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When my parents moved to Superior, Wisconsin, which is where my older sister, Cheryl Masterson and I were born, my mom was a young bride, who was experiencing the first days of marriage and the first time away from her family. I’m sure that was not really an easy time for her, but when she arrived in Superior, she was greeted by my dad’s family, who were the only people she knew there. If you have to move to a new city and state, it is nice to at least have someone that you know and can call family, as well as friend. My dad had a large family in the area with whom my mother became quite close, one of whom was my Aunt Doris Spencer, her sister-in-law, and my Uncle Bill’s wife. They spent a lot of time together, and really, had a number of “adventures” together.

As young women, they were always weight conscious, and always on the latest diet. I’m sure that they thought it would be easier to diet with a buddy, and many of us have thought the same thing, but as we all know, dieting is never ease, and inevitably, they found themselves starving!! So, as a way of easing the cravings until they could eat something again, my Aunt Doris handed gave each of them one kernel of puffed wheat and said, “Here, this will tide us over until dinnertime!” Now, as we all know that would be like literally eating air, and it would not ease hunger pains in any way, but as every dieter knows, it was worth a try, because they didn’t want to mess up their diet.

When we moved to Wyoming when I was a little over two years old, it was hard on a lot of people, but I think it was especially hard for my mom and Aunt Doris. While their “adventures” were sometimes silly and sometimes almost crazy, they always had a great time together, and they had become almost like sisters, not sisters-in-law. Aunt Doris and Uncle Bill visited us in Wyoming and we visited them in Wisconsin, but it was never quite the same. Then a few years ago, my sister, Cheryl and I took Mom to Wisconsin for a visit. it was so amazing to see the two sisters-in-law/friends together again, and I know they felt like it was an amazing reunion too. It was the last trip my Mom would make, but my Aunt Doris is still alive and going strong. Today is Aunt Doris’ 94th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Doris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

guitar-manimg_5438Little boys want nothing more than to be just like their daddies, and my nephew, Ryan Hadlock was no exception. When Ryan was about two years old, he loved to watch his daddy, my brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock play the guitar. To Ryan, playing the guitar was the epitome of his daddy. Ryan almost saw them as one and the same. As we all know, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Ryan wanted nothing more than to imitate his daddy when he was playing the guitar. The only problem was that Ryan didn’t have a guitar, and his daddy’s guitar was too big for him. Enter the imagination of a little boy.

Ryan began to improvise. If it resembled a guitar in Ryan’s mind, he used it like a guitar. Some of his favorite “guitars” horsing-aroundwere things like a fly swatter, broom, sticks, and even cardboard. And if nothing was readily available, Ryan would simply play the air guitar. Ryan knew all the moves too. As he played, he would twist himself in all different ways, like a rock star does. Never mind if his sisters though he was just a little bit unhinged! Ryan didn’t care, because they couldn’t possibly understand anyway. It was a guy thing…and something he got to share with his daddy, just them…no girls allowed. You see, being the only boy in a family of four children, meant that Ryan was outnumbered by girls. He needed something that was just for the guys, and it didn’t hurt that he and his daddy loved to play the guitar. Of course, there were also a few other Ryan/Daddy moments too, like horsing around, knuckle rubs, or wrestling matches…the normal daddy/son things. Still, these never really held a candle to playing the guitar, just like his daddy, as far as Ryan was concerned. He has simply loved it all his life.

When Ryan was about 16 or 17, his parents bought him and electric guitar. He was in img_5439img_5441Seventh Heaven to have a real guitar of his own. It was like a right of passage. He was now a man…just like his dad was. He was entrusted with a wonderful instrument that was one that a responsible person got to have, and he absolutely treasured it. Recently, his dad gave him a 12 string guitar, and Ryan loves playing that one too. I don’t suppose that he still does all the rock star moves, but then I could be wrong about that. Some things you outgrow, and others you don’t. It doesn’t really matter anyway, because most of us who know him, and especially his family, can still vividly see that sweet little two year old boy playing the flyswatter, the broom, cardboard…or even just the air. Today is Ryan’s birthday. Happy birthday Ryan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

A place of solaceWhenever life gets too hectic, I find myself wanting a place of solace, so I can get out of running mode, and into relaxing mode. Many of us don’t realize that our lives are even hectic. We just think it’s normal, and maybe it is, but normal can be very hectic. My Uncle Bill understood how I feel, because he felt the same way too…and he was a kid!! We mistakenly assume that kids can’t have a hectic life, or that things weren’t hectic in days gone by, when life was supposed to be so much more simple. Maybe things were simple back then, but that did not make things easier back then. What takes us minutes to do these days, probably took them hours, making it necessary to cram more things into a working day than we do today. And yet, with our modern inventions, our lives today are always making us rush from this place to that place…always in a hurry.

It’s no wonder that I, like my Uncle Bill, enjoy getting out into nature to hike the trails. When you are out on the trail, you can only go so fast, and it’s harder to rush yourself. The beauty of nature around you draws your attention away from the pressing things in your life, and you find yourself drinking in the smells of the trees and flowers, the singing of the birds, the sound of the breeze through the trees, the beauty of the scenes around you, and the feel of the air on your face. It is the place I want to be and the things I want to be doing. When Bob and I My place of solaceare out on the trail, being one with nature, it is such a beautiful time. And in our hectic lives, we need those breaks to recharge our systems. The trails are perfect for that.

Uncle Bill loved to be out in the woods of Wisconsin and Minnesota, mostly around Holyoke, Minnesota. He talks about going to his private place in the center of a shaded area, to sit on a log, listen to the birds, watch the squirrels, and “even” read a book. I have to wonder if Uncle Bill maybe didn’t like reading very much at that time. It wouldn’t be something so unusual for a boy. Most of them seem to busy with other things to consider reading as an important pass time. Nevertheless, whatever solace we each find in nature is probably unique to each of us. No two people are the same, and no two people have the same stresses, so each finds solace in different things or in different ways, even in the same place.

Winter has never been my favorite time of year because of the slick roads, wind, and cold, but one thing about winter that I love is the beautiful snow scenes. Sometimes, it is like looking at a Hallmark card. The snow glistens in the sunlight, like diamonds in a necklace. The leaves mostly gone are replaced with snow and frost…Winter’s lace.

Light snow falling gently to the ground, brings a sense of peace and quiet, so that you can almost hear the snowflakes touching the ground. The wind has calmed with the snow’s appearance, and it brings a quietness to both mind and spirit. If you happen to venture out in the evening, under the street lights, the snowflakes look like falling stars twinkling all the way to the ground. It feels like you are walking in a wonderland. It almost seems like make believe. The air is crisp and cold, and add that to the quiet, and you can feel like you are completely alone in the world.

A light snow that sticks to the tree branches becomes like a lacy dress, especially in the moonlight on a crisp, cold night. It’s hard to capture that in pictures sometimes, but when you do, they are amazing, and so you take a little bit of time to try to capture the perfect picture of Night Lace. Finally, you succeed, and then it’s time to head for home.

Walking home in the cold Winter air, makes you finally long for home, The cold air finally creeps into your bones. The snow flakes gently flutter to the ground, and make you want to snuggle up in front of a warm fire with a cup of hot cocoa, and just soak in the fire’s warmth. These Winter evenings seem to encourage those cozy moments by the fire, with the smell of the burning wood, and the crackling of the fire. The hot cocoa begins to make you feel tired, and ready for a warm bed and sweet sleep, but your mind continues to linger on the beauty of Winter’s Lace.

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