We were looking for a safe adventure so we traveled to the UP. On our way up through Escanaba MI, we could see Door County across the bay. The weather was beautiful in Gladstone where we camped for a few days. You can take a bike ride from Gladstone into Escanaba. There is a beach, a boat dock and a beautiful park. We camped at Gladstone Camp for $29 a night. From there, it’s easy to either hike or take a bike ride along the Michigan bay and enjoyed the beach before coming up to Lake Superior where it’s too cold to swim. But I saw lots of kayakers. Here are some pictures of our adventure in UP Michigan.
We have a trailer where we can sleep and cook our own food. Normally, we would visit Door County WI but we had a desire to see Picture Rock in Munising MI. We were not able to purchase tickets for the boat ride but we are seeing what we can by hiking. It has been windy and cold for the summer near Picture Rock. After having very hot weather in Chicagoland, it was refreshing. As we hiked to see Picture Rock, we had fun with other hikers on their way to see the Miner’s Fall. We said, “I believe the fall is closed for cleaning.” Yes, I said, “It’s being sanitized.” They would pause and stop and look at us for a moment thinking it was true before we all laughed. Life with Larry is all about humor. We love traveling and engaging with strangers.
PS While you are on your way home, stop at the Swedish Pantry in Escanaba for an award winning meal and very interesting decor.
While taking my morning bicycle ride, I noticed that nature has no idea what humans are going through with Covid-19. The egret, who lives in a pond near my home, flapped his huge white wings while flying over head. The mother duck, across the road, was proudly parading her set of five duckling behind her. The turtles, sparkling on logs in the sun, promptly protected themselves by slipping into the murky water as I passed. But that was fine, because the wildflowers displayed an array of pink, purple, and yellow blossoms. What a wonderful greeting on a summer day. Truly the psalmist said it best, “ The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament proclaims the work of His hands.” Psalm 19:1 For nature, it’s business as usual showing off her beauty in fashions of splendor.
But for humans, like me, this summer is different. As much as I love summer, there is a dark cloud planted in the horizon whose gloom has been circling the world with a pandemic that has sickened and killed many. It’s dark shadows have limited our freedoms, curtailed our relationships with family and friends, and has caused havoc in every spear of our lives. We have had to invent new ways to live, to work and to connect. “ Although this pandemic is manmade, we can look to God for wisdom and strength. “Dear Friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12. We have need of patience until a working vaccine is discovered. The race is on for that to happen but as humans we come up with all kinds of theories, home made remedies and a chance, through pride, to parade our own ignorance by ignoring legitimate facts by those epidemiologists who have made it their lives work.
Our temporary trials are but a speck in our average life span. So how do we learn to cope in such a time as this and not fall into a pit of man-made myths and falsehoods in our impatience for a cure? That will be the subject of my next blog. See www.lifewithlarry.org
Life with Larry has been about an outgoing battle with the squirrels who are after his fast food bird-feeder concession stand. The squirrels were definitely winning. First, he invested in a squirrel deflector cover. I saw one of them on top of the cover upside down enjoying a seed-cake lunch on the side of the feeder meant for the woodpeckers. They would also bi-pass the cover and jump from the deck banister to cling to the bird-feeder. In utter frustration, Larry said, “I’m not going to be outsmarted by a squirrel.” He then added Plexiglas where the guilty party left his paw marks, and sad face print. Since then, the squirrels quit coming after many futile attempts. Larry—the Winner.
But one day, while social-distancing at his favorite store, Home Depot, he came home with a bird-feeder to attract beautiful orange and brown Orioles. He asked me if I had any grape jelly. I vaguely remembered having it. To keep him from running to the store, I sorted frantically through the mayonnaise, the mustard and the pancakes syrup to finally discover–Yeah-Grape Jelly- which was probably a year old. But what bird cares? He installed the bird-feeder but to his dismay, the grape jelly was gone with no sight of a bird. This happened twice before he realized the squirrels were back enjoying the dessert he put out for them. Once again, he said, “I’m not going to be outsmarted by a squirrel.” Now Larry has a lot of tools—more now with his frequent trips to Home Depot. He bought a longer pole and extended it beyond even the capabilities of an Olympic Squirrel Contender.
Then while eating our dinner on our deck, Larry froze in disbelief and whispered, “Hold still, we have our first Oriole visitor.” Yeah for Larry; Sorry Squirrels. But who knows where the den of intellectual squirrels resides? And when they will make a comeback. Stay tuned into the squirrels vs. Larry!!
We woke up to a beautiful morning. I took my 10 mile bike ride and thought to myself I’d bet Larry would enjoy a motorcycle ride today—somewhere local since it was suppose to rain at 1 PM. He loved the idea so we decided to visit our friends in Palatine, Carol and Chris Benson. Chris was working on scraping the house to prepare for painting.
We were on Rt.68 (Dundee Rd) near Deer Grove Forest Preserve on our way home. We were heading straight and had the right of way when a car making a left turn out of the Preserve collided with us. At first I thought we’d miss him but the next moment Larry and I and the bike were on the ground with bike parts scattered all over the road. My prayer was that we would not get hit by another car. My hip and leg hurt but I was able to walk to the curb where some wonderful people greeted me and wanted me to sit in their car. I chose to lean against a fence instead, and put on my mask. I was concerned about Larry, who has had two past back injuries. He was standing by the bike in the street and I wanted to make sure he was OK. His thumb was out of joint but he pushed it back in. He was scrapped, had a swollen hand, and some surface wounds. I had heavy gloves on and we both were wearing our helmets. Our helmets were dented, but without them we would have suffered probably for me a broken chin and for Larry, a head injury.
The policemen, Tim and Eddie, did a great job making sure we were OK and gathering all the information they needed. We both had up to date insurance. Tim said he hated seeing motorcycle accidents since he has one too and loves riding. The young man who hit us was so sorry and told us he did not see us driving straight ahead when he made the left turn. It was his first time being in an accident. Haven’t we all at one time or another had a situation where we came close to an accident but fortunately were able to avoid it. We walked into the ambulance and the paramedics checked our blood pressure and asked if we wanted to go the the hospital. We decided our injuries were minor. They too were very professional and caring. The Bensons, great friends, took us home and were very comforting.
We should have reconsidered going out on Memorial day weekend in a populated area.
In the past, we have taken trips to WI on back roads.
Warning to others—accidents often happen close to home and wearing the proper motorcycle gear is important at any time.
We thank God that we are here to embrace another day—hopefully wiser.
We are both so thankful for our wonderful friends and family.
I woke up this morning to the sound of heavy rain and I began to grumble forgetting that I had just enjoyed two days of sunshine and outdoor beauty. Then it came to me. “I’m not any different from the children wandering in the desert complaining about the manna God gave them.” It’s Sunday, a day of rest, and I should be happy to have some time to write, to read and to reflect.
Voices are shouting over the internet, the TV and the newspapers. Each voice is shouting, “Follow Me. I know what we need to do during Covid-19.” And yet as I reflect on this rainy morning what comes to my mind is all the grumbling the Children of Israel did while wandering in unchartered deserts. The Voice that did come in clear was, “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10.
As I gaze at the picture of my granddaughter drawing pictures of birds, I think of verses in Matthew 6 – Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount “Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they . Who of you by worrying, can add a single hour to his/her life?”—-“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself.”
I hope you find peace today and hope for the future, compassion for one’s fellow human beings, thoughtulfness and prayer for our vulnerable demographic and appreciation for essential workers, respect for teachers who care deeply for their students, and for students who now treausre their teachers, and finally love for your families, friends and your Creator.
“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7. A sound mind—not a grumbling heart while walking through the maze of unchartered waters.
How are you all doing in our lockdown? It is May 11th and we are in Phase 2. We have been shut in since March 26th. People seemed to do quite well in Phase 1 but now the herd is restless. I am too. I do well when the days are warm and it’s not raining and I can get out. But yesterday, Mother’s Day, was hard. Fortunately, we saw family, Julie and Geoff and kids, on Saturday. We sat in their backyard at a distance away from one another and enjoyed seeing their new puppy, Mauve. But no hugging, nor eating each other’s food. We did enjoy great conversation and the joy of seeing one another. Julie and Geoff live in Chicago where there have been 1,000 deaths due to Covid-19. Following the rules is necessary for survival.
I came home with tears in my eyes knowing we could not hug each other and that school, childhood friendships, etc would be different for my grandchildren. But we need to be patient and resilent in these days working on finding new ways to connect and to even thrive.
It rained all day yesterday—so no walk outside. I recorded some songs on the piano which I posted on Face Book, spent time communicating with friends and family on line and worked on planning my week. We are getting quotes on landscaping our backyard and going through and discarding those items we no longer need.
Larry has been dealing with back pain and I work on his back by popping in the verebrate. Larry is 6′ 2″ and I’m not quite 5′ so I actually stand on his back to do this procedure. He loves to stay busy and after reading the Tribune decided to make a banana cake and bread in our breadmaker. I have been trying to cut down on carbos from my diet, but with Larry as a baker this is impossible. How can I not have a hot piece of bread with butter when the delicous smell permeates the house. This means that I’ll do a lot of walking today and exercise on Zoom with my teacher friend, Rose, in her program called Get After It. Now I need to modify my exercises since my teacher is much younger than I am. But I do what I can and love connecting with her and her young daughter, Heleyn.
God has given us hope and encouragement by helping us focus on others rather than ourselves in these unprecedent times. There is always some one to reach out to with words of encouragement, acts of kindness or just a listening ear. Last time I took a walk a stranger smiled and said, “It’s so good to see people again.” Yes, we need one another as the song says, “People who Need People are the Luckiest People in the World.” I find seeing children playing freely with puppies by their side and parents behind them gives me hope for the future. And our land and air quality is improving. These are the positives of staying home.
Almost every morning, my daughter from Montana, sends us a series of jokes. Larry continues to play practical jokes on me like putting his size 12 shoe under my pillow when I lay down to sleep. He always pleads that it wasn’t him who put it there. It mut have been an intruder. And we laugh a lot about ourselves and how we need each other to find our lost items and to finish each other’s sentences these days. Our favorite words are “What” “Where” and “When.” Physically, laughter triggers the release of endorphins that cause a sense of well-being. Studies have demonstrated that children laugh on average more than 300 times a day. We adults only laugh a dismal 15. Times of levity are important.
I encourage everyone to write and reach out to someone new each day. Writing is a catharsis for me as is playing the piano and working on my Spanish lessons. I guess I’m saying having goals for each day is very helplful. I can be thankful for so much and be cognizant of my neigbors nearby.
The sun will shine today. I have wonderful food to eat and a husband who loves me, Zoom meetings to attend, social media to connect, the joy of seeing flowers bloom and trees developing their foliage. I can look back at pictures and sense a well of happiness for the days of freedom in the past when we didn’t think of family and friends as being a carrier of a contagious deadly disese. We have wonderful scientists who are working on a vaccine. We have doctors and nurses who are saving lives and need our encouragement. Although the future looks bleak, better days are ahead and we will get through this time with new appreciation for things we once took for granted
I woke up this morning and checked the amount of deaths in the US. As of April 19, 2020, it was 45,075. And even if we are making progress according to Governor Pritzker and the President, it looks like social distancing will continue through the summer and there is even talk of a possible upsurge in the fall with the combination of influenza and Covid-19. That might even make it difficult for young people to go back to school. This prognosis causes a cloud of depression to engulf me. On top of the news, my left foot has been giving me problems. What has kept me sane during the shutdown is my faith in God and my ability to take long walks while enjoying nature.
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I’m doing what I can to take care of my left foot and I’m thankful for the many blessings that have come my way as a senior citizen. These have been the golden years for Larry and I. We have traveled to Germany, Spain, Italy and Hawaii. We have biked throughout Illinois and Wisconsin and skied the hills of Wilmot and Colorado. We have been blessed with a good pension and a wonderful financial planner.
Now, we are called to sit on the shelf of life for awhile. This is not an easy task for the Schuerrs who have a bit of Bohemian in them. We love to travel and to enjoy new experiences and meet new people. We are gregarious. But what are we thankful at the time in life. We were able to visit our Montana family at Christmas and we have our daughter and her beautiful family 48 miles away from us. We were able to travel to Oahu, Hawaii in February and stay at a military resort called Hale Koa and a base called Hickam AFB. We spent 10 lovely days strolling this beautiful island and enjoying wonderful hikes and scenic ocean views. I close my eyes and hear the ocean, see the flowers and enjoy the beauty that surrounded me.
Now we are learning new ways to deal with the stay at home order. We are finding that we can find happiness in simple ways. We have time now to enjoy the birds at our feeder, to cook delicious meals, to give to others in need and to develop our talents. We are getting to know the people in our neighborhood and to Zoom with friends and family. We hope that during this time we will become a better version of ourselves.
We have so much to be thankful for. Everyday, we find something to laugh about. Humor is of upmost importance. In fact, I wrote a story for Chicken Soup for the Soul, Laughter is the Best Medicine that was published. I love reading the stories before bedtime. At breakfast, we are planning our dinner menu. Larry has taken it to new heights creating tasty dishes. We can have an extravagant meal with wine and candle lights right here at home. We can enjoy our own yard as we watch the flowers bloom. I can write and play the piano and share it with friends and family. Right now, we are reading the book of James to glean morsels of advice on living a better life. That has led us to finding ways to give to people who are struggling financially at this time. We find that helping others has taken the focus off ourselves as it brings unexpected joy to others. We are following the guidelines to keep Covid-19 at bay.
Zoom has opened up a new world. I’m part of a book club that has 7 members and now 2 international members from Australia. Technology has opened up so many new doors for us. What can we learn to be a better version of ourselves during these days. What are you doing to brighten your days? Feel free to comment.
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I heard a flock of sand hill cranes overhead beckoning the end of winter. I even saw three fox pups frolicking in our yard. Despite seeing snow flakes today, April 9th, the trees are budding, the crocuses have pushed their faces toward the heavens and the days are getting pleasantly longer. Yes, what looked like death is certainly now alive. Nature is such a beautiful picture of the resurrection of Christ. In the background, I love listening to Handel’s Messiah and the song, “I Know that My Redeemer Lives”. It is the perfect Passover/Easter message.
This has been a very difficult month with the unseen enemy lurching in all corners of our nation waiting to prey on young and old alike. It is no respecter of social economic status-willing to target even the likes of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and actor, Tom Hanks. The stories of it’s capricious nature is the subject of our daily news. Covid-19 as of April 11th has infected 423,135 and killed 14,390 just in the US. Worldwide 105,722 have died from the virus. We are making progress in remedying the invader by practicing social distancing, isolating ourselves in our homes and wearing masks. We hope these activities will vanquish the enemy. At this point, all of our idols are being torn down and we are scrambling like Humpty Dumpty to put the world back together again. Many of us are resorting to Zoom to celebrate Easter this year. We can’t help but reflect on our lives, our families, our occupations and our relationship with the living God. We are cornered. The distractions have been relegated to the four walls of our homes, our yards and occasional walks in our neighborhoods.
But there is hope. God loves you and has a plan for your life. “I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10. Just like nature is filled with a diversity of flowers and trees, so God has many ways to call his own to himself. Most of us have a thirst for more than this life can offer. We know deep inside that the end of life is not the end. It’s written in our hearts.
I was an agnostic at the University asking God,while watching the sunset, to bring meaning and purpose in my life. I told God if he was there, He could have my life. Then I added, “Make something wonderful happen, if you truly exist.” That night, I met Larry, my husband and soul-mate, at a dance. I was intrigued that maybe there really was a God. I dusted off the Bible tucked away in the corner of my dorm closet and began reading the book of John. Jesus was just an historical character to me, not a living and resurrected being. I started keeping a journal of how He demonstrated his existence to me. Over the years of our marriage, we have seen the hand of God in our own lives, our families’ lives, and so many others.
My search for God, brought me to a study of the Old Testament prophecies pertaining to the coming Messiah. We are thankful to the Jews who faithfully and accurately penned the Old Testament with the prophecies of Christ. (See Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, and google the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls) Also read Acts 10 and 1 Corinthians 15.
I was a skeptic and understand the many questions and concerns you may have,especially in this politically charged atmosphere where I’d rather refer to myself as a follower of Christ rather than as a Christian. Regardless, I have spent years as an educator with a Master’s degree from Concordia University. If you are feeling like something is missing in your life….could it be because you were created for so much more——a relationship with the living God? He has a significant plan for your life. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:12).” If Christ was the Messiah and there is such a thing as abundant life here and life after death—————–wouldn’t you want to know? Anything this important cannot be ignored.
My thoughts and prayers are with you this unusual Easter 2020 as we deal with Covid-19 and the many fears that lurch around the corner of our lives. You can find peace if you search God with your whole heart and put your life in his hands. This is the perfect time to do your own search.
About three months ago, I read a book entitled As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner. It described in detail the effects of the flu epidemic in 1918 coinciding with World War1. More people died of the flu than those who died in the war. As I read about the schools and churches being closed and no place to bury or commemorate the dead, I was so thankful that I was living today where we have a better scientific understanding of infections and a vaccine for the flu. But then Covid-19 hit us with 10,000 deaths in the US and 70,000 worldwide according to a John Hopkin’s study 4/5/20.
The novel based on research helped me to understand what is going on today. It was an eye opener for me since my mother being the 12th child in her family, talked about her oldest sister, Belinda, who lost her husband. leaving her as a widow with a son. I heard a few stories from my mother about that time. One day, as a child, she was walking in the dark from the barn to the house in Valders, Wisconsin. She was trembling with fear until she noticed an angel by her side. Her sister said, “That was probably your cousin who died in the flu pandemic.” Whether it was her imagination or a guardian angel, she grew up well aware of the many lives taken by the flu. She was even told that she had the flu and was spared when she had a nose bleed. These were stories I heard as a child.
And here we are on Sunday, April 5th, taking drastic measures to save lives as we practice social distancing and limit our trips to the store. What are we learning about life? Yesterday while we worked in our backyard, we had a lengthy talk with the neighbor behind us. I learned more about his life than I did in the 20 years I knew Dale. As I take my walks, people seem friendlier and less consumed with self and more ready to smile and say hello. We realize now how precious life is and how soon it can be taken. “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.” Psalm 144:4
I leave you with a poem.
“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.” By Kitty O’Meora
I have been blessed with three wonderful children. My youngest is Aaron Schuerr. It wasn’t long before we noticed he was left handed. I had been told not to give them coloring books, but let them explore art on big sheets of block paper. I would share bible stories with them drawing pictures on the block paper. After having two wonderful girls, I was told a boy meant trouble. But that was not true, Aaron could entertain himself drawing and role playing various Star War characters. When he was 8 years old, my neighbor Lori Indovina-valus and I decided to exchange lessons. I gave her daughter piano lessons and she gave Aaron art lessons. It was a win– win arrangement for both of us.
One day while in high school, Aaron and his friend Kent Albin asked if they could paint the wall in Aaron’s room. I said, “No” but Larry said, “Why not?” It wasn’t long before they happily painted the wall with figures that looked like Dr. Seuss characters in a prairie and pond. Aaron would come home from high school and pick up a large art book with pictures and stories of famous artists. He’d say, “Now my real education begins.” Next, he enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago. He was not totally content with the Institute, and when an opportunity came to go to Scotland for a one year exchange program, he applied and later ended up graduating from the Dundee of Jordonstone College of Art and Design. He worked diligently Monday thru Friday, so he could take off on the weekends with an outdoor/hiking group. Aaron fell in love with the luscious landscape. He connected so well with his hiking pals from Scotland/England. They became lifelong friends and a couple of them stood up in his wedding in Bozeman, Montana—all wearing kilts, of course.
It was a slow start to becoming a notable artist. He was married to Lynelle, also an art major. She has been Aaron’s backbone giving him artistic advice and helping him with framing, etc. Soon their first child, August, was born followed by two more boys, Jasper and Isaak. Aaron supported his family by selling his art at a local gallery and by waitering. He approached his art like a job-working numerous hours a day. But weekends were made for hiking and exploring the mountains of Montana. His inspirations came from unending hikes and trails through the Gallatin Valley, Paradise Valley and Yellowstone National Park. His creative imagination was unleashed not only in art, but in his writing and acting. I’m proud to say that family always came first with Aaron and Lynelle. They have learned the life lessons of how to handle times of need and times of plenty.
Yes, it was sad to have Aaron move from Bozeman/ Livingston Montana after living in Chicagoland; but it has given him the outdoor studio he needed to paint his masterpieces——and it provided a wonderful vacation spot for his father and me.
My advice to parents is to pursue your own creative outlets because by doing so, you are a role model to your children. God has given us each gifts and now due to Covid-19, many of us have time to develop them. See <www.aaronschuerr.com> for more information.
I must add to this story that on June 22nd, 2020 Aaron was on the Kelly Clarkson Show where he was featured for putting his outdoor scenes right into the paintings and got the stamp of approval from Kelly. As a result he had 1000 more people on his Instagram account and 500 more people visiting his website. www.aaronschuerr.com. I guess inside I knew he would be popular someday. I worried when for some reason he missed getting his high school picture taken the first time and the second time, someone would be looking for his Senior Picture and not find it. He was wearing a poncho on Senior picture day. But he was on the football team and in the plays and musicals so I guess he would be recognizable in those pictures.