Miss You Today On Your Birthday, Dad*

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Tish around 4 years old.

Happy Birthday Dad!  Wish we could celebrate tonight with a pineapple upside down cake and off-key singing. You were always hard to buy for, as many men are, but now I could shop online for you and surely find something unique…but of course, you’re not around to open my gift.

Did I ever thank you for teaching me how to play baseball or ride a bike?  I didn’t like it at the time when you insisted I learn how to drive stick shift before I could get my license but I am so grateful now.  I taught my husband you know 🙂

There are cool stories about you floating around like how you were the Adams County tennis champ and your brief stint as a police officer.  I wish I could hear about those adventures in your words.  I know you worked hard for us, sometimes two jobs at a time.  BTW, I loved that second job at the drive-in when we all watched the movies over and over under the stars.  It probably wasn’t as much fun for you.

I know we had 44 years together but there was so much more we both could have said.  “Relationship Parenting” was not an operating principle in your generation but I knew you loved me.

I wish you could have met these fabulous great-grandchildren of yours.  I hope you can see them from your vantage point and you will be glad to know, Mom dotes on them every chance she gets.  Don’t worry, I will pass on the stories so they will know you too.

Tony Wiewel around 14 years old 9/3/1923-2/25/1994

So cheers to your 96th!

Love, Your “Cutie”

Hope for the best,

Tish

  • originally published 9/3/12

Happy Birthday America Breakfast! *

Gabe & Grandchildren

We used to dress the kids in red, white and blue when they were little now sometimes they choose it for themselves!

Looking for a fun way to start the 4th of July?

Holidays call for special food and our annual 4th of July breakfast features the patriotic Red (strawberries or raspberries), White (whipped cream in a can for fun distribution) and Blue (blueberries) waffles.

Did I mention…we celebrate outside on the picnic table and the large flag hangs on the garage as part of the birthday decorations.  The last couple of years, Tom has brought the waffle iron outside too with a long extension cord so less trips running back and forth.

We don’t sing Happy Birthday to America but after breakfast we read the full length Declaration of Independence.  In the early years, Tom and I did the reading, then we started passing it around, each one taking a turn reading a paragraph or two.

I’m not going to tell you our young kids sat spellbound through the reading as fidgeting abounded but I think they would recognize the words anywhere and hopefully, they GOT it.

Uncle Gabe helping with the reading.

Uncle Gabe helping with the reading.

From…

“When in the course of human events.to...with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor

…we remind ourselves and each other of the magnitude of this document and what a different world we would all be in without it.

Sometimes we add a little quiz on the Founding Fathers or read more about their personal histories but the Declaration is the centerpiece of the morning.

Happy Fourth of July!

Hope for the Best,

Tish

* Annual Post

Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Summer!

Today is the first full day of Summer! *

Plenty of time left to make it one of the best and some intentionality goes a long way.

Here are my top ten ways to celebrate summer.    

  • Eat outdoors often.  This includes any meal anywhere you can feel the sun and the breeze.  Breakfast is especially nice.

  • Read a fun book, preferably while sitting outside.  I like to read books with summer themes in the evening and add something by Madeline L’Engel to my morning basket.

  • Listen to live music outside.  Free summer concerts play about every night of the week where I live. Check your local listings.

  • Go the beach/pool/lake and get in the water.  OK, I don’t always get in the water but it sure is memorable when I do!

  • Stop at garage/yard sales.  The ONE item you didn’t know you needed might be waiting to delight you.

  • Take a road trip somewhere. I love to keep on going once we hit the road.  Just a few hours away can feel like another world.

  • Find a festival. Art, neighborhood, ethnic festivals abound every weekend somewhere.

  • Watch a movie outside.  My Dad moon-lighted at the local Drive-In when I was a girl so I have always loved watching movies under the stars.  Check your local park district outdoor movie schedule or bring your laptop outside and watch one in your own yard.

  • Get on your bike. Ride around the block, down the path or to do your errands.  Wear a helmet!

  • Take lots of photos and get them printed.  Summer of 2019 will never come again.

Hope for the best,

Tish

* Reblog

 

Shelve the Fiction: A Fasting Story.

I love to read. I mean, I’m not one of those fanatical readers who polishes off a few books a week but a short stack a month is my style.

Usually I go for inspiration in the day-time (non-fiction) and entertainment at night with a steady stream of (mostly) historical fiction by my bedside. Reading is my TV and I am never without my bedside novel. In fact, the next one is always waiting in case I finish one before I get to the library.

But not this month.

Our church announced an opportunity to fast from “something” for 33 days to invite God to do something bigger in our national church and in our personal lives. An ancient practice, fasting has been a spiritual discipline for eons for people of all faiths. The idea is to set something you want aside for a period of time for something you want more. Usually it is food of some sort but can also be something else you are particularly attached to.

Like Facebook for some or YouTube or shopping. Or reading novels.

When the idea was first presented, I must admit I thought, “Didn’t we just do this for Lent?” By the next day, though, I was ready to jump in and began to scroll through the usual food give-up list. Frankly, it felt stale. If I am feeling deprived in some way, I want to engage with it, not feel same old/same old.

Brushing my teeth that evening, where many good ideas germinate, I felt a nudge to shelve the fiction for a month. This I knew was not from me.

The night before the fast began, I stayed up late trying to finish my current novel, but sleep took me down. I’ll have to wait until July 1 to find out what happened next. I put a hold on my requested list at the library and gathered up a pile of inspirational books I collected to read “at some point.” I’m on the second one now, it’s going kind of slowly.

Fasting works best when one substitutes prayer for the given-up thing. Sometimes I forget to do that. My long experience with God has taught me that he rarely works according to how I advise him to so I’m trying not to get too specific with an outcome for this fast. It has to be a no strings-attached deal. I’ll give up novels, but you don’t have to reveal all your plans.

Like celebrating at the end of Lent with a chocolate bar or a glass of wine, I’m looking forward to finding out what came next in my novel but I’m OK with waiting. I threw in a bit of the food thing too but find it is easier to do that part. Nine hours on my monthly train ride without a novel is a long ride.

I can say at nearly the halfway point…something’s going on. I hope to define it a little more in the days ahead.

Have you ever fasted from anything?

Hope for the best,

Tish

 

I’ll Take the Train! (Part 3) The next generation.

Aaliyah’s first trip, age 3.

As a lover of train travel, I couldn’t wait to introduce my children to the wonders of the rails. Taking the car was cheaper with that many tickets needed so we didn’t go often on the train but with my parents living on an Amtrak line, it wasn’t long before I ventured out with the four of them.

We all did take the train on December 26 for many years during the middle years as part of our Christmas visit. The most memorable year was in 1983. Our car wouldn’t start due to the below freezing cold, so our neighbor gave the six of us a ride downtown. We never dreamed it was too cold for the train to go too!  While figuring out our next move, my wallet was lifted from my purse. It all worked out and we got to Quincy on the next train and my driver’s license was returned to me eventually.

Familiar station!

Fast forward to 2009. I’m still taking the train often to see my mom. Our grandson (age 1) was quite sick and needed to go to the hospital. Jesh asked me to watch Aaliyah (3) and I offered to take her on the train with me to Quincy. So the grandchildren adventures began! She and I have returned every winter to Quincy on the train and just had our 11th trip this year.

Aaliyah (13) reading “Becoming.”

Two years later, I started taking her brother too. My criteria was 3 years old and toilet trained! Judah and I now go every year too. Lots of Uno in the snack car!

Judah’s first trip at 3 and recently at age 10.

Four more of the other nine have also traveled on the train with me but with a parent along. I have traded juice boxes and crayons for books and games:)

Granddaughter # 3 enjoying the view.

          Granddaughter # 2 keeping herself busy!

Of course plenty of snacks come along too!

I’m leaving again tomorrow on the early train by myself. I always bring more books than changes of clothes but once again will likely stay fixed on the story just out the window. It never gets old.

All Aboard! I’m on my way once again.

Hope for the best,

Tish

I’ll Take the Train! (Part Two)

Why don’t you just fly? Is a question I often receive from well-meaning friends who don’t share my love of the rails.

In case you are wondering, I don’t have a problem with flying, just driving, and usually fly home from my trips.

Long distance trains provide transition time. I don’t know about you, but I’m always rushing at the last minute before a trip. I like to tie up as many loose ends as I can and usually dash to the airport mentally reviewing my check list. By the time I detach from all that and start thinking about where I’m going, we arrive and immediately land in the new environs. No transition!

Like Thoreau, “I love a broad margin to my life.” Rail travel provides that margin.

I settle into my seat, usually with a cup of tea, and let the rhythm of the train coax me into letting go of all the frazzle and undone items. As the small towns and countryside roll by the window, relaxation and calm soon replace the hustle. Nowhere to go now, just sit back and enjoy the ride. By the time I get to my destination, I’m all set for something new.

The most delicious train travel involves a sleeping car. I loved reading about sleeper cars in my many novels and envisioning what that would be like to stroll to the dining car and then return to my own little compartment for the night In my many decades of train travel, it finally happened! The experience was more exquisite than I even imagined!

To the left is the tiny roomette I stayed in a few months ago on the way to Gallup, NM.

The train attendant converts these two seats into a bed and stops by the next morning to revert to the seats.

For this trip, I boarded in Illinois, dined in Iowa for dinner and then fell asleep in Missouri.  After waking up in Kansas, breakfast was served in Colorado.

Most of the books I brought along stayed in my backpack as the trip itself was more fascinating than words on a page.

A community also develops on a train if you are open to that. I always am! Amtrak fills each table with diners who may or may not know each other. Little chit chat ensues and sometimes a longer conversation. I still exchange Christmas cards with a woman I met on the train several years back.

Sometimes the unexpected occurs. The first time I travel across country, a delay caused the train to be 12 hours late arriving. I think I was the only person on the train who had an “oh well” or perhaps “Oh goody!” response as it was MORE time on the train.

Another time, someone died on the train. In the middle of nowhere, the train suddenly stopped and finally word passed down that a man had a heart attack and we had to wait for the coroner to come. Hours past but the train community was very engaged by the time we resumed travel. A collective sigh of “I’m still here” pervaded the whole line.

Then there is the tunnel! I make sure I’m awake for the only one on the trip west. The Raton Tunnel is the pass from Colorado to New Mexico and just as fun as you would imagine.

 

I’ll finish up part 3 next time with introducing train travel to the next generation.

Hope for the best,

Tish

I’ll Take the Train! (Part One)

From the time I was a girl boarding a train in Quincy, IL to go the 25 minutes to Hannibal, MO on the Mark Twain Zephyr, I fell in love with train travel.

 

From Rail Merchants International site

Pretending I was on a long trip, I was always disappointed in a very short while to get off. My grandparents were waiting and probably called my mom, on their party line,  to say I made it.

Fortunately, my university was on an Amtrak line and my hometown is too, so I’ve enjoyed a lifetime of riding the rails. Still never enough.

At 11 years old, I took my first big trip from Quincy to St. Louis with two other girls. No parents aboard, we thought we were so grown up. Of course, a family member was waiting at the station. We got all dressed up as you can see! Look at those little purses 😊

Training at 11 yrs old.

I’m still waiting for an Orient Express (sans the murder) but my son and daughter and I took a 24 hour train ride from Beijing to Hong Kong in 2009 so that was my version on an “orient express.” We played Skip Bo for many hours and dined on snacks we brought along. I still can recall the sites from the windows. Small farms and even smaller houses.

Always ready for another train adventure, in 2012 I persuaded my beloved to take a train ride to Seattle instead of flying for a family reunion. I’m sure I loved it more than he did but we had fun cruising through Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Washington. Sadly, our hoped-for ride through Glacier National Park was in the dark as there were delays along the way. No worries, we eventually got there another year.

2012 on the Empire Builder.

 

As I walked down by the tracks at Chicago Union Station a couple of weeks ago to board the Southwest Chief for the 30-hour ride to Gallup, NM, I was so excited I started singing. I couldn’t wait to get on! All my train fantasies were about to come true.

Come back next time for Part Two of this story!

 

Hope for the best,

Tish



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