Sunday, October 31, 2010

Opinions on trick-or-treaters

I spent about three hours today dressed for warmth and hanging out on my porch to give out candy. Mr. Gaba joined me for about an hour and a half of it, and for almost the entire three hours a neighborhood boy, Tony, sat on our porch swing and we chatted. Other neighbors stopped by and mostly it was a pleasant way to spend a few hours. Last year I ran out of candy in less than one hour so this year I over-bought, but it became clear that this October I’m on a much less popular street.
I bear no ill will to the late October beggars who come clambering up my stairs for candy, but I do expect them to at least attempt to costume themselves with more than a grocery bag in hand to identify themselves as trick-or-treaters. In one case, two boys clad in jeans, sneakers, dark sweatshirts and open jackets (it was hovering just below 50 degrees) climbed up my stairs and held out their Wal-mart bags, I asked, “So what are you supposed to be?” They stared at me, ignored my question, said, “Trick or Treat” and then failed to say thank you after I put candy in their bags. At that point I decided that any kid approaching with no sign of any costume would get one piece of candy. Kids who made an effort of any sort: face paint (one kid had his face painted black which was hard to see until he got up my stairs since it was almost the same shade as the rest of his skin), a hat or even a mask carried in their hand or worn off their face would get two. The fully clad Spiderman got four.
The other thing I noticed was the lack of imaginative costumes. They either didn’t try to dress up at all, only wore one piece of costume, or were in obviously store bought costumes that screamed “we went to a Halloween store.” There were no monochromatic kids with cone shaped paper hats and a hand drawn color label down their front and back, no cardboard robots, no fairies with tinfoil star wands, not even an assortment of bums or hobos. The closest to made-it-up-from-what-we-had-around were two boys with shoulder pads who carried helmets that appeared to be part of their pee-wee football uniforms. It is sort of sad. When I was a kid Halloween was an occasion for creativity and ingenuity; now it’s just an opportunity to get candy—costume optional. In some cases coming to the door was optional as well, as in the case of one mother holding three bags and expecting me to put treats in each, as her little ones didn’t want to get out of the warmth of the car—they also only got one piece each.


lhg edited and approved

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dorian's tale last report from the air.

Sep 12, 2010 in the air over America

When asked what I wanted to do in Utah I came up blank. While I feel that it is always good when you travel to try and take in the local culture I made the trip to get a cat and I was more than a little short on ideas. One thing was for sure. I don’t really care at all about Mormon history. In the end we did something that I’m very glad indeed that I did. Sadly without a guided tour, but I visited the state capital. It makes for a rather odd addition to capitals I’ve scoped out: North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, and Utah. (Insert Sesame Street—“One of these things is not like the others” music here)

After the capital we stopped a few streets away at the Catholic cathedral which, of all the catholic buildings I’ve been in is, in decorating terms, “Not afraid of color.”

So I managed to find a state building and a church to tour in Utah, and I took pictures of the lions and a Manhattan Indian and avoided shots of Brigham Young.

We also stopped at an Old Navy to get Jillian some much needed fall clothes, and in the process drove past a Brazilian festival at the downtown mall.

While Utah is not known for its great food I did enjoy some all you can eat sushi, some really good hummus and pita bread at a place called Roosters, and when we went to a Five Guys burger joint I learned of a local custom—fry sauce. Fry sauce is an alternative to ketchup for your fries. It consists of ketchup, mayo and pickle juice. I tried it twice to be sure, but I don’t think I’ll be trying to make my own at home.
In my mixed up, screwed up head I planned this trip with the impression that I was coming home on Monday, so I packed for that and it wasn’t until we were headed to the capital on Saturday that I learned of my mistake. We double checked our various itinerary e-mails when we got back before dinner and sure enough I was flying out Sunday. I then once again got in frantic traveling mode. It’s just as well that I spent most of Saturday believing I had an extra day, it made me a much calmer person to be around.

I had told Latif he was getting me Monday so I called and left him a message to return my call so I would sleep better. He called somewhere close to 11pm and I slept as well as I can the day before flying. I was up at 5am. I used the computer and read up on flying with cats and what to expect. I made a list of things of Dorian’s that I needed to ask about and then I got myself ready and packed everything up. 8:20 we left for church. It was about 12:30 when we got home. I changed and gathered things up and said goodbye and they said goodbye to their cat. For all concerned this is the best of all worlds. They know Dorian is going to a good home they know that they will be able to see him come summer when they visit Milwaukee again for the SSP retreat and to take in that great city on a Great Lake.

Five years ago the Greens took Dorian in. Five years ago I lost both my cats. I was offered many cats after I lost the second one in our house fire, but I think we were just waiting for Dorian to need a home. In about two hours he’ll be in Riverwest.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dorian's back story

Mike and Amy had friends in New Orleans who bought a home and were told that the cat came with it. The friends were told the cat male but as it turns out that “male” cat gave birth to kittens underneath the home. They were all terribly flea infested, one was so bad her back legs had so much blood drawn that she couldn’t stand. That kitten was taken to the vet, cleaned up and named Gloria. Mike and Amy took her home and spoiled her rotten. Gender confusion seemed to run in the family, because after a while someone pointed out that Gloria was a male. Not wanting to confuse a cat that had gotten used to the tone of his name they searched for something male that sounded similar enough and settled on Dorian. That is how an orange and white cat ended up with a name that leads everyone to assume that he is gray. Dorian by then was completely healthy—he has a slightly unusual gate for a cat but you’d have to be looking for it to notice. He was also neutered and much to his owner’s later regret completely declawed. He will have to remain an indoor cat for the rest of his life. Just as he was getting to full size Katrina hit. The Greens were on the move and Dorian became a Katrina refugee. Mike got a job in Salt Lake and they relocated there. Amy flew with Dorian to their new home on Delta and bought the carrier that he now sits in at my feet.
Dorian enjoyed only-child status in the home, as the Greens worked to adopt, being told that they just may not be able to have children in the more conventional way. Dorian got used to not having children around and when a small nephew visited, decided that he didn’t like this little person and bit him. Not long after that, God surprised the Greens with Jillian, their miracle baby. Now Amy had a problem. Dorian was not getting the attention he was used to and went into a deep depression, she considered giving him to a no-kill shelter, but felt that she would always worry that a new owner would abuse him or let him outside. She wasn’t sure that Dorian would take to Jillian once she became mobile, and keeping up with the amount of fur was getting hard since the baby took priority. “I’d be coming upstairs with a baby in one arm and laundry in the other and see him and realize that I hadn’t pet him all day. I just felt so guilty.”

The timing of this small new addition to our lives truthfully could not be better. Latif is working essentially 2nd shift. The change from three months of him being there to him being almost instantly totally absent was startling, so I’m glad that in the evenings I will have someone to keep me company and to talk to. Cats are great listeners, as I discovered with my cat Neko when I was a teen. If you talk to yourself people will think you are crazy but talking to an animal is perfectly sane, though I will admit that I got some stares for appearing to talk to my carry-on luggage.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dorians Tale part 3

Sep 12, 2010 6:40pm Las Vegas

Dorian is stowed below the seat in front of me for what, I’m sure he hopes, is his last flight. Again it’s a full flight and again it is leaving late.

I got to the Salt Lake airport with plenty of time. Paid the $75 for pet transport, got him tagged, and then turned my bags over to security. I checked two bags. One was my stuff; the other was a hard case pet taxi, filled with Dorian’s food, toys, water bowl, and litter scoop & lint rollers. With wheels on the suitcase and cat stuff not weighing as much as the cat, I found getting to security a bit of a challenge. I ended up making a request at security; Dorian was skittish and I didn’t want to take him out of the bag. I asked if it could be hand inspected they said no but opened a gate and took the cat carrier. I went through security and followed two security agents to a small room where I held Dorian and an agent patted him down (she really likes cats.) while the other one ran the carrier through the x-ray machine. They declared both bomb free. When the guy brought in the bag Dorian practically jumped back into it and squatted down to make it easy to zip shut. It was a far cry from the wrestling match Amy and I did to get him zipped into it for the trip to the airport.

After security I needed to hike to my gate. It was not a short trip and while Dorian is not the fattest cat I’ve ever owned, he’s not the lightest either. The carrier has no wheels and by the time I found my gate the first order of business was getting a drink, and taking some pills for my back and then doing a little bit of stretching—stretching that I failed to do in Vegas. I didn’t notice until that point that the flight was delayed. We got off the ground an hour late. I felt sorry for Dorian who could have enjoyed another hour not trapped in a carrier. That’s the thing, as long of a day as it is for me I can at least do things like eat, drink, and most importantly, use a bathroom. I did bring a bit of food for him but we cut off his water supply before leaving for church. I’ve wet my fingers a few times on my trips to bathrooms and stuck them in the carrier in case he would like to lick them dry. I’ve also grabbed a few of his food pellets and from time to time have offered him some. In truth I’m glad that my flight from Salt Lake was late because given the choice I’d much rather sit in that airport and watch the Packer game on monitors, than sit in the sun in Vegas and have to look at slot machines. Go Pack Go. The game was just finishing the 3rd quarter when we boarded. For the first half I was sitting too far away. I thought Dorian would enjoy looking out a window so I sat by the windows that were far from the monitors. People asked about him and I happily told his story. Vegas no one made eye-contact even though we’re all headed back to Wisconsin. I tried to strike up a conversation with one woman, but she didn’t seem to enjoy the idea of returning to Milwaukee as much as I did.

In Las Vegas we were supposed to land at gate B12 and the flight was to take off from B12, but because they were holding flights for those who were late our plan gated at B20 and again I had some walking to do with a very squirmy cat. With Southwest’s numbered boarding system and this trip being planned back in July, I had good numbers. For the first flight I was the 68th passenger to board. For the next I was 32. All the planes are the same 737s and If you must know I like to sit just behind the wing on the left side when facing front. Row 17 is my favorite but with a bunch of crumbs on the floor this flight I moved one row back and I’ve got to tell you I don’t like the position of the windows. It’s kind of sad. Each flight is a bit less fun than the one before. The pilot just chimed in and the wind is in our favor so we may not be too late. The book I was reading I finished, so all I’ve got now is my writing.

I didn’t’ buy dinner; the Vegas airport did not impress me at all.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dorian's tale Part 2

Sep 11, 2010 6:50 am

I’m in the living room next to the entry way of the Greens’ home and there is catnip all over the floor. Dorian is standing in the middle of it looking guilty, but not so guilty that he doesn't keep attacking the plastic bag he robbed off the shelf to get at it. I remember hearing something go bump last night. Amy was putting together a pile of things to go with Dorian to his new home and the bag of catnip was amongst those things. Well the catnip will no longer be going with him because it’s scattered all over the floor and he’s so strung out that he almost doesn’t notice it any more.

Back to my trip. The winds were against us going to Phoenix so we arrived 15 minutes late. I had enough time to get to my next gate, use a bathroom, and fail to talk myself into spending $8 for a slice of pizza. I ate a granola bar I brought along and it was time to board the plane. No games or prizes this time. The plane to Salt Lake was brand new, all shiny and bright. The flight was only a third full, so getting a window seat was easy. I even managed to be on the ideal side of the plane to view the Grand Canyon. Wow. First time I’ve ever looked at that wonder of God’s creation. Even from 10,000 feet up you cannot take it all in with one look. By the time you see the end of it the beginning of it is out of view. Let me say after that, that anyone who uses the word “grand” to describe the size of something like a van, a coffee, or a dinner roll is committing linguistic fraud.

I didn’t write more during the flight for two reasons. 1. The skies were clear and I was seeing a part of the country I’ve never known before. I am a heart a Midwest girl. Most of my above ground viewing has been farm land in Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota. On this flight I was seeing the topography I’d never looked at before. Farms with round fields set up for most efficient use of irrigation and mountains, and brown and red earth, terraced fields with their wavy patterns. 2. My sister Rebecca passed on some book club books to me. Fiction is dangerous for me. I get addicted easily and then become useless. The author’s style gets into my head and I start narrating my own life. So when I wasn’t gazing out the window I was reading. That and eating peanuts and drinking Dr. Pepper.

The wind that slowed us down going to phoenix pushed us to salt Lake City and we arrived 15 minutes early. I failed to tell my hosts I had a cell phone—I don’t use it much but I did make sure it was charged and that I had active minutes and I brought it along. I even got Latif to get me a number for Mike so I called him and then he called his wife Amy and called me, and well, long story short, Amy found me at the passenger pick up. Our first stop was for food. We met Mike at Zapos and enjoyed soup and sandwiches. So after eating we arrived at their place. You had to be careful entering the door so that Dorian wouldn’t bolt out of it. I came in with my suitcase and there he was. I put my hand down and he sniffed it and then let me pet him. “See,” Amy said, “You pet him and you have a friend for life.”

Mike and Amy Green

The LORD has a way of connecting people that is both mysterious and wonderful. Mike Green is a member of the Society of Saint Polycarp as is my husband. The SSP has its annual retreat north of Milwaukee at Holy Hill. The Greens turned Mikes trip to the retreat into a family vacation and due to some storms in Denver arrived in Milwaukee too late to pick up their rental car. So Latif, who only knew Mike via the SSP Yahoo group picked them up at the airport in our two door Ford Focus and got them to the Ramada Inn Downtown. The next morning he took Mike back to the airport to get the rental car. See it wasn’t just Mike and Amy, but Mike, Amy and Jillian their baby daughter (dubbed the “miracle baby” because they were told that they probably couldn’t have children, but God surprised them with Jillian). Babies need a lot of stuff, so getting three adults, an infant, stroller, car seat and a week’s worth of luggage into our car was a bit of a challenge. In the end Amy had to hold a suitcase on her lap to make it work.

When not at the retreat Latif and I played host and tour guide and it was a wonderful week. Latif was newly unemployed and I had taken the week off of work so for me it was a “be a tourist in your home town” kind of vacation all the more fun as I could show off my favorite city to our out-of-town guests. We took in a neighborhood street festival, the art museum, a few brew pubs, (something not as common in Salt Lake City) and even made our way to a Kopps frozen custard. In the course of all this fun we of course got to know our new friends and two facts came to light: Latif and I were planning on adopting a cat in the coming year and the Greens had a cat that they were trying to give to a good home.


edited and approved

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dorian's tale

This was written on my trip out to Utah to pick up a cat.

Part 1.

Sep 10, 2010 in the air over America

There is something about travel that makes me anxious. I worry about forgetting things; I worry about getting lost, but most of all, I worry about being late. So I am always ready way too early. I have to work to slow down and take my time or I end up ready to go hours ahead of when I need to be, and then I just become this fidgety mess. This trip was no different. My flight took off at 10:30 am Milwaukee time. I needed to be at the airport by around 9:30. Last night I got home from work late. There was a class I needed to teach at 6:30 so even heading right home I didn’t get there until about 7:50. By 8:20 p.m. I was completely packed. I then sat at the computer to check into my flight and get my boarding pass.

We were out of paper at home, so I grabbed a stack of “good on one side” scrap paper at work on which to print things. Most of it was old library handouts, drafts of new handouts, printed schedules and calendars. I failed to notice that not all the sheets were white and as it came out, I managed to print my boarding pass for my first flight on a pink sheet of paper the back side of which explained how to do research on children’s literature. Turns out my poverty was an asset because Southwest gave me a prize (a can caddy) for having my boarding pass printed on a different color.

I was the 91st person to board the plane and got a window seat just behind the wing. An extra bonus was the flight taking off towards the lake and turning over the downtown offering some great views of some of my most loved landmarks including St. Stephen’s.

Anyway, back to the story, I had that “I’m flying on a plane for the first time in 8 years” thing going on and spent a lot of time making sure I wasn’t going to try to bring anything that I shouldn’t. Packing light is a challenge for me. It’s sort of like complicated math for me: I can do it but it takes a lot of thinking and you can’t interrupt me. I debated at length about taking my Neo, going light and just grabbing a pen and pad of paper, but as I sit here typing away I can say that I’m very glad to have my writing tool with me. My hands would have cramped up by this point if I was hand writing.

(The pilot is talking and I can’t understand a word he is saying. Drinks are also coming. I’ve already eaten my cheese sandwich crackers but I’m saving my Ritz chips for the arrival of my glass of Dr. Pepper.)

So this morning I was up around 6:00. Latif got home last night, and well, since he started his job hosting at Benihana I haven’t seen much of him when he is conscious. I didn’t get to bed until after midnight and I didn’t sleep well, because I was cold, until Mr. Gaba came to bed a little later.

This morning I got up about 6:05. Late for me, but still way too early. I played around online, watched the local news, and tried to put off, as long as I could stand it, getting dressed and putting the last two items in my suitcase before closing it up. I was all ready to go by 8:00 am, but hanging around an airport costs money. Parking is free if it’s less than 30 minutes so I really did not want to hang around the airport. I read a few blogs, checked facebook again, and checked the flight status. I checked my bag to make sure I had everything I needed. I debated at length with myself about taking my thumb drive with me, fussed about whether I should re-print my boarding pass on white paper or if anyone would care that it was pink. Finally, at 8:40 we left. Latif drove and did not hurry. He made a usual missed exit kind of mistake that he seems to always make when he drops me off at an airport. This time he just took the next exit and we drove past the hotel where he used to work. (Once in Fort Wayne he simply put the car in reverse and drove backwards on the freeway to get to the exit.—It’s never a journey—It’s always an adventure.) Drinks are here. I’ll write more later.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Summer writing

It’s been a long summer and I was supposed to dedicate my writing efforts to cranking out a rough draft of my work on the study habits of seminary students, so I put blogging aside for the summer. I did make some progress, but not as much as I intended. Anyway, I will try to get back to writing something at least once a week.

I did do some other writing this summer. Most particularly I wrote this story, with the help of two of my nieces, while I was on vacation at my eldest sister’s home in Fridley MN. You may be able to pick out what parts were contributed by the teenager, the five-year-old and the adult.


Annabel’s home

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Annabel who lived in a tree in the middle of the city with her best friends, squirrels named Nutmeg Squally and Quirrel. The squirrels at times make her crazy especially during storms because they squeaked sooooooooo loud. One night there was a very bad storm. She woke not from the thunder but from the squeaking and said, “Stop squirrels,” but the squirrels wouldn’t stop. The next morning after the rain stopped she decided that she needed a new squirrel free home. And she got one.

This time Annabel’s new home was in the sewer with the rats. But unstable atmospheric conditions led to yet another horrible thunder storm. And it was a very prickly place. This didn’t help when rats squeaked from the thunder and made her jump on the prickly things.

“Oh dear” she thought, “I can’t live here either.”

So the next day she moved to a kennel and lived with the dogs. And she liked it so much in there because there was a really soft blanket that she could use to muffle noise the barking dogs made. Unfortunately her best squirrel friends were afraid of the dogs and refused to visit her there. But it was so cozy there she couldn’t move anywhere else. Until the dogs started ganging up on her and started to get out of her cages and tried to attack her.

“Oh dear” she thought, “maybe I will have to move after all.”

And she did move after all. She moved to a bee farm and found their honey quite delightful. Even the squirrels liked it there, and would visit often. But she didn’t like it anymore because she didn’t like getting stung.

“Oh dear,” she said. And then she thought, “Oh, Deer!” I’ll move to the wildlife sanctuary with the deer.

When she got there she met a very kind deer named Bambi. He let Annabel ride on him. But Annabel had gained weight from eating honey and it hurt Bambi, so he bit her. She was terrible upset by this and felt that it was necessary to leave immediately. But she was crying that she wanted her Mamma and Dada.

Then Nutmeg Squally and Quirrel showed up and said, “Oh Annabel the jet stream has moved south bringing in cooler temperatures and stabilizing the atmosphere so if you come back to live in the tree there will not be thunderstorms to scare us, so you will not have to go back to your mamma and dada who we know are ogres.”

So Annabel moved back to the tree in the city with her three friends and collected their fluff and made ear plugs and never had to move again. Until the tree was invaded by a fungus and the city had to cut it down, but that’s a story for another day.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A slice of life with Latif

Last week as Latif and I played host to our New Orleans friends, we stopped in at Usinger Sausage on old world 3rd street, and along with the meat I bought to eat and share with our guests, I also got a small garlic summer sausage for us off the discount table. Tonight Latif decided to slice some of that along with a block of cheddar in his usual comical fashion. Words and pictures fail to capture it, but this video comes close.


lhg edited and approved

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Class of 1990 Graduation and a final look.

I wore my new silk dress to church that morning and taught Sunday school. After a quick lunch I drove myself to town. The seniors all assembled in the home-ec room where we exchanged gifts and robed. St Thomas had the nicest graduation gown in the area. They were the school’s old choir robes that they had bought matching caps for. They looked sharp but you always hoped that it would still be a bit cool out since they were heavy.

Margo gave us milk crates and rolls of toilet paper. Jaci gave us each a gumball machine that did not require change. Kevin gave us caps with our names on them. I got a mug from Peggy and I gave them a card with the picture of the eight of us that was taken the night before our junior prom. I also gave them small plastic baskets and a bottle of bubbles.

The pastors in town had a rotation for doing the invocation and the benediction at graduation and that year my Dad was up in the order. Jaci’s dad as principal was also on stage. Margo’s dad was on the school board for many years and often served as president and would be on stage to hand out the diplomas but Margo’s Mom wanted him to sit by her and asked him not to serve in that roll our senior year. He surprised his daughter though by coming in from the side to hand her the diploma before returning to sit next to his wife. I felt like a bit of a hypocrite singing a song about staying friends forever when I didn’t have any plans to stay in touch with any of my classmates.

Peter’s Speech:

12 short years ago, on this very stage, 14 5&6 year olds graduated from kindergarten. From those 14 kids, half are gone and a new one had joined in.
That graduation received a write up in the school’s newspaper. In it Terry was asked his name.
“Terry” he said.
When asked “Terry who?” Terry said, “I haven’t learned that yet.”
Also in the article was a paragraph that said, “When the kids were asked what they thought of school they all agreed that they liked it. In fact, some kids liked it so much they wish they could come on Saturday and Sunday too.” Go figure.
As the years went by, our class had its share of stupid stunts, most people know about my ramming my head into telephone poles and doorways. I wasn’t the only one with these stunts. How many have heard about Jason, while in second grade, sharpening his crayon in the pencil sharpener. Terry was blamed by at least 10 eye witnesses, until Jason finally confesses. Now picture this: a cold winter’s day during recess in grade school, a metal pole, and Peggy’s tongue. Put them all together and you get a sticky situation.
A lot more of these stunts occurred but these ones stand out the most in my mind, so the rest of the class is off the hook.
Sometimes during the school day, we had some free time and were pretty bored. Some of the things we talked about were downright weird. For example, on more than one occasion Ruth’s thumbs came up as a topic of discussion. I think they look like toes and could be interchangeable. Jaci thinks they are a cross between a spaceman and a garbage can. Everyone else doesn’t know what to think of them.
Another topic is about the striking resemblance of Ruth and a 1937 graduate named Betty Ray. Just about everyone asked sees the resemblance except for Ruth.
A lot has happened since 1978, three presidents, the Dallas Cowboys won their last Super Bowl in 1978 and I was less than 4 feet tall.
But things do change, The Cowboys stink, I finally grew and Terry can write his full name.
We must always remember that when change comes, we must also make the necessary changes and adjustments or be left behind.

My Speech:

Today you see eight of us up here graduating and you are probably thinking, “That is a small class.” What you don’t know is that if every person who had ever been in the St. Thomas class of 1990, dating back to kindergarten, would still be in this class, there would not be 8 of us up here. There would be 24.
We hit our peak in the 4th grade when there were 16 of us. After that we lost a person or two every year until our freshman year when we reached the eight mark and have been there ever since.
When a class is small, education is very personal. But we’re heading into the big world where many of us may become just another number or statistic. So to give a taste of this I’ve decided to take a highly impersonal approach and do this speech by the numbers. Keep in mind as I go through this that 1 person equals 12.5% of the class.
This class had a 1:1 boy girl ratio. 100% of the boys claim Catholic as their religion and 100% of the girls claim Lutheran.
62.5% are the oldest child in their family and 37.5% are the youngest. The average family having 4.25 kids which is well above the current national average of 1.7
75% live in town and 25% in the country.
The class of 90 has its share of smarts with 62.5% being honor students, which may explain why 50% of the class is making speeches today. 75% took 4 full years of math and 50% took 4 years of science.
When it comes to talent there is no shortage, except maybe in band where no one had been a member since the 6th grade. But 50% are in chorus and 87.5% participated in the drama club at least one year. 100% of the class has earned a school letter and 75% have held a starting position on some varsity team.
This class is 100% literate and despite all the people it has lost, has a 0% dropout rate.
By the numbers we look pretty good and I pray that God will keep blessing us as we go our separate ways.

After we recessed out of the gym—at a more normal pace—we stood in the receiving line which was a bit strange for me. A few alums who I had never been social with when they were students felt compelled to give me hugs. All of Kevin’s relatives introduced themselves to me. Lucky for Peter, nobody made a point of examining my thumbs. Kim who graduated the year before was disgusted with me commenting, “Well, no tears here.” Freshmen Marty made a point of telling me that he liked my speech saying, “It was short and I could hear all of it.”

After the receiving line we went back into the home-ec room to collect our belongings. It was Margo who lifted up her head and did a quick count. “All eight of us are here. This may be the last time in ten years that we are all together.” I didn’t think much of the comment then. I was anxious to get home and so glad to be done with high school, but she was right… more than right. It was and is the last time the eight of us would be together. For one decade of my life those were my classmates and while I didn’t always like them or they me, we had that in common.

I got home. All told 47 people came for the open house. Peter showed up with Freshman Mark and gave me a gift of a piece of crystal stem ware. I kept my tassel in it (until I lost both in a house fire). A month after graduation Jason showed up at our door and gave me an alabaster box as a graduation gift. I don’t have a record of a gift from Terry but a vague recollection of a card with a two dollar bill.

Rebecca called me from Hong Kong and I had to stand behind the curtain in the dining room to block out enough noise to hear her. I described all the food on the table and she thanked me. We had fancy rolled sandwiches, cream puffs, a tort, fresh fruit, glorified rice and banana cake. Most of the cake mom had forgotten to get out of the freezer downstairs didn’t think of it until all the guests had left. I had fun talking to my cousin Colleen and we both enjoyed teasing Sarah and Bob. Mom and Dad gave me luggage and bedding for college and I got all sorts of practical going away to school gifts. Aunty Norma (also my God mother) sat beside me while I opened the cards and gifts. Colleen was on the other side recording my gifts so I could do the dreaded thank you notes. The gifts were all displayed on my bookcase that we set up in the living room for the occasion. When the day was over I was exhausted and very glad it was all over.

School ended but the yearbook meetings did not. There was one on Wednesday where we finished everything we could until the roll with our graduation pictures got developed. When they did I was the only editor who made it to the final meeting with Mrs. Kappel. In picking out a class graduation day picture, I chose based entirely on how good I looked in the picture. The picture of Mrs. Billings’ retirement open house ended up being included on the graduation page because the other pages were completed and it had to go somewhere. On the page with our class picture and individual portraits we needed some copy to fill the space in the two page spread. I avoided sentimental statements and carefully composed the following:

“Eight people clumped together not because of common goals, backgrounds, or interests but simply because they were born at a certain time and live in a certain place. For this they have grown and learned together.”

I didn’t make it for the ten year reunion. I hoped to go. But My Father-in-Law’s death in the spring of 2000 left me without vacation days and our landlords’ decision to rent to their granddaughter and not renew our lease meant I had to move and had no money for a trip.

I just realized that I’ve mentioned our class motto a few times, but never stated what it was. Well here it is:

“Life has many wonders in store for he who looks at every finish line as the start of the next race.”

With this blog I’m at the end of my class of 1990 recollections. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride. Now on to the next thing for me: More frequent writings about Life, Libraries, Lutherans and Life with Latif.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Class of 1990 the last week of school


I had earned enough extra credit from yearbook that I had points to spare. I tried selling them to the highest bidder. Jaci and Peggy were both interested but Mrs. Kappel said no.

I started working on creating an inventory database for the science room.

Sarah was back from her weekend in Minot with Bob and his folks. She picked me up from school and told me stories on the way home about his folks' “yapping dog.”


Terry found an article about the class’s kindergarten graduation that he was going to give to somebody to use in their speech. He then looks at me and says, “You didn’t go to kindergarten here. That means you’re not really part of the class.”

At lunch Peter, Kevin, Peggy, Margo, Jaci, and I skipped the chili being served at school and headed out to find some lunch. First we were going to Jaci’s but then we changed our minds and headed for Kevin’s house. Halfway there Peggy’s dad picked us up and drove us. I think we had frozen pizza. After we ate, we walked back to school side by side spanning the witdth of Main Street.

In girls Phy-Ed we talked Mrs. Barker into letting us play mat ball. It’s a form of kickball that has a few odd twists. One, the ball is set, not rolled to the kicker. Two the bases are large tumbling mats that can hold multiple runners. You run 1st to 3rd base twice before heading home. The only time you have to run after you get to 1st is when the last kicker is up. You can only go through the kicking order once. It was a game none of us had played since the 6th grade and we had to go down to the 4th grade room to get the mats. It was a lot of fun and for the first and only time in my gym class life I caught a fly ball.

At home I finally finished my bookshelves.


I spent most of the day putting the science room’s inventory into an Apple Works Data Base for Miss Kassian. The junior honor students called “gray gowns,” though they didn’t wear gowns at graduation, but rather got gray ropes to wear, served as ushers at graduation. They got to pin flowers on parents of the graduates, hand out bulletins, and before graduation they had to put the senior class motto up on the gym wall next to the stage. Our class colors were green and silver so they had to cut out the letters and put tin foil cut outs behind them. Jr. Stephanie didn’t like our motto because it was too long. The juniors were working on the letters in the library and some of my class was supervising when Mrs. Barker came in and scolded us for sitting on the tables. She just noticed that I was one of them sitting on the tables when the bell rang. Wednesday it was official, my marks were good enough that I was exempt from my finals.


I went to school just long enough to practice our song for graduation. Sarah and I went to Grafton so I could shop for a gift for my LYF friend Linda. We also stopped at the school in Grafton and filled out forms to work for the Migrant School in the summer. I would be working in the 3 year old room. At home I finished making cards for all my classmates and Mrs. Hollis showed up so my mom could help her sew a quilt for a wedding. I finally got to working on my speech and went to bed about 2:00 am.


I got to school too late to practice our song for graduation. I went to the library and finished writing my speech and then went to the computer room to type it out. After that it was off to graduation practice.

Part of the object of graduation in St. Thomas, North Dakota is to make it last at least one hour. It’s a town event and people want to feel like they traveled to see something. With only 8 students this took some practice. We got to walk in two at a time but we had to walk very slowly. I was paired with Peggy since we would split up at the stage and come in at opposite sides, and we needed to be in alphabetical order once we were up on stage. As I noted in my journal: “If I walked any slower I’d be standing still.” We ran through our speeches. I was last and Mr. Dick made no corrections to my volume and speed. Even though he had imposed minimum lengths (A rule invention that I credit to my sister Sarah who was the sole honor student at her graduation and gave a speech of less than two minutes) he didn’t seem to mind that mine was a bit short of the five minute minimum. Another time consumer was that when we received our diplomas we had to walk the entire stage. The moving line started from the podium and we had to again practice walking slowly across the stage to the table with the deplomas. When Mr. Hanson called my name I corrected the pronunciation of my last name. He yelled at me. “You’re family has been here 10 years and nobody ever told me I was saying your name wrong?!” Rebecca later told me that she had tried several times to correct him when she was a freshman, but gave up after a while.

At home I wrapped my classmate’s gifts in Winnipeg Free Press comic pages from 1980—the year I moved to North Dakota. I don’t think anyone got the connection. Dad started bugging me about my warped book case side and felt I should make a hook to hold the shelf tight to the side. I finally told him, “If you want to make a hook, go ahead.” And he did.

That night mom drove me to Niagara to attend Linda’s graduation. We spent a little time at her open house before heading home.


I watched Loony Toons,.cleaned my room, trimmed the grass, watered the flowers, retyped my speech, and took a long walk. Aunty Norma and my cousin Colleen came and we all sat up and talked until past midnight. Mom was busy getting food ready for the open house after my graduation. She had borrowed these fancy coffee pots and I thought they looked stupid.


lhg edited and approved

Class of 1990 Week 36

From fourth grade until the junior high, I was on the school’s acro team: a tumbling team that would perform at half time at varsity basketball games. While I was no great tumbler, I was very flexible. In the sixth grade Mrs. Barker, the acro coach, challenged us all to learn to do the splits. She said that anyone who could do them before she could would get a can of pop. It was this challenge that motivated me to stretch like I’ve never done before and by the end of the season I had earned my pop. But Mrs. Barker never made good on her promise. I kept reminding her over the years. At times when warming up in Phy-Ed I would announce to her that I was thirsty as I casually slid into the splits. Monday was awards night. Peter got the constitution award. Kevin got the math award. Terry got all the most valuable player sports trophies. Jason got all the spirit trophies. I collected participation pins for drama, choir, library, yearbook, newspaper, a letter bar for being a student manager for volleyball, and then Mrs. Barker added an award that was not on the program and presented me with a six pack of coke-a-cola. When I got back to my seat Terry asked if he could have a can. I told him I would exchange one can for one of his trophies. He did not agree.

Tuesday Sarah drove me to school so she could have the car. After lunch we had our plays’ matinee for the school. I don’t think I mentioned it but that year we did two plays: The Lottery and Feathertop. I was not in The Lottery at all so I used the time to review my lines. We started the second play too soon so freshman Sarah who had parts in both plays was late getting on stage. Mostly it went well except for me forgetting a few lines and Peter breaking his sword. I stuck around after school and watched the video recording of our performance. I couldn’t leave anyway since I had to wait for Sarah to come and pick me up.

Wednesday a woman came to talk to the junior high and high school students about alcoholism. She talked for two hours. She kept asking the teachers if her time was up. We students would call for more, the teachers would shrug, and she would keep talking.

Thursday Physics class was fun. We took our projects down to the grade school. I did mine for the 3rd, 4th, and 6th grade rooms. It was so much fun. At that moment I was convinced that I wanted to do nothing else with my life besides teach kids.
That evening was the final performance of the plays. We finished it with all our props intact.
After the play there was a cast party at the Barkers. Freshmen Mark and Peter played the most bizarre game of horse using a Nerf hoop that was only 4.5 feet off the ground. I left when the guys started a Spanish swearing contest.

Friday I did my physics project for the 5th and the 1st grade. In Choir we sang “When love is kind.” After school there was a yearbook meeting and Jaci and I sang all sorts of songs as self appointed members of PAS (Positive attitude society) in an attempt to finish writing the copy for the music pages.

At home I finished staining & varnishing my book shelves. Saturday Mom and I went to Cavalier so I could buy graduation gifts for my classmates. Mom and Dad headed off to Winnipeg after church and I spent a rainy Sunday watching TV and writing Rebecca a letter.


lhg edited and approved

Friday, April 30, 2010

class of 1990 Week 35

Monday I met Mrs. Kappel at 6:30am in the school parking lot and we headed to the NIPA conference in Grand Forks. It was a long day. Kevin and Peter were already there and were wound up. The last part of it was the awards banquet. Each time an entry from St. Thomas placed, one of us would have to go up to the front to collect the trophy or certificate. The guys kept refusing to go up stating, “That’s not my tomato.” We rode back in Mrs. Kappel’s little red Ford Escort. I was in the front and the guys were in the back. At stop lights they would sway side to side and make the car rock. They never stopped talking the entire way back to St. Thomas.
That night at play practice the guys were still wound up. I almost had all my lines down. My problem was working on volume.
Wednesday I have a note stating that the Grand Forks Harold had five sections and that none of them has a loose page that had to be attached before putting it on the newspaper poll. I think this is the first time that I wrote about a lack of loose pages being a good thing.

I finally got my costume for the play worked out. My dress had a huge bustle in the back. At Thursday’s play practice we needed to tape a paper barn to the back of the stage. Whenever someone wasn’t on stage they were rolling tap for the back of the barn. After rehearsal we had a barn raising using push brooms to get it stuck to the back of the stage wall. The brooms left streaks of dust at the top causing Mrs. Barker to comment that our barn was a bit dusty upstairs.

Friday we finally got the school paper out. The last paper of the year always featured the senior spots. There was a picture of each graduate and we would fill out a question survey stating things like our favorite food, nick names, pet peeves and advice to underclassmen. In answer to the question about what I’d miss the most about STHS I wrote, “That exhilarating rush of energy I get when I leave the building.”

Friday was also the town clean-up-day. Once a year in the spring on a Friday all the students of St. Thomas Public School were assigned sections of the town and sent out with cheap flimsy plastic bags to pick up trash. The first and second graders did the school grounds. The other grades got sections of the town. In the junior high students would be driven about a mile out of town and would then walk back in picking up trash in the ditches. The grade school classes were supervised by their teachers and the upper classes by their class advisor. A few of the senior boys would get to drive a truck around the town and pick up large trash that the people would put out. At the end of it everyone would come back to the school and the city council would treat the students to those little ice-cream cups with the wooden spoons and a can of pop. If we finished early we would be dismissed to go home. Peter and Kevin go to drive the truck. The rest of us went to pick up trash in the city park by the playground equipment. Margo, Jaci, Jason and Terry had a context to see who could swing the highest. Terry won just moments before Mr. Dick showed up to supervise us. It was clear that he would have preferred to have all the students in class. We finished our area as quickly as possible, got hour treats, and since we were seniors we didn’t have to wait for an official dismissal before heading home. I enjoyed driving out of town and passing underclassmen still out picking up trash.

Sarah came home for the weekend and we enjoyed playing catch in the front yard. Sunday Jason was confirmed. After church we went to an open house at his home in St. Thomas. Jason’s home was across the street from the school which was good since I had to be at the school at 1:00 p.m. to sing with the choir for Mrs. Billings’ (4th grade teacher) retirement reception.

Play practice was at 7pm that night and it was a dress rehearsal. The first act was OK but the second act all our props were falling apart. Peter broke his pipe. Kevin’s stage knife broke. We recorded the practice and watched it afterward.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Class of 1990 Week 34

I stayed up until 3:00 a.m. working on my paper for English. I got up at 7:00am, packed up my typewriter, and took it to school with me. I set it up in the back of the English classroom and typed my endnotes and outline. Everyone in our class turned the paper in on time. The English research paper was one of those must finish assignments. If it didn’t get in, you failed the class and would not be able to graduate. With the papers done Mrs. Kappel had us turn our attention to getting the school newspaper out. She wanted a story from each of us each day for the rest of the week. This included the senior spots that each of us did.

On Wednesday a hole appeared in the school parking lot. It turned out there was an old forgotten-about cistern there. It was driven over that morning and a few cars ended up trapped between the building and what turned out to be a seven feet long, eight feet deep hole. It was filled the same day.

In Physics we paired up to do simple physics projects that we would then demonstrate to several of the grade school classes. Miss Kassian let me work on my own. The previous year I got pared up with Terry. I picked the project and did all the talking. He got an A for shaking a test tube. I planned a project on gravity and air resistance.

Thursday night play practice was a bit comical. Only Kevin and I showed up so Mrs. Barker and Miss Kassian got up on stage and filled in for all the other parts. It was hard to keep track of who was playing what character at what time. We all did a lot a laughing.

That weekend Mom started addressing graduation invitations. Saturday Mom and I planned to go to Grand Forks to find shoes to go with the dress mom had made me from the silk that Rebecca had sent, but there was snow on the ground; five inches of heavy sloppy wet snow had appeared during the night. By noon it was over a foot. I spent the day cleaning my room and working on my senior memory book. Sunday after church was the confirmation/graduation recognition dinner. That night I annoyed people at play practice by singing “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.” Kevin and Peter were not there. They had gone to Grand Forks for the NIPA (Northern Interscholastic Press Association) conference. I would have gone, but had to bow out so I could be at the church dinner in my honor.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Luther on what should go in a library

In honor of National Library Week a Luther quote I pulled out of a book from 1889 called Luther on Education

But my advice is, not to collect all sorts of books indiscriminately, thinking only of getting a vast number together. I would have discrimination used, because it is not necessary to collect the commentaries of all the jurists, the productions of all the theologians, the discussions of all the philosophers, and the sermons of all the monks. Such trash I would reject altogether, and provide my library only with useful books; and in making the selection, I would advise with learned men.

In the first place, a library should containable Holy Scriptures in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, German, and other languages. Then the best and most ancient commentators in Greek, Hebrew, and Latin.

Secondly, such books as are useful in acquiring the languages, as the poets and orators, without considering whether they are heathen or Christian, Greek or Latin. For it is from such works that grammar must be learned.

Thirdly, books treating of all the arts and sciences.

Lastly, books on jurisprudence and medicine, though here discrimination is necessary.

A prominent place should be given, to chronicles and histories, in whatever languages they may be obtained; for they are wonderfully useful in understanding and regulating the course of the world, and in disclosing the marvelous works of God. O how many noble deeds and wise maxims produced on German soil have been forgotten and lost, because no one at the time wrote them down; or if they were . written, no one preserved the books: hence we Germans are unknown in other lands, and are called

brutes that know only how to fight, eat, and drink. But the Greeks and Romans, and even the Hebrews, have recorded their history with such particularity, that even if a woman or child did any thing noteworthy, all the world was obliged to read and know it; but we Germans are always Germans, and will remain Germans.

Class of 1990 Week 33

Easter Monday there was no school. It had been a mild enough winter that we didn't have to make up any days. Sarah and Bob left in the morning. Mom and I went into Cavalier to do some shopping. After supper I drove myself to town for play practice.

Tuesday night Mom was doing a fitting for someone's prom dress when we got a phone call from Detroit. It was a man that my Dad had baptized on Easter in Japan the week I was born. He had lost touch with my folks and had recently been transferred by Mazda to work in their Detroit factory. Now a Wisconsin Synod Lutheran, his pastor showed him an LCMS Lutheran Annual and he was able to contact my father for the first time in more than a decade and a half.

Wednesday I was getting more and more behind in my school work. That evening I got a call from Mary, the admissions counselor from Concordia University Wisconsin, who called me to register for my Fall classes over the phone. I also wrote a letter to the president of the North Dakota district to work on getting some financial aid since I was planning on becoming a church worker.

The rest of the week I struggled to make progress on my research paper for English, my writing assignment for the Institute of Children's Literature, and to memorize my lines for the play. It was nice outside and I kept coming home and spending time sweeping the back patio and playing with our cat, Neko. On Saturday Dad decided that the weather was nice enough that there was no reason for the cat to be in the garage. Most of the winter we had propped open the door with an ice cream bucket so Neko could get in and out. We had a box in there for him to sleep in and put his food and water there in the winter. The cat was never, even on the coldest of days, allowed in the house. His coat would get very thick and like all cats he would seek out warm places, be it standing by the front door when the UPS delivery guy came, or best of all curling up on the hood of the car after it had been running. Dad was sick of the cat leaving muddy paw prints on the car, so the bucket was kicked aside and Neko would have to be kept out as much as possible. This also meant that Neko's food and water would be outside of the back door. The previous summer that had been a bit of an issue as a couple of magpies had taken to stealing his food for their young.


lhg edited and approved

Friday, April 9, 2010

Class of 1990 Week 32

At St. Thomas Public School grade school students could only leave the school unattended during the day if they were walking home for lunch. Starting in Jr. High you could leave school unattended during the noon hour and there were no restrictions on where you went. Most often this involved going up town for candy and such or in the case of some going home to watch Days of our Lives. Seniors in their last term, when the administration felt they deserved it, got Senior Privileges. That meant that you did not need to be on school grounds if you were not in class. So you could leave during any study hall or open period, not just lunch. You still could not operate a vehicle during school hours unless you had special permission—like going to a doctor’s appointment or soliciting for yearbook ads. With our music issues for graduation worked out the week before, my class was finally granted our senior privileges. Tuesday I took advantage of them by using my study hall to go up town to buy stamps.

Geographical note
In St. Thomas you never went “down town” you went “up town.” From the school that constituted walking one block east (preferably not cutting through Thomson’s yard) to main street. It consisted of a post office, cafĂ©, insurance office, K & D Hartz grocery store. There was also a bank, the city council building, and the Jack Gust Store which was a sort of general store that sold groceries, hardware, stationary—pretty much a bit of everything except clothes. His motto was “If I don’t have it, you don’t need it.” Main street itself is quite wide. At one time the highway went through town, now it curves around, but the wide street remained. It was possible to have cars parked on each curb and have a “car conversation” {persons driving opposite directions recognize each other, stop so the divers windows align, and then roll down their windows and sit in their vehicles—usually pick-ups—in the middle of the street and have a good talk} and still be able to get around.

The week was one of studying for tests, working and falling behind in my research paper for English that I was doing on recyclable and photo degradable plastics. I also had another assignment to work on for the Institute of Children’s Literature.

Thursday we were dismissed early—me earlier than most because with senior privileges and not taking shop I didn’t need to hang around until 1:30. I left school at 12:45 and stopped at the Cenex station outside of town. Sarah had caught a ride home from the University of North Dakota with Kim (class of 1989). When they saw my car at the Cenex Kim pulled in and Sarah got in the driver’s seat of our Cavalier and drove me home after I finished filling the tank. Bob arrived at our house around 7:00pm, just in time for Maundy Thursday services.

That week I also got a package from Hong Kong with red printed silk for mom to make me a dress for graduation. Friday Mom and I went into Cavalier and found a dress pattern for me. Mom was getting busy with sewing at home. She did alterations and a steady stream of girls with their prom dresses was showing up to get them fitted. My Mom prided herself in fixing gaping necklines and making the dresses more decent.

Friday we had church in the morning and then I helped set up for the Easter Breakfast. At home Sarah played hymns and sang alto, Bob sang bass, and I took the soprano line. It was, to quote my journal, “sooo totally cool!” After supper, Mom and I took on Sarah and Bob in a game of Trivial Pursuit and lost. I filled out my housing application for Concordia University Wisconsin before going to bed.

Saturday Sarah, Bob, and I went to Winnipeg. We took Grandma out for lunch at Alycia’s. After that we took in the “Touch the Universe” exhibit at the museum and then had dinner at the Potapoff's before heading home.

Easter was lovely. I helped with the Easter breakfast, then church, then light lunch of egg salad sandwiches. For supper we drove about a mile and ate with Flossy and Harvey. After supper we played UNO. Bob won and Dad built the most character.


lhg edited and approved

Class of 1990 Week 31

Neche North Dakota is a border town and each year they held an invitational music contest. Winning there didn’t get you to the state music festival but it was a good place to try out what you had worked on and see what needed improving before heading off to the regional contest in Mayville. That year none of the ensembles starred. In fact the only star was Freshmen Justin’s solo “Sing me a Chantey.” The quartet I was in needed a lot more practice but after school conflicted with Stephanie, before school was vetoed by Stephanie and Kathy because they said they couldn’t sing well in the morning and 5th hour was out because Mr. Torgeson was taking the juniors through the Choices program.

Friday was the music contest in Mayville. We left school at 6:45. I didn’t write much about that day except to say that I enjoyed talking to some of my LYF friends and I was happy that we had failed to star in anything and would not be going to the state music contest. I was happy about this for a few reasons. First, I generally didn’t enjoy class trips. Second, I really didn’t think we deserved to go given the lack of willingness to practice and the general attitude of the choir that year. Last, I was starting to fall behind in my school work and really needed the time.

SRA tests:
On Tuesday SRA tests started. Seniors didn’t take the tests, but what with combined classes like physics and how the tests impacted teachers schedules it was a messed up week. Mr. Hanson was involved with administering the tests so in Business Law we were left to work on our research papers for English. Most of the hour however was spent arguing. Peggy had decided that Peter would again be taking her to prom as he did our junior year. Peter had no desire to go to prom. I defended him and Margo and Jaci jumped in on Peggy’s side. It was really more funny than anything else.

At home I watched too much TV, didn’t do near enough homework, and had fun helping out in the kitchen with the rest of the LYF group after church on Wednesday.


lhg edited and approved

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Class of 1990 Week 30

Monday quite a few students who went on the trip missed school because they were sick and burned. We had play tryouts that night. Tuesday I discovered that I had landed the role of Mistress Goodkin in a theatrical adaptation of Hawthorne’s Feathertop. Peter got the part of Feathertop. I had 170 lines to memorize.

That week I had one of those rare co-ed phy-ed classes with Mr. Dick. I never really liked phy-ed but I always appreciated Mrs. Barker’s life-time fitness approach. She always divided us into teams that were evenly matched and often lost track of the score. The point was to warm up, play hard, cool down and learn the value of physical activity. Mr. Dick took a different approach with phy-ed. He believed that it was aggression release time. He would pick out two athletic types, have them pick teams so that it became clear to each person what their peers thought of his or her abilities, then you would play a game and the loosing team would be punished with having to do 25 push-ups. He would secretly pick out a person on the penalized team to count, and if that person failed to do all 25 the entire team would have to complete the task again. It made an un-liked class downright detestable.

My class also had to settle on what music we were going to have for our graduation ceremony. Our senior class privileges were being withheld until the administration agreed with our plans. There were only four of us in choir: Jason, Kevin, Jaci and me. No one in our class had been in band since grade school and no one was a soloist in any form. The four of us who did sing agreed to do Michel W. Smith’s Friends arranged for two parts. The band would grudgingly play for our processional and recessional. We presented our plans and were told that we could not graduate with only one vocal piece of music. That there were going to be five speeches was not enough. Finally we got the boys choir to agree sing something.

That year for my birthday I did something I had not done since I was six. I invited boys to my party. I invited all seven of my classmates for sukiyaki dinner. As it turned out that night the school was having a presentation to introduce the taxpayers to a new interactive TV system that would save our school and expand the classes that were offered in the high school. The Operation Contact group was providing babysitting for the event and since Kevin, Jaci and Margo were on that task force and Jason, Peggy and Peter road with them (Terry turned down the invitation) my guests all left right after dinner. Even though life in the parsonage meant no property tax my mom was curious and wanted to go. Dad was at church, so by 7:30 I was home alone on my birthday. This surprisingly did not depress me. It was nice outside (by that I mean the wind was down and the temps were somewhere in the 40s) and the ice in the ditch was melting so I put on my father’s rubber boots and went out in the front yard and used my feet to move around the large thin sheets of ice that were in our ditch. Mom got home at 11:30 and we had tea and she told me all about the presentation.
Sarah came home that weekend bringing Bob with her. Bob was able to change the bit in our drill so I could start to put the hinges on my book case. I spent much of the weekend sanding them in the basement. Sunday night I drove myself to play practice. I was working on memorizing my lines as I drove to town: not a safe practice even in the low traffic environment of North Dakota.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Class of 1990 Week 29

Of all the weeks of my high school career I probably enjoyed this one the most. It was the week of the triennial school science trip to Florida and I was one of the few who stayed behind. Only Peter and I remained in the senior class.

My reasons for not going were two fold. On the one had there was my dislike of traveling in general and class trips in particular. On the other hand was the price. Most of the fundraising for the trip took the form of half time bingo at basketball games and calendar raffles. Since my parents are morally opposed to all forms of gambling these revenue generators were cut off to me. That left me with only the Taco feeds, about two a year that generated about $16/student going on the trip. Most of the cost of the trip would end up coming out of my own funds. Since I was planning on going to a private college out of state (an education that I’m still paying for) I was remiss to spend money on such a trip.

For a lot of classes I hung out in the library creating signs in calligraphy for Mr. Hanson. Mrs. Hollis had us creating our own newsletter on the computer. Mine was called the NonInformer and I sent it to Rebecca in Hong Kong. (Later I revived the title in college as part of an elaborate scheme to catch a man—it worked) Most of the classes ended up being combined. There were only eight of us sophomores-seniors that stayed behind. Much of the week was dedicated to the yearbook. Mrs. Kappel would have the Home Ec. class cook something and then we would all assemble in the Home Ec. room and eat and work on the yearbook. Some days four hours were dedicated to yearbook work. I also managed to get to the shop classroom and got my project to the point where I could take it home to stain and varnish it. I had copied a collapsible bookcase that Rebecca had bought from Target. In the end, mine ended up costing me twice as much as the original and one side was warped.

Some periods I spent shelf reading the library and going through the reference collection. I made a few changes. We had World Book encyclopedia sets from ‘74 through ‘79. None of the sets were complete and I reasoned that aside from going for the current set students didn’t really care about the year as much as they cared about the letter so I took all the back sets and arranged them by letter then year. We had like three As, four Bs, two Cs. There were also these books on the states that were arranged by the author’s last name but I alphabetized them by state. I didn’t ask Mrs. Barker if it was OK to do these things but I reasoned that if it made more sense to me it would make more sense everyone else. Three years later when I came back in college to do a practicum at the school my changes were still in place.

By the end of the week we had completed about 12 yearbook pages, I finished my signs for Mr. Hanson and made an extra one for Mrs. Hollis that said, “Work now, Procrastinate later.” It was a paraphrase of something my mother had recently told me.

I spent time at home planning my birthday party. I made invitations out of large index cards that had a folded crane inside. I was inviting my class over to my house for sukiyaki dinner on my birthday. When I told Peter about it he let out a yell. “I was going to get you a present.” He said, “When I was in the twin cities I found the perfect gift. It was Brad’s fault! I never got back to the store to get it.” He told me he planned to get me the sound track to the movie the Princess Bride. I was blown away. For me this is still the perfect example of “It’s the thought that counts.”

Saturday we had a Lutheran Youth Fellowship Zone Rally in Cavalier at the curling club. I didn’t curl but enjoyed hanging out and even got some of the other non-players to engage in a game of Ker-Plunk.

Sunday Dad traded pulpits with Pastor Watkins from Wittenberg chapel in Grand Forks. I stayed home. Typical of my high school experience, with music contests just over a week away I started to get a sore throat.

During the week, I wrote many times in my journal how much I was enjoying the week and how much I was dreading things going back to normal on Monday.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Class of 1990 Week 28

It was a short week with spring break starting on Wednesday. Spring break was always set to coincide with the North Dakota State Class B boy’s basketball tournament. Many people went to the games regardless of one's own school's participation in the tournament. Having these days off was almost sacred to the point that if school was cancelled for too many snow days it was preferable to go to school on Good Friday to make up a day than to give up the travel day to the tournament.

Monday I had a wonderful day. It was in the upper 40s, grey and foggy out. That type of weather has always put me in a good mood. Peter, on one of those many occasions that my class was left alone, something I thought was normal until my freshman year in college when a Foundations of Education instructor admonished us many times to never, under any circumstances, leave a class unattended.—but I digress. Anyway, Peter entertained us with his impersonations of some of the teachers. His Mr. Torgeson was very good.

Monday was also a first for me. I finished my draft of my Institute of Children’s Literature assignment and it was too short. My writing had gotten so tight that I needed to add substance instead of trimming word fat to fall within the word count. In college my tight writing style meant that I almost never reached the page minimum required/recommended by professors, yet in five years I only had one professor dock my grade for not writing enough pages. Most seemed to appreciate the way I got to the point. –The paper I got my grade docked on was a five pager—I handed in four—for Theology of the Lutheran Confessions. This of course was just at the beginning of laser and ink jet printing that made it possible to manipulate paper lengths with font size. My word processor/typewriter still limited me to pica and elite. Anyway, back to the subject at hand:

Tuesday was mostly useless, as are most days before a long break. I spent the rest of the week, reading, doing jigsaw puzzles, watching TV, and filling out financial aid and other college forms. I generally enjoyed my days off.

On Thursday I went to Cavalier and opened a checking account so I could send off a check to Concordia University Wisconsin with my application. The place looked like a Halloween Ghost town. Cavalier, whose school colors were orange and black, had made it to the state tournament and most of the town had gone to the tournament. So as empty as the streets were there were orange and black and banners and steamers hanging all over town. Before I went home I treated myself to a cream cheese croissant and a cabbage pocket from Burke’s Bakery.

Saturday we got snow. I wrote Rebecca a long letter; in it I waxed on about how someday I would write a book. Sunday the wind picked up. The weather was not bad enough to cancel church, but bad enough to keep most people away.


lhg edited and approved

Monday, March 8, 2010

Class of 1990 Week 27

Monday my class had a class meeting with Mr. Dick to discuss the senior breakfast that was scheduled for that Thursday. This was the tradition where the senior class cooked and served breakfast for all the teachers in the school as a thank you for putting up with us over the years. Even the grade school teachers came for this. It was always done in the Home Ec. room. Mr. Dick had definite ideas about what should be served and how it should be prepared.
"OK are you going to buy the cheap frozen OK that nobody likes or are you going to get the good stuff in the carton?"
"Who is going to boil the potatoes the night before so you can make the hash browns?"

I had never made hash browns but others in the class had and boiling the potatoes ahead of time didn't make sense to them. There was quite an argument about it that ended with him simply declaring, "Look, this is the way it should be done and this is how you are going to do it. So who is going to boil the potatoes ahead of time?"

Terry formally quit as Yearbook editor and Mrs. Kappel declared me to be the third editor. We had a meeting after school. Between class time and the meeting after we managed to finish copy for 3 ½ pages in one day. Margo helped me take down the volleyball posters in the gym.
Mrs. Barker sent me home with the play Feathertop so I could look it over and see if the presence of a witch in Hawthorn's play was going to cause any problems. When Rebecca was in high school they did Dracula and my parents did not let her have any part of it.

Mom and Dad spent Dad's day off by going to Winnipeg and spending it with Grandma. That night they came back and I leaned that Dad finally made his decision about the call. As I wrote it then, "We are (Praise the Lord) not going!"

Tuesday was spent working on the yearbook and trying to finish "The Time Machine" by Wells that I finally settled on for my book report that I thought was due Friday. Turns out Mrs. Kappel pushed it off till the following Tuesday.

Wednesday I reminded Mrs. Hollis about playing for church and she made herself a little sign that said "LENT church" that she carried around all day so she wouldn't forget. After the service Dad announced to the congregation that he was staying. Well, to the 17 people that showed up. The reaction was mostly positive.

Thursday we all showed up early at school to make the breakfast. I was the only one who served the tables. Mrs. Hollis came late so she sat and ate with us at the end of it. We got out of first hour so we could clean up. We finished early and those of us in Physics used the time to cram for a test we were taking that day. After the test Miss Kassian declared that she wasn't going to teach us anything new until the she gets back from Florida after the Science trip. In Business Law Mr. Hanson used the period to share with us his thoughts on the baseball strike.

I spent my study halls in the library as a "student librarian" I'd put papers on poles, check in the periodicals, shelve books and do check out if any grade school classes came in that hour. The study hall that hour only had two or three people and since the social studies classroom was cold, Mr. Torgeson often just brought the group to the library where it was ten to fifteen degrees warmer. Terry was also there and was trying to get Mr. Torgeson to tell him anything he knew about the book Robinson Crusoe. Terry was trying to read it for his book report and found it cumbersome to get through. When Mr. Torgeson didn't offer any assistance he asked me. I said I didn't know anything about the book but I pulled out a grade school version of it. 145 pages with larger print vs. the 350 page book he was struggling through. Terry took the book and Mr. Torgeson and I had a bit of a discussion about whether it was ethical for me to give him the abridged dumbed down copy. I reasoned that at least this way he would actually read something.

I was getting frustrated again with choir. I wrote about the quartet I was in, stating, "Except for not knowing the words, missing a few notes and not breathing in the right places, "He's Gone Away" is ready for state.

Saturday it was wonderful out: 37 degrees. The moon was full and you could see for miles. I took a walk by myself on the road. Sunday was even better, 45 degrees, muggy, windy and grey. I thought it was beautiful. I finished a roll of film taking pictures of the sludge in the ditches, snert, and various other early signs of spring. In the evening the wind died down and it was so quiet outside you could hear your own heart beat. I caught up on all my homework and even got some work done on my next Institute of Children's Literature assignment. Mom and I both agreed that it seemed like God's purpose in sending my Dad that call was to make us very happy about being North Dakota.


lhg edited and approved.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Class of 1990 Week 26

Monday when I left for school it was raining. The rain froze as it hit the car, and since the car wasn’t warm yet, by the time I drove the half mile down our road toward county road three I had to stop to scrape my window. I almost fell when I got out of the car, the road was so slick. It was a very slow ride to school. It was a crazy weather day. When I got out of school it was snowing and blowing and visibility was terrible. By 5:00 it was clear and the sun was shining.

Tuesday after school Mom and I went to Cavalier so the country nurse could give me a tetanus shot so we could finish my health form and send it off to Concordia Wisconsin.

Wednesday was Ash Wednesday. I had a hard time getting dressed because my arm was so sore from the shot. It was another picture day. We retook the volleyball picture so we would have the right stats in the picture. We didn’t get much done in senior math as Mrs. Hollis kept going off on tangents. People kept asking me if I was going to prom. I’d reply, “Only if someone asks me, and nobody will, so I guess I won’t be.” They would then point out that I went by myself Jr. Year. It’s one thing to go to a prom that you’ve spent hours the prior week prepping and decorating for but how socially pathetic do you have to be to go alone twice. Twenty people came to church that night. Only seven stayed for the youth group coffee after. The big news of Wednesday was that I got a scholarship from Concordia University Wisconsin. The Presidential Scholarship would cover about a third of my expenses and was renewable provided I managed to keep my GPA over a 3 point each semester.

Thursday Mr. Hanson took some time out of business law to inform us that Kevin would be the valedictorian and three of us would be co-salutatorians, Terry, Peter, and me. That meant that half the class would be making speeches for graduation. In Math I gave Mrs. Hollis a hard time for missing playing organ at the Lenten service the night before. I also made it to Shop during study hall so I could work on my bookcase. After school I helped set up for the Science Fair. My arm was still hurting so I just taped numbers on the tables. After that I went to a Year Book meeting. After that was a workshop for the school play. I got out of doing charades. I did everything else but I’ve always hated charades.

Friday was the school science fair. Thanks to Mr. Watson (the previous science teacher) once Science was an elective you were no longer required to do a project. He also eliminated the science fair for the 1st to 4th grade, reasoning, correctly that the parents worked harder on them than the students did. There was an experiment where you soaked a hardboiled egg in vinegar for like a month and then it would bounce—if I remember right, Peter, Jason, & Peggy had all done that project in various years. Juniors and seniors taking the science elective spent the day helping out. We also paired up to act as judges for the fifth and sixth grade projects. I was paired with Jr. Corey. We judged 6th grade projects. Basically, I asked all the questions and made all the decisions and Corey wrote them down. Jr. Paul and Kevin were also judging 6th graders. As I wrote it then:

After the 6th graders left for lunch we tallied our scores, then Kevin said, “Let's pretend were judging Tooter.” So we went, but he wouldn’t answer our questions, but Rachel jumped up very eager to talk about her project. Then we went back to Tooter and grilled him. Man it was funny. Next we did J.J. It was a riot. His project didn’t make sense at all.

The students we pretened to judge were freshmen. All the jr. high and high school students projects were judged by people Miss Kassian invited from UND. Without fail the real judges all had backgrounds in biology which made for a deep disadvantage if your project was in another field.

With the end of the Science fair my little reference business was over. I made three bucks. I gathered all the books on the topics, copied any articles we had and gave them a page with all the title and page number citations in the school's reference books that pertained to their topic I could have made $4 but I turned down one client. I still use the one I turned down as a teaching example in my work. When I asked her what her project was on she said, “Rocks.”

“What about rocks?”

“You know, like different kinds of rocks and stuff.”

“Is it about properties or how they are formed or where you find them?”

“It’s just all about rocks.”

"I need something more specific to work with, there are too many resources to gather about rocks.”We went in circles like this for a few minutes and then I told her that she could come and find me when she narrowed her topic. She never did.

Mom and Dad had gone to Plumas, MB, to visit the church that had issued the call to my dad. They didn’t get home until 9:30. Mom and I stayed up until 12:30 talking about what moving there would entail. The parsonage was small: one bathroom, two bedrooms, and only three closets in the entire house and no place at all for Dad’s books. Mom wasn’t sure how she would handle it. A lot of stuff would have to go.

Saturday I slept in until 11 am. I then spent the day taking my room apart. Mom was encouraging me to get rid of some junk. That night she went to a homemaker’s dinner and I made pancakes for Dad and Myself. We watched Star Trek the Next Generation and then Columbo together.

Sunday I taught Sunday school. In the afternoon the LYF went curling in Cavalier and because I was one of only two members who had ever curled before they made me a skip. I didn’t like that because if you are not sweeping it’s very easy to get cold on the ice. I was proud of myself for not falling down at all.That night the Simpsons was on and Bart was writing my all time favorite sentence on the board, “I will not waste chalk.”


lhg edited and approved.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Class of 1990 Week 25

In school I got three clients for my reference business. That night was parent's night and I was charged with making the commemorative sign for the parents section. I drew the letters and others painted them. After school I drove to Cavalier to pick up the flowers, then home. I got dressed in a mother approved outfit; I was the only one in my class who wore a skirt. I thought my folks were the best dressed of the parents. Kevin wore a suit.

After my work on the sign was seen Betty Walski, the school secretary, asked me to make some signs for the office since "I have such a nice printing style." Thanks to the Calligraphy course I took by correspondence the year before, I went from having the worst handwriting in the school to being asked to make signs. I still had bad handwriting which confused people. But the thing to realize is that calligraphy is drawing each letter like it is its own work of art. Handwriting was something I tend to do too fast as I try to keep up with the flow of words coming out of my brain.

On Thursday of that week we were left alone for a while in Business Law and the class discussion turned to tattoos. Peggy wanted to get one and was telling us about all the cool things that the tattoo artists in Grand Forks could do. I sarcastically commented, "Thrill, you can look young forever. Just have the guy tattoo zits on your face." Peter and Kevin laughed and then Peter added looking at his arm, "What about freckles?"

Friday was a big all-school pep rally. The cheerleaders planned to do a "family feud" game and in preparation passed around some surveys earlier in the week. Mr. Stuberg (Sixth grade teacher, driver's education, coach for Jr. high football and high school basketball) was up for the first questions. Jr. Stephanie was the host and the first question was "Who is the biggest flirt in the school? " Mr. Stuberg hit the bell first and shouted pointing at the host, "YOU!" It was the top answer and his team decided to try to get the rest of the answers. As he walked back to his side, Peter, who was on the other team, yelled a suggestion, "Pick Ruth!" There was a huge burst of laughter and I don't think anyone laughed harder than me. After several minutes of being doubled over Mr. Torgeson felt compelled to come over and ask me if I was OK.

At home I finally finished the LYF newsletter; I finally got a rough draft done for my Institute of Children's Literature class. Mom decided to pitch our run of Reader's Digest that went back to 1974. She let me flip through them first and I ripped out all the "word power" quizzes and some of the cartoons and jokes. I also started to do needle point.

Saturday I spent the day in Grand Forks at a Zone Great Commission Convocation. In one of the sessions we looked at the theological content of hymns and we discussed Lutheran Problems with the hymn "In the garden." It was the first time I had ever heard of that hymn. It is one of the ironies in my life that I have only sung it four times and each time it was sung it was done as an introduction to an explanation on why it has no place in the Lutheran Liturgy. If you're going to rip it up, why have me sing it first?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Class of 1990 Week 24

Class of 1990 Week 24

Things we did in class that week

Present Day Problems with Mr. Torgeson: We did a project that required us to call a bank and ask questions about setting up accounts and getting loans. I dreaded making phone calls and put off the assignment as long a possible. I ended up calling the bank the morning the assignment was due and was fortunate that the guy was in early to answer my questions

Business Law with Mr. Hanson: We finished and were tested on the taxes portion of the class.

Senior math with Mrs. Hollis: We ate pie to celebrate her birthday.

English with Mrs. Kappel: We watched a movie version of Macbeth. My class had a habit of cracking knuckles, not just knuckles, snapping and cracking almost any body part, be it wrists, neck, back basically any joint that could make a pop. We were quite good at it. I don’t think it was our senior year, but on one watching the movie after reading the book or play occasion Mrs. Kappel was grading papers at the table in the back of the room since she had seen them so many times before. Someone in the class had held their arm in the same place for too long and when the person straightened, it made a loud pop. That set the rest of us off and for the next five minutes everyone was cracking their knuckles. It sounded like popcorn and Mrs. Kappel who was mostly ignoring us finally pulled her head up to ask what was going on. We just laughed.

That week on Friday we had our test for Macbeth and Mrs. Kappel was not there. Normally we would have the standard sub come in, Mr. Russum, who was not good at maintaining class discipline (understatement of the year). Mrs. Kappel had found her own sub that day. I don’t remember the sub’s names, but she was a nun though, as Peggy put it she wasn’t “dressed in her nun suit.” The guys in my class were all Roman Catholic. They had never behaved as well as they did that day.

Physics with Miss Kassian: We worked with the ripple tank that week. Sadly we did not finish our assignment on Friday with enough time to have paper boat races.

Girls Phy-ed with Mrs. Barker: With volleyball finally over we enjoyed having the entire gym to use for floor hockey.

Choir with Mr. Hillius: Most of the time was spent forming groups for the coming spring music contests. Juniors Kathy, Terri, & Stephanie joined me in forming a quartet for singing “He’s Gone Away.” I had made it into all the groups and was thinking that perhaps I could get out of the one doing “Life Keeps Moving.” That year the guys had a really good chance at some male ensembles. We even had one freshman guy working on a solo. It may have been the only vocal solo being done that year.

At home that week:

Wednesday was St. Valentines’ Day. Mom and dad gave me a box of chocolates. I watched and recorded The Princess Bride. I had seen it for the first time the previous summer in the Wisconsin Dells when Mom and Dad and I went on a trip to check out Concordia University Wisconsin. It was fast becoming my favorite movie.

That weekend Mom and I found and listened to some old reel to reel recorded letters from when Mom and Dad were in Japan. There was a very cute one of my cousin Colleen singing “I’ve got me a baby bumble bee.”