January 7, 2013 — JOURNAL — the first week of January offered so many things … New Year’s Eve 2012 found Wilma and me at Millie and Jerry Halper’s house for the evening, along with friends Laura and Rob Petry, Sally Rogers, Alan and Marge Brady and Mel Cooley.  We have all connected over the years, mostly via theatre.  Rob and Mel, however, are quite special:  they are former students who have become good friends since their graduation from Pillager school ‘way back in the 80s…..  you’ll be hearing about all these folks further along, I’m sure.

That very day, I had a celebration of sorts to share.  It had occurred to me that Wilma and I had been married for exactly half of my life on December 30, 2012, so New Year’s Eve was the first day I had spent more than half my life with her.  So as we sat over drinks that night, I offered a toast to Wilma, telling her of my realization, and then givng her a pair of earrrings…. I caught her by surprise — a GOOD surprise….  The others joined in with a raised glass.

Yesterday we spent a good amount of the afternoon in Duluth with relatives from the Strand side of the family.  The Strands have been getting together as long as I’ve been around – I have been the beneficiary of such relations: music, humor, the ability to love – to enjoy — to connect…. and I don’t want to forget the dining and drinking that come along with such events.  The Strand family events have been so very strong for me – I hope my kids, who have shared in some of these events, realize how strong such family ties are.  In attendance this day were Patti and her husband Doug, Mike and Kristina, Steve, Janie and her partner J.D., Paul and his grilfriend Nancy, Ellie and Chris, Suanne and Brian, and Merle.  We’re all cousins of one sort or another, including ‘once removed’, inlaws, and even a few soon-to-be relatives, as Ellie and Janie are pregnant, both delivering within the next few months….

I am in rehearsal for A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM.  I am cast as SENEX, the father of HERO.  I get a few good songs to sing, I have some funny lines, and the rehearsals so far are quite good.  Vocal director and very good friend Mary Richards is doing a fine job as vocal director, Rhoda Morgenstern is doing the choreography – my first time working with her – and I’m finding her to be a very good teacher — and Murray Slaughter, Central Lakes Community College theatre professor, as director…. he and I have done several shows together – I find him consistently good to work with.  The show will run the weekends of  Feb. 14 and 21.

In a related item, Dennis Lamberson, who has directed Sue and/or me in several shows over the years has been struggling with his health.  He suffered a stroke almost a year ago now.  We are rooting for his comfort and recovery.

We start the year with Wilma’s dad in bad health.  He has suffered from prostate cancer, bladder cancer, and some nasty effects of the radiation treatments he’s had.  He has a touch of Alzheimer’s for now, losing names and words now and again, but his wit is still bright and jaunty.  (Exanple: there are ponds outside their home in Greenfiield, Indiana, barely frozen over .. .so I asked him if he has been ice fishing on them yet.  He said, “No…. but you can go first.”  Great line if I say so myself.  Anyway,we are concerned and pray for his comfort.

As another odd thing – in Cold Spring, Minnesota, a police officer was shot and killed a few months ago — no arrests had been made —  we recently learned that a young man killed himself, purportedly over his involvement in this crime.  We also learned that this young man is the grandson of some good friends of ours from up at our place on the lake.  Our hearts go out to our friends as they work their way through such a tragic and confusing time.

More to come, I’m sure.