Loving fall and Christmas, but no love for November

IRON MOUNTAIN — I’ve always said that fall is my favorite season, and Christmas is my favorite time of year. I’ve also said the month of November is my least favorite because it’s just so ardently ugly.

In October, all the leaves are changing and color is splashed across the U.P., the air is starting to get crisp and smells like apples, and cozy blankets and decorative gourds are strewn throughout my home. In the fall, I get to sip hot apple cider while wearing cute mittens and a very dysfunctional, but adorable tweed coat. I can throw on a pair of short booties and a scarf and be perfectly comfortable.

At Christmas, the sparkle of snow glitters the ground, old Crooners sing on record players, and cookies are always a plenty; the extended family comes together and stays for weeks. We play games until midnight, and icicle lights adorn the eaves of Victorian houses… but November?… ugh.

In November, everything is dead. There are no more oranges and golds, just browns. Brown grass, brown leaves, brown used to be bright yellow ferns. Sometimes there’s snow, but usually only a dusting that doesn’t last longer than a night, and the air isn’t crisp anymore, it’s bitter. Unlike last year when we didn’t have much snow until after Christmas, this year we’ve actually been seeing my favorite condensation more, but it’s still the time of the year when heat bills skyrocket and puffy winter coats come out; absolutely revolting.

In November, you leave for work in the dark, and you come home after work in the dark. The summer patio sets get put into storage, back porch grills officially hibernate, and Halloween pumpkins start to rot. Hence, I have always said, I loathe November, but when I really take a step back to look at November without a skin deep lens, it’s the month I actually crave the most.

Just about this time, in droves, family starts to come home. First, we have the family who comes home to visit before the chaos of the actual holidays. With them, we spend time four-wheeling and having dinners together. We shop around town and chat about our lives in a room where we can actually hear each other talk because there aren’t a ton of us chattering yet.

Then, there is the family that comes home for Thanksgiving. We go hunting, pick out place settings and make the fancy china blend well with the table. We watch football, eat turkey, and start our Christmas shopping. Last, there’s the family that comes home for Christmas — the big Kahuna — when there are nearly 30 of us split between two houses. Toddlers giggling as their older cousins chase them around the house can be heard from down the street; the young cousins reminisce about how they used to play house and dance to the Beach Boys, and the aunts and uncles sit around the kitchen table playing Scrabble and SkipBo and Wizard.

In reality, November is the start of one of the most beautiful parts of my life. Sure, everything is dead or dying, and it’s usually not very pretty to look at, but books aren’t supposed to be judged by their covers. In reality, beyond the time spent with extended family and the impending arrival of the Christmas season, November matters so much to me because of my dad. I’m close with my dad all year round, but it’s this time of year that I get to spend the most time with him; it’s hunting season.

I yearn for drives in the truck where it’s just us, looking for birds or keeping our eyes peeled for white tails. We sit in posts together, eagerly waiting. He was on the show Discovering, that was featuring U.P. bucks, and interviewed for the news. My mom taped the segment. The entire time my dad is talking, 4-year-old me is in his arms, listening to him, refusing to let go.

He’s had me in a blind with him since I was young; we bring a space heater, hot chocolate, and cards to play cribbage. It may be considered fancy hunting, but it’s time I get to spend alone with my father. I love the hushed excitement in his voice when a deer comes into view; I love how when we haven’t seen anything for hours, he looks off to the woods and says, “C’mon big buck, come out and say hello.” He wears his black and red plaid jacket, and I put on the same orange hat as always, and while we wait, he tells me stories about his old hunting days.

“One time, when I was in this post, two does came running through, and sure enough, a HUGE buck came walking up…,” “I used to have a blind right up here on this bluff, and it was prime buck country,” “I shot that buck hanging in the office right here” — these are the tales I hear every year, and the tales that never get old. Every Thanksgiving, I go out with my dad. It’s just me and him. We go to the same post, at the same time of day, and just like the year before, we talk about life. I’ve only missed this tradition once, and it was the year that my husband came home and took my “spot,” because he was asking permission to marry me. It’s fitting, that he asked in that way.

My father, like his father, has big, prominent hands. My Grandpa Swanson could palm a car battery with one of his mugs — my dad’s hands aren’t quite that big — but strength runs in their family. Growing up, I thought he could do anything, and I was his girl. I was his first born, his first daughter, and his first handful. There are pictures of me when I’m young fishing with my dad and our old dog Max, or sitting on top of his shoulders in the woods. On my dresser is a photo of us squished into the Dumbo ride at Disney; he waited hours in line, and was not amused, but in that snapshot of a time so long ago, my pig tails are bouncing to my excited smile and he’s looking at me as if I’m the most perfect thing in his world. When I was 23, we recreated this photo when we all went back on a family trip. That time around the elephant was far less roomy, but the sentiment was the same.

When I picture my dad, I still think of him in November. My father, is one of the best people I know. He’s full of mistakes and flaws and yet he pulls himself back up. It’s easy to make a rash judgment about him based off a first time meeting, but it takes more than one sit down to really get to his heart and see who he is. He can be impatient, quick tempered, and brash, but he loves his family. He loves his family more than he loves himself. He’s not full of vibrant colors, or snow white purity, but he is warm and good. My dad, is like November.

In life, sometimes we can’t see past the surface. It’s easy to do because as humans, we are inherently keen on taking a first impression as final. If it comes down to just looks, I still hate November. I still think it’s ugly and dull, and I would always choose to view October or December instead. Yet that’s the problem; sometimes we’re so busy looking backwards or forwards that we forget to look at the beauty of the now. In reality, the 11th month of the year holds a truer beauty than the others, because it’s a prime example of seeking out the inner workings before jumping to a conclusion. With my dad, November, and often our hectic lives, we have to look within to find the inherent wonder that has been there all along.


Featured event of the week:

Maryhill Manor will be hosting a rummage sale from the hours of 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18. Many items are needed for the sale and can be brought and donated to the home with the activities department. All goods not purchased at the sale will be donated to St. Vincent DePaul. The sale is open to the public, residents, and their families and friends. The residents will sometimes help with the sale and all proceeds from the sale will go toward buying their Christmas presents. The sale will boast clothing, household items, knick knacks, and a hot dog lunch.





Scenes and sounds, 11:45 a.m. (Monday through Saturday).

Sunday: Scenes and sounds, noon; UNO, 1 p.m.; dunking donuts, 2 p.m.; church, 2:15 p.m.

Monday: Pretty nails, 10 a.m.; line dancers, 1:30 p.m.; ice cream social, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Crafts, 10 a.m.; reminisce, 1:15 p.m.; Kentucky Derby, 2 p.m.

Wednesday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; rosary, 11 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; Golden Throats, 2 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Reading buddy, 10 a.m.; bible study, 11 a.m.; What’s that word? 1 p.m.; bingo with Carol, 2 p.m.

Friday: Coffee social, 10:30 a.m.; What’s cooking? 11 a.m.; Bunko, 1 p.m.; Mass, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Meet and greet, 10:30 a.m.; spinning records, 11 a.m.; Daily News, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Iron County Medical Facility

Crystal Falls

Room visits, 1 p.m. (Monday and Friday).

Exercise, 11 a.m. (Monday, Wednesday, Friday).

Sunday: One to one church visitors, 8:30 to 11 a.m.; room visits, 9 to 11 a.m.; Pictionary, 10 a.m.; bingorama, 2 p.m.; Church of Christ, 3 p.m.

Monday: Men’s books, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; VFW bingo, 2 p.m.; Sunshine Club, 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Book Club, 10 a.m.; Mass, 10 a.m.; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; current events, 2 p.m.; comedy movie, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Hunter’s breakfast, 9 a.m.; reminisce, 10:30 a.m.; Apostolic Lutheran, 1:15 p.m.; big buck bingo, 2 p.m.

Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m.; wildlife film, 1 p.m.; Unite Lutheran, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.; Card Club, 6:30 p.m.

Friday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; party with Jan and Geno, 2 p.m.; Mystery movie, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Puzzler, 10 a.m.; Hangman, 10 a.m.; geri-gym, 11 a.m.; intergenerational social hour, 2 p.m.



Wet your whistle, 9:30 a.m. (daily).

Movie, 10:45 a.m. (daily), and 3:15 p.m. (Monday through Friday).

Gathering place, 11:40 a.m. (Saturday and Sunday), and 11:40 and 4:30 p.m. (Monday through Friday).

Popcorn Day, Fridays (weekly).

Protestant Church service, Sunday, 3 p.m.

Exercises, 10 a.m. (daily)

Sunday: Just jokes, 10:15 a.m.; morsels and more, 1:30 p.m.

Monday: Did you know, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; pokeno, 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday: Colorful questions, 10:15 a.m.; Lutheran service, 2 p.m.; movie and a manicure, 5:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Remembering when, 10:15 p.m.; birthday party, Jim Edberg entertains, 2 p.m.; Flip Five, 5:45 p.m.

Thursday: Crosswords, 10:15 a.m.; Deal or No Deal bingo, 2 p.m.; crafts, 5:45 p.m.

Friday: Finish lines, 10:15 p.m.; chips n’ chatter, 2:30 p.m.

Saturday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Maryhill Manor

Niagara, Wis.

Rosary, 8:30 a.m. (Monday through Friday).

Parachute, 1:30 p.m. (daily).

Monthly support group for grief and loss, second Monday of the month at 2 p.m.

Weekend pet visits.

Sunday: Rosary, 8:30 a.m.; Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; bingo, 10:15 a.m.; penny ante, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant service, 2:30 p.m.

Monday: Protestant church, 9 a.m.; joker-eno, 10:15 a.m.; Derby Day, 2 p.m.

Tuesday: Bingo, 10:15 a.m.; residents council, 2 p.m.; Yahtzee, 6:15

Wednesday: Protestant church, 9 a.m.; bowling, 10:15 a.m.; birthday party, 2 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 6:15 p.m.

Thursday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; Scattegories, 10:15 a.m.; Prayer Shawl, 2 p.m.

Friday: Coffee and trivia, 10:15 a.m.; happy hour, Ray and Mindy, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Rummage sale, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; joker-eno, 10:15 a.m.; Kim Hansen piano students, 2 p.m.

Maryhill Manor,

Alzheimer’s Unit

Niagara, Wis.

Grooming, 8 a.m. (daily).

Lunch, 11 a.m. (daily).

Bread making, noon (daily).

Chicken soup, communication program, 4 p.m. (daily).

Dinner, 5 p.m. (daily).

Sensory group, 6 p.m. (daily).

Movie, 6:30 p.m. (daily).

Sunday: Table ball, 9 a.m.; puzzles, 9:45 a.m.; Bible stories, 10:15 a.m.; sing-a-long, 12:15 p.m.; bowling, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; balloon ball, 3:30 p.m.

Monday: Table ball, 9 a.m.; spelling bee, 9:45 a.m.; bible stories, 10:15 a.m.; old TV shows, 12:15 p.m.; Animal Kingdom, 1 p.m.; pamper and polish, 2 p.m.; kick ball, 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Play dough molds, 9 a.m.; puzzles, 9:45 a.m.; table ball, 10:15 a.m.; sing-a-long, 12:15 p.m.; foot soaks, 1 p.m.; creative art, 2 p.m.; Balloon ball, 3:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Play dough molds, 9 a.m.; spelling bee, 9:45 a.m.; coloring, 10:15 a.m.; old TV shows, 12:15 p.m.; through the years, 1 p.m.; pamper and polish, 2 p.m.; golf, 3:30 p.m.

Thursday: Table ball, 9 a.m.; puzzles, 9:45 a.m.; bible stories, 10:15 a.m.; sing-a-long, 12:15 p.m.; foot soaks, 1 p.m.; men’s group, 2 p.m.; Parachute, 3:30 p.m.

Friday: Play dough molds, 9 a.m.; spelling bee, 9:45 a.m.; coloring, 10:15 a.m.; old TV shows, 12:15 p.m.; Creative art, 1 p.m.; Happy hour/music and memory, 2 p.m.; kick ball, 3:30 p.m.

Saturday: Table ball, 9 a.m.; puzzles, 9:45 a.m.; bible stories, 10:15 a.m.; sing-a-long, 12:15 p.m.; foot soaks, 1 p.m.; bowling, 2 p.m.; parachute, 3:30 p.m.

Victorian Pines

Iron Mountain

Exercise, 11 a.m. (Monday through Friday).

Juice pass, 10 a.m. (daily).

Shopping days: Tuesdays and Fridays at 10 a.m., must sign up.

Sunday: Packers vs. Bears, noon; Bible study, 1:30 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Ladderball, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Communion with Deacon Don, 10 a.m.; Wheel of Fortune, 2 p.m.; Rosary, 3 p.m.

Friday: Vic Pines movie theatre, “The Long, Long Trailer,” 2 p.m.

Saturday: Movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.

Florence Health Services

Florence, Wis.

Sunday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; Packers vs. Bears, noon; Pastor Miller Church service, 3:30 p.m.

Monday: Greeting cards, 10 a.m.; bingo with Bette, 2 p.m.; room visits, 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Resident council meeting, 10 a.m.; Thanksgiving music service by Valri, 2 p.m.

Wednesday: Thankful tree craft, 10 a.m.; Wii games, 2 p.m.; room visits, 3:30 p.m.; music by Grace and Dave, 6:30 p.m.

Thursday: Pastor Jason, Lutheran service, 10 a.m.; pretty nails and manicures, 2 p.m.; comedy hour, 3 p.m.

Friday: Catholic communion service, 10 a.m.; Lunch outing to Barb’s Cafe, 11 a.m.; Table top bowling, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; poetry reading, 2 p.m.; social hour, 3:30 p.m.

Pinecrest Medical Care Facility


Life connections, 9:45 a.m. every Monday.

Busy bee, 12:30 p.m. (Monday through Friday).

Sunday: Grace church, 10 a.m.; word puzzles, 10 a.m.; Lutheran service, 2 p.m.; Packer game, noon; Packer party, 2 p.m.

Monday: Worship and communion service, 1:30 p.m.; rosary, 2:30 p.m.; bean bag toss, 3:30 p.m.; Kings Corners, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Casino outing, 10 a.m.; happy hour, 2 p.m.; reminiscing, 3:30 p.m.; Pictionary, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Bunk hunt, 10 a.m.; birthday party, 2 p.m.; rummy, 4 p.m.

Thursday: Chair yoga, 10 a.m.; aroma therapy, 11:15 a.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; Yahtzee, 6 p.m.

Friday: Mass, 10 a.m.; sensory, 10:15 a.m.; fish fry outing, R Bar, 3:30 p.m.

Saturday: Karaoke, 10 a.m.; tic tac toe, 10 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; crafts, 2 p.m.

Victorian Heights

Crystal Falls


*Activities director out on maternity leave. Please call the home for additional information.


Note: All centers ask for 24 hour advanced reservations for lunch. If you have meals delivered and will not be home, notify the center.

Alpha-Mastodon Center


Meal every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at noon.

Amasa Center


Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Lunch at noon.

Bingo on Tuesdays.

Free meal drawing on Thursdays.

Breen Center


Meals: Monday through Friday.

Cards and games available 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m.

Hostess on duty Monday through Friday.  

Treats and coffee, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Center retail store is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; donations welcome.

Birthdays acknowledged every day.

Evening meals are held first and third Thursday of the month. Salad bar opens at 4 p.m. with dinner served at 5 p.m. Donations are $4 for those 60 and older and $5 for 60 and younger.

Blood pressure and blood sugar testing, every fourth Wednesday.

Crystal Falls Center

Head Cook, Tracy West


Meals will be served on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays at 5 p.m. (a salad bar will be open at 4:30 p.m.). The dinner donation is $5 for those age 60 and over and $6 for those under age 60. There is a take-out container charge of $1. All persons are invited. 

Cribbage will be played on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. and be concluded in time for the dinner.

Center is closed Thursday through Sunday. 

A site council meeting is held on the third Wednesday at 3 p.m. 

Blood pressure taken by request anytime the center is open.

Crystal Lake Center


The center is closed on the weekends.

Monday: Woodcarvers, 10 a.m.; majong in dining hall, noon; Les Artistes Art Club, noon; Bridge Club, 12:15 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday: Billiards, 9:30 a.m.; Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Spinning Spools Quilters Guild, 1 p.m.; Crafters, scrap bookers, etc. also welcome; Knitting and crocheting class, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Friday: Billiards, 9:30 a.m.; Smear, 12:30 p.m.

Last Saturday of the month: Music Jam starting at 1 p.m. Admission is free.

Dances are held on the second and fourth Friday’s of the month from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is $6 and coffee is free.

The Photo Club meets on the first Tuesday of the month from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Evening meals are usually on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month. They have a salad bar beginning at 4 p.m. with the meal beginning at 4:30 p.m. A donation of $4 is accepted for seniors (60 plus), but not required.

Home delivered meals are for seniors 60 plus and can be delivered seven days a week. Suggested donation is $4 per meal For information call Chris Tramotin at 906-774-2256 ext. 235.            

Transportation is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Call the center to book your ride.

Felch Center


Meals served Monday through Wednesday at 11:30 a.m.

Bingo on the first and third Wednesday of each month after lunch.

Congregate jigsaw puzzle done daily.

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County


Director: Lori Friberg

Three senior dining locations are listed below:

Fence Center/Town Hall


Meal at noon on Wednesdays only. Reservations are requested. Cribbage and cards are available.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall


Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday. 

Jigsaw puzzles, cards, cribbage, and board games are available. The coffee is always on.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora


Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday. Jigsaw puzzles, cribbage, cards, and board games are available. The coffee is always on.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska


Meal is Monday through Friday at noon. Suggested donation is $3 for those 60 and older and $7 for those under 60.

Morning coffee is available each day

Fifteen games of “Fun Bingo” are played each Tuesday and Friday along with 50/50.

Tuesday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Cards played in the afternoon. Call ahead to see if a game will be going on.

Friday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Monday through Friday: Walking in the gym from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A treadmill is also available.

Iron River Center


Meals served Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; $4 donation is encouraged (over 60) and $5 (required under 60).

Salad bar with Thursday meal, 4 p.m. and dinner at 4:30 p.m.

DICSA operates all meals and transportation out of the Iron River Center. Rides are $2.50 (over 60) and $3 (under 60). Call 265-6134 to schedule a ride.

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Corrie Maule, Meal site Manager


Jill Anderson, Senior Center Director

715-251- 4154

Noon Meals served Monday through Thursday

Transportation to the meal site from the Niagara area is offered.

We welcome any Senior groups who would like to use our meal site as their meeting place.

Wii games, cards, puzzles, board games available to play for your enjoyment

Nov. 15, Thanksgiving dinner.

Nov. 21, bingo.

Nov. 30, LRC Tournament.

If you have not tried our meal site/ senior center they invite you to give them a try. If you haven’t been here in a while, we encourage you to come back.

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining


Monday through Thursday: Meals served at noon with salad bar. Soup is also available on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11 a.m. Meal donation is $5.

Milk, juice, bread, fruit, tea, and coffee served daily.

Two special theme noon meals each month with bingo, prizes, and 50/50.

Two evening meals, 5 p.m., on the first Monday and third Wednesday of the month with bingo, prizes, and 50/50.

Nov. 13: Center board meeting.

Nov. 15: Blood pressure clinic, 11 a.m. to noon.

Nov. 21: Thanksgiving dinner, sign up early .

Nov. 23: Center closed.

The center is selling tickets for their holiday drawing. Painted sled and ice skates by Barb Grenier; six tickets for $5 or $1 each.

Cards are played daily after the noon meal.

Craft and exercise classes: Mondays and Thursdays.

Ceramic and art classes: Wednesdays.

Puzzles always worked on.

Senior coloring class meets daily. All are welcome. Some materials will be provided.

Telephone reassurance is available. If you are a senior who doesn’t get out much and would like a friendly daily phone contact, the center will have someone check in to see that all is well.

Note: A CSFP food card (green card) is available to income-eligible seniors. Make an appointment to get signed up. File of Life packets available at the center.

Note: Ask about the Medicare Savings Program. This program helps people pay their Medicare part B premium. You may be eligible. Your local MMAP Counselor can be reached at  1-800-803-7174, or dial 211.

Center membership cards are available for $5 at the front desk.

Sagola Center


Meals: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11:45 a.m.

Cards: Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday.

Commodities every other month and quarterly commodities are every three months.

Puzzle table for all to enjoy.

Volunteers are always welcome.