My husband Arnie and I had started house hunting one month earlier, but saw nothing that felt right for us. When we drove out to the countryside to visit an old brick farmhouse by a small river, that changed. From the first moment I felt captivated, even though it needed much professional remodeling. Something about the place made me feel at home. After touring the house, our realtor took us out to a red barn on the backside of the property. Studying the barn’s layout, Arnie said, “The partial wall near the doorway would make a great place for a work bench.”
Buying the house was all we could afford at first. Any thoughts about remodeling were set aside for the distant future. Painting some of the walls and buying a few yards of pretty fabric remnants to make curtains, was all we could afford. While I worked at branding our home with my signature style, Arnie was doing the same thing outside, only in a man’s way. He set to work building his red barn work bench shortly after we moved in on the 3rd of October. Continue reading
I frowned when I looked at the pole beans. They weren’t a lush, happy green. Some of the leaves were turning yellow. A few had turned brown and fallen to the ground. This had happened last year, too. Were pesky insects or a virus damaging my bean crop?
Shaking my head, I leaned into the shovel as I dug a hole between the garden rows. When it was deep enough I picked up a bowl filled with potato peals, apple cores, crushed egg shells and banana peels, that I had brought out from the house. Dumping the compost materials into the hole, I covered it with dirt.
Leaning on the shovel, I thought about how I tested the soil several years ago, shortly after my husband Arnie had died. My son-in-law, Mike, had taken over Arnie’s Farm Care business. When he read the results to me, he advised, “You need to add organic matter to the soil.”
Because of his advice, every summer I bury kitchen scraps and in the fall and gather dried maple leaves for the soil. Glancing around at my walkway vegetable graveyard, I announced to my garden, “The soil needs to be tested again. I have a feeling that something more than organic matter is needed.” Continue reading
Sweat dripped off my face as I carried my suitcase from the bedroom to the entryway. Putting it down, I said to my daughter sitting at the dining room table, “The name and the telephone number of the fishing resort where we’ll be staying is on the table.
Fanning herself, Tammie sighed, “Don’t worry Mom. I’ll be fine. I just hope it’s cooler in Canada for you and Daddy.”
Stepping out onto the back deck, I watched my husband tighten the trailer straps holding our boat down. Heat radiated up from the wooden deck boards, making my feet uncomfortably hot. Arnie glanced over at me and said, “Thelma and Gene will be here soon. Bring our suitcases out and put them in the truck.”
Shaking my head wearily, I said, “It’s 100 degrees today. I’m leaving them in the house until we’re absolutely ready to drive away so our toiletries don’t get cooked and ruined!” Continue reading
Rummaging through a box in the middle of the kitchen, I said, “I’ll make lunch first, then we can get down to work unpacking the bedroom and bathroom boxes.” I shouted with triumph at finding a kettle. In a nearby box I found dinner plates. I knew there was sausage in the refrigerator, but where was my silverware and the canned goods? I wasn’t about to eat kielbasa without pork and beans!
My Mom, who had come to help me unpack boxes, entertained Niki, my 18-month-old daughter, as I searched for and prepared our first meal in the new house. My husband Arnie had done all the heavy lifting the day before, but today he was steering clear of the household chaos.
When we finished eating, I stacked the plates alongside the sink and said, “I’ll wash these later today. Right now, I want to unpack as many boxes as I can.” My toddler was standing at the dining room doorway. Impulsively, I leaned down to give her a hug and a kiss. At the same time, my daughter joyfully threw her hands up to receive my embrace.
In that one fraction of a second, my plans for the day and my future took a dramatic, unwanted twist. One of Niki’s fingers poked into my left eye. The sudden, severe pain was unlike anything I had ever experienced before in my life. Involuntary tears gushed out of my eye, while buckets of water ran out of my nose. The slightest movement of my eye or eye lid caused the already incredible pain to increase. 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
Pale dawn light was peeking in the bedroom windows when I opened my eyes. Rolling over onto my back I began to think, as I do each morning upon first awaking, about what day it was and what jobs I wanted to accomplish before night fall. It was already the middle of the week! At the beginning of winter, I had assigned Wednesdays as the day to do my once a week wood-pellet-furnace cleaning. If I wanted the fire out and the firebox cool enough for me to clean it by the time I was dressed, had finished my morning prayers and eaten breakfast, I needed to turn it off now.
Slipping out of bed, I thrust my feet into slippers and slowly shuffled toward the staircase. As I passed the living room, I noticed a doll laying in the middle of the floor. My daughter and her children had visited me last night as they do every Tuesday evening. The rest of my trip to the basement was spent thinking about my grandchildren. How protectively my grandson Ben had held his little sister Gemma when she cried! What a funny face toddler Blaise had made when he sucked on the fresh lemon wedge, yet kept going back for more! A flip of a switch and the furnace was off.
Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, landed on March 1st this year. I hadn’t started my winter routine of cleaning the furnace every Wednesday with this in mind, but today I chuckled about spending my day in ashes, both secular and liturgical. Continue reading
My boyfriend Arnie and I were parked on a side road necking when he leaned back and said, “I want to take you to Antler’s Supper Club Friday night.”
I smiled and said, “Wow, that sounds great. It’s a popular place. Everyone who’s been there raves about how great their food is.”
Antler’s was a fancy restaurant one county over from where we lived. Friday night was Halloween. Since Arnie hated costumes, I knew he wasn’t interested in Halloween parties, but would happily stop to visit with friends at one on our way back to Marshfield.
Our date on Friday night didn’t get off to a very good start. I teased Arnie, but he wasn’t in the mood. He seemed preoccupied. After pulling into a parking place at Antler’s, instead of getting out of the car, he turned toward me holding out a small square box. He said, “Will you be my wife?” Continue reading