Category Archives: Adventure and Comedy

Total Eclipse of the Heart/A Communal Experience

We made our Mecca-like pilgrimage to Marion, IL to see a 2:26 minute total eclipse. It was an 8 hour trip both ways. We were not disappointed as we gathered together at the town square. We met people from as far as England to as close as our neighboring town, Lake in the Hills. Later, we met Dan, a TA and physics major at the University of Chicago. We became instant friends sharing our cosmos experience and knowledge.  Glenn, from England, had the best photo set up.  The rest of us, using our solar glasses, were amazed as the moon ate up the sun causing the crickets to chirp and the street lights to turn on at 1:30 PM. We all cheered and clapped when we saw the corona.  We thought of ancient people who would sacrifice to the Sun God to keep it burning. Someone suggested my 6’2″ husband, Larry.  But he said, “No, I’m too big.” So I guess that meant I would be the sacrifice at just under 5′ feet.  We laughed and became instant friends with so many.  For more pictures, see my Facebook page, Sue Schuerr.

Add Spice to Your Life/Talk to a Stranger

One thing about life with Larry is there is rarely a dull moment. He loves meeting strangers and creating friendships especially through humor. You never quite know what is going to come out of his mouth. Believe it or not I once was a shy rather introverted woman  but that all changed with my life with Larry.  To give you an example, he often shops at an auto shop in Crystal Lake. He came in one day and was waiting to speak to the owner. When the owner looked up, Larry said, “I have a professional question for you.”Larry quickly turned around and said,”Does this coat make my butt look big?” The owner who also had a sense of humor was speechless. His coworkers said, he never was speechless but always had a come-back. Everyone laughed as they remembered the words of their wives asking the same thing.

Larry was flying solo one afternoon and asked the flight attendant a question. “Patricia, may I have more sugar for my coffee?” As a result, he won a bottle of wine simply because he was polite and used the flight attendances name. Now when I am at a restaurant, I get to know the waiter, waitress and sometimes bus boys simply by calling them by their name and asking a little about themselves.

If you look at a stranger as an interesting book and you are checking out the forward and the back cover, you will be amazed at how happy it will make both of you. Last night we met Hailey, our waitress, and found out she has a red-headed two year old daughter named Savannah. Her dad was babysitting her daughter so she could waitress and make money to continue to go to nursing school in Addison. She was delighted to be asked about her life instead of being treated like part of the furniture. Sometimes we tell them we are a praying couple and is there anything they would like us to pray about. ” A man that has friends, must show himself friendly.”{Proverbs18:24} Yes, there is no one that you lock eyes with that doesn’t matter to God. People should matter to us as well. “Each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself.” Philippians2:4

Do you want to be happier today? Then try this out. Learn to listen, laugh and look at people as though they were a fascinating book to discover. In doing this simple technique, you will add SPICE TO YOUR LIFE as well.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Our son-in-law, Geoff, was traveling with our daughter from Illinois to Texas when the engine light went on. He turned to Julie and said, ”Should we turn around and go home?” What would the Schuerr’s do?” She hesitated as the memories filled her mind and said, “Continue on, of course.” I’m sure Julie, now with a family of her own, would remember this childhood lesson in perseverance.

A winter weekend in the 80’s, we decided to treat our three kids to a night at the Holidome. We were enjoying the snow covered scenery and stopped at Mars Cheese House in WI  to use the bathroom. We piled into the van and Larry stepped on the clutch when the linkage broke which meant we could not get into first gear.  You could get into 2nd or 3rd without the clutch. It made the van lurch forward providing excitement for the kids. Life has been a circus of excitement and perseverance would prevail. Larry got on the interstate in 3rd gear and cruised along but eventually we had  to get off the interstate and encounter stop lights and signs. If it was red, Larry would slow down and if it didn’t turn green, he would  make a quick right turn.  In this manner we worked our way to the Holidome where we spent the weekend playing with our kids in the pool and of course, fixing the van. The first word the kids learned with our limited income was “Fic it Daddy.”  He has been fixing things ever since. “Necessity is the mother of invention.” At one time, he used butter to fix a linkage up in the Canadian mountains where no mechanical help existed. But that’s another lifewithlarry  story.

Montana Christmas 010

 

Men and Their Hats

hat picsIt was a warm and beautiful day in San Diego where we escaped the winter by staying with my wonderful cousin Dave Berge and his wife Gail. We woke up to the sound of the ocean and the call of the birds and seals. Yes, his condo was right on the beach of Oceanside. We took our morning walk and ended up at a coffee shop. Larry wanted to stop and get a Marine hat. In his picture he is wearing a Navy hat. You see, Larry spent 4 years as a Marine where our daughter, Deborah, was born in South Carolina. But later, he joined the Navy reserves as an air-controller. Even though he was in the reserves for 19 years, he still was a Marine—–once a Marine, always a Marine. We walked into the local military store and checked out the Marine hats. We were not satisfied with any of them and concluded we would buy one at the Marine base in San Diego.

He was still looking around so I left him to join my daughter at the coffee shop again. She was soaking up the rays. (See picture below)

When Larry returned, I said, “I thought we didn’t like that Marine hat. I guess you decided to buy it anyway.” He frantically put his hands to his head to retrieve the Marine hat and said,”Oh no, I walked out with the wrong hat and left my Navy hat at the shop.” Now Deb and I are laughing at the imaginary sight of police surrounding Larry for the theft of an unwanted Marine hat in exchange for the desired Navy hat he left at the scene of the crime. He quickly bolted up the hill two blocks to the store to return the hat and retrieve his Navy hat.

We had a good laugh and I knew I had another Life with Larry story. Now my question is how many of you have done something similar? Have you left something precious to you at a store or restaurant? I was guilty of leaving my cell phone in a restroom at a Cracker Barrel in Kansas.  My point is that in life we need to give grace to those around us. We all make mistakes or have senior moments.  This scenario turned out OK; how about yours?coffee Deb

Deborah soaking up the San Diego sun!

Every Breath I Take; Every Move I Make

CIMG5041

I imagined being Laura Ingalls from The Little House on the Prairie, putting another log on the wood burning stove. It’s a clear sunny day; but make no mistake—it’-2 degrees reminding me of a time several years ago when we went up to Kettle Moraine to cross-country ski. Larry had been begging me to winter camp with him, and I wisely replied, “No”. “Look,” he said, “It will be an adventure and it’s been a mild winter. Let’s do it.” Our marriage has been about a partnership of give and take. Larry is all about his gear and likes to test the durability and reliability of his sleeping bag and tent. If the bag says, “Good to -10,” Larry wants to see if it’s true. I just like snuggling by a warm fire with a cup of hot chocolate at the end of a wintery day. We skied at Lapham near Delafield, WI with friends the first day. It’s a challenging course ending with a huge hill called Slide Run. I was delighted that all our body parts were in order at the end of the day. We spent that night with our friends in a motel across from Lapham. Then we made our way to Ottawa Lake where we set up our tent for the next night. We were the only ones in the campground while our friends smartly headed home. We skied that day at Kettle Moraine near La Grange. It was getting colder by the minute. After dinner and hot tea, we made our way to the homemade tent that Larry constructed from a 1970’s Frostline kit. Our sleeping bags were supposed to be good for below zero weather. I slid into my ice cave bag and could not get warm. I put on Larry’s very smelly and sweaty ski sweater and huddled under the sleeping bag; but the aroma of the sweater was more than I could take. I came out for a breath but the air was much too cold. I felt like a tortoise sticking my head in and out all night thinking of the song, Every breath I take—Every move I make. We finally saw the light of morning and quickly took down the tent and headed into Oconomowoc for buckets of hot coffee. It was then that we learned that the temperature that night sank to -12. “What’s this about camping on a mild winter night?” I said—- after brushing my teeth in the restaurant bathroom while trying to be incognito. We survived and winter camping is now off my bucket list.

What are the lessons to learn here? Marriage is a partnership. To make it an adventure, one needs to leave the comforts of normal life. A hot shower the next day and sitting by a cozy wood burning stove never felt so good. When I ask Larry to do something he is not too excited about, he remembers I winter camped with him and additionally, we now have a good www.lifewithlarry story to tell our grandkids.

An Unusual Fishing Venture

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The crystal clear water of Devil’s Lake is surrounded by high bluffs that are magnets to hikers and rock climbers alike.   It’s an unusual hidden jewel in the Midwest.   We were very fortunate to get a camp site on such a picture perfect weekend.   Luckily we got our tent up in time to watch the birds fly over the breathtaking pink and purple sunset. We looked forward to Lola and Thom’s arrival so that the hiking, biking and most importantly laughing around the campfire could begin.

Then I heard a sound that changed everything, “Bang”.

Larry, my husband, shut the door of our 2000 Windstar Ford Van and I heard him gasp in shock.

“Oh rats,” he said, “I thought I was unlocking it, not locking it. I left the keys in the car.”

Sure enough, there they were laid out between the seats to rest like a silver trout between two pond cup holders.   Our spare key tucked under the right wheel had long since disappeared.

I thought of less technical days when opening a locked vehicle was so much easier. I once taught ESL classes at a synagogue when a student from India came to class frantic because he had locked his keys in his car. I promptly marched into the synagogue kitchen and retrieved a handy black spatula and proceeded to squeeze it through the rubber between the windows. “Voila,” the car opened.

Another time Larry locked the keys in our Ford station wagon, and a group of foster teenagers Larry invited camping with us opened it with a coat hanger.

“We learned this trick in our juvie days,” they laughed.

But with computerization, the days of opening cars with a spatula or coat hanger are over.

Seeing myself as an adequate problem solver, I walked around the van a couple of times and observed one glimmer of hope. The back vent window was opened about two inches. I also noticed a group of male campers toasting their feet around a cozy campfire after a fruitless day of fishing.

Having given up hope, Larry was already planning on borrowing Lola and Thom’s car when they arrived to drive to our home almost three hours away to retrieve our second set of keys. I grimaced at the thought of a six hour unnecessary trip.   What a way to ruin a beautiful weekend!

Boldly walking up to the fishermen, I said, “Do any of you have ideas about how to retrieve our captured keys from a locked van. The back side vent window is open about two inches.”

“Well, we have a fishing pole and lure,” the camper thoughtfully replied. “But the fishing pole is not long enough to reach from the back of the van to the front where your keys are located. Scratching his head, he said, “We could attach it to something, but what?”

“We could duct tape the lure to my fiberglass tent pole,” Larry piped in with renewed hope.

The ideas continued to swirl around from one camper to the next as our plan unfolded. We tied a treble hook to a twelve inch long piece of fishing line which we duct taped to the end of Larry’s tent pole. Then we turned the pole to wind the line around the tent pole. Where would mankind be without duct tape?  “Move over Rover!” Duct tape is now modern man’s best friend.   Larry and the fishermen got more excited by the minute as they continued to pool their ideas together.

“What have we here,” I contemplated. “It’s a near impossible venture, at least a challenge and men with nothing better to do? It’s male bonding at its best. MacGyver would be proud of them.”

Larry, our self-appointed fisherman, assigned us our positions as we prepared to go for the keys. Fishing for car keys—- How absurd was that! My job was to stand by the side of the van with a flashlight while Larry blindly and painstakingly fished his way through the back vent window to the front of the vehicle. He manipulated the fishing rod up and down with help from the campers.

Being the only one who could see clearly, I gave the directions about how to move the pole, “Slightly to the right, Honey.”   “Now move it to the left, and down a bit.”

We were all very tense and focused as we engaged in our most unusual fishing venture. As the typical fishermen’s wife, I really didn’t have much hope for its success.   I’ve heard enough fishing stories in the past. But I watched in wonderment as these men maneuvered the pole until it finally hovered over the steel fish—our keys.

“How far above the keys am I,” Larry asked. “How much line should I unravel?”

I watched the baiting lure make its first downcast attempt about an inch shy of the capture.

“Try again, Lar— this time more to the right,” I nervously stated.

He lowered the hook and unwound the line. After a couple more tries, I watched in disbelief as the magical silver fish flickering in the moonlight was being drawn up into thin air.   My heart raced and my stomach did summersaults as they worked the pole backwards.

The fishermen were delighted at the capture, but they didn’t see what I saw—— the entanglements which included—tossed clothing, camping supplies, and the velour seats that could so easily ensnare our coveted prize. Touch anything and we’re cooked.   I continued directing the blind fishermen to move the pole in such a manner as to avoid entrapment. With a sense of empowerment, I was the Siren commanding my ship of male servants who were painstakingly following my directions. I relished in the fleeting moment.   In sheer delight, I saw the keys within inches of the vent window. We were all breathless with excitement. Handing the flash light to one of the fishermen, I wedged my tiny fist through the vent window capturing our trophy prize.

We jumped up and down in disbelief— and our shouts of triumph could be heard throughout the campground. Where was America’s Funniest Home Videos when we needed them? Did we really fish for keys?? Larry, redeeming himself, proved it be an excellent fisherman, but not without his team and sheer luck.

Lola and Thom pulled up and wondered what was causing all the commotion. They were not surprised to hear that Larry had locked the keys in the van. He is known for creating problems that take fleets of fishermen to solve.   We all huddled around the inviting campfire keeping Larry far away from the keys. Yes, it was going to be a weekend to remember.

Stay tuned in for the following chapter on solving another impossible van situation.

 

 

 

 

A Joyful Heart is Good Medicine

Washington 2015 060To enhance a relationship, add fun and the unexpected.  Over the years Larry and I have learned to laugh regardless of what is going on in our lives.  We took a vacation to Seattle, Washington and camped for three days at the Olympic National Forest. We hiked and enjoyed the beauty around us. I noticed a cylinder culvert ahead so I scampered ahead and hid on the side of it planning on scaring Larry.  I timed it just right I thought. I jumped out and said BOOO but to my amazement, it wasn’t Larry. It was a tall heavyset Englishman with dark rather spiky hair. “Bloody Hell,” he proclaimed. I quickly apologized saying, “So sorry—I thought you were my husband.” I truly scared him out of his wits. Welcome to America.

But then I situated myself again and jumped out and succeeded in scaring Larry.  Mission Accomplished. Larry calls me Nissa, a troublesome little Norwegian gnome. I’ll continue to live up to my name and watch for his comeback. Feel free to share how you add adventure to your relationship.

How to Make a Relationship Work

“Life is not measured by the breaths we take; but rather by the moments that took our breath away.”

CR photo

As I was walking through the field house at Northern Illinois University, I felt a large, warm hand on my neck. It was Larry who I had recently begun dating. There was something about his touch that was protective and secure. I turned around and looked up into his beautiful eyes. He walked me to my dorm and pretended to slip and slide on the icy terrain bumping into me and causing me to laugh heartily. Three years later, I began my ‘Life with Larry’. Our almost 47 year marriage has been filled with humor and adventure. Practical jokes abound. Each night I get up around 2 AM. Just before I rest my head down, my pillow may often go sailing down the hallway. I get even by filling his pillowcase with shoes and other odds and ends.

Our marriage is far from boring. Larry is my trailblazer setting us off on one adventure after another. Our partnership has included a tandem kayak and a tandem bicycle. We have a deep love that conquers all. That love has grown by serving one another, by putting one another above ourselves and by forgetting who is right or wrong in matters. We try to follow what the Bible says. “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” Many times we just agree to disagree. We can both be very stubborn.  But the Bible continues to be our source for guidance because it never changes unlike the latest counseling advice. Laughter fills our home and we miss one another when we are apart.Laughter is an instant vacation.” – Milton Berle

I Have a Bone to Pick with You

CIMG4345Now that fishing season is almost upon us, I’m reminded of a lifewithlarry experience. Our daughter, Deborah, who resides in Bozeman, Montana taught Larry how to fly fish one summer. He took to it like a bee to honey.  He can be see practicing on the road here in Fox River Grove, IL.  People come from all over the world to fish in Yellowstone and pay enormous amounts of money for the adventure. Deb took Larry to a small spring creek near a railroad track and Interstate 90.

“There can’t be anything in here. It’s too small.” Larry reacted. But it turned out to be a fishing supermarket.

He caught 32 fish in a manner of a few hours. They hit any brown fly Larry threw at them. He was bursting with excitement like a kid in a candy store while cleaning and gutting the four he decided to keep.

“It was going to be a great dinner,” he said knowing we were going to have company that night.

When visiting Montana, we often camp at Hyalite National Forest—–one of God’s most magnificent creations. We tow a 19 ft.  trailer and that is our home for 3 weeks. People come and visit us in our beautiful, pristine surroundings. Our daughter-in-law’s parents came up that evening for a fish dinner. By the time the coals were hot and dinner ready to be served, it was dusk. Ravishingly hungry, we devoured our food until we heard Larry gag.

In the darkness of the evening, he had mistaken a bone for fish. Coughing, bread, water—–nothing seemed to dislodge it. So the next morning, we headed down the mountain to the medical center.

“Hi Larry”, the doctor said. You see Larry, from Illinois, had visited the center other times in past years for one malady or another.   He looked down his throat and said, “I haven’t seen anything like this in twenty years.” This was all I needed to hear. My hopes of a problem free vacation were quickly vanishing.

Next he said, “If I cannot dislodge the bone, it will mean surgery.” Surgery——- for a fish bone! Whoever heard of such nonsense? Larry suppressed the cough instinct and allowed the doctor to lunge down his throat with a pair of round pliers with a round tip. After a couple of attempted, he captured his prey.

“In addition to teaching and construction,” Larry said, “I could now have another career as a professional  Sword Swallower.” We all agreed.

Now when eating fish in the dark, I insist that he put on one of his many REI head lamps, or I’ll have a bone to pick with him.

The Family that Plays Together

imageWe enjoyed a Montana Christmas 010wonderful family time in Montana with unseasonably warm weather.  We stayed at a cabin in Silver Gate near Cook City and skied in Yellowstone with Aaron and Lynelle and grandsons. It was a late Christmas celebration. We had no Wi-Fi and no telephone service… just electricity. It’s the greatest way for family bonding.  Praying with your kids and grandkids is important but playing is as well. I have memories of running up and down playground equipment playing tag. Larry has been described as a little boy in a big boy’s body.  Camping is another wonderful way to bond. There is something about our memories of camping at Devil’s Lake while sleeping out under the stars that stays with me. But we have even slept in our backyard minus a tent well before mosquito invasions. I guess the main point is breaking from routine. Yes, the family that prays and plays together stays together. How do you make memories and break the routine?