Sunday, November 29, 2009

I'm Married to a 60-year-old?

The strangest thing happened today. The 21-year-old I married suddenly turned 60. For the life of me I cannot figure out where all the missing years are. And tonight I am going to sleep with a 60-year-old. Now, how strange is that??? Is 6-0 something I'm going to have to get used to? From what I hear, it won't be terribly long before they tell me I am that age as well. It just isn't right. Well, anyway, Happy Birthday. Between you and me, I think it is really 50. Something got messed up somewhere along the way.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Final Word on Lefse

I promise to quit talking about lefse after this entry. But I have to finish the story.

1. Yes, we did have lefse at the nursing home. It tasted okay with the real butter I brought from Jeri's house. Only problem was that they packed the lefse when it was still warm, so it was difficult to fix. So we had "chunks" of lefse.

2. I found out that the lefse rolling pin I got from mom was purchased in the first year or two of their marriage (75 years ago). Dad went to Leeds and bought it for her for $1.00. The regular rolling pin that Rana got was bought at the same place, around the same time, and cost $0.25.

3. I told mom I needed by buy a "ricer" so I can make lefse for Christmas. This led to a conversation about how she and her mom (Grandma Sophia) made lefse - they mashed the potatoes (no ricer) and just picked the lumps out. And they made it on the old wood-burning stovetop.

4. This led to another story. Shortly after they were married. Dad bought some lutefisk and asked to have it for supper. As he went out to do the chores, he said, "I wish we had some lefse to go with the lutefisk." Mom said that as soon as he left the house she cut up some potatoes into little pieces, boiled them, mashed them, added the other ingredients and made little lefse in her frying pan (she made a circle of the size of the pan - about 8 inches). Dad was really surprised and thrilled to sit down to a meal of lutefisk and lefse after finishing the chores. Mmmm, I bet that was a good meal ;-)

So Who's Confused?

I was visiting with Mom this morning before I got on the road to go home. I arrived about 9:30 a.m. At 10:00 she says, "They still haven't brought me my morning meds. I usually get them before breakfast." I decided to go find out what was going on. It was hard to find anyone; there were no nurse carts in the hallway. I finally go to the front desk and finally find a nurse. I ask about mom's morning meds. "Oh, I'm sure she got them. She gets confused sometimes." I said, "Mom is not confused. Can you check to see if they are charted as given?" She quickly looks through the book and says, "Yes, she got them. But she was really sleepy and probably doesn't remember." I said, "Mom was not sleepy. She knows whether or not she got her meds." Then she looks down the hall and says, "There's her nurse, in the pink pants. I'll ask her to come and talk with you." Five minutes later nurse in the pink pants comes into the room with Mom's morning meds. "I'm sorry," she said, "I was on the way in to give her meds, but then the buzzer went off across the hall and I forgot." Hmm. Charted as given, but not given; at least three hours late; distracted. Tell me now, who is the sleepy one and who are the confused ones?!?!?!?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lefse Update

I'm so excited! For those of you not on Facebook, I'll have to tell you the rest of the story. Today....Heartland Care Center....was making....lefse! Oh, how I hope they made enough for me to have a couple pieces! Now, where else in the world would a nursing home make lefse for its residents for Thanksgiving??

My cousin, Kandy, made me really wish she and I lived close to each other. Last weekend they had family together and cooked up 40 pounds of potatoes and made lefse. Now, that's a lot of lefse! It would be so fun to be a part of that party! Maybe I'll just have to fly out there next November and be a part of that gathering.

I also heard that Bernie Sorlie used to make really good lefse. And that Bev Dyste makes a bunch. And other cousins and miscellaneous relatives actually order from Freddy's Lefse in West Fargo. They say Freddy makes really great lefse. Hmmm. Maybe next year I'll order from Freddy. Except for one really good reason. You see, I had forgotten that my mom gave me her lefse rolling pin when she moved into the nursing home. It's a nice, big rolling pin that I've forgotten how old it is. (I promise to ask her this week, and then write it down). So next year, and maybe yet this year, I am going to use her rolling pin and make lefse from real potatoes. Ahh, life is good.

Monday, November 23, 2009

In Search of Lefse

As you know, I will be having Thanksgiving dinner with the Nursing Home. Now, I'm sure Heartland Care Center puts together a pretty decent meal; I'm expecting turkey, potatoes, gravy, a vegetable and probably pumpkin pie. But do you think they will have lefse? Just in case they don't (and the chances are good that they won't), I'm on a search for a couple lefse for us to share for old time's sake. I didn't make any lefse this year because (1) my ricer broke; and (2) the mix I used last year is no more. The company went out of business. (I know -- excuses, excuses, but time is running short). Tonight I called the lefse queen of North sister. "Do you have any lefse I can take to mom for dinner?" She said, "I made a batch, but it didn't turn out. I might make another batch on Wednesday," she replied. She thought I'd have a better chance with brother Don. So I call brother Don, "Do you have any lefse I can put into my suitcase and take to mom?" "I made a batch, but it didn't turn out", he said, "and I'm not making any more until next week." Now I'm desperate. Why do people try to make lefse from instant potatoes after they've had success the old way for decades?? I know I'm getting a little testy. But, hey, this will probably be my last Thanksgiving with my mom. I really need lefse. Do you suppose I'll have to settle for "commercial" lefse from the grocery store? Lefse Queen - I sure hope you make lefse on Wednesday!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Does She or Doesn't She?

To go gray - or not to go gray? I spent a couple hours at the salon again this morning - as I have at least once a month for several years. And before I leave I lay down a good chunk of cash. Lately I've been wondering if this is something I want to keep doing. What would I look like with all gray hair?? Would it be a pretty white/silver/gray, or a faded, yucky color? Would I still feel young and vibrant and energetic -- or would it make me feel old? Would it affect my career? Oh, the pain. Hmmmm. You know what? I'm not ready for gray. I'll think about it again when I get old(er).

Miscellaneous Memories of My Dad

  • Big red handkerchiefs
  • Sneezes you could hear from a long ways away
  • Table knife, butter, sugar, and grandkid sitting on the table, eating it
  • Cream and sugar over bread before bed
  • Pocket knife to clean fingernails, cut apples, and who knows what else
  • Gumalost cheese
  • Pouring coffee into the saucer to cool it off
  • Pink peppermints
  • Humming "What a Friend We Have In Jesus"
  • Big nose
  • Bibbed overalls
  • John Deere
  • Sunday drives to look at the crops
  • Scraping the banana peel and eating it (can't waste anything, you know!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The End

Tonight I finished the last chapter of the last book - the Revelation. Wow. No words to describe this book or this entire experience. I close this out with a few simple observations:

1. I am a better, stronger person because of it
2. I'm thankful my heart is at peace with God
3. I pray I always "have an ear to hear what the Spirit says".

So be it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanksgiving in North Dakota

Every time I go to North Dakota in the winter I say, "I'm never doing that again!" Well, so much for that. Next week I am going to North Dakota to spend Thanksgiving with Mom. For some reason, I feel compelled to go; I really have no choice. I honestly don't think she will be with us much longer. Her strength is declining fast. She stopped walking again - not because her legs are so bad, but because her heart is so bad. She is just not getting enough oxygen to allow for activity. She sleeps a lot, reads very little, eats almost nothing. She is malnourished. I know this is all a normal part of shutting down. As a nurse, I've seen it happen over and over again. But when it's your own's hard, you know?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Aunt Elvera

My first memory of my aunt Elvera is boys - lots of boys. Boys who were coming and going. I grew up with six brothers so boys were not a strange species to me. But these boys were so different. They were city boys. And they were so...good looking! And in the midst of all those boys was a lady. Elvera seemed so calm and in control. I was only eight, but I clearly remember being at her house and being in awe of it all. Another memory about Elvera that I will never forget was in 1975. Dad had just died. Mom, Elvera, and a few others were sitting in the living room. I'm not sure how the conversation got started, but Elvera said, "It's hard losing a husband to death, but divorce is hard too". I grew up a little more that day. I have so much admiration for Elvera - she has gone through a lot of tough times, but she was always a perfect lady. She is 85 years old today (11/17) and still looks so good. Every time I see her she is dressed so nice, her hair looks so good, and she still takes the time and effort to put on some makeup. Yes, every time I think of Elvera I think of a rock-solid, calm, .....lady. This picture was probably her high school graduation picture. Beautiful then - beautiful now. I love you, Aunt Elvera! I wish I could spend a day with you, sitting at the kitchen table, chatting and getting to know you better. I know I would be blessed. Happy Birthday - and many more to come!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Message

This message is especially for my daughters. Take it to heart.

Promise me you'll always remember:
you're braver than you believe, and
stronger than you seem, and
smarter than you think!

(Christopher Robin to Pooh)

Saturday, November 14, 2009


As I was sweeping my floors today, and noticing all the dirt, my mind went back to my childhood experiences with dirt. Dirt was a big part of this farmer-girl's life; on my hands and knees in the dirt pulling weeds, sweeping dirt from under the dining room table after every summer meal, the feel of dirt on my bare feet as I took lunch out to dad in the field (every summer day at 3:00), the smell of dirt as I lay on the back of a cow as we slowly made our way to the barn, the dirt "farm" that my brothers built in the trees, the ring of dirt in the bathtub when I wasn't the first in on Saturday night, dirt under my fingernails, between my toes, the bottoms of my feet. I have spent a lot of my life re-arranging dirt. But right now I wish I had about 320 acres of good black dirt in the Red River Valley. Then when I needed to go into a nursing home, my kids could sell all that dirt and pay for someone to come into my home to take care of me. Yes, one thing about dirt - everything we have came from it. So why do we abhor it so?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

One Left

History - lots of history, poetry and parables, damnation and salvation, war and peace, love and hate, mortal and immortal, the past and the present. In 2009 I've read through the Bible - almost. I read it as if I had never read it before; with a mind cleared of any motive, of any pre-conceived bias; as if it was just another book I was reading. It has been a moving experience. Yes, I've read about the past, I've read about this present age. All that is left is the book of Revelation. Revelation - the look into the future. The book I've always thought was hard to understand. In eager anticipation I wonder what it will be like reading it as if for the very first time. Will it make me fearful or faithful? Will I feel agony or ecstasy? Revelations - the book of the future - here I come!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Computers and Kids

Having a six-year-old and a seven-year-old around for two nights and two days is a wonderful, but exhausting experience. They are good kids, but...noisy! active! To preserve our sanity, we default to the babysitter of the day - computers. Thank God for Webkinz and other such kid sites. When they are on their respective laptops they are confined to one room; a room with a door. All kinds of strange noises make their way throughout the rest of the house; things like pops, bangs, and lots of music (hug a pug, anyone?). The best part of all, however, is after they leave and I regain control of my office and my laptop. All over my desk I find notes like, "grandma is the best grandma ever!" "I love grandma", and a new Christmas list "Lagos, police train, 2 webkinz, soda candy, 1 black T shirt." Ahhhhhh.

She's Walking Again!

For those of you following the life and health of my mom - there is good news. The swelling in her legs has gone down so much that she is back in physical therapy and walking again! It took some intense interventions, but it worked. And she seems happy to be up and around. Of course, it helps that she is also breathing a lot easier. She lost over seven pounds of fluid. There is more to lose, but her poor heart just can't keep up with it. A big thanks to those who live close by and are keeping a close watch on things like her breathing and the swelling in her legs. Together, we'll never again let her get as bad as she was a few weeks ago. On the other side, her pulse rate is only in the 50's. It used to be in the 70's, then 60's. And she claims that her eyesight is getting worse; it is hard for her to read anymore. But she still manages to read all her emails! She gets several a week; sometimes several a day. What a difference it has made to have "mail time" to look forward to every day. Be careful what you write, though! She shares them with people who come to visit her. If you don't yet know her email address and would like to write to her, send me a note and I'll give it to you.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Just Try To Stop Me!!

"The whole world is before me. I can do anything I want. The possibilities are endless. There are no limits." This used to be my mantra. When did things change? Surely not when I married young, because I still had so many, many years ahead of me. Definitely not when I went back to college at age 39; at that time more than ever before I felt empowered to go anywhere and do anything. Could it have started when the military refused to even talk with me about joining up as a nurse because I was.....too old?? Today I was thinking about female commercial airline pilots and wondering what it would be like; then realized it was too late for me, even if I wanted to. More and more things remind me that the opportunities are gone. It is no longer "no limits to what I can do." This is a very sobering thought. Well, phooey! There are still lots of things I CAN do. In fact, in February I have a date to take a down-hill skiing lesson. And if I like it, I just might keep doing it. And it's not too late to get my Master's degree - if I want to. And I CAN get my body in great shape again. And I CAN travel the world, if I want. I could still open my own tea shop. And you know what? I could learn to fly an airplane. So there!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

It Never Would Have Happened When I Was Ten

Tomorrow morning Amber (10-year old granddaughter) is getting on an airplane with her dad and going across the ocean. They are going from Denver to Toronto to London (with a 12 hour layover when they will get to see the city) and then to South Africa. Once in South Africa she will meet her other grandfather and see the places her dad lived and worked. They will be gone over two weeks. I can't wait to read Amber's journal and see her pictures. What an awesome experience at just the right age! She will remember all of it. When I was ten I could not even imagine being on a trip like that. I felt pretty special taking a trip to Washington state when I was eight. But across the ocean and to other countries? That was the thing of books, not real life. If you think of it over the next couple weeks, whisper a prayer for safety, health and lots of memorable experiences. Oh, I forgot to mention...she is going to look for a teacup and saucer for me - made in South Africa.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Unfortunately, some families are not very close. In fact, some families are very fractured. These guys come from one of those families. There have been generation following generation of contention, unacceptance, unforgiveness, distrust and other symptoms of dysfunction. Which is why this picture is very special. These two are brothers; and they get along. This may not seem like a big deal to most people, but in that family, it is a near miracle. How refreshing to see some from this generation making choices that lead to a new way of life. Could the difference be because both brothers have turned to God?

Monday, November 2, 2009


If there is one part of my job I'm not too crazy about, it's having to hire people. First, our Human Resources person does all the pre-screening; i.e. determining if they are really qualified for the job and are viable candidates. Those who pass that test come to me. Over the next two weeks I am doing phone interviews. Then I spend a week in Dallas doing face-to-face interviews. By the end of that week I hope to get it narrowed down to about two people, who I will then send to our Chief Medical Officer and our Chief Operating Officer to get their input. The final decision, though, will be mine. It is not easy knowing for certain you have the right one. But it is so important as this person can make or break the new program I am developing. The hardest part of this whole process is breaking through all the "best behavior" of the one being considered and find out what they are really like. What an arduous and exhausting process it is!