Monday, December 22, 2008


This beautiful tree is my second most favorite and it is adding Christmas colors all over town. Nature is in accord with red being the color of Christmas...
"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;

the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands." Isaiah 55:12

"The Lord watches over you--the Lord is your shade at your right hand;"Psalm 121: 5

"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever." Isa. 40:7

Friday, December 19, 2008


This is what's left of my two most beautiful plants. When I left my home in June, both these plants were verdant and look!!! Who destroyed my beautiful greenery?????

The culprit has not presented him or her self making it hard to lay blame! The lady who stayed in my home has not mentioned a thing about this. My husband claims the one plant wasn't hanging in its usual place by the front door when he returned on October 31st. He is just a little vague about the fern that hung by the barbecue shelter. He seems to have a memory lapse about whether or not he watered green things while I was back in the USA.

Sherlock???? I need your help.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


We were on a date, leisurely ambling through the crowded corridors of the shopping mall in our town, and as we walked by the front of a store, the security arcs (or whatever they're called)started beeping. I looked at Pat and he at me and we kept walking. We decided to turn in at Renner's and as soon as we did, the beeping erupted again. "It's your clothes, " I said anxiously, remembering this happening to me in the States. Pat tugged and stretched his shirt, but found nothing. Ironically, we spotted a shirt hanging on the rack that was almost exactly like the shirt he was wearing. Hastily, we checked the designer label on both shirts and breathed a sign of relief. They were different. After browsing in the store for a few minutes, we decided to leave only to have the beeper go off at the exit. Pat turned to the clerk who was rummaging through some racks, and hastily explained, "I bought this shirt in the States, but for some reason the beepers go off." "No problem," he answered and right there I was thankful we didn't have pink hair, dark glasses or heavy chains dangling from our belts. He let us out no questions asked.

"Hurry!" I admonished as soon as we'd left the store. "Go to the bathroom and check your clothes." My words tumbled out with such urgency and authority that Pat almost ran. After a loooong time, he reappeared, but by this time I had tired of waiting for him and had gone into the women's restroom, so when I came out, he was waiting for me!
"And???" I was all ears.
"There was a beeper tag inside my pants alright," Pat said, "but I don't have a scissors with me (why didn't we think to bring one???) so we'll just have to wait until we get home."

And that's just what we did.


The brown house is ours, which shows how close the neighbors are...

Front view of the yellow box where the sun always shines.

In a previous blog I mentioned the new Guthrie Theatre having a unique amber box that juts out of the building into open space. The architect designed that box for depressed Minnesotans who go for days without seeing the sun during the winter months; hence, the box offers a reprieve from SAD Syndrome. Upon arrival in Brazil I was dazed (as in sun struck) with the deep yellow my neighbors chose for their house. It was a bit too egg yolky for me until I caught an amber glow reflected on our windows facing their house. All of a sudden, I knew I had an antidote for my own winter depression (that hits us in June and July). I like the warm glow, the buttery yellow glaze on my windows and I tell myself it's still daytime even though the sun is going down.
I feel a tad giddy just writing about it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mothball Hugs All Around

It was to be my first time back in church since leaving Brazil in June and I wanted to "look good" if you know what I mean. I also absolutely had to wear something new I'd brought from the States. But, that was exactly my quandry: I couldn't find anything to wear! My beige skirt made me look too fat, my white skirt had no top that matched and on it went. Finally, I chose a pin-striped pair of slacks and a dusty rose lightweight sweater to go with the "pins" and my daughter whisked it away to be ironed. My hubby had already left for church and all of a sudden I found myself short of time to shower, wash and dry my hair and get to church on time. (And being tardy was unforgiveable!) With my ironed clothes in hand I dressed only to realize that I had chosen something way too hot for our weather. Off went those clothes as the search resumed-- I frantically flung clothes right and left until I found the perfect outfit. Of course, I would wear my white capris and the striped top that matched. I quickly sent them to be ironed even though I caught a slight whiff of mothballs. We were going to be late for church, that was for sure, and my hair wasn't cooperating and, oh, so many things were going wrong. And it was raining. And we were late. The worship time was ending as I walked in and I was surprised to see my husband playing the guitar (he is not part of the worship band). My keyboard was all set up and waiting (for me?). The guitar player simply hadn't "shown up" so the band leader was hoping I would play the keyboard even though nothing had been said to me and when I didn't "show" she grabbed Pat to play the guitar at the last minute.

In spite of all that, it was great to be back and at the end of the service as I hugged people I could smell moth balls--on myself--until I finally had to say something to a friend I'd just hugged. She laughed and confirmed what I knew. Mothballs indeed! Here's the explanation. My husband arrived home one month before I did and the outfit I wore to church was in the suitcase he'd brought back. Instead of putting those clothes in the dresser, he'd added them to other clothes we'd left behind packed in moth balls in another suitcase.

I'm afraid I gave people a welcome they won't forget!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


to our favorite spot--Gramado--a city in the mountains founded by German immigrants, and according to our friend, Matt who has been to Germany, looks just like Germany. After missing my husband for a whole month (and he, me) Mr. D took off on a trip on Monday morning, while I was still suffering from jet lag having arrived late Saturday afternoon. So, he promised we would "get away" when he returned the following Wednesday. My daughter, Patricia,and her daughter, Julia offered to stay with me those days to help me settle in and that was so special since they would have to return home by bus with all the paraphernalia, ie. a walker, car seat, huge suitcase, huge bag of merchandise for store, baby bag, two panetonnes (Italian fruit cake) ...and the baby! It was quite the process for these two women to get all those things from the parking lot to the bus station in Porto Alegre!!!!) Well, on Wednesday morning Mr. D. arrived well rested after riding the bus all night, and we proceeded to our get-a-way at noon. This time of year the city of Gramado hosts a big Christmas production that brings in tourists from all over Brazil. In fact, on the last leg of my journey back to Brazil, I sat next to two families who were flying from northeastern Brazil just to see the spectacle called "Natal Luz" or Christmas Light. Our first night we attended a show of sound and light on a lake featuring lyric tenors and a soprano singing from little stages built on the lake. That was accompanied by laser lights, fireworks and beautiful, beautiful Christmas music. The show started out with the reading of Gen. 1:1 and the explanation of how man sinned and needed a Savior followed by a rendition of "Amazing Grace" in English. It was 40 minutes of beauty. The second night we attended the traditional Christmas parade at 9:30 p.m. that rivaled Broadway! (Well, okay, maybe I exaggerated a little, but it was close!)
A lot of rich people live in this town or come here to shop (as one quickly discovers by the price tags on merchandise) so we mainly looked. The chandeliers in this photo are made from plastic two-liter pop bottles as are a lot of the fancy decorations.

Left behind--Santa forgot this reindeer and he ended up crying behind a shed until I found him.

This street was a curtain of light with the strangest-looking collection of reindeer.

This is the entrance to "Reindeer Row" ( my catchy name for this street.)

Our get-away took us to far away places like Europe. It is astounding how fast and far one can travel these days.

On the banks of a famous river, whose name I've forgotten, but I think it is in Venice.

And to think we got caught in a snowstorm. Fortunately I had my leather jacket with me.

Pat shows the bull who's boss!

Lost in wonder...

Even the public telephones got dressed up for Christmas!!!!
Our get-away was wonderfully relaxing and we were reluctant to come down the "mountain" to the Valley of Sinos where we live.

My 2nd Thanksgiving

My 2nd Thanksgiving was on a warm summer day in Brazil, quite a contrast to the cold November Thanksgiving in Minneapolis. We made stuffed roast chicken instead of turkey and it didn't taste all that different to me. Of course, we ate mashed potatoes (but didn't make 10 pounds), had our special can of cranberries I'd brought in my suitcases as well as some lefse that I'd helped make in the USA. We didn't bake any pies, but the icecream and toppings were delicious. And we all shared what we were most thankful for that year. This is always a highlight for me. I was most thankful for my new granddaughter, born in May, and for our furlough in the States.
Julia tried on her new patent leather shoes I brought in my suitcase....maybe next year??

That million-dollar smile always gets a warm response.

Emily was thrilled to get the heart-shaped jewelry box cousin Gabriella made and sent her.

Eric--or 'Buddy' as his Mom often calls him--is all smiles today. Maybe he just ate some chocolate which is his favorite main dish.

Our annual picture at the table where everyone strains to get in the picture and several remain out of focus.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Three of my Favorite Things

This was God's unexpected present to me when I haphazardly poked my head out our bedroom window my first morning back in Brazil. It was still early--about 6:30 a.m. and unbeknowns to me, a light rain had fallen during the night. The arc of the rainbow was much darker than this picture portrays, and its colors so vivid against the cloudless, blue sky that I was stunned and ran for my camera afraid I would fail to capture such a rare treat. The rainbow disappeared quickly, as rainbows do, but I felt in my heart God's smile on us as we begin our 8th term on the field. Only God knows how much I needed that.
My roses were blooming and so welcoming and vibrant--unlike this picture--that I had to share them with you. They looked much better a la viva!

And my favorite of favorite flowering trees, the jacaranda tree, was fuller and more beautiful than last year. I often chuckle at God's grace. I don't have this tree on my property, but two of my neighbors do and from my back porch--which is the height of a three-story building--I lay in our hammock and enjoy the beauty of these trees at a privileged angle that even the owners cannot enjoy. This is one more example of a truth God has shown me before: one doesn't have to own things to enjoy them.

And Now We're All Together Again!

That Saturday, my house sounded like a bee hive, everyone talking all at once, laughing and trying to be heard. There was so much news to catch up on, but even as we talked and laughed and Emily and Eric made their contributions, too, we were all on the lookout for a white Palio that would bring Neval, Patricia and Julia, and when it pulled up in front of our house, we all streamed out onto the street to greet them. Julia was only 44 days old when Pat and I left Brazil on June 24th; now she was a grown-up 6 months and 19 days! Even though we had kept up-to-date with her growth via skype and pictures, the real Julia was so much more delightful. Smiling and content, she batted her big, blue, angelic eyes at us and won her way right into our hearts...again.

So now my Brazilian side of the family is all together for the weekend. I kind of let my girls take over in the kitchen as I still felt like a visitor in my own home. At one point I found Pat in our bedroom with the door shut, looking through the suitcases...and discovered he'd found one of his presents I'd successfully screened from his eyes that I'd bought on Half E-bay and brought from the States. I promptly scolded him and prohibited him from looking in the 3rd suitcase lest he discover more "prohibited" items. Tsk! Tsk! The next day was to be our Thanksgiving meal.

Oh, There's No Place Like Home

Pat's sign drew comments from our neighbor who noticed the tears Pat drew on the sad face on the left. PTL there is a happy face on the right. (He did miss me.)

Emily and Eric waited patiently at airport arrivals while I waited impatiently inside the baggage claim area, my third bag being the absolute last one on the carrousel. While waiting, all I could do was wave excitedly at their smiling faces bouncing up and down behind the glass that separated us. Finally, it was out the door and into their outstretched arms, then it was warm hugs from daughter Reesha and son-in-law Leno, and last, but best of all, into the strong and welcoming arms of my better half, who stood there, flowers in hand and a heart overflowing with love.
Notice the pictures my grandkids drew for me and the fluorescent glow-in-the-dark necklace Emily gave me.
Daughter Patricia, her hubby and precious Julia weren't able to meet us at the airport, so I still had that reunion to look forward to later that afternoon.
It felt so right to be home.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


We're all smiles, but that's because we're good actors. On the inside I am torn and unable to deal with the reality of leaving loved ones behind-- there are so many questions: when will we meet again? how can I live my life without participating in the growing-up stages of Penelope's life? (Fortunately, Caleb and Gabriella will soon be in Brazil.) how can I leave my 94 year-old mother behind? Life doesn't seem fair. Where's my picture with Michael? with Cari & Chris? My only comfort is that God will somehow make it up to me and I clutch this verse to my heart while tears fall from my eyes: "No one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children [and grandchildren] for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come, eternal life." Luke 18:29


This was our state-side family four years ago, and precious Caleb and Penelope were not even in our wildest dreams. And Gabriella was not even a month old (and already gnawing on a turkey leg--kids nowadays are so precocious.) And we all were so young and beautiful.


It had been a long four years since I'd had Thanksgiving in the States, and this year was no disappointment. It was a comforting Thanksgiving meal complete with lefse and cranberries and my State-side kids, Michelle and Michael, their wonderful spouses, my Mom and Chris' Mom, plus three precious grandkids. The food was special and sooooooooooo good, thanks to Michelle's delicious turkey basting (even though we almost set the oven on fire, but due to Chris' finely-tuned olfaction (good nose) he decided to check out the smells coming from the oven and averted a serious fire. You see, the aluminum discartable roasting pan had sprung a leak and the precious turkey juice was slowly dripping onto the bottom of the oven.) PTL for making Chris' curiosity get the best of him. By this time, Michelle and I had already collapsed back into bed, but unfortunately Chris had to awaken Michelle with his clarion call (scream?)of : "There's a turkey emergency! A turkey emergency!!" So, there they were mopping up turkey drippings by the bucket while I slept on peacefully dreaming I was floating on clouds of mashed potatoes while playing my harp with a turkey leg (I made that part up).
Later we all went to Michael & Cari's for scrumptous apple and pumpkin pies. In the planning stages for this meal, however, I think we were all suffering from Biafratic Starving Syndrome because for the 7 adults and 3 small children we made 10 pounds of mashed potatoes, stuffed a 24 pound turkey, made three times the recipe for the traditional green bean casserole, bought 8 liters of pop and rolled out 4 pies. Chris was dreaming of all those leftovers, but I'm afraid he only ended up with a big turkey drumstick and a slice of breast meat. Whatever happened to all that food????????? Sorry, Chris, now you'll have to wait 'til next year!

Marilyn and Mom found much to talk about while paging through my bird calendar.

Cari brought the 10 pounds of mashed potates and three recipes of our green bean casserole.

Grandma insisted on peeling the apples for the pies with a paring knife, not the indispensable veggie peeler while Michelle painstakingly cut out umpteen pie-crust leaves to cover one of the apple pies. She's so artistic!