Wednesday, August 30, 2006

They're Coming Home

This weekend my daughter-in-law and two grandchildren are coming home. Actually, Rachel and Josiah have been here before, but this will be the first time little Annika will be in the "50 states." Rachel has gently reminded me that though Annika was born in Japan, she was born on a US Navy base. She's right.

Most of our family hasn't seen them since a year ago in June. That's a very looooooooooong time. Josiah has changed so much. He wasn't talking when they left here; now he's speaking in sentences. Most have not met Annika yet. Me, well I haven't seen her since she was only 5 weeks old. That was 5 months ago! Hans left as a Lieutenant; now he's been promoted to Lieutenant Commander. Rachel has done an amazing job holding down the fort while Hans has been under way. She's a brave woman! I'm thrilled about them coming home!

Monday, August 28, 2006

They Crossed the "Finish Line"

Friday, Saturday and Sunday Heidi and Janelle could be found walking up and down the hills of Seattle for the 3 day, 60 mile walk for breast cancer. Heidi phoned last night to say she and Janelle made it to the finish. They each have a few blisters on their toes, but nothing serious. Heidi said there were some that couldn't finish.

Chad and Brian were good supporters for this cause, often walking with Heidi during her training period. They sure look happy to see her!

Congratulations, Janelle and Heidi! You sacrificed a lot for a very good cause. Thank you.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Trip to See Lovina

About 18 years ago, my dear friend Lil and I drove to a small town in southeastern Minnesota to order a rocking chair from an Amish farmer I had heard about from a friend where I was working at the time. The Amish people and their ways were new to us, and from the moment we drove into their locale, we were intrigued. In the years that followed, I bought more furniture and made a friend with a lovely Amish woman named Lovina. She runs a little general store on her farm, selling things like homemade jam, bread pans, cookbooks, fireballs (Hans, Peder and Heidi used to love these!), fly tape, lantern parts, and lots of other sundry things. It's always fun to see her - she gives me a big hug when I walk through the screen door. Today was no exception. She was so happy to see me and my sister.

While I would never show disrespect by sneaking a photo of her, I did get some good shots of the laundry on the line and some quilts blowing in the breeze. Today I learned that she is reading some books from one of my favorite authors, Beverly Lewis - the series of Annie's People. Maybe our "paths" aren't so different after all.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Grandma's Apron

The principle use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath, but along with that, it served as a holder for removing hot pans from the oven; it was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken-coop the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven. When company came those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids; and when the weather was cold, grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove. Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron. From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled it carried out the hulls.

In the fall the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees. When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds. When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that "old-time apron" that served so many purposes.

Some final thoughts

Today at work we were discussing a cover for a new book. One comp featured a woman in her 50's, wearing an apron over her dress. The committee commented that No one wears aprons anymore. Well, I do - - and on a regular basis too. I must own at least 8 of them. I put one on every day when I go home for lunch and dinner. It really saves on my clothes. Plus, it just feels right.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation 3 Day 60 Mile Walk

Today I noticed groups of people walking near my home. Most were women; some were wearing pink sun visors. When I got closer to them, I wondered if they could be the Minneapolis walkers for the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, because they were wearing some type of identification tag. If they were part of this group, they would have already walked 1 day - for 20 miles, as part of the 3 day, 60 mile course - - each individual required to raise a minimum of $2200 just to qualify to partipate in the walk.

A couple of hours later while driving home from the Farmer's Market, I came upon even more walkers, and then a large "first aid" station. There were banners encouraging the walkers that confirmed my hunch about the purpose of their walk. I decided to pull over to a safe parking place and took a few pictures. I tried to tell those close enough to hear me that my daughter was going to be walking in the same event next weekend in Seattle, and inspite of tears in my voice (if you know me at all, you know how emotional I can get when talking about "my kids"), they seemed to understand me and told me to tell her "thank you." I managed to tell them Thank You as well. What an amazing act of selflessness for such a cruel disease!

The sister of a very good friend of mine was just diagnosed with breast cancer on Wednesday. To Nona, Heidi will be wearing a ribbon and posting a banner for you next weekend. She promises to send photos. Have a good, safe walk next weekend, Heidi and Janelle. God be with you.

Farmer's Market

It seems I have been meaning to go to a Farmer's Market most Saturdays this summer and today I finally did it. There are many around the twin cities, but none in my neighborhood. I know about the big one in downtown Minneapolis, but I wanted to go to one a bit closer.

My good friend Nancy had told me there is a very nice market in Richfield, and she told me the general location. I drove there and looked around but couldn't see it, so I took a chance and dropped by her house, unexpectedly of course. Well, it was 9:30, so I figured if she was home, she would be dressed. And if not, we are good enough friends that I didn't think she would mind if I caught her in her jammies. Her husband came to the door and said to come on in. They are such great people! In a few minutes I had talked Nancy into coming along with me.

It was so much fun! There were wonderful displays of vegetables, fruits, flowers, honey, cheese and nuts - all under a big pavilion. It took me only a minute to make my first purchase - little golden potatoes. I split a big tray of fresh green beans with a complete stranger; bought kohlrabi, sweet corn (yum), a lovely head of cabbage, and a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers - they were only $3.50! I'll be eating healthy vegetables and enjoying pretty flowers all weekend long.

Nancy and I may try to go again next Saturday. It was a very good time.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Take Me Out to the Ballgame. . .

Tonight I went to the Metrodome where the Minnesota Twins were playing the Cleveland Indians. It was an unusual circumstance for me, because I wasn't going there to watch the game, or to sing the National Anthem, or to hand out programs. I went there to WORK in a concession stand. And I mean WORK! The reason I went was to help out a friend whose son is volunteering there as a means to earn money toward his high school band trip coming up this next winter.

There were probably 35 or 40 people working at this concession stand, which would have been enough people, but turned out not to be as it was billed as "Dollar Hot Dog Night" and each customer could buy two at that price. Well, with a crowd of 42,000+ people tonight, we got "buried" and could barely keep up. My job assignment was to be a "runner" - yes, run for this, and run for that. Make up hot dog baskets; fill nacho trays with melted cheese and peppers - oh, and the nacho chips; grab a couple of bags of peanuts; pull 6 bottles of Coke out of the fridge; refill the potato chip bags; get a roll of quarters. Those are only some of the requests. One thing that pleased me a lot was the fact that the hot dogs and brats were Hormel products. I told my friend, "Be sure and tell the customers that they can also get wonderful Hormel products at their local grocers!" I could just see my stock going higher and higher!!

Finally around 8:30, we got to take a break. My friend and I went out into the dome and found a couple of empty seats and got to watch half an inning - the bottom of the 6th, I think. The score was tied 2 to 2. When we felt we had probably stayed long enough, we returned to the concession stand to find out they no longer needed us. So we went back to some empty seats and got to see the fantastic 8th inning where we went ahead, winning the game 7 to 2.

It was quite an experience - a one timer for me! Now I appreciate those hard workers lots, lots more.

Go Twins!!!

The Dreaded Mouth Surgery

***Don't read this post if you are at all squeamish.***

Today I was scheduled to have some surgery on my gum to determine what is inside the bulge in my lower gum, right next to my new triple crown that was installed in February - just days before my trip to Japan. It has been tender since March, and at my July check-up, my dentist looked at it and was stumped as to what it could be. So he sent me to the specialist who did my root canal in February. This Dr. looked at it last week and decided he should do surgery on it today, making a "flap" in the gum, taking some of the suspected tissue out and sending it to be biopsied. That dreaded surgery was scheduled for 8 am today.

Part way there, I started praying, "Lord, if this is cancer, please give me the wisdom to be able to handle this."

When they called my name, I went into the little room and sat in the reclining chair. The Dr. greeted me, and then started out by giving me all the novacaine that is legally allowed, and then "just a little bit more" per my wishes. Once numb, he inserted a camera into my mouth along the area in question and then looked very closely at the lump. He noticed two little dark spots, so he took a tweezers and pulled on what looked suspicious to him. He showed the particle to his assistant - and both of them exclaimed, "What could that be?!" He took a little tool and grabbed more of the purple substance and then declared that it was impression material - a rubbery substance used in a metal tray to make the impression of your teeth before the crowns are sculpted. Apparently some excess goop got under my gums back in February and I have been toting it around ever since! What a pleasant answer to my prayers!! The Dr. didn't have to make any cuts - thus, no stitches were required. And immediately when I ran my tongue over the area, I was pleased to no longer feel the bulge. Once again, I am saying, "Thank you, Lord."

Saturday, August 12, 2006

County Fair

Today I traveled to my home town to see family and to go to the county fair. I already knew it could never compare to the Minnesota State Fair (Our state fair is the best state fair! Don't miss it; don't even be late.), but it has something our state fair doesn't have - history of our town, the trains, churches, schools, telephone company, and other things of interest to many. The item I was most curious to see is the pump organ I donated to the historical society in 1992 when Heidi and I moved to the twin cities. The organ was 103 or 104 years old at the time of donation - but in great shape. I hated to part with it, but I knew we would have a lot less room in our new living quarters. They have displayed a lot of other memorabilia on and around it, but it looks nice. Plus, it gives thousands of people a chance to appreciate it.

Some parts of the fair haven't changed since I was little - the petting zoo, the arts & crafts building, and the 4-H building. The rides in the mid-way may have changed, but I didn't check it out because those things do not interest me any longer. I wasn't even tempted to buy any Tom Thumb donuts! But they sure did smell good! I should have had a Spam burger, but decided to hold off and eat a nice dinner with family at a good restaurant in town.

I also made a stop at the local Dairy Queen where I watched them make one of my favorite treats: Turtle Bars. They are similar to a Dilly Bar, but start out by filling a metal frame (which has a stick in it), followed with a layer of hot fudge, then caramel, followed by lots of pecans, then topped with Dairy Queen icemilk (or whatever it is). This is then released from the form onto waxed paper and put in a freezer for 24 hours. The next day they remove the frozen treat and dip it into melted chocolate, top it with a pecan, and freeze it for another 24 hours. It is SO delicious! It's a very good thing for me that I have to travel about 90 miles to indulge in this sweet.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

And They're Off. . .

When the day started, I had no idea that I would be sitting in the stands at Canterbury Park in the afternoon. . . but the chain of events happened like this: after church services this morning, Peder and Sarah came over to take me out to lunch for my birthday. It was so much fun seeing them again You'd think that I would see them more often than I do, but they are busy, and sometimes I am too, so I relish the times when it works out!

On our way to the restaurant, I mentioned that we would be very close to Canterbury Park, the home of horse racing in Minnesota, built in the area where Dan Patch was stabled in the early 1900's. That's when Peder and Sarah informed me that they were planning on going to the races in the afternoon. Well, that sounded like something I have wanted to do for a long time, so I asked if I could join them. Maybe they didn't know how to say "No" to me, but they didn't, and so the three of us novices went to the horse races together.

Not knowing how to wager, we looked at some of the stats of the horses and jockeys in each of the ten races. For the first three races, I based my bet on the horse's name and the color of the shirt of the jockey - not too smart, but like I said, I'm new at this.

By the end of the third race, I paid more attention to some of the stats, and moments before the fourth race, I changed my horse from Imitate to Attorney at Law. As "lady luck" would have it, Imitate won the race, but Attorney at Law came in second. Since my bet was to "place", I won anyway - a whopping $14.00. This was for a $5.00 bet - my highest of the day. Had I stayed with Imitate, I would have won $18.50. So I played one more race. In that event Peder's horse took first, Sarah's horse won second, and mine came in fourth (no money won on that one for me). So the afternoon cost me a total of $4.00 - - $3 for admission, and $1 in the loss column.

One of the best parts for me was the bugler. But as Peder said, "He should be good, he only has to know one song!"

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Another Candle on My Cake

Today I add another candle on my cake. . . I wonder, will my cake hold more candles?!

Birthdays are funny things - some parts are sweet, some are not. There's the part where you reflect on years gone by, and the unknown future - - but the best part is sweet - hearing from family and friends, being honored by your co-workers, and eating out at your favorite restaurants.

My birthday actually started last night when I was wished a "Japanese" birthday by my daughter-in-law, Rachel, and my grandson Josiah. While he wouldn't actually take the phone in his hand and greet me, I heard him say it in the background - "Happy Birthday, Grandma!" That really melts my heart! I also heard little Annika's greeting, though it wasn't as "pronounced." I knew it was from her heart. ;-)

Arriving at my office this morning, I was amazed at the outpouring of my co-workers. Not only did they decorate my cubicle with banners and balloons, but they gave me 2 dozen gorgeous roses! I am so moved.

Oops. . . guess what? The operator just phoned and I have a package at the front desk. What can it be. . . oh my, a delivery of fresh flowers from Heidi, Chad and Brian. They are lovely too - lovely, light pink daisies! Thank you!