Archive | April 2017

Subtle Season

One very cold morning last February, after we’d had a mini blizzard in the night, I found the roads snow-covered as I drove into town. By noon the sky cleared and a small, weakling sun shone down from the pale-blue winter sky. Despite the cold temperatures, I noticed that patches of snow on the blacktop road were melting. I thought with a wry grin on my face, “This is the start of spring.”

Most people would strongly deny that spring was finally returning to our northern ice-blocked land on that February day. Only when the grass is green, the trees have leaves and the temperatures are shirt-sleeve comfortable, is spring generally recognized.

Spring in Wisconsin is very subtle. It arrives slowly. Each stride it makes is the size of a “chicken step”, my Mom’s term to describe how slowly days become longer after the winter solstice. Instead of lengthening the usual three minutes a day, the days in December and January lengthen by only a minute or two. That same slow, but steady progress is the way spring returns to the northern hemisphere. Continue reading


Li’l Miss Kettlehead

The backdoor slammed and I heard my big brother talking to Mom in the kitchen. “The wind has died down, so it would be a good time for me to burn the garbage. We were out of matches the other day. Did you buy some when you were in town?”

Dropping the comic book that I’d been looking at, I ran into the kitchen and exclaimed, “I want to watch you burn things!”

Mom reached into the drawer where the matches were kept and handed the box to my brother. She said, “Watch Kathy so she doesn’t get too close to the fire.”

By the time small flames were beginning to lick at the contents of the bathroom wastepaper basket, two big sisters and another brother joined us for the entertaining spectacle.

Having found a nice, big, sturdy stick so I could poke at things as they burned, I patiently waited for the fire to grow. Empty toilet paper cardboard rolls turned black when the flame touched them. Small orange flames above the blackened areas chewed hungrily until the roll was reduced to nothing but a pile of white ash. Wads of toilet paper that we’d used to blow our noses burst up into flames before disappearing just as quickly. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a wad of toilet paper, wiped my nose, then threw it into the fire. Poof! Continue reading


One of the patients assigned to me for the shift put her call light on. I walked into her hospital room and she said, “I want to get up for a short walk, but I’ll need your help.”

I said, “I’ll unplug your IV pump while you roll to your side and sit up.” Leaning over, I put slippers on her feet and a bathrobe over her shoulders. As we walked, we talked, but kept to light topics. Returning to the room, the patient wanted to return to bed so I helped her in.

As I worked and answered her questions, I was thinking about the things that had happened to me a few months earlier when my husband unexpectedly died.

There were times in the year following his death that I would wonder with amazement, “No one knows I’m having these thoughts! I’m acting calm and untroubled while remembering the sheriff coming to my house, walking into the emergency department and seeing Arnie dead, making decisions that I never thought I’d have to make, calling and telling people!” Continue reading

Story Portrait

Leftover snow from winter lined fences and ditches that Sunday afternoon. During the previous week, fickle spring weather see-sawed back and forth between snow and rain. Today, Dame March was treating Wisconsin to warm sunshine and gentle breezes. Sighing contentedly, I signaled to turn at the next cross road. I’d decided to drop in on my sister and her husband for a short afternoon visit.

Better than a doorbell, Susie the one-year-old black pug announced my arrival before I even reached their door. Agnes cheerfully greeted me and said, “I was just making blueberry pancakes for Jim. Would you like a cup of tea?” I nodded with a smile and sat down at the table.

Placing a steaming cup in front of me, Agnes asked, “Would you like pancakes, too?” The pancakes she’d made were beautiful; filled with plump, fresh berries.

Breathing in the aroma of black tea, I answered with contented satisfaction, “No thanks. The tea is all I want.” Jim sat down across the table from me and buttered the pancakes on his plate. Continue reading