Crystal Clear Moments


Someday when I see perfectly clearly
a feeling preserved forever
in some connection within my flesh and blood,

it’s a “crystal clear moment.”

Oh, bring these moments in a parade
to me when I am old and my newnesses slow to nothing.
Give me these happinesses to grin
absently at and speak to again across time.

When you see me some day my child
and you think I am sad and lonely
staring silently out the window
in my room, oblivious to today
I hope that I will be seeing so clearly
these crystal moments we share right now,
saving in some quiet recess to relive.
But let us make some memories right now,
so happy, gentle and so soft,
of sweet-smelling wildflowers, golden days and azure skies,
of moonlight, whippoorwills and fireflies.
And they will seep through the tough times,
when sad and troubling thoughts override.
I can store them up to remind me later,

Will you dear?

Done Running, Chapter Four *Sigurd’s letter to Meryl Wynatt


Letter #1 

On the first envelope, the cancellation date was 1937, with a number of smudged cancellation postmarks. I’d need a magnifying glass to read them. There were three different-colored stamps. The return address was simply “Sig Johnson, Retalhuleu, Guat.” I wondered what that even meant.

Opening the flap on the pale blue envelope I saw Dad’s perfect penmanship on thin blue vellum paper labelled ‘correo aereo’ in red and indigo. I closed my eyes remembering how he sat, hunched over his desk, writing in his journals and punching the keys on that old black Monarch typewriter. I never questioned what he was writing and I wondered where his papers were now.

Cool night/ hot days   March 19, 1937

Dear Meryl,

How are you my good friend? As you can see from my postmark I am not in Chicago or Boston. My ship anchored a few days ago, off Champerico, Guatemala and I took a boat to the docks. Today I thought I’d write to you. In case you had not heard, I am embarking on a rough journey eastward across Guatemala to try to find a friend, Edward Weeks, who disappeared somewhere in central Guatemala. He came here on his own to do research but now the Institute wants me to find him. He was looking for an archaeological site but it has been nearly a year since he set off to hunt for those Mayan ruins. The government officers here said they know nothing and so I might be wasting my time but the Institute supplied me with steamer tickets, some rather poor maps and a new Indian motorcycle! I have a generous amount of “pesos” in my pocket too.

Today I unloaded my motorcycle and I am looking for a guide who can take me through the mountains. I have to find my contact in Chichicastenango which lies to the north and east hundred miles ahead of me in the mountains. I can see smoke coming from volcanoes here, Meryl! I hope I will find gasoline when I need it. I have a tank for extra fuel but it makes the trip rather hazardous. My Spanish will be tested sorely as I try to find my way. My map I have is not the greatest so I have to rely on directions from my contacts and the natives.

Before I left, I wrote to my parents so they’d know where I am headed. Please keep an eye on them for me until I return. Sometimes I am jealous of your quiet life back home and regret leaving you all behind, but Ed was a good friend and he has a family back home who wonders what happened to him. It might get a little hairy here. Please be sure to hang on to those papers I gave you. I will see you as soon as I can get back.

The port here is very hot and at night the mosquitos are terrible. My little room is no more than a cot and a small desk. There are no screens so you have to put up with the bugs or suffer the heat! I spent all day yesterday walking around this ‘pueblo’. It is primitive compared to Madison or Chicago, but the fruit and vegetables in their market are wonderfully flavorful. I especially like the aguacate. It’s a green fruit with a big seed inside. The greenish meat has the smooth texture of soft cheese. They have a delightfully different flavor. The pineapples here are as sweet as candy. They fry a banana-like fruit called ‘plantanos fritos’. I have also developed a particular liking for their little yellow corn tortillas made everywhere over open fires. They are served with every meal and are very good rolled up with thick black-bean paste. Everything here is very cheap except for meat. They eat fish cooked on the beach, right out of the Pacific. I bought several white shirts of the native style and some pantaloons that I can stuff into knee-high leather boots because I have heard there’s venomous snakes here. I’ve been warned about scorpions and spiders too.

They say that it is cold in the mountains so I picked up two ‘serapes’, hand woven wool vests with deep pockets. I bought a leather jacket and hat for riding on the Indian. They can double for blankets. My American suit jackets I gave to a young guy who was returning north. I will have to travel light.

A strange thing happened on board coming down from San Francisco. Apparently, the crew discovered a stowaway, a Chinaboy. He was a skinny little demon, quite a scrapper. After a scuffle with several of the crewmen, he went overboard into the ocean near the port. I don’t know if he jumped or they threw him overboard. I kept an eye out for him and one time I thought I spotted him in the waves, but the crew didn’t show concern or even put out a boat.

Meryl, you can imagine that I felt so bad for the poor kid. The captain said it happens all the time; young boys trying to run away to look for adventure. Usually they put them to work on board and return them to the port they came from… apparently hard work is not what they plan for and they are glad to leave when they get back to port. I suppose the boy could have made it to shore but I think it was over a mile away! I prayed for him and then checked with the local constabulary when I got to shore to find out if a body washed up, but there were no reports. Sadly, I’d suppose the sharks got him.

I guess I had better get this letter over to the postal agent. I don’t trust the postal service here but they said it would go out today by airmail believe it or not!

Don’t forget to pray for your old friend, Sig. I hope to return within six months. I will write again if I find a post office in up north.

Yours sincerely, Sigurd Johnson

林 (línmeaning “forest” or 琳 (línmeaning “fine jade, gem”

We Don’t Get Old In A Vacuum


NURSING HOME SERMONS

Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life; and he was gathered to his people.                   Genesis 25:8

Speaking of living a long time, did you notice the days are getting longer? Yes, the Spring Dandelions are poking their sunny yellow heads out of every lawn, around the base of trees and along the roads. As a matter of fact, an elderly friend of mine doesn’t like them in her lawn so she went out and began pulling them up. In the process, she managed to give herself a case of tendonitis and pulled her hamstring. OUCH

While I certainly understand that getting outside and moving around more freely is absolutely the best part of spring and summer, it gets easier to overdo it as we age. Fresh air, exercise, and sunshine are so elemental in feeling “good” about life and I love to work on my lawn, prune the trees and plant flowers. But I have also discovered that being sixty-four is much closer to sixty-five than I’d like to admit.

This week I bought a new trimmer and a mower and headed out to the yard to get caught up on the tall grass. I sat down after a half-hour. It wasn’t just because I ran out of gas or grass. I was just plain tired. My hands hurt and my muscles were sore and weak. It could be that I didn’t get enough exercise last winter but this is a new thing, this tiredness.

I went in the house to my desk and sat at my computer, wondering about how I could overcome this weariness. In my Bible I found several verses that were encouraging.

Gospel according to Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

The Prophet Jeremiah 31:25I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

The author of Hebrews 12:12-13 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”

That doesn’t talk about my ‘process of aging’ though. At that moment, I wanted encouragement about the process of getting older, I’m sure you understand about the effort of just getting up in the morning sometimes being overwhelming. I’m beginning to learn a lot about life as I pass sixty, but I also forget stuff.

As a matter of fact, George Burns said “By the time you’re eighty years old you’ve learned everything. You only have to remember it.”  I understand it now. I love to laugh with George Burns but I often forget his jokes. By the way, he was almost as old as Methuselah when he passed away!

Charles R Swindoll’s book “Job” was published in 2004. Chuck explained about the Job’s struggles, and how he overcame them. In this book, Swindoll also remarked on a not to surprising thing: old-agers need encouragement too.

Sometimes it feels like folks over sixty are left out of life and forgotten. It seems like they are left out of the mainstream, they aren’t involved in the lives of their kids and grandkids. I have some advice for all of us who are have older friends and family around us, those who are already elders and also for those who care for them.

It is a two-way stream. My advice is to constantly remember each other. Take care of each other. Love each other. If your friend or relative is away, write to them. Call them. Text them. Keep up a running dialogue. Continue to nurture your relationship and begin new conversations instead of always talking about the good old days. There are many reasons – and they are two-way reasons. We learn from the aged and they thrive through us!

Age is not kind to the human body or to the cultivation of relationships. I admit no one else can make an individual be fulfilled and feel satisfied, but we can certainly help along the way. We need to consciously bring kids and elders into contact with each other.

Children bring that sense of constant newness to our hearts and memories. They are fresh, impulsive and bright like little flowers blooming. Research shows that the laughter of a child refreshes our thoughts. When we lighten up, we feel a little more positive and optimistic, more hopeful and engaged. We become friendlier, more resourceful, more attractive, more alive.

And now—a little advice to you who are feeling overlooked and forgotten. There’s a Jewish proverb that says, “For the ignorant, old age is as winter; for the learned, it is a harvest.” As age stacks up, we will find that because we have kept yourself alert and alive, we’ll continue to see life through new eyes.

Swindoll says we need to “Step up! Laugh! Stay engaged in life! Don’t succumb to feeling bad for your situation!”

As soon as you feel too old to do something, try to find a way to do it or find something new to do. Play a new game, find a new friend and explore your relationship together. When you feel critical, say something kind – in a kindly way. You feed your heart when you are nice to someone else. As soon as you feel neglected or lonely – reach out to another person. Send a cheery note to a friend. Stay in communication with those you love and be honest about your feelings.

“Have a GREAT day!”

A LOGGING TOWN PORTRAIT


Hayward Photographer George McElroy

by Eldon M. Marple

George McElroy’s subject were universal; each class in school aligned itself next to the concrete block foundation of the schoolhouse to be limned in history, the prom queen daintily wiped her yes from the sting of the acrid power exploded in his flash holder, and no confirmation could pass without his attention. He traveled to the camps and the mills to record the work and the men he found there. Every high school graduate dressed in the best of the day came to his dark studio with the skylight to the north to pose stiffly while he peered through his aged glass-plate camera with a black cloth over his head, then, after a warning not to move, to wait immobile with bated breath for an interminable moment while the mechanism clicked and growled.

The negatives of the photographs taken by Mr. McElroy were on glass plates and he kept them to use for the sale of duplicates. After his death in 1938 the studio passed to other hands and uses, and the thousands of stored plates of incalculable value to a historian were hauled to the dump and buried. When Tony Wise moved the building to Historyland a few years ago, we recovered a few plates from digging in the debris. Were these negatives available today, a continuous and inexhaustible source of information would be available for the study of the region in the early days.

Hayward and the Big Mill


Hayward and the Big Mill…The Landmark!

by Eldon M. Marple

Anthony Judson Hayward must have come to the site of the town named in his honor well before November 11, 1880, the date the North Wisconsin Lumber Company was organized. Later on, commentary stated that he realized the immense potentialities for a water-powered mill on the Namekagon if control could be gained of the vast stands of white pine surrounding this ideal site. It also pointed out that he was aware of the great savings that could be made by shipping manufactured lumber out from the mill by rail instead of driving the logs downriver to be sawed, an unnecessary cost, often greatly increased by the vagaries of the spring flood. Obviously, he also knew that a railroad was shortly to be extended up the Namekagon Valley, so he laid his plans well.

The ideal place to build a dam for a mill depending on water power was situated below the present bridge across the Namekagon, where the banks were high and close together and where there was a good fall in the river bottom. Upriver from this natural narrows was a broad swampy area perfect for a pond to store water for the wheel and logs for the saws. However, this site where these desirable features were located, was in Section 27 and owned by the Omaha Railroad, as was most of the timber he needed to make his plan feasible.

Mr. Hayward, a practical man who had built and operated several mills before this, found that he could not acquire the site he wanted so he did the next best thing. He moved to gain control of as much of it as he could to forestall development by anyone else, and then bided his time. He bought the eighty-acre tract with its northeast corner in the street north of the Co-op store (now Second St.), giving him control of the damsite on Bradley Brook and where the brick company office was later built. He also bought the eighty which now includes the county shop and most of the downtown area. He included a forty at the outlet of Lake Mindamoga (Smith Lake) which has an ideal damsite, in his purchases. Clearly, his idea was to control the flow of Bradley Brook so that it could be used to turn the saw of a small mill installed below a dam at Florida Avenue.

About this time, Mr. Hayward met Robert Laird McCormick in Minnesota. He told McCormick of his dream of controlling the harvest of the pine tributary to the site on the Namekagon and that he did not have the necessary capital to do so. Mr. McCormick became enthused about the opportunity here and took Hayward to his employers, the Laird Norton lumber interests. They struck a deal, and the North Wisconsin Lumber Company formed with Hayward as president and McCormick as secretary and general manager. Their acumen and patience was rewarded when on November 14, 1881, the Omaha Railroad sold them the land in Section 27 necessary for the development of the site for the Big Mill.

Hayward’s new town was the location of a lumber camp as far back as 1864 when Albert C. Stuntz, the government surveyor, had reported in his diary that T. Mackey housed a small crew here. When the Omaha Railroad pushed up the Namekagon Valley in 1880, this old log bunkhouse was the only structure know to be in the vicinity. It was on the flat west of the Historical Marker and was later torn down to make way for the lumber yard. The railroad honored Hayward’s site by establishing a stop there in his name – a platform of stacked cross-ties served as a station. They also erected a water tank and pump house on the north side of the tracks between Bradley Brook and Florida Avenue – the circular brick foundation is still in place. A small cabin was built for the attendant at Florida Avenue which may have been the first new home in Hayward although Al Blaisdell, who supervised the construction of five dams for the company during this period, is reported to have had the first house in town. Since he did not purchase any land here, its location or the date of its erection cannot be recovered from the records.

The new company set up their headquarters in the old lumber camp to which had been added a frame building. The frame portion was used by the Congregational church to hold the first formal church services in the new town. When the old camp was torn down, it was moved up to the railroad tracks at Florida Avenue. It served as the office for the company until the new brick edifice was erected across the tracks in 1889 when it was moved to a site beside this building. In 1891, the old office was moved again, this time to its final location on the northeast corner of First and Dakota, to be used as a workshop and home by Jack P. Mann who added a second story as family living quarters. A picture of that period, dated September 15, 1893, shows it essentially as it is today where it now serves as the front part of the structure used as a bar.

Another building constructed near the old lumber camp was used as a schoolhouse, church and printshop. It was later torn down and rebuilt for a billiard saloon, then moved to the townsite and occupied as a home by Thomas Jordan. The company built a store across the track from the water tank in the fall of 1882 and stocked it fully with lumbermen’s supplies. It was torn down in 1893 and called “the oldest building in town” in a news item.

Winter Seasons in Life


 

Winter season is on us. Usually that’s great, for skiers and snowmobilers. Right now, with the rain and cool weather I am not sure what to make of winter. All around us are bare trees; everything is covered with snow; the days are short and nights longer. Outside, the world seems to be silent and dead except for chickadees and cranky crows.

However, nothing can be farther from the truth. For example; last spring I noticed that some of my cedar evergreen shrubs were brown and dry. They struggled to green up. I found out that evergreens turn brown because the leaves lose moisture in extreme cold and will dry up and die. I didn’t consider that my shrubs, though they look dead, continue to be active even in the coldest and frozen times of winter. Some plants continue to function beneath the surface in the winter like tiny clocks ticking away. Flower bulbs you’d think would freeze and die, require cold to make them bloom and blossom in the spring.

Had you considered that freezing and thawing cracks open the surface of the earth to receive seeds that have been lying dormant on the surface of the soil? Then they germinate at the first signs of spring. The season that to our senses appears to be a time of nothingness, silence, and death is actually a season of preparation for a soon-coming burst of new life and new strength. So it is, in the life of man.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8  ESV For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;  

There will be seasons of nothingness in all our lives. To deny those seasons in our lives, is against the design of our Creator to cause us to grow and mature. I’ve heard believers say, “My life seems to have dried up. I don’t feel like I hear the voice of God or sense His presence in my life. I look around and my life seems to be so unproductive and dead. Where is God?”

But it’s like the world of nature around us. God is always at work in our lives even when it seems to be a season of winter. Our senses are the worst indicator of that reality. What we feel, see, and hear is a poor indicator of what God is doing behind the scenes in our lives.

Let me tell you about Doubting Thomas. Thomas was one of the disciples of Jesus. He saw the miracles and he actually heard the incredible teachings of Jesus. Yet when the disciples told Thomas that Jesus rose from the dead and actually appeared to them, it says in John 20, that Thomas replied:

25 “Except I see in his hands the print of the nails and put my finger into the print of the nails and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Faith does not rely on our senses. It believes the Word of God despite what we feel, see or hear.  Jesus appeared to Thomas, and Matt. 20: 29. This is what Jesus replied to Thomas’ unbelief;

Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.”

We don’t need to be afraid because we do not feel his hands at work. We do need to pray for His hands on us.

Isaiah 41:10 “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

He is there. As believers in Jesus Christ, we believe and have faith, that God is active in our lives even though we are in a long lifeless winter or dark days in our lives. Maybe we haven’t seen or felt His presence in our lives in a while but God is always at work. Maybe there has been pain or darkness in your days lately, but God is working behind the scenes in your life. Train yourself to see beneath the surface. God is perfecting whatever concerns you. Without those days where we don’t feel or see His hands at work, how can our faith be tested, strengthened or refined? Do I need faith when I get or see what I want or choose? Resistance excercise makes your muscles strong. It is the same with your faith.

And I think faith seems to see best in the dark. You may seem to have “lost your green leaves” or the freshness in your life. Things may seem to be “dark and lifeless.” But as in nature, movement and activity continues below. The true believers’ life is always moving toward maturity so let the seasons in your life produce new growth, give life to new seeds, blossoms to living plants. Let all seasons, whether good or bad, produce deeper and stronger roots in you. Let all seasons produce a greater trust and dependence upon the Lord who promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us.

Another spring will come along with its future growth and strength, to make you even stronger for the next winter season of growth in your life.

Isaiah 35:1-10 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped;

Repeat this verse to yourself, 

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged (because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him,) for there is a greater power with us than with him.

II Chronicles 32: 7

Let the Secrets Die, on Amazon


https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s/ref=is_s_ss_i_0_19?k=let+the+secrets+die&sprefix=let+the+secrets+die

Read about Andi Wittwer on APG news.

http://www.apg-wi.com/spooner_advocate/news/local/author-to-talk-about-let-the-secrets-die/article_a977a4bc-4514-11e6-b217-87618a468638.html

Wittwer will introduce her new book, “Let the Secrets Die,” the first in the Jewell Johnson Mysteries series. She also will discuss the “family” next door, an important part of the series.

Rural Wisconsin is a perfect place to “hide out.” Low population density, deep woods, swamps, back roads, and beautiful lakes are great for refuge. Some of those refugees were actually escapees — folks running away from something, and up in the Northwoods they could lay low or even disappear.

While some of those “lying low” were political dissidents, others were criminals and gangsters from the cities who had worn out their welcome in the south. Northern Wisconsinites knew great poverty so accepting a little bribe, selling goods and services or working for mobsters was accepted as fairly normal routine — don’t ask, don’t tell.

In “Let The Secrets Die,” Wittwer uses time as a medium to dig up some of those secrets that underlie Northern Wisconsin communities. In the Jewell Johnson Mysteries the reader will be a kind of historical archaeologist, digging up layers of secrets that include gangsters, politicians, the FBI, and others to answer the question, “Why did Sig die?”

There’s No Honest Retail


I met an elderly glove salesman many years ago, when I was working at a hardware store. That may seem rather uninteresting. He was nondescript as well. He drove an old car and wore an old brown overcoat. For many years, he would show up out of the blue one time in the fall and then in the spring. His white hair was a little too long but his handshake was strong and his smile was kindly under his shrewd blue eyes.

I enjoyed talking while I picked out gloves for our store to sell. It was complicated. There’s so many categories – kids, womens, and mens, working gloves, gardening gloves, hunting gloves and then many sizes. I made spreadsheets about how many gloves we sold by season and what kind sold the best. I had a list of customers who had specific needs. That old guy wasn’t our only glove salesman; young, pushy, hurried, etc. but this guy was my favorite. I would listen to him tell me what was the best buy and then his best sellers and I would choose several hundred pair of gloves to purchase out of his trunk. His prices were always the best.

I loved this process, the buyer’s sense of retail vs the seller’s need to earn. One day the old man sat down with me in the hardware breakroom, and proceeded to tell me his personal story – about how all his life, he had sold gloves out of his trunk in three states. He said he knew this kind of business was going away and wanted to know if I would type up his story. It was hand-written on notebook paper. I agreed and we parted.

Not long after that I received his story in the mail and over a period of a couple months, in my spare time, I typed it into book form. Then I mailed it back to him. I never heard from him or saw him again. For many years, I kept his story in my computer. He was a very interesting man.

This salesman taught me a very important lesson about life and salesmanship. When I asked him what he thought I should sell gloves for he said “There is no honest retail.” He said that nothing has a real retail but it does have a true cost. Knowing the real cost is what we all need to know in life. He said that the big stores were no better than a canny glove salesmen. He had been able to live in the margin between his cost and his sales but the big companies undercut that margin to the point where he and other salesmen couldn’t survive.

Now I find myself that old person. I look around and see small businesses are disappearing. Everything I buy has an inflated retail. In this modern economy, how do we interpret the lesson of the canny traveling glove salesman? Businesses and government know what people want and what they are can pay. But nowadays, how do we establish the real cost? What is a life or survival worth, for example? Can you pricetag happiness? What are we deserving of; and what must we earn? I don’t think I am as shrewd as that old glove salesman. I can’t answer these questions.

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