Friday, January 20, 2012

First Experience

Today, we got two inches of snow!  It has been an unusually warm winter thus far ... well until Tuesday when it got really, really cold.  Since I changed my job, the bus commute is now not an option and so it's time to master driving in the snow.  I don't think it is the snow that makes me nervous as much as the ice.  Especially when you can't see it!  And when you try to turn corners, you end up somewhere else.  Not my idea of being safe.  

So drove to work in the snow today.  It had just started so it wasn't that bad.  Traffic was really slow.  Down to less than 15 miles an hour which even for this slow driver was a little too slow.  (Although my mother would not say that I'm a slow driver, kids!)  When I left work, we had had about two inches and it was sitting on top of my car.  Gone are the days when I hopped off the bus and into the multi-story carpark where I was able to park my car undercover because I went into work early.  Now it is necessary to brush off all the snow from the car before I can go home.

Oh!  I am so thankful that I had my car battery replaced this summer and so I don't have to worry too much about the car not starting.  I am also thankful that even though I worked over my hours today, it was still light and I could see what I was doing.  

So I got to christen my little brush and ice-scraper!  It was really cool!  Interesting how one side of the car was iced up with snow and the other was still fluffy.  It was rather fun revealing my little Focus in all it's glory.  Got the engine started to begin working on that icy stuff (Thanks Dad for being a good example of this growing up!  I remembered!)  So I'm almost done, so I think, when this nice Minnesotan born woman appeared and asked me to do hers.  (See I must have been doing something right!)  She let me know that I needed to do the roof of the car also because the snow might slip off the back of the car when I'm driving and block the rear window which, apparently, you can get a ticket for.  She said she knew from experience.  Well I don't remember reading that in the MDOT driver's manual.  So glad that she let me know of the idiosyncrasies of this state.  So I got to play with my little brush thingy some more.

I made the right choice in taking the freeway home.  The other roads were still very mushy.  I usually go the back way home if I leave work after 3:00 p.m. because the freeway is always choc-a-block.  I decided being safe and slow was better than slippery and fast.  I would rather burn up my calories in different ways than in nervous tension.  The freeway was clear.  The Ministry of Transport did a great job!  So I'm congratulating them in my head when I remember what I saw on TV about five years ago.  Rutabaga juice (or the juice from Swede as the English know it) has excellent properties in deicing the roads.  Now although I like driving on clear roads, the thought of using this most delicious of all vegetables in this manner, seems like defiling a sacred edifice!  Since I don't know if it was rutabaga juice that they used or whether it was salt and sand, I was able to drive home in denial convincing myself that the reason I don't find many Swedes in the stores is because the general populace does not grace a refined palate.  Why else would they cover these delicious Swedes in a thick layer of wax?  And why do they grow them so small?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Letter 2010

Hi everyone!

We all wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Minnesota! Last Christmas Eve saw the snow falling. By 10:30 p.m. it was about 9 inches deep and Sonny and I decided to go for a walk in it! David declined to go with us old people, but our cocker spaniel was full of enthusiasm. It was one of the most incredible moments of my life. It was so bright that even though the sun had long gone down, it was so easy to see though we were surrounded with dark skies. We walked along around the neighbourhood. It was so silent, it was delightful. We enjoyed seeing the outside lights that the neighbours had put up and enjoyed the snowflakes on our faces. Paige loved it even though it was nearly to the top of her legs! What an exquisite memory.

Christmas Day sent us a picture of our grandson, Quinn, wearing a t-shirt saying ‘I’m going to be a big brother’ on it. August 8th brought our second grandson into the world – James Benjamin Bracken! Sonny and I were able to spend two whole weeks with Elizabeth, Peter, Quinn and James at the end of August. What a delight! It was very hard to come home. Elizabeth and Peter are moving back from Connecticut to Utah just before Christmas this year. Peter will have finished his course at law school and will be studying to take the final part of the bar in Utah as that is where he would like to practice. It only seemed like yesterday that they were moving to Connecticut and Elizabeth was expecting Quinn. I bet they will miss the fall colours that are so totally beautiful in Connecticut but will be glad to be finally working on getting a permanent place to live and settle down.

March brought a lot of pain especially to my husband, Sonny, as his son, Lohr passed away after losing his fight with depression. It has been hard to deal with the grief and Sonny is still rebuilding what his future is going to look like without his son in it. We found a plot of land to bury Lohr near his Grandpa Hathaway. He is resting between two trees where the squirrels scuttle up and the birds perch and sing.

David left home at the end of May to go to college at Brigham Young University Hawaii. I went with him to settle him in and enjoyed seeing the sights although David and I didn’t get to do as much as we would have liked to. David seems to be doing well there. He is majoring in BioChemistry and is working towards the career as a neurologist. He found the classes easy for the first two terms and has a lot of busy work this third semester. David has not said that he wants to come home, so I presume that he is happy there.

October brought my mum and dad out to their first visit to Minnesota and, by golly, Minnesota can’t be that bad, as they want to come and visit again! They went to New York for two days and went on a couple of trips to see the sights; then they took the train to Connecticut to see Elizabeth and Peter, and their two great grandchildren. Great Pa was a great hit with Quinn who had him playing all over their apartment every day. From Connecticut, they took the train to Boston, where they stayed for two days, then they caught the greyhound and trundled through states to get to Minneapolis where they found the best hotel and taxi services available. In fact, the food wasn’t half bad at the hotel either!

Sonny has been working as a temple worker for at least two years now and in June, I was called to serve there too. I was released as the compassionate service leader for the ward and called to be the nursery leader. So now after welcoming all these lovely babies into the world, I now get to mingle with them in the nursery. As of today, we must have about 26 children in the nursery aged 18 months to 3 years. We have 15 that will be moving up to the Sunbeam class in January. They are very cute and it’s is balm to me being so far away from my grandsons. It is very chaotic every Sunday especially after we have put all the toys away and get ready for our snack, lesson and singing. Don’t worry, we have a nursery worker who has a great voice for the singing, so we don’t torture the children too much!

I have not enjoyed my job this year at all. In fact, it is a chore to get up and go each weekday. Funny how things can change so fast. Lyden is still working at the same place and is very busy right now.

Well, we do wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year!

Keep in touch.

Love Jen, Lyden & David xxx

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The manoeuver of how to make surprises.

The scriptures teach 'Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it'.  So you heard in my earlier blog what I learned from the green trouser suit incident.  Fast forward about five or six years and a certain granddaughter calls her grandparents' home and disguises her voice and puts a muslin cloth over the phone.  Very politely she lets her grandfather know that she is from the City of Southampton and that she is calling to let them know that come Monday morning, he will not be able to move his car from the road to the garage.  He can either leave the car in the garage or he will have to leave it up a ways on the street.  She informs him that the city is coming to dig up the path outside his house and will engaged in this activity for about a week.  If the car is left in the garage they will not be able to use it for a week.  She apologises for the noise that the pneumatic drills will cause and then hangs up the phone.  After a few minutes, she phones back and lets them know that she had tricked them and they had fallen for it.

Enthralled by her success, seven years later, she phoned her father declaring that she is calling from a television license detector van that is currently in their area.  She relates that they are picking up that her parents do not have a current television license and they are watching the television.  Her father confirms that they do have a television license so she asks for the number on the form.  Her father races off to the bureau where her parents keep their paperwork.  Meanwhile, great peals of laughter are escaping on the telephone line and when her father gets back to the phone, she is unable to continue with the facade and says a big thank-you to her father for getting the license number and then identifies herself.  Gotcha Dad!

See what happens when you are buying a trouser suit for a little girl who is exactly the same size as your granddaughter?

Snow is here!

We had the first smattering of snow on October 27th, the day before Mum and Dad were due to fly back to England. It was due on the 28th and I had joked with Mum and Dad that they would be snowed in and have to stay in Minnesota for the whole of the winter. They just did not believe me! They were lucky and the snow came the day before and was over before they woke up. Both Sonny and I went to work in the snow .... but it was just too warm for it to lay.

At the beginning of this week, it was 60 degrees Fahrenheit! Can you imagine that we are talking about Minnesota in November!?! It was wonderful and we all lapped it up. However, the snow started during the night and 6 inches later ..... it's pretty wet and I don't think that it will stay around too long. I think that the ground is still too warm. However, it sounds like there is another snow storm on the way.

The first experience that I can remember with snow was on Christmas Day when I was 10 years old. I believe I went out on it on Boxing Day. It wasn't just the snow that made it memorable, it was the events that led up to Christmas Day ...

My father's parents - Nanny and Popsie - took me with them shopping in about September. We went into a department store called Owen & Owen (well I think it was called that - I don't think it exists any more). We were shopping in the children's clothes department. They told me about a little girl that they knew who was ten and they wanted to buy her a trouser suit. They said that she was about my size so I got to try on the green trouser suit for them. I thought it was lovely! I thought she was going to be a very lucky girl. Imagine my surprise and delight when I opened a Christmas present from them which turned out to be the lovely green trouser suit with white gloves and a matching green umbrella. I loved that trouser suit and took the manoeuver of how to make surprises under my belt!

The other gift that I received that Christmas was a camera.  A camera with flashes that you had to put on when you took a photograph indoors.  So that dates me!  So where does the snow come in?  Well, dressed up in my green trouser suit, white gloves and wielding the green umbrella, I ventured out to the front garden to take photographs of the snow. Unfortunately, on my travels back to the house, I slipped and ended up with a small chip on the camera.  I still have my beloved camera and the photos of the house and the garden with white shading, but no scar on my knee!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

New Idea

So, I have had this idea for awhile about doing a blog where a discussion on topics could be hosted. After a lot of procrastination, it is now up and running - even if it is in babysteps. Check it out if you have time:

The idea is that a topic is given and people contribute their ideas and examples in relation to that topic by either writing a comment or emailing I just love hearing about other people's ideas and experiences.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Give me AZ and 115 degrees F

So here we are in a MN summer. It's 10:24 p.m. and the sweat is running down in rivets! It's 87 degrees F and the humidity is 77! I think AZ and 115 degrees F is paradise! When is the snow coming!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Snow Commute

The 5 to 10” of snow was forecast to begin its arrival at 9:00 a.m. today, but it did not arrive until just after 11:00 a.m. There was a part of me that was really excited for the snow. I guess it’s just one of those things we didn’t have a lot of when I was in England. I don’t necessarily like having to do normal day living things with snow, but I love the whiteness and the stillness it invokes in me. One of my fondest memories last year occurred when I was taking the dog outside to do her ‘stuff’. As I was waiting, I listened to our neighbour’s wind chimes tinkling in the silence. It was just beautiful.

The part of me that was excited for the delay was due to the commute home. Last year, I waited 2 hours for a bus that had some room on it and then when we were on the ramp to the freeway (motorway), the bus ended up horizontally across the road and was unable to pull out of the snow and move forwards for about 15 minutes. What an adventure! Today I hoped that it would all hold off until we were safely home.

So, as I said, the snow began at just after 11:00 a.m. and within half an hour, the world was quite white out of the window of the 17th floor where I work. At 2:30 p.m. it was announced that the office was closing at 3:00 p.m. Wouldn’t you believe it! LOL! I sensed the enthusiasm of my co-workers. For me, I finish the day at 3:10 to 3:20 p.m. in the afternoon depending on which bus I manage to be in time for in the morning. I was in no hurry since I was anticipating a two hour wait at the bus stop. Since the offices were closing, I didn’t go for my daily torture at the gym, and ambled through the skyway to my usual bus stop. Then I decided to succumb and join in with the majority and walk to the first bus stop on the route instead of the second to last and see if I would be lucky (blessed) enough to get on a bus. I didn’t really care if I didn’t get a seat - just wanted to be a-moving.

The streets seemed silent as I strode along towards the first bus stop. It was kind of eerie in a way since there were a lot of people milling around. I kind of liked this muted noise. There were a lot more people at the bus stop than I thought there would be – in fact, for awhile I stood in the road near the kerb until I could inch my way inside the masses. The plan seemed to work as when the bus turned up, I was blessed enough to get on it. The standing on the way home was perfectly acceptable under these conditions. If the truth be told, I could actually eavesdrop a whole lot better. One lady was reminiscing about how when she opened her garage door in the snow, the snow fell into her garage and the door wouldn’t close fully again until she had swept it all away. From her conversation, I don’t think it was a problem with the sensors, but with the fact that there was so much snow that the door couldn’t fully descend. So, I wondered if this would happen when I got home. In fact, I was wondering if I wouldn’t even be able to get up the driveway. If this indeed happened, where would I park the car whilst I shoveled? Yes, in the way of the plough? So many options … I then decided that it wasn’t worth worrying about and to enjoy the adventure. Life is about enjoying the journey.