Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Eve

We traditionally open our gifts on Christmas Eve which works well because our kids have their own celebration on Christmas. Starting early gives more opportunity for more events.... which we like. And this year was filled with events.

We started early on Christmas Eve. My daughter and her family were over for a fine dinner prepared by my wife, Audrey. Our two step grandchildren were here as well and we enjoyed the typical things such as fine food, great desserts, the Christmas story, opening presence, gabbing, and of course, arguing about what the best computer system is: windows or Mac. Of course then we have to argue over the best phone also. Its pretty cool.

Then there was the Christmas Eve candlelight service, which of course has the minimal amount of candlelight. But there was caroling, communion, and a Christmas message. It was a delightful and meaningful service.

Then, on Christmas Day we visited Audrey's nephew whose mother was in town with her husband. This is my wife's sister. This, too, was a great visit.

Then on the Day after Christmas there was another family gathering at the nephew's house because another relative was in town for a visit. There is always food and fellowship. And this time a football game. Go Broncos. Go Tim Tebo. Hey, they won and I won a bet for a cup of coffee. Hope I don't get arrested for that.

The gist of all this: It was a great Christmas Holiday!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Cow

Going to the grandkids Christmas programs is one of the Christmas traditions that we have kept over the years. This year was no exception. My Grandson, Cade, and my Granddaughter, Julia, were in a program this Sunday.

It was really a cool program but reminded me of the days we used to put them on and the work that went into them. It involved a time machine concept and, of course, toward the end of the program ended up in Bethlehem at the stable where Jesus was born. At this point all the little kids came in wearing their costumes. One was a star that led them to Bethlehem. There were also the wise men, the angels, the shepherds, and, of course the animals.

The animal costumes included a cap that had the face and ears of the animal they were representing. All went well until the cow came in. This poor kid had his cow cap on backwards and made it look like the cows head was on backwards. Easy enough mistake for a little kid. But it looked to funny that I started laughing and couldn't stop. I'd stop, then burst out laughing again. A little embarrassing in church. Even now as I write this I have the giggles. I can't get the image of that backwards cow head out of my mind.

This is a Christmas program I am sure to remember.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Christmas is the season for traditions. I won't be trite in repeating the obvious ones. But there is one that we have been observing for the past 8 or 9 years or so. Every year since they moved into their new house my brother-in-law and his wife have held a party at their house that gives relatives in the area an opportunity to get together during the Christmas season. Well, that was held last night and a great time was had by all. So, Thanks to Don and Nadine! This was a nice highlight for the season.

Another tradition is Christmas Eve at our house. We would always have the kids and grandkids over for a nice meal, then open gifts. Because two of our kids live in other states this tradition has somewhat eroded away. There are times we go to them for this holiday. When a tradition is broken I always feel a sense of loss. But things change and life goes on and new traditions are being created in our children's families.

Traditionally, we also give gifts to each family member. It's always a delight to see the faces of the children light up as they open each gift. Thank God for digital cameras! I thought about the gift I might receive this year. I have everything I need and almost everything I want. But the think I want most is the gift of my children and grandchildren looking me in the face and saying, "I love you." That can't be wrapped in paper and bows and be made to look pretty. It is beautiful on it's own.

So it is my wish that all my family and everyone who reads this blog will have a Christmas filled with you favorite traditions, foods and gifts. But most of all I hope that each one of you gives and receives the gift of true, unadorned love, as it comes from it's rawest state, straight from the heart. Believe me, there was no adornments, and putting on of airs at the manger where God gave the the greatest gift of all.... His Son. It was a cold, dark, and lonely place, but it is there he demonstrated his love. So this Christmas, express your love in the truest and humblest way you can to those you truly love. It is the greatest gift you can ever give.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010


Airports aren't such bad places. We are sitting at Sky Harbor in Phoenix. I mean, we are sitting at the Starbucks at Sky Harbor in Phoenix. And before that were were sitting at a Chili's. That hamburger was good and the coffee is good. So is the Christmas music. A pretty relaxing time.

However, we have not gone through security as of yet. The big German Shepherd did sniff us though. I'm glad to know I am drug free. How about that? What I don't like is taking my shoes off, my belt off, my watch off, my phone off, my computer out, my liquids out.... all while dragging my suitcase and while walking. Then somehow I am supposed to magically put it all back together while going up the next escalator.

Well, anyway, once I get close to my gate I can get another Starbucks. Good thing there is a restroom at the front and back of the airplane.

I here that Denver will be a cold trip home. Huh! They think it's cold here in Phoenix. My brother and I sat at a Starbucks at the outdoors tables. I had my jacket off and sleeves rolled up. He had his jacket on. He still prevailed.... we went inside and found a table.

Well, It's about time to go through security. Will chat with you later.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Physically Fit

I know, I know! Just about everyone thinks they are physically fit, not to mention that we are all about 10 pounds or more overweight. Well, today was a good test of how un-physically fit I might be. My brother, Curt, and I hiked up a mountain in Glendale, Arizona in 80 degree temps.

I thoroughly expected that I would be out of breath about a third of the way up. Well, what do you know? I wasn't out of breath until I got all the way up and I wasn't all the way out of breath. Breaking my arm now patting myself on the back. I guess the hard work through the summer and fall paid off. Yet, I don't know how I would do on one of Colorado's mountains starting at about 10,000 feet above sea level. I think I'd better hit the treadmill and lose about 10 pounds and get my lungs in order.

I hate to say it, but I think I'm getting lazier. Gravity is stronger than it one was. The knives cutting into my knees didn't used to be there. And the crackles and snaps when I bend my fingers are also new things together with new pains. The inventor of Advil deserves to be a millionaire. In fact he should be since I've spent about a million dollars on his pills.

I remember the days I could still run, that is, to someplace beside the bathroom. Back then I could do sit-ups and push-ups. Nowadays I sit up and eat push-ups. You know, those little sherbet ice creams in the cardboard cylinder that push up with the little cardboard stick. Which, by the way, do not help me shed the 10 pounds I want to lose.

So, January and February are the months of the treadmill and shoveling snow. Although, I now have a snow blower. Perhaps I'll break out the snowshoes and head for the high country. I always wanted to die on a mountain. Just kidding! Just don't spend too much time searching for me. That is, unless you also need to lose some weight.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

By the Fire

Saturday night in Phoenix and Audrey and I are sitting by the fire. That is: we are sitting by the fire drinking hot tea and reading. Well, actually, Audrey is reading and I am blogging.

This is just the way the Christmas season should be; warm and sunny, walks to the plaza, museums, coffee shops, hot tea, and a warm fire. Somehow Christmas music sounds just as good to me when there is no snow. I don't dream of the white Christmas as I have experienced a good many of them. I seriously doubt that there was snow in Bethlehem where Jesus was born. Seeing cactus at Christmas time suits me as being just right.

Our villa away from home is very livable. We have a nice kitchen with modern appliances and granite countertops. The dining room is bigger than the one at our house. We have a nice living room with a fire place and a flat screen TV with high def. The bathroom is huge with a large shower and jacuzzi. The balcony is large and overlooks the golf course. And the bedroom has a king-sized heavenly bed. This is luxury living away from home.

But tonight it is all about sitting by the fireplace and doing my blogging. It is quiet, peaceful, cozy and even a little romantic.

Here's hoping that all my kin in Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Michigan enjoy the whitest Christmas ever! Break out the popcorn and hot chocolate! Or you could just go to Starbucks and watch it snow through the big glass windows. Happy shoveling!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

No Mayo

When I say "no mayo" I'm not talking about Mayo Clinic, although I don't need that right now either. I mean, "no mayo" as in, "no mayo on my hamburger." Although, tonight I didn't even get to order "no mayo."

We had just flown into Phoenix, shuttled bused to the car rental and drove up the the Aloft, which is supposed to be something like a down graded W Hotel. We parked the car and walked into the lobby where I got instantly sick. They must have sprayed some type of essence to make it smell good, but which I was allergic to. It took me two breaths to get an instant sore throat. We checked in, brought our luggage in then went to dinner.

Dinner was at Ruby Tuesday's. I ordered the smokehouse burger for way too much money. I saw that it had bacon and barbecue sauce on it but I don't remember reading the word "mayo." Now the word might have been there, but I don't remember seeing it. Of course, Audrey would tell you that I read the same way that I find things I'm looking for. I can't find it but she can in exactly the same place I looked. So I ordered the smokehouse burger cooked medium well.

My first bite found the mayo. Yuck! The second bite found the medium rare. More Yuck! The server came by and asked how the food was and I said, "fine." Now you might think that I'm an idiot for saying that but I found out the hard way that you never complain about the food. I've had too many servers make a big deal out of it and make be feel like a heel. Besides, by the time they bring the food back everyone else is finished eating and I get to eat in front of them. So I ate the burger and didn't complain..... until now.

Do you think I will remember that Ruby Tuesday's Smoke House burger has mayo on it the next time I order it? Probably not! It will be several years down the road and I won't remember that medium-well is actually medium-rare, either.

The nicest thing about this so far is.... we rented a Camry. Oh, and the coffee. Well, actually the best thing so far is the airplane didn't fall out of the sky. And, hey! no scanner or pat-down at the airport. Cool, huh?

Oh, and best of all I'm with my sweetheart, Audrey, on vacation.

My Table!

I guess by now every one knows that I go to Starbucks frequently. Who doesn't? At the Starbucks closest to my home I have a favorite table. Who doesn't? I thought this morning about reasons why this is my favorite table. Here they are:

1. The table is not too close to the noise of the coffee bar.
2. It is not too close to the door (I avoid the cold draft).
3. It is positioned so I can't look directly into the restrooms when the doors are open.
4. I have a good view out the side window and the window directly ahead of me.
5. It is not too close to the speaker. The music is good but I like it muted.
6. It is away from the walk-in traffic.
7. I can control the window shade.
8. There is a plug-in next to my table to charge my computer and phone.
9. There is reasonable solitude here.
10. It's my table! I carved my name in the top! (Just kidding)

I hate it when someone else has my table. :(

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Lazy Man

Saving the extra trip is the lazy man's way! I see it all the time. In fact, just this morning at a Starbucks. But his lazy ways turned into the hard way as usual.

The Starbucks employee evidently had a delivery to make. A huge keg of coffee, stacks of paper cups, napkins, and a few other things. He was carrying the keg of coffee with both hands by the handles, the big paper sack of paper cups was on top, as were the napkins. Well, the paper sack decided not to stay there and started to fall. He quickly set the keg down and tried to catch the sack of paper cups. But, you know, these paper sacks aren't very strong. So the sack ripped and the paper cups tumbled to the floor. The employee tried to pick them up before anyone else could see. Well, sorry, but we all saw. In the end he made three trips to his car. He could have made it in two if he wasn't so lazy. But, you know this too: that's kinda the way men are!

The other day I was with a group packing Christmas boxes. We were putting wrapped gift boxes into big cartons for shipment. Some of the cartons were a little smaller than others, and, of course, men were doing the carrying. Now each carton whether big or smaller was large enough for it's own separate trip to the storage area. But then, if you are a man it doesn't work that way. So this one man decided to stack a smaller carton on top of a larger carton..... that meant only one trip to storage instead of two. So he grunted as he picked them up, grunted while carrying, grunted while trying to maneuver through the doorway, grunted going up the steps, then needed help putting them down. One trip made him tired and sweaty. I don't think it was good for his heart either. But he must have proved he was a man!

A man that I knew in Garrison, ND told me this saying and it has stuck with me ever since. He said, "A lazy man will carry himself to death." For some reason a man doesn't mind lifting, but he hates walking (taking extra steps). Proof is at the supermarkets. All the parking spots closest to the door are taken. In fact, I have received dirty looks from people who couldn't wait for me to get out of the way so they could claim their parking spot next to the door. You'd think that with all the candy and chips they buy they'd have the energy to walk a few extra steps. Heck, I have bad knees that hurt with every step and I still insist on parking furthest from the door. I don't think I'm any worse off for it. Anyway, I think you get my point about the "lazy man."

Perhaps Starbucks should have classes on carrying. I'm sure it is not just a little embarrassing for them to have their paper cups on the floor.