Saturday, January 29, 2011

Listening to Records

Aurelia is spending part of the weekend with me. For quiet time this afternoon, we got under the covers of my bed and listened to a few of my records. To my knowlege, Aurelia has not experienced this before. She asked me, "When did you get this [album], Grandma?" I told her I got it when her daddy was a little tyke like she is now. I went on to explain that Uncle Hans, her daddy, and Aunt Heidi used to listen to the records all the time. We only listened to a few of them today, but she really liked them.

One album sleeve has a letter "P" written on it. When asked about it, I told her, "Your daddy must have written that."

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I just completed the sale of my beautiful bird cage. Thank you, Craig's List!

A nice, young girl - a senior in high school - came to my office with her father and he bought it for her. Yay!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I Am Trying Something New

Tonight I took a major leap (for me), and posted my beautiful bird cage on Craig's List. I have to say, it took me a few weeks to get up the nerve to do this. Heidi's husband and Sarah are two individuals that use this site often. But until tonight, I've never looked at it! Heidi gave me some tips, and encouraged me to give it a try. I posted this photo. Here's hoping . . .

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Inspirational Morning

I'm privileged to sing in the Wooddale choir. We have about 100 voices in our choir when everyone is present. Dave, our director, has a gift for finding the perfect music to compliment the message of the morning. Three of the four or five Sundays of the month, he puts together an orchestra, string quintet, brass band, chamber orchestra, or other fitting ensemble, to accompany us - along with the piano and of course, our gorgeous Visser-Rowland pipe organ. This Sunday he put together a brass and percussion ensemble. One of their prelude pieces was Fanfare of the Common Man by composer Aaron Copland. I just loved it ~ and so did the congregation!

At Wednesday's rehearsal, Dave shared with us the way in which the fanfare was commissioned. Until then, I had always thought the piece was part of the Olympics. Now I've learned that it has been used for many big, historic events. You can hear it here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

10th Anniversary

I don't know where the time has gone, but tomorrow marks 10 years since I started working at Bethany House Publishers. I had actually not remembered it, but my two bosses presented me with a nice card and gifts this morning!

This job is probably the best job I have ever had - and I've had a lot. There are so many things I love about it. To name a few: my co-workers (most of them are like family to me), the variety of duties, the relaxed atmosphere (I could never have brought my grandchildren - or my new pet, Nels - into Hormel's to meet my friends), Friday snack time, and one huge perk is getting to meet the authors! We get 93 free books every year - which we get to choose. And, get this, my office is only one mile from my home!

When the day is over and I count my blessings, I always include my job.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

To my Lutheran friends

Singing With the Lutherans

By Garrison Keillor

I have made fun of Lutherans for years - who wouldn't, if you lived in Minnesota ? But I have also sung with Lutherans and that is one
Of the main joys of life, along with hot baths and fresh sweet corn.

We make fun of Lutherans for their blandness, their excessive calm, their fear of giving offense, their lack of speed and also for their secret fondness for macaroni and cheese. But nobody sings like they do.

If you ask an audience in New York City, a relatively Lutheranless place, to sing along on the chorus of 'Michael Row the Boat Ashore,' they will look daggers at you as if you had asked them to strip to their under-wear. But if you do this among Lutherans they'll smile and row that boat ashore and up on the beach! And down the road!

Lutherans are bred from childhood to sing in four-part harmony. It's a talent that comes from sitting on the lap of someone singing alto or tenor or bass and hearing the harmonic intervals by putting your little head against that person's rib cage. It's natural for Lutherans to sing in harmony. We're too modest to be soloists, too worldly to sing in unison. When you're singing in the key of C and you slide into the A7th and D7th chords, all two hundred of you, it's an emotionally fulfilling moment.

I once sang the bass line of Children of the Heavenly Father in a room with about three thousand Lutherans in it, and when we finished, we all had tears in our eyes, partly from the promise that God will not forsake us, partly from the proximity of all those lovely voices. By our joining in harmony, we somehow promise that we will not forsake each other.

I do believe this: These Lutherans are the sort of people you could call up when you're in deep distress. If you're dying, they'll comfort you. If you're lonely, they'll talk to you. And if you're hungry, they'll give you tuna salad!

The following list was compiled by a 20th century Lutheran who, observing other Lutherans, wrote down exactly what he saw or heard:

1. Lutherans believe in prayer, but would practically die if asked to pray out loud.

2. Lutherans like to sing, except when confronted with a new hymn or a hymn with more than four stanzas.

3. Lutherans believe their pastors will visit them in the hospital, even if they don't notify them that they are there.

4. Lutherans usually follow the official liturgy and will feel it is their way of suffering for their sins.

5. Lutherans believe in miracles and even expect miracles, especially during their stewardship visitation programs or when passing the plate.

6. Lutherans feel that applauding for their children's choirs would make the kids too proud and conceited.

7. Lutherans think that the Bible forbids them from crossing the aisle while passing the plate.

8. Lutherans drink coffee as if it were the Third Sacrament.

9. Some Lutherans believe that an ELCS bride and an LCMS groom make for a mixed marriage. (For those of you who are not Lutherans, ELCS is Evangelical Lutheran Church Synod and LCMS is Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. When and where I grew up in Minnesota, intermarriage between the two was about as popular as Lutherans and Catholics marrying.)

10. Lutherans feel guilty for not staying to clean up after their own wedding reception in the Fellowship Hall.

. Lutherans are willing to pay up to one dollar for a meal at church.

12. Lutherans think that Garrison Keillor stories are totally factual.

13. Lutherans still serve Jell-O in the proper liturgical color of the season and think that peas in a tuna noodle casserole add too much color.

14. Lutherans believe that it is OK to poke fun at themselves and never take themselves too seriously.

And finally, you know you're a Lutheran when:

*It's 100 degrees, with 90% humidity, and you still have coffee after the service;

*You hear something really funny during the sermon and smile as loudly as you can;

*Donuts are a line item in the church budget, just like coffee;

*The communion cabinet is open to all, but the coffee cabinet is locked up tight;

*When you watch a 'Star Wars' movie and they say, 'May the Force be with you,' you respond, 'and also with you.'

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What a Nice Surprise!

This afternoon I was nicely surprised by a visit from Sarah and Aurelia! They had just come from the movies; Aurelia was holding a helium-filled balloon. They had come to meet Nels. I was happy to see how he reacted to Aurelia - just as he did to Annika on our first meeting at the Humane Society: friendly. His tail was up, as if to say, "I'm so happy you're here!"

Nels was fascinated by the ribbon on Aurelia's balloon, and kept trying to get it. While holding it away, the balloon hit the popcorn ceiling and popped. Aurelia took it all in stride; Nels was still trying to get the ribbon.

Before leaving, Aurelia played a few tunes on the piano and Nels quickly joined her on the bench. Thank you for stopping by, Sarah and Aurelia!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Daily Life in the Cottage

It's been a little while since I have posted. Mainly it's because I'm trying to get into a new routine with Nels. I have never had such an affectionate pet before. Every time I sit down, he wants to jump into my lap. It's a little hard to type on my laptop with him sprawled over part of the keyboard. I'm not complaining - he's very cozy. Tonight when I got up to get something, he jumped up into my chair. It was so cute!
One of my friends gave Nels a special toy - a ring which has a tunnel on the outside rim. There's a ball in the rim, and Nels loves playing with the ball - batting it with his paws. The center portion is corrugated cardboard. The idea is to pour catnip onto the cardboard to entice him to use it for scratching his claws. I've seen him do it a few times. Yay!

We're in the throes of winter and tonight the weather person said we've had snow during 32 of the last 40 days. It's mounding up higher and higher. We have more forecast for tomorrow and Monday, with some zero highs predicted for Saturday and Sunday. All of this is part of the daily conversation in my office.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Nels and me

I brought Nels into my office today so my friends could meet him. He was very well behaved, and when put down, walked around - sniffing this and that. Everyone commented on how handsome he is, and how beautiful his eyes and fur are. One of my co-workers - Steve - who also has a cat - picked him up and was surprised to see that Nels didn't try to get down. It was a quick visit and now my friends know exactly what he looks like.

Sunday, January 02, 2011


Nels has beautiful blue eyes, but unfortunately, my photo doesn't show them.

Nels is inspecting the new basket from a choir friend.

Purr . . . this is comfortable!

Purr. Purr. Purr.

Nels, my new cat, came to live with me on Thursday, December 24. It has been an interesting past ten days. First of all, I was very surprised, and happy, to learn he is a very friendly cat. He loves being held, petted, and shadowing me. At night he snuggles with me in my bed, often wanting to be under the covers with me. I've never had a cat who behaves this way.

Here's what I know about him. On December 16 he was found outside someone's home. They took him in and put up posters letting folks know he had been found and the owners could come to get him. No one replied. They already had a pet so they couldn't keep him. On December 21, they took him to the Humane Society. He was given a physical and the only issue they found was possible gingivitis. On the 23rd, the society gave him his shots, neutered him, and put an identification micro chip in his neck. They estimated his age at 2 years. On the 24th, he came up for adoption. That was my lucky day!

Annika and I looked at two other cats before spending any time with this cat. The first two were not friendly. In fact, they hissed at Annika. That wasn't a good sign. When Nels (they called him Sterling) was brought into the little room with us, he brushed up against each of us. Annika rolled a toy ball with a bell inside to him and he loved playing with it. We spent about 45 minutes with him, and he never once showed any signs of aggression. Not only was he beautiful, but he was very gentle and friendly. That's it. He's the one. I'll take him.

He was put in a "holding cage" while I filled out the paper work. Even then, he put his little foot out of the cage onto Annika's shoulder. She called him Jack and thought he was very special (Annika loves animals!). After living with him a couple of days, I decided on the name Nels (my great-grandfather's name), because he looks so Scandinavian with his blue eyes.

Last Monday I took him to my veterinarian for a check-up. Sure enough, they confirmed his gingivitis. They recommended cleaning his teeth as soon as possible so that his gums could heal. Thursday he spent the day there, where they not only cleaned the teeth but pulled 4 of them. They said they could tell by his teeth that he is actually 13 or 14 months old. They put his birthday at October 24, 2009. So, that is the date I am going with.
One of my choir friends gave Nels a beautiful basket full of goodies today: toys, catnip scratching carpet to hang from a door knob, kitty treats, a litter box, litter, and a scoop, plus a toy, stuffed kitten. Thank you, Nora!

I'm sure enjoying having another breathing being at home with me.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Year Celebrations

The candy, in the beginning stage

This is just as it is reaching 255 degrees.

Though I like parties, I wouldn't call myself a "party girl." New Year's Eve for me is usually spent quietly at home - watching movies, and going to bed around 10:30. It's not a big deal for me to "see the new year in." Nels and I spent quite a bit of time in the cottage yesterday. We watched Christmas in Connecticut and my recording of the 2010 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony, which brought back so many wonderful memories of that special day spent with Heidi up in Vancouver. With Nels, I get to do all the choosing. He gets to sit on my lap and purr while being petted. It's working out well.
When I was growing up, we sometimes went to see cousins on my dad's side of the family. The adults played cards; we kids played board games. I recall getting served a glass of 7 Up with about a teaspoon of wine mixed in it around midnight. I remember thinking that was a pretty big deal. My memories in later years are the "midnight watch" parties we had at church. Table or circle games were played and snacks were eaten until around 11:30. At that time, we all gathered in the sanctuary for prayer time and communion. A hymn was sung at midnight (not sure which one), and then we went home. I don't know of any churches that practice this now.

All week long I have been craving popcorn balls. Do you ever get a craving? It seems it won't go away until it's satisfied. Yesterday I looked through my recipe box for the recipe of a childhood neighbor, but couldn't locate it. This afternoon I looked through a bunch of my cookbooks and checked online. I found one recipe that looked fine, so I gathered my ingredients, popped the corn, and began making the candy sauce. I love the look of candy boiling on the stove.

One must be patient when making candy - watching the candy thermometer for that exact temperature. At that time, you take the pot off the burner, add the vanilla, stir, and pour the sauce over the popcorn. I can tell you this: it's DELICIOUS!