Thursday, April 25, 2013

Our Beautiful Country

In the past couple of months, I have been fortunate to travel to two lovely places — Arizona and Washington state. Both times, I had the privilege to fly over the Rockies and the Continental Divide. These snow dusted mountains are awesome. Then today while getting close to Seattle, I was fortunate to see five of the highest peaks of the Cascade Mountains: Three Sisters, Mount Hood, Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens, and then the gem of them all, Mount Rainier – in all her beauty! All of these were covered in snow today, but without any cloud cover, they were clear as a bell. I have learned to sit on the left side (window seat, please) of the plane when going to Seattle, and on the opposite side when returning to Minnesota, just so I get the best view of the mountains. We just don't have that kind of view in the twin cities.

I'll post more later. Right now, I'm enjoying being with my family.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Helping the Robins

Wednesday early evening I witnessed my first robins of the season. While stopped at a red light, I counted 30 robins. Mind you, at that time, we had very little snow remaining. Seeing these sweet birds warmed my heart. Then came Thursday—with at least 8 inches of wet, new snow. These poor robins seemed so confused. Then Friday morning, when I was walking to my garage, I noticed 10 - 15 robins in the tree by my home. Again, snow was everywhere, and still falling. Where were these darling birds going to find anything to eat?

Driving home from work at noon and listening to the radio, Jim Gilbert, a local naturalist who has a fascinating radio show I listen to while getting ready for church on Sunday mornings, was letting us know that the early robins that arrived in Minnesota this week, are males. They migrate two weeks before the females, scouting out their territory for making a home. He said it would be very helpful if we would put out fruit for them to eat while the ground is snow covered. Immediately I thought, I have a lot of raisins, I'll put them out. Once in the house, I got the raisins out and then decided to cut up a bunch of dried apricots to add to them. Next I went out to the driveway – no snow there – and scattered the dried fruit. I was thrilled to see all of it was gone this morning! 

I just cut up two apples, chopping them into fine pieces, and scattered them on the driveway. Perhaps you could feed the robins in your neighborhood, too.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Is There a Doctor in the House?

Joanie and me at Olive Garden 

I have known Dr. Joanie since the fall of 1992, shortly after Heidi and I moved to the Twin Cities. I met her when I hosted a "Supper 8" for the singles group at Wooddale Church, where she and I were attending. This is a supper where one invites 7 new people into their home to get better acquainted. Of those 7, Joanie is the only one with whom I became friends.

At the time of our meeting, Joanie was doing her residency at the University of Minnesota. Perhaps we hit it off because she was Dutch—and as you know, I love the Dutch: the windmills, the Delft, and the Netherlands itself. Also, Joanie was raised in south Chicago, not that far from where my Aunt Ginny and Uncle Allan lived at the time. My apartment building in the Twin Cities had a wonderful indoor pool and Joanie is a swimmer. She loved to come over to swim in our pool. To this day, if a pool is available, she swims at least an hour EVERY morning. Oh, and she's skinny as a stick!

Once she finished her residency, she invited me to join her for two job interviews. The first was a clinic in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin - at the south end of Door County. The clinic put us up in a very nice hotel and treated us to wonderful meals. While Joanie had her interview, I wandered around the area.

Her second interview was in the Grand Rapids, Michigan, area. We drove there, driving up to Duluth, and all along the North Shore of Lake Superior, through Canada, and coming down through Mackinac Island—where we spent a day as tourists. I had never seen so many fudge shops in my life! Again, while in Grand Rapids, we stayed at a beautiful hotel and were treated ever so nicely. It was the offer from this second interview that Joanie accepted, and off she moved to Michigan.

Thirteen years later, I got a call from Joanie, and lo and behold, she had transferred to the hospital at the University of Minnesota! (I must note that we have spaces of years in which we have not corresponded because she was so busy and committed to her work.) She wanted to get together with me. This new job afforded her the opportunity to work many weeks in a row – for long, long hours, and then giving her a break of 4 or 5 weeks during which she could do mission trips with

Samaritan's Purse. To date, she has gone on 9 mission trips for them to places such as Kosovo, Afghanistan, Togo, Niger, Gabon and Rwanda. She’s happiest when she’s on such a mission.

Dr. Joanie’s specialties are pediatrics and internal medicine. She is a top-notch doctor who could practice nearly anywhere she wanted to. Presently, she is in transition to a hospital in Chicago. She is returning to her roots, to be closer to her family. Again, she will be working in a practice that will allow her to continue the mission trips.

Is there a doctor in my house? Yes, for the next 7 days she is staying with me!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Happy 1st Birthday, Leo!

A year ago today, Sarah gave birth to Leo (Leonardo Xavier). He is my 7th grandchild. I have known him to be a sweet, shy, happy baby – but not really a baby any more. He walks, climbs up stairs, and smiles a lot.  Happy Birthday, Leo!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

It's a Wet Day!

Not only is it raining "cats and dogs" today, but I woke up this morning to find an inch or so of water under my kitchen sink. "This is not a good sign," I told Nels. Of course, he was curious as to why I was removing most of the stuff and sopping up the water. I thought about calling my boss to let her know I would be taking the day off, but then decided to try to handle the problem from my workplace.
Getting to work – feeling a bit frazzled – I had an inspiration: the son-in-law of one of my former co-workers is a plumber. Why not call him? What a blessing that call turned out to be. Not only could he come to fix it today, but he was in the area. He came by my office and got my house keys and then called moments ago to tell me the disposal needs to be replaced. He’s going to purchase a new disposal, install it, and come back to the office with my keys and pick up his check. This is a man I trust, and I am so thankful all of this could be taken care of while I was at work.
Note: the rain is still falling, and by tomorrow, it may have changed into sleet and snow—from 4 to 6 inches is the prediction!