Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Eggs

One of my favorite meals is a fried, broken-yolk egg on toast. It is quick, easy, cheap, nutritious, and I almost always have the ingredients. Today as I was frying my egg and toasting my toast, I remembered some eggs of my youth. Most of the time our meals were very consistent: meat, potatoes, vegetable, bread and dessert. But occasionally, probably on a weekend, we would sit down to the table and mom would bring in a big platter...a very big platter...of eggs. I can see it now. It would start with the person sitting in the NE corner and go all the way around the table, with everyone sliding off a few eggs. Everyone, that is, except me. All those eggs had soft yolks, and I have never been able to stand soft-yolked eggs. I wonder how many eggs mom fried for a meal. She used the lefse plate and I'm sure she covered it more than once. Funny, I can't remember what we had to eat with the eggs. I just picture that big platter of soft-yolked eggs going around the table, stopping at each place, and depositing some eggs onto the plates. I wonder...what did I eat? I'm sure it wasn't eggs.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Special Gift from South Africa




As some of you know, a hobby of mine is to collect teacups and saucers. But not just any teacup and saucer. I only want ones from different countries. My goal is to have twelve cups and saucers made in twelve different countries. Right now I have Russia, Germany, England, Poland, Greece and the USA. I am halfway there! When Amber and her Dad went to South Africa in November, my only wish was that they would bring me back a teacup and saucer made in South Africa. They returned just before Thanksgiving. When they came over to celebrate the holiday, I was trying to control my excitement, expecting my teacup and saucer! But, alas! No such thing. Instead there were the stories of how they looked here and they looked there, and they tried to buy one from a coffee shop (they were in use), and they went to malls and stores and could not find any teacup and saucer that was made in South Africa. "They aren't much into making those in South Africa," said Nik. I was starting to feel guilty for even wanting it; they worked so hard to find it for me. I was afraid their entire trip was ruined because of my teacup and saucer obsession. But, no problem, everything is okay. Then came Christmas. I opened my gift from their family....a massage! Hey, that's cool. I love massages, though I've only had one in my life. One more gift -- you guessed it. A teacup and saucer made in South Africa!! I was overjoyed. But didn't they tell me they could not find one? Now the full story comes out. They were correct in saying all the things they did; couldn't find it in the malls or stores. What they didn't say was that at the airport, as they were leaving South Africa, they found this teacup and saucer. Whew! Thanks, Nik and Amber. I love it and have used it many times already!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

In Defense of the Prairies

Today we drove hundreds of miles across the prairies of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. It was as we were going through Iowa that I tuned into the beauty around me. Many of my sophisticated urbanite friends (and probably some relatives) find a trip like this boring and ..... well, very boring. "Nothing to look at," they say, "It's just too barren." Let me tell you what I saw today. I saw thousands of acres of rich farmland hidden beneath a thick blanket of snow. Snow that will melt and water the earth. Water the earth that will produce food to feed us all. Or produce grasses and grains to feed the animals that will feed us all. Dotted along the highway I saw roads leading up to cozy homes. Homes with houses, barns, sheds, garages, large yards, and acres to call their own. Homes that brought back memories of the days when I lived in a place like that. I saw trees barren of leaves, but clothed in a thin layer of ice that glittered in the sunlight, as if they were made of glass. As we drove by I noticed one of the glass trees had a lone bird perched on a glass branch. I saw trees that were coated in frost, each branch and twig pure white. For several miles, along the roadside, I saw snowdrifts that looked like the wave of the ocean coming to shore. Boring and barren? Not so much. We just need to open our eyes and understand the cycles of nature that gives us all life. And where else can you stretch your soul from horizon to horizon, with nothing to obstruct the view or to restrict the feeling of freedom?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Memories: My Last Childhood Christmas

1969 - my last Christmas living in my parent's home. This seems like a good ending to my series of Christmas memories. And what a memory Christmas 1969 was! I was almost 18, a senior in high school. After months of begging, pleading, cajoling, I got my biggest wish - I was going to fly to California to spend Christmas with my sister Evie and her family. This was a very big deal. I had never been on an airplane. I had never been to California. I had never taken a trip by myself. But I was full of confidence and had no fear of the unknown. My world was about to expand exponentially. Some of my favorite memories of this trip:
  • Changing planes in Minneapolis, having to go to the bathroom and discovering you had to pay. (I did not pay because I caught the door when someone else was leaving.)
  • Seeing Evie and Bill at the airport in Los Angeles as I came off the Jetway.
  • Little Annette and Billy; they were so adorable and loving to their Aunt Audrey
  • Palm trees
  • Warm weather
  • Spaghetti on Christmas Eve
  • Opening gifts on Christmas morning (can you believe it??)
  • Disneyland
  • Subs and Suds (never heard of it before)
  • Montovani music
  • Cheetos
  • Cute guys
  • Long talks with Evie
  • Traffic, traffic, traffic
  • Pacific ocean
  • Christmas dinner in the garage ... with doors open ... in December
What a long way life had brought me. I went from cozy, familiar and safe Christmases to a whole new and different world; strange environment, different customs and traditions, strangers. Over the years since leaving home, Christmas has been so many different scenarios. As good or not-so-good as any of them were, every December 24 my mind and heart takes a short trip back to the little living room overflowing with presents under the tree, the tables laden with food, and my large family gathered together. And I thank God for how blessed I was in my formative years. Come on, ring those bells! Light the Christmas tree! Jesus is the King....born for you and me. Come on, ring those bells! Everybody say, "Jesus, we remember this, your birthday."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Memories: The Best Ever

Little did I know that the next Christmas would be very different...in a good way. You wouldn't think so the way 1967 started. The first months of the year I was one very miserable teenager; extremely disillusioned, feeling like my life was restrictive and repressive. I was questioning everything. And we were at war. In fact, I had three brothers connected to the military....David was in the Navy and Tom was soon to join. Don was in the Army. And Vietnam was very real. It was the days of Peter, Paul and Mary, the days of love-ins, the days of the flower children, the days of pot. Rebellion and cynicism was everywhere, and my own heart was swept along a sea of discord and discontent. And then.....the unthinkable happened. The "Hound of Heaven" wouldn't leave me alone. Finally, on June 30, 1967, I let it all go and invited the Prince of Peace to reign in my heart and in my mind. Instant change. Discord turned to peace, discontent turned to joy, rather than feeling restricted and repressed, I felt freedom. Rather than feeling like no one loved me, I felt loved like never before. A teen aged phase? I don't think so. It has stayed with me for over 40 years - through the best of times and through the worst of times. And I will never forget Christmas 1967. By now Don was in the trenches of Vietnam and there were reports every day of soldiers being killed. Would Don be the next one? What was he doing this Christmas eve? As we shared a good meal and later opened our gifts, I remember feeling such an overwhelming peace and joy, for now the ceremonies and traditions had meaning. I finally understood what we were really celebrating. I put on my new watch and tried to calculate what time it was in Vietnam -- it was already Christmas Day there. And I prayed the prayer yet again, "Lord, please bring him back to us soon, even if he has to have a small injury to do it." I figured a small injury to bring him home would be better than getting killed any day! (Don, I take full responsibility for the bullet in your leg!) Somehow, I just knew he would be okay, and he was. Yes, I had experienced lots of wonderful Christmas celebrations, but this was the best yet. And I know that whatever Christmas may hold in the future; if I am ever alone, if there are no gifts, if there is no feast...I know that I will still reflect on what happened and still have peace, joy and love in my heart. Because I will always have the Christ of Christmas with me. Joy to the World!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

An Early Christmas


We had a wonderful early Christmas with our middle daughter and her family on Sunday night. The ham dinner turned out nearly perfect, the kids were well behaved, the Christmas story was meaningful, the desserts were yummy and the family time was priceless. The first thing the kids said when they came was that it really wasn't Christmas Eve. But it sure felt like it as the evening went along! Now we are on our way to see youngest daughter, her husband and grandson Archie. Everything would be complete if only we could also see oldest daughter and her family!

Monday, December 21, 2009

What's This All About???

Holidays aren't turning out to be the best of times for my sister, Sylvia. When I went to North Dakota over Thanksgiving, she decides to get pneumonia so bad that she spends Thanksgiving in the hospital. She was soon back home, feeling much better, although weak. And here we are, the week of Christmas. And my always healthy sister is back in the hospital! What's the problem this time? She has CHF, also known as congestive heart failure. It was so hard for her to breathe that she could barely move around the house. They've taken a lot of water off her, so she is feeling better again. But I've got lots of questions. Thankfully, she has an appointment in a couple weeks with a cardiologist in Grand Forks. I sure hope we get some answers. (Karen - we're counting on you being with her...) Meanwhile, looks like she won't be doing much for Christmas this year. Take care, Sis. We don't want you in the hospital for Valentine's Day!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Memories: Correction

I called Mom today and she gave me more information about the Santa visit. Actually, the first time Santa came only Dad and Mom knew about it and Dad was the Santa. They got the idea when Dad got some red flannel pajamas. Mom put cotton around the edges to make it look like Santa's outfit. Then they found a Santa mask. The second year was the one I blogged about earlier - Mom was the Santa and we had the red flannel stockings. The third year my brother Tom acted as Santa, but by then everyone knew what to expect. It was all a lot of fun. So now the record is straight....remembered better by my 93 year old mother than by me!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Memories: So Different

It was soon December once again. It was with apprehension that I approached Christmas Eve this time. It would be like none I had ever experienced. No overabundance of people, presents and food. I was also beginning to go through teen-age angst. Did anyone really love me? What is Christmas all about, anyway? I'm sure of it - no one loves me. Christmas is meaningless. Church is meaningless. All is vanity. As the day progressed, I set the table. No kids tables this year; we all fit around the dining room table just like every other day of the year. I wondered how my nieces and nephews were feeling, knowing they would be in their own small groups as well. After eating, we again gathered around the Christmas tree in the living room. I don't remember if Dad moved from his place at the dining room table to the living room. There certainly was room for him this year. Everything went okay and we had a good family time. Two things made it special: (1) Bob and Jim were still little enough to provide the child excitement; and (2) my big brother David was on leave from the Navy and was able to join us. David was my hero and I was so proud of him. Yes, Christmas this way turned out fine. Except that I felt a little empty and .... lonely. Little did I know at that time that the next Christmas would be very different.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Memories: Change

Oh, how I loved Christmas Eve with all the family gathered together. It was a time to look forward to all year. It was a time of magic. The glow lasted all during Christmas vacation. It was a tradition I thought would last forever. I will never forget the huge let-down feeling I got when I was told, "This is the last Christmas Eve that Vivian and Sylvia and their families will be coming over." What crushing news! It was time, I was told, for them to start creating their own Christmas traditions. And there were too many people. And it was hard to carry all the wrapped gifts over and the unwrapped home again. It was hard to be out late at night with all the little ones. I certainly understand that logic now, but back then....it was all about me and my loss. All year I tried not to even think about what Christmas Eve would be like without all of us together. The months rolled by, and it was soon December once again.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Memories: My New Sister


A present I will never forget - a present I still have. In the months leading up to this Christmas I was one very unhappy girl. Things weren't going my way and there was no way I could change it. And every day there was a very clear reminder of the unfairness of life. You see, when I found out my mother was going to have baby #10, it made perfect sense to me that it would be a girl. That would make us 5 girls and 5 boys. And it would also give me a break from being around only boys all the time (the other girls were all much older). Well, the baby turned out to be a boy. I was devastated. And, frankly, a little peeved. I guess I took it out on my mom a lot. I kept begging her to have another baby, and it better be a sister! My friend, Judy, just got a baby sister and she already had a bunch of sister and no brothers. Not fair! So here we are again, all of us gathered around the Christmas tree in the living room. I had a really big box with my name on it. I eagerly opened the package and there....was this very big doll. I wasn't sure what to think, as I had not received a doll for the last couple of years. But I soon got the message as I heard my mom say, "Here's your new baby sister." I don't know if she said it or not, but the message I heard in my heart was, "I don't want to hear any more about getting a baby sister. This is what you get and there aren't going to be any more babies." I named her Mary Ann. Not quite the same as a live sister, but Mary Ann became a good friend; she has been with me for a very long time now. A year ago I took her to the doll doctor and got her a wig (a lot of her hair had fallen out), got her eyelashes repaired, and gave her a good cleaning. I also bought her some new clothes. She now sits in my living room day after day. She looks pretty good for being close to 50, doesn't she? By the way, the glasses she is wearing did not come with her. She is modeling my new glasses. P.S. There did come a day when I fell in love with my baby brother :-)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Memories: Surprise!

I was sure of it....next Christmas would be better. Well, I'm not exactly sure if it was the next year or not, but this is a story of the Christmas of the Big Surprise! As usual, the tree was overflowing, the food was in abundance, and the family was large. In great anticipation all the children and most of the adults were gathering in the living room. Dad was at his usual place at the dining room table; mother was at her usual place in the kitchen. Suddenly - a knock on the front entry door. Now what was that all about??? No one ever used the front door. And who dared interrupt us just as we were gathering around the tree??? Someone finally opened the door and we all heard a hearty "HO! HO! HO!" And there appeared a real live Santa with a sack over his shoulder! What a surprise. Several of the younger children ran and hid, with their little heads peaking out from under chairs, around the corner, behind their mother. I was really mystified, as I was old enough to know that there was not a real Santa. But who could this be? Santa, with help from my sisters, reached into his sack and pulled out a large red stocking for each child. I cannot remember what was in the stockings, but I can still see them. They each had a name done in glitter, with cotton at the top. After all the stockings were distributed, Santa wished us all a merry Christmas, and departed back into the night. It wasn't until much later that I found out who Santa was -- my Mother! She sure did a good job - I didn't even recognize her voice. Mom, Dad and my sisters planned this for weeks, making a Santa outfit out of red flannel pajamas and each stocking made from red flannel. I don't think any of us who were there that night will ever forget when Santa showed up for Christmas eve! It reminds me of a present I will never forget - a present I still have.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What a Trip!

Flight - one hour late.
Drive - 125 miles
Weather - freezing drizzle, about 15 degrees
Destination - Storm Lake, Iowa
Time - 3 1/2 hours
Distraction - ICED UP WINDSHIELD

I tried everything, but could not keep the ice off the windshield. Hours of highest temp, full-blast, on the windshield. That makes for a very hot car and a very hot face. I finally discovered that if I kept the back windows cracked open, at least the back of my head was cool and it was bearable for a few miles. Had to stop many times just to thaw out. And I learned to be content looking through only the bottom third of the windshield. (I'm going to have a very stiff neck tomorrow!) I had to come to a complete stop about 10 times just to rest my neck and de-ice. As I drove through some of the small towns I could see people in their nice, warm houses. I thought, "I sure hope the adults are happy and the children aren't cranky. Because they are very blessed to be where they are!" This trip reminded me of the time, a few years ago, when I drove from Denver to Scottsbluff, NE, in freezing rain. Same story as tonight. I finally got to my one-hour meeting with the three doctors. Except that two of them didn't show up. And the one who did, had already seen my presentation. That was a very stupid trip to take. Tonight's trip is much more important. Ouch - neck already hurts. And I bet that tomorrow morning my car will be covered in ice!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Knife Sharpener


Tonight I am giving this knife sharpener to my brother, Bob. From my earliest memory, this knife sharpener was in the utensils draw in the kitchen of our farm home. Periodically, Dad would take it out of the drawer and vigorously sharpen all the knives in the kitchen. He made sure each was razor sharp. When we were cleaning out Mom's apartment and deciding who would like to have what, I asked mom about this item. Long, long ago mom and dad had someone come to the farm to do some work for them. I can't remember exactly what they did. But they had a sharpening stone that was operated with pedals to whir it around. They also had this sharpening stick. Long after the job was complete, one of the older boys found this stick laying in the grass. It was left by the workers. My brother brought it to the house and it was used from that day until we cleaned out the apartment. I hope Bob continues to use it to keep his knives sharp. And every time he does, I hope he remembers the dad he lost when he was only 13 years old.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Amber's Passion

Last night we drove 35 miles in an hour and a half (very slow) to go to Amber's (10-year-old granddaughter) Christmas concert. It is amazing what someone can do with a bunch of 3rd - 5th graders. It was really good! After the concert we went to Amy's house for pizza. I spent some time with Amber in her room, just talking. She revealed that she didn't like being in the choir and would probably drop out next year. And she didn't much like Girl Scouts anymore and would probably drop out next year. Trying to find her interest, I asked, "If you could do anything in the world that you wanted to do, and you didn't have to worry about time or money, what would you want to do?" Her face turned into a big smile, her eyes sparkled, and I just knew we had finally found her passion, her interest. "Go shopping!" she said.

Christmas Memories: Too Sick to Enjoy

Christmas was.....almost normal. It was sometime during the day Dec. 23 that I began feeling a little "off". Surely, all would be well by morning. Not to be. Throughout the day, I felt more and more rotten. Lying on the sofa by the Christmas tree, I tried to capture the special feelings that came every Christmas eve. But bed felt best. Too sick to help set the tables, my fever continued to climb.. The house began to fill up with people, food, and noise. I tried to join, but ended up lying on Mom and Dad's bed in the dark downstairs bedroom. Unable to participate, I could hear the sounds, smell the food and picture the scene. It was so lonely. I was offered food, everything from dessert to crackers. Nothing was appealing. When it came time for the presents, I moved to a chair and managed to open my gifts. I took them upstairs to the room that wasn't as clean or organized this year. As I laid the gifts on my desk, I looked at my bed and immediately crawled in. Sometime during the evening someone took my temperature and I heard something about how high it was. I heard that dad was worried and said that if I wasn't better in the morning we would have to find a doctor. I was too sick to care and fell into a deep sleep. I never went to the doctor; my fever broke before morning. I had all Christmas vacation to recuperate, but always felt a little cheated out of a special Christmas Eve celebration. I was sure of it....next year would be better.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Viola's Care Conference

Yesterday I attended Mom's quarterly care conference via phone. Overall, it was good. Her skin tears are healing, her pulse is staying stable at 50-60, her weight is stable, her labs are mostly within normal ranges, her lungs are clear (though I don't trust their lung assessments), and she is doing some walking during physical therapy (5 - 15 feet times two). The bad news is that her legs are swelling again. She was very aware of what was going on and took part in the conversation and continues to make her own decisions. We are trying to identify high protein foods she will eat so she can get a little better nutrition. I have to admit she is the fussiest eater I have ever known! Worse than any of my kids ever were. Keep those emails going to her. It is almost becoming legendary how many emails she gets and how much she enjoys them. The activities director said she gets more emails than anyone else!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Memories: The Crack

The pain was much closer than I could ever have imagined. In the midst of all the activity and noise I heard someone say, "It sounds like someone is knocking on the door." No one saw any car lights, no one saw a car in the yard. There it was again. How strange to have an unexpected visitor on Christmas eve. I got to the kitchen in time to see mom and dad talking, then dad disappeared into the entry and closed the door. Soon he came back into the kitchen with Mrs. L., our neighbor from about a mile and a half away. She sat on the kitchen stool, warming up, while dad started the car, then they both went off into the cold night. I caught bits and pieces of the story. Mrs. L. had walked from her place to our place, in the dark, in the cold, through the snow, by herself, on Christmas eve. Why? Because.....her husband was drunk, had a gun, and was threatening to kill her. Dad took her home; staying long enough to be certain she was safe. To this day I'm not sure how he did it. But to me, it was incomprehensible that a man would be less than loving and respectful to his wife; especially on Christmas eve, the most wonderful time of the year. That evening, a crack appeared in the protective shell in which I lived. Little did I know that over the years that shell would have many cracks and some day completely crumble. I would be left standing alone, vulnerable, assaulted by the ugliness of life. That would be later. Now it was time to return to the festivities. Children were playing with their tractors and trucks, their dolls and books; teenagers were working puzzles and playing pick-up-sticks; the men were talking farming; diapers were being changed; hands of all sizes were reaching for another cookie, a piece of fudge, a chocolate bon bon. Once again Christmas was....almost normal.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas Memories: A Perfect Evening

I could see the car lights as the first guests began to arrive. Soon sister Sylvia and family were piling out of the car, bearing arms full of gifts and food. The house was suddenly filled with activity and little children. A little later, the next car arrived, carrying sister Vivian and her family. They, too, burst into the house with gifts and food, and more little children. It wasn't long before we were all sitting at the tables enjoying a delicious meal, all the children brimming with excitement over the activities to come; always impatient that the adults did not seem to be in any hurry. Children were then sent to the basement while everything was cleaned up. No dishwasher in those days - except human ones. I remember going through several dishtowels, as they would get too wet to dry any more dishes. Finally - everyone gathered around the Christmas tree. Picture, if you can, a tree in a rather small living room....presents spreading out far beyond the branches, with many children of all ages and sizes gathered around. I will forever remember seeing my dad sitting at the dining room table, cracking and eating nuts, and visiting with (I think) my brothers-in-law. He sat in the same spot every year where he could watch what was going on, but yet be removed enough to have a little space around him. Some gifts I remember getting during those years: Nancy Drew books, Trixie Beldon books, paint-by-number kits, always a sweater, games, puzzles, jacks, a wrist watch. Finally all the gifts were unwrapped, everyone was sharing, looking, basking in the glow. Then.... my sisters and mother would open the door to the front entry and bring out unending goodies to enjoy for the rest of the evening - fatimund, rosettes, cookies, bars, candies; all beautiful, all homemade, all delicious. At those moments I thought every home, every family, enjoyed Christmas eve the way we did. I was soon to find out that while we had joy, others had pain. And the pain was much closer than I could ever have imagined.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Memories: Anticipation

The day of Christmas Eve. Ahhh, what a long, lovely day it was. It was the slowest day of the year. Christmas eve was the biggest celebration ever and it took forever for nighttime to come. First thing on the agenda was cleaning my room. Before the day was over, I would be bringing new things, my presents, into that room. Everything had to be spotless and orderly; every pencil laid straight, the bed made perfectly, the dolls in their rightful place, my drawers organized and even the hangers in my closet had to be perfectly spaced (blame my dad; you should have seen how organized his tools were). Then there was time spent lying on the sofa, looking at the beautiful tree, and waiting. As soon as the boys brought the tabletop up from the basement (to lay over our dining table to make it much bigger), we could begin setting the table. Oh, so many table settings, and done with such care. After the big table I set the "kid's tables". I began to smell the food. The excitement within was so hard to contain! But I was a big girl now, and had to act like it. The boys went to the barn to do the chores a little early. Then......I could see the car lights as the first guests began to arrive.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sugar Everywhere!

What a fun day! On Saturday I made lots and lots of cut-out sugar cookies. Today the 6, 7, and 10 year old grandkids decorated them. We had many colors of frosting, sprinkles, M&M's, tubes of gel for detail and three creative kids. Julia counted them to be certain everyone had the same - 37 cookies each. The aprons were full of frosting, the tabletop was full of frosting, and the floor was full of colored sugar. But it's hardwood, so it was easy to clean up. While they were decorating Amy and I made an assortment of other goodies. It was a good day. But, oh, how I missed my other girls and their kids. Will we ever again be able to share days like this as a complete family? Why do they have to live so far away????

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dichotomy

Two very long, tension-packed, tough-decisions, emotionally and mentally draining days sandwiched between two very long days of travel. Travel that includes hours of driving, hours of flying, hours in airports. This week left me drained, fatigued - mentally and physically. But at the same time I am feeling excited and jazzed in my spirit. I find it incredibly exciting and fulfilling to investigate, find solutions, motivate for change, build relationships and truly make a difference. Oh, the job is far from over. But this week, one of my clinics turned the corner and is poised for a much better 2010! And tomorrow I won't be quite as tired.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gabby

Gabby is a beautiful cat. She is gold and white with lots of soft, fluffy hair. I've always been a cat person, but due to their hair and the yucky litter box stuff, we decided to not have any more cats once the kids all left home. Besides, the poor thing would spend way too much time all alone. But last weekend I stayed in a house with Gabby. It didn't start out very well. As I was running out the door to go see Mom, Gabby snuck through the door and into the cold garage. Gabby, of course, was in no hurry to be caught. She went behind a cupboard sitting in the middle of the garage. She peaked around the left corner and I started reaching for her. She quickly turns to go the other way so I run to the right - and there she is peaking around the corner on the right. Then to the left, then the right. I was getting a little frustrated because I was in a hurry. It crossed my mind to just let her spend Thanksgiving Day all alone in the cold garage, but I didn't think Jeri would be very happy with that! So I get more aggressive and Gabby runs behind some other stuff in the garage. As I head to the door to put down my stuff so I can get down and dirty, she comes out and stands in front of me. Ahhh. I grab her quickly and hold her away so I don't get fur all over. That little imp was purring like a motor and I could see by her eyes that she was laughing. Well, by Friday night she won me over. We cuddled together on the sofa, she licked my hand and purred on my tummy. And she left lots of hair on my clothes. I felt myself falling in love again. Don't know if I will ever see her again, but it was good while it lasted.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I'm Married to a 60-year-old?


The strangest thing happened today. The 21-year-old I married suddenly turned 60. For the life of me I cannot figure out where all the missing years are. And tonight I am going to sleep with a 60-year-old. Now, how strange is that??? Is 6-0 something I'm going to have to get used to? From what I hear, it won't be terribly long before they tell me I am that age as well. It just isn't right. Well, anyway, Happy Birthday. Between you and me, I think it is really 50. Something got messed up somewhere along the way.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Final Word on Lefse

I promise to quit talking about lefse after this entry. But I have to finish the story.

1. Yes, we did have lefse at the nursing home. It tasted okay with the real butter I brought from Jeri's house. Only problem was that they packed the lefse when it was still warm, so it was difficult to fix. So we had "chunks" of lefse.

2. I found out that the lefse rolling pin I got from mom was purchased in the first year or two of their marriage (75 years ago). Dad went to Leeds and bought it for her for $1.00. The regular rolling pin that Rana got was bought at the same place, around the same time, and cost $0.25.

3. I told mom I needed by buy a "ricer" so I can make lefse for Christmas. This led to a conversation about how she and her mom (Grandma Sophia) made lefse - they mashed the potatoes (no ricer) and just picked the lumps out. And they made it on the old wood-burning stovetop.

4. This led to another story. Shortly after they were married. Dad bought some lutefisk and asked to have it for supper. As he went out to do the chores, he said, "I wish we had some lefse to go with the lutefisk." Mom said that as soon as he left the house she cut up some potatoes into little pieces, boiled them, mashed them, added the other ingredients and made little lefse in her frying pan (she made a circle of the size of the pan - about 8 inches). Dad was really surprised and thrilled to sit down to a meal of lutefisk and lefse after finishing the chores. Mmmm, I bet that was a good meal ;-)

So Who's Confused?

I was visiting with Mom this morning before I got on the road to go home. I arrived about 9:30 a.m. At 10:00 she says, "They still haven't brought me my morning meds. I usually get them before breakfast." I decided to go find out what was going on. It was hard to find anyone; there were no nurse carts in the hallway. I finally go to the front desk and finally find a nurse. I ask about mom's morning meds. "Oh, I'm sure she got them. She gets confused sometimes." I said, "Mom is not confused. Can you check to see if they are charted as given?" She quickly looks through the book and says, "Yes, she got them. But she was really sleepy and probably doesn't remember." I said, "Mom was not sleepy. She knows whether or not she got her meds." Then she looks down the hall and says, "There's her nurse, in the pink pants. I'll ask her to come and talk with you." Five minutes later nurse in the pink pants comes into the room with Mom's morning meds. "I'm sorry," she said, "I was on the way in to give her meds, but then the buzzer went off across the hall and I forgot." Hmm. Charted as given, but not given; at least three hours late; distracted. Tell me now, who is the sleepy one and who are the confused ones?!?!?!?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lefse Update

I'm so excited! For those of you not on Facebook, I'll have to tell you the rest of the story. Today....Heartland Care Center....was making....lefse! Oh, how I hope they made enough for me to have a couple pieces! Now, where else in the world would a nursing home make lefse for its residents for Thanksgiving??

My cousin, Kandy, made me really wish she and I lived close to each other. Last weekend they had family together and cooked up 40 pounds of potatoes and made lefse. Now, that's a lot of lefse! It would be so fun to be a part of that party! Maybe I'll just have to fly out there next November and be a part of that gathering.

I also heard that Bernie Sorlie used to make really good lefse. And that Bev Dyste makes a bunch. And other cousins and miscellaneous relatives actually order from Freddy's Lefse in West Fargo. They say Freddy makes really great lefse. Hmmm. Maybe next year I'll order from Freddy. Except for one really good reason. You see, I had forgotten that my mom gave me her lefse rolling pin when she moved into the nursing home. It's a nice, big rolling pin that I've forgotten how old it is. (I promise to ask her this week, and then write it down). So next year, and maybe yet this year, I am going to use her rolling pin and make lefse from real potatoes. Ahh, life is good.

Monday, November 23, 2009

In Search of Lefse

As you know, I will be having Thanksgiving dinner with mom...in the Nursing Home. Now, I'm sure Heartland Care Center puts together a pretty decent meal; I'm expecting turkey, potatoes, gravy, a vegetable and probably pumpkin pie. But do you think they will have lefse? Just in case they don't (and the chances are good that they won't), I'm on a search for a couple lefse for us to share for old time's sake. I didn't make any lefse this year because (1) my ricer broke; and (2) the mix I used last year is no more. The company went out of business. (I know -- excuses, excuses, but time is running short). Tonight I called the lefse queen of North Dakota...my sister. "Do you have any lefse I can take to mom for dinner?" She said, "I made a batch, but it didn't turn out. I might make another batch on Wednesday," she replied. She thought I'd have a better chance with brother Don. So I call brother Don, "Do you have any lefse I can put into my suitcase and take to mom?" "I made a batch, but it didn't turn out", he said, "and I'm not making any more until next week." Now I'm desperate. Why do people try to make lefse from instant potatoes after they've had success the old way for decades?? I know I'm getting a little testy. But, hey, this will probably be my last Thanksgiving with my mom. I really need lefse. Do you suppose I'll have to settle for "commercial" lefse from the grocery store? Lefse Queen - I sure hope you make lefse on Wednesday!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Does She or Doesn't She?

To go gray - or not to go gray? I spent a couple hours at the salon again this morning - as I have at least once a month for several years. And before I leave I lay down a good chunk of cash. Lately I've been wondering if this is something I want to keep doing. What would I look like with all gray hair?? Would it be a pretty white/silver/gray, or a faded, yucky color? Would I still feel young and vibrant and energetic -- or would it make me feel old? Would it affect my career? Oh, the pain. Hmmmm. You know what? I'm not ready for gray. I'll think about it again when I get old(er).

Miscellaneous Memories of My Dad

  • Big red handkerchiefs
  • Sneezes you could hear from a long ways away
  • Table knife, butter, sugar, and grandkid sitting on the table, eating it
  • Cream and sugar over bread before bed
  • Pocket knife to clean fingernails, cut apples, and who knows what else
  • Gumalost cheese
  • Pouring coffee into the saucer to cool it off
  • Pink peppermints
  • Humming "What a Friend We Have In Jesus"
  • Big nose
  • Bibbed overalls
  • John Deere
  • Sunday drives to look at the crops
  • Scraping the banana peel and eating it (can't waste anything, you know!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The End

Tonight I finished the last chapter of the last book - the Revelation. Wow. No words to describe this book or this entire experience. I close this out with a few simple observations:

1. I am a better, stronger person because of it
2. I'm thankful my heart is at peace with God
3. I pray I always "have an ear to hear what the Spirit says".

So be it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanksgiving in North Dakota

Every time I go to North Dakota in the winter I say, "I'm never doing that again!" Well, so much for that. Next week I am going to North Dakota to spend Thanksgiving with Mom. For some reason, I feel compelled to go; I really have no choice. I honestly don't think she will be with us much longer. Her strength is declining fast. She stopped walking again - not because her legs are so bad, but because her heart is so bad. She is just not getting enough oxygen to allow for activity. She sleeps a lot, reads very little, eats almost nothing. She is malnourished. I know this is all a normal part of shutting down. As a nurse, I've seen it happen over and over again. But when it's your own mom......it's hard, you know?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Aunt Elvera


My first memory of my aunt Elvera is boys - lots of boys. Boys who were coming and going. I grew up with six brothers so boys were not a strange species to me. But these boys were so different. They were city boys. And they were so...good looking! And in the midst of all those boys was a lady. Elvera seemed so calm and in control. I was only eight, but I clearly remember being at her house and being in awe of it all. Another memory about Elvera that I will never forget was in 1975. Dad had just died. Mom, Elvera, and a few others were sitting in the living room. I'm not sure how the conversation got started, but Elvera said, "It's hard losing a husband to death, but divorce is hard too". I grew up a little more that day. I have so much admiration for Elvera - she has gone through a lot of tough times, but she was always a perfect lady. She is 85 years old today (11/17) and still looks so good. Every time I see her she is dressed so nice, her hair looks so good, and she still takes the time and effort to put on some makeup. Yes, every time I think of Elvera I think of a rock-solid, calm, .....lady. This picture was probably her high school graduation picture. Beautiful then - beautiful now. I love you, Aunt Elvera! I wish I could spend a day with you, sitting at the kitchen table, chatting and getting to know you better. I know I would be blessed. Happy Birthday - and many more to come!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Message

This message is especially for my daughters. Take it to heart.

Promise me you'll always remember:
you're braver than you believe, and
stronger than you seem, and
smarter than you think!

(Christopher Robin to Pooh)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dirt

As I was sweeping my floors today, and noticing all the dirt, my mind went back to my childhood experiences with dirt. Dirt was a big part of this farmer-girl's life; on my hands and knees in the dirt pulling weeds, sweeping dirt from under the dining room table after every summer meal, the feel of dirt on my bare feet as I took lunch out to dad in the field (every summer day at 3:00), the smell of dirt as I lay on the back of a cow as we slowly made our way to the barn, the dirt "farm" that my brothers built in the trees, the ring of dirt in the bathtub when I wasn't the first in on Saturday night, dirt under my fingernails, between my toes, the bottoms of my feet. I have spent a lot of my life re-arranging dirt. But right now I wish I had about 320 acres of good black dirt in the Red River Valley. Then when I needed to go into a nursing home, my kids could sell all that dirt and pay for someone to come into my home to take care of me. Yes, one thing about dirt - everything we have came from it. So why do we abhor it so?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

One Left

History - lots of history, poetry and parables, damnation and salvation, war and peace, love and hate, mortal and immortal, the past and the present. In 2009 I've read through the Bible - almost. I read it as if I had never read it before; with a mind cleared of any motive, of any pre-conceived bias; as if it was just another book I was reading. It has been a moving experience. Yes, I've read about the past, I've read about this present age. All that is left is the book of Revelation. Revelation - the look into the future. The book I've always thought was hard to understand. In eager anticipation I wonder what it will be like reading it as if for the very first time. Will it make me fearful or faithful? Will I feel agony or ecstasy? Revelations - the book of the future - here I come!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Computers and Kids

Having a six-year-old and a seven-year-old around for two nights and two days is a wonderful, but exhausting experience. They are good kids, but...noisy! And....so active! To preserve our sanity, we default to the babysitter of the day - computers. Thank God for Webkinz and other such kid sites. When they are on their respective laptops they are confined to one room; a room with a door. All kinds of strange noises make their way throughout the rest of the house; things like pops, bangs, and lots of music (hug a pug, anyone?). The best part of all, however, is after they leave and I regain control of my office and my laptop. All over my desk I find notes like, "grandma is the best grandma ever!" "I love grandma", and a new Christmas list "Lagos, police train, 2 webkinz, soda candy, 1 black T shirt." Ahhhhhh.

She's Walking Again!

For those of you following the life and health of my mom - there is good news. The swelling in her legs has gone down so much that she is back in physical therapy and walking again! It took some intense interventions, but it worked. And she seems happy to be up and around. Of course, it helps that she is also breathing a lot easier. She lost over seven pounds of fluid. There is more to lose, but her poor heart just can't keep up with it. A big thanks to those who live close by and are keeping a close watch on things like her breathing and the swelling in her legs. Together, we'll never again let her get as bad as she was a few weeks ago. On the other side, her pulse rate is only in the 50's. It used to be in the 70's, then 60's. And she claims that her eyesight is getting worse; it is hard for her to read anymore. But she still manages to read all her emails! She gets several a week; sometimes several a day. What a difference it has made to have "mail time" to look forward to every day. Be careful what you write, though! She shares them with people who come to visit her. If you don't yet know her email address and would like to write to her, send me a note and I'll give it to you.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Just Try To Stop Me!!

"The whole world is before me. I can do anything I want. The possibilities are endless. There are no limits." This used to be my mantra. When did things change? Surely not when I married young, because I still had so many, many years ahead of me. Definitely not when I went back to college at age 39; at that time more than ever before I felt empowered to go anywhere and do anything. Could it have started when the military refused to even talk with me about joining up as a nurse because I was.....too old?? Today I was thinking about female commercial airline pilots and wondering what it would be like; then realized it was too late for me, even if I wanted to. More and more things remind me that the opportunities are gone. It is no longer "no limits to what I can do." This is a very sobering thought. Well, phooey! There are still lots of things I CAN do. In fact, in February I have a date to take a down-hill skiing lesson. And if I like it, I just might keep doing it. And it's not too late to get my Master's degree - if I want to. And I CAN get my body in great shape again. And I CAN travel the world, if I want. I could still open my own tea shop. And you know what? I could learn to fly an airplane. So there!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

It Never Would Have Happened When I Was Ten

Tomorrow morning Amber (10-year old granddaughter) is getting on an airplane with her dad and going across the ocean. They are going from Denver to Toronto to London (with a 12 hour layover when they will get to see the city) and then to South Africa. Once in South Africa she will meet her other grandfather and see the places her dad lived and worked. They will be gone over two weeks. I can't wait to read Amber's journal and see her pictures. What an awesome experience at just the right age! She will remember all of it. When I was ten I could not even imagine being on a trip like that. I felt pretty special taking a trip to Washington state when I was eight. But across the ocean and to other countries? That was the thing of books, not real life. If you think of it over the next couple weeks, whisper a prayer for safety, health and lots of memorable experiences. Oh, I forgot to mention...she is going to look for a teacup and saucer for me - made in South Africa.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Brothers


Unfortunately, some families are not very close. In fact, some families are very fractured. These guys come from one of those families. There have been generation following generation of contention, unacceptance, unforgiveness, distrust and other symptoms of dysfunction. Which is why this picture is very special. These two are brothers; and they get along. This may not seem like a big deal to most people, but in that family, it is a near miracle. How refreshing to see some from this generation making choices that lead to a new way of life. Could the difference be because both brothers have turned to God?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Interviewing

If there is one part of my job I'm not too crazy about, it's having to hire people. First, our Human Resources person does all the pre-screening; i.e. determining if they are really qualified for the job and are viable candidates. Those who pass that test come to me. Over the next two weeks I am doing phone interviews. Then I spend a week in Dallas doing face-to-face interviews. By the end of that week I hope to get it narrowed down to about two people, who I will then send to our Chief Medical Officer and our Chief Operating Officer to get their input. The final decision, though, will be mine. It is not easy knowing for certain you have the right one. But it is so important as this person can make or break the new program I am developing. The hardest part of this whole process is breaking through all the "best behavior" of the one being considered and find out what they are really like. What an arduous and exhausting process it is!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

San Diego Bay

Ahhh. Two feet of snow of our deck today. But I'm enjoying perfect San Diego weather. I just got back from a two hour ride in a big boat...I think they call them yachts :-) around the San Diego Bay at sunset. What a beautiful sight at night - Coronado, Tijuana, Mexico, the bridge going from the mainland to the island, The USS Midway, the USS Ronald Reagan, the lights and dazzle of San Diego. All this compliments of a company that manufactures some type of medical device. These are some of the perks of traveling for work for which I am thankful. What I am NOT thankful for are my hurting feet. What ever made me think I could spend an entire days at a trade show wearing heels??? Now even my flat shoes hurt. I even had to turn down bumming around the gaslamp district with my peers because of my feet. Tomorrow, I don't care what I look like....it's flat shoes with my business suit!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Brrrr

I'm not ready for this. I would really enjoy a nice, long fall season. I want more days where the sun shines and there is a hint of coolness in the air; walks among the rustling leaves; a few more meals cooked on the grill; sitting on the front porch handing out Halloween candy. I don't even have my fall decorations out yet and it is starting to look like Christmas! The good thing is that I am spending the rest of the week in San Diego -- if flights aren't cancelled. By the time I get back on Saturday maybe the season will be back on track.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Viola Update

Two weeks ago today I was with Mom for her doctor appointment. Today was the follow up appointment. Sister Sylvia accompanied her this time. The doctor thought she was doing better, but she is not yet where she needs to be. There is still some rattling in her lungs, her legs are still very swollen. She is using a special wrap on her legs to force the fluid up so it can be processed through her kidneys. The doctor ordered to keep her catheter in and get some more high-dose shots of Lasix. He scheduled her next appointment for a month from now. Mom is tenacious, but I think we need to recognize that she is very frail. There is nothing but skin and bones, her appetite is almost non-existent and her heart is very weak. Thankfully, she still eats her dish of ice cream every afternoon. Unlike most of us, that daily infusion of calories is helping her. She also has soup once or twice a day. Other than that, her intake is minimal. As of tomorrow her favorite nurse is being moved to another section so she will have to deal with that change as well. She still enjoys her emails and looks forward every day to receiving them. Keep them coming! Sure wish I lived closer....

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Auctions for Causes

I've never been one to bid on things in an auction. But this year I've done it twice - and came away with some pretty strange things. In an auction for the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) I got:
1. The CEO's parking spot for the month of November - something I can use provided I don't have to travel that month
2. Miscellaneous leather desktop stuff, which is okay
3. A pedicure and manicure, which is great
4. A $25 gift card towards a $45 meal at a trendy bar/club downtown that caters to people aged 21-30; not a very good fit for me
5. Two tickets to "Girls Only", a showing at the Galleria Theatre, this is okay, but only good for Wednesday and Thursday nights
6. Some bath stuff, which is pretty but has a really strong scent, which makes my nose twitch
7. Two candles, which I haven't tried yet, but will probably be okay

I had better luck with the auction for the Missions group at the church. There we won:
1. An apple pie, ice cream and ice cream scoop. We shared the pie and ice cream; the scoop is really nice
2. A plate of mini brownies. We gave the brownies away, but I like the plate. And it came with a really cute matching cup.
3. Two nights in a condo in Breckenridge. This one will probably be the best of all. It has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, full kitchen, etc. And Breckenridge is beautiful. We are looking forward to cashing in on this one.

I don't think I'll do any more bidding for a long time. If I didn't believe in the causes, I think I'd feel I didn't get my money's worth.

Friday, October 23, 2009

"Don't Wish Your Life Away"

I must be getting old. Many times throughout my lifetime I heard my mother say, "Don't wish your life away". This was said to me when I would be looking to some future time and wishing I was there "right now". I always let that advice just pass through my mind, not thinking I had to be concerned about my life going away anytime soon. Lately I've had a much different perspective. When I hear someone say on a Monday, "Only four more days until Friday!" or "I can't wait until the kids get out of diapers", or "I wish spring would hurry up and get here" --- when I hear statements like that I find myself thinking, "don't wish your life away". I now have the perspective of looking back on lots and lots of years. Rather than wishing for today or today's circumstances to hurry up and get over, I am spending more time wishing things could slow down a bit. And I'm trying to be more thankful for each day I have. A song I used to know had the phrase, "Time rushes on, life fades away. It disappears and soon you're old and gray". It is a depressing thought - but so true. If nothing else, this truth motivates me to cherish every moment that is mine.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Aunt Wilma


I spent most of my life barely knowing my "out west" relatives. In fact, for most of the relatives, I did not know them at all. Thankfully, in the early 2000's my new job took me to Tacoma, Washington, and I started to connect with my long, lost relatives. I have gotten to know many, many wonderful aunts, uncles, cousins and their families. One person I got to know is my Aunt Wilma. Wilma is 91 years old on October 22. Last year I was able to be in her home to celebrate her 90th and get to know the rest of her family. Another year has passed by so quickly. Wilma is the oldest person I know who spends time on the computer and communicates through email. She is the oldest person I know who goes dancing and who gets her acrylic nails done. She is the oldest "model" I have ever known. (Right after her 90th birthday she was a model at a community event). It's been such a pleasure getting to know such a unique and vibrant individual who, at 91, is still very much young at heart. And it is such an honor to be related to her! Happy Birthday, Aunt Wilma! My wish for you is many more years of health, of happiness, and of new experiences. I love you! (This is a picture of her graduation; I assume somewhere around 1936)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tea at the Palace

What a wonderful time we had! Two daughters, Amy and Rana, and I went to the Brown Palace in downtown Denver for "high tea". It was very, very pricey, but, oh, so good! We sat together for two hours drinking tea, nibbling on all kinds of goodies, and enjoying our time together. Only one thing would have made it better -- Sonia, we wish you could have joined us! After we left the Brown Palace we decided to walk the 16th street mall - and immediately headed for Peet's Coffee and Tea (yes, we really did). We sampled some of their Jasmine tea, and I bought some oolong. Then we took a much needed walk up and down the mall. One advantage of having kids is that they do grow up - and become great adult friends. "Twas a beautiful outing on a beautiful Colorado fall day!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Oscar at 27


He was a handsome young bachelor in North Dakota; one of the few young farmers who had his own car. He had this picture taken to give to the seventeen-year-old girl he loved and planned to marry. Recently I asked that girl if she had a picture taken to give to him as well. "No," she said, "I didn't have the money to get a picture taken." Seventy-five years ago Oscar married Viola. She was barely eighteen. As they started their life together, the country was on the brink of the great depression, the dust bowl, hard times for farmers. Those first years were not easy. In fact they were very, very hard. They planted gardens and they did not even come up; crops failed. I asked how they made it through those years. It was the cows. Each set of parents gave them a cow for a wedding gift. From those wedding gifts came calves, milk, cream, butter to sell and meat to eat. In the midst of these very hard times, what is amazing to me is that each child who was born was a wanted child, a valuable human being, a special gift. And every two or three years there was another child. Yes, they hung together, they persevered, they built a home, a family, a life. In the process they gave me the gift of life, the gift of stability, the gift of acceptance, and the gift of a wonderful example of how a family should be. Thanks, mom and dad!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Rana

It's been a long time since I've seen my oldest daughter, Rana. And it's been even longer since she has been home. After more than three years away, she came back to us Thursday afternoon. Of course, it's only for a few days. It's not very often I get to spend time with my distant daughters. Today while I was at work she drove around and saw Sue (Brent's) and her kids. Tonight we went to see Don and Nadine and had a good visit there. Tomorrow will be a lazy morning (I hope), then off to Amy's for Cade's 6th birthday party. (Hard to believe my youngest grandchild is six!). Then Sunday afternoon Amy, Rana and I are going to "High Tea" at the Brown Palace in downtown Denver. That will be lots of fun, albeit expensive. On Monday I believe she is planning to do some more running around while I am at work, then she leaves on Tuesday for her 17-hour drive home. She's taking my dear old Avalon back with her. Time will fly and it will soon all be over. Then it will another memory we'll talk about from time to time the rest of our lives. I do hope the Avalon likes living in Michigan. I'm going to miss my old car. And, yes, I'm going to miss Rana.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Me and Mom

I know I will always cherish this picture. She's looking good, isn't she? She just got a fresh permanent and haircut. My hair, as always, is less than beautiful (it never looks good in North Dakota). But together we make a pretty good two-some.

It was hard to say good-bye this time. After all, she's always talking about her demise - as if it is going to happen any day now. But my birthday is three months away. And she said she would call me on my birthday. I hope it happens.

She gave me a couple pictures to post on the internet so everyone can enjoy them. Be looking for them over the next several days.

While Mom was getting her permanent today, Viv, Syl and I went to Felix's for lunch, then to the Liquid Bean for lattes. How much I enjoy those times with my sisters! We talked and talked and talked some more. And what a pleasant surprise it was to have Karen (Jim's) come on Monday. We, too, had a great lunch together, then went to Sylvia's for "tea" while Mom played Bingo, then had dinner (I mean supper) with Jerilynn. It was good to see her again. And Jerilynn was such a good hostess! I stayed with her, ate her food, and generally took advantage of her hospitality. Thanks, Jeri! You make it so convenient for me.

Hopefully, by this time tomorrow I will be back home. What a wonderful place home is. Wish I could be there more often. Only one more trip in October, though. I'm thankful for that.

Monday, October 12, 2009

An Update on Viola

I think we made some progress today! I went with her to her doctor appointment and came away with the results I wanted. Dr. Moraleda confirmed what I suspected - Mom was in congestive heart failure. He said she had two choices: (1) be admitted to the hospital; or (2) manage it from the Nursing Home. She immediately stated she was NOT going back into the hospital. When he started talking about upping the dose of her "water pill", I spoke with him about putting in a foley catheter so she wouldn't have to worry about getting to the bathroom in time. He immediately agreed and wrote the order. He also ordered IM Lasix (shots) and potassium. I decided I like Dr. Moraleda. He listens, he pays close attention to what she has to say, treats her with dignity, and recognizes what makes sense for her at this stage in her life. After we got her settled back into her room, it was a joy to see the change in her. It was like a big burden was taken off her shoulders. She was in a good mood and even went down to play bingo - after we showed her how we could cover the catheter so no one would see it.

You would not believe how swollen her legs and feet are! It is very frustrating that she had to get to this point before anything was done. She has had a wound on her ankle for months - unable to heal because her ankles kept getting bigger and bigger. I am really hoping it heals up now, as her swelling goes down.

I asked about the pacemaker and how we will know when it has quit working. The doctor said he thinks it is still going because her pulse is still regular. When it goes out, the pulse will become irregular and she make have times of feeling faint or even passing out. And at one point, her heart will just stop. I expect that after the fluid is removed she is going to have a spurt of feeling really good again....until the pacemaker stops. She is at peace with her demise - talks about it very matter-of-factly and wants to be sure everything is taken care of.

I'm optimistic that she will have a good quality of life for a few more weeks or months. And right now she is ahead in Rummy. She won two games and I won only one.

By the way, she LOVES her email. She has kept every one of them in a manila envelope and really looks forward each day to getting "my email". So keep them coming! Even if it is just a short "I've been thinking of you" type of email, it is worth your time to cheer her day. I also showed her a lot of pictures from Facebook and she really enjoyed that.

I leave tomorrow (Tuesday). It's going to be hard this time, as I'm not sure I'll ever see her again......

Friday, October 9, 2009

Every time....

It seems like every time I drive to North Dakota, the weather is horrible. I should know better than to expect good driving weather in the winter - but early October? Isn't this supposed to be the time for harvesting and the time for hunting? Actually, it is Wyoming that is the most miserable. There was lots of blowing snow today, very high winds, and many miles of snow-covered highway. The good news - my new Prius handled it beautifully. I only noticed the wind after I realized my left arm was getting sore from always pulling the wheel to the left to stay on the road. And when I got out for gas -- wow! I thought the wind was going to blow me away! I didn't make any hotel reservations because I wasn't sure how far I would go. I'm glad, because I made it all the way to Bismarck instead of the intended Dickinson. The first hotel I checked was full, but I got a nice "handicapped" room at the Holiday Inn Express. The other good news - Mother is feeling much better today. She has been carrying so much fluid on her body that her lungs were crackling, her legs were huge again, and she had an audible wheez. After much wheelin' and dealin' we finally got her convinced that she MUST take the water pill. And they increased the dose so it is starting to do it's job. She was at the brink of being hospitalized - maybe that's what convinced her. I hope she gets all dried out again so she can have a decent quality of life until her time comes. I'll update more on her condition after I see her.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Major Prophets

If you've been following my blog you know that I have been reading through the Bible in 2009. I am doing this as if it is a book I have never read before; trying to rid myself of all prior teaching and all biases and with no purpose except to read it through. Tonight I finally finished Jeremiah! Isaiah and Jeremiah have been the most difficult for me to get through. I don't blame the books themselves, but with a new job and lots going on in my life, it's been hard to concentrate on these lengthy books that are filled with prophetic judgements. I don't pretend to understand if the prophecies are things that happened in the past or things that are yet to be. But through it all, I came away with a very clear message: God longs for a people who love and obey him, there are consequences when we don't, and He always tries to bring us back to Himself. Over and over it is the same story - disobedience, judgement, repentance, restoration. You'd think we would learn......

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Toilet Paper

I know it's a little thing - but I sure have a problem with toilet paper. I try to pick out the very best toilet paper I can find and I buy it in bulk at Sam's or Costco. I immediately take it out of the big package and store the smaller packages (with no labels) in the different bathrooms and the storage room. By the time I start using the new toilet paper, I have forgotten what brand it was. And sometimes, like now, I really wish I knew what I bought. You see, I get really frustrated when I can't start a new roll real nice and easy. And what I am now using is anything but a nice and easy start. I end up wasting a good portion of the roll trying to get it to un-roll correctly. Grrrr. You may be wondering why I don't just use the "wasted" part. Well, this usually happens after the fact. And I'm sure not going to start stashing it away to use the next time. And then there is the triple-ply. I really like the triple-ply. It starts easy and you don't need much. But this, too, has a drawback. Those who are not used to such plush stuff unroll the usual length - and end up with a huge handful; this leads to plugged toilets and rolls becoming quickly empty. Well, maybe all this isn't so bad after all. When I'm dealing with huge issues, the little issue of toilet paper adds some normalcy to my life.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Oscar - Father of 10

If he were still alive, my dad would have turned 103 today. And he would not have wanted to do that! It was very important to him that no one would ever have to take care of him. And he wanted no fuss about his departure. "Just throw me in the manure pile", he said. But this is the man who had one of the biggest funerals in the area. People came from Benson County, from Towner County and from Ramsey County. And that's not counting all the relatives. Dad was respected throughout the three-county area. He was known as a smart man, a good farmer, a wise man, a man who would listen and a man who would help. Our bachelor neighbor, Little Joe, would stop by rather frequently to speak with dad about one thing or another. He always managed to be there at mealtime. And dad always invited him in to eat. Now Little Joe was really filthy, lived in filth, was a rotten farmer and talked all the time. But dad always had time for him. He even cut his hair for him. That's the kind of guy he was. If someone in the area needed something welded, they came to our place. Dad did the job for them. For no pay. It's what neighbors did. Dad spoke no English until he started school. And he only completed the sixth grade. But he was a wizard at math, knew how to fix everything, could build anything, and was able to raise a large family on a small farm without us ever realizing how tight the money was. I won a trip to Bismarck to accept an award for an essay I wrote. Dad very graciously gave me $20 for the trip. I think he just about had a heart attack when he found out I spent it on a wig! (That wig has been part of many Halloween costumes!) Dad has been gone since 1975. But I still miss him. Maybe if he had lived longer I would have eventually discovered some flaws. But he left us when he was nearly perfect in my eyes. He was my idol and my hero. And he still is. Happy birthday, Dad. I don't know if I ever said this when you were here, but "I love you!"

Monday, September 28, 2009

Back in Iowa

Here I am in Storm Lake, Iowa, again. Lots of issues to deal with this week. But the drive from Omaha to here was really nice. I didn't get behind any big trucks this time. And this farmer-girl's heart took delight in seeing all the haying and the harvesting going on. The corn that was so green and beautiful a few weeks ago now looks brown and nearly ready to harvest. Before starting the drive, my sister, Evie, and I had a 2 1/2 hour lunch at Panera's. It sure was good to have an uninterrupted sister 1:1. Wish we would have had more time. Also got to see Annette for a short while. I hope we can do this more often. Now I need to catch up on my work email that piled up over the day. I have a nice cup of tea and a piece of dark chocolate to finish off the day....

Sunday, September 27, 2009

LeRoy - #4 out of 10


If he had not left us so recently, LeRoy would have been 68 years old today. In my sibling birthday blogs I try to recount memories from my childhood. It makes me very sad that I have very few memories of LeRoy while I was a child. He was 11 when I was born. And in his last year or two of high school he spent a lot of time "working out" (which means something different than it does today....he worked for other farmers). He was a senior when I was a first grader. After graduation he went to school, then moved out of state. I saw very little of him for many years. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I'm sorry I didn't get to know what a wonderful man he was until much later. However, there are a few enduring memories I want to share:

  • When Dad was at the Mayo Hospital in Rochester, it was LeRoy who kept tabs on him. I remember the day he called Mom and told her she better get there quickly, as dad was doing very poorly. I felt fear like I had never felt before - but after Mom got there Dad started to improve; and eventually came home.
  • I heard someone at school call him "Ozzie". I guess that was his role in a school play. I called him Ozzie once (we were in the barn). He looked at me and said, "Don't call me that". You can be certain I never did again!
  • Speaking of his name, the family all pronounced his name with the emphasis on "Roy", contrary to the rest of the world.
  • He and a friend stopped by on their motorcycles as they were doing a big tour around the country. He gave me my very first motorcycle ride and it was so exciting!
  • He brought his first wife, Judy, home to meet us. She seemed so beautiful and elegant! I was in awe of such a gorgeous creature being in our home.
  • I remember some discussions about how he would love to farm. I suggested to mom that we turn the granary into a little house and they could live there (seriously). That idea didn't go over very well.
  • The room next to mine upstairs was always referred to "LeRoy's room"; it was assigned to him when the house was first built.
I could find no pictures of just me and LeRoy or just LeRoy earlier than his graduation from high school. But I like this one of my (then) four brothers taken in 1953. From left to right they are LeRoy, Don, David, Tom. He would have been 12 at the time. Looks like it must have been a Sunday, don't you think?
Happy Birthday, LeRoy! We miss you here on earth!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

David - #6 out of 10


September 24 - he would have been 63. Has he really been away for two years? Most of the time it doesn't hurt so much anymore. I remember the good things, the happy times. But sometimes without any warning it suddenly hits again, like a fist in the gut. The fact is, he is no longer on this earth. But today, his birthday, I want to remember good things:


  • He threw me the football and I kicked it back - an unexpectedly good kick. "Great kick", he said. I lived in the glow of that compliment for years

  • Building the fort in the trees

  • Pig-Latin

  • Braiding a long rope out of twine in the hayloft on rainy days

  • The Navy man - such a hunk. As a young teenager, I was so proud. And he gave me his sailor hat. I kept it until long after I was married. I wish I still had it.

  • He brought back exciting things from the Mediterranean area - necklace, scarves, bracelet, hand-clappers. I still have them all. I still wear the necklace.

  • I told him, "I think I will join the Navy after I graduate". He said, "No, you're not going to do that." "Why????", I asked. "The military is no place for nice girls", he said. I've always wondered about that.

  • Christmas of 1969 - he met me and my sister at Disneyland and we spent the day together going on the rides. Such a wonderful experience for me. I'm so glad I could share it with him.

  • He says, "Why do you color your eyebrows and eyelashes? Aren't you satisfied with the way God made you?" Well, to be truthful, I'm not.

  • My first trip to Phoenix. It was a business trip. I get off the plane and there is a limousine driver holding up a sign with my name. I say, "Thanks, but my brother is here to get me and I'll go with him." We had a wonderful afternoon before he dropped me off at my convention.

  • The trip to the Grand Canyon. We had many hours together in the car. I'm glad I didn't know at the time that it would be one of our last outings together.

The picture above was taken in 1954. David is on the left and Don is on the right. Don't they look like the most adorable little farmer boys?

I miss you David; I wish I could call you tonight and wish you a happy birthday.

Monday, September 21, 2009

When It Rains....It Snows

This is going to be one busy, crazy week. When it rains, it pours - and, yes, it snowed in Denver last night. Not only in the mountains, but on the plains. Not enough to stay, but it's strange going from 80's one day to 50's the next. Love wearing the sweaters again, though.

This is also a week of many, many meetings at work and for the first time since I started I am feeling like I'm getting behind. And we have company all week. I'm saying all this to say - don't be surprised if I don't do much blogging this week. I've got lots in my head - but not much time to write it down. I'm going to send my mom an email, then get back to the company....

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Lost Has Been Found

Guess what! There is a Starbucks in Odessa, Texas. My boss, Pat, was with me in Odessa on Thursday and Friday and by Friday morning she said she really needed a good coffee. So she went on the hunt and found someone who knew where it was. We jumped in the car, drove to the very busy Starbucks, Pat jumped out of the car while I drove around the parking lot (no place to park), she jumped back in with our coffee / latte, we rushed to our meeting -- and got there just in time! Whew! But when I am in Odessa alone, I will probably still go to McDonald's for my latte. After all, I'm fussy about my tea; but coffee - not so much.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sylvia - #2 out of 10


I looked everywhere - I don't have pictures of my sister, Sylvia! Why would that be? I have quite a few pictures of all my other siblings. Could it be that the main picture-taker was Sylvia? Well, I cut her out of one of the few pictures I have and posted it here. This was taken in 1958.
What can I saw about Sylvia? She has been like a mother to me; she's been like an aunt, a caregiver, a confidante, an anchor, always there and always loving me. Sylvia was 15 when I was born; I was only 3 when she married. And from what I hear, I was very attached to her from the time I was brought into the house. There are many memories - here are a few:
  • Staying at her house many, many times
  • When I had an accident as a preschooler, she made it all better "It's happened to me before, too", she said
  • All the doll clothes she made for me for Christmas one year
  • The Santa Claus stockings with our names on them
  • Jigs
  • Telling me the good things about my brother, Tom, when I was so mad at him
  • Chuck
  • Big family dinners in her new house
  • Big family dinners in her old, very old, house
  • Mint Dazzler
  • Peace-maker
There are many more memories - all of them good. It's always been hard to buy a birthday card for Sylvia because all the "sister" ones talked about growing up together. And we didn't do that. As I mentioned, our relationship was very different from the typical sister relationships. But over the last several years (after I finally grew up), I have no doubt about who Sylvia is - she is my SISTER. And she still always believes in me, always encourages me, and always opens her home and her heart to me. I'm probably the only woman alive who has never had a conflict with one of her sisters. I cherish that. Happy Birthday, Sylvia! I love you!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

LeRoy - A Few Years Ago


Every time I saw him over the last few years, his body had declined a little bit more than the time before. First it was a limp. Then it was a cane, a walker. At Mom's 90th birthday party, just three years ago, he was running around on his scooter, moving from scooter to chair by himself, laughing, and having a good time. Last April when I visited him, he drove his scooter around, but needed help moving to a chair or getting into and out of bed. Then he was bedridden. It is heartbreaking to watch the body deteriorate like that. That is why I love this picture. I'm not sure when it was taken, but Sonia has an engagement or wedding ring on so it had to be no more than 10 years ago. He looks so good in this picture. When I look at it, I can hear his voice. This is how I want to remember him - my beloved brother. I miss him so much.

McDonald's Comes Through For Me

I'm certainly not a big fan of McDonald's. And I have gone there much more than I like because it is usually the first choice of the grandkids. But I have to admit they do some things right. For example, here in Odessa, Texas, there are no Starbucks. When I really, really need a latte (like I did a few minutes ago), I can go to McDonald's and get a non-fat, sugar-free Vanilla latte - and for less $$ than at Starbucks. And it's really pretty good. And McDonald's comes through for me at the airports. They are in most of the airports and when I'm hungry, I can get some mostly-healthy food like a fruit and yogurt parfait (for $1), apple dippers, salad, apples and walnuts, and best of all - Dasani bottled water.

Now that I have my latte, I'm set for a couple more hours of work. Better get busy.....

Monday, September 14, 2009

Viola - Mother of 10


Yesterday, September 13, my mother turned 93 years old. I spoke with her the day before her birthday and she was very upbeat and very sharp. What a gift it is to live as long as I have and still have a mother who is mentally clear! While I was talking with her she mentioned a dream she had the night before. It was about Oscar. I asked what he looked like in the dream and she couldn't say for sure - just that he was strong and active. It made me think of the picture I posted here. This was taken in 1954, when I was just a toddler. They were probably 37 and 47 at the time. My goodness! I have a daughter who is 37! It is hard to reconcile the woman I see in this picture with the woman I see sitting in her chair in the nursing home. So many years have passed. The body has failed. But the real "Viola" is still the same person. That is what I try to keep focused on. I think too often we treat people according to what we "see" rather than who they really are. Who is mom? Sure, she is the mother of ten children, she is a grandmother of many, she was a hard-working farm wife for decades. She is a woman who marks her own destiny over and over. But sometimes I feel like I really don't know who she is as a person unto herself. If her "functions" were stripped away, who would I find? I hope I have time to find out.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Tide's Inn

I'm at a beautiful resort right on the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. My view out the window of my room is gorgeous. There are some perks to business travel. It is rather humid, but not hot, so it is bearable. One presentation out of the way - two to go. I'm getting to know a lot of other people in the company. So far, so good, but I'll be glad to be home Sunday late afternoon!

Monday, September 7, 2009

An Unexpected Blessing

Tuesday, September 8, my baby girl is having a birthday. It doesn't seem that long ago that I was sitting in the doctor's office and he told me I was pregnant - again. With a 6-month old, a 4-year old, and living below the poverty level, I was overwhelmed. How would I ever cope? As my eyes filled with tears, the doctor took my hand and said, with such assurance, "you will do just fine and this child will be a big blessing to you". How right he was! I did just fine and I cannot imagine life without my Sonia. I've always felt she was my special blessing from God. She was, and still is, my "Sonny Rae". Sonia has always been very compassionate towards those less fortunate, especially the "underdog". I remember the boy who took after her with sticks on her way home from school. When I was feeling frustration and anger at the boy, a few days later Sonia wanted to make him a special birthday card. I learned a lesson on forgiveness that day! Sonia was also my most artistic child. She made beautiful things and she was able to move in beautiful ways. I will always regret that I did not find a way to provide her with more opportunities to develop her talents. Oh, there are so many memories - her unusual birth, singing "Into My Heart" and really meaning it, breaking her leg while jumping off the diving board, chicken pox, napping together on the big orange couch, cheerleading, the day her teacher took her favorite ring away from her and threw it away (That still makes me mad), her just-right gifts, the beautiful bride, the new mom. My heart yearns to have you close, my girl. I want us to be best friends day in and day out - not just over the telephone. I miss you so much and love you so much. Happy, happy birthday. May this year be the best you've had, full of happiness, good health, and love. And for what it's worth, I pray for you every day.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Little Miracle

It wasn't much - but it sure was appreciated! Wednesday night. Hotel in Texas. 4 hours sleep the night before. A cough that wouldn't quit. A voice that was gone. A very early morning flight. Then a thought - "He anoints my head with oil". The thought of soothing oil on my miserable throat sounded really good. "Lord, you can do it. Won't you please??" Next thing I knew the alarm was going off. I didn't try my voice out until I was checking out at 5:30. It worked! It sounded normal! And I barely coughed all day. Yup, it sure was appreciated.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Intense

It's good to be home! Some trips go really great and others are stressful from beginning to end. This past week was one that was very draining. Every meeting was intense and emotionally tough. And I ended up with throat trouble that led to being barely able to talk. So it was continually physically draining as well. Even getting home was tough - cancelled flights, tight connections, bad seats. After a good night's sleep last night, I feel much better and I can talk again. I put in a short day at the office and got lots accomplished. In the morning I get my hair done, then I'm getting a pedicure. By Tuesday I'll be all recuperated - and ready to head to Virginia for six days. But you know, in the midst of all this, I still really, really love what I do. I made a lot of progress on some very huge problems -- and that is very fulfilling. I treated myself by investing in the new noise-cancelling headphone set from Bose. Life just got a lot quieter!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bob - #10 out of 10


Robert Jon, formerly known as Bobby, and now known as Bob – when you think about it, this is one guy that is really lucky to be here. How many parents, after all, have ten children? And how many are still pro-creating in their forties and fifties?

Before Bob, we had 5 boys and 4 girls in our family. A wee bit unbalanced. I had reconciled myself to being in the minority. But the promised advent of another baby gave me great hope that we would balance out at 5 and 5. Maybe that is why I did not like Bob when he was first born. I really wanted a sister in the house with me; instead it was yet another boy. I was so upset that I would have nothing to do with him for many months. (Not that I ever hold a grudge, or anything like that – haha). Most of the family knows the story of how things changed. There were several of us siblings in a circle and they put Bob in the middle. He was just starting to walk. And wouldn’t you know, Bob turned around, walked towards me and fell right into my arms. It melted my heart. Since that moment I’ve really liked my brother Bob. Some favorite memories of Bob:

  • As a toddler and young boy, he was so cuddly and mild mannered
  • Playing in the dirt in the "trees"
  • Going fishing
  • How he stepped up and looked out for mom after dad died; he was only 13
  • Staying at his house when I moved to Colorado
  • His strong commitment to his own children after his divorce

The picture was taken in 1966. He so graciously posed for me many times as I was attempting to learn a little photography. This is one of my favorites.

Happy birthday, Bob! I love you!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Carino's Times Two

Ever eaten at Carino's, formerly known as Johnny Carino's? It's pretty good Italian food. And they have a couple really good salads. I like Carino's. Today I took one of my clinic managers to lunch at Carino's. Great food and great time. Tonight I took the Medical Director to dinner - to Carino's. His choice. Good food and, uhh, "interesting" conversation, to say the least. And I think I've had enough of Carino's for a little while.

Getting out of Texas

Here I am in Odessa, Texas, again. Midland/Odessa is a very nice city out in the middle of nowhere. Too bad it is so hard to get to. I have to take United from Denver to Dallas, then take American from Dallas to Odessa. Coordinating the departure and arrival times is quite a challenge when using two different airlines. Well, I finally got caught. I made it here okay on Monday, even with an hour and a half delay leaving Denver. There was a 3 hour layover in Dallas anyway. But today I checked my AA ticket to see what time I was leaving on Thursday. It said that I leave Odessa at 11:20 a.m. Now I knew that I was getting to Denver at 1:00 p.m. Suddenly I got a funny feeling - how can this be, with a layover in Dallas??? Well, I discovered that I land in Dallas at 12:30 - and I leave Dallas for Denver at 12:01. Impossible! How could I do that? Well, changing my United flight to later would cost more than $900. And changing to an earlier flight from Odessa would be over $300. But there is another option. I bought a one-way ticket from Odessa to Dallas, leaving at 7:15 a.m. for $130. A new flight is cheaper than the $150 flight change fee! I'm glad I caught the mistake earlier than the night before I leave - which is when I usually check. I'm sure I'll be much more careful in the future!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I Miss My Girls

Amy and the kids were at our house today. It is always so fun to see them and spend time with them all. But I MISS MY OTHER DAUGHTERS!! Sometimes I get so lonesome for them. I wish I could take them out for tea or a Starbucks latte. I wish I could bring them shopping to help me pick out clothes that make me look good (they are both so much better than I am with colors, styles, etc.). I wish they could pop in once in awhile. I wish I could see their kids much more often. I wish I could share some holidays with them. And I really miss hugging them.

I love you, Rana and Sonia! Won't you p.l.e.a.s.e. move to Colorado???

Saturday, August 29, 2009

All In One Day


New eyeglasses and new car - all on the same day. I think I'm going to like my new glasses. They fit well and are a little more stylish than what I've had. And I think I'm going to like my new 2010 Prius V a lot. It will take awhile to get comfortable with all the bells and whistles, but meanwhile, it drives really great. Hey, if you live near me, come on over and see it! I plan to test it on a long road trip when I take it to ND in October. I'll see if it really does get 48-51 mpg like they say it does. One of the things I like best - I never have to dig out my keys. So long as the key is on me or in my bag, I can lock and unlock the doors, and even start and stop the car. Now is that convenient, or what! I even like the color; it's called Blizzard Pearl and has the metallic flecks in it. Roomy and comfortable. Navigation. Satellite radio. All around good car. And it better be. This is my second to last car. It has to get me into retirement, when I will then buy my final car for this life. And the Avalon? Well, I can take only so much grief in a week's time - I decided to hold onto it for awhile. Gosh, it's been with me for over 10 years. I can't just walk away, as if we never had a relationship....

Thursday, August 27, 2009

$5.73

Last night I walked across the street from my hotel and had dinner at "Salsa's", an authentic locally-owned Mexican restaurant. New building, nice interior, great service. I had two chicken tacos, one soft shell and one hard shell (both very, very good), a basket of chips and salsa, (of which I could only eat a few), and a dessert (which was huge, and I could only eat about half). I was stuffed with yummy, tasteful food. Then I got the check - $5.73. I'd say that's quite a bargain! Next time I go to Mountain Home, I'm giving them my business again - with another good tip.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Memories

They are going to be sharing memories tomorrow morning at the funeral home and the lunch afterwards. How I wish I was there to hear them! My older siblings have childhood memories of him; memories from the time he was born, memories of his early years. I have no idea what he was like as a child or as a young teen. I'm not even sure what he was like as a young adult. I really only knew LeRoy from around age 50 or so. How sad is that! How much I missed! If I could go back and do it over again, I would have reached out to him very early on; I would have made an effort to know him sooner and better. I know my life would be much richer if I had done that.

As I make my three-hour drive to the airport tomorrow morning, my heart and mind will be in Wisconsin. And I know many others will be feeling the same way. I hope he knows -- and understands.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mountain Home

Mountain Home, Arkansas. What a beautiful place - right in the Ozarks. A local drove me around tonight and I discovered lots of lovely places. There are four or five rivers and a lake right within Mountain Home. Anyone who loves to hunt or fish would love this area. It is surrounded by towns with some unusual names, though. Names like Yellville, Gassville, Salesville, Pyatt, Snow, and...and Flippin. You drive by the Flippin gas station and the Flippin library. Kinda reminds me of a town next to one we used to live in. It was called Grudgeville. It was called Grudgeville because there were two prominent families who held onto their grudges against each other for decades, even while they were intermarrying. What fun it is to see such unique parts of this great country we live in!

Monday, August 24, 2009

LeRoy

LeRoy Oscar Sinness – firstborn son, carrier of his father’s name, oldest brother. Today he left us. As I sit in seat 10B, flying over the prairies, I hurt. Another brother is gone – prematurely, it seems to me. He would have been 68 next month.

LeRoy was 10 years old when I was born. For the first half of my life I didn’t know him very well. Then we moved to the same state in which he lived and we started to connect in a new way. I’m so thankful we did! I discovered what a wonderful man he was. I found out that he was thoughtful and kind. He was always so supportive of me and believed in me. And he seemed to have such common sense about everything!

On his birthday, September 27, I will share memories. But for now, I need to say that all of us who knew him experienced a big loss today. And it’s hard.

This picture was taken this past spring.