Slices of Life - Vilas County News-Review
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  • “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” —Franklin Roosevelt
    Fear is in the air. It is in every breath we take, fills our lungs, dictates our actions. We dodge an invisible enemy, knowing it is out there, but never sure quite where or when it might hit and this
  • Dedicated to all the innocent Karens in the world.
    None of us chooses our own name, at least not the original one. You might be John, Steve, Julie or Lisa, but not by choice. Most likely your name came by the choice of
  • I’ve never paid attention to politics, until recently.
    When I was first eligible to vote at age 18 and even 19, I was too busy having fun. My teenage brain didn’t perceive politics as fun so I didn’t vote. I’m embarrassed to admit that now, but
  • The year 2020; wow, in hindsight, who could have seen this coming?
    I thought we’d been through it all: a pandemic, the lockdown, the economy suffering because of the lockdown and pandemic, family members losing jobs, my
  • I’m not sure of the exact definition of middle age. I guess it depends on how long you plan to live. I’m not ready to publicly admit to middle “agedness” as I plan to live forever, but I am beginning to get a feel for some of the changes that happen during the “f-word” decades.
    Like the rest of us from
  • We are living in unprecedented times; tough times. A virus, and the murder of a man and too many others like him has torn our nation apart. We as a people, in some regards, have torn ourselves apart. It is beyond sad for our country and us as individuals.
    We are a nation divided and honestly, I’m
  • My life is good. I can’t complain, nor should I.
    Still, lately, it’s felt like I am going through the motions: doing my daily tasks, completing my daily routine under a dark and ominous cloud.
    Summer has
  • COVID-19 has changed many things for so many of us. I haven’t been able to see my dad, who’s in a nursing home, for four months. My daughter is quarantining for two weeks before the birth of her baby so we can’t see her family. My son lost his job. We are in a state of uncertains and unknowns about our
  • As weird as it may sound, this is a question I’ve pondered lately. I’m willing to take a bet that very few reading this have thought about walleye being in heaven, but you aren’t the daughter of my dad.
    For those not familiar with walleye, they are
  • My husband and I agree on many things. We share a lot of the same opinions and have even been known to finish each other’s sentence or have the same thought at the same time.
    Still, there are 
  • It was carried home the last day of school with all the careful energy a 6-year-old could muster. It didn’t look like much at first glance: a basic yellow plastic cup filled to the brim with smooth black dirt.
    His kindergarten teacher pulled me aside and pointed to the cup. “We
  • Readers of this column will attest to the fact that I like words. Heck, you might even use the word love here. I love playing with words, learning about their origins, words that are my friends or, at least, they seem like friends and lengthy words that stretch their syllables to great lengths. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is
  • Children have their own unique view of the world. From the time they start to talk until about age 8, they’re seeing things from a 3- or 4-foot perspective, while the rest of the population (aka grown-ups) are operating from a 5- or 6-foot point of view. This can result in misunderstandings, misconceptions, mistakes and
  • Bald eagles are majestic creatures with wingspans to match of 6 to 8 feet. They are the national bird of the United States. They therefore inherently demand and deserve our respect. 
    Bald eagles used to be in short supply. In the late 20th century, they were
  • We are living in a serious world. Many of us thought it couldn’t get worse than COVID and then, all heck broke loose. I’m not going to write about this seriousness. Others have already explained things much more eloquently than I ever could.
    Instead, I’m shooting for
  • “At first, I was afraid. I was petrified,” sang Gloria Gaynor in “I Will Survive.”
    We are all staying home as much as possible, wearing our masks, doing our own due diligence because gosh darn, it’s the right thing to do. Quarantine has become a way of life and for one very specific, important reason:
  • It felt “normal” and good, if even for a moment.
    We had individual videotaped graduations this week. Each 2020 graduate had his or her scheduled five minutes on stage, walking the walk and ending it with a
  • I’m as stir-crazy as anyone over this COVID-19 situation. There are lots of moments and days when I find it hard to look on the bright side. The dark side is so ominous and tempting because of the uncertainties and unknowns. The glass is half empty.
    Still, there are certain upsides to the Stay At Home directive that COVID-19 has brought. They are
  • One day she was here and the next, she was gone.
    We’d been taking care of our granddaughter during the weekdays since September. Although getting up early in the morning to care for her was a bit of a yawn, our dear granddaughter was
  • Mother’s Day is fast approaching again.
    Last year, I had one of my best ever. I had a new granddaughter to hold and love. All my children who are grown or nearly so were on hand to help celebrate. I give thanks for them nearly every day. I am
  • We are all social distancing. Hugs from a friend have been put on hold. Personal interaction is kept to a minimum. Masks have become fashion statements and gloves a necessity. We go out only when we are out of milk, eggs or toilet paper. We fear the touch of human contact.
    Well, not really, but
  • Fact No. 1: Because of a “stay at home” directive, we aren’t supposed to venture out into public unless we are essential or in need of essential items like milk or eggs. Sometimes the shelves are bare.
    Fact No. 2: Many of us have had
  • First, we all measured this situation by days then, by weeks and now, the days string together and I’m not always sure if it is Tuesday or Wednesday. By now, we are seasoned pandemic participants. We know how to kill a month by staying inside and following the rules; cross that one off the bucket list.
    As the days morph into weeks and
  • It isn’t supposed to be like this, but life is hardly ever predictable or fair.
    All of us are sacrificing at some level. The current nationwide and worldwide situation is touching each of us in a truly personal way. I don’t want to dismiss or make light of anyone’s circumstance, but as the mom of a high school senior, I
  • As of this writing, at least 251 million people in at least 30 states, 81 countries, 15 cities and one U.S. territory are living the reality of a stay at home directive. A month ago, hardly any of us had contemplated the concept of a stay at home directive. I’d never even heard the term. Now I’m living it.
    Most of us got a few days’ notice before being asked to
  • My dad left school after the eighth grade to help out on the family farm. I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing all of his five brothers did the same and his seven sisters as well. Graduating from high school wasn’t a given in those days, especially if your dad needed help on the farm.
    I’ve been going through some of his belongings as
  • My husband and I have the privilege of taking care of our granddaughter during the week when my daughter and son-in-law are at work. Of course, I think she is the cutest baby in the whole wide world, but I usually keep those thoughts to myself.
    Scandinavians like me dislike
  • It happened again. We had to reset our clocks because of daylight saving time (DST). I’m not sure if we are saving daylight now or if we were before. 
    I just checked. We are in the saving mode. Glad I figured that one out.
    Really though and I’m trying not to sound cynical here, but
  • It’s the American dream: A home, job, spouse, two-car garage, dog, cat and 2.5 children; or maybe not.
    Millennials, it seems, want it all; except for maybe the children. Don’t believe me? Google it. There are at least a dozen articles that tout the, some brutally honest, reasons why today’s 20- and 30-somethings don’t want
  • My aging dad lived alone for nearly 10 years after my mom died. Recently, we all came to the conclusion that living alone was a lonely endeavor. That, accompanied by his increasing need for assistance with some things, led us to find him a new home.
    His moving to a new home meant
  • When it comes to parenting, I’ve been around the block. Heck, I’ve practically worn out the course.
    My husband and I have even transitioned to the next generation of parenting, which is so great it can be described as grand. Our daughter and son-in-law are parents themselves and are
  • Through my daughter and her child, I’m experiencing parenthood all over again. To be honest, it’s easier watching than actually living it. For sure there’s less sleep deprivation and wet, sticky kisses. But seeing her go through all the things I did has given me various perspectives that I don’t think I could have recognized back when I was
  • Before we were married, my husband had a roommate from Africa — Sierra Leone to be exact — and this roommate introduced him to a dish called peanut butter stew.
    It’s made with an unlikely, but 
  • Something about a new year or decade, gets me focused on the English language. I’m not sure why. Normal people focus on indoor exercise and weight loss during the winter months.
    I think about
  • Old

    We all have an understanding of “old.” I have an old dining room table. My house is old. No one would dispute either of these facts. They are based on age and time.
    But when it comes to people, the line blurs and there are
  • I’ve written about universal parenting truths before in 2015, but there are so many of them it warrants a second column and perhaps even a third. There are simply some things we all experience as parents and often don’t talk about because they are embarrassing, uncomfortable or maybe we are just too busy to chat. Here are
  • Monday morning comes along almost every seven days or so and the workweek looms ahead; five long days. Standing at the end, however, is Saturday; sweet, unencumbered, unscheduled Saturday, a day to sleep in, a day of freedom.
    Monday morning, I think about
  • Years ago, I came up with a mantra I attempt to live by: think positive thoughts; speak positive words; create a positive world.
    In other words, look on the bright side. It’s all about perspective. This is easier said than done, believe me.
    My mantra is just three simple sentences, but
  • My husband and I met in driver’s training class when we were 15 years old. We’ve been best friends ever since. How corny is that?
    Friendship doesn’t always lead to romance, however, and for us, that leap didn’t come until years after we’d declared our “best friend-ship.”
    During the time after we met, but
  • We want to show the world our best. This is even more true online with social media where we eagerly post our latest vacation, paid for via credit card, but don’t show the reality that is real.
    Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t something new. People have always
  • Grief is not a law-abiding citizen. It is a renegade, an ever-changing beast. Grief is a labyrinth. Expecting it to follow a straightforward path is like expecting water to run uphill. It just isn’t going to happen.
    You experience it once, twice, even four or five times and
  • I have much to be thankful for. I am a strong advocate and overall supporter of thankfulness. When the children were younger, we even had a gratitude wall in our kitchen where we listed the many things we had to be grateful for; things we call blessings. I believe thankfulness should be a part of each day. This is the season of giving thanks. I am
  • I’ve learned through the years that parenting is an ever-changing process.
    Most of us start out thinking we can do it all and soon find out that there is no way — no how, not ever — to do it all. So we make choices. We choose our issues and priorities, and
  • The end came quickly; as it often does for the best of beings.
    Our cat was old. We knew that. He’d been with us for 19 years and his bright light was growing dimmer; his candle was flickering. We all saw it and knew his truly majestic life was coming to an inevitable end. But it’s never easy saying goodbye to a family member; to a
  • My husband thinks our cat is dying, close to death or succumbing to old age. I don’t disagree.
    The cat in question is 19 years old. He’s lived a good life; an extremely good and long life.
    He still goes outside every day, albeit for shorter jaunts than in his younger years. He
  • Nearly a decade ago, my 80-year-old dad sensed quiet and a lack of activity upstairs, and felt a worried edginess creep under his skin. He headed up the basement stairs and was about halfway toward the top when the doorbell rang. Standing outside were his neighbor and my mom. The neighbor found her wandering next door, on his driveway, appearing
  • When my children were very young, each of them had a favorite movie that we viewed over and over. As I watched replay after replay, I noted the shows had a few things in common. They were animated productions made by Disney and embedded in their storylines were life lessons that served as a benefit not only to children, but
  • As a child, I took Halloween seriously. I mean, heck, there was only one day out of the whole year where candy was free and Halloween was it.
    Making the most of the night was paramount to sugar success. We had a limited amount of time before our neighbors shut off their porch lights and went to bed so we had to
  • I buy him treats because I can; my teenager who now looks down on me by about 8 inches, who thinks he doesn’t need his mom anymore and he’s probably, mostly correct. So I surprise him with treats; small things I know he likes.
    I leave them in places where he will find them: on the
  • We lost a fish.
    It’s happened before. We are fish people and fish sometimes die. It’s the whole circle of life thing. Humans typically live longer than pets; unless your pet is a
  • Life has not always worked out like I planned. And here’s the thing; the more unplanned it becomes, the more I learn. The more I grow and trust. The better everything becomes.
    I haven’t always embraced this concept. What can I say? I
  • It’s that time of year. School is in session. Backpacks line the back doorway. Yellow buses line the streets. Bedtimes and “wake-times” are earlier than in the previous months. Mornings are resoundingly announced by alarm clocks; something unheard of during June, July and August.
    Summer has officially ended; sigh. The warm weather morphs into
  • Last night, my mom appeared in one of my dreams.
    She died nine years ago from Alzheimer’s. I haven’t been able to think about her since. It’s an ugly disease.
    I’m weak to say so, but
  • Birth order intrigues me. According to the theory, certain characteristics are associated with your place within a family whether you are the oldest, middle or youngest child. We can’t choose this particular lot in life. We are simply dealt our hand and we live it out.
    There are
  • At my house we are entering another senior year. As senior years go, I consider myself fairly experienced. I’ve relished in and endured a handful so far; if we’re counting mine and my husband’s, and that’s only high school. College is another story.
    But this senior year is special, and
  • Many daughters see their own dad as a hero. I’m no exception.
    He’s a modest guy, the polar opposite of ostentatious, a regular Joe; fitting because that’s his name. He wouldn’t like the idea of me calling him a hero, much less writing about it. Good thing he
  • I never used to consider myself a bird-watcher, but this summer, I’ve had various species of birds cross my path. And while they all fly — I haven’t seen any ostriches or penguins — the manner in which they fly differs greatly from bird to bird.
    Ducks are great swimmers; the same can’t be said about
  • During the summer months, I enjoy going barefoot and dipping my feet into the lake. My husband and I experience our own version of a pedicure when we wade in a shallow sandbar and the minnows swimming there nibble on our toes. It scared me at first — and grossed me out to be honest — to think they were eating on our toes. But it only tickles and is
  • My grandbaby has started talking. One of her first words was water. It’s a multitasking multipurpose word in her life. When she’s in the bath, she’s surrounded by water. When she’s in the lake, she swims in water. When it rains, water falls down on her to create puddles for splashing. When she drinks from her cup, she tastes water. When I pour a glass of wine, she
  • Most of life isn’t cut and dried, unless you are an herb. The bulk of our days operate on a continuum, with each of us finding our own way forward. There’s lots of room for middle ground. You may give a book or movie three or four out of five stars. You might kind of, sort of like your uncle Jim, but only in
  • The media has us fired up about lots of things and that’s good. We should be fired up. Fired up equals interested and engaged. We should all be interested and engaged.
    Our culture is
  • I’d forgotten what it was like to have a toddler in the house. We recently spent a few grand days with our granddaughter, who is 14 months old. She’s a tiny package, but full of content.
    What she lacks in size she
  • There aren’t many weeks of the year that can rival a summer vacation; except maybe a winter vacation, but hey, it’s summer so let’s stay in the here and now.
    Vacations, no matter what time of year, are
  • It happens every year. After months of anticipation, the last day of school finally arrives. The children are overjoyed. Summer stretches out before us like a vast and welcoming beach scene. It sounds peaceful, right?
    It doesn’t take long to realize there are
  • The English language is fraught with conundrums. It’s probably why I love it so much. It’s never boring and continually keeps me learning or guessing or both.
    One of these complexities has to do with
  • Life is made up of moments; some big, some not so big, some seemingly small that just may turn big.
    And despite the big or not so big, some are moments that will affect you for years to come or your entire life.
    They can be obviously
  • My children grew up as part of the Toy Story generation. We watched Toy Story 1 and 2 on our VCR over and over. They were favorites, but they weren’t the only animated Disney show we watched. We had a large collection of VHS tapes. They’re still stored in our basement. I’m not sure there’s even a market for that on
  • Readers of this column know that subject matter varies from week to week. Nearly any topic that has to do with everyday life is fair game. Simply, it’s often about whatever strikes a chord in any given week.
    Sometimes, column ideas spill forth freely. Other times, I have to
  • I look forward to getting out into the garden each spring. I’ve never been able to define why or where the pull comes between Mother Earth and me, until this year. And it’s about more than dirtying my hands in her soil.
    Last week, I was
  • I love my family. We all do; or most of us, at least, on most days, at least.
    Loving your family is a given. You anticipate loving your spouse even before you meet him or her. This is exponentiated with your children. You love them fully and completely well before they
  • Yesterday, I woke up tired.
    I got up anyway and tried to complete the morning routine. I thought about making coffee. The idea was exhausting.
    I looked at
  • The legend of Bigfoot lives on in American folklore and although I don’t know for sure if the big and hairy creature actually exists in the wild, I do believe in big foot or at least big feet. I live with a bunch of them; big and hairy big-footed creatures, that is.
    My husband and sons tower over me by
  • I spotted the first one out of the corner of my eye, outside the kitchen window; a bunny. And then, there were two of them hopping in the yard and eating grass.
    They were brown with white tails. Nothing fancy, just common
  • Everything I ever needed to know, I learned from my sister.
    I have just one sister; a little sister. She is two years and f