St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas 2013 Newsletter

Last year at this time, Margo was in the middle of breast cancer treatment.  This year that is all over and she is done with cancer and doing very well getting back to normal.  Thank you for all of your cards, letters and support!

Last year at this time, I was trying to get Myasthenia Gravis under control.  This year that is in the past and I am also doing well and back to normal—in remission.  Although the two of us didn’t get everything we would like to have done accomplished last year, we are looking forward to a good 2014!

Spring was one of the best maple syrup seasons in many years—good quality and good yield.  We had not planned to tap the maples for health reasons, but some relatives and neighbors tapped the maples and  Russ went to the cabin to help out with Scott joining me when the ski hill closed and Margo finished treatment.  With all the help we did well making 60 gallons of excellent syrup shared with all the helpers.   

Scott worked at the ski hill nearby again last winter and flexed his work time to help out with his ailing parents.  He was very helpful in keeping things going smoothly.  He lives in the Pine Island home and keeps it up while we spend time at the lake in Wisconsin.  The last week of November he fell off a ladder and cracked some ribs and so has a month of taking it easy.  

Margo’s mother, Myrtle, passed away early in 2013 after 11 years in a nursing home with advanced Alzheimer’s disease.  She was 86 years old.  It was sad, but we had said good bye to her many years earlier before she no longer knew who we were.  It is a hard way to end with no memory; hard on the relatives and friends too.  Merlin, her husband, helped to feed her and watched over her until the end. 

 Once in a while she would seem a little better, but mostly she was lost in the emptiness of having no memory of friends, family or even her own life. It is a hard way to go.

October 25th, Russ’ mother, Alberta Hanson, passed away 2 months short of her 92nd birthday.  She still lived at home on the farm and was still active and doing reasonably well when she just didn’t wake up in the morning.  The day before she was still active, making some grape juice from the abundant garden crop and visiting with her sons.  We were shocked, as she always claimed she would make 100, but at the same time we know that it was a good time and good way to go.  We wrote about Mom’s life and you can read it at our internet blog –  where you can follow our lives in photos and words. 

 As Margo and I own the farm, we are busy with the help of my brothers and families sorting items from the 72 years since Mom and Dad bought the farm.  We are going to try out living in the house this winter to give us an idea if we want to live there or rent or sell it.  It is a large 2-story house, built 100 years ago and somewhat in need of interior reworking—especially the bedrooms upstairs that were used for storage and never fully finished.  Lots of work if we decide to stay there.   It is hard to decide, as we like living on the lake at the cottage, but it is not really a place for winter living and too small to be a permanent residence.  Right now with 3 houses, we are house poor!  Sometimes it is harder to make a decision than not to make it.  
In October, Merlin, a very young 88 years old, remarried.  He and Kathy are both widowers and prefer the company of each other to living alone.  Love can come at any time and we are happy for the couple.  Both grew up in the small Newburg. WI community and have much in common. It is encouraging to see people still active and vital in their mature years.   

Our gardening was limited this year, and we didn’t go to the farmer’s market.  We did grow pumpkins, squash, apples and some melons that turned out OK.  Next year we will try it again with more time to take care of things.  Lots of wild and tame grapes to make jelly. 

We didn’t travel at all this year.  Although we don’t plan going south this winter, it may be too hard to resist when January rolls around.  Maybe we will put an ice fishing house out on the lake and set it up to double as a sauna!

Trade River Church Russ attended as a youngster decorated for Christmas