Saturday, March 26, 2011

Two More Weeks

First off, I have to explain something. I have two people who I know faithfully read my blog. I know this because if I go too long without writing something they bring it to my attention. My mother (being one of these two people) has been telling me of late that I hadn't put anything up since March 5 (this comment was before I posted last Thursday.) I assured her that I had and she told me that was the date above my most recent post of pictures was March 5. That seemed odd since I knew the post included picture from my trip to Boise which didn't end until March 13.

All of this is really unimportant unless you receive my posts directly to your email via RSS feed. That being the case, you may have gotten an "UPDATE blog" this afternoon. Don't bother reading it. I only updated the date, which somehow was posted incorrectly in the first place. (I know how, but don't really want to take up another paragraph explaining that.) So, let's move on. By the way, Mom and Leslie, thanks for being faithful readers.

March 12 - This is by far my most favorite picture of the last two weeks. I was still in Boise when I took this. These flowers were found in my friend's neighbor's front yard. When I was over there taking pictures someone showed up to visit the young man who lives at that house. I asked her to tell him that I was out front taking pictures (lest he call the police.) When I saw him later that night I asked him if his friend had giving him my message. He said "Yes, but I couldn't figure out what you were taking pictures of." I told him I was getting shots of the flowers in his front yard. His response cracked me up. "There are flowers in my front yard?" Such an observant boy!

March 13 - When I first arrived in Boise we drove past the Library (or should I say the Library!?) on our way home from the airport. I just cracked up at the exclamation mark at the end of the title. Apparently, the people in Boise are serious about their libraries! My friend, Diane, drove me past the Library! on our way back to the airport so I could get this picture.

March 14 - My picture for March 14 was a no-brainer. I mean, it was National Pie Day. Or is it National Pi Day? Get it? Pi = 3.14 (and so on.) Truth be told, I would have totally missed this most amazing day on the calendar were it not for my son, Adam, who is both a cook and a brainiac. In other words, he understands why a person would use the mathematical formula for pi and might actually use it himself. I on the other hand, just barely know that Pi equals 3.14 . . . Oh, and the picture was taken at our deacon meeting that night, at which we had pie, thanks to a well-timed suggestion to the person in charge of ordering dessert.

March 15 - Yes, it's true. There is (or was) still a Christmas decoration in my front yard. Note to self: do not hang Christmas decorations in the middle of the yard where you might have to wade through two feet of snow to remove said decoration! Thankfully, it's down now. Phew! Just in time for Easter!

March 16 - I titled this picture "Ahoy Mate - I See Land!" I think winter is making me a little stir-crazy!
March 17 - I had this hair-brained idea to make cut-out shamrock cookies for St. Patrick's day and make it my photo of the day. I added to the idiocy by deciding to make them gluten-free, trying some new flour I bought. Let's just say that this is the best of the bunch and by the time they hit the cooling rack most of them had lost their stems. By the time they were frosted, most were broken in half. BUT, I sent a few over to my neighbor who has Celiac disease and he thought they were quite tasty. Goes to show, if you go without a food product long enough the replacement will taste pretty decent.

March 18 - Jami has been patiently waiting to be a part of my 365 project. So on this day, she and I both fulfilled our goals! She is such a sweetheart! And beautiful!

March 19 - On this particular Saturday I went to a Wildtree Party (healthy food sold party style) at my friend, Katie's house. We've been friends for a few years and it's always so fun to see her. Doesn't her little guy just look like he's too sweet to ever do anything wrong?

March 20 - Amber heard about my 365 project and asked me at church about it on Sunday morning. After I explained it I took the opportunity to invite her to be my "subject" for the day. I'm so blessed to have so many sweet friends!

March 21 - It's true, there are days when I don't know what in the world to take a picture of but on this particular Monday, I decided I'd measure the snow left in our yard. (I told you winter was making me stir-crazy!) It seemed like there was still so much left! I figured, why not take a picture of my measuring stick in the snow. For the record - there was deeper snow in other areas of the yard. And then it snowed again after this picture! Enough already!!!!

March 22 - Yes, this was another "what shall I take a picture of" day. I was taking something out of the cabinet when one of my dolls fell into my hands. I figured it was some kind of sign - and I was getting desperate! When I was a little girl my grandparents would bring me dolls from the places they visited. This one comes from Switzerland and since John and I are thinking about going on a mission trip to Switzerland this fall, I decided it would be the perfect doll to choose for the day.

March 23 - O.K., I lied earlier. The flowers were nice but this is for sure my favorite picture from the past two weeks. I had the chance to babysit sweet Amelia on Wednesday. Is she not the most adorable baby? We think so!

March 24 - Rachel is a young woman who goes to my church. She asked me about a year ago if I would just hang with her sometimes and mentor her a bit. I was honored. We had a quick dinner Thursday night so I could hear all about her recent mission trip. She may not know this but she encourages me as much, if not more, than I encourage her. I'm blessed to have her as part of my life.
March 25 - There is an intriguing phenomena on our area rivers right now. I don't think I've ever seen it during the 33 years I've lived in Minnesota, but it could just be because I wasn't looking. Our snow had started melting and the rivers were getting higher when a new storm developed on Wednesday. We got a little snow and the temps were right around the freezing mark. Since that time little ice "pods" have developed around the tree roots in the river. It's hard to describe them (which is why pictures are so handy) but they look kind of like those worm-filled nests that trees sometimes get in the summer time. Only the ice pods aren't nearly as creepy.

If you've made it this far, you deserve a medal! I was a little wordy tonight as I described my photos. I have to say, this project can be overwhelming some days but I'm glad I'm doing it. I'm learning a lot about my camera and taking the time to find beauty in my every day life. Whether you are doing a similar project or not, I hope you'll find the time to make some memories, take some pictures, and spend time with the ones you love.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Living in a Hopeful State

I was talking with a friend this morning who recently returned from a trip to South Carolina and Georgia. The woman who hosted her in Georgia commented to my friend that people from Minnesota say "yet" a lot. Personally I've never noticed this but it makes perfect sense to me. I explained to my friend that the reason we say "yet" a lot is because we are a hopeful people.

Let me show you some examples of our hope. "I'm not skinny, YET." "I haven't been to Hawaii, YET." "I haven't eaten at that '$50 a plate' restaurant, YET." You see, hopeful! This kind of talk encourages us to get up every day because you just never know what's around the next corner.

I say embrace it! Today, I'm going to embrace the word YET in a way every Minnesotan can relate to - "Spring has not come, YET." It will though - there are rays of hope. Maybe next week, just not yet.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Time Flies!

Well, it seems that time flew by again these last two weeks. Oh well, I try my best. Here's a quick rundown on what's been happening.

Feb. 26 - Rachel and I are both deacons at our church and had a meeting Saturday morning. Well, you can't let a perfectly good opportunity for a post-meeting lunch go to waste so we planned for a little time together at Old Chicago. We had a great time except for the part where I slipped on the wet floor (caused by my wet shoes) and landed my arm into the corner of the greeter's desk. Hopefully, the bruise will heal before spring.

Feb. 27 - I first met Jackie when she came to a small group I was leading a couple of summers ago. Every time I'm with Jackie, she makes me laugh.

Feb. 28 - I titled this picture "Desperately Seeking Spring" because well, because I am SO ready for winter to come to an end. The branches you see here are from the crab apple tree in our front yard. I think those little prickly looking things sticking out are new in the past few weeks. Is it a sign of spring? I sure hope so!

March 1 - I love sunsets. I'm sure you'll see more this year in my "365 project" photos. This particular sunset picture was taken at Lake Byllesby which isn't technically IN our small town but it's right outside the city limits. I must have taken over 50 pictures while I watched the sun set Tuesday night. The sky was a never-ending array of beauty for at least 30 minutes! I don't often take the opportunity to watch the sunset. I should.

March 2 - On Wednesday I had to run up to the MN Assemblies of God district office in Minneapolis. This is the home of MN Bridging the Gap women's ministry. Kelsey is the administrative assistant for Bridging the Gap and I talked her into being my "subject" for the day. She wouldn't do it without me and in all truth, she took the picture because I still haven't mastered the whole "holding my arms out and pointing the camera at myself" technique.

March 3 - I was a bit desperate for a subject to the day. It's been so long ago now, but I'm pretty certain I spent the day writing which means, I don't get out or see anyone. So, I grabbed my little winter birds from the coffee table, went outside and took a picture of them in the snow. John thinks it's my best picture so far this year! I'm a little concerned about that.

March 4 - Friday afternoon I had to run out to my favorite spot to buy meat, Ferndale Market. My friend, Dawn, works there and I persuaded her to let me take her picture. Dawn always has such a sweet spirit.

March 5 - Saturday we celebrated John's birthday with Paul, Erin and Amelia. It was Amelia's first visit to Nana and Boppa's. She is just starting to smile and coo. We had so much fun!

March 6 - My friend, Nancy, and I are leading a Lifegroup for young girls at our church. These girls are simply amazing and it's so fun to see all that God is doing in their lives. I love spending time with them!
March 7 - I first met my friend, Marcy, many years ago when I was trying on shoes at Nordstrom. I have challenging feet, shall we say, and Marcy always knows what will work best for me. She's amazing. I've bought shoes from her for so long that we are now friends and it's always fun to see her.
March 8 - Tuesday I flew out to Idaho to visit my friends, Diane and Greg. As you can see, they are very much in love after 29 years of marriage. It is always fun to see them.

March 9 - Diane and Greg have three sons and one daughter. I didn't get to see their daughter but was so excited to see the boys. Aaron had us over to his house for dinner on Wednesday night. He is a great cook! He also taught me a little trick for diffusing the flash a bit when taking indoor pictures. In this one we used a translucent cover from a bar of soap. While there is still some "flash shadow" this technique was a huge help.

March 10 - Paul is the oldest of the three boys. He is the same age as our middle son, Adam. I still remember coming outside one day to find he and Adam having a contest to see whose pee could shoot the furthest across the yard. Fortunately, neither of them do that anymore; I don't think. I used Aaron's flash diffuser trick in this photo but instead of a translucent cover for soap I used a Kleenex that I doubled. Easy and generally accessible.

March 11 - Philip is the "baby" of the family, though as you can see, he's not even close to a baby anymore. He's a great young man with an infectious laugh and when you get the three of them together, it's hysterical.

I'll try to get this week's pictures up in a more timely manner. One of them just screams Spring and I look at it on a regular basis just to remind myself that Spring is, indeed, making it's way to my little corner of the world.

The days go by so quickly. With that in mind; make some memories, take some pictures, spend time with the ones you love.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Remembering My Sweet Friend, Betsy

It started with a phone call in 1978. Me: “Hi, this is Nancy Holte calling. My husband met your husband at an optometric conference and well, I’m sorry, but I don’t even know how to pronounce your last name.” There was a hearty laugh at the other end of the phone line and I knew I’d found a friend in Betsy Slapnicher. You can see why I had trouble with that name! Of course, once you break it down, it’s quite easy: “Slap – ni – cher.” Well, maybe not. But, I did eventually learn how to say it.

This morning, my sweet friend, Betsy, woke up in heaven. And really, if you have to wake up somewhere new, you can’t do any better than heaven. I am thrilled for her. Betsy has been fighting cancer for something like four years now and she’d grown weary in the battle. Nonetheless, she will be greatly missed by the many, many people who loved her.

I’ve spent most of today thinking about Betsy and as you'd expect, I did a little bit of crying, but also some laughing. We had some great times together. Betsy and Joe have four boys. Their youngest is just a little bit older than our oldest so when we'd get together (usually at their house) there would be this whirlwind of activity that we just never saw with our one little guy. But we always had fun, and we always laughed. Betsy had a laugh that would spread across her face and light up a room. She and her husband, Joe, were Paul’s godparents.

One summer, Betsy and Joe bought a little cabin on a lake just outside of the Twin Cities. Shortly after they bought it, we went to spend the weekend with them. By then we had two boys and combined with their four, well, let’s just say it was busy! The door to the cabin was rarely closed, as they ran in and out, having a fabulous time while we yelled, “shut the door!” The vast amount of mosquitoes that entered the cabin through that revolving door wasn’t really noticeable until after it got dark.

Once all the kids were settled into bed we sat in the living room (which later that night became their bedroom) and suddenly found ourselves swatting at all the mosquitoes as we talked. Eventually, we made our way to bed and ours happened to be just on the other side of the living room wall. This particular wall was more of a dividing wall that didn’t go all the way up to the ceiling, which meant the pesky little biting insects had made their way into our room, also. So, what happened was we’d be almost asleep and then one of us would hear a mosquito buzzing in our ear and “slap” we’d try to kill it. It wasn’t all that funny at first but as it kept happening over and over again, we just couldn’t contain our laughter and sleeping became nearly impossible. As annoying as the mosquitoes were, the deep belly laughs that ensued were remembered long after the plethora of bites faded away.

Betsy loved her cabin; mostly, I think, because it gave their family an excuse to escape from the city for a bit and spend time together. And Betsy loved nothing more than her family.

Betsy also loved Cape Cod. She would share stories with me about the Cape and one day convinced me that I really needed to go. So, a couple of years ago my friend, Debbie, and I traveled to Massachusetts to visit Betsy's favorites spot. But don’t think I left Betsy out of the trip! This was after she got sick but her number was on my speed dial and whenever Debbie and I didn’t know what to do next, or needed a suggestion for dinner, we’d call Betsy. Betsy kept her little Cape Cod tourism book by her side and when we’d call she’d search through it to remind herself of where all the good places were; then she’d tell us what to do. It was the next best thing to being there with her.

Cape Cod is indeed a fabulous place to visit. There are even a number of songs written about it and I’ve included one in this post. It's the song that Betsy and her son danced to at his wedding two years ago. She was all smiles that night as she danced with Eric, grateful that she hadn't missed this big moment in his life. I, on the other hand, watched and sobbed silently. If you have the time, watch the video and listen to the sweet song; you’ll get to see some beautiful spots on Cape Cod.

But, as beautiful as Cape Cod is there's something I know for sure; it pales in comparison to heaven. Betsy’s going to like it there. And, one day, when I join her, I’m sure she’ll give me a tour, and tell me about all her favorite spots!