* * * * * * *

"Life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful."
- Unknown

"That which does not kill you, makes you stronger."
- Handed down through the ages.

"Life's tough. It's even tougher when you're stupid."
- John Wayne

No Ambition

Even with my second cup of coffee nearly gone, I just have NO oomph this morning. No mo-jo. No nothin'. So, as a deterrent from the work that awaits me both here at my desk and in the messy house, here I am!

I haven't had a chance to write about our little visiting porcupine yet, but, if you've been watching the videos I post here, you know what I'm talking about. (And, if you need to get caught up on our mini movies, go to our YouTube page at www.youtube.com/swampriverridge. Anyway, he (she?) reappeared yesterday, snuggled down in a corner of the woodshed. Tom checked on his way out to work this morning and reported no sign of him, but I'll look
again today when I'm out and about. So far, he's been resting where the dogs won't bother him. I HOPE it stays that way!

Based on my 'Mammals of Minnesota Field Guide', porcupines are solitary creatures, and this one is this year's - a juvenile. And, he's just the sweetest thing and not a bit threatening. Still, of course, I want to give him his space. It sure is neat, though, to see a seldom-seen critter so up-close-and-personal . . . yet with him still in his natural, wild habitat (vs. a zoo).

* * * * *

And then, with 7 little words, I am yanked out of my I'm sleepy, I don't wanna do anything, ridiculous reverie. "Mom passed last night at 8:10 PM." Aunt Jeanette is gone. She would have been 86 years old in 24 days.

Aunt Jeanette was, technically, my mom's aunt and my great aunt, but all of those sisters of my maternal grandma were always "Aunt Ione", "Aunt Shirley", "Aunt Jeanette".

Tom and I were down to Illinois to visit her exactly three years ago tomorrow (Happy 3rd Anniversary TODAY, Matt & Jamie!). How time flies. Since we found out she was sick (not even a month ago), I'd been setting aside mental notes and had already printed off some of the pictures (including these two) that I wanted to send her in a long note. Is my lesson (don't put off 'til tomorrow what you can do today . . . for tomorrow may never come) finally learned?

Aunt Jeanette was my long-distance replacement for Grandma once she passed away 12 years & 8 months
ago (to the day) at the young age (but in poor health) of 77. Aunt Jeanette and Grandma were the most similar of the 6 Siebert girls (+ Uncle Frank). They and Uncle Don and Grandpa, respectively, lived across the street from each other during retirement.

Mama Pea (my mom) with Grandma (her mom).

When my mom was born, she and Grandma lived back "at home" with Grandma's parents and younger siblings (Aunt Jeanette included) because Grandpa was in Europe fighting in The War. Because of that, my mom's first memories are filled with young aunts and loving grandparents and the constant hustle-and-bustle of an old house overflowing with energy and love.

When I was little, Grandma and Grandpa came up twice every single year to visit, but Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Don were the only others who also came. And, it was a long haul: driving from northeastern Illinois to the backwoods of northeastern Minnesota! I remember one visit particularly well when Aunt Jeaneatte and Uncle Don were taking me to Canada (I think) for the day. Any any rate, the point is that, during our drive, Aunt Jeanette saw a cute little painted turtle trying to cross the highway. Worried about its safety, and knowing we had three ponds at home, one of them jumped out to save the little guy from impending death by squashing.

Knowing I'd been raised in the bush, my aunt and uncle knew that surely nothing as placid as this turtle could possibly bother me, so they plopped him on the floor in the back of the car . . . right under my feet.

So began my stress for the rest of that car ride from being TERRIFIED by that crawling thing that was GONNA GET ME! You would think it had legs like a tarantula, I perceived it moving SO FAST! I couldn't understand WHY Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Don were so CALM about the thing! But, after all, they weren't trapped in the back seat of the car with it, either!

I have no recollection of whether or not the turtle made it home to one of our ponds or if the squealing little girl in the back seat required that it be removed before we ended our journey. (Mom, do you remember?)

What I do remember, though, is that my great aunt and uncle loved me and my mom (and my dad!) enough to come the whole way to visit. And THAT'S what's important.

Rest in peace, Aunt Jeanette. I love you.


  1. Yep, the Terrorizing Turtle made it all the way home and was released into the big pond . . . never to be seen again as far as I remember. (I remember him/her to be a honkin' big thing though . . . like about 10" long. No wonder you were scared.)

  2. I'm so sorry to hear about your Aunt, but it is great to hear the stories from you and Mama Pea! She sounds like she was an great gal.

  3. Best to remember the happy times. So sorry for your loss. Godspeed to your Aunt.


If you are familiar with me and where I live, please respect my right to retain some anonymity by not referring to me by anything other than Chicken Mama nor mentioning city/town/villages by place names. Thanks!