Sunday, June 30, 2013

Getting to see Hans' family

Friday afternoon I drove to St. James to see Rachel, Josiah, Annika and William, who are here to go out west with Rachel's family. As a child, her summer vacations were spent in South Dakota and Wyoming with her family. This is the first time she has had the opportunity to join them in a long while.

We went to a local park where the kids could run around a bit. This is William, age 3-1/2. It was really fun watching him climb. He seems to have no fear.

Annika is now 7 years old. She is really sweet.

Josiah, now 9, is really maturing. I enjoyed talking to him very much. 

After playing at the park, Rachel treated us to a Dairy Queen treat. William really enjoyed his Dilly Bar. Annika watching to see if William will discover the chocolate that is decorating his chin.

Eating a blizzard. Yum!

For dinner we drove with Rachel's parents and brother with his kids to a nice park by a lake which was out in the country. We ate our little picnic under a pavilion. While eating, we discovered a robin's nest in the rafters of the pavilion. 3 baby robins were visible - their heads sticking out of the nest. Daddy robin was nearby, keeping an eye on us.

 These kids are like little monkeys! They are really good at climbing. This is Joe and Will.


The only photo I took with Rachel in it did not turn out very well, so I chose to not post it. This is the birthday cake we had as an early celebration of her August birthday. Since she will most likely be in Japan on that date, why not celebrate now? The cake was a big hit with the kids! 

It was really nice to see this part of my family again. I hadn't seen them since the first week of January, and soon they will be going over seas. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Summer vacation on Tuesday

With our family gathering growing in number, we were really fortunate to be spreading out at our cousin Dave and Cheryl's home, also in Lowell. They have a large, beautiful house that sits on 3 acres, and a swimming pool! This worked out very well for visiting and eating meals.

L to R: sisters Jill (Colorado) and Emily (Pennsylvania) with my Aunt Ginny.

My cousin Diane holding her grand-daughter, Sophie. Diane and her husband Dave now live in New Jersey. 

Jake, holding his daughter, Hazel. Emily, Jake's sister-in-law, is playing with a puppy puppet with Hazel.

My brother Jerry holding our first cousin, twice removed, Hazel. She was not afraid of any of us.

Hazel in the pool with her mommy, cousin Jill

Seated is my Aunt Ginny, holding Sophia. L to R (standing) Emily, Diane, and Jill, holding Hazel.

Aunt Ginny with the cousins: Pat, yours truly, Jerry, Janet, Linda and Diane.

In all of my photos, I got none of Diane's husband, Dave. I don't know how that happened. Sorry, Dave. We had a great time being together. I'm glad it worked out so well. My Aunt Ginny is my mom's youngest sister. She and Uncle Allan are my only aunt and uncle remaining. They have four kids: Dave, Linda, Diane and John. Aunt Liz was my mom's younger sister. She and Uncle Vic are both deceased, as is their son, Wayne. Pat is their only heir. So she and Aunt Ginny's four kids are my only cousins. Our family is small, but it is close and very precious. I treasure this time we had together.

Early Wednesday morning we took off for Minnesota. It was a long, long ride, and I ate way too much of the Chicago mix popcorn we had along. It felt good to be home again. Nels really missed me.

Summer Vacation on Monday

Our cousin Cheryl clued us into the wonderful, historic town of Crown Point. What a place! There were so many antique stores. The old court house was just beautiful! The basement, which apparently used to house the jail, had wonderful shops. I was the only one who bought anything.

I bought these three pieces. L to R: an amber Fostoria Coin Glass creamer; a cranberry glass water goblet; and a lead glass creamer. These should have cost me around $75. I paid $10.50 for all three!

My sister modeling some toy glasses

My cousin Linda posing in a stylish hat from the 50-60's

These dressers (with comic book covers applied to the fronts of the drawers) made me wonder if my sons would have liked having them when they were young. Double click any photo to enlarge.

When we got back to my aunt and uncle's home, more cousins arrived. The first ones arrived from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and Colorado.

L to R: Luke (2), Pat holding Hazel (1), and Ethan (5)

L to R: Ross arriving with Sophia (4 weeks). Greeting him are his sons Luke and Ethan, and sister-in-law (my cousin) Jill, who is holding her daughter, Hazel. Hazel is named after our maternal grandmother. It was so much fun meeting Sophia and Hazel for the first time!

Sophia is checking out my cousin Pat.

My Aunt Ginny meeting her great grand-daughter, Sophia, for the first time.

My Uncle Allan meeting his great grand-daughter, Hazel, for the first time.

Summer Vacation: Sunday

Sunday morning we met Aunt Ginny and Uncle Allan at their church, Bethel Church of Crown Point, Indiana. What a great memory—all of us worshiping together! Following the service, Jerry, Janet, Pat and I took off for Joliet, Illinois, where I lived for just under 10 years well over 30 years ago. We drove past the church where we once served and the parsonage (Peder was born while we lived in this house). I'm happy to say things looked pretty good. Next we drove up to the White Fence Farm, a favorite restaurant of mine. We ate here many times while we lived in Joliet, but hadn't been there for 25 years – just after Hans graduated from the US Navy boot camp.

L to R: Jerry, Pat, Janet

After this delicious dinner, we drove past the house we lived in when Hans was born, and then stopped to visit our former neighbors, Doris and Bob. It was great seeing them and two of their daughters, Joanne and Laurie, again! Driving back to Indiana, we drove past the parsonage where we lived when Heidi was born. These were important years in my life.

Once back in Indiana, we went to Aunt Ginny's and their son Dave and wife Cheryl arrived, along with their daughter, Lorna, and her boyfriend, Nick. We had an enjoyable time over dinner.

L to R: Nick, Lorna, Dave, Cheryl

Family Reunion 2013

A little over a week ago, I started a summer vacation to be spent with family - brother, sister, cousins, and my dear Aunt Ginny and Uncle Allan. Friday I drove to Pat and Pudge's where we had a delicious dinner outside on the patio, followed by a drive to North St. Paul to view the classics cars on Main Street. This was really fun – saw many beautiful, restored cars. When the skies turned stormy looking and it began to sprinkle, we dashed to the van and drove home—heavy rain falling before reaching our destination. Once inside the house, we turned on the TV to check out the weather radar, got a quick glimpse of a big storm system over us, and then the power went out. Pat has no shortage of candles! After she and Pudge had lit many of them, Pudge went off to bed. Minutes later, I heard a knock at the door. The neighbor across the street had come to announce the streets were flooding! We dashed upstairs to have a look. Our cars were standing in water over my ankles, and rising! Checking the back yard, water was approaching the patio. This was a huge scare, bringing back the horrible flood memories of 2011, when Aunt Liz's lower level was flooded up to one's knees. Pudge made a phone call, and the village engineer said he would come over right away. With Pudge and the neighbor holding flashlights, the engineer was able to remove logs, branches and sticks from the opening of the drainage area of the creek that runs behind their home and the water began receding. 30 minutes or so later, power was restored. This was one event I would rather not repeat!

Saturday morning Pat and I drove to Rochester to pick up Janet and Jerry. We were on our way to northern Indiana to gather with our dear extended family. Once we were checked into our hotel, we went to Aunt Ginny and Uncle Allan's home. It was fun their son, John, was there, too.

John and Uncle Allan

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Heading Home

After five fun-filled days with the cousins, we're heading home.

I have had such a wonderful time with family ever since Friday night. From having to move my car out of rising water, to eating in the world's largest Culver's in Wisconsin, riding hundreds of miles with my brother, sister, and cousin Pat, visiting with my dear Aunt Ginny and Uncle Allan, and seeing all four of their kids, 3 of their grand-kids, and 4 of their great grand-kids, plus shopping in the wonderful historic town of Crown Point, Indiana, and eating, eating, eating, it's time to start for home.

I intend to write a few blog entries on this once I am home, so for now, this will have to do. Our covered wagon is heading west.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Lovina, my Old Order Amish Friend

I met Lovina, an Old Order Amish maiden, in 1988 when I stopped at her little general store to buy some jam. Jake, the Old Order Amish carpenter who made my cherry rocking chair and my dining room chairs had given me directions to her farm. I really liked her the minute I met her.

That first time I stopped at her store, it was in the back porch of the farmhouse she and her dad shared. She had a few shelves of this and that – parts to kerosene lamps, fly tape, homemade jam, bags of cereals, and fireballs—very hot, cinnamon jawbreakers, and other items I can't begin to remember. I bought a jar of the raspberry jam she made, vowing to come back.

Over the years, I have gone to see Lovina at least once, often bringing friends with me. One time, Peder and Heidi went with me. Peder had just gotten his driver's permit, and he agreed to come along if I would let him drive. I was on a mission to get the fireballs for Hans—to put them in a birthday box I was sending to him while his ship was underway around South America. When were were nearly there, the skies opened up and it poured—much like it has been doing rather regularly around here lately. Lovina's father couldn't believe we would drive some 60 miles in the pouring rain to buy cinnamon jawbreakers. Then he offered to have us spend the night. Just think – a chance to spend the night in an authentic, Old Order Amish home! I really wanted to do this, but my kids did NOT. They took me aside and I remember Peder saying something like: Mom, we're not staying here. They don't have electricity so there's no TV! Then Heidi chimed in to say, And they have an "outhouse!" So, we drove home in the rain, and I have never spent the night in an Amish home.

Some years ago, a separate building was made on the farm for Lovina's store. It was really nice – a small porch with a screen door, a couple of windows, and shelves with two aisles. It had a wood stove for heat. Lovina hand wrote all of the items we bought on a ledger-type book, adding the figures in her head. Her handwriting was beautiful.

Last fall, Lovina had a stroke and lost most of the use of her right hand. For a time her speech was affected, too. But due to physical therapy, she now has a little use of her right hand and her full speech has returned. She has learned to write and sew with her left hand. When friends and I were there in October or November, she was in the store but her niece was helping her. Today when we stopped, we learned she had retired in January. Her niece, Lizzy, now has a few things to sell there, but not the variety Lovina had. Lizzy told us we could go to Lovina's house, which is on the same farm, and have a visit with her. She let us know Lovina really likes having company. My sister and I spent about an hour in her house. Her kitchen had a wood cook stove, with two irons sitting on it. The ironing board was up and on it was a beautiful white, pleated apron which she said she was going to press to wear to church tomorrow. At the table was a piece of linen she was embroidering. After visiting there for awhile, we moved into her little living room which was very plain. In it was a wooden desk that had been her dad's, a willow rocking chair, a heat stove, and 3 plain, oak chairs – very similar to the ones Jake made for me. We did not see her bedroom. As we were leaving she apologized for the dirty dishes in the dry sink.

I love Lovina, and she is always so happy to see me come. We give each other a big hug. I don't fully understand her life, but I have learned a lot about the Amish over the years, and have great respect for them. We worship the same Saviour. I look forward to seeing her again and again.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

My Flower Garden

Despite the rain, rain, rain we keep getting, I have my garden put together. Now it needs some serious sunshine.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

To Good Health!

After seven weeks of feeling poorly, I'm happy to report I have turned the corner! At times I wondered if it would ever end. It hasn't helped that Minnesota has had lousy weather, too. Did you know we had only 12 days with some sunshine in them since March 1st? It's some kind of record. That all changed yesterday, also. So things are looking up!

I have been able to get out to buy some flowering plants for my yard. They are so cheery. This morning Nels and I sat out on the porch for a while – appreciating the sun and watching the birds. Welcome Spring and hope for good health!

Monday, June 03, 2013

Dairy Queen

I’m in charge of the birthdays in my department – asking the birthday person what they want for their birthday treat, what date works for them for a party, and inviting all. Last Thursday Dan told me he wanted a Dairy Queen cake with all white ice cream and the fudge/cookie crunch layer, so I called our local DQ and ordered it for a 12:30 pick up today.
When I pulled up, I noticed there were grade school kids everywhere – lots of them. I parked the car and went inside to the order counter. ALL of the employees were involved with making the orders of the 2 ½ - 4th grade classrooms of kids and their teachers orders. None of the school people were in any kind of line – just standing everywhere – both outside and in – and once the ice cream treat was made, the employee would have to say "Who ordered the peanut butter malt?" It was total disorganization. Finally one of the women clerks – I thought she was the manager because her shirt was a different color from the others, waited on me. I told her I was here to pick up the birthday cake I had ordered (it’s now 1:05). She went back to look for it and was gone for a bit. When she returned she asked, "What kind of cake was it?" I told her it was an all white cake (The birthday boy didn't want any chocolate ice cream.) with "Happy Birthday, Dan" written on it, plus balloons. She left and returned again and said it wasn't there. In the meantime the woman I thought was the manager told me there had been a management change over the weekend. The former one had been fired. Again, the employee informed me the cake was not there. Nor were there any cakes in their freezer in the lobby. It was completely empty with a sign in it saying it was broken. She told me she could make one, but it would take 2 hours to freeze once it was made. Well, I needed it at 3 pm today, so that wasn't going to work. She then said to wait because she wanted to give me a coupon for a free cake in the future. I thought that was pretty nice. I asked her if it would be good at another location, thinking I would just drive to Shakopee and get one for our party there. But she said the coupon would only be good at the Bloomington location.

I went out to the car and called Dan and told him the scenario and asked if he would be okay with whatever cake the other location had, or would a regular cake from Lund’s work. He suggested I go back into this DQ and get frozen ice cream and a container of hot fudge and serve ice cream sundaes instead, so that’s what I did. Guess what, this nice manager wouldn't let me pay for that and said to use the coupon for my next birthday cake. I thought that was really nice! Talk about good will.

By the way, the sundaes were delicious and everyone had a good time at the party!