Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Letters, pictures, newspaper articles, books - Putting the pieces together

I've hit a couple milestones tonight. One is that this is my 70th post, so I have posted every day for 70 days.  Did you think I could do it, MaryM?  I didn't, so I'm energized!

My second milestone is that I have completed reading, recording, annotating, scanning and organizing all 253 of the letters my Dad sent home from his three years serving in the Army during World War II.  At least these are the ones that are still around here.  There are some missing moments, but I guess there needs to be some mysteries in life.  It is all contained in one huge Google Docs (I guess it's called Google Drive now) spreadsheet file with all the scans of the letters attached to that.  Yes, I'm possessed but many of you already know that.

Below are some of the treasures I found.  On the bottom below everything else was a commemorative pillow case, of which there are probably thousands in attics and eBay entries around the country.  This one highlights the 34th Infantry Division, or "Red Bull" Division that is well-known now as centered in Minnesota.  They were the first division to get involved in Tunisia in Spring, 1943 and that was about the time my Dad would have been shipped to the front lines after basic training in Ft. McClellan, a lot of waiting around at Camp Butner, NC, and finally put on a ship in late January headed for Africa.

Other items in the pictures - upper right is his Purple Heart for being shot in Italy in a battle somewhere around Leghorn (I think Leghorn, he can never say exactly where he was because censors read, and censored, all letters..."Loose lips sink ships" you know), bottom right was his wallet on which he had drawn the Red Bull symbol, his initials (hidden in the picture), and his name and "outfit" - Co. "C", 168 INF REGT - 34 DIV.  Also middle bottom is his picture from later in his time in service because he has bars for the Purple Heart, battles he was in, and his combat infantry badge.  On the bottom left was a metal, unbreakable mirror of some kind that he would have had for shaving, etc, when he was out and away from any form of civilization...and there were a LOT of references to times like that.  Anyway, that was the place that he recorded all the places he had been from the time he crossed the Atlantic and landed on foreign soil.

At some point the U.S. won what he called the "African War" and then their division headed over to Italy, and I remember him talking about the Anzio Beachhead and lots of Italy stories.  I just found a book on called As You Were that tells about his regiment and division in more detail that I've ever heard.  It should be here any day now.  Because of his leg wound, he was eventually reclassified into a big supply port of call, called 6th Port, in Marseille, France, and that's where he finished out the last 6 months of his three years in the Army.  From there they were discharged based on a point system, and his frustration kind of boiled over when they would change how points were awarded and how many points were needed to go home.  He was luckier than others because he eventually had enough; some of the guys though had to head out to the war in the Pacific after serving time in the European war.  

I hadn't planned on including this, but as I was doing one of the last letters tonight, I read where he said he had had his picture taken by a sidewalk photographer that Sunday as he was walking home.  He said it was windy so it wasn't a good picture.  And I had just found these pictures so one of them was from that day in April, 1945, on the streets of Marseille.  And somehow the idea of a sidewalk photographer back then just kind of strikes me as funny--kind of like the pictures they take of visitors to Disneyland or other theme parks and then sell them to you later.  Nothing new under the sun!
And I need to point out his hat (it's not called a hat but I can't remember what they are called).  My mother would say that he always would wear his hat at a "rakish" angle.  He did it back then and he did it until the day he died.  He wouldn't look the same with his hat any other way.

I feel like I learned more about who my father was as I went through these letters than I ever knew about him in real life.  And, yes, that makes me a little sad, but it just brings up more questions and thoughts about what I can do to find more answers.

So, time well spent!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

So many projects, and people, waiting for the REAL spring!

I made a big mistake earlier today.  I emailed a friend, commenting on the strong winds we've been having the last couple of days.  I should have stopped there but then I dared to say that at least it wasn't snowing.  Big mistake. Now it looks like this outside.

At the bottom middle is my former snow measuring stick.  It finally fell over last week and all the snow around it WAS gone.  Until today.

But we have spring things we want to do!  Just being outside without freezing or blowing away would be a bonus right now, but there's more.  Our new glider for the front porch was delivered last Friday, in pieces, of course.  I should have started in on it last Friday when the sun was still shining at least.  I didn't but because I'm pretty impatient about projects like this, I dug around in the boxes to find the instructions.  They looked pretty challenging, like Ikea challenging but with more words, so my organization obsession kicked in and now our stairs in the entryway look like this:

And the boxes outside look like this, a little damp from blowing snow, sleet and whatever else is coming down. (The Christmas tree stand is heading for the flea market. It was a loser!)

So we will continue to dream about our B&B guests, and/or us, sitting on the porch in our glider and our new little bistro set.  I refuse to get out the winter jackets again.  I have already washed and stashed them away for the summer, and they are NOT coming back out again.  

By the way, those are big water droplets on the table top, not some cool textured effect.  Very discouraging.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Take this ICE and SHOVE it!

The title of today's post might sound as if I am really tired of ice, snow and winter in general.  Well, I am, but what I'm referring to is a situation that's been happening with ice called an ice shove. Last year was the first time I ever heard of this happening, but it's when the wind SHOVES massive amounts of ice onto the shore, into houses, onto roads, or wherever it wants to go.  

We think we saw this happening down at our main beach area today.  All of the ice that up until yesterday had been part of an ice sheet out in the middle of the Lake Superior was being blown southward...toward our south shore...and this is what it looked like by our channel and pier. Watch the waves break out in line with the end of the pier.

This happened in a big way yesterday on the west side of Mille Lacs lake in Minnesota.  Here is a link to a KSTP-TV news story about it.  Unfortunately there is a 13-second commercial at the beginning but it shows what happened to a couple of houses along the lakeshore, and it closed Highway 169 for a while.  Leann's mother was driving along that road and was held up for a while because of the ice shove.  Here's the link.

Perhaps if the sun remembered how to shine, the ice would just melt instead.  Not this week though!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

We have a new neighbor!

A couple years ago, word came to us that someone from here wanted to buy some property for her and her horses.  In a very short time we had sold her 20 acres of our land just across the field from where our new house was going to be, and a short time after that she had fences put up and had moved in her thirteen horses, and as she said, one of every color!

It just seemed like a win-win deal for us--some extra cash for us and our house and the sight of all those pretty horses out there...and no work on our part.  And now she has a beautiful new house for her and a nice stable for her horses, a little pony and two fainting goats.  I guess we do get called once in a while when the horses get out of their enclosure, but we've never been the ones who located the lost sheep, I mean horses.  I really don't think we'd know what to do if we ever found them, but just the searching is part of the adventure.

A week or so ago, she told us that there was going to be a baby horse coming soon, and this past Thursday was the day.  It was born outside in the pasture, but since it was a cold and windy day, she put mother and baby in the stable to keep warm.  But last night on our drive coming back from the Smelt Fry, there was the new baby horse along with his (I think I heard he's a he) protective entourage.  What a cutie!

This pasture is right on my walking route, so I'm sure there will be more pictures to come!

I just checked the ice caves camera.  Here's the link.  They have been posting pictures every 10 minutes since yesterday and today around noon it finally started breaking up.  By this evening it's almost all gone.  Pretty cool!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Have you been to a smelt fry yet this spring?

'Tis the season, you know.  Spring is when the smelt move from Lake Superior into their spawning streams, and it's a springtime tradition to use nets to catch the smelt, usually done at night because they are light sensitive.  And that tradition is celebrated in our area again this year at the 58th Annual Herbster Smelt Fry.  All the area service clubs get together to put on a great dinner at the historic Herbster "Gym."  

Servings of smelt, with some whitefish added because smelt numbers are down again this year (too cold?), Captain Ken's baked beans, coleslaw, carrots/celery sticks, bread & and beverage are prepared for hundreds of hungry guests.  Desserts are a separate fundraiser for the Scholarship Fund.
No, it's not Instagram.  When we asked which was the smelt, they said, "The pieces with the tails."
Says "Whitefish substituted if needed." Last year because of the weather, there were NO smelt, so they used whitefish for the whole dinner.  This year whitefish only supplemented what smelt they had.
Herbster is the town 7 miles east of Port Wing and the Smelt Fry takes place in the Herbster "Gym."  Back during the Depression, this building was built as a WPA project so it provided jobs for lots of people, and it's been an important part of the community ever since.  

It was built using log construction so it fit into this rustic area very well.  It is now listed on State and National Registers of Historic Places.

Our dinner companions - they are all named John...well, one is Jon.
It was our first time going to the Smelt Fry and I'm sure we'll be going back next year!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Warning: Wildlife camera in operation!

Tonight we went out and set up our wildlife camera for the summer.  I don't know if it's necessary, but we always put the outdoor cameras away for the winter.  I can't believe all those below-zero days and nights could have been good for camera technology.  So tonight was the night.

But there's a trick to setting up a camera like this.  We received this camera as a retirement gift from friends and one of these friends has a camera set up on her property in Minnesota.  They have established their camera in a PRIME location and they get cool pictures of a whole spectrum of wildlife.  And she always assures me that it takes a while to find that prime location.  We have been able to capture some pretty good pictures, not as good as hers, but we thought we needed a new location this year.  Leann has been watching where the deer have made their trails this winter, so our new location is along one of those paths.  We'll see what happens.  By the way, we usually warn people that we have a wildlife camera set up and where it's located.  Cuts down on embarrassing incidents!

Here are some of our pictures from previous summers:
Black bear - but we don't see many of them, have to be up at 2:24am, I guess.
Turkeys - a big flock that summer

A coyote, we think
Momma and baby

Romance in the orchard

And baby bear

Laughing? Talking? Or mid chew?

Can't wait to see what we get this year!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Solar Christmas lights: Lessons learned

Back before Christmas 2013, I thought it would be nice to have some twinkle lights on a little spruce tree that was some distance from the house.  The lights are powered by electricity, of course, so we had a 100 ft. cord running out to this tree all winter, deep under the snow. We plugged and unplugged it every day from an outlet on the house.  But the tree looked nice out there off on the side of our yard.

Then last summer I was thinking about it and wondered about whether you could buy solar Christmas twinkle lights.  A quick check on and there they were!  I bought three sets of them, got them connected up, charged them up by the sun, and waited until decorating time in December.  December came and I put one string up and that night when they came on, I realized that one string looked pretty lame.  But that was okay because I had two more to add.
One little tree with one little string of lights - notice the black solar panel on the ground to the left of the tree.
But I didn't add them fast enough and then December 7th and our first big snow arrived.  I looked out toward the tree one night and it was dark!  The solar panel that needs to see the sun was buried under all the snow.  And that's where it stayed all winter...

...until this past Tuesday night when we came home from our meeting about 8:30pm.  Our little tree was twinkling merrily, all ready for the season!

Next year?  That little solar panel is going to be positioned HIGH up on the tree in full view of the sun.

(That picture is so dreary, dreary, dreary, just like this rainy, sleety day we had today.  Maybe more snow tonight.  Crazy!)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sherpas on my mind

So far I haven't really discussed any social or political issues in this blog.  But after two days of driving across Minnesota to North Dakota and back, we've listened to a lot of Minnesota Public Radio and several times we heard more about the tragedy of the 13 sherpas being caught in the avalanche on Mount Everest.

It's always fascinated me to read about the climbers who have attempted to climb Mount Everest, what all they did to train to make the climb, their process of acclimatization at the different base camp levels to get used to the ever-decreasing amounts of oxygen, their obsession with getting to the top, but what was most interesting to me were the sherpas and the apparent (but maybe not actual) ease in which they made their multiple climbs to the top in order for all the guest climbers to be successful.

I've read several books about Tenzing Norgay, as well as more recent accounts of Everest attempts, both successful and not.  I think it attracts me because it involves just about everything that feeds my fears--heights in general, climbing up high ladders and ice walls while hanging on ropes (set up for them there by the sherpas), altitude sickness (I get headaches and start gasping for breath going to Estes Park, Colorado!), and just being REALLY cold.

So, it appears that a majority of the sherpas are considering a work stoppage which would put a kibash on all those people who right this moment are already there to climb or are planning to make the climb in May, the prime time for climbing Mount Everest. But as one of my Facebook friends, Karen Thomas, posted today:

"Sherpas ain't happy,

Ain't nobody happy."

But I say, good!  Let the sherpas rest, let the mountain rest, since I also hear/read that it's getting to be an ecological nightmare with all of the trash left behind, and unfortunately also the bodies of climbers who didn't make it.  Maybe there SHOULD be places on our planet that we can't get to without putting other people in danger.  Of course the economy of Nepal and the families of sherpas depend on the income that comes from those climbers.  But there's something just not right about that arrangement and maybe this tragedy can shed some light on the whole situation so changes can be made for the future.

End of rant.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day, 3 sisters & toxic chemicals -- signs of life

The day started early when we set out at 6am for Fargo, North Dakota.  That's 45 miles of Wisconsin, 4 1/2 hours across Minnesota, and a leap across the Red River to get to Fargo by noon.  The scenes along the road were pure Earth Day - fields full of deer, an eagle that was enjoying something dead in the road and almost flew into our car as we went by, and all kinds of hawks and birds rejoicing in the absence of snow...just like us!

The reason for our early morning cross-country trip was Kristi, Leann's sister, who was going in for her first chemo "infusion" today.  Third sister, Sandy, met us with our new t-shirts--all in different colors with "Team Kristi" stamped on the front and "Determined" on the back.  (The word "determined" was something that Kristi came up with, independent of all of us, to set her course as she battles this cancer.) So the four of us all walked into the cancer area of the hospital to wait for Kristi and surprise her with our colorful, new "Team" shirts.  

The last part of today obviously centers around the toxic chemicals hinted at in today's title.  This is really the first direct experience that any of us have had with close family members going through cancer treatment and chemotherapy.  They call the combination of drugs that are given to her a "cocktail" for a reason--beginning with an anti-nausea drug and followed by several more substances sent in to kill the cancer cells.  And the final drug was loaded into a pump that she will carry around in a backpack until Thursday.  It's highly toxic so that if something goes wrong with the pump and any part of it leaks, she has a whole list of precautions to avoid getting it on her or her clothes.  And, of course, as soon as she got home she noticed a drip coming from a joint in the tubing.  It was a little tense for a while, but a quick trip back to the ER, and she's all fixed up again.

I guess what amazes me is all the science and research and drug testing that goes into finding out which of these highly toxic substances works best on which cancers and in what combinations, how to best administer it for maximum effectiveness, and the ARMIES of caring medical people around the world who every day are there to help people like our sister Kristi to get the best cancer care and information needed to make these weeks of chemo a path toward healing and wholeness.  

It was a different kind of Earth Day, for sure!  Go Team Kristi!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Mary's Motley Minutiae #3 - April 21, 2014

It's a beautiful Monday and I'm making it a catch-up day, not catsup or ketchup, but catch-up where I'm updating you on past topics.  And, I've actually had people ask about my yardstick out in the snow, so I'll start with that:

It's so shadowed here, but earlier this afternoon, it was at about 5 inches where the stick goes into the snow.  By the time I looked a while later, it was down to 4 inches.  I'll bet if I looked out now, it will have fallen over.  THEN I'll stick it into the bigger drift behind it which is still about two feet deep.

And our plants are growing...well, some are growing.  The coleus and the scarlet sage are going great and now I'll have to thin them out.  My level of faith when planting seeds isn't always "mustard seed" size, so I often have too many growing at a time or they don't grow at all, which is the case for our rosemary and basil.  Nothing yet for them!

And now that the snow has melted from our driveway and road, I'm back to walking and listening to Swedish lessons on my phone.  I had taken a little break so I thought I may have lost some Swedish momentum, but their method seems to work and it was pretty easy to get on my way again.  

There was lots of water running along the road and under the road through culverts, so the temps in the 60's was taking care of the snow.  Here's one of our neighbor's horse fields with a river running through it.  No horses yet but maybe when the fields dry up a little.

I just heard on the 5:00pm news where they were talking about the Wisconsin Fishing Opener which is scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 3rd.  (They always start a week earlier than Minnesota.) They are fearing a rerun of last May when Wisconsin couldn't have their fishing opener up here in northern Wisconsin because the lakes were still iced over.  In fact, down in Cable where the big Governor's Opener was supposed to be, they groomed cross-country ski trails instead.  And the governor couldn't fly in because of the snow and fog.  So I checked the ice cave camera, and even though we have open water here in Port Wing, there's still ice 20 miles east by the caves.

That's it for today!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter beach our winter boots

What a beautiful Easter day!  Our little Lutheran church was full today - people with their families and guests, lots of Easter lilies adorned the altar, and we even had a choir singing.  Pastor Nancy reminded us about the Good News of Easter and Jesus' words, "Do not be afraid," that God is with us, words that we can remember when fears overwhelm us.  Happy Easter!

Then after my Easter nap, we headed down to the beach to see how it looked up close and to see what kind of driftwood had collected over the winter.  We needed our winter boots to get through the snow leading to the beach.  It was kind of a jumbled up mess, but a few interesting pieces revealed themselves.  

 And there were some REALLY nice larger pieces like those below--great for garden art!  I don't know the specifics, but I think there is some law about removing items from beaches like this.  Lucky for us we don't have a larger vehicle.  Keeps us out of trouble!

Then we walked way out on the pier.  We realized that we don't usually walk out to the very end of the pier.  Somehow it seems a little more secure when one side still has ice out to the end and the other side--the channel side--was calm and clear as glass.  And it wasn't windy.  It was even a little eerie for that big lake to be so calm, punctuated only with a chunk of ice here and there and some ducks.  Here are some pictures.
All the ice that the fishing boat was going through yesterday is gone today.

Facing east, lots of little "icebergs," and a shadow of the fog horn/beacon at the end of the pier.

Cold ducks, and more ice out in the distance.

And this is our new little red squirrel friend who figured out how to leap up to the bird feeder hanging on the window.  May he never find his way into our house!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The ice is out! Spring has sprung! Eggs are done!

Saturday morning in Port Wing and a big event of the day is to go to The Dump.  The Dump used to be an actual "dump" where people brought garbage and just tossed it on a smoldering smoky heap of trash.  The added fun of that situation was being able to drive by the Dump in the evenings and watch the bears paw through the trash.  Great entertainment for my two little girls!

But then society progressed, environmental concerns arose, and now The Dump is a trash transfer station, gated, with dumpsters for trash and recycling.  It's open on Saturdays from 9-2 in the winter with some added times in the summer on Wednesdays from 4-7pm.  And it's harder for the bears now, although they do still challenge the person in charge to keep finding ways to keep them out of the dumpster containers.

So, today was Dump day, and on the way back from the Dump, we headed over to the marina area for our daily trip to see Lake Superior.  And the lake was open...the ice was gone!  Well, most of it; there were still some ice floes bumping around out there.  It was a solid sheet of white yesterday and today it's just gone.  We don't know if it sunk or if it just blew into the middle of the lake.  Bottom's gone!

And later this afternoon we went back down and the commercial fishing boats were out of the docks where they had been packed in with ice all winter!  One, the Julie Ann, had plowed through the ice chunks to get all the way out of the channel into Lake Superior, but and when we saw it, they were coming back in but a little to the west to break up the ice a little more.

 The other one, named Judy, was moving around closer in to the marina, probably also to break up the ice so going would be easier when they try to go out again. Now it really feels like spring is here!

And finally, I just had to try the onion-skin egg-dying from my blog yesterday.  They don't look as nice as Ingabritt's, but I think we have tweaked my process for a more successful attempt the next time. Ours are more brown than red but I think I should have had more red onions.  As it was I used our last two red onions from our garden last summer.  Also, I should have pulled the hose tighter around the egg to hold the leaves closer to the eggs.  And, they were store-bought eggs, but I think I should have washed them first because the dye didn't stick in places.  But it was fun to try and it smelled really good with the onions and vinegar.  And here they are:
Happy Easter!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday & coloring eggs, Greek style

Yesterday my Swedish blogger cousin, Ingabritt, who lives in Greece, blogged about a Maundy Thursday egg-dying tradition she has acquired from her husband's family and the area of Greece where she lives.  It begins with the 50 eggs her mother-in-law delivered to her house. (The number is important when you see what all she did to them.)

Tools needed are the eggs, cleaned if necessary, old pantyhose, wire, scissors, and a bunch of small green leaves that she picked in the park.

Next you need a bunch of outer skins from some onions:

Then you make a little egg package by cutting a piece of the pantyhose, tie up one end with the wire, slip in the egg, slip in a little section of leaves, and wire up the other end of the egg package.  And she did that with 50 eggs!  Sounds like an excellent "being in the moment" activity!

Next put a layer of eggs in a large pot, fill it with water so the eggs are covered, add vinegar (sorry, I don't know how much), add a bunch of onion skins, and boil them for 20 minutes.  And guess what color they will be!!  I was surprised!

Aren't they beautiful?? And look at those delicate little leaves!  I commented on her blog that I had never seen doing it with those leaves, and any of my previous attempts at using natural dyes never turned out this vivid.  She said she had lived in Greece many years before she tried this and now can't imagine doing it with commercial colors.  Now they will each bring an egg with them to church for the Easter Vigil and when the resurrection is proclaimed, partake in the eggs.

I was thinking I wanted to try this.  And then I realized we didn't have any green leaves outside, but Leann said we could use some leaves from our inside plants, perhaps even my Swedish ivy!

Since my girls are older now it's been a few years since I have dyed Easter eggs, but it was always a Good Friday activity in the afternoon after church.  The method used to dye them always changed from year to year--boiling the eggs, blowing the insides out, writing on them with a white crayon revealing words when it's dyed, the feeble attempts at natural dyes, and decorating them with whatever fun stuff came with the egg dyes.  But like making jack-o-lanterns for Halloween, it was always an activity I looked forward to, no matter what age I was.

And that reminded me of some slides I had digitized a while back.  Below you can see me and my Aunt Corrine Swanson in 1962 dying Easter eggs with our Paas egg colors.  And look at the shirt I was wearing - Port Wing!  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A great day for snow-men, but only snow-wimps stay home!

Our three inches of snow last night compounded and multiplied overnight, blew around like crazy, and left us with a 6 inch covering and lots of drifts a foot deep or more.  My original inclination was to just let it melt--the temps were supposed to be high enough that it would.  Then I found out that Leann was coming home from Rochester today so I had to do something with those drifts right outside the garage.
Time to get out the snow blower!
It was so wet and so deep where the drifts were, I just had to power through to get it cleared off.

And then I was going to wait for the town plow to come and do the rest.  And they didn't come.  Turns out, when it's this far into spring, they don't like to do driveways like ours because they aren't frozen anymore and it's a good chance they will just tear it all up.  So...they are also relying on my original plan, to let it melt.

But Leann was coming home and I had a meeting to go to.  All I could see from the house was a sea of white, so I decided to check out the situation by walking out to the mailbox.  The mail was there, the roads were all cleared off. It was time for me to quit being a snow-wimp and just drive out...just do it.  And it was no problem at all!  I drove in and out several times so it would be easier for Leann with the lower car.  Then I left for my meeting, almost on time.  

No snow-wimps here!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Second grade reading, Mayo Brothers, cancer fighter/survivors, and...oh, yeah, snow

This is going to be kind of a ramble, so buckle up and put on your boots because there will be snow at the end.

Back in second grade in Glenwood City, Wisconsin, with Mrs. Bonte as my teacher, our classroom library (that's all we had back then) contained some biographies of famous people.  As I remember, they were "chapter books" which meant few pictures, lots of text, and I either chose to or was told to read a couple of them.

The first one was about George Washington and I think that was kind of a struggle because I don't remember much except the cherry tree...really, it was in there.  Another one was about Civil War nurse Clara Barton and I must have been impressed, because I've been interested in her ever since.  But one that really got my attention was about the Mayo Brothers who founded the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. I think I've been imprinted on that place and hearing about it as the go-to place for extreme medical situations since reading that book.

Well, now we are in the midst of some actual personal experience with Mayo Clinic.  Recently I wrote about Leann's sister, Kristi, and the recurrence of her colon cancer.  The three sisters--Kristi, Leann and Sandy--all went to Rochester for her diagnostic tests and consultation appointments with oncologists and surgeons.  Who knew that there could be such highs and lows in a short 24-hour period of time?!

Without going into too much detail, there were immediately surprises that only showed up on Mayo's more sophisticated equipment (which brings up all kinds of questions about local medical care).  The first consultation was with the oncologist and he filled them with all kinds of hope and possibilities; the second consultation was with the surgeon and...not so much.  And as with all things human and choosing which extreme--positive or negative--gets our attention, the power right away went toward what the surgeon said.  And I'm sure the oncologist would say his words and expertise should have some power, too.

And that brings me to the next phase of my ramble, to my friend, Rev. John-Robert McFarland, whom I will say more about in the future when I feature him in my "Spotlight on Blogs" for his Christ in Winter blog.  For now I go to him once in a while for his thoughts as an almost 25-year colon cancer survivor--and survivor of spending a tumultuous year back in 1991 being in a chemo drug trial which he talks about in his book, Now that I Have Cancer, I Am Whole.  (It's a great book whether one is experiencing cancer or not!)

When Kristi first had this setback a couple weeks ago, I emailed him and his thoughts back to me advised learning to take every day one-moment-at-a-time, which is not always easy when the stakes--and the hurdles--are so high.  But today he said that even in the midst of chaos (like that which is going on in our heads right now), there is always a moment of grace, a chance to say thanks, like the encouragement of the oncologist with his knowledge and experience with chemo, the support of two caring sisters, and the smile of a little guy at home who thinks he has the best Mom in "the whole, entire world."

So my Miracle Mayo Brothers haven't giving us a cure just yet, but perhaps they have opened the door to a whole new way for all of us to look at how we spend our days, what we give our power to, and noticing our moments of grace.

And now my promise of snow--not sure it's a moment of grace though.  I'll have to get back to you on that, but here is my snow progress stick and the view in our front yard.  They forecasted 6-12 inches today...maybe the good news here is that we only have about three inches so far...

That's down to 13 inches at the line.