Saturday, January 30, 2010

Olympic Excitement Grows

The time for the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics is coming closer - less than two weeks away now. In preparation for it, I have purchased some Olympic pins. This is one of them. Of the ten I have purchased, I am willing to trade seven of them with folks from other countries. I've heard this tradition of trading pins has been happening since the early 1900's. Depending on how it goes, I may purchase a few more. We'll see. Another one I am keeping is of the opening day, with the date 2-12-10, the torch, the BC Place (the dome in which the ceremony will take place), and the two mascots. The pins are really beautiful.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Going to Bed Early Tonight

I've been up way past my bedtime the past two nights so I'll be heading to bed early tonight.

I'm definitely a "morning" person. I wake up cheerful and have quite a bit of energy (well, for me). By afternoon I'm getting a little slower, and when nightfall comes, I'm nearly out of any new ideas. Tuesday night I drove to Austin with one of my friends to attend the annual Hormel stockholders' meeting. We left my home a little after 4 pm, and drove through blowing snow for part of the way. Laurey had never been to Austin, so I drove her past where I used to live, past my grade school, showed her Main Street, and then we stopped for dinner at a local restaurant.

The stockholders' meeting is held in the auditorium of our high school. It's always fun for me to return to this place. Though it has changed a bit since I graduated, many parts of the building are just the same. This event is one of the social events of the year for Austin. We arrived around 7:15, to find the auditorium, which seats 2,000+ people, two-thirds full - the meeting time was 8 pm. Good friends of mine attend every year, and usually sit in the same area, so we made our way down that aisle and sure enough, there they were. We sat with Merlyn and DoLores. Alan and Pam and Alan's mother sat in seats right behind us. At the conclusion, I saw some people I used to work with. So it was a nice time - except for getting home after 11.

Last night I had good intentions of getting to bed at my regular time, but just before closing down my computer, I noticed Hans was "on line." So I chatted with him until 10:45. I don't regret it one bit. I love communicating with my kids. But tonight I'm dragging.

There's not much on TV. My laundry is done. I've checked my email, family and friends' blogs, Facebook, and soon I think I'll take a book to bed with me and call it a day.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

She said what?

Aurelia spent the weekend with me (well, part of it), and it was really nice. She is a delight to be around. This visit I noticed the fun things she says and decided to write some of them down. For instance, last night, while watching Antiques Road Show, a couple of pencil drawings of boxers were being evaluated. Aurelia looked at the TV and said, "It's not nice to fight." A little later on, the collection of a WWII vet was being appraised. One of the photos was the blimp that the pilot flew. Aurelia said, "Dirigible." What? How could a two year old possibly know this word?

This morning when I was putting on her shoes, one shoe was going on a little crookedly and she said, "Come on, shoe. Cooperate!" Then while driving to church, she asked if we were going to my office where she showed me her costume and saw my fish. My goodness, that was way back in October when Peder brought her by to show me her Halloween costume! What a memory. And that's not all, each time we get within 3 blocks of the church building, she asks where the ducks are (Canada geese are always hanging out near this particular pond and she knows before we get there to expect them.).

Today we had a 36 piece orchestra accompanying our choir. During our warm-up, Aurelia sat with me. Many choir members make it a point to come over to greet her and she is very friendly to them. When the orchestra members opened their scores to play, Aurelia said, "They're going to read their stories." Then she said, "That's a big guitar (the bass fiddle)! She loved watching the instrumentalists. At one point she recognized the triangle being played by the percussionist.

To you moms out there, please share some of the fun things your kids are saying. It's delightful. Kids today are way past Dick and Jane.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Three weeks and counting down until Heidi and I attend the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC, Canada. This is a dream come true for me!

A few years ago Heidi mentioned she would like to take me to the ceremony. She said she had a contact who could get her tickets. It seemed so long ago, and now it's nearly here.

Over the years, I have loved watching the opening and closing ceremonies of the games - both summer and winter. The program presented by the host country is usually extraordinary - including nationals of all ages. The music, the costumes, the choreography, the sets, and the audience participation are so inspiring. And then there's the pageantry with the entrance of the athletes, historically led by the nation of Greece. I'm sure I'll be bawling when team USA makes their entrance! I intend to be proudly waving my American flag.

There's also the raising of the Olympic flag. The flag of the Olympic Games has five interlocking rings (blue, yellow, black, green and red) on a white ground. The rings represent the five parts of the world that are joined together in the Olympic movement: Africa, The Americas, Asia, Australia, and Europe.

And then - last, but not least, will be the lighting of the Olympic flame - for each Olympics, a new flame is started in the ancient Olympic stadium in Olympia, Elis, Greece, using a parabolic mirror to focus the rays of the Sun. This flame begins its Olympic Torch Relay by touring Greece. The flame is normally taken to the country where the games will be held (usually by airplane). Following that, the flame is then carried around the country where the games are to be held, using a series of torches carried by people running, walking, riding horses, biking, riding the surf, by dog sled, and using other means of human conveyance. The last runner uses a torch to light the large Olympic torch which burns throughout the games. The flame is extinguished during the closing ceremony. A new Olympic torch is designed for each of the games.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ukrainian Artist

In 2008, I was privileged to travel to Ukraine. While there I saw many beautiful churches and parks, and toured the Great Patriotic War Museum, which is an amazing place! The Great Patriotic War, as it is called in Ukraine, resulted in one in four of the population being killed with eight to 11 million deaths out of a population of 42 million. In some communities, the entire male population was eliminated.

A friend of mine brought this to my attention today. Please watch it and be sure you have your sound turned on.

Kseniya Simonova is a Ukrainian artist who just won Ukraine's version of "America's Got Talent." She uses a giant light box, dramatic music, imagination and "sand painting" skills to interpret Germany's invasion and occupation of Ukraine during WWII.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Fingers Crossed

Go Vikings!!!!!!

Go Vikings!!!!!!

Half time: so " farve" . . . so good.

Go Vikings!!!!!!

Win Vikings!!!!!!

V I C T O R Y !

Minnesota: 34; Dallas 3

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Putting My Christmas Decorations Away

This may be the longest I have left up my Christmas decorations, but they're being put away today. The biggest reason they're still up is due to the cold weather we've had.

My containers for nearly all of my decorations are stored in the garage, and I happen to have a garage that's not handy. It's about 70' or more from my front door. And to get to my shelving, I have to back out the car.

A few years ago I thought of a solution, inspired by the film The Shawshank Redemption. If only I could secretly dig a basement under my unit (you know, spoonful by spoonful - taking any dirt far away from here in a cottage cheese container), I could double my square footage, and eventually dig a tunnel to my garage, eliminating any need to trudge through snow to get to my car. The new underground space could also serve me well in summer during any tornado warnings. Wouldn't this be cool?! So far, it remains only in my dreaming state.

I just checked and it's now 27 degrees. As soon as I've had my lunch, I guess I'll make a few trips back and forth to my garage. It will be nice to have my decorations stored again until next Christmas.

Friday, January 08, 2010

It's been an uneventful week . . .

I haven't had much to write about this week. We're into the new year and all of the folks in my office are back from vacations. There's nothing unusual going on. I've been getting some much needed rest and going to bed early to read a good book, Deep in the Heart of Trouble.

Oh, we've had very cold weather with about 3 or 4 new inches of snow yesterday, but that's nothing compared to southwest Minnesota where schools are closed for the second day due to blowing snow - and drifts as high as 6 feet on the highways. It makes me think of Rachel's family and hope everyone is okay there.

I think I may have a new neighbor in the upstairs unit. I don't believe she or she and he have moved in yet, but there have been workers there. Perhaps they're painting or stripping wallpaper. I don't know, but it had been very quiet since May when the former neighbor moved out. It had given me the privilege to wash clothes any time of day (or night) without breaking any association rules.

I'm eagerly waiting for February to get here so I can go out to Seattle to be with Heidi and her family.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Seven Years Later . . .

Seven years ago this afternoon I got the phone call no parent ever wants to receive: “There’s been a bad car accident.” It involved my two sons and my daughter in law. Rachel was air-lifted to Rochester. My son, Peder, was taken to Rochester by ambulance. My son, Hans, was taken to the Owatonna hospital. It was recommended that I come as soon as possible and I was told not to drive alone.

I could hardly believe what I had heard. Immediately I prayed, “O Lord, please let them be okay. Please help me to get to Rochester before one of them dies. My Aunt Liz and cousin Pat came with me.

The trip to Rochester felt like the longest 90 miles I had ever driven. Rachel had cuts on her face, and her arm was wrapped. She told us that she had a punctured lung, broken ribs and a broken arm.

Peder lay on a table. I was stunned when I saw him. His head was swollen, and His eyes were swollen shut. There were several tubes in his throat. Five doctors were working on him, yet they asked me to come in close and reassure Peder that I was there. I told him I was there. Then Peder motioned that he wanted to write something. A doctor gave him a pen and paper. Peder scribbled: “Are my passengers okay? Who won the football game?” One of the doctors told me later that that was great news. It assured them he had no brain damage.

Later that night, Hans was released from the Owatonna hospital with cuts and bruises.

Peder spent the next five days in ICU, continuing to write to us on a white board. A week later he had major surgery lasting about 11 hours. The end results were good. Peder is totally blind in his left eye, and most of his skull was reconstructed with titanium and is held together with screws. But to look at him, you would never know it, and there was no brain damage. He is a miracle!

Rachel and Hans recovered well, too. To my knowledge, Rachel has full use of her arm.

Peder wrote about this today on his blog. You can read it here.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Too Cold to Go Outside!

This morning the thermometer read minus 15 degrees; the windchill was minus 35! The sky was clear - so clear, I could see what remained of the New Year's Eve blue moon! I immediately decided I would stay in for the day. I didn't really need to go anywhere, I have food in the pantry and books to read, movies to watch, and a couple of calendars to be filled in for the start of 2010.

I spent some time on my computer, did some reading, and watched a couple of cooking shows on TV. Around lunch time, I perused my food pantry and staring at me was a bottle of muffin mix I had purchased in Germany last May. The directions were in German, but with the little German I know, I figured why not give it a try. All I had to do was add milk to the line on the bottle; shake it a few times, and pour the mixture into muffin papers. I checked one of my cookbooks to see what temperature to set the oven since the directions on the bottle said, "Ofen auf 200 C Ober-/Unterhitze vorheizen (keine Umluft). The flavor of the muffins were Schaka-Splits, which is chocolate chip. They turned out really good and were a nice accompaniment to my soup. I checked the Internet to see if there was a picture of the product, but the closest thing I could find was this bottle of pancake mix. Rachel, if you go back to that department store where I bought this mix, you may want to pick up some. I think your family might like them.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Wow! 2010 is here already. It doesn't seem that long ago we were talking about Y2K.

Thinking back over the last year, it has been a pretty good year for me. My health has been good (thank You, Lord). I had some aches and pains, but overall, that's to be expected.

Some highlights for me were traveling to Germany in May to see Rachel, Josiah and Annika while Hans was away in Afghanistan. I had a wonderful time with them and got to video conference with Hans a couple of times while there. In June I flew to Branson, Missouri, to spend a very nice weekend with my friends, Jim and Lil. Then in June my sister and I flew out to Seattle to see Heidi, Chad and Marshall, and their Golden Retriever, Brian. Again, I had a blast! I don't get to see my grandkids that often, so when I do, I try to make the most of it.

I'm thankful that Peder and Sarah live nearby so I can see them often. This past year Aurelia, now 2 years old, started spending parts of a weekend with me now and then. That has been a joy. She is delightful to have around. I enjoy seeing what she remembers from having been here before. She always greets my canary, Peppi. She always plays the piano for a little bit. She never takes things out without first asking. I even took her to church a couple of times and she was an angel!

In July, some of my family members and I went to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant in Walnut Grove, Minnesota. We were pleased at the professionalism of the local actors. Labor Day weekend, another family trip took me to the Springfield, Illinois, area to tour the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and New Salem, the town in which Lincoln lived before marrying. That was a fabulous trip!

In October, Heidi and her family came to Minnesota and Wisconsin for a visit and I got to spend a few days with them. That was another highlight. Also in October, I became a grandma for the 5th time! William Friedrich was born to Hans and Rachel. I haven't met him yet, but in his pictures, he's a doll! Oh, and I learned on Christmas Eve that Peder and Sarah are expecting a baby boy around the end of April. That gives me 4 grandsons and 2 granddaughters! Isn't that fun?!

I love it that so many in my family have blogs and share them with the rest of us. It's been a great way for us to stay close and connected.

Life is good. I'm happy and hope you are too.