I really loved this cover of The Amazing Spider-Man #665

Not only was the cover really cool the story was great.

Summer Funeral

So Grandma passed away on Monday the 11th and I flew home on Wednesday before in case the service was Thursday or Friday and stayed for the weekend. I rented a car from the Minneapolis airport and found myself in line behind the Stockholm Sweden girls team – NO I didn’t take pictures, they were just taking a long time, and no I don’t know what sport, just that they were annoyingly slow in my way. I drove from the airport directly to the most important destination – Taco Johns. Partly because I don’t know how to get to my friends house unless I go through Eau Claire and party cause I love Taco John’s tacos. I think I arrived at Pat and Brenda’s about 10:00 Wednesday night.

Thursday morning both Pat and Brenda had departed for work and I paid attention to their two dogs before going to Taco Johns for an early lunch. After lunch I walked around downtown Eau Claire, taking photos and doing some shopping, then I stopped for an hour and got a new tattoo on my back (much cheaper in Eau Claire than it is in DC) that says “ZEUS”.

Then I went to JC Penny’s where I briefly pretended to be interested in window dressings so I could visit with my niece Samantha – always great to see the nieces. Then I went off to Macy’s to do a bit of shopping and found a LOVELY woman, Trudy, who was both entertaining and helpful there. Trudy was one day shy of working at that store for twenty years, and was simply amazing – she sized me up just by looking at me and was pulling out shirts, jackets and slacks faster than I could react. Good customer service and a very nice person.

Then I headed back to Chippewa Falls to get ready before the Big Meeting – real AA, not that watered down stuff I see here in DC. I was called up during the meeting to share some experience strength and hope as were a few others – my friend Nicholas joked that I must have been the token female called up as everyone was a guy that shared. After the meeting a bunch of guys headed to Perkins, I tagged along and had a bite as well – it’s a nice bit of fellowship.

Friday I had lunch with a new friend, Jimmy, before heading down to Whitehall for the funeral. It rained most of the day and when I left Eau Claire it was coming down pretty hard. Whitehall is my old stomping grounds, where I attended most of my grade school years and several of my drinking years – it’s always nice to go back and visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there again. I found the Baptist Church easily enough – I don’t even remember us having one back when I was a kid, but there it was right in the back yard of a house where my ex-fiance and my biological father once lived (stories for another time).

I went in the church and soon discovered my sister Dawn, uncle Joey and aunt Ginger and with them some giant of a lad that I was introduced as a cousin – much to young to be that tall. Soon other relatives would arrive: Amy (sister), Becky (cousin), Ryan (brother), Debbie (aunt) and a whole bunch of folks I’m supposed to know but really have no memory of. Before the service we shared a few memories and caught up a bit – Facebook helps with that stuff but it’s nice to get the little details in person.

The service was short, not a lot of preaching by the preacher, but he was pretty to look at. Then there was an open mike where anyone could get up and share memories of Grandma. My sister Amy led that followed by Dawn – it was nice that they both brought to my mind times I had forgotten, like listening to old radio shows on cassette tapes (Lone Ranger is the only show I can remember off hand, but there were tons of those), making sock puppets, and writing letters to the editor of the local newspaper. There was some bad singing – mostly because church songs are so boring musically add that to tone deaf singers and well disaster. After the service there were sandwiches, crackers, desserts and drinks before we headed to the cemetery where the VFW was waiting to help us put Grandma in the ground – Grandma was a WAVE during the war and after they gave a 21 gun salute and played Taps (I think it’s Taps correct me if I’m wrong) they gave Grandma’s oldest a folded up flag for her service. That was pretty emotional for all parties involved. In the city of Whitehall my phone only had a good signal in the cemetery – weird. Then we all headed back to the church for a bit before dispersing – I led one of my cousins that I don’t really know to the outskirts of Galesville before heading to my Ma’s.

At Ma’s I got to spend time with her, my sister Rhonda and here husband Greg, my nephews Michael and Cory and Cory’s wife Danielle. And of course Charlie, my incredibly smart, gifted and cute grand nephew. He’s just such a bundle of fun, and at 2 years of age pretty damn smart I’d say. After everyone had left and it was just Ma, Michael and I it was near enough to bed time that I hit the hay and slept until 5:00 or some ungodly hour and struggled to stay asleep but really – once I’m up, I’m up. Saturday Rhonda, Greg and I went out thrift saling in the Holmen/Onalaska area and before we knew it the day had passed us by and we were back home for some pork from the grill, potatoes from the garden and good conversation. Ma’s recuperating from her knee replacement quickly and everyone seems to be eating healthier or at least less than normal.

Sunday I took Ma to church where I found there was another preacher that was good eye candy. He preached on ACTS and laws of God and man and sticking to the message, whatever that message might be – at least that’s what I heard. At the service was one of my high school English teachers and I thanked her for being one of the teachers that introduced me to what I love. After the service Ma and I went to breakfast before I left for Eau Claire.

I stopped at the Whitehall Cemetery to visit Pa and see his stone – which was recently put in. I talked to him for a bit and cried a little bit just thinking about him, missing him and wishing he was still here. When I come home I can still see bits and pieces of him around the house and in the whole family. I don’t think there is a day that goes by that we don’t miss him. The stone is beautiful and I wiped off some old grass clippings and straightened up the flowers. I’ll be sure to stop again next time I pass through town. It is kind of weird to see Ma’s name there when she’s still alive, but hopefully we wont fill in the date after the dash for a good long time.

Once I arrived at Pat and Brenda’s Pat and I decided to hit a movie, Horrible Bosses, which we really liked. Then Samantha came over and the four of us went to dinner and Dairy Queen and then watched Rango at the house. It’s nice to spend time with them – even when they’re more obsessed with the iPad than any human should be. 😉

Monday I left the Chippewa Valley around 10:30 for the Cities and then flew home, arriving close to 9:00 thanks to a ride from the Boss who also flew back into BWI last night.

So I’ll be home for a few days before I head back to the Midwest for my scheduled trip on Friday.

Singing with Star

Growing up I was always surrounded by music. At every family gathering there would be singing by the adults and the kids. My mother would often be asked to come up on stage and sing at bars or at the town festival beer tents. Us kids would often put on shows for our parents or uncles and aunts if they would let us. One of my aunts tried to get me interested in playing the piano and my grandmother often tried to teach me to play the guitar.

My grandmother, Star, would play guitar, sing and she wrote many songs about her life and the lives of those around her. One particular song “Sawmill Mans Wife” was a childhood favorite, I don’t recall the lyrics, but I do recall that the last time I heard her play it my aunt Ginger cried – so perhaps the lyrics weren’t happy memories. I hope someone managed to save her lyrics and music.

I was fortunate enough to live with my Grandmother for a few years when I was a teenager and I think she picked up her guitar almost every day, and if not the guitar then the dulcimer, the accordion or would just be humming away. Music seemed to be the center of every moment for her. If she was doing woodworking on her walking sticks, or on a new guitar she’s be whistling away or singing an old song that had special importance for her.

Songs that I probably wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise I learned about from my grandmother, songs by Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and most importantly her songs.

We would accompany Grandmother to camp sites where they were protesting nuclear power or whatever and Grandma would get up on stage and sing protest songs, popular songs and sometimes some of us would get on stage and sing with her. My sister and I once got into an argument live on stage about the right way to sing Barbara Mandrell’s “Crackers” – I think I was doing most of the arguing – Dawn understood that the show must go on and kept singing, I understood that I was going to grow up and be a drama queen.

I can easily recall images of my grandmother strumming her guitar, singing at a campfire, or at home. Most of those are good memories that I can cherish for all time. Music has been one of those things that can make me feel better no matter what – thanks Grandma.