Monday, March 31, 2008

PINK VS WHITE

A year ago we were in Charleston, walking the old cobblestone streets in short sleeve T-shirts, Capri pants and sandals, breathing the intoxicating smells from the beautiful flowers lining the
streets, and searching for a cafe to get a glass of iced tea to quench our thirst. Today I was in my fleece jacket and long sleeved shirt, drenched with the moisture of the wet sloppy snow coming down in 50 cent piece sized snow flakes! This is the scene outside the chapel at the college where I used to work. Beautiful, but totally uncalled for on March 31!
Today is also the opening of the baseball season for the Minnesota Twins. Lucky they don't have their new open air stadium yet! Tonight they are still playing under the dome......why would they want to play outdoors in this?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

THINGS I LEARNED WHILE WAITING AT THE CLINIC

This morning I took my mom's neighbor, a spunky 91 year old woman, to the clinic for her annual physical. She is nearly bent in half and uses a walker, but don't let that fool you! This woman is dynamite! When she came out of the doctor's office I asked her if she was finished. She replied "no. Lab," and took off down the hall like she was running the 100 yard dash. When she finished there I asked if she needed to go anywhere else, like to the grocery store or drug store. She answered "no." As we dropped her off at her apartment she turned to Ernie and said "thank you." Five words in about an hour and a half. Sweetest funniest little old lady I know!

While I sat in the waiting room at the clinic, I paged through two or three magazines, and found some interesting items. For example, one women's fashion magazine showed a necklace that can be purchased for two million dollars! Oh, it comes with matching earrings for only $170,000 or the cushion cut diamond ones for $240,000. And I found a nice simple clutch purse for $3,495 or a larger lovely blue crock bag for $12,000. Are there really people who buy those things?

Then I turned to the next magazine which had a review of the Oscars, with the important information that five women had the exact same color of dress on. They were five dresses of totally different designs, but they were the same color of red. Oh, if you spilled your wine or whatever on your dress, the dry cleaning for one of those fancy Oscar dresses could run you about $700. But more exciting, by Hollywood standards apparently, were the matching "baby bumps" that three other women were sporting. I felt so educated (NOT) when I put that magazine down and decided that people watching would probably make me smarter.

An elderly couple came in, each pushing a walker, and the man was also pulling a small oxygen bottle with the plastic tubing connected to his wife's face. After they checked in at the desk, they walked back down the hall to the restroom where he opened the door and helped her get her walker and oxygen bottle inside, then he sat down on the seat of his walker right outside the door to wait for her.

Soon a middle aged woman dressed in a comfortable sweat suit came and sat across from me. She was bubbly, happy, and talkative, carrying on an animated conversation with the nurse across the aisle. And she was sporting a colorful bandanna on her hairless head.

And down the row from me two women were talking about one of the woman's daughter. She was telling the other woman that her daughter and husband were asked to not return to their childbirth classes. Seems the other five gals in the class were high school girls, and they were feeling weird because this woman's daughter had a husband to attend classes with her and they didn't. Guess they should have thought about that before!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

THE TREE OF LIFE

At our Good Friday services last night we sang this hymn, which has become a favorite of mine. It's a new hymn, the text only written in 1993 by S.P. Starke with the tune from 1995 by Bruce W. Becker. Read the words.........it is the whole story in 4 short verses.

The tree of life with ev'ry good
In Eden's holy orchard stood,
And of its fruit so pure and sweet
God let the man and woman eat.
Yet in this garden also grew
Another tree of which they knew;
Its lovely limbs with fruit adorned
Against whose eating God had warned.

The stillness of that sacred grove
Was broken as the serpent strove
With tempting voice to Eve beguile
And Adam too by sin defile.
O day of sadness when this breath
Of fear and darkness, doubt and death,
Its awful poison first displayed
Within the world so newly made.

What mercy God showed to our race,
A plan of rescue by His grace:
In sending One from woman's seed,
The One to fill our greatest need-
For on a tree uplifted high
His only Son for sin would die,
Would drink the cup of scorn and dread
To crush the ancient serpent's head!

Now from that tree of Jesus' shame
Flows life eternal in His name;
For all who trust and will believe,
Salvation's living fruit receive.
And of this fruit so pure and sweet
The Lord invites the world to eat,
To find within this cross of wood
The tree of life with ev'ry good.

From the Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary #302

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I WONDER WHERE THE FLOWERS IS

We drove home from Maundy Thursday services tonight in rain that was trying to turn to snow. We are under a WINTER STORM WARNING. It's supposed to be spring, isn't it? It reminds me of something my daddy (yes, he was always called daddy...mommy became mom, but daddy remained daddy) used to say every single spring. His annual spring poem was:

Spring has sprung
The grass has riz
I wonder where
The flowers is.

It was especially funny coming from him because he was such a stickler for proper grammar, and we'd always laugh when he recited it, emphasizing 'the flowers is' part.

There aren't any flowers yet, but even if they were up and blooming, we probably wouldn't be able to see them by morning as we are supposed to get 4-6 inches of heavy, wet snow overnight.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

DID THE SWALLOWS COME BACK TO CAPISTRANO?

Today, St. Joseph's Day, is the day that the swallows come back to the Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano, also called the jewel of the California missions. There is always a big festival at at the mission on that day, but this year is different. They celebrated on March 15 because today March 19, the actual day of the return of the birds, falls during Holy Week and the big celebration would not be permitted. We were at this mission in January when there were no swallows there. I wonder if they came back today, on March 19, as they always have? They will build their nests in all the nooks and crannies, under the arches, and in any little space created by the crumbling bricks and stones that they can find. This mission was one of my favorite stops in California, and I would have loved to have been there today to watch the miracle of the birds.

Monday, March 17, 2008

LET'S DO LUNCH--OR--HEY LADY, GET A LIFE!

In my dream last night I was blogging. Well, I wasn't really blogging, I was getting ready to blog. Apparently I needed to be in the right setting to properly write my indended post, so I was on the top floor of a skyscraper with glass windows all around and sleek modern furniture filling the cavernous space. Now, those of you who know me, know that I would NEVER be on the top floor of a glass enclosed skyscraper! I would also never be surrounded by sleek modern furniture. And I most certainly would never be dressed as I was in my dream: 4 inch high heels, full, swinging skirt, and a tight fitting sweater. With pearls at my neck. And fluffy curly hair.

There was someone there that I didn't know, but she was helping me get my computer set up, get my notes located in my notebook, making sure the desk and chair were facing the view out the window, and catering to the only other person who was there. My grandson, Jacob. Okay, I guess of everyone in my family, Jacob is the one person who would have really appreciated the subject of my blog that day: my lunch date with him, and Oprah!

Now I never saw Oprah in my dream, and I also didn't see this supposed lunch I shared with her and Jacob. All I was doing was getting ready to blog about it and that part went on forever it seemed. Back and forth I walked, my spikey heels clicking on the black highly polished floor, my skirt swaying back and forth as I hurried between a table and the desk, carrying papers and files, but never getting anything done. And there was Jacob, asking questions, making comments, reminding me not to forget to write such and such, getting in my way and totally preventing me from writing my blog about lunch with him and Oprah.

I have not a clue where this came from. I hadn't talked to Jacob yesterday, nor do I even remember thinking about him. (Sorry Jacob!) And I certainly hadn't been thinking about Oprah, and, no, I didn't watch her Big Give show. I am scared of heights and especially big glass windows connected with heights, I don't like modern furnishings, I don't wear 4 inch high heels, and lunch with Oprah would be the farthest thing from my mind.

Maybe it all means that I have been really struggling with my blog recently and I have stooped to the depths of blogging about my dreams. If that's the case, let's hope it's Dr. McDreamy tonight instead of Oprah!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

IT'S OFFICIAL

Two months ago we made the decision to give up full time RVing and come back home to Minnesota. Yesterday really made it seem real; it's now official. Yesterday we took our RV and truck back to the dealer where we bought them almost two years ago, and our dealer Kim, who has become a good friend, has them on her sales lot. We've removed every trace of the past 20 months from the RV, we've taken down the pictures and accessories that made it our home, and have returned it to it's original right off the assembly line condition, ready for someone else to move into, make their own, and love and enjoy.

It's an emotional time. Our home for almost two years, is now sitting on a sales lot, waiting for someone else. Someone who will have no idea where we have taken that house. Once it sells, the new owners will probably never know how far north, south, east and west that movable home has been. They won't know the good times we had in Alaska with our two grandsons. They won't be able to hear the stories about the big ones that got away, or the big ones that were caught...like the 35 and 50 pound salmon or the 98 pound halibut! They'll never know the excitement of seeing the ocean, the mountains or the rustic Alaskan campgrounds for the first time. The new owners won't know that we then pulled the RV to the opposite end of the United States and spent 4 months in Florida, on another ocean, one with white sandy beaches instead of rocky shores. They won't know that their new home has been to our nation's capitol, or to the battlefields of the Civil War.

And how could they know that we crossed the Canadian border again, and spent many happy days exploring the far northeastern provinces, all the way to the tip top of New Foundland. They also wouldn't know that we traveled with dear friends, sharing countless pleasant hours inside the metal walls visiting, eating and playing cards.

They'll also never know that we continued on to the completely opposite end of the country again, to California and the southwestern states. They'll not hear the chatter of my niece's little guy as he visited us, nor my ohhs and ahhs as we caught a glimpse of the multi-million dollar mansions rising above the Pacific Ocean.

But there is one good thing. The new owners will never know the number of tears that once flooded the inside of their home. Hopefully they'll never know the loneliness that rose up in my heart when I thought of my kids, grandkids, mother and siblings back home in Minnesota.

Treat my home with love and kindness, new owners. It kept us warm and safe and will do the same for you. You can take your new house to many places, but don't be surprised if you hear the echos of it's past. It may have already been there!

Monday, March 10, 2008

SPOOKY

On top of my china hutch in the dining room, I have this antique mantle clock. It has long since stopped doing the job of keeping time, but I love it and keep it displayed anyway. This morning as I was walking through the dining room, I wondered what time it was and just happened to look up at this non-working clock. It said 9:10, just as it has said for years. I then looked at the clock in the kitchen and the digital readout said 9:10! I thought that was a little spooky. Even though I do know that this clock is correct two times a day. I just have never looked up at it at just the instant that it is right.

Friday, March 07, 2008

THE NATIONAL ANTHEM

Another awesome video: Check this out
It sure sounds better than most of the singers given the honor of singing the National Anthem at the opening of sports events!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

THE JUGGLER

I found this on a blog that I visit frequently and decided to share it with you. This guy is something else! It's long...close to 4 1/2 minutes, but you need to watch the whole thing.

video

OUR SNOW VS ALASKA SNOW

This is what I hate about winter. The snow in the parking lots that has been plowed into huge mountains around the perimiter of the lot. The mountains made of, yes, snow, but also of dirt, and green plastic 20 ounce Mountain Dew bottles, and receipts and plastic bags from the nearest big-box store, and discarded french fry bags from the golden arches, and pacifiers that have fallen from the mouths of babies when mom didn't get the blanket thrown over their head fast enough as they ran from the van to the grocery store, and things that shouldn't even be mentioned on this family blog.

This is what winter should look like.
My son, Chris, who lives beyond the end of the road in Alaska, sent me these pictures last week. He and his sweetie, Amy, had climbed up a mountain just for the joy of skiing back down, not my idea of fun, but I guess that's why he's skinny and I'm not skinny. On the distant shore, about 17 miles across Kachemak Bay, is Homer, the actual end of the road. You either fly or take a boat to get to Seldovia where Chris lives. Have you ever seen skies so blue or snow so white? I've not been to Alaska in the winter, but I would love to make that trip. However, I do not climb to the top of mountains through waist deep snow, and I most certainly do not ski back down them.

Do you see the path they've made up the mountain? Do you see any ski lifts ? Can you imagine? Huff, puff, huff, puff....... no way!















But the views they see along the way are incredible! And I am so jealous of them. But I guess I'm not jealous enough to get in shape!

Monday, March 03, 2008

1943 GUIDE TO HIRING WOMEN

The following is an excerpt from the July 1943 issue of Transportation Magazine. This was written for male supervisors of women in the work force during World War II. I hope you find it as outrageous as I did. Unbelievable! And I did check it out on Snopes .

The article states: Eleven Tips on Getting More Efficency Out of Women Employees: There's no longer any question whether transit companies should hire women for jobs formerly held by men. The draft and manpower shortage has settled that point. The important things now are to select the most efficient women available and how to use them to the best advantage.

Here are eleven helpful tips on the subject from Western Properties:

1. Pick young married women. They usually have more of a sense of responsibility than their unmarried sisters, they're less likely to be flirtatious, they need the work or they wouldn't be doing it, they still have the pep and interest to work hard and to deal with the public efficiently.

2. When you have to use older women, try to get ones who have worked outside the home at some time in their lives. Older women who have never contacted the public have a hard time adapting themselves and are inclined to be cantankerous and fussy. It's always well to impress upon older women the importance of friendliness and courtesy.

3. General experience indicates that "husky" girls - those who are just a little on the heavy side - are more even tempered and efficient than their underweight sisters.

4. Retain a physican to give each woman you hire a special physical examination - one covering female conditions. This step not only protects the property against the possibilities of lawsuit, but reveals whether the employee-to-be has any female weakness which would make her mentally or physically unfit for the job.

5. Stress at the outset the importance of time, the fact that a minute or two lost here and there makes serious inroads on schedules. Until this point is gotten across, service is likely to be slowed up.

6. Give the female employee a definite day-long schedule of duties so that they'll keep busy without bothering the management for instructions every few minutes. Numerous properties say that women make excellent workers when they have their jobs cut out for them, but that they lack initiative in finding work themselves.

7. Whenever possible, let the inside employee change from one job to another at some time during the day. Women are inclined to be less nervous and happier with change.

8. Give every girl an adequate number of rest periods during the day. You have to make some allowances for feminine psychology. A girl has more confidence and is more efficient if she can keep her hair tidied, apply fresh lipstick, and wash her hands several times a day.

9. Be tactful when issuing instructions or in making criticisms. Women are often sensitive; they can't shrug off hard words the way men do. Never redicule a woman - it breaks her spirit and cuts off her efficiency.

10. Be reasonably considerate about using strong language around women. Even though a girl's husband or father may swear vociferously, she'll grow to dislike a place of business where she hears too much of this.

11. Get enough size variety in operator's uniforms so that each girl can have a proper fit. This point can't be stressed too much in keeping women happy.

MINNESOTA POETRY

Several years ago when we were visiting our son in Alaska, we spent a couple of days in Seward. We walked down a couple of side streets, and found a coffee shop occupying a church building, obviously no longer serving as such. We bought a good cup of coffee and just sat and absorbed some of the interesting Alaskan culture. As we left the front door, I noticed a yard sale set up in the neighboring lot, so I walked through and just happened to check a stack of old books. There was a small faded red book, about 5X7 size, containing less than 150 pages that caught my eye. The title was Minnesota Skyline , copyright 1944, an anthology of poems about Minnesota, published by The League of Minnesota Poets. I picked it up for a few cents, 25 if I remember correctly, and looked through it, carted it back to Minnesota with me, and filed in on my book shelf with hundreds of other books. This morning I was sorting through some books and putting them on shelves here in our new place, and I came across this little gem. I have been lost in Minnesota poetry ever since, and I just thought I'd share a couple of the poems.

I would imagine most of you are familiar with Longfellow's Song of Hiawatha and the instantly recognized meter that scholars say he borrowed from an earlier Finnish epic poem. (My kids used to groan every summer we vacationed on Minnesota's North Shore and I would begin reciting portions of the poem that I memorized when I was in grade school):

By the shores of Gitche-Gumme
By the shining Big-Sea-Waters,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest
Rose the black etc.........(from part III, Hiawatha's Childhood)

Well, there are two poems in this book written in that same meter, and I just found them interesting, and would like to share them with you.

The first is titled Longfellow's Minnesota, and was written by a Gertrude Olson of Winthrop.

Northward rise the endless forests,
Mighty pines with aspen fringes;
Run the swirling streams and freshets,
Sparkling brooks where trout are leaping,
Limpid pools and falling water.
From Itasca, east, the river.....
Fountain of the Mississippi;
Westward stretch the sky-rimmed prairies,
Home of partridge, quail, and pheasant.
To the southward are lush meadows,
Cattle grazing in the sunshine,
Golden wheat and tasseled cornfields....
Minnesota, where the heart is
Deeply rooted in the northland,
May the red clay of your pipestone
Fashion peace pipes for the nations.

The second poem is called All Hail, Pioneers! and was written by John Morgan Thew of Minneapolis.

From the low but urgant thunder
Of a stream of wagons wheeling
Like sedate but restless trampings
Of the tireless boots of fate
Came the trader, came the settler
To the virgin woods and prairies
Where the wolf packs and the redskins
Howled their blood lust to the stars....

Came the gambler, came the preacher,
Land shark, merchant, saint, and sinner-
Struggling, crowding, trickling, pouring-
Till the hamlets grew to cities
Vast in wealth and vaster dreaming.

Rouse you, sons of Minnesota,
Carry on the brave traditions!
Keep your heritage unsullied
While the grand old-timers sleep,
While they slumber to the crooning
In the restful sweet disturbance
Of old cottonwoods that whisper
Through the rose-drenched summer nights.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES

This photo was taken a year ago today. We were parked in our RV at Tindall AFB in Panama City, Florida. Just down the dirt road from our campsite was this bayou where I spent numerous evenings with my camera, trying to capture the sunset, the mirrored image on the water, and the peace and quiet of the setting. I remember that weekend well. There were heavy rains and horrible tornados just north and south of us, and several deaths resulting from the terrible storms. It was also the weekend my computer screen crashed, and I purchased my current computer after losing my battle with the big store with the blue and yellow sign to fix the wounded one which was totally covered under their warrenty. (You think I'm still bitter? You bet I am!)

The scene today is quite a bit different. We are in Minnesota instead of Florida, which is a huge difference. There is snow, slush and mud on the ground instead of the green grass and white beach sand. We walked barefoot on the beach a year ago, while today we carefully stepped around muddy puddles half covering the icy surface below. The temperature today hit a high of 37 according to the evening news, while we were in shorts and covered with sunscreen last year.

There was also another huge difference. We were alone. I spent hours crying, so miserable I was with no kids or grand kids around. We attended a church, but all the people were strangers. We could walk through the stores or hike on the beach, but we didn't know anyone we saw. This weekend is so much different! I was able to take my mom and sister grocery shopping yesterday, and I had lunch with them and with another sister today. I ironed patches (again!) on a granddaughter's ripped jeans and returned them to her. I visited my daughter who is just six days out of surgery. I received hugs from several grandkids, and had two grandsons spend the night last night. We attended our home church today and visited with folks who have been friends for many, many years. I walked through a bookstore and met another long time friend, and I greeted a student from my former workplace.

Yes, the weather and the scenery may be very different than it was a year ago, but I am happy I am where I am today, among people I know and love. And I wouldn't have it any other way.