Friday, August 31, 2012

Memory Quilt

Tonight as we all gathered at the cabin for Labor Day
mom called Myndy and I into the bedroom. She had struggled
to decide what to do with dad's shirts and
jeans and had finally decided to have them
made into a quilt. As I looked at the beautiful
pieces of fabric so many memories of my dad
came flooding back. The burgundy chamois piece
reminded me of crisp mornings on Blue Lake, the gray
flannel brought me back to fall mornings raking leaves, and all the pieces of
denim made me think of dad's size 32/30. He stayed
that same size even when he had to wear his jeans
a little below the belly! I think we'll all need some time wrapped
up in this beautiful quilt surrounded by memories of
our loving dad.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dad Advice

Today my sister Katy interviewed for a new position. She is currently working at Lino Lakes and loves her job but there was a great position in a neighboring district so she decided to go for it. She was offered the position and as we talked through the pros and cons tonight we both felt the need to talk to dad. Whenever one of us had a big life-changing decision on the line our first call was to our dad. I tried to think of what my dad would have asked: Salary, benefits, stability, and most importantly what do the people who work there have to say about the place?

I hope I asked the right questions, dad! I know you'd be proud of Katy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

First Apple

If you've been following the blog you know that dad helped us pick out our apple tree last year. We were doubtful but he promised that we'd have apples this summer. Today we enjoyed our first apple from the tree. We split that beautiful, red orb into five even pieces for each of us in the family and thought of grandpa as we bit into the sour fruit. Erik licked his lips and asked for more.

We love you,dad! The apples will forever remind me of the care you took in raising each of us to be good people. Your spirit is alive in each of us.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Big Buck

Every night when I talk to mom she tells about this big buck that hangs around the yard. We've decided that it's dad just checking to see if things are Ok at home. When mom wakes up in the morning she often sees him and he also noses around at sundown.

Lucky Shoes

I had a presentation today with the Dover/Eyota teachers and I wore my lucky shoes. They are black slingbacks that my dad bought me. Nope, you did not read that wrong. My dad was a shoe hound and was always looking for good deals. They did the trick...the teachers loved the presentation and I was invited back. Love those lucky shoes dad!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Are you coming for dinner?

One of my dad's favorite things to do was to tell me when they were having one of my favorite meals. It might be chicken and dumplings, potato klub, pork roast and homemade mashed potatoes and gravy or maybe dad's chicken dumpling soup. Then he'd say, "Are you coming for dinner then? Should we set an extra place?" I always wished we'd lived close enough so I could just hop in the car and head over.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Dear Dad

Dear Dad,
It's that time of year...back to school. The kids' closets are full of new clothes (you can guess who bought most of them) and their backpacks are filled with school supplies. Erik's been back to daycare for a week and is slowly adjusting. If you were alive I know we'd be talking on the phone about my next week's schedule. You'd say, "What's your next week looking like?" and we'd chat about the superintendent's welcome, my workshop in Dover/Eyota on Tuesday, and the meet the teacher day on Wednesday. Then you'd say, "Let me talk to Steve-o" and you'd want to hear about Steve's big plans for the first week.

It's hard to believe life keeps going on without you, dad. It's definitely not the same and we all go through our days with a hole in our hearts thinking of you and the fun you'd be having getting ready for deer hunting and your favorite season, autumn. I'm keeping you close in my thoughts. Missing you today and every day,

Love, Heather

Friday, August 24, 2012

Culinary Genius

My dad was a culinary genius. Many people know of my mom's great cooking but here's a little known fact: my dad was always the man behind the scenes. Dad was mom's lefse roller. We all tried to perfect this art but dad definitely had the best touch. He also rolled out the pie crusts and used the spritz gun for my favorite...the spritz cookies. In a a week or so mom will be making lefse for Everybody's Market in Thief River Falls. I know it will be hard to do this without her #1 roller.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sweet Tooth

My dad had an incredible sweet tooth as evidenced by the bags of candy left around the house. His favorites were hot tamales, jelly beans, mint patties, and spice drops. Whenever one of the grandkids was around we'd find them with chocolate or candy streaming down their face and dad with a guilty grin.

Dad's smile

My dad's smile is something I am missing today. It was sort of a crooked smile with one side up a little higher than the other. It was warm and wonderful and sometimes mischievious. Often it meant he was up to something!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Union Brotherhood

Tonight we had a discussion with friends about unions. I was reminded of my dad's pride in being a Teamsters member. One memory I have is of our great seats at the Twins game courtesy of the Teamsters when dad retired. My dad felt honored to be a union steward and believed in the value of hard work and standing together to support labor. I am proud of my blue collar roots!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Travel Mugs

One of the things many people noticed about my dad was that he was seldom without his coffee. We have a table downstairs in the cabin as a testament to his coffee drinking prowess. He had a travel mug for every occasion! The night before fishing trips he would get the coffee ready to go and in the morning just minutes after you got the toe tug he would greet you with a steaming cup of joe. I think he was always a little disgusted that mom, Katy and I did not enjoy his favorite drink as much as he did.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

One More Pass

Today I am reminded of my dad's penchant for taking "just one more pass" when we were fishing. As kids we knew that fishing with dad meant that we were out there until he was ready to go matter what! We had a bucket in the boat that was there for emergencies, I can't remember if anyone ever used it but it was there just case. Often we'd get tired about an hour or so into the fishing trip. If the fish were biting he'd say, "How about one more pass?" Usually an hour or more would come and go and we'd still be out on the lake. We learned that if we were in dad's boat we were on his time.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Old Indian Trick

Tonight we had a little trouble lighting our bonfire. It was misting a bit and we all laughed and remembered dad's old Indian trick...tons of lighter fluid on the fire. It never failed and he always had a raging fire going just moments after he started working on it. We all had to back up a little and deal with the residual smell of lighter fluid but we got used to it.

California Memories

Today's memories are from Patti in California. She remembers dad being out in California for training and how he loved to bring friends from the navy to meet her so they could be with "family". She also recalls that he loved to go to Disneyland because he had a military discount. He always did love to have a good time!

Thanks for the memories, Patti.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I Wanna Drive a Zamboni

As a kid I thought it was so cool that my dad drove the zamboni at the arena. I loved to attend the hockey games and watch him clear the ice. I think he was the fastest zamboni driver and the ice always looked the best after he was done.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I am From

Today I went to a workshop where we wrote I am from poems. Here is my first attempt:

I am from 4 am fishing trips, tire swing rides, and corn-picking adventures.
I am from farm country, Prowler Pride, and Scholastic book orders on Fridays.

I am from walks to the mailbox to meet dad at quitting time, afternoons spent in the playhouse, and summer trips to Winnipeg.

I am from Myles....walleye-slaying, practical-joking, and loving dad. Lover of trees, nature, and good deeds.

I am from Susie, curly haired, hamburger loving kindergarten teacher.
Fun-loving, super shopping, and kind.

I am from "Education is the key", "hard work is a way of life" ,and "check the oil".

I am from family phone calls at 8, shoe shopping, and mickey mouse pancakes.

I am from giant birthday parties, 4-H trips to the state fair,pontoon rides and lazy days at the cabin.

I am from lefse, mashed potatoes, and date filled cookies. Sandbaakles, potato klub, and flat bread.

I am from a long line of teachers...Grandma Eleanor, mom, and uncles and aunts too.
I am from a love of family.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Quarter on the First Fish

One of my favorite memories of fishing with my dad was his bets on the water. About five or ten minutes into our fishing trip he'd say, " $1.00 on the first fish?" Usually this was because he already had one on the line. A few minutes later he'd be landing a beautiful walleye and we'd all be paying up.

Monday, August 13, 2012


As I pull out of my driveway each morning I catch a glimpse of the apples on our apple tree. Dad helped us pick out that tree last year and he was certain we'd get apples this summer. Neither Steve or I believed him. We thought it would take at least a couple of years but here they are. Beautiful honey crisp apples...a sign that my dad is watching out for us and all of the seeds that he planted while he was alive are blossoming. The other sign is that his grandson Erik has picked up his dance moves complete with his one armed fist pump. Dad is alive in each of us in a different way and I am grateful for that today.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Myles A. Olson

No matter what the occasion my dad always signed his name Myles A. Olson. It could have been a check, an anniversary card, or a credit card receipt. I think this strikes me funny mostly because he was such an informal guy in so many ways and made people feel so comfortable.

We miss you Myles A. Olson. Every day and every hour.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Coming for a visit

Mom is coming to stay next week and watch the kids for Steve and I. I hadn't realized it until today but this will be the first time that she's come to our house since dad passed away. It seems strange to be preparing for his visit without dad. I almost sent Steve to the store for Folger's since that was dad's favorite coffee. He also enjoyed cashews so we tried to have those on hand. Another staple you had to have when dad was visiting was popcorn. Oh...and the garage had to be clean or you'd be cleaning it together as soon as he arrived.

Friday, August 10, 2012

When are you going to go full time?

It's that time of year...back to school. My first official day back will be Monday and so I'm reminded of what my dad always used to say to me. We'd be chatting and he'd say, "What does your next week look like?" I'd tell him about my schedule and what I had coming up and then he'd tease me and say, "When are you going to go full time?" I feel certain he'd be asking Myndy and Katy this as well. In truth he knew we had the "Myles work ethic" deeply ingrained in our personalities.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

venison sticks

It's almost deer hunting season again and our supply of venison sticks is dwindling. One of my dad's favorite things to do was to call and see if we'd eaten any venison from last year's hunt. He loved to hear that Erik was a big fan of the venison sticks as well as Ellie and Anna. The love for venison was not always strong in our family. I remember many dinners where dad would make beef steaks and venision steaks and then try to trick mom and I into eating the venison. We could always tell which one was beef and which one was venison but he made many valiant efforts to disguise the meat...marinades, rubs, sauces but we always turned our nose up at the venison. Freezer update dad...we only have one pack of polish sausages left and one bag of sticks. We may need some intervention on your part to help Steve replenish our freezer come hunting time.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


I just talked with my sister Katy and we were laughing about all of our WWDD ( What would Dad Do) moments lately. Yesterday Katy was driving up to the cabin with Myndy and Jason's Yukon. The oil light came on and she started thinking, "Ok, what would dad do?" Now, of course my dad would have known how to fix it but Katy didn't know what kind of oil it took or what to do. Since she couldn't fix it like dad she figured she better make friends quickly. She befriended a couple of farmers from Wisconsin who were on a motorcyle trip. They helped her find the right oil and made sure everything was running perfectly. In true Myles fashion she wanted to thank them for their help so she left a $20 at the truckstop for their meal.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Off Like a Herd of Turtles

One of dad's favorite sayings was "Off like a herd of turtles." This was usually saved for those times when it took us forty-five minutes to pack into the car with backpacks, bags, musical instruments and more. I can definitely relate to this now as I try to get the Willmans packed up and ready to go anywhere.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Like Family

Today was one of those days that sneak up on you when you are not expecting it. I just missed my dad terribly and felt a deep emptiness. I decided to read a few of the cards that people sent. One read, " Myles always showed a warm-hearted nature that made everyone feel as though he was a member of their own family." I think that's really true. My dad would just meet the lake, fishing, at the dump...and it would take just minutes for them to be old friends. Dad had an incredible way of connecting with people and I think folks could tell he was a genuine good guy.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

China King

I talked with mom today and she, Myndy, and the girls were at China King, one of dad's favorite restaurants. He loved their vegetable soup and Shirley would always give him an extra bowl of white rice to put in his soup. Myndy was enjoying this today in honor of dad. Dad was always proud that he got the almond cookies too and felt that Shirley gave these to her favorite customers. I would give anything to be able to sit down next to dad and enjoy a bowl of vegetable soup and some good conversation.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Tonight we were reminiscing about our honeymoons with our friends, the Andersons. This reminded me of my parents "romantic" honeymoon. Dad had planned for them to fish on Lake of the Woods.( I'm sure you can guess who was in charge of the honeymoon plans) When they arrived, they found two twin beds. Their next move was to move these together and commence their honeymooning. My dad always was a romantic!

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Hubbell House

Tonight we had dinner with our dear friends The Ungers at the Hubbell House in Mantorville. This brought back memories of my last dinner with my dad there. He loved their food and service! I think he ordered Kabobs, au gratin potatoes and an Arnold Palmer the last time we visited. We were seated in the back room (probably due to all the small children) and we enjoyed an awesome dinner and great conversation with my mom and dad. I remember the kids fought about who got to sit by grandpa Myles and grandma Susie and Anna showed grandpa the shoe collection.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Safety Camp Hero

Today's recollection takes me back to Safety Camp when my dad was a crash test dummy. Dad was always on the quieter side but stepping into a costume always transformed him into someone completely different. I remember being a counselor at safety camp and watching my dad dance in shaking hands with all the kids attending. He was picked to wear the costume because they needed a small guy and dad was one of the only people who could fit into the suit. No one could guess who was the crash test dummy dancing crazily and high-fiving the kids and dad never said a word. Only a few of us knew and we kept his secret.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Three Bears

I just finished storytime with little Erik and I was reminded of storytime with grandpa Myles. He always liked the kids to crawl in bed with him and then he'd tell them a story...his favorite was The Three Bears. He'd knock on the nightstand to mimic the knocking on the door and the kids would squeal. He'd do voices and the kids always said, " One more story, grandpa." When I went to tell them a story the next night they'd say, " Tell it like grandpa Myles" but I could never get it quite right.