Saturday, October 12, 2019

 What do you do in
   a “Code Red Alert”?

When a “Code Red Alert" comes on your phone and tells you to get to a place of safety immediately…  have you thought of what you should bring with you?
And how much time you should take to find your “stuff”?
I didn’t think of this during last year’s tornadoes here in the Cannon Falls area.  When that alert came over my phone I had just finished popping a bowl of popcorn.
So I grabbed it… my cellphone… and a flashlight and headed down the stairs into the cellar.  
Checking on your neighbors…
It was some time later when neighbors started driving by to see if I was OK.  Trees were partially blocking the road but they got around them.
When they heard I was in the cellar I think they decided that since we probably kept some wine down there…  I would be OK!   
Another Code Red…
Recently we got another Code Red tornado alert warning and since I had just written a recap in my column of all the things that happened in last year’s event I knew more about what could go wrong,
I headed for the cellar and when I got there I realized that if a tornado tore off the first floor of my house, I really should have my billfold with my driver’s license with me so I wouldn’t have to file for a new one.  So I ran up the stairs to get it.
When I got back down in the cellar I thought I really should have my laptop too,  I didn’t want to lose the data in it.  So I ran back upstairs again.
Then I realized I didn’t have anything to sit on so I ran to get a folding stool.
I think I remembered other things I wanted but I kept wondering if a tornado might hit just as I was running up and down the stairs!
Settling in for the duration…
When I finally settled down in the cellar - I got on Facebook and saw the Cannon Falls police had posted about the storm and I told them where I was…. so somebody would know!
But what if I didn’t have any “Wi Fi” working?  I’d want a book.  And a flashlight. ( Like when I was a kid and was supposed to be sleeping under the blankets!)
  And now I realized that although I had some canned vegetables on the shelves down there… they weren’t home canned… and I would need a can opener.  
And if you couldn’t get to the “plumbing"…  you’d need a container of some kind, right?  
And remind yourself to sweep for cobwebs more often too!
This is getting way too detailed.

I’m curious as to what you would take 
into your “safe” room?   

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Tornadoes-Cannon Falls-2018

Where were you during 
the “tornado event” - 2018?

Keeping sewage and water systems working plus chain sawing their way to disaster areas was just part of the effort put forth by Cannon Falls city workers and volunteers last September 20, a Thursday, and during the following days in the tornado event that hit the area.
It was reviewed by city officials and residents at a meeting of the Cannon Falls Area TRIAD and recently put on Youtube... "Responding to the Cannon Falls Tornado".
Previous Public Works Director and present Fire Chief Mike Althoff explained the role he and his staff played.
Althoff went the first 48 hours with only 2 hours sleep and only a couple of phone calls to his wife and 5 month old son to see if they were OK at home. (Yes, they had gone down to their basement and were secure though scared.)   
Althoff recalled seeing: The sky turning green… it looked like a wall cloud… the sound was like a freight train going through…  at the fire station we took people in off the street for protection… they saw trees flying by…. branches… 
“Then it stopped and the sun came out. “ 
Biggest problem…
The biggest problem was that the ground was already saturated from rainfall the week before.  So some trees on the boulevards pulled up the gas lines as they fell.
They got the gas leaks taken care of in a few hours.
There was one power line down and one person trapped in a trailer house and a person cut by glass but there were no serious injuries.  
Follow up…
Cannon Falls Police Chief Jeff McCormick added:  “Power was returned to the community fully by Saturday evening.  A few locations still had to replace their pole to meter lines before they could be connected.  Once the power lines were off the streets then most of the streets were opened by Monday.  A few were still closed because of low hanging phone or cable lines for a few more days.”
Also noted by Althoff was that in the next couple of days the nursing home had to be evacuated because of a mechanical problem and later on Twin Rivers had a voluntary evacuation.
Folks offered food and washing facilities to neighbors who didn’t have them.
In the following days, “sight-seeing tourists” became a distraction as folks wanted to see what had happened.  Later on a volunteer work crew from a larger area gathered to help.
It was dealing carefully and promply with these experiences that kept Cannon Falls and vicinity from even more extreme difficulties.           .
St. Ansgar’s pioneer cemetery
The devastation of the St. Ansgar’s Pioneer Cemetery on the south end of Cannon Falls haunted many residents.  Charles Sabrowsky is Chair of the Cemetery Committee and information from Loren Evenrude showed the progress they have made in removing and restoring the area. 
Part of the project included making a “ground penetrating radar search to mark all known burial sites."
Other insights…
Randy Nicolai from Frontier Ag & Turf recalled: ”It destroyed our building for equipment storage and a new one was put back up within a few months.
“Our repair shop had about 30’ of the roof torn off and the overhead door destroyed, the roof repaired in a week and the door replaced in a month or so. Other inside building repairs were done before it got cold outside. 
We still see some of the insulation stuck to a few things around our lot area.”
Hobert’s lost huge trees…
Ten 40 foot trees were lost according to John Hobert living outside Cannon Falls.  John recalled that it was the coming garage sale weekend.  His wife and daughter had been setting up for their sale.  They moved things quickly so they could get their car in the garage.
John added, we were huddled in our small bathroom downstairs and had no house damage.  But we weren’t prepared - had no lights, etc.  
Ray Kimmes - west of town 
in direct line of the tornadoes
Ray Kimmes was in line with the storm on the west side of the county near Stanton.  He explained at the meeting that he was at home having a cup of coffee when he got a call from his grandson.  It was 6:54 p.m.   His grandson told him to get downstairs fast.  
Ray went down into a concrete room and at 7:03 p.m. he came back upstairs and it was all over.  But water was coming through his roof and down through the different levels of his house into the basement.  Plus he also lost many trees.
Any longterm effects?
Chief McCormick concluded that the look of the parks and cemeteries is the most obvious.  When the leaves fall again you will be able to see the large number of trees down in the wooded areas around town.  Most of the damage to buildings has been repaired.
There are many more stories to tell.  They’re good to remember.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Could "Down" be better than "Up"?

What happened to 
           the “ladder to success”?

Do we have it all wrong?
On a ladder the steps go “up” and “down”. 
But is the “ladder to success” really one where the best steps might go down instead of up?
                           Thoughts for discussion… 
This was the discussion of some folks considering the effect of thoughts on the human body. They meet every week at the Cannon Falls library.  Anyone is invited.
And a couple of them had shared their conclusions about when they had been searching for a job.  
Judy Schlekewy thoughtfully commented, "Sometimes it's not so important to climb the ladder."
And Kari Moline eloquently stated:  “I successfully worked my way down the ladder!”
You see, the important aspect was the effect on their lives.
                     What do you really want?    
Over the years their priorities had changed.
They were looking into what really fit into the lifestyle they wanted at that point in time.
They had to decide what was “success” for them?  The hours they worked… their co-workers and employers… interest in the job… the pay they received… etc. 
I noticed that the pay and position was not insignificant but was not the deciding factor.
                      Checking with my “Mentor”…
With this concept in mind I went to my “online mentor” - “Google” - for information on “What is success”?
The first thing that popped up was a reference to the classic story of Alice in Wonderland… where she goes down the rabbit hole and finds everything in life is now backwards.  
(Keep in mind that I have never been comfortable with this story, but it’s a good analogy.)
The point being that in this blog’s point of view, everything in the world suggests you do the opposite of what their religious principles say to do.
For example: if you want to be blessed, be a blessing to others.  To be honored, first be humble.  To receive, first give.  To be a leader, first be a servant… etc.  
And their leader exemplified this… even to the point of dying for others.
I googled other religious views and found some similar principles.

                      What is the job description?
How could you describe your job?  What is its purpose?  Why is it right for you at this point in time?  
I have heard how public officials are supposed to be public servants.  By contacts with many of them over the years I have seen their concern.  But also I keep in mind the ones that make the headlines who seem to express a more negative side to the equation.
It’s taken me over 50 years to realize that the people I have written about may not be the “rock stars” that get all the attention…. but they are honorable and talented heart-warming folks.  Their stories still touch my heart.
                                      So now......
I’m interested in how you have found this to work in your life.  
Pease contact me at the Beacon or my email:

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Dating online… what do you think?

“Role Playing”…  Goodhue County Deputy Tom Wolner and Stanton Township resident Joyce Sheets practice recognizing warning signs of scammers online at a recent Cannon Falls Area TRIAD meeting at the Cannon Valley Senior Center.
Believe it or not… your friends and family are dating online.
And why not you ask?
Isn’t that the modern way?
Aren’t you wary enough to avoid problems?
Or… like one man… he said he just enjoyed helping out these women he was in contact with… he didn’t plan to meet up with them… just send a little cash once in a while. 
(Anyone know how to meet up with someone like this?  Just kidding!)

Jay Haapala, Associate State Director 
– Community Engagement for AARP Minnesota tried to explain to him that he probably wasn’t talking to girls on the internet. Instead they were men who were showing him pictures of pretty girls…and typing into the computer things he would like to hear.

The problem is increasing…
Jay explained that there has been nearly a 250% increase in reports and an over 400% increase in reported losses since 2015.   Mainly because more people are willing to share their information.
The median loss was $2600.  And for people 70 years and older their loss was $10,000.
Like the lady living in Edina.  She was an 80 year old widow.  A man online said he was a doctor for the United Nations.  They talked daily on the internet for eight months.  They decided they would get married. 
He was coming for a visit so she went to the airport to pick him up.
        But he didn’t show.  In further correspondence he explained he needed more money because financially, his was tied up.  
She sent him $38,000… then $12,000.
She got suspicious and got help and retrieved the $12,000.  But not the larger sum.
1) The scammers want you to get in contact with them outside of the dating websites because that website may have rules they don’t want to work with.
2) Don’t send the money.
3) Talk to family and friends.
4) In checking on a contact you’ve made online: start asking them questions and look for inconsistencies in their responses.
For example: Scammers don’t try just one person, they try as many as they can.  And so you ask a question you know couldn’t be true like:  if they have never mentioned a certain relative, you can ask: “So tell me again, where does you sister Sheila live?”  
Since the scammer is telling many lies, to many people, they may have a hard time keeping their story straight.  And they might say they don’t know where their sister is right now, etc.
And you will know what you’re dealing with.

             Another discovery… Facial recognition online
You have access to facial recognition technology on the internet, called Google Images.  You copy a digital picture from someone’s Facebook profile, then scan it onto the internet to look for other pictures like that.   (I tried this with my picture and it brought up a dozen or so pictures of men and women but no one identical to me.)
  It’s important to report the imposters… to the dating site, Facebook,  your local police department or the FBI - Internet Crime Complaint Center


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

 The “Final Reunion”!

    The “Final Reunion” was the title on the invitation.
Sounds rather deadly.
It was an invitation to my class reunion… but the committee apparently decided we were getting too old for such shenanigans and this would be the last one.
Now keep in mind that I hadn’t been attending most of these get-to-gethers.  But it was kind of creepy to think that this would be the “last” one.
The class president explained... 
 The reason for having a “Final” reunion was: “Turning 80 comes with new limitations and losses - mobility, vision, hearing, dexterity, driving, dietary, memory, financial, loss of spouse, loss of energy, - some experiencing these more than others.”  
“The committee, mindful of these changes, has selected a site and menu that best addresses these needs.”
Where would you have a final" reunion?
I could only guess their choice would be the closest nursing home.  Actually, a mortuary would be a good site…  it sounded like we were almost there anyway.
On consideration…
The committee is made up of good kind folks who are just being considerate.
And I’m just being me… like I usually am.  
But there are so many things I’ve learned in all these years.  I haven’t gone to many reunions because I have not been comfortable in such situations.  
But I’m getting better at it - and even enjoying it.
Hmmmm…. The Final Reunion!
Maybe I should go….  I just opened my old yearbook. I liked the kids back then.  I’d like to know what they have learned over the years.
And I was touched by reading what my old journalism teacher had written so long ago in my year book.  
We had a weekly newspaper at the school and I was involved in it fanatically… mostly writing after midnight following my regular homework, etc.  We even went to the printers with our layouts and when we needed more “fill” for a page I would whip something together.
You can see how my teacher might have been concerned about my writing and had even taken some home to read to his wife to see if they were printable!
But he went to bat for me.
And my journalism teacher wrote:
And he wrote in my yearbook:  “Farewell to my poet, philosopher and friend.  Don’t be gone forever.”
Now I can understand how a teenager could write poems and be a friend.  But it amazes me that he could call me a “philosopher”!  
I googled the word.  The noun philosophy means… the search for wisdom… to understand how and why people do certain things…how to live a good life… to know the meaning of life.
Well… all these years later and I’m still doing that!
But maybe he “saw” something in me that I didn’t know about.
That’s what teachers do, you know!

(Thank you Mr. Nielson.)

Sunday, June 23, 2019

“Groping”… Naaaaah!

Test driving a new vehicle - one you aren’t familiar with - which has all the new “bells and whistles” - can be stressful.
But you can end up smiling!
Here we go!
I’ve tested out a couple of new cars recently.
You’re probably already feeling sympathy for the salesman who had to ride along with me!
Safety devices or just confusing?
Keep in mind that nowadays you can be overwhelmed by all the gadgets that are supposed to help you drive safer.  There are lights flashing and warning beeps and just general chaos as you drive along.  
In my confusion I realized this was not starting well.   
Actually, all I wanted was an empty parking lot where I could figure out what every thing meant.   
Trying again!
It took a couple of weeks before I was ready to try driving another car.
My son instructed me to tell the salesman to just let me sit in the car for ten minutes while I got used to everything in its place.
This one did.  And I love the car… and I didn’t have to have all the beeping on to bother me.
After awhile we headed onto the freeway and we were good.
Here it is folks!
We came off the freeway and maneuvered through the crowded big city streets.  Four lanes of traffic were converging on the upcoming intersection.
I was in traveling in the right lane.
All of a sudden, a vehicle came from the opposite side of the intersection and cut in front of the car next to me and swooped in front of me before sweeping into a business driveway.
I never saw the car… until it was slashing through my lane!
I found that my reflexes were great as I slammed on the brakes and avoided a collision.
The funny part is coming.  
Now some of you might remember that a few years ago we didn’t have seat belts in cars.   I was a mother of small children.  So I had trained myself to swing my right arm over to the passenger seat and protect a young one from falling forward.    
And so I automatically did the same thing to protect the salesman riding along with me!
Except there was a problem!  He was a big fellow.  While I had jammed on the brakes and held onto the steering wheel with my left hand - I took my right hand and grabbed him.
Except I didn’t grab his chest.  I grabbed his leg!  Well… actually his upper thigh…  kind of closer to his crotch.   (Also known as the groin or the lower ventral area to some of my more shy readers.)
The conclusion?
When the excitement was over I told him that today he could go home and tell his wife that an 80 year old grandmother saved him from a collision while she almost grabbed his crotch!
But more important…
But I also realized that there are times when avoiding an accident needs your personal quick response… which you get by paying attention to your driving.  Because you may need to make a decision before these new safety features can respond. 
Just a thought.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

 When you try to do your best…
and mess up… 
but we’re all laughing!

I don’t know if I should believe them.
I was there… but I don’t remember it the way they tell about it.
But it gives a person something to think about.  
Note to caregivers!
The story begins… a couple of months ago my daughter, who is living out of state, was having major surgery.  Her husband would be with her day and night during the four days she would be in the hospital.  Then I was flying in to give back-up.
I arrived at their home and saw the set-up.   She had to sleep and recuperate in a recliner in their living room.  Every few hours she needed care with meds, etc.   I would sleep on the couch next to her.
I took one look at my exhausted son-in-law and said, “Go to bed!”
He slept for 12 hours straight.
I’m in control… ya right!
I took over for the next four days.  Or so I thought!
It was on the fourth night that they say I messed up.
I don’t remember that.
I do remember that during the night I got up from the couch and checked my “patient”.  She must not have needed me at the earlier time I concluded because I didn’t wake up.  And therefore I repeated my care around 3 a.m. and again around 7 a.m.  
It was later that morning that they told me what had happened!
Had I died?
Apparently I had become so tired that I never woke up for the first checkup.  My daughter was awake but couldn’t move out of the recliner.  Her hand brushed my hair but I still didn’t wake up.
She used her cell phone to call her husband sleeping upstairs to come check.  He bounded down the stairs and after checking things out he explained to her that I was barely breathing… but I was breathing.  
In fact, when he accidentally pinched his hand in her recliner and yelled out in pain… I didn’t even wake up for a second!
He took care of her meds that time and went back to bed.
Just doing the usual…
Like I said before, I got up at 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. and thought everything had been moving along just fine!
But I was later informed that I would sleep in a bed upstairs that night!
We switched our routine more regularly.
 The point is…
My point being… that as a caregiver you may not know when you are going beyond your breaking point.  Please listen to those you know are concerned about you.
On the other hand, I can’t verify that this really happened.  But when the airline cancelled my return flight home due to snow in Minnesota and I got to stay a couple more days… we were better organized!

And when you take care of yourself… you are actually taking care of your loved one too.