Monday, October 29, 2007

Monstrously Delicious!!

Our wonderful - and true FOODIE friends - Carol and Mark, visited us in Chicago this past weekend. We knew we had to bring them to pleasing palette restaurants, so the pressure was on to find them a monstrously appealing culinary experience! Our first stop: Yes Thai located on 5211 N. Damen Avenue. We shared all the appetizers and entrees and they were delighted by this cuisine. We even saw some North Park alumni there! (Conversing with these special people over shared food was the best treat of all! ) Next gorge: Sweet Occasions on 4639 N. Damen Aveune. Mark amazed us with his double-dip ice cream eating prowess (and that "Snap 'o Lantern" flavor is to die for.) Carol had the coconut cake and Wes and I shared the raspberry truffle...or at least attempted to do so as ONE of us hogged most of it! Now for the truly monstrous part of the whole evening: FITTING INTO OUR OWN WAISTBANDS - Trick or Treat!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Inspired by Mother Nature

As a quilter, it is impossible not to look at all the wild color combinations that Mother Nature throws out with each changing season. Fall is certainly no exception, and the colors can be riotous! Where else can you find dusty and brilliant blues, maroons and purples, lemon-lime and dark greens, neon oranges, vermillion reds and shades of beige, cinnamon and brown? Each year when we visit our cabin up north, I say, "I'm gonna have to make a quilt with these colors!" And then when back at home, the idea passes by with nary a pieced patch. So, two years back, I came home from the UP, got out the fabrics and began stitching up a storm until whirlwind wedding suddenly overtook our lives (and happily so). The project was put on hold and since the wedding season has passed, the project resumed. Here are the inspiration pictures followed by the actual project. Happy fall to all!
Aerial view: (Taken while standing on a chair looking down at the floor where the quilt is spread out. Yes, it was comical to try to hold the camera steady with my arms extended out while perched on a teeny little step stool...what was I thinking???)
Close-up view:
Now, if only I can finish another project so I can get going on quilting this one! It's intended as a gift for Wes, and he is a patient man, thank goodness! Fall is his favorite season.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Getting By With a Little Help From My Friends

Honestly, I don't know how I would have gotten through the last week and a half without my friends. Some of you have called, some of you have sent emails, some of you have sent a card. Each gesture of yours was such a comfort to me and I thank you all. Your visits here at home and even receiving two meals that I didn't think I needed (but it turned out otherwise) meant the world to me. One friend called me daily from Maine, another from Michigan. Those calls were so special; thanks Carol and Marny. Thanks to Marti who stopped by with tea and pepparkaker served with tears and hugs. Another friend who had recently lost her husband of over 50+ years stopped by to bring a delicious old-fashioned meal of pork tenderloin, baked potatoes and cooked apple rings, topped off with a homemade chocolate cake. Comfort food to be sure. Anne and I were able to dine together with this special woman as a group of three. Thank you Dolores. Two busy people stopped by with homemade taco soup with all the trimmings, salad and an apple crisp. Thank you Dwight and Kathy. We didn't know we needed that, either, but it turns out we did. Finally, my newest "therapy" friend is named Luke. Though still a growing puppy, he and his owner took me for a walk along the river near our home. Seeing Luke's pure joy and happy energy lifted my spirits immensely, as did the converstation with his "mama" along the leaf-strewn path. Thanks, Jan, for sharing your puppy and yourself last week. Thank you all for being my friends and helping me navigate through a difficult time. You are loved.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Links. We think of them as the places we click on while using the internet. We think of them as we see jewelry necklaces, bracelets and gold chains for pocket watches. There's even a TV show called Weakest Link. But what I want to write about today: human links.
We're put on this earth not as solitary creatures, but as social creatures. We link together with friends to go out and do fun stuff or to do nothing at all. We link together with co-workers to get a job done. We link together with fellow believers to worship. But a very crucial link is the one we form from birth and on: a family to meet our basic needs of survival and human interaction. Sometimes these links are beautiful and easy; sometimes they are not. Sometimes the links are strong and solid; sometimes they are not. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses, no matter what kind of family we come from.
Recently, my brother Dennis died. Our relationship was like one of those weaker links. It was very painful for me because I loved him. He was my flesh and blood. Being in a strained relationship never felt right. Now that he is gone, there is no chance for earthly reconcilliation, and that grieves me so.
Dear reader, I request you now to become a part of our family link by saying a prayer for my brother, our mother, my siblings and especially for Dennis' children. That there will be some way to make it through these difficult days, and that our family chain will become stronger as a result of the power of prayer and the linking of human hearts for strength in numbers.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Nine Months

Were you thinking that I would perhaps write about the human gestation period/pregnancy? Nope! Today, I am reminded that it has been 9 months since Wes and I joined the local Fitness Center. These are some observations I have had of my experiences there thus far.
A Fitness Center is a wonderful melting pot of cultures, languages, sizes, ages, shapes and colors. I love that! My eyes and ears have a wonderful party as I watch and listen to those working out around me. I also see determination and sweat. Perspiring is inspiring!
Clothing is nice.
Especially when it comes to attire in the locker room. I mean, how difficult is it to exchange pleasantries when a person is wearing their birthday suit? (By the way, I don't wear stuff like the models in the picture!)
Big is not necessarily better when it comes to muscles. Seriously? What do these people do for a life outside the gym? Can they all be professional body builders?
It's downright difficult to get motivated to go the the Fitness Center at times. I can find all sorts of excuses why not to go! But once I'm there and get on the treadmill or whatever, it does feel good. Being rewarded by the hot whirlpool at the end of the workout is bliss!
Age is irrelevant. There's a 94 year old man who takes large lunging steps back and forth across the gym. God bless him and also the old 90 year old woman who boxes with the best of 'em.
Finally, I must learn to be satisfied with what I've got. Let's face it...I haven't lost a pound in nine months of working out. Anne (sweet girl) tells me it must be because I've got muscles now and they weigh more than fat! Hopefully, though, my heart is stronger, I'm moving better and I am prolonging my life by going through this routine twice or three times a week.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Who is Lina?

Recently, one of my blog commenters wondered about the Lina in my Alma Mater Matters post and wanted to know more about her. First, though, I thought it would be fun to go back to some of her "outfits" as shown in the 1977 Cupola which is the North Park yearbook. We sure loved our Lina!
(This is actually my brother, Duane perched on Lina's lap, surrounded by Mark and "Yak.")
Here's the real woman, Lina Sandell, (Lina Sandell-Berg) and a little bit of personal info about her life and history. I think if she were alive today, she would be my friend. She was thoughtful, musical, poetic and kind. And perhaps had a twinkle in her eye?
Lina Sandell birthname: Karolina Wilhelmina Sandell Born October 3, 1832Fröderyd, Småland, Sweden Died July 27, 1903Stockholm, Sweden Occupation Gospel hymns singer Spouse C.O. Berg 1867 Lina Sandell (full name: Karolina Wilhelmina Sandell-Berg) (October 3, 1832 - July 27, 1903) was a Swedish writer of Gospel hymns. Born Karolina Wilhelmina Sandell in a rectory at Fröderyd, Småland, Sweden. At the age of 26, she went with her father Jonas Sandell, a Lutheran pastor of the Lutheran church in Fröderyd on a boat trip across Lake Vättern to Göteborg, during which he fell overboard and drowned before her eyes. The tragedy affected Lina, inspiring her to write hymns. She wrote hymns and poured out her broken heart in an endless stream of beautiful songs. Oskar Ahnfelt played his guitar and sang Lina's hymns throughout Scandinavia. She once said that Ahnfelt sang her songs "Into the hearts of the people". Even Jenny Lind, the world famous concert vocalist, visited factories and sang Lina's beautiful hymns. Sandell is known as the Fanny Crosby of Sweden. In 1867 Lina married C.O. Berg, a Stockholm Merchant, and thus became Lina Sandell-Berg. She continued to initial her hymns "L.S". Sandell wrote 650 hymns. Sandell died July 27, 1903 in Stockholm, Sweden. She is buried in Solna Kyrkogård - Cemetery, Solna, Stockholmn Län, Sweden.
I hope Lina would be happy to know that we still love her today! And that she has found a far better spot to perch now than being tucked hidden amongst the trees - like she was in the 1970s - emphasizing her small stature. She is now sits in front of the Seminary building on a hill surrounded by a ring of bushes and flowers. Though she no longer gets "dressed up" to celebrate the changing seasons and monumental events (like Spring Break and graduation), she greets those who pass by her with a gentle reminder to ask, "Who is she?" "Why is she here?" And in that way, she lives on...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Getting Ready for the Academy Awards

"I would like to thank my director - Dan, my assistant directors, my boss - Eileen, who had such faith when she hired me in 1981 and my supervisor, Andrea who believes in me. To my co-workers who have stood by me and taught me much about the use of the computer, I thank you. I also would like to thank my loving family - my parents for giving me the gift of life, my sister who is my best friend. And, to Wes - I love you, man! To Anne for her supprt and patience as I went through my "bad jumper" phase. To John, for not throwing me out of the car when I brought him to high school wearing those embarassing sunglasses. To Jed, for accepting me as his MIL in spite of my bad cooking. To my friends, near and far - you know who you are! To all those "little people" (literally...they are between the ages of 2 to 5) I have worked with over the years. If I have forgotten to express my gratitude to any of you who have made me the person I am today, I beg your forgiveness. For all, I thank you from the bottom of my heart with "love, peace and soul!" Oh, and thank, you Don Cornelius!"
So, if I ever am presented with a really big award, I will be ready! For now, it just had to be the prize of getting a plateful of chocolate/chocolate chip cookies for being the winner of the random raffle drawing for replying (along with many others) to our staff blog. I'm the luckiest girl, am I not?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Alma Mater Matters

It's hard to believe 30 years have passed since we graduated from North Park. Where did the years go? Our wonderful friends, Marny and Tracy, traveled from their home state and stayed with us for the weekend as we celebrated our class reunion.
Before anything could begin, we had to "dress" Lina in sunglasses and handbag for old times sake. We are shocked and distressed to learn this tradition has stopped! One of three tables for our class of '77.
The street of Carmen was closed for the block party.
John and Alex Anne and future alum, Ava blowing kisses
Sue C. (J now) couldn't be here, so daughters Kiera and Taryn
represented her...we missed you, Sue!!! And Greg, too!
With Tracy, Marny and Loren
Karen, Chip and Deb
Food and "fellowship" at Ron and Deb's house. Yes, there was Chicago-style pizza served!
Deb, not Deb, Deb and Deb (Can you tell that Debbie Reynolds was popular the year we were born?How many newborns are named Debra/Deborah now?)
By the way, the lovely "not Deb" is Karen!
Our day began early with a class reunion breakfast, a fabulous block party where we saw hundreds-no thousands of students, classmates and alumni. It was wonderful to see my sister and her whole family, Anne, Jed and John, too. The afternoon football game was hot, but fun.
We got to see our son on the football field at halftime as he was on the Homecoming court. (He'll always be "King" to me even if he didn't get the Viking crown.) We went out to eat in a fabulous restaurant, walked along Lake Michigan, and ended our day with classmates at a reunion party...then finally fell into bed due to exhaustion as we are getting to be older alumni.
Our weekend concluded on Sunday with a chapel service featuring the Gospel Choir (John's in it) with the sermon/message by the author and lecturer, Dr. Kevin Leman. He's the one who wrote The Birth Order Book and some 30 other titles. Dr. Leman spoke on "The Deception of Perfection" and he captured the attention of the audience with his own imperfect life and stories about nearly flunking out of college (he's also an alumni of NP), eating a whole pumpkin pie then showing us his belly profile as an example of imperfection!
We laughed until tears came to our eyes, yet the message of us all failing to measure up to our shortcomings hit home with me. I am imperfect, too and very thankful for God's grace. And I'm also very thankful I am a graduate of this barely-known Christian institution of higher learning!
Here I learned how to think more, study harder (thanks, Wes, for introducing me to the library once we started dating!), challenge my issues of faith, make true lifetime friends, survive life in a major city, live on little money (like $16.00 for a whole semester!!), and purposefully live the NP slogan "Where Faith and Learning Meet." I am imperfect in all that I do, to be sure, but that's okay. Life on earth is imperfect. Alma Maters are imperfect. But I am glad for this one of mine!