Category Archives: Blogging University

Writing 101: Day Twenty – “The Things We Treasure”

Day Twenty – The Things We Treasure:  

* Today’s Prompt:   Tell us the story of your most-prized possession.

* Today’s Twist:  We extolled the virtues of brevity back on day five, but now, let’s jump to the other side of the spectrum and turn to longform writing.

 

I can say without a doubt, that music has always held a prominent place in my life. I discovered at a very young age that having the ability to make music, whether it is through singing or through an instrument is a beautiful gift to the person who is performing, and to perform, thereby giving that gift of music to others is so rewarding. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a passion for music. I don’t mean to brag, but very early on, I discovered that God blessed me with a singing voice, and ever since then, I have used it whenever I could. Whether I was doing my chores, walking to school, riding my bike, or just sitting on the front steps to our apartment building, I’d sing. And it didn’t matter to me if I wasn’t singing for an audience, because I knew that somehow there was someone, somewhere who could hear me, even if it was only the birds and the squirrels in the trees.

I think I’ve always loved music because I knew that in music, I could express myself, whether I was in the throes of joy and happiness or in the depths of sadness and despair. I knew that if I couldn’t find the words, I could always find the music, the melody, the mood, the tempo. Music was always there. It may not make sense to someone else, but it always made sense to me.

While growing up, one of my friends was taking piano lessons, and I was so envious of her. Oh, how I wanted to learn how to play the piano! But my family could not afford to buy piano, much less the expense of my taking piano lessons. I used to look forward to going over to her house to spend time with her because sometimes she would let me sit down at the piano and she would try to teach me some of the lessons she had learned. I was an avid student. Of course, she was not the best teacher, but I learned what I could. Not only that, but I had an excellent “ear” and could play some melodies by ear. But oh, how I longed for a piano of my very own! Then one day she and her family moved away. Not only was I sad to see her go, but I was also sad because I knew that was the end of my piano-playing days.

As the years went by, and I married and had children, every now and then I’d still think about my dream of owning a piano some day, but raising a family and other financial concerns seemed more important, so my piano dream was set aside until last January. I began thinking about playing the piano once again, now that our children had left our nest. I own 76-key electronic keyboard and I decided to take the plunge and begin piano lessons. I knew that we couldn’t afford a piano, but I could practice on the keyboard. I have a friend from church who teaches piano, so I began taking lessons from her. After a few lessons at her home, It wasn’t long before I noticed the differences between playing on her piano and practicing on my keyboard. The touch was different, the weight of the keys was different, and even the width of the keys was different.  I knew that in order to derive the full benefit of piano lessons, I would have to practice on a real piano. But how? After giving it some thought, soon I came up with a plan and knew exactly what to do.

I telephoned my church choir director. Of course – I’m a member of our church choir! Since we live only five minutes from our church, I asked her if I could practice every day on the piano in our choir rehearsal room.

“Of course, you could . . .  but, I have another suggestion,” Therese said.

“What’s that?”

“Well, I have a piano at home that you could have.”

“What?”

“Yes. I have a piano for sale on Craig’s list, but no one’s really asked about it, so you could have it.”

“But we really can’t afford a piano right now. That’s why I’d like to practice on the one at church,”

“No, Cindy. You don’t understand. You can HAVE it. For free. I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather give it to.”

I was speechless. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. She was going to GIVE me a piano. FREE. It was going to be as easy, as simple, as wonderful as THAT. Before I knew it, I was sobbing uncontrollably because this beautiful, wonderful, kindhearted, loving woman was going to make my lifelong dream come true.

A week later, the big day arrived. My piano was going to be delivered. I had spent the day before preparing for it. It was like I was preparing for company! My husband and I moved the computer desk out of the living room, which is where the piano was going to “live.” I dusted the entire living room from top to bottom. I vacuumed the rug, and swept and polished the wooden floors, making them glow.

Isn't my piano beautiful?

Isn’t my piano beautiful?

Ten minutes before the piano was due to arrive, I sat on the sofa with my little toy poodle Lucy, anxiously watching out the living room window, waiting for the piano moving truck to arrive. It seemed as though the time was ticking by so slowly as I waited. Then it appeared. Around the corner it came. The truck with MY piano! Even my little Lucy could sense the joy in my mood as she jumped off the sofa, wagging her tail, running back and forth from the door to the window where I stood, watching as the truck pulled slowly into our driveway. The doorbell rang and I ran to the door to answer it. I greeted the piano movers with a huge smile on my face and happiness in my voice. I followed their every move as they carefully and skillfully brought my piano into our house, setting it into its place of honor. Then I gave them their hard-earned pay, thanked them, and said good-bye, but in my mind, all I kept thinking was, Hurry and leave, so I can sit down and play the piano, MY piano! 

And finally it was time. My dear choir director had wrapped up the bench with a beautiful white ribbon, ending with a gorgeous bow on the top. It was so like her to make such a gesture; after all it was her gift to me. I carefully untied the bow, planning to save it as a keepsake, thinking I would place the ribbon inside the bench so I wouldn’t lose it. I opened the bench and lying inside was a carefully folded note.  It was printed by hand, and on the outside were the words: Enjoy the Piano! I opened it and inside were some more words which read: May it bring you great joy and happiness!  Therese.  These words from my choir director so touched me that I broke down and cried tears of joy.

It was at this moment when I realized that sometimes if you dream long enough and add a little faith to the mix, dreams really do come true. And that it’s never too late to begin a new chapter in your life – even if it means learning to play the piano at the age of fifty-seven!

 

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Writing 101: Day Nineteen – “Don’t Stop the Rockin'”

Day Nineteen – Don’t Stop the Rockin’:  

* Today’s Prompt:  Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop.

 

Up to this point, I believed that I was quite satisfied with my life just the way it was. After being medically disabled for the past eleven years, I had finally come to accept my situation and had learned to deal with the pain of my disability so that I could participate in the activities of daily living. It had been a very long road, but I had come a long way, and now I was at a point where I was enjoying many good days. But I knew that there was one thing that I was supposed to do that would make me feel even better and that was exercise. It’s not that I didn’t want to exercise, but every time that I tried, my lower back would go into spasm and then I would just stop. So I just never exercised.

Then last week my sister Diane phoned telling me that she and my sister Terri had begun playing a new game called “pickleball,” and she asked if I’d like to come on Saturday to try it out. I was hesitant at first, wondering how my back would hold out, but then a little voice inside told me to go ahead and try it and so I agreed. Here was my opportunity to get some exercise.

On Saturday morning, I packed up for the trip to the gym because we were going to an indoor court. I had decided ahead of time that I would bring my laptop, already thinking that I probably wouldn’t be able to play this game because of my back. I figured that I’d give it a try and then if my back couldn’t hold up to the strain, I could sit on the sidelines and do some writing while I waited for my sisters to finish their games (Diane had told me we’d be probably be gone for two to three hours).

After arriving at the gym, I noticed there were six courts set up to play this new game. My sisters had informed me on the drive over that pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S. It’s a combination of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong and is played with a paddle and a wiffle ball on a short court. I was grateful for the shorter court because I had tried tennis before and had failed miserably. Goodness knows I am no athlete!

 

 

And so my sisters began to coach me on the game of pickleball: how to serve, how to hit the ball back and forth, how to score, etc. I began to get the hang of the game and before long, I was actually enjoying myself, and so we decided to play a game. By this time, a woman whom my sisters worked with had joined us so that we’d be able to play doubles. And so we began.

After about fifteen minutes of playing, right on cue, my back went into spasm. But I didn’t want to stop, so I pushed through the pain and before long, like a miracle, the spasm disappeared! I was ecstatic. Not only that, but the back pain never returned. This had never happened before. It was such a glorious feeling. I felt as though I had won an Olympic medal!

We went on to play four games of pickleball that day, which lasted a total of nearly three hours. I could hardly believe that I had accomplished such a feat. Imagine me – who led a sedentary life, doing that kind of exercise for nearly three hours! And I had such a marvelous time – with no back pain. It was incredible.

And guess what I did that afternoon? I went out and bought my own graphite pickleball racket because I knew that I was going to be playing a lot of pickleball.

I learned a valuable lesson that day: Just when you think you want to quit is when you have to keep pushing even harder because when you do succeed, that’s when you’ll find it will all be worthwhile. And it was.

 

 

Writing 101: Day Eighteen – “Hone Your Point of View”

Day Eighteen – Hone Your Point of View:  

* Today’s Prompt:  The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.

Write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.

* Today’s Twist:  For those of you who want an extra challenge, think about more than simply writing in first-person point of view — build this twelve-year-old as a character. Reveal at least one personality quirk, for example, either through spoken dialogue or inner monologue.

 

Dad said that this was gonna happen one day, and I guess he was right. But I guess Dad’s always right. At least that’s what Mom always says. “Listen to your father, young man. If you want to grow up to be a good man like him, then listen to your father. He’s always right, don’t you know.” That’s what she always says. And after that she says: “And whatever you do, don’t follow in your brother’s footsteps. Look what happened to him. If he had listened to your father, he wouldn’t be in the situation that he’s in now. And he’s full of regrets, believe you me. And that’s one thing you don’t want to be – full of regrets. So listen to your father.” I just hate it when she talks about Danny like that. I know that one of these days he’s gonna show them that they’re wrong about him and then they’ll be sorry that they bad-mouthed him.

But Dad was right about old Mrs. Pauley. She’s lived across the street for so long that I thought for sure that some day they’d find her dead in some corner of her house. She was really sad after Mr. Pauley died a few months ago and never even left her house after that. I heard somewhere that sometimes people died of a broken heart and I thought maybe that would happen to her. When I asked Dad about this, he just laughed at me and said that was the stupidest thing he’d ever heard. He’s always making fun of me, and I just hate it when he does. I think that’s one of the reasons that Danny left when he did because Dad did the same thing to him. I don’t blame him for leaving. But Mrs. Pauley sure must have been lonely after Mr. Pauley died. All her kids moved away a long time ago, so she didn’t have anyone to talk to. It’s too bad she didn’t have a dog or cat.

One night at supper Dad said that he heard she couldn’t pay her rent and he thought she was gonna get kicked out of her house pretty soon. And she doesn’t have a job like Dad does, so I guess she doesn’t have any money to pay for the rent.

And sure enough, there’s the man who Dad says is the landlord and he’s even got a policeman with him. So I guess it’s pretty serious to get kicked out of your house. I hope they don’t arrest her because I don’t think Mrs. Pauley would do good in jail. And she’s pretty old to be in jail. Geez – I feel sorry for old Mrs. Pauley. It’s not her fault that her husband died on her and that all her kids moved away. It must be awful to get old like that. I wonder what’s gonna happen to her. I mean, where’s she gonna go? Who’s gonna take care of her? I hope I never get old . . .

 

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Writing 101: Day Seventeen – “Your Personality on the Page”

Day Seventeen – Your Personality on the Page:  

* Today’s Prompt:  What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears. 

* Today’s Twist:  Write this post in a style distinct from your own.

 

I don’t think that there’s a single person in the world who doesn’t have a fear of something. If there is someone who says that they’re not afraid of anything, then he or she is truly unique. Either that, or they just don’t want to admit it!

According to Psychology Today: “Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger – if we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats. But often we fear situations that are far from life-or-death, and thus FEAR1hang back for no good reason. Traumas or bad experiences can trigger a fear response within us that is hard to quell. Yet exposing ourselves to our personal demons is the best way to move past them.”

Being afraid is healthy. Being afraid is normal. Being afraid is part of being human. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s something that we all experience, and therefore, it’s something we can all relate to. The only difference is that we don’t all have the same fears.

I am no different from anyone else. I have fears of my own. And I can also tell you what I’m not afraid of. I’m not afraid of the dark. I’m not afraid of spiders. I’m not afraid of clowns. I’m not afraid of thunder. And I’m not even afraid of dying.`

My number one fear is the fear of heights, otherwise known as acrophobia. In my research of acrophobia, I read that everyone who suffers from acrophobia experiences it in their own way and may have different symptoms. Typical symptoms include shortness of breath, rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea, and overall feelings of dread. This fear of heights can be dangerous, as in situations where the person has a panic attack in a high place and becomes too agitated to get themselves down safely. Some acrophobics also suffer from urges to throw themselves off high places, despite not being suicidal.

Acrophobia 200In researching the causes for acrophobia, I discovered that the most widely accepted explanation is that acrophobia stems from the natural fear of falling and being injured or killed. A phobia such as the fear of heights occurs when fear is taken to an extreme, possibly due to unintentional learning, generalization of the fear response, or the result of a traumatic experience. Like other fears and phobias, acrophobia is created by the unconscious mind as a protective mechanism, which agrees with the article that I read in Psychology Today, as mentioned earlier in this post. It could be that at some point in my past, there may have been an event linking heights or high levels and emotional trauma. My mind could be seeking to protect my body from further trauma and that is what is causing an extreme fear of the situation, in this case the fear of heights.

I have racked my brain, trying desperately to remember what event could have caused my fear of heights, but to no avail. As a matter of fact, in my youth, I had no such fear. I remember going to the fair or to the amusement park and absolutely loving it when I could ride on the ferris wheel. I also remember going to the top of the IDS Tower in Minneapolis and looking out over the city with its beautiful view, reveling in the feeling. And the IDS Tower has a total of 57 levels! Never once was I afraid in any of those situations.  But the very first time that I had to fly on an airplane, I was terrified. I almost didn’t get on the plane.conquering fears 100

Now I’m afraid to look out the window of a two-story building. Even worse, I’m afraid to stand on a chair for fear that I might fall. But what’s even stranger is that I have flying dreams. Now how do you explain that? Wouldn’t you think that a person who is afraid of heights wouldn’t have a dream about flying? Or maybe the two aren’t even related.

But I guess it could be worse. I could be afraid of people, intimacy, or even love. And yes, those are real fears that real people are afraid of.

So what to do about our fears, whatever they may be? I’ve thought about this and I think that the answer is not really all that difficult. First, I think that a person has to realize that they’re not alone. There are probably millions of people who have the same fears that you do. Then the next step is to face your fear by exposing yourself to it. And I realize that this is the hardest step. But if you do it, just a little at a time, then maybe one day you can conquer your fears.

ferris wheelAs for myself, I’m hoping that some day I can ride the ferris wheel again without being afraid. It would be so nice to sit in one of those ferris wheel cars with one of my children or my husband and enjoy myself as it goes up and down. And then when it stops at the top, I can look out over the fair grounds and think: “Wow! I did it. I’m not afraid anymore. Isn’t life grand?”

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Writing 101: Day Sixteen – “Serial Killer III”

Day Sixteen – Serial Killer III:  

* Today’s Prompt:   Imagine you had a job in which you had to sift through forgotten or lost belongings. Describe a day in which you come upon something peculiar, or tell a story about something interesting you find in a pile.

* Today’s Twist:  If you’d like to continue our serial challenge, also reflect on the theme of “lost and found” more generally in this post.

After being medically disabled in 2004, my world came crashing down and depression quickly set in. But then my husband suggested that I return to writing, a love that I had long since forgotten. It was a suggestion for which I will be forever grateful because writing changed my attitude about life and all of a sudden, my situation didn’t seem as tragic as I had pictured it to be.

With the event of my medical disability, I lost my nursing career, something which I treasured. But on the other hand, with the event of my medical disability, I found one of my first loves: writing, another treasure, which had been buried for so long and so deep within me. And I was so happy that I found it once again.

One day while cleaning out our basement, I stumbled upon a large cardboard box which contained hundreds of old photographs that I had totally forgotten were being stored in this particular part of our house. Curious, I decided to carry the box up to our kitchen and look through its contents, and I was so glad that I did.Mom Wedding pic 3

I found a photograph of my mother which was taken on her wedding day. This photograph was a black and white 8 X 10 picture and it revealed that she was indeed one of the most beautiful brides I have ever seen. It could be that I’m biased, but I have included a copy of that very same photo with this entry so that you can judge for yourself. The photo brought back a memory of the story that my mother related to me of my parents’ love story, and it was then that I realized that this was the perfect first story for me to write about after rediscovering my first love – writing.

Regarding my parents’ courtship – now this is an interesting and romantic little tale to tell. As a matter of fact, it’s just like something out of a movie.

My father John came from a very large family of eleven children. Yes, my father’s parents were good Catholics and absolutely believed in large families.

During World War II, my mother was engaged to my father’s brother, Patrick, who was the second oldest sibling. At this time, my father was a sergeant in the army and was serving overseas, and my mother had never even met my father.

My Aunt Dorothy, who was married to my Uncle Ray, the oldest sibling, was good friends with my mother. She told my mother: “Marg, (my mother’s name was Margaret) if you like Pat, just wait until you meet Jack.” She was referring to my father, who was nicknamed Jack.

When my father was discharged from the service and came home, his brother Patrick then entered the military service. It was then that my mother met my father through my Aunt Dorothy. Somehow they began to date. I think my Aunt Dorothy had a lot to do with this. I think she felt that my mother and father were destined to be together instead of my mother and my Uncle Pat being together.

My mother and father fell in love. She broke off the engagement with my Uncle Pat. And she told me that this was one of the most difficult things she ever had to do, and she felt so awful doing it, but she knew she was meant to be with my father. My father proposed to her and she accepted. Now this is the stuff that romance is made of, and who would have ever thought that something like this would happen between your mother and father, of all people? Ah, such is love.

My parents were married on November 19, 1946. And my father asked my Uncle Pat to be his best man. According to my mother, on their wedding day, my Uncle Pat said to my father: “I hope you’re never happy.” Yes, I guess he was a little bitter. But eventually he accepted their marriage and later on, my father and my Uncle Pat became the best of friends once again. My Uncle Pat married a wonderful woman – my Aunt Colleen. They would always vist us on Christmas Day, and you would never guess that my Uncle Pat held a grudge against my father for a while.

I am grateful that my mother chose my father to be her husband. They loved each other totally and deeply. And even though they never had much as far as wealth is concerned, they always had the one thing that is the most important – true love. And who could ask for anything more?

 

 

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http://blainecindy.com/2015/04/09/writing-101-day-four-the-serial-killer/

http://blainecindy.com/2015/04/23/writing-101-day-thirteen-serial-killer-ii/

 

 

 

 

Writing 101: Day Fifteen – “Your Voice Will Find You”

Day  Fifteen – Your Voice Will Find You: 

* Today’s Prompt:  You’re told that an event that’s dear to your heart — an annual fair, festival, or conference — will be cancelled forever (or taken over by an evil organization). Write about it.

* Today’s Twist:  While writing this post, focus again on your own voice.

The event that is near and dear to my heart and which would create quite an emotional reaction from me if it were forever cancelled would be the Minnesota State Fair.

The Minnesota State Fair, which is also known to us Minnesotans as “The Great Minnesota Get-Together” runs for twelve days from MN State Fair 1late August into early September, ending on Labor Day. The state fairgrounds are located in the neighborhood of Falcon Heights, which is halfway between our state’s capital city of St. Paul (the city which I grew up in) and its largest city, Minneapolis. The Minnesota State Fair enjoys the reputation of being the largest state fair in the United States by average daily attendance.

I have been attending the Minnesota State Fair since my childhood and I have many fond memories associated with doing so. One such memory includes the time that my only brother (now deceased) and I rode the roller coaster together. I recall how terrified I was. I thought for certain that I was going to fly out of the roller coaster car and land on the ground to meet an early death. I began to sob, and so my brother put his arm around my shoulders and said, “Don’t worry, Cindy. It’s okay. I won’t let anything happen to you. Just close your eyes and hang on. Pretty soon it will be all over and when we’re done, I’ll buy you some cotton candy, okay?” He made me feel so safe and so loved.

bandshellDuring my teenage years, my friends and I would take the city bus every morning and arrive at the fair as soon as it opened. We didn’t have much money, but all we needed was just enough to cover the admission fee and the cost of soft drinks and lunch and dinner. Then we’d spend the day sitting in the audience at the band shell watching the free entertainment which was provided. And we had our favorites such as Billy ThunderKloud and the Chieftones and the Jack D’Johns. Then every evening at 7 p.m. the talent show was held and we’d stay to watch it, pretending that we were the judges, trying to figure out who were the best acts and who would be chosen to go on to the next round. We did this for every day of the fair, come rain or come shine, for three or four years in a row, until eventually we outgrew it.

After I was married, I didn’t attend the state fair for quite a number of years. This was due to the fact that my husband Mike has severe seasonal allergies and it is around this time of the year that he is most affected by them. There was one year, however, that he agreed to take me to the fair just to please me, but he suffered the entire time that we were there, so I never asked him to go with me again because it just didn’t seem fair to put him through such misery just so I could have a good time.

But then our children came along and I began taking them to the Minnesota State Fair and this is when many more wonderful memories were made. My two daughters and I have been to the fair together on numerous occasions, and when we go together, we have the best time ever.

Usually we park our car at Northtown Mall near my house and board a bus which shuttles passengers directly to the fairgrounds. This dairy buildingis the best way to go to the fair because then you don’t have to try to find a place to park your car near the fair grounds, and believe me, usually you wind up parking a mile or two away!

After arriving, we head straight to the Dairy Building where it’s chocolate shakes for everyone, and here they make the best chocolate shakes you’ve ever tasted – cold, smooth, creamy, and so rich and full of chocolate goodness! While we drink our shakes, we sit on a bench on the street curb and watch while animal owners walk with their goats and lambs and horses and other various animals up and down the avenue. I know this might sound boring, but it’s really quite a lot of fun. We’ve seen some very interesting things happen. As a matter of fact, we’ve seen some downright hysterical things happen. But then again, whenever we’re together, we always have a good time.

lambsSometimes we’ll take a leisurely stroll over to the Miracle of Birth Center. This building describes exactly what it is. It’s where you can watch all kinds of animals such as pigs, sheep, goats, horses, etc. – give birth at any given time. You just have to time it right. I’ll never forget the first time that we entered this building and saw a sheep give birth to her lamb. My youngest daughter Stephanie and I witnessed the entire birth, from start to finish, and had the perfect view because we were right up front. But my oldest daughter Sarah couldn’t bear to watch it. She actually had to turn away. You never saw anyone exit a building so fast! And my girls were not little girls then – I believe they were probably 12 and 14 years of age then.

We always head over to the Arts and Crafts Building. Now this is my favorite building to walk through. I just love to see the beautiful arts and crafts buildinghandicrafts that people like me have made with their very own hands, probably because I love to do arts and crafts myself. I especially enjoy looking at the quilts because again, this is a hobby of mine. And I enjoy noticing which projects received the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Grand Prizes. It usually takes us over an hour to get through this building because it’s not a building that you can rush through. But then again, we never rush through this day. We take our time. Everything is done at a leisurely pace because we want to enjoy the day and each other’s company. As a matter of fact, I always tell my girls before we leave to remember that we have to enjoy our day together and that we’re not going to rush anything. And they always chime together: “Yes, Mom. We know.”

We usually stop at the band shell at some point during the day to sit and watch the various acts for a while and then we always come back later in the evening to watch the entire talent show. And when we do, it always brings a smile to my face as I remember those days of being there during my teenage years. It is a nostalgic experience for me.

skyrideAnd what would a trip to the fair being without going to the Midway at some time throughout the day? According to my girls, it just wouldn’t be the same. And so we always go on at least a few rides. There is one ride that we always go on without fail, and that is the Skyride, which is located right before you get to the Midway. The Skyride is a cable car system that “glides” people above the treetops and across the fairgrounds. It’s a great way to see the Minnesota State Fair. Every time before we go to the fair together, I promise my girls that I will go on the Skyride with them, but then when it’s time to get on, I’m scared out of my wits because guess what? I’m afraid of heights! But I take a deep breath, gather up my courage, and get into the cable car anyway. Yep, that’s right. I sit in between my girls and I hold on to each of their hands and I squeeze their hands – hard! And while we’re on that Skyride, I think they have the time of their lives! The little buggers! Oh, well. I guess it’s good for kids to know that their parents get scared sometimes, too, right?

Now while we’re having all this fun, guess what else we’re doing? You guessed it. Eating. Our favorite foods to eat at the fair are: chocolate shakes, cheeseburgers, roasted ears of corn, pronto pups, cheese curds, cotton candy, french fries, deep-fried candy bars, caramel apples, mini-donuts, fried chicken, baked potatoes, chocolate chip cookies, and soft pretzels. Now remember – we do a lot of walking, which hopefully helps us to walk off all those calories!bullriding

We always end our day by going to the rodeo in the evening. My girls and I love to go the rodeo. But in order to go, we first make a stop at the bazaar and buy cowboy hats because you simply cannot attend the rodeo without wearing a cowboy hat, right? Our favorite event to watch at the rodeo is bull riding. My husband really gets a kick out of the fact that I enjoy the rodeo. He simply had a hard time believing that someone like me would ever enjoy an event like the rodeo, but I guess I surprised him! Yes, I’m just full of surprises.

fireworksBy the time the rodeo is finished, dark has fallen on the fairgrounds, and we hike up to the grandstand, where the performance for that evening is drawing to a close. As we get nearer to the grandstand, we can always hear that night’s band winding down. We find a spot on the street and settle down to wait for the performance to end. As soon as it does, we know what comes next, and we’re never disappointed. Soon the fireworks display begins high above the grandstand and we watch together, while we “ooh” and “ah,” happy in the moment, but also sad because we know that our day is slowly drawing to an end.

When the last of the fireworks has vanished from the skies, we walk at our slowest pace to where our bus is waiting to take us back to where our day began, and usually this is a quiet walk. It’s as though we’re all thinking about what transpired during the day. It’s as though we’re all trying to sear it into our memories forever.

We may not remember everything we did, every word we spoke, or everything we laughed about, but we will always remember the way that we felt when we were together at “The Great Minnesota Get-Together” – the Minnesota State Fair.

 

 

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Writing 101 – Day Fourteen: “To Whom It May Concern”

Day Fourteen – To Whom It May Concern:  

* Today’s Prompt:  Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What’s the first word that jumps off the page? Use this word as your springboard for inspiration.

* * * (The word I first word I read was “Father”)

* Today’s Twist:  Write the post in the form of a letter.

Dear Father,

Words cannot express how much I have missed you all these years since you’ve been gone. When you left us, it was as though a great void was created in our lives that was never filled. Mom did her best and kept the family together, just as you asked her to do before you left to be with God. She was so strong, Dad. You would have been proud of her. And you know it wasn’t easy, either. But she made sure that we had everything we needed, always sacrificing what she needed for herself. Then again, she’s always been that way. But we still needed you, Dad. I guess God needed you more.

I married a wonderful man named Mike. I know that you’d really like him. He’s kind, honest, compassionate, and hard-working. I couldn’t have asked for a better husband or father for our children, Dad. He’s always there for me; even when I was very ill he was with me through it all. I only wish you could have been there to walk me down the aisle on the day we were married. I thought of you on that day, Dad. I hoped that you were smiling down on us from heaven. I wish we could have danced the father-daughter dance together. How I missed you on that special day.

We have three beautiful children – your grandchildren, Dad. Do you watch them from heaven? I wish you could have bounced them on your knee when they were babies. Children are so happy when they’re with their grandparents and I know that my kids would have loved you. How I wish they could have known you, and how I wish you could have known them. They’re all grown up now. They all graduated from college – something that you wished all of your children could have done. Your grandson Joe works for a large retailer at their corporate offices and is climbing the corporate ladder; your granddaughter Sarah is married to a great guy and is working as an optometric technician; and your granddaughter Stephanie is working on her master’s degree in music performance on the cello at a university in Wisconsin. They are dad at christmas timeamazing adults and we are so proud of them. I know that you’d be proud of them, too. 

I want you to know that I think of you often, Dad. I tell your grandchildren stories about you and have shown them you photographs. I have even written stories about you to keep your memory alive. I don’t want the world to forget about you. 

And I know that even though I miss you now, I will see you again one day, Dad. Until then, watch over us. Keep smiling down upon us. And remember that I love you.

Your daughter,

Cindy

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