Monday, January 27, 2014


Two vehicles have passed my house this afternoon. One had 4-wheel drive. The other was a snowmobile. If anything else went by, it was lost from sight in the blowing snow. My photography skills and cold tolerance have made a real photo impossible, but it looks kind of like this:

Here's what the local weatherman said in his blog today:
There's no sugar coating it.  The next four to five days will be one of the most brutal stretches of winter weather many of us have ever seen.  There's two rounds of light snow.  Okay, we can handle that.  But, one of them will be a full-fledged blizzard.  Yuck.  An abrupt drop in temperatures from the low 20s to throwing a minus sign in front of that 20 by Monday morning.  Then we'll do it again Tuesday morning.  Still following what we have coming our way?  It's a lot.

First let's start about how this winter has gone so far.  There's no surprise it's one of the coldest we've seen in decades.  For Rochester, MN (the official climate station for SE Minnesota) the last time we started winter so cold was the 1983/84 season.  So far we've had 25 days reach subzero readings.  That puts us in the top ten for number of subzero days to start a season (Thru Jan 24)  In comparison, last winter had 12 for the entire season. 
Even though I was in Texas in 1983/84 I can attest to that winter also as Emily was born on the day in 1984 that Austin got SIX INCHES of snow. They even offered to let us stay an additional day in the hospital so the snow could melt.

I will share this photo of my parking lot, which I snapped upon my return from church:

If you're wondering - yes, that's a six-foot privacy fence behind those piles of snow. And the snow to the right of the big piles is the actual depth of the snow now. It' about knee-high on me.

Sunday morning I faced my first real work crisis. I had several Sunday School teachers who couldn't get into town to church because of snow, drifts, or unplowed roads. After fretting and worrying a bit, it all got sorted out, thanks to flexible and agreeable volunteers. However, this is a reality of my new job that I should probably spend some time thinking about.

All of this follows a wonderful couple of days off with my sister Laurie and my cousin Jane. It may be bleak outside, but inside there was lots of color. We made several of these fun box cards:

My WaterWings blog was added to First Lutheran's blog roll this week and I got lots of warm fuzzies from new readers at church. . . hmmm, that blog recurring references to water. This one seems to have an awful lot of warm and cold going on. I'll try to post next week with no mention of weather (but no promises when things are this dramatic!) Livin' la Frio Vida  in Minnesota!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Acquired Memories

"The business of life is the acquisition of memories." That's my nominee for the best line from this week's episode of Downton Abbey. Thank you Carson-the-Butler.  I must admit, this week's Downton experience paled after my adventure in millinery before last Sunday's episode. Watching with Texas girlfriends while wearing hand-crafted bands ala Roaring Twenties is only one of the memories I have acquired since I last wrote. Last week's trip to Texas did not happen as anticipated in last week's post:
  • It will be remembered for the most boarding passes accumulated on a single journey. Thanks to the polar vortex's visit to Minnesota I got two from Rochester to Chicago, five from Chicago to Texas, and three for the Megabus from Austin to Houston. I kept reminding myself of Louis CK's routine about air travel: Everything's Amazing and Nobody's Happy (if you haven't heard it, and you can tolerate a little bit of vulgarity, you can watch it here.) Even with all the delays, I got to Austin in 10 hours, had two meals, and passed 22 levels of Candy Crush Saga on my phone and read a book on my Kindle. 
  • My wonderful friends Pat and Len met me at the airport shortly after midnight, gave me shelter, and then had to deal with a dog and a skunk episode less than six hours later and other out of town visitors throughout the weekend, along with stray friends I invited over at random times. 
  • I had breakfast, and lunch, and wonderful talk time in favorite Austin restaurants with daughter Gracie and son-in-law Tony while waiting for my luggage to catch up with me.
  • My first Megabus experience - WiFi, outlets for charging up electronics, cheap seats (all three tickets added up to $25, which is less than a full fare ticket on Greyhound) and only one stop between UT and downtown Houston! I'll definitely try that again. . . and if you ever need a taxi in Houston, be sure to call Fiesta. Fantastic service!!!
  • I had a personal encounter with Shelley Gardner, founder and CEO of Stampin' Up! at the Downtown Aquarium before all the other demonstrators arrived followed by an amazing private evening at this wonderful venue. I even petted the stingrays! Then I spent two days learning about my stamping business and hanging out with friends from Illinois and made a new friend from St. Louis who shares my passions for stamping and Christian Education - what are the odds!
  • Visited my former church in Austin and was hugged enthusiastically by kids I've been watching grow up for many years, and old and new friends I've been missing. Had a chance to visit with former collegues and an unexpected encounter with someone I've known since I was a young mother. Coffee with Nick and Barb who moved me to Minnesota in September.
  • Lunch with my bookclub gal pals at Beth's, with my stamping downline at Melanie's and with my old Brown BagBible study group at Schlotzky's. . . great food, great conversation, lots of old and new memories made and discussed! Breakfast tacos at Rudy's with my accountability group of the past 13 years who I miss every single Saturday morning, and often in-between!
  • And the familiar warmth of chatting in the hot tub in the dark with Pat who has been present for pretty much every important moment of my life over the past 30 years.
So, to quote another diva, "but it's the laughter, we will remember, whenever we remember, the way we were." I really nailed that acquisition of memories thing. And I hope my memory holds up because I forgot to take a single picture while I was there . . . but here's a moment at the Aquarium that someone captured and posted to Facebook:

Definitely a week to remember! And one final memory - when it was time to return to Minnesota, I felt like I was coming home, and I treasure that feeling. I feared the trip would trigger a deep sense of loss or doubt about my decision/discernment to come here but I returned with the deep certainty that this is home now, polar vortex and all! 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Heading South. . .

This is what a bubble blown from a child's wand looks like when the temperatures reach sub-zero depths. It freezes instantly. It will shatter like glass. Still, it's really lovely to look at, if you can stand to be outdoors for a few minutes.

A Minneapolis television station highlighted this fun experiment over the Christmas holidays and I've been wanting to try it for myself. Today would be perfect! At 9AM it is a "brisk" -24 degrees outside. Since a person can quickly freeze to death in these temps I believe I'll try it another day.

I will be going out today though; I am driving to Rochester to stay with friends Beth and Niel tonight, just to make sure that nothing interferes with my escape tomorrow! I'm headed for Texas: some work and some play, some family and some friends, and a wonderful opportunity to thaw out.

Here's the ultimate measure of the goodness of the people in my new community. Every single person I told that I was going was delighted for me. Not one person expressed jealousy or mocked me for being a wimp, they just cheered me on. They willingly stepped up to do the small tasks that need doing each week, and wished me well.

Once again my gratitude is overflowing. To have people waiting to welcome me in Texas and people here in Minnesota helping me to feel good about going is a rare privilege. Grace upon grace!

So, wherever you may be on this blustery morning:

  • may you be warmed by the sun, the fire, the furnace, 
  • may you love the people around you and let them love you back,
  • may you wrap yourself in the comforter of happy memories and enjoyable pass-times, and 
  • may the warm breath of the Spirit fill you with passion for life itself. 
Hope to see many of you this week!