Lonnie Bloomquist of Jackson, MN sits on a patterned brown sofa, resting his cane against his thigh, and his cap slightly shadowing his face. He’s at Good Samaritan Society-Brandt Ridge visiting his aunt, Eunice Wheaton of St. James, MN on a Thursday morning. He’s brought his dog along.
“Gus, say hi,” Bloomquist says to the large black dog, cuddling up against Wheaton’s legs.
Wheaton sits on her rollator in the middle of her living room while facing the open front door of her assisted-living apartment. She sports dark brown cheetah print sunglasses and grips Gus’ red leash. She’s 93-years-old, and has been at Brandt Ridge for around 16 years.
“He’s tired,” Wheaton says about Gus. “He came in and he lays out by my feet…resting.”
Gus is half Border Collie and half Siberian Husky with two different colored eyes; blue and brown. He’s been with Bloomquist for about a year, and he’s already become a favorite for patients at the Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, SD, and at three nursing homes: a home in Jackson, and two in Estherville, IA.
The red sofas in Judy Raatz’s living room pop against the white walls and the golden oak hardwood floor. She has invited her friends to her St. James, Minnesota home on a Thursday for afternoon tea or “high tea.”
The gals sit around the living room, some wearing patterned blouses and others wearing dresses with their sunhats on their head or resting on their laps.
“A high tea, also called a full tea, means you will have three courses,” Raatz explains to her friends while standing at the entrance of her living room. “A high tea also means a cake sitting, and of course, also means high society. The funny thing is what it really turns into is gossip.” The women burst into laughter. “Then I thought,” Raatz continues, “‘Oh my gosh, Sunday, the minister says thou shalt not gossip.’ Oh my goodness. Here we are.”
My sister who is four years younger than me is beginning college in the fall. In the next week or so, she’s also completely moving out of my parents’ house…before me. Part of me thought, she’s way too young, moving way too quickly, and I have to talk some sense into her. But now I know she’s been pushed a bit ahead since as far back as I can remember, and I won’t suddenly try to stop her now.
After landing a job as a staff writer at the local newspaper, in my mother’s eyes I’ve “made it” because I work for people’s stories. I’ve felt guilty for thinking I’m not quite there yet because this is just the beginning. But for my mother, to finally have me working at a desk after her long hours at the factory hog farm while numbing the pain of her hand deformity with medication to pay off my college out-of-pocket, I’ve definitely made it.
Damaris Aquino-Sanchez sees trashed furniture and pictures something better.
“I know a lot of people will go [shopping] with me and I get really excited and they don’t see why I want it,” says Aquino.
This was the case when she found a hutch TV stand and wanted to convert it into a wine bar. Her husband and business co-owner, Fernando “Fern” Sanchez, couldn’t picture what she was imagining until after he started the upcycling process, boosting the value of the unwanted product.
The stand sits in the back work room. Sanchez replaced the inside of the hutch and the shelves with mirrors and added a glass hanger rack. He moves his hands along the frame as a guide when he explains what’s missing. They still need to fix the chipped corners, add shelves that look like X’s to the bottom of the stand, for the bottles, and include an ice bucket set to make it complete. Aquino and Sanchez are turning a $100 project into one worth $1,000.