Just some thoughts throughout a snowy night

NIAGARA, Wis. — I am having “one of those nights” tonight. I fell asleep easily, woke up once after about four hours, fell back to sleep only to wake up again an hour later. Sleep did not return, so here I am, making the best of it instead of lying awake in the dark. My response to nights like these has changed dramatically since I have been retired. I no longer fight the insomnia. I no longer stress about being tired the next day or fret about how I am going to function at work on so little sleep. I no longer begrudge my husband his ability to sleep so peacefully; in fact, I smile as I remember how I always tease him that he could sleep on a picket fence. Tonight, I decided to simply get up and share a few random thoughts with you on this snowy winter evening.

I wandered into the dark of our living room to take up my vigil on the couch. It struck me that it was a Robert Frost kind of night. As I watched the snow drift down, it brought to mind his poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” Unlike the character in the poem, I was not outside in my horse-drawn sleigh “between the woods and frozen lake” watching a villager’s woods fill with snow. We have a small wooded area across from our house that gives us some nice privacy from the highway that runs through Niagara. We share it with a family of five deer — or, more accurately, they share it with us; most of the time we stay out of each other’s way. On this particular snowy evening, they were nowhere to be seen.

Nor was I on my way someplace else, like the traveler in Frost’s poem, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” Prior to the end of my working years, this most certainly would have described me as well. But not tonight. I now have the luxury of actually enjoying a sleepless night like this one. I have no deadlines or meetings or a boss to face the next day. I can simply relax in the warmth of my living room, watching as the snow piles up ever more deeply across the street. I do not even have to worry about shoveling it the next morning, because my husband will take charge of that while I make breakfast. So … life is good!

My mind drifts along with the snow. Since moving north 42 years ago, I have developed a much greater appreciation for the beauty of each season. It was easy to revel in the fresh green of the first flush of spring and then marvel how those little buds grew so quickly into summer leaves. Autumn was always a treat, but I never experienced the full power of its colors until viewing an entire bluff of sugar maple, birch and oak. My appreciation of winter took a bit longer; in fact, it was not until I was retired and no longer had to fight it to get to work that I could relax on a sleepless night and look forward to every bare branch of every tree wearing its white coat by morning.

I continued to watch as the blizzard intensified. The street light just outside our front door reflected off of the flakes of snow as the east wind blew them down in clouds of silver. The branches of the pines across the street were bowing under their accumulated weight with each passing hour. I was glad to be inside the warmth of our home — thankful to have a roof over my head, a blanket around me, and nothing else to do but sit and watch it snow. Many, I know, are not so fortunate.

I remembered moving into our little house in 1978. And I recalled that first winter. We had a small, wood-burning furnace with an oil-burning furnace as back-up — we had absolutely no experience with either heat source and could not understand why the house was so cold all the time. Seriously, we went to bed at night dressed in flannel underneath three layers of bedding — natural body heat was greatly appreciated! That spring, we called an HVAC expert and learned that none of the cold air returns had ever been connected into our heating system. Additionally, the wood burning furnace was so small that it effectively heated the basement only, and the oil furnace was on its last legs. To say this was not the news we wanted to hear was an understatement. We made the first of many infrastructure improvements to our home and became the proud owners of a Steel King wood-burning furnace. We also bought a new chain saw and began the autumn ritual of “making wood” in the back yard, much to the chagrin of our two boys. We also installed all of the necessary duct work to construct proper cold air returns. We welcomed the addition of natural gas lines to Niagara in 1994, promptly bought our first gas furnace and bid a fond farewell to the wood pile. Fast forward to 2019, and we are enjoying the warmth of our second gas furnace; the first one hung in for 24 years.

My thoughts turned to the snowy roads and dreadful road conditions, and I was again thankful to be home on my couch just watching the storm. With the approaching holiday season, I remembered all of the Christmases we spent packing up and driving on roads we had no business being on, so we could get “back home” to celebrate the holidays with our extended families. Our very first winter up here was spent at a little house on Ring Lane in Pembine — a mile into the woods at the end of a two-rut road.

We piled our two boys, luggage, and Christmas gifts into our Chevy Malibu — along with a shovel and a bag of sawdust — to make the annual holiday trip to Menasha, Wis. We gave ourselves plenty of time because “the weather out there was frightful.” As we made our way south, we passed car after car in the ditches on both sides of the road; it took us well over three hours, but we made it in time for Christmas Eve. It was always worth the trip — some traditions just cannot be changed.

The dark skies full of snow have turned to gray skies full of snow — the sun must be up. Another day has begun in our corner of the Northwoods, and I can put these musings aside to get a busy day underway. The holiday season has arrived, and with it comes a “To Do” list a mile long. The Packers play at noon. And I have to remember to ask my husband to please take down his Packers flag from the porch — the green and gold do not exactly blend with the silver and blue Christmas lights on the little evergreen trees on the porch railings. I smile as I think of this, because every year we play the same little game. The flag goes up in August in time for the first pre-season game, and it faithfully flies until Christmas lights go up. He leaves it there in the middle of the holiday decorations until I “gently remind” him to remove it just for the holidays. He always does, but I think he secretly believes that maybe this year I will forget to ask — just this once. Silly man!

Until next week — don’t get so busy that you miss watching the woods fill up with snow.






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

Monday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; Catholic Mass, 11 a.m.; scenes and sounds, 11:30 a.m.; library cart, 1:30 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; ice cream social, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Craft, 10:30 a.m.; scenes and sounds, 11:30 a.m.; reminisce, 1 p.m.; Jim Edberg entertains, 2 p.m.

Wednesday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; rosary, 10:30 a.m.; scenes and sounds, 11:30 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Reading buddy, 10:30 a.m.; scenes and sounds, 11:30 a.m.; Bible study, 1:15 p.m.; pokereno, 2 p.m.; “Lawrence Welk,” 4:30 p.m.

Friday: What’s cooking? 11 a.m.; scenes and sounds, 11:45 a.m.; parlor games, 1:15 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Meet and greet, 10:30 a.m.; daily newspaper, 11 a.m.; scenes and sounds, 11:30 a.m.; oldies but goodies, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; evening news, 6 p.m.

Iron County 

Medical Facility

Crystal Falls

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

Monday: Christmas cookie decorating, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; resident council, 10:30 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; Sunshine Club, 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday: CF library, 9:30 a.m.; book club, 10 a.m.; Catholic Mass,10 a.m.; getting pretty, 1:15 p.m.; men’s club, 2 p.m.; kid’s Christmas, 5 p.m.

Wednesday: Coffee social/yoga with Dodie, 10 a.m.; gifts from Santa party, 2 p.m.; night bingo, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m.; Bible study, 1 p.m.; wildlife film, 1:30 p.m.; Christ United Church, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.

Friday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; Walmart, 10 a.m.; room visits/kids’ visits, 1 p.m.; holiday movie, 6 p.m.

Saturday: ICMCF word search/Yahtzee, 10 a.m.; geri-gym, 11 a.m.; social hour, 2 p.m.; card club, 6 p.m.

Manor Care


Wet your whistle: 9:30 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Exercise: 10 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Popcorn day: Every Friday.

Sunday: Just jokes, 10:15 a.m.; company’s coming room visits, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant church, 3 p.m.

Monday: Who, what, when? 10:15 a.m.; Marian Linder, 2 p.m.; pokeno, 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday: Caroling with Mindy’s home-school students, 9:30 a.m.; who am I? 10:15 a.m.; Lutheran church, 2 p.m.; movie and manicure, 5:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Remembering when, 10:15 a.m.; Golden Throats, 2 p.m.; Christmas music videos in front lobby, 3:30 p.m.; flip five, 5:45 p.m.

Thursday: Crosswords, 10:15 a.m.; K bingo, 2 p.m.; crazy for cards, 5:45 p.m.

Friday: Catholic Mass, 2 p.m.; chips and chatter, 2:30 p.m.; movie, 3:15 p.m.

Saturday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; movie, 3:15 p.m.

Maryhill Manor

Niagara, Wis.

Rosary, 8:30 a.m. Sunday through Friday.

Sunday: Help your neighbor, tailgate party: Packers vs. Redskins, noon; Protestant service, 2:30 p.m.

Monday: Spelling bee,10:15 a.m.; nickel jokereno, 2 p.m.

Tuesday: Men’s breakfast, 7 a.m.; resident council, 10:15 a.m.; religious movie, 2 p.m.

Wednesday: Protestant service, 9 a.m.; derby day, 10:15 a.m.; Yahtzee, 2 p.m.; Chaplet of Divine Mercy, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; Scattegories, 10:15 a.m.; Christmas movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.; family night, 6:30 p.m.

Friday: Exercise, 10:15 a.m.; trivia and hot cocoa, 10:30 a.m.; happy hour with Ray and Mindy, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Suzuki piano players, 10:15 a.m.; pamper and polish, 2:30 p.m.; bingo, 5:45 p.m.

Victorian Pines

Iron Mountain

Juice time, 10 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Exercise, 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

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

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

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

Tuesday: Left-center-right, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

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

Thursday: Music with The Girls, 2 p.m.; rosary, 3 p.m.

Friday: Sack suppers, 4:30 p.m.; Christmas Party, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.

Florence Health Services

Florence, Wis.

Morning news, 6 a.m. daily.

Beauty shop open Tuesday and Thursday.

Snack cart, 7 p.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Sunday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; football, Packers vs. Washington Redskins, noon; reminisce, 6:15 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; coffee and chat, 11 a.m.; resident council meeting, 2 p.m.; Christmas card sort, 6:15 p.m.

Tuesday: Flippo, 10 a.m.; coffee and chat, 11 a.m.; Christmas decorations, 2 p.m.; social hour, 3:30 p.m.; picture look, 6:15 p.m.

Wednesday: Music with Crystal Hogan, 10 a.m.; Tom Palmer, 1:30 p.m.; Florence basketball team/craft, 1:15 p.m.; coloring, 6:15 p.m.

Thursday: Pastor Jason, 10 a.m.; coffee and chat, 11 a.m.; making gingerbread houses, 2:30 p.m.; reminisce, 6:15 p.m.

Friday: Catholic church service, 10 a.m.; coffee and chat, 11 a.m.; “Wheel of Fortune,” 2 p.m.; social hour, 3 p.m.; Christmas stories, 6:15 p.m.

Saturday: Bingo/family and friends visit, 10 a.m.; Christmas movie with popcorn, 2 p.m.; reminisce, 6 p.m.

Pinecrest Medical Care Facility


Sunday: Grace church, 10:15 a.m.; Packers party, noon; Lutheran church service, 2 p.m.; Phase 10, 3:30 p.m.

Monday: Life connections, 10 a.m.; Salvation Army, 10 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; worship and communion service, 1:30 p.m.; rosary, 2:30 p.m.; bean bag toss, 3:30 p.m.; Scrabble, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Snowball fight, 10 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; Scattegories, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Baking group, 10:30 a.m.; Christmas party with Jim Clement, 2 p.m.; cribbage, 3:30 p.m.; room visits, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Exercise, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; board game, Sorry, 6 p.m.

Friday: Catholic Mass, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 a.m.; Jerry Beauchamp, 2 p.m.; book cart, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Trivia, 10:15 a.m.; coffee social, 10:30 a.m.; mind joggers, 2 p.m.; sensory, 3:30 p.m.


Note: All centers ask for 24-hour advanced reservations for lunch. Those who have meals delivered who will not be home should notify the center.

Alpha-Mastodon Center


Meal at noon every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Amasa Center


Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Lunch at noon.

Bingo on Tuesdays.

Free meal drawing on Thursdays.

Menu for the week:

Tuesday: Pepper steak, rice, cauliflower, and salad.

Wednesday: Meat loaf, baked potato and California vegetable blend.

Thursday: Pork chops, oven-browned potatoes, peas and carrots.

Breen Center


Meals Monday through Friday.

Pasty sale every third Saturday of the month, except on holidays.  

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 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday; volunteers and donations are welcome.

Birthdays acknowledged every day.

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

Menu for the week:

Monday: Baked chicken, baked potatoes and mixed vegetables.

Tuesday: Chili and sandwich.

Wednesday: Pork loin, mashed potatoes, gravy and California vegetable blend.

Thursday: Scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, bacon or sausage, French toast, biscuits and gravy

Friday: Baked fish or smoked sausage, and parsley potatoes.

Soup, salad and dessert are offered with every meal. Reservations for meals are encouraged. Walk-ins are welcomed.

Crystal Falls Center

Head cook: Lucy Korhonen


The center is not just for seniors — bring a friend.

Suggested meal donations: $5 if older than 60; $6 if younger than 60; $1 for extra for take-out.

To reserve meals, call the center by 1 p.m. with name and number of people.

All dinners include the soup and salad bar, homemade dessert, tea, coffee and milk.

Open: Monday through Wednesday, 4:30 p.m., soup and salad bar; 5 p.m., dinner

Mondays: Basket weaving after dinner — all are welcome for dinner and/or class. Beginners can make their first basket with materials provided.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Hot beef sandwiches, mashed potatoes and vegetables.

Tuesday: Liver and onions, mashed potatoes, gravy and vegetables.

Wednesday: Pork chops, rice and vegetables.

Crystal Lake Center

Christine McMahon

906-774-2256, ext. 235

The center is closed on weekends.

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

Tuesday and Thursday: Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: Billiards, 9:30 a.m.

Wednesday: Spinning Spools Quilters Guild, 1 p.m., with crafters, scrapbookers and others also welcome; knitting and crocheting class, 1 to 3 p.m.

Thursday: Happy Quilters, 1 p.m.; two-person team cribbage, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Friday: Smear, noon.

The kitchen once again is open and serving meals. A new lunch program is offered from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. every Wednesday. Meals cost $5 for those younger than 60 and a $4 donation for those older than 60.

Home-delivered meal menu for the week:

Monday: Cheeseburgers, potato wedges and carrots.

Tuesday: Ham, sweet potatoes and green bean casserole.

Wednesday: Cheese omelet, sausage, spiced pears and bagel with cream cheese.

Thursday: Beef stew and biscuit.

Friday: Chili cheese hot dog and tater tots.

Center-based meal menu for the week:

Tuesday night meal: Ham, sweet potatoes and green bean casserole.

Wednesday lunch: Turkey BLTs, chicken noodle soup and salad bar.

Please note: Beginning in January, night meals will move from Tuesdays to the second and fourth Thursday evenings of each month.

Transportation is available from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call Buzzin’ Around Town at 906-282-0492. Rides are $3 for age 60 and older, and $3.50 for younger than 60. 

Felch Center


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

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

A congregate jigsaw puzzle is done daily.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Cheeseburgers, macaroni and cheese, peas and carrots.

Tuesday: Stuffed pork chop, baked potato and fried cabbage.

Wednesday: Roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, and broccoli bake.

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County, Wis.


Director: Tiffany White

Suggested donation for seniors older than 60 is $4 per meal. Residents younger than 60 must pay $7. Reservations and cancellations are needed 48-hours in advance.

The ADRC can assist area seniors and those with disabilities with transportation Monday through Friday. Transportation reservation should be made with meal reservation.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Chicken patty on a bun, cheesy broccoli soup, lettuce and tomato, and fruit cocktail.

Tuesday: French toast casserole, breakfast sausage, vegetable juice, fruit medley and birthday cake.

Wednesday: Pasties, beet salad and Mandarin oranges.

Thursday: Italian sausage and spaghetti, dark green salad, garlic bread and gingerbread bars.

Friday: Shepherd’s pie with green beans, stewed tomatoes, and peaches.

Other assistance includes information on aging, benefits specialist and caregiver support.

Fence Center/Town Hall


Meal reservations, 855-528-2372

Meal served Wednesday only with the same menu as listed under ADRC of Florence County. Reservations are requested. Cribbage and cards are available.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall

Meal reservations, 715-528-4261

Home-delivered meals are available. Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. at this center Monday through Thursday, with the same menu as listed under ADRC of Florence County.

Tipler Town Hall

Meal reservations 715-674-2320

Serving lunch at noon on the second Thursday of the month only, with the same menu as listed under ADRC of Florence County.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora

Meal reservations 715-589-4491

Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, with the same menu as listed under ADRC of Florence County. Transportation arrangements can be made to and from the meal site.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska


Meal is at noon Monday through Friday. Suggested donation is $3 for age 60 and older and $7 for those younger than 60. Morning coffee is available daily.

Fifteen games of “fun bingo” are played each Tuesday and Friday, along with a 50-50 drawing.

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, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A treadmill also is available.

Enjoy friendly interaction with other crafters.

Iron River Center


Meals served 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; a $4 donation is encouraged from those 60 and older, and a $5 payment required from those younger than 60. Thursday meal, 3:30 p.m.. soup; 4 p.m., salad bar; 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., dinner. Home-delivered meals are available — call 906-774-2256, ext. 235 or ext. 230.

Saturday, Dec. 14: Dance from 6 to 9 p.m.; cost is $6.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Biscuits and gravy, peas and cranberries.

Tuesday: Swedish meatballs, noodles, carrots and roll.

Wednesday: Chicken sandwich, cheesy hash browns, and California vegetable blend.

Thursday: Night meal: Pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, soup and salad bar.

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Meal site manager: Corrie Maule, 715-251-1603

Senior center director: Jill Anderson, 715-251- 4154

Noon meals served Monday through Thursday. Transportation is available to the meal site for those living in the Niagara, Wis. area. Any senior groups that would like to use the meal site as a meeting place are welcome — join us for lunch, then stay for a meeting or social time. Wii games, cards, puzzles and board games are available to play. 

Other activities are in the works — suggestions are always welcome. 

Those who have not been at the meal site/senior center are invited to give it a try. Those who haven’t been here in a while are encouraged to come back.

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining


Monday through Thursday: Meals served at noon, with salad bar. Soup also is available at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Milk, juice, bread, fruit, tea and coffee served daily. Meal donation is $5. Reservation for the meal should be made in advance.

Two special-themed meals take place each month on Tuesday, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50 drawing.

Two evening meals offered at 5 p.m. on the first Monday and third Wednesday of the month, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50 drawing.

Tuesday: CSFP at old Northland building, 8:30 to 9 a.m.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Baked cod, scalloped potatoes, squash, salad bar, fruit, juice and dessert.

Tuesday: Welcome Winter dinner: Meat loaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, glazed carrots, soup and salad bar, fruit, juice and dessert.

Wednesday: Bourbon beef tips over egg noodles, carrots and onions, salad bar, fruit, juice and dessert.

Thursday: Pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy, island blend vegetables, soup and salad bar, fruit, juice and dessert.

Cards are played daily after the noon meal.

Craft and exercise classes: Mondays and Thursdays.

Ceramic and art classes: Wednesdays.

Puzzles always in the works.

Note: File of Life packets available at the center.

Sagola Center


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

Cards: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

A puzzle table is always available to enjoy. Volunteers are welcome. 

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

Menu for the week:

Tuesday: Stuffed shells, marinara sauce, green beans, garlic bread and apricots.

Wednesday: Meat loaf, mashed potatoes, peas and pears.

Thursday: Chicken parmesan, noodles, carrots and peaches.


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