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A Splendid Time!

1009914_10201539903926297_351803285_n[1]Laura & Michael

As I tried to balance my plate in one hand while eating morsels of tasty treats, I wondered if it was starting to rain. I thought I was doing a good job of keeping eye contact with the person who was talking, when it seemed like a little raindrop passed by and missed my plate. I politely nodded and listened as the conversation went on. I waited for another drop to fall. When I didn’t hear, feel or see one, I thought it must have been my imagination. Plus, I could not picture rain falling on such a decent day in August. The sky had been beautifully bright and blue with hardly a wisp of a cloud the entire day.

My husband popped in on our conversation, and asked, “Was that a squirrel?” He got hit on the head with something. The four of us looked up, but since it was getting dark, we couldn’t see any animal hiding in the very tall oak tree. When we looked down, we saw evidence of acorn shells scattered about.

“Oh, that’s not a good sign,” we heard a lady say. “If the squirrels are acting so crazy about acorns already that means it’s going to be a cold winter.” Somehow the talk of winter made us scatter and mingle. I wandered over to the table and tried to decide if I wanted more shrimp cocktail, veggies & dip, meatballs, cheese & crackers, a wrap, or my favorite:  a delicious bit of roast beef piled on toast and topped with a tad of horseradish. I took my favorite, and while I chewed, I stared at the cupcake tree stand. Since the cupcakes were chocolate, I knew I had to have one. The frosting looked like it was some sort of marshmallow that had been whipped into a bouffant.  It reminded me of a hairstyle from the 60s. I plopped one on my plate and it didn’t last long there!

There were high tables neatly arranged about the yard with smatterings of other conversational areas. Each table was decorated with colorful bouquets of flowers that the hostess arranged in a most attractive fashion. I headed toward the table with the comfy chairs and umbrella just in case the squirrels decided to bomb us again.

Laura was holding Michael’s little nephew. I got up close, looked at his little nose, peaked under the blanket and saw his tiny feet. His left hand was bunched up into a fist and rested on the bottom of his chin as if he was in some sort of deep thinking process. I wondered what little babies dream about.

“Do you want to hold him?” Laura asked me. I hadn’t held a baby for years. When people ask me if I want to hold a baby, I almost always say no because sometimes it makes me nervous.  But that day was different. I said yes mostly because that little baby and I are going to be connected with and be a part of the same family.  Plus, he is one cute baby who didn’t make me feel fidgety!

As I sat with the little one and patiently waited for him to open his eyes, I looked around the yard.  Even though a lot of us were meeting each other for the first time, the conversations felt like we had known each other for years.

When Michael asked for our blessing to marry our daughter, I knew it would be the start of new  beginnings for us. For me it means getting to be the Mother-of-the-Bride, plus I am looking forward to being a Mother-in-Law!  Even though Michael has seemed like a member of our family for quite some time now, it will be great when we get to officially welcome him to our family next year when Michael and Laura tie the knot.

Before this event, I didn’t even know that engagement parties existed.  An engagement party is a nice way to start off all the events that come with planning a wedding and a good way to meet each others immediate families.  I’m so glad I had such a splendid time at my first engagement party!

What a great favor God does to those He places in the company of good people! ~ St. Teresa of Avila

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It Helps Us to Say Thanks, Part II

A year ago, I wrote about some fun times at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in a blog post called It Helps Us to Say Thanks.  My brothers and I thought it would be nice to get a memorial paver there in memory of Mom and Dad.  We suggested that memorials be given to Como in honor of our Mom who died last year.  We recently submitted a poem that we all liked, but it didn’t get approved because it was too religious.  It wasn’t really a poem:  It was a prayer!  Since the zoo is a public place, they said they could not inscribe a prayer on a paver.

So I wrote this instead:

Thanks Mom and Dad
For the family that we were with you,
And teaching us truth in all that we do.
By showing us what is wrong what is right,
And helping us keep our attitudes bright.
By having you laugh around our small brood,
It helped us to stay in such a fun mood.
By caring for us and showing the way,
Work is important but so is to play.
By loving the world in which we do live,
All of creation it helps us to give.
Kindness to people and animals too,
Tending the flowers and trees as did you.
By thanking the wind the sail that it blew,
Moving us along to explore what’s new.
By missing loved ones when they go their way
We do that now too, but memories stay!

Mom loved flowers and they both loved to sail.  I thought this would be a nice remembrance!  I hope Como thinks so too.

A Really Good Show

“Good morning.  How are you?” a lady asked as we entered the elevator.

“We’re tired,” said Susan with a laugh.

“That’s good.  That’s how it’s supposed to be when you come to New York!” she said in a chipper voice.

“Yes, we’ve been keeping really busy,” said Susan as I tried to stifle a yawn!

The doorman also greeted us with a friendly “good morning” as we left the hotel.  We walked the short distance to Sarabeth’s.  Some customers were sitting outside, but since the temperatures kept climbing each day, we decided to eat inside.  The host escorted us to the same table where we sat a couple of days before.  I ordered the French toast and patiently sipped warm coffee.  When the food arrived, I generously poured maple syrup over the large stack.  I thought the extra sugar would do me some good since my stomach was feeling pretty empty after the Miserable Outburst.

Susan and I talked about how sad we would be if one of us got sick enough where we wouldn’t be able to go to the shows.  We bought our tickets long before we got to NYC.  I had thought about how sad that would be even before we left on the trip.  That thought helped us decide that our fifth day was going to be a more relaxing one.

After breakfast, we waited for a bus on the corner of 79th Street and Amsterdam.  If it would have been any other day, we probably would have walked the short distance to Riverside Park.  When we got on the bus and noticed that we were the only customers, we told the bus driver that we were visiting from Minnesota.  He jokingly asked, “Do any people live there?”

The Lucerne (Side View)
View of The Lucerne (on the Right)
from the Bus Stop

“More people live in Minnesota than South Dakota,” I said.  He wondered how come we didn’t just walk because it was only a few blocks, but we ignored his question.  We really just liked the idea of using our bus passes!  When we got off, we walked down to The West 79th Street Boat Basin Café, which looked like a fun place to eat overlooking the Hudson River.  As we walked along, we enjoyed the quiet park and being shaded by large trees.  A lady walked towards us with a little dog, and both Susan and I said, “Aww.”  Seeing the dog made us realize how much we missed each of ours.  After the dog met us and figured out we were all right, he laid down flat and panted.

Since the dog needed a rest, the lady told us about how in the day she is a nanny to a little boy and the dog, but at night she is an actress.  She just auditioned for a show.  We wished her good luck and continued on after the lady tried to get the dog to move.  People zoomed by on bikes, and we passed others walking along the path.  When we came to the 91st Street Garden, we named off some of the flowers.  The foxgloves looked beautiful.  We could hear many little children at the nearby playground.

Riverside ParkMe at the 91st Street Garden

We walked down a beautiful path:

Riverside Park

We saw the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument:

Soldiers' and Sailor's Monument, Riverside Drive

The buildings were quite pretty:

Upper West Side, Manhattan

The warm day had us visiting Café Lalo again.  I ordered a delicious smoothie.  Susan told me about the scene in the movie “You’ve Got Mail” where Meg Ryan is patiently reading her book while waiting for her email buddy to join her at Café Lalo.  That movie ended when Tom Hanks met Meg Ryan at the 91st Street Garden!

We walked some more, visited a few shops and admired the neighborhood.

When we got back to the hotel, we took our time getting ready for “The Jersey Boys.”  Before we knew it, it was time to go on the subway.  We decided to go to Victor’s Café, a very extravagant looking Cuban restaurant.  We sat in the small bar area and ordered Papa Rellenas (stuffed potatoes and meat puffs) from the Tapas Menu.  The appetizers were so delicious; we decided to order another round.  We were glad that we were both feeling just fine.

As I read the playbill in the August Wilson Theater, I was surprised that I knew all of the songs.  I didn’t realize that Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons had such a long list.  The order of the songs conveniently told the story of their lives together.  The play was quite funny until it got to the part where Frankie Valli’s wife decided that she wanted a divorce because Frankie wasn’t home very much.  When Tony Winner John Lloyd Young sang “My Eyes Adored You,”  I tried to hold back the tears.  I realized I would never think of that song the same way again.

At times the show had me stomping my feet to the music, laughing, and a moment later trying to hold back the tears.  When we left the theatre, I felt like I was leaving some good friends behind.  That’s when I knew I saw A Really Good Show.

We looked forward to going to see the Statue of Liberty the next day.

To be continued…

Why Did I Wait So Long?

It seemed like a nice day for a walk around the lake. Katie and I got into the van where Lila was patiently waiting. There was just a little hint of thunder way off in the distance, but we ignored it and went on our way.

Just as we were about to park, a couple little raindrops speckled the windshield. This was our first walk around Lake Harriet since all the snow had melted away, and we really didn’t want to turn around especially since we all had been suffering from a very bad case of cabin fever.

“Let’s just walk a couple blocks and see how it goes,” Katie said. She pointed to Lila as if to say that we didn’t want to upset her because it seemed as if Lila had been trying to control her little squeaks of excitement on the ride over. We really didn’t want to disappoint our dog by getting back in the van and heading home right away, did we?

As we walked, the sweet lilac blossoms and flowers from blooming trees mingled together to help us forget the long cold winter that seemed like a bad dream to us now. We slowly climbed down the steep and narrow stairs. Lila listened to me as I told her to go slow, and we made it safely to the walking path. I thought it would be better to go in a different direction than usual because as I looked at the clouds, I hoped the rain would pass over the east side of the lake and miss us.

When we passed by the Elf’s house, we could see that his door, that is located in the nook of a tree, was closed. Under the crack of the door, we could see that many brightly colored dandelions had been left by some visitors.  A couple little drops of rain started to fall on us and on the path before us. We hoped that the Elf’s house would stay dry.  Many walkers passed by and no one seemed to mind the little rumblings of thunder. Not even the little boy who was on his bike and cheerfully asked his Dad, “Is it raining?”

“Yes,” said the Dad in a chipper voice.

Since it was warm and humid, the cool raindrops felt good. I was glad that no one could tell that underneath it all, I really was sweating! The clouds rumbled back and forth to each other as if they were having a conversation. Their lightening didn’t seem to brighten up the sky, so we just walked along more than just a few blocks. Lila kept us on pace and still seemed to be as excited to be outside as we were. As we rounded a corner, the rain started to fall down in sheets and we couldn’t see across the lake any more. Sometimes the trees sheltered us with their new bright leaves.

When we came to the area close to the band shell, many people sat in the sheltered area out of the rain. We decided to keep on going. A girl continued rollerblading while she held onto her Mom. Even though the wheels kept slipping along the path, the girl didn’t give up and neither did her mother. They just kept on going.

Lila got off track for a bit to sniff at something as Katie and I patiently waited. When we saw that Lila had found a stinky dead mouse, I told her she had a good sniffer, and that we had to keep on going.

For a short time, the sky was bright and we thought that maybe it was going to get clear. We walked along, and no drops of rain hit us to get us any wetter. As we got closer to the van, a bright light flashed and soon we heard the thunder. The lightening was showing itself now, and was no longer having a conversation just between the clouds. The rain came down again, but now it was a little bit harder.

We made it to the van safe and sound. Even though our clothes got soaked through, we realized that it was a nice day to walk around the lake after all. I also realized that I hadn’t walked in the rain like this since I was a little kid. Why did I wait so long?

Some people feel the rain — others just get wet. ~Roger Miller

April is for Showers

Tonight the rain is tapping on the windows, but the weatherman predicts that it will soon turn to snow. All of this strange weather doesn’t bother Lila at all. On Saturday, she greeted the snow by rubbing both sides of her face in the white stuff, and then she got down and rolled over on her back and wiggled around in an unusual dance. It looked as if she was embracing the snow.

When she chased the tennis ball, some of the piles of snow at the park looked to be solid, but underneath were hidden puddles. Though her sturdy paws fell through, it didn’t scare Lila one bit. She just crunched through them and ran into other puddles as big as ponds. Even though the rain has melted some of the snow, the new snow will make it even harder for spring to appear.

I wonder if Lila misses the smells of spring like I do. Maybe Lila noticed little shoots of green grass that are trying to poke through the ground. Maybe she can smell the nests of rabbits if she tried. I miss the sight of daffodils that should be blooming and swaying in the wind and the shock of purple crocuses that we only see for a short time before rabbits eat them gone. The clouds keep greeting us day after day still sputtering snowflakes our way.

If only I could think like a dog when I see whatever the day has to offer and embrace it all no matter what. With each new day a dog still plays.

It makes me wonder if Mother Nature forgot that April is for showers of rain, not of snow.

Don’t knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while. ~Kin Hubbard

The Painted Garden

One of the first signs of spring in Minneapolis is the Macy’s Flower Show which takes place in the 8th Floor Auditorium of Macy’s downtown store.  Every year all the colors are such a welcome sight for those of us who have been surrounded by white, drab snow.

This year the theme is the Painted Garden which celebrates India and the southern regions of Asia.   Every color ever imagined can be found here in the beautifully designed creations, and the fragrant flowers remind us that spring will soon be here!

The free event is being held from March 24 through April 7.  Most of the flowers looked great yesterday, but don’t wait too long because the hyacinths were starting to look a little tired.

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Flowers don’t worry about how they’re going to bloom.  They just open up and turn toward the light and that makes them beautiful.  ~Jim Carrey

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Easter!