Monday, October 29, 2012

New York New York

 Bill and I just got back from a trip to New York for his West Point class reunion.  The first event we attended was a lunch cruise in New York Harbor.  It was really fun.  Fortunately it didn't rain the whole time we were in NY.  Unfortunately it was cloudy the whole time so pictures are so-so.  But we had a great time.
Highlights of our trip into the city were seeing the Freedom Tower under construction which replaces the Twin Towers.  We also could spot the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, Governor's Island, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.  It is always fun to see those well known landmarks in person.

Lots more ahead as I get up to speed on scrapbooking my pictures.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Christmas in October

 Tom is in Washington on leave this week.  He flew into Seattle Monday night and will leave on Sunday.  His plan was to come home on Tuesday and spent just one night with us.  I was consoling myself to the fact that it was only one night with the assumption that he would be able to come home for Christmas and I would be able to see more of him then.  Monday night I found out that Maddy is flying to Pensacola for the holidays so it became obvious that he wasn't going to be coming home for Christmas after all.  He doesn't have enough leave and it was pretty expensive to come here for this week.  So I made an impromptu decision that Tuesday night was going to be his "Christmas" with us.  Luckily--I had gone Christmas shopping for him on Saturday so I had his gift all prepared.  He wanted Thai food since he hasn't been able to find a Thai restaurant in Pensacola and he opened his present from us--a new camera--so that he can take pictures of his adventures in the Air Force and so that I can scrapbook them.  Totally selfish on my part but hopefully he will enjoy the ability to take pictures now too.
 Christopher was really happy to see him.  He has missed him being gone a lot.  They faced off on some computer game most of the night.
 Grandma was happy
as well as Mom and Dad.  It was a really short visit but as always we love seeing our Air Force guy!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Honoring Those Who Have Served

Tomah has been raising funds to build a veterans memorial for awhile now.  They dedicated the memorial about a year and a half ago now but this was my first visit back home since it was built.  And it actually isn't completed--there is work going on now for "Phase II" to add more names.  During the fundraising campaign, we decided to donate money to have a tile placed with Dad, Sherrill, Darren and my name on the tile.  I had fun looking for old pictures of all of us from when we were in the military.  I used pictures of Dad with his buddy, Doug Maas, taking a break from cooking at Ft. Lewis; a picture of Darren working on the flight line with the F-16's somewhere in Japan I think.  He was stationed at Misawa but I think this was taken at another base.  No exciting pictures of Sherrill and I doing nursing but I had pictures of our families.  I had Tom just before Bill and I got out of the Army and the picture of Sherrill is with her family at her promotion to Colonel.
Dad and I stopped to see the memorial while I was home and took our pictures by our tile.  I took pictures of lots of friends' and relatives' names on the wall.  A few of them are represented in my layout but there were too many to include.  We have ties to so many names on the wall in one way or another--family, friends from high school, fellow guardsmen, our physicians, customers at the gas station, etc.  Being from a small town, you know or know of practically every one of those names. 

The one that always touches me the most is Joe Kube.  He was one of my dad's friendsl.  I might have this wrong but I think there were in the National Guard together at one point.  But he was an active duty infantry and special forces officer.  He served three tours in Vietnam and was killed a month into his third tour at the age 31.  His wife was pregnant with their third child when he died --a son who was named Joe as well.  When Joe was killed, his family lived on an Army base in Georgia but after his death, his wife returned home to Tomah with their children to raise them.  I grew up knowing his kids--we were close neighbors and we played with them all the time.  My brother is still friends with Joe Jr. and his family.  And his wife still lives in the same house by my dad.  When I went to visit The Wall in Washington, D.C., I made sure I found Joe's name and took an etching of it to send to his wife.  She had never been there and appreciated the gesture.  Dane came across a picture of him on the internet a few years ago posted by one of his buddies in Vietnam.  It was one that the family wasn't aware of and were happy to learn of as well.  Since Joe in particular never knew his dad, he is always anxious for pictures or information that will give him a taste of what his dad was like.

Veteran's Day is a month away yet--but it is always appropriate to think about our military and our veterans and the sacrifices that they make for our country so that we can have all the freedoms that we enjoy.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Visiting the Aunts and Uncles

 This visit I made a point to go see all my aunts and uncles.  I always try to make sure I see my mom's brother and sisters when I go home.  We were always so close to them growing up.  I don't see my dad's sisters very often though.  It has been almost 10 years since I saw them and with Aunt LaVerne turning 91 this year and Aunt DonnaLee turning 84, I thought I had better make the effort this time.  They have both recently moved into assisted living situations.  Bill wanted to go hiking in the LaCrosse area so Dad, Shirley and I went to see her in Holmen while we waited for Bill to get done with his hike--at least that was the plan.  We would do our visiting and then go pick him up.  He was ready to be picked up before we even left LaCrosse to go to Holmen.  So he had to wait a bit while I did my visiting.  So good to see her and catch up.

That evening Bill and I were in downtown Tomah looking for someplace that he could connect to WiFi and get some work done.  We lucked out that a coffee shop was staying open later that night for a grand opening of a photographer's art show.  So they let us in and we bought some coffee and dessert and while Bill was working, I went to look at the pictures.  I caught up with a friend from high school and then in walks Aunt LaVerne with her daughter-in-law, Joann.  As it turns out, the photographer was Joann's niece so she came down from LaCrosse for the showing and brought Aunt LaVerne with her.  It was quite the surprise.  I certainly didn't expect to see her there.  Dad and I visited with her the next morning for awhile in her apartment just before I headed up to Wausau to see my other aunts.

Bill, Dane and I headed up to Wausau to see Aunty Joanne, Aunty Carolyn and our cousins.  We had a nice visit and it turns out they planned on it being my 50th birthday celebration as well.  Aunty Carolyn made me an angel food birthday cake--just like my mom would have--and brought out the "Happy Birthday" musical cake holder.  Brought back a lot of memories.  Haven't had a birthday like that in over thirty years.  Part of the visit was going up to the top of Rib Mountain as a family.  Pictures and blogging about that a few days ago. 

I almost didn't get to see Uncle Raymond.  I waited until Sunday afternoon to see if he was available.  He was sleeping because he had to work all night Sunday night.  So Monday was going to be out too--to see either him or Aunty Karen.  But they decided to come to Dane's to watch the Packer game with us.  So didn't get to visit a whole lot--but we got to cheer the Packers on to their win together anyway.

Always good to connect with my family.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The World's Largest Cranberry Festival

For my non-Wisconsin readers--I am from Tomah, Wisconsin which calls itself the "Gateway to Cranberry Country".  Wisconsin isn't just known for its dairy farming and cheese production.  We are also known for our cranberry production.  At least 1/3 of all cranberries produced every year are grown in Wisconsin.  Massachusetts seems to get a lot of publicity about their cranberries but Wisconsin actually produces twice as many as Massachusetts.  Some of the cranberry growers in Tomah and Warrens have been producing for 150 years--back to the mid-1800's. And the number of bogs in the area just keeps on growing.  My sister-in-law, Tess, works for Ocean Spray at their plant in Tomah.  She makes Craisins.  They make juice there as well.

I didn't plan my vacation around Cranfest but that happened to be the weekend that I chose to go to Wisconsin.  It was with mixed excitement that I wanted to go.  I have heard stories about how much it had grown from its humble beginnings 40 years ago.  I was there when it first started.  I marched in the parade every year while I was in junior high and high school.  Sherrill and I participated in the talent competition one year.  It was a wonderful small community celebration.  So it was with great curiosity that I wanted to actually see it first hand but didn't want to experience the huge crowds that I had heard about.

Dane wanted to go to the pancake breakfast at the Catholic Church so Dad, Shirley, Darren, Dane, Bill and I got up bright and early to take the bus out to Warrens at 0700 to get there early.  The women of the Catholic Church make cranberry syrup for the pancakes so that was nice to get to have a bit of a different taste to breakfast.

To give you some perspective--the population of Warrens is 360 people.  It is a very small town.  There were vendor canopies everywhere.  There were over 1200 vendors that came to sell their crafts, antiques, food, etc.  It was pretty overwhelming and there was no way you could possibly look at everything that was there.  I enjoy looking at a few things but am not really into looking at a bunch of crafts and definitely didn't want to buy anything that I had to bring home with me on the plane--so I wasn't super interested in that portion of the festival although that seems to be what brings most of the visitors there.  Over the course of the three days of the festival--over 140,000 people attended.  We got to see a couple of celebrities.  We saw Miss Wisconsin--the guys were really wanting to get their picture taken with her LOL.  Darren spotted Gilbert Brown--a former Green Bay Packer--and said I should try to get my picture taken with him.  He was out shopping himself and wasn't at his "booth" so he had to refuse.  I did sneak a picture of him talking to some of the vendors though.  The guys and I didn't want to stay that long so we were only there a couple of hours--just long enough to get a taste.  So I didn't see the huge crowds.  But I saw a picture on the internet and the number of people in the street could have rivaled New York City.  I don't know how anyone could possibly move or see anything there with that many people.  Dad and Shirley decided to stay for the parade.  It would have been nice to see that as well but decided to go home with the guys.

So I can now say that I have been to the Cranfest and seen how Warrens transforms itself into a big city every year at harvest time.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fall Foliage in Wisconsin

 Bill and I traveled to Wisconsin last week for vacation.  We spent a couple of days in Wausau with my family there.  Got to see almost everyone there at least for a short time.  Knowing how much Bill likes to hike, Tracy suggested that he hike up Rib Mountain.  I can't remember the last time I was on Rib Mountain.  I am sure Aunty Carolyn took us up at some point as kids but it has definitely been a long time ago.  So a few of the group--Tim, Tracy, Dave, Dane and Bill hiked up while the rest of us drove up.  Being able to see for miles and miles and see God's beautiful palette of fall colors from up there was wonderful.  We were in Wisconsin at just the right time to enjoy the colors.
The kids enjoyed climbing on the rocks on top.  And most of us got to the top of the observation tower to get a better look too.  I decided I could hike down the hill so I joined Tim and Tracy on the way down to visit a little bit before we headed back to Tomah.

Always fun to see my aunts and cousins.  Had a great time!