First Stop. Pioneer Village.

First Stop. Pioneer Village.

The first leg of our summer vacation car trip to Washington State back in the 1960’s was a stop at Pioneer Village in Minden, Nebraska.  The folks piled all of us Hauck kids in the back of the station wagon, loaded up the camping gear, attached a U-Haul trailer full of our trappings for a two-week family vacation, and drove the first leg of the journey from Medicine Lodge, Kansas, to this mecca in the middle of Nebraska.  It was almost 300 miles and took longer than the suggested time with all of the coffee breaks followed by required potty breaks on our route to the great Northwest.

map of trip

The Pioneer Village complex comprises 28 buildings on 20 acres — as a kid it was huge!  There are 12 historic buildings around the circular “green”. There’s a Frontier Fort, a real honest-to-goodness Pony Express Station, an Iron Horse, and a home, made of sod. You all know about my fascination with Little House on the Prairie by now.  It started on this journey. http://www.pioneervillage.org/
We stopped here because my brothers loved cars (they were teens and pre-teens at the time of trip) and this place has a doozy of a collection along with tractors, airplanes and other mechanical devices.  Even better, according to frugal Hauck rules, Pioneer Village had its own campground which is where we set up camp for at least one night.   The night we stayed there, I leaped over a concrete divider in the parking lot, peeled off one of my growing number of warts on my knees, and nearly bled to death.  It was the first night of many memorable ones traveling with the family.  Our next stop on our journey after leaving Pioneer Village that summer was to Mount Rushmore in Keystone, South Dakota.  There was a mix up in our camping arrangements that night and for some reason I remember us sleeping out beside the car on a blanket with only the night stars as a cover.  It was a little dewy but I don’t remember being scared just a little uncomfortable on the hard ground. There were many more bizarre experiences on this trip including one in which our parents were sure we were camping next to the infamous Manson Family in Utah and we departed quietly and unharmed the next morning before dawn.

I think this journey as well as several others in my youth may be why I am not a big fan of camping today.  While a fun experience as a child and full of good memories, as an adult I don’t consider camping a vacation.   It is dirty, there are bugs, and sleeping on the ground is a horrible idea which is why we built sod houses.  I can do “cabining” but only in small doses.   If you are in the Minden area in the spring, look for the sandhill cranes along the Platte River.  From March through early April, about 600,000 sandhill cranes — nearly 90 percent of the world’s total sandhill population — make a stop at the Nebraskan river, something of a pit stop on their path to breeding grounds in Canada, Alaska, and as far away as Siberia.

Now, birding is more up my alley….

four-sandhill-cranes

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What type of person am I?

What type of person am I?

I am the type of person who….

goes around with my shirt tag out and you sweetly remind me to tuck it in or you do it for me

often loses one earring and most times when it is in my ear.  Earrings jump off me like rats abondoning a sinking ship

is too lazy to put those earring stops on the back of the earring so they don’t fall out

loses important items in a fairly clutter free home — sometimes for days, sometimes forever

makes three attempts to leave the house before backing out the driveway

always leaves some important item at home when traveling especially my cell phone and sunglasses

never remembers to charge my cell phone so it is dead when I really need it

is too impatient to blow dry or style my hair

can’t remember a person’s name five minutes after I meet him or her

can’t tell jokes because the punch line escapes me or I tell it badly (and friends are embarrassed for me)

cries when other people cry. Sometimes I cry harder than they do

falls off my heels with regularity

forgets to check my cell phone for missed calls or messages.  Sometimes for more than a day.

never hears my cell phone especially when I am expecting an important call

mails bills and forgets the stamp and it comes back postage due.  Yes, I am a person that occasionally mails a bill.

remembers  to pack a lunch but then leaves it on the front seat of my car only to discover it on my drive home at night

forgets to put the cap back after pumping gas and drives around with it hanging out and you have to honk and point to get my attention

messes up the queue especially at airports for reasons like trying to smuggle in a small jar of commemorative jelly from Mount Vernon or a fresh apple from France

responds with “you too” to the theatre cashier when she tells me to enjoy the show

always picks the line at the grocery store that is the slowest.  Actuallly, every line I pick is the slowest. Because someone just like me is messing up the queue.

If you can’t relate to any of these traits then we can’t be friends.

What makes us happy?

What makes us happy?

Is there a formula for a good life?  I think it is finding pleasure and lasting satisfaction in everyday activities.  Here are some activities that made me happy this week:

  1. Admiring my garden after a week of rain and cooler temperatures
  2. Shopping for snacks for the office that I know my colleagues will enjoy. Note that they love Star Burst and Jif to Go
  3. Morning walks
  4. Lunch with a new friend
  5. A sweet handwritten note received from my mother-in-law
  6. Arrival of a travel guidebook about Vermont Curiosities
  7. Trying out Curly’s coffee and sausage rolls
  8. Screen porch talks with RM
  9. Tons of birthday good wishes and plans for connecting with friends and family in the future and a homemade chocolate cake made with the loving hands of the best mate in the world!
  10. Lunch with Sofia and her friends from YWLA
  11. Problem solving at work
  12. A thoughtful gift in the mail
  13. Hearing rain on the roof
  14. Looking forward to a week-end at home on Ashland
  15. Making a “to-do” list
  16. Looking at old photographs and remembering
  17. Critical conversations and silly ones
  18. More rain
  19. Commiserating with a friend
  20. Cuddling up with a blanket and a good book

happy

Ode to Milwaukee

Ode to Milwaukee

Oh sweet Cream City that resides above

You had us two at hello– pure Honeypie love.

You are everything we need or wanted for a long week-end treat

With you sweet destiny on our plate, we feel so darn complete.

My daughter and I love the feel of the lake effect on our neck It has a way of chilling us even in late April to heck.

North Point Lighthouse, the Brise Soleil, Pabst Mansion and the Riverwalk

All lived up to the hype of the MKE fast press talk.

Blue Man Group at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts

Followed by a late night stop at a brewery for a flight of six suds and savory cheese curd tarts.

Cheap sleeps at the Milwaukee Athletic Club

Was an ideal locale but too warm and noisy for us so a bit of a flub.

But the time spent catching up at the Garage, Leon’s and Grebe’s Bakery

Beat by far the hunt for the Bronze Fonz fakery.

leons

Funky Brady Street, yuppy Third Ward and the enticing Milwaukee Public Market

Are all circled by chiming church bells, seagull calls and laughter from the sorority girls of Ole Marquette.

So cast your net wide of Forest Home and raise your steins high

To a Great Lake State and a fine, too quick time, sigh.

To a parting for now Mike and Cyd

We love you, soon to be homeowners and big kids!

(Written while waiting for our flight home from MKE to Love Field)

Cream City

Cream City

Milwaukeer

RM and I are traveling to Wisconsin this week-end for a visit with our daughter and her boyfriend.  They live in Illinois but we decided to rendezvous in the Cream City or the city perhaps better known as, Milwaukee.  My street growing up in the town of Holton, Kansas, was Wisconsin Avenue so I have an affinity to the state without ever visiting.  I think of Wisconsin, I think beer, brats, and cheese. And dairy? But I know it is so much more.  For starters, it is the hometown to Russian immigrant, Golda Meier.  She went to high school and college in Milwaukee before leaving to eventually become the Prime Minister of Israel.

Milwaukee has long been known as the “Cream City,” and while many people assume that the name comes from the State’s long pre-eminence in the dairy industry, it is in fact derived from the cream-colored bricks from which many of the City’s buildings are constructed. Deep veins of red lacustrine clay run along the western shore of Lake Michigan, and one of the unique properties of this clay is that when formed into bricks, it turns a light golden yellow color after firing. Not only pleasant in color, these bricks generally possess superior strength and weather resistance characteristics, as well as excellent color-retention properties.

I am frantically trying to finish “Cream City Chronicles”  — a collection of stories about the people, the events, the landmarks, and the institutions that have made Milwaukee a unique American community. These stories, each sharing an historic photograph, represent the best of  John Gurda’s popular Sunday columns that have appeared in the “Milwaukee Journal Sentinel” since 1994.

Milwaukee here we come.

What makes a house a home?

What makes a house a home?

One of my criteria for what makes a house a home is the refrigerator door must have lots and lots of clutter.  There are articles from magazines like Good Housekeeping and Real Simple chastising us for this mess and offering solutions to curtail the disorder but I embrace the desire to use my refrigerator door, not so much as a junk drawer, but for creating a remembrance for me of what I have experienced in my life in the last few months.  I do often remove items and sometimes, quarterly, I take everything off just leaving the monthly calendar that I receive annually from my alma mater in place.  And I begin again posting items to the door as I deem appropriate.  My refrigerator door is my own tactile version of social media but in my home for view only by me and the visitors to my little house on Ashland.  One solution I read was to post your i-pad to the door (there is actually a device to allow this to happen) to avoid the clutter look. Sounds cumbersome, seems a bit cold.

What started as a toddler art gallery in our home has morphed, Kafka-style, into a wonderful gallery space. Souvenirs from travels, cards from friends and family, and photos combine in a single, marvelous mass.

When Scottish physician, chemist and agriculturalist William Cullen first demonstrated artificial refrigeration at the University of Glasgow in 1748, one has to wonder if his young child had already pasted a drawing to the door of the new device.

So here are my questions to you:

  1. Do you hang stuff on the refrigerator?  Does it give you pleasure or does it give you pain?
  2. Do you actively avoid putting stuff on the refrigerator door?  If you put items on the door, how long do they remain?  A month?  A year?  Forever?
  3. If you don’t use the door as a gallery, how do you keep track of those little items that need attention or are too special to put away just yet?

Here is what my frig door looks like today.  In all its glory!  Maybe I should clean it off and start over…

my refrigerator

Trust me with your pennies?

Trust me with your pennies?

In 1985, I applied for a job in the personnel department at First Atlanta Bank.  To get the job, I was required to take a polygraph test. I didn’t know anything about lie detectors except they scared everyone to death.  I was put in a small room with a stern looking man who was administering the exam.  He connected me to the machine and interrogated me through a series of questions.  It was just like from the crime dramas on T.V. – the polygraph pen wildly gyrating on a moving chart.  He asked me if I had every stole money.  I answered “no” along with more no answers to a bunch of other questions about my morals and character. I realized soon after exiting the exam room that I had lied in response to the question about stealing money.  I was sure that it would be detected on the exam and that I had failed the test and would remain unemployed.

When did I steal money?  When I was a little girl in grade school, I would sneak into my parent’s clothes closet and rummage for spare change in the bottom of my mother’s many purses or on the floor under my dad’s slacks.  I found ample supplies of pennies, nickels and dimes.  I used the “found” money to buy myself penny candies at the corner grocery store.  My all-time favorite candies were Twizzlers and Krackle.  I remember feeling guilty about sneaking into my parent’s room without permission because I knew deep down that I was stealing and if I got caught, my parent’s would be very disappointed in me. But the pull of the candy was stronger than my young, moral fiber so I committed this crime repeatedly over one summer.

One afternoon, after walking back from buying candies with poached pennies, the Twizzler still poking out of my mouth, my mother met me in the front yard and asked me to get in the car and go with her as she had something she needed to share with me.  I knew she had caught me at my crime and was going to talk to me privately about it in the car, away from my nosey brothers.  I was so afraid of what she would say that I sat mute in the front seat looking at the top of my tennies.  My mother drove us up Main Street to the drug store where a bunch of people had gathered inside and out.  We went inside and everyone started applauding our arrival.  Come to find out, my mother had guessed the closest number to the exact number of candies in a large clear container as part of a store promotion.  The prize was a new bicycle – all pink and made just right for a girl my size.  I quickly realized that she brought me to the store to surprise me with the gift, not for the punishment that I expected.  I felt so guilty and ashamed that I burst into tears.  My mother thought they were tears of joy but as soon as we got to the car, I confessed about my summer of coin snatching and pledged to never do it again.  I think, because I looked so miserable and distraught, that she let me go with minimal punishment and I rode the perfect pink bike for many years to come.

But I never again stole pennies from my parent’s closet or from anyone every again.  The guilt was too much to live with I had discovered that summer day.  Spring forward twenty years, and I learned after a couple of restless days and nights, that I passed the polygraph and got the bank job.   I guess they decided they could trust me with their pennies.

pennies