Sunday, December 31, 2017

Good bye to the old year

It's New Year's Eve.

In my youth, I hosted a few Rockin' New Years Eves, but now that I am smarter (and older) I prefer the beverage of choice in front of the fire and a view of all the festivities on the TV.  Safer, cheaper, and much more relaxing.
It's a cold New Year's Eve here in Northern Wisconsin, -17 this morning and a high of maybe -7 is predicted.  Temperatures that cold can be life threatening in any emergency situation, like a car breakdown or accident.  I'm hopeful that all make good choices tonight.
I'm worried about the wildlife, and have made sure the bird feeders are stocked, the bird bath heated and I put out some rabbit food for those little guys and gals.
The feeders & bird bath have been busy today.
An usual visitor this year is the Starling.
Some folks are not fond of this species, but I do think he takes a pretty picture.

Many of the male Downy Woodpeckers are here and eating the suet.
A few females, but not has many as the males.

Always a treat to see the Red Bellied Woodpecker, he prefers the suet block to the log.
Speaking of birds, I'm sitting some chickens for my piano teacher.
I'm about to drive out there now, this will be the last time I take on this duty in the winter.
I don't mind seeing the chickens, they are interesting.
These are from Friday's visit.
New Year's Day will be fresh eggs for breakfast.

From today, New Year's Eve, 
the chickens love some corn as a treat. 

Two eggs from today. 
A good ending to the year. 

Maybe chickens bring good luck.
Might as well think that way.
Happy New Year's Eve.
Thanks for the old year.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A milestone

Today I turn 65, so I am starting my 66th year.
It seems hard to believe.
I had a wonderful visitor this morning as I was drinking my coffee.

Maybe this Northern Cardinal is a good omen for the coming year.
Regardless, it was a sighting that reminds me that everyday is a gift,
some just come with more Cardinals than others.
Life is Good.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Jolly time

 It was Jolly on Christmas Eve when Santa took time out of his busy schedule to stop in and greet the Johansen & Chivers kids.
Jude was probably the most excited about Santa, but all the little ones were in awe.

Santa Claus with Jude

August, Anders Jens, Jude and Ruby with Santa Claus

Good buds and cousins, Anders and Ruby asked for a special photo.

The evening was filled with good food, fun stories, and family.
The night got late, so I decided to spend the night.

Early Christmas morning I got to see the little Johansen kids get very excited about what Santa had put into their stocking.
After a project to help Kyle and Kris put together a arcade style basketball game, there was a wonderful Danish breakfast.
Kyle has the knack, he made perfect aebleskiver, the famous Van Meter Grandpa's sausages and lots of coffee.

Kyle's pans are the cast iron variety.
The aebleskiver was perfect, no raw centers, golden brown and delicious.
I packed up and got on my way with a jolly tummy.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Eve

Christmas is so interesting. For some it is a deeply religious event, and for others more light hearted and a time of celebration of the season.  
Most everyone has some tradition that is important whether it be cutting down a real tree, making gifts, writing a Christmas Ode, attending church, calling a friend or relative who is far away, watching it snow, driving a distance to join family for the day, or maybe even spending the day watching football.  Like many things, I believe to each their own.  
It never bothers me to be home on Christmas, and this has happened more than once when the roads were slick.  For some, this would be devastating.  As a little girl, the Christmas traditions did include going along for the cutting down a real tree, hauling back from the woods and then the adults took care of putting it up in the house & the decorating.  There was also church in the afternoon on Christmas Eve, and then the evening meal was shared at my Grandparents house who lived across the road.  At their house, we would dance around the Christmas tree that was always placed in the center of the room.
Joining hands around the tree, we would sing the Danish traditional song and "dance" in a circle, 
this is one version:

Nu har vi jul igen, 
og nu har vi jul igen, 
og julen varer ved til påske. 
Nu har vi jul igen, 
og nu har vi jul igen, 

og julen varer ved til påske.

Roughly translated:
Now it's Christmas time,
And now it's Christmas time,
And holidays will last 'til Easter.
Now it's Christmas time,
And now it's Christmas time,
And holidays will last 'til Easter.

Grandfather Ansgar, Grandmother Frederikke, Wanda and brother Ralph by their Christmas Tree.

After dinner, we went home to find what Santa had left and had much fun opening presents.  Even in hard times, Mom managed to fill the tree with gifts.
Sister Laila, Brother Glenn, Wanda and Brother Ralph
Most years our family would travel to Minneapolis to my maternal grandparents house to spend Christmas Day.  We would see our Bjornton cousins and grandparents.  
It was a long drive for a kid and I remember secretly wishing we could stay home in our jammies and play with our new toys.  But, it was fun and my grandparents had a pretty tree and yummy dinner.

As families grow, it's hard to keep the same family traditions and it becomes time to start each generation to find their definition of Christmas.  I've seen our family change and it's nice to see how each family chooses to spend their Christmas Eve and Day.  For me, Christmas Eve was the time for gifts, in fact, I just opened one before sitting down to write this note.  For many, and for some of the Johansens, that all happens on Christmas morning.
We never had Christmas Stockings, maybe because we didn't have a fireplace, but I'm not sure that was such a common deal back when I was a kid.  Now, having matching stockings for the family is one tradition that I see often.  Even I have a stocking now, and one for the cats too, of course.

For my Christmas, tradition is having my Alpine Village set up in front of the living room window, the stockings are hung aside the fireplace, and my little tree is lit whenever I am home.  I hang a large wreath on the side of the garage meant to cheer travelers, and I feed the birds, squirrels and other critters.  I'll be at church on Christmas Eve at West Denmark where the service is music and the church is filled with cousins and friends from my youth as well as many memories.  
After church, the family will gather at Kyle & Heather's house, a tradition for many years now and always a fun filled and slightly chaotic evening, often including a visit from Santa Claus.  
I'll plan to come home, 
but will carry an overnight back just in case the roads are bad or the night gets long.

Christmas Day will be spent quietly here at home with music and reading of all of my Christmas cards.  This is my newest tradition and one that I do enjoy.

Whatever you decide to do this Christmas, I hope it brings you peace.

Ode to 2017

It’s time for the ode, what do I say, how do I start?
How do I recap 2017 and sound really smart?

Just sit down and type is what I decided might work,
At least a few lines somewhere in my mind might lurk.

As most years go, with ups, downs and in-betweens,
2017 was no different when I think back on the scenes.

Basketball kept me busy for those cold months of winter,
I spent at least 1696 game-minutes on the bleachers; not even one splinter.

My friend Janice and I were a good traveling team, “The GoJos”,
Racking up 4018 miles to see 51 games, missing only a couple due to snows.

I love the Luck Cardinals, Spring Valley Cardinals and the Baldwins BlackHawks,
Who needs NBA and college ball when these kids are on the clocks.

A mostly cool and wet summer was good for my plants and flowers,
Mother nature took care of the watering for me with her many showers.

Water can be good… and bad, as I found out first hand,
A new pump for the well and replacement water heater were totally unplanned.

Involvement in community seems right to do, and gets me out of the house,
Helping a man with reading, serving on the library board, & treasurer for the seniors, of course.

I aim to think globally and act locally in my involvement choices,
And on social media I add my name to other like-minded voices.

I keep up on national news and politically, I am mostly aware,
But to start a rant here, in a one-sided chat, that just wouldn’t be fair.

My leftwing bias is for equality, fairness, decency, respect with kindness as a goal,

But take a deep breath, I’m not going to go down that political rabbit hole.
Adding more perennials to the yard and ditch was fun, I found,
Peony bushes, cone flowers, grasses and more daffodil bulbs are now in the ground.

Most weeks are routine with my calendar full of things to get done,
Bridge, piano lessons, and the occasional quilt camp or visitor, makes my life fun.

I love my Packers and those Wisconsin Badgers and I watch whenever I can,
I continue to follow my Denver Broncos, and feel badly for all my pals who are fans.

Another layer of branches on the family tree has started to fill,
New babies this year are Lucy and Dakota, great-greats, if you will.

I love to see the kids whenever I can, not always easy with this busy troupe.
So I am thankful that social media photo sharing keeps me in the loop.

Our fall leaves seemed to change and fall in a blink,
And right into cold weather Mother Nature did slink.

Now I’m back to basketball again, but this time traveling solo,
Losing my friend Janice so suddenly was a real low blow.

But I’m still trekking around, racking up the miles and enjoying the games,
Janice is with me in spirit, but I miss her just the same.

I see I went on and on, even though I was going to make this a one pager this year,
And after all that talk, really there is only one thing I want to make clear.

I’m thankful for your friendship, your letters and your cards,
I only want to send back to you my very best regards.

I hope you find joy in your holiday celebrations

and carry that joy in your heart into the New Year!

If you read all the way to the bottom of this post, I thank you.
But seriously, don't you have something better to do?
It's Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Chldren's Hour

Back in the early 1960s , 
my Dad did a lot of remodeling and other carpenter work on cabins
 in the Balsam Lake area. 
It got to be a tradition on Fridays to have happy hour at one of the cabins 
and somehow it got named 
The Children's Hour, after a famous poem by Longfellow. 

One of the cabin owners, 
money was no object to most of these people, 
had highball glasses made for those who gathered. 
Dad hung onto his all these many years 
and at some point in time in his last years he handed it to me. 

I use it when I want to have a Manhattan or a Old Fashioned 
and of course guard it with my life. 
So anyway, tonight I'm having an old-fashioned and toasting my Dad. 

Between the dark and the daylight, 
when the night is beginning to lower, 
comes a pause in the day's occupations, 
that is known as The Children's Hour.

A nice way to end Lille Jule Aften.

Lille Jule Aften 2017

Good morning friends.

Today, 12/23, in Denmark is Lille Jule Aften, 
Little Christmas Eve.
A day to put something extra in the cat dish,  
extra seeds for the birds, 
and according to Danish tradition, a little extra rice in the dish for the Nisse.  
My Dad, in later years,  made it his night to enjoy a few cocktails and he had a list of people he would call on the phone. 
Heated bird bath cleaned & refilled.

Fresh suet logs and refilled feeders for my feathered friends.
This year, I'll be watching the Packers play the Vikings. 
I'll probably do the cocktail thing though. 

The cats are fascinated by the tree, well, really it is the tree skirt I think.
So far, the ornaments are all still on the tree.

Hops loves the tree & skirt.
Hey, a snowy owl!  The only one I've seen this year, so far.
The villagers take a beating nightly.  One or more are tipped over.
Barley just loves to be part of the village action, and it doesn't seem to bother her if she knocks over a figure or two.  One tree did have to be glued but it looks like new again.

It's cold this morning,  14°, but sunny.  
Great day for ice fishing peeps. 
Crunchy snow. 
My nephew Ryan has a pond behind his house that he clears for his daughters to skate on.  
He told me that this year the ice froze perfect & is very smooth.  

It's always a hot topic up is the ice?  
If it gets snowed on or it gets too warm,  it can be a hard surface to navigate,  too smooth can also be rough for the fishermen.  My friend Bruce lives for ice fishing 
so I hear his evaluations of the ice on the many lakes he fishes.  

The other day when I was coming home from Luck,  I passed a lake with some people on the ice 
& it looked like they were stamping out a design.  I see on face book that they were stamping out a big "Merry Christmas BOB".  
One of the locals had died,  Bob, and this was their memorial.  
Pretty cool. 

So,  that's my ice story.  
I personally don't go on the ice but I'll put some I my cocktail glass. 

Happy Lille Jule Aften.

Monday, December 18, 2017


I picked up a clearance tree last January and stuffed it in the closet.  It's a small and simple tree and fits nicely in my living room.  I finally figured out what I wanted for decorations and today it is finished.

The cats were interested in the tree after I set it in the living room.
They used the bristly needles to scratch their faces and floss their teeth.
Hopefully, now that the tree is decorated, they will leave it alone.

Hops especially loves the tree skirt.
It has chunky glitter on satin, something I picked up on clearance.
But last night, she was loving on it and finally squeezed under the tree and fell fast asleep.

Florence's angel always tops off my tree,
this year she's holding a cardinal.

Cardinals are here not and again, and I love trying to catch a photo of them.
This guy was a beauty and stayed a few minutes for a seed snack.

 Cardinals, decorated Christmas trees and a fresh flag.

 Just a few of my favorite things.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Tis the season

My life is filled with basketball right now.  From now until March, one or two nights a week, I'll be on the bleachers, camera in hand.  I have watched Jack and Gage play ball for 9 years since moving to Wisconsin and this year, to see them both start on Varsity, is a special treat.
Jack, a senior
Gage, a sophomore


I hope they are enjoying this year of playing as teammates as much as I am.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Middle School Music

On Monday evening, I drove over to Luck to attend the Middle School Holiday Concert.
I'm not sure if all middle school students are required to participate in either band or choir, but I'm guessing that might be the case as there were a large number of kids involved and the auditorium was full with extra chairs being set up to accommodate the crowd.
Megan played percussion in the band and Stella played the clarinet.  Stella also sang in the choir.  It was an enjoyable evening. 

A few photos from after the concert.
Grandma Lois with Stella and Megan

Great Aunt Wanda, Megan, Grandma Lois

Grandma Lois, Stella, Great Aunt Lois, Great Aunt Wanda

I have a lot of respect for teachers who take on music at the elementary and middle school level.  I also think it is a so important for kids to be exposed to learning about music at those ages as it can inspire a life long love for music.  I know it did for me.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Stuff that happens

When I retired from Coors, I was promised health insurance until I turned 65 and knew that then I would have to transition to Medicare for my health care.  This seemed like it was so faarrr awwwaay, but guess what, it has happened!  On December 1st, I became the proud owner of Medicare card.  Coors sent me a nice registered letter greeting to be sure I knew they were kindly showing me the door and after much research, I found a the medicare option that I hope will work well for me.
Next week is my Welcome to Medicare exam with my doctor.
Ah, well, time flies as they say.
Just 16 more days and then, 
When I get to the gym for a basketball game, I always look to see where the designated 'visitor' section is so I can sit with other fans from my home team.
Last Friday night was my first visit to the new Unity gymnasium.
I wanted to set across from our bench so that most of my photos would have our kids & fans in the background, so opted to sit in the "Visitor Student" section.

But, the Unity fans evidently are not aware of these postings.
Before long, I was sitting with all fans of the opponents.
This is not such a big deal, but why don't they want to sit behind or across from their own team?
This has happened a number of times to me, I'm usually early to the gym, so don't have a chance to scope out where the 'enemy' is sitting.
One time, at a tournament game, I even got a little mouthy with a fan from anther team.
Janice, my cohort in basketball crime, might have nudged me on a little and by the end of the game, I wasn't exactly a charming representative of the Luck Cardinals community.
I behaved better on Friday night, but did manage to make one snide remark to one of the Unity Fans.
Such drama....


Most schools run a 50/50 raffle at the basketball games.
Half the money goes to some school related need and the other half goes home in the pocket of the lucky winner.  Many fans, both home and visitors, participate in this fundraiser each game.
On Friday night, when they called the name of the lucky winner of the 50/50, 
it was none other than Jude Johansen.
As you can see, he was completely pumped to run across the court and accept his fistful of winnings.

That's a happy little boy.

For added fun, Aunt Lois bought some bean bags and then had Kyle toss it for her.
So, when her name was called as the big winner, it was cute.

Two Lois's in our family.
One is my sister in law, who was Lois Skow before she married Gus and became Lois Johansen.
The other, Lois is married to Lois Johansen's brother, Larry Skow, so she is now Lois Skow.
It can be very confusing.
Lois Skow and I are great aunts to all the Johansen & Chivers kids, so I just call her Aunt Lois.
Lois Johansen is grandma LoJo to the Johansen & Chivers kids.
Anyway, something that is not confusing
 is the fun that Jude had gathering up the bean bags after the toss.

He make me happy.
After the disappointing loss, I stopped over at Kyle & Heather's house for a little afterglow before driving home in the snow.
It's kind of nice to let everyone else get off the road, that way I can take my time and enjoy the drive.
Jude was busy playing with some 'guys' and I sat next to him and talked him into this selfie.

I love spending time with this sweet boy.
So, when I get shook up about people sitting in the wrong seats, 
health care costs that are what they are
or other minor infractions that cause angst,
I just need a little time with Jude's Joy.

Life is good.

Thursday, December 7, 2017


Well I guess it's time for winter. 

Although I have to say, the mild November  weather was welcome and much appreciated. But it's time the ground gets covered with a layer of insulation and now that has happened.
  It was a strange storm for December that came through, moving quickly; very hard rain with thunder and lightning followed by flash freeze, wind and snow. 

The next morning was beautiful. I do think we will be trying to get rid of that layer of ice for most of the rest of the winter, but a few sunny days could help with that problem. 
No matter, it's time for snow and cold so that we can turn the corner and get back to Spring and green grass.


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