Saturday, February 25, 2012

One incident can change the pattern in your life

My dear friend, Lil

Lil, son Cameron, and Jim

Lil and Jim on our Alaskan cruise in 2008

Life goes on, day in ~ day out. Most of the days seem mundane, some of them are special. You know what I mean. You've had both. In looking back on my life, I can remember many of those special moments: deaths of my father and mother, my first date, getting engaged, getting married, a miscarriage, moving to Illinois, having each of my children, and so on. These events will always be huge to me.

Then one day — a normal Sunday — you decide to go to a different church — not because it's a special day or because the church is having a guest speaker, but because you are feeling a need for a change. The service is a "normal" worship experience. The congregation is small — only 19 people, counting Peder, Heidi and me. But here's the difference: the minister's wife goes out of her way to make us feel welcome. She not only invites us to stay for the "pot-luck" dinner, but insists we stay (in a nice way). We do, and a life-changing friendship starts.

Because of this one event — which didn't start out as "special," the next 24 years are on a much different course. The minister's wife is my very dear friend, Lil, and because of her, Heidi and I made a move to the twin cities. Because of her, I go to the strongest, Bible-centered church I have ever attended. I've had some interesting jobs, met incredible people, lived nearer to my Aunt Liz and cousin, Pat, so I could see them more often, and now work in my most favorite place ever.

Thinking back, none of this would be what it is today, but for that one ordinary day. Oh, I know my life would have gone on had I not made the decision to attend that small church on that particular Sunday, but I'm happy I did. My life is richer having Lil being a big part of it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I'm singing a happy tune!

Yesterday, in my 4th week of a nagging cough, runny nose, and constant tiredness, I went to the doctor. She listened to my lungs and I was happy she reported, "No pneumonia!" Through more examination, she concluded I have a sinus infection. I hadn't thought of that since I have felt no pain or pressure in that area. Now on an antibiotic, I look forward to feeling lots better very soon.

I was able to return to choir rehearsal last night and really enjoyed seeing my friends and singing the beautiful anthems and hymns again. I started singing just a bit — it has been awhile since I have used these vocal chords. In a little while, I was able to sing stronger and higher. By the end of the rehearsal, I was hitting those high notes once again. It was so much fun!

Here's to good health!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Felix Came to Visit

This morning, Peder and Sarah brought Felix to my home for me to watch while they take Aurelia to see The Secret World of Arrietta, a newly released movie. It's so fun that some of my grandchildren have reached the age of seeing movies.

Preparing for Felix's visit, I brought my booster seat and a toy train in from my garage. I also located a few books I thought he would enjoy having read to him.

Per usual, the first place they head to after coming in the door is to my piano. Since it it digital, it has lots and lots of buttons, each producing a different sound or action. They love pushing the buttons to see what they can create. Actually, there is a "record" button that can be pushed and then their "music" can be played back to them. Fun! Also, there are about 40 or 50 professionally recorded selections that I often play for them. It's nice, enjoyable music of many styles.

I saved the train for us to play with until Felix's family left. After shutting the door, I asked him if should get out the train. His big, brown eyes lit up as he said, "Train!" We played for it for a little while, and then I offered him a treat: milk and cinnamon graham crackers. Then we sat down to read. He was interactive for the first two, and then I felt his body relax and eyes began to close. I continued to read, making certain he was sleepy. Sarah had told me he hadn't napped yet, so I took this opportunity to take him to my bedroom to lay him down for a little rest. I removed his shoes, and put him in the pack-and-play. He lay down right away, took the book, and let me put a little blanket on him. I gave him a sippy cup with some milk, and left the room. That was 20 minutes ago. He went right to sleep. What a little angel.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy 6th Birthday, Annika!

Six years ago today, Annika was born in Japan. What an exciting day that was for me — my first granddaughter! She has been a delight to me, always sharing her bedroom when I come for a visit. I just spoke to her over the phone, and she sounds so grown up. I wish I could have atended her party last Saturday.

Same old ~ same old

I'm now in week 3 of a stupid head cold. It's not serious, just annoying. I'm told a virus is going around that lasts and lasts. Apparently it bit me. What does that mean for me? I constantly need to have kleenex at my disposal, and lavatories - for all the liquids I am downing. I have cough drops and prescription cough syrup. I have no singing voice, and often my speech is gravelly, similar to Rochester, the supporting actor that appeared on the Jack Benny show years ago. Here's the big downer: going to bed at 8:30 every night, only to get up in the morning and feeling the same. It's beyond getting "old."

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Happy 209th Birthday, Abraham Lincoln

Pat, Janet, Aunt Liz, Linda, and yours truly
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in 2009

Happy Birthday to our 16th President! He is one of my favorite Presidents — Abraham Lincoln. He was born 209 years ago today. I don't pretend to be a historian. In fact, I am very far from it. But I know a little bit about him, and I am impressed. I'm impressed with his humble beginnings, and that he persevered, though not always popular.

A few years ago, I went with family and friends to the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois. (You can read about it here.) In that single visit, I learned a lot about our 16th President. I learned of his humble beginnings, his desire to help the country he loved, his yearning to free the slaves. He was focused and loved his Maker, and wasn't shy about it. The scenes and wax figures in this museum made his life come alive for me, and I'll never forget it. You should make it a point to go there.

Friday, February 10, 2012

"You've won!"

I listened to a happy voice mail this afternoon: "Hello, this is Matt from Panera. I'm calling to tell you your business card was drawn this morning for a Deluxe Catering Box: sandwiches, salad, pickles, chips and cookies for 5, delivered to your office! Please call me back."

Of course, I called right away, and sure enough, I was able to pick the date and time, the type sandwiches, salad, and cookies. The gift will be delivered to my office on Tuesday, Valentine's Day! Isn't that fun??!!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Fun in the Sun!

My winter coat "bargain"

L to R: Sonja, yours truly, Jan, Pat

Linda picking lemons from Sonja's tree.

L to R: Linda, Pat, Sonja, yours truly. This incredible saguaro cactus is a few houses from Sonja's.

Childhood friends, L to R: Sharon, Judy, Joanne

Childhood friend, Wayne

L to R: Jan, yours truly, Linda, and Pat

Saguaro cactus: did you know the saguaro is at least 75 years old before it grows it's first arm?

One of the Superstition Mountains

Organist at Organ Stop Pizza. This is the largest Wurlitzer organ in the world.

L to R: Gloria, Linda, Jan, Pat, and Shannon

Pat's French toast at New York Jewish Deli

Inside De Grazia Gallery in the Sun

One of the few B/W paintings of De Grazia

View of Phoenix atop South Mountain

Junior race track

Ruins at Casa Grande National Park

Sky diver

This unique building houses the sky diving simulator.

For the past 6 days I have been enjoying being with my family down south - in Arizona. Last Wednesday, my sister and I flew to Arizona. On a separate flight, our cousin, Linda, flew in from Chicago. Pat and Pudge picked us up at the airport and our nice vacation began.

On Thursday, we drove south to Chandler, where we spent a good part of the day with our childhood friend, Sonja. We had a great time walking through her community, admiring the cactus and flowers, and citrus trees. Sonja invited us to pick lemons, oranges and grapefruit from her trees. Later in the afternoon, 6 others joined us - some of which are also childhood friends. Sonja and her friend, Lynette, served us a delicious dinner, complete with home-made lemon meringue pie and banana cream pie. We sure enjoyed ourselves.

Friday, Pat took us to an orphanage that boasts of a very nice thrift store. She frequents this often and has found some very good bargains. What did I find? A beautiful, winter-white, wool coat from a good designer - Kristen Blake. The cost: $2.50. Yes, that's right. It is very pretty. For dinner we went to the Organ Stop Pizza. [We went there last year with Aunt Liz and Gemma.] It was so enjoyable! Linda hadn't been there before, and she said she really liked it. Not only is the pizza good, but the organist is AMAZING! He takes requests and incorporates them into beautiful medleys.

On Saturday, we took a road trip to Tuscan, where we toured the De Grazia Gallery in the Sun. Since spending winters in Arizona, Pat has fallen in love with his work. She has many of his pieces framed and gracing her walls. I must say I like his pieces, too. The ones of the children are my favorites. On our trip down, Pat's friend, Shannon, did the driving. She took us on a state highway through the desert. What a picturesque drive. I really enjoyed sitting in the front where I conversed with her. For lunch, we happened onto a Jewish deli and devoured a delicious meal.

On Sunday, Pudge drove us to South Mountain. Part way up the mountain, we stopped at a race track - a track for children. It was really fun. I met a race driver - Brandon - who was 5 years old. I cheered and cheered for him when he was competing. He came in 2nd. Leaving there, Pudge continued to take us up the mountain - going to the top, where we were afforded an amazing view of Phoenix and the surrounding communities. We could see for miles! Coming part-way down, we stopped to eat the picnic lunch Pat had prepared for us. Following this, we headed to the dessert again, through an Indian reservation, to the Casa Grande Ruins. This was very interesting. Lastly, we stopped in Eloy, Arizona, where sky divers from around the world come to drop from planes at 13,000 feet. We were fortunate to witness 7 divers cascade to the ground. We also went next door to the sky-diving simulator where we watched a couple experience the weightless feeling. Very interesting, but not for me!

I flew home yesterday, nursing the head cold I dealt with during the entire vacation. Today it was "back to work."