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Across The Lake

Delores Miller is a frequent correspondent. She and husband Russell are retired Wisconsin farmers with a sort of local connection -- of their relatives froze to death in the country near here years ago and we've written about that before. They send us pictures from time to time of their home and the barns and sheds nearby. With a number of grandchildren, he's always had a habit of helping the Easter rabbit and does so to the extent of 'hiding' about a thousand eggs every year.

His plans were a little disrupted this Easter. That'll happen when your barn is gone, which it was. The garage, too and a shed and even a few boards loosened on the house itself. Fortunately, neither Russ or Delores were hurt as the Hortonville area was in the path of a tornado. It struck pretty much without warning, with sirens not working as seems so often to be the case. (A good reason for more frequent testing!)

Just recently I'd read a piece Delores wrote for our amateur printers group. In it she described her summer between sophomore and junior years in high school. She didn't want to spend another summer picking cucumbers and she didn't want to go to Chicago like some of her friends did, working there as nannies for rich people. "I was afraid to get on a train and travel that far from central Wisconsin," she wrote, "so my only option was to be a hired girl."

"Pay was $1 a day -- $7 a week." Much of what she described will sound familiar for the work involved babysitting, cleaning house and scrubbing floors, washing clothes with a wringer machine, ironing. She said the job she hated most was mowing the lawn, a half acre.

"There were boyfriends with automobiles and most nights we went to movies or just drove around the countryside. "It was a happy time. I often wished when my five children were small I could have hired a teenager to work for me for $1 a day to cook, clean, wash clothes, cut grass, baby sit, change diapers but no one was available. We were poor dairy farmers, just like my parents."

Bet if you were a teenager in the 1940s and '50s, you can relate to what she describes. Much the same for boys, too. Incidentally, neighbors showed up at the Miller's place almost as soon as the wind had passed and were there to help with the clean up and with coffee and hot dishes. "Minnesota nice" isn't limited to just the Gopher State.

Len Carrick writes that he spent $400 to join a health club near his home in California. So far, he says, he hasn't lost a pound since joining. He says when he complained, he was reminded that you have to go there and exercise. Len has always been against walking as an exercise. He figures that even though it may add minutes to his life, at the age of 85, it just means he'll be able to spend an additional five months in a nursing home.

Always looking for an excuse, I was pleased to read an article about Feng Shui. That's the Chinese guide to arranging your home. After moving the desk and chairs around in the den, it's no wonder I'm having trouble this week. The computer still takes up too much room on the desk, there are still too many stacks of paper resisting any efforts at order. "Your desk needs to be clear and clean of any dead things including projects that didn't happen." It's not like stealing nuclear secrets but maybe this idea from the Chinese is worth something. I managed to get this paragraph and 109 words from it.

Thoughts while drying the dishes... The president plans to raise $1 billion for his re-election campaign next year and his opponent, whoever he or she may be, will try to equal that. It was Will Rogers who observed that "politics has got so expensive that it takes a lot of money even to get beat with."