Thursday, February 08, 2018

Update On My Back

This morning I had my appointment with the spine surgeon. He showed me the pictures from my CT scan two weeks ago. The scan shows my previous surgery done December 2, 2016 (L5/S1) has not healed and he told me it was not done correctly. There is a piece of hardware that appears to "floating," when it should be connected to the screw on the right side. That particular screw doesn't go in far enough either. The screw on the left side was never inserted correctly. It should have been screwed in at an angle instead of straight ahead. The surgeon asked me who had done my surgery and at what facility. 

The surgeon said I have three choices: 1) live with it; 2) have more injections to see if they would give me relief [This puts a band aid on the situation.]; or 3) have surgery to fuse L5/S/1 up to L3/L4. I told him I would like him to do the surgery. He told me he is booked up for the next month, but will get me in as soon as possible. His assistant will get back to me in a few days. I will spend about three nights in the hospital and the recovery will be three to six months. 

I feel good about this doctor and am praying for healing. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

~ ~ ~ Steve ~ ~ ~

I was first attracted to Steve when I was in the 8th grade. His family had begun attending our church and I thought he was very handsome. I was acquainted with his sister, Cecelia, from seeing her at Sumner School, my elementary school. In February of my 9th grade, 1960, I went to the formal banquet with Steve which was held at our church. This was our first "date." Our relationship was on and off for the next three years, but when I was a freshman in college and he was a sophomore, he asked me to marry him. That was November 11, 1963. I was very excited about marrying him for that would mean I would have a place to call "my home." I hadn't had that since my mother's passing in April of 1960.

Steve had a passion for learning and wanted so much to study on the college and seminary level. He was a great student, earning high marks. He earned a Bachelor of Theology from Minnesota Bible College (no longer in existence) and a Bachelor of Arts from St. Paul Bible College (now Crown College) in 1968. Following that, we moved to Lincoln, Illinois, where he pursued his Master of Divinity at Lincoln Christian Seminary. They had a special program for students to take concentrated classes every Tuesday/Wednesday for three years, which allowed them to work in other places to help pay their way. He proudly graduated with his M. Div. in 1971. During that time he had been hired to be the youth pastor, followed by the senior pastor at First Christian Church in Joliet, Illinois. [All three of our kids, Hans (1970), Peder (1973) and Heidi (1977) were born in Joliet.] It didn't take Steve long before he began studying for his Doctor of Ministry degree at Trinity, which he earned in 1987. We lived and worked in Joliet until June 1978, upon which we moved back to Minnesota where Steve became professor of Christian Education and Church History at Crossroads College, formerly called Minnesota Bible College. We lived in Austin rather than Rochester where the college was located due to the lower cost of housing Austin afforded.

Life was busy with raising three kids. Steve had to take time for studying, but also fit in time for his love of running—often training to run marathons. The family followed him to cheer him on at the Twin Cities Marathons, Grandma's Marathons and on his 40th birthday we even went to Chicago where he ran in their big marathon. The older our kids became, the more activities grew. Once Heidi started kindergarten, I began working part-time at a local bakery. After a year and a half, I got a job working at Hormel Foods. And then life got complicated and our marriage was in trouble and eventually it ended in divorce.

* * * * *

Fast forward to Friday, January 12, 2018. Hans phoned me to let me know his dad had been found dead. Apparently Steve had missed a lunch date and when his brother David had been called to ask if he knew of his whereabouts, he sent Donna over to Steve's house to investigate. In all likelihood, Steve died of a heart attack in his sleep, for it was later reported to us he had complained of a sore left shoulder and arm, but passed it off as nothing. 

Steve's funeral was held Thursday, January 18, at the Austin Church of Christ where he had been the minister for several years. His nephew, Tim, officiated. It would have pleased Steve to see the sanctuary filled—all the way to the back pews. For me the best part was the speech Hans gave to honor his dad. 

Chad, Heidi, Rachel, Hans, Peder, Sarah, yours truly

Felix, William, Josiah, Anni, Relie

Tim, Lauren, Andrea, Heidi, Rachel, Hans, Peder, Devin, Sarah, Phillip, Montana, Amy, Ricky, Cece
Tim, Andrea, Heidi, Hans, Amy, Peder

Heidi and Hans chilling out in my cottage
This whole ordeal has been very hard on Hans, Peder and Heidi. Not only did they have to put their lives on hold and make their way to Austin to plan for a funeral, but they have a house and garage that are full and they must dispose of everything. My heart hurts for them.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

My Mother's 99th Birthday

My mother and me
99 years ago today my mother was born. Sadly, she died when she was but 41 years old. Today I was thinking about her and all that she missed, had she lived to be a senior citizen. She never got to see her daughters graduate from high school, or her son graduate from the U S Navy. She didn't witness her daughters getting married, nor did she get to meet her five grandchildren. Her ten grandchildren never got to meet her either.

2017 in Review

I'm now looking in the rear view mirror of 2017, but wanted to list some of the things that made it memorable.

  • In January I was recovering from the back surgery I had December 2. On the 5th I returned to work having been off since the surgery. I had previously announced my upcoming retirement, so I spent my days cleaning out my office while training my replacement. On the 11th I attended the fabulous retirement party given to me by Bethany House. 

L to R: Dave Horton, yours truly, Steve Oates, and Jim Parrish

  • March 21st I flew to Arizona to spend 10 days with my sister at the condo she had rented since January. I had originally offered to drive down with her the end of December, but due to my back surgery, I was unable. We had a lot of fun while I was there, going here and there with our cousins Pat and Pudge, driving to Mount Lemon with our good friend, Sonja, and having lunch with childhood friends Joanne and Wayne  McAlister, Judy and John Otto, and Sonja. 

Yours truly, Jan and Sonja
  • Driving back to Minnesota we stopped in Oklahoma City to see the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building which had been bombed on April 19, 1995. The museum is very well done. Outdoors there is a glass chair representing each person who was killed in the explosion—they are arranged in 9 rows exhibiting the floor on which each person was at the time. Inside the museum are displays and memorabilia from the incident. It was well worth our stop.

  • Our next destination stop was the Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. The is the restaurant/gift shop/ bakery owned by Ree Drummond and her husband. Ree is the TV personality "The Pioneer Woman."  We had a wonderful time there, including eating breakfast, and I got to have my photo taken with two of her children, Paige and Bryce.

L to R: Ree's daughter Paige, son Bryce, and yours truly

  • Mid April I drove to St. James to see Rachel, Anni and William who had come to Minnesota to spend a few days of their school spring break. Toward the end of April I flew to Chicago and spent a couple of days with friends Jack and Jean Wooddard. They drove me all over Joliet, past former houses we lived in and to see friends Bob and Doris Eich and Florine Clements. 

L to R: Bob, Doris, yours truly, Jean, Jack

First Christian Church, Joliet, Illinois
  • The first weekend of May I flew to New York City where I met up with Heidi. We went there to celebrate the 50th birthday of my niece, Amy. We traipsed all over midtown Manhattan, touring the Empire State Building, Chelsea Market, Rockefeller Center, and Time Square. Our main event was seeing the Broadway play, "Hello, Dolly!" starring Bette Midler.

L to R: Amy, yours truly, Heidi, Andrea, Donna, Montana, and Morgan
Stage at Schubert Theater
Late May I flew to Chicago to spend the long weekend with my friend, Dr. Joanie. I had a great time with her, including attending worship service at Moody Church. We drove to Indiana to visit Joanie's sister who is in a nursing home and also went to see my Aunt Ginny.

Dr. Joanie against the Chicago skyline

Aunt Ginny and yours truly
  • In June the pool in my neighborhood opened. Since I was now retired, I could go over in the afternoons. To my surprise, I met a bunch of really nice ladies there. They seemed to go over each week day from about 1 to 3 pm. I began to look forward to this! Also, I took advantage of the nicer weather and began to spend my mornings in my garage going through box after box and tub after tub, deciding what to keep and what to donate to charity or discard. I made trip after trip to Value Village, a local charity.
This photo does not show the final result. I have completely gone through everything in my garage and am happy with the results.

  • In July I flew to Seattle to go on the family vacation with Heidi and her family. She had rented a condo in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. It is a beautiful vacation spot, with a gorgeous lake. One day Heidi and Chad rented a speed boat. We had a lovely time out on the lake and in the small town. 

Heidi with Corinne on the tube


Lake Coeur d'Alene

Later in July my cousin Linda drove up from Chicago. We enjoyed spending time together, including a little road trip to Lake Crystal where her dad and our grandparents are buried. On 25th, my granddaughter Anni flew to Minneapolis from Washington, D. C., unaccompanied. I was so proud of her. When she got off the jet she told me she had been upgraded to first class. While Anni was with me we spent time at the Mall of America, in my pool, and a little day trip with Aurelia to Austin to see Steve.

Aurelia and Anni
  • The first weekend of August was very special for me—all three of my kids and their families came to the twin cities. I loved having them at my place Sunday morning, Peder's home Sunday afternoon, and at my cousin Pat's on Monday. 

Leo, Felix, yours truly, Aurelia, Anni, Josiah, and William

Marshall and Heidi

Rellie, yours truly, Corinne, and Anni

Heidi, Hans, Peder, and yours truly

L to R: Heidi, Jan, Pat (standing), Rachel, Josiah

Hans and Jerry

Heidi and Hans

Peder holding Leo, with Rellie and Felix

Later in the month, on the 21st, we experienced the solar eclipse. While it wasn't a total here in Minnesota, it was covered about 2/3rds. Peder and his family drove to Nebraska to see the total eclipse.

  • September 2nd my cousin Pat and I drove up to Bemidji, Minnesota, to attend the farewell gathering for Howie Rasmussen, my sister's first husband. Howie had lived in a log cabin in that area for many years following his retirement. He didn't want a funeral. Rather, he requested a party, so Keith and Lynn hosted a gathering at the sports bar he frequented.
  • In October I hosted a family lunch with my brother, sister, cousins Pat and Pudge, and cousin John and his friend, Tonya. We had a very nice visit.
  • November 21 I flew to Washington, D. C. to spend Thanksgiving with Hans and his family. It was beautiful there—still had fall color on the trees and shrubs. In Minnesota the trees were bare. On the day before Thanksgiving, Hans and I took Uber to downtown D. C. where we attended the play, "A Christmas Carol," at Ford's Theater, where Lincoln was assassinated. We both really enjoyed it. Rachel fixed a delicious Thanksgiving dinner.
Stage at Ford's Theater. Lincoln's box is decorated with flags and bunting.

William, Anni and Josiah
  • December was very busy with Christmas concerts at Bethel University where I was the guest of my cousin John. Also, I was the guest of my sister for a Sweet Adeline's concert. The second weekend I sang in the Wooddale Christmas concerts, which was a joy. 
Wooddale Christmas Concert

I went to hear Charles Dickens' great great grandson perform a one person play of "A Christmas Carol." It was fabulous! Also in December, I went to a Christmas brunch of my neighborhood friends and was a guest at the Bethany House annual Christmas party. On Christmas Eve I sang in the choir for the two traditional candle light services at my church. I also went to a post Christmas lunch with my cousins Pat and Pudge at my brother and sister's home in Rochester. And on the 31st, I completed reading The Bible. This was my 12th year. Each time I read it, I find new things to contemplate. To God be the glory for allowing me to enjoy another year.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas with Janet, Jerry, Pat and Pudge

Yesterday Pat, Pudge and I drove to Rochester to have Christmas with Janet and Jerry. It was bitter cold, but the roads were dry, so that was good. Entering into their home was heart warming. The decorations were beautiful—the tree, decorative holiday pillows, a fabulous snowman collection, and the ceramic Christmas tree and nativity set I made of ceramics many years ago. Janet had the table set so pretty.

We sat around and caught up with one another. I hadn't been to their home since last April. I think that's the longest period of time for me to be away. Pat and Pudge brought Janet up to date on the happenings in Arizona. We watched a DVD I had made of old, old movies my dad had taken of events in and around our church in the early 50's. While Pudge didn't know anyone other than my siblings and me, he said he enjoyed seeing all of the old cars.

Janet and Pat 

Pat and Jerry

Pudge and yours truly

English plum pudding made by Pat. It is our grandmother's recipe.
For lunch we sat around the dining room table and enjoyed the large array of sandwich makings, potato salad, fruit salad, and then dessert: homemade English plum pudding, made by Cousin Pat, Christmas cookies made by Janet, and rosettes. Everything was delicious!

I treasure these times together for we never know how long it will continue.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Busy, Busy Week

This past week was really busy. It all began with two concerts Sunday, which were wonderful! I enjoyed being in them so much.

Tuesday evening I was the guest of Ellen Chalifoux for the Bethany House Christmas party. It was a lovely evening of dinner and games, held at Brackett's Crossing Country Club in Lakeville. I had a delicious chicken dinner. The following morning I didn't feel so well. I think the flourless chocolate cake I had eaten at the party didn't agree with me. That caused me to cancel a lunch appointment I had with a dear friend of mine. 

Friday was a very busy day. It started with a prime rib dinner held at my church. My friends, Bonnie and Debra were there, too. Prior to the dinner, our choir director, who is also pastor of senior citizens  at our church, introduced our junior high pastor, Heather, who was holding her new Saint Bernard, puppy, Hadley. Hadley joins Jingle Belle, who is a 4 year old St. Bernard and weighs 140 pounds.

After leaving the stage, Heather brought Hadley to our table and I got to hold her paw during the prayer for dinner. She is really sweet!

The guest for this event was the great great grandson of Charles Dickens, George Dickens. In an hour and a half, he performed the entire story, A Christmas Carol. I was blown away with his acting! He played every character, with no costume changes. He used his top coat, top hat, and cane to perform different functions throughout the play. Amazing!

Only 4 hours later I joined my friends Linda and Jay at the Volkswagen dealership. Linda is my saleslady and her husband is the General Manager of the dealership. I have become friends with them and they asked me out to dinner. Where did we go? To Brackett's Crossing Country Club! Honestly, I was so very full from the meal at my church that it was difficult for me to eat much at dinnertime. Also, my friends gave me a tour of their beautiful house which is on the golf course.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Christmas Concerts

I'm happy that I have been feeling well enough to sing in my church's Christmas concerts this year. As in the past, we were given a CD of the songs that we will be singing. In my opinion, this is an excellent tool. One can have it on it the car, or in my case, in my CD player. I have listened to it over and over while making dinner, addressing my Christmas cards, eating lunch, and so on.

Tonight we have our dress rehearsal. Our guest performer, Steve Green, will be arriving and we'll hear him sing for the first time.

I have invited Linda and Jay Radue to the Saturday night concert. Linda was my saleswoman when I bought my 2016 Beetle. Her husband is the General Manager at the dealership. I have gotten well acquainted with them since buying my car due to learning Jay was dealing with a tumor between his left ear and brain. I assured them I would be praying for him and his doctors. He has had surgery. The tumor was benign, but his hearing in that ear is lost. A small tumor has been detected in the same location on his right side. My prayers continue. I have invited my cousin John to the Sunday afternoon concert.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Thanksgiving with Hans and His Family

Last Tuesday I flew to Washington, D. C. to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with Hans, Rachel, Joe, Anni and William. It was a clear day as our plane descended to the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Just before landing, the Pentagon came clearly into my view. I hadn't realized its close proximity to the airport. After deplaning, I walked to the street exit and sent a text to Hans informing him I was outside. Within minutes he picked me up and we started out toward his community. We stopped for lunch and then he drove to Rachel's employment where we met her and picked up a grocery list. I haven't grocery shopped with Hans for a very, very long time, so this was fun.

Once at their home, we waited for the kids to come home from school. It amazes me how much they change in the months since I last saw them. Joe is growing taller, his voice is getting deeper, and I detected the starting of a mustache on him!

Hans worked on Wednesday morning and picked up Chic-fil-A sandwiches on his way home. After eating, he made arrangements for Uber to pick him and me up to take us to Ford's Theater in downtown Washington, D. C. Once inside the theater, we picked up our tickets at Will Call and then began touring the theater's museum in the lower level.

On April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary, along with guests Maj. Henry Reed Rathbone and his fiance, Clara Harris, arrived at Ford's Theater to see a performance of Our American Cousin. Lincoln enjoyed the theater for it gave him some relief from the burdens of the presidency. During the play while one actor was on the stage and the audience was laughing, John Wilkes Booth (also a famous actor at Ford's Theater) entered the presidential booth and shot Lincoln. Booth stabbed Major Rathbone in the left arm, then jumped to the stage, getting entangled in the decorations for the presidential box and landed off balance on the stage, breaking a bone in his left leg. He ran off the stage and into an alley and mounted a horse he had waiting there and escaped from the city.

Ford's Theater from our seats in the fourth row. The presidential box is in the upper right.

After visiting the museum, we took our seats for A Christmas Carol. A few minutes later, the theater lights dimmed and the music began. City folk began entering the stage and some made their way down the aisles of the theater. One well dressed woman stopped to speak to us. "You must know someone important to have gotten such good seats," she remarked. The play was great! I enjoyed the sets, costumes, acting, and the singing of carols throughout.

Included in our tickets was a tour of the Petesen House, directly across the street from Ford's Theater. This was a boarding house run by William and Anna Petersen. After Lincoln was shot, the crowd in the theater noisily dispersed, causing Mr. Peterson to step out on his balcony to inquire what had happened. He indicated having a spare room and urged them to bring the President there. A young doctor who had been in the theater cared for Lincoln. He found the wound in Lincoln's head and removed a blood clot, which released pressure and allowed the unconscious president to breathe on his own. Lincoln died at the Petersen House the following morning.

As with the theater, the Petersen House had a museum and a gift shop. There is a stunning display of all the books written about President Lincoln. You can read about it here.

This display of books stands more than three and a half stories high.

Thanksgiving Day Rachel prepared a delicious dinner: turkey, dressing, green bean casserole, steamed carrots, mashed potatoes (Hans did the potatoes!), rolls, and a cherry and apple pie for dessert. The post-it notes on the wall were written by each member of their family. Each note lists something that person is thankful for.

L to R: William (now 8 yrs), Anni (now 11) and Joe (now 13)

Anni with their new kitty, Rhett
While I was there we went on a couple of mile plus walks around their community. I couldn't have done it without the aid of my cane. The weather was beautiful—in the high 60s—and there were gorgeous fall leaves on trees and bushes. Also, I played video games with the kids and we watched some old episodes of The Great British Baking Show. One afternoon we went to the new Pixar movie, Coco.

Awaiting my departure on Saturday, I could see the Washington Monument directly out the window of my gate. Once on the plane, awaiting our turn to take off, my view was the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, and our nation's capitol building with the dome illuminated. Washington, D. C. is a wonderful city!