All posts by Rhonda

I'm a 55 year old lover of life, family, friends, and creative writing (amongst numerous other activities, people, animals, big ideas, and things). I am a native Minnesotan transplanted to the Denver metro area from Wisconsin due to a job transfer for my fabulous husband. I am and always have been in my heart of hearts, a writer. I was a case manager/social worker for many years in Wisconsin and am now ready for my new chapter in life as a writer. I enjoy writing about day to day (mis)adventures I experience in my new Colorado environment, the people I love and those that inspire me, places I've traveled to, music that makes my world go 'round, politics and current affairs, and general observations and ideas about life and ideas on how it could be improved. My hope is that my blog will be interactive, collaborative, and inspiring.

Home is Minnesconsin

In several of my recent blog posts, I’ve talked about living in “Minnesconsin”. I just popped it in there on my blog posts since we moved back to Wisconsin from the Denver metro. No real explanation at all.

So this is a blog post to explain it. It’s important to me to share with you all the love I have for living where I do. Because “Minnesconsin” is my favorite place to live. My happy place.

I think people should know about this beautiful area of the U.S. and all that it has to offer.

Do you love where you are live like I do?

From the time we got engaged and moved in together (1989), until 2022, Hubs and I (and our kids many of these times), have moved 10 times. We have lived in 5 states in that span of time: Minnesota, Texas, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Colorado.

This fall, my BFF and her husband came for a visit. This was the first time they had seen our house. Their visit reinforced for me why it was such a good decision for us to settle in this area: our friends only had to drive a bit over 2 hours to get here. We haven’t lived this close to these dear friends of ours since I was pregnant with my second kid and we all lived in the Twin Cities metro. Many, many moons ago.

Minnesconsin is a very particular geographic location in Wisconsin (or Minnesota for that matter) that is a mere 35 to 60 minute drive to Minnesota (or Wisconsin). It’s like the best of both worlds to me.

If you’re interested, you can click here for the urban dictionary’s definition of Minnesconsin. It provides a bit more detail.

Both Minnesota and Wisconsin have my heart. You see, I was born and raised in Minnesota but spent many years of my adult life living in Wisconsin. Minnesconsin is where I was supposed to land all this time. Hubs feels the same way; that’s why we’re so happy here. It feels good and right.

Before we left Wisconsin for Colorado (2016), my friend Stacey (also from Minnesota originally), gave me a framed piece of art with the shape of the state of Wisconsin on it with the word “home” written on it. When I first saw it, I said “oh, cool, that’s the state of Colorado” (got a big old D in college geography, folks), then we all had a big laugh. At the time, I wasn’t thinking that we’d end up back in the state, at least not any time soon. I was hyper-focused on moving to and living in Colorado at the time.

Now we’re Minnesota Vikings fans in Cheesehead Country. We’re Wisconsin Supper Club fans from “way up in da northland”. We’re people from the “land of 10,000 lakes” who love the country/lake life in Sconny.

Our house is just a hair over an hour drive to the Minneapolis airport. Just over two hours to Duluth, near where I was born and raised. Yet, in Wisconsin near my in-laws, and now my daughter and grandson.

Minnesconsin is also a great place to visit, especially in the summer. There are small town festivals going on most weekends. Lots of lakes to boat and fish on and places to rent boats and other water toys. Beautiful trails to hike on and great little hole-in-the-wall bar/restaurants as well as the aforementioned supper clubs to dine in.

If you like snow and are not adverse to very cold temps, Minnesconsin is a fun spot to visit in the winter. About 20 minutes from our house, there’s a skiing and snow-tubing place. There are snow and ice-sculpting festivals happening on the weekends in the winter months around these parts. And, of course, opportunities for ice fishing on many of our lakes.

I’m looking forward to exploring more of Minnesconsin as time goes on as well as sharing tales on my exploits with you!

***Header image courtesy of https://untappd.com/b/hop-and-barrel-brewing-minnesconsin-lager/2402108 and Hop and Barrel Brewing

8 Things I do for Fun

List five things you do for fun.

This was the daily prompt from WordPress and I’ve decided to go with it.

I am a fan of having fun. I think putting a pause on our adult responsibilities to be playful is good for our spirits.

Also at play here is that my birthday is coming up very soon and I’m excited to celebrate it with my family. My brain is in party mode!

I’m going to share not just 5, but 8 things that I do for fun. Because 8 is my lucky number, folks.

What do you like to do for fun?

Fun for me is:

  • Playing group board games like “Ransom Notes”, “Apples to Apples”, or “Scrabble” with family and/or friends. This is a guaranteed way to share laughs together. I love the feeling of relaxation in my whole body after some good old fashioned belly laughs.
  • Dance. Sometimes alone in my kitchen. Sometimes with my grandson when he challenges me to “dance-offs”. The more spontaneous the dancing is, the better. That’s where the joy is.
  • Creating music playlists. My method is to think of a mood I want to create or a genre I want to re-visit, then search online for songs under that category. While this is a more introverted way to have fun, often the end result is that I get to share these playlists with the special people in my life.
  • Thrift store shopping. It’s a surprising treasure hunt every time and freeing as well, as it’s guilt-free. I don’t come out of a thrift store with my purchases feeling bad about spending money, because I never spend that much. Even better, the money I spend often goes toward a cause that supports and lifts others up.
  • This. Blogging. Interacting with all of you in the comments.
  • Decorating my house. Using home decor I kept from our previous house in new ways. Finding just the right spot to put that cool piece of pottery I found at a thrift store. It’s a simple and creative activity that just tickles me.
  • Photography. Now, I don’t claim or even aim to be a professional photog necessarily. It’s just fun for me to capture shots in the day to day with my cell phone.
Karl the cat, when he came to visit last week
  • Spending time on the water. Trolling for fish in a boat while the sun warms my skin. Looking forward to doing this on our pontoon (the one we plan to buy in the next few months) this summer!

Simple Snapshots

With the new life I’m living now, I embrace the acronym K.I.S.S. It’s quite the versatile “mantronym” for me personally as I mentioned long ago, but these days it really is just “Keep It Simple Sister”.

So, this post is an example of that for me. A simple blog post where I share pictures I’ve taken since our big move to Minnesconsin last summer. Ones I haven’t shared in this space before.

2022 Christmas window display
Cardinal perched on a tree on my Mom’s Birthday 2022
“My Toy!” Radar Christmastime 2022
Little flower garden Summer 2022
Mr. Pig at the County Fair snoozing away Summer 2022
Grandson doing his favorite thing Summer 2022
Taxidermied Critters Display Small town Wisconsin Bar Summer 2022
Selfie taken at Hotel Boulderado March 2022
Art in a drawer at a Rocky Mountain cabin Feb of 2022

What Fascinates You?

As a Gen X er, the 1980’s was the decade that saw me through the ages of 13 through 22. Music was a huge part of that experience for me. Much of that time, though, I was listening to songs and artists from the 1970’s. The music of the 1970’s sounded better to my ears, and still does.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a few favorite songs that were put out in the 80’s.

One, in particular, has my attention again. On account of self-help maven Martha Beck.

It’s the song “Fascination” by The Human League.

Back to Martha Beck.

For years now, I’ve been really into self-help books, as well as articles written by Martha and the like. Late in 2022, I saw an ad online for a free self-help “Master Class” led by Ms. Beck. I signed up for it and am currently 40 minutes into it (it’s an hour long and I’m not a dummy, I know it’s free so that I can be bombarded with pleas in my email box to sign up for costly self-help courses).

Anyway. I think of myself as a DIY’er when it comes to self help books and courses. From these, I take a little bit of this and a little bit of that, leaning into the nuggets that speak to me.

What caught my attention so far in this course is Martha’s idea of what the word “fascination” means and the importance it holds for finding your path in life. How I see it is that the “path” = my livelihood.

She describes fascination as “attention without effort”. That makes a lot of sense, don’t you think?

We all have those things that we can just focus on and marinate in without even trying, right? Topics, activities, concepts, fields of study.

I’ve got myself a draft folder in which I’ve started a list of the things that fascinate me. It’s going to be a long list that will evolve over time. I think it’ll be worth the effort. Especially if I do something with it afterwards.

What would be on your list of “fascinations”?

Blogging about things that fascinate me is a no-brainer. It’s an opportunity to fly my “freak flag” so to speak; to explore and experiment.

Other potential actions I could take based on pursuing that which fascinates me also fascinates me. Maybe if I follow those threads of fascination, I will unlock a skill or talent I didn’t know I had which will lead to new career opportunities. Or maybe it’ll simply provide me with some solid writing fodder.

As long I’m learning something new, it’s all good.

If you didn’t want to check out the video I shared here, let me tell you what resonated for me, as I gave my shoulders a workout while chair dancing to this song just now.

That would be these lyrics: “just looking for a new direction, in an old familar way, the forming of a new connection, to study or to play”. It’s a good way of describing what I’m trying to do here on this blog in 2023.

And you? Any song lyrics that speak to you, particularly in your blogging life?

Please share in the comments!

Music, In-Laws, and a Christmas Regret

The first bluetooth speaker I had was a Christmas present from Hubs’ brother and his wife. I loved it so much.

It was light and had a handle to allow me to easily carry it with me and take to work, to sit outside, or to a party, where I could listen to and share with others the playlists I made via Google. Either I didn’t realize that my brother in law and his wife knew how obsessed I was with music or it was just a lucky guess on their part.

I was so grateful for this present and enjoyed it so much; but for no good reason, I don’t believe I specifically reached out to either of them to say thank you. At the time, I believed Hubs thanked them for all of the presents that Christmas.

My brother in law died suddenly from a heart attack before turning 60, four years ago. It bothers me that I never expressed my appreciation of this gift to him.

Fast forward to Christmas 2022. Hubs only living sibling, my fabulous sister in law, is so thoughtful and generous when it comes to the Christmas presents she gets for all of us each year. This year, one of the presents she spoiled me with was a Google nest. She knows just how much I adore listening to music. She has a great appreciation for it herself. What a fabulous present!

I’m listening to Pink (side note: the three of us-me, Hubs, and SIL, have tickets to see Pink in concert in August 2023) as I write this, which is streaming on the nest. Hubs set this speaker up in the most perfect space; on top of my buffet in the kitchen, next to the Keurig. Having music on in my kitchen is just heaven to me. As I’m cooking something up, I fall into such a pleasurable state of mind while I’m listening to whatever tunes I choose.

One of the best advantages of our move to Minnesconsin is that I get to spend time on the regular with my SIL. I get to tell her again and again how much I love the Google nest she got me this Christmas.

I’ve kind of gotten away from sharing music that inspires me on these blog posts. I’m going to start to rectify that with this incredible song and dance by Pink. The lyrics resonate for me and the athleticism displayed here is fantastic.

Ambition, Anxiety, and 2023

I am just one of a multitude of personal bloggers out there in the world. But I think what makes me unique is that I’m saddled with a complex that comedian Michelle Wolf is at least partially responsible for.

During a stand up special I watched a while back, she said something to the effect of “So you tell me you have a blog, right?”. She makes a weird face, then continues with “Oh, that’s cute. You write stuff about yourself and your life that nobody wants to read but you put it out there anyway? Good for you!” This, from my recollection, was said with a big fat smirk on her cute little curly headed face.

Don’t get me a wrong-I got over her chipmunk-ey voice enough to enjoy her comedy. She has that quality that, to me, marks a truly great comedian: she pushes boundaries and speaks uncomfortable truths. And I applaud her sensible yet hip footwear choices.

But…..ouch! I resemble her remarks.

I am curious though; can anyone else relate to the feeling of being called out like this? Totally rational as it was not a one on one conversation I had with Ms. Wolf here, right? Like being seen for who you are, but not in a good way, making you want to immediately crawl back into the hole of complete social obscurity?

If this sounds like you, please share your stories in the comments. Commiserating with you all is a huge perk for me as a blogger.

Moving on (oblivious of course to the possibility that I’m simply proving Michelle Wolf right).

I blogged in this space pretty sporadically in 2022. I blogged about the massive changes the year brought for me and my family, some aspects getting more emphasis than others. This year, I’ve shared my political opinions. I’ve talked about my grandson in this space.

For those of you who have read what I wrote in this space in 2022 and chose to come back and read more and/or gave me a follow, I thank you so very much for that. It’s appreciated.

2023 is now upon us.

I’ve got a lot of ambition when it comes to blogging and writing. I am certain that if I don’t step it up now, I won’t ever get to wherever it is that I’m supposed to be as a creative writing enthusiast.

So, 2023 is the year in which I step things up.

Baby steps, of course. But like, a ton of them.

Step #1 is to publish blog posts more frequently.

Leaning into learning is what I’ll be doing in the new year, in tandem with blogging. Gobbling up more self-help books. Taking online courses and following threads that pique my curiosity. Improving my photography skills. Gaining more knowledge about child psychology. Stuff like that. Learning about the things that I can use for good, if that makes sense.

I’ve also got a plan to improve my health by sharpening my culinary skills and keeping a food diary. I will be pursuing paid employment in 2023 as well, because at 55 I’m not interested in retiring yet. Exploring all employment options (self, at home, in a store or a non-profit) and blogging about it along the way will be happening.

The caveat for me is that going into 2023, I will continue watching my grandson most weekday afternoons. To make any headway on these plans of mine, I need to summon a great amount of self-discipline. My days will need to become more structured. I do have a plan for that. It starts with having a better sleep schedule and a set time for blogging related stuff every day.

2023 feels bright and shiny to me right now. That’s probably due to my optimistic nature. I am self-aware enough though to know the shine of the new year will fade over time. Bumps in the road will happen, as they do. I (and you) ought to remain nimble to overcome and adjust.

I realize this post was a lot. If you’re still reading this, well, thanks Pal.

You are the best.

**pic of Michelle Wolf wearing cool shoes courtesy of https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/michelle_wolf_joke_show**

**HNY image courtesy of https://www.rd.com/article/new-year-wishes/**

8 of Many

It is just incredible to me that tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. Time has just been chugging along, hasn’t it?

Just to catch you up, because I know lately I’ve been so hit and miss with this blogging thing: I’ve been watching my 8 year old grandson at my house Mon-Fri for several weeks now. Yes, he is not in school and yes, he should be. And yes he will be, eventually.

It’s a long and complicated story that I have shared small bits of on this platform. Bottom line, my grandson has behavioral issues that thus far the school faculty have not been able to successfully manage. Kiddo is now enrolled in a specialized day program for kids like him. While soon he’ll be attending in person (with the goal of him attending regular school in the near future), for now he is doing 3 hours each morning of virtual learning and treatment through this program.

And I am the enforcer. Maybe hall monitor is a better way to put it.

Anyway, I feel like I needed to just get that out there because it’s my current situation; an unexpected challenge. I need no sympathy here. I’m focused on the good, because, simply put, that is what’s helpful to me. To all of us-don’t you think?

What is good for you all right now? What, or who, is it that immediately comes to mind when you read that question? That for what you have geniune gratitude?

Here’s 8 (of many) things I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving:

  1. The time I’m getting to spend in the company of my grandson. Time I didn’t see coming. Listening to him tell jokes and try out different accents. Watching him sled down the little hill in our yard after a recent snowfall.
  2. My dear and thoughtful Hubs, who thoroughly cleaned the refrigerator last weekend without being asked while I was out of town bonding with my sister and 6 of our badass female cousins.
  3. Bonus kids: my daughter’s kind and loving boyfriend and his 3 year old cutie pie.
  4. Our awesome house here in Minnesconsin. The layout, the vibe, the possibilities. The feeling that we will live here for the rest of our lives.
  5. My kids. The maturity I’m seeing as they make their way out of their 20’s. The bonds we’ve developed over time with each other.
  6. Being unemployed. The free time that gives me to shower this house with some love and holiday cheer.
  7. Friendships: the ones we have in our new neighborhood and our dear old friends who we now live closer to and thus get to spend time with more frequently.
  8. Being able to host Thanksgiving at our new house for the in-laws and our daughter, grandson, and bonus kids.

With that, I wish all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving spent with family and/or friends and stuffing yourselves with all your favorite foods.

Vote, Vote, Vote!

I’m just one vote.

Each one of us, here in America, are but just one vote.

Let’s get over that, shall we? Because if there’s justenough of those with the “I’m just one vote” mindset who uses that as their free pass to sit one out this week here in the U.S., we are doomed.

In my opinion, anyway. Not that you asked for it, but you know I’m going to give it regardless. This is my blog and the mid-term elections are going to be consequential.

What is your plan to vote this election season? Before work, after work, on your lunch break? After you drop the kids off at school or first thing in the morning? Or maybe you’re ahead of me and have already voted absentee or via mail in ballot. If you don’t have a plan, please, for the love of American democracy, make one now. One that will work for you, whatever your circumstances may be.

Time is of the damn essence here, friends. Our future, and more importantly, the future of generations under us (for me, that’s Milennials and Gen Z) is on the fucking line.

Anyway, that’s how I see it.

I am voting straight blue, so that:

  • Roe v. Wade can (finally) be codified into law. It just blows my mind that SCOTUS took women’s bodily autonomy away from them after 50 years.
  • More will be done legislatively to address gun violence in this nation.
  • Climate change can be comprehensively addressed, providing scores of American workers with jobs in the clean energy field and protecting Mother Earth against further destruction.
  • We have a shot at leveling the playing field when it comes to taxes; the rich paying their fair share and the not-so-rich getting fair tax breaks.
  • Social Security, not an entitlement program, but one we all pay into as workers, will remain in place.
  • Our LGBTQ+ citizens can retain their right to marry and adopt children.
  • American educational institutions will be supported and not become further eroded.
  • Access to health care can expand and costs can be reined in so our seniors and others with health issues can afford their prescription meds and co-pays. No one in this country should have to choose between paying their utility bill or getting their health care needs met.

I’m nervous as hell about these mid-term elections. I suspect some of you are as well.

Let’s all do our part and get to the polls on Tuesday!

To Do Lists and the Kid

What do you all think about “to do” lists? Do you swear by them? Does the thought of making one stress you out?

I think these are interesting questions. I imagine answers being very subjective; dependant on how you were raised, how you’re wired, the generation you’re in, and a whole bunch of other stuff.

I have been making them for as long as I can remember, at work and at home. Lately, I’ve been making “to do” lists for the entire week vs. daily. Having all the tasks written out in black and white knowing I have the whole week to get it all done makes it easier to manage. And I’m not a big procrastinator, so that helps.

Back when we were in Colorado and our daughter and grandson were living with us, one day the kid decided to create himself a “to doo” list.

Of course I kept it and may even frame it someday. I feel like that’s the kind of Grandma I am. Here it is:

Now, some of what he wrote is figure-outable. Some of it, not so much. He’s 8, folks.

So, there’s 9 tasks on his list. Let me translate it for you:

  1. Make You Tube video (the kid loves to do this, though “hates” having his picture taken. Go figure.).
  2. Watch news (I think he put this down because Hubs and I always turn on MSNBC for Ari Melber weeknights at 5 p.m.).
  3. Do something to get money (I appreciate his industrious intentions).
  4. Play with Radar (awwww…).
Radar is living his best life here in Minnesconsin Sept. of 22

5. Sit and talk (love that he put this in there).

6. Eat dinner (his favorite then was chicken nuggets and mac ‘n cheese, now he’s more of a grilled cheese kinda guy).

7. Get ready for bed (so soon? there was usually some horsing around the house between 6 and 7).

8. Cuddle Radar (again…awww…yes I will be framing this).

9. Go to bed.

The most important thing on my “to do” list today is to attend an IEP meeting for him with my daughter at his new school. It’s a long and complicated story, but suffice it to say the kid is struggling, emotionally and socially. He’s been through some major changes in his young life and as a neurodivergent, sensitive, and inquisitive kid it’s been hard for him. For all of us here who love him as well.

I’m praying that between our combined love for the kid and my social work background, there will be a good outcome from this meeting.

As Whitney Houston sang in “The Greatest Love of All”: “I believe that children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride to make it easier. Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be”.

***Header image courtesy of Lady Bird Johnson and https://www.momtastic.com/parenting/541137-40-amazing-quotes-parenthood/

Why Yes, This is a Post about Socks

But first.

Something recently dawned on me: overthinking leads to indecisiveness which causes stagnancy.

That is why, today, less than 24 hours after starting this particular piece, you are getting a blog post from me about socks.

I’ve got too much going on in my day to day life now which hampers my ability to sit down and actually focus on writing a blog post. It’s all good, really. Or, most of it is. And I’m certain more of it will be. Time, patience, faith, and love for my family will get me through.

Anyway. About the damn socks.

I am a fan of them. In non-summer months of course.

I once had a business idea solely based on my appreciation of fuzzy socks (at least that’s what I call them, I’m sure there are other names for them). It was this: buy them in bulk. Bedazzle them. Find someone who can cross-stitch some bawdy catch-phrases onto them. Sell them on Etsy, at craft fairs. Probably not “Shark Tank” worthy but at the very least a fun art project, right?

I’ve sometimes wondered about those sock stores found in shopping malls. Do they make money at all? Maybe they’re owned and operated by obscenely wealthy trust fund babies who are obsessed with socks, so it doesn’t matter much if they are profitable. Who exactly buys their socks there on the regular? The potential answers to these questions intrigue me.

My youngest kid once had the following take on socks: “I don’t want to wear them, they are not the comfortable ones!” So, does that mean perhaps there is such a thing as uncomfortable socks? That people pay money for? Are they made with sandpaper? Tell me more, kid!

Wait a second.

Actually, I do own one pair of uncomfortable socks.

In my defense, they were free. I spotted them at work, when they were donated to the thrift store when I ran the food pantry there. Getting free stuff every so often was a sweet little perk at that job.

Despite my generous girth, I’ve got small feet (size 6). Yet, I could barely get these godforsaken socks over my feet and calves. The black stitching under the french fries is weirdly tight. They feel like compression socks, which I thankfully don’t need at this time. So, yes, kids, uncomfortable socks do exist after all.

If any of you are able to give me a viable explanation of why wearing mis-matched socks has become a thing in American society, that’d be great. Is it mere laziness, like it was when my kids did it as teenagers? Or is it a fashion statement that just flew under my radar?

There’s a surpising amount of songs about socks out there (yes that’s the kind of shit I google) but this one is special. Enjoy, my fellow sock fans!