Weekly Columns!

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 Editor's Notebook by Bill Blauvelt A Different Slant, by Chuck Mittan Country Roads, by Gloria Garman-Schlaefli Life, Beyond the Ranch, by Tonya R. Pohlman

Editor's Notebook, by Bill Blauvelt
If the forecasters are correct, weather may spoil the plans of some for the coming three-day weekend. But all hope has not been lost. The forecasters indicated the high school graduations planned for Saturday would be washed out, if not blown away.
In the days leading up to Saturday, storm spotters were making preparations. Some of the fancy, specially built spotter vehicles were seen in the area. However, the storm fizzled out. While some parts of the country had rough weather, this section had perfect graduation weather. The temperature was moderate without heavy rain and hail. The overcast made it easier to take pictures of the graduates outdoors.
This week we are being told to expect unstable weather through Monday. The forecasters are betting on below normal temperatures, rain and likely destructdive wind and hail.
Weather of that kind will not be good for the festival, alumni and Memorial Day activities planned for Superior.
I only remember once in the prior 23 festivals when rain and cold weather put a damper on the celebration.
While hard on Saturday's festival schedule, the weather did help the Friday night events planned for City Auditorium. The campers found it so cold at the lake that many of them came to town hoping to find a place where they could warm up. They were disappointed to find the auditorium heat had been turned off but with free admission concluded it was better there than in a tent at Lovewell.
The skies cleared for a brief period that Saturday morning and the parade was held as scheduled. I assumed many of the mud splattered people I saw in downtown Superior that morning were refugees who had fled the rain and cold temperatures they were experiencing while camping at Lovewell Lake.
The rain returned soon after the parade and many of the vendors and their potential customers experienced a washed out day. A Vestey family member, here for the festival, was standing under a vendor's tent when it collapsed under the weight of the accumulating rain water. She was soaked clear through but unhurt and took the experience in stride. As a photographer it was fun to watch determined festival goers who had removed their shoes and were trudging about the town in the warm rain but a camera malfunction kept me from getting their pictures.
If it is raining this year, indications are it will be a cold rain and not so much fun to dash about in.
When I helped my father with a business that catered to lake visitors, Memorial Day was the hardest of the holidays to plan for.
Coming right after school was out for the year, the holiday offered the greatest business potential of the three summer holidays-Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day. Our customers were tired of being at home and eager for some time in the sun. But many years the sun was absent. Often the holiday was cool and damp and not at all what they were looking for.
If it was warm and sunny we had trouble meeting the demand for ice and similar hot weather supplies. Cold and rainy, called for sweatshirts and dry charcoal. Items we always ran out of. It seemed we never stocked what our customers wanted, or at least not in the quantities they wanted.
With this year's warm early spring, I was worried my peony plants would bloom before Memorial Day. But the recent string of cool days has changed my focus. Their buds are still tight and I am concerned they won't be blooming in time to be used to decorate the graves of my family.
With the early warm temperatures, I've was sorry I hadn't gotten my garden planted but if we should receive frost this week, I'll be happy I haven't planted.
Expecting a dry year, I planted milo in a river bottom field I can sometimes irrigate. With water standing in that field this month I'm not sure I made the right decision.

A Different Slant, by Chuck Mittan

My days of waking up teenagers and trying to get them places on time pretty much ended with the completion of this school year. Thank goodness. It's been among my least favorite things to do.
There were times when both of them were a problem, but by senior year, daughter number one seemed to figure it out. Of course, she was driving herself to school by then, so when she wanted to leave, she was forced into helping us hurry along daughter number two. More than a few times, she said she refused to let her sister force her to be late, so she left and either Kathy or I had to take the straggler to school.
Daughter number one just completed her freshman year of college, and I have to assume she is getting herself out of bed and to class on time because I looked at her grades for both semesters online as soon as they were posted (insert widely-smiling emoticon here!).
That one has grown up a lot recently. She went out and got a full-time job within just a few days of coming home for the summer. I told her I was happy to see her working, but I wanted to make sure she also took some time off to have a proper summer vacation. She said she didn't plan to work full-time all summer, but her car needs brakes and she wants to buy a new computer and she didn't want me to have to pay for those things. She said she plans to quit or at least cut back her hours severely well before the end of the summer and have some vacation, but she much preferred working like crazy for half the summer to working part-time for the whole summer.
Daughter number two, the recent high school graduate, is fond of getting out of bed about seven minutes before she is to be some place, and leaving the house about five minutes after she was supposed to be there. This will not serve her well in college or in life in general. Additionally, chronic tardiness is among my least favorite traits in a person, which probably stems from my childhood.
My older brother was an avid movie-goer, and my mom was willing to support his habit as long as he took me along. But because he was always late ­­ to absolutely everything ­­ we never left the house until time for the movie to begin. I often tell people I missed the first 10 minutes of every movie made between 1967 and 1975.
I hope daughter number two figures it out by the time she gets to college in the fall. She is not going to the same school as her sister, so she will have no one to push her.

Country Roads, by Gloria Garman-Schlaefli

While recently helping load cows to move them to pasture, I managed to earn farm wife "battle wounds." Some would say I'm a klutz, or maybe it was just my unlucky day. Some would say, "Well, that's what you get for trying to hurry." But no matter; it happened just the same.
My husband and I were preparing to load the last seven cows into the trailer. We had taken three loads to the two pastures up north and it looked like we would be done in time to stop at the cafe for lunch. As I had done many times, I jumped out of the passenger side of the pickup to give hand signals so the trailer could be backed up in line with the cattle chute. One of my muddy boots hit a limestone rock in the drive way and I stumbled and fell. My face hit another rock and as I struggled to get upright, I noticed blood was coming from my nose and upper lip. My husband seeing my peril in his mirror, came running to my aid. We decided nothing was broken and used his hanky as a bandage until we got home to wash my face.
If it hadn't hurt so bad, I would have laughed as I looked at my swollen and scraped nose and small puncture wound right above my upper lip. Then, like a balloon, the lip began to swell. We applied some bandages and went back to finish the cattle move.
After the last load was delivered to the pasture, my husband asked if I still wanted to eat at the cafe. I looked in the side mirror and quickly replied, "No."
We then returned home for a change of bandages. I tried to look at the positive side. I often wondered what I would look like with fashionably full lips. After all, some women have surgery or shots to achieve that look. My red swollen nose could have passed for a clown's nose. That night, I noticed dark brown scabs had covered the scrapes on my nose and above my lip. Then reality set in. Oh my, in two weeks would be my class reunion! Maybe I could hire a make-up artist for the occasion. My husband assured me it will all be healed and gone by the time of the reunion.
For a week, I avoided seeing others. I didn't want to explain how it happened. When I eventually had someone drop by, I hoped they wouldn't notice my scabs, but they did: "What on earth happened to you?"
With the reunion approaching, my husband appears to be right. The scabs are falling off, and now with a little make-up, I may get by. Thankfully, I think I will be recognized by my classmates.

Life, Beyond the Ranch, by Tonya R. Pohlman

Where we go, what we do, whom we are anxious to be with and how we choose to recharge when our work for the day is done, is different for each person. I recall as a young mother, after my work day was done I was always anxious to see my children, to know they were safe and to hear about their day at school or at day care.
Time and circumstance cause the people and places which define our happy place to often change. My children are grown. They have their own places to go and people to see when their day is done. I still look forward to hearing about their day when the occasion presents itself, though now it may be in a computer or phone message.
For some, the end of the work day is not the end of the day's duties. There are those who attend meetings, work a second job or see to the care of others. But when we are truly done for the day, we should all find where, what and who makes us happy. And that happy place is where the end of our day should be.
There are people who find happiness in walking their dog, or walking alone. There are those who run, those who, like me, enjoy swimming when the weather and water are right. And there are those who enjoy driving cars or motorcycles, or those who ride bicycles. Some people read, play or listen to music. People might choose to knit, paint or craft, while others watch television or meet friends or family for food, beverages and conversation. There are people who find their happy place in church, at a library, in nature, shopping at a store or in bed taking a nap. The "who, what, when and where" of what makes up our happy place depends on where we are in life, what is available to us, and how we choose to shape what we have to work with into that one place where we can always find comfort, relief, release and contentment.
My husband, Marty, and I both work for The Superior Express newspaper. Throughout the day we may be no more than feet apart as we carry on with different tasks. At times we take our lunch breaks together. And there are times when we do not. Much of our time is together, whether at work or at home. When our work day is done, we still look forward to going home together, though how we choose to recharge and decompress for the day is often quite different. Our happy place is together. But our happy place also accommodates our different needs.
After work, Marty prefers to catch up on national and world news which he reads from the internet on his computer. Eventually he will make his way into the man cave where he escapes into other worlds, some of which are made stunningly picturesque by way of advanced video game programming. While Marty, in his happy place, wins battles and protects his other worlds from monsters, aliens, bad guys or who knows what, my happy place involves dirty fingernails, grimy, windblown hair, muddy shoes, insect bites and allergies, where I am challenged by ants, spiders, mosquitoes, snakes and a demonic squirrel. Marty's happy place rewards him with points, more challenges and new levels. It also allows him to relax and provides a pleasant outlet for daily stressors. My happy place rewards me with the aesthetically pleasing sights, smells and sounds of flowers, trees, butterflies and birds. Such a place is made even more special with the addition of Iris and daisies shared with us from our neighbor who tends her beautiful garden often and has for years.
If the weather is good, from spring through fall, any truly free time I have after my work day is done will lead me outdoors, where my happy place is a backyard garden paradise in the making. All I need is sunshine, water and dirt. It also helps to have a shovel, hoe, rake, various outdoor plants, mulch, garden hose, mower and an imagination that sees potential where nothing more than a weed encrusted plot of rain saturated dirt dips and curves.
My imagination often leads me into more work than one might consider a relaxing break from the already completed work day. I am often tired and grungy. But I'm not just happy. I am content. And the growing backyard bird population and variety seems to approve of my efforts. I've noticed the birds that do frequent our backyard do not seem to mind my presence, and some even stop to listen to me speak to them from time to time.
Of course I also realize the possibility that the birds consider me not only harmless but useful. To them, I'm like a barkeep at the local pub for birds. I regularly clean and refill their communal bath with cool, fresh water and see to the care and ongoing addition of colorful flowers and foliage to their aviary oasis. As an added bonus, all of my dirt digging usually stirs up a buffet of tasty critters for our feathered backyard patrons to dine.
I am inwardly grateful each day for the sunshine, the water and the dirt in which I cut a piece of happiness for myself. I am also aware that impermanence is a fact of life. We may not always have the same people, places or things we contentedly surround ourselves with. We are subject to constant change without a guarantee that tomorrow will offer the same raw materials we use to mold and define what constitutes our happy place today. But even if all were stripped away and it appeared as though we had nothing, that quiet center of happiness we all need can still be reached, if we choose to find it, in the thoughts, memories and dreams unique to each of us.