It can only happen to us …

Tonight we decided to take a short drive to the local hardware/farm store to look at utility trailers. We had just finished dinner at a local restaurant and thought we should make a little more use of a lovely day. When we arrived, the gates were wide open. We drove in and went to the area where there were several rows of various kinds of utility trailers. Windows down, we slowly drove from one row to another, while discussing the virtues of the various models. trailer

After about twenty minutes or so, we had finished our tour so we headed for the gate. But guess what? The gate was locked and there was no one in sight. We drove back into the lot and looked for other exits. All locked. We went back to the entrance gate and sat for a few minutes, trying to decide the solution to our predicament.

After a few minutes, we called 911 to get the local Sheriff’s office dispatcher. We explained our predicament. The dispatcher said she would call the owners and then call back. She didn’t back. She didn’t need to. Within a couple of minutes, there was someone there unlocking the gate.

Of course, there was a sign on the gate that said they were open to 6:00 pm. We arrived just before that – so we might have known better. In our defense, however, it’s pretty hard to see a sign that is posted on the back side of an open gate.

I’ve been locked out of stores before but I’ve never been locked in. I guess there is a first time for everything.

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Thanks for reading.

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The end of the beginning …

logoThis past week, after several months of preparation, our class reunion group released information about our upcoming 50th class reunion – which will be held next year – Sept. 16-18, 2016. The coordinated release including a mailing (with all event information), an email blast and the launch of our web site. Interestingly, All of this was released so our classmates received the information exactly one year ahead of the event.

Our group of reunion minions has been meeting and working on this since the beginning of this year. We’ve been averaging about 15 people at each meeting – with the meetings last up to 3-4 hours. By the time the actual reuniominionsn events arrive, many of us on the committee will be fully reunited – but that just gives us more time to talk to others!! I will say, however, that our meetings are a bit like herding cats. We just have so much to talk about so it’s hard to stay on task.

One thing we have done is form an executive committee to handle the basics tasks – setting up a checking account, securing a location, etc. That group meets just before the full group meeting or often we just meet by email. There are many details that need to be handled.

Luckily, one of our classmates is a master designer. He put together a reunion plan book that covers every possible element of the reunion events. The plan helped structure our group meetings and get things on track. We’ve planned events for the three-day weekend, including  a meet-and-great where we are inviting anyone who wants to attend. We’re hoping that some teachers and bus drivers, along with numerous classmates from all years, will attend. On Saturday evening, we’re having a dinner with a short, fun program; the dinner is for 1966 classmates and guests. During the day on Saturday, we have a golf tournament and a tour of our town, including all places known to us as kids. The final day, Sunday, includes a brunch. Other fun things are also planned. To see all of what is planned, you can take a peak at our amazing web site HERE In my opinion, this is our piece de resistance! It includes photos of classmates, their families, school days, past reunions, and more. And it’s not finished! We continue to add features and will likely keep doing that until the reunion – and perhaps even after the reunion. It’s a great way for classmates to keep in touch. Scan0071

All of this planning has been a lot of fun and I expect that fun will continue. However, planning for this event does make one stop and think about what is ahead of us. There is no doubt that the years ahead of us will be less than the years behind us. Let’s face it – we are reaching old age. But, because we’ve reached old age, it gives us a very unique opportunity to talk to our classmates about life in the larger sense – with folks that we knew from when we were all starting out in life. Now, instead of passing notes in class, we can pass them electronically (by email). We can have that big grownup life discussion in a comfortable way with old friends. And as we all know, there’s no friends like old friends – and we’re old friends, especially when most of us met in kindergarten or first grade.

The friendships that are rekindled through this reunion process will likely continue for the rest of our remaining time. I, for one, am looking forward to it and am most grateful we have this opportunity.

So, our release of the information about our event is the end of the work to establish the event – the end of the beginning. Now we are working to reach the end – the reunion events. In all likehood, however, the reunion events will be a new beginning for a lot of rekindled friendships.

Thanks for reading!!

Getting my life back … being able to hear again.

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For quite some time, it has been apparent that I needed new hearing aids. Mine were at least five years old and even though I was getting very weary of not being able to hear, I just dreaded getting new ones – mostly because of the cost. It’s not good to put it off, though. It requires a lot of energy to have to listen so intently. That’s also why a lot of people withdraw – they simply get tired of asking people to repeat things or – worse yet — people having conversations and acting that like you are not even there because they assume you can’t hear them anyway. I’ve also read articles that discount the need for hearing aids for older folks because they don’t need to hear. Yes, you read that correctly. Evidently they are assuming that older folks don’t need to fully participate in life. Well, they are wrong!! They need to hear, especially for one of the most important things in the world — their grandchildren!! Just check around on the internet and you will also see many articles about high suicide rates for seniors – in part caused by depression and feelings of isolation. Not being able to hear contributes to depression, feeling isolated and wanting to withdraw – or worse.

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Incredibly delicious prime rib at Weiderholt’s Supper Club.

So, what to do. As many things in my life, the answer was presented to me. A few weeks ago, we were having dinner with friends at Weiderholt’s Supper Club ( http://www.wiederholtssupperclub.com/). My hearing aids were particularly poor that night, so I asked if anyone had done any research on hearing aids. To my surprise, they had and proceeded to tell me about their latest very favorable experience getting hearing aids at Costco!!  About two weeks later, after some particularly frustrating days trying to hear at meetings, I decided to make an appointment and see what Costco’s program was all about.

I was able to get an appointment just one week later. The hearing aid center is in the far back corner of the Coon Rapids Costco – just a small area carved out among tall stacks of items for sale. After an hour and a half of testing my ears, it was determined that my right ear – which was damaged by a severe infection that left an opening directly into the ear drum, does not hear volume – in other words, the sound needs to be quite loud for me to hear it. Surprisingly, once the sound is at a volume I can hear, it is relatively clear. The left ear – my supposedly good ear — can hear volume better but the sound is quite distorted. The reason for the distortion is not clear – perhaps damage caused by MANY ear infections. Next, the technician fitted me with ‘test hearng aids’ – sample hearing aids that were programmed according to my specific needs. She then sent me out on the store floor – to test the aids. That was an amazing trip. First, I could hear the noise from fans, and paper crunching, and people shuffling their feet. I talked to some of the staff – who had managed to catch a little yellow finch that flew into the store. i talked to people and opened refrigerator doors. When I went back to the hearing aid area, my first comment was:”Is it always this noisy in here?” The staff just laughed.

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My hearing aids are beige but you can get them in many fun colors.

Next we set about the process for ordering new hearing aids. I was a little anxious – anticipating the cost. The last ones were about $6000. And remember – I need the premium version because my hearing is so bad. Then she gave me the price for both – $1800. I thought I was going to jump for joy. I asked about the cost of insurance (previously $250 a year for each ear). There is no cost for insurance. Each hearing aid can be replaced once at no cost within a two-year period from the date of purchase. Also, the hearing aid batteries are much less expensive. But then she mentioned that I may want to consider a different end piece (the part that goes in your ear) because the others tend to push out of my ear channel. The cost – or at least what I thought she said – $3999. I thought I was going to pass out. But, remember, I was wearing my old hearing aids. What she really said was $39.99. Much better – and my heart stopped pounding!!

The hearing aids arrived one week later – so the whole process took two weeks. And it’s like a new world. Not perfect – because nothing can fix that distortion – but I can hear much better and the cost was much more reasonable than before. I can even talk on my cellphone hands free because the sound is conveyed to both ears through wireless technology. Before, I could barely hear on a cell phone. Best of all – I can hear the background music while listening to the 50’s and 60’s Sirius channels on my car radio. Traffic – what traffic??? I just relax and listen.

And, finally, just so we’re clear – in no way did Costco ask me to tell this story. I just felt it was a story that needs to be told – in case it can help someone else hear again.

Thanks for reading this post!!

How about a like? …

Over the past few days, I’ve received a few comments/questions about how to like the posts. To use the like button on a WordPress post (this page), you must be logged into WordPress.com. You can also use the features on Facebook or Twitter. If you register with WordPress, you will have access to many, many wonderful blogs.

Thanks for reading my post! I hope you continue !!  Here’s your bonus for reading this – a TBT post of me, years ago, ready to go to the prom. Enjoy!!

Me at prom

Eating a haystack …

In the last few weeks, we have been taking short drives, looking for Amish farms where they sell goods. 022

Just recently we saw an ad in the local paper for an Amish fundraiser – held the 2nd Friday of each month at the Borgholm Town Hall – where they raise money for their school by serving Amish haystacks. We had to give it a try.

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When we arrived, the parking lot was about half-full. As we got out of the car, about twenty kids went running by. laughing and chasing one another – dressed in nicely pressed solid-colored dresses (and bonnets) for the girls and a solid-color shirt and black pants for the boys. The weather was on the cool side – 60 to 65 – but that didn’t see to bother the children, many of whom were barefoot.   103a

As we entered the building, before us were tables in a U-shape, piled full of food.The Amish women and older girls, wearing long solid color dresses and aprons with white bonnets, were lined up behind the tables, some filling the food containers, some doing dishes. While we were there, the women stayed behind the tables. The Amish men and older boys, wearing solid color shirts and hand-made black trousers, bused the tables and kept our coffee and water full.

One of the Amish men instructed us to take a plate, take as much as we want, and eat what we take – all in a friendly manner. To make a haystack, you start with either mashed potatoes or diced potatoes; then add whatever you like – hamburger, cubed ham, onions,  lettuce, carrots, various salad-type fixings, and then you cover it with a cheese sauce – which turned out to be delicious. One thing we learned – you put the potatoes in the middle of the plate – not on the side like we did – to build a bigger, better haystack. Of course, they were also serving dessert – many types of bars and home-made ice cream104.

As we ate, the Amish men checked often to see how we were doing. They were very friendly and, when we asked, they explained that they came to the area from Iowa and Missouri. As we ate, more and more people arrived and soon the line went well out the door. Before we could leave, however, we had to stop at the baked goods table and buy a loaf of bread and a container of chocolate covered cashew crunch – the bread for my husband, the candy for me. It was delicious. Do you see why we have been looking for Amish farms? I think we found the farm where they sell that candy! We are planning a visit to that farm and are going back next month to work on our haystack-building skills. I can’t wait!

A morning with veterans …

Last week I spent the morning taking my brother to his check-up at the Veterans Affairs facility in St. Cloud, Minnesota. First, he was scheduled to have blood work done at 7:30 am – so we left for his appointment before 6:30 am that morning. We arrived a little early so he decided to go to the appointment a little early; I decided to stay outside, sitting in my vehicle, with windows down and a warm summer breeze flowing through the car — and, of course, a cup of coffee in my hand.

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Veterans facility in St. Cloud

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Walking path …

There has been a lot of conversation about the poor treatment of veterans at such facilities. What I experienced, however, was much different. Of course, I wasn’t experiencing the inner workings of the facility – just observing the people at the facility. I saw employees walking to the facility, smiling, talking and greeting one another or those walking on the path, engaged in lively conversations. I didn’t see anyone who looked even remotely crabby. And, of course, there were many veterans arriving for services. They all greeted one another – occasionally stopping for a short conversation.

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Love the prices!

About 8:15 am, my brother returned to the car. HIs next appointment wasn’t until 9:00 am so we left for a quick breakfast at a local restaurant that serves everyday food.   After a good breakfast with fast and friendly service, we headed back to the VA facility.

I again chose to sit in the car and work on identifying ideas for blog posts. It didn’t take long and the idea for this blog presented itself. I started watching workers who were cutting down a tree and grinding up the branches (I’m always fascinated by machinery.)

007 Within minutes, a red pickup backed up, next to my car, and a slim gentleman, with white hair held  in a ponytail, jumped out. He approached the workers and minutes later they happily loaded two large pieces of the tree trunk into his truck and then went back to their business.

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Obviously an older tree – lots of growth rings.

The man from the truck saw me watching and came over to my car. He explained that he carves bowls and other such items from wood and the wood that they loaded was black walnut – a premium wood for carving. He was very happy and excited to get the wood. We talked more and he told me he was a Viet Nam veteran who had been coming to this facility since 1990. Having observed the friendly environment, I asked him what he thought of the facility. He stated that the services at the facility, which in his early years there were quite unsatisfactory, have steadily improved. He explained that the workers now are enthusiastic and care about the veterans, something not always experienced in the past. He also commented that they are doing a much better job in caring for the physical environment – so it looks like they care about the place.

I was hoping I could buy some of the bowls he makes but I will have to wait. He said his health prevents him from working a lot of the time so I should check next summer. Then he realized he was a bit late for his appointment but he was sure they would understand when he explained he just had been talking to the Planning Director from the City of Anoka. Haha – I doubt they would be impressed with that, but, given the friendly atmosphere, I’m quite sure they forgave him for being late.

And, by the way, my brother is fine.