Tonight we were able to attend Sky’s middle school orchestra concert.  Wow!  The music they played was noticeably more difficult than what they play in the elementary school concerts.  The program was a mix of classical, holiday, and pop music.  The highlight piece was undoubtedly the Star Wars theme, complete with light sticks attached to the bows.

The music director has obviously done this before.  At the opening of the program, she announced that this is the best the kids will look, so she’d be stepping aside to give us a chance to take our pictures.  We did, and we had a very, very enjoyable evening.

Sky tuning up before the concert

Sky tuning up before the concertThe middle school orchestra

The middle school orchestra.  Sky is in front of the bass ahead of the doorway in the upper right."Light sabers" attached to the instrument bows to play the "Star Wars" theme

“Light sabers” attached to the instrument bows in the darkened auditorium to perform the “Star Wars” theme

I’ve had pain in the ribs on the right side of my back since May.  I’ve tried muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory medications, as well as physical therapy, with no improvement.  A CT scan showed that three of my ribs are inflamed and are possibly rubbing against the lower part of my shoulder blade, thus preventing healing.

The orthopedist who ordered the CT scan suggested that I see some “new generation” specialists who focus on micro muscular exercises for treatment.  I’ve been working with the specialists for two weeks.  They predict that, after three weeks of treatment, I will notice a lessening of the pain, although it might take longer to completely eradicate it.

Ryan and John (they are doctors who go by their first names) focus on core strength, but they back up–way back!  In the room where they teach me the exercises, they have posters of babies on the wall.  I asked John about them and he said yes, they base much of their practice on the ways in which babies develop core strength.  According to the poster, these are called neuromuscular stabilization exercises in developmental positions.  That makes it sound more medical.

It’s pretty interesting to look at the baby’s poses and the adult’s poses.  It will be even more interesting if this alleviates the pain I’ve been feeling.  I guess I’m going back to my roots.  Or am I going back to my youth?



Today was a rainy day and the mall is always deserted on Mondays, so Ted and I decided to walk in the mall and get our three miles in.  We arrived just in time for the sun to break through the clouds at sunset.  The back edge of the rain clouds picked up the beautiful sunset colors.

One of the NWS forecasters once wrote a forecast that included the prediction “sunny by dark.”  That’s what we had today.


Kyle sent us some wedding photos.  I assume the official photographer took these, since they look good, have good lighting, and are all front views rather than off-side views from where the rest of us were standing for our free shots.  I’m posting them here, even though some are duplicates of those taken with our camera.  These have much better lighting effects.  ♥

Guess who?

Guess who?

Bride and groom with favorite aunt and uncle.

Bride and groom with favorite aunt and uncle.Celebrity shot--the bride and groom posed with us.

Celebrity shot–the bride and groom posed with four of their fans.Dancing to a slow song.

Dancing to a slow song. (We didn’t know we were on camera.)

Our new mattress arrived today.  The good news:  the top surface is level, rather than worn into hollows and hills.  It might have been a bit of hyperbole to say the center of the old mattress had a mountain range-like ridge between two valleys, but it was like a tiny flaw on a tooth that’s magnified by the tongue.  The bad news:  the new mattress is, of course, thicker than the old one, so our sheets didn’t fit.  In spite of my vow to go nowhere near a retail establishment this Black Friday weekend, we had to go shopping for sheets with one-inch deeper corner pockets to make the bed.  Nothing is ever easy, is it?

The old mattress. It's not bad to look at, but it's uncomfortable for sleeping.

The old mattress.  It’s not too bad to look at, but you can see the “valley” on the left and the hump in the middle.

The new mattress.  The top surface is comfortably level.

Kari’s family joined us for Thanksgiving dinner tonight.  We included Kari and Dean’s friend, Jerry, who is recently divorced and would have spent the day alone.  Jerry brought a bottle of wine and another pie, so he’s welcome to come again any time.  (Just kidding.)

When Ted and I were in Wal-Mart recently, we saw Thanksgiving tablecloths and napkins for $1.00 per package.  Who can resist a bargain like that?  With the colorful table “linens” (hah!), my pumpkin-vased fresh flowers, and some fall-colored candles, the table looked very festive.

Not surprisingly, we had ham for the meat course.  The boys were so eager for it that they skipped lunch to make sure they’d have plenty of room for ham and for pie with whipped cream.  They ate so much food, they couldn’t finish their pie.  A good time was had by all, and Teddy took his leftover pie home in a to-go container to eat for lunch tomorrow.

I am amazed almost daily at the number of things I have to be thankful for in my life.  I am truly blessed in many, many ways.


Our mattress is nine-and-a-half years old.  As Ted and I lay in bed this morning, we noticed (again) that there are hollows just our sizes on each side of the mattress with a high point between and the length of the hollows.  When the bed is made and the weight of the mattress pad, the down comforter, and the quilted bedspread fall into place, the bed surface looks like two valleys with a mountain range between them.

We’ve been saying that it’s time to buy a new mattress, but this morning was different.  We asked what we’re waiting for, and we went out shopping.  The new mattress will be delivered Friday afternoon.  Suddenly, two more nights on the old mattress seem like a hardship, when just last night, it wasn’t bad at all.  Unfortunately, we didn’t see any wine box mattresses for sale.

One of the questions I asked Ted yesterday was who I’d be with if I called to tell him I was in trouble.  He quickly replied, “Liz.”  That reminded me of a sign I saw in a store window several years ago.  I immediately thought of Liz when I saw the sign.  I guess Ted knows me (and Liz) pretty well.


Note:  Liz and I have never been in trouble–or in jail.  Yet.

Katie posted an interesting activity on Facebook, so I tried it.  The directions are to, without prompting, ask your husband these questions and then write exactly what he says.  Some of Ted’s responses surprised me, but here they are.

What is something I always say? ♥ I love you.

What makes me happy? ♥ You’re almost always happy.  You’re an optimist.

What makes me sad? ♥ Not much any more, but when we didn’t have much money, you would sometimes be sad.

How tall am I? ♥ 5′ 5″.

What’s my favorite thing to do? ♥ Sit on the sofa in the evening while I rub your feet.

What do I do when you’re not around? ♥ Read and sit outside by the pool.

If I become famous, what will it be for? ♥ A new teaching principle.

What makes you proud of me? ♥ That you got your doctorate.  And you’re in good shape cuz you exercise.

What’s my favorite food? ♥ Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia.

What’s my favorite restaurant? ♥ Bentley’s.

Where is my favorite place to visit? ♥ The Outer Banks.

If I could go anywhere, where would it be? ♥ Europe.  Italy, Germany, or Switzerland.

How do I annoy you? ♥ By worrying so much about things like not having time to finish everything.

What is my favorite movie? ♥ Gone with the Wind.

Who is my celebrity crush? ♥ I don’t think you have a crush, but I’d say George Clooney.

You get a phone call that I’m in trouble.  Who am I with? ♥ Liz.

A few days ago, I sent this to Katie.


Today, Katie replied with this.


Fact check:  I’m sure both of the above statements are absolutely true, although the first one should say its, not their, and the percentage goes down in the second one if you factor in the second set of grandparents.  We need better editors when there are such important pieces of wisdom to be shared.

Ted and I went out to lunch.  Since it was a gray, blustery day, I ordered a cup of hot chocolate.  It came with the whipped cream on the side in a miniature milk can.  Awww!


When I received an invitation to Katie’s baby shower, I thought it would be fun to use some frequent flier miles to attend the event.  I called Katie’s mom and Thom to make arrangements for airport shuttling and sleeping, and they both thought I should surprise Katie, because she wouldn’t be expecting me.

I flew to Seattle on Saturday.  Katie’s parents, Scott and Carmen, picked me up at the airport and I stayed at their house overnight.  As shower time approached Sunday afternoon, Carmen suggested that when we saw Katie’s car coming up the driveway, I should go to the bedroom and wait a few minutes, then “mosey” out and see how long it would take Katie to notice me.  It took her less than five seconds, even though I was trying to be inconspicuous.

This was the most elaborate baby shower I’ve ever attended.  I admit that it’s been many years since I was at a baby shower, but they used to be much simpler:  chairs in a circle, women friends and family members, gifts for the mom-to-be, and dessert.  This shower included a plethora of decorations, including signs, banners, decorated clipboards for the obligatory shower games, and decorated gift bags for the guests.  In addition to what’s in the picture below, there were also banners hung on the windows, decorative strings of pine cones, table decorations, and a photo wall.  Whew!

A few of the decorations.

A few of the decorations:  “Mountains” on the cabinet top, a hand-made sign for the “Don’t Say Baby” game, a handmade sign on the fireplace with a chain of mountains and clouds below it, and another handmade sign between the fireplace and the door that said “You are our greatest adventure.”

The menu included chili, chicken salad croissants, a veggie tray, a cheese and cracker tray, cake and cupcakes, and a variety of beverages.  This is a lot more than dessert and coffee!  Carmen was the head chef and did an awesome job.  Everything was delicious.

We played the bare minimum of shower games at Katie’s request.  She did not want to guess the baby food, etc.  (Thank you, Katie.  You’re a woman after my own heart.)  I counted thirty-one women present, but they kept moving around, so I could be off by one or two.  It followed that there was a huge pile of baby gifts and all of them were very nice.

Ted and I bought a few baby toys for the shower, but I decided to go mainly with heirloom gifts.  I opened the boxes of baby things I’ve saved, and I pulled out the lion quilt and the yellow knitted blanket I made for Thom.  I also selected a white blanket my mom made on her knitting machine and two sweaters she knit for my babies.  She knit the hooded striped sweater for Thom, and the white one with the matching cap for Kathy.  Katie asked for baby books instead of cards, so I brought one of Tom’s favorites:  The Read It Yourself Storybook.  Thom wrote his name on the pages (he was Tommy at that time) and, inside the book, I had noted that he received it from his Uncle Tom and Aunt Jo for his fourth birthday.

Gifts from the baby's great-grandma, its grandma, and its father

Gifts from the baby’s great-grandma, its grandma, and its father

Yes, I remember when he was Tommy, not Thom.

Yes, I remember when he was Tommy, not Thom.Katie just unbagged the lion quilt. Thom loved this quilt.

Katie just unbagged the lion quilt.  Thom loved this quilt.Several of the women at the shower told me later that it was really thoughtful of me to give away my baby things, because we often find them hard to part with.  (If this weren’t true, I wouldn’t still have them in boxes when my baby is in her late thirties.)  They also commented on the good condition of everything.  When she saw the tiny knitted baby cap, Katie became a little bit tearful at the thought that she will soon be holding someone who is that small.  It was a very touching moment at the shower.

. . . and then it was time to eat cake and cupcakes and to take pictures at the photo wall.  There was a designated official photographer who took pictures and printed them on the spot.

Katie and the grandmas-to-be

Katie with the grandmas-to-be

After the shower, we loaded the gifts into Katie’s car and went to her house.  Thom and Julian helped unload the car and then Thom started making dinner.  (What a good thing I taught him to cook.)  After dinner, while Katie showed Thom all the gifts, I had some one-on-one time with Julian.

All too soon, it was Monday morning.  I hugged Julian good-bye when he left for school, and Thom and Katie took me to the airport before going to work.  My flight home was uneventful, and I was glad to see Ted again.  It was fun to be a part of Katie’s baby shower and I’m glad I could go, even if I was there for a only little while.  Ted and I will stay longer when we go to Seattle to meet our eighth grandchild, who is due to be born January 2–or whenever it chooses.

P.S.  There were rain showers outside throughout my short visit.  It’s Seattle.

Kathy and I enjoy meeting in Columbia to spend an occasional one-on-one day together.  We live three hours apart, and Columbia is the halfway point–about 90 minutes of driving each way for both of us.  There are enough shops, restaurants, and points of interest in the city to let us do something while we talk.

Yesterday, we met in Columbia for the first time since February.  (It’s been a busy year!)  We did most of our favorite things, beginning with a long lunch.  When we were tired of sitting in the restaurant, we went downtown and browsed in the shopping area.

The only place we spent money downtown was at the chocolate store on Cherry Street.  The owners melt and make their own chocolate, and it’s delicious.  We each selected a few pieces of our favorite varieties and then headed for the Columbia Mall for a sit-down break.  A frosty beverage, a table in the food court beside the calliope, and our chocolate, and we were set until dinner time.  When we finally felt hungry enough to eat dinner, we decided to try the “new” Shakespeare’s Pizza.

About a year ago, Shakespeare’s tore down their entire building across the street from the MU campus and re-built a newer version of it.  Most of the main floor is the restaurant; the remainder is rental space for small shops or offices.  The upper four floors of what used to be a one-story building are dedicated to “deluxe” student apartments.  The restaurant expanded into its previous parking lots, so the kitchen is larger and there’s more seating, as well as a new full-service bar.  A (literally) yellow brick path on the floor leads patrons from the seating areas to the rest rooms.

Shakespeare’s is family-owned and is always very busy, attracting people of all ages.  It’s also very user-friendly, and you’re welcome to sit at your table as long as you like.  Kathy and I had cheese garlic bread, pizza, and a beer plus two more hours of talking before we decided it was about 90 minutes from when we wanted to be home.  We went back to our starting point to pick up her car and, after hugs and good wishes, we headed home, looking forward to our next Columbia Day.

The “new” Shakespeare’s Pizza, all the way across the first floor, including two more sets of windows on the right that didn’t fit in my picture.

Still the same plentiful supply of tp in the rest Rollins, bit now it's on a new varnished wooden rod instead of hanging from a long heavy chain.

Still the same plentiful supply of t.p. in the new rest rooms, but now it’s on a new varnished wooden rod instead of hanging from a long heavy chain.Kathy and I don't know if the lights and buzzer really flash and ring, but we always wash our hands, just in case.

This sign is at the rest room doors. Kathy and I don’t know if the lights and buzzer really flash and ring, but we always wash our hands, just in case.

Pay no attention to the man behind the screen; it’s Google that is the source of all information.  As I was blogging about Ella Genzmer and adding a link to the post, I noticed that one of my menu choices was “Search Google for ‘Ella Genzmer'” so I did.  I couldn’t believe what came up!!!  This was in the State of Wisconsin Assembly Journal, documenting the proceedings of the State Assembly.genzmer-pix-e

Hingham and Gibbsville Grade Schools became a consolidated school district with Oostburg when I was in eighth grade.  To help the eighth graders from all three schools get to know each other before starting high school in the fall, we had an eighth grade bus trip together.  We visited the Capitol in Madison and were introduced to the legislature.  (Apparently, a lot of other school kids from the state did the same thing that day.)  After the Capitol, we went to the Cave of the Mounds and then toured Little Norway.  It was a great day trip and I still have a small keepsake cedar box I bought that day at the Cave of the Mounds.

I never dreamed in 1961 that my eighth-grade school trip would re-surface in a Google search 55 years later.  Is this wonderful or scary?  Either way, it was kind of fun to find this old record.

At Kyle and Lauren’s wedding, my brother Tom quoted Ella Genzmer in his toast to the bride and groom.  He interrupted the toast to ask how many people in the room were acquainted with Ella Genzmer.  My brother Steve and I raised our hands.  With Tom, that made a total of three of us who knew her.

I grew up in Hingham, WI, a town of about 200 people, and Mrs. Genzmer was a long-time teacher in the Hingham Grade School.  The school building was two stories tall and had two classrooms, two teachers and usually somewhere around 50-60 students.  (It also had an awesome fire escape from the second floor, but that’s a different story.)  At some point, the upper floor was remodeled to form a third room, and a third teacher was added.  I don’t remember which grade I was in when that happened, but there are 63 students and three teachers in my seventh grade school picture.  (Yes, we are all in one picture.)

Important people: Mrs. Genzmer (back row, left); Denny (back row, second boy from left); me (back row, 5th from right); Steve (3rd row, 3rd from right); Tom (front row, 3rd from left).

Important people:  Mrs. Genzmer (back row, left); Denny (back row, 2nd boy from left); me (back row, 5th from right); Steve (3rd row, 3rd from right); Tom (front row, 3rd from left).

Mrs. Genzmer was my teacher for five of the eight years I was in grade school.  There was an interruption in my time with her when Mr. Prinsen, the principal, left and Mrs. Genzmer became the principal.  The principal always taught grades 5-8 (on the second floor), and I was still in a lower grade (on the first floor) when Mrs. Genzmer moved upstairs.  When I reached fifth grade, I had Mrs. Genzmer again until I graduated in one of the largest Hingham Grade School classes ever–seven of us!


Mrs. Genzmer was a grammarian.  I learned everything I know about diagramming sentences from her, and I took honors English in high school and college because of her.  In talking about her at Kyle and Lauren’s wedding, my brothers and I agreed that we received an excellent education in our little country school.

So what did Tom quote from Mrs. Genzmer?  In praising love and marriage, Tom reminded us that Mrs. Genzmer taught us “When using a dictionary, the first definition of a word is the most common use of the word.”  Tom also quoted Nietzsche in his toast.  I’ll bet Mrs. Genzmer would be surprised to be joined by Nietzsche!

Over the weekend, we drove up to Sterling Heights, MI (near Pontiac) for my nephew Kyle’s wedding.  It was beautiful fall weather for a wedding:  sunny and warm with red-gold leaves on the trees.  It’s rare that I see two of my brothers at the same time twice in a year (maybe never before), but we were together at Brandon and Maddy’s wedding in September, and again to celebrate Kyle and Lauren’s wedding this time.


The pastor’s homily was unusual.  He gave Kyle and Lauren the chance to select one of three wrapped gifts (“Do you want Door Number 1, 2, or 3?”) and then connected the gift to the Biblical texts they had chosen for their wedding.  Their gift was a pretty crystal clock.

Kyle and Lauren Soerens

Kyle and Lauren Soerens

The wedding party

The wedding partyIt was fun to socialize at the hotel between the wedding and the reception.  Tom and Jo provided some beverages and snacks, and the conversations were lively.  The hotel provided shuttles to and from the reception, so we out-of-towners didn’t have to worry about finding the venue.  The dinner was delicious and was followed by wedding pie for dessert.  After that, it was time to talk, party, and dance.  Woo-ee!

The bride and groom sharing a piece of wedding pie

The bride and groom sharing a piece of wedding pie

Tom (father of the groom) making a toast. He quoted Ella Genzmer.

Tom (father of the groom) making a toast.  He quoted Ella Genzmer.Tom and Jo with their family

Tom and Jo with their familySteve and Joan

Steve and JoanTed and me

Ted and meThe DJ played until midnight and even included The Beer Barrel Polka.  That wasn’t enough for this crowd, though.  More beverages and snacks appeared at the hotel after-party, and Jay and AJ ordered pizzas and buffalo wings for everyone to share.  Ted and I surrendered and left the after-party sometime after 2:00 a.m., but some of the other attendees carried on longer.

We had beautiful weather and an extra hour of sleep for our trip home.  It was a weekend of fun!  I wish we knew someone else who’s getting married so we could do it again.

My advisor, mentor, friend, and India training partner is awesome.  I introduced John Henschke in an earlier post and included some of his zillion+ accomplishments.  As soon as I knew John was going to be my training partner, I knew I would be working with the best and could set aside my worries about messing up my first overseas teacher trainings.

Today, I learned that John has yet another achievement to add to his resumé.  On November 14, he will be in Orlando, FL for his induction into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame.  What an honor!

Every so often, I hear that John is retiring.  When I ask him about it, he paraphrases Mark Twain and says, “The rumors of my retirement are greatly exaggerated.”  When I spoke with John last week, he told me he is retiring December 31.  I had to ask if this is the real retirement, or one more in his string of exaggerated rumored retirements.  This is the real one.

So what will John do in his retirement?  Since he won’t be teaching university classes after this semester, he sees retirement as an opportunity to have a more open calendar to schedule trainings and other activities.  He’ll be training adult educators in New Mexico the first week of December, in Tennessee the second week of January, and in India in February with me.

The best part of all is that not only do I count John as my friend and partner, but that he also counts me as a friend and partner.

Image result for john a henschke photo

My friend and partner, the awesome and world-renowned adult educator, John Henschke.

My friend, Liz, included me on the guest list for the birthday party her daughter and son-in-law hosted on Saturday night.  It was a happy group of about twenty people with delicious food prepared by Janelle (the daughter).  Hilarious stories about Liz provided lots of laughter, and a good time was had by all.

Liz and I have been friends for over twenty years.  I hope we have many, many more years of friendship.  Happy birthday, good friend.

Liz is the one with the party hat.

Liz is the one with the party hat.  That’s her four-year-old grandson photobombing our picture.

My friend, Mandy, sent this to me on Facebook because she knew I’d enjoy it.

Mandy pictured this filled with beige caffeine.

Mandy pictured this mug filled with beige caffeine. Weird.