Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Long Learning Process

I admitted to not being an "expert" in writing a blog, but I am learning. I have been endeavoring to add photos to my entries regarding Portland, Oregon, and my flight home, but until today have been unsuccessful. Today a friend came to the rescue and step by step showed me the path I must take. If you are interested, you may look back to see what I have added.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Memories from the past

Today, while stopping by our last place of residence in Joliet, Illinois, to see our former neighbor for a few minutes, the woman of the house who is now living in said house invited me to come in and take a look around. Talk about interesting - and memories flooding back into my mind...the wonderful plastered walls, the plastered starburst design in the dining room ceiling, the chandelier, the ceramic tile on the bathroom floors plus the colored fixtures that were so popular then, (all things I was able to select when the house was being built in 1975!), the gorgeous cherry cabinets in the kitchen. I could picture each bedroom as it was then - Heidi had the nursery, Peder the room with chocolate brown carpeting, Hans' room with red carpeting - and get this - - the ceiling fixture in Hans' room of a globe of the world. Remember that Hans?! The flooring has all been changed, but the globe light fixture was still there!

The trees have really grown, and the only thing outside of the house that looked the same as when we lived there was the pavillion in the back yard - beyond where Happy Dog's dog house sat. Do you boys remember any of this? It was really fun!

Thursday, May 25, 2006


I have been very fortunate the past few years to go on lots of trips. Already this year I have been to Japan and Seattle. This coming weekend I am going on a road trip to Lowell, Indiana, to visit my Aunt Ginny and Uncle Allan. I'm riding with my brother Jerry, sister Janet, Aunt Liz, cousin Pat, and our dear friend, Tiny. We always have so much fun when we are together! We get along unusually well. For instance, if someone sees something along the way that looks interesting, they might say, "Oh, look at that antique shop! Would it be okay if stop there for a few minutes?" And so we stop. Perhaps that is why it takes us 12+ hours to get to Chicago while most people can make it in 7 hours.

There is one part of traveling that I do not like - - that being the packing. Not the actual placing items in the bag, but rather, choosing what clothes to bring along. I always put this off until I simply have to make myself do it! Is it like this with everyone? After much debating with myself tonight, the task is done and tomorrow after work, I will be ready to hit the pavement. Have a wonderful three-day weekend!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Happy 2nd Birthday, Josiah!

Happy Birthday, Josiah! I can't believe you are already two years old. What a joy you have been in my life already. I have loved you since the day you were born. The times I have gotten to spend with you have been some of the best days of my life.

It's hard to have you living so far away, but in your life up to now, you are getting to see and do things I never dreamed of seeing or doing. I know you are a bit young to remember them, but your daddy and mommy are keeping good records and will tell them to you over and over as you grow older.

Even though you are too young to talk on the phone at this time, I love it when I hear your little voice in the background when I phone your house.

I wish you a very happy day, Josiah. Have fun with your baby sister, your toys, your friends, and last but not least - your mommy. I love you, Grandma D

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Home Again

After a lovely vacation in Seattle, having had fun with Chad, Brian, and of course, Heidi, I had to come back home. While I wasn't upgraded to first class on this flight, I still had a great time.

One special treat was seeing Mt. Rainier so clearly. Then Mt. St. Helens appeared, and then Mt. Adams was also in my view. What an awesome state Washington is. Each time I have visited, I fall in love with it all over again. The weather this visit was so beautiful and clear, that I got my clearest view of the Olympic Mountains ever. Heidi, I don't know if you ordered this weather or not, but it was the best! Thanks to you and Chad for such a great time!

Portland, Oregon

The day after Mother's Day, Heidi and I took the Amtrak train from Seattle to Portland, Oregon. It was about a three and a half hour trip that took us along the Puget Sound. Talk about gorgeous! I hadn't realized that the Sound was so long. We saw many lovely homes on the western edge of it. Heidi shared with me that one of her co-workers used to have a home on one of the cliffs there and a few years ago after some heavy rains, the co-worker's and a next door neighbor's home slid into the Sound. They lost EVERYTHING! Can you imagine?!

When we arrived at the train station - a building that looked like it hadn't changed since the 1940's and looked to be a perfect spot to film a period movie - a classmate of Heidi's from UND met us and took us to a lovely restaurant along the Willamette River in downtown Portland. Heidi's friend is a pilot for Horizon Airlines and it was fun for me to listen to them "talk shop." It has always impressed me to hear the lingo Heidi has to use when doing her job (unlike Hans who seems to always talk in acronyms). I'm sure Peder's job has its own language also!

While we were dining alfresco, a fireboat began spewing out water spouts. It was really pretty - so I got out my camera to take a photo when all of a sudden the spouts changed from white to red, white and blue! It was gorgeous!

The day turned unusually hot for Oregon (96 degrees). Their average May temperature is 57. Both Heidi and I were trying to find some interesting (and not expensive) stores to wander around in because it was too hot to go to the famous rose gardens there, but resorted to spending over an hour in Nordstrom's cafe and a half hour in the Hilton Hotel lobby. We checked to see if we could board the return train early, but that wasn't an option. So we walked along the waterfront and relaxed in the train station prior to boarding. The train ride was really fun, but noticeably less efficient than the Japanese trains. We ate a little supper in the dining car which was sort of fun, and then just relaxed in our seats watching the beautiful scenery passing by.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Pike's Place Market in Seattle

One of the places I like to frequent while in Seattle is Pike's Place Market. It draws thousands of visitors everyday, probably because it changes daily - vendors, entertainers, the flowers! Oh, the flowers - they are beautiful--and cheap! This time I resisted buying any (the last time I was there, I bought a beautiful arrangement just before leaving for the airport for my return flight and held it throughout the flight. They looked okay when I got them home, but it seemed the stress of the flight took away their longevity as they started wilting the next day), but that's not saying I didn't want some. I did connect with a new dish in a lovely Polish store! I would have liked to have purchased more than one, but managed to keep my wits about me.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day and it has been a wonderful day for me. I'm out in Seattle visiting Heidi, Chad and their dog, Brian. This morning Heidi made waffles and home-made mini banana breads. They were just delicious! Following that we went for a nice walk with Brian and saw gorgeous flowers in nearly every yard. Seattle is aburst with blooms of many, many kinds - tulips, iris, peonies, lilacs, azaleas, wisteria, snowballs, and even the holly plants have little flowers. The sky was cloudless and I would guess the high temperature today was around 72 degrees. This is perfect weather conditions, if you ask me. No humidity or bugs! No wonder so many people come out here for a visit and end up moving here permanently.

This afternoon we drove downtown to shop and have lunch. We shopped in some department stores and then shopped in Pike's Place - a festive bazaar-type atmosphere. Once again, I couldn't believe the flowers. The clerks put gorgeous arrangements together in minutes. I enjoy coming here so much! It's also an excellent place if you like to "people watch."

After we returned home, Peder phoned and we had a good conversation. I have also heard from Hans today and Rachel and I talked last night. So, it has been a happy day.

I have been pondering "motherhood" and wondering just what kind of mother I have been to my kids. Once you have a child, for the rest of your life, your heart lives outside your body. Nothing can wound you like your child's own pain. Or your child. I know I could have been lots, lots better when they were younger. I wish I would have been more attentive to their needs. I wish I would have volunteered to go on some of their field trips at school. I wish we would have rented a cabin for some of our vacations. There are other things that I wish I would have done differently...but that was then and this is now...and I'm happy to report that we have a great relationship--my kids and I--and their spouses--whom I love very much. This Mother's Day, I'm remembering two things: no mother can possibly get everything right, every day; and the way my kids keep giving back so much love to me. So, to my kids and their families, thank you for making my day so special.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Friends in High Places

Today I flew to Seattle on the best flight ever (so far, for me)! My co-worker Dave's wife, Julie, is a flight attendent and happened to be scheduled to work on my flight today. We have been aware of this for about a week now. I kiddingly told Dave that I would be very happy to help her serve refreshments on the flight and after that I could pull out my auto-harp and lead everyone in some group singing. So he told that to Julie. Well, when I arrived at the gate today, Julie was already there and promptly introduced me to the other flight attendants. We visited until it was time for them to board the plane.

Shortly after that Julie came back to the podium and waved me up. When I got there, she pulled me aside and told me I had been up-graded and took me on board. [That is the first time EVER that I have been the first passenger on the plane!] Then she showed me to my seat - Row 1, seat #1, First Class. Wow! Is that nice! The seats are very wide and I had lots of leg room. Then Julie brought me delicious hot chocolate that she brought from home. Yum! Soon I was offered another beverage (I chose orange juice). After all of the other 200+ passengers boarded and all of the announcements were made, we were on our way to Seattle.

Pretty soon I was offered a delicious breakfast of quiche, a wonderful hot fruit relish, coffee cake, raspberry yogurt, a fresh fruit plate, and milk. Talk about wonderful! We even had china plates and cups, real cutlery, and a glass goblet. It was so good!

Next the lead flight attendent Ruth, asked if I minded coming to the little kitchen for a minute. Sure, I said. So she took my tray and I got up and proceeded to the little galley. There she and Julie gave me an apron and plastic gloves and asked if I would go through the cabin with a plastic bag and collect any trash. I think they thought I would turn them down, but I was thrilled! It really was fun going down the aisle, looking down each row, and greeting people. I managed to get a full bag by the time I got to the rear of the plane. [I hadn't known that Julie and Ruth had phoned the crew in the back to tell them what they had done and they all thought it was funny that I was working for them.] Once back there, they took my bag and told me I had a long distance call and handed the phone to me. I immediately thought it was Heidi calling from the tower in Seattle, but it was Julie who asked me to get another bag and pick up the trash once more coming forward. I did so, and even took a beverage order from one of the passengers! That part of their job was a lot of fun for me.

Well, the special treatment wasn't over yet. Next Ruth pinned wings on me and Julie showed me a certificate she was completing that showed I was a temporary crew member for their airlines. She said the captain wanted to sign it after we landed. So after all of the passengers disembarked, I got to go into the cockpit, sit in the co-pilot's seat, have pictures taken, and the captain signed my certificate. They were impressed that Heidi is an airtraffic controller at SeaTac.

Chad and Brian picked me up and took me over to the tower where we got to see Heidi for a few minutes. This was the best flight EVER!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Red Hat Sewciety

Tonight was the final get-together of the season for the Red Hat Sewciety http://www.webtree.ca/inspiration/i_shall_wear_purple.html of which I am a member. There are 6 of us from work that have been getting together once a month to eat dinner and sit around and visit while sewing (or knitting, crocheting, quilting, etc.). We don't wear the whole Red Hat ensemble that some groups do. Rather, we wear a purple top and each of us has a red hat pin. On the second Tuesday of the month, others in our office are often heard saying, "Oh, this must be Red Hat night!" We have fun chatting at length, knowing we are not due back at our desks any minute now. One of the women has been working on crocheting the same afghan for at least two years. Tonight she jokingly announced that she will be putting her project away until we meet again next fall. It's been a standing joke - that if she cannot come for one reason or another, would it be okay if her afghan came anyway! I've worked on such projects as: a couple of sweaters for Josiah; a sweater for me; a counted cross-stitch project of 8 birds and a bird house (I'm still working on this). Tonight we met at a restaurant rather than one of our homes. The food was delicious - including the giant pop-overs that this restaurant is famous for serving. I am very blessed to work with many, many very nice people. It's great that we can be friends as well as co-workers.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

April Cornell

About 6 or 7 years ago, I took a part-time position at a lovely dress shop for women and little girls - April Cornell http://shop.store.yahoo.com/cornell/. I still wear many of the dresses and use the linens and dishes that I was able to buy there - at 50% off!! That perc made it difficult for me to discontinue working there! Anyway, it is sad for me to tell you that all of her stores are closing due to bankruptcy. If you have one in your area, you have about one more week to shop there as it will close after the 15th. I shopped in my local store last week for my last spree. (sigh!)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Prairie Home Companion Movie

Last summer I decided to spend two of my precious "personal days" at work to act as an extra in The Prairie Home Companion movie http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Prairie_Home_Companion_(film) that was being filmed in St. Paul. Witnessing a movie being filmed was very appealing to me. On my first day, a costume designer approved one of the three items of clothing I had brought with me (per the directions I was given over the phone). She walked around the room of about 300+ extras and critiqued everyone's selections. When she got to me, she said, "Please wear this (a turquois cardigan sweater with matching t-shirt). It seems everyone else has brought drab-colored clothing."

Next they selected 100 of us to go across the street to begin filling the Fitzgerald Theater. Once inside the door, an assistant directed us as to where to sit. I was seated on the first floor, about 1/3 of the way from the stage, in the aisle seat. After everyone was in place, we were instructed to be absolutely silent. Then we began hearing the assistant director give instructions to Garrison Keillor, who was the first star being filmed that afternoon. It wasn't long before we heard, "Quiet everyone! Quiet, please! Action!" A few folks in the audience had little activities they were instructed to do - like eat popcorn, take a drink from their soft drink cup, pretend to be sleeping. Two people right in front of my seat were ushered in after the filming began. This scene took about 5 "takes," and the camera was on them while they were coming down the aisle, so it is possible that I may be visible in the film at that point.

The second day, I was instructed to wear the same clothing but was seated 2 rows from the stage in the center. The action being filmed was behind the audience with the camera shooting over us, so I'm not sure if I will be visible in that scene or not. I mention this so that if you happen to go to see the film once it is released (June 9), you may notice me in the audience. It was such a fun experience. The stars that I saw were Virginia Madsen, Kevin Kline, John C. Reilly, Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, the director, Robert Altman, and of course, Garrison Keillor.

Tonight many of these stars are going to be in St. Paul, riding in horse-drawn carriages, riding from Rice Park to the Fitzgerald Theater to view the premiere which opens today. You may ask, "Donna, are you going to attend?" Actually, no. I think tickets were going for lots of cash tonight, plus I'm expected to show up for the weekly choir rehearsal at church. But I do plan on seeing the movie! In fact, I'm looking forward to it.