Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Weekend

Some of the flowers that graced our sanctuary this weekend. This photo was taken Saturday just before our rehearsal and warm-up prior to the first service.

Catching my friend, Bonnie, who is photographing the flowers and the platform.

There are times I like to travel over Easter — like last year when I was out in Virginia visiting Hans and Rachel and my grand kids. But many times, my choice is to stay home and sing in many or all of the worship services at my church. As in the past, this weekend included 7 services: 2 late Saturday afternoon and 5 this morning. It's a bit tiring, but very rewarding. How is that? Here are my observations.

First of all, we have the best seats in the house (God's house)! Our seats are always reserved. It is really a joy to see people in the congregation singing their hearts out.  Oh, there are some who just stand there, but most seem to be joining in and enjoying themselves. Looking out, I see people that I may not have seen for awhile. It's fun when we catch each other - eye to eye - and share that smile. One of the biggest joys for me is seeing the children. For most Sundays, the children are off in other parts of the building - in classes geared to their age and interest. But on Easter weekend, all classes are suspended and the kids are in the worship service. Today, at the 11 o'clock service – one of the larger attended ones – I noticed a family of 5 standing in the balcony - wondering where to sit. Two of the children were little girls - about 4 and 5 years old, I would guess. They were wearing identical lavender dresses with white sweaters and lavender hats. They looked adorable! Soon the dad took one of the little girls by the hand and they proceeded to cross the balcony—the other sister, little brother and mom following behind. While they were walking, I noticed the kids' shoes - all three pairs - were the kind that light up when moving. It was so cute!! Why can't the choir wear those for our Christmas Eve services?! During the sermon, I noticed two young girls who were quietly playing with their American Girl dolls. Darling! But the incident that topped that was at the final service. The choir had just finished singing Glory (Rimsky-Korsakoff, adapted Amend). It's an anthem with a dynamic ending. In dead silence (while the pastor was making his way to the podium) a small voice yelled, "Yay!" First there was laughter, which was followed with a long, spontaneous round of clapping. I loved it! The pastor loved it, too.

Singing at seven 45 minute services can be tiring, but care is given to us in the form of food and beverages which we can have between the services. It's really not that bad.

The hardest part for me is controlling my emotions as we sing the hymns telling of Christ's love for us and His incredible gift of dying on the cross for us, so that we can live with Him in heaven after we die. The best part is that He conquered death and arose after 3 days. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Trying to encourage "Spring"

With a blanket of snow and ice on the ground, it seemed appropriate to have a "winter" wreath on my front door. But last week the calendar announced it was "spring," and by golly, I decided to make my home more spring-like. Over the weekend I shopped for a new wreath, but didn't see anything that I liked, so I bought some materials and made one. I rather like how it turned out.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Vacationing in Arizona, Part 5

L to R: Sonja, yours truly, Sharon, Janet

On Wednesday, Janet, Pat, Sonja and I went to Sharon's home for lunch. She is another of our friends from years ago. I haven't seen her since her mother's funeral (Alice), about 12 years ago. 

Photo of Sharon's parents: Fred and Alice.

We talked and talked and looked at old photos.

Sharon with her pug, Portia.

Sharon's lunch was delicious, including this homemade strawberry pie - just like my mother used to make. 

L to R: Janet, yours truly, Sharon, Sonja

Sharon and I

Vacationing in Arizona, Part 4

Tuesday night we went to Arizona Opry, a family dinner theater in Apache Junction. I took this photo of the stage before the program began. The talented stars played nearly every instrument on this stage as well as sang. The dinner was just delicious, and the program was excellent! I told Pudge I definitely want to go there again next time I'm in town. This is so popular, reservations have to be made months in advance.

Vacationing in Arizona, Part 3

On Monday we went to tour Tent City Jail in Phoenix. This is a famous jail that was created when Sheriff Joe declared there were "vacancies" in the jail. He determined the criminals should not be treated better than the soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan - sleeping outside in tents. This tour was so interesting. Truth be told, I have never been in a jail, so had nothing from which to compare, but I thought this was similar to what I have seen in movies.

This police officer was our tour guide.

Beyond the camouflage is one of the tents. An inmate is lying on the bunk (in striped clothing).

Another view of one of the tents.

Clean laundry: striped uniforms and pink towels and underwear. Dying the underwear pink keeps the prisoners from stealing it.

This bin of pink socks reminded me of a tub of pig hocks at Hormel's.

We toured a couple of rooms inside the jail - the dining room and a place where visitors can talk to the incarcerated - behind glass walls. We also saw a "chain gang" as they returned to the facility after performing civic work outside the jail. Inmates who have done wrong inside the jail are put on this duty and must earn their way back to the tent city. 

I got permission from the police officer to take this larger stone from the jail property for a souvenir and added the little "toes" from out in the parking lot to create a "stone foot" like those we saw at Sunshine Acres. I gave these to Pat and told her I call this foot "Freedom." Pat hopes to make a few of these feet.

"Happy Hour" – a daily ritual in Pat's community.

Vacationing in Arizona, Part 2

I'm back from Arizona and want to record the highlights of my trip. First of all, I had a wonderful time - spending time with Pat, Pudge and my sister, and also with friends from my youth. I flew down on Wednesday, the 6th, arriving mid morning. Pudge, bless his heart, came to the airport to pick me up. He's so good about doing this.

I left this 

for this. 

The change in the weather was winter/summer. It felt great to be without my winter coat, boots, and mittens! To see flowers blooming this time of year was a real treat for my eyes. I enjoyed sitting on the patio, soaking in the warmth. After getting settled, we took off for Sunshine Acres, a children's home in Mesa. I wrote about this in an earlier blog entry. We shopped in their thrift store and the boutique. The items in these stores are from donations that cannot be used by the children or the homes in which they live. Currently they have 70 children - between kindergarten and high school age. They live in homes – 10 children to each home; 2 to a bedroom. Each home has house parents. The houses they live in are beautiful, and have been totally donated - furnishings and all. We got to meet a few of the girls in one of their homes. One of them took us to her room to show us a pet she was keeping. These are kids that are not wanted by their parents and have been in foster homes, where things didn't work out. At Sunshine Acres, they are being lovingly cared for and are given opportunities to grow and learn. Outside one of the homes, we saw these darling footprints — made totally from stones. I just love them!

This non-denominational institution is a mission I intend to support. If I lived down there, I would become a volunteer.

On Thursday we went to the Music Instrument Museum in Phoenix. Wow! What a place! We saw instruments of every kind from nearly every nation - both old and new. For instance, many, many countries have a bagpipe of sorts. I never knew that. We wore head sets and when we approached a section of instruments, the TV screen would turn on and we were given samples of music played on the particular piece. It was fascinating. 

We saw how a Steinway piano is made.

This unusual horn has four bells.

In one section, we got to try out playing various instruments. Here's Pat playing a guitar.

I got to try out a harp – something I have wanted to do for a long time.

We had lunch here 

and dinner here - at Organ Stop Pizza, one of my favorite places in Mesa.  

Friday it rained, and rained. Oh, my! This doesn't happen very often in Arizona. We spent the day shopping in a few stores. At a thrift store, I bought a bunch of used movies. We watched a few in the evening. Saturday it was windy and chilly, but that didn't stop us from going to Pat's tap dance show, Thanks for the Memories - a Tribute to the USO. This was just wonderful! I loved all the numbers. Here's a photo of Pat posing for me at the conclusion of the show:

Sunday we went to a nearby church where we met a few people we have known since childhood. We grew up in the same church and have many memories of our youth group and church camp. After the service, we gathered for brunch at a local restaurant.

L to R: Janet, Judy, yours truly, and Connie

Janet, Sonja, and Judy

In the afternoon, we toured a few open houses in the community. One house had three fruit trees in the backyard - lemon, orange, and grapefruit - all heavily laden with ripe fruit. I picked this lemon. Wouldn't it be something to have these fruit trees in your yard?! I can't imagine.

Back at Pat's, Janet relaxed on the patio.

And then Pat "waited" on the golf foursome as they approached the 6th tee box.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Scratch and Sniff

I wish I had the ability to do a "scratch and sniff" blog entry today. I would use a patch of the scent of freshly mowed grass. That's what we are being treated with today here in Arizona. My cousin's condo is on the 7th fairway of the golf course and the groomers were here this morning, making everything trimmed and tidy. The scent was just wonderful! I can't believe how nice it is to step out of winter for a week or so and experience nice, warm days, green grass and flowers. Tooling around on a golf cart in shirt sleeves is great, too! I'm trying not to rub it in when communicating with my friends and family back home, but it sure is special.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Vacationing in Arizona, Part 1

Wednesday I left the frozen tundra of Minnesota and in three and a half hours I landed in sunny Arizona - ready to spend some time with my cousins and sister. So far it has been wonderful!

Until today, it has been sunny and nice and warm - high of 81 degrees - very pleasant! I have walked, shopped, toured a very impressive home for unfortunate children - Sunshine Acres - a mission which began in 1954 by a husband and wife, with children of their own, but a real heart to help those whose parents no longer wanted them (This is a place I will be pleased to support.), toured the Musical Instrument Museum - which was fascinating and fun, and ate dinner at one of my favorite places, Organ Stop Pizza.

When not running around the Arizona sites, we are having fun catching up on the lives of each other and laughing - laughing a lot. These are precious times, and I relish them.

With many more days ahead, I'm looking forward to seeing more friends and sights. On tomorrow's schedule: two performances of the Sunsationals - the tap dancing troupe of my cousin Pat's. Every other year they put on a big show. The theme for this year's show is Thanks for the Memories - a tribute to Bob Hope and the USO shows of WWII. I'll post photos after I return home.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

March Snowfall

It started snowing yesterday and hasn't stopped. Oh, there were times it was just a flake or two falling, and then that was followed by an inch an hour. I am estimating we got 5 or 6 inches at my home yesterday and another 7 or 8 overnight. It continues to fall. We have 12 people in the office so far (out of 45). Some are fortunate to be able to work from home.

Is it pretty? Yes. It's gorgeous on the trees and bushes. Is it fun? For some, it is. Nels loved going out on the patio this morning where it had clung to the screen - up about 10 inches from the ground. He poked his paws at the screen door rails and watched it fall. His little footprints in it were darling.

Many, many big twin cities schools are closed today – a rarity. This makes for less traffic on the roads. One of my co-workers told me it took her only 20 minutes to get here - less than on a normal day, because she was the only one for about a half mile on the Interstate.

My big concern today is making it to the airport tomorrow for my early morning flight to Arizona. My designated driver will be dependent on her snow removal guy to clear out her driveway. I'm working on a back-up plan. I really want to get out of here!

Friday, March 01, 2013

10 Year Anniversary for the Company

Ten years ago today, the company I work for was purchased by another. Today we celebrated with cake and ice cream. The company that bought us is a Dutch company, so we decorated with Delft and a beautiful cake, complete with little wooden shoes.

I started working at Bethany House in January 2001. In August, 2003, our company was gathered together for the news: we were being sold. What a scary time that was for us. We were uncertain we would be offered a job with the new company. Since I had little experience, I was especially worried. I decided it would probably be a good idea for me to relocate to Rochester where my brother and sister live, and began looking for a job there. I went so far as to put a new town house "on hold," contingent on my getting a job there.

About a month before the sale date, the buyer was announced to us, and I was told they wanted me to stay. Whew! What a relief that was. The rest is history. I am so happy it worked out well for me, because this job is the best I have ever had — and I've had many!

Here I am with others who have at least 10 years of service with the company.