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Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Dignified Gentleman

Yesterday, 
I had the sad occasion to say goodbye to a 
Dignified Gentleman. 


My dear friend Juanita had to lay to rest her darling husband, Norm Hofstrom. His obituary reads as follows:

Norman T. Hofstrom
Clinton
Norman T. Hofstrom, age 86, of Clinton died Friday June 26, 2015 at Beloit Memorial Hospital. He was born November 23, 1928 to the late David H. and Wilhemina (Thompson) Hofstrom in Clinton. Norm attended Clinton High School, class of 1946. He married Juanita L. Larson on June 23, 1957 in Capron, IL. Norm enlisted into the U.S. Army on January 15, 1951 and served his Country until honorable discharge on January 19, 1953. He was a member of Jefferson Prairie Lutheran Church and the Clinton American Legion Post 440. Norm worked at Wagners and was well known as a dependable guru of cameras. He loved airplanes, especially the Beegee Airplane and always enjoyed EAA in Oshkosh. Norm built many radio controlled airplanes and enjoyed the camaraderie at the airports. He was a dedicated, quiet and supportive family man. Norm will be remembered as an accomplished local photographer at sporting events as well as his contributions to the Clinton Topper.
He is survived by his wife, Juanita Hofstrom; his three children, Mark (Judy) Hofstrom, Michelle (Philip) Randall and Melanie (Greg) Waite; three grandchildren, Philip Waite, Joanna Waite and Jamie Scott.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his son, Matthew David Hofstrom, his infant daughter, Mary Beth, his sister, Dorothy (Sigurd) Peterson and his two brothers, Lester & Gordon.
The family would like to thank the staff at Beloit Regional Hospice for the care they gave Norm.
Norm’s Funeral Service will be 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday July 1, 2015 at JEFFERSON PRAIRIE LUTHERAN CHURCH, 23184 Bergen Road, Poplar Grove, IL with Pastor Thomas G. Groth officiating.  Friends will be received from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday in the Brian G. Mark Funeral Home, 504 Milwaukee Road, Clinton and again on Wednesday at Church from 10:00 a.m. until the time of service.  Following Norman’s service the cortege will process to Jefferson Prairie West Cemetery for Full Military Burial Rites and interment. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Clinton Girls Athletic Dept.

I have such fond memories of this truly gentle man, who was kind, courteous, and possessed a quiet sense of humor that provoked smiles and thoughts of goodness.  He never swore, cussed, gossiped or said a bad word about anyone that I know of.

Norm was a photographer, and Juanita a weaver.  They shared a studio in a church they had acquired in the tiny Wisconsin village of Shopiere. Norm had the upper level for his gallery and Juanita has the lower level for her weaving.  Norm's darkroom was nearby the kitchen area, close to Juanita's weaving and storage.  He was the organizer, fixer and assistant with cutting up fabrics and helping to warp up the looms.






Once, during a visit to their Vavning Studio. I had admired a photo that Norm had taken of his wife, long ago.  This is Juanita, with a shuttle in her hand.  What a glorious lady!


That sparked Norm into action, and we spent a whole two days digging through negatives in his darkroom, examining photos from the past.  We tripped and trotted down memory lane, seeing photos from their entire lives in those boxes of negatives.  Oh... so many smiles on his normally stoic face.  And a few sniffs, seeing photos of family members that had passed on. I didn't get much weaving done that weekend, but I sure enjoyed Norm sharing all those memories with me.


Yesterday, I trekked on down 150 miles to be by my friend's side as we laid him to rest, surrounded by friends and family and a gathering of military vets with a flag, taps and burial salute with rounds of gunshots.  Very solemn and dignified.  A funeral befitting a man who deserved this recognition.

The pastor at their tiny farming community church was extolling just the very same values, and stressed that Norm was a Dignified Gentleman.  Yes.  We agree.

After the gracious funeral and delicious meal served by well-meaning church ladies, Juanita and a few of her close weaving friends spent time around a table in a little local restaurant sipping iced tea and lemonade.  It was good to relax and laugh a bit and chat and be there to be with Juanita. No more tears.  Time to be close and supportive to the newness of it all for her. And her journey to come without Norm by her side.


Quiet Norm, who was always around and behind the scenes at various workshops and weaving gatherings that Juanita hosted at the studio.   Always there to lend a hand, a tool, adjust someone's loom, or just take pics of the events going on.



You rarely saw Norm without a camera slung around his neck.  At each of our big weaving workshops, it was Norm's task to take a group photo outside, of all the attendees lined up in front of the studio.  Everyone would pile a bunch of cameras and cell phones on him to snap their pics too.  He goodheartedly complied with the requests.... haha  Sometimes he would get my Steve, his assistant, to help!

Steve and Norm would sneak off to the local diner to chat with his airplane buddies, or hang out at the airport, and find "guy stuff" to do while we women were weaving...  They always found something to keep themselves busy.


Juanita and Norm were our "first guests" the day we picked up our motorhome
in nearby Rockford.  We served them lunch in our rig....


Usually always together, you could see Norm waiting patiently while Nita did her thing.  He was the quiet compliment to her energy.  Both so creative and thoughtful and kind. 


Eventually, Juanita got Norm to try his hand at weaving.  With a middle name of THOR, he was a mighty rug beater and made firmly beaten rugs... what a guy! 



After the funeral, I took Juanita back to her home.  Her empty home now, with Norm's big recliner chair sitting there in front of his beloved tv to watch his sports... while she sat in her prim Queen Anne wingback chair nearby.  We chatted and reminisced and went through some photos and some past silliness.  It was good.

After such a long day, it was time for me to make my exit and let her rest.  My heart is with you, dear Juanita, as you enter the next chapter in your life.  And, we will always remember your Dignified Gentleman.





Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Dog Gone Good Weekend - 2015 WSR Sheltie Reunion!

WSR--- stands for Wisconsin Sheltie Rescue.  This is where we got our darling Binney and Finney!

Tackled with the never-ending energy, ideas and creativity of Lisa Martin, she puts on this huge event every year to gather her past adopters and adoptees into a great Wisconsin Sheltie Rescue Reunion Weekend.

We had 124 dogs and 131 people attend this year.   She had helpers with food, prizes, setting up, tearing down and reserving campground sites for those who wished to camp (I helped with that!) I had to get up at 4 am in the middle of winter, six months before, to sit in a freezing car to get in line to make the reservations for this particular summer weekend. Calumet County Park is not yet online, so it has to be made in person. First come, first served.  I had to reserve 20 campsites for over $1,000 at one fell swoop!  Once that was done, then it was coordinating payments back from people, setting the right names to the right sites, and making sure nobody got left out!  Ahhhh it all worked out.



To give you a little taste of what our day was like, 
here is a fun video put together by fellow adopter, Joyce Naps.
Click here:

(I know that most shelties look alike to many of you readers, sooooo
any time you see a blue bandana it's Finney
and a pink bandana it's Binney) 

We helped on Wednesday to get all of the prizes and auction items loaded up and hauled to the event venue site.  It took FOUR vehicles to get it all there!  Lisa sure collects a lot of wonderful items throughout the whole year to use in our silent auction.  

Our soninlaw Jesse made a campfire ring which we donated in Finney and Binney's honor.  It was called "Dogupations"  and had various working dogs depicted around the ring doing their jobs.  Herding, hunting, and sled dog racing.  It is a real work of art, and the auction bidding brought in a nice tidy sum for the Sheltie Rescue Fund!   The happy winner is putting it at her cottage up north, and she will send a pic once it's all up in place. Jesse can custom make them with just about any motif, contact him at jwadeip@gmail.com 




Before the day of the event, I had picked up ten big play balls from Walmart. I carefully lettered each one to transform it into a colorful Big Round Sheep.... I tossed each one into their little fenced in potty yard.  Finney and Binney were a bit flummoxed at first by having more than ONE to chase and herd around their yard.  

But soon they herded them and got them in line (literally!) 
"We done a good job!" 

Steve had to work on Friday, so I drove the motorhome out and got it backed into our campsite with NO spotter to help me!  (good thing I have backed into this campsite a few times before, and I do have a backup camera on our motorhome)   I got us all set up and the dogs were eager to get out and meet other shelties!


On Friday, the weather was looking pretty "iffy" so Lisa made arrangements for a HUGE circus tent to be rented for the weekend.  The only problem, it had to be erected.  Hmmmm by a bunch of guys and gals who never did this before!~   It took all afternoon in the heat with a lot of huffing, puffing, pulling, balancing and heave-ho-ing like a herd of Circus Elephants!   Whew......  we got it!
Steve's shoulders sure were aching from pounding in stakes with a slegehammer.

The guys also spread out a big roll of orange fencing to make an enclosed play area for the dogs to run free if the owner so chooses.   (more on that later)

Friday night started out with a big buffet meal at a local seafood place, and many of the attendees go to gather and greet and eat. Some went to a new place in Neenah where you can eat out on a patio with your dog on leash by your side.

We hung back at the rig and got settled in and visited with the folks coming into the campsites.  We had 20 campsites booked all in one area, which was wonderful for visiting and socializing our dogs back and forth too.

We all gathered at one central campsite for a campfire and visiting and of course.... dogs dogs dogs! 










Saturday morning was "The Day" with a lot of folks scrambling and getting things set up and ready bright and early.  There were vendors with items to sell, auction baskets to set up in rows, tables to cover for food, and various activities to take place before people even started checking in.  Lisa had it all arranged and everything went off with nary a hitch.  Well.... the bakery kinda goofed up on the cake---

(T'wernt no Sheltie... that's a Golden Retriever, folks!) 


People started coming in the tent and pavilion in droves, with excited dogs in tow.  Checking in, greeting each other, sniffing butts (the dogs) and seeing folks we have not seen in a whole year! 

Now about that secured play area?  I tossed the big balls out into the open space for play and herding activities for the dogs.... and boy oh boy did they have fun! 


Here are some pics:





There were also a few "non-shelties" present....
This little papillion guy of Kay Detample realized those balls were a bit big,
but this frisbee was just right! 
(photos by Scott Johnson are used with permission) 


It was pretty hot, but the rain held off all day!  
The tent was perfect for shade, 
and both Finney and Binney found comfort under our chairs! 




and here are three YouTube video clips of the dogs having a blast! 
(remember Finney is wearing a blue bandana and Binney a pink one)





Throughout the day, folks browsed the silent auction items,
and placed their bids.  
Then we all had to go back from time to time to check on our bids, 
and put in higher ones on the most wanted items.  
What a great array of stuff! 


On hand was a "Pet Communicator" who could help you understand what your dog is trying to tell you... and some folks had some very revealing and on-the-spot readings!  

Kids were sent on scavenger hunts to win prizes, and folks recieved various awards from things happening throughout the year. Certificates were handed out for all the newest adoptions of dogs (Binney included)  and we all had a great time visiting other doggie folks.

There were some vendors of products to buy, and huge array of food done up by our very own Joyce Naps.  It was a Mexican Taco Bar and had a baked potato alternative if you so wished.  Rows of food and dessert and drinks rounded off a great feast. 



Lisa arranged for a fellow artist friend to come 
and carve a 40 pound block of cheddar cheese! 

 Yes, only in Wisconsin would this be considered a fascinating display! 


Richard Kaye, author of the book 
was on hand to sign copies of his book. 
His dog, Julia, was a Wisconsin Sheltie Rescue Dog,
 and Richard wrote a wonderful book
with proceeds going to the rescue charities.
 He signed my copy in honor of Duke and Ducky.... sigh. 

Remember I had told the story of how Finnegan came to be?  How his mommy, Daisy, was in a hoarder's mobile home of 38 dogs and was pregnant before even being one year old and had puppies? That is how Finney came to be.  Once Daisy had her puppies, and they were old enough to be adopted, Daisy went to live with a great gal named Brittany in Illinois. 

Well, it turns out that our Binney was rescued from the same hoarding situation, and it appears that she was approximately the same age as Daisy when the raid was done on the mobile home. All of the dogs went into the Michigan Rescue to get documented, provided health care, spayed or neutered, and then distributed to other area rescues for adoption.

But Binney was not well, and she had heartworm and a lot of issues and went into foster care instead. She needed special health care before she was adoptable. So it took longer before she was adoptable. 

So why I am rehashing all of this???

We think Binney and Daisy are sisters!!!  Records by the hoarder were sketchy and probably altered to be able to sell the most puppies with AKC papers, so who know which dog came from what litter!   But look at these two....  The just HAVE to be sisters! 


They are sooo alike in looks, mannerisms, body types and habits.  Daisy showed extreme interest in Binney and seemed to recognize her right off the bat, and both spent a lot of time sniffing each other, and ignoring any other dog around! Finnegan knows his mommy too, and has met up with her on several occasions already.

Side note----  Well, since the mommy dog Daisy came to the reunion, along with her pal Cooper, they needed a place to sleep.  We let their owner Brittany stay at our house for the weekend. They enjoyed a peaceful place to rest at night since she wasn't a camper-type-person. So Daisy and Cooper got to hang out in Finney and Binney's house! They even got to relax in the mornings out on our front porch----- 



Back to the reunion now-

Saturday evening as things wound down, Steveio and the guys decided to get that expensive rental tent down and stowed away in case of bad weather.  It sure went DOWN a lot easier than when it went up! 
Here is a video clip of that process:


Of course, we had a gorgeous sunset---- and the weather was beautiful! 


Everyone gathered around the campfire again and enjoyed an evening of camaraderie, beverages, and tales of dogginess. 





On Sunday, a bunch went out to the Paper Valley Hotel in Appleton for a brunch gathering, and we then started to double check the grounds for any doggie doo-doo remains.  Leaving the picnic grounds and the venue building and the campground spotless is a MUST if we want to return next year.  

Some folks stayed on overnight at the campground yet on Sunday (like us) and we could see a big big storm coming on Monday morning.  Bit by bit folks pulled out, but we had to tear down and fold up some rented popup campers and deliver them back to their owners.   By the time everyone left, I was still folding down the last one alone in the pouring rain!  but... I got it done! 

Steve came on his lunch hour and helped haul back the last rented popup camper, and I drove the motorhome to our house, while he headed back to work the rest of the day. 

Our dogs went NUTS racing around the house, looking for those two dogs whom they could smell that had been IN their house!  They finally figured out which room the dogs had slept in, the guest room.  They were in and out and up and down on the bed about ten times looking for Daisy and Cooper (who had gone home the day before) 




I found the sweetest thank you note from Brittany and Cooper and Daisy for staying at our house.  Plus she gave us a gift certificate to our favorite little deli in Chilton... and left Steve some beers in the fridge!  Oh... and some of that big 40 pound chunk of cheese!  hahahahaha   What a perfect houseguest.  She stripped her bedding and left it and her towels on the washing machine, dirty dishes in the dishwasher and the place was spotless.  Yup, she can come back again.  Finney would love to see his mommy and Binney to see her sister...  Cooper can be along for the rounding out of the set of two boys two girls.  LOL 

On Monday night, we still had to deliver another rented popup back to Appleton that evening, and Lisa had me do my FIRST animal transport for the rescue group!  I had to pick up a crate of five baby kittens at the local vet and bring them to her place of business http://www.stockbridgecrittersitters.com/ for adoption.  Awww

(and NO, we didn't keep any!) 

Lisa treated us out to a nice dinner for doing popup camper delivery... thank you, Lisa! I don't know where she gets her energy, but we were totally POOPED OUT by the time we got back home.

What a great four day weekend for us,
full of doggone good fun! 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Coming Around Again - 20 years later

Some things are just meant to be..... 

30 years ago I bought my first house.  
It was at 130 N. Maple in Green Bay.


I loved that house! It sparked my love affair with old homes!  While living there, I sold real estate in Green Bay.  I always enjoyed showing and selling the older homes to my customers.  I really appreciated the lovely one that I had the good fortune to own.  Although I lived here for a while with my ex husband, he moved in and out a couple times until I finally divorced him. Then I took over ownership of the home on my own.  It even had an apartment in the upper level that helped generate rental income for me!

(fast forward 10 years) 

 I met Steve 20 years ago.....
 and while we were dating, 
he built me this lovely birdhouse to match the house.


Two years later, when we got married, we decided that we should start a new life in a new house of our own.  Even though my ex husband didn't live there all that long, it was still "my" house not "our" house to start our marriage in.  Plus we had my two girls and his two boys, and needed a larger home with more bedrooms when the boys came to visit or live in the summer months.

Soooooo  I sold the house and we built another home together up in Oconto. We left the birdhouse behind, on a post in the backyard.  I always REGRETTED letting that birdhouse stay with the house for the new owners.

 But it's one of those things you can't go back and do over... 
or can you???



I had to run up to Green Bay for a doc appt this afternoon.  I thought about driving past my old house BEFORE I went to my doc appt.  But naw... it would be a tight squeeze to get in a few pics and then get over to the doc's office in time.  I decided to go AFTER my doc appt.   Boy oh boy am I ever glad I waited!!!


Doc appt went well, and I got out about an hour later.  I drove over to my old house and snapped a few pics... the house is looking great.  I was snapping away and a lady in the upstairs unit stuck her head out the window and asked if she could help me?  (probably wondering what was I up to snapping pictures of her home?)  The pic wasn't the best because of all the sunshine and shadows.  She came out to talk with me a bit when I told her who I was etc. 



She told me how much she loved living in this house, and how she was a renter in the upstairs. We chatted all about the house and the things around the neighborhood. I asked about the backyard and told her how I planted the 3 trees, and built the gazebo etc. and then I asked about that birdhouse.  

Well.... get this---------   just last week her son knocked birdhouse over, since the post had rotted off in the ground.  Part of the roof had broken off, and she told the landlord that it was damaged and her son had done it.  Well, the landlord told her to just toss it out in the trash and don't worry about it.  She hadn't had time to put it out earlier today with the city trash pick-up so it was sitting in the garage until next week!!!  

and.....  

 SHE GAVE IT TO ME!!!!!

She led me back to the garage
and let me put it and the post
safely into the trunk of my car.



I thanked her profusely over and over,
which I am sure she thinks I am some kind of nut now.

I gave her my business card and drove away,
with tears streaming down my face.

Imagine all the little things that had to fall into place for this to happen:
  • Always regretting not taking it with us when we moved, and never forgetting about it.
  • Her son broke the post and only the corner of the roof came loose, but not really broken, happening just last week. Not next week or next month.  
  • Landlord saying to toss it, and not decide to repair it. 
  • My having a doc appt. in Green Bay just this week.
  • My deciding to stop by there after my appt. was over instead of before.  What if she hadn't been home earlier? 
  • Her not getting around to putting it into the city trash pickup this morning and having to wait until next week.
  • Her glancing out the window at some nut lady taking pics of her house?
  • And crazy old me, wanting the danged thing?????????????  PRICELESS! 


As I drove home,
wiping my tears,
wondering how to present this to Steve...


Hmmmmm?
Should I fix it up myself and give it to him on our anniversary at the end of the month?
Nawww I couldn't wait that long!

Should I take it out and set it on his workbench and not say a word?
He might not see it for a day or two and that would drive ME nuts!

Should I just drive up and have him stand there while I open the trunk?
BINGO~! ! !

Soooo I decided to film his reaction as I opened up the car trunk.....
and got the video portion of my cell phone handy.

Here is a video clip
(listen closely to what he said!)





And now... because I loved this house, and because it's my blog....   I am going to post a bunch of pics to let you see how special this house was on the inside (and why I love old homes) 



I bought it in Nov of 1985 and moved in
during an ice and snow storm.
My friend Connie wiped off furniture as it came through the door,
and friends Gary and Mike hauled everything through the slogging snow and slush.

The next morning it was like a fairyland!



When I first bought it,  it was the traditional English Tudor colors of brown and cream.  I later painted it with a lighter cream stucco with hunter green and burgundy trim as it is now today. Here is a photo listed on the Wisconsin Historic Homes website, where it has been listed as the "Hans Christensen Home".  I googled but never found out anything more about him. This was taken before I owned it.  This house was built in 1928. 



Our first Christmas a month later was pretty special.  
I had sweet little electric candles that stuck in each and every pane
 of the french door style windows across the front of the house. 


I had a beautiful woodburning fireplace
with a richly colored tile hearth

 (My kids still use those same stockings to this day)


Each side of the fireplace had built-in curio cabinets
with glass shelves and lighting. The hardwood floors were awesome
and each of the window panes opened up like little french doors into the room.
Those hot water radiators were so cozy to warm up on,
and the kids would lay their mittens and socks on them to dry.


Double sets of palladian shaped oval french doors led from the foyer to the livingroom
and then from the livingroom into the diningroom


The formal diningroom had an original light fixture
that we found stuffed in a box in the basement.
It matched all of the wall sconces in the house.
Why it was stuffed down there, I had no idea.
I cleaned it up and put it back to it's restored place of glory!

The previous owners also stuffed a set of the french doors,
and both of the curio cabinet doors into a corner of the basement!   
Strange!  I think the doors got in the way of the furniture? 
 I didn't have a lot of furniture, so I brought them back up again 
and put them into place where they belonged! ... hahaha! 

A built-in china hutch graced one corner of the diningroom
with the same style to the glass as the french doors 


My girls had the cutest little bedroom
and I sewed all their curtains and bedspreads.
(that is baby Heather in the crib!)



The bathroom was a dream come true, with original ceramic tiles,
 pedestal sink, big huge ceramic knobs for the tub and a great tile floor!

 The kitchen was soooo sweet!
Remember, this was the 80's so I painted it Country Rose and Blue! It had the most adorable little breakfast nook with built-in bench seats.  The radiator ran underneath the trestle style table and would keep the feet warm on cold winter mornings. It faced East so the sun would come in the mornings and light up the room. The big huge farm sink and the old wooden cabinets were so quaint.. it even had a built-in ironing board cabinet. 



In the backyard, I built a gazebo!
here it was halfway through completion and before we put up the privacy fence.

 Here is the gazebo, years later, with grapevines for the roof covering.
You can see the little birdhouse in this photo, from the backside!


Yes, this house was pretty important to me, and I raised my girls here on my own for many years.  It was hard as a single young mom, but I managed to scrimp and save each month to make those payments and be a landlord at the tender age of 25.  My girls grew up safe and secure in their own home, and not bounced around from apartment to apartment like a lot of kids do after divorce.




Although I would never want to live there again, it was a great house.  I wouldn't want it back for a number of reasons.  The neighborhood is deteriorating, the mess of being a landlord is not fun, and not having enough room for our motorhome is a third reason.  We had all to do just to squeeze in my 27 ft motorhome, and later a 33ft travel trailer. It was tight in that little backyard, how could we fit in a 40 ft motorhome like we have now?  Our home now is much better suited for us in so many ways.  

Nope.. it was a great house,
and we will remember it fondly.


And now I can think of that home each time 
I glance at the soon-to-be-rebuilt birdhouse
 that will grace the yard 
of Our Old House now here in Chilton.