Sunday, January 29, 2012

First Road Trip of 2012

This is part of a weekly thread of Joy called Postcards From Paradise that eminates from Rebecca's recuerda mi corazon. Please feel free to go there and have a look and catch the feelings of other kinderd souls.

October 26th. That’s when all this heart stuff started. It was right about this time, early in the morning, that my heartbeat went racing out of control. It was at 167 when I put the blood pressure cuff on and saw it. Before that, I remember a trip up North earlier in October. That’s the last time I was on the road for anyplace farther than the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis, which is 38 miles from my home.
That changed on January 25th when I headed to Chicago, driving my car. So, over three months of being what I consider to be homebound, I finally got into the car and drove away. Hardly a cross country excursion, but I was doing what I love, seeing the world through the windshield. This view is my therapy, my yoga, my meditation.
I listened to the radio. I have SiriusXM installed in Goldie. Channel 26 plays the classic rock and for my benefit played the Allman Brothers “Ramblin’ Man”. I was born a ramblin’ man, there is no doubt about it!

Lord, I was born a ramblin' man

Trying to make a living and doing the best I can

When it's time for leaving, I hope you'll understand

That I was born a rambling man
I cried at the screaming guitar of Carlos Santana. I sang out loud at the top of my lungs with “Hey Jude” and just soaked it all in, dreaming of days gone by, when they played Mott the Hooples’ “All the Young Dudes”.
I left around 7:00 AM and this time of year, even though the daylight hours are on the increase, there’s still a darkness to the sky, especially when it’s damp and foggy, and that’s how it was last Wednesday. No camera, so no photos of this very familiar route to the city where I was born and raised.
As I drove East on US 10, the sun was brightening the sky from behind the foggy heavens. Then, I was able to look right at the sun. There was no glare as the outline of the perfect orb shone through the lifting haze. In a short while, the day had become a sunny one.
I stopped at Pammy K’s diner in Eleva, WI. Had the chopped beefsteak and eggs, then got underway and drove the Interstate for a hundred miles or so. I took two-lane highways to Mt. Horeb after that and paid a visit to the Duluth Trading Company’s retail store.
On from there into Illinois with dinner and a motel room in Harvard. I tell you, it felt so good to be on the road. I wish I could remember what I was writing in my head that day. The words flowed out of my brain as I wanted to tell the world I felt free once again.
The crows were evident everywhere along the road. I saw one eagle, two deer and two sheriffs patrol cars along with the show Ole Sol was putting on as it broke through the cloud cover to reveal itself on a very unseasonable Winter day in the Midwest. Temps shot as high as 46 degrees. When I got to Illinois, there was no snow to be seen.
The next morning, I headed into Chicago with a stop at a restaurant along US Highway 14 in Crystal Lake, IL. I did a little zigging and zagging to find the highway after I checked out what was happening on WBBM radio out of Chicago. They have traffic and weather on the 8’s. I pulled into the driveway at the funeral home and immediately spotted the familiar faces of my brother and brother-in-law in the parking lot.
The trip home was equally as enjoyable for the first half. The second half it was dark and all I could see were the images in my head while listening to more old but great music. The Reggae channel had me bobbin’ and weavin’. I was Irie mon.
I don’t know what many of you think about road trips. As you can see, it is important to my life. For a while, I felt like I’d never be able to take off, at least not take off alone, from home. I’ve broken the ice and plan a full schedule of travel starting in mid March when I can saddle up and get to Albuquerque to get my motorcycle out of Winter storage.
In the meantime, I refreshed my soul by simply being on the move. Practicing what I preach, I realize there is nothing I can do about what has happened, and I sure don’t know what the future will bring, so living one day at a time means be prepared, but perish the thought of sitting in a living room chair, watching TV and waiting to die for the rest of my life. I want to live, not just be alive, as long as The Creator allows. And I continue to be thankful for friends and family. I pray for the Veterans, the Elders, the Sick, the Addicted and the Children.

Mitakwe Oyasin

Friday, January 27, 2012

Rest In Peace

Haiku My Heart
January 27, 2012

For more Haiku My Heart, visit Rebecca's recuerda mi corazon. Also, remember rebecca in your prayers as she needs them.

Strong sister, good Mom

Took care of Grandma, Grandpa
Left good memories

L to R, Grandma Spada, my Mom and Auntie Angie with my sister and brother around 1945

The funeral was a plain simple affair. Meet at the funeral home, listen to the priest say a few words and read a couple of scriptures, drive in funeral procession to the chapel at the cemetery where all the relatives are buried, proceed to the nearby restaurant to share a meal together and leave to head for home. I drove 400 miles down to Chicago to spend three hours with my family and honor the life of my Auntie Ange.

I wonder why these things are done in the same way and have been in our family as long as I can remember. Not sure what I’d do differently, but there seems to be an element gone astray at what I call, a funeral home funeral.

When my daughter was lost to this world in a terrible automobile accident, we knew we had some responsibility to take care of the body. We chose to have her remains cremated. The people at the funeral home wanted to sell us a brass urn to hold the ashes. We were fine with a cardboard box. In fact, we didn’t want the ashes. They were reverted back to the ground to become part of the soil.
What we wanted to save was her spirit. We wanted to hold this with us in our hearts forever and we have done so. Yet there are people that need these funeral home funerals to say goodbye and to close the book, so to speak, on the life of a human being they knew when that person walked among them.
With this in mind, and it is in my mind every time I feel the need to attend a funeral, I was present when they laid my Aunt to rest yesterday. I honored her life and the part in my life she played. When I was a youngster growing up, we’d visit her home often because Grandma and Grandpa Spada lived with her and her family and it was the custom in my father’s household to visit his parents every Sunday afternoon.
As we cousins grew up and moved away to raise our own families, I didn’t see my Aunt very often, but when I did, she was the same steady voice and demeanor. She always told me how much I looked like my father, who was her brother, and told me she loved me. She grabbed me by the cheeks and held on to me like I was her own. I guess I was of her own.
There was sadness and tears, but there was a lightheartedness to seeing family and reuniting around her. Everyone knew she was in a hurry to join her husband, my Uncle Willis, who passed last April. Auntie Ange was having health problems of her own and they were getting progressively worse. When they told her she had some kind of cancer on top of the rest of the age related ailments, she let herself return to her maker.
It was a whirlwind of a trip as I haven’t driven anywhere in almost three months and I was chompin’ at the bit to get on the road. More about that soon. For now, I acknowledge the loss of my Aunt from this world and will miss her very much.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday Morning Musings

It’s early on a Sunday morning. I love the quiet here in the house. This weekend has been a frenzy of activity with out-of-town guests and birthday parties for my youngest Grand daughter who turned five years old on Friday. Last night, the din was so loud. There were eight kids here along with seven adults and two dogs that both weigh at least eighty pounds. You can just imagine swinging a three foot stick at a pin'ata in the midst of all this chaos. I tell you, this big house is too small!
After months of unseasonable weather that had purveyors of Winter sports like snowmobiling, skiing, ice skating, ice fishing, snow shoeing and dog sledding reeling at the economic impact of another Winter without a snow base to ply their activities, Winter is here with a vengeance with extreme cold and now snow in the forecast, albeit small amounts, but some expected every day for the next week and beyond.
Despite the cold and snowy weather, my brother flew into Chicago last week from Phoenix to meet up with my sister, then, they drove up together for a visit to Spadoville. They’ll be here through Sunday and head back Monday morning. So, I’m enjoying some quiet time now before I get the pans rattlin’ and make breakfast/brunch for the masses.
Getting off the good-fer-ya diet today. I’m making biscuits ‘n gravy, southern style, from scratch. I learned the recipe many years ago from a neighbor I had that was from Valdosta, Georgia. This is the real thing folks. Seasoned and salted fat over buttery biscuits with eggs, hash browns and plenty of that great tasting top quality freshly roasted Smokey Double Dark coffee we get from my close friend Steve at the J & S Bean Factory Coffee Shop.
A visit after that to the youngest Spado daughter’s home for a view of some completed remodeling projects before football and a nap between touchdowns. Pretty traditional Sunday afternoon. What I haven’t forgotten is how fortunate I am to be alive to witness and be a part of it. In all the turmoil and fun with the pin’ata last night, I missed the call from my cousin informing us that my aunt had passed away yesterday after a long bout with several illness’ and cancer.
That voicemail message news brought a pall of sadness down on my brother, sister and me. Auntie Angie was my dad’s only sister, our only auntie on my dad’s side of the family. We will miss her terribly. I’ll be pretty much following my brother and sister back to Chicago for the funeral. I sure send peace and prayers to the rest of my cousins and the families that are mourning. 
I realize I have been pretty lame in blogging and visiting others this past week or so. Just haven’t been in the usual routine. Still many VA appointments and cardiac rehab three days per week. I’ve also been nursing some kind of stomach bug that has had me sitting on the porcelain throne more time than I sit in the car on a long cross country journey.
Never thought my blog would come to the point of being a what-I-did-today kind of place, but today it is, and that’s what I have to say. I owe so many e-mails, letters and phone calls to people that I’m feeling overwhelmed. Please be patient and I’ll make sure you know you’re loved, thought of and prayed for.
In the meantime, take care and be well.
Much Peace

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Spadoville Snowshoe Art

This past period of time has been crazy. I actually started this paragraph by using the words “this past year”, but it has truly been a period of time that has transcended calendar dates that has been crazy.
I can’t dwell on the past. That is finished. It’s behind me. I sure don’t know the future, so there’s no sense whatsoever to worry about what I think is gonna happen. After spending all that time in the hospitals and all the ambulance rides, I find myself slowed down quite a bit and trying to get through days of sitting around at a time when I’m usually down in the American Southwest being able to get outside in weather more conducive to being outside.
Remember that balmy unseasonable weather I talked about last week? It’s over. It’s Winter. I’m inside these days. The cold is hard on my lungs and I really have to be careful not to risk a fall on the ice as I am told the blood thinners I am taking could make for some rather tough complications should I slip and bang my head.
So, I got motivated and completed some promised artwork recently. I got so inspired that I  set out to make snowshoes again this year after I took a couple of years off from making any. I had the good fortune of a friend that stopped by my house, saw the ones I made for my Grandchildren and then proceeded to call me up a few days later and asked if I would make him a pair.
I started them, and nearly got them finished before the roof came crashing down and all this heart stuff brought my entire life to a grinding halt.
With what seems to me to be a new lease on life, I have resumed the project and have finished this pair of snowshoes. I have informed the customer that I would deliver this particular pair of snowshoes to him at an event I plan on attending next Wednesday January 18th.
A section of the snowshoes as they hang up to allow the varnish to dry

As things would be, my friend knew of my struggles and never worried about the snowshoes being finished at any particular time. Also, since this has been a very strange year weather wise all over the country it seems, the lack of snow in our region mandated that anyone that already has a pair of snowshoes hasn’t taken them from the garage and even dusted them off let alone use them!
Temperatures in the 40’s and 50’s, what little snow we’ve had has fallen and melted thrice. Last week, the forecast was more sunshine and warmer then normal temperatures for at least another week. And now, this week, we got a little snow, but the temperatures are a lot colder.
I know my good friend Mel who pens Mel’s Dream will appreciate the orange t-shirt I’m wearing in the photos of me doing some artwork with the wood burning tool on the toes and tails of the snowshoes. She’s a halloween fanatic and sees punkins every time she sees orange. The kitchen table does double and sometimes triple duty as it is the "studio" for many art projects, school projects, board games, conversations and eating, sometimes all at the same time!
Working on the tail feather image with the wood burning tool

The brightness and gaiety of the table cloth, also laced with a lot of orange, is the handiwork of Stephanie over at Mango Studio. This is heavy duty oilcloth and makes for an easy to clean surface on that old wooden table where we at Spadoville take our meals. She is a fabulous artist well above and beyond the aprons, and things she makes with the oilcloth.
The Hawk's talon print on the toepiece

The artwork was drawn with on the wooden toes and tails of this particular pair of snowshoes. I have several tips to make a wide variety of lines with the wood burner. My friend has the Hawk as his totem. I’ve added the claw talons of the Hawk to the toe. The Tail feather of the Red Tailed Hawk has donned the tail.
Red Tailed Hawk feather at the tail before the varnish is applied

Outlined in pencil, the feather image was wood burned for a bold line drawing. This is filled in with stain that pretty closely matches the coloration of what you see when the Red Tail splashes by in flight. Glad I paid attention to my teacher in Kindergarten and stayed in the lines. Amazing what you remember after 60 years.
Four coats of high quality exterior varnish is applied and when dry, they are ready to use. Hopefully, for my friend and the general economy of the Northland, snow will have fallen in amounts ample enough to need the flotation of a snowshoe to traverse cross country. I think he’ll have to travel to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to snowshoe this year, at least so far.

Hanging in the laundry room to dry. Nic e of the rest of the family to share their space for the messy part of this project. It's been too cold to do this in the garage. 

I have more frames to make more snowshoes, various sizes, too. But I think I’ll just leave them and if the mood strikes, lace up a pair or two. I don’t feel the need to make more for this season unless someone were to order a pair.
As far as other artwork, well, nothing lately. The few pieces I did have complete have been sent on their way. I do have many Dream Catcher projects planned and the materials gathered to start them. Some very rare designs too. This may happen at any time.
The repeated coats of varnish brings out the color and boldness of the wood burning

In the meantime, if anyone were to be interested in a pair or two of custom made one-of-a-kind heirloom snowshoes or a Dream Catcher, Gourd Rattle, Hand Drum, Walking Stick, Talking Stick or Dance Stick, let me know. E-mail is best.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Haiku My Heart

A full tilt boogie

Dancin' my way to the stars

One day at a time

See more at recuerda mi corazon

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

How's the Weather?

The overnight low didn't get below 36 degrees last night. It's suppose to be near 45 today. That happens quite often in Winter here, but this year it seems to be happening every day! There is virtually no snow on the ground and not much in the forecast for snow or cold temps.

I'm not complaining. I'll take whatever happens and be happy with it. But this is just strange.

So, how's the weather where you live?