Thursday, January 28, 2010


Did you hear about the old couple who were rocking in their rockers one day?
Pa said “Ma, one of these days one of us is going to die and the other will be left alone.” Ma said “Yes, Pa, I’ve been thinking and when that time comes I want to move to California.”

I love you little
I love you big
I love you like my little pig

She used to roll his cigarettes
He used to roll her socks
Now they roll the baby carriage
For blocks and blocks and blocks

Monday, January 25, 2010


Sometimes it's funny how a little decision works out for the best, in ways not imagined. As I got ready for my flight to Dallas this morning, my heart rebelled at wearing business casual. I knew I would be going to one of the dialysis facilities when I landed. But I really wanted to travel in jeans. Finally, as an inner act of rebellion, I put aside the dress pants and pulled on my jeans. A tad bit risky for my reputation, as I knew all our company officers, VP's and most of the directors were also in Dallas this week. Boarding the plane, I made my way to 10A and settled in. As soon as I was allowed, I put on my noise-cancelling headphones, programmed my iPod to some nice Hawaiian music, and fell asleep. I woke up to the noise of beverages being distributed. Feeling dry, as airplanes always do, I asked for an orange juice, no ice. I took a sip, sat back, took another sip, and ... somehow the whole glass of orange juice was suddenly running onto my lap. My thirsty jeans sopped up almost all of it. Glad I wore jeans? You bet! And by the time we landed, I was all dried out (yeah, those airplanes are really, really dry). And no one could see the stains. Second reason I was glad I wore jeans happened after I got to my destination. A friend needed help unpacking a bunch of huge boxes of pictures. I was able to get down and dirty -- because of my jeans. Maybe I wasn't really rebelling; maybe I was just following a little inner voice. The voice of Someone who knew how my day would go. Oh, and I didn't run into any company officers....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

#6, #7 and #8

I came across this picture of David, Tom and me. It was likely taken Christmas of 1955. I'm sure the wagon was a brand new Christmas gift to the boys. I love the background - the big freezer in the unfinished basement. I am holding one of my favorite dolls. I don't remember what her name was at this time, but she was later named Kandy, after my cousin "out West". In this picture I am nearly four, Tom is nearly seven and David was nine. Jim was "on the way" and Bob was still dust under the bed. I wonder why Don was not in the picture. By the way, this was only one of the two big freezers we had. Before winter each freezer was full. It took a lot of food to feed a family like ours!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Much Needed Quiet Dinner

I really needed a quiet dinner. So the obvious choice was a nearby Chinese place. The food is C+, but the atmosphere and the service is A+. This had been quite a week already. I'd been to Dallas and got back late Wednesday night. Thursday was a long day at the office. And every day was full of intense moments. Yes, Thursday night was a night for a quiet dinner, lingering over tea with the fortune cookies. We'd done it many times and it was always refreshing. We walked in the restaurant, already knowing what we were going to order and where we wanted to sit. As the waiter led us to our table, we heard the loud noises of some children. Looking at their table we saw that they were nearly done. So, we moved an extra table away and hoped for the best. We got our tea and gave our order. The children became louder. We ate our won ton soup. The children began chasing each other around the restaurant. We got our order. The parents received their bill, the children were climbing on the ledges. We ate our meal. The parents were talking, the children were yelling at each other, and the other guests were mumbling. We completed our meal and waited for the check. The parents started gathering coats. We got our check and the fortune cookies. They finally left. We enjoyed our fortune cookies with the last of the tea in the suddenly quiet restaurant. We left for home; but I did not feel refreshed and my nagging headache was still there. Recap: Meal - C+, atmosphere - F.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Audrey - #8 out of 10

1958 at six years old. Still wearing silky dresses

Nothing can top what I just posted from my Mom. It is so much fun to look back at all the good, funny, and touching events of one's life. We all know, of course, that sprinkled throughout our lifetime there are also many sad, painful, traumatic and difficult situations. But isn't it great that it is the good things that stand out most? The loving and fun things that we reminisce over again and again? In my lifetime, like yours, there has been much of both. And I'm sure the future holds the same. So on January 17, as I turn yet another year older, I want to share some of the things I really like about where I'm at in life right now:

  • The kids are all grown up and on their own

  • No pimples

  • Grandchildren

  • Rarely shave my legs

  • I can get "alone" time when I want or need it

  • No more monthly crampy, yucky stuff

  • It no longer bothers me to be true to myself, when out of sync with others

  • I am no longer tossed to and fro by the latest fad, thoughts, trends, or societal groanings

  • Nothing scares me; no threat of a pandemic, an economic collapse, climate change, or political chaos

  • I understand that "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul" (from Invictus)
  • I am healthy, of good mind, and hopefully have many good years ahead of me.
These lyrics state so well how I feel on turning 58:

"And so here am I, open arms and ready to stand,
I've got the world in my hands,
And it feels like my turn to fly.
I am who I was born to be,
I am who I was born to be."

(Thanks to Susan Boyle's new album)

Mom's Blog for My Birthday

I got this email from Jerilynn (my niece). She went to see my mom and came back with this. It is so cool! Many of these memories are new to me. Makes me misty-eyed. Thanks, Mom! I love you!

When I talked to grandma she was more than happy to give me some of her memories of you and looks forward to getting a copy of your blog. She did alot of smiling and chuckling as she told these stories. Here is her "blog" to you, as told to me:

Audrey was the best-dressed baby I ever had. She received so many nice, nylon dresses as gifts. She would grow out of them before she wore them out. I remember she was so slippery to hold onto because of the nylon material.

As a baby, her older sisters, Vivian, Sylvia, and Evie were so afraid I would lose her. I ended up putting the crib upstairs so they could be next to her! They followed her everywhere. When we went into town, usually the kids would go off and do their own thing, but not the girls! They wouldn't let Audrey out of their sight. So I would ask the girls to help me carry her diaper bag. "OH NO"! They were NOT going to be seen carrying that!

When Audrey was pretty little, she came running into the kitchen, went to the apron I was wearing, and blew her nose into it! "Why did you do that?" I asked. She responded, "Because that's what mom's aprons are for!" :)

I would make up little rhymes to say to her for different situations. She loved her bath and when I pulled the plug out of the drain, I would say "Oh My Goodness, Oh My Soul, There Goes Audrey Down The Hole"! I guess I frightened her because every time I pulled the plug thereafter, she would jump right out of the tub and into my arms!

Another time after her bath, she changed into her brand new, blue and white pajama's (with feet - I can still picture them). I was putting the boys in the water when she suddenly comes running back into the bathroom and throws herself into the tub, pajama's and all!! Later she was sooooo sad because she couldn't sleep in her new pajama's. They were soaking wet.

I've always liked the name Audrey, but she went through a phase where she hated her name. She wanted to be called Suzy! I think the other kids would tease her by calling her Aud-ball!! So I made up a rhyme to get her out of bed in the mornings. "Suzy, little, Suzy what is the news? It's time to get up and put on your school shoes". She had no problem getting up after that.

First day of school she rode the bus and met another little girl named Kay McConnell. They became the "best of friends" from then on. They were inseparable!

We took Audrey to the airport to fly to California to stay with Evie and her family. When she came back, we brought Kay with us. I can still remember them sitting in the back, holding hands all the way home, BAWLING "I Missed You SOOOO".

When she was older, Audrey was in speech. She would be wiping dishes for me. She would suddenly stop, throw down the dishtowel, and run upstairs to her room. She had an INSPIRATION!!!

One time she went to Bismarck for a speech contest, so Oscar gave her $20. She came home with a red wig! :(


Update on Sylvia

I just spoke with Sylvia. She is expecting to be released from the hospital tomorrow (Sunday). The good news is, they changed her medication and she is now getting rid of lots of fluid, which is making it easier for her to breathe. It is the shortness of breath which keeps sending her to the hospital. What I really hope we find out is ... why does she suddenly have this problem with retaining fluid? I'm so glad Susan is there with her for awhile. Sylvia sounds great, though, and was really upbeat. Get well!

Friday, January 15, 2010

What is Going on With my Sister??

Okay, Sylvia ... enough of this! Your trips to the hospital have got to stop! Yes, it started just before Thanksgiving with a bout of pneumonia. Things haven't been right since. She is still experiencing shortness of breath and low energy. In fact, I got home tonight and had a message from my brother stating that she is back in the hospital again. And she went to the emergency room last Sunday night. Thankfully, her daughter, Susan, is with her for the next 2-3 weeks. Maybe she can help maneuver through all the medical talk (or no talk) and get some answers. Please pray for Sylvia. This is getting to be quite worrisome. I'll be talking with her tomorrow and will post an update.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Another of Mom's little ditty's:

I'd rather marry a young man
With a pocket lined with silk
Than to marry an old man
With a hundred cows to milk
For the old man he is old
The old man he is gray
But the young man's heart is full of love
Get away, old man, get away

Youth is great, isn't it? Too bad it disappears so quickly.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Generally speaking, a brand new hotel is a good thing. Everything is clean, new and modern. When I discovered there is a brand new Marriott, six miles closer to my Dallas "office" than the hotel I've been staying in, I thought it was a wise move to make. A few days ago I cancelled my other hotel and booked a room at the new, closer one. Boy, did that decision ever turn around and bite me in the behind! After I got into my rental car, I entered the address into my GPS. Oh, but, brand new hotels at brand new addresses aren't recognized by the GPS. But the GPS did recognize the street, just in the 2400's instead of the 5000's. Same street, though, so I should be able to find it ... go to the 2400's and drive a few more blocks to the 5000's. I confidently set off for my destination, in the dark, very hungry. After about thirty minutes of driving North, my GPS took me east. I began to feel a little uncomfortable. I knew my destination was northwest, not northeast. But, being the trusting soul I am, I followed my GPS ... and followed her ... and followed her right to a dead end in a very dark area. I thought, "Well, now. This is quite an adventure. What to do?" Then an idea: I knew the hotel was only ten miles from the office, so I entered the office address into the GPS. I figured that would at least get me going in the right direction. Sure enough, it put me on a road going west with only thirteen miles to the office. But what then? I decided it was time to pray. "Help me!", I prayed, as westward I drove. Thankfully, I had looked at a mapquest before leaving home and knew the hotel was on Hwy 121. And I knew that if I went west, eventually I would run into Hwy 121. Sure enough, I finally saw Hwy 121. Should I go North or South? I went with my gut and turned north. And about 5 miles later I saw my hotel, took the next exit, turned around and reached my destination. A thirty minute drive only took me two hours (although I stopped at Subway to pick up a sandwich. And ask directions. But the guy couldn't talk English well enough to even take my order so I gave up on the directions idea). I'm now sitting safely in my room. But you know what? I wish I'd stayed at the other place. This is new, but it is smaller. And I didn't get my free upgrade to a suite like I usually do. And I feel a little peeved. Ahhh, maybe I'll feel better tomorrow. Maybe they will have a great breakfast to start my day off right. Maybe....

Monday, January 11, 2010

So Shy

Have you ever been so shy you did not dare talk to your older brother? Have you ever been so shy that you did not answer the phone when you were home alone, even as a young teen? That was me. Shyness was the mantra of my youth. I loved it when a neighboring couple came over on a quiet evening to visit with my parents; but I was too shy to talk with them. In fact, when I heard mom getting coffee and "lunch" ready in the kitchen, I would quietly come down the stairs, sneak through mom and dad's bedroom, through the bathroom and into the kitchen to get in on the snacks; then I would quietly go back the way I came so I would not have to say anything to our company. I was so shy that when some of my cousins came over, it took most of the afternoon before we would even begin to talk with each other. When we finally got playing good, it was time for them to go home. I've been told that when I came back from my trip to Washington State at eight years of age, I had made great strides towards overcoming my shyness. Boy, I must have been a real basket case before that trip! I remember many uncomfortable situations of shyness going through childhood, into my teens, and even adulthood. It took many years and many experiences before I felt the confidence I always wanted to have. It took many, many, many years and many, many, many experiences before I felt that confidence. Today I am totally free! What a wonderful feeling.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Dr. Sinness at Sea

It was a beautiful ship; it made regular journeys between New York and Europe. Based in Genoa, she was of Italian descent and was named the Andrea Doria. At the end of a long journey, on July 25, 1956 most of the passengers were in bed. In the morning they would pull into the New York Harbor, disembark, and many would begin their new life in America. However, shortly after 11:00 p.m. the Andrea Doria was struck in a vulnerable spot by the MV Stockholm ocean liner. Chaos erupted, lives were lost, the ship began to sink. Another ship, the Ile de France, had left New York that morning. On that ship was one of my relatives, Dr. Lester Sinness, his wife and teen-aged son, Skip. Lester (who was my first cousin once-removed) was a senior Vice President for DuPont and was on his way to Europe. Their first night at sea, Lester realized the ship had stopped. He went on deck and discovered that the Ile de France was taking on many of the survivors of the Andrea Doria. There is some fascinating family history connected with this event. You can read Lester's account of his experiences at Years ago I had seen this letter my cousin wrote, but never looked into the full story. This past week, in a hotel room in Dallas, while flipping through the TV channels I came across a documentary about the Andrea Doria tragedy and remembered the article I had read many years before. Many years later Lester came back to Devils Lake, where, about six year ago, he died. His only child, Skip, lives in Colorado. A few years ago I met Skip. I wish at that time I had thought to ask him about his experience aboard the Ile de France when they saw the Andrea Doria sinking at sea. Pretty cool stuff to know about....

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Thomas - #7 out of 10

Tommy, we called him. He is my sibling closest in age. Whereas, all the others were much older, or much younger, Tommy was probably more like a "normal" sibling than the others. In other words, he didn't spoil me. And I didn't idolize him. Tom (as he is now called) was just barely three when I was born. My earliest memory of him is on a hot summer day on the farm. I don't remember what precipitated this action, but I saw him sitting on the ground by (I think) the bunkhouse. I recall picking up a hammer and hitting him on the head with it. I have no idea why I did that, but I'm sure he deserved it (smile). I also remember resenting that he got to sit in the car, by the door, before I could. Seems like I was in the middle forever. We would play games for hours; Monopoly, Sorry, Pounce, and others. But there were also times when he did not want me around. He would take off and run so fast that I could not keep up. I don't know where he went, but I had to finally turn back and find something else to do. Other things I recall doing together - shelling peas, snapping beans, weeding the garden, shucking corn, braiding twine, playing ante-aye-over and kick the tin can. There were hours of roller skating in the basement, cops 'n robbers, tinkering in the machine shed, playing in the trees, building tree houses and tree airplanes. Tom also trapped gophers in the summer. He would cut the tail off each gopher he caught and killed and Dad would give him a nickel for each one. One day he brought in a tail from a weasel. Dad said he would get "two bits" for that tail. I was really upset. I thought "two bits" was two dollars. When a gal gets twenty-five cents a week for allowance, two dollars is LOTS of money. After he got his driver's license, I rode with him to basketball games and "canteens" in Churchs Ferry. I remember his interest in UFO's, the law, and in architecture. I remember his first prom. I think his date was named Sandy. I overheard a conversation he had with mom about buying a corsage. I went out and picked a few wild flowers and dandilions and told mom that he could use them as a corsage (I was serious about it, too!). They didn't like my idea. Yes, most of my childhood memories include my brother, Tom. He is four years old in the picture. January 7 he is 61. Happy birthday, Thomas!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Surprise Around the Corner

This week I am in the Dallas area orienting my new employee to her new job, and together we are getting ready to start our new program on Feb. 1. My new employee has a new office in a brand new dialysis center; in fact they are having their first patient tomorrow. As you can imagine, this new facility is in a new area of town. It is surrounded by open fields and a few office buildings. At lunch time yesterday I asked her if she had any suggestions on where we could find something to eat. Coming in, the only thing I saw was a Jack In The Box. Well, we got in the car, drove about a mile, and suddenly we were in the neatest place! There was a couple blocks of trendy little shops and cool little eating places. We decided on Thai. I do not understand Thai food, so I asked the waiter for a recommendation. I have no idea what I ate, but it was really, really good. I mean, it was delicious. On the way out the door, we noticed that right across the street was a little Italian place. So today I had a superb soup and salad. Again, I'm not sure what all was in the salad, but it was very good. Tonight I ran across the parking lot for soup and salad at Panera's. Usually, I'm very happy with the food at Panera's. But tonight I was a little under-whelmed. It's hard to compete with superb. By the way, I'm changing my hotel for next week. I'm moving closer to the new facility ... and the surprises around the corner.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Viola's Impact

Viola's great-granddaughter, Nicole Steffan, wrote a paper three years ago for an English class. The paper had to be about someone who has had the biggest impact on her life. Here is what she wrote:

"An individual who has impacted me throughout my life is my great grandma, Viola Sinness. At ninety years old, she is very independent and still as sharp as a whip. She still has her sense of humor! She was a tough farm girl, born into a large family, living thru the depression, and having 10 kids of her own. Money was very tight, and she told me "they were as poor as church mice"......While dating great grandpa at age 16, she would tease her mom and say"Around the corner and under the tree is where my sweetheart made love to me. He kissed me once, he kissed me twice - it wasn't the thing to do, but ooh it was so nice!" Her mom would say "Viola behave yourself!".....
.....She is very fragile and it scares my sister and I sometimes when we go to visit because we can't hug her very tight, for fear of breaking her bones.........
She is 4 generations ahead of me (72 yrs) and has experienced a full life, while I'm just beginning to experience mine. She has taught me to live my life to the fullest and not waste any of it away. Her lifestyles, wants and needs are so different compared to mine. It's amazing the things a person can learn by talking to her for an hour. I can be myself because she loves me for who I am and doesn't judge or criticize me. I can talk to her about anything and sometimes our conversations are of nothing at all. She will talk disapprovingly about the morals and values of today. Yet we respect each other.
I've come to realize that my heritage is very important to me. This is my family history that I can hear first hand from someone who has experienced it. I have to appreciate each and every day that I have her in my life. She taught me that family is only tied together by those who contribute to it. I believe that once she is gone, she is still going to continue to influence me throughout my life!" :)

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Boxes. They are all over the place. They have very rigid, unyielding sides and most of them are too small. We probably all have them. We try to put people into these boxes. They rarely, if ever, fit. And when they don't fit into our boxes, we open our drawer to pull out a bunch of labels. We slap these labels across the foreheads of the people who don't go into the boxes. Some of the labels are very specific, although the meaning behind them may be misleading. Labels like "woman", "man", "blonde", "kid", "vegan". But most labels are very non-specific and only the person placing the label really understands what it means. These are labels like "idiot", "loser", "mean-spirited", "stingy", "liberal", "dumb", and a lot more that aren't fit to put into this blog. But think about it. Do we really want everyone else to be just like ourselves? Isn't that ..... the makings of a cult? Why, then, do we spend so much time with our boxes and labels?

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Year of Health

Every new year I attempt to focus on one defined area for my self improvement. Mind you, these are not just "resolutions". These are well thought-out goals into which I put a lot of planning. 2010 is going to be my year of health. For the last couple of months I've been trying to identify all the barriers I will be facing, then coming up with a strategy that is do-able. I know my biggest triggers to failure will be related to my travel. So here are some of my strategies: (1) start checking a bag so I can bring healthy food as well as clothes and shoes conducive to activity; (2) carry healthy foods in my carry-on bag; (3) take the stairs in the hotels rather than the elevator whenever possible; (4) chew more gum; (5) drink more water and less lattes; (6) brush and floss my teeth early in the evening so I don't eat late; (7) plan for one piece of chocolate each evening after dinner. When I am home I plan to walk on the treadmill at least three times a week. I have no specific goal for weight loss, only hoping there will be some improvement in that area. What I DO want is to get moving again, eat better, increase my endurance and decrease belly fat. The older I get the more I realize how important it is to stay healthy. What I do today determines my future health and well-being. If I live as long as my mom has lived, I have at least 35 years left. I want those years to be unhindered by poor health. Wish me luck!


Throughout the years of my life I've heard my mom quote many different little ditty's, short poems, long poems, and more. My niece, Susan, has been capturing these every time she comes back to North Dakota to visit. Tonight Susan agreed to send what she has so we can share them with the rest of the family through this blog. If anyone else remembers some of these sayings, please email them to me so we can have as complete a collection as possible. For starters, here's one that I remember:

I remember as a small, small tot,
When ma took me out of my warm, warm cot,
And set me on the cold, cold pot,
And told me to wee wee whether I could or not.

This is going to be fun!