Happy Jack

Some called my dad, “Happy Jack”.

And a happy fellow he was.

But he wasn’t quite like the other dads on the block.

Putting a hammer or fishing pole in his hands would surely put you at risk.

Dad’s passions ran more towards community, family, and friends.

Always a people person even though I knew he was a little shy.

Dad’s jobs in advertising and public relations gave him unique opportunities that his kids thought were pretty cool.

Like organizing ping pong drops by helicopters at shopping malls for promotion purposes. Each little ball caught by eager tiny hands below would win the toy or book neatly stamped on it.

And dad’s volunteer work in the community gave us the chance to meet personalities with names we’d only heard about on radio or TV.

Like politicians and actors who came to town to appear in festivals and ride in parades. I was taught early to play hostess to my favorite childhood stars like Captain Kangaroo when Dad was busy.

The Captain, played by Bob Keeshan, was on network television in the ’50s to the early ’90s.

Looking back, it’s no surprise that the we spent so much of our time together with other people.

Like visiting with my piano playing grandmother, staff, and the other residents in the memory unit of her care facility every Saturday morning.

He’d charm each and every one.

And also those sweet ladies generously giving out free samples to us at the grocery store afterwards.

He’d bring smiles to their faces, too.

Mom always seemed to wonder what took us so long.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Dad this week, ever since driving by Grandma’s old care facility on my way to an art class.

And again when I met up with two pleasant Wisconsin restauranteurs giving free samples at the same grocery store where I used to shop with Dad every week.

On their sample menu were wild Swedish lingonberries on pancakes.

My dad sure loved his ritual of weekend pancakes.

And his loving Scandinavian wife.

One of the restauranteurs went on to tell me their restaurant keeps goats on the grass roof in the summer to graze and amaze visitors. And they have for years.

The restaurant even has a goat cam and the lucky animals enjoy a summer parade.

Now those are the kind of promotions Dad would have adored.

I bought myself one big jar of those wild berries.

So this Father’s Day in honor of both my folks, and their kids (who are now old goats themselves), I’ll be enjoying delicious lingonberries on pancakes.

And this goat ‘Wacky Jackie’, Happy Jack’s namesake, will surely be promoting smiles to the heavens with every last bite.

Bliss below zero

When I awoke this morning I read it was warmer in Antartica than in my own backyard.

And then I heard our windchill was 33 below.


I stumbled early into my kitchen where I loaded up with three layers each of mismatched socks, mittens, and hats before taking the dogs out.

Then in pain, I slowly lifted my lame corgi Maddie to carry her to the icy front yard.

I’d pulled a muscle in my back yesterday.

But we made it out.

And fortunately back in.

When removing my tired parka I realized I was stumbling some because my balance was off.

A head cold had arrived and settled in with the same artic blast.

Hey, no problem.

The day is still beautiful.

My old car battery turned over without a fight.

Though I don’t need to travel, which makes it even better.

And the sky is a brilliant light blue.

Sun shines through the blinds on my tired shoulders as I doze lightly on the couch, warming me along with the aging furnace and two cozy quilts.

I smell the thyme and rosemary from beef stew cooking in the crock pot, in spite of my stuffed up head.

Corgi Maddie smiles sweetly up at me, hoping for a bite.

Yorkie Tucker snuggles closer to stay warm.

And Rex, my new chi/mystery mix, joins me on my lap as I decide to read from my new favorite novel and plants puppy kisses on my nose.

I’m happy knowing tomorrow it will rise above zero once again.

Just like always.

In the meantime, I’m thankful warmth can always be found in almost any cold front.

Change is a coming

Every year it slaps me in the face.

Though this year, a little earlier than usual.

As I write this, the sleeves of my faded sweatshirt are covering my knuckles.

And the hood is pulled up tight over over my ears, cutting out the early morning chill.

It’s in the 30s again this morning but I refuse to turn on the heat.

At least yet.

Here in the northern plains, seasons change quickly.

Six days ago I was in shorts, seeking shade as shelter from the heat.

This morning I’m a squirrel stocking up for the winter, busily constructing my shopping list with supply items for the months head:

Canned soup, the spicier the better.
Squash, an excuse to turn on the oven.
Apples, so I can eat caramels.
Caramels, so I will eat more apples.
Cider, just for its sweet scent.
Kleenex, a seasonal staple.
Cough drops, as hacking’s replaced the sound of birds chirping.
Books, never too many.
Boots, and not as a fashion statement.

I still haven’t planned my summer vacation.

Instead I’ll be celebrating the arrival of the fall equinox with a furnace inspection next weekend.

One warm and fuzzy substitute for sure.

Gift of time

The temperature outside my frosty window at 3pm has slipped below zero. It’s on it’s way down to -25 below and the winds are howling. White out conditions have been reported nearby. I don’t even want to hear what the updated forecast is for wind chills by morning.

And my husband passed away a month ago today.

One potentially depressing scenario.

Though I admit my sweatshirt hood is covering my ears to protect me from the drafts in the kitchen, and skies are gray and gloomy, I’m ok.

Today I’m treating myself to the gift of time. Letting go of responsibilities for this Sunday and making it a true day of rest.

My Monday is coming soon enough.

I’m purposely keeping things simple this afternoon My only decision is what kind of comfort food to make for dinner. Tater tot casserole, chili, sloppy joes? Options for my ground turkey are endless.

It will be just me for dinner as travel’s not advised on the stormy roads around here.

But I do have my dogs for company so we’ll make it one good and cozy night.

I may even let them up on the couch to watch a movie. And give them each a warm tater tot or two.

Then we’ll all be at peace.