Sunday, November 30, 2014

Lunch at the Car Dealership/Bus Mystery/Nitrogen in the Wind/Follow Me

Mike and I know how to have fun dates. We spent hours together Friday at a car dealership. See Mike smiling? That is rather a misleading photo of him as he HATES that negotiating spent buying a car. Why does it have to be such a hassle? Do you know what I mean? From the time you decide to buy until you actually finish up is ridiculous. Neither of us appreciate the fine art of negotiating.

It wasn't really unpleasant this time. We both liked our salesperson.  He was more knowledgeable about the cars than many we've encountered. He offered us pizza for lunch. I realize that was so we wouldn't go out to lunch and possibly not return but still, I had skipped breakfast so was quite grateful.

I entertained myself taking photos on the sly.  See Mike in the background? See my nonchalant expression? Sneaky, huh?

This photo was taken AFTER all was said and done and we thought we were just going to drive off. Our sales guy, Dwight, went above and beyond at that point. He asked for a few minutes to show us a couple of things. I actually think he spent about an hour showing us the fun features in our new vehicle.

I have always said that I don't care much about the looks of a vehicle, just want one to get me safely and dependably from point A to point B.  I do, however, really enjoy modern technology. The newer cars are so much fun! This one becomes an extension of our cell phones when we are in it. There are voice controls and everything.  Do you all have cars like that?  I had believed those features were just in the real pricey vehicles but they were even in a lot of the smaller ones. We really enjoyed the lesson from Dwight to teach us all the gadgetry. I'm sure we have more to learn but he really helped us get started.

As I said, Mike and I know how to have fun dates. That evening we were in Fort Collins, CO. We'd planned on doing something fun but after going out to dinner we just pretty much stayed out in the vehicle playing with the buttons, listening to Sirius Music and making car/phone calls. That new car smell really added a nice ambiance!

We weren't trading in a car this time so we had two vehicles to drive home. Unfortunately, it was a day with high wind warnings and we had to traverse an area where the wind has frequently blown over semis and such. The gusts were over 50 mph. I was following in the old car (lightweight) and my arms were sore from the experience of trying to keep from being blown off the road. For the record, Mike offered to have me drive the newer one but I chose to let him break it in.

While driving along, we passed a bus. Not just any bus, but a city bus. That is not something you often see out in the boonies. The side of the bus said "Duluth Transit Authority." After I passed it I looked in the rearview mirror and saw that the signage on the front of the bus was lit up and said, "TO DOWNTOWN".  What? We were a long, long way from downtown Duluth, or any downtown for that matter! I looked it up and we are about 1000 miles from Duluth, MN. Does anyone have an hypothesis why that bus was blowing around in the wind in Wyoming,... driving on a highway with flashing signs telling discouraging high profile vehicles from proceeding? For the record, the wind was not blowing from the direction of Minnesota to Wyoming, but rather the opposite.  I thought about that Sandra Bullock movie, SPEED, and wondered if they needed rescued. Do you remember that movie? Maybe we should have tried to rescue them!

Later down the road, with Mike and me both driving about the speed limit, we were passed by some trucks pulling trailers with nitrogen tanks secured on them.  The speed limit was 80mph and they were going faster than that... in the middle of a high wind warning... with NITROGEN. Does that sound like a smart idea to you?

This following photo was my view most of the way. That is Mike up there.  Taking a photo while driving in the wind would be stupid as well. I confess nothing. For all you know, I stopped in the middle of the road when I pushed that camera button.

Anyway, I had the following song running through my head much of the way.

I have been following that man for many years now!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving Report 2014

Did you have a nice Thanksgiving? Mike and I got out of town. We weren't with any of our own offspring for this holiday, but we were with relatives. We were invited (or maybe we invited ourselves) to my Mom's.  Mom is a great cook and makes the whole thing seem so easy! I feel a bit guilty because she did all the work, but I can live with that, I guess. 

Upon arrival we got to meet the new addition to Mom's household. His name is Gus and he has a quirky personality, which is to say he fits right in with us all. He is a Pomeranian and Chihuahua mix. Sounds weird, huh? I guess it kind of is but I liked his look, right down to the little spirally white hairs coming out of his ears. He is still a puppy so he had a lot more energy than the rest of us!

Next to arrive was my niece, Steff. She, too, has a fun and quirky personality. This photo is her serious look. Don't buy into it.

This is Steff's you-aren't-really-taking-yet-another-picture look.

My nephew, Steven, is always the best dressed among us. Always. Every family needs at least one member with some class.

I managed a quick photo of Mom, although she was busy, busy, busy.  I know what you are thinking, "That's your Mom? She looks as though she could be your sister! And wasn't she just recently in the hospital and very, very ill?"  I told her a few days earlier that people looked at me funny when I said she was cooking for us all.  My friends all knew of her scary medical struggle just over a month ago. Mom's response to that was, "Well, people recover." 

My younger sister, Tina, was there as well. She thinks she isn't photogenic but I liked this photo!

As Mike and I were driving home we were enjoying the Wyoming beauty. I had heard earlier in the week all the warnings about Thanksgiving traffic and to expect slow going in many places around the country.  As you can see, that wasn't a big issue here. I am glad we live out West where crowding is not a big concern

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mother and Daughter

There is something so beautiful to me in these photos. It was just a few simple moments between mother and daughter, a few silly laughs. It speaks volumes, though, doesn't it? Our first relationship is with our mothers.  These photos captured all that can be good and beautiful about that sweet bond. I enjoyed the moment.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Project ABC

Last night Cordelia and Elise were over and they had a project to do. I brought out an ABC floor puzzle and they got right down to business.

As you can see, Bode wanted to be helpful.

He really wasn't.

The girls persevered.

Bode continued supervising.

Elise brought the letters and Cordy put them together. With teamwork, even under questionable canine supervision, they did get the job done.  Bode was thankful as he thought they'd made him a new bed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Operation Christmas Child

Tonight was fun.  Our congregation pulled together for a very important purpose. We were packing boxes for Operation Christmas Child!  Click on that link to learn more about this project. It is BIG! Boxes are sent all over the world to give to children who likely would have no Christmas gifts otherwise. My friend, Nicole, is the driving force behind our church's efforts to contribute to this project.

She had a group of well organized helpers who had done a lot of prep work to have things ready. In fact, last week we had a pre-packing party where we used baggies to organize health kits, candy bags, school kits, etc. Those items were then included on the tables lined up with lots and lots of presents for children of various ages. Everything as so well organized!

These gift items were all donated by people from our church. We have a very, very generous congregation and they've been donating for this project now for some time.

We gathered for pizza while the last preparations were made. I particularly liked the taped arrows around the church building. It was set up so we could pick up a box, write a note and trace our hand on the inside lid of the box, add some tissue paper, a bag of candy, a bag of school supplies, a bag of hygiene items such as toothbrushes, cloth, soap,etc,  Once we hand those things in our box we got to choose if a path to go by tables sorted by items appropriate for either younger children, older children or those in between.

Before we ever began, though, we gathered to pray for those who would receive our boxes of gifts.  Once we started, it went pretty quickly because there were a lot of us there. Nicole had told us Sunday that she needed "all hands on deck" and that is exactly what she got! We just lined up and took a box past each station. It was fun to choose the toys or other items we added to our box. When complete, we took the to the table of helpers who added a label. They passed the boxes back to others who rubber banded them and put them into bigger boxes and eventually into our church van/trailer for transportation to the collection point. We just kept the line going, each of us doing several boxes.

It was kind of like shopping as we chose what items to put in our boxes.

I choose to not publish photos of the children there, but they ranged from about age 3 on up. Its was great!

In about an hour's time we had packed 335 boxes loaded with surprises for children all around the world!  Another congregation here in town helped with the effort and brought over 40 more boxes to add to our efforts. What a great project!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Thursday, November 13, 2014

25 Below

It has been a bit chilly here this week! Sunday night into Monday morning I believe the temperatures dropped about 60 degrees! This is not my favorite kind of weather.

It occurred to me this morning that not everyone knows what it is like at 25 degrees below zero so maybe I should share a few things with you.

At 25 degrees below zero you may wake up to frost on the INSIDE of your house. You leave full size blankets on the living room furniture because it just doesn't ever seem to get warm enough in your house. Still, I'm so very grateful to have a house and a furnace!

At 25 degrees below zero I crave hot baths. That's not necessarily good, though, as it robs your body of natural oils that keep your skin healthy. It is so hard to keep skin from cracking and bleeding when it is so cold. My hands can get pretty rough. It is really hard to pull on a pair of pantyhose as my fingers get so rough they catch on the pantyhose. Anyone know what I am talking about?

At 25 degrees below zero cars do not like to start. We used to have a heater attached to our car engine. You could tell who had them because there would be a cord dangling out from under the hood. What you would do is plug it in to an extension cord and your car was much more likely to start when needed. Some parking places even had little outlets on posts just for that purpose. Here's a funny side story. We had a Ford Taurus with the heater on the engine when we moved from Montana to New Mexico in 1995. I drove that car to class at college and one day, when I came out, there was a little crowd around my car. When I approached, they asked me if it was an electric car (that was before electric cars were common).

Anyway, our cars usually start now but this week has been a bit hard on mine. To ensure it starts at the end of the day I am going out in the cold halfway through the day and letting the engine run awhile. That isn't my favorite thing either, but it is better than not being able to drive it home at 5:00.

At 25 degrees below zero everything is crunchy and stiff.  The snow doesn't make soft swishy sounds as you walk through it but it makes painful crunching sounds. I crunched out to our mailbox this week to find that it was frozen shut. I worked and worked to get it open, only to find there was no mail. I expect the mail carrier had given up on opening it.

At 25 degrees below zero it hurts to breathe. Really. It also hurts to move my fingers. This weather can be so dangerous. I hate seeing children out waiting for the school bus. It doesn't take long for serious injury to occur.

Here's another story about cold weather. It occurred when we lived in Minnesota while Mike was going to seminary. There were quite a few families living in married student housing who were from other countries, countries with no snow. One family from Africa had a little boy named Moonga. One day I came out of our building and Moonga was stuck to a pole by his tongue. Apparently one of the kids had told him to lick the pole. In case you don't know, that is a very bad move when it is cold. He was frozen to it. I ran in and got a glass of warm water to pour on to melt him off. He started pulling and the first glass wasn't warm enough. I ran for a warmer glass of water and was able to get him detached but he was bleeding and left a bit of tongue on the pole. Teach your children about that danger!

Still, there are a lot of good things about 25 degrees below zero. Soup tastes really delicious. That is not always true in July. Freshly baked bread smells like heaven. OK, that IS true in July but still... There are no bugs bugging us right now.

25 degrees below can be quite beautiful. Yesterday, on my way to work, I saw the biggest sun dogs ever! If you don't live in cold country you may not know what I am talking about. I'm sure there is a scientific name for this phenomenon but I know it as sun dogs. When there are a lot of ice crystals in the air the sun reflects in a way that makes it seem as though you've been transported to a planet with three suns. I was in traffic when I saw them yesterday and couldn't find a good viewing spot to pull over but I found a lot of great sun dog photos at Google Images.

(credit to gopherboy2956)

The ones I saw had even more of the rainbow colors mixed in. They were absolutely gorgeous! 

At 25 degrees below zero you pray that there is no wind.  Luckily, it has been quite still here this week. That almost never happens! There is always something for which we can be grateful.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Jazzing Things Up

After hearing the Kid Symphony (see previous post) Cordelia was still interested in musical instruments. I got out my saxophone and let her give it a try. I really didn't expect her to be able to make much noise with it but she turned out to be a natural!

I really like saxophones and so was happy to see her enjoying it. Terry B., do you recognize that saxophone?

I've done all I could to save her parents from needing to buy the big harp that Cordy's so admired. I even told her she could have my saxophone if she still wants to play when she is a bit older. She seemed pretty happy with that plan!

I never became much of a musician myself. I started with the violin in 6th grade but when we moved to a small town in Minnesota, there was no orchestra and no violin teacher. I took 2 years of piano lessons after that. My teacher was a high school girl and I really enjoyed piano with her. When she graduated and went to college, I did not restart lessons with anyone else. I have only a few regrets in life and that is one of them.  

When my family moved to Turner, MT I decided I wanted to join band. The instruments were owned by the school and my first year I played the bass drum as that was what was available. It was a good place to start, especially as I had zero band experience.

My junior and senior year I got to play the baritone saxophone. I really liked that, but I didn't usually get to play very interesting musical parts.

Years later I purchased an alto saxophone from a dear friend. I was so excited to get to play it! By then, though, I was having some problems with my jaw, TMJ problems, and playing the saxophone became very painful. Now you know how I came to have a saxophone available. Maria played it awhile in her younger years but did not keep up with it either. She does look good with it, doesn't she?

Do you play an instrument? More than one? 

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Kid Symphony

So I got to attend something fun this morning. The Wyoming Symphony put on a Kid Symphony. Maria wasn't able to attend with her family so I went in her place. My son-in-law, Eric, came to pick me up. We were there early enough to get comfortable.  The girls were excited! Cordelia entertained us by trying to look serious then giggling.

I finally got a decent photograph.

This Kid Symphony was a teaching experience designed to let kids have a chance to learn what was really going on with the music. All of the instruments were introduced as a group, such as woodwinds, then individually, such as the clarinet. The kids got to hear each one separately as well as all together. Cordelia quickly chose a favorite instrument. Do you want to guess what she wants to play? I will get back to that.

When they introduced the instruments they explained HOW each made music, such as by blowing air through or over a hole, running a bow across strings or plucking strings, etc.  They also showed how to make music by blowing over the top of a bottle or even through a garden hose with a funnel on one end.

Near the end of the concert the conductor called for four volunteers. Cordy was very disappointed to not be chosen but we weren't sitting close enough to the front. Anyway. They did kind of a cool deal. The first volunteer got to listen while they played three different melodies and then she was asked which she liked best. Then, they played three different versions of the harmony and the next little kid got to choose from those. They did the same with the percussion to find the preferred beat. They played the chosen mixture as a Walt, a March or a tango. Once the choices were made, one little boy got to be the conductor and the symphony played their new composition. 

I thought it was a clever way to teach a bit of what goes into composing. It probably meant more to the older kids. I noticed some kids were kind of tuned out by then.

So, did you make a guess regarding Cordelia's chosen instrument? She wants to play the harp!

I think we would all agree that music is important. There is so much work, years of practice, that goes into achieving something as simple as this concert for children.  I am so appreciative of dedicated musicians and I am grateful for these musicians today for sharing their work with these children. I hope some of those children will be inspired to learn to play an instrument as well. Maria and Eric, better start looking for a harp!

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Big Bites

We're so messed up! We live in a world where little kids are dying from lack of food.  Every day. Dying. Little children. How can that be when so many of us are worrying about our waistlines growing?

What got me started on this topic, you ask? Well, it was our spoons. We still have the same silverware we have had since our wedding in 1978.  Additionally, I have purchased some newer silverware to fill in for some that seems to have disappeared. 

Since acquiring this newer silverware I keep getting confused when I am putting them away. We have one of those divider trays with slots for the knives, the serving spoons, the forks and the regular spoons. Our newer spoons are so much bigger than their 1970 version.

The spoon on the left is one of our newer spoons and the spoon on the right is the 1978 counterpart. Isn't that ridiculous?

This is my conclusion. We are taking bites that are too big. This madness has got to stop!  We need to pass some of those bites along to others, those not getting their share.

There are many good organizations that provide a way to share food around the world. We recently had a guest in our home who was representing Food for the Poor. It is one of many organizations who are trying to benefit the poor. You can check them out at to learn more.  Mike and I also like to donate through Compassion International. You can read about them at .  

Those are two of the places we know of to help those with lesser resources. Where do you like to donate?

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

John Denver Tribute

Last night was fun! Mike recently received a sweet gift of two tickets to a John Denver tribute concert by singer, Jim Curry.  This man is not an impersonator but he did seem like he could have been a brother to John Denver. He sounded so much like him!

A special bonus to the evening was the addition of John Summers, who sang with John Denver in the past and was the songwriter of 5 songs recorded by John Denver. He is the one who wrote "Thank God I'm a Country Boy!"  

The best part for me was this smile! I realize this is a grainy photo but I took it on the sly, in the dark. It still makes me happy, grainy or not.

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