Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Aunts Go Marching

The Ants go marching one by one Hurrah! Hurrah!
The Ants go marching one by one Hurrah! Hurrah!

As little girls my sisters and I must have bothered our parents a great deal by singing this song
on road trips. I suppose it's a variation to the dreaded question,
"Are we there yet?"

Or the other family saying invented by my cousin,
"We're lost and you're just not telling us!"

The other day I saw a cute book that took me back to those long ago days.
The title is The Aunts Go Marching One By One *

The pictures were delightful. Lots of ladies holding umbrellas were marching up and down the
streets followed by a little girl banging on a drum. I didn't get a chance to read it until this past Sunday.

Every third Sunday we have a carry in lunch at church. The wonderful aroma of scalloped potatoes and ham tickles our noses all through the morning service. After the Doxology a bevy of women gather in the school room and also in the basement getting the food lined up on the tables for a buffet.

This particular day I brought a lettuce salad. My huge salad bowl was still sitting on the shelf at home. I needed a container to tear the lettuce into. (Maybe I will bring some cheap, red, Walmart bowls to the church for future forgetful people like me.)

 Eventually I found a small tote that had these words printed on the side: Lost and Found

I carefully washed it after I took the glass marble and the soup ladle out of it and tore the lettuce leaves and tossed them in with grated mozzarella cheese. The dressing was on the side to be
added - or not - as everyone wished.

The amazing thing about our pot luck lunches is the salad display. It is almost like the salad
island at Pizza Ranch. The only thing missing is a bowl of cottage cheese.  Croutons and bacon
bits and sunflower seeds are sometimes missing, too, come to think of it. Otherwise there is everything you need to have a wonderful salad lunch.

We haven't even mentioned the hot dish and the dessert table yet.

Stop! I'm getting hungry!

After we've eaten and cleaned up the lunch room lots of little people gather in the school room to read. Big people are welcome to relax and visit as well. I remembered this book on the shelf in the reading corner. No sooner had I settled in Krysta's big comfy chair behind her desk when a little moppet with brown eyes appeared at my elbow, begging to have me read to her. She perched on my lap and we bounced through the book and the song. Before I knew it two more little gals gathered close by and wanted me to read it again.

I asked them if they had ever heard this song. No, they didn't think so. My apologies to Kenny and Judy, parents of this darling trio, if you have been driven crazy this week with The Ants go Marching song. I confess. It was my fault.

This week I started thinking about my aunts - that great army of women who have marched with me through life. Let's just say, they are amazing. One of these days I will sit down and
count them. Maybe I will tell some more stories of their influence on my life.

Today I am thankful for my aunts.

* The author of this book is Laurie J. Manning

Monday, November 13, 2017

Hallelujah Chorus

"Hallelujah! Hallelujah!"

A sing song voice perfectly on key floated forward from the middle of the bus
and reached my seat at the front.

I looked in the mirror and tried to locate the singer.


Later, as more students climbed on board and settled in their seats I heard it again.

The hallelujah chorus in miniature on my bus as we waited in front of the grade school.

After awhile as we started out on the route a small student came to the front seat.
He was my friend with the flowing words from a month ago.
He asked me, "Do you speak opera?"

"Excuse me?" I said. "I didn't understand what you said."

"Do you sing opera? - like this." And he opened his mouth and out poured this song,

"Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

I was delighted. "You're singing the Hallelujah Chorus!" I joined him and sang,
"Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hal-le-lu-jah."

It was a surreal moment, one which made me feel like I should pinch myself to see if
I was awake or dreaming.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Grape Juice

Yesterday I met a little boy who voiced every thought that entered his mind.
This entertained me for a short space of time, but I soon wondered,
"What does the teacher do in class to shut off the faucet?"
Then after another short space of time,"How does he do that?"

Then this thought came to me  - what if I would start typing about my week - end away?
If I just let the thoughts flow from brain to fingers there would soon be a blog post ready to post!

Before Krysta and I could leave for a get-a-way we had work to do. . .
she at school and me in the kitchen. The night before I shut the burner off under the juicer/steamer and thought, "I'll get up early and finish these grapes."

The grapevines Ellis planted many long ages ago are going crazy this year. Fortunately Ellis helped pick both vines so hopefully there will be no more talk about, "I really should order a couple more grape vines next spring."

Mom has a wonderful contraption that juices the grapes. She lets me borrow it each year.
Water fills the pan at the bottom. The next pan holds the juice. The pan above that is like a big strainer and holds the grapes. A hose from the vat of hot juice lets me fill each jar, then I tighten
a lid on the jar and it seals. Pure grape juice concentrate . . . pour the juice into a pitcher, add ice, water and sugar to taste and enjoy!

The last count of jars with juice: 62 jelly jars, 12 quart jars, 4 pint jars

Come visit us!

Well, the words still flow if I give them a chance.
- to be continued

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Visiting Grandpa and Grandma Skrivseth Years Ago

Childhood Memories

Aroma of baking bread

Fills the room

Coffee perking on the stove

Adds its charm

 - in the yard -
Smoke from the chimney 

Curls in the air

Black and white border collie

Bounds across the grass

Rough pink tongue licks my hand

Little ones roaming

Down garden paths

Searching for raspberries

On prickly branches

A rope swing in an oak tree

A play house in the shade

Sleek brown horses nibbling

The sugar lump I held

Memories, like a sugar cube

Melting in my hand

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

a day with my phone


“Don’t get your knickers in a twist.” One day as I was listening to classical music I heard this expression. It struck me as mildly humorous. It left me curious as well. I repeated it to myself so it would stick in my mind until it could be looked up.
“Okay Google, where does the phrase ‘Don’t get your knickers in a twist’ come from?”
 Yes, just as I thought, British in origin, meaning - Don’t get all worked up. Cool down, it’s not that bad . . .  
and don’t say this to your gentlemen friends . . .
because knickers are a woman’s undergarment.

How curious that I would hear this phrase on a day when I needed it most.

It all started when Ellis forgot his phone at home. When that happens Ellis has no way to call me since he hasn’t memorized my phone number. He can’t look up my number in his contacts or push speed dial because his phone is at home on the dresser in his bedroom. Sometimes he calls his brother’s land line. When his sister-in-law answers he asks her for my phone number. Or he will call his phone from the store phone, but this only works if I hear the phone ring in the bedroom.

On this beautiful morning I washed clothes, hung them up to dry in the breeze, and otherwise scrambled through my morning because I planned to take lunch into town and eat with Ellis. When  I got there he said, “I tried to call you. You didn’t answer the phone. I have to leave for Mitchell SD right now. Did you bring my clothes along?”

(I knew Ellis was travelling to SD but the last I had heard he was leaving in the evening or maybe even early in the morning. Now there was an updated plan I had not heard about because Ellis had been unable to reach me by phone.)

We hurried back to our house. I threw some clothes into the suitcase and lunch into the microwave. We chowed down our food and I saw Ellis safely on his way.
Then I drove back to town to meet Krysta and friends. I had agreed to be the mother figure in an escape to the pond for a swimming adventure. My role was to supervise the wearing of life jackets and the use of swimming noodles so that all girls involved would be safe.
Floating around in the cool water and staring up at the puffy clouds in the blue blue sky helped lower my blood pressure and bring reason back to my mind. There is nothing quite so relaxing as floating on water on a hot summer day in MN.

And nothing that meets with quite so much resistance as the words, “It’s time to go home now.” When everyone is enjoying the swim no one likes to stop. But I have found it best to stop while everyone is still having fun. Here is a tried and true method. Announce that we have ten more minutes to swim and then we will exit the water. Meanwhile I get out of the water and start the process of getting dry clothes and waging a great battle against the mosquitos. Gather up the lawn chairs and the cell phone with the ticking time and the noodles and life jackets and the dripping girls and we head back to the car.

Swimming is so much fun! And relaxing! After the wet swim clothes and towels are hanging on the clothesline and the life jackets are dancing in the breezes I even feel invigorated.

To end the day I had arranged to meet some friends at a writing class. Before I could do that I was meeting Evan at our neighbor’s house where we are caretakers of the lawn. Evan has enjoyed earning a bit of extra money doing that job for us. Usually Ellis takes care of getting the lawn mower out of the garage and filling it with gas. When I arrived the lawn mower wouldn’t start. We eventually got the second mower started and Evan felt comfortable running it.
I took off to go to the writing class. Krysta was there and she let the others know I would be late. We had a very good class. We took turns reading our stories and talked about goals and how to stay motivated so we can meet our goals.

When I started back to the country and the lawn mowing I realized my phone was missing. I turned around and went back to Hog Slat. After calling my phone with the store phone I found it on the floor under the passenger seat. That is almost as bad as the time I was talking to Dea on the phone and suddenly panicked. “Dea, I have to hang up and look for my phone. I can’t find it anywhere!”

Evan was almost finished mowing when I got there. He had three or four more rounds when he ran out of gas at the bottom of the hill. I lugged the gas can down the hill and put just enough gas in to finish the lawn. We put everything away, talked about plans for 4th of July weekend while swatting miserable mosquitos, then we both went home.

When I called Ellis to say “good night” he was talking with the other store managers after enjoying  a steak supper. These guys are getting ready for an open house at the new store in Mitchell, SD.

Phones!  What would we do without them? It seems like it was easier in some ways when the phone was attached to the wall. Of course we love the freedom we have now to call anyone at anytime from anywhere.

One day one of my students on the bus asked me questions about Mennonites and Amish. He asked about the TV show *Amish Mafia* and wondered if it is realistic. I said I’ve never seen it but from what I have heard, sadly, there may be more truth to it than we would like to admit. There is a lot that is not true in the show as well.
In the conversation I mentioned I don’t have a TV. In amazement he said, “You have a phone! but you don’t have a TV?”
It is a choice. We could have a TV but we have chosen not to.
Getting all uptight and angry about the way my day went was a choice, too. I felt tense and cross and turned on some classical music to 
a. relax?
b. take my mind off the topsy-turvy way things were going?  
I don't know exactly, but in the process I found out God has a sense of humor in the way He captures my attention. Next time my day turns upside down hopefully I can remember these words,
"Don't get your knickers in a twist."  

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The rest of the story

When Ellis and I started toward Plentywood it was still daylight. We had about another hour of hunting time. Ellis planned to shoot his deer that evening in spite of my cautious questions like, "Where would you put a deer?"
"How would we be able to see to do all the things you have to do to a deer after you shoot it?"

The deer we saw in that last hour stood on private land and watched as we drove by.
(Almost as if they were thinking, Nah Nah Nah Boo Boo!)
Ellis could only hunt on state land or forest service land.

It soon got dark and the deer were safe for another night.
Then we got a call from Jorgan. Something was wrong with the van.
They were at a gas station, fortunately, not on the edge of the road.

What to do?

We batted ideas around. Ellis thought we could drive to the town where they were stranded.
Get a motel. Krysta and I stay in the motel while Jorgan and Ellis drive home to get a trailer,
turn around and drive back, load the van on the trailer, turn around and drive back to MN.

It soon gave me the feeling of that riddle of the man trying to get a bag of corn, a duck and a fox
over the river without the duck eating the corn or the fox eating the duck.

Instead we got a motel room with two double beds so Jorgan and Krysta could get some sleep.
The manager even drove to the gas station to pick them up and give them a ride to the motel.
This is a friendly town in ND with helpful people willing to help stranded people.

Ellis and I continued on to the north eastern corner of MT. Ellis and his brother hung the harvested deer in the shed to cool. Ellis was able to make arrangements to borrow a truck and trailer from his cousin. We got some much needed sleep then started out the next morning to pick up Jorgan and Krysta and the van.

We got to spend the day together traveling to northern MN where Jorgan is working this winter.
We arrived safely in spite of snowy roads. We said "Good-bye" to Jorgan, then continued on to southern MN. We got a few hours of sleep before Ellis had to get up and go to work Monday morning.

Now the happy news of this whole dilemma. Ellis and I turned around and took the truck and trailer back to MT over Thanksgiving vacation. We got to visit with Dea, also Jeremy and Liz were able to come up for the week end. There were lots of nieces and nephews, cousins, sisters and brothers to visit. Last, but not least, Ellis got his deer before the hunting season was over.          

"Over the river and through the woods - to Grandmother's house we go -
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh thro the white and drifted snow . . ."  

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Hunting Trip (continued)

This morning my mom told a funny story about my Grandma Skrivseth.
At least it tickled me and made me laugh. Those of you who knew my Grandma might
find it amusing.

Someone asked Grandma, "What did you do today?"
(This person was a real energizer bunny.)

Grandma said, "I had a good, brisk sit."

Today Mom and I are having a good, brisk sit. We went to the clinic yesterday and got
meds for the hacking cough Mom has that keeps hanging on. It could be bronchitis or
the beginning of pneumonia. With the meds she should start feeling better in 24 - 48 hours.
If not, head back to the clinic at the end of this week and get an x-ray.

Maybe I can wrap up the story of our camping/hunting trip and put you all out of your misery
of wondering, "Is she ever going to finish this story?"

We got some snow during the night, Wednesday, November 16. On Thursday morning I took breakfast down the hill for the guys and they started out on the great hunt again.

I made French toast for the princesses in the look out . . . using delicious raisin bread made by
my sister-in-law, Karla. That is one of the best treats in the world. Later on in the day Chelsea jumped in with Evan and the guys he was with. They drove in to Broadus to the library so Chelsea could send in some of her school work. This was a chance to pick up some food supplies, too.

After dark we had supper in the wall tent again. There was a yummy taco meat sauce with tortillas or chips, your choice, or both if you wanted. Lots of grated cheese to sprinkle on top. I think we had a lettuce salad, too.

Uh oh! My memory is failing me. Whatever, it was scrumpdillyicious! 

The next day . . . more of the same. Breakfast was pancakes with peanut butter and syrup for the
gals. We warmed up left over egg bake to serve the guys. This is the most delicious egg bake you can find made by Liz - ahead of time - and warmed in the oven at the look out.

Later in the day Chelsea and I got in the old green van and drove to Broadus to the library.
The snow was still on the roads in the sheltered spots. The roads are red. Driving on the red roads made me feel like Jane in Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery. The first morning after she arrived on Prince Edward Island she looked out her window at the rain washed world and saw red roads and wondered what made them red. The red roads in MT are made from scoria Ellis tells me.

And scoria is:
1. the slag or refuse left after metal has been smelted from ore
2. loose, cinderlike lava 
- Webster's New World College Dictionary

I didn't find out yet what makes the roads red on PEI. Some day I hope to see those red roads
with my own two eyes. It was exciting enough to drive on these red roads. They seemed very bright in contrast with the white snow.

Our supper Friday evening was slabs of pork loin rubbed with special seasonings and grilled over charcoal. This specialty always tastes best in Montana. I am not pulling your leg. It has something
to do with the altitude or something. This is probably the evening we had the lettuce salad. Evan is the expert with the seasonings and the grilling of pork in our family.

You notice we didn't have anything made of venison so far - except for the sloppy Jo's I made Tuesday afternoon. That was made from a mixture of ground pork and venison from last years
deer. If anyone is squeamish about hunting Bambi or Bambi's mother here is the time to go find something else to read somewhere else. You have been given a heads up.

Our last morning, Saturday, dawned bright and a little warmer. The reason I know it was warmer is because my shoes got more and more mud on them climbing back and forth as we hauled stuff down the hill to pack in the vehicles. And why did we think we should bring everything plus the kitchen sink? The stuff multiplied over the four days we were there.

Our goal all week was to find a deer for Evan. He has been hunting since his accident but with no success. One of the questions he was asked repeatedly in the hospital after the accident was, "Did you get a deer?" 

Saturday morning our three boys headed out. They found a white tail doe which is what Evan had a license for and also a buck for Jorgan. When they drove back in to camp Chelsea scampered down that hill to find out the news. Two deer harvested! Yahoo! We are still kicking ourselves because we didn't get a proper picture of Evan with his deer. He had a special license so he could shoot from the pick up. But where was everyone when he got back to camp and back in his chair and the deer was unloaded and Poof! No one remembered! So it goes.

We got everyone loaded. We started out. Jorgan and Krysta in the van headed for northern MN. Evan and Chelsea in their car headed for southern MN. Jeremy and Liz headed for Billings MT. Ellis and I headed for Plentywood MT. We stopped and had a bite to eat at a café and said our long "Good-byes!"

The one great disappointment with this trip was that Deanne couldn't be with us. She had a
full week scheduled she says, "fortunately!" or she might have found herself in the car driving
east to join us. Ellis is already trying to plan a camping trip that fits into the schedule for everyone.
It does get complicated! We are trying for summer and will probably leave out the hunting part. Though I must say, Ellis has a way of getting people enthused about joining us. In the fall of 2015 Liz went along and endured cold camping. But they all had so much fun they talked Krysta, Chelsea and me to go along for the fall of 2016. And we all had so much fun we are still chattering on about it. I am afraid we are making Dea feel left out.

I am hoping that recording the events will preserve the memories and give Deanne and the rest of you a chance to "be there with us."

Monday, January 23, 2017

Amazing Daughters-in-Law

Have I ever told you about my amazing daughters-in-law?
Chelsea with the auburn tresses, married our son, Evan.
                                      Elizabeth with golden curls, married our son, Jeremy.

Every year Evan and Chelsea pack up this tent and set up camp at a local Rendezvous.
For a week or so they live back in the 1800's. They dress in period correct clothes,
cook over a campfire, heat this tent with a teensie tiny stove using small chunks of wood.
It takes place in October so some times it can be frosty, or even snowy. Chelsea is strong
and very protective of her Evan. When he fell out of a tree stand four years ago she would
not leave his side in the hospital and during a month of therapy.
    Since that time we have seen both Evan and Chelsea grow closer to each other and to God.

Jeremy and Liz were married two months after Evan and Chelsea. They have been supportive in so many ways during the time of Evan's accident and the years since. Liz lost her mother a year ago and has been sorting through the grief that comes with saying "Good-bye" before one is ready. What am I saying? Are we ever ready to say good bye to our loved ones?
I don't think so.
These beautiful young women add so much to our family. What a privilege it was to get to spend time with them during this camping/hunting week. The plan was to include pictures right about now but that requires help from Krysta. And Krysta is at a youth event this evening.
Ok. so instead I will share an event that tickled me. (I wish I would have written the exact words down at the time this happened. Now I am going from memory and you may think I have exaggerated.) Chelsea and Liz were comparing notes about their husbands. Chelsea was praising Evan and all the nice things he does. Liz was saying Jeremy does those exact same things too. Chelsea looked across the room at Liz and said, "I think we are very fortunate. We have the best guys in the world!" 

And let me say I think we have the best daughters-in-law in the world!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Birth Certificates and other valuable papers

Remember the dilemma of Jorgan's lost birth certificate? He found it!
Safe and sound in his back pack.
I asked if I could borrow it and take it back to the court house to show the gal I had talked to earlier and to ask if she can update the info. This person had asked if I was married when Jorgan
was born and gave me the news that Ellis's name was not on the certificate.

When I took the paper to the desk and explained why I was there the gal that was working that
day said, "I am not the person you talked to last time, but I remember when you were here."
She looked at the paper and said, "I doubt if you got this paper here. It doesn't have a seal on it. And this isn't a birth certificate. It is a certificate of live birth."

I turned the paper over and showed her the date stamped on the back and the name of the
court house I was standing in at that moment and the seal embossed on the paper.
"Oh!" she said. "Hmm!"
She turned it over and looked at Ellis's name and place of birth all filled in at the right spots.
"This looks like it was typed in later. The typing is different than the rest of the document."

You can imagine the feeling of (yes, I will be brave and call it what it was)
anger that swept over me.
"I can assure you that I did not type this name in," was what I managed to say.

"Oh no, I'm not saying you did. And anyway, this is not something we can fix here.
You'll have to call the state and explain what happened and they will fix it for you.
If they say it is a mistake on their part you won't have to pay the $40.00 to get your
husband's name on the certificate." 

I imagined a whole morning sitting on the phone waiting for someone to talk to about
the situation. And how could I prove anything over the phone?

All my fears and worries were not needed.

I got a real person when I dialed the number. She listened to my explanation.
She took my phone number and said she would call back. In about an hour or so
I got a phone call from the same lady. She said she had looked up the information
and now my husband's name, Ellis Harshbarger, was on the birth certificate.

The interesting thing about this is she hadn't asked me my husband's name.
So it was there the whole time and someone had made a mistake somewhere along the way.
The other interesting thing is you can get a passport with that paper that says
"Certificate of Live Birth" at the top.

That's all the birth certificate some of us have . . . those of us that were born way back in the
olden days. Mine is printed on green paper and says I was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
So hang on to those old papers and maybe keep them in a fire proof safe.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

South Dakota

Usually when we drive across South Dakota it is dark. Like Monday evening November 14th at 11:30 p.m. Krysta and I were feverishly packing for the great hunting/camping trip. I was getting crankier by the minute until Krysta said, "Did you eat any supper?"

This was a reversal of roles. I remember times when Krysta would moan and cry and be an extreme nuisance until suddenly I'd realize . . . this poor child has not had lunch (or supper) as the case may be.

It's amazing how calm she'd become when I sat her down and put food in front of her. After a few minutes of inhaling the meal she would be a different child, happy and contented, trotting off to play with her dolls. This evening she recognized someone who is "hungry and tired and cross."

We sat down and ate a midnight snack and felt much better. We were expecting a call from Evan and Chelsea any minute saying they were on the way to pick us up. We'd be loading our supplies and then be on the way to Diamond Butte Lookout.

When they arrived we started packing under and around Evan's wheel chair. Chelsea took one look at all of the stuff and said, "I don't think we're going to get this all in." But she set to work like a pro and got most of it in. We weeded out anything that was unnecessary. We started traveling with the knowledge that to stop at a rest area we would have to unpack everything to get Evan's wheel chair out.

Some of us fell asleep. Evan and Chelsea had taken naps so they kept each other awake. (They said I snored.) I slept through South Dakota and didn't see much until the sun was rising Tuesday morning, November 15th.

We got around unpacking the car by stopping at Walmart. Chelsea buzzed in and borrowed the motorized shopping cart. She arrived at the driver's side of the car, Evan opened his door and transferred to the cart and rode in style to the rest room.

Ellis had suggested that we stock up on groceries at the last Walmart before the wilderness. Where were we going to put these groceries? We were already squashed in with luggage at our feet and on our laps and on the seat between Krysta and me, besides the luggage packed floor to ceiling behind us around the wheel chair.

We arranged to meet the guys at Broadus where we could shuffle supplies. Finally, Evan could get his wheel chair out and be mobile again. We were stopping there already so Evan could buy his hunting license. The prices at the little grocery store were comparable to Walmart so we stocked up there and continued on our way to the lookout. Somehow the thought of going back over all those miles was too unpleasant to even consider. We were so ready to get there and let the party begin!


Thursday December 8th was a day trip. We got to see all those signs advertising Wall Drug and Mt. Rushmore. When we got close to Pierre, South Dakota I saw a sign for Bad River. That tickled me since it reminded me of an article in an old Reader's Digest. This story told how to keep humor in your day. One example was of a nurse who was being run ragged by her patients. The last straw happened when a guy turned on his light during supper. When she came to his room to find out the trouble he told her the potato on his plate was bad. She picked up the potato, spanked it and said, "Bad potato, bad potato, bad, bad, bad!" The grumpy guy was so startled that he began to laugh. This little incident cleared the air of tension and good humor was restored.

I suppose the nurse would get in trouble these days. How many questions would come up? Did she have gloves on? Is this how she treats her children at home? etc. etc. Let me just say - it was a really old Reader's Digest.

We turned off the main road and drove seventeen miles on a gravel road to Cherry Creek, South Dakota. We had just enough time to change and head over to the little country church for the school
program. It was an amazing evening! The teachers and students poured their hearts into the songs and verses. There was a little play featuring Joseph and Mary and baby Jesus in the manger. There was an angel to narrate and the animals in the stable took turns telling about that long ago night. There was a chance to visit afterwards and hot chocolate and goodies were served.

On Friday we delivered Christmas bundles. We travelled over the prairies on miles of gravel roads. Pulling in and out of ranch yards, bumping over cattle guards at the ends of each lane reminded me of Mary O'Hara's books My Friend Flicka, Thunderhead, and Green Grass of Wyoming. These books are set in Wyoming but the wide open spaces and huge skies are similar everywhere in the west.

The other thought that kept going through my mind was this verse, Psalm 50:10, "For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills." We saw horses and cattle all over those hills, munching the crisp grass that poked up through the snow.

At one stop a lady motioned us inside and offered us cookies and coffee and conversation. We sat around the table with Ann* and her rancher husband of 50+ years. Her eyes lit up when we told her we are from Minnesota. She also grew up in Minnesota. She came out here to teach Summer Bible School years ago. She also went to Bible School in Three Hills, Alberta. This was a connection as well. Years ago when my sisters and I were growing up we got a monthly magazine called Young Pilot that was printed in Three Hills, Alberta. There were short stories and puzzles and a continued story in those little magazines. Ann had planned to be a missionary to a far away place, but she was asked to teach school in South Dakota. The rest is history. It is so much fun to meet friends and connect immediately.

The evening ended with a cold walk up a steep hill, then back to the *Coffee Shoppe* for coffee or tea or hot chocolate and more conversation.
- to be continued

* name changed


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy New Year!

Well, that was a very long vacation in which I wrote nothing . . .  no blog posts, nothing in my journal, no Christmas letters, not even any sermon notes to speak of. We had church canceled two Sundays in a row and we were gone another weekend. That means we spent one Sunday at our little white church on the prairie in the month of December.

December began with Tuba Christmas on the first Saturday of the month. It was held at the historic Paramount Theatre in Austin MN and I missed it this year which makes me very sad.

On the first Sunday of December Mrs. Jakobson's students presented a Christmas Piano Concert. Krysta and I attended that and loved it after missing a couple years. Visiting with parents and nibbling delicious Christmas cookies ended the afternoon event.

On the first Tuesday the ladies at the Baptist Church host a Christmas Tea Party. We listened to beautiful music then moved to the basement for a real Tea complete with dainty sandwiches, salad, cookies, tea (of course) and coffee for the Norwegians among us. White tablecloths and lovely table settings along with soft lighting gave an enchanted feeling to the room.

We packed our bags and headed to Cherry Creek SD on the 8th of December. We were part of a group from our church that visited the little mission church there. We hand delivered Christmas bundles Friday and Saturday, traveling many miles over gravel roads to ranches in that area and
some small towns.

Some high lights to remember - the Christmas Program given by the school children, climbing *Holy Hill* that overlooks the town of Cherry Creek, Coffee Shoppe Friday evening when neighbors came from miles around to play games, visit, color, do word searches and sip coffee or tea or hot chocolate. (The girls had another name for this but it slips from my memory just now.) I will put in Coffee Shoppe until someone corrects me or I find the paper with the real name written on it. We had a good time getting to know new friends and old.

The drive home Sunday afternoon/evening was memorable as well. The closer we got to MN the more snow we saw. Winter arrived in our absence.

Krysta flew to Spokane WA on the 13th. Deanne picked her up at the airport. Here is where we began to spend quite a bit of time on the phone txting to find out arrival times and just checking in with family. Krysta went to school with Deanne and met her students. They got to have some quality sister time as well with all the traveling from western MT to MN. They started out the 16th after school was finished for the day. They were all packed and drove east towards Jeremy and Liz's place.

The girls ended up staying there Saturday and Sunday then traveled home Monday, the 19th. While they were in MT they missed out on the school program here and also the youth banquet. We had Christmas caroling on the evening of the 22nd. We had a snowstorm on the 23rd. Brunch/lunch with Evan and Chelsea on the 24th. Christmas Day church was canceled but we drove to our friends for lunch. We spent the evening with my mom then made lefse and Swedish meatballs for supper Monday evening. Jorgan and Zoey arrived later that evening and we opened gifts and took many pictures for Jeremy and Liz.

Tuesday we rented the local township hall and went over there to play games and make pizza. It has been a little while since I've heard the Pit game being played. That used to be me yelling at the top of my lungs trying to make myself heard. hmmm!

We had a couple days to slowly wind down before Deanne left for the west on Friday the 30th.
How can the days go by so fast? We still didn't get a family picture of all of us together at the same time. So I will have to do a collage of pictures and hopefully get them printed and sent out to friends and family before many more days - weeks - months pass. 

That's just a quick run down of  December. Krysta and I yelled "Happy New Year!" to each other from our beds when the clock struck 12:00 New Year's Eve, waking up Ellis for a moment and then we all settled down for a long winter's nap.