Thursday, October 30, 2008

Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser

Tonight was my school's annual "Spaghetti Dinner Scholarship Fundraiser". We sell tickets to eat in the cafeteria (our school's FAMOUS spaghetti sauce is COVETED for MILES around!), and also have a variety of "silent auction" items to bid on. The money raised goes towards scholarships for students who have "graduated" from our school, and helps defray the cost of college (a little...!). We usually end up raising enough to give $1,000.00 awards to two or three recipients.

The staff signs up to work various "aspects" of the dinner...from selling tickets, to serving meals, to cleaning up after it's all over. Janet and I worked the "dish room" again this year for a shift. We had a BLAST last year, scraping trays, and running them through the "dishwasher", so thought we'd give it a try again this year.

I have to admit, LAST YEAR was more fun...this year there was WAY more "washing of hands" (we're scraping dishes...what's up with that??!!), "netting of hair" (I lucked out because my hair was short enough that it didn't NEED to be netted), and "following of rules" (how CAN you spray the "cleaning hose" at each other, if people keep telling you NOT to??!!).

Good cause...our shift didn't have much "business" (too early in the evening)...and we can now say that we HELPED with the cause...what more can you ask for??!!

Here's a picture from LAST year's fun:

Hope YOUR day involved some "good clean fun"!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bridge Tours, Bonfires, "Beergaritas", and Brunch- SECOND try...

Not sure WHAT happened to the blog entry and photos I was entering (and with "dial up" that process was clocking in at about AN HOUR AND A HALF, so far...!), but the following is all that's left after it IMPLODED...grrr...

You can piece it together yourself. Fill in the "blanks" with your own sordid details...grrrr again....

...and what an alliterative weekend it was...chock FULL of exhilarating "B's", including "baccuuming, "blaundry", and "bwinterizing the deck", but here are the highlights...

Duane and I went to see the historic Rock Island swing bridge over the Mississippi River Saturday afternoon. The county park association gave the tour as an "awareness" project to possibly help save part of the bridge from being destroyed.


The beverage of choice was something called a "beergarita". It wasn't BAD, but not exactly what I would have, tequila, margarita mix, and a couple of other things that I've forgotten...


It was a GREAT time, and really fun to spend time OUTSIDE of work with everyone (well...not EVERYONE...but the "everyone" who bothered to show up!). I've decided, though, that I'm TOO OLD to party until the wee hours of the morning...I'm PAYING FOR IT today!!!!


This morning, I met my friend Pat, her "BFF" from Willmar- Sarah, and Kate and Josh W. at Jake's for brunch. It was nice to FINALLY meet Sarah...very fun. Brunch was a hoot, and it was a GREAT chance to eat WAY too much food, and spend MORE time "catching up" with work people (since we DON'T, apparently, do that enough at school...which actually IS a cool enjoy hanging out with people that you see every day even when you don't HAVE to!).

Now, however, I'm paying for staying up too late, and drinking a "beergarita" (ick now!), and eating too much breakfasty stuff...I'm thinking I'll be spending the afternoon lying on the sofa...there might even be some moaning involved...ugh!

Hope YOUR weekend had some adventure in it, but that YOU are not paying for it now!!

Grrr again!!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wedding Weekend!

I went to Fairfield this weekend for Mandie and Sean's wedding...and what a BUSY weekend it was! I left the cities on Thursday (it was MEA...Minnesota Education Association...weekend, which meant we had FOUR days off)(technically to attend workshops and the convention, but MOST people just take the long weekend and GO somewhere!). I listened to the wedding music, that I was going down to sing, for a large chunk of the trip. My goal was to have it memorized by the time I got there, but, it turns out I didn't need to, as we decided to use the sheet music during the ceremony (which was actually GREAT...because it was much LESS stressful)! It was a BEAUTIFUL day, and a NICE, leisurely drive.

I stopped in Pella, on my way there, to get guveldekuchen and Dutch letters. UNFORTUNATELY, they only had TWO guveldekuchen (I wanted SIX), and I still had on my "city face" (and maybe a hint of attitude!), so I think I SCARED the poor woman behind the counter when I said "are you KIDDING me??!!" after she went to the back to see if they had any more, and didn't. I "made nice" with her, and she suggested that next time I came through town that I call ahead. She said they'd be HAPPY to hold some back for me...yeah...that'll be GREAT when I go back next spring!!

I got to Fairfield around 4:00 (after getting LOST trying to figure out how to get to town via the new bypass!) and had a QUICK chance to talk to Tena before she went to a meeting. When she got back, we had a SPEEDY pizza at George's (I have pepperoni and green olives!), then met LeAnne and Fred at the high school to run through the wedding music. Emily wasn't in town yet, so Tena stepped in for a few of the duets (which was a GREAT help!). Mandie and Sean were there to listen (no PRESSURE!), and we plunked out our parts. I was feeling a little uneasy at that point, but, calmed down a little bit when I realized that we still had the "real" wedding rehearsal, and an additional "hour before the wedding" rehearsal in which to work stuff out!

After singing for about an hour, I went over to Carol J's house to "hang out". It was LOVELY to see her again, and to catch up, and we had a nice, relaxing glass of wine while chatting. She's a DEAR friend, and it was REALLY REALLY AWESOME to see her again!

After offering redecorating advice, and talking about how we could "de-old lady-fie" her house (I think we came up with some AWESOME ideas!), I went back to Tena's, and she and I spent some time catching up as well. She had to work on Friday, so we didn't stay up TOO late!

I learned on Friday morning that it SUCKS to go to Fairfield when everyone you know has to work! I hung out at Tena's for awhile, then went to Revelations to get some coffee. I drove to Chautauqua Park and sat on a bench near one of the shelter houses for awhile, then drove around town for a bit, then drove out to Libertyville (to see how the bypass had been routed), then drove to Jefferson County Park and walked one of the trails. LUCKILY, I ran into Mosie (which I tend to do on my trips home!), so she walked with me, and we had a chance to catch up as well.

After Jefferson County Park, I met Claudette at the library, and we had a chance to chat over lunch at the Istanbul Cafe. I got to see Deena while I was waiting for Claudette, an was also able to meet the new children's librarian. She seemed like a HOOT, and I think will be a GREAT addition to the staff. It was SO nice to see Claudette again! We hadn't talked (except through e-mail) for AGES, so it was a NICE chat! I miss spending time with here, and am vowing to "fix that", and maybe make lunch a regular part of my visits back to Iowa from now on! As I mentioned in an earlier post (referring to Kelly when she came to visit), Claudette is one of those AMAZING friends with whom I can just "pick up" where we left off, and it's comfortable, and relaxed, and OH SO NICE!!!

After lunch, I stopped by Sunnybrook Assisted Living to see if I could find my dear old friend Edna. I called Sunnybrook earlier that day, and they wouldn't tell me if she was there, because I wasn't family. I was a little annoyed, but, as a teacher, and librarian, understood the whole "confidentiality" thing. I ASSUMED she was still there, and asked the person who answered the phone that if she WAS there, would it be possible to visit her. She said "probably", so I took that to mean that she was still there.

She was, but it was a DIFFICULT visit. She's MUCH more frail than she was the last time I saw her. She's been falling a lot lately, so had been moved to the "more assistance" area of the home, and I could tell that it was really BUGGING her that her independence was being taken away, bit by bit. She can't drive her car anymore, they've taken the stove from her room, and she doesn't get many visitors at all. It's SAD, really, because she's done SO MUCH for SO MANY families around town that she REALLY should have DROVES of visitors...but she doesn't.

We had a very nice chat, and her SPUNKINESS came out several times during our was nice to see. My favorite bit of "spunk" was when she said that the man in the next room kept wandering into her room and lying down on her sofa...but that it was NOT a good situation, because he "wasn't even good looking"!!

She said that she mainly spends her time reading, and watching television. I asked if they had a library there, and she said no, so, I suggested that the administrator at Sunnybrook contact the library to see if it would be possible to bring books out as part of the library's "homebound" program. Not sure if that's possible, but I hope so...I'm sure there are LOTS of people like Edna, who could use some new material to read!

After visiting with Edna, I went back to Tena's and got ready for the rehearsal. Duane flew to Cedar Rapids, and then rented a car, and arrived just as the rehearsal was starting. We did a sound check, rehearsed everything, and, I must say, did a BRILLIANT job...especially since Emily and I had never sung together before!

Duane left to meet Carol J. for dinner, and I stayed for the "official" rehearsal. It went well, and afterwards, we went to the fairgrounds (to the agriculture building!) for the rehearsal dinner. We had AWESOME Italian food, and my good friend Trish joined us (she was one of the hostesses for the wedding reception), so she and I had a chance to catch up.

After the dinner, I went to Carol's to chat again (with Duane this time!), then we headed back to Tena's for MORE conversation and to FINALLY go to bed!

Saturday, we got up, got around (slowly), then headed to Revelations for coffee. We walked the square, shopped (I found a chocolate BACON bar at the Chocolate Cafe!), then went BACK to Revelations for lunch (their pizzas are AMAZING!). After that, we looked around the TINY local farmer's market, then headed to Jefferson County Park (after picking up Avery!). We took an AWESOME walk (AGAIN for me!), and got some GREAT pictures...and here they are!

Duane and me outside Thymely Solutions!
Tena and me trying to WAKE UP!!

the civic center (where the wedding took place)
the cuppola on the Jefferson County Courthouse

a maple tree outside the McIlhenney House
Duane and me at the beginning of one of the hiking paths at Jefferson County Park
Tena and Avery

Duane and me

Tena on the "bouncy frog"!
Tena, Avery, and me at Jefferson County Park

After walking in the park, we all came back to get ready for the wedding. I had ANOTHER rehearsal at 4:30, so went to that, and then met up with Tena and Duane at the civic center.
Duane, Tena, and me before the wedding
Tena and me...what FASHION PLATES!!!!

Me and Trish before the wedding!
What can I say about the wedding, except that it was AMAZINGLY EXTRAVAGANT!! The stage was set with two HUGE silk flower arrangements, and Mandie's dad had built a gazebo-type structure for them all to stand in front of during the ceremony. There were flowers and beads draped all along the structure, and there were rose petals strewn in the shape of a heart on the floor. The lighting was dim, with spotlights focused on the cross affixed to the front of the gazebo, and on the areas for the wedding party and the musicians. The ceremony was beautiful, the music went VERY well (despite the fact that I could NOT clear my throat to SAVE MY LIFE before it began!). I also did the reading, and was HAPPY to not stumble over any of the words (at the rehearsal the night before, all of a sudden, I ceased to be able to understand the English language, and had a DIFFICULT time getting through it!).

After the ceremony, the guests were ushered into the "convention hall" part of the civic center for a catered dinner. The decorations were AMAZING...candles and black silk and tulle draped over everything...a dance floor surrounded by a lighted framework (which Mandie's dad ALSO built!)...china and crystal...a draped dias along the center edge of the seating area for the bride and groom...a chicken and ham buffet for 250 people (featuring a mashed potato bar, almond green beans, salad, marinated chicken, ham sliced as you went through the line by the chef, a dessert!).

Duane and me at the reception

Tom, Duane, and me reacting to Tena's cleavage!!
Duane and me with our "seat tags"!

Tena and me

Duane and me
Mandie and Sean (perhaps she should have worn the "Stay-Fast" lipstick??!!)

Me and Emily...the musicians

At the reception, I had a chance to chat with Mandie's father. He wanted to let me know that a guest had asked if Emily and I had flown up from Branson, Missouri (where Mandie is a recording artist) to sing at the ceremony. Mandie's dad replied "yes...yes they did"! Nice to be thought of by SOMEONE as a professional singer!!!

After the reception Duane, Tena, and I went back to her place and got out of our UNCOMFORTABLE clothes. We put on our COMFORTABLE clothes to finish the evening with more "catching up"! Then...we went to bed!!!

Sunday, we got up, Tena went to teach Sunday school, and Duane and I tried to find coffee (Revelations is CLOSED on Sunday!). We found a cafe around the corner, got coffee, then spent a few minutes looking for my "brick" in the FAIRFIELD garden nearby. I FINALLY found it (with Daune's help!). After that, we got back in our cars, drove to Cedar Rapids (after a stop at Steak and Shake in Coralville, dropped the car off at the airport, and continued on to the cities in MY car.

Me by the Fairfield Sign

My brick on the plaza (thanks LaDawn!!)
It was a LONG, HECTIC weekend, but REALLY REALLY REALLY fun, and I was able to reconnect with a BUNCH of dear friends!

Hope YOUR weekend was full of "reconnections", and that YOU got to eat cake as well!

I LOVE it!!!

Recieved the following photo today, via e-mail, with the tag line

Gives new meaning to the phrase "can't we all just get along?", doesn't it??!!

FOR ANOTHER GIGGLE, CHECK OUT! Click on the door SEVERAL times to see a VARIETY of interesting "Palinesque" motifs!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


So I got on Facebook last night to check out what was going on, and, in a "Wall-to-Wall" with my friend Tracy, tried to write the web address for my blog (the one you are reading now), so that she could see the photos of autumn leave which I'd just referred to in my "Jeff is..." status box.

I got a message stating the SOMEONE had reported my blog as containing "abusive content", so I wasn't able to post the URL. WHAT??!! "Abusive content"??? WHERE??? Granted, my buttermilk cheddar herb scone recipe IS enough to make you want to bang your head against a wall, and Tina Fey IS amazing as Sarah Palin (even though the REAL Ms. Palin makes my skin crawl...but that's HARDLY "abusive" in content, and I can name about FIFTY other people who feel the exact same way that I do!!).

Not sure WHO is so "clenched" that they'd find ANYTHING on my boring little blog abusive, but when someone starts messing around with MY constitutional freedom of speech, I get a little...SNARKY. BELIEVE ME...the abusive thoughts that started running through my mind were ANYTHING but boring! The phrase "shove it up your tight little Republican ass, and FART back out a diamond" (!!??) has been running though my mind A LOT in the last 24 hours!

How DARE they curtail MY freedom of speech, and cut off MY ability to share MY thoughts with friends on Facebook! These are the same HYPOCRITES who are SURE that you should listen to (and agree with) THEIR point of view (ad nauseum), DESPITE the fact that anyone with half a brain would IMMEDIATELY see them as the ramblings of a clueless MORON...but I digress...they are CERTAINLY entitled to their own opinion, and FAR BE IT from ME to try to curtail THEIR freedom of speech...

This is censorship, plain and simple. an effort to thwart the repressed conservative who feels MY comments are not to be shared with the masses (AS IF my 79 Facebook friends constitute "the masses"!!)...feel free to share my blog address with whoever you can think of, and let's shoot my "counter totals' through the roof...a little bit of "reverse censorship", if you will...!

How YOUR day didn't end with any of YOUR civil rights being "snuffed"!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fall Colors! much as I've grown to DISLIKE winter, with it's slick roads, and early darkness, and LONG periods of brown and gray and slushy yuckiness (although I have to admit that a walk at night, in falling snow, still makes my toes tingle!), I REALLY REALLY REALLY like the colors and crispness of a fall day...even though I KNOW what's "just around the corner"...!

Duane and I took a long walk on Sunday, and he took me down a couple of paths that I hadn't traipsed during previous walks through the neighborhood. We ended up along the edge of a lake, stuck right in the middle of town, surrounded by trees that were a THOUSAND shades of red, and orange, and yellow (and a few pinks and purples too!).

So today, I went out with my digital camera, and got the following pictures of some of the gorgeous colors (until my camera battery died!).

Enjoy an Eagan autumn morning...

Hope you have some AWESOME color in YOUR life today!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ashley's Visit and a BUSY Weekend!

My cousin Kim's daughter, Ashley, who is a freshman at Iowa State University, came up Thursday night to attend a fashion expo (she's studying fashion design and merchandising) on Friday here in the cities. It was COOL to have her here, but a little bizarre. For YEARS I was on the "college kid" side of going to stay with family and friends, and NOW I'm on the "family and friends" side of a college kid coming to stay for the weekend...I FEEL OLD!

This was also the first time that Ashley has come up on her own, without Kim, which was also a little weird...since Ash really IS still a KID!! She's such a cool girl though, and very sweet, so it was a blast of a weekend. All I can say though, after the weekend has come to a close, is that COLLEGE KIDS ARE EXHAUSTING!!

It started Thursday night (with her hardly having dropped her bags) with a trip to IKEA (she needed some stuff for her bunk at the Alpha Chi house), then a quick trip to the MOA (which, is, apparently, all a college freshman needs to buy two shirts, a pair a slippers, and a dress for her sorority initiation next weekend...!). Ashley is GORGEOUS, so it was interesting to watch "heads turn" as we walked through the mall. It was also interesting to watch them try and figure out who I was (I'm guessing I got a lot of "father"s...but I'll hope there were at least a COUPLE of "older brother"s in there...!).

Ashley's senior picture

Friday night I went back over to Robin and Dave's after work. Dave was in Chicago for business, and his flight back to the cities was delayed, so we ordered pizza from Fat Lorenzo's (LOVE THAT PLACE!), and when Robin took Emilie to swim team, Ashley, Abigail and I went to Target and Verizon (she needed a car charger for her phone). When we got back to Robin and Dave's, he was just getting home. They all went to Cafe Latte for dessert, and I zipped home to get stuff ready for brunch with my friend Kelly Saturday morning.

Saturday morning Kelly came over (after a HORRIBLE detour because 494 was closed for road construction!), and we had an AWESOME time catching up. I met Kelly in grad school at the University of Iowa, and we've managed to keep the friendship going, despite her living in Seattle, and me being back here (what DID we do before e-mail??!!)!

She has family in the area, and was here for a wedding, so we were able to get together between "functions". I LOVE friendships in which you can "pick up where you left off" matter how much time has passed. Our friendship is like if we hadn't had any time between conversations at all! Kelly is an absolute HOOT, and it was a great chance to catch up on the last couple of years.

Meanwhile, back at the Nordhues, Robin, Ashley, and the girls went to the outlet mall in Albertville. We were supposed to go to the corn maze Saturday afternoon, but, to be honest, I was OKAY with having the day to get caught up on things, and spend time with Duane.

After Kelly left, Duane and I went to Lindstrom and Chisago Lakes to look in some antique stores we saw on our way back from Taylor's Falls a few weeks ago. The trees are really starting to turn, so there was some GORGEOUS scenery as we got the Riviera out of storage, and drove up Interstate 35. Unfortunately, there were about NINE THOUSAND other vehicles out enjoying the scenery as well, so the traffic was NOT fun.

Saturday night, Dave, Ashley, and the girls came over and we went to the Italian Pie Shoppe for pizza (LOVE THAT PLACE TOO!), then back to my place to hang out for awhile (Robin had a Tupperware thing, so couldn't join us).

Now it's Sunday morning, Ashley is on her way back to Ames, Kelly is getting ready to fly back to Seattle, Dave is getting ready to leave AGAIN for another business trip to Chicago, and I'm going to sit around in a daze all day, make another batch of cheddar buttermilk herb scones, read the Sunday paper with my honey, and try to recover from the last three days. I think I'm getting old...!

Hope YOUR weekend was full of crazy busy fun too!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

NOT a Sarah Palin Fan!

I DO NOT LIKE SARAH PALIN. Not at all, not even a little bit. I think she's ill informed, not qualified for the position to which she is hoping to become elected, and she scares me, in general, for being such a closed-minded, conservative human being.

I DO however LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Tina Fey's portrayals of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live! Last night's version of the vice presidential debates was HILARIOUS! My new favorite line is "oh...are we not doin' the talent portion?!" (after which she proceeds to pull out a flute, and play a few notes for the crowd). My OLD favorite line was from the FIRST Sarah Palin/Hilary Clinton skit, when they were talking about foreign policy, and Sarah's contribution to the discussion was "I can see Russia from my house!".

It's a shame that NBC so VEHEMENTLY blocks any of their content from airing on YouTube...they could do WONDERS for this election...simply by letting people watch the skits, and then allowing them to reflect on the similarities between the SNL skits and the actual events they are spoofing!

Keep up the good work, Tina! You are HILARIOUS!!!!