Friday, December 18, 2015

Rudolph, Rosie and another "Foggy Christmas Eve!"

Rudolph, Rosie
and another 
"Foggy Christmas Eve!"

It was a dreary foggy Christmas Eve.
We were flying from Minnesota to the west coast to have Christmas with our grandchildren... all small youngsters.
But while changing planes after landing on the first stop, we were told we might not make it that night because of bad weather. Our destination was fogged in.
Now waiting in any airport isn’t particularly appealing, but on Christmas Eve it seemed a little more gloomy.

What happened? 

To our surprise it was suddenly announced that the flight was going to take off and see if we could finish our trip. But we might have to turn around and come back.
We were kind of a quiet bunch of folks in the plane. I remember some big guys in the seats behind us, with the word “Raiders” emblazoned on their jackets. But I didn’t know if they were professional football players heading home for the holidays.

When we flew over our planned landing, it had fogged over again. We were in a circling pattern for quite a while. I kept telling my head that it didn’t want to throw up. Concentrate on something else I told myself!

Here’s an idea! 

Well, the airline attendants had an idea. 
The gals had put on little red and white furry Santa caps for the occasion. And while we kept circling, they suggested we all sing some Christmas songs!
Nobody complained that this was offensive to them.
Actually, I just wanted to think of something happy besides my brain repeating its dislike of circling so much!

And what did we choose? 

And… appropriately enough... the song chosen was "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer"! 
You know... the “foggy Christmas Eve” song.
Well, after a few choruses, we had all gotten warmed up and were smiling. We may not have been the best singers, but we were enthusiastic! 
And I was kept busy videoing the passengers as we were singing and laughing with each other.
Then the clouds opened up and we could land!

Another surprise… 

As I was leaving the plane to head over to the glassed in concourse where three little grandchildren were jumping up and down and waving... one of the big Raiders guys came over and said, you’ve got a reception waiting for you! 
I smiled.
Then he added, “I’ve just got to hug you!”

You see, even though I have never thrown a touchdown pass in the National Football League... I still had a cheering section!
And I’ll never forget the sweet hug the “Raiders” guy gave me too!

Merry Christmas!
and may the tradition of Christmas 
and its meaning bless us all.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Commercializing Christmas could be good?

Could commercializing Christmas 
be a good thing?

Does the commercialization of Christmas degrade it?  Should it be more wholesome and spiritual?
Actually, the person honored at Christmas most likely wasn’t born on December 25.   And back in the 1800’s I’m told folks just had a church service and maybe a  special dinner.

My research also says Christmas just became a popular holiday after Clement Clarke Moore wrote his famous story, "'Twas the Night Before Christmas".  The actual title was “A Visit from St. Nicholas”.   Note that it was not a “Visit from Jesus."

 So, is it the fault of businesses that they promote sales? Though as a kid I wished we would celebrate the holiday a day later so I could take part in the “After Christmas Sales!”  I didn’t get much allowance.

But here’s another thought  

There’s another way to think of the holidays.  Commercialization of Christmas might actually make its message more visible to more people!

What other religion is so popularized?

On what other occasions are you able to promote Jesus to this extent?     
Yes, there are the crass sales pitches encouraging folks to focus on the presents they will get.  But the reverse of this is seeing the touching commercials and fund raising campaigns motivating people to buy gifts for others... to make them feel loved and cared about.

“Do you hear what I hear...” (again and again!)

 And, if you, along with me, find you're getting tired of hearing the songs of Christmas repeated and repeated, (and keep in mind that I’ve heard some of them for a zillion or more years)...  and although I love them, I sometimes want a break too!

But Christmas music is being played over and over on the airwaves... and broadcast in the malls... and while you’re on “hold” on the phone.  

Even at my dentist’s office.  He was so happy to tell me they had just started playing Christmas music in the background. But since he was about to put the drill in my mouth I thought it was wiser to be quiet about my opinions on hearing this music too much!

On the other hand, I am playing my drums to accompany some of the holiday songs for gatherings.  That’s fun!

So here's the plan

Keep in mind the true meaning of the occasion.  Remember that the words of the songs spread hope and good tidings and cheer.  And words themselves have the power to change and enlighten and create.  

(I'm having fun checking out Quantum Physics studies on the effect of the observer... but also the book of Genesis: “And God said... and it was so.”)

I believe it's good to hear songs with wishes of happiness and love and joy. 
I wish that for you too.

  Merry Christmas… 
Happy Holidays… 
Peace on earth!


Saturday, December 5, 2015

You're telling me to get in trouble?

 “You’re telling me 
   I should get in trouble?”

“If you’re not in trouble... you’re not doing your job.”  With their fist raised high in a power salute, the guest speaker forcefully encouraged the multi-racial graduating class at a nearby metropolitan high school commencement program to get in trouble!  
But are there no other ways to solve problems?

I was sitting in the upper levels of the huge arena listening with growing concern as I saw the frustration bristling in the audience.
It was like being held hostage because you couldn’t politely interject your opinion in the situation.
Wouldn’t it have been more appropriate for the speaker to praise the students for their hard work in achieving their diplomas?   
In comparison, the student class president spoke and was much more encouraging to her fellow students as to their abilities to succeed.

But how do you respond?

Watching the anger being suppressed by some in the audience I realized that this could partly be because they had no way to respond to this outburst.  I wondered if this was a key point: knowing that you can express your opinion and that it will be listened to.  Does this help you moderate your reaction?  
I decided to talk to the high school principal and express my concerns about the speech.     
It took a while to get our schedules connected but we had an enjoyable conference later last summer.  He even took a “selfie” of the two of us to show to students!

But I have not been able to meet with the politician-speaker.  Her staff has not been able to find time for me.  I have e-mailed some of the flyers I had brought to the principal explaining a unique program we have in Cannon Falls and she replied that she appreciated that.
But I was asking for ten minutes of her time to explain our program.  (Actually, I explained, that if I was nervous and didn’t breathe it would only take five!)

But by October, with no success, I was informed that she would be out of the country for a while.  I said I would try later.
Well, I got busy too and it got to be November.  I tried again.  I just wanted to look in her eyes and see if there wasn’t some way to ease the pain that she was reacting to.

Senior citizens and teens... cool!

I had wanted to make her aware of one way that we have been creating a relationship model at our Cannon Falls Area Citizens and Law Enforcement Partnership.  This is a group of Senior Citizens who like to find out more information about what is really going on in law enforcement.  Is it really like CSI and other TV shows?  

We have speakers like the regional medical examiner and the head of security for the Timberwolves professional basketball team.  We’re planning  programs on drones and getting a “bomb squad” speaker too.

Since we were meeting in the same building as the Alternative Learning Center, we invited the teenagers to join us.  This could provide great career knowledge for them by personally meeting these speakers.  (The Minnesota Commissioner of Commerce was a good start!)
And besides the teens and cops and seniors eating doughnuts together, the kids have been told, “You ask the best questions!”  
Another bonus

A couple other benefits occured.  The kids, with their unique hair styles, clothing and adornments made the “Seniors” more comfortable with them and the kids were kidding around with the cops.

You know... actually, this program doesn’t take long to explain.  I really think I could share it in less than ten minutes... even if I took a breath once in a while!  
(As of press time I am still waiting to meet with the speaker mentioned.)


A past meeting of the Cannon Falls Area TRIAD with senior citizens, cops, kids and doughnuts!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Visiting Paris during Terrorist Attacks!

Visiting Paris During Terrorist Attacks!
On the morning of the terrorist attacks in Paris, France,  Amy Falink, a senior lecturer at the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, and the daughter of Joyce Falink of Cannon Falls, was landing at the Charles De Gaulle airport.
She was taking a short vacation with a friend who was born in France. Amy’s experiences here are compiled from her entries on Facebook and in an interview.
  Amy became aware of not only the tragedy of terrorist attacks but also of “some of the most welcoming, gracious and friendly people" she had ever encountered... which to her was "significant, in light of all that happened in the city.”

Amy’s journaling.
November 13: “Today we arrived in Paris. After landing at the Charles De Gaulle airport, (her friend) Patrice pointed out the Stade de France (stadium) and he explained proudly, it was the site where France defeated Brazil in the 1998 World Cup.  Little did we know that in the evening the stadium would be the site of suicide bombings.
“The weather was beautiful... what you might imagine for a fall day in Paris.  It gave a romantic backdrop to the charming streets with bakeries, flower shops and restaurants.
“In the evening, Patrice’s family picked us up from the hotel and in honor of my visit, they took us on a night tour of the traditional Parisian sites: Arc De Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysees.  
“I didn’t know that within 30 minutes, this extraordinary city would be under attack by ISIS.”
Le Terrorisme.   
 While out for dinner, Amy recalled having received a travel alert on her phone that said: “several major incidents have been reported in Paris, France”.  But she didn’t know what this meant and they continued with their dinner. 
Then they saw a news report saying 13 were dead in a Paris attack.   But they didn’t know what kind of attack it was.  Then the numbers went up. Fifty dead. Seventy dead. More than a hundred dead. 
Amy continued: “Tonight the city was under siege. We are safe but so sad for the many who were gunned down in this beautiful city. These acts of violence must end.”
She added, “Despite our proximity to the events that occurred, we were like anyone else, anywhere else in the world.  We watched the events unfold on the news and social media.
“Like everyone, we felt very sad for those who were injured and for those who died. We felt really angry that people who were out enjoying a dinner or a concert and were victims of this senseless, brutal act. What terrible pain their families must feel.  These people could be any one of us, in any part of the world.”
Staying safer...
November 14: “Today we stayed in the suburbs with family given the tense situation in Paris. Likely safer with military in Paris but we may err on the side of caution. This is an exceptional country and the people are so welcoming and gracious, even when gripped by the uncertainty of the last few days.
“French President Hollande had declared a state of emergency. What is a state of emergency, people were asking?   While the US has what seems like perpetual states of emergencies since the War on Terror, it is uncommon in France  - reportedly only two since WWII.
  November 15: “The next morning the mood seemed different... tense. It became clear what had happened. People were glued to the news... 129 dead.  There had been hostages in the Bataclan (theatre) and people gunned down in restaurants.” 
Back to Paris...
November 16:  “Before leaving France, we went back to Paris for a few days. Most attractions were still closed, which seemed to cause confusion for both citizens and tourists. There was conflicting information on websites and social media and we wandered around, trying to find open attractions. 
“We decided to spend the day shopping on the main avenue, the Champs Elysses. There were many police officers and in each store there was tight security; they checked all bags upon entry. 
“Later that evening we saw military troops at the Eiffel tower. The streets were full of people; however, the restaurants were not.  
 “On the bridges there were news crews and military troops. We went on a boat cruise on the Seine and saw doves that had been released from the Notre Dame Cathedral for those who died.  It was really quite beautiful and meaningful.”

A little unnerving...
November 18: “Heading to the airport to return to the U.S. we were re-routed to the Charles De Gaulle Airport because of the seven-hour raid on another ISIS cell. When we got to the airport, there was no more police presence that we saw, than when we arrived in Paris. 
“But it was a little unnerving when getting on an international flight when everyone was talking about bombs, terrorism. and airport threats!
Amy concluded:  “Any inconvenience to our vacation pales in comparison to what happened to those innocent victims. At times you feel guilty for enjoying yourself in a city where people had recently suffered so much. 
“Also, for years I had heard of the stereotype of rude French people who make fun of Americans. I never saw evidence of this. 
“In fact, I found Parisians to be some of the most welcoming, gracious and friendly people I have encountered, which is significant in light of all that happened to their city. Each day, wherever I went, French citizens spoke English and they were incredibly helpful. 
“I would readily return.” 


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Look at that old photo for a surprise!!!

Surprises in those old photos!

What can you find in those old photos stored away in cardboard boxes? Look close... perhaps you should even focus on what is in the background.
And you may be surprised by what you see.

It was near the end of World War II – 1945-46.
Mary Ketcham of Hopkinsville, Kentucky was only about 11 years old when her mother and father separated. Mary stayed with her father when her mother married again and was living near a military base in California.
Mary’s mother had a picture of her daughter and that picture is the center point of this discovery.

You see, Mary’s mother, Louise, had married a Herbert Lundell from Cannon Falls, MN. After his hitch in the service was over, they came back to live in this area.
Herbert and Louise farmed many years, Mary recalled. They milked cows east of town and later moved into the city for 15 years until Herb died.

Mary used to come up to visit her mother during the summers. After she graduated from high school she decided to stay here. You see she had met Edgar (Ole) Olson and they were married a year later.
Her mother's "stuff'!
But it wasn’t until many years later that Mary was going through her mother’s “stuff” and found some pictures from their life in the military. Louise and Herb had been living off the base with other young couples. Herb was in the Army but their friends were in the Air Force.
Two of these friends were George and Frances Thompson. On the right side of the picture there was a picture of a girl. It was a photo of young Mary. It almost seemed like she was looking over the situation!

Now some Thompsons had come to Cannon Falls. He had come to be the pastor of Urland- Wangen Prairie churches. Could they be the same people?
Mary explained, at that point in my life I grew spiritually through Pastor Thompson’s Bible Studies and such.
Pastor Thompson died in 2002.
Mary and Frances...
Mary recently visited with Frances Thompson at the Angel’s Care Center where she was recuperating from knee replacement surgery.
Frances recalled those days during WWII. She and George had a one room apartment. This one room was the kitchen, bedroom, living room and closet. You had a one burner unit to cook on. In the middle of the hall way there was a gas stove that you shared with the other tenants.
Housing was hard to find back then, Frances explained, and you were happy to get a place.

(Having fun while washing clothes? Frances Thompson recalled using the wringer washer in the shed while she and George were living off the base in Santa Maria, California during World War II.)

Frances and George had been married in 1945. He was released from the service in 1946. He went to seminary and after his first parish in South Dakota he came to Cannon Falls in 1966.

Mary doesn’t believe in coincidences. “God always has a plan.”

And that picture of the Thompson’s taken so many years ago... with that little girl seeming to be a part of them... came true. 


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

How smart are you? Pretty smart!

You’re really smart!

In a single day your brain generates more energy than all the cell phones on the planet.  
You are a thinking being... daytime thinking is a “building” process - a gathering of facts.  Night-time thinking (or dreaming) is a “sorting” process... deciphering what is important to you.
  Don’t you feel smarter all ready?

And here’s more

Before the tsunami disaster hit near India in 2005, animals of all kinds headed inland for safety.  Is it only animals that have these extraordinary senses?
This information is coming from two books.  The first two ideas are from “Switch On Your Brain” by Dr. Caroline Leaf, who has worked in the field of cognitive neuroscience for 30 years.
The last one is from “Warning Dreams - Sleeping with Your Eyes Open” by Craig Groethe.

And this means?

So how do these books relate?  
They both suggest that the human being has more potential and opportunity for awareness than we have been using.
Craig Groethe spoke at a Cannon Falls library session a while back.  He focused on the importance of your dreams.  
He has been interpreting dreams for 16 years.  Has done about 7000 dreams, had a radio show and taught small groups.
Groethe believes that dreams can be a guide to lead to healthier and happier lives.

Dreams are

He suggests that you know more than you think you do.  Dreams are a symbolic language.  Dreams can give you insight, direction and warnings.
 One time a man dreamt of a car accident... where he swerved and killed a man.  Ten years later he was driving along and saw the very same “accident” unfold in front of him.  His dream came back to him and he made a different decision as to how to swerve and the death was avoided.

Historical dreams

Historically we have dreams like one recalled by Abraham Lincoln... where he walks into the east room and asks the guard, who died in the White House?  He was told: the president was assasinated.  About two weeks later the tragedy happened at the Ford Theatre.
Or Paul McCartney’s dream of a song back in 1965...  which he titled “Yesterday”.  Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein based on her dream.  And the theory of relativity was touched on in a dream by Albert Einstein.

“Gut” feelings

Groethe explained that we can base our decisions on our “gut” feelings.  Intuitively, man has learned their importance.
He continued, the dream might not be literal so look at it symbolically.  
Every morning he and his wife talk over their dreams at breakfast.  He had suggested that you write down your dreams during the night... or use a recorder or smart phone.  (Although talking to a recorder in the middle of the night may a little disturbing to your partner!)
Groethe believes that dreams are knowledge, insight, direction, or the future.  Repetitive dreams mean some information is trying to get through to your conscious.  Like the man who repeatedly dreamt of losing his billfold.  Groethe suggested he was losing money but didn’t know where it was going.  Later on the man filed bankruptcy.  Groethe wonders if he would have been able to avoid that if he had figured out his problem sooner.

What to do

Some of Groethe’s suggestions to learn from your dreams are:
Write them down in a journal.  The main facts, colors, emotions, the date and time of your dream, and give a title to the dream. 
Ask yourself what the dream parallels in your own life. 
Look for the unusual or what is out of place.
Share it with people who are “safe” for more insights, from them and you.
Research what the symbols in your dream might represent.  A rainbow may not mean the same thing in every dream though.  
In his book Groethe reveals more of his faith or belief system.  

What was learned

But what I got out of the thoughts of these authors is that we really are smarter than we think we are!  


Friday, October 30, 2015

No dissent! Supreme Court Justice - Wit!

No dissent!  
Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s
wit is fun!  
“No purses, backpacks, bags, cell phones, cameras or recording devices will be allowed”, the warning stated on the brochure.
So I can’t prove to you that I was there with a “selfie”!
I stuffed pen, paper, wallet, car key, etc. in my pockets.   
The reason for all the security was the presence of U. S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the 2015 Stein Lecture at Northruop Memorial Auditorium on the University of Minnesota campus.
This brought to mind all the potential threats that someone might make in this situation.  And how would I get help if we were in a hostage situation?
So I texted my kids and told them I wouldn’t have a cell phone but they could still get in touch with me via my little Striiv smart watch. I can’t call out but it shows text messages. And I figured someone on a rescue team could send info to me!  (Drama queen tactics!)
So how did I get in?
The reason I got to hear Justice Scalia - being as I wasn’t a law student or graduate - was that I knew the man who hosted the event.
Bob Stein is a former dean of the U of M law school and has many other honors.    He married one of my “Best Friends Forever!”  His wife Sandy and I started out in kindergarten together.  But we hadn’t seen each other for near to 50 years!
Bob was introduced to the audience as having had the highest Grade Point Average on record in the U of M law school.  
I remembered that Bob and I had one class together - as Freshmen. It was Econ 101 I think. He got an A and I got a C.
Part of my problem was that I didn’t agree with the methods of economics presented.  I came from immigrant parents where I was taught you didn’t spend money until you had saved it up.
Later on I learned to fill out the tests differently when a professor announced (in my understanding):  "I don’t care what you think... you will put what I think on the tests."  I started getting better grades then.
Justice Antonin Scalia
But now my husband, Paul and I were here to listen to Justice Scalia.
I had prepared for the lecture by reading some books about him. One was: how a lawyer should “present” before a judge to get them on your side.  I chuckled as I realized that I do that naturally when trying to convince my husband of something!
And by reading his dissents I became aware of the difficulty in making these decisions.  I found good points on both sides.
The lecture hall at Northrup Auditorium at the U of M had almost filled its 2700 seat capacity.
Justice Scalia is known for his witty remarks and kept the audience entertained as he educated us as to his reasoning.  Also his appreciation for his fellow justices whether or not they shared the same opinion.
Scalia explained his interpretation of the constitution - Originalism: where the text bears the same meaning in the past and the present.  Compare this to the idea of a “Living Constitution”... where changes relate to the period of time you are dealing with.
For example: Scalia feels the text concerning freedom of speech was the same whether you communicated simply by word of mouth or via cell phones and the internet.  He felt it protected episodes like flag burning, although he might not approve of that.
Further explaining the reason some might prefer a living constitution is that it is easier to make changes.  But Scalia explained, it’s also easier to change things in a monarchy, but this is not compatible with democracy.
Scalia warned...
Scalia warned, we imperil the court when we make decisions not by law.
He pointed out how difficult it was for nine lawyers to make decisions on topics like assisted suicide.  He explained: these are moral issues and as lawyers they are trained in making legal statements.
When he finishes making a point Scalia pauses... then he folds his arms across his chest and puts one hand up to his face for a contemplative effect and looks like the old comedian Jack Benny!  
"Best Friends Forever"...
After the lecture we were in the hallway where some folks were introduced to the Justice.  But I was looking for my old girl friend.  And after we hugged... I asked if anyone had a camera to take our picture?    
Well, one of the fellows did... turns out he was a judge too!
But enough reminiscing... except for this:  almost 50 years ago, Paul and I met at the U of M.  And so now, as we walked back across the campus on that beautiful fall day... we held hands!


Thursday, September 3, 2015

Fantasy Football!

         Football fans... fantasy or not!

                 Fantasy football... and relationships!
          The idea is to give a person the chance to “own” their own team... pick their players... and hopefully win a game or two.

          I’m fascinated with the game of football... although at the same time I’m alarmed at the injuries, concussions, etc.
          But with everyday life presenting so many opportunities to be frustrated - it’s kind of refreshing to see people bounce off each other and still keep on going!

          The Shepherd’s Center, with John Hobert as the “Commish”, was lining up a new Fantasy Football league.  Because I don’t know much about the details of football I decided to join my husband Paul to co-own a team.
          We were both concerned that we didn’t know enough because we don’t have Cable or Dish and basically only watch the Vikings play.  

          I figured I could learn from him as he is a passionate Vikings fan.  I should have realized I was in trouble at this point.
          Actually we started out all right when we had to pick a name for our team.
          The other players were all guys. Paul and I were the only double... so when Paul suggested our name be: Fantastic Duo, because we were playing Fantasy Football... I thought that was great.  Kind of like Batman and Robin (or Rosie)!
          Sounds like we were starting off all right!

          But we were still concerned that we didn’t know the process of the draft very well.  On that morning, I started out a little early and headed off alone to meet the other teams and start our draft session.  Here’s where the first glitch came in.
          When asked for the name of our team I replied: Dynamic Duo.  I didn’t realize until Paul came that I had accidentally changed our name!  But he decided this was OK.  (You can see that a problem is already showing up in our decision making process!)

          Then we had to pick a ball out of a box that would have the number for our position in the draft process.  I picked number 2.  That was OK with me because there were a lot of players to choose from.

          Now keep in mind that I had wanted to learn how to choose players from listening to Paul.  But that didn’t mean I wouldn’t have my own choices too!
          I decided I wanted Peyton Manning for my quarterback and he was available after the first team chose theirs.  But Paul had a different choice... he wanted Minnesota’s Teddy Bridgewater.  (This Viking connection trumps any choices I might have.)
          So this was our first choice?  I couldn’t believe it because the “experience factor” is very important to me.  (Like Manning winning a Super Bowl.)  But... I   sucked in my breath and heard him choose Teddy.  

          Then each time we chose a player I was reminded how carefully Paul makes his decisions.  And how slowly.
          That’s really good in most situations but I reminded him this was just a game.   (Actually I don’t think this is true when dealing with hard core fans.)
          We made it through and I will now research other players so I can give better suggestions. 

          It was a couple of days later that I found a link on the Yahoo Fantasy website that analyzed our picks.  We were the lowest ranked team in our league!  

          The report card from Yahoo stated: “It was almost too hard to watch as Paul & Rosie's Team took the second pick and drove any playoff hopes they had right off a cliff.   
          “Paul & Rosie's Team is a believer in the hopes of the Minnesota Vikings this season...  
          “Quarterback Colin Kaepernick (our back up quarterback) is the only above-average position on Paul & Rosie's Team.
          “They are projected to finish 1-12-0. (That’s one win and 12 losses.)  Bad enough for a sixth-place finish in Shepherd's Center League.”  (There are only six teams!)

          Well, in 55 years of marriage we have had many moments of agitation and strife. 
          We’ll make it though this one too.   
              And yes, next year Paul will probably want his team all by himself! 

                               (Go Vikings!)