Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Church Service Celebrates The Culmination Of Advent With “Festival of Lessons and Carols”

Kay Lynne and I just returned home from the Christmas Eve Church Service at our church, St. Andrews Lutheran in Bellevue, ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ who changed the world forever. Pictured above is the choir and orchestra processional.

We have expectantly awaited Christmas Day for slightly more than a month during the season of Advent on the Church calender. The word advent means “coming” or “arrival” and is observed in anticipation of Christ’s coming to earth as a babe in a manger.

In celebrating the Festival of Lessons and Carols, we joined with many churches in observing an historic format for worship to honor the birth of Christ. The Festival tells the story of the fall of humanity, the promise of the Messiah, and the birth of Jesus in nine short Scripture readings from Genesis, the prophetic books and the Gospels, interspersed with the singing of Christmas Carols and hymns.

Our service included the participation of our church chancel choir and brass and strings ensemble, which added a wonderful sense of celebration. We concluded by lighting candles and singing several Christmas Carols.

Now we are ready to enjoy the full meaning of Christmas, the celebration of the coming to earth of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. In not too many minutes it will be Christmas morning.

Come, Lord Jesus. We are ready for your arrival.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Foot-Tapping Venture Into Cultural Heritage

Kay Lynne and I had a most interesting and enjoyable venture into (my) Finnish cultural heritage yesterday, when we traveled to Bainbridge Island (where we used to live) to see, meet and listen to the Finnish folk band Kaivama.   Finn cousin Joel Narva, his wife Sandra and daughter Lindsey, joined us at the concert.

The “band” consists of two accomplished Finnish musicians, Sara Pajunen and Jonathan Rundman (above), both born and raised in Midwest Northwoods areas closely resembling the environment of Finland – namely Virginia, MN and Ishpeming, MI. Both areas enjoy long winters, lakeside saunas, dense pine forests, rugged terrain, and solitude – replicating the Nordic country’s climate and landscape.

The music they play can be loosely described as Finnish/Scandinavian folk music, but their training and performance transforms it into so much more.

Here’s what their web site says about their music: Sara Pajunen's unique fiddle playing is the common thread of the album, a meld of technique and nuance. Jonathan Rundman adeptly adds various instruments to each track, from rollicking acoustic guitar to a WWII-era foot-pump harmonium (organ) to his Grandfather's tenor banjo—and some famously American textures thanks to a vintage Hammond organ and Wurlizter electric piano.

Pajunen’s classical training and flirtations with avant-garde string arrangements blend with her dedication to the Finnish pelimanni fiddle tradition. Rundman mixes the harmonic structures of Nordic hymnody with a rough Americana sensibility and hints of '70s-era progressive rock.

The web site also indicates that “Kaivama's first album is a landmark debut, and a worthy bridge between a new Finnish-American generation and the time-honored music of their heritage.”  For Joel and me, it was an opportunity to hear for the first time the folk melodies our departed parents often told us had influenced the times of their youth.

No doubt we'll be back to see and hear Kaivama again when they return to Seattle’s Phinney Ridge area for a concert next May.

Click here to see and hear a sample of their music. Click here for their web site.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Hayley Experiences First High School Drama As Freshman

Our granddaughter Hayley, a high school freshman in Newberg Oregon, is this weekend and next taking part in her first high school drama, the musical comedy Once upon A Mattress, and Kay Lynne and I were privileged to see her performance last night.  Above, as Lady Emily (center), she reacts with other Ladies of the Court to antics by the devious Queen Aggravain.

Originally written as an adaptation of the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, The Princess and the Pea (where true love wins out), the play was expanded and played on Broadway in the early 1960’s.  It has become a popular work for high schools and community theater groups.

We thought the Newberg High School peformance was an especially good one.  The acting was stellar, the vocals were wonderful, and the chorus and orchestra were all in top form.  As one of the Ladies of the Court, Hayley was also a member of the chorus.  Photo at right was taken after the show as the cast mingled with the crowd.  These are the events that grandparents live for.
Also yesterday, Hayley’s sister, Talli, a senior, ran her best time for the State Cross Country Meet in Eugene, Oregon, at 20:13.  Talli went to the State meet all four years in High School.  She led the Newberg High varsity ladies to a 10th place team finish, a tremendous accomplishment, as the girls were seeded 12th.  According to Run-Down, a sports tracking site, Newberg ladies outperformed their predicted finish greater than any team at the meet.  Congratulations, Talli, on another (and final) Cross Country Season!   

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Talli Qualifies For State X-C Meet Fourth Straight Year

Our eldest granddaughter, Talli, (right, above) now a senior at Newberg High School in Oregon, came in fourth overall last Thursday in the varsity women’s event at the 6A Pacific Conference District Cross-Country Meet in Oregon City.
This qualifies her for the State Cross-Country Meet this coming Saturday in Eugene for the fourth straight year.  

The photo above was taken almost half-way through the race just after she established her fourth place position, which she held to the finish.  For the first time in many years, the entire Newberg team will go to State, as they finished second as a team at District.  Talli led the team with consistent, competitive performances this year, and now the team will enjoy the State Meet experience together. 

Congratulations, Talli, for a wonderful Senior Year in Cross-Country!

Btw, sorry for the long spell bwtween posts.  Have been very busy but will try to do better in the future.  

Monday, July 25, 2011

Drive Around and Onto Mt. Rainier Brings Scenes of Beauty Unsurpassed

As long as we’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest, my wife and I had never driven up the road to Mt. Rainier and Mt. Rainier National Park. Yesterday we not only did that, but we also continued on around the back side of the mountain (eastern hemisphere), making a big “loop” as we headed home, and were rewarded with nothing but serendipitous beauty. Above is halo-clouded Mt. Rainier from still snow-laden Reflection Lake. You can click on any photo for a larger, down-loadable image.

We approached the great mountain and National Park from the western entrance, and in so doing, you pass through the little town of Elbe, six miles north of Mineral Lake and about 17 miles west of the Park entrance. It is here where the Mt. Rainier Railroad originates and makes summer weekend trips along rickety tracks to the Lake and back. We passed on the railroad ride and continued up the winding mountain road by car.

But while in Elbe, we stopped to take a photo of a beautiful, little white church for my buddy Ed Wall (who collects same), and to our surprise, not only was it a 105-year-old Evangelical Lutheran Church, but it was also a German Lutheran Church (Ed’s heritage is German). The photo above is the church, with Kay Lynne pleasingly gracing the entrance. (Eddie – if you need a shot sans KL for your collection, let me know, as I have one).

We used our Senior “Golden Pass” to gain free entrance into Mt. Rainier National Park and made our way another 15 miles or so to historic Paradise Inn and its famous restaurant, where we planned to enjoy the scrumptious Sunday Brunch Buffet. They did not disappoint. Below is Kay Lynne by the entrance to the Inn.

Sous chef Newnell had prepared to perfection just about every imaginable breakfast and lunch delicacy. There was more food than the eye (or the stomach) could absorb – salads, pastas, fresh fruits, pastries, blueberry cheese blintzes to die for, sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, eggs benedict, waffles, salmon/lox, and an array of roasted meats. And that doesn’t even mention the devilish desserts of seemingly infinite variety.

We finally decided we’d had enough to last the day and, following taking the above shot of the Tatoosh Mountain Range across the canyon to the south of the Inn, continued our drive eastward along Stevens Ridge, through Box Canyon, arriving finally at the Grove of the Patriarchs and the east Park entrance (exit in our case), Stevens Canyon. The shot below looks north eastward from Reflection Lake toward our exit point.

From there, we drove north along Hwy 123 and merged with WA 410 just a few miles west of Chinook Pass. The drive home from that point was absolutely gorgeous with outside temps varying from 73-degrees at the elevations to 86 in the windless canyons. We followed the White River Canyon down into Greenwater and Enumclaw which approaches the back yard to our area.

All in all, an incredible Day Trip with wonderful memories.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

New Pontoon Boat Hits the Water

Late this afternoon I finally got the new pontoon boat onto the water at nearby Spring Lake. Thanks to Kay Lynne for going along and taking the photo of the momentous event.

The boat is made by the Creek company, popular manufacturer of pontoon boats, float tubes and a zillion fishing accessories. I got it online and on sale at Cabela’s for a ridiculously low price. So, with the money I saved, I decided to get an electric trolling motor and a marine battery (both also on sale). Does anyone pay full retail anymore? The question I’m avoiding is how much I had to spend to get all those great sale prices.

We can at least pronounce the maiden voyage a success as far as the nautical aspects are concerned. The fishing part of it was not as achieving, but I was only out for an hour or so. I marked quite a few fish at 10’ or so in the 12’ – 15’ water depth range, but none chose to taste my tempting power bait offerings. Not even my new Scotty pole holder bolted to the front rail could shake the skunk off.

Thankfully, I had saved my portable, battery-operated fish finder that I bought many years ago when I didn’t own a boat and was just renting them. A set of new “C” batteries and it revived perfectly. A fish finder may show you where the fish are, but unfortunately you've still gotta catch em!

I’m glad to get the “test run” out of the way, and it feels good that everything works as it should. Hopefully I’ll get some serious fishing in this next week with my cousin Joel who has a neat, new inflatable Sea Eagle boat and troller. I’m thinking we’ll knock em dead at a hot lake just south of here, which will remain our secret for now.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Fishing Lakes Abound and the Season Is Here (Weather Notwithstanding)

Earlier this evening Kay Lynne and I took a drive around the new area in which we live – the southeast burbs of Seattle. Or, at least that was ostensibly what it was.

In my head was a route that I knew would take us past a beautiful park (which she likes) but also would get us to three lakes that are in a cluster about 15 minutes away from our home. All had reported good trout fishing in the last week.

The first body of water we stopped at was Lake Devine, a 72-acre beauty out in the country just past city limits. It is a gorgeous setting with a country club and high-end homes along much of its shore. As we drove on, we saw several fishermen hauling in their catches from today's efforts on the water at Shady Lake, a tiny, 21-acre portage that holds cutthroat trout as well as rainbows. The season at this lake just opened yesterday. Several nice limits were noted with the largest fish about 16” best I could tell.

The last stop was at Spring Lake, just to the east of the other two. This is where I shot the photo above. It’s also a beautiful setting, and I’ve decided to try either Spring Lake or Shady Lake on Saturday morning when I plan to give my new pontoon boat and electric troller its inaugural fishing test.

Though it was still chilly and rainy today, Saturday is forecast to be sunny and a welcome 70-degrees. I never cease to be amazed at the sheer beauty of this State -- and most of it permeates the areas in which we live.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Worship Is Now A Much Anticipated, Participatory Event

Today, during our Sunday Church Service, I realized once again why worshipping regularly is important to maintaining spiritual fitness. I didn’t always feel this way.

There was a time when going to church was more or less another entertainment opportunity – great music, good singing, some random Scripture verses and an engaging sermon. I really like thought-provoking sermons.

The difficulty for me, however, was that no matter how great the music or the sermon, the effect lasted only until about Tuesday night, or maybe even Wednesday. The rest of the week was downhill in a spiritual sense.

All of this has changed in recent years since my wife and I started attending a Lutheran Church – one which has tried and true hymns of the faith, lots of participatory recitation, and – gasp – liturgy. I had been raised to think of liturgy as a form of “vain repetitions.” I have discovered that liturgy (at least in the Lutheran venue) is anything but that.

Simply, I have come to understand liturgy as a prescribed set of components for worship. I find that our liturgy organizes and guides us through the important aspects of a full worship experience. Much of it goes back to early church practices, and various forms of liturgy are practiced around the world in Christendom. Almost all of our liturgy is taken directly from the Scriptures.

Of course different churches and different denominations vary in the practice of liturgy in worship, but most contain some or all of the following elements:
Confession and forgiveness – via prayers and silent moments
Praise – recited (using actual Scriptures) or sung as music
Scripture Lessons – selected readings from the Old Testament, New Testament, the Gospels or the Psalms
Prayers – thanks, adoration, petition, on behalf of others, or for our own spiritual journey
Sermon – usually an amplification of, or related to the Scripture Lessons
Creeds – corporate recitation and endorsement of our ancient creeds of faith, such as the Apostle’s Creed
Offering – giving back to God for His use, from the abundance He has given us
Sacrament of Holy Communion – A celebration of reverence, adoration, forgiveness, joy and thanksgiving where God works in us and we are empowered to “go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” It is one of the oldest and least-changed elements of the Liturgy. For me, it is the “power source” of my faith. The image above, btw, is Da Vinci’s “Last Supper”
Benediction – we are sent out to live out the Gospel in word and deed in a world of need

Week after week, as these rudiments of worship are observed and practiced, the Gospel comes alive within us and we are sustained as active and viable followers of Christ. Thanks be to God.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Talli Qualifies For Second State Meet This School Year

Our granddaughter Talli, a high school junior (and pictured at right, above), will go to the State Track Meet of Oregon a week from today in Eugene to run the 3,000 meters. This is a remarkable accomplishment for her as last Fall she qualified for the State Cross Country meet as well.

The girls varsity team at her school, Newberg High, won the District Track meet yesterday in McMinnville, where Talli came in second in the 3,000, making her eligible for the State Meet. Her time was 11:09, a scant 10 seconds or so off of her personal best.

Of course, as proud grandparents, we offer her our sincere congratulations and wish her the best next week. Wish we could be there to see her run, but we’ll enjoy the pics I’m sure her dad will take at the meet.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Talli’s 3K Time Places Her First in Her District This Year, And Hayley’s Band Wows in Oregon State Univ. Competition

We were in Oregon this weekend to watch our granddaughter run in the Centennial High School Invitational Track Meet in Gresham on Saturday and then to spend this Easter Sunday with our son Gregg’s family worshipping at their church, Newberg Friends (Gregg's sermon was spot on) and then enjoying a wonderful day together.

Talli, a Junior, ran the 3,000 meters in a time of 11:08, which is only seconds off of her personal record. Though she came in third in her heat (among contestants from all over Oregon and Washington), her time was good enough to place her first among all varsity 3K runners in the 6A Pacific Conference of which her school is a member – a fabulous achievement.

In the photo above, I caught her (at left) in the last turn before the final stretch of her race. At that point she was slightly in the lead, but strong kicks by the two gals with her just nipped her at the wire. Click on the pic for a larger image – you can see the intensity of competition. Both the boys’ and the girls’ track teams in her school, Newberg High, placed second overall at the Invitational, where over 50 high schools participated.

Granddaughter Hayley, an eighth grader, traveled to Oregon State University for a day last week where her Middle School’s Advanced Band received an “excellent” rating – the highest you can achieve – in a competition among schools from all over the State . Hayley is the first chair clarinet player and performed at least one solo, if not two, if I recall correctly. A pretty good week for granddaughters.

Of course our third-grade granddaughter, Aubrey, is a happy, super-good student and has been occupying her time with horseback riding lessons and piano lessons. Sure was great to catch up on all the kids’ doings and to have some quality time with Gregg and Elaine.

And a Happy Easter to all! Christ is risen. Allelujah!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Every Time We Move, I Say “Never Again”

A move is somewhere in the top five of things that cause stress. Only a divorce, a death in the immediate family or a job loss is said to cause more anxiety than changing your address.

But that’s exactly what my wife and I did at the end of last month – yet once more. We moved from a northeast burb of Seattle to a southeast burb of the city – ending up almost an hour or so closer to our son and his family in Oregon and a little closer also to our other son and his family who live on Seattle’s Eastside.

A few moves ago, we started counting the number of places we have lived since we were married. We stopped counting in the low 20s, and we weren’t nearly complete. Let’s just say that our sons know what it is like to live up and down the west coast – from a beach city like Santa Cruz, California to the steelhead and salmon paradise of Clackamas, Oregon in the foothills of Mt. Hood, and to the four-season Inland Empire area around Spokane, Washington.

There’s always been a seemingly good reason to move – an interesting job offer, a better climate, a nicer house, a business opportunity or maybe just wanderlust a time or three. This move was because we had an opportunity to purchase a smaller but comfortable town house at a really great price that should serve us well until we head for the old folks home. Truly, I/we hope this is the last move we have to go through for a long, long time.

O, btw, the fire hydrant in the pic above is ideal for our dog, Buddy.

Our new place is just large enough for the two of us and for two house guests a few days at a time. While you’re here visiting, my office will turn mobile (I’ll take my laptop into the master br). So, what are you waiting for? Come see us sometime.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Is Las Vegas Losing it’s Luster?

Kay Lynne and I spent a few days in Las Vegas this past week, mainly to enjoy some time in a warmer, sunny clime with lifelong friends, Dwight and Lynnette Klassen.

We encountered a city that is going through some enigmatic changes.

Of course we had to go through the casino to get to our room on the 21st floor of the Mirage, and we found the cavernous gambling center rather startlingly sparsely filled. Nearly three quarters of the slots and gaming tables were empty in a place that was relatively recently designed to accommodate large crowds of people.

We weren’t there long enough nor did we visit enough other places to make an accurate observation, but it sure seemed like there were FAR less people there this time than when we last visited the city in January of 2008.

There were two high points, for me at least, on the trip. The first was the latest Cirque du Soleil show, Viva Elvis (top pic -- look closely; those are acrobats on a large "jungle Jim" set designed in the shape of a guitar), at the incredibly beautiful Aria Resort in the new city center complex. Btw, the city center complex (photo above), in contrast to the Mega-Casinos, is bustling with activity – especially the Crystals Retail and Entertainment Center.

It’s hard to put into words what happens at a Cirque du Soleil show. It’s a truly unbelievable combination of art, physicality, acrobatics, music, sound, video, film and visuals. I would even call it “sensory overload”. Suffice it to say, if you haven’t seen a Cirque du Soleil performance – do so if you can!

The other high point was a visit to the new Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge which spans Black Canyon some 900 feet above the Colorado River. You can’t see much while crossing the bridge (it’s walled about five feet high on each side for safety reasons) but from the visitors center you can actually walk across the dam side of the bridge. Above photo was taken from a helicopter high above the structure after its completion last October but before traffic was allowed across it.

Dwight and I took a side trip to the site (on the north end of the Strip) of the Pawn Stars reality TV show on the History Channel. It’s amazing what television exposure will do. A perpetual long line of people stand in line daily to get inside the shop where Rick Harrison, his curmudgeonly father, son Corey and “gofer” Chumley roam the aisles. Interestingly, two nearby pawn shops were virtually desolate.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

A "Beastly" Win for the Seahawks

Marshawn Lynch's "Beastly Mode" 67-yard touchdown run highlighted today's 41-36 NFL Playoff win over the defending NFL champion New Orleans Saints by the Seattle Seahawks. QuarterbackMatt Hasselbeck threw four TD passes. Not a bad performance for the first losing season record (7 -9) Division winner.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Is There A Better Way to Start the New Year?

If there’s a better way to start a new year than, in company with a son, to catch wily steelhead on a world-famous Olympic Peninsula river, I’m open for suggestions.

Spending New Years Eve in (Twilight country) Forks, Washington may be the only down side, but even that was survivable.

Doug and guide Mike Z admire Doug's 11-pound native hen (he also caught 14- and 8-pounders for a spectacular one-day fishing exhibition) following measuring and just before safely releasing the fish.

We started talking about the excursion at the family Christmas celebration in Oregon. Son Gregg determined pretty quickly that it was not an option he could consider this year due to a very full schedule. Son Doug said, “Let’s think about it.” It was, after all, only a week or so ahead of time. Would the weather cooperate? Are any guides available? What are the fishing reports? Lots of questions.

Industrious son jumped on the project as soon as he was back home. The rain/snow had stopped. Water was receding and clearing in the rivers. Weather forecast was good other than it would be cold. There WAS a guide available – and a good one. We decided to go for it.

Doug snapped me playing my 8-pound hatchery buck (pictured at top) which we could keep. Click on the photo to enlarge it, and note the bend in the rod.

I should mention that for those not acquainted with the very long odds of successful steelhead fishing, many unrelated things have to fall in place. Not the least of which are the time of year, the weather, the (river) water, the fish, and the knowledge to connect the dots. That knowledge is stored in the head of a good fishing guide – guys who are there every day and know the water, the holes, what the fish are hitting on, and have access to the spots via a drift boat, etc.

It is said that the average steelhead fisherman must actually fish (with line & lure in the water) for 30 hours for each fish caught. Those are long odds. But that is why the investment in a good fishing guide is money well spent. Simply, it’s the difference between success and failure.

Doug helps Mike Z load his drift boat back on the trailer at day's end on the beautiful Sol Duc river.

Our guide was Mike Zavadlov, owner of Mike Z’s Guide Service and a local resident of Forks. He fishes more than two out of every three days year around. We asked him which of the four fabulous rivers in the area (Hoh, Bogachiel, Calawah and Sol Duc) was best right now. No hesitation: the Sol Duc.

We caught a total of four incredibly beautiful fish (I only got one) while drifting down more than 12 miles of river. Three were natives which had to be safely released. The other was my hatchery buck. I think we used just about everything in Mike’s tackle box, and the result was a spectacular day on the water, albeit a freezing cold one. I’m not sure that the temp got much above freezing all day. But without a guide, it would have been just another day of fishing – and likely without results. We highly recommend Mike Z as an excellent fishing guide.

Next New Years Day perhaps Gregg can join us on the adventure.