Saturday, September 29, 2007

New Canary

I got a new canary today. It may seem too soon, but I really don't like living alone. Even though I have been busy this week and haven't been home that much, I dislike coming into an empty house. The one I found is a frosted yellow ~ light yellow feathers with white tips and a white tail. He is very beautiful. Now, what to name him? I'm tossing around these: Caruso, Giovanni, Pavarotti, Fidelio, Peppi, and Sweetie. What do you think?

Monday Update: I haven't heard him sing yet, so will be checking with the pet store to see what they think as far as letting him settle into his new abode. I definitely want a singer. Also, Peppi is the name I have given him.

It's Been a Very Busy Month

Sometimes we get over-booked. That seems to be my pattern for the month of September. I don't recall a month where I've had so many activities. Actually, now that I think about it, things were busy in August too. [deep sigh.] I'm not complaining, just hoping to have more free time in October.

Today was very special. It started with a run through of our Christmas music for our choir Christmas concert at Wooddale - December 7, 8, 9. My favorite music is Christmas music -- I start listening to my personal favorite Cd's on Thanksgiving Day and continue playing them until the first or second week of January. Tickets for the concert go on sale in two weeks, so if you think you want to attend and want me to order your tickets, please let me know so I can get good seats for you. You won't be disappointed. This is going to be the best ever!

After rehearsal, I got to have lunch with Aurelia, Sarah and Peder. Aurelia slept most of the time, but that didn't stop me from holding her. She is so sweet - sometimes yawning, sometimes smiling, or wrinkling her face. She is very expressive. Sarah had her dressed so cute, including the new leggings she made her. Peder and Sarah are doing fine. Parenthood fits them very well.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fun Day at Work ~ Photo Shoot

Prior to yesterday, I had been invited to accompany one of my company's book cover designers, Jenny, to a photo shoot at a photography studio near downtown Minneapolis. Jenny's assignment was to contract a model, photographer, and a make-up/hair stylist, plus rent costumes from the Guthrie Theater, and then direct the pre-mentioned people in arriving at the best possible poses for 5 upcoming fiction book covers. Jenny is a gifted designer, with a very sweet personality to boot. I was so honored to be asked to go along with her to help out where necessary.

We got there around 9:30 and immediately Jenny and I went into action. I began pressing costumes. She directed the make-up/hair stylist with the ideas she wanted used for each of the covers and in turn, that lady, Tessie, began her magic on the actress, Amber. Now Amber was excellent to work with, as she is a professional actress and singer in the Twin Cities. She just finished being the understudy for the actress for Jane Eyre at the Guthrie , but has starred in many plays and performances. She is just beautiful - 5' 8", with lovely chestnut brown eyes and hair. The stylist had to make her appear 13 years old for the first book cover; 19 for the second; 24 years old for the third; and finally 28 for the fourth. When fully made up and costumed, she stepped into the photography space and began her slow movements, using her eyes, chin, lips, etc. to show many, many moods and looks. The photographer just clicked and clicked away, taking direction from Jenny. By end of day, he had taken more than 500 shots of the different costumed actress/model. I don't envy Jennifer's job of choosing just the right photo for each of the 5 covers. But she is very good and I know they will be beautiful.

I'm including a few photos I took to remember the day. Rachel, this whole experience made me wonder if the process was similar to the ones you had when Josiah and Annika were models.


It is with sadness that I report Bocelli died yesterday, 6 months to the date since he came to live with me. He had been feeling poorly for some time, so perhaps he had some sort of bird disease that I was not aware of him having. He hadn't sung or chirped since about May. I'm taking it as a blessing, as I never wanted him to be suffering.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Paramount Theater Restored

The Paramount Theatre - completely restored.

One of the balconies.

Sample of gorgeous stenciling on ceiling.

Zumbro Valley Sweet Adelines; Janet to left of conductor.


Donna, self, Geri

When I was a little girl, my home town of Austin, Minnesota, had two movie theaters: the Paramount Theatre and the State Theater. They were across the street from one another. While I cannot recall what the State Theater looked like on the inside, I have vivid memories of the Paramount Theater, as it was a very special, unusual structure -- both inside and outside. You see, it was an "atmospheric" theater, designed to resemble the courtyard of a Spanish castle. On the inside walls of the theater were little balconies and windows; the ceiling done to resemble the midnight sky, complete with little lights implanted appearing like stars and planets. It had a balcony with two circular staircases. It was a grand building.

The lobby had a candy counter. The restrooms were in the lower level. The painted trim along the ceiling beams and around the doors were a work of art. It was just beautiful.

My earliest memory is when I was about 4 years old and my mother made my sister take me to the showing of
Jack and the Beanstalk. I remember some of the film where Jack was at a beautiful castle high in the clouds which he discovered by climbing the huge beanstalk grown from his magic beans. I remember the scene where he was sitting a large banquet table, overflowing with vessels of food. Next I remember him running to get away from the giant who had discovered him at the table. He ran and ran, the giant getting closer and closer to him. Jack reached the beanstalk and began scurrying down. I was so scared and concerned for Jack, that my sister said I started screaming and took off my shoes and threw them over the balcony, trying to hit the giant. She was so embarrassed and mad at me that when we got home, she announced to my mother she was never going to take me to the movies again!

When I was old enough to go to movies unaccompanied by an older person, I remember going to movies with friends. But sometime in the mid 70's, the theatre closed with the coming of a new theatre in the local mall. Soon the building was bought and turned into a supper club, the new owners leveling out the sloping floor and painting the walls and ceiling black, red and yellow. That lasted about 10 years, and then the building was once again put up for sale.

In 1985, the Paramount was placed on the national register of historic places. In 1987, Austin Area Commission for the Arts was formed to restore it to its 1929 glory. A lot of work went into restoring this theatre. Through the help of the Minnesota Historical Society and generous donors, many volunteer hours went into fixing plaster, brickwork, replacing seats and repainting the inside.

The ceilings were painted black, red and yellow during the bar era. John Durfey, local artist recovered the original stencil patterns and colors, and had to go layer by layer with special solvents and at times using q-tips to find them. You’ll find figures of dogs, winged creatures along with different Spanish designs. It took him close to three years to unearth the original designs and to repaint them.

Last night was the first opportunity I have had to attend a performance at the restored theatre. My sister's Sweet Adeline's chorus performed as guests of a male barbershop chorus. Several members of my family and a couple of my friends, sat in the 5th row enjoying the concert. Oh, the memories that came back to me. After the concert, I walked to the lower level to have one more look. There on the wall was a framed photo that I knew I had seen before. It was a picture of about 100 young boys who were paper boys for the local news paper, standing and sitting on the curb in front of the Paramount Theatre. The caption read something like this "Local paper boys are treated to a free movie." Sitting in the front row, almost in the center, was my brother.

Friday, September 21, 2007

~~ Aurelia ~~

A beautifully done video of my new granddaughter, Aurelia can be seen here. This happens to be Sarah's father's blog. Sarah has so many talents ~ among them is her artistic filming. I know I'm prejudiced, but isn't this video adorable!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Beverly Lewis Pays a Visit to the Midwest

Bethany House Publishers top author, Beverly Lewis, is currently touring the Midwest with the release of her latest book, The Parting. Beverly writes of the Amish, having grown up in Lancaster County and having a grandmother who left the Old Order Amish and faced being shunned from her family. I became friends with Beverly this past year and a half or so, and was happy to know she was going to include Minnesota on her tour. Yesterday she got to meet my sister and sister-in-law in Rochester at a book signing. Today I got to have lunch with her and her husband, and later helped her a little bit at a book signing in Maple Grove. It's an honor to have this very sweet, lovely lady for a friend.

Another Delightful Visit with Aurelia

It's so nice having Aurelia live near enough that I can go to see and hold her when I have some time and it's okay with Peder and Sarah. On Saturday Peder was home alone with her as Sarah had a wedding to video. When I got there, she was sound asleep on Peder's chest, so he handed her off to me and I held her for an hour or more. She is so cuddly, stretching and squeaking now an then. She is adorable! After an hour and a half or so, she opened her very blue eyes and studied my face. She is so sweet. Her skin is soft and creamy. Her hair is light brown. She let me hold her little fingers. What a treat it is holding her. I'm so thankful she and Sarah are doing so well ~ Peder is too!

Earlier in the afternoon I attended the memorial celebration service for my dear friend Jolene's father-in-law. I had met him a year ago when Jolene invited me to join her and her family on my birthday. I found her in laws fascinating. They were both educators with years of experience both in the US and in Spain and Japan. At the memorial service, 3 of the 4 kids in the family shared some of their dear memories of their father. Everyone, without knowing what the other was going to say, said they remembered what their father asked them everyday of their lives when they came home, "How was your day today? What did you do today to make the world a better place to live?" I can't stop thinking about that question. I don't remember ever asking that question to my kids, but even so, I believe they are helping the world be a better place anyway. I know I'm going to start asking myself that question and making myself accountable. Thanks, Vern. I wish I would have gotten to know you more. Rest in peace.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

My Favorite Rendition of Our National Anthem

Sandi Patti has been a favorite vocalist of mine for a long time. I admire her range, breath control, and long phrases. But most of all - her passion. Her version is the only time I have heard our National Anthem sung with two verses. Warning: you'll need to listen to this all the way to end - at least I do. I hope you enjoy this too.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11 Remembered

Today we are recalling the horrible events of 9/11. I'm sure everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing that day. For me, I walked to work that morning and talked to Aunt Ginny on my cell phone most of the walk. Arriving in my office at 7:55, Paul, one of my bosses, called me into his office to say a small plane had just hit one of the tall buildings in New York City. It was just coming over the radio, and of course, there were no clear details.

Immediately I turned on my computer and went to where a report was just being put together. It was sketchy, but confirmed a large airliner had hit one of the two towers. There was no clear reason at this time.

I phoned Hans, who had his TV on and we stayed on the phone in disbelief - he was relating what he was seeing. I remembered we talked until a new bulletin reported the Pentagon had just been hit. His words were, "Oh my God, they've just hit the Pentagon! I've got to get to work!"

At that time in his career, Hans was a Navy recruiter, stationed in the twin cities. He hung up and then I called Heidi, who at that time was an air traffic controller in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I got her voicemail, so I hung up and dialed again, this time leaving this message, "Heidi, get up and turn on your TV. Turn on your TV!" In a few minutes I phoned her again and she told me she had gotten up and was watching the news. She was scheduled to work that day, so went to the tower. I'll let her comment on how that day played out for her and her co-workers.
Someone in our office located a small TV that many of us gathered around. We were simply glued to it. I walked home for lunch that day noticing there were absolutely no planes in the sky - atypical for where I live. I turned on my TV and had a hard time going back to the office. Like many, my eyes were seeing the footage, but my heart couldn't embrace it.

It is with much sadness that these events are recalled.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Aurelia, Sarah and Peder Visit My Office

Today was a day I have been looking forward to for some time. Peder, Sarah and Aurelia came to visit my office. It was so much fun showing them around and introducing them to my friends. Aurelia was just wonderful! I got to hold her again. She is so sweet.

I talk about my kids a lot, and have photos of them hanging in my office, but it was the first time for Peder and Sarah to visit, and my friends were so anxious to meet them. After they left, a few people told me I have such beautiful grandchildren. I already knew that! :-)

Thanks for taking time to come to my office today, Peder and Sarah. And for sharing my darling granddaughter!

P.S. Happy birthday, Hans!

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Hormel Whistle

There's a scene in the film, My Cousin Vinny, where the main characters are startled during the early morning hours by the town whistle. It always cracks me up. It's just like it was where I grew up in Austin, Minnesota, home of Hormel Foods Corporation. Growing up, I realized a whistle blew at various times during the day, warning employees it was time to wake up, get to work, go to lunch, return to work, and "call it a day." Once I heard a jewelry store on Main Street moved it's outside clock ahead or back to coincide with the Hormel whistle. When the whistle blower heard about this, he chuckled, "I set my watch by the clock on the jewelry store each morning when I drive to work."

The times for the whistle to blow are about to change.
An excerpt from The Austin Daily Herald. . .

Residents near the Hormel Foods Corporation's flagship plant in northeast Austin may soon notice a change, especially if they've grown accustomed to its 6 a.m. whistle toot.

Starting in the summer of 1937, the Geo. A. Hormel Company started to blow a whistle every day at 6:55 a.m., 7 a.m., 11:55 a.m., noon and 4 p.m. Sometime between 1937 and recently, whistle times of 6 a.m. and 1 p.m. were added.

The whistle will now blow four times a day, according to Julie Craven, vice president of corporate communications for Hormel Foods: 7 a.m., noon, 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

“The 70-year tradition of the whistle remains,” Craven said. “The decision to change the times the whistle blew was a business decision to coincide with the office hours of the Austin plant and corporate office.”

Saturday, September 01, 2007

On a happier note, I got to see and hold Aurelia today. She's 10 days old now, and already she is holding her head up! She and Sarah are doing just great (so is Peder!).

Her hair -- and she has a lot on the lower back -- is a nice, chestnut brown. Her eyes are still blue. And her complexion is beautiful. She smiled at me a few times, and also squeaked. She is eating good. So, all is well.

I loved holding her and talking to her when she was awake. She slept quite a bit of the time I was there. Pat and Aunt Liz, they said to tell you the rocking cradle has been a tremendous help. They keep it right next to the computer desk.

Photos of the 35W Bridge Collapse

The bridge collapsed a month ago today. As of yesterday, the neighboring 10th Avenue bridge was opened for pedestrians and one lane of traffic each direction, so I decided to drive there today to see the remaining pieces. It is all so sad.