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About Ruby Girl

Grand Forks Herald Staff Writer for 23 years now a free-lance Herald "In The Spirit" columnist. Column appears the second Saturday of each month. Born and raised on a farm near Newburg, N.D. Married, mother of two sons and grandmother of four. Loves to read, sing, dance, play drums with my worship band at church, garden and ride my ole Schwinn bicycle. Plus, shovel snow in winter and mow lawn in summer.

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Until Soon

Old beams make beautiful new cross

The cross in all its glory

The cross in all its glory.

I must begin with the cross, for it was the catcher-of-my-eye as I walked into the newly remodeled and expanded Fellowship Hall at Calvary Lutheran Church in Grand Forks. With the congregation’s renovation project nearly complete, the large room is beautiful, warm and inviting.

But most awe-inspiring is the emblem of suffering and shame that hangs against a brick and mortar wall on the south sanctuary side.

The cross is both old and new, as it was prayerfully and lovingly hewn by Calvary member LeRoy Sondrol from beams salvaged from the original church built in 1953. Its surface is smooth and polished and not at all rugged.

“It is 8-feet 3-inches long and the width of the crossbar is 5-feet,” LeRoy said. “It’s three inches thick. The old beams were six inches thick. I took it to a saw mill to have it cut down. It didn’t need to be six inches thick and I was concerned that it would look balanced.”

LeRoy said he had no design in mind for the cross when he was about to begin. “I went to bed one night and I prayed about it. At three o’clock in the morning I woke up and everything was right there and I drew it out. It was almost an ‘aha’ moment. It was the Lord. It was an answer to prayer that designed it.”

I spent a good part of last Saturday in that room at Calvary, honored to be invited to speak at their Women’s Rest, Renew and Rejoice Retreat. The day was indeed restful and renewing. We did a lot of rejoicing and it was a tremendous treat for all.

Elaine Einarson extended the invitation to me on behalf of the retreat committee. Pastor Kristen Larson-Schmidt gave a wonderfully welcoming message and Andria Messelt came from Fargo with her guitar and beautiful voice to begin the day with music. She led us in the singing of “Holy is the Lord,” “Hosanna (Praise is Rising),” “In Christ Alone,” and “Be Thou My Vision.”

Andria Messelt led the singing of worship songs

Andria Messelt led the singing of worship songs.

After my talk on, “The Gift of Time,” there were breakout sessions on such things as jewelry making, line dancing, card making, knitting.  I chose Jodie Storhaug’s session on, “Daring to Follow the Spirits Leading.” Jodie, you may know, was the one who some years back launched the “Feed My Starving Children” ministry in Grand Forks. Jim and I look forward to taking part in that again the weekend of April 10-12 in Grand Forks.

Two faithful servant husbands, Tom Wrenn and Einar Einarson, were on kitchen patrol at the retreat and at lunch time they made sure our coffee cups as well as our soup and salad bowls were filled to the brim.

Tom Wrenn and Einar Einarson were on KP and served the women well.

Tom Wrenn and Einar Einarson were on KP and served the women well.

We were served a delicious soup and salad lunch topped off by sweets to make us sweeter.

We were served a delicious soup and salad lunch topped off by sweets to make us sweeter.

I don’t remember when I’ve had such a spirit-filled relaxing Saturday in the midst of 60 women of all ages. Some were in their 20s. Elaine recalled their very first retreat five years ago. “All these young moms were there and I know they had to get babysitters.”

This year’s oldest attendee, 94-year-old Jeanee Kuentzel, really captured my heart. The mother of Kathi Dykstra (wife of Pastor Roger), Jeanne is as delightful, fun and witty as the day is long. She’s filled with so much wisdom from a life well-spent. Such a good mentor is she!

As I left Calvary that day I noticed more of LeRoy’s handiwork by the back door – a smaller cross of the same design framed with a message from LeRoy’s heart.

A framed smaller version of the cross also built by LeRoy Sondrol.

A framed smaller version of the cross also built by LeRoy Sondrol.

The Message of the Cross is Salvation. The Base represents the roots of a large tree to which we are anchored in the Word of God. (John 1:1) The Arms of the Cross represent the arms of Christ that welcome us when we become rooted in the Word and accept Jesus as Savior

What more can I say other than – Until Soon

Time to brush up on my bait!

A gentlemen in line at last Friday nights’ Lenten fish fry at Sacred Heart High School, East Grand Forks, posed an honest question as I placed two large fillets on his plate right next to his Cole slaw and on top of his tartar sauce.

“Where do they get all the fish,” he asked.

My smarty-pants answer was less than honest. “Oh, I catch it all at Lake of the Woods,” I replied.

His next query left me like a deer-in-the-headlights. “What do you use for bait?” he said in all sincerity.

Yikes! I don’t know that I’ve ever ice-fished at Lake of the Woods or anywhere else for that matter. I do remember using red and white or black and white daredevils in the Mouse River near my farm when I was growing up, but that was summer time and eons ago.

Summer fishing verses winter fishing are like day and night I presume.

Where oh where was Larry the Neighbor Guy when I needed him? He’s never home but always at Lake of the Woods fishing!

I confessed to the gentleman that I was fibbing. Of course he knew that and we had a good laugh as he moved along the line to the potato man.

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I’m happy to say that all in all, I was honored to place fillets on 850 plates last Friday evening at Sacred Heart’s Fish Fry #3. This week Msgr. Brian Donahue, Pastor at Holy Family and Superintendent of Holy Family/St. Mary’s School is guest server. I know he will have as much fun as I did. Serving times are from 5 to 7 p.m., and takeouts are available. Cost is $10 for the meal and $1.50 for pie all made by the ladies of Sacred Heart. Last week I had out-of-this-world chocolate chiffon.

The six Lenten fish fries serve as a fund-raiser for the Sacred Heart High Schools’ athletic departments, but believe me, it is so much more than a fund-raiser. It’s a camaraderie-filled community gathering where you see many friends and neighbors who josh about this, that and the other thing as they enjoy an extremely delicious dinner

All the while, students, faculty, staff and parents are worker bees in the kitchen slaving over hot fryers and getting the fish out to the host server in a timely manner. There also are students and parents buzzing the dining room like bees making sure you have the beverage of your choice as soon as you are seated.

So wonderful are the people of our towns who attend these suppers. Everyone from tykes on up to the elderly are generous with their “pleases and thank yous.” It lifts one’s spirits even to be among them for two hours.

Here are just a few photos from last Friday night:

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Incidentally, Larry the Neighbor Guy (whom I love dearly) tells me that if I would be up at Lake of the Woods ice fishing I would be using minnows.

Now, we all know.

Until Soon.

Miles of Smiles

Gemini (Jim and I) surely had a good time speaking to members of Valley Memorial Club yesterday at 4000 Valley Square in Grand Forks.

My husband and I doing a presentation together is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. So several times in the past when I’ve been asked to speak somewhere on “something,” I’ve invited Jim along to put his two cents worth in. Up until now, his response has always been: “No thanks.” This time, he agreed probably because the invitation came to me from Sue Bjornstad and I in turn passed it on to him. Sue, you see, is Director of Development for Valley Memorial Homes, and a very special person in our eyes.

Tuesday was the Valley Memorial Club’s spring banquet. The club is a fellowship of men and women interested in providing funds for the ‘extras’ which enhance the lives of residents and tenets of Valley Memorial Homes. Through membership dues and memorial gifts, the club has purchased such things as blanket warmers, computers and Wii game systems. New members always are welcome. Call: (701) 787-7984 for information.

What a delicious meal was placed before us. A colorful and crunchy spring salad followed by ham, buttered baby carrots and over-the-top creamy, cheesy potatoes. Dessert was a slice of lemon filled cake which reminded me of my most favorite thing in the world – wedding cake.

We were honored to break all this bread seated next to Oben Gunderson, Grand Forks, and across from Matt and Lois Edman, Alvarado, Minn.  Oben’s warm smile and witty personality is most delightful and it’s always such fun to catch up on the latest news from the Edmans, whose son, Paul, is one of our son Dean’s best friends.

Our topic of the day was, “Miles of Smiles,” which began with the story of how a North Dakota farm girl (me) met a hillbilly boy (Jim) from Tennessee in Wyoming, of all places, and some of the smiles and frowns we’ve experienced in 50 years of marriage.

The audience of 70 or so was equally as delightful and welcoming and responsive as Oben had been during the meal. Everyone seemed to enjoy the guessing game Jim played with them, especially the two winners who each took home a box of Chippers from Widman’s Candy Shop.

Garth Rydland, President and CEO of Valley Memorial Homes, humored us by, on cue, sprinting to the grand piano and breaking into, “In the Mood,” so Jim and I could “cut a rug,” like we did in, “Doc’s Shack,” a musical the East Grand Forks Community Performing Arts Council presented years and years ago.

When it was all said and done, our main goal was to remind people of the importance of a smile and what smiling does for not only the receiver but the sender. I read, “A Smile,” from the book, “The Joy of Words,” which my late sister gave to our late mother in 1966. It states:

A smile costs nothing, but gives much. It enriches those who receive it, without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None is so rich or mighty that he can get along without it, and none is so poor but that he can be made rich by it. A smile creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in business and is the countersign of friendship. It brings rest to the weary, cheer to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad and it is nature’s best antidote for trouble. Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away. Some people are too tired to give you a smile. Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give. – Author Unknown

Our banquet grand finale thought was this: Always smile back at young children. To ignore them is to destroy their belief that the world is good.

Until Soon

Ya’ll all come back now, ya hear?

Remember Minnie Pearl, the Southern Belle singer/comedian who always had a price tag hanging from her hat? If you are older than a young whipper-snapper, you very well may.

As memorable as that price tag are Minnie’s parting words whenever she was about to depart from the television screen. She never failed to say, “Ya’ll all come back now, ya hear?”

That’s what I’m shouting out to all of you who are regular attendees of the Lenten fish fry at Sacred Heart School in East Grand Forks: Ya’ll come back this Friday, ya hear?

If you are not a regular attendee, let Friday (March 6) be your debut.

I actually met someone this week, right here from River City, who has never heard of this event. That’s unbelievable as they have been going on for more than 20 years. The good news is, that fellow says he’ll be there Friday sometime between the serving hours of 5 to 7 p.m.

Naomi-ServingI’m extremely honored to once again be invited back as a host server. Friday night will be my fourth year to place sizzling hot fillets beside your Red River red baked potato, cole slaw and bread. Notice I said “fillets,” not “fillet.” The powers that be at Sacred Heart tell me to be fillet generous.

With your plate filled, you can meander over to another corner of the mammoth room to select your slice of pie. Cost of the dinner is $10. Pie is extra at $1.50 a slice. Take-outs are available.

The six Lenten fish fries serve as a fund-raiser for Sacred Heart High Schools’ athletic departments, but believe me, it is so much more than a fund-raiser. It’s a camaraderie-filled community gathering where you see many friends and neighbors who josh about this, that and the other thing as they enjoy an extremely delicious dinner

All the while, students, faculty, staff and parents are worker bees in the kitchen slaving over hot fryers and getting the fish out to me in a timely manner so I can put it on your plate as you pass by. There also are students and parents buzzing the dining room like bees making sure you have the beverage of your choice as soon as you are seated.

Jim and I are among those who don’t want to miss a single one of the six nights. There have been as many as 800 to 1,000 people who attend on a Friday night. But don’t let that scare you. The two lines move very quickly.

Take your pick: Ya’ll all come back now, ya hear? Or ya’ll make your debut; 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, March 6, Sacred Heart School, 122 N.W. Third Street, East Grand Forks.

Until Friday/Until Soon

Chris lets you bring your own popcorn

Christopher P. Jacobs goes to a movie nearly every night. Nice thing about it, he doesn’t have to go far. No starting his car, no drive across town, no ticket to buy.

After dinner in his Grand Forks home, he simply goes downstairs and settles into one of the 20 old (but very comfy) movie seats lined up in four rows in his private theater where friends, neighbors and film students often join him.

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Chris’ home theater auditorium

 

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The big screen

Chris the movie buff

Chris the movie buff

The other night, in Chris’ theater, he sat right down front while Jim and I and a couple more friends were in rows two and three. We watched and thoroughly enjoyed “How Green Was My Valley,” a 1941 film that was nominated for 10 Academy Awards. It won three: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor.

After being in Chris’ home theater, I nominate him for two Academy Awards: Home Theater Auditorium Excellence and Best Looney Tunes cartoon from 1941.

20150223_190241 (1)I first met Chris years ago when I worked in the features department at the Grand Forks Herald and he was a free-lance writer of movie reviews. He has made a couple of full length feature films himself and knows so much about movies and films and projectors and quality and sound that he teaches Intro to Film and The Art of Moviemaking at the University of North Dakota.

Chris’ love for it all started during his younger years when for more than two decades he worked in theaters where he came to truly appreciate the top quality and sound commercial theaters provide for their customers.

It was after Chris’ house was flooded in 1997 that the flood gates of his home theater dream/project were flung open like never before.

“I’ve had my current HD video setup in the auditorium since 2008,” Chris said, “but I had a semi-permanent screen with about 15 old theatre seats (from the balcony of the old Dakota Theatre when it was torn down) for watching movies on 8mm and 16mm film since high school and college in the 1970s. I added 35mm film capability from about 1989 through the flood of 1997, which destroyed almost everything.”

After completing flood cleanup, Chris swapped things around a bit in the basement. First, he moved the theater area to a different room, and “I switched from film to mainly video projection of DVDs around 2002,” he said, “with HD projection of Blu-rays in 2008, the same year I finally re-installed new wall paneling over the bare studs that were empty since the flood.”

Chris also put in the main section of 12 theatre seats from the old Forx Theatre when it was torn down, and in 2009, he built risers for slight “stadium seating,” he added. “In 2012, I also got some additional old theatre seats from Michigan, N.D.” It was also about that time that Chris added aisle lights, a wider screen, movable drapes, and the capability of projecting 3-D movies in 3-D.

It was after the addition of the HD projector and then the Blu-ray player that Chris felt like he was back in the theaters he worked in first as a manager and then in the projection booth. “It’s not difficult to get addicted to seeing movies projected from Blu-rays onto a big screen,” he said. “Since there are no dedicated ‘art-house.’ or revival cinemas in the area, I like to think of this as a successor to the old film society years with a regular core audience of people who appreciate off-beat, non-mainstream films and have a shared experience watching and discussing them. It’s that theatrical experience and large high-quality picture that makes a difference many people are no longer accustomed to and no longer realize was actually a critical part of how older films were intended to be seen, rather than on fuzzy TV or YouTube video copies.”

Chris’ typical audience is usually from three to five people. “I think my biggest audience has been 11 total,” he said, “with several movies having seven or eight, most recently Ingmar Bergman’s ‘Wild Strawberries,’ and the Oscar nominee, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel.’ I usually have one or two double-features every week on the monthly schedule I email out, but I often watch something almost every night. I just finished watching the1931 version of ‘The Maltese Falcon.’ There are a few people who try to come over for at least one movie every week or two, others every month or two, and still others a few times per year. A friend from Brainerd, Minn., even tries to drive to Grand Forks once or twice a year whenever I do a weekend marathon.”

Now, let’s return to, “How Green Was My Valley,” one of the thousands of movies Chris has in his library on DVD or Blu-ray.

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Chris has a huge number of films in his movie library

 

I wasn’t around in 1941, but I’m guessing the picture we saw on Chris’ screen was as sharp or sharper than it was on a theater screen 74 years ago.

“How Green Was My Valley,” stars several old beautiful and handsome actors: Walter PidgeonMaureen O’HaraAnna LeeDonald Crisp, and Roddy McDowall. It’s about the Morgans, a close, hard-working Welsh mining family living in the heart of the South Wales Valleys in the 19th century. The story chronicles the destruction of the environment in South Wales’ coal fields and the loss of a way of life and the effects that had on the Morgan family. It is a tremendous movie and deserves all the academy awards it won.

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We had a great time watching a classic movie in Chris’ home theater. And there was yet another perk – we got to take our own popcorn.

Until Soon

He or me?

In a matter of days, grandson Ethan, will be a decade old. I don’t know who’s more excited about that – him or me.

Ten is a milestone in a lad’s life and this one’s especially thrilling for me because of the gift Gramps and I will give him. He is, after all, such a gift to us.

I will always remember 10 years ago this week standing at the water fountain at a gas station in Fergus Falls, Minn., when my cell phone rang. I saw it was from our son Troy so I answered, “Do we have a baby?” Troy replied, “We do. It’s a boy.”

I rode cloud nine the rest of the way east. Troy and Sheri had gifted us with a grandson, and given Elyn a baby brother. Ethan rounds out our family which also includes two other granddaughters, Amelia and Grace. Most of the time I call Ethan “my one and only,” rather than by his given name. At nearly 10, he still smiles at that.

Last week Ethan’s parents were told by his teacher that he is doing “fabulously,” in school. They also heard that he needs to get a little more “hooked,” on reading.

I’m not aware of having a premonition, but before I found that out, I had ordered The Hardy Boys Starter Set through Ferguson Books and More in Grand Forks. I buy locally whenever possible and I recall how much our sons liked the Hardy Boys, Joe and Frank.

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20150223_131703rHardy Boys books are filled with wonderful intrigue, mystery and suspense. How they came to light is also very interesting.

Franklin W. Dixon is shown as the author of these nearly 60 books, but Franklin W. Dixon never actually existed. A man named Edward L. Stratemeyer did, however, from 1862-1930.

Stratemeyer created brothers Joe and Frank Hardy along with literally dozens of other series characters in juvenile fiction. Through his Stratemeyer Syndicate, Edward hired authors to write stories from his outlines. They got paid (usually poorly) to write the texts and they had to agree to never reveal that they, and not the mythical Mr. Dixon, wrote the books.

Now Ethan’s big day draws near. He’s already had his friend birthday party, so when we get together he will be all ours. Can’t wait for him to open this five-book present. Since I’m already “hooked” on him, and he on me, I hope Joe and Frank Hardy can “hook” him on reading.

Until Soon

Sneaky Wild Oats – a standout in the music field

As a youngster growing up on a farm in North central North Dakota, I remember my dad lamenting over all the Avena fatua that popped up in his fields during growing season.

Well, actually, Dad never called it by its official fancy name (if he knew it) as he and Mom and a couple of us kids drove “down west,” to survey the crops on a lovely summer evening.

Dad simply referred to this pest by its common label – wild oats. We knew that it gave him fits as it raised havoc with the wheat and barley until farmers started using pesticides. I also recall that happening when I was a kid.

Mom and Dad are long gone, but dream with me, OK?

If they were still in their prime on the farm and Dad came in for dinner (at noon) and Mom (in her apron) had the radio on and a jazz combo was playing, I know he would grab her and they’d cut a rug around the kitchen to the music filling the room.

Plus they’d sure get a laugh out of learning that the makers of this music call themselves, Sneaky Wild Oats.

Yup! Sneaky Wild Oats!

You can wake up now.

Recently I heard a fabulous group, not called Avena fatua, but Sneaky Wild Oats, playing in the beautiful University of North Dakota Gorecki Alumni Center. They drew me to them like a magnet and all my toes wanted to do was tap.

Peggy Bartunek on keyboard. John Bartunek, standup bass. David Jeffrey, drums  Mike Bartunek, saxophone

Peggy Bartunek on keyboard. John Bartunek, standup bass. David Jeffrey, drums. Mike Bartunek, saxophone.

Peggy and John Bartunek, Grafton, N,D., started Sneaky Wild Oats more than 25 years ago. “We were originally a bluegrass group with John on upright bass and me on mandolin,” Peggy said. “We also had a banjo player, a guitar player, and a violinist. I won’t call her a fiddler because her background was classical and she didn’t think of herself as a fiddler. We heard a local TV ad for a herbicide with the lyrics, “Sneaky wild oats hiding in your field” and we borrowed those words to name our band.”

Clever.

Peggy said that as years went by, she and John remained the constants of the group.

“At some point I convinced John that I really wasn’t much of a mandolin player so I switched to piano,” Peggy added. “I was much happier!! Our style of music moved away from bluegrass, especially when our friend Richard Schultz began playing saxophone with us. We added a drummer and started playing a rather eclectic repertoire, mostly chosen because one of us suggested a song we liked.”

When the Bartunek’s son, Mike was a music major at NDSU and studying both classical and jazz saxophone, Peggy started taking jazz piano lessons from Simon Rowe at Minnesota State University, Moorhead, “and we evolved into a jazz combo,” she said.

Currently, Dave Jeffrey, Grand Forks, is the group’s primary drummer. “He’s a wonderful musician who plays with several bands in the area,” Peggy said. “Our son Mike just finished a six month position playing saxophone with Carnival Cruise Lines. When he was gone we either played as a trio (bass, piano & drums) or invited another musician to join us. Mike is in Grafton for the next several weeks with a long-term position teaching music while the regular teacher is on maternity leave.”

If you’ve never heard Sneaky Wild Oats, now’s your chance.

Gigs coming up:

  • Feb. 20 (tonight) Sneaky Wild Oats plays in the lounge at the Radisson Hotel in Fargo.
  • Saturday (Feb. 21) they will perform at the Celebration of Women and their Music in the Fargo Theater.
  • March 7, 8 p.m. Backstage Project at the Empire Theater, Grand Forks.

How I wish I could take Mom and Dad.

Until Soon

Cutting Prime Rib And Cuttin’ A Rug

February 14, 2015

When we’re in St. Louis, brother-in-law, Bob, takes us to the St. Louis Club, which offers the finest of fine dining and ambiance.

In Winnipeg, the food and mood at Ichi Ban Japanese Steakhouse is over the top.

Then, there’s the Inn at Maple Crossing on Maple Lake near Mentor, Minn.; tastefully classy to the core.

Well, move over St. Louis Club, Ichi Ban and Maple Crossing Inn. If the group I’m about to speak of were in the food business, it could give any fancy restaurant a run for its money.

All the youth and their adult helpers: Michayla, Jessica, Madi, Macy, Reagan, Kaylynn, JD, Jordee, Aiden, Alec, Emily, Michael, Laurie, Adam and Mikael

All the youth and their adult helpers: Michayla, Jessica, Madi, Macy, Reagan,
Kaylynn, JD, Jordee, Aiden, Alec, Emily, Michael, Laurie, Adam and Mikael

As it turns out, they’re just a bunch of teens assisted by a handful of parents (and one grandpa) whose sole purpose was to offer those seated at card tables, graced with red or white linen cloths, the joy of delectable food and lots of fun for only a few bucks.

Enjoying the dinner and ambiance

Enjoying the dinner and ambiance

Last Saturday night, youth from our church, Immanuel Lutheran in Grand Forks, helped prepare and serve a Valentine’s dinner — to perfection with a capital P. Spearheaded by their director, Jessica, it was a fundraiser, and I’m told after expenses they made more than $600 they can use for various projects and activities.

Every couple had their photo taken and this is Jim’s and mine

Every couple had their photo taken and this is Jim’s and mine

The Fellowship Hall was beautifully dressed in strings of tiny Christmas lights as well as red, white and pink balloons. It was a dimly lit romantic atmosphere for the 18 couples who attended.

Teens in black slacks, white shirts and some with red ties, were as professional, friendly and accommodating as any maître d’ who’s ever served me.

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Emily and Moriah — part of the decorating committee

Lyle and Jeanne were our table mates. First, we enjoyed punch and a hors d’oeuvre of veggies, dips, crackers and breads. Soon, Madi, one of our servers, stopped back at our table wondering if we’d like Ranch, French or Thousand Island dressing on our salads. When the salads arrived, they could not have been more fresh, crisp and colorful with cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices mixed in with the greens.

Shortly before the main course, our servers returned with another query: “Would you like your prime rib well done, medium well, medium or rare?” they asked, adding, “You will get au jus with that, would you also like horseradish?”

Yes, yes, I answered. I will have it all.

And then, our plates arrived with the biggest slice of prime rib I have ever seen, “real” garlic mashed potatoes (no flakes allowed) and glazed carrots. The carrots tasted like they had just been dug from the garden that day.

Oh my!

Never have I tasted such tender prime rib. Saying you could cut it with your fork (which is gospel) is cliché. Now, I’ve never compared prime rib to cotton candy, but for all the world cutting and savoring each bite of my huge slab of pinkish beef was like pulling a plug of spun sugar off its paper baton at the fair.

I kid you not!

Two dads, Adam and Mikael, deserve accolades for preparing the prime rib. It was a “team effort,” Mikael said. “I learned it’s all about cooking it slowly at the right temperature. We had a lot of fun in the kitchen. Laurie, Adam, Alec and I worked extremely well together. We were like a well-greased wheel. What was really interesting was listening to (Grandpa) Ralph talk about KP duty when he was in the military.”

A slice of Italian Cream Cake capped the meal and through it all, we enjoyed the piano and violin music of Emily and Michael.

I don’t know who was more excited about what came next, the young people or we who are still young at heart. More music began and soon most everyone was on the dance floor. Jim and I enjoyed a jitterbug, a cha-cha and a slow dance or two.

Scan_20150215 (9)But I think the most fun of all was a floor full of the young and younger doing the “Cupid Shuffle,” a popular sort of line dance that’s like the Cha-Cha Slide. No sireee — you’ll never catch me sittin’ out something like that because along with cutting into an exquisitely prepared prime rib, there’s nothing I’d rather do than cut a rug.

All in all, it was a great Valentine dinner/dance/party that offered the finest of fine dining and ambiance. It was definitely over the top and tastefully classy to the core — thanks to a super bunch of kids we are happy to support. If they do it again next year, we’ll be there.

Until Soon

God hath not promised . . .

This is Thanksgiving week. We all are eagerly preparing our feasts or packing up to travel elsewhere — to spend a few thankful days with loved ones and friends. In the midst of all the joy we also hear of sadness. Requests come in and prayers go out for those we know and love and some we don’t know who are in treatment, facing surgery, pain and sorrow.

Such a request for prayer came to me just a few moments ago and as I stopped from cleaning a closet to pray for someone I don’t know, I realize what a gift memorization can be.

Somewhere in my youth or childhood, somewhere in our house on the farm, my mother had a Helen Steiner Rice poem that I have never ever forgotten. To this day I can recite it word for word. It’s message is such a comfort at times like this.

The poem is titled, “God Hath Not Promised.” May I suggest you pause to reflect on it and perhaps even memorize it so it will be in your heart when you need it.

It reads

God hath not promised
skies always blue,
flower-strewn pathways all our lives through.
God hath not promised
sun without rain,
joy without sorrow,
peace without pain.

But God hath promised
strength for the day,
rest for the laborer,
light on the way.
Grace for the trial,
help from above,
unfailing sympathy,
undying love.
Until Soon