Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Day Photos

On Christmas Day I drove to St. James to celebrate Christmas with Hans, Rachel, Josiah, Annika, and Rachel's family. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I so enjoyed spending time with everyone. It is impossible for me to NOT share some of the photos I took of my little angels — and other dear people.

** Note: Double click on any photo to enlarge it.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Man and the Birds

Some years ago I heard Paul Harvey tell a touching story that I have never forgotten. For this Christmas Eve, I invite you to click on the link of The Man and the Birds and read it for yourself.

Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Greetings

One of the joys of this season for me is the lovely Christmas cards and letters that have been coming to my mail box. It's so much fun hearing from family and friends from far away and I really love it when they include a photo of the family. In this day of e-cards -- and I like getting and sending those also -- it is a delight to open the mailbox and see cards, rather than the usual bills, ads, magazines, and junk mail. I hope this tradition never fades away.

I'd like to share the design idea and text from one that I especially like. The front of the card shows a shiny red ball ornament, the old fashioned kind that were on the tree when I was a little girl. The ball is hanging from a frosted evergreen bough, and the image on it is a tiny baby wrapped in a blanket. It reads, "The Christmas story is a love story. . . It is God sending His Son, Jesus Christ, on a RESCUE MISSION to earth." The inside continues, "Mission Accomplished! Wishing you a Christmas filled with joy as you celebrate the gift of God's Son."

Monday, December 18, 2006

Like Father ~ Like Son

Ever since Josiah was born, I have noticed how much he resembles his daddy, Hans. What do you think?

Photo 1: Josiah, age 2 years, 4 months

Photo 2: Uncle Jerry holding Hans, age 2 years, 9 months

Photo 3: Hans, age 5

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Today was the final Christmas concert at Wooddale Church where I have been singing in the choir for the past fourteen years. After many, many rehearsals and three performances, I must admit that I am exhausted. It wasn't the standing or singing that tired me out this year, rather holding my "over-flowing" choir folder, containing the thirteen selections in which the choir sang, with a couple of broken bones in my left elbow. That's right - I fell while on a walk with Hans and his family a couple of weeks ago on the famous Cliff Walk out in Newport, RI, and my elbow took a lot of the shock. I tried to support my folder with my right hand, but it wasn't possible during the entire time.
The concerts were beautiful and were attended by about 5,000 or so people. It's such a nice way to usher in the Christmas season.
One of the best parts for me this year was coming home last night to return a voice mail to Peder. When I phoned him, he asked me if I was sitting down. "Well, I could be. What's up?" "Mom, Sarah and I are going to have a baby!" I was/am so excited - both for them, and for our whole family. Today while singing the songs about Mary expecting her little bundle, I couldn't help but think of Sarah and Peder. What a special meaning Christmas will have for them this year.

Monday, December 04, 2006

It's So Nice to Have a Man Around the House!

I'm happy to have a new piece in my Christmas decorations - - I now have a darling snowman that I am calling Frosty. I realize that name is not original, but hey, it works for me! His smile is so contagious. I am really enjoying him. Josiah and Annika, I think you will like him too!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Home from Rhode Island

As always, my time with my family went by way too fast! It seems I just get there and it's time to pack up and leave.

I thoroughly loved spending time at Hans and Rachel's. Josiah and Annika are wonderful grandchildren!!! I can't say that enough. Josiah is very smart and lots of fun. He loves to sing (has a very good voice; sings on tune; memorizes lyrics very quickly). Annika loves music too - she bounces to the rythm. They both have infectious smiles. I could go on and on, but don't want to go "over the top."

Here are a few of the many photos I took during this visit.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving Holiday in Rhode Island

Wednesday night I flew to Boston and Hans was there to pick me up. Driving to their home in his new Audi was "First Class." Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, we stayed in all day as it rained and rained. But that was no problem as we had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner and I got to play with Josiah and Annika - - a thrill for me!

Rachel and Hans have their home all settled and it is really nice. The kids have their own rooms and they are decorated so cute. Josiah LOVES Thomas the tank engine, and all of the pieces that go along with it. He has a lovely Thomas table in his room and spends lots of time playing with it. I love hearing him talk and sing. He has a very good voice and memorizes things quickly.

Annika is a joy too. She has a beautiful smile, and she's also very bright.
She likes musical toys. Yesterday we discovered she likes squash and mashed potatoes! You can tell by her expression. ;-)

Today being such a beautiful day, Rachel and I walked downtown, about 7 or 8 blocks from their home. On the way I was looking for the house I saw in September that had a sign on it which read "built in 1719." Well, I didn't see that one, but saw an even older one - 1710. And then we came upon America's oldest tavern - the White Horse Tavern, built in 1673. It's sign says it was the yearly gathering place of the members of the colonial legislature. This town of Newport is so picturesque and interesting. I really hope to spend more time here - first of all to see my family, and secondly, to wander around the streets more. I will post more photos when I get a chance.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


*I am doing this at the request of Peder.

1. What is your dream vacation? A cruise to the Scandinavian capitols.

2. First music album you owned? "The Sound of Music."

3. Song you sing in the shower? Funny thing. . . I rarely sing at home, and never in the shower.

4. First dream job when you were a child? To own a bakery.

5. Worst job you've ever had? Working in the nursery at church. I love my own kids and grandkids, but changing someone else's kids' diapers always made me gag!

6. Favorite spice? Cinnamon.

7. Old TV show you wish you had on DVD? "Father Knows Best." I loved that show!

8. Favorite game to play? Canadian Salad (a card game). I just learned this from my friend Lil this past October. So far I have found no one to play it with me. But trust me, it is really fun!

9. Least favorite color? Orange.

10. Worst song ever? "Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time."

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the field of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than theretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.


A. Lincoln

Happy Birthday, Sarah & Peder

When Peder and Sarah had their first date, they discovered they were born only 364 days apart. Sarah had her birthday yesterday ~ Peder's is today. Tonight we will get together to celebrate the occasion. Here's to both of you - - HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Celebrating with Peder and Sarah are her parents, Steve, and I.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Holiday Tea Photos

Here are a few of the many photos I took at the Holiday Tea.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Holiday Tea

Friday night I was blessed to attend a special holiday tea at the church of one of my friends. This year was the 10th anniversary of this spectacular event. Last year was the first year I attended and I knew right away that I wanted to come again! This event is sponsored by the Women's Ministries organization.

Members of the church sign up to host a table, and what hosts they are! They bring from home their beautiful china, crystal, silver, lovely linens, centerpieces, candles, chair covers or other adornments. Tickets are nearly impossible to get, but I lucked out this year and was able to get 4: one for Aunt Liz, one for Pat, one for my sister, and 1 for yours truly.

The doors open at 5:45; the tea begins at 6:45 - - this leaves exactly an hour to feast your eyes on 52 beautifully decorated tables! I warned my family to bring their cameras as this is really a Kodak event! I'm including only a few photos from the many I took.

The tea began with scones: Apple Streusel and Dried Apricot, served with Lemon Curd, Devonshire Cream & Raspberry Preserves. These were so delicious that it was hard to remain "a lady" and only take one of each. Of course, Barry's Gold Blend Tea was also served.

Next we had Tea Savories: Smoked Turkey Lingonberry open faced sandwiches and Cucumber tea sandwiches. These were followed by a salad of Field Greens with Cranberries, Blue Cheese and Spiced Walnuts. All of these were delicious.

The theme of the evening was Treasures from the Heart. The guest speaker, Carol Lund, spoke about the treasures she has collected in her life, both tangible and intangible. She brought with her a trunk that her grandparents traveled with when immigrating to America from Sweden. Her trunk housed her wedding dress, dress her grandmother made her for her first birthday, photos, and other such things. It made me think of the treasures I have stored in my cedar chest.

By now we were ready for the final course: Tea Dainties. We had Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, Orange and Ginger Thins, Oat Biscuits with Dark Belgian Chocolate, and Chocolate Candies. Once again, it was yummy!

My family told me they had a wonderful time and want me to try to get them tickets again next year. This afternoon I showed my photos to some of my friends, and guess what? They want to go next year too. My, oh my, what am I going to do?????????

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sunday. . . a day of rest, finally!

It's been a busy week for me. Here's a shortened version:

  • Last Sunday, I sang at two services in the church choir; went to brunch with 4 friends; with the same friends, went to the play The Full Monty performed by the Bloomington Civic Theater. This is an excellent company of actors, many of whom have had Broadway and off-Broadway experience. It is the third year I have had season tickets with my friends. It is really fun.
  • Monday through Friday I worked my usual hours at BHP, plus a few hours of over-time.
  • Tuesday night I went to a knitting club that I joined this year. Its main purpose is to knit prayer shawls for ailing people, but about every other month, one of our members teaches us a new craft. It is a good time for fellowship, plus some of my projects are progressing.
  • Wednesday night was choir rehearsal. Not only are we rehearsing for Sunday worship services, but we spend about 45 minutes working on our Christmas concert music. The concerts this year are December 8, 9, and 10. This music is really pretty.
  • Thursday night I attended a birthday party for a friend from choir. There were 12 of us at another friend's home. Each of us were assigned an item from the menu to bring and the dinner was just delicious! The "birthday girl" agreed to have the party on one condition: only gag gifts were allowed. Mine was a gift-wrapped can on Spam with a note attached which read: "May this be the only kind of 'spam' you receive from now on." I think the best gift was from another friend who gave a beautiful vase of arranged flowers: baby's breath, shiny green leaves, and long-stemmed "prunes!" Yes, that's right, she attached 12 big prunes to long floral stems, wrapped in floral tape. It was hilarious (but sort of pretty)!
  • Saturday night our choir sang for the first of six services this weekend. You see, a while back, someone signed a comment card that it would be nice if the "traditional" choir would sing at the "contemporary" services sometime. So, we sang for one service Saturday night, and 5 more services this morning. Maybe that's why I'm so tired. . .

Thursday, November 02, 2006


There hasn't been much to write about in the past 6 or 7 days because I have had, and still have, the sniffles. You know the routine - - blow, blow, blow your nose ~ now it's red and sore. Cough, cough, cough some more ~ will I need an oxygen hose? (Okay, so I'm not a poet!)

Anyway, couple the sniffles with the time change and you can probably imagine my non-exciting life: go to work; go home for a little dinner; be in bed by 8:30 or 9. Day in ~ day out, this has been my pattern.

They say colds usually last two weeks or 14 days, which ever comes first. So, I probably have 7 or 8 days to go. (sigh, cough, cough!)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Highlights of Trip to Branson

Where to begin? With four fun-packed days, it’s hard to condense my thoughts, but I’ll give some highlights.

I loved spending time with my dear friend, Lil and her husband Jim. They are wonderful friends! And no matter how many months we are separated, we pick up right where we left off. First of all, they are the perfect hosts. They have wonderful accommodations. And Lil is a great cook! We had fabulous meals, including one of my favorite dishes – Apple Pancake. Lil and I used to order this at my favorite restaurant when they lived up here. She and I would split the apple pancake, plus an order of thick sliced Hormel bacon, and tomato juice. She and Jim put all of their jobs "on hold" and spent the time showing us the sights of Branson.

We attended 4 shows, which were wonderful!
The Kitchen Band (Jim plays saxophone in this band)
Doug Gabriel
The Branson Belle (a dinner showboat)
The Dutton’s

Lil taught us a new card game called "Canadian Salad." At first we were skeptical because it sounded too hard, but after playing a trial hand, we were hooked. We stayed up until 11:30 Friday night and until 11 on Saturday night to play this fun game. Sunday morning, before leaving at our target time, 7 AM, Lil asked if we wanted to play one more round. It was tempting, but we denied ourselves.

We drove around the area and saw gorgeous new developments, beautiful fall foliage. Branson is a "happening" place – not a settlement for old, white-haired retirees that it once was.

Eating at the Smith’s Berry Farm Restaurant in Collins, Missouri. We’ve eaten there 3 times so far, and I’m sure we’ll make it in there again, if possible.

Quality time driving to and from Branson. These are times when good conversations occur. We reminisced over the days when we were much younger and talked about the struggles and joys happening in our lives now.

I’m back home doing the usual things now. I haven’t hung my bittersweet around the house yet. First things first.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Trip to Branson

Seven years ago my best friend Lil up and left Minnesota and moved to Branson. Oh, how I hated to see her go so far away. Well, it isn't really that far. She and her husband can make the trip in about nine and a half hours. But for me, well, I don't care to drive that much and have never driven down to see them by myself. Rather, I travel with my fun relatives, which I really enjoy! Consequently, I don't get to see her as often as I would like.

Thursday my Aunt Liz and I left my home at 7 am and drove to Owatonna where we met my sister (thanks for driving her over, Jerry), and the three of us headed south in my Aunt's new van. Wow! This new vehicle has all the bells and whistles, some of which we have yet to figure out how to operate!! We drove to a Des Moines suburb where we picked up my Cousin Linda who had driven over from Chicago. Linda has never traveled with us before and was very anxious to join us.

At half past noon, we set out for Branson. Things were fine until we came to Kansas City. I hope I don't offend you, Lil, when I say that Missouri (especially Kansas City) has the most confusing and misleading highway signage of any place I have ever traveled. We mistook a sign for the Interstate and got off on a 4 lane state highway that had stop lights about every mile - this was at four o'clock in the afternoon. Picture lots of cars and lots of red lights and you'll understand why it took us over an hour to meet up to the highway we needed.

Our mission - other than arriving at Lil and Jim's home, was to stop at our secret bittersweet find (If you think I'm going to mention the exact location here, you are mistaken.) to clip some small branches of the beautiful fall decoration. We were happy to get there before the sun set. We clipped a few bags full, and also managed to pick up some Osage fruit (hedge apples) that had dropped to the ground. These big, textured green balls are being marketed as cures for keeping spiders out of garages and basements. I'm not sure they work, but our Cousin Pat asked us to bring some back for her.

After our mission was accomplished and the sun was setting, we were on our way and stopped to eat at a very good restaurant - Smith's Blackberry Restaurant, a great small-town, family run restaurant with excellent "down home cooking." They feature home-made rolls, pies, cobbler, real mashed potatoes, huge servings of fried chicken, hot roast beef sandwiches, etc. We've eaten there twice before and probably will stop there again for breakfast on Sunday morning.

We pulled into Lil's driveway at 9:50 pm, almost 15 hours after leaving home. It doesn't matter if we make good time - just so we get there.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Changed. Have you ever read Webster's definition? Oh, there are many entries - - my dictionary lists 32. Some of the definitions describe change for the better; some are substitutions; others refer to the transfer or removal of something or things. The change I witnessed yesterday was in my dear friend, Cassie, who has been stricken with the hideous disease: Alzheimer's. Oh, she seemed to know me and was happy that I had come to pay a visit, but she couldn't communicate on the level I have been accustomed to hearing. She viewed the photos I brought along of my grandchildren and told me over and over, "My, they are so cute. I just love babies." But when we looked at her photo album, there were many dear friends and relatives of hers that she no longer knew. She even asked me how old her first husband was when he died.

I stayed for a couple of hours. We had run out of little things to talk about. She could no longer focus on any subject. In fact, she fell asleep right in the middle of telling me something.

I love her dearly and it hurts to see her change.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


It is definitely way too early to deal with S*N*O*W - but that is exactly what has happened tonight. Oh, we had flurries off and on today, but tonight, while I was at choir rehearsal, we had the four letter word. The temperature only warmed up to 36 degrees today, with a wind chill of 22 degrees - and that was bad enough. So, while still in the church building, I activated my "automatic car starter" so I could get into a warm, cozy car. To my surprise - while walking to my car, I discovered my car was totally covered in the white stuff! At least I had had the foresight to put my scraper/brush in the car yesterday. I just didn't realize I would be using it so soon.

I took it easy driving home, since the roads were icy looking in places. Part of the way I was behind a sanding/salting truck. I'm not sure everyone was as lucky as I was to get to their destination safely because just one exit before mine, all cars were stopped. I was able to take that exit and came the remainder of the way on surface roads. I sincerely hope everyone is okay. The 10 o'clock news report is that some roads are going to be closed due to icy conditions. Unless it warms up again, it is going to be a looooooooooong winter!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Brian Visits Grandma D

This weekend I have done something brand new to me - - I had my daughter and son-in-law's dog come to stay with me. He is a beautiful Golden Retriever who behaves wonderfully! I picked him up yesterday morning at Chad's parents' home in Hudson, Wisconsin. He had his over-night bag packed and was ready to go. We drove along the St. Croix River to Stillwater, then crossed back over into Wisconsin over the historic bridge so Grandma could try to take some nice photos of the fall color surrounding Stillwater. Well, I drove around a bit, but could not find any public place that would give me a vantage point. Come on, Wisconsin! Why don't you set aside a little place across from Stillwater where folks could park and appreciate the first town settled in Minnesota so many years ago?!

Before driving to my home, I had a couple of places in mind where Brian and I could visit a bit and get in some good walking. We stopped at my Aunt Liz's first. Brian was so excited to see her, that his wagging tail hit one of her decorative plates on a shelf and knocked it over. It didn't break, and Aunt Liz just laughed. She thought it was cute and wasn't worried about her plates. I took him for a little walk around her home and we came upon some wild raspberry bushes. We walked back to her home, picked up an empty cup, and returned to pick ripe raspberries. Yum! Did you enjoy them, Aunt Liz?

Next on my agenda was the beautiful 1.9 mile walk around Lake Normandale in Bloomington. Brian loved it. And I enjoyed it too. The leaves were lovely, and we saw many geese swimming and feeding. It won't be too long and the trees will be bare, the geese will have flown south, and the lake will be frozen. Ugh!

My home was foreign to Brian, and the sounds of the people living above and beside me brought many barks from him on Saturday. But during the night, he only barked once. Today he is much more relaxed about the sounds. He and I have logged many miles in the past two days. I'm sure Heidi will be considering getting me a dog so I will exercise more - not a bad idea, except for my allergies to dogs.

Brian, I have enjoyed having you come to my home. I hope you tell your mom and dad about the fun we have had. Come again!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

What a Beautiful Fall Day for a Drive

Leaves are beginning to change color here. Many have fallen. It was a lovely day for a drive along the beautiful Mississippi River - you know, from south of Red Wing down to Wabasha - in my opinion one of the most gorgeous parts of Minnesota. My friend Nancy agreed to go with me, and we had a wonderful time. We stopped in Lake City, where the Mississippi widens and for a little ways becomes Lake Pepin, and watched some of the many sail boats that were out enjoying the breeze. Then we headed down to Wabasha and spotted an eagle at the "eagle watch" dock - next the the site of the new National Eagle Center which is under construction. Next we crossed the Mississippi River heading for Nelson, Wisconsin. Our intentions were to get an ice cream cone at the Creamery. But once inside, we lost our enthusiasm when we saw over 50 people standing in line.

Across the street we spotted a pumpkin stand, so we crossed over and each of us found a darling little pumpkin and some squash. Talk about a bargain: squash - $.50; small pumpkins - $1.00! I'm positive they cost a lot more here in the twin cities. Since we hadn't had a snack yet, we walked down the street to the Twin Bluffs restaurant and had an apple dumpling and apple pie. Yummy!

I'm sure there will be more intense color in the next couple of weeks, so if you have time, I'd suggest you take a drive - - either along this route, or one of your favorites. It's a real treat for your eyes.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Hans Has Returned

Today is the day we have been waiting for - - Hans has returned from his duties in Japan. He left Japan sometime on Saturday (Japan) time; had breakfast with Heidi this morning in Seattle; is now in Rhode Island. He phoned me on the way home from the airport. Rachel was driving, Josiah and Annika were in their car seats.

He told me he brought with him a Thomas train engine that Josiah had forgotten in Japan. Josiah said to him, "Daddy, you found Thomas!"

Hans also brought with him a copy of the catalog Annika modeled for in Japan early this summer. We'll all be anxious to see the pictures. Heidi told me she's in a lot of them.

God is good. He has kept my son, daughter-in-law, grandson, and new little granddaughter safe during their stay half-way around the world. They've had great experiences, and have many stories to tell. I'm so glad to have them back home again. Thank you, Lord.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Janette Oke

This year our company is celebrating it's 50th anniversary. To celebrate the occasion, a dinner party was held this past weekend. I returned from Rhode Island early just to attend this event as my favorite author, who is also a friend of mine, was going to be one of the honored guests. She is Janette Oke, author of the books Love Comes Softly, which are also being made into Hallmark movies for the Hallmark Channel. We haven't seen each other since around 1980. Also present were an additional two of my favorite authors, Beverly Lewis and Lauraine Snelling. It was a wonderful evening with good visiting, delicious food, and fantastic entertainment.

My good friend, Nancy, joined me for the evening. She said she enjoyed meeting my fellow co-workers and couldn't help but feel the "family-type" atmosphere we share with one another.