Saturday, November 30, 2013

Sing a New Song

Today was Small Business Saturday and I was privileged to enter many small retail businesses and eateries in our picturesque and historic downtown's retail district.  I am a caroler.  For the past several years, I have strolled with a group of singers, meandering in and out of our downtown establishments, singing holiday music and hopefully adding some holiday cheer to the shoppers' experience.  Annie, our organizer, makes it a fun adventure and Nancy, our music librarian, added to the merriment by selecting some new music for us this year.  Consequently, in addition to our familiar selections, we got to sing some new songs today.  Whether singing new or old songs, it was fun to be part of Small Business Saturday and perhaps contribute in my own some small way to their efforts to help our community thrive, create jobs and boost our local economy.  If you don't normally shop in small businesses, now's the time for a new song.  Shop small and you'll contribute to the preservation of your local retail district and community. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

An Un-Christmas Party

While others were out searching for Black Friday deals this morning, I was at an Un-Christmas Party.  My creative friend Kitty invited me to her home to a party designed for just the two of us:  To watch "White Christmas" and sing along at the top of our voices.  Any excuse to get together with Kitty is a good one, for she is a dear and amazing friend.  But being a fan of "White Christmas" made the invitation all the better.  We climbed into our recliners, bowl of popcorn and apples at hand and tuned in to the magic of "White Christmas."  I thought I knew the lyrics to all of the songs, but Kitty outshone me with her ability to remember every word of even the lesser known pieces.  Periodically throughout the movie, one of us would comment about Danny Kaye's lithe and limber form, Vera-Ellen's dancing abilities, Rosemary Clooney's silky voice and sparkling blue eyes, the enchanting atmosphere of the inn, the beautiful red dresses worn in the last scene, and the crooner himself, Bing Crosby's ability to make us tear up when he sang "Count Your Blessings" and "White Christmas."  The grass may have still been green outside and the sun shining brightly, but inside, Kitty and I were snuggled up singing "Snow," while waiting for a White Christmas.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Now Thank We

A recent Facebook post included a quote attributed to Henry David Thoreau: "I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual...."  On this Thanksgiving, I am devoting quiet time to reflecting on all that I am blessed to have.  We live in a world of constantly wanting more, but on this day, I am content with who I am and what I have.  Like Thoreau, my thanksgiving is perpetual.  Today, I think of my loving husband Larry, my family and my friends, my work and my recreation, my writing and my reading, my warm home and my full refrigerator.  I have everything I need and more than I could want.  As we gather around the table today, may our prayer be that our thanksgiving be perpetual.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Cat Named Courage

I recently met a cat named Courage.  His human companion told me that the cat normally was fearful when strangers came around and would immediately run and hide.  For some reason that day, Courage and I hit it off.  He stayed put in his little kitty bed and allowed me to pet him and scratch him under his chin. He never once ran away to hide.  Instead, he seemed content and curious at the same time, comfortable enough with me to stay put, stretch out and take me in.  Courage the cat got me to questioning the depth of my own courage.  When confronted with something new, do I usually run and hide or do I see it for what it is and allow myself to become comfortable with it?  We all have opportunities to look fear in the eye and display our own courage.  I think of the many wonderful people in my life who do so with grace and dignity, and I realize how much I want to display those same characteristics.  So, on this day, I will take a lesson from Courage the cat and see newness and change as the opportunities they really are.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Altarations

I love to putter around with our home d├ęcor, but I wouldn't call myself necessarily very artistic or imaginative when it comes to putting together arrangements.  However, I recently found myself volunteering to help prepare our church sanctuary's chancel for Thanksgiving.  My good friend Donna is highly creative.  Everything she touches seems to become just that much more beautiful.  She came loaded with a carload of natural items, baskets, pottery, root vegetables and dried wheat.  My other good friends Gloria, Alice and Judy also came laden with items.  I brought along my own additions.  Together, under the guidance of Donna's artistic eye and gentle approach, we created what I believe was a bountiful and beautiful chancel scene of Thanksgiving.  It was only to be enjoyed for one day, for next weekend, the scene will change and we will decorate the church for the Christmas season.  But, for me, that one day was the stuff of which memories make, working alongside wonderful women in my life, tangibly creating a spirit of Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Quiet Time

My life tends to be quite busy these days and I am grateful for the opportunity to enjoy such busyness.  Whether it be my employment, my freelancing career, my volunteer work or my time with Larry and friends, my to-do list is usually quite extensive, longer than I should try to pack into a single day.  However, the other afternoon, I had the opportunity to carve out important time to sit quietly with a friend who had recently come home from the hospital.  Our quiet time together was intended to help my friend, but in reality, it was even more beneficial to me.  It was during those moments of silence, that precious time to be (for which I named my blog), that I truly focused on the present, relaxed my thoughts and refreshed my mind, body and soul.  During this season of giving, perhaps one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is quiet time, time to simply be.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Chilled to the Bone

With words like artic air being tossed around by the meteorologists, I thought I was prepared for our frigid temperatures yesterday, but the blast of cold air still surprised me as I set out the door at 8:00 a.m.  The sun was deceivingly bright, making me think that the day would be warmer than it was.  By the afternoon, I decided that, despite the 19-degree high temperature, I would take a walk.  I bundled up in my full-length down coat, donned a hat under my coat's hood, added a scarf and gloves for good measure, and ventured out to the public library to return a book.  Although I was completely covered from head to toe (to the point where my glasses fogged up), I was still chilled to the bone.  The wind blew me around a bit.  The soles of my tennis shoes tapped as they touched the cold sidewalks.  As my walk continued, however, I warmed up, appreciating the bracing air, the sunshine, the female cardinal I saw in a tree and the opportunity to get outside to refresh my lungs and my perspective.  By the time I returned home, I had nearly all but forgotten that the temperature was so low, for along the way, my outdoor adventure had fed my spirit and warmed my soul.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thankful Day and Night

Several months ago, I started a new ritual of listing three blessings in my life upon waking and three more blessings before falling asleep at night.  Bookending my day with gratitude by thinking of the good that awaits me and that took place during my waking hours has proven to be a valuable exercise for me. When I begin and end my day in a state of gratitude, it frames my way of thinking for all of my other waking hours. My outlook on life is more optimistic.  Even my sleep is more restful.  As the old song goes, I count my blessings instead of sheep, and I've found that I have so many blessings I can barely count them.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Not-So-Dreary November Morn

It started out overcast, dreary, chilly and breezy, but the November Saturday morning was perfect for a walk with my friend Mo, for Mo is a person who radiates warmth and sunshine.  She and I don't see each other as often as I'd like, but when we do get together, our conversations cover the gamut of interesting topics, laced with laughter. That morning, we decided to talk and walk around Devil's Lake.  The autumn color was gone, but the bluffs towering around us were dotted with grayish-pink boulders, tall evergreens and stubborn oaks that had retained their rusty-brown leaves. Despite the breeze, the lake was remarkably placid.  We ran into a few other hearty walkers, but otherwise, the lake was ours.  As we walked, the sun started to poke out through the cloud cover and I decided that it had to be because of Mo.  She is a sunshiny type of person who has a giving heart and an adventurous spirit.  Mo is a person who sees possibilities and opportunities, joy and excitement, even on a dreary November morn. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Raising our Forks for Dad

Today was my dad's birthday.  Had he not died in 1984, he would have turned 95 years old today.  Although he's been gone for decades, without fail, we have continued to celebrate his birthday every year.  Dad favored a birthday pie over birthday cake, so Larry and I will have a slice of pie at a local restaurant tonight in his honor.  Dad particularly liked pumpkin, cherry, chocolate cream, coconut cream and lemon meringue, so we will select a slice among his favorites and raise our forks in honor of him.  Larry didn't come into my life until nearly a decade after Dad died, yet I see so many similarities between them. I daydream on days such as this of what a typical conversation might have been between them.  I daydream of laughter, serious discussion, intellectual bantering and really hitting it off.  Both Larry and Dad shared introspective personalities, a high degree of intelligence and an off-the-wall sense of humor.  Both Larry and Dad shared a faithfulness and steadfastness that make one feel safe and secure.  Both appreciated independent thinking and the adventures of self-employment.  So, tonight, as I raise my fork in remembrance of Dad, I will also raise my fork to the wonderful man across the booth from me, my loving husband Larry.  I know Dad would approve.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Crafty

My friend Ellen and her neighbors hosted an art and craft sale one recent Saturday.  When Ellen extended the invitation, I immediately marked my calendar.  Although I have no talents for creating art or crafts, I always enjoy seeing the quality work of others.  Such was the case that day when I saw Anita's fine jewelry, Ellen's quilted and sewn items and the handiwork of others whose talents abounded.  I ended up buying a Christmas gift for a dear friend and a little gift for myself. I just couldn't leave without one of Anita's beautiful tree pins.  Made of meticulously wound silver wire and artfully placed ice-blue beads, the pin formed a delicate deciduous tree.  I am fascinated by trees, as was my mom.  Among her pieces of nature jewelry was a bronze-tone evergreen pin that will be getting a lot of wear now that we're approaching winter and the holidays.  But, the deciduous tree pin will receive equal wear, for its loveliness reminds me of the artist-friend who made it.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tradition!

We're reaching that time of year when traditions seem to hold more meaning than at other times of the year.  Thanksgiving rituals seem to include hunting at dawn, preparing the turkey feast and gathering around the television for parades and football games.  One tends to expect turkey and dressing, green bean casserole made with soup and French-fried onions, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie.  My immediate family was small, our holidays were quieter and our traditions were somewhat fluid, unlike the large families I knew that seemed to be bountiful in people, food and ritual whenever holidays rolled around.  In some families, those traditions and rituals seem to have traveled from generation to generation.  I read that the word tradition comes from the Latin word tradere, meaning to transmit or hand over for safekeeping.  In our fast-paced lives filled with rapidly changing technological wonders, it's heartening to know that there is still value in traditions and rituals, that they continue to hold meaning and are important enough to be handed over, like a priceless treasure, to the next generation for safekeeping.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Power of the Prosaic

I think it's a human tendency to measure our lives by the momentous occasions -- births, deaths, weddings, promotions, re-locations, vacations retirements.  But, I'm beginning to understand that the true measure of the value of my life is in the prosaic moments, those ordinary, commonplace experiences that seem to be gone in the blink of an eye, often going rather unnoticed, yet significant nonetheless.  The lesson is to see those so-called prosaic moments for the extraordinary occasions they truly are.  Every day, the sun comes up and every night, it sets, but do I take the time to really see and experience them every single day and evening?  A smile that someone gives to me or the squeeze that someone gives my hand may seem fleeting and insignificant, but to me, they can mean everything between feeling alone and feeling supported.  Paying attention to those everyday moments, adding them up and reflecting on them gives them the importance they deserve.  For in the end, it is those ordinary, prosaic moments that weave together to become the fabric of our lives well lived.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Unexpected Gifts

Two Fridays in a row, I have ended my work week in unexpected and appreciated ways.  Both times, I've visited a local storekeeper who has showered me with a hug one week and a bonus item in my bag the next.  Although to the shopkeeper, the gestures may have been small, to me they were huge expressions of grace and caring.  It got me to thinking about how I might provide such unexpected gifts to others.  When we give of ourselves, even in the smallest of ways, the difference can be immeasurable to the receiving party.  The generous, compassionate storeowner has given me more than a hug and a bonus item.  The shopkeeper's gift has given me every reason to pay it forward.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Star Bright

The evening sky always used to captivate my parents' attention.  Growing up in the country, there were no city lights to obstruct our view of the celestial nuances.  Although as a child I seemed to take that spectacular view for granted, as the years go by, I am increasingly interested in the night sky.  The other evening, Larry and I happened to be outdoors when, all of a sudden, we both stood still and looked up at the wide expanse of blackness, dotted with many bright and twinkling stars.  It was a sacred moment, together in our silence, observing the sky. Then, the next night, I found myself standing in the darkened kitchen gazing out the window.  It was late and I should have been sound asleep by then, but I'd gotten lost in the hours of writing and reading.  I let myself stand there for a while and I instantly felt a connection to my parents.  Whenever I can't sleep (which fortunately isn't very often), watching the night sky from any available window is my best antidote.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Padding the Path

The red and yellow maple leaves crunched underfoot as they swirled around and fell in front of me.   The pine needles created a thick blanket that swished and squished as I walked over it.  No matter where I walked recently, the way was covered with red and yellow leaves and orange needles. Tis another sign of late fall.  I admit that I love the sounds of the leaves and needles as I walk over them.  The swishing, crunching and squishing take me back to when I was in kindergarten.  My mom and I lived with my maternal grandparents for three months before joining my father for his lecture tour and finishing my school year tutored by my parents.  During those three months with Grandpa and Grandma, I would walk home from McKinley Elementary School, searching out every pile of leaves I could find.  It's quite fine with me for my path to be padded, for no matter my age, I still seek out those piles of leaves, simply to hear their great sound under my feet.  This fall, I'll shed the adult responsibilities and worries once again and become my five-year-old self.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sky Blue Pink

I should have been doing something productive, but instead I sat perched on the floor, watching the sun set.  The sky was pink on the southern horizon and I just couldn't attend to anything but the beauty of that November sky.  The silhouette of a bare tree, dotted with fat squirrel nests throughout its canopy, was my only obstruction from a complete view of that magnificent sky.  My mom used to refer to "sky blue pink," as a tongue-in-cheek color description.  I wonder if that phrase came about because of a sky like the one I was viewing. Sunsets are always beautiful, if we only take the time to enjoy them, but a late fall/winter sunset is especially beautiful, perhaps because I crave color in the midst of the starkness.  Suddenly, I was jarred from my pink sky view and rose-colored glasses reverie when the alarm on our stove went off.  Though a reminder of the realities of fixing dinner, I kept one eye on the brilliance of nature's sky palate until the sun went down. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Produce Woes

I stare into the open refrigerator and what looks back at me looks somewhat sad.  After months and months of enjoying mounds of fresh produce grown locally and purchased at our farmer's market, the market is now closed for the season.  On the last Saturday of the market a couple of weeks ago, I stocked up on everything I could gather into my cloth shopping bags and stuffed them into the refrigerator.  Over the past couple of weeks, we've gone through the broccoli, the Brussels sprouts, green beans, the zucchini, tomatoes, green bell peppers and most of the cabbage.  A few sweet potatoes, onions, garlic cloves, carrots, blue potatoes and acorn squash remain, but their supply is running low.  If only I had frozen some of the produce or learned how to preserve it through canning. I'll have to head out to Ski-Hi Fruit Farm to stock up on more squash and onions.   I just can't let go of the blessing of nature's bounty that comes with the growing season, but soon, I'll have to give in to frozen, canned versions until the next growing season comes around.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

First Snow

Although I'd heard the forecast, I was still surprised to open the curtains yesterday morning to see it snowing.  Big, fluffy flakes filled the sky, sticking to the grass and the trees as they fell.  I wasn't sure if I was ready for the first real snow of the season, but it arrived without asking me, so I figured I might as well embrace it.  By lunchtime, the snow had subsided.  However, it left a light blanket of white on nearly every surface except for the streets.  Although I'm a warm-weather person, I have to admit that I felt the romance of this first snow.  Everything was clean and pure and silent.  The snow made me start thinking about the holidays.  I wanted to sing Christmas music.  I could see myself tucked under my quilt from Kitty, leisurely taking a book from the stack I'd checked out from the public library, reading until a nap would take over.  In a few days, the temperature is supposed to soar back to around 50.  The snow will melt and the romance will be gone, if only temporarily until the first really big snow arrives.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Carrot Heritage

While munching on a delicious, frost-sweetened carrot from the farmer's market recently, I thought of how I have been enjoying carrots with my lunch since I was a little girl.  I really love carrots, especially when they're served raw.  As a grade school-age child, I was such a fussy eater that my mom finally gave up trying to make me eat hot lunch and, instead, bought me cute lunch boxes each year to place my half of a peanut butter sandwich, celery and carrot sticks, and fruit.  Try hard as I did to like the meals prepared at school (and I'm sure, now with an adult's perspective, that they were delicious and nutritious), I just couldn't make myself eat them without losing my appetite, so after a discussion between my teacher and my frustrated mother, Mom gave in and packed my lunch with healthy foods that she knew would appeal to me.  If I was really good, I got to have a smear of cheese spread in the curved crevice of the celery sticks.  It's funny how munching on a carrot recently brought back a flood of memories of school lunches from long ago and how carrots are still one of my favorite foods.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Divinity

While at a Halloween party a couple of weekends ago, I noticed some cleverly decorated confections, including some that looked ghosts made of meringue.  As I tasted the mouth-watering sweetness, I thought of the first time I had recognized meringue for all of its goodness.  In my elementary school, which was a very old building, our cafeteria was in the basement.  Periodically, the school would hold a bake sale, featuring cookies, candies and other confections lovingly made by the children's moms.  One such mom made divinity candy, those sweet, delicate white mounds of meringue that melted in your mouth.  That's also where I became familiar with peanut blossom cookies, peanut butter cookies with a chocolate kiss candy smack-dab in the middle of them.  My late mom would verify with a roll of her eyes that I was a picky eater at best when I was young, but anything that came from the bake sales, especially the divinity candy, was enough to satisfy even this very discriminating palate.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Singing Trees and Whispering Winds

I usually associate the sounds of nature with spring and summer, but on one recent walk, I was greeted by two singing trees and whispering winds that made every dry leaf rustle.  As I approached the two trees, I could hear birdsong in growing volume.  All of a sudden, I realized that the birds were tucked inside the leafy canopies of the two side-by-side trees, releasing their voices in chorus.  And loud they were!  They chirped at a fast-paced staccato, darting back and forth and back and forth between the two canopies.  Was it a warning to each other that I, an intruder, was approaching or might it have been a reminder to get home and settled in for the night?  As my walk continued, the wind picked up and the drying leaves that still clung to trees rustled.  In particular, the yellow leaves of the maples glistened in the remaining sunlight, as a few fell and cascaded around me.  I enjoyed the contrast in color with the burning bushes showy in their scarlet and parchment hydrangea tree blossoms looking more settled and subdued.  My late mother always appreciated the nuances of nature.  As I get older, I find myself following suit.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A World of Abundance

I get tired of flipping through the TV channels and seeing yet more shows about hoarding, pawning and accumulating things. In a culture of consumerism and a tendency toward excess, how does one define abundance, genuine abundance?  Such was the topic of last Sunday's church sermon. The message struck a chord with me.  Do I "hoard" out of fear of the future, rather than trusting that my needs will be met?  Do I embrace the abundance of hope, generosity and love in my life?  If I were to lose my possessions, but still have my loved ones and my health, would I feel that my life was abundant?  I dare say that I would.  As I get older, I find that I want to buy, own and be responsible for fewer and fewer things.  There is little that is abundant about life, in my opinion, when one feels possessed by one's possessions. At this time of harvesting and nesting, I am focusing this fall on opening my heart and mind and finding new ways to share the blessings in my life.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Leaf Houses

The swishing of leaves under my feet made my thoughts go back in time recently, all the way back to elementary school when I was about seven or eight years old and the big playground at our old Lyons School held all of the mystery and allure a child could imagine.  The school was perched on a bit of a hill and the playground, vast as it was, included a large field for exercise and play, a playground with myriad equipment and a hill that was perfect for sledding.  In the fall, my little-girl friends and I would build leaf houses on the playground.  The houses were more like architectural layouts of long, low mounds of dried leaves to form the "walls" of the various rooms of our pretend homes.  A good gust of wind would take our home creations away, but a little ingenuity would pull them back together again.  I think of how simple play was in those days.  There were no hand-held devices or scheduled, organized playtimes.  Instead, we used our imaginations and very little else to create hours of fun, like building our own leaf dream houses that tomorrow would blow away.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Playing Outside

When I was a child, I loved to play outside.  That's where the swing was that my dad had made and the sandbox he had crafted.  That's where the weeping willows were, my favorite childhood trees, where I could while away the hours, my imagination taking me to faraway places.  That's where the snow forts could be built or the "houses" made of fall leaves.  To this day, I love to be outside.  So, on a recent Sunday, when my chore list was longer than my arm, I resisted and took to the outdoors instead.  Fortunately, some of my chores were outside jobs: trimming the dead wood from the French lilac, raking the leaves from between the evergreen shrubs and erecting cages to save the burning bushes from becoming deer appetizers in the winter.  But, it was also the perfect afternoon for a walk in town, followed by a walk with Larry at Devil's Lake.  Everyone seemed to be out that afternoon, either doing yard work or taking walks themselves.  Many of them were wearing shorts just one more time.  I'm so grateful for the opportunity to get outside, breathe deeply the fresh air and revel in the warm, sunny autumn sky.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Why Did The Chicken Cross the Road?

I feel as if I've been living and reliving the old saw, "Why did the chicken cross the road?  To get to the other side."  First, Larry and I were on a back road recently when a chicken crossed in front of our car.  A few days later, I was driving along on a road near Devil's Lake when a wild turkey darted out in front of my car, giving me very little, but, thankfully, enough time to brake.  A few evenings later, Larry spotted a deer moments before it would have become a hood ornament on our car. Then of course, there are the myriad squirrels and chipmunks always scurrying across the street or road.  Every single day, I'm crying out "little squirrel!" to some furry creature that seems to taunt me with its middle-of-the-street antics. In the spring, ducks appear to wait until my car comes along before they waddle across. We've even been known to stop for a turtle, a raccoon, a woodchuck and a snake, each attempting to make it across the road.  One truly has to be a defensive driver when it comes to wildlife deciding that it is time to take a hike.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Think Thank Walk

While taking my evening walk after work last Friday, I found myself reflecting on my many blessings with each step.  As my walking picked up speed and the distance of my walk increased, I was soon coming up with one thing after another for which to be grateful.  First, it was my wonderful husband who supports my every adventure.  Then, I thought of my family and friends who enrich my life.  Then, it was the trees I saw that were laden with fat, red berries.  The home I passed by that was receiving some heavy restoration for an eager family. The neighbors in our small town that are so dear.  The work I do that is meaningful to me.  The good health I have the pleasure of experiencing.  The list of blessings went on and on.  When I fired up my laptop upon my return, I found that some Facebook friends were using November to post an expression of gratitude each day.  It was fun to read the first installments of these daily expressions from people with diverse experiences and perspectives.  If we spent our days steeped in gratitude, whether while thinking or walking or talking with another person, our days would be so filled with joy that there would be little time for a complaint or worry.  When we recognize all that we have, the need for more seems pretty pointless, and for that I'm grateful.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Changing of the Clocks

Daylight Savings Time officially ended today and, as usual, I'm grieving the loss of light, yet ready to cocoon.  Next to my reading chair are four library books and five magazines.  All I need to do now is to make time to nestle in with them.  But on these last days before -- and even after -- we changed the clocks, I could only find reasons to be outside and soak up that precious daylight.  It didn't matter if the skies were sunny or gray, if the wind picked up, if it drizzled or if the temperature was raw.  All I wanted was to be outside.  And I wasn't disappointed on any of my outside adventures.  The early days of November have a loveliness all of their own.  The air is filled with the heady scent of drying and decaying of vegetation, the sky is expansive and beautiful, a few remaining yellow maple leaves still glisten in the sun, and the birds still sing.  While I will always be a creature that loves the long days that spring and summer offer, the changing of the clocks has ushered in a new time that is filled with blessings, as well, including those four books and five magazines just waiting for me to sit down a spell and enjoy.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Day of Remembrance

One year ago today, our community celebrated the 90th anniversary of the opening of Baraboo's first official hospital, St. Mary's Ringling Hospital.  Much like the dedication of the Ringling Bros. Circus mansion-turned-hospital in 1922, our event last year was filled with joy and remembrance, laced with a little pomp and circumstance.  I awoke today thinking about that anniversary, so I decided to take a long walk this afternoon to the cemetery and to the site of the former St. Mary's Ringling Hospital/Manor/Convent as my own day of remembrance.  While researching our 90th anniversary event last year and the subsequent book I wrote about our local health care history, Healing Presence: A History of Caring, I spent so much time in the past that it was sometimes hard to pull myself back into the present.  Monsignor Edward C. O'Reilly; Sister Mary Liguori O'Toole, FSM; and Mrs. Adella Ringling played pivotal roles in the story of our first hospital.  I once again visited their graves today and "talked" to them.  Then, I headed down Oak Street to visit the sadly dilapidated site of St. Mary's Ringling Hospital/Manor/Convent, with its beautiful grounds all overgrown, the facility's windows boarded up and the overall property anxiously waiting to be torn down and cleaned up and taken out of its misery.  I walked through the grounds that had once been so beautiful, with the breath-taking view of the Baraboo Bluffs to the south.  Then, as I looked up at the brick building, I saw something very special.  Several weeks ago, a friend gave me a stained glass window from St. Mary's Ringling, framed and ready to be hung in our home.  I will cherish it forever. Today, as I looked up at the building, I recognized from where the stained glass had come and, I must admit, the tears flowed.  So much of my late mother's history and, consequently mine, was tied to St. Mary's Ringling.  I continue to pray that something deserving will happen with that property and I so hope that I will get to be part of it.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Flights of Fancy

Larry and I attended the Sauk County Historical Society's annual banquet where we heard historian and author Michael Goc tell about the early days of aviation in Wisconsin.  One aviation pioneer, Nels Nelson, paid a visit to the Sauk County Fair in 1911 with his flying machine.  As I listened to Mr. Goc, I thought of the many times I watch the birds, floating on the currents high in the sky, wondering what it must be like to be so free and to have such a vantage point of things below.  I can only imagine how the Sauk County Fair audience must have felt in 1911 and others in Wisconsin in that era who witnessed those newfangled things called aeroplanes.  What must they have thought as they saw such a huge contraption carrying human beings into the sky, taking flight, just like the birds I watch each evening?  Today, we take such technology for granted, but at one time, Nels Nelson and other aviation pioneers were introducing something unfathomable and thrilling to Wisconsin's rural audiences.  Thanks to them, transportation would never be the same.