Saturday, June 25, 2011

One of Those Days

The little five-cubic-foot (is it foot or feet?) freezer in our garage, that we use for extra food storage, conked out on us this past week. We felt that the temperature inside the freezer was still cool enough that we could salvage a few things, like bread and vegetables; but we threw out things like frozen dinners and meat.

We called our garbage service company to see about having the old freezer picked up with our trash and learned that the cost would be $75. However, if we wanted to take it to their drop-off site, the cost would drop to $25. Well, that was a no-brainer.

So, yesterday, Doug hitched our utility trailer to our minivan, preparing to take the little freezer to its final resting place. In the process of hitching the trailer, though, he realized that a prong had broken off of the connector for the trailer lights. The lights worked, but on only one side of the trailer.

Well, after all, it was daylight; and the tail lights of the minivan were visible above the trailer; so we decided to go ahead and make our trip and deal with the connector later.

With the little defunct freezer securely strapped down in the trailer, we set off for the drop-off site, about 30 miles away. When we arrived, though, we were told that they don't accept freezers. They suggested another place that we could try.

So we called the other place and got directions to their drop-off site, about 20 miles closer to home. When we arrived, we found a very friendly staff, running a very busy and efficient operation. We pulled onto a scale, where they checked us in and then directed us to an area where a crane with a huge magnet was unloading scrap from a pickup truck.

We sat, waiting our turn and enjoying the adventure of watching scrap being unloaded and crushed. (What can I say? We're retired. Adventures don't come along every day.)

When our turn came, a man with a walkie-talkie radio to his ear asked us if we wanted the crane to unload our cargo. Having seen how the pickup lurched every time the magnet approached it, we opted to unload our freezer ourselves. Mr. Nice-Guy-With-Radio pointed out where he wanted us to put it and apologized for being too busy to help us at the moment.

After we had unloaded the freezer, the same man gave us a little piece of paper and directed us to the Cashier's office where, to our surprise, they paid US instead of the other way around. It wasn't much, but it covered the gas we had used in going to the wrong place first; AND we saved that $25 drop-off fee that we had been expecting.

So far, so good, right?

After a quick lunch break at McDonald's, we were off to Sears to pick up our new freezer, which I had ordered online the day before.

New freezer loaded and secured, we headed for home, stopping along the way at an auto parts store to buy a new connector for the trailer lights.

A neighbor man saw us backing the trailer into the driveway, with the freezer on board. He came over to help us unload it and stayed to help level it, which turned out to be an impossible job. The freezer was on rollers, but the rollers on one side were larger than the rollers on the other side; and there was no leveling mechanism to balance them out.

After trying several options for leveling, including sliding boards of varying thicknesses under the rollers and/or the frame, without success, Doug measured and found that the front was higher than the back; and the left side was higher than the right side. There was also an issue with the way the lid fit, appearing to fit tighter on one side than on the other. And we found a dent or two.

So we decided to return the freezer. We had packed it up and secured it in the trailer when we realized that the trailer's tailgate was missing. We were both sure that it had been on there when we arrived home with the new freezer, but it was nowhere to be found now.

After looking everywhere we could think of, Doug jury-rigged a tailgate, using a board and some C-clamps; and we were off to Sears again. While Doug and a Sears employee were unloading the freezer at the Merchandise Pickup area, I went upstairs to the Appliance Department to process the refund.

We looked around the Merchandise Pickup area at Sears, hoping to find our missing tailgate, but without success. On our way home, with the empty trailer in tow, we searched along the route to see if we could find the tailgate lying along the road somewhere. But we found nothing.

We called our friend, Dave, who is a whiz with anything electrical, and asked him if he'd be willing to install the new trailer light connector for us. He agreed and told us to bring the trailer over after supper.

Of course, no job is ever as simple as you think it will be, so it wound up taking nearly two hours for the guys to get the lights working properly. Meanwhile, our friend's wife, Kay, and I were having a most enjoyable time of fellowship in the comfort of their house.

When Kay had learned that we were coming over, she made a butterscotch pie, knowing it's Doug's favorite. So, when the guys came in after finishing their project in the garage, we all sat down and enjoyed some pie and some more fellowship.

It had been a harrowing day for us, with the trailer light problem; driving many miles out of our way to the wrong drop-off site for the freezer; struggling to make the new freezer work, only to give up and have to take it back to the store; and then losing the tailgate to the utility trailer. And it had come on the heels of a stressful week.

But the Lord is so good, and He gave us that time of fellowship with Dave and Kay last night in which we could share our hearts with them and they with us. And, at the end of the evening, they each prayed for us. Nothing is more soothing to the soul than prayer with friends.

Today, things are looking brighter.

An Update: The tailgate has been found. My niece’s husband was on his way out to our house Saturday  morning, to borrow the trailer, and he spotted the tailgate lying alongside the road just a mile or so from our house. It had apparently gotten loose and bounced out of its brackets when the trailer went over a rough spot. Mystery solved!       

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Slow Dance

This poem was sent to me in one of those forwarded e-mails. You know the kind. They tug at the heart and urge the receiver to keep forwarding it to others.

The poem was supposed to have been written by a little girl who is dying of cancer. A bit of online research soon revealed that no such little girl exists and that the poem was actually written by David L. Weatherford.

While I didn't forward the e-mail, I did think the poem was lovely and worthy of sharing here. This and some of Mr. Weatherford's other writings can be found here.

Slow Dance
Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round,
or listened to rain slapping the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight,
or gazed at the sun fading into the night?
You better slow down, don't dance so fast,
time is short, the music won't last.
Do you run through each day on the fly,
when you ask "How are you?", do you hear the reply?
When the day is done, do you lie in your bed,
with the next hundred chores running through your head?
You better slow down, don't dance so fast,
time is short, the music won't last.
Ever told your child, we'll do it tomorrow,
and in your haste, not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch, let a friendship die,
'cause you never had time to call and say hi?
You better slow down, don't dance so fast,
time is short, the music won't last.
When you run so fast to get somewhere,
you miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
it's like an unopened gift thrown away.
Life isn't a race, so take it slower,
hear the music before your song is over.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Jack and Jill Ranch 1966

As I mentioned in the post about Gay El Rancho, our little group of friends and co-workers had such a good time at that dude ranch in 1965, that we decided to take a similar trip the following year. We chose a different ranch this time, but still in Michigan. The ranch of choice for this second trip was the Jack and Jill Ranch in Rothbury, Michigan.

Judy and Dar were unable to go with us this time. So this year's group consisted of myself and three others who had gone together the previous year, Carole, Kathy, and Mary, as well as Dorthea, another friend of theirs from their Catholic Youth Organization.

Mary drove all of us and our considerable luggage to the ranch in her car. I don't remember the exact year and model of the car, but I do remember that Mary called it "Irving Geronimo."

I think all five of us spent the night at Mary's house the night before the trip to the ranch; and, if memory serves (which it often doesn't these days), Mary's mom messed with us by putting pepper in our beds or some such tom foolery.

Here is a picture of the five of us, trying to get Irving Geronimo's trunk lid closed in preparation for our departure for the ranch.

This is the sign at the ranch's entrance. Kathy and Mary are sitting in the buggy.

Calico Town. We stayed in the Wells Fargo building on the far right end.

The dining room, where we were well fed.

Carole, Dorthea, Kathy, and Mary on their way to mass. Head coverings were still the order of the day back then, although it looks as if some allowances were made for ranch guests in other areas of dress code.

The Wagon Wheel Building, where most of the evening activities were held.

Mary, Kathy, Dorthea, and Carole getting a shooting lesson from ranch employee, Darwood.

Mary is sharing her drink with a wooden horse, which is actually a mailbox, as Carole and Kathy look on. Notice the interesting mural in the background.

Mary, me, Dorthea, Carole, and Kathy, on our horses.

Mary, Kathy, and Carole sunning by the pool.

Our week at the ranch included a day trip to the sand dunes on Lake Michigan. This is ranch employee, Scottie, in the foreground, walking on the dunes.

Things get a little crazy on the last day. Here are some of the staff posing for pictures: Roy, Latigo, Bib, Steve, and Buddie, with Zack in the "blue convertible."

Here, Zack seems to be directing as Latigo, Roy, Steve, Buddie, Alice, and Dorthea are creating a human pyramid. That's Dorthea on top.

Dunking guests in the horse trough is a tradition. Unfortunately, Dorthea's turn came just an hour before we were to get into Mary's car and start for home.

Here we are, all packed and ready to load the car for the trip back home. It looks as if Dorthea found some dry clothes to change into.

And here are some of the staff, gathered under a tree to sing us a sad farewell.

Mary now lives in another state, but she returns to our area once a year or so to visit family. A few years ago, we began having a "dude ranch reunion" on those occasions. Carole, Dorthea, and I all still live in the same area. Sadly, Kathy passed away five years ago from cancer. We had been unable to reach her in time for our first reunion, and she was gone before our next.

I did a little internet research and learned that the Jack and Jill Ranch is now operating under the name of Double JJ Resort. The name isn't the only thing that has changed, either. It seems they now have a championship golf course and a water park, as well as the horses and other amenities.

Maybe our next dude ranch reunion should be held at the Double JJ Resort. It would be fun to see what changes 45 years have wrought.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Gay El Rancho 1965

When I graduated from high school in 1963, I went to work for a large insurance company, which was just about the only place in town that would hire someone just out of school, with no previous work experience. Because of that, a large number of their employees were young single women in their late teens and early twenties. It made for a work environment that was more like a girls' day out.

The pay wasn't great, but the lunches in the company cafeteria were subsidized. I remember that, when our state implemented a tax on food, the first penny of tax came into play at a food cost of 25 cents. So I always made it a point to keep the cost of my cafeteria lunch to 24 cents or less. For that, I could have an entree, dessert, and beverage. We would usually eat our lunches as fast as we could, then retreat to the large lobby to join other employees in a fast game of Euchre, a card game that enjoys great popularity in our area of the country.

The cafeteria would also be open at break time, offering fresh fruit and ice cream. I rarely partook of that, though, because there were "candy drawers" located in the individual departments. There were no vending machines, but individual employees would take it on themselves to stock a desk drawer with candy bars, which could be purchased by other employees on the honor system for a minimal price.

With that sort of working environment, friendships easily grew between employees. I don't remember which of these fellow employees first conceived of the idea of a joint vacation at a dude ranch, but the idea took hold and quickly became a reality.

The location chosen was the Gay El Rancho, located in Gaylord, Michigan, not exactly the first place one thinks of when considering dude ranch locations; but it worked for six young women who didn't make very much money. There were five of us from one department at the insurance company, plus one friend that the other four knew from their Catholic Youth Organization.

The year was 1965.

Gay El Rancho Sign

Thunderbird Lodge

The six of us stayed in two adjoining rooms on the first floor of the Thunderbird Lodge. One room had two double beds, and the other had two single bunk beds. There was a large lobby area outside our rooms where we could sit in the evenings and read or write letters.

Carole, Dar, Kathy, Mary, and Judy walking from the lodge to the Ox Yoke Building. Dar was the only one who didn't work in our department and the only one that I didn't know before the trip.

Linda, Mary, Kathy, Carole, Dar, "Uncle Frank", and Judy at the bar.
(Notice that five of us managed to sit on three bar stools.) 

Judy was the only one of us old enough to legally consume alcohol, but "Uncle Frank," the bartender, obliged us younger ones with "Shirley Temple" drinks. At first, we were confused when Frank offered Judy an alcoholic drink but not the rest of us. Then we realized that the name tag Judy had been given was slightly different than ours, signalling that she was "of age."

Judy, Carole, Dar, Linda, Kathy, and Mary on the second-floor balcony of the Thunderbird Lodge

Carole, Linda, Mary, Dar, Kathy, and Judy
Notice the old Brownie camera hanging around my neck.

Clockwise around the table: Carole, Kathy, Dar, Mary, Judy, and Linda

Carole, Kathy, Judy, Mary, and Dar surrounding Linda and her Ride-Off trophy.
Times were different then, weren't they? We're all wearing dresses for the occasion of "Awards Night." And don't you love the eyeglasses?

Linda and Dale (one of the guys on staff) on Lucky on our last day at Gay El Rancho.

Lucky was my horse for the week because he was the only one they used a flat saddle on, and I was the only guest who was willing to ride in a flat saddle. He was a big, not-especially-handsome brute, but I loved him. I kind of liked Dale, too, if we're being honest.

The six of us had such a great time on this vacation, that we took another dude ranch vacation together the following year...but to a different ranch. But that's fodder for another post.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

God Made Adam First

A friend told me about this recent conversation with her three-year-old grandson.The scene is in Grandma's car, after she had picked up her grandson from his parochial preschool.

Grandson: "Grandma, I know who God made first!"

Grandma: "Who did He make first?"

Grandson, proudly: "Adam!"

Grandma, equally proud: "That's right!"

Lengthy pause.

Grandson, puzzled: "Adam is in my class, and he's not very big. It seems like, if God made him first, he should be bigger."

Monday, June 06, 2011

Generation Designations

Do you ever wonder how certain designations are assigned to different generations? Well, I did a little research and came up with the following thoughts. It seems, though, that there is some disagreement regarding the exact range of dates for each generation, since the transition can occur over a period of a few years. But here's what I came up with:

The Lost Generation are identified as those born between 1883 and 1900, who came of age during World War I and the roaring twenties and were members of the age classes called to duty in the "Great War."

The G.I. Generation, born between 1900 and 1924, came of age during the Great Depression and World War II. Their midlife accomplishments, subsidized by the G.I. Bill, included building gleaming suburbs, inventing miracle vaccines, and launching moon rockets.

The Silent Generation was born between 1925 and 1945, notably during the Great Depression and World War II, and includes most of those who fought in the Korean War. A 1951 article in Time magazine included this statement, "Youth today is waiting for the hand of fate to fall on its shoulders, meanwhile working fairly hard and saying almost nothing."

The Baby Boom Generation was born between 1946 and 1964 and were so named because they were part of the massive increase in births following World War II.

Generation X was born between 1965 and 1979 and was originally referred to as the "baby bust" generation because of the drop in the birth rate following the baby boom.

Generation Y births occurred between 1980 and 2000. They are sometimes called Echo Boomers, due to the significant increase in birth rates through the 1980s and into the 1990s, and because many of them are children of baby boomers. The origin of the name of Generation Y is vague, possibly just referring to the next generation succeeding Generation X.

But I think French Canadian cartoonist, Marc Beaudet, has eloquently summed it up with this cartoon:

Thursday, June 02, 2011

An Assortment

It seems that weather extremes are the order of the day lately. Last month was the wettest May in the recorded history of our area. About a week ago, we had rainfall in excess of four inches in one day. During a break between storms, around sunset, the sun broke through, and I was able to capture a couple of photographs.

We could see both ends of the rainbow, but it was so large that I couldn't get it all in the picture. This end was the brighter of the two, so that's the one I went for.

The clouds were pretty in the glow of sunset.

During my walk at the reservoir yesterday, I took this quick shot of an Amish girl and a team of draft horses working in a neighboring field.

This lovely mallard was hanging around with some of the geese at the reservoir.

This beauty was in a flower bed near the entrance to the reservoir.

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