Posted by: chlost | July 16, 2016

The Grand trip (as in grandparents/grandchild)

Getting back into a regular writing schedule is harder than I thought it would be. I am still filling my time with nonsense, writing a post in my head, but not sitting down to actually put it into the computer. Finally, this weekend I have some time and have no excuse for not writing.

Last weekend we took our middle granddaughter on a trip with us to Portland, OR. She had never been away from home for more than two nights by herself. She had never flown on a plane. She had never seen the ocean, or mountains.

We changed all of those things in one four-day weekend.

She is the sweetest kid. At age 7, she is the peace-maker between her 9 and 5 year-old sisters. Even she recognizes that. Her parents were a bit concerned about how the house would be without her there to calm the waters. She deserved some major on-her-own time.

The plane ride seen from her eyes was wonderful. She breezed through security (one of my concerns) and was very patient waiting at the gate. It was very exciting to see the planes outside the windows as we waited for our plane to load.


Merle usually takes the window seat, as I need the aisle for my knees and legs. But he relented to allow her to have the window seat. She felt quite special. She turned to us during the flight and told us “This is the best day of my life!”


The weather was pretty miserable the entire weekend. Cold, wet and windy. But we went to the beach anyway. I loved this sign on the side of a building:


The weather meant nothing to a seven-year-old girl at the beach for the first time. She wore her swimsuit under her clothes. A short time after this photo, she was in the waves in her swimsuit, and had a blast. She was not shivering or showing any signs of being cold, unlike me. I sat quite a distance from the water, with a jacket on, shivering as I watched her play in the surf. The other adults there probably considered reporting us to the authorities for allowing her to play like that.


We also visited a huge aquarium. It’s quite a place. There are indoor and outdoor exhibits, featuring things like giant crabs, octopus, sea otters, puffins and sea lions. But the major draw is this aquarium, which contains all sorts of sea life, including some sharks.


Notice the glass floor. You can see fish underneath you, as well. That freaked me out. I didn’t like walking on the glass. But it is really pretty cool as long as you walk to the side of them. There is an aquarium like this at the Mall of America, but she had never been there. She had a little camera and was running from one thing to another to take pictures for her family. These were small polaroid photos. She did a good job photographing, she has an eye for it.

The next day we drove up to Mr. Hood. It was another cold, cloudy and wet day, so we couldn’t see much. It would be hard to tell you were on a mountain except for the fact that your car went up a steep incline. But the lodge is great. The two-story central area has a huge fireplace, and there is a bar/restaurant on the second floor with a loft overlooking the lower level.  We sat by the fireplace, and enjoyed some hot chocolate and a sweet treat. She also loved the gift shop. That’s my girl.


The whole reason we were in Portland was to visit Merle’s aunt and cousin. His aunt was turning 96 years old. She is an amazing person, we love spending time with her. She still lives in her own home, alone. She drives, although limits the distance. She has slowed down a bit, but overall gets around like someone several decades younger. Merle’s cousin, her daughter, helps her out quite a bit. Our granddaughter and they had never met. Within a short time, though, they were enjoying each other’s company. It was fun to see the generations meet. We stayed in his aunt’s home. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see their neighbor, Sam Elliot or his wife, although they were expecting him to stop in sometime in the next week. Their adjoining backyards share some pretty amazing Douglas Firs.


It really as a wonderful trip. In two years, we will be taking our youngest (as of now) granddaughter on a trip. She has been seriously considering where she wants to go with us. It’s been a very special way to bond with them, and hopefully it is something that they will all remember long after we are gone.

In just about a month, we are expecting another granddaughter. So we will have seven years to decide where we will go with her. I can only hope that we are still up for another fun trip.

I can’t wait.




Posted by: chlost | July 5, 2016

Life flows

The last  real post I had here was in March. Since then things have been busy around here. This blog is really just for my own personal journaling, so filling in a few blank months will keep it on track.

A good portion of my time has been spent on Facebook. I don’t know why the short little blips on Facebook have replaced the writing here, as it seems so much easier to just plop in  a comment and leave. I just don’t seem to have the energy to write more than a few lines. As Facebook goes, I am wordy. Here, maybe not so much.

Big news for us—a new granddaughter is due to arrive in late August. We are excited. Cautiously excited. My son and daughter-in-law went through a miscarriage with the first pregnancy, so even though they are very happy and excited about this baby, I think in the back of their minds they are not letting themselves be too optimistic. They haven’t told us the short list for names. I think they will choose something very classic, just because that is their style. Our other granddaughters have very unique names, and that is their parents’ style.

We have had two new bovine members of the family this spring, a female and a male, not yet named, but very cute little Herefords. Merle is quite proud and happy about adding them to his herd. That makes an even dozen that he has now.



This little heifer (girl) calf needed some encouragement to nurse. The granddaughters were very willing to help.

Read More…

Posted by: chlost | July 4, 2016

Hello, anyone there? It’s me. I’m still here

A blogger friend recently sent a note to me, wondering about the status of this blog. I suspect she was also just checking to make sure I am still of this world.

Well, I am still alive and kicking, but I have terribly neglected my writing habit. It seems that I have allowed other mundane activities creep into my life, leaving me little time or energy to write here.

It has been months since I even logged on to WordPress. I apologize for not keeping up with the blogs I have enjoyed for years. It will take me a while, but I will get around to say hello. It may take me a while to readjust my habits to include this blogging world that I have enjoyed. It is a bit like going back to visit a favorite spot, but it will take a while to bring it back into my daily life. That’s my goal.

I am working out a few posts in my head, but it will take me a little while to pull them out of my fingers and onto a computer screen. In the meantime, I just wanted to say hello and see if there may be anyone left out there who may still be interested in continuing our blogging friendship.

It is the Fourth of July holiday here in the US today, so Merle and I may take in some fireworks tonight. Unfortunately, he has to be off to work by 4 am tomorrow, so being up for them would be quite difficult. But my mom will spend the afternoon here, and we’ll probably grill some burgers and just relax. It is an absolutely perfect summer day, and I plan to be outside to enjoy it.

But, I will be back. Promise.


Posted by: chlost | March 14, 2016


There is a toy store around here that is named “Creative Kidstuff“. I am not sure whether or not it is a national chain, but there are several locations in the area. It is a great store, with lots of fun toys, activities and playthings for kids.

Nothing in that store can compare with the vivid imagination of a kid, though.

My granddaughters visited this past weekend, and we had an absolutely gorgeous day on Saturday. After a long winter of heavy coats, snowpants and boots, we took advantage of the chance to be outside in sunshine and warmth, no coats, and the girls even took off their shoes and socks. It was glorious.

But how do three girls, soon to be ages 9, 7, and 5 spend an entire day outdoors with their grandparents?  We have a very limited supply of outdoor toys.  They did bring their bikes and helmets, so there was a pretty good stint of bike racing.

After numerous speedy treks down the driveway and around the cul-de-sac, usually timed with my cell phone stopwatch, their attention began to wander. They looked up the street, around the yard, in the garage for things to do.

What can you do with a hammer, a large flathead screw driver and a deteriorating blacktop driveway?

Chisel out the precious “agates” embedded in the blacktop, of course! (We will be replacing the driveway this summer, so no harm there). They had a blast.


That activity kept them busy for nearly an hour. The youngest took a break from riding her bike in order to “help”. The older two were definitely in charge, and made a good team.

After watching them for a while, I was feeling guilty just sitting in the sun doing nothing.  So I trimmed back the tall grasses that I’d left behind last fall. It’s not a big job, but it felt good to clear the dried grass away to allow the new growth to start. Hopefully it will start very soon.

When she saw the cut dried grass, our oldest granddaughter came up with an entirely new activity. She told her sisters to gather the grass into bunches. She ran into the house and came out with a roll of painters’ tape. As one girl took an armload of grass from me, the other two worked and taped the bunch together, like a shock of grain.

In fact, that was the idea. The oldest has become fascinated by the lives of the late 19th century Native American tribes. She has a doll that is Native American accompanied by stories about life for a girl and her family during that timeframe. Suddenly, my granddaughters were part of a Native American tribe preparing for winter.

As she explained to the two younger girls, they would need some of the grass shocks for food, and some to make their bedding in a sheltered area. They found a place between two large evergreens along the side of our driveway and made it into a “reservation”. The area of the reservation was marked with utility marker flags (left behind from past yard projects). The grass bundles then were used to lay out their bedding, and the remaining bundles placed near the opening to provide their food.



It is spring, of course, so there was mud. Three barefoot girls + mud = muddy girls. They coated the bottoms of their feet with mud. Because, of course that is what a Native American girl would have done in that situation. The youngest girl broke away here and there and used the mud for other things, including this:


She also made a good, old-fashion mudpie which she left in the sun to dry.

I remember playing like this when I was a kid. They were completely immersed in their make-believe world. They wrote the story as they played, each of them adding a line or two at a time. “When we were making the straw bed, then we needed more so we had to go back to get it, right?” The others would either agree, or modify the story with their own suggestion.

It was magical to hear and watch them.

Somewhere along the line, the play shifted again, and they began running races. The other girls ran up and down our 200 ft. front lawn as fast as they could while the oldest became a play-by-play radio announcer. Where she got this idea, I don’t know. But she knew how to do a sound only recording on my phone. She had the lingo down “She’s coming around the track now as fast as she can, and here she comes! She’s almost to the end!” She signed off on each of these races as “H___ L____, the Native American announcer”.

This brought us to 4:30 pm, and time for baths (those mud-caked feet) and dinner. They had spent an entire afternoon with a hammer, a screwdriver, a two buckets, some discarded grass, painters’ tape, a cell phone recorder, their bicycles, each other and gobs of imagination.

Creative kidstuff indeed.


Merle enjoyed the sunny day, too.





Posted by: chlost | January 16, 2016

Home Sweet Home


Child’s outdoor playhouse near Memphis, TN


Almost exactly fifteen years ago, we bought our current home and moved into it in the middle of a January snowstorm. At that time, we had two children still in high school. We had moved from a one-story 1950’s era rambler which was in a neighborhood of small ramblers and almost unbelievably smaller split-entry homes. It was filled with young families, children and dogs ran freely along and across the streets and yards.

Our new two-story home, set on the edge of a river and surrounded by a small woods, was a dream come true. We didn’t have enough furniture to fill more than about 1/2 of the rooms. The dining room and family room were empty once the movers left us that day. The storage space was amazing-closets, cupboards, and a huge unfinished area above the garage was more than we had ever imagined.

Fifteen years later, we have no children living here. There was a year when our youngest son and his family came back to live here, but they have moved to a home of their own. All three of our children visit as often as possible. Our grandchildren stay with us about once a month. The furniture which we bought soon after we moved into the house fills the rooms, but has become shabby and outdated. The storage space has, unbelievably, become full to overflowing.

The house has become a home. We find it comfortable, even if it is big for our current needs. We love the woods, the river, and the quiet neighborhood. Right now, the snow cover shows the myriad of trails through our yard used by deer and other wildlife. There are swans and geese which stay through the winter months on the river below our backyard.

Even with all of that, we have come to the realization that we will have to downsize. We may live here for another 2 to 5 years before we trade this home in, returning to single- level living. That’s just how the circle of life works, I suppose.

Over the fifteen years that we’ve been here, though, we have not done much in the way of redecorating or renovation. Now we need to get this place in shape for making a sale in the next couple of years. When my dad died several years ago, I used some of my inheritance and redecorated the kitchen. That is still in pretty good shape. But the rest of the house looks every bit its thirty years of age.

So we are dipping our toes into the very scary process of a home renovation. We know ourselves well enough to know that we are not DIY’ers. We also are not able to agree on things such as color, furnishings, or fixtures. When we can’t agree, we just end up not doing anything. So the light fixture that I have hated since we moved in fifteen years ago still is hanging askew from the entryway ceiling, and I look at it nearly daily with the thought “God, I hate that thing”.

We have talked to two professionals so far. One, a young woman who is a decorator/general contractor. She is the daughter-in-law of a friend, but I didn’t know that at the time I received a recommendation for her. She walked in, took a look at our upstairs and came up with a fabulously creative idea to completely change the entire layout. She also had two less extensive ideas to choose from. She felt that the house was , for the most part in need of an update-some areas more than others. She was positive, energetic, and enthusiastic. She will help with picking out tile, counters and such, and will get everything put together so that it is ready to go before starting the project.

The second person was a man who is the son-in-law of our cleaning person. He has done many projects on several HGTV shows. He was referred to us by our cleaning person, because our bathroom needs a renovation so badly that they have had trouble cleaning it well. This guy was very practical, down-to-earth and not at all flashy.  Nothing out-of-the-box from him. We would be picking out tile, etc, He will do what we want, but will put together a blueprint and plan for the overall project. He didn’t see that we needed to do much other than some wallpaper removal, painting and some light fixture replacement in the rest of the house.

We also know that the HGTV effect means that many of the demographic who will be in the market for a house like this will expect that it will wow them. It needs to be turnkey. They all think they will live in the houses they see on television.

So. How do we choose? How do we know what to do? How much to do? What is needed? We want to increase the chances of a sale at a good price. We want to enjoy the improvements a bit before we move. We don’t want to spend money and then not end up with a benefit for a sale. Although we know we won’t get a big return for these improvements, we don’t want to just throw the money away.

I asked some friends and family who know our house. Our daughter had a laundry list of suggestions. All very good. Others had nothing.

This is going to be a grand adventure.

Or a nightmare.

Posted by: chlost | December 20, 2015

Another unexpected hiatus and now it’s Christmas

It seems as though I start and stop this site in fitful bits. There seems to be very limited energy on my part to keep it going. I just haven’t had the ideas, energy or time to write posts.

Okay, that last part is not completely true. I have time. We all have the same amount of time every day. I just seem to use my time for other things. Really important things. Like Facebook posts and comments. And watching Netflix. And playing solitaire.

I’m getting pretty darn good at solitaire, folks.

My thoughts seem to come primarily in little bits lately. Quips. Jokes. Smart-ass comments.

For some reason, my brain is not working in blog-post bits. No essays here any more.

I did have one idea for a blog post recently. It had something to do with acronyms. It may take me a while to put it together into something logical. When I do, you will be the first to know.

I still dream of being a writer. I wish I could write. I want to write. I just don’t write. It never seems to get from wish to work. Shouldn’t it just magically happen?

Oh, I also started a little story for my granddaughters. I wrote a story for them and put it into a book a few years ago. I used some of their drawings as illustrations and gave each of them a copy for Christmas. Just recently, their parents told me how much they like it, and that it is one of their favorite books. I hadn’t known that. I hadn’t heard much about it after I gave it to them. But now I feel a little more encouraged to write a new story. I wish I could be a children’s book author.

I will try to work on that.

In the meantime, I am doing some holiday preparations. I am not good at it. I am not a craft-y person. I don’t do decorating well. I have some old, pretty shabby ornaments and decorations. Merle and I got a tree a week ago. It is in the house. We water it each day. It isn’t decorated yet. The outdoor lights didn’t get up this year, even though it has been very warm. No excuse, except we just didn’t use our time to do that.

I told Merle that I wasn’t going to send cards this year. I have always written the holiday cards, and for the past several years, I wrote a little update with a collage of family photos from the year. He couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t send cards. I told him that with Facebook, and all of the other social media, it just isn’t the same. It’s a lot of work for something that is thrown away. He has decided to do the cards this year. It has now been two days and he has the one-page letter finished, Now he is starting the task of choosing the photos to put into the collage.

Last year, we had a huge fight over the holiday cards. He didn’t like the photos or the way they were in the collage. Apparently, he didn’t believe they were balanced enough between the family members who were in the photos. After all of the time I spent putting it together, trying very hard to get a good balance of family represented in the photos, I was not in the mood for his complaint. I told him if he didn’t like it, he could do it himself.

So he changed it himself.

Oh, it is so tempting to complain about the photos he puts together this year.

But I won’t

Ok, I’ll try not to.

Well, I’ll limit my complaints only if absolutely necessary.

I really wish the holidays were over.

Posted by: chlost | October 6, 2015

(Bad) Dreams of Retirement

It often seems to be much too far away, and at other times, I am frightened by how quickly it is coming up. Each day, I am that much closer to retirement.

My job is stressful. I have been burned out for many years. I worked for this office on a part-time contract for most of the those years. But for nearly 4 years now, I have been a full-time employee. I am one of the lucky few who still has a defined-benefit retirement, which bases my pension amount on the highest five years of salary over the time of my employment. So even though I will have worked most of the time as a part-time employee, my retirement will be based on those five full-time years. I am now four years into the “high five” that I want to use for the retirement.

It is time to figure out what we are going to do when that day gets here.

I don’t see myself as not working at all after I retire. I would love to work at some sort of job. Something that I enjoy, but without the stress of my current position. I am very tired of being the one who is supposed to “fix” the mistakes made by others. I am not sure what I could do, and not sure what jobs are available for me at this age.

This past week, Merle and I attended a retirement seminar put on by my employer. That made the prospect of retirement even more real. So we have begun the “discussions” in earnest.

Merle and I have always had trouble agreeing on things. We tend to get stuck on issues where there is no agreement, and nothing happens. The status quo is maintained by default. On this subject, that really isn’t an option. So we have been searching for things we agree on, and deferring for later discussion those things that we don’t agree about.

One thing we did agree upon was that we need to downsize within the near future. This house is too big, we live too far away from our son, and we would like to have some funds available for doing other things.


We want a one-story home with a main floor laundry and minimal upkeep. We would like something newer than our current home. We would like enough bedrooms to allow some overnight guests., and a modern kitchen.


However, we do not agree on the definition of “downsize”, we are of differing opinions as to how close we should live to the city where our son lives, and we disagree on how much money should be tied up in housing.

We (I) have been looking at real estate listings to see what the prices are and where our money would be best spent. I share them with Merle, who doesn’t look at them unless I force him to open the emails while I am looking.

We (I)  have been in contact with a contractor to check out what repairs or improvements we should do to our current home in order to sell it and get the best price. Merle hasn’t talked with him yet, and I have had to schedule another meeting at the end of the week-supposedly Merle will be there.

Merle, in my opinion, wants to spend much too much money, have a much too large home, in a very unrealistically upscale area. His preference is to have a home “on water” in order to have a big speed boat that he can just walk to in the backyard. He has become fixated on a house plan for a home that we could build. It is marginally smaller than our current home, and according to a friend who has done some building, would cost significantly more than our current home’s value.

He’s always been a dreamer.

I’m the dream killer.

These next several months are going to be very difficult.

Posted by: chlost | September 26, 2015

I can’t imagine it

Although I was not posting on the blog over the summer, it doesn’t mean that I wasn’t writing. It seems as though I am constantly writing. I do write a lot of Facebook posts, often many more than I should. I also write little stories and thoughts down in a journal. I’ll admit though, that recently the journal has been nearly as  neglected as the blog.

But I am always writing in my head.

As I drive, I write little commentaries in my imagination about the scenery, the weather, the other drivers. If I am waiting in line at a store, I write little dialogues in my head for the people I see and little vignettes around the observations I make as I shop. At work, when things get slow, I daydream about how I could write about the people I deal with, in a way that would maintain confidentiality and professionalism.

Unfortunately, very little of that great writing has ever made it to a computer screen, let alone a page. It always sounds so much better in my head. When it is put down in black and white, it seems to lose something.

So I don’t write much.

And I think a lot.

The other day, a coworker and I were on a long road trip together to see a client. The coworker and I know each other fairly well, although I wouldn’t say we are exactly friends. We don’t see each other outside of work or work-related activities.

To see us, it would not seem likely that we would have much in common. She is Latina, born in Ecuador, adopted as an infant and raised as an only child in a  Minnesota family. I am WASP, born in the Midwestern United States.  I would guess her age at mid-thirties. I am *ahem* NOT in my mid- (or even late, late) thirties. She worked as a police officer before going into social work. She then joined our office. I was an anti-authoritarian, not quite a hippie, young adult. I still don’t like “big brother”.

Somehow, we managed to fill 7 hours in a car together with conversation.

It didn’t get boring.

But if I were to have written the scene in my head, I would have been hard-pressed to figure out how it all would have worked. Even looking back on it, I am not sure as to exactly what we discussed, or how we managed to make that time pass with conversation.

It would be hard for me to transfer our actual conversation to the black and white words of the computer screen. Even in my head I have a hard time recreating it.

Maybe I am going to have the start turning on my phone’s recorder in order to have any chance of capturing the real world and recreating it in written words.


Posted by: chlost | September 22, 2015

Well, that lasted much longer than I’d anticipated

It’s been over three months since I’ve had a laptop, and since I’ve been here in the blogging world.

While I was gone, I heard that blogging has become obsolete. Man, I leave for a few months, and look what happens! Now that I’m back, maybe things will pick up again.

You’re welcome.

It will take me a very long time to catch up with everyone. I hope that I haven’t missed too much, I also hope that everyone (all ten of the people who used to read this blog) still remember me. Did anyone even notice that I was gone?

It was a very short summer.

I am not ready for it to be fall.

I am definitely not looking forward to winter.

There. That’s my update. Just like last year. Just like every year. Fall has this habit of becoming winter. Every year.

Well, we did have another family wedding this past summer. My brother, who at age 50 married for the first time. It was a very nice wedding, and they seem to be doing great. He also took on two step-children, ages 12 and 16, so there may be some interesting times ahead.

My mom turned 85 this summer. I figured out a way to give her a ride in a red Mustang convertible. She has said for years that she wanted to do that. She liked it, but wasn’t overly excited. She doesn’t get overly excited about much of anything any more. Is that what happens when people get that old?


Her walker adds a nice touch, right? As my sister said, you could make an ad for Mustang from this. “The dream lives on” perhaps?

A few weeks ago, I had a big “zero” birthday. Merle decided that the best gift he could give me was to gather the kids together for family time. He worked out renting a townhouse on a lake and got our sons, granddaughters and daughters-in-law there for a weekend. It was great. We had a wonderful time and it almost made that number before the zero bearable. I don’t mind birthdays, I am just going to stop counting them.

Now that I am back, flush with new laptop and extra hours of cold and darkness, I will attempt to keep up.

After I catch up.

Posted by: chlost | June 4, 2015

June Musings


We have had a lot of rain this spring. Almost every day, there has been at least a rain shower. Some days, it has poured.

It is nearly the middle of June, and it is still cool and wet.

The upside of this, of course, is that everything is lush. The tree branches are so full of big green leaves, that they nearly touch the ground. The grass is thick and green. There are no brown spots or areas bare of grass in the lawn.

The downside here is that a wet spring means millions of mosquitoes are just waiting to hatch out and begin their radar-enhanced search for human blood. There will soon be a high-pitched whine in the air as they take off looking for dinner.

It is also difficult to get the lawn work done. It is hard to find time to mow in between all of the rainy days. By the time there is a chance to mow, the grass is nearly knee-high. It is the same for gardening. The flowers are getting a lot of water, but not much warm sunlight. The weeds don’t seem to care, they flourish in this wet weather. I am going to have a long day of weeding and trimming whenever I can get out there to fight the weeds and the bugs.

During the winter months, I longed for green. I craved the colors of flowers. The black and white world of January and February bore my retinas. Now, the rods and cones in the back of my eyes shiver with the abundance of colors and shades of green which surround me.

The summer continues to be busy. Almost every square on the kitchen calendar is filled in with the scribbles of an activity of some sort. Weddings, dinner with friends, weekend visits with the granddaughters. We traveled two hours last weekend to see the granddaughters’ 10 minutes of dancing in a 3-hour ballet recital last weekend. It was worth it. They were sweet and wonderful.

This season passes so quickly. It is sometimes hard to enjoy the sweetness of a summer. I want to bottle it up to shake out just a bit here and there in January. Just a shake and the smell of fresh-mown grass to offset the stale closeness of a cold, gray day would do wonders for the psyche.

This evening the rain appears to have dissipated for at least a while. The forecast calls for some warmth this weekend, interspersed with thunderstorms. The granddaughters will be here to visit. Hopefully, they will be able to get outdoors with us. We have bicycles, swing and sandbox ready to go. The river will be high, the woods tick-filled, and the grass long and lush.

Life is pretty darned good. It is summer.

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