few places we have to sit quietly and listen…and think…seems everyone is busy doing “other” things…the ubiquitous cell phone…music…video…all destroy time to sit quietly and listen…to see nature and all it holds, really time to meditate…I remember when I was 15, going to Jefferson Jefferson Junior High School, Minneapolis, MNJunior High school in Minneapolis, I was involved with Boy Scouts, with a friend of mine…we both were working on our Eagle Scout Award…and also waiting  with anticipation for our new high school, Golden Valley High School to be completed…I don’t think any of us who were “bused” into Minneapolis from Golden Valley especially liked Jefferson, as we called it…

I really don’t remember how it happened, nor why it happened, nor why my Mom and Dad allowed me to do it…but that summer I applied to be a counselor in training (CIT) at Many Point Scout Camp in Northern Minnesota…near Ponsford and Detroit Lakes Many Point Scout CampMinnesota…we were assigned to various places for a week over the 5 or 6 weeks of the summer…we worked 6 days a week and had one day off…that day we could go into DL (Detroit Lakes) or could stay at Many Point…I went to DL a couple of times, but most times I spent at the area I was assigned…I remember reading the book “Through Gates of Splendor” by Elizabeth Elliot, sitting on a huge beaver dam just off an old logging road…I just happened upon it…going down a small hill and up another…little did I know it was the front of a beaver dam…when I got to the top of the small hill and expanse of water was in front of me…and beaver doing what beavers do…I was able to spend hours there over the summer…and it was an easy place to think, meditate and plan…my life changed on that beaver dam…

I learned then to enjoy quiet, to hear things that I never paid attention to before…and to learn to be alone and observant of things around me…I’ve never forgotten it…it was years later I read a memoir of a classmate who wrote about the summer between Jefferson and Golden Valley High School…as I read, over 50 years later, I found what happened during that summer when I was a CIT at Many Point, but my classmates had a whole different summer…I guess as I read, I was happy I had the experience that I did…

One of the places I “served” at Many Point, was at the Gate Lodge…it was 2 miles or so outside the main camp…it was a log cabin, as such, and we had to check in anyone who was coming to camp, a long pole gate we had to lift up and down…there were two of us assigned there, I don’t think there was electricity, plumbing, etc…it would seem that I would remember that, but I don’t…we had a hand pump to get water and Coleman lanterns for light…and I suppose an outhouse, but again I don’t remember that for sure…but I do remember being alone and at night, it really got dark and quiet…Old truck like at Many Point

Our meals were delivered in what they called “hotpacks”…I think we got three meals a day…we could hear those old trucks coming out to us for a long distance…they were old WWII trucks, no doors, rusted out…no mufflers…they were great…we loved them so did the drivers…but where we stayed was a cabin, for sure, maybe 10 x 10…bunk-beds made out of pole pine, a sink…mice by the hundreds…Oh, it might have been the thousands…we would stay quiet for a few seconds and out they would come…we broke a few brooms killing those varmints…I don’t think we ever thought about those mice at night, no doubt they were all over everything, including us…so much for cabin life in Northern Minnesota…

Cabins, like Listening Point, are still around and other cabins of all sizes and shapes…from Lake house to shacks, those with amenities of all kinds and those without…but all in all it is the place we make it…is it just another home like we left or is it a place where we energize our lives, to look at nature in a new way, to see the God who made all this in a new and real way…that is what we all should want…the swimming, fishing, meditating, the sitting and looking out at all that wonder…

The article that started all this had a story that all of us fit into,Minnesota Backyard one way or another…the author sat near a 10 year old boy and his Dad at the luncheon…he asked the boy if they had a cabin…”‘We have a place on a lake up by Ely,’ he said. I pressed him for the name of the lake and when he offered it, told him of my adventures near there.”…his Dad was listening in, smiling…”‘I wouldn’t call it a cabin,’ the boy said reluctantly. ‘It’s pretty big.'”…he had already at his young age picked up on what a “cabin” was suppose to be…the author went on to say, it is not the “cabin” that matters most…it’s the natural world surrounding the cabin…the final exchange between the Dad and Son was great…”‘It doesn’t matter how big it is,’ his Dad said. ‘We can call it a cabin if we want to.’…’Dad, we can’t call it a cabin,’ his son objected. ‘It has air conditioning!'”

So enjoy your cabin, deck, porch, back yard, lake house, whatever…it’s the natural world surrounding the cabin that is important…

Seems like we just got back from Texas…but really it was about a month ago, mid-June, to be closer to the truth…around here in Arkansas, we see lots of Texas license plates…the two states borders connect…it’s called the ArkLaTex…adding Louisiana to the mix…and some add Oklahoma making it Ark-La-Tex-Oma…you don’t hear the “Oma” part very often…but the former term is used often, it’s where Southern Arkansas, Northeast Texas, Northwest Louisiana meet…and then add in Southeastern Texas don't mess with TexasOklahoma for the Homa part…but aside from all of that, when we see a Texas license plate, we always say: “Don’t Mess With Texas”…(that slogan was written to “reduce litter on the highways in Texas…but it became an identity statement i.e. Texas Swagger)…and we use it all the time…

This was a “Jeremy Vacation”…which means it is our vacation too…we took three days Waco and Ranch 2016 2and traveled to a 700+ acre ranch South of Dallas…about 40 miles South…near the towns of Grandview and Maypearl…now, Grandview is not easy for me to remember…I want to say “Greenville” or “Grandville” or some other name…even as I write this I had to look it up…but Maypearl, now that is no problem…my two Grandmother’s names…May Elmquist and Pearl Reggin…two wonderful Grandmas…so that was easy, didn’t even have to look it up…I remembered it, “right off”, as the say…

Waco and Ranch 2016 7We kinda planned this as just the three of us but one of our sons knows the couple who own the ranch we visited and stayed at…really it was to be a short trip…and it turned out to be just 3 days…we wanted to visit “The Silos” in Waco and Ranch 6Waco, Texas…you know, “Magnolia Market”…for those of you living under a rock or listening to too much politics…the TV program “Fixer Upper” with hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines “are” those things…it’s a favorite program of ours and when we found out they were opening Magnolia Market…well, it being just 6 hours away…we suggested it to Jeremy…he was game…

But our son, Jared happened to hear us talking about it…and he said we are coming Waco and Ranch 2016 10too…he knew the owner of the ranch I mentioned above…I will add pictures, but we stayed in the “Bunkhouse”…a bit different than the kind of bunkhouse in western movies…this has a full kitchen, sleeps 12 or so, air conditioned, etc…the full treatment…and we had a pool to use, Mules to ride (will explain later), four wheelers, outdoor kitchen, etc…we spent two nights there…one going to Waco, one coming back…

It was Jeremy’s kind of vacation, lots of things happening…lots of choices to do…and a Waco and Ranch 5beautiful setting to do it in…Friday, we had steak with all the trimmings on the outdoor kitchen eating area…Saturday morning we went to breakfast in Grandview…we were looking for a great small town breakfast…and R & K Cafe fit the bill…they had menus but also written on a chalkboard on the wall were R and K Cafe, Grandview, Texasspecials that day…they served, as Jeremy and I call, a “real” breakfast…like at Sparkys in Anoka, Minnesota…(our personal measuring stick)…the place was full of real Texans, cowboy hats and all…ready to go to work…great food and ambiance…

The Silos were just as we thought…they claim the Silos bring in about 25,000 people Waco and Ranch 2016every week to Waco…this all started out as a TV show and an idea…if you think great ideas don’t still turn into success in America…just go to Waco…we also saw the Dr. Pepper Museum, started in 1885…another good idea…only in America…Waco and Ranch 11

One of the delights of the trip was Jeremy getting to ride the Mules…not the animal Waco and Ranch 2016 8kind but the Kawasaki kind…riding with his brother all over the ranch…seeing wild pigs, vultures, deer, snakes and more…then enjoying just sitting on the porch watching the day go by, or overlooking the countryside from atop the hill…we all had a great time…and Texas BBQ that last night…just topped it off…

Posted by: Jim E | June 29, 2016

July 4th…Independence Day…A Time To Celebrate…

July 4th…Independence Day…A Time To Celebrate…

This post was first used in 2010, it was a Sunday, as you will soon read…I thought I would post it again…

The 4th of July is on a Sunday this year…something about that seems right…this country was founded with God as it’s center and with the freedom He gives…and although there are many who dispute this…they are basically fools…anyone who has read any of the documents of the time would see that right off…so having July 4th fall on Sunday, it’s a good thing…

John Adams was one of our founding fathers and signer of the Declaration of Independence…it was signed by him and many others in Philadelphia on July 2…the next day, July 3, 1776 he wrote his famous letter to his wife Abigail…on what his thoughts were about celebrating the Fourth of July…(the Continental Congress adopted it on July 4, 1776)…the following is the text of the letter with his original spellings: (please read it all)

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shew, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

Writing that letter was an act of celebration…but the letter also acknowledged that this new nation was at war with the British Empire…

I and my family will be celebrating this holiday with thanksgiving and acknowledging the blessing it is to be an American…we have put out the flags…and are honored to do it…

We are in a time of great trouble and distress…with most of our great values as a country are being assailed…I for one am committed to stand for those basic values and beliefs…and speak out when they are attacked…our politicians need to hear from us more and more…these are dangerous times for our freedoms…I just heard one of our politicians say we need to protect freedom of worship (not freedom of religion)…those are two different things, the first amendment to the Constitution guarantees it so …we will not hide…nor sit and watch our freedoms taken away…

So when I remember John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both signers of the Declaration of Independence…both presidents…both founding fathers…both believers in this great experiment of Liberty…I remember also their lives…political enemies…but later in life, dear friends…exchanging many letters…

Let me tell you a wonderful and true story…it was July 4, 1826…the country was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence…50 years before, John Adams asked Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence…(and rarely did they agree on anything again…they settle accounts later in life but in between things were very rocky)…but by this 50th anniversary they had become good friends…now follow the transcript from an American Experience program, John and Abigail Adams:

Narrator: the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence dawned warm and dry up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

What happened that day seemed more like poetry than history.

David McCullough, Historian: It was far beyond anything anyone could conceive of. And people at that time, very understandably, took it to mean that the hand of God was truly involved with the destinies of the United States of America.

Narrator: At Monticello that morning, Thomas Jefferson, age eighty-three, willed himself to stay alive.

Joseph Ellis, Historian: He’s murmuring things that nobody can understand, and then his slave, Burwell, understands that he means; shift my pillow. And then he mutters, “Is it the fourth?”…meaning: is it the fourth of July? Jefferson wants to die on schedule.

Narrator: Thomas Jefferson died at about one in the afternoon while, in the valley below, church bells rang in celebration of Independence Day.

At Quincy, the roar of cannon had begun early that morning.

Joseph Ellis, Historian: Adams has gotten up fit as a fiddle, no long, lingering illnesses. But he starts to fail just about the time that Jefferson dies.

Narrator: In the afternoon, a brief thunderstorm rolled in across the neighboring marshes.

Adams was having difficulty breathing. But even at 91, his mind was clear. “It is a great day.” he said. “It is a good day.”

Joseph Ellis, Historian: They take him downstairs, and he dies about 4:30 in the afternoon. And his last words are, “Thomas Jefferson still lives,” which in fact was not correct. But it’s poignant. His last thought were of Jefferson. He was a good friend.

David McCullough, Historian: when he was lying there dying, thinking of Jefferson, the cannon and rifle fire and firecrackers were all booming in the distance, celebrating the Declaration of Independence. Now, if you…if you did that in a movie, somebody would say, “Oh, that’s too much. You know. Things like that don’t happen in real life.” It did happen in real life, again and again, through that whole amazing life.

I hope you caught it, a quote by David McCullough, concerning the story of these two great men dying the same day…the Fourth of July…“It was far beyond anything anyone could conceive of. And people at that time, very understandably, took it to mean that the hand of God was truly involved with the destinies of the United States of America”…

Well…I believe it today…a shining city upon a hill…blessed by God…we must never forget Who controls people in powerful places…in their arrogance they may see it another way…to their peril…

So with “solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty”…my prayer is: God Bless the United States of America!!!…and click on this to hear America the Beautiful…and beautiful views of America…

Posted by: Jim E | June 15, 2016

Strength For The Weary…It Helps…

Sorry, this is a bit late…I wrote this the morning of June 2, 2016, just 13 days ago…though I meant to send it that day…after what I wrote about below…but at the last words I typed…my computer went blank…fortunately WordPress saves what I write as I write it, so it was here when I got the computer back…in the intervening 13 days I sent the computer in to Dell and they sent it back with a new hard drive, etc…don’t know if the problem is solved…hopefully it is fixed…but it kinda added to the frustration of that day…makes one glad those days don’t happen every day, but Strength for the Weary, helps…anyway, read on…

 

I have never written something like this before…Oh, I have written about Jeremy’s surgeries and other issues related to him…but nothing just like this…it happened this morning, June 2, 2016…Jeremy had Jeremy's 44th birthdayto go to work today at 8:45…so I got up before that time, well, I usually do…it is hard to change getting up at 5:00 all my working life (pre-retirement life)…but I promised myself when I retired I would “sleep in” until at least 6:30-7:00…and after 16 years of retirement, I have found it my norm…so, up I got (using a Minnesota expression) at about 6:45 so I could do my normal things before I got Jeremy up at 7:45…I get him up about an hour before he needs to be at work, he, with his handicaps, needs his sleep…and as I get him up, I always say to myself or Judie, “now our day begins”…

I use that phrase because our day really begins…our workday begins…our unplanned day begins…when Jeremy gets up…we don’t know what will happen for sure…general plans are made before hand, but there can be unplanned circumstances that pop up without warning…we just have to be ready…some days, we need help to face those unplanned moments…not outside help, but help that comes from the Lord…we can always count on that help…we just aren’t always in a place or are too busy with the unplanned events to pause to accept the help…but we have learned, we need to pause, we just aren’t strong enough sometimes…strong enough to deal with not one, but many unplanned things coming in a short amount of time…like this morning…

I usually get up a bit before Judie, as I did this morning, I go through my morning routine, read Our Daily Bread, open the shades, empty the dishwasher, other various boring details…and those who really know me, know I run the “drill” every morning, the same “drill” in the same pattern, same, same, same…until Judie got up and I heard her say, “Oh” and “Oh” again…I knew that frustrated sound…and she found Jeremy had an accident during the night…it was on the hallway floor, and his bathroom was a mess…the floor, the toliet, the wall…just a mess…he tries, but he just isn’t able to clean it up…we knew it would be on his rug in his room, on or in his bed, and in a few minutes, we woke him up…and found that fact to be true…we popped him in the shower and begin the cleaning…and getting him ready for work…Wedding 3 of 4 sons and sons

As Judie was cleaning, and then finding the next area to clean, I could tell she was reaching that frustration level…but we were too busy to take that time…made Jeremy breakfast, then out to the car and off to work…we both went with him, and had prayer with him in the parking lot…we pray for him during his work time…that he will do his job well, treat customers and fellow workers with respect and good humor…all that in Jesus name…Amen…so we dropped him off…and there is a degree of lifting of pressure when we drop him off, I guess…but we both know, we could get a call anytime…so we stay alert to that possibility…we were almost home, and Judie’s phone rang…it was Jeremy, he had had an accident and needed a change of clothes…we had to finish the trip home to get something, though we keep a change of clothes in the car, and back we went…I could tell Judie was at the end of things…but when we got to Kroger she went in and got Jeremy cleaned up and changed…(now, most people would have wanted to come home, but not Jeremy, he was working, so after the cleanup, back to work, no embarrassment, he is scheduled to work, no other thought came to his mind)…so Judie came out…hopped in the car and off we went for home…

By the time we got home, Judie was at her wits end…just frustrated and upset…I asked her if she had read Our Daily Bread this morning…she hadn’t, I told her to read it…it started out: “On a beautiful, sunny Our Daily Breadday, I was walking in a park and feeling very weary in spirit. It wasn’t just one thing weighing me down—it seemed to be everything.”…and ends with: “What’s it like on your journey today? If fatigue has caused you to forget God’s presence and power, why not pause and recall His promise. “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength” (v. 31). Here. Now. Right where we are.”

Well, that is what we both needed…It may be what you need today…so click here, the whole is better than my small quote…http://odb.org/2016/06/03/strength-for-the-weary/

Well, it’s almost time to pick up Jeremy…he works 4 hour days…since his stroke  a year and a half ago, it is about all he can handle…it works well for him, us and Kroger too…we long ago made our commitment to take care of Jeremy…it continues today…he is a joy to us…and though we run into days like today…we remain committed…and isn’t it nice to have things like Our Daily Bread this morning to help us through the more challenging times…it was just what Judie and I needed when we felt a bit weighed down by one thing upon another…renewed strength...”Here. Now. Right where we are.”

 

Posted by: Jim E | May 30, 2016

Memorial Day…2016…

Last night we watched the National Memorial Concert from Washington DC…we have Memorial Day Concertwatched this special for years, I don’t think we have missed many…it is always good, in fact wonderful in every way…it doesn’t get political, which is hard to find these days…but instead it is directed to the veterans of all wars…and since this is Memorial Day, it is especially pointed at those who have given their lives for this country…and although it is that, it also honors all those who have served and are serving today…it is a well rounded tribute to men and women in uniform…

The stories they highlight are heart-wrenching and powerful, giving stories of those who have served this country…the whole concert can be watched on PBS. and it is worth your time…it is all good, but there were some performances that stood out to me…they emphasized the Viet Nam War last night…those vets are getting old too…but for WWII vets the orchestra played, “Honor” by Hans Zimmer, it is the theme of the movie “The Pacific”…it is a powerful piece of music…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0P47yvI7SWM

Trace Adkins sang “Arlington”, another powerful song… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOih0MHNmZU&index=24&list=FL4p7s-xI-dvVnzCFNqMF2og …emphasizing Arlington National Cemetery and the power of its imagery…

For the Viet Nam vets, they had the Beach Boys singing a medley of songs and then Alfie Boe sang the Bob Dylan song “Forever Young”…that is worth the price of admission…he has a voice for that song…it made me think of all the men and women who have given their lives for our freedom over all the years…they were so young…but Elmquist family WW II 1944it also made me think of my Dad, who served in WWII in the Navy…he was in the South Pacific during his time in service…he was a lucky one, he survived and lived to be  almost 83…but as I think about him today…I seem to see him and my Mom in uniform, forever young…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3Ejwx-21mU&index=2&list=FL4p7s-xI-dvVnzCFNqMF2og

So as we go about our day, this Memorial Day…let’s not forget those who have gone before us…I honor them today…they said on the Concert last night, that two dozen funerals happen at Arlington National Cemetery every week…and they also happen at National Cemeteries all over the country…my folks are buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, MN…I honor them along with so many others…rest in peace…Fort Snelling 1

Posted by: Jim E | May 24, 2016

Memorial Day, I Remember…

Memorial Day, I Remember…

(This is something I wrote in 2010,  for Memorial Day…thought I would post it again…enjoy and if you can,  fly the flag…and remember how fragile our freedom is…how precious our liberty…and though it seems impossible, how easy it would be to lose it…we have come close in our history a number of times, who knows we could be close to it now…so this is not the time to forget that or to lose hope in this special and exceptional country…)

Another Memorial Day…and I don’t mean, “just another Memorial Day”…I do mean, “It IS another Memorial Day”…I am humbled by the day itself…this is not, as even some presidents mistakenly view it, a day to honor all our men and women in the armed forces…(though we do honor them)…there are other days set aside for that…Veterans Day, Armed Forces Day, days to honor the different services…this day is for the fallen…those who have given their lives for this great country of ours…

On the way to church this morning we went by a sign in front of Parkway Automotive, an auto repair shop, it said…”Closed Memorial Day…to honor those who have fallen”…that pretty much says it all…across our country there are ceremonies to remember what it takes to be free…it takes men and woman who are willing to give their lives to make sure we stay free…I have our flag flying outside our house all year…but as you can see, I add a few others to honor Memorial Day…

Arlington National Cemetery, just outside Washington D. C., is very well known…it was the family home of Robert E. Lee before the Civil War…but it was basically “taken” because of he fought on the side of the South during the war…(there is more to that story if you would like to Google it)…and it was turned into a cemetery during the Civil War…and after…many famous Americans are buried there…this song by Trace Adkins may make the story a little more personal…

But Arlington National Cemetery is not the only place our fallen are buried…my Dad, who served in WWII, is buried in Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, MN…and because of his service, my Mom was is buried right beside him…this picture of Fort Snelling is so beautiful…I remember very well the day we buried my Dad and then the day we buried my Mom…and I remember exactly where it is…I think I could drive right to it…but all those markers sure tell a story…they all served, many of them died far before their “time” in wars that keep us free even today…and many others were able to live full lives because others gave theirs…and my Dad knew the difference…he often told us that the real heroes never made it back…

He served in the south Pacific in the Navy…saw more than he ever wanted to…didn’t talk much about it…but was so proud that he served…and he wanted us to know, when he and Mom died, they wanted to be buried at Fort Snelling…along with all those who went before…he lived to be almost 83…and he along with so many that I knew, were forever changed by The War…and much like that war, men and women who serve today are changed in ways the rest of us cannot know…

One more picture of Fort Snelling…my Mom and Dad are there…I honor them today…but not only them…all of those who served and died to keep us Free…We honor them today…

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