Monday, June 30, 2014

June moon in Grand Marais

Beautiful sunshine between bouts of rain sums up our June which closes out today.

Midway through the month we took a weekend trip to the North Shore. 

North of Duluth the numerous rivers that come down from the highlands to Lake Superior were running fast.

We made several stops to click and shoot. 

Abundant state parks and roadside pull-outs make the drive, as it follows the Lake Superior shoreline, a vacationer’s paradise. 

It became a succession of mini-breaks to walk trails or span bridges for close-up views of waterfalls and vast chilly Lake Superior.

We were headed to Grand Marais 260 miles north of the Cities. A photography class was the reason for going. Al had signed up for a class at North House Folk School located there.

North House Folk School is located on the harbor as you come into town on Hwy. 61. It's an artisan center which teaches northern crafts as part of its community building mission.

It was established to keep alive, and pass along, past and present trades, skills and stories of those who call the rugged forested swath of land bordering the western shore of Lake Superior their home.

Painting & photography is among programs North House Folk School offers. 

The full slate includes basketry, blacksmith skills, boat building, timber framing, sailing , shelter, woodworking and northern ecology, but is by no means the complete list. 

Wildflower photography blends photography skills with appreciation for the natural world. 

Al regarded it that way at any rate. He was primed to catch images of the blooms that are as transient as the short northern summer.

We arrived in lovely Friday sunshine. We knew this was it for the good conditions. The weekend would be rainy. The weather forecast was straightforward about that.

Checking into the Best Western on Lake Superior we stepped onto our private balcony overlooking the lake. 

We admired the view for about one minute. We decided, lovely as it’d be to go no further, that with prediction for rain after today, we better step lively to see the town at its June best while the chance was there.

Al’s class was set to start shortly. It gave us enough time for dinner at the Angry Trout. 

Our meals were delicious. The food and view of the harbor are worth the wait, which happens, probably frequently at this season, so plan ahead.

Full moon that evening was the lucky dividend. About 9:30 PM, before skies clouded over, to stay glum or drippy the rest of the weekend, the moon became visible on the lake horizon.

June full moon is the “strawberry moon.” It was majestic in appearance and of a deep golden hue.

Seeing it rise above Lake Superior, we’ll relive the scene when "strawberry moon” is used again. 

We’ll be reminded of the dark waters made choppy by strengthening winds, and the softened effect of full moon on the rough lake surface.

Saturday I had my own mission. While Al snapped away with his photography colleagues at Cascade State Park my goal was no less a matter of commitment. 

I was going to shop and explore, eat and learn a lot about Grand Marais.

With a population of about 1500, Grand Marais mixes a marine setting with the backdrop of the Sawtooth Mountains behind it. 

It’s a town easy to lose yourself in. Not “Darn, miss my GPS” sort of lost. It’s the satisfying response that comes with forgetting time as you take it all in.

Grand Marais is an outdoorsy community reflecting its setting. It balances the generosity of nature’s four seasons with a seriously artsy vibe. It makes for an invigorating combination. 

It’s picturesque enough to be a New England coastal village. Comparison isn't the town’s intent. Its charm and authenticity are strictly its own. Its well documented heritage and history draw me particularly.

Canoes and kayaks are strapped to the tops of many vehicles seen about town. This isn’t a country for slackers it occurs to me. 

Grand Marais is a jumping off spot for the Gunflint Trail (Cook County #12). This adds another shade of interest.

The Gunflint Trail, extending north about 60 miles, takes canoers, campers and all zestful types to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) on the international boundary with Canada.

The town reminds me of Livington, Montana. It seems to have outfitter establishments galore. 

Plaid shirts, denim jeans, fleece vests, hoodies and raingear comprise a sort of dress code here. You opt for practicality in places where outdoors is embraced and chunks of time are spent in it.

Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply is one of the neat local shops. Range of sporting gear and the expertise available to guide your purchasing decisions lets you customize the wilderness experience to your needs. 

Ask about the Stone Harbor's full moon paddle tours when you visit.

Lake Superior Trading Post is another great emporium. You can browse on two floors. 

There’s something of everything, whether buying for a camping vacation or picking up northern lifestyle touches for your home.

The Ben Franklin on Wisconsin Street is another must-see for those who treat main street shopping as a form of outdoor sport. 

The family-owned store carries a diverse inventory. You expect to find souvenir T-shirts, swim wear and grooming essentials you forgot to pack. And you will. 

That’s why this store is so valuable. It has what we left at home. Don’t, however, go into this Ben Franklin under the assumption that's pretty much it.

The store sells Hudson Bay point blankets. It has the Pendleton brand. You’ll discover Woolrich sweaters. 

You can try on Uggs or Clarks for shoe wear. There’s seasonal outerwear. The aisles had room for dozens of us, jammed into the store, as the rain came down.

Other stops were Cook County Whole Foods Co-Op and Sivertson Gallery. 

These places bring forward an aspect that can be missed with the out-front focus on sports that challenge and test the spirit. 

Add an enjoyed visit to a local bookstore, whose name I cannot remember, and the picture of Grand Marais was coming together for me.

I spent quite awhile at Johnson Heritage Post Art Gallery. The art of  Anna C. Johnson caught my eye, and compelled me to make a return visit to further study her work.

The nonprofit art gallery has the name of this local artist. The west wing is the permanent display of her original art. 

The Swedish immigrant girl arrived in Minnesota by way of Michigan. She tells her story in the North Shore landscapes and homey scenes she depicted.

The day went fast. It was randomly sampled. I stepped into one place here, another place there. Certainly much was missed. Some places noted but not visited:

Blue Water Café

World’s Best Donuts

Dockside Fish Market

The Java Moose

and more

Grand Marais harbor with Lighthouse and Artist’s Point make the list too. All were given up because of the rain.

Happy Hour was at Gunflint Trail Tavern as the afternoon wound down. Through the misted windows, and with my drink on the table in front of me, I mused on the procession of cars on Wisconsin Street.

Each carload had weather nixing its weekend plans. Probably for these fellow vacationers, as for me, to be rained out turned out to be not a big deal.

There’s so much to do in Grand Marais. Clots of weekend visitors everywhere made it feel like a rainy day at the State Fair or a chilly Disneyworld adventure. One becomes weather impervious when having fun.

Then it was time to decide where to have supper. Al wouldn’t be back for us to eat together.

His meal (included in the seminar) was homemade pizza. Dough for individual  pizzas was rolled out by each of the attendees. 

There were a variety of toppings to put on. Each pizza was baked at 800 degrees in an outdoor oven. Nothing I ordered was going to be able to top that.

My idea was to have something simple and trundle back to our lodgings. 

Dampness had penetrated top layers. I was paying for my nonchalance in terms of the weather. I pretended not to notice those staying dry. They wielded umbrellas, having heeded the forecast for rain and ready for it.

Where to go – where to go to eat. This is the interesting question when new in town and spontaneous about choices.

You accept that you may bomb with a bad choice or get lucky with a fabulous restaurant find - because you were meant to, perhaps. 

The list to choose from narrowed because I wanted a spot relatively close.When you don’t know it’s eeny meanie meinie moe. Into Sven & Oles I went. 

A sign seen somewhere around town probably ultimately decided me. 

It said something like you haven’t been to Grand Marais if you haven’t been to Sven & Ole’s. Or “best pizza around.” Let’s say Sven & Ole’s advertising worked successfully on me.

Al came back, more drenched then I'd been, but replete with pizza, and proud owner of some great photos. 

The entire day was in the rain but the reward was some cool shots. Rain beads flower petals. His camera caught the dainty glow of wildflower colors that dim background thrusts forward.

The weekend gave deeper understanding of the Grand Marais area. 

What strikes me the most is the great friendliness encountered. With motel staff as a start, and others talked to.

It’s neat to participate – if only by proximity to it - in the rugged side of life. To see kayaks and canoes and fleece vests and outdoor wear of those headed up the Gunflint Trail or as hikers on Lake Superior trails.

You absorb the vitality of the North. It renews you to see life lived fully at so many levels of challenge and appreciation.

Ro Giencke – June 30, 2014


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Rattled along the river

The no-wake summer of 2014 continues. Rivers have flooded. 

Lake levels are high. Boats on some lakes are allowed to operate only at very low speed to prevent shoreline erosion.

Possibly the only waves being created are at Target Field. That's baseball central for Minnesota Twins fans. With our boys of summer blowing hot and cold this season the team needs all the waves we cheerers in the stands can make.

We were in Red Wing recently. We go there about this time every summer because June is so pretty there.

We found out that river flooding from our June rains has caught up to Red Wing, which is downstream from the Twin Cities.

The river has spilled its banks. The park we visit when we go to Red Wing is partially submerged. The road to it is cordoned off.

Park grills are up to their necks (so to speak) in water. Seat swings thoughtfully spaced along the riverbank for watching boat and barge traffic, and to catch a breeze, are like lost souls cut off and isolated by deep water that surrounds them.

Downtown, near the old train station where Amtrak comes through, cruise boats at the docks are temporarily without business. The docks are underwater.

The Mississippi River is now a dangerous conduit. Whole tree trunks, tangles of brush and other debris float on the galloping current.

Two women, walking back from inspecting the river at the docks, came my way.  
Finishing with some shopping at the stores of St. James Hotel I was rejoining Al who, in the meantime, zeroed in on a park bench in the shade by the river.

The women were in obvious discussion. They turned around and looked back at the river.

"Be careful,” they warned as we drew even with each other. “Don't go down there.There’s a diamondback rattlesnake in the river.”

Sure enough, disbelievingly though I heard them, a largish snake writhed and contorted in the shallow water at river’s edge.

The snake was strong. You could tell this by its vigorous movements. It looked angry, or perhaps it was how it used its body that made it appear menacing. The power of the snake was palpable from where we were.

Possibly the snake had been washed off a river island. High water may have swept it out of its hole in the bluffs or wrested it from a sunny ledge where it was snoozing in the pleasant sunlight.

It was almost on land. The necessary thrust to make it onto the riverbank didn’t happen while we stood with our eyes never leaving it.

I remarked, not very bravely, reacting in a bit of a daze at sight of the snake, that diamondback rattlers aren’t in this area. Where does a venomous snake like this come from was registering in my mind.

The answered was immediate. “Oh yes, diamondbacks are around here. We’re from” – the one who spoke up named a nearby Wisconsin town – “and we have them there. They’re in the bluffs,” she added.

I’m aware that the driftless area of southeast Minnesota – the Mississippi River bluff country which includes Red Wing - has timber rattlers. Terrain breeds its own kind of native life, and this is rugged, forested landscape. The snake in the water was therefore likely a timber rattler - diamondbacks, as the women called them.

I learned about timber rattlers at age twelve or so. My friend had her cousins, who hailed from this general area, visiting her.

We played and visited. We exchanged information as we talked of one thing and another, not  recognizing then that this is how one's knowledge base widens.

My friend’s cousins told about timber rattlers. They’re a regional fact. I grew up familiar with garter snakes. Of the venomous timber rattler I'd never heard.

Garter snakes don’t overly spook me, even when they slide unexpectedly out of the tall grass right in front of you.

It’d be nice if they didn’t do that but that’s their trick. A glance to confirm it is indeed a garter snake, and not something else, and I beat down my desire to flee and let them glide on by.

At twelve I knew rattlesnakes from TV westerns my dad liked to watch, and also from Western camping trips. Rattlers had more than my respect. Just the thought of them made me never want to meet one.

Discovering that the rattlesnakes of TV westerns (forever coiled and ready to strike at the bad guys), and the feared potential tentmates of my early camping vacations, had a shirt-tail relative in the form of the timber rattler made me glad 200 miles separated the Minnesota river bluffs from my home.

Despite many visits to bluff country we’ve not come across a timber rattler. Lack of sightings tends to make you forget they’re there. This made the rattler in the river a very emphatic image.

The snake appeared to debate whether to make landfall or not. We didn’t wait around to see if it did. It clearly had will in it to do whatever it wanted.

The current, which likely dislodged it, could with equal force shove it to dry land. It was as if the snake wasn’t yet of a mind to let the current assist it.

We didn’t look for rattles on its tail as it kept its place in the water. We can’t report it had a diamond design on its back. There’s no scientific takeaway at all from the chance observation of the snake, which came about from someone pointing it out.

Whatever reason the snake was in the water that warm June afternoon, it symbolizes the overturning of the day-to-day which a river in torrent can do.

The rattler, purposeful in motion as it gathered our attention at the riverbank, is for me a symbol of the disruption of life, and also the tenacity to hold on, in the flooded communities along the Mississippi River.

Ro Giencke – June 28, 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Fawns in the twilight

It’s a gray breezy Wednesday forenoon. All the pretty sunshine of yesterday is of the past.

With the gloom there’s no inclination to be getting outside. That will come later.

Nice now to simply chip away at indoor stuff set aside with the fine days.

Many of the recent days have been dandy. The deck must wonder at its sudden popularity. 

Abandoned for so much of the year, and still largely deserted through the cool spring and our rainy middle part of June, it’s as if it’s been rediscovered.

In effect it has. It’s lovely to reclaim this outdoor space and squeeze the most out of it. Deck season is treasured when time with it is reduced to what amounts to a few summer weeks.

The other night I was on the deck. Or more accurately, I was back on the deck. I’d come inside thinking that was it.

 My reading, done in my chair angled to the late sun, was over as declared by the mosquitoes. They had started to come out, pester and buzz.

When the phone rang, and it was my friend, I braved the guarantee of mosquito bites to chat with her from the deck.

Visits take on the tone of the settings. The deck, with its casual vibe, is a beeline dive for me when a good visit is in store.

As we traded remarks a fawn emerged from cover where our lot line meets with our neighbor’s. The cute little creature, all legs and innocence, paused.

It fastened its look on me. It was more inquisitive than fearful. Youth generally is that way. A second fawn stepped out and then a third.

“We have three fawns in the yard,” I said to my friend. The trio planted themselves not far away with a showdown of sorts between us.

The fawns stayed put until after the phone visit. They should have been shooed away. They stood all alert with their triple gaze on me. It wasn’t in me to budge them.

They decided there existed in this yard no threat to them. They began to graze in the greenery at the borders. I didn’t much mind. There wasn’t anything particularly valuable in the way of precious specimens.

Fortunately they didn’t intrude on the garden despite its magnetic pull on the first fawn. It took tentative steps toward it, one foreleg raised. It calculated the risk of going nearer.

If the fawn, or its two shyer companions, came into the garden I would have bestirred myself. I’d have used my most authoritative voice to “scram them.”

It did seem a bother to disturb them as nightfall came tranquilly down. Luckily there was some invisible line they chose not to cross.

A passing car or some other disturbance caught their attention (ears, eyes and tails showed constant vigilance). Deliberately and without real hurry they retreated into the cover and were gone.

Soon an experience like this takes on the aspect of a dream. Probably not even a few tiny hoofmarks in the hostas remain to prove their visit. It doesn’t matter. It’s between them and me and makes a special memory. 

It's late June and the roses are newly out. Climbing roses are beautiful in the neighborhoods. They climb the fences and add color and scent. 

Gardens are pretty with their plantings. Fawns in the twilight will attest to that. It's a lovely time of year.

 Ro Giencke – June 25, 2014




Thursday, June 12, 2014

For fathers and those who are not

June is June everywhere and about the prettiest time of the year. 

June is easy to enjoy, like sipping a chocolate malt through a double straw.

Summer arrived with June this year. It came down the chute full of  grace. 

The month has been plenty of sun and pleasant temperatures. It feels so good to one who waits for summer heat.

It hasn’t been hot except for a few earlier days, but perfectly suited for what you expect from the first weeks of June.

Today was a bit of a turnaround. It started out damp with sprinkles. The sky was blotchy.

There were patches of dull clouds with attempted clearing in other spots. 

It was a day to give summer a break. We reached for sweaters and let the brisk winds blow. Steering patterns aloft have something to do with it.

June is about my favorite time. Everything is fresh and abundant. 

It prepares us for the blast furnace that can be July. It tiptoes us toward August humidity. Summer means something different to each of us. Using the season to appreciate nature around us is one thing all can do.

Our lakes are high because of near-record rains. A no-wake rule is in place on some local lakes. The relatively few boats being taken out go in slow motion. They putz along so untypical of speeds usually employed.

It’s a dreamy scene as the watercraft make their very slow way from shore to shore. 

You can find yourself hypnotized by the snail effect of it. We’re unaccustomed to watching life proceed anywhere at greatly reduced pace.

We added some plantings in our backyard. A cute bunny that’s been seen on the property has eaten the new greenery to the ground. 

The plants are its salad. It’s uncertain if the plants will come back. Visits to nibble and snack are sure to continue.

Father’s Day is this weekend. This is a thank you for fathers and those who are not. 

Father as title, job and relationship is extremely important to society, meaning each and every one of us on this planet Earth.

Being in the position of father, whether biological father or in any way that offers to others, especially our young, security, a steadfast hand, wisdom, tolerance, a bit of testiness for honesty’s sake, kindness of heart and courtesy of manners makes the world better. That’s no small feat.

You’re the guide and role model for those most needing someone to look up to, to admire and learn from. Never forget it. This is so much what Father’s Day is about.

You guys deserve the accolades that come this weekend of honoring our fathers. You have our gratitude. You’re a vital gift of presence to all who count on you.

Images of father, as greeting cards formerly conveyed him, largely confined expression of what father is to a few stock interests and pastimes.

Fishing, golfing, boating, a hammock stretched under a tree – this about sums up the creative limit of the imagination to sum up our fathers as we stood in the card section and chose from the common-themed cards.

The old images aren't as applicable to this generation of fathers. The former representation of father is only an aspect of the full scope of fatherly life today. In other words you’ve become too big to brand. Cool on you!

Nevertheless, my wish for you men is that something of the ease and relaxation the conventional images suggest are yours to enjoy on Sunday.

Rightfully bask in the heaping words of praise. They’re yours to treasure on Father’s Day.

Ro Giencke – June 12, 2014



Thursday, June 5, 2014

Earthquake Cake

The quiet of the evening is settling on our leafy green lawns after another day generous with sun and warmth. 

It’s been one agreeable day after the other.

June is starting out lovely. This time of light and sun and pleasant temperatures is a gift of the year like no other.

A stretch of uninterrupted good weather is comparable to winning the lottery after the spring we could not shake.

It’s funny how weather patterns can be stuck one way and when they go to something else it’s like the old way never happened.

We’ve been out and about. We’re taking advantage of the vacation-worthy weather. We haven’t strayed from our general area and there’s no need to.

We’re glad the Cities, with beautiful places and things to do, is home. It’s convenient when choices that interest you aren’t far from your door.

Minneopa Falls was the longest of the day trips. Located in Minneopa State Park near Mankato, the waterfall is the largest in southern Minnesota. The double falls is spectacular when the creek is full as it is now.

The falls acted like a mist fan as we spanned the creek on the trail between the two falls. The lower falls is the larger of the two and cuts into a shady deep gorge. 

Cameras were clicking away. The photo shots are sure to show up in many places as this spot is shared with others.

We remarked that Minneopa Falls and the walkway around the brim remind us of waterfalls visited in Upper Michigan.

Considerable travel distance is saved by coming to this nearer waterfall, a little over an hour away from home. But sometimes, without visiting one place, you can’t nearly so much appreciate another. 

Traveling widely can teach you to value what is there in front of you.

Minneopa Creek, like our local lakes and rivers, carries the additional load of heavy weekend rain. Over 3” fell here over a short period. Outdoor plans went quickly from Plan A to Plan B when the rain didn’t stop.

Fortunately, leaves, shrubs and flowers are good users of rainwater at this time of year. They draw in precipitation that falls and goes into the ground.

Thirsty plants lap up moisture like pets at a water bowl on a hot day. The plants eagerly siphoning off water is a nice picture to have in mind when the next rain pelts down.

Before the weekend rain we got the garden in. Some new flowers made it into the yard plantings this year. We keep reworking our vision of outdoor space.

The garden isn’t big but has strawberries, tomatoes and the first of the herbs - rosemary, basil and sage - with more herbs yet to get. Faithful chives winter over and are there to find each spring.

Things get done around the house too. Al takes the lead in outside projects while I whittle away at the indoor agenda that daily goes on. This includes digging out the recipe for Earthquake Cake. 

The recipe is from my friend, the one written about in the June 1, 2014 blog. The cake hasn’t been made in awhile. Writing about my friend reminded me of her recipe.

It’s not her recipe if you know what I mean, but given to her from someone else, and from her to me. 

At the top of the card I put in her name before the recipe to remember Earthquake Cake comes from her.

Rich desserts seldom show up here. We indulge less often and that’s a good thing.

It makes it all the sweeter to sometimes throw caution to the wind, as for this cake. 

As the eggs and mixing bowl come out, and the recipe card is placed for following the directions, here’s a treat to celebrate a perfect start to June.  

Earthquake Cake

1 cup coconut, 1 cup nuts, 1 Box German chocolate cake mix, 8 oz softened cream cheese, 1 stick softened oleo (or butter), 3 cups powdered sugar

Spray 9 x 13 pan with oil. Make cake as directed on box. Sprinkle nuts and coconut on bottom of pan. Pour cake batter over them. Beat cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar very well! (with mixer).

Drop spoonfuls over batter here and there. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. (Use your deepest 9 x 13 pan, as the cake erupts!)

The cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar rise - the chocolate cake forms fissures or streams - it’s fun to see! Delicious, too. Serve with whipped cream.

Recipe comment: The recipe is written out as worded by my friend. On the recipe card I added my notes. Next to “nuts” is written: “walnuts or pecans.” Next to butter amount is written: “1/2 cup.”

Beside “cake mix” is written “18.25 oz” to specify cake mix size. I use  Betty Crocker Super Moist German Chocolate Cake Mix but other cake mixes work equally well. 

Ro Giencke - June 6, 2014


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Friend with the June 1 birthday

June 1 is special to me for the reason it’s the birthday of a dear friend, now deceased. 

We attended the same church, a good start to good friendships as many will say.

We also had a mutual love for writing. A shared faith - and the same glee in stringing words together, for the rhythm and rightness and simple satisfaction of it - made a match of her and me.

She was witty and wise, which are neat qualities in an older friend. 

She was my mom's age. I was the age of her grown children. We didn’t play surrogate mother or daughter to each other but there was probably a little of that mixed in with the admiration we had for each other’s work.

At heart was the enjoyment of getting to know each other through our church volunteer work and the friendship rooting through experiences and shared interests.

I knew of her before she knew me. I was new to the church, which we'd joined with our move to the suburbs. 

The church felt enormous. It had more families on its household register than is the size of most towns we'd previously lived. Learning names is a way to make a place smaller, and this I set out to do.

At some small group meeting early on her name was mentioned. She was described as a very spiritual woman.

When we met, at some later meeting, she radiated more than spirituality. She radiated panache. 

She was a confident dresser who wore striking jewelry with bright outfits. Her clothes were a statement to her joy of life and her plan to get the most bang out of her buck.

She was a writer and poet. Poet is what she called herself. She had a knack for rhyme. No one rhymed better. She penned verse that sparkled. It brought smiles and downright laughter. 

Her poetry had humor and whimsy, each as needed, and where it belonged. She shared the gift of her poetry generously.

She was a book reader and a fan of Barnes & Noble because it was a reading haven. The fact that one of the stores came into our city was like wind in her sails. 

She was avid about crossword puzzles, another tick in the list of things we both liked to do.

Over the years I wrote down wise bits and pieces she shared with me. They were jotted into various folders kept as best thoughts about life and living.

For the past thirty years wisdom like hers has been picked up where found and made a part of my collection. 

It comes from realizing the importance of catching a thought, belief or snappy statement made by someone else and using it as a reflection and gauge of the many truths about life.

I cherish the lines in my folders that come from her. They’re examples of her wisdom. Some thoughts or sayings of hers that stood out for me:

(1) “Memory is my security."  This was from a poem she wrote. 

She read the newly coined poem on the phone to me. Using me as sounding board to her writings was part of the friendship. It made me see I could give something important to her.

She trusted me with the treasure of her words. She wanted them weighed by my ears before launching them on a wider audience.

She trusted me to be honest but I know she also relied on my kindness. She understood that as a fellow writer my instinct would be respectful.  

Writers have tender feelings for their words. We can be cautious about who we let see our work before we’re on sure footing with our artistry.

“Memory is my security” jumped out at me. It was the kind of phrase she could turn so well. She condensed her thoughts into a few shining words as in this poem that referenced her past. 

The phrase is the image of enduring love. Though my friend, a widow, seldom spoke of the married time these four words give a sense of the bond still kept with her deceased husband. 

As a succinct definition of the power of love to connect they caused me to reach for a pen and get them down.

(2) “I’ve learned not to be afraid to ask” is a comment saved because it’s an indication of the way my friend learned to deal with the world. 

She got to where she was by taking the bull by the horns when she had to, and doing the hard stuff. 

This includes asking (for help, directions, clarity, etc.). In a world that can be tough on those on their own, asking is sometimes the only option left.    

The comment about asking goes hand in hand with another remark. “I told her my problem” she said in the course of one of our visits.

She was telling how she was helped to locate a hair salon when anxious to find a stylist who would fix her hair to her satisfaction.

She told her “problem” to a church acquaintance. This gal, as it turns out, was glad and able to recommend a salon, which wound up being close to my friend’s home. 

She followed up on the tip and was a pleased client at this salon for many years.

I wrote down the remark because it reminds me that when we open up and share our situation or divulge a need we often find our answers.

People are generally interested when brought into an honest dilemma. When asked or allowed to be part of the problem solving they often can steer us to a solution or offer a beneficial pointer. 

(3) “The Holy Spirit is never late.”  My friend had enormous belief in prayer and putting yourself in the pathway of the Lord. She could come up with such beautiful expressions of faith. 

You were inspired by being in her company, and in her company you were never far from matters of faith and family.

(4) This is the one I like the best, the one that most stays with me except the exact wording is forgotten. 

Disappointingly, it’s not showing up as I look for it. It goes like this: "Pray to the Lord and then trust. God is with us always to see us through."

The church we attended had many spiritual people like my friend. They articulated their faith and readily shared it. It was amazing spiritual uplift and growth for me, especially being new there.

I became active in this church and with each new involvement met new friends like the friend of the June 1 birthday.

June 1 is a day with the loveliness of spring and summer to it. She and I often commented on her luck of having this day. 

She was happy the day was hers. Knowing her, she put her happiness to work and made a poem of it.

Ro Giencke – June 1, 2014