Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

I know I say or think this every year: how did this year pass by so quickly?! What did I do? Where did I go? Who did I see?

In reviewing the year, these were the highlights:

  • January: I rented the barn at Bethany for a day early in the month as Hans and Rachel and their three kids were in Minnesota for a late Christmas. Peder and his family, and my brother and sister joined in the party, too, as well as Rachel's parents. One night Josiah and Annika stayed over at my place. It was really fun - they played outside in the snow for a time — each one wearing a pair of my boots.
  • March: I got to fly down to Arizona to Pat and Pudge's and enjoyed doing things with them as well as with some of the friends from my youth. It sure is a treat to get out of Minnesota during the winter!
  • April: In late April, I flew to Seattle and spent some time at Heidi and Chad's. It was really fun being with Marshall and them, as well as Brian. Heidi drove us up to Mount Vernon, which is north of Seattle, to see the tulip fields there. We also went to the zoo in Seattle.
  • June: Janet, Jerry, Pat and I drove to Indiana where we had a "mini-family reunion" with my Aunt Ginny and Uncle Allan and all four of their kids. It sure was fun seeing everyone and I'm so glad we went down there. Later in the month Rachel, Josiah, Annika, and William were in Minnesota and I drove down to St. James to see them for a day. We had a picnic out in the country and celebrated Rachel's birthday (a bit early). Hans was in school out East, so he couldn't be there.
  • July: Hans flew in for a few days and on the 4th, he and I took in a Minnesota Twins game. It was his first time to see our new baseball stadium. Also in this month, Peder and I visited a Jewish synagogue, plus I hosted the 2nd annual neighborhood picnic.
  • August: As happens every year, I turned another year older. This year I had 4 separate birthday parties. I feel very blessed with family and friends! Also during this month I learned Heidi and Chad are expecting a baby (a girl) in March of 2014!
  • September: Pat hosted a "Cousins Weekend." Linda drove up from Chicago and my sister came up from Rochester. We had a great time (per usual). Pudge even stayed around to join in the fun.
  • November: Heidi, Chad and Marshall flew home and we celebrated Marshall's 5th birthday over in Hudson at Chad's parents' home. We had fun one day at the Mall of America, too.
  • December: I flew to Japan with Steve where we witnessed our oldest, Hans, be promoted to Commanding Officer of one our countries' finest guided missile destroyers. What a proud moment that was! I'm so glad we got to do this. While there we took the train a few times to see some of the sights and shops in Japan. I enjoyed seeing some of the ways the Japanese celebrate Christmas, too. An added bonus was getting to have lunch with Heidi on our layover in Seattle en route to Japan. Once home, I was able to sing with the choir in 4 of our Christmas eve services at church, which is always special. And just this morning, I finished reading the Bible through for this year. I'm happy to have that as part of my daily living.
I wonder what 2014 will bring. Only time will tell. Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Choir Women's Christmas Brunch

This morning I went to our Choir Women's Christmas Brunch which was held at Mary Lee's house. I was really looking forward to this for several reasons: seeing my choir friends, singing a few more Christmas carols with these lovely women, and going into this beautiful house that I used to walk past in the mid 90's when Heidi and I lived in the "backyard" of this home.

I took 45 - 50 photos so won't include all of them, but here are some of my favorite:

This colonial style house is gorgeous! That's Mary Lee at the front door.

L to R: Kris, Janet, Barb, Pat. These ladies brought the delicious coffee cakes. Yum!

Pam in this beautiful red room

L to R: Vicki, Christa "Peanut," Lorraine, Loreda, Debra, Mischelle, Louise, Lorraine, Lisa

L to R: Louise, Nancy, Judy

L to R: Mischelle, Sue, Lorraine, Christa

Our hostess, Mary Lee

L to R: Marney, Mona, Lorraine, Lisa, Debra

L to R: Louse, Pat, Joanne, yours truly

L to R: Judy, Katie, Barb, Loreda, Christa

L to R: Janet, Lorraine, Mary Lee

Seated: L to R: Loreda, Mischelle, Pam; standing L to R yours truly, Vicki, Judy, Joanne

Looking out the back window of Mary Lee's home and across the backyard, there's the roof to the south building on the complex where Heidi and I used to live. 

Our coats on one of the beds

Coats on the master bed

After eating and visiting in six separate areas of this beautiful home, we gathered in the living room for prayer and singing. What a wonderful time we had! 

Friday, December 27, 2013

After Christmas Get-together

Yesterday I took the day off from work and prepared for a little "after Christmas" supper with a few of my friends. It was nice to have time to prepare food and set my table. 

Each year I look forward to putting these Christmas plates and figures on my dining room shelf. They are made in Norway and bring a smile to my face.

I had invited my Cousin Pat for supper, too, but she had another obligation so she and our friend, Kris, came over early in the afternoon. We had a very good visit, and Pat gave me one of her plum puddings that she lovingly made. Our family can't make or eat English plum pudding without remembering Aunt Liz and our grandma, from whom we got the recipe. 

Seated at my table from L to R are Marie (age 90!), Pam, and Nancy. We had a very nice evening together.
For our dessert, we had the plum pudding with vanilla sauce. Pat, it was delicious! Thank you!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

This morning I hung up a couple of Christmas presents: a family photo of Hans' family and a photo of my grandson, Marshall. I love how my "Family" wall is growing.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

After singing at three Christmas eve services at my church, I drove through heavy snow – on roads that have yet to be plowed, and am now relaxing in my cottage. The church was packed for our services, with people in the over-flow rooms. Our choir sang 3 selections, plus there was congregational singing. I guess my favorite part is the final song, Silent Night. Oh, I have to say I love all of the Christmas carols, but ever since being in Japan a couple of weeks ago and worshiping and singing with the Japanese people, my new favorite is Silent Night. I can't sing that song any longer without thinking about these dear people, and hearing this song in their language. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Some miscellaneous photos of my trip

William, all bundled up!

Hans with Noko

Bakery in the lower level of a department store

I loved these lights in downtown Yokosuka!

This Cyclamen photo is for my office friend, Steve, who is a master grower of these plants.

These sweet ladies were having a knitting session in the yarn shop I like.

I bought the yarn for this vest and hat in the Yokosuka yarn shop when Annika was only 4 weeks old. Isn't she cute?!

The darling little train we took to Kamakura

A very fun surprise ~ we stumbled onto a German restaurant in Kamakura!

Glass collection inside the restaurant


Yes, they have Spam over there!

One night we ate in an Indian restaurant.

Hans and Rachel

Burger King delivers!

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Special Christmas Service with Japanese Christians

On the Sunday evening of our stay in Japan, Hans, Josiah, Steve and I went to the Chapel of Hope on the base for a combined service with Japanese Christians from Yokosuka and those living on the base. I was so surprised to see the church packed, including 3 choirs on the platform — a large choir of Japanese, a small teen-age choir of Japanese, and the chapel choir. This is the 31st year that they have held such an event.

An advent candle was lit, a message was given by the Japanese pastor, with the translation in our bulletins, each choir sang anthems, and the congregation sang several Christmas carols. On the final verse of Silent Night, I listened to the Japanese singing around me – in their language. Talk about emotional! I thought it was absolutely beautiful!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Japanese Dining

Steve wanted to eat in a Japanese restaurant, so we went to this one.

Steve's meal was chicken with vegetables over noodles. He said it was delicious.

Back Home from Japan

I got home from Japan yesterday mid-afternoon, after a very long day of flying. Why is it the flight to start a vacation always seems to go quicker than the return home?

William with his powder sugar mustache

The day began with a treat of donuts with Hans and his family. Then they took Steve and me to the train station where we were on our own. While Japan boasts an excellent rail system, with signs in Japanese and a bit of English, it can still be a bit confusing. There were more than four train routes to get us to the Narita Airport (about 2+ hours away from Yokosuka). We were trying to find the route with the fewest transfers.

Thanks to a young sailor who came to our rescue. He, too, was going to Narita and changed his route so that we wouldn't make any mistakes. We were grateful, plus enjoyed our visit with him.

Once at the airport and getting our boarding passes, a small earthquake sent the counters vibrating and the windows rattling. Thankfully it was a minor one.

We had a little time for a quick lunch and then proceeded to our gate. Just like the train system in Japan, the flight left precisely at 3 pm, right on time.

During the flight from Japan to Seattle, I watched 3 complete movies, plus watched the nighttime skies periodically. The moon was brightly illuminating the clouds below, and several of the stars were twinkling. For a time I visited with a very nice flight attendant at the back of the plane. All of this helps to pass the time.

In Seattle we had little time to go through customs, retrieve our bags, and go through security again. It's interesting that the hairspray, facial lotion, and hair gel passed security in Japan, but the Seattle folks felt it necessary to confiscate them. We hurried to the gate so we could make the boarding time. But once the plane was filled and ready to push back, it was discovered one of our front tires had a slow leak and the repair team had to be called to fix the problem. This made for about a 40 minute delay. Unfortunately, Heidi was working, so we didn't get to see her. It felt very odd to know she was within a few thousand feet of us and we couldn't see her. I waved from my window as we traveled down the runway in hopes that she was looking my way. Did you see me, Heidi?

We arrived to a very chilly Minnesota, with fresh snow on the ground and a little more falling. Peder, Aurelia and Felix came to pick us up and drive me home. It was good to see them, but truthfully, I was too tired to be much company.

Once in my home, Nels was all over me, which I fully expected. I picked him up and he purred and purred, following my every step.

After being awake over 28 hours, I finally went to bed and fell fast asleep – for about 3-1/2 hours, followed by 2-1/2 hours of being awake. I know this will pass.

This morning I went to church and then had brunch with a friend. It sure is good to be home!

Christmas Shopping with Annika and Josiah

It seemed to make sense to me to let Josiah, Annika and William pick out their Christmas presents while I was there. So Rachel took us shopping. Annika and Josiah had their hearts set on Pokémon things.  Annika wanted two stuffed characters; Josiah chose 10 smaller pieces. Here you see him playing one of the Japanese Pokémon video games.

This store was huge and very nice. On one side were dry goods, including clothing, toys, household goods, crafts, fabrics and yarns, and a pet store. There was also a huge grocery store. Here's Josiah holding up a package of octopus.