Thursday, December 31, 2015

Look back at 2015

Possibly I've been watching too much television. As the news programs review the events of 2015, I  have been thinking about my own year.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, you might want to grab a cup of coffee and prepare to read this novel...

Nephew Adam in cross country meet
Mel in Montana

Brian and Jane in our music room
Nephews Dane and Adam

Elena and Atanas as queen and minion at our Halloween bash

Chuck and Melanie at their place

Chuck and Mike at the Garage in Bozeman, Mt.

Me and Mike at Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park

Me and Mike at our Halloween party 
Nephew Dane and brother Gary

Standing at Mike's old childhood swimming hole  (Mouth of the Jordan)

I should have bought this hat in Ireland

Celebrating Stan's birthday with Mike, Stan, Kevin and Kathy

My brother-in-law Eric's birthday party

Family gathering at Angie's house in March

Heavy raining  in December floods the Nativity scene

Indy 500 with Mike, Gretchen and Craig

Friend John directing the church bell choir on Christmas Eve

Enjoying the Strawberry Festival in downtown Indy with Mike and John

Enjoying garage tour at the track with Kathy, Kevin and Mike

March birthday party with Melanie, Bryan, Pat, Chuck and John
Melanie, Cathy and me at a Big Sky brewery

Mike and me at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis

Enjoying a Hawaiian themed Christmas party with friends

Everything is lush in Ireland

With Mike and John in Ireland

Mikie making me crumpets for Valentine's Day
We miss our dear friend Mary who passed away this year

Mom and me at the Log Inn over Thanksgiving weekend

Mom and Angie enjoying a cool evening outside

Stacy and Pat at the Redemption Brewery 

Ruth, Mike and Don at White River Gardens

Kevin, Stan and Mike at Kevin and Kathy's place

With Stan, Mike and John at the county fair

Winter sunset
Wyoming view

I say goodbye to 2015!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas joy!

December has been an interesting month... The first two weeks were a blur as I battled a nasty cold (or as the nurse practitioner said "unofficially it's pneumonia").  My energy was zapped, 12 hours of sleep each day wasn't enough, and I coughed until I thought I broke my ribs. But after 10 days of antibiotics I woke up from my long winter's sleep and realized it was December and Christmas was right around the corner!

And once I started feeling better I could see Christmas joy and merriment all around me...

Adam and Dane

Unfortunately due to illness, I missed the family "cookie day" this year, a time when family gathers to bake many dozens of cookies.  But this picture of nephews Adam and Dane at the big event definitely made me smile!

Mike on the Melodica

We attended Mike's department Christmas party which was pure bedlam with 20 plus adults and 16 kids.  And the noise level of 16 kids in was surpassed by an impromptu Christmas jam session.

Professors and kids alike sang Christmas carols and played piano, guitar, drums.  Mike played his melodica which was an object of great curiosity.  And then the movie "Home Alone" was on in the background.  Hopefully you get the feel of this fun and chaotic party...

And it's that time of year when we create our own photo Christmas card where we try to inject a bit of humor.

 Some years we hit the mark, and sometimes people say they don't "get it"...

Photo by my friend Elena

And yes, some businesses have a sense of humor (and remind us of manners!)...

Mike, Stacy, Brian, Pat, Kay and me

We enjoyed the annual Boys Night Out (BNO) Christmas Event at the Red Key Tavern.

This is the  BNO event where women are invited.  Why we get invited to this dive bar, I'll never understand, but you just kinda go with it.  You learn to overlook the dust, grime, graffiti and a serious lack of vegetables, and enjoy the camaraderie and laughter with a side of burgers, chili and chips.

Kevin, Kathy, me and Mike

Last night we headed to the 36 Saloon in Rockville for a Christmas dinner with our friends Kevin and Kathy.

Sunset at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

It's also a time when I reflect on the past year. We lost our dear friend Mary to ovarian cancer in February, and we miss her terribly. It is still hard to comprehend that she's gone.

We also reflect on our blessings.
Mike and I are finally together after years of commuting 500 miles between Des Moines and Indianapolis.

In June of this year I became a 5-year survivor breast cancer survivor!  I am so fortunate and grateful to hit that major milestone!

Mike has a part-time job he enjoys, and I love the freedom of retirement!  We are fortunate that retirement gives us time for family and friends and the opportunity to travel, volunteer and take classes together.

And we are grateful for God's presence in our lives...which is what we truly celebrate this Christmas season!

Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

New definition of "busy" retirement

Afternoon at Stan's farm
If you followed this blog for awhile, you know that I've been reluctant to fill my retirement days with a schedule.  After many working years filled with meetings, I wanted the freedom to do whatever I wanted each day.

But after 4 years of being retired, I decided it was time for a change.  I actually WANTED to engage in a couple of "scheduled" activities.

I had been thinking about volunteering, but I wasn't sure what I wanted to do.  I decided to check out the United Way web site.  I read through many volunteer opportunities, and then one literally jumped off the page: the Ronald McDonald House of Indianapolis (RMHI).  Their mission is "To provide a supportive home-away-from-home for families of children receiving medical care at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health and other area hospitals".  Somehow I knew this was right for me.

I talked to the RMHI Volunteer Coordinator, completed an application, had a background check, got my flu shot and a T.B. test.  I attended several training sessions, and finally I am officially a guest services volunteer at RMHI!  And I love it!

Generally I help check in guests (families who have children admitted to the hospital).  I assist with setting up food for breakfast, lunch and dinner meals( all food is donated).  Each week Panera Bread donates day old bagels and bread to RMHI, and I help package the food for breakfast over the next week.  And then I do whatever else is necessary to keep the house running: cleaning the kitchen or overnight rooms and sometimes doing laundry.

But my own personal goal is to bring a smile to our guests. It might be saying "welcome" or "have a good day" or asking about their day.  But by far my favorite experience was dancing with a 3-year old boy.  After giving him a cookie, he started dancing next to his mom's table (possibly a sugar buzz from the cookie).  Next thing you know, I was bustin' a few moves myself.  He then asked his mom for her phone, and he played his favorite song.  Next thing you know we are both dancing in the aisle.  His mom smiled and he had the biggest grin ever.  It's one of those crazy experiences I'll never forget!

And then there's the jewelry class Mike and I took this Fall at the Indianapolis Art Center.  It was a 12-week introductory class in Jewelry and Metalsmithing.  We learned the basics of metalworking including sawing, annealing, soldering ,work hardening, making rivets and embossing and hammering patterns on metal.  We were introduced to all kinds of tools including saws, various hammers, punches, files, a drill press, tumbler and a polishing lathe.

The cool thing about the class was that we learned all these techniques by making pieces of jewelry we designed ourselves.  We made a pierced pendant, a spinner ring and finished with a riveted bracelet.  Although frustrating at times (breaking many saw blades, having to solder my spinner ring 3 times before it worked and hammering my finger while texturing), I thoroughly enjoyed the class and learning how to create jewelry.  And there was something so satisfying about designing a piece and seeing it come to life.

Our instructor says we can call ourselves "goldsmiths", but I think that's a bit of a stretch.  But we are interested enough that we signed up for a second class in the Spring.  Here's a glimpse of my projects.  Keep in mind my "novice" status...
Pierced pendant

Spinner Ring

Riveted bracelet

And during this holiday season, we've also been fortunate to spend time with friends and family.

We spent a weekend in St. Louis celebrating our friend Stan's 60th birthday.
Kevin, Mike and Stan

Dinner with  Mike, Stan, Kevin and Kathy
We enjoyed Thanksgiving with our friend Chuck. Mike and I have a "tradition" of making unusual Thanksgiving dinners, and this year was no different when we made Jambalaya and apple pie!
Chuck and Mike

After Thanksgiving we headed to Southern Indiana for some good family time.  Mom treated the family to dinner at the Log Inn (Mike mistakenly thought we were saying "log in" and was expecting some type of skype event!).
Family at the Log Inn

Mom and me

And it's been a time of changing scenery as we roll into winter...

Brillant reds
Through the kitchen window
That white stuff returned to top it off

Hope you are having a great week!