The Life of Spike

Many years ago, we decided to vacation in Minnesota, where my husband and I grew up. This trip was ‘inspired’ by a family friend who said he’d love to go with us ‘ere we went so he could enjoy some fishing! We would not be joining him in the sport. My husband hates fish and I was made to go fishing with my grandpa as a little girl, and remember being told to hold still and be quiet so as not to ‘scare the fish’ . . . this is beyond cruel to a chatty 9 year old.

There’s 10,000 lakes in the state and we chose one north of Brainerd. We stayed at a little resort with a dock right outside the cabin door. The water was shallow and you could walk straight into the lake for 100 feet and still only be up to your knees and it was in this shallow water that my oldest son ‘walked’ his fish ‘Spike’.

Our sons were 8 and 5 years old at that time and  I was pregnant with son number three. It was late September, after the first hard freeze. This is the perfect time of year to go to Minnesota. For these two weeks the weather is a perfect 72 degrees, no mosquitoes, it’s heaven. Prior to these to weeks you burn up with 90 degree heat all day and all night long while mosquitoes feast on you – biting through your clothes. It’s like they put out an APB on out of state folks: “FRESH MEAT – COME AND GET ‘EM”. After the 2 weeks of heaven, it snows. It snowed as we left the end of the week.

Our friend caught a Northern Pike the second day of fishing. It’s a long skinny fish with a set of teeth that look like they’ll take a finger off ya for fun. He had the Pike on a stringer,  a clasp that goes through the mouth and gill, which can look like a leash to an 8 year old. I’m thinking Jarl asked what kind of fish it was and the answer, “It’s a Pike” sounded like ‘Spike – and that became the fish’s name.

Jarl grabbed the leash and took Spike for a walk around the dock. I can still see the boy and fish walking along the dock, Spike’s fin waving back and forth in the water beside Jarl and Jarl reaching down and patting him as if to encourage him. This walking went on for a couple of days and Spike seemed to like it. Well, he didn’t seem to mind it? Heck – I don’t know what the fish was thinking!

On the third day, I came walking out of the cabin only to meet Jarl coming down the path with a sick, panicked look on his face.
“What’s the matter, honey?”
With his eyes clouding up and his facial expression turning into pain he replied, “Mr. Owens said we were going to give Spike a bath and then he chopped off his head!!!”
“Give Spike a bath? What exactly did he say, hon?”
“He said, (sniff) he said. . . . said ‘let’s go clean Spike’ and he chopped his head off!!”

Needless to say, we left Spike in some friend’s freezer on the way home and didn’t mention him the rest of the trip.

Funny – Jarl has never liked fishing, either. Must be some kind of genetic thing.


What’s in a name?

Bill Williams. John Johnson. Bob Roberts. Larry Lawrence.
If the nickname for Lawrence is Larry, then the nick name for Florence is ?
Coming from a huge community of Scandinavians up in Minnesota, there were tons of Johnsons and Andersons in the phone book, not to mention Lindbergs and Olsons, Frobergs and Carlsons. Need I go on?

Moving to the South, I heard names unlike Hannabass, Sprinkle, and Hubbard. Well, I had heard of  ‘Old Mother Hubbard’, but she didn’t live in the ‘hood, know what I mean??

Now I deal with names everyday – none of which I can use here because I respect my customers’ privacy. But I want to talk about what a name means in society.

In Biblical times, having a name was like a key that let you in the door of someone’s home. It was not given out carelessly or freely, and if someone had your name, it meant it had been entrusted to them by someone who knew you and wanted you to treat this person as if it was they, themselves visiting you. Kinda’ like “Joe sent me” . . . and your guest would be treated just like you would treat your friend, Joe.

Jane Austen fans will recall Pride and Prejudice’s Lady Catherine de Bourgh telling Elizabeth, “Mention my name at the Belle and they will attend to you”. This was the equivalent of handing over her credit card and saying, “Have a good time on me!” The Belle wanted to please guests like Lady de Bourgh so that they would, in turn, recommend this place to their other wealthy friends and it would become thee place to stay when you’re in town . . .cha’ ching for the Belle.

When someone calls you by your first name, it makes you feel as though you’re supposed to know them – a tactic used by salesmen, unfortunately, which has that familiarity that is often not welcome.

My husband’s plumbing and electrical business often uses this age old custom in the way it is supposed to be used. Someone will call and say, “Pete gave me your name.” This works because Pete is a good repeat customer and he is doing our advertising for us . . . word of mouth, so we accommodate these referrals to the best of our ability – for Pete’s sake. (Sorry – couldn’t resist.)

How did we get where we are now? We used to have to give permission for someone to use our first name, “May I call you Dave?” but those days are gone in today’s society when people post their private events on Facebook and Tweet some pretty course and vulgar things for the public to consume. We hide behind the anonymity of the screen to say things we would never say to others face to face, but then, in saying those things, we reveal more than anyone ever need know about  us. “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” Mark Twain

When you take to writing about things, let’s say- in a blog, you will step on someone’s toes and you will run into those who have a different opinion about issues. (And is that different than you? Or different from you?)   And I am aware of that. I am trying to cover all points of view and be kind to those who differ, but I will be me and I will stand on my principles unless convinced otherwise by intelligent, respectful discourse. I cannot alter my convictions to make someone else happy.

There are those who are extremely gifted at arguing, cornering people to make them agree by virtue of clever words and twisted logic. I have met them. A cornered person may wind up agreeing with them and the aggressor may leave thinking they have won, but a rock is still a rock and not a loaf of bread. The truth cannot be altered. The tree does make a sound when it falls in the woods and there is no one to hear it.

In closing, I beg parents with the last name of Witt not to name their son Dimitrius. And should the father of ‘Dim’ choose to divorce and remarry, no matter what you name you next son, he will be Dim’s half brother, making both sons half Witts.

Every day’s a good day . . .

. . . some are just better than others.

Enjoying good health? Have a job? Are you loved and have someone to love? Then you’re having a good day.

It’s hard to ignore the number of cards that arrive for an address on or around a specific day. Sometimes I can tell if it’s a birthday, sometimes I can tell it’s a sympathy card and someone has lost a loved one. I tend to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who are weeping. The advantage of years – I’ve experienced most of these things, or in slang,  ‘been there done that’.

I once carried a rather heavy, small box to the door of an elderly woman. When she came to the door, I offered to place it somewhere so she wouldn’t have to struggle with it. As I set it down she revealed it’s contents while wiping away tears, “It’s my son’s ashes.” Questions swirled in my head.  “Why are you getting his ashes?” “Was he married with kids?” “How old was he?”

Her need for loving concern trumped my need to have answers and I put my arm around her shoulders  and promised to pray for her that day . . . and I did. And if this is the only reason I became a mailmaam for this time and for this town, then it was worth it.

Where we are placed in the scheme of things may not seem apparent to some, but we trudge forward, one day at a time, some of those days are better than others, but they’re all good.

“I can do that!”

Phone pics 671I remember looking out my window at the mailman throwing letters  into the mail box at the edge of our yard and thinking, ‘I can do that!’ What a simple job – driving around in a car, probably listening to the radio and singing while thumbing through some letters. No one bothering you, waving at people (this is the country and we do that.)

Eleven years ago, when my youngest son graduated and was starting a job , I felt called to get back into the workforce. I didn’t know what to do, didn’t want to travel far from home, you know, the usual requirements. . . so I asked the Lord to show me what to do. Before looking through the help wanted section of the newspaper, I had to stop at the Post Office and get some stamps, and there it was: Help Wanted, TRC, $10.50 per hour.

Suddenly, that warm memory of driving down the road throwing letters in a box flowed over me.  I went up to the counter and spoke to the man who would be my first Postmaster, and applied for the job.

That was April 2003. With the blazing speed of Government bureaucracy, I carried mail the following July. Suffice it to say – it was nothing like I thought it would be.

11 years later, I’ve a route of my own and spend my days covering the streets of small town America, 50 feet at a time. OK, maybe 100 feet at a time – average – whatever.

But this blog is not about carrying mail, though there are many funny moments there, too. e.g. “Mrs. Jones is deceased and doesn’t live here anymore.”   (Whew! I was glad to hear they weren’t keeping her in the house now that she’s deceased. )

There are a lot of good mail carriers out there and I think most people know that. There are no perfect ones, but having the attitude of wanting to be perfect should count for something. No one is more disappointed than I am when I make an error. I try to make a difference in these people’s lives. I live my life before them as an invisible presence. We meet, we wave, I smile, I make them laugh.
I go the extra mile whenever possible, hoping they will notice that I care.
I am their mailma’aPhone pics 671m.
Phone pics 671

What I want to accomplish with this blog is to entertain, inspire, inform, and have some tangible proof of how much I enjoy life. I am the same age my Dad was when he died, (61) and that may seem like an ominous  warning, propelling me to type out my life story for posterity! On the other hand, my Mom just turned 92 last month – meh! I may be here awhile, who knows!  Either way, I must write! I just don’t have time for a novel right now. Funny how work interferes with life. . .

Sung to the tune of “My Favorite Things”

Life as a mailmaam is full of surprises
starting my day as the morning sun rises
I work in an office where everyone sings
and these are a few of my favorite things

First, make sure there’s lots of coffee to guzzle
then sort the mail like a big giant puzzle
UPS, Fed-Ex, and Amazon Prime
all are delivered precisely on time!

Mr. Thacker’s
new weed whacker
finally came today!
Oh Boy! Does it get any better than this?
We’ll pack up and head your way!

Little white bags filled with your medications
Holding your mail while you go on vacations
Dodging the yard sales and big garbage cans
Plus, my right arm’s getting such a nice tan!

I’ll safeguard your photos – won’t bend your diplomas!
Send off this package to Byng, Oklahoma!
As far as I know no one’s cherished a FAX
Keep sending those letters and they will give back!

I hit Thumper
with my bumper!
Rabbits should be banned!
Tomorrow  it’s deja’ vue over again
‘Cause I am your ma-il maam!


If you would see fit to subscribe and follow this blog, I’d love to hear your comments and take you down this road with me. I promise to ‘deliver’ some funny moments and thoughts on where we’re going – all while I travel the exact same streets, with the same names and same numbers every . single . day.