Friday, December 11, 2009

Class of 1990 week 16

Monday was one of those terrible long days. Since Mom took one car to Winnipeg Dad had to take me to school, and since there was a game that night I didn’t get to go home until after the game. I filled the time by writing letters and working on a one woman play I had dreamed up the night before. In volleyball we played Park River. Peggy had stated that she didn’t want to be a student manager but she showed up for the game and ended up first keeping the score board and then keeping last touch points. We had a lot of fun working together again. As I wrote it then, “So here’s to Peggy, the best score keeper in the world. She never messes up. That’s why she gets to drink out of the players water bottles. [She made 4 mess-ups on the board]”

On Tuesday I suggested to Dad that it would be a wonderful surprise for Mom if we got the tree before she got home. So after school we went to Cavalier and got a small tree. I set it up on a box and decorated it.

In shop class Mr. Lloyd had forgotten some wood that he promised to bring me, leftovers from a project a student did in Drayton. So I spent shop class writing out Christmas cards. I was treated to a conversation where my classmates discussed the first time they swore in front of their parents.

Wednesday the high was -20. In English class we assembled the newspaper. There was no Phy-Ed as we were taking team pictures. For the fifth year I posed in the back of the volleyball team picture. I had started keeping books in the 8th grade.
Mom got home. She really liked the tree. Attendance at the midweek Advent service was really poor. Afterward Mom and I drank tea and talked till after 11:00pm.

Thursday was even colder. It was the school “Christmas” concert. Since I was in about the 5th or 6th grade the highlight of the concert was a play featuring Santa put on by the 1st-8th grade and then a few selections by the bands and the high school choir.

Friday we got assigned more homework than the rest of the week combined. Heidi, Mrs. Hollis’s daughter, was home from basic training and hung out at the school a bit. After school Mom and Dad picked me up and we went to Grand Forks to go out for supper and do some Christmas shopping. I also bought a book for myself.

Saturday I went to the Sunday school children’s program practice. It went well. I spent the rest of the day reading my book and doing odd jobs including making a cake for the party after the Christmas program Sunday night.

Sunday I taught Sunday school before church and then relaxed in the afternoon. That evening was the Sunday school program at church and after we had a birthday party for Jesus. There was a really good turn out for it. I spent some of it visiting with Heidi.


lhg edited and approved.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Class of 1990 Weeks 14 & 15

These two weeks were marked by a few things.

I finished the posters and the guys put them up. I thought they were rather ingenious. I had a whistle person blowing a whistle for the coach. Pencil people holding pencils for the student managers and for the players it was knee pad people wearing knee pads. Half were setting and half were bumping-on their knees of course. I thought they were cute and was proud of my design until someone from a visiting team asked what washing machines had to do with volleyball.
Monday Dec 4 was the start of the season with a game in Walhalla. For games in Walhalla and Cavalier the team bus had to pass our road and so I would be picked up and dropped off for those games. When we played Minto we picked up Mrs. Kappel who lived in Grafton. After the game we stopped at the Hardees in Grafton (the only year round fast food place in that corner of ND) Mrs. Kappel treated us all to fries. I got a hot ham-n-cheese & a big cookie.
My plan to write a story on education reform was shot out of the water and replaced with one that would have me interviewing my Dad about his impressions about the fall of communism in Europe. That proved to be difficult. Dad was finishing up a letter he was handwriting to Rebecca and he read it to me. It gave me a lot of insight, but nothing I could really use in my story. It took a few more times to get what I needed for my story. I asked Dad questions and he wrote out his carefully crafted answers that I worked into my story.For my column I wrote about "heater gangs." To understand this you need to realize that our school hallways were carpeted. As I wrote it then:

I hate being cold. My teeth chatter. My hands turn deep purple. My muscles twitch in an unfashionable manner. My whole body goes rigid and I break out in unsightly goose bumps.
No doubt about it; being cold ranks up there with fluoride treatments and stubbing my toe.
Not long ago I heard a mother complain that her son never knew what to wear to school in the winter. "The bus is so cold and you don't dare wear a sweater to school, unless you want to burn up, " she said.
No Kidding? This really happened. Obviously this woman was not from St. Thomas. First, we do not have any school buses and more importantly, in our school you have to warm up to be cool.
What do you expect form a school where one's social status can be determined by what heater one sits by?
Some schools have cliques and clubs. STHS has heater gangs.
With an average hall temperature at 65 degrees Fahrenheit, is it any wonder that the most asked question at the beginning of the noon hour has become, "Are they on?"If you keep your eyes open you can learn a lot about this phenomenon.
First of all the heaters are ranked. The most popular one is the one by the gym door where the morning crowd hangs out. This is followed by the one next to pop machines. Next in the rank is the heater by the canteen. Then if you're absolutely desperate there is always the one between the two bathrooms.
Approximately three people can sit comfortably across one heater. If all the heaters are used about 12 persons get the privilege of roasting their backs.
Certain rules are understood concerning the heaters:
First come; first serve. The early bird gets the best spot.
Secondly, you can only hog a heater if you're saving a spot for someone; otherwise you must share.
Lastly, once you get up you've lost your spot.
I have a theory about the cold halls of STHS. Maybe by sitting up against the heaters we're blocking the flow of warm air, and the school would be warmer if we would all back off.
Of course, this is just a theory and not one to be tested anytime soon. So in the meantime, wear a sweater, and as you scramble down the hall ask the magic question: "Are they on?" Then, try to get a good spot.

Szedlak, Ruth. "Nothing by Nobody." Knight Life 2 Dec 1989: 3,12. Print.

In getting the newspaper ready for publication Mrs. Kappel had to be with the 8th graders for a Home-Ec Kids party. So my class was left in the typing room with no supervision. At first there was some telling of off color jokes but then there was the fear that the office might be listening in on the intercom so Peter and Kevin led us all in a sing-a-long as we worked. We sang the theme from the Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, Gilligan's Island, Brady Bunch, & Sunny Days from Sesame Street.-along with singing to 12. We also sang to Kenny Roger's The Gambler and a grade school music class song of "Scratch Scratch My Back."
A requirement of all sweaters and sweatshirts was that the sleeves were loose enough at the wrist for me to fold my arms inside of the sleeves. This generally discouraged me from wanting to take notes. Also in the bitter cold of winter there were two options for parking. You could park on the wall protected from the north wind that did not have outlets, or you could park on the west side of the gym and plug in the cars block heater but be totally exposed to the wind. The rule for me was that the temp had to be minus 0 before I would be willing to deal with the wind chill.
On the first day of school each kid that lived outside of the city of St. Thomas had to register a storm family. That is the family you would stay with if a storm came up and it wasn't safe to go home. I kept a survival kit in the trunk of my car that included a change of clothes for such occasions. My storm family was the Hollis' who conveniently live across the street from the school.
I had one occasion in week 14 where I realized that I really shouldn't be driving home. Mom and Dad were out of town, but I wanted to sleep in my own bed so without talking to anyone and with no one at home waiting for me I headed out. Visibility was terrible. When I turned from Highway 81 to County Road 3 I couldn't see more than twenty feet and it was as I rounded the corner that I saw the headlights of the Greyhound bus coming at me from Highway 81. I had enough time to make the corner but on a normal visibility day I would have never attempted to beat the bus. When I got home and put the car in the garage & turned aruond. I could just barely make out the church across the road. There was no way I should have been out there.
Two months and twenty days past my deadline I finally mailed my assignment for the Institute of Children's Literature. Mom let me know that if I ever missed another deadline she would be taking the tuition money out of my allowance.
ACT results:
I got my ACT score back and I was happy with the results. Concordia University required an 18 to apply and I had well above that. My lowest score was in Math. I was happy with it as I drew a complete blank on some of the formulas I needed for the problems, but Mr. Green (school vocational counselor) was standing over my shoulder and when he saw my scores he said, "Ruth, the math, what happened?"
"I'm not Sarah."I replied. My sister had a perfect score on the math portion. I wanted to hit him. Why did people always assume that I should be just like my sisters. That sort of assumption was a large part of the reason I was so eager to get out of St. Thomas and go somewhere to college that my sisters had never been.

It should be noted-as I made special mention of it in my journal, that Terry, who I often did not get along with, did me a favor on December 6th. I was sitting by the Pop machines and asked him to get my dictionary, and he did!
At home:
We called Rebecca on her birthday before I left for school. Hong Kong being 12 hrs ahead of North Dakota. She was glad to be a world away from our icy roads and freezing temps.

Saturday Dec 9th I was babysitting the Bigwoods again. I got a call from Dad. Dad and Pastor Rothchild in Bottineau were switching pulpits on Sunday so Rev. Rothchild would be close enough to Minnesota to attend his brothers ordination-(or instillation-something like that) Anyway Mom and Dad had traveled to Bottineau and were staying at a member's home when dad realized that he had left his sermon behind. When I got home from babysitting I was to locate it and call the number. I didn't get home until 2am. The phone at the farm house rang about 20 times before dad picked it up. He had managed to reconstruct most of his sermon but I read him the bits that he needed. It took a little bit as it was written in his tiny script and his own personal short hand. Sunday Mom and Dad got home at 3pm and an hour later Mom left for two days in Winnipeg.


lhg edited and approved

Friday, November 20, 2009

Class of 1990 Week 13

Monday I hit my head on the desk in English class and thus spent the rest of the day into Tuesday putting up with remarks about my head banging. The volleyball team started practicing during girl’s phy-ed. That’s the problem with having so many teams and only one gym. So those of us girls who did not play on the team—about five of us met with Mrs. Barker in the weight room next to the gym and lifted weights. I generally enjoyed any phy-ed activity that did not involve running or playing on a team. Being unathletic is bad enough. Having people mad at you because you are unathletic is just cruel.

With Thanksgiving it was a short week. Wednesday was odd in that I arrived home to an empty house after school. Next Bob, Sarah’s boyfriend showed up, then Mom and Dad and finally Sarah who got a ride home from UND with Kerry. Thursday morning we had church and then Pastor Allen and his wife and newly adopted son William joined us for dinner. The week had an odd feel, sort of like Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Sunday Saturday, Saturday, Sunday. I was already anticipating missing Mom and Dad when I would head off to Concordia University Wisconsin the next year. I spent my break reading, watching TV, playing on Dad’s computer, and starting to paint the posters for the volleyball team.


lhg edited and approved

Friday, November 13, 2009

Class of 1990 week 12

Most of my notes from that week are about trying to get my writing done for the Institute of Children’s Literature (ICL) course and feeling stressed about school work. On Monday we did our first lab in Physics. I was partnered with Jr. Jennifer and managed to burn my hand while fire polishing a glass tube. Terry told me that he hoped I got blisters. I attended the yearbook meeting and spent time writing body copy. Most of the week I was fed up and frustrated, but Friday I was getting a grip on things including finishing a major rewrite of my ICL story.

I finished the small drawings for the volleyball posters. Mr. Kappel approved of them. The next step would be to trace them onto a transparency and then use an overhead projector to make a poster for each member of the team, each of the student managers and one for the coach. The basketball cheerleaders did the posters for those teams, but for the volleyball team it fell to me as part of my student manager duties. Generally Peggy and I did the posters and the guy managers put up the posters on our wall in the gym. I also made smaller signs for the team member’s locker. Those were easier, because you could just run them off on the copy machine. Then it was just a matter of coloring and cutting them.

Saturday I got up before 6:00 a.m. and drove to Niagara, ND and picked up Linda then we picked up Cari and Erich and we all headed to Carrington, ND to plan a joint District Lutheran Youth Fellowship gathering with South Dakota. The gathering would be in Aberdeen, SD. It was a productive, fun, but very long day. One the way home I got a terrible headache and was in no shape to drive the all the way home so I followed Linda to her home. Once there I started feeling really sick and threw up. Oddly after that I felt much better and was able to drive home. It was weird.


lhg edited and approved.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Class of 1990 week 11

It was a busy school week, homework-wise. The roads were very slick on Thursday. Friday we had off of school and Mom and I went shopping in Grand Forks. I did some Christmas shopping, including gifts for Sarah and Rebecca as Sarah was going to visit Rebecca in Hong Kong for Christmas that year. I continued to procrastinate on my Institute of Children’s Literature writing assignment that was due in the middle of October. I finally started putting a draft together in the middle of the week. The week before mom had cut off three inches of my hair and nobody at school noticed. On Veterans Day I wrote, "The walls are down and the people are crossing into West Berlin."

I did a lot of work on the yearbook that week. In class I traced numerous pictures of wrapped gumballs for the page numbers. After school I attended a yearbook meetings. Margo and I worked together to write copy for the grade school classes. We had sent survey questions to the rooms, but the problem was that the larger the class, the more material you had to play with, the less copy you needed to fill the page. The smaller classes had less quotes and more space to fill. We did a lot of laughing as we tried to stretch the comments into body copy. I’d come up with lines and Margo would write them down and count the characters to see how much more we needed to write. Occasionally I’d make notes on paper and Margo would try to read them and then get frustrated by my handwriting and spelling. A lot of times brain storming involved making exaggerated hand gestures. I would put my hands on my head and then extend my arms completely saying “ummm” and then bring my hands back to my head repeating this until I finally came up with another phrase for the copy. It was completely silly.

Monday, November 2, 2009

my first NaNoWriMo

I finally did it. Encouraged by a girlfriend from Alaska I'm spending November taking a stab at fiction. I'm doing my first NaNoWriMo As the website says it's 30 days and nights of literary abandon. In November you try to write a 50,000 word novel draft. Revising is for December. On day #2 I'm already 11% done. That is well ahead of the daily word output of 1667 to stay on track and right now I'm feeling really good.

Part of what helps is knowing that more than 100,000 other folks around the world are doing the same thing. I met about 20 of them last Friday at a regional party at the Milwaukee Area Technical College library in Oak Creek WI. By signing up for this I also get the pep talks and these are great. My favorite quote from a recent one has this:

You will also, however, write some flagrantly nonsensical chapters, create pages and pages of dialogue that make you cry (in a bad way), and endure a few shameful days where the only thing keeping your word-count afloat is the fact that your protagonist has a habit of reading the dictionary aloud whenever she gets nervous. And she's always nervous.

I have so far avoided any nervous characters but you never know--I could have my main character, who works at Milwaukee Public Library, do some long stints of shelf reading and if desperate fill a few pages with call number gibberish.


lhg edited and approved

Thursday, October 29, 2009

class of 1990 week 10

For weeks Miss Kassian had been giving vague and odd instructions to members of St. Thomas Operation Contact (our schools peer counseling team.) She told them to keep the 30th free. At one point she told them to bring balloons, and then two days later told them to forget about the balloons. The week before, she told them to invite guests. I won’t lie—I had a rather cynical attitude towards the group and their mission, particularly the mandate to help raise people's self esteem, but I was grateful for the invite Kevin gave me and to be included in whatever was going on. So Monday after a normal school day, I went home and then left for town at 7:40. It turned out to be an elaborate costume scavenger hunt. We divided into teams of three and were each given a number and a list of houses to go to. At first we didn’t know what we were asking for and you had to get your clues in the right order, so you would knock on a door and then give your number and they would tell you if they had anything for you. They could also tell you if they had something that you would have to come back for, so a lot of the homes we had to go to more than once. It was a lot of walking around. I was on a team with Kevin and one other female but my journal has only two cryptic sentences about the whole thing.

Halloween in St Thomas and the week leading up to it were the only times the town had a police presence. The sheriff would send a car or two around because the normal Halloween fun involved pulling anything that wasn’t nailed down into the street or shifting things around town. Generally as long as nothing was destroyed or vandalized the police didn’t interfere. A few of the scavenger hunt parties were stopped by the cops and asked what they were up to.

In the end we all found the bits of our costumes, and put together the clues that lead us to a party at Miss Kassian's house. It was a fun night. We decided to wear our costumes the next day to school. I got home and to bed around 12:30. After, I reflected that physics would be a whole lot better if Miss Kassian put half the effort into lessons plans that she did in organizing the event.

October 31st I wore my costume to school as did most of the students who were on the hunt. Mrs. Hollis also wore a costume. My legs were very sore from all the walking around town the night before. Aside from homecoming float building it was a rare thing for me to be in St. Thomas and not be at the school. I spent the night of Reformation Day at home. Dad had planned a showing of the Martin Luther film, (the old black and white one) but no one showed up. I was not surprised.

Now I’m not entirely sure this next thing happened my senior year, but I know for a fact that it happened on November 1. As usual anything that was not nailed down got moved. Most of the picnic tables from the city park found their way to the front of the school along with a realtors “For Sale” sign. Early in the day Mr. Hanson (who was also on the park board) got on the intercom and called all the boys from 7th grade to senior to report to the gym. Once there, he marched them out of the school to carry all the picnic tables across the street to the city park. After the guys were back in class, he then got on the intercom and thanked them for being good citizens and volunteering for this civic duty. What really rankled the girls was that he only called the boys, when the girls were just as responsible for the disheveled state of the town.

Wednesday was parent-teacher conferences. Mom went but mostly to visit socially with some of my teachers. When I asked what they said she just said, “Oh, they all like you.”

That same day I got a library book from the Carnegie Regional Library in Grafton in the mail. I had requested it over the phone. Mrs. Kappel was insistent on us reading book report books from the country and time period we were studying in Lit., ideally they had to be from the school’s own library, but she let me order the book from Grafton. I was reading Oscar Wilde’s play “The Importance of Being Earnest.” I read it twice and then gave it to my dad who spent two hours carefully unfolding the bent corners of the pages and carefully erasing pencil marks in the margins before reading it himself. It didn't hit me until after I handed in my report that my father's name is the the Hungarian form of Earnest.

Thursday was Peggy’s birthday and we celebrated all day. We had cake in PDP, cake and milk in Computer class. Then the high school all traveled to Crystal ND for a pep rally for the girl's basketball team who had earned a spot in the regional tournament. We got back in time for study hall and then after lunch had cookies in Shop. English we spent writing captions. I also started working in earnest on the posters for the volleyball team.

Friday we got an inch of snow. I made some nice progress on my bookcase in Shop. That night I babysat for the Bigwoods until 1am. Saturday it was cold and muggy, 40 degrees, and rained for about an hour in the morning. I loved it (I’m still weird like that) and noted that it would have been a “perfect spring day.” Sunday after church there was an Aid Association for Lutherans dinner after church. I got a Frisbee with their new logo on it.


lhg edited and approved

Friday, October 23, 2009

Class of 1990 week 9

Mrs. Kappel liked the gumball machine I drew. Another student had also drawn one that was nicer but he failed to keep his in the size limits so mine got used. The fall concert was on Tuesday. I was glad when it was over. I also took and distributed my senior pictures to my classmates. On Wednesday I was studying for the ACT, but I took some time out to redesign my signature. I didn’t like the way it looked and I didn’t want it on any forms that would follow me to college.

Friday the grade school had its annual Halloween carnival. I got a little checker board from the fishpond in the first grade room and played a game against Terry when I got back to study hall in the library. I would’ve won if the bell hadn’t rung.

Saturday I left for Grand Forks at 6:32am to take the ACT. I was in the same room as Peter. We later learned that we had the same version of the test. That year big changes were made to the test. I thought I did OK, but I had a brain freeze on part of the math portion. Mom and I went out for lunch after and then that evening I babysat for the Bigwood’s. They didn’t get home until around 2:15am. I was asleep on their couch when they came in. Once home, I was thankful for daylight savings time.

Sunday I taught Sunday School, then I was the only one from St. Paul’s who went to the Lutheran Youth Fellowship Zone Rally. Still it was good to see all my friends from camp and I enjoyed the hay ride. Instead of playing the radio, Dad and I talked all the way back home.


lhg edited and approved.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Class of 1990 Week 8

I lamented that just as we finished one chapter in Physics and started a new one Miss Kassian would put the next text date up on the board. Mr. Hillious was not there for choir on Monday so I spent the last hour of the day straightening up books in the library. On Tuesday an earthquake hit California delaying the World Series. All the news focused on the quake. On Wednesday the boys kept trying to get teachers to talk about it to avoid getting anywhere with lessons and perhaps avoid homework over the break. As I wrote it in my journal:

No teacher would get into it with them. They tried the hardest in English and almost got it when we started talking about the Great Vowel Shift. “Shifts? That’s sort of what those two continental plates did…”

We got out of school at 2:30 and had the rest of the week off for the Teachers convention. I was only a few days out from my story deadline for the Institute of Children’s literature, so I got very busy doing everything but writing the story. I stripped posters off my wall and rearranged the furniture in my bedroom (the journal has before and after diagrams). I wrote letters, drew gumball machines for the yearbook. Friday I got my senior pictures back.

Saturday I went to Grand Forks to spend the weekend with Sarah at the University of North Dakota. All her suitemates were gone. We walked around campus, watched TV, and then Bob called. I finished reading the book I brought and had nothing to do while she talked so she suggested that I should wash her dishes. So I did, but I kept making smart comments and she got sick of hearing it so she closed the room door and locked me into the suite area where the sink was until she finished talking. When she hung up we played a “rousing game of cribbage.” We ordered pizza for supper. Sunday we went to Wittenberg Chapel. We both napped and then in the evening went to the Michel W. Smith concert at Chester Fritz auditorium. I saw a few people I knew from Girls State, Lutheran Youth Fellowship and even a group of students from St. Thomas. Mom took me home after the show. I finally got to bed at about 1:10 am.


lhg edited and approved

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Class of 1990 week 7

We had worksheets to do in Physics. They took a long time for me to do and on Tuesday I stayed up past midnight getting the questions done. We graded them in class and I got an A. In English we finished our journalism unit and started English literature. In shop I painted my tool box red as Sarah told me to. With the tool box project wrapping up we were now going to do individual projects so I brought the collapsible bookcase of Rebecca’s so Mr. Lloyd could measure it so I could copy it. He had some left over wood from another student’s project in Drayton that I could use for it. (Our school shared our shop teacher with the high school in Drayton, ND. Mr. Lloyd was in Drayton in the mornings and St. Thomas in the afternoons.)

Part of English for the seniors at STHS was producing both the school newspaper and the yearbook. Editors were chosen from the senior class. It was assumed that I would be a yearbook editor, but one of my guiding principles in high school was to avoid extra curricular activities that my elder sisters excelled at and Rebecca had been an editor and had even worked on yearbook throughout her college career and even became an advisor for the yearbook at the Hong Kong International School where she taught. Thus I had no interest in being an editor. The selected editors were Margo, Jaci & Terry. The editors were expected to show up for the weekly yearbook meetings with Mrs. Kappel. Other seniors could come and earn extra credit for English. Thursday that week I, for reasons I didn’t quite understand myself, showed up for the yearbook meeting. It ended up being just me, Mrs. Kappel, and Jaci. On Friday of that week the class went to Kevin’s house to retake a picture. The last time we took it the film was black and white and we wanted a color picture of us all blowing bubbles, as the yearbook had a bubble gum theme, “Sticking Together” and we needed color pictures for the theme page.

Most nights I watched the ABC lineup or PPT (Prairie Public Television—PBS in the rest of world) those two channels and Fox--which had limited programming in those days were the only channels that came in reliably clear. I got a letter from Rebecca—since she did not get comic strips in Hong Kong I would clip ones I thought she would enjoy and mail them to her. Usually Calvin & Hobbes, Bloom County, & Far Side. Her letter back put me in a good mood. I still didn’t have a completed rough draft for my Institute of Children’s Literature assignment. I was also only getting between 5 & 7 hours of sleep a night. I tended to stay up late in my room reading and would leave a rolled up blanket to block the light from coming out of the gap under my door so Dad couldn’t tell that I was up.

Sunday night Mom, Dad, and I watched the ABC family drama “Life Goes On.” It was the one with the character with Down syndrome. That particular episode ended with the family having a food fight and laughing. Mom said that they would never let such a thing occur in our house, to which Dad added, “Especially if there were any books around.”

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Class of 1990 week 6

Class of 1990 week 6

Monday Dad left for a pastoral conference and half my class (4 of them) was at the Northern Interscholastic Press Association (NIPA) convention. Mrs. Kappel made me temporary newspaper editor. I thought the idea that we would be getting a newspaper out by the next day was laughable. I got a letter from Rebecca. She discovered that if I spent my second semester in Hong Kong I wouldn’t be able to graduate there and I would miss graduation in St. Thomas. At that point I gave up on the idea of spending a term living with my sister. The next day at school Jr. Carrie announced that she was moving to Washington to live with her aunt. I was a bit envious. It was funny to me to see the reaction of some of the underclassmen who couldn’t imagine ever wanting to live anywhere else than St. Thomas.

Tuesday I spent English class running up and down the stairs between the English classroom and the business classroom with all the typewriters up stairs. I’d run up, type a caption or a “by…” line or a “continued on…” continued from…” line and race back down where someone would cut it out of the page and paste it on the lay out sheet. I think newspapers were more fun to put together before the computer era.

Mr. Lloyd (8th & 11-12 industrial arts) had decreed that too many of us were in shop class to start the year with individual projects, so he decided that we were all going to make metal tool boxes. Some of the girls complained and he said, “Fine, you can make a metal make-up kit.” So far it had all be making notches, bending metal and doing spot welding. That day we started spray painting them. Mr. Lloyd advised us to use flat black paint but most of us had more creative ideas.

Wednesday we finally finished the first edition of the newspaper. My column was called “Nothing by Nobody.” I did it in part to needle the self-esteem police. There was some argument about if it should have a by line. I said no because the author, “nobody” is listed in the title, but was overruled so "Nothing by Nobody" was by Ruth Szedlak. Dad got home that day from his trip.

Thursday I was less than thrilled being stuck going to a career fair with the amount of homework being assigned by Miss. Kassian (7-Sr. Science, 7th grade class adviser, Asst. play director Operation Contact adviser), Mr. Torgeson (7-10 & 12 Social Studies 8th grade class adviser, HS Football coach), and Mrs. Hollis. We got back from the fair with 15 minutes left in the day and were dismissed to go home. I got in my car and then as I pulled on to Main Street I remembered that it was Thursday. On Thursdays I took 8th grader Jason to confirmation class since church is 10 miles out of town & I lived across the road from it. So I went around the block went back in the school and found his Mom, Mrs. Hollis, who told me that she was planning on taking him. So I left the school and Jr. Dawn wanted a ride home so I gave her one. After dropping her off, I had to turn up the air in the car because I hate hairspray fumes.

Friday my class played hide and seek with Mrs. Hollis. When she was late for class we decided to hide behind the steps. Then when she didn’t find us in the classroom she went off to find us and we made a mad dash for the door.

[Quick note about Mr. Torgeson—the other day I was doing a library instruction session and a student answered my question and I replied—“You’re pretty sharp. Must live on the edge of town.” The guy laughed a few minutes later when he got the joke. What does it mean when you start delivering your former teacher’s worst lines?]

At home Sarah and Bob came for a visit. After they left I finally got a good start on my Institute of Children’s Literature assignment. Sunday night dad and I got into a discussion of what body temperature has to do with the temperature of water used to take a shower and that morphed into a discussion of whistling ranges.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Class of 1990 Week 5

The school work was starting to get quite heavy and I was going mad trying to think of what to write for my newspaper column. Monday night I went back to rule number one of writing: write what you know. So I wrote about being mad. The sophomores were selling World's Finest Chocolates and bought two boxes of Mint Meltaways. The school typewrites were also a problem for me. They were primitive compared to my Smith Corona at home, so I resolved to do all my typing at home. We played a new game in phy-ed, Branna Ball (sp??) I don't remember what it was, but I actually enjoyed playing it. On Thursday we had a Lyceum. As I wrote it in my journal:

We had a lyceum today, a magician, Rusty Ammerman. He was OK, but he ended his act by making his two doves disappear. That was it. The birds were gone. End of show. We didn't know what to do. Even as we left the gym we wanted to know what happened to the birds. Jaci & Margo went back to the gym to find out, but they were too chicken to approach the guy. He walked out of the gym and coughed and out through his hand came feathers. The guys who helped Rusty pack his stuff up know what happened but they're not telling.

Friday I summed up my school life as a contradiction in terms:

I love physics-hate the class
I love to sing-hate chorus
Enjoy writing-tolerating newspaper
Enjoy writing-surviving word processing
Love to read-not getting any time for it.

At home I got my ACT application in the mail. Mom added some fabric to the bottom of my pajama top-she had originally made the top too short so it didn't stay tucked in. This was a problem since I had a thing for doing cartwheels in the living room before I went to bed. I spent a lot of evenings watching TV with the folks. Saturday night Dad and I enjoyed seeing the season premier of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I also spent time playing with Sarah's old Light Bright doing different patterns within a large hexagon.

Sunday was LWML (Lutheran Women's Missionary League) Sunday and the women decided to commemorate it by all sitting together on the lectern side of the church. This meant that all the loudest voices communed together. I was on the pulpit side and just about sang solo for a few verses and tried to sing loud so Mrs. Hollis (also our church organist) would not be left stranded. That afternoon we had a Lutheran Youth Fellowship meeting and went bowling in Cavalier.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Evidence that I have been here before

Despite the fact that Rincker Memorial Library at Concordia University Wisconsin has undergone two major renovations since I graduated, the marks of my more than four years as a student employee are still to be found. This is most noticeable in the books themselves. The collection was bar-coded between my freshmen and sophomore year. Just as my sophomore year was ending and I was gearing up to work in the library full time for the summer, a terrible discovery was made. All the smart barcodes (smart meaning they had the title and barcode of the book printed on them) started with the wrong digit. The barcode wand would not read them. The best the programmers could do for us was to change the first digit in the system and we could key them in by hand changing the initial 3 for a 2. So it began. For the next two and a half years (full time in the summers, 10 hours a week in the school year) I spent my time in the stacks and ripped out those smart barcodes, replacing them with the dumb barcodes (dumb because they did not have a title or call # on them) that started with the correct number. The books were then loaded on carts taken to cataloging and the barcode was corrected in the system so that it could now be read with a wave of the wand. (Wave may be a poetic extrapolation-more like a swipe and several before it takes-but still so much easier than typing 2505400...The work of my hands is on almost every book purchased before 1991.

Today I discovered another place that my presence left an enduring mark. When I lecture students I often make use of visual aids. I grab a drawer out of our shelf list (we still have one-that's the card catalog that is in call number order and thus only useful to catalogers and librarian types. No it's not current-we stopped
collecting new cards long ago) and a volume of the Readers Guide to Periodical Literature and explain how when I was a student we used one for books and the other for articles as a way to impress on them that there was and still is a different way to get at each. (You'd be surprised how many students despair of finding journal articles in our catalog and resort to Wikipedia.) Anyway when I was a student worker the shelf list was current and we used it to track our progress in the rebar-coding process. You had books without cards, books without any barcode, (smart or otherwise) and tragically cards without books. Those were pulled and gathered into an empty drawer and so we would know what those cards were about I labeled the drawer "Missing books." Today I happened to notice that my hand written label of 15 years ago is still there. I doubt than anyone but I would recognize it as my hand, but for me it was like a time capsule. This library is so different from the one I worked in, but there are still impressions from the past if you know where to look for them.

lhg edited and approved

Friday, September 18, 2009

Class of 1990 week 4 (homecoming week)


PJ day-almost all the girls dressed up, almost none of the guys did. The most exciting part of the day for me was discovering the book, Bells on Their Toes, in the school library. It is the sequel to Cheaper by the Dozen. I had spent many hours speculating why 3rd born sister Mary was only mentioned three times in Cheaper by the Dozen. In Bells on Their Toes there is a foot note near the beginning that explains that Mary died of diphtheria at the age of four. I was so excited about it that I startled a few people by loudly exclaiming as I left the library, "Mary died! That's what happened!" Ten years in St Thomas, three as a student librarian, and I didn't find that book until I was a senior.


50 & 60s day-the day ended with a soc-hop in the gym. I was anxious to get the day done because Mom & I headed for Grafton to Twetens to get my senior pictures taken. We went to Twetens because he gave us a discount for living so far away. Float building happened at Jaci's; we had it all together by 11:37pm. I printed out the side banners at home on our Epson dot matrix printer. It took about six hours to print out the signs.


Picture day-I woke up with a cold but not so sick as to stay home. The senior class picture was taken in Jaci's back yard. I was starting to get panicky about newspaper stories and physics homework that needed to be done. I had trouble even coming up with ideas for the newspaper. Rebecca wired me a single red rose with a note that read, "If I could vote, I'd vote for you."


We were led to the office to cast our ballots for Homecoming king and queen. I voted for Peter and then, despite the laughable idea of me being an embodiment of school spirit and the popular notion that one shouldn't vote for oneself, I voted for myself, reasoning that I didn't vote for myself no one would.

I still was not feeling well and no one would tell me what time the bonfire to announce the winners was, except to say that it was after the girl's basketball game. So I drove myself to the game and was ignored. I followed the crowd to the bonfire and was ignored by all except a group of 7th grade girls, who came up to me to tell me that they had overhead the votes being counted in the office and knew that I was going to be queen. I sharply told them to stop spreading lies. When my name was called to come forward as a nominee I struggled to get up to the fire as a group of students from Valley (we cooperated with them for sports) were blocking my way and I had to explain that it was my name that was just called and I needed to get up there. The winners were announced. Jason was King, Stephanie was Queen. I got back to my car without anyone saying a word to me and drove home. Junior. Tom (the football team's Jr. King Nominee) would be my escort in the parade and for the coronation and football game procession. To this day I hate the picture of myself standing next to Jason and Stephanie at the bonfire that made it into the Yearbook. I had been assigned lay out of that section and had tried to crop myself out of it, but Mrs. Kappel insisted that I keep myself in it so the picture would fit right. It's ironic that mine is one of the largest faces on the page, since I had never felt more invisible in my life.


There was freakish weather before the parade and we wondered if it would have to be called off: First rain, then a flurry of snow and then, minutes before we lined up the floats and cars, hale. But just when things were getting started the sun came out. All in all getting nominated was much more fun than being on the court. Our float was carried by 6th graders. I was glad to not have to carry it. Four out of the six years I had to lug a corner of that frame. Tom and I road in a Trans Am-the only car with a top on it. In the evening I picked up Peggy and Junior. Kathy and I took them to the game. It was 40 degrees. Right before the half time procession Freshman Joanna asked the girls on the court if we were nervous and I replied that it didn't matter because standing in a prom dress in the middle of an open field we would all be shaking anyway. The St. Thomas girls changed back into weather appropriate clothes right away but the girls from Valley kept their dresses on for the rest of the game, huddling under blankets. When I got back out to the game Peggy found me and told me that she and Kathy had found a ride to the party: the party that I was not invited to and would never have had interest in going to if I was. I stuck around for the end of the game. We lost 20-26 with our opponents scoring a final TD with only 24 seconds left. It was the last football game I attended until last fall when I saw my nephew play.

The weekend:

Saturday Mom and I went to Grand Forks to shop, picking up my sr. picture proofs in Grafton on the way. On Sunday after church those of us who went to the LCMS Denver Youth gathering in July held a dinner for members of the congregation that helps pay for our trip. I got up and did a slide show. Sunday afternoon I ended up falling asleep in the middle of the living room floor reading the comics. That night I went to bed still trying to come up with an idea for a newspaper story.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Class of 1990 week 3

Monday I got to school by 7:30 am so we could all be in Grafton at 8:00 am for our homecoming pictures. Jr. Corey was really too sick to be there, but he made it. Friday morning of that week the juniors and seniors went to Drayton to spend the morning golfing. I was teamed up with Margo and Jr. Dawn.

I was starting to feel overwhelmed by homework, particularly in English, where I needed to do a journalism style book, and was assigned to do a column and a comic panel for the school newspaper. Mr. Green (vocational guidance counselor) handed out applications for the ACT. We also got to watch a recording of President Bush's talk to the nation's kids about drugs.

In Chorus I was missing the voices from the class of 89, and was dismayed that Mr. Hillius (4th-12 Band, 1st-12th Chorus, Jr. High girls Basketball coach) wanted Jr. Holly & I to sing the Star Spangled Banner at basketball games as a duet in unison with little or nothing in the way of vocal dynamics. This is a far cry from the harmony I enjoyed when singing it my freshman year.

At home I got back my lesson from the Institute of Children's Literature, whose young writer's course I was taking. I was excited to see all positive comments from my instructor. Mom moved my senior pictures to the following Tuesday. Saturday I lamented not getting anything done aside from "cutting grass and washing the stupid car." I also complained that the computers at school had a different touch than my Smith Corona typewriter and I was getting frustrated by it. Sunday after church I wrote Peter's and Peggy's names in calligraphy to go with their Homecoming photos for the senior class window display. Homecoming week festivities would start on Monday.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Class of 1990 Week 2

Monday was Labor Day, so there was no school. My folks hosted a get together of the circuit pastors, Fieges from Langdon, Kiefers from Cavalier, and Allens from Niagara.

On Tuesday Mrs. Hollis (7th -senior math, junior class advisor) had us writing letters for computer class to her daughter Heidi, who had graduated the year before and joined the navy. All the classes had class meetings. Terry was not in school that day. We started the meeting before Mr. Dick (superintendent, US History, HS boys Phy-ed, senior class advisor, track coach) showed up. We had made most of our decisions before he arrived in the library where we were meeting.

When He came in he asked, "so what have you done?" and Margo said, "well, we've decided a lot of things."

"Nonsense," he said, "You haven't decided anything until I've told you you've decided it."

Margo listed our votes and he approved all of them, even complimenting us on our class motto, saying, "that's not bad." I wrote the motto and originally had credited it to one of my numerous pseudonyms, but in the end we decided to just not mention where it came from at all.

What we decided that first meeting:
Class President: Peter
Vice President: Jason
Secretary: Margo
Class nominations for homecoming king & queen: Peter & Peggy
Float theme for the homecoming parade: Can da Cubs-the float would have a trash can filled with teddy bears. We were playing the Cando Cubs for homecoming that year.
Class colors: emerald green & silver-the same colors we had for prom the year before.
Class flower: white rose
Class motto: Life has many wonders in store for he who looks at every finish line as the start of the next race.
Speaker for graduation: We all agreed that we wanted Mrs. Hollis.

Mr. Dick left before the period was up and we were to sit in the library until the bell rang. But then, without permission, we all daringly decided to venture to the math room to ask her right away. We knocked on the door and Mrs. Hollis came out. We asked her if she would speak for our graduation and she seemed taken aback, "You guys will make me nervous for the next nine months."

Kevin put his arm around her shoulder, "It will be just like having a kid."

We all laughed and she scolded, "Don't joke about that with a woman of my age." In the end she told us she would think about it.

On Wednesday I wrote in my journal, "Marty said the football team was going to nominate me (Ya, right; I believe it when I see it)." In PDP we finished reading Lutefisk Ghetto and in Phy-Ed we golfed with waffle balls outside.

On Thursday I had one of the most surreal days of all my time in St. Thomas. The Football team did indeed nominate me for homecoming queen. Mrs. Barker told me the first hour of the day. In choir that day I had the underclassmen girls hanging on my every word regarding what I was going to wear and how I planned to do my hair. For a person who generally felt invisible this was like venturing into the Twilight Zone. Friday I predicted in my journal that the king and queen would be Jason and Junior Stephanie.

The fact that I was nominated for Homecoming Queen by the Football team is something I enjoy telling people after they get to know me a little bit. It just doesn't fit their perceptions of who I am. It's sort of like learning that my Mom was a track star in high school, even getting a city wide trophy for running in Winnipeg. But she got her award by talent, I got mine by default. Jaci had been queen the year before, and my class had already nominated Peggy. That just left Margo and me. Margo had been nominated the year before. Maybe they were just trying to be fair.

At home I attended a Sunday school teachers meeting. I had wanted to call eldest sister Rebecca in Hong Kong to tell her I was nominated but Mom wouldn't let me. She did let me call my sister Sarah at the University of North Dakota. I was also upset that the Grafton FM station switched to an all country format, so I changed my listening habits to CKY out of Winnipeg. Sunday I taught Sunday school. I had the first grade class made up of Troy and Kayla. That afternoon I went to Grand Forks for a Lutheran Youth Fellowship Zone planning meeting. There were representatives from St. Paul's St. Thomas, the church in Niagara and the two Grand Forks churches. We planned our zone rallies for the year & nominated officers, I was asked to come up with some written structure for the zone that we could vote on at the first rally. Once home I was made president of St. Paul's Lutheran Youth Fellowship group at our first meeting of the year.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Class of 1990

Twenty years ago today I started my senior year at St. Thomas Public High School, St. Thomas, ND. In those days I was quite the writer and I pretty much have a journal entry for everyday of that year. My plan is that on Fridays I’ll sum up some of what I did that week of my senior year.

For those who don’t know my background that well, here are a few points to remember. Our class had 8 people: Peggy, Margo, Jaci, Kevin, Jason, Terry, Peter, & Ruth. I came in the 3rd grade and thus was the “new” kid. One thing our class was known for was that we could work well together and make decisions pretty easily. Later in college I took a class in group dynamics wherein I learned that the ideal size group for problem solving has between 5 and 8 people. Any less, everyone runs with their own agenda; any more, you don’t have full participation. So our harmony as a class may not have been a matter so much of personalities as it was of size.

Also, being a small school, the teachers were pretty much one person subject departments, many reaching below the high school level into the junior high. So for six years I had the same math teacher. For five years the same social studies teacher. For all my years in St. Thomas starting in the 3rd grade I had the same music teacher, who also taught all the instruments and directed the grade school and high school bands. Others taught diverse subjects and levels which led to some interesting interpersonal dynamics. The school librarian had to put up with me for six years in Phy-ed, and was tasked with the near impossible duty of trying to teach me to spell for two years. Since this blog is public I will make reference to this after my first mention of each teacher's name.

The class of 1990 blog posts are about memories. In writing this I have no desire to bring up old grievances or embarrass anyone. The past is made up of only two things: memories and regrets. It’s the present that lets you know which one is which. After 20 years I can say that my days at STHS are made up almost entirely of memories. For those who were there, feel free to add your memories and make comments, I only ask that you be charitable.

Week 1

The first day of school we spent a lot of time listening to Mr. Hanson (principal, business teacher- 3 levels, 5-8th grade boys basketball coach, HS girls basketball coach, HS baseball coach, school athletic director) explain school policy. I did have some fun that day hanging out in the library and talking to Mrs. Barker (7&8th grade Language Arts, 7&8th grade boys and girls Phy-ed, HS girls Phy-ed, student council advisor, cheerleader advisor, HS play director and librarian—library served K-12) .

My big debate was if I was going to take Shop or fork out some of my own money to take a correspondence course. The year before I had taken both Basic Drawing and Calligraphy by correspondence as a way to avoid both Shop and Book Keeping and have enough credits. If I took shop I planned to make a bookcase that I could take to college. I was considering taking German if I did the correspondence class, or as I put it in my journal , “I need to choose between a set of shelves or a shelf of knowledge.” I chose the set of shelves. Wednesday of that week all the seniors spent a day out of the school to go soliciting for year book ads. Peter and I went to Cavalier. I was driving, but didn’t want to be. My mom made cookies for the car. It rained and we gave up going to grain elevators after two turned us down. Mrs. Kappel (HS English, Home-Ec 2 levels, yearbook and newspaper adviser, sophomore class advisor, volleyball coach) had a “few” questions for us about that. On Thursday it was finally a normal school day. In PDP (Present Day Problems) we had to write an essay in class describing St. Thomas. After that we started reading Lutefisk Ghetto. In shop we endured safety film strips.

At home, Mom and I went shopping in Grafton for clothes that I could wear for my Senior pictures. I had a quiet weekend that involved reading, mowing the lawn, watching TV and Church & playing cards with Mom. There was a note stating I was already feeling like I had been in school for a month not just one week.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What's in a name?

Mr. Gaba is known in the blogosphere for his attention to detail regarding the proper thing to call dates on the liturgical calendar and liturgical implements used in the divine service, but this attention to detail does not translate into all areas of his life. He has some odd habits about what to call things. One of his quirks is that he rarely calls a TV show by its given name. Some are called after his favorite character, others by some detail he feels distinguishes the show.

House-Dr. House
King of the Hill-Bobby
CSI New York-Mac
CSI Miami-Horatio
According to Jim-the Albanian Show
CSI-the Las Vegas dead body show
Criminal Minds-those guys who fly around in an airplane

Another quirk is his habit of giving very long descriptive names to his food. I'll make a hot dish out of various leftovers and he'll ask what it's called, I'll say Something like, "hot dish" or "a concoction." "No," he'll say, "let's call it elbow macaroni with broccoli, onions, celery, chicken and cream soup."

Then there is the matter of his middle name. Typical conversation:
Ruth: Latif, would you mind passing me the pepper.
Latif: Are you kidding me, my middle name is Passing-you-the-pepper.
Ruth: You had very strange parents.
Only minutes before he had told me that his middle name was Lets-eat-at-the-table. And earlier it was Put-gas-in-the-car.


lhg edited and approved

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

“To our colors we will be ever true….”

I blame the media for us all being sick of news about Brett Favre. I am not a fan of his. I am a fan of a team he played for. That in itself is a bit ironic. Truth is I spent more Sunday’s watching football growing up than most people would believe, but I had only loose loyalties. The only thing I was certain of was that I didn’t like Minnesota. That’s a general principle with me. If it’s a team from Minnesota, regardless of the sport, I don’t like them. There are Minnesotans I know and love, but I have no use for teams that come from that state. Beyond that it was about colors, logos, real deep stuff. I never considered the Packers—green and gold and what’s with that G? So I rooted for the Bears, and the Redskins. I got a kick out of the commentary of John Madden. Then I went to college.

My first real encounter with Packer Backers was a retreat for Youth Ministry Teams that had to be scheduled to end so that the leaders wouldn’t miss the Sunday game. Come on people get your priorities strait! Then sophomore year I started dating a fan of professional teams from Wisconsin. He insisted on my watching every game with him all the way to the end no matter how bleak it looked. Favre was pretty new to the team and I spent a lot of time making fun of guy’s loyalty to a team and a quarterback who looked rather pathetic. Long story short, in time I became a fan and married the fan who made me watch the games.

Favorite Madden Quote of all time,

“We’re watching Brett Favre, be Brett Favre…really the only player he can be.”

Being a Packer fan in Milwaukee in the late Nineties was fun. Then we moved to The Fort. Suddenly we couldn’t catch all the games. I’d watch other games I didn’t care about just to catch the score of the Packers game. Later we’d follow the action on with play updates. Somewhat ironic, if seminarians wanted to talk pro football with a librarian it was the woman behind the desk who knew the most.

So I’m back in Milwaukee and Mr. Favre goes to play for a Minnesota team. I don’t blame him for playing. People who complain about him not staying retired sound as silly to me as sem wives who can’t understand why their husband needs more books. They seem to be denying nature. So if he can play let him play. I just won’t be rooting for him. I’ll be rooting, “Go Pack Go.”


lhg edited and approved

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Operation Ellie in the Box

Objective: to make a paper box large enough to contain a person who will then play the part of a jack in the box.

Needed for this:
A very large sheet of paper.
Music for "Pop Goes the Weasel".
Appropriately costumed person to fit in box.
A crank to turn on the side of the box.
Training for would be "jack" to know when to pop up.
And code names-definitely need code names.

10:05 Base Detlaff. It was determined that Gopher would remain to hold down the fort and was tasked with finding a proper hat and costume for operation Ellie in the Box, plus to greet the young Youngs when they arrive from Camp Szedlak. Arrow, Nuts & Bolts, and The Adult would head off to get the necessary tape supplied for making the box.
10:53 Youngs arrive with grandma Szedlak.
10:54 Arrow, Nuts & Bolts, and The Adult return with $.99 worth of masking tape
10:55 Mission briefing. Youngs are apprised of the mission. It goes well with one major break for laughter when Grandma notices The Adult has new shoes. Arrow is appointed to chair the first meeting to decide on code names for the team members. The Adult goes to deal with Grandma.
11:05 Mission commences in earnest. Grandma leaves.

Notes from SOS on the project. Mission Center of the Universe(aka COTU) in the Box. (with some minor additions and corrections by The Adult.)

11:00 Nuts & Bolts and Construction make paper large enough to cover center of the universe. Gopher is off to fetch the following: 1. Construction paper & crayons 2. Newspaper 3. Hard surface. Arrow is looking for music. Center of the Universe-coloring. SOS taking notes to capture the action.

11:15 NUTS & BOLTS and Construction find how big they have to make the paper by measuring the height of the table. Arrow found Music.Arrow practiced and mastered the music.Arrow captures the action.
11:19 The Adult demonstrates how to make the box
11:20 Nuts & Bolts and Construction started taping 24 4 x 6 pieces of newspaper.
11:23 Pictures by COTU are shown to Arrow.
11:23 Arrow finds food phone number.
11:25 Center of the Universe jumps due to boredom.
11:27 Papa John's number is found.
11:28 Gopher makes top of box with words: Ellie in the Box.
11:30 The Adult calls Papa John's for Lunch FOOD!
11:33 Ellie in the Box has been written by Arrow.

11:37 Gopher gets blanket for back yard pizza picnic.
11:30 COTU is in the BAFROOM!
11:40 COTU learns a new Piano piece.
11:42 Gopher colors in sign.
11:44 Taping by Nuts & Bolts + Construction halfway done.
11:45 Adult & Arrow are gone for FOOD!
11:47 COTU sees the sign for the top of the box and says, "That's Beautiful".
11:47 Gopher & SOS set up for lunch COTU helps out.
11:50 NUTS & BOLTS puts on knee pads.
11:55 Adult and Arrow return with Pizza.

Noon Pizza is eaten in backyard.
12:30 Operations resume.
Gofer suggests that they all make signs bearing the code names to decorate the box. Adult thinks it's a good idea but those working on box construction don't have time to make their own.
12:35 status
Nuts & Bolts and The Adult are taping the second half of the page.
Construction taking Pictures with The Adult's camera.
COTU plays with doll house.
Arrow washing hands.
SOS & Gofer Coloring.
1pm folding of the box starts with Construction and The Adult. Nuts & Bolts leaves to work on crank.
1:10 COTU now in costume practices jumping with music.
1:11 Four sides of the box have been completed.
1:15 The last side is being completed.
1:17 Box is made and is being decorated.
1:18 The crank is installed.
1:20 SOS agrees to play the piano so Arrow can film. We film a practice run with COTU outside of the box and Nuts& Bolts and Gopher holding the lid over her. It goes well.
1:30 COTU is in the box. Construction is behind on the box. Nuts & Bolts is on hand to turn the crank. Arrow is ready to film and SOS is at the piano. Gopher is watching as The Adult gets ready to say "Action!"
1:32 Filming takes place.
1:35 We all go down the watch the video.Mission accomplished.
1:40 We go upstairs to clean our mess. Construction is charged with demolishing the box. He gets COTU to help him.
2:00 Everything is cleaned up before Grandma arrives to see the video.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Sarah

I think it’s fair to say that I have never quite been normal. Classmates would write in my Sr. Memory book about my being “strange.” Underclassmen would call me “weird.” And teachers more tactfully would mention that I was “different.” Even in graduate school after answering a question about library statistics a professor announced that I was an “odd duck,” to which my two closest friends in the room chimed in, “Yes she is.”

I imagine now that being the older sister so close in age to such an oddity was not always fun. Where Sarah excelled in school and sports I was more likely to be in detention for uncompleted school work and thinking strategically about how to participate as little as possible in phy-ed without getting in trouble for it. There were however areas where Sarah and I found a lot of common ground. We liked the same TV shows; we spent countless hours in the front yard playing catch discussing our peers and teachers. We both held the same opinion about a particular Hungarian dancer with brown eyes that we had seen in Winnipeg at Folklorama. And then there was music. We grew up singing together. Be it crawling into bed with Grandpa for a repeating chorus of “School Days” or hymns at the piano—As long a we kept singing Mom would take care of the dishes—we shared songs and would sing them readily. We enjoyed two years of high school in the same choir. If you want to get either of us to laugh just pick it up from “everybody knows a turkey.” At Rebecca’s wedding we were able to get the happy couple to kiss with a bit of “My Heart is Full of Merriment and Joy.” Rebecca would describe Sarah and me as children as the best of friends and the worst of enemies. I’d say that was a fair assessment of our relationship, but music was always in the friends category.

Happy Birthday Sarah from your Sister Goofus Dear.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

My Problems with Potter

I’ve read through the Harry Potter series four times finishing most recently yesterday. Some of the early books I’ve read many more times that that. It would be safe to say that I’ve enjoyed my excursions into that world, but I have some issues with the series both trivial and grave. On the trivial end are certain plot inconsistencies that shatter the illusion of a well thought out whole. These are two that nag me the most.

  1. In book 4 Barty Crouch Jr., in the appearance of Mad-Eye Moody, takes Harry’s Marauders Map and thus is able to continue to conceal himself. That he has the map and what the map does is revealed to Dumbledore, Snape, & McGonagall. No where is it ever mentioned that Harry gets the map back. A map that most surely all those teachers present would want to keep or at least keep out of the hands of a student. Yet without any mention of its return, there he is in book 5 fetching the map out of his trunk.
  2. Inconsistency number two also concerns a book 4 to 5 problem. Harry sees Cedric die and then goes home at the end of the 4th book riding to the train in a horseless carriage, but when he gets to Hogwarts in book 5 he can see that Thestrals are pulling the carriages and it upsets him. Why can he see them now? Well, because you can’t see them until you’ve seen someone die as Harry saw Cedric die. But then why didn’t he see them at the end of book 4? This brings up another issue. However young he may have been Harry did see his mother die so shouldn’t he have been able to see them from year one?

Now my more grave issues with Harry Potter. While it can be categorized as a battle between “good” and “evil’ this in no way means that we can somehow draw any Christian meaning from it. The story is simply Godless. Allegories and vain attempts at seeing Christ-like sacrifices all fail to grasp that this world at its core does not acknowledge a creator and the characters hold no hope of resurrection. In fact, to seek not to die or to bring back the dead is seen as folly. There are impressions of the departed left on those who choose to become ghosts or who have let portraits carry something of themselves, but the body and soul once separated cannot be reunited and any to attempt to create a new body for a soul is seen as the height of evil. There is a lot of talk of death as “moving on.” There is the goal to become a master of death. To quote Dumbledore, “You are the true master of death, because the true master does not seek to run away from Death. He accepts that he must die, and understands that there are far, far worse things in the living world than dying.” But this fails to see what the Christian knows. We master death when we live in Christ. That Christ will preserve our soul and will reunite it with our body. A body not made from flesh of a servant, bone of a father and blood of an enemy. But a body whole and complete made from the love of our God. This is what is wrong with the series at its core. The dichotomy of good and evil is not paired as being between life and death but between those who die and those who are afraid to die.

It is this total lack of Christian understanding that makes itself known in some details, that children I’ve discussed these books with, find disturbing. First among these is the fact that Harry uses so called “unforgivable” curses. Curses whose use on another human should land one with a life term in Azkaban prison. Harry mostly uses them ineffectively and only against “Death Eaters” but he does not suffer any consequences at all for using them. Also disturbing is that aside from Dudley offering a handshake in the last book there is very little in the way of changed hearts and forgiveness among any of the principle characters. Even Snape who has a change of heart and vows to protect Harry can never repent of his hatred of Harry’s father and thus can not act kindly towards Harry, who look like his dad, even for the sake of his love for Harry’s mother. That Harry and Malfoy are enemies and hate each other is not seen as something to overcome but rather a fact to live with and work around. Friends fight and make up, but those who were never friends are never reprimanded for this or encouraged to love one another.

So while I enjoy the books as a form of escapism, I do not imagine them as teaching any great life lessons and certainly no good lessons about forgiveness, death, or even love. At best you can pick up a little pseudo Latin and some tips on good gift giving. The rest is just captivating but frivolous fantasy.

Friday, July 17, 2009

NonInformative Letters

The last time I spent a summer at Concordia University Wisconsin I was producing a newsletter called The NonInformer. This was a low tech effort created with the simple but important goal to get mail over the summer. That was the stated reason; the truth was that it was all part of a plot to catch a husband. But I digress. The newsletter, typed on my Smith Corona Word Processor Typewriter, had regular features like: Szedlak’s Typical Day, If you care, this is my life and the annual Company Report that vented disputes among the President, Writer, Editor, Art Director and all around Supreme Authority of NIL Co.: Ruth Szedlak.

Being back at CUW has been a bit of a surreal experience for me. I used to live there. I fell in love there. Those were some of the happiest and silliest days of my life and it is easy to get nostalgic and tell stories. But a college is sort of like a river. You can never step into the same water twice. The professors who were new and working on advanced degrees now are doctors and hold top administrative posts. Summer students still all live in Augsburg, but those with east windows can’t see the lake because Coburg is in the way. The campus belongs to the students that are here now. I’m just one of the staff they have to deal with and in the future may tell stories about. “Remember that librarian who did those instruction classes. She told those lame jokes and always started with the search on ‘alien abduction.’” Sort of like how I remember Richard Wohlers whose retirement last year paved the way for me to come back. In explaining Boolean operators he would always say, “Now let’s say you want to do a search on “dolphins,” but you don’t want the football team…..”


lhg edited and approved

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Sticking My Tongue out in Church

One thing I love about St. Stephens, where Latif and I are members, is the wonderful stained glass windows. On my first Sunday I could hardly take my eyes off them. On the north side of the altar is this one:

When I went up for Communion I noticed a detail that escaped me from the pew. The lamb at Christ’s right side has his tongue sticking out. Just as I was wondering what would lead the artist to include such an odd detail I found myself doing the most natural thing a member of Christ’s flock does at the altar rail…I stuck my tongue out and my pastor put Christ’s body there. I think the artist was a genius.


lhg edited and approved

Thursday, July 2, 2009

We're green. Yes, that's it. We're green.

When we moved into hour home last September our landlord told us that the lawn was not our problem. Apparently it isn't his either. So while most homes on the block have pristine carpets of green, ours is a clutter of weeds. But we live in a part of town where the more hippy minded will not tend their lawns, reveling in nature and not harming the earth by using power to groom their front gardens. So I've decided that what may seem like an eye sore is really a neighborhood statement. We're green. Yes that's right. We don't do anything because we care about nature.

I have to admit though that the flowers look pretty.
lhg edited and approved