Archive | January 2016

Germinated Gardener

I leaned against my bedroom window, soaking in the beauty of a brilliant winter sunrise and wondered when the Mid West had last enjoyed a full day of sunshine. Yesterday was overcast and gray, so was the day before that and the day before that. Seasonal Affective Disorder doesn’t bother me, but after weeks and weeks of minimal sunshine, seeing the jolly face of our giant earth-star rising up in the east certainly made me feel very happy. I contentedly sighed, “The days are getting longer again.”

Despite enjoying sunshine peeking into my house that morning, I knew it was very cold outside. The furnace was running almost constantly. Pulling the living room drapes open, I checked the thermometer outside the north window. It read, ‘Ten degrees below zero’. Nodding, I remembered that the weatherman had said that it would ‘warm up’ to five degrees by noon.

As the morning passed, I went again and again to the windows to admire the sunshine. I wanted to go outside, but even at five degrees above zero, it was too cold to really enjoy being in the backyard. The only hospitable place would be inside my unheated greenhouse. When the sun shines though the plastic, it gets warm. Eyeing the drifts between the house and my greenhouse, I calculated whether the struggle to get there was worth it. It was. Continue reading


Queen of Sheba

The cup of black tea was almost a little too hot to sip. I happily breathed in its fragrant scent and smiled at how the ceramic mug shared its warmth with my chilled hands. Setting the cup down on a table next to my chair, I pulled up the quilt on my legs, so that I could cuddle under its voluminous folds. Outside the living room window snow drifts were casting chilly blue shadows, while towering pine trees appeared more black than green. It was a good day to stay indoors to read.

Picking up my Bible, I opened to where I had left-off the day before from my ‘one page a day’ reading commitment. I Kings, chapter 10 told about the Queen of Sheba paying a visit to King Solomon to test his wisdom of renown. She arrived in Jerusalem with a huge retinue, camels bearing spices, a large amount of gold and precious stones. Continue reading

Hell’s Furnace

I shivered even though the room was warm. Thinking about the furnace had me anxiously rocking back and forth. My daughter Niki, sitting on the sofa next to me, put her hand comfortingly on my shoulder while her husband Mike nodded in compassion. Arnie and I had had an old fashioned marriage. I took care of cooking, cleaning and laundry. He took care of mowing the lawn, keeping the furnace running and fixing anything that broke down. Four days ago my husband of 37 years had unexpectedly died.

If I had died, a few weeks after the funeral when family and friends went back to their lives, Arnie would have merely starved to death in soiled clothing. This was a fate that I considered far less horrible than the one I was facing at the moment. With Arnie gone, I was sentenced to learning the care and maintenance of the wood-pellet-eating beast in the basement. Knowing that it was-right below where I was sitting-made me shiver again!

Most people have furnaces that are turned on and off with the twist of a thermostat dial and only need a heating specialist’s visit once a year to service the equipment. That would have been too simple and easy for my husband. He bought an unusual furnace that few others have in Central Wisconsin. He installed a furnace that required as much hands-on care as a newborn baby. The dirty thing needed to be burped, diapered and potty trained. All I knew about it at that moment was how to pour in the wood pellets. Continue reading

Chicken Steps

Although legally blind, Mom knew me when I walked into the living room. Macular degeneration hadn’t destroyed her peripheral vision. She said, “You shouldn’t have come today. I heard on the radio that the roads are slippery.”

I glanced at the rosary in my 95 year-old mother’s hands and wondered how many times her continual prayers had assisted my six siblings and me through stressful times. Sitting down on a dining room chair across from where she was ensconced in her mauve recliner, I said, “The roads were a little slippery, but I was safe because I drove slowly and didn’t take chances.”

Every Friday I reloaded Mom’s pill box, helped her bathe and did other chores like change the bedding and pay bills. I did this year in and year out. It didn’t matter if I was leaving for a week’s vacation, or that Christmas had been four days earlier and a New Year’s Eve celebration was night after-next. Mom, who lived with my two bachelor brothers in the farmhouse where I had spent my childhood, needed help. Continue reading