Friday, August 30, 2013

Birthday party 4

Talk about being blessed . . . Today my sweet girl friends took me to my favorite restaurant – The Original Pancake House – for my birthday lunch. What did I order? What else but my very favorite: the apple pancake. Here's the recipe. This delicious dish is brought to the table while it is still all puffed up. It's loaded with Granny Smith apples and cinnamon. Yum!

L to R: Sharon, yours truly, Nancy

Fun at work!

One of the blessings of my job is that no two days is ever the same. My boss and I were talking about this today. For instance, he had no idea that one of our biggest authors—Lauraine Snelling—would stop in our office on Wednesday, come to see him and give him a big hug for the beautiful cover on her new book, An Untamed Heart. I didn't tell her one of my friends loaned us her Scandinavian costume for the photoshoot of the cover.

Most of us didn't know that a gift would be given to us today from author Dani Pettrey, thanking us for the work we did in producing her new novel, Stranded. She sent this indoor s'mores kit, complete with marshmallows, Hershey bars, graham crackers, and cans of Sterno heat:

Once the "all office" email went out, announcing treats in the dining room, friends quickly made their way to try their hands at roasting marshmallows inside. It was really fun!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

My cactus is blooming again!

Some years ago – maybe 6 or 7, I was given a small cactus from Arizona. It was given to me in a small pot with a bit of dirt from which it grew. I carefully put it into a larger, old pot and based on past experience, basically set it in a sunny window sill in the office window and ignored it. I planned to water it about 2 or 3 times a year.

It has bloomed a few times. If memory serves me right, the first time it had one bloom. Another time it sprouted two blossoms. Earlier this year, there were 3 flowers on it. When I looked at it just this past Monday, it had 1 bloom and 5 buds! Could that be possible? Today I remembered to check on it again and VoilĂ , the buds had opened. Here it is in all it's beauty:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Cameras

I like to call my eyes my cameras. They see things near and far. They see color, read words, watch sunrises, children, birds, and traffic. It's no accident that God put them on the front of our faces—up high where we can see where we're going and indented under our eye brows, where they are protected.

What brought all of this up? Two years ago this summer, I had cataract surgery on both eyes – the surgeries were two weeks apart. That surgery is amazing! They made me sleepy, cut a tiny slit on the side of my eye, inserted a little machine that pulverizes the lens behind the eye, vacuumed it out, and inserted a new, artificial lens. It's actually folded over when inserted and unfolds once in place. This lens is the exact prescription required for your eyes. Isn't this incredible? And the procedure takes under five minutes! Following the first surgery, I couldn't believe how clear everything was. And the colors that were vibrant—colors that had been tinted yellow over time. I never knew things were tinted (clouded) until after the surgery. With both of the eyes done, I continue to have amazing eye sight. They corrected me with mono vision: reading lens in my right eye; distance lens in my left. They were able to correct the right eye to 20/15 and the left eye to 20/25. I can read the tiniest font.

Today I had my first eye exam since the surgery. It was a check up to see if my eyes were continuing to be healthy—checking things like glaucoma and macular degeneration. I was pleased to learn that I have no signs of any of these diseases and that my eyes are very healthy. I asked if my vision would change over time and they told me no. It will remain the same since I have artificial lenses.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Memories from the past

I have become a Facebook friend of "You know you are from Austin, Minnesota when . . ." and the huge benefit is the great number of photos posted that are from years and years ago. My, does that bring back the memories. For instance, just tonight these were posted:



This is much the way Austin looked when I was a kid. One of my strong memories is shopping downtown on Friday nights—the only night of the week when the stores remained open until 9 pm. Walking by the shoe store one Friday night (see it on the left) I spotted a pair of navy blue leather shoes that I wanted. I was in sixth grade. At that time in my life, I made money two ways: my allowance and babysitting. I remember those shoes costing $12, which was a lot of money for me. Well, I saved and saved, and bought those shoes. This shoe store had an xray machine that looked like this:

One would stand on the little step, insert one foot while wearing the new shoe, and then look through the viewer at the top. The clerk looked through the viewer at the back. You were instructed to wiggle your toes so the clerk could see if the shoes fit or were too tight. For obvious reasons, this machine was outlawed.

The store next door to the shoe store was one of my favorites. It was the Austin Candy Store and Cafe. It was owned by a Greek family, and the candy they made was delicious! They had relatives who had candy stores in Owatonna, Faribault, and Dinky Town in Minneapolis. It was always fun to go into the Cafe for treat with my mother and then get to pick out a piece of chocolate.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Fairy-tale Wedding

I attended a fairy-tale wedding today – or one as close to a storybook ending I have ever seen. Twenty eight years ago Jenny and Carlton started dating. They dated for seven years, but broke up just a couple of months after their daughter was born. After that, they both led lives they weren't proud of, and many mistakes were made. But just last fall, their daughter managed to get them together for an event, and things led to them dating once again. After forgiving each other for mistakes that were made, Carlton proposed marriage to Jenny.

I have been to many weddings, but none that held the emotions of this one. During the reception, Christina, maid of honor and daughter of the bride and groom, said "I never thought I would be giving a toast at my mother and father's wedding." There wasn't a dry eye in the place.

L to R: Carlton, Jennifer, Austin (Jennifer's son), Sharon—Jennifer's mother and one of my very dear friends, and Christina, daughter of Carlton and Jennifer. I am so happy for this family and wish them only the very best!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I'm expecting another grandchild!

This week I got news that Heidi and Chad are expecting a baby! I'm so happy about this! I know it will be a big change for their lives—Marshall turns five in November—but I'm sure they will welcome this new, little one and Marshall will really enjoy having a sibling in a couple of years when they can play together.

When Heidi called on Monday to ask if I had anything going on next March, I thought she was going to invite me on vacation with them to Hawaii. Let me tell you, this is so much better than any trip to Hawaii!

Thursday, August 08, 2013


Jennifer Lawrence fall during Oscars ceemony 2013
Yesterday was so much fun for me until around 5:30 pm when I was eating my supper in the porch. [Back up to Tuesday night when I brought all my flower pots into the screened porch to protect them from any hail damage. I didn’t get a chance to put them back outside until yesterday during my lunch period. It never occurred to me that I may be bringing bugs into the porch along with the plants.] While eating, I spotted what looked like a hornet bouncing around on the inside screen. My first thought was to put my dinner tray onto one of the folding chairs and go inside for the fly swatter. On my way in, I pulled the sliding screen door shut so the hornet – or whatever it was – couldn’t get into the house. I retrieved the fly swatter and hurried back to the porch, forgetting I had pulled the screen door over, and walked right into it at full force – knocking it totally to the cement floor with me sprawled onto it on all fours. "OUCH!," I yelled. The door knocked over the folding chair, wedging my dinner tray (of course, I was eating on my $58 Polish pottery dinner plate) in between the seat and back. This turned out to be a blessing, for the plate did NOT break, and Nels couldn’t get at the food – though he surely tried! Both knees and palms of my hands stung like crazy. I returned to the kitchen to grab two ice packs from the freezer, returned to the porch and up-righted the chair, got the tray onto a table – all the while keeping Nels at bay, and sat down with ice packs on both knees. A couple of minutes later I raised my sweatpants over my knees and saw that my left knee was skinned open – a patch about 2 inches square. I returned to the kitchen with my dinner plate, put it in the microwave for safety from Nels, and went to the bathroom to treat the wound. Of course, I have no large Band-Aids – had to use three one inch strips – got the wound covered, and went back to the porch to ice my hands and knees.

I slept fine last night until 1:30 when I got up to go to the bathroom. When I returned to bed, I discovered Nels had put his toy snake (plastic handle) on my pillow. Is it a gift for me, or his security? Not sure. But when I moved it, I heard it hit behind the head of my bed. Knowing he would keep me awake getting back there to retrieve it, I reached down for it – not turning on any lights so as to not get further awake – found it and climbed back into bed and fell sound asleep. I didn’t discover I had accidentally turned off the power strip to the alarm clock and telephone until I woke up 55 minutes after my alarm was supposed to go off. Consequently I feel really disorganized today.

My knees hurt, as does my left wrist and palm. I feel like a total ditz, but am very thankful nothing was broken – bones or dinner plate!

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Birthday Party, Part 3

Today my colleagues gave me a birthday party. For the past two years, I have worked in two departments – administration and design. For birthday parties, the production department joins in. I was happy to be with so many of my friends. Unfortunately the photographer only took photos of me and of the cake, but it must be noted there were 11 people there besides me.

Monday, August 05, 2013

New Pastor at the Church I Attend

After 19 months without a senior pastor at the church I attend, our new pastor began his ministry with us this past weekend. He and his wife have spent the past 12 years in Illinois, and prior to that, they were in California for 12 years. He started his sermon by telling us he was happy to be in Minnesota and has every intention of rooting for the Vikings, the Twins, the Timberwolves, the Wild, and the Gophers. He went on to say he had been to the Mall of America with some of his family and went to the Minnesota store to buy a t-shirt. He chose one with the Minnesota version (Norwegian) of the ten commandments. Then he proceeded to unroll the shirt, lay it on the pulpit and read it to the congregation. It went like this:

1. Der's only one God, ya know.
2. Don't make dat fish on yer mantle an idol.
3. Cussing ain't Minnesota nice.
4. Go to church -- even when yer up nort.
5. Honor yer folks.
6. Don't kill. Catch and release.
7. Der's only one Lena fer every Ole. No cheatin!
8. If it ain't yer Lutefisk, don't take it.
9. Don't be braggin' about how much snow ya shoveled.
10. Keep yer mind off yer neighbor's hotdish.

I don't want anyone reading this to get the impression that this new pastor is a comedian or not very deep. On the contrary, he is deep, and well educated, very spiritual, and has a real heart for the Lord and for sharing the Good News. Everyone I have talked to is very excited to be under his ministry.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

My Birthday, Part 2

The older I get, the longer my birthday seems to last, and I love it! I love spending time with my family and with my friends. Today my sister, cousin and dear friends met at Redstone for a delicious brunch. I have loved everything I have ordered at Redstone, and the wait staff has always been top notch.

L to R: Joanne, Pat, Bonnie, Laurey, Yours truly (holding the traveling birthday bear), Nancy, and Janet.

Scrambled eggs w/cheese, smoked applewood bacon, hash browns, whole wheat toast, strawberry/rhubarb jam

After eating and opening cards and gifts, the amazing banana cream pie was delivered to our table with a lighted sparkler that burned and sparkled for quite awhile. At the same time my family and friends, plus the birthday bear, were singing "Happy Birthday" to me. Other guests clapped when the singing was finished. What fun!

Pat, Janet and I shopped a bit after eating and then had a nice visit in my screened porch. I sure enjoyed this beautiful weekend!

Saturday, August 03, 2013

My Birthday

Today is my birthday. I'm thankful that another year has rolled around, and that I still have good health, a job I really like, and a wonderful family, plus many dear friends. God is Good, and I am blessed.

Peder called earlier this week and asked what I wanted for my birthday. I told him I would really like him and his family to take me to Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis. I hadn't been there for 50 years. Oh, I know it's not that far from where I live and work, but I never think to go there and wasn't even sure how to find it (without using Google). "No problem. We can do that."

Minnehaha Falls

The falls are running really full this summer due to the rains we had in June and July. I was told sometimes by August, there is little water going over. This is part of Minnehaha Park—one of the first state parks in the United States when it was purchased by the state of Minnesota in 1889. In it are a couple of sculptures – one is a large mask of Chief Little Crow. It sits on a pole near the falls. On the other side of Minnehaha Creek, which becomes the 53 foot falls, is the life size sculpture of Hiawatha carrying Minnehaha. (double click to enlarge)

In the afternoon I went to Waconia with my friend Bonnie and her mom and their mutual friend. We enjoyed the drive out there and had a delicious lunch at Lola's Boathouse - right on the shores of Lake Waconia. This was really fun!