Friday, September 08, 2017

Summer Is Over

Since retiring in January, this summer was the first chance I had to enjoy my neighborhood pool and meet some very nice neighbors. It's been wonderful discovering all of the pleasures retirement affords.

During the summer I worked away in my garage to purge the many, many things I no longer used or wanted. I made many trips to a charity where they were more than happy to take my "treasures" and let others buy them for a fraction of the amount I had paid for them. It has felt good to clear away some of the clutter.

Also I managed to go the short walk to one of the two pools in my association. Like anything else, the more often I attended, the more friends I made. Each person brought his/her own interesting life — what they did before retiring, how many kids they have, where they were born and raised, etc. I found out some of us had many things in common. This same group of friends gathered together at the pool on Fridays from 5 - 7 pm for happy hour. I began looking forward to this each week.

L to R: Mary Jo, Colleen, and Rita

The day these photos were taken was chilly—at least for me it was! My friends talked me into going home and changing into my suit.

And then Labor Day was fast approaching, when the pool would be closing for the next nine months! I decided I didn't want to loose contact with these new friends so I jotted down the contact information for each one and sent it as a global email so we can stay in touch. Living here this summer has been a gift for me and I look forward to many more times to spend with these new friends.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

God Is With Me

God was with me. Sunday evening as I was driving home from my son Peder's, I was entering the exit ramp close to my house when a car was coming straight toward me – UP the exit ramp and entering the highway I just left — going the WRONG direction! I called 911 as soon as I entered my driveway and was connected to the highway patrol. I told them what had just happened and was asked the make and color of the car. I told them it was a newer Cadillac. I didn't notice the color. After talking to the patrol, I put my car in the garage and I heard sirens. 

I have been thinking about this since Sunday and I have questions running around in my head. How would the patrol handle this? They couldn't go down the highway the wrong way to stop the person. Would they block the southbound traffic so others wouldn't be headed in the direction of the wrong way car? If I ever get the chance to visit with a patrol person, I am going to inquire.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

At Last, All of My Kids Came Home at the Same Time!

On the weekend of August 6 and 7, Sunday and Monday, my three kids and their children came to my home. My heart was overflowing! We had not been in one place since December 2010. Considering my grandkids range in age from 13 down to 3, one can imagine the changes. For instance, Hans had never met his niece, Corinne, who is 3-1/2 years old.

Peder with his three kids: Rellie, Felix and Leo

Sunday morning the family gathered at my swimming pool and the kids, Heidi, and I got in the water with them. It was so much fun!

L to R: Josiah, Anni (back), Rellie, William, Marshall

Grandma D with her three granddaughters: Rellie, Corinne, and Anni

Felix and Josiah

Marshall and Heidi

Felix wearing flippers

Heidi holding Corinne

L to R: Rachel, Sarah and Leo

Grandma D with Felix, Leo, Rellie, Anni, Josiah and William

After a time in the pool, we had a light lunch at my home. The kids were finished eating quite quickly and had a good time running around in my back yard. Josiah, now 13, stayed indoors and quietly played my piano. That was fun!

Once lunch was finished, we made our way to Peder's house where the kids played outdoors and the adults were able to visit for awhile.

Corinne hugging a stuffed cat

Heidi, Peder and Hans

Heidi, Hans, Peder and yours truly

The kids had a lot of fun playing in Peder and Sarah's backyard while the adults had a good time catching up with one another. When it was time to eat, Sarah's dad, Ken, grilled hamburgers and hotdogs for everyone.

L to R: Ken, Barb, Heidi and Donna Mae

L to R: Heidi with her two kids: Marshall and Corinne
Peder with his three kids: Leo, Aurelia (Rellie), and Felix
Hans with his three kids: William, Annika (Anni). and Josiah

* * *

On Monday we gathered at my cousin Pat's home in Willernie. My brother and sister joined us, which was very nice. The kids had fun playing in Pat's new sunroom and I enjoyed taking Corinne on a little walk at Reed Creek.

Corinne petting clay deer at Reed Creek - across the street from Pat's

Grandma D with Corinne

Hans with my brother Jerry
Heidi and Hans (Peder had to work)

L to R: Heidi, my sister Janet, cousin Pat, Rachel and Josiah
 I had such a good time but wish it could have lasted longer. Isn't that how it is with anything one enjoys: an ice cream cone, a good book, a vacation? I am still living in the afterglow of my time spent with my dear, dear family.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


I had a real treat when my oldest granddaughter, Anni, came to see me for four days. On July 25th I picked her up at the airport. This is the first time she had flown as an "unaccompanied minor." I was really proud of her! After she got off the plane, she told me a flight attendant moved her up to First Class!

We were busy while she was here. The first evening we went to the Mall of America for dinner and for a bit of shopping. I had warned her I may have to sit down to rest once in awhile, and she was fine with that.

Anni enjoying pizza at Tucci Benucch

Anni loves my cat, Nels, and so she enjoyed holding him and playing with him.

On her second day with me, I drove her and Rellie, my twin cities granddaughter, to Austin (MN) to see their grandpa and to tour the SPAM Museum and to eat lunch. The girls had fun inside the museum with the "canning six cans of Spam" competition. Here you see them wearing a lab coat and hard hat like I wore for the ten years I worked at Hormel's.

Anni is a bit over 20 Spam cans tall.
Rellie is 18 Spam cans tall


On Thursday Anni and I went to Como Zoo in St. Paul. I took her into the conservatory and showed her the spot where her mom and dad were married. I'm not sure she was impressed. She really did like the rain forest where we saw colorful birds flying around and got up close to a sleuth. We wandered around the zoo and got to see the new baby giraffe standing close to her mother.

It was a very warm day (89 degrees) and many of the animals were lying in the shade. We cooled off with an icy drink—sort of like a slush. Anni liked the banana flavor so much I bought her a second one.

Every day while Anni was here we went swimming. One day Rellie joined us. I'm hoping this is the beginning of Anni and my other grandchildren coming to spend some time with me.

Rellie and Annie eating supper

Monday, July 17, 2017

Family Vacation to Coeur d'Alene

A couple of Saturdays ago I flew to Seattle to go on Heidi and Chad's family vacation. What an honor it was for me to be invited! Before we took off on our trip, I played dolls with Corinne and visited with the rest of the family, and on Sunday night I was fortunate to meet a second cousin of mine. He is a highly decorated (the highest) retired officer of the US Navy.

Yours truly and Bill
L to R: yours truly, Bill, Corinne and Heidi
Monday we took off for Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. We drove in their pick-up truck and they allowed me to sit in the front. Poor Heidi was wedged in the back seat between Marshall and Corinne and their dog, Lucy, a beautiful Golden Retriever, was on the floor under Corinne's feet.

Route I-90 from Seattle to Coeur d'Alene was beautiful. First we drove through the magnificent Cascade Mountains, then we crossed the grand Columbia River, which was gorgeous!

Following that we saw flatter country with wheat and corn fields. Now and then there would be a ranch or some cows or horses. But then we were once again in mountains—the Rocky Mountains. They were covered with beautiful fur trees. And then we entered Idaho, and it wasn't long until we were in Coeur d'Alene. My, right away we knew it was going to be a lovely stay!

First we stopped at a beautiful park for the kids to run around a bit. It was a good break for Lucy, too. Next we checked into our condo and then went to eat for it was dinner time.  We spotted a pizza place that looked good so went inside. They served delicious open fire baked pizzas. Heidi ordered an artichoke appetizer and it was just delicious. By the way, we ate there again on our last day.

Our condo was really nice. It had two bedrooms, a nice living room, bathroom, kitchen with bar counter and bar stools, a dining room, which we never used, and a balcony. It was only three blocks from the main street and downtown, so we walked everywhere we went.

One day we started out at a splash park for Marshall and Corinne while Chad took Lucy to a dog park. After that we walked to a nice park area where Heidi and the kids went into Lake Coeur d'Alene to swim. Part of that time I held onto Lucy's leash. Several people came by and asked to pet her. She loved it!

The next day Heidi and Chad took Marshall to an amusement park some twenty miles away. Prior to that they took Lucy to a doggie day care center. Corinne and I spent the day playing dolls. At lunch time we walked downtown to have lunch in a cafe. I enjoyed spending time with her.

Our final full day we went out on Lake Coeur d'Alene in a rented speed boat. Heidi and Chad also rented a tube which everyone but yours truly rode on. We took along boxed lunches and had a great time out on the water. The lake is huge and had beautiful cabins along the shore. Many of them had to cost millions of dollars.

We drove home on Friday and on Saturday, Heidi's 40th birthday, we celebrated with getting a pedicure (first time together), dinner out and birthday cake.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Reunion with Rosy

In 2007 I started tutoring with the Cedar Valley Church in the One by One program. The program was started to help the many Hispanic children that were moving into their neighborhood. The program had volunteers tutor first through eighth graders—one tutor for each student. I was assigned a little first grade girl whose name is Rosy. Instantly I liked her and she liked me. She spoke very good English. In fact, she would go to doctor appointments with her mother to act as interpreter. She would bring her homework and we would work on it together.

At the end of her third grade I was getting a little weary of spending every Monday night away from home and decided I wouldn't continue. I took Rosy out to eat to tell  her and that's when she told me she wouldn't be coming the following year because she was going to be in another program. So, at the final night of the program that year, we parted company, and to my chagrin, I never attempted to see her again. Here is my last blog entry which shows Rosy.

Fast forward to this week when I was sorting through more bins and boxes in my garage. In one carton, I came upon the Mexican serape I bought in Tijuana, Mexico, in 1972. I had purchased it to decorate the foot of Hans' bed. We had never used it as a cover up. Suddenly I had an idea to take it to Rosy. It would give me an excuse to see her. So this afternoon I walked up to her door, not positive she and her family still lived there. Rosy's grandmother answered the door and she recognized me right away. Then Rosy came to the door and upon seeing me started to cry. We had a great reunion, reminiscing of the things we had done together outside of the scheduled tutoring sessions. It was just wonderful. She has turned into a beautiful young lady.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Life Is Complicated

Many years ago I learned my dad was not my real dad. This disclosure was significant! For a long time, I kept it to myself because I was embarrassed and ashamed. Then in my later years I shared it with close family members and in my faith story which I gave at many services at my church.

About three years ago, one of my half brothers contacted me and asked if I could have lunch with him and his wife. Of course I agreed. After all, these are friends I grew up with in my church. Around this same time I met up with my half sister at her home in Arizona. We had nice conversations—catching up on each other's family—but the subject of my relationship to them never came up . . . until about two or three weeks ago. My half sister and I were talking on the phone—she lives many states away from me now. She brought up the fact that I had sung at her father's funeral and at the time her mother had advised her not to ask me. She told me her mother said, "You can't ask her because she knows." My half sister said she wanted me to sing because I had such a beautiful voice, and so I was asked and consequently I sang at his service, not knowing he was my biological father. She said a few more things and then I asked her what she meant by, "You can't ask her because she knows." I know what? She was quiet for a moment, and after the silence, I came out with "That I know your father is my biological father?" and she said, "Yes." Then the hush-hush information was out in the open.

I gave all of these details because Tuesday I got an email message from my older half-brother informing me my other half-brother died Monday night. He died suddenly, and unexpectedly. His obituary can be read here.  Later that day I got a phone call from my half-sister with the same news. She and I must have talked for an hour or more. All of this has left me a bit sad. While I wasn't close to him and hadn't seen  him since his mother's funeral in 1996, it affects me. Life is complicated.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

It's Time to Purge

Over the years, I have been a collector—not a hoarder. There is a big difference. I have had spoon collections; Amish decor such as faceless dolls, prayer caps, wall quilt, and even authentic Amish children's used clothes, hung on Amish made wooden hangers; ruby red glassware, milkglass (vases, baskets, etc.); cobalt blue collection of vases and other beautiful cobalt blue pieces; cranberry glass vases and pitchers; DVDs and VHS tapes; long play records; cookbooks (I had over 375 of them!); salt glazed pottery; you get the idea. I have no idea of the dollar amount I have spent over the years for these and other items. Knowing what I do now, I wish I had had more control. But I digress.

I'm now collecting empty bins. It''s a good thing!

Another car trunk full on my way to Value Village
In the last few months, I have begun purging. I have gone through clothes closets, book cases, and bins in my garage. I have made many trips to a local charity and am making progress. I have a lot to go through, but I'm committed to do this.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Weekend with My Friend, Joannie

Saturday I flew to Chicago to spend the weekend with my dear friend, Joannie. Joannie is an MD practicing at the University of Chicago. I met her in 1993 at my church when she was in her residency here in Minnesota.

Joannie picked me up at the airport in her yellow VW Beetle convertible—with the top down. The weather in the Chicago area was beautiful, so it was appropriate. We took off from the airport and headed to the Skyway which would take us to Indiana where we would visit Joannie's sister who is in a nursing home and then visit my Aunt Ginny who recently moved to a lovely assisted living home.

Aunt Ginny and yours truly

Entrance to Moody Church

Choir and orchestra and Moody Church

Sunday we walked (two miles) to Moody Church. I had never been there before but had heard so many good things about it. First off, I was so impressed with the choir. There must have been 120 or 130 voices, and some were young people and some were older. Some wore robes and some didn't. There was also a full orchestra. I loved the music that was selected. And then came the sermon. I really enjoyed that, too.

Abraham Lincoln statue in Lincoln Park

After church we walked about a block to Lincoln Park. A docent was there explaining to a bicycle tour group that this place used to be a cemetery were a couple thousand people were buried. At the same time a cholera outbreak occurred and the authorities determined the dead bodies buried so near Lake Michigan, their main source of drinking water back then, were the cause, so volunteers were solicited to dig up the bones and move them to a different location.

Chicago skyline

My friend, Dr. Joannie

From there we walked a short ways to a tunnel that took us under Lake Shore Drive. We made our way to a short wall where we sat to watch the water and people, plus take in the Chicago skyline. It  was such a lovely spot.

After a time, we walked about a half mile and again crossed under Lake Shore Drive. We were on a street with beautiful homes. I am sure they were pricey! I could imagine a movie being filmed in this location.

A few blocks from this the area changed to commercial buildings. Joannie knew of a fabulous restaurant there called "Hashbrowns Cafe." We went in and it didn't take me long to know this was going to be great. I ordered the blueberry pancakes and they were the best I have ever eaten!

Blueberry pancakes with vanilla sauce and strawberry jam