Wednesday, January 21, 2015

She's Trouible With A Capital T

by Sandra Gurev

Missing not having a dog in our lives for many years, my husband, Jerry, and I decided to check out some eight week old golden retrievers.  Owning a different breed was not an option for us.  Our last golden, Jenny, had all the attributes of her breed: intelligence, sense of humor, friendliness to children and desire to please.

We drove to a small town in New York State in pursuit of a puppy.  The five pups for sale all had winning personalities as they approached us with happy grins and tails awagging.  We chose Sweetpea because of her eyes and expressive face.  She came home with us that day.

A few week's later we realized that we were overdue for a dog obedience class.  Sweetpea had gnawed through the knobs on our new kitchen cabinets and had drawn some blood from my arms and lip through her rough play.  She treated me as she would a litter mate.

Our trainer gave us one private lesson with Sweetpea after I was in tears one day from her aggression.  She put Sweetpea in a "down stay" thirteen times!  It took grabbing Sweetpea by the scruff of her neck and shaking her for her to obey the trainer.  "She's a tough one," she said. 

Besides the group lessons the trainer recommended providing Sweetpea with daily puppy play time to work out her considerable energy.  She advised finding other young dogs in the neighborhood and setting up play dates.  We developed a routine with Liberty, Bear, Cassie, and Edison.  Their owners were amicable to our bringing Sweetpea to their yards for play.  Since they all had invisible fences, for the most part she stayed on their property.


 Sandy Gurev is a wife of fifty-one years and mother of two sons and four grandchildren.  Sandy was an elementary school counselor prior to retiring to Williamsburg, VA nine year's ago from Rochester, NY. Her volunteer work includes providing lunch to cancer patients and fitting women with wigs after they have lost their hair.  Playing competitive duplicate bridge and belonging to two book clubs rounds out her time.  Within the past two years she has written a memoir for her grandchildren and a couple of articles for the American Amateur Press Association. Sandy found that writing helped to reduce her perception of pain while she was awaiting back surgery.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

So, This Is Christmas …

by Rev. Lou Kavar Ph.D.

It was quite unexpected. Her mother fell on a patch of ice the week before Thanksgiving. The broken hip was a concern, but following surgery she was admitted to rehab. It seemed as though all was well. But then there were complications. She died about a week ago. The family gathered for the funeral on the Saturday before Christmas.

Three adult sons are living with their mother. One had spent time in jail for a drug related offense. Another, well….the neighbors said that he was “a bit slow.” The third left a failed marriage. They were trying to get by on mother’s social security and working various jobs in big box stores and fast food restaurants. They were good neighbors and helped others, including doing yard work for those who due to age couldn’t keep up with the work. Just last week, the notice went up on the front door: the bank was going to foreclose on the mortgage. What would be next for them?

I met for coffee with a man I know. In his 40’s, he’s a successful business man … and white. His wife, working in government, is African-American. They have two teenage boys nearing adulthood. While the boys are mixed race, most people identify them as African-American. The man tells me that he’s afraid for his sons. “What will happen if they are in the wrong place at the wrong time? What if they have a run-in with the police? I don’t know how to help them.” Yes, it’s a problem Black parents face, but this white man finds himself confused and troubled on how to sort out his own experience of “white privilege” while being a good parent to young African-American teenage boys.


Visit Lou's blog  here:

Friday, December 5, 2014


by David Griffin

A Christmas Symbol You Can’t Buy

A Christmas story from Monk In The Cellar, the novel about eleven destitute monks in a decrepit old monastery in New York State.  Through a strange set of circumstances, Brother Jesse finds his way to the Internet and writes a tell-all blog. 

It’s after compline now and I’ve come down here to the cellar as I like to do late at night.  Just to be with my thoughts.  I spent the afternoon working with Brother Winifred, who we call Kickstart.  We all have nicknames for each other, and his comes from his motorcycle days.
 I feel badly for Kick.  He is unsure of his vocation,  writhing in an agony of indecision.  I'm not sure he has a true calling to this life.  He may have only an attraction to its different-ness.   I can't tell him whether he is called to it.  He either is or he isn't.    If I could give Kickstart the answers he seeks, I would surely do so.  But it turns out we can never give people what they truly need.  We can only listen to them.  Sometimes we can  help them hear what lies deep inside them.
       On my first Christmas away from home after joining the Ardent Brothers as a young man, I was assigned to a Retreat House in New Jersey and was serving on a 4-day Retreat for retired nuns … 40 of them!  When my little travel alarm went off at 5:00 on Christmas morning, I woke up in my cell-like room in the dark.
I thought back to all the times as a boy I had come awake on this day,  sure that a surprise gift or two waited for me under a glorious tree festooned with colored lights.  There would be no tree or gift this morning and I felt lonely and rather sad, even at age 24.  I switched on the lamp and beneath it on the bedside table sat a small box wrapped in Christmas paper. Opening it, I discovered a pine cone,  round and open with square woody sprigs sprouting out.   The touches of pine sap had dried to a white frosting, making it very Christmas-like.  It was beautiful.  It was wonderful.  I’ve kept it for years.
The pine cone is an ancient symbol of enlightenment and no doubt one of the nuns  believed I was in need of a good measure of it  I laughed to myself.  She was probably right. 
     A half hour later I stood next to an old priest on the altar as he said Mass and I functioned as the altar server.  I looked out at the forty women in their religious habits and saw one who might have been the oldest smiling at me.  She was beaming and her hand gave me a little wave.
     Later at breakfast, I spoke to her.  “Thank you so much for the pine cone. Why did you do that for me?”
“You’re the youngest here,” she said.  “You would miss Christmas presents the most.”
I was embarrassed.  “I guess I’ll get over it someday,”  I said.
“Oh, you needn’t rush,” she said. “Embrace that longing you have for a gift from under the Christmas tree.  Feel it and let it remind you that something deeper in you is longing for Him."
“Longing for a Christmas present and longing for God are not the same,”  I said.
“Are you sure?” She laughed.  “Don't be so holy.  Let your desires show you what your soul already knows to be true."
"I'm not sure I know what I want," I said.
"You will know when you listen," she said.
 When I listened, I found strength to live by, and coincidentally the meaning of Christmas.  It is Emmanuel, the name that means He is with us.   There is someone who walks the path by our side throughout our lives, who shows himself at the oddest times through a variety of people.  It turns out our salvation is worked out among our friends and neighbors. And all we need to do is what that little sign tells us … the one we often see at this time of year hanging in a store, a bar, an office, a dorm room or a home.  It explains everything in one word, "Believe."  It's all we need if we want to see miracles happen all around us.
You know, I can't give Kickstart his faith.  But I can give him a symbol and pray that he listens.  I can give him my pine cone.
Listen and you will hear what’s inside you..
 Believe and He will be with you..
 Emmanuel.   Merry Christmas!

Copyright 2014, David Griffin

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Your Cat is Dead and Your Car Burned Up

By Darlene Jennings 

It was 1994 and Traci had headed off to Colorado with her boyfriend for the winter. Because the boyfriend didn’t like animals she had to leave one of her prized possessions – her cat Zachery.  Now this was one ugly cat with a tooth that permanently stuck out like a dagger.  And it was mean too.  Once I had gone down to Charleston when she was in college to cook a nice Sunday lunch for her.  I was standing at the stove carefully turning the country style steak when that damn cat jumped up on the counter and slapped the fork right out of my hand.  I cut off the stove and left Traci a note that I could and would not compete with that cat and went back to Myrtle Beach.  This stupid cat “ran away” on a weekly basis that sent Traci out to post a million Lost Cat posters from the College of Charleston all the way down Rutledge and the surrounding neighborhood.  People all over Charleston actually knew this cat (and Traci) by name from the posters. It could be gone for days or weeks but would always show up again when you least expected it.
             But I digress.  So the cat was dropped off in Athens, Georgia with her sister Tami.  I don’t know what instructions Traci gave her but I bet they were quickly forgotten before Traci had crossed into Alabama. In addition to the cat problem with the Colorado trip she had to leave her other prized possession – her Mazda RX7.  The Mazda ended up at my house with explicit instructions about cranking it every week to be sure the battery was charged as well as moving it around so the tires would not sit in one position all winter. 
         It wasn’t too long before everything started to fall apart.  Tami called to say that Zachery had climbed into a neighbor’s car and hence suffered death by a fan belt.  She had taken him to the Georgia University vet place but they could not save poor old Zachery and he was placed in a deep freeze until final arrangements could be made.  Naturally she wanted me to call and advise Traci.  I pondered this for a couple of days but was having trouble finding the courage.  Just when I thought I could make the call another disaster took place.  Following Traci’s instructions I had tried to start the Mazda for that battery-charging thing.  I tried and tried to no avail.  Imagine my surprise when a neighbor knocked on my door to tell me “that little white car is on fire.”  OMG…..I guess there was a spark that ignited the leaves and by the time I got outside there was no saving it.  It was a charred mess.  No insurance of course as it had long been paid for and Traci was only carrying liability.
             I had still not informed her about Zachery and I was now confronted with having to tell her about the loss of the Mazda. What to do?  What to do?  Within a few days I did not have to worry about this anymore.  Traci called sobbing so hard I couldn’t even understand her.  Naturally I assumed that she had heard about the incidents.  Not so much.  I finally got her to calm down enough to tell me what was wrong.  Screaming like a crazy person she yelled “All of my jewelry has been stolen.”  (That was her third passion – her jewelry.)
             So there was only one thing left to do and I said as calmly as possible “Well, since you are already crying and upset you may as well know that Your Cat is Dead and Your Car Burned Up!”
             Postscript:   Traci had the University of Georgia perform an autopsy and cremation on the stupid cat.  (She still has his ashes and little bones.)  As for the car I gave her $2,500 to use as a down payment on a new one.  The new one ended up being a shiny red mustang that she drove for 18 years. Zachary was replaced with a terrier named Diesel who is now 12 years old and spoiled rotten.  Oh, and she found her jewelry. The moral of this story is that if you have bad news to give someone…..wait something worse will come along.

Copyright 2004, Darlene Jennings

Darlene Jennings is a native of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and dates herself by remembering when "we turned off the two downtown traffic lights in the winter." She grew up with sand between her toes and sand-spurs to boot.  Proud mother of two and grandmother of two, Darlene has been self employed for over thirty years in Community Management.  (A job that sucks the soul right out of you, she says.)  Her relief is community service and writing spur-of-the-moment short stories. Many stories have been shared with family and friends who suggested she write a book.  But that just sounds like another job to Darlene!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Beginnings of The Sunrise 4-H Club

by Delores Miller

So after the Second World War and life returned to normal, 4-H clubs sprang up in Waupaca County.  All students over the age of ten years were invited to an organizational meeting at the school house on November 17, 1948.  E. L. Niedermeier was the Home Agent, with Richard Halback the Club Agent.  Sunrise's charter with 24 members was signed January 1, 1949.  This was one of about 50 clubs in the county, today in 2013 there are 18.  90% were students with farming backgrounds.

Volunteer leaders were Laura Niemuth, Louella Genskow and Milton and Lucinda Hintz.  Projects were chosen, Foods and Nutrition, Sewing, Gardening and of course dairy.  I had little talent in any of these projects, but blundered my way through as shown by my record books from 64 years ago.

Monthly meetings at the school house, dues were a nickel, lunch was served by members on a rotating basis, favorite was ground baloney sandwiches with dill pickles, chocolate cake and of course chocolate milk.  Entertainment followed by trashing and making a mess in the school house.  Summer picnic at Little Falls.

The summer club tour to members homes to view the projects.  Dress review, judging food and sewing.  Monthly demonstrations.  I showed how to make a grated carrot and peanut butter sandwich, it was terrible. 

4-H float in the Marion Homecoming parade.  The first year's theme was 'Cook, Sew and Catch a Beau'.  On a flat rack hay wagon, a wooden cookstove, a hand treadle sewing machine with Adelaide Fischer in a bridesmaid dress.  Milton Hintz pulled the wagon in the parade with his new Ferguson 30 tractor.

Finale in early September was the Waupaca County Fair at Weyauwega.  Entries from all projects, and the hope of a Blue Ribbon.    Big excitement, with the carnival atmosphere.  It usually rained on our parade.

I pledge my Head to clearer thinking,

My Heart to greater loyalty,

My Hands to Larger service,

My Health to better living,

For my club, my community,

and my country.

Today in 2014 the Sunrise 4-H club is still going strong with the same values as in 1949.

 copyright 2014 by Russell and Delores Miller

 Delores Miller lives with husband Russell in Hortonville, Wisconsin.    In the summer of 2007 they  celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a party hosted by their five children and ten grandchildren.  It’s been a long road.  Dairy farming until retirement in 1993, they continued to 'work' the land, making a subdivision of 39 new homes on their former hay fields.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Remembering Grandma

By Harold Ratzburg


When an old Geezer like me (at 85 years young) sits down to put his memories of his Grandma on paper, you know your are going to go back a ways into ancient family history.  But here goes----

                My Grandma’s history goes back almost 130 years ago when she was born in Germany (1885) and somewhat later immigrated to the USA.  My records on Grandma are somewhat sketchy but we do know that she married Grandpa (William Ratzburg the Second) in 1901 when she was only 16 years old.  Grandpa was 17 years older, so it seems that they did things differently for match making back in the good old days. 

                They lived on the Ratzburg farm, out on Highway G, south of Marion, WI, where Tim Nolan now has his horse farm.  At first, they lived in a log house, where old family stories tell that Grandma had to take a broom to make sure that there were no snakes crawling around on the dirt floor at bedtime.  A frame house, with six bedrooms, was built in 1906 and things got a little easier for Grandma and the family. 

                Grandma had a difficult married life.  Grandpa was of the old German belief in that HE was the head of the house and whatever HE said goes.  He kept Grandma pregnant a lot of the time.  They had 12 babies born to them, of which 3 died in early childhood.  That time amounted to 22 years of child bearing, of which Grandma was pregnant for 108 months, or, 9 years total.  Talk about study German stock.

Continued HERE.

 Harold Ratzburg was born at the start of the Great Depression and raised on a Dairy Farm in Wisconsin.  He served four years in the US Air Force in the 50's and was stationed in Germany, where he met his wife Anneliese, who helped get him through College to become a Civil Engineer.  After a time as a Highway Engineer and College Instructor, he wound up as a City Engineer of a small town in New Jersey.  Twenty four years later he retired to become an old geezer telling old stories on his new fangled computer.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Madcap Adventures of Eliezer Gurevitch

 by Sandra Gurev

My father-in-law, Elias Gurev, was fifty-nine when I met him. He was tall, broad framed with a thick thatch of iron grey hair.  His legs seemed mismatched with his body as they were thin. They didn' seem like they could support his broad chest.  I never got to know him well due to a signicant permanent hearing loss from German measles  at age sixteen.  Our conversations were monologues and my attempts to ask questions went unanswered.  His loss of  hearing led to some degree of paranoia thinking people were talking about him.

When our sons were born in the late 60's, their grandfather would take Greg or Keith on his knee calling, "Come boychick, come and sit on grandpa's lap."  They enjoyed being bounced on his knee and gave him their complete attention when he regaled them with stories from long ago. His stories almost always touched on his heroism.  For instance, he told us about riding with Pancho Villa on his trusty mule, Rosita.  I listened in on his monologue with the boys and envisioned him wearing a colorful serape, sombrero askew riding hard through mountain canyons calling to Rosita, "Andele!"  The sunsets were brush stroked in lavender, mango, and magenta.

Other stories revolved around riding with the Cossacks through the Russian Steppes or as a sidekick to Genghis Khan.  Some of his leaders were ruthless barbarians but it didn't seem to matter.  Adventure abounded in his stories. Our boys sat with rapt attention , their eyes growing wider with disbelief with each ensuing tale.

One day my father-in-law became serious and his story took on a decidedly solemn tone.  He described a memory of a time when he was about  twelve. He lived in an expansive richly decorated home with his parents and sister in some unknown country.  He spoke lovingly of running his fingers over the ivory keys of the family's grand piano.  Then he said,  "We had to leave and I knew that I would never see it again."  Again his hearing loss prevented me from asking for more details, questions that I yearned to ask.

It wasn't until 2012 that I began to get answers to my questions.  I came across a yellowed creased petition requesting citizenship to the British protectorate of Palestine.  The year was 1930.  I learned that my father-in-law was born into a  Jewish family in Theodosia, Crimea.  His father had a well paying government position working for the Czar.  His family had enjoyed a comfortable upper middle class lifestyle.  Their  lives changed abruptly when an empathetic Cossack calvaryman paid an unannounced visit.  He had learned that the Czar's army was planning to launch a pogrom against the Jews of Theodosia.  The man urged them to leave immediately.  They needed to get on the first ferry to neighboring Turkey.  The family hastily piled documents, photos, perhaps a pair of silver candlesticks for the sabbath onto sheets and escaped through the cover of night.  His father managed to go to a bank before leaving only withdrawing enough money as he could without arousing suspicion.  They fled their home leaving the door wide open and safely escaped by ferry.  Most of  the remaining Jewish residents were terrorized and killed by the army.

Continued, Click HERE.

Sandy Gurev is a wife of fifty-one years and mother of two sons and four grandchildren.  Sandy was an elementary school counselor prior to retiring to Williamsburg, VA nine year's ago from Rochester, NY. Her volunteer work includes providing lunch to cancer patients and fitting women with wigs after they have lost their hair.  Playing competitive duplicate bridge and belonging to two book clubs rounds out her time.  Within the past two years she has written a memoir for her grandchildren and a couple of articles for the American Amateur Press Association. Sandy found that writing helped to reduce her perception of pain while she was awaiting back surgery.