Tuesday, December 30, 2008

AZ Update

I suppose many of you regulars thought I fell off the edge of the Earth! Not really, but I have been enjoying myself once I finally got to Arizona.

Mom and Dad's place in Mesa.

We traveled to Tucson Christmas morning and spent a couple days at my sister's house there. It was colder than usual and even froze on our last night there so the van had to be scraped and we covered plants at Deb's. A blossom that missed the coverings was encased in ice Saturday morning, hard to believe the cold followed me down to Arizona.

Joe left for home on Sunday afternoon. It's warming up here in Mesa and we've gone swimming the last two days with plans to go again before I leave. The water's been great on my joints. (I twisted my knee getting into a seat on the airplane in Mnpls. and heard it pop! Clutz!) I'd love to have easy access to a pool back home.

We've been enjoying fresh fruit from Mom and Dad's grapefruit and orange trees. Imagine going out in the morning to pick fruit for breakfast. I'm sneaking some into my suitcase on Friday!
We dug up some rocks and spread some potting soil for a little flower bed for Mom today and I laid some brick tiles off their patio. I've been working on my Christmas cards and also have some drawings to grade for school along... always a teacher. I fly back into Waterloo Friday night and school starts Monday. Time will go fast so I'm off to relax some more...
(These are all Joe's photos so you'll have to live through mine later... :-)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Just to let you know I'm in Mesa (as of 2:30 am Iowa time) and we're heading down to Tucson this morning. Lots of trip stories to relay, delays, cancellations, switching planes,... and I even took a photo or two to share, but no time to post now.
It's raining in Mesa but NO SNOW!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Travel Delay

Well, got up early this am and my friend Kem came in to pick me up a little before 5:30 am. We got some snow last night and it's still snowing this am. (not a whole lot but on top of what we had, it's enough) Saw a few cars in the ditch as we inched along down to Waterloo, it was tough to see where the road lane was, good thing it was a 4 lane highway. As soon as we walked into the airport they brought the news that my flight was just canceled. I'm rebooked for a flight tonight but won't get into Phoenix until midnight, so I may see Santa while in flight. (hopefully I'll be in the air)

The lutfisk will have to wait until tomorrow... Winter travel is the pits.

Hopefully you make it to your holiday festivities.

My Grandpa Joe Johnson with his Franklin car in our driveway back home on the farm. At least I'm not doing winter traveling in an open car like this, side curtains or not!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Blessings

God grant you the light in Christmas, which is faith; the warmth of Christmas, which is love; the radiance of Christmas, which is purity; the righteousness of Christmas, which is justice; the belief in Christmas, which is truth; the all of Christmas, which is Christ. – W. English

Christmas 1957 – Before I came along… Here is Uncle Carl, Grandma Phoebe, Debbie, Stevie and Joey.

Christmas 1958 – The Johnson kids, Mom’s balloon trick to keep all of our attention for photos. Debbie, Diane, Joey and Stevie.

Christmas 1961 – Joey playing with an airplane present.

Christmas 1962 – Grandma’s table always was full of family at Christmas. Left to Right: Uncle Emil, Uncle Elmer, Debbie, Aunt Mable, Cousin’s Priscilla and Beth, Calvin and up front Stevie, Diane and Grandma Phoebe.

Christmas 1963 – Dad working with the boys on the floor putting together a race track. I love this photo and memory.

Christmas 2006 – Mom and Dad in Arizona.

Snow continues to fall here in Denver and I’m anxious about my flights early tomorrow morning. Keep your fingers crossed for me, for the weather to agree with my travel plans and connections while I hope to get out of the Midwest to spend Christmas with my family.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Blog Friends

When I ask myself “why do I do this blog?” I have lots of answers; it’s reflective about the past, sharing genealogy with family members, an easy way to keep in touch with friends and family, sharing art work, asking questions and a journal of my experiences.

Here are some of the faces of the people who log in, I know I’ve missed many of you in this little photo montage but I know you’re out there, I just don’t have your photo handy. Among those in the photos are relatives and friends from Arizona, Iowa, Norway, South Dakota, and Sweden. I’ve heard from cousins I keep in touch with and those I don’t know well, classmates, college friends, fellow art teachers, co-workers, old friends and new who are just passing through. I’m glad you stop by and love the comments and e-mails you send about my postings!

I wish you all a Wonderful Christmas and the Happiest of New Years!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Wonderland

While Blizzard Warnings reach across the Midwest and cancellations scroll across the bottom of the TV, I looked into my magical collection of scanned photos and will share these snow photos in hope you remember snow days of your youth.

These two top photos were from the winter of 1961-62. It brings back memories of snow pants, boots with buckles, mittens that didn't bend too well (but kept the wet out), snow forts, making snow angels, we built tunnels and dug paths all over our yard on the farm. I remember thinking we were building homes for animals to take shelter in. We usually had our cocker spaniel Blondie with us and were entertained by simple things in life. I remember one year, building a huge snowman with our neighbors the Hildrings and our Dad's got into it, as the balls for the snowman were so large we had to get the tractor and loader to raise the balls on top of each other. That snowman survived most of the winter at the top of the hill in front of our house, alas no photos of it, only in our memories.

This photo was taken by my sister, Deb, the morning of Steve's funeral last year on December 26, it shows our front yard and view from the house. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you'll see a bird flying across the sky in the clouds, in the small version it appears as a dark dot above the trees. We got a lot of snow last Christmas and roads were full of snow and ice but what a beautiful morning view.

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world,
and behold,
everything is softer and more beautiful.
- Norman Vincent Peale

Saturday, December 20, 2008

4 Days and Counting

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time. ~Laura Ingalls Wilder
My first Christmas, 1958

Only four days until I'm to fly out of Waterloo to Phoenix for Christmas with my family. We've got a blizzard warning for later tonight and tomorrow as more snow comes along with winds. Snow is also forecasted for Tuesday and Wednesday, so I'm crossing my fingers that my flight takes off early Wednesday morning. It brings back to mind Christmas 2006, when my flight was canceled out of Waterloo and good friends drove me through the thick fog to Des Moines to catch another flight to Phoenix via Detroit. The problem is, if a flight gets canceled, who knows when your next opportunity to get a flight will come.

Christmas Morning 1963, Debbie and I with our Barbie and Ken dolls. Mine was actually a Midge, Barbie's best friend. My Ken had blond hair and Deb's had brown. No chances of getting our dolls mixed up. Good thinking Mom.

Yesterday we got 9.7 inches of snow here in Denver, which led to school being canceled again. I busied myself with tasks around the house and an errand or two after the snow stopped and the driveway and street was cleared.
I watched a squirrel diving into the snow. It would stand on a drift in my backyard and suddenly dive down into the snow until it would totally disappear, tail and all, most likely in search of treasures down at ground level. Too bad I didn't have a video camera. Was it hard at work or just having fun? Can the two be done at the same time? I think that answer is YES.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Remembering Steve

“There is only one path to Heaven. On Earth, we call it Love.”

It’s not the fact that Steve died a year ago today that is most important, it’s that he lived.He still had more dreams to fulfill, my heart aches he didn’t get to complete all his wishes. I miss him. My big brother, protector, advice giver, memory companion, confidant,…
Christmas in Heaven
I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below, with tiny lights like HEAVEN’S STARS, reflecting on the snow.
The sight is so spectacular, please wipe away that tear, for I am spending CHRISTMAS WITH JESUS CHRIST this year.
I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear, but the sound of music can't compare with the CHRISTMAS CHOIR up here.
I have no words to tell you of the joy their voices bring, for it is beyond description to HEAR THE ANGELS SING.
I know HOW MUCH YOU MISS ME, I see the pain inside your heart, for I am spending CHRISTMAS WITH JESUS CHRIST this year.
I can't tell you of the splendor or the peace here in this place, can you just imagine CHRISTMAS WITH OUR SAVIOR face to face?
I'll ask him to LIFT YOUR SPIRIT as I tell him of your love, so then PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER as you lift your eyes above.
Please let your HEARTS BE JOYFUL and let your SPIRIT SING, for I am spending CHRISTMAS IN HEAVEN and I’m walking WITH THE KING.
~ by Wanda Bencke © Copyright 1999Honor your loved ones by going out and living life the best way you can, love one another, enjoy the simple things, volunteer, contribute to the well being of others, smile, laugh, share, think positive thoughts, remember…

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More Christmas Photos

Christmas 2006, On Mom and Dad's patio in Mesa. We had just gone swimming on the afternoon of Christmas Day, definitely something we weren't used to doing. Steve set up his tripod and took this family photo with the timer on his camera. It would be our last Christmas all together.

Christmas 1991, Steve in our living room awaiting opening his presents. He never liked having his photo taken so we'd sneak photos whenever we could.

Papa peeling potatoes on Christmas Eve, 2004, to go along with our Lutfisk at Deb's house in Tucson. Whenever he peals potatoes, he talks about his experience at pealing them when he had KP during his time in the Army, where he got lots of practice. Don't get confused, Mom is usually the potato peeler of the family! Maybe that's why we were sure to get a photo of this scene in the kitchen!

Christmas Eve 1968, at Grandma Phoebe's in Sioux Falls. Lined up for a photo is Joe, Steve, Deb, Grandma Wettestad and Diane. We always went to Grandma Johnson's on Christmas Eve through 1970, her last Christmas. Grandma Wettestad stayed with us in the winter, especially during the holiday season. Grandma Johnson's house always had a big fresh tree in the living room window and lots of room at all the tables set up throughout the house to accommodate the growing family. After celebrating here with the Aunts, Uncles and cousins, we would go to Grandview Covenant Church for midnight service and see more extended family and neighbors.

Christmas Eve 2004, Tucson, AZ. Mom making the white sauce for the Lutfisk for our Christmas Eve meal at Debbies. All of us like Lutfisk except Joe. We all gathered at Deb's this year. Steve left after Christmas for a trip to Egypt on January 1, 2005.

Christmas 2004, On Christmas Day we went to the desert museum outside of Tucson. Here is Joe, Rebecca and Steve at a lookout we stopped at on the way to the museum.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Inspiring students the week before Christmas

Talk about an impossible task..., this morning it started to snow lightly and just that quickly the students talked about getting out of school. How dare we keep them here when there's a winter advisory going on out there! I calmed them down and told them "get used to living in Iowa, it snows here, we continue with life..."
As we try to finish up with projects and fulfill the semester requirements before Christmas, it seems there is pressure coming from all sides. Some students give up, some are struggling to keep their mind in the game and yes, a few are actually thriving. So amid grading and closing out the semester myself (I teach 5 new classes in January I've got to get ready for...) I've tried to do some of the projects this week, along with the students. One was created with random ink pad stamps (this takes some time, I started it last week), You let the repeated stamp help show values and contrast. For the mixed media assignment for my art 1 class, I did the ball gown hanging on a hanger with the angel wings in space behind. I had the idea of what to do and did the piece here and there during the day today!
The kids are proud of me finishing two projects with them, I can start a project, but rarely finish it. I usually just file it away for using as an example work in progress, another time...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Woodcarving

I started woodcarving in Nov. 1996, when Bill Tjaden, a retired teacher I had taught with, offered a class in his basement here in Denver. He started us new carvers out with a mini nativity scene. It's about 6" wide by 4 1/2" tall. I promptly cut off Joseph's nose when trying to carve his face, so that is glued back on.

This Santa was carved in 1997. A rough cut piece made on a lathe was purchased and I finished it, adding form and details to the 6" tall piece. (I still have another "blank" like this to finish carving.) The stool area was tough to get a knife in, as well as the curls in the beard. I purchased a detail knife at this time to help with the small cuts and gouges came in handy.

This Santa was carved in 1999, out of an old wooden spool. That detail knife I had purchased years before came in handy on the tiny details of this piece, 1 3/4" tall.

I still have many more projects to carve. I teach carving in a Crafts class at school, but don't seem to get time (or make time) to carve myself unless I'm carving with my students. I only had to have stitches once from carving, and it was at school with the kids. What a role model! We'll be carving second semester.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

God Gave Us Memories

God has given us so many "gifts"... one I treasure is family.
The photo of the rose above was taken by my brother Steve. ( I added the J.M. Barrie quote and changed the colors of the photo.) He passed away a year ago, on December 19th. As I think back on Christmas memories, it's as if Steve is right here with us.

Christmas scenes from 1961

Diane and Steve, for many years we'd dress up and portray Mary and Joseph during the Christmas season, acting out the manger scene. The manger was an old suitcase stand, the doll my sister Debbie's and of course bathrobes served as our costumes.

Debbie and Steve as Mary and Joseph. "Baby Jesus" laid on a pillow in our upstairs hallway.

Showing off their Christmas gifts. Remember cap guns with the tape you'd load the mini guns with and it'd pop when you'd pull the trigger? Joe and Steve have those tucked in their pajama bottoms along with showing off their guns and holsters.
Christmas Morning. Nurse Debbie standing in the back with Diane, Joe and Steve down front, playing with their new toys.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Jul-Tide Pilgrimage

In fancy, I go to the Northland, At Christmas time long, long ago,
When my Mom was a small girl in Sweden And forests were laden with snow.

She helped choose the spruce on the hillside - The prettiest one to be found;
Granddad felled it and loaded the stoneboat With small folk and tree, homeward bound.

Red lingon have long since been gathered For jam as a holiday treat;
They grow in the moss-covered marshes, With promise a future so sweet.

Come hither to fill their wood buckets And thrill to the cuckoo's call,
That chimes from the top of a pine tree - A peace and good will song to all!

The candles are molded from tallow, Good Julbread and fruit soup is made;
Round cheeses, stuffed sausage and lutfisk, Will humble festivity aid.

Preparedness is now in full motion, The floor is sand-scrubbed and looks white,
With a door mat of evergreen branches - Some on stove for incense delight.

This Christmas is full of surprises, Red apples now sway in the tree;
Dear presents - so graciously home-made, And eyes that are starfilled, I see.

It's Christmas Eve! In this lowly dwelling The true Jul-tide Spirit abides,
The head of the house reads the Story - The love of the Christ Child presides.

At dawn, on their brisk walk to God's House, Groups carol the long six-mile way -
Thus honor the Babe with their presence And worship on this Blessed Day.

May you, too, have a heart-warming Christmas, Find you in each good thing God lends
And thrill as each candle-light hallows The Gift that His Love to you sends.

Written with love by my Grandmother Phoebe Carolina (Swanson) Johnson, December 1962, Sioux Falls, SD
Top photo: Logging in Sweden, Painting: Vallkulla by Anders Zorn, Bottom photo: Ljung, Östergötland, Sweden church in winter

Wishing you a season you'll long remember for all the joy it brings.
Happy Holidays.

Jag önskar dig en årstid full av glädje som du aldrig skall glömma.
Trevlig helg.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What's Next?

The mixed media, fiber art, and ALL the art work I've looked at recently has inspired me. This is a piece I did quite a few years ago but it hangs on my bulletin board at school. (It's faded over the years, was it really that long ago I made it?) I sewed a face on tag board using my sewing machine. I like how the threads hang loose. I've always wanted to experiment with this more and now I think I just may do that. Maybe over some paintings I already have, using different colors of thread.
About 20 years ago, my students and I did some sewing together of photocopies. One student laid on the copier and got her whole body photocopied and then she sewed it together in pieces and also watercolored some on the collage. It won some awards at area art shows. I wish I had a photo of it now. (Hasn't digital photography allowed us to document things easier?)
While talking with some co-workers today, I showed them Gunnel's work I found yesterday and we've got the plans in the making to get together on a Saturday in the new year and get creative making some mixed media collages. Doesn't that sound like a fun play date?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

No school

Winter weather... First it was a two hour delay, and less than an hour later, it turned into a canceled day. Now, my chance to have a productive day in my house. I've already sorted mail and made garbage and more for the recycled pile. I've got laundry going and packed up cans to be returned. I've read through e-mail that's been sitting there, deleted many and forwarded a few. What's next on my long list of procrastination possibilities? Time will tell.
I wanted to share a new find with you... while searching through other blogs and gathering ideas, I found a Swedish artist, Gunnel Svensson from Göteberg, Sweden. She has things listed on etsy.com, a place to purchase handmade items that I never knew about before yesterday. Take a look at Gunnels "store". These are two of her pieces, don't you love all the detail?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad

Fifty eight years ago, December 10th, Mom and Dad said their marriage vows. I wish I had more of the early photos of them. They are back on the farm, filling many albums, but here are a few I have from my albums, through the years.

She was a town girl and he was a farm boy from different towns, growing up with different backgrounds. They met on February 15, 1950, on a blind date. Mom shared with me about how she met Dad... She had been to the Arcoda Ballroom in Sioux Falls with some friends from Nettleton Commercial College one night and Don Anderson drove the girls home, letting Darlene off last. She was surprised she was the last to be dropped off and Don said he would pick her up the next night. She said no, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. The next evening when he came to pick her up, he was driving a yellow convertible, and when he brought her out to the car, he “pushed” her into the back seat with Calvin. Their first meeting. (The car was Calvin’s, Dad and Don knew each other from school at Washington HS in Sioux Falls, SD) Obviously the two hit it off... and the courtship began.
Cal gave her a diamond and asked her to marry him while they were parked in his car, on July 18th, that same year, on what is now 26th St. near McKennan Park in S.F. At that time it was the edge of town and not the busy street it is now. Mom remembered crying tears of happiness.

The Argus Leader newspaper had this wedding announcement.
Darlene Wettestad Says Vows
Larchwood, Ia., Dec 13 - Miss Darlene Wettestad, Sioux Falls, daughter of Mrs. Cecelia Wettestad, Glasgow, Mont., was married to Calvin T. Johnson, Larchwood, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph E. Johnson, 2020 South First Ave., Sioux Falls, in the Grand View Covenant church at Larchwood December 10, 1950, the Rev. David Kline, Sioux Falls, officiated at the double ring ceremony.
The bride wore a nylon marquisette gown styled with round yoke circled with ruffled nylon lace, long sleeves, fitted bodice, full skirt trimmed with ruffles of lace and a short overshirt which fell into a long train. Her fingertip veil was secured to a satin bonnet. she carried a Bible with a shower arrangement of garnet roses.
Mrs. William R. Ball, Sioux Falls, was matron of honor and Miss Rose Mary Sinjem, Brookings, was bridesmaid. They wore gowns of fuchsia and aqua respectively. They had matching hats and carried cascade bouquets of white carnations and red roses.
Axel Bonander Jr. was best man and Dr. Dale D. Whitcher, Sioux Falls, was the attendant. Ushers were William R. Ball and Richard Swanson. Gregory Whitcher and Lonny Fredricks were ring bearers. Mrs. David Kline was soloist and Mrs. Elmer Swanson was organist.
A reception was held in the church parlors. Those assisting were Mr. and Mrs. Virgil Bennett, Mrs. Dale Whitcher, Mrs. Oscar Palmberg, Mrs. Lynn Outka and Mrs. Harold Fredricks.
The bride attended Brookings high school and Nettleton Commercial college and was a member of Alph Iota sorority. The bride groom attended Washington high school and served in the army as a construction foreman in Japan.
For travel the bride wore a red gabardine suit with grey accessories. After a honeymoon the couple will make their home in Larchwood.

An anticipated winter storm delayed their honeymoon plans. They had planned to go to Sioux City their first night, but icy roads sent them to Rock Rapids instead and the only room left was one with single beds. (wink)
They started their life together on the Johnson family farm. Dad's Uncle Carl lived with them for the first few years of their marriage. Soon, they had four children, Dad boasts he planned it boy, girl, boy, girl. Mom and Dad let their love spread as they've worked together to run the farm, support their family, neighbors and church.
What can a person choose to say about a couple spending 58 years together? There are so many stories of laughter, joy, and even sorrow, I'm sure I'll share more in the postings to come. For now, my heart goes out to Mom and Dad, as the sweethearts celebrate 58 years together. Happy Anniversary!


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