Category Archives: Family

Moonrise/Sunset

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Rivertown.

[I figured we should have a little astronomy before Monday.]

Just a few blocks from our house in Winona, there is a spit of land beyond the levee that juts out into the Mississippi. Boat trailers can be driven down to put in (and pull out) their boats. Even farther out are chunks of concrete that you can climb over, and once you get all the way out there, you feel like you’re right in the river. It’s a great place to watch ducks and other water birds, and the barges being pushed by the (ironically-named) tugboats.

During the warmer months, on the evenings of the full moon, we go there at sunset, climb out and look West until the sun goes down behind (in this case) the hills in an island in the river. Then we turn ourselves 180 degrees to the East, and wait for the moon to come up. It’s tricky to predict exactly where it will rise * – and the orb is hard to see because it’s still quite light out. But finally it appears:  a big golden- orange roundness edging up into the sky, and it’s thrilling each time we do this.

Before I met Husband, he lived in the country up on the ridge, where he was able to see lots of sunsets. Because of the tilt of Earth’s axis and its rotation, each night the sun goes down (* and the moon comes up) at a little different spot on the horizon. These photos were taken on the July 9 full moon by my friend Angela. In August the sun went down considerably to the left of that hill you see, and the moon also came up left of what’s pictured.

Tell about a memorable solar, lunar, or stellar event in your past.

Any baboons traveling to see the solar eclipse?

 

It Could Have Been Much, Much Worse!

Today’s post comes from Occasional Caroline.

My mother lives in South St. Paul, but goes to church about 25 miles away, in Hudson Wisconsin. The church has formed the “Driving Miss Daisy” ministry to take my mom and her friend, Dorothy (both in their 90s) to and from church on Sunday mornings. I have the “bring them home” shift every first and third week. This past Sunday, a new volunteer had been drafted to bring them home because the regularly scheduled driver has left the church; so this was Jane’s first time. She dropped Dorothy off and took Mom home. She helped her to the door, but when they opened it, a strong gas smell wafted out. Mom hurried in to find her husband and get him outside. He has completely lost his sense of smell, so resisted leaving the house, thinking she was over reacting. Jane discovered that one of the stove burner knobs was on with no flame. She turned it off, got everyone outside and called 911 (I’m not positive that was the exact order of events). Anyway, the fire fighters arrived, checked the house for any other gas sources, opened all the windows and allowed them to go back in.  And all is well. Thank goodness for Jane; what a dramatic start to a volunteer gig! Note: Mom’s husband, still unable to smell anything, starts closing windows to keep Sunday’s cool, fresh air from coming in! 

Have you ever had to call 911?

The Doldrums

It is a slow time of year right now. Clients are waiting until school begins to resume therapy The garden is in a “wait and watch” stage, with beans developing, the third crop of spinach growing, and tomatoes slowly reddening.  Who knows what is happening beneath the potato plants. They just keep flowering.

This is the first time since 1991 that we haven’t had a child in school or college. I feel as though I am in the doldrums, just waiting for something to happen.  The wait isn’t necessarily refreshing or pleasant. Husband’s father goes to a Memory Care Center this week. We are sort of waiting for things to happen with him, too. Who knows how he will adjust. This time of year is usually busy and forward looking. Not this year.  Send in the clowns!

How do you handle the doldrums?

 

The Trouble with Ratchets

Today’s post comes from Chris, Reneeinnd’s husband.

Due to an anomaly at birth, I am partially ambidextrous.  I learn to do simple tasks with my left hand and complex tasks with my right.  I allow other people to demonstrate their mechanical prowess while I stand aside to lend assistance.  Attempts to tackle jobs with moving parts commonly end in frustration, absurdity, or disaster.

In July, Renee and  I traveled to see our son and his wife in Brookings, South Dakota so Renee could do a therapy presentation and we could help the kids move into a new apartment.  The new place was quite a step up: it had three bedrooms on two levels, with two and a half bathrooms!  Son and his wife had bought new furniture and had it delivered to the new apartment.  They had to leave several pieces of furniture, including a huge, dilapidated sectional sofa, in the old apartment so it could be removed and hauled to the landfill with my pickup.

We arrived on Friday evening, delighted to see the new apartment. Renee and Son would be at the presentation the next day.  After a pleasant meal, the four of us went to the Lowe’s to get what would be needed for the big move– a big tarp and a set of ratchets with straps.

Son and I went over to the old place and proceeded to load the bulky pieces of the sofa into my pickup and cover them with the tarp.  The next step was to secure the load with the straps and ratchets.

Son and I usually work well together, but he has dexterity problems of his own.  Secretly, I didn’t have a clue–I’d let him take the lead.  Neither of us knew how to spool the straps through the ratchet.  Son used the expedient of the young–he looked up the procedure on YouTube.  By this time, it was getting dark and he  had to use his phone as a flashlight.  He figured out what to do, and we threw the hooked end of the strap over the top of the load.  At that point we inadvertently violated the cardinal rule of ratcheting–always keep the strap straight!  If you don’t, the strap will  twist and get stuck in the spool while you’re tightening it with the ratchet.

Of course the strap got tangled, and the strength of two big men was not enough to unwind it.  Fortuitously, Son’s upstairs neighbor, a veteran  of multiple collegiate moves, arrived.  He was able to pull out the strap so it could be spooled back in to the ratchet.  We tried again, secured the load, and drove the truck to the new apartment, tired but satisfied with a job well done.

On Saturday, Daughter in Law  and I got to do the fun part–driving the pickup to the landfill so we could dispose of the sofa.  We gleefully flung the cruddy pieces onto a smelly pile of rubbish.  We were very careful to wind the straps back into ratchets without twisting them.  I had not repeated the same mistake and was proud of my newfound competence.  I could now use a ratchet on my own–without help!

We showed Son the neatly spooled ratchets when he got home, only to find that the straps were horribly stuck! You’re not supposed to rewind the strap through the back of the ratchet!  Son pulled with all  his might and was able to get one of the spools unstuck.  He had to resort to cutting the other one.  A mysterious third strap was involved.  Although  Son remained calm and patient, he was  clearly disgusted by the situation.  He advised me to ask one of “my mechanically inclined” friends for assistance in the future.

The straps and ratchets are stored in a compartment of my truck.  I am too embarrassed to show my incompetence by asking a casual friend or neighbor for help.  I vowed never to use an  unspooled ratchet and strap again– if I can avoid it.

Have you ever had a guilty secret?  What did you do to conceal your shame?

 

Long Lost Relations

I received an unexpected request for family tree information last week from a woman in Canada.  According to Ancestry. com, she and I are DNA matches and are likely 5th to 8th cousins. Her great grandmother and my Great Grandfather Lunzmann were siblings. I never knew he had siblings, but there he was on her tree, the youngest of about six children. I had never really ever looked for his siblings, and searched  instead for earlier ancestors.

I am very happy that my long lost relative contacted me, since I know very little about the Lunzmann family.  I know about my great grandfather’s life after 1900, but not in the 30 years before that and not his family life in the small village he came from in Mecklenburg , Germany.

This is one time that I welcome the intrusion of new technology in my life . I don’t always feel that way about it.

What about the latest technology do you find charming? What do you find alarming?

 

 

Wandering Thoughts

I heard Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition last night, and a convoluted trail of thoughts led me to Baba Yaga,  Jack and Jill magazine, Lloyd Alexander, and the first time I tried to buy a book by myself.

My mother subscribed to Jack and Jill magazine for me when I was a child in the 1960’s.  I was fascinated by the stories in the magazine about Baba Yaga, the Russian witch who flew around in a mortar and pestle, and who lived in a hut on chicken legs. Mussorgsky portrays the witch sailing fiendishly through the air in her mortar, and  the hut walking around just like I imagine such a hut to walk.

There was no book store in my home town, and Sioux Falls didn’t get one until I was a teenager.  My mom always let me buy books at school from Scholastic, Services and I took out as many books as I was allowed  from the public and school libraries.  I discovered a wonderful book series by Lloyd Alexander called The Prydain Chronicles one summer in the public library when I was in Grade 4. The stories are based on Welsh myth, and I was disappointed to find that the library was missing one book in the series.  The librarian told  me that she had no intention purchasing  it, either.  Without telling my mom, I found the name and address of the publisher (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston) from inside one of the books in the series that the library had, hand wrote a letter in my horrible handwriting asking about the price of the book, addressed and stamped the envelope, and mailed it off.  A couple of weeks later I received a very nice reply kindly letting me know the price, which was more money than I had at the time, and thanking me for my inquiry.  I dropped my search, and finally found the missing book a couple of years later in the book store that opened up in the first mall in Sioux Falls.

My love for Jack and Jill magazine prompted me to subscribe to it as well as Cricket magazine  for my son and daughter. We found Baba Yaga stories in Cricket, too.  Imagine my delight when I saw that Lloyd Alexander was one of the editors of Cricket. Both children loved The Prydain Chronicles, as well as other stories by Lloyd Alexander. Funny where listening to Mussorgsky will take you.

What magazines did your family subscribe to?