It’s all relative

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New Underwood – 31 miles. Rapid City – 50 miles. Hot Springs – 100 miles.

These are mile markers found along Interstate 90 heading west. They are all towns in South Dakota. Towns that I have been to. Towns that are part of my history. Towns that my family have lived in.

Growing up in western South Dakota, I had family throughout the area. Most of the family were distant to me, not only in location, but also in relation. Second and third cousins, great aunts and uncles. Older than my parents and my grandparents. I know of them, but I don’t know them.

My grandmother was the wheel in the cog of keeping all of them together. She knew them all, was related to most, and kept them all in contact with each other. Ans she kept them informed of me and what I was involved in.

When my grandmother passed away, I tried to keep in touch with these distant relatives. I would send out a Christmas letter or card to them, for as long as I had a working address. As time moved on, I lost track of most of them. Many passed away and some moved without an address for me to track them with. Eventually, my habit of the Christmas card faded into a pleasant memory of something that I used to do.

My effort to keep in touch with my family was in an effort to not lose them. I moved to the other side of the state and moved on with my life. As it happened, my life overtook my time, and ultimately I did lose most of my family. Nearly all the distant family for certain, and some very close family as well.

I have attempted to rekindle my relations with my family. I have tried to “find” my family again. I find that as my life has a new focus, and my immediate family has changes somewhat, I am having some success in finding family. I have gained new family from my new Tiffany, I keep some family from my ex-wife Kelli, and I rediscover my biological family from a renewed effort to reach out to them.

I hope to continue to nurture my family and grow the relationships that I have. Time will tell, although I certainly hope that it’s tale is full of renewal.

Living Fossils

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animal-2520_640Everyday is special. Everyday has a special meaning. Today, however, is extra special. It is National Squirrel Appreciation Day! What a fantastic day to celebrate one of my most favorite creatures on this earth – squirrels.

My father-in-law had a unique relationship with squirrels. It was definitely a love-hate situation. He enjoyed watching birds and growing flowers. The squirrels, doing what they do, sometimes got in the way of his enjoyment. They would steal his birdseed and trample his flowers. But, he enjoyed watching them play and celebrate life. He tolerated their trespasses since he loved the creatures. He participated in watching them with his grandchildren and shared in their joy. He accepted his role with them, and they accepted their role with him.

My relationship has always been more of a love-indifferent one with squirrels. I love watching them, they are indifferent about me. I love the way they play with each other. I love the way that they climb and jump and skitter about in the trees. I love how they make children happy. They love the fact that I will brake for them when they are crossing the street.

Squirrels are cute, little creatures that enjoy life. They have babies called kittens, and they can run up to 20 miles and hour. They can fly, and when they are frightened, they dart back and forth to confuse predators. Gray squirrels are called “living fossils” because they haven’t changed much in 37 million years. I am happy for that!