Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Concert Photos

The husband of one of our choir members always takes hundreds of good quality photos of each of our Christmas concerts. This year he took a couple of me when I was directing. He was so kind to make an 8 x 10 for me of this one. I want to share it with you, along with one he took of our choir, our guest choir, orchestra, directors, and actors.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A First for Me

Beef pizza
I've been home-bound for five days now, and although I planned ahead for food in my refrigerator and pantry, I didn't plan ahead for a craving.  Since yesterday, I've had a yearning for pizza. So, tonight for the first time ever, I have had a pizza delivered to my home. Oh, I know there are many who order pizza every month, or even every week. I tried to order one several years ago. I called a pizza shop and ordered a hamburger pizza. About 45 minutes later, a young man rang my bell and delivered to me: a hamburger and French fries! What? I ordered a "hamburger" pizza. He called the shop and they told him they thought I said, "A hamburger." So they just added the fries.

My door bell rang about a half hour ago. The nice young man had my order (correct, this time). I paid him a tip and the rest is history. My craving has been satisfied, and I can now say I have ordered a pizza to be delivered to my home.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Beautiful Sky

Last night, and again tonight, we are witness to a clear sky, waxing moon with planet Jupiter not far away. Because it is so clear, our temperature is very cold. It was zero at sunrise this morning, and warmed up to a mere 11 degrees. Silly Nels still likes going out on the porch for a few minutes at a time.

These beautiful tulips were delivered to me yesterday. They are a gift from a dear friend.

Nels loves his new Christmas toy - a plastic ball with a bell inside. He has carried it around in his teeth and batted it around our home. He is loving having Mommy home all day long!

I'll be sporting these new slippers on the right, thanks to Hans and Rachel. While the old ones are well-broken in, they are not cozy like the new ones are. Thank you, Hans and Rachel!

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Quiet Christmas


Thinking back to some of the past Christmases, I remember rushing here and there, wrapping packages, baking cookies, making candies, directing Christmas cantatas, singing in concerts,  preparing big dinners, attending Christmas pageants, and so on. One particular year, 1988, I had been home from the hospital (neck surgery) just 9 days, but was still very weak. My dear friends, Lil and Jim, came to our home and fixed dinner for us. Another year - one of the four years Heidi was in college, I spent the day alone. I think Peder may have been in Colorado Springs that year, and Hans was unable to come home. I remember staying home and making a special recipe for a cake to feed the birds. I had two cats, Shadow and Sebastian. We had such a good time watching the birds come to our deck to devour that Christmas bird cake.

This will be another one of those quiet Christmases. After having gynecological surgery on Friday,  I am home and resting. My home is cozy, and I have plenty of food, movies, books and supplies. One benefit I hadn't had in those past years was Internet service. That one word has sure made our world smaller.

Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Traditions

Over the years, I have observed many Christmas traditions. These include sending Christmas cards, singing in Christmas concerts, Christmas caroling, shopping, decorating, wrapping gifts, listening to Christmas carols on the record player — and now on the CD player (I don't have an ipod), driving around in the evening to look at the Christmas lights, watching Christmas-related movies, reading the Christmas story in the Bible, reading Christmas books, and baking Christmas cookies and candies. There are others, too. Here are some photos of some traditions I observed this year:

Baked sugar cookies ready to be frosted

Frosted cookies

Sarah, Aurelia, and Sarah's mom, Barb, at the Holidazzle Parade

L to R: Pam, Bonnie, and Judy at our Christmas caroling event

Paul and Ray. Several of our choir members caroled at Ray and Nancy's home as a surprise.

In the center of the photo is the Swedish Almond Cake I made for our knitting club Swedish smörgåsbord. We had many delicious Swedish dishes and desserts.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Company Christmas Party

Last night Peder was my guest at our company's Christmas party. After eating dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory, we walked over to the new Guthrie Theater to see Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Before entering the theater, Peder and I went out to the "unending bridge," a neat, glassed, outdoor area over-looking the Mississippi River, the Stone Arch Bridge, and the new 35W bridge. Both bridges were decked out in lights. It was just beautiful!  If I had a good camera, I would have gotten a shot of the bridges. One needs a finer instrument than mine!

The play was done in two acts. The sets, the costumes, the singing, the acting, and the special effects were wonderful! The only down side for me was during the first act, I was seated behind a giant of a man. I leaned right, then left, then right, etc. It was really tough to see the stage - and I kept worrying about annoying the woman seated behind me. She must have thought I had ants in my pants! Looking across the aisle, I noticed 4 empty seats with unobstructed views, so at intermission, I said to Peder, "Let's move over there!" We did, and had an amazing view of Act 2.

“And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!”
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hospital Bill

Last year I while I was on vacation, touring some of the popular sights in New York City, I had a couple of fainting episodes while in the ladies room at the United Nations Building. My account of it is found here. The hospital they took me to is supposedly the best in the city - New York University Langone Medical Center. I shudder to think what it would have been like had I been taken to a lesser facility.

The reason I am writing about this today is because yesterday, December 11, 2012, 14 months and two days later, I got my first bill from them! The total bill for those 26 hours (8 of them were in the Emergency Room, where I was totally ignored the first 3 hours) was $14,757.56. Last month, my primary insurance paid $11,257.56 of it. Today I faxed the remainder of the bill of $3,500 (again, it's the first one I have ever received) to the travel agent, who will send it to the company from which I bought travel insurance. I won't be paying a cent. The travel insurance carrier has already reimbursed me for the cost of the cruise.

I will always purchase travel insurance for any big trip I take!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Snowy Scenes

We had about 12 inches of new snow yesterday and overnight. I must admit it was very picturesque this morning against a clear, blue sky.

As I mentioned before, Nels loves spending time out in the porch, no matter the temperature. This morning it was 6 degrees (actual) with a wind chill of minus 10. He begged and begged to go out, so I opened the door and he darted out. After about 2 minutes, I opened the door, expecting him to tear back in, but no, he stayed out for a good 20 minutes or so before coming in. Once in, he took a couple of bites of his breakfast and asked to go outside again. He's like a little kid!

Stepping out with him just before leaving for work, I shot this photo:

Nels did some really cute moves in attempting to knock down the snow that had clung to the screen, but every time I tried to take his picture, he would jump down and run toward me. I managed to get just one shot of him on the railing.

The snow had gathered in an interesting way on the Visitor Parking signs:

The children who live in the apartment building across from our office building must have had a ball playing in the new snow yesterday. They created this rather interesting fort of big snow balls:

I wasn't surprised when Nels wanted to go outside again when I came home for lunch. It was fun watching him rolling around on the cold cement. He's goofy! :-)

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Concert Weekend

For five straight days, I have been at my church - either rehearsing for our annual Christmas concert, or performing in them – 3 of them. It took some patience and extra time to get to church for the Friday concert, due to snow and slick roads. I think it may have kept some concert-goers from attending. For the Saturday night performance, I was so happy that Rachel's parents came, as well as her aunt and uncle. They have been doing this for many years now, and I really appreciate it. I was happy they could stick around to visit for awhile after the concert was over.

This morning I woke up to heavy snow, and I feared the predictions of six inches was going to come true. After our morning service, I decided to stay close by the church so I wouldn't have to make the drive home and back in the heavy snow. One of my friends lives a couple of miles from our church and offered to have me come over to relax at her home. I'm really glad I did. The snow kept falling and we easily had eight inches on the ground by the time we needed to return to church for our third and final concert. My brother and sister made the decision to stay home because of the warnings being given in their area for "no travel." It was probably good that they did.

My two nieces in Austin, plus their daughters, drove up for the concert today and got there just a few minutes after the concert started. I'm so glad they made it safely. I really enjoyed our get-together after the concert concluded. It was fun for me to show them around our church. After they left, I proceeded to the choir room to put away my music and hang up my robe. That's when I discovered the key to my locker, which I had pinned to my waistband, was missing! What's in my locker? My purse! I immediately began retracing my steps with my nieces throughout a big part of our church. I looked and looked, but came up empty handed. In my search, I spotted a custodian and told him my situation, and he began to help me. My back-tracking took me to the first place I went following pinning it to my clothes - our practice room. There it was on the floor! Thank You, Lord! 

After going upstairs for my purse and coat, I walked out to the parking lot. There was my car – one of three left in the lot – with at least 12 inches of snow all over it. There was also a drift behind it. I had only a snow brush, so set to working on clearing it off – doing the best I could. After working at least a half hour, I felt confident I could make a go of it. I put it in reverse, and voila! I made it to the road and slowly proceeded on my drive home. The roads were dicey, only one of the two lanes usable, but everyone was driving decently and I finally made it home. What a relief!

On a happy note, Nels is loving this snow. Before church this morning, and again this evening, he has spent a lot of time out in the porch, fascinated with the snow that is stuck to the screens and watching mice that are burrowing under the snow outside the porch.

And that was my concert weekend.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Christmas Decorations In Our Office.

I love it that our office is in full support of the Christmas season. We don't have a need to say "Happy Holidays," or anything else "generic." Another thing I love is the Christmas spirit that spreads throughout once we return from Thanksgiving. We have beautiful decorations for our lobby, too. It's so festive!

Reception Desk

These are the decorations I hung outside my cubicle. 

Saturday, December 01, 2012

The Christmas Season Has Begun

This morning we had a special choir rehearsal in preparation for our Christmas concerts next week. Following the rehearsal, the women in the choir were invited to our annual Christmas brunch which was hosted this year at Barb's lovely home. I can't begin to recount how wonderful this entire event was, but will try to show you with photos.

Pat, putting the finishing touches on one of the five dining tables. Each and every table had lovely Swedish touches. Also, there were five decorated Christmas trees throughout the home.

I love the pepparkaka (ginger cookies) on the wooden tree! See the little red and white hearts at each place setting? Each of us got to take one home! We each got a poinsettia plant, too.

Barb (hostess) and her two granddaughters dressed in the Santa Lucia (lighted wreaths on their heads) costumes. They graciously helped serve the tables. 

In the foreground is another of the lovely tables. The ladies at the counter are putting the finishing touches on the smörgåsbord.

Mona and Carin. Carin immigrated from Sweden. I love her accent! She is wearing an authentic Swedish costume.

Judy, Marianne, Lynn and Barb

L to R: Yvonne, Linda, Debra, Bonnie

Our smörgåsbord started with this delicious drink (non-alcoholic).

Part of the smörgåsbord .

I love Barb's figures of carolers.

L to R: Lorraine, Christa, Nancy, Pam

L to R: Lisa, Mischelle, and Lorraine

Nancy and Pat

L to R: Kathy, Corie, Connie, Terrie, Lisa

At this table, L to R: Mona, Louise, Janet, and Carin

L to R: Joanne, Barb, Jenny, Linnea

After our brunch, we gathered in the family room and had a delightful program which consisted of hearing about the way the Swedish celebrate Santa Lucia Day, Christmas eve, Christmas Day, and the days that follow; telling Ole and Lena jokes,;singing Christmas carols (oh, the harmony of these women - sopranos, altos and tenor). Yes, 3 of the tenors in our choir are women! Joanne (above) played the piano for our singing. She is fabulous!!! There were drawings for prizes, too. What a grand party!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Our New Phones

Yesterday was a very big day in our office. We got our new phones!! What fun it has been. One can hear the different ring tones being tested. All in all, it has been a smooth change-over.

Once the new phones were placed on our desks, we got to dump the old ones into the recycle boxes.

Our new main console!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving Day and the Day After

This year I drove to Rochester to have dinner with Jerry and Janet, and Janet's family. We had a very nice time together with a delicious dinner. The day started out at 53 degrees, which is unseasonably warm for Minnesota this time of year. Traffic was heavy, but slowed down to 12 mph about half way there.

Surely, there has to be a crash up ahead, or else I'm going to be very late for dinner. After about 3 or 4 miles of this, there was the rolled over truck.

Thankfully, there appeared to be no other vehicle involved. After this point, traffic thinned out and moved at a good pace.

When I arrived, the food preparation was well on its way. Lynn and Janet had everything under control, so I visited with Keith and Deborah, and Deborah's daughter, Annika, and with Chad and Jerry.

Annika brought this beautiful pasta salad, garnished with a "turkey." What a sweet girl she is! Little Levi and Annika hit it off and he followed her everywhere! It was very cute.

L to R: Keith, Chad, Deborah, and Annika

After dinner, Keith helped Jerry with some sites on his computer.

Levi with Cassie and Chad

Keith and Deborah patiently worked with Hans to set me up on Deborah's I pad for "face-time" with  Rachel, Hans, William, Josiah and Annika. This was especially nice for me since I haven't seen Hans and his family since Easter. They are trying to convince me to buy an I pad. We'll see.

Levi loved playing peek a boo with Annika! It wasn't long after this that the sliding door had to be closed. The wind shifted from the south to the north and the temperature took a nose dive. (When I awoke this morning ((Saturday)), it was a mere 11 degrees! Good-bye, Autumn.)
* * * * *

For the first time in awhile, I stayed overnight at my brother and sister's home. I slept very well on the new bed in their guest room. In the morning, we had a leisurely breakfast and spent some time going through an album that Aunt Liz had put together for our family. In it were things such as a certificate of completion for a shorthand course my mother had taken, along with her high school graduation program and the wedding photo of her and dad. We also discovered papers Jerry had written while in college and letters he wrote to her while stationed in Japan and in Scotland. There were wedding invitations and graduation announcements of Janet, Keith, and Lynn and a high school announcement of Heidi's. When Pat first gave this album to me, I removed all of the items she had saved of mine and my kids. As always, we talked about how much we miss our dear Aunt Liz.

After a little lunch, Janet and I drove to the Rochester History Center of Olmsted County where we had reservations for a tour of the Mayowood Mansion. At the history museum, we saw various keepsakes of the early days of the Mayo Clinic.

A model of an early operating room at St. Marys Hospital. Notice the sisters in the observation gallery.

This is a model of an early hospital room. I'm so happy they had the foresight to save such things.

A wheelchair from years ago.

The Mayowood Mansion

This Christmas tour was fantastic! We learned that one of the two original Mayo brothers, Charles, built this mansion in 1911, hiring 30 farmers from the nearby area to build it. It was all decked out for Christmas but unfortunately, NO photos were allowed – not even without flash. To keep from temptation, I left my camera in the car. When the Mayo family moved out in 1965, they donated the mansion and all its furnishings, plus 10 acres of land surrounding it to the Olmsted County Historical Society.  Currently, the mansion and grounds are under renovation. You can look here if you are interested in seeing photos of the mansion. I really enjoyed taking this tour with Janet.