Mirage

Mirage by Barbara LaTondresse

Is the glass half empty or half full?
Or perhaps there is no glass at all.
Only the illusion of the glass.

Are we as a nation that needy?
Are we lost in a desert of our own making?
Are we another Ozymandias reborn in the good old USofA?

All that remains of this ‘king of kings’ is a broken statue to former glory and the empty words full of loss.
“Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair.”

Great rulers and their kingdoms will fall, dust to dust.
Ozymandias-like we strut our transient power unaware
our desperate need of Eternal water else
we become another thirsty relic in the sand.

That a drop of water would
quench thirst in this dry,
parched land is a pipedream. 

Oh, to get the cool water drawn from the well that shall never run dry;  Eternal Water drawn from the Eternal Well.

King of kings and Lord of lords!

Eternal Power.    Eternal Spring.

When?

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Background Notes

“Ozymandias” is the title of two related sonnets published in 1818. The first was written by the English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and was published in the 11 January 1818 issue of The Examiner of London. The poem was included the following year in Shelley’s collection Rosalind and Helen, A Modern Eclogue; with Other Poems, and in a posthumous compilation of his poems published in 1826. Shelley’s most famous work, “Ozymandias” is frequently anthologized. (from wiKi)

Read Shelley ’s short sonnet below to gain essential background to understand my poem Mirage.How does this fit with what’s NORMAL ?

What do you think the NEW NOMRAL wlll be?

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Ozymandias By Percy Bysshe Shelley – 1792-1822\

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far

 

**This poem is in the public domain.

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The photo is courtesy of:  https://coldbrookgallery.wordpress.com/

 

 

Home is Where the Heart is?

Home.

?If ‘home’ means ‘residence’ I’ve lived a wonderfully varied life.

750 Mainstreet is my current residence ….A lofty loft. Most recently it was 309 West Wayside Road in a beautiful neighborhood called Hobby Acres. Before that it was a sparsely appointed Westside Village two-bedroom apartment in Hopkins.

One time our address was a Post Office box and so as vagabonds we lived different places and I said ,  ”Home is where my suitcase is.” That is as close to ‘homeless’ as I got.

We lived in three different apartments in Akademgorodok, Russia; two different ones on Zolotodayska and one on Uluysa Tereshkovoy.

Strangers in a strange land.

Mid pleasures and palaces though we may              roam,
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like                  home.

I’ve never lost a home to flood, tornado, earthquake, tsunami, or fire.
I’ve never had a home torn apart by drugs, alcohol,  or abuse.
I’ve had a place for happy memories  and tradition.
So, for me home is a refuge….a shelter in the time of storm.

I want to go there.

But now because of this worldwide threat, we’re commanded to go home. Millions of us. What if home isn’t, or isn’t a safe haven?  What if I don’t want to dwell there all the time?  Well, that’s something to think about.  Maybe I’m seeing a more  of  symbolic meaning of the word. In this perilous time, I’m being asked to see anew another view of home.

 Catherine (Kitty) O’Meara retired teacher in Wisconsin who was trying to make some sense of our current world pandemic wrote this poem;

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and grew gardens full of fresh food, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayEed, some danced.  Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they themselves had been healed.”

May it be so. Let’s go home.

‘and the people stayed home’.  March 2020. Catherine (Kitty) O’Meara                     https:// http://www.irishcentral.com/culture/irish-american-teachers-poem-covid19-outbreak

My Pennies From Heaven

Andre found a shiny penny last night as he was coming into our building. It was quietly waiting for him there in plain sight.  He brought it to me as a treasure and we know it is because it is a reminder that my Mother who died years ago is still thinking of and praying for us.

The day of my mother’s funeral long ago, when I walked out of church, I looked down and there it was—a shiny penny and I immediately picked it up and put it in my pocket, a small  symbol of my dear Mother.

 I picked up that penny because I  felt it was my own personal message from heaven.  I had heard stories about angels sending a sign from Heaven to encourage, so I imaged my Mother as that angel sent to tell me of her love, prayers, and encouragement on the day I felt the loss of her presence most keenly.

As I was investigating this phenomenon  more today,  I discovered that there are a number of people who have experienced this and  stories reprinted that suggest angels are responsible.

The most amazing thing about this find is that every time I have had a significant event in life, my Mother sends a shiny penny, right  front of me. I didn’t intend to start a collection but I have several hundred pennies now.

A precious treasure indeed.

IMG_1149

Barbara’s Pennies From Heaven

B. LaTondresse – 5 March 2020

_____________________Images courtesy of:

https://www.pinterest.com/imzadi19/pennies-from-heaven/

http://www.angelforyou.org/2015/06/a-penny-angel-blessing.html

Mysterious Wonder

Sometimes God seems far away and tastes as dry as piece of toast made with day-old bread.  At other times , he is the radiant sunshine on a dark and stormy nigh1.

 I felt Andre suddenly shaking me awake, his voice unusually somber and fear-laden, telling me that WCCO weather had shown a graphic picture of a  tornado headed towards Hopkins. It was at that time 15 minutes away; just enough time for us to go to the basement garage immediately.

Funnel Cloud Spotted in Hopkins As Tornado Warning Ends
The storm is moving swiftly northeast.
By James Warden, Patch Staff, September 2019Just beginning to rouse from my slumber, I looked at my bedside clock thru bleary eyes which confirmed that it was indeed 10:30 PM.

 So I told Andre I needed several minutes to collect my thoughts which were a jumble of storm and packing images mixed incongruously with thoughts like “but I’m still cozy under my blanket with my cat curled at my feet.”

At that time I also heard him calling Chris with the news, telling him to get his family (that would be his peacefully sleeping wife and the  two toddlers) to their basement, pronto!

I had not seen Andre this concerned except the time the kids were lost in the Russian forest “primeval” so long ago and he called all the men to form search parties.   I knew he wasn’t joking.

Since this tornado was about to happen 10:45 PM, I decided to talk to God about it;  after all, He’s  in charge of the events of my life.

I felt fear when I looked at the lightning and wind outside. I also remembered that being in a wheelchair would present unusual challenges, as would being on the 4th floor, so  I prayed that God would stop the Hopkins-bound tornado.  Just like that. That there would be no tornado in Hopkins.  I was lying in my Hopkins bed unable to walk and I didn’t think it was my time to go to a basement or to die.

When I calmly told Andre  that I was not going because God would take care of me, I was sure.  Andre tried to talk me out of it, but it didn’t work.

Just as I was dozing off again,I heard the WCCO weatherman tell us all that the Hopkins tornado had suddenly left the radar. Poof. Gone.

Sometimes My Father says “no” and I don’t understand. But every once in a while, he says a resounding “yes”.  Those are the times I am to be still and know that He is God.   So I am.

 

 

 

by Barbara LaTondresse  –  5 October 2019

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Images courtesy  of:

https://patch.com/minnesota/stmichael/line-of-severe-storms-bearing-down-on-st-michael-albertville

https://tenor.com/view/packingstruggles-disney-mickey-https://theiowarepublican.com/wake-up-conservatives

a https://www.colourbox.com/image/candle-in-a-hand-image-3955837

https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C5CHFA_enUS730US730&tbm=isch&q=backpack&chips=q:backpack,g_1:cartoon:7jn_s58l9Sc%3D&usg=AI4_-kTSu7SPQ4r7T3TEAxUqrNVPau-SdQ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjX1sfmwoblAhXtQ98KHZH0AuIQ4lYITSgR&biw=1440&bih=740&dpr=1#imgrc=pskYGsfisIrIuM:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwi-yfGT4IflAhVxhq0KHcN5B2YQjRx6BAgBEAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.agodman.com%2Fblog%2Fthe-god-who-called-us-is-the-great-i-am-the-god-of-our-fathers%2F&psig=AOvVaw0E_hQdvYSwlvYag5BQGVru&ust=1570455211668700

https://www.zazzle.com/cartoon+tornado+cards+stamps

Roses in the Land

‪ When I was in grade school, I had to memorize Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Paul Revere’s Ride”. I still remember it. I recited parts of it from memory at a school gathering. They must have been short on talent to have someone recite a long, old poem for everyone!

I shared this bit of trivia in a FB reply to a comment a friend made about one of my blog posts, Lost Jewels Found, where I’d used a reference to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s ‘forest primeval’ to describe the Russian forest the kids were lost in.


In the spirited FB dialogue that followed, my English teacher friend suggested I should recite it for the grands!

“They’ll think Grandma is the smartest woman on the planet!” she said.

In true FB fashion in which others read your stuff, Andre had been reading my dialogue and quipped, “Grandma IS the smartest woman in the planet. And not just this one!

Anyone who knows me will find this comment to be at least half true, for a good part of my time is spend on the far side with Parkinson’s whether I find the humor in it or not.

So, here’s a bit about my other planet.

When I wake up in the morning I face a few more challenges  in thatI require help with most  of the ADLs (activities of daily living) like bathing, dressing, eating, chores, and health-related care.

I remember the first time I walked out of Walgreens a number of years ago using a cane and feeling like I was a stranger in a strange land. I later came to realize I was just entering the land of limitations, a land full of landmines, an unfamiliar terrain. Like a while back I hadn’t even noticed that we had an elevator at church. Now it’s the way I do church.

Now I also know a bit more about getting around in this land of limitations since my wheel chair is a vital part in my daily routine. It enables me to bump over uneven thresholds; navigate heavy doors w/o getting ‘banged’ by the closing; courageously enter, exit, and ride contraptions which provide ancient or archaic examples of primitive lifts.

Grandsons #2 &#3, love to try to dismantle the footrests and Grandson#1 still tries to sit on my lap but wheel chairs are kind of hard to get or give a hug or kiss whether a grandson or adult friend.

On this far side there are also new paths to create.This week, for example, my dear husband is wading thru our Long-Term Care policy to jump thru the hoops necessary to get and use our money which is stored there out for my care.  So far this has required two long and detailed phone calls.  It will also require a home visit to verify my eligibility, and paperwork for my Doctor to fill out, as well as paper work to verify specific claims.  They don’t make it easy or fun.

I do have some ‘happies’ in this far side land of mine. My beloved ‘duck’ that lives in my cellphone is one. He is only a nuisance when some stranger in a restaurant seated near me or fellow, harried shopper at check-out begins to ask everyone in the vicinity if they hear a duck quacking. At that point,  I will quickly find him in my purse and turn him off.

All in all, this far side planet is not one I would have chosen, but since I’m in the land of limitations and I have decided to bloom where I’m planted, I may as well take time to smell the roses.By Barbara LaTondresse
14 August 2019

 

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Images courtesy of:

https://www.clipart.email/clipart/happy-birthday-grandma-clipart-93098.html

https://www.sandiegoreader.com/events/2019/sep/14/poetry-i-intro-to-poetry-writing-th/#

<a href=”https://www.clipart.email/download/1855217.html&#8221; title=”Image from clipart.email”><img src=”https://cdn.clipart.email/7f7928962787c080069d0fbda39a93d1_28-collection-of-happy-birthday-grandma-clipart-high-quality-_1600-1228.png&#8221; width=”350″ alt=”Happy Birthday Grandma Clipart” /></

Smell the roses when you visit Ecuador

https://healinginheart.com/f/im-healed-though-im-still-sick

https://shaynegallery.com/en/shayne-gallery/artists-artistes/accessories/jumping-through-hoops

Lost Jewels Found

A long time ago in a country far away our children got lost.

Our family was attending a staff conference, in a small retreat center outside of St. Petersburg, Russia bordered on one side by a primeval forest and on the other by the Baltic sea. The region was relatively remote although we had arrived using a nearby train and there were several villages scattered nearby.

Our group had gathered for dinner and was just getting settled down when I noticed that Andre was uncharacteristically quiet. He was also a somber shade of gray. Just as I leaned over to a ask him if he was “OK”, he jumped to his feet and mounted a nearby chair.

“Chris, Claire, and Emily are missing. They haven’t come back from hiking this afternoon. It’s getting dark.  We need to organize search parties immediately and go find them before night falls.”An uneasy urgency, especially since they were all under age ten, set the tone as the men divided up. Emily’s father, Blake, and Andre went to the nearest police station to report the kids as being lost where police began to place phone calls to neighboring village police stations to inquire about the kids, the search parties went out, and the rest of us went to a nearby room upstairs to pray.

It’s almost funny, I thought, how I made my two children wear fanny belts containing copies of their passports, visas, some Russian money, and the address
of wherever we were staying just in case.  They hated this but I could only hope that they had the right stuff with them and hadn’t removed it while playing.We had heard scary stories about the courageous attempt’s folks made in years past to wade thru the boggy, soggy, dense forest to find their way to freedom thru Finland’s border crossing nearby. Some people died there.  It reminded me of how Longfellow’s mysterious “forest primeval” must have looked with “the murmuring pines and the hemlocks, bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight, stand like Druids of old.”

As we prayed it was as if God said to me “Put out your hand.” So, I did. He placed my children as jewels in my hand, and I covered them to protect them, but I immediately sensed God telling me that was not what He wanted me to do. He wanted me to open my hand instead and give them back to Him, so I slowly opened my hand and said, “They’re yours! Take them if that’s best.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After what seemed like hours, He replied,” No, you keep them for a while’’ and He closed my hand over them once again. From that moment I knew they would be well. Shortly after that, we heard voices from first floor, affirming words: WE FOUND THEM!  THEY’RE OK!

Our children had been a-drift in a Russian bog/forest surrounded by wild dogs that because of answered prayers didn’t attack.

Then by another miracle they came upon a road and followed it in the dark for about ten miles to a nearby village and its Russian police station where the phone rang while the kids were there.

The call was from the local police near our conference center who just happened to call the village station while our kids were present.  The kids weren’t given a cordial welcome being told to “speak in Russian or not speak at all.” But, much to the surprise of everyone, they spoke in Russian.

So by God’s amazing grace, timely miracles, and answered prayers
the lost gems were found.

By Barbara LaTondresse
 6 August 2019

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photos courtesy of:

Milford Track: Nothofagus Forest in upper Arthur Valley

http://joel-miller.net/lost-in-a-forest-1

https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/230517/thiruvananthapuram-unclean-neighbourhood-has-stray-dogs-multiply.html

https://www.google.com/search?q=jewels+in+hand&rlz=1C5CHFA_enUS730US730&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiup9j-xe7jAhVEYKwKHX-uCFYQ_AUIESgB&biw=1399&bih=574#imgrc=eMMgX7-Z1h8wGM:

https://www.tripsavvy.com/worst-case-guide-to-russian-travel-1622531

Fishing in the Ob Sea

We are not strangers to cross-cultural tides, having weathered the ins and outs of Russian life with its ‘Far Side’ propensities:  everything from watching a Russian balance a refrigerator on his bike as he carried his prize home, to downing sour horse milk as lunch guests of an old, crusty Siberian in his yurt, to shivering while buying ice cream cones from old women selling outside in the frigid Siberian winters in what was affectionately called our market’s “frozen foods section,” but seeing our first Mermaid in the Ob Sea tops them all.

The event unfolded on a sweltering August day near Akademgorodok in the summer of 1992. Twelve of us very green Americans on our first short term mission trip to Russia found ourselves far from familiar anything’s that day as one by one each person inched up a rickety skinny makeshift ladder to mount a rather large, old boat. Our hosts were our Russian interpreter friends, and we were bound for a most unique R&R adventure.unfolded on a sweltering August day near Akademgorodok in the summer of 1992.

Once we were settled on-board, the skipper hoisted the anchor and we made our way out into the open sea. We were moving at a fairly good clip. The fresh breeze and fine mist spray renewed my sweaty brow.

It cooled us all down a bit. But not enough for my uninhibited, boisterous, gorgeous, interpreter friend, who at that very moment said, “I think I will get a little naked now.”  

 As she removed her clothes piece by piece and threw them into a messy pile in the corner of the boat, she smiled, obviously enjoying the shocked attention.   And then, in an instant, our Siberian beauty twirled, hopped up over the railing, and dove majestically into the sea.

The Russians among us mostly  laughed and the Americans among us mostly stood speechless, stunned by the sudden display and unsure as to what to do next.

After what seemed like the silent pause of the century, one American member of our team found his voice. “Sheeesh,” he said, almost reverently ”I didn’t know whether to spit or whistle!

We all laughed; a few more brave souls joined our Mermaid in the water, and the rest of us found the rods and reels and went fishing.

BLT
15 March 2018,
27 June 2019 (revised)

Images courtesy of:

https://www.123rf.com/photo_68574475_stock-vector-fishing-rod-and-fish-icon-in-cartoon-style-isolated-on-white-background-fishing-symbol-stock-vector-.html

http://clipartmag.com/mermaid-clipart-black-and-whitehttp://clipartmag.com/mermaid-clipart-black-and-white

https://www.google.com/search?q=steamship+clipart&rlz=1C5CHFA_enUS730US730&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=F0GOLqbc1-_pXM%253A%252Cpt70fthT6ZFiYM%252C_&vet=1&usg=AI4_-kTeFrTOvvq-Z96Vhc__NCi94oJGZQ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiQwtGyvYrjAhVXa80KHWpAAcMQ9QEwAXoECAAQBg#imgrc=F0GOLqbc1-_pXM

 

 

 

Carpe Diem!


I celebrated my 70thbirthday this August.  That fact in and of itself is enough to make 2018 memorable, but this past year is significant for several other reasons.

For one thing, this past November we were blessed with the birth of grandson #3,Hugo who joins grandson #1, Walter, who turned 3 this year, and grandson #2 , Arthur, who turned 1 this year.  How fast time does fly. “I blinked my eyes and in an instant, decades had passed.” *

We spent most of the winter, spring, and summer of 2018 preparing and selling our beloved Wayside home. God guided every step and with His hand on every detail and the help of many dear friends along the way we bought and moved into a lovely loft in downtown Hopkins this fall.

When we sorted and throwed, we found Christophers’s baby teeth, Andre’s childhood yellow bear, Claire’s handmade rocking horse, and in the process we revisited past memories: precious, breathtaking, historic or not-so-historic moments captured mostly in the photographs of my mind at age seventy.

As I review them I wax nostalgic and pensive, almost incredulous at the wrinkles on my face and in denial of the steady slow aging in this frail body, keenly aware of the need to preserve these memories whether mundane or extraordinary for posterity.

The hourglass sand of my life flows quickly to the other side so I will spend the time writing my stories and praying the Lord of All to guide each day for my Good and for His Glory.

I wrote this simple poem/prayer while I was in college over fifty years ago but it continues even today to frame how I look at the coming year.  I hope it does the same for you.

What will you write on the blank pages, Lord?
Will it be happy or sad?
I know you will lead me lovingly thru.
So always in that I’ll be glad.

My Future I bring you.
I give you its Pen.
I pray that you’ll take it and write
Whatever is best for me, blest for me, now;
For you are my Author in Life.

© 1 January 2019
Barbara LaTondresse

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*Quote from Green, J. (2018). Taste the Wild Wonder. Createspace

Images courtesy of:

https://www.shiftfrequency.com/sands-of-time-slide-through/

https://www.google.com/search?q=pen+on+paper&rlz=1C5CHFA_enUS730US730&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjBhbTCg9DfAhVD4IMKHWSSAtEQ_AUIDigB&biw=1146&bih=649#imgrc=CaUy3YkUDzu8VM:

http://clipart-library.com/clipart/8cxngqK6i.htm

 

 

 

My Golden Twilight

The “golden years” of adulthood are generally defined as the span of time between retirement and the beginning of age-imposed physical, emotional, and cognitive limitations, which would roughly fall between the ages of 65 and 80+, according to the experts.

Fall Gold – October 2017

I turned 70 this year so by that definition I should be in my ‘golden years’, that glorious age when one retires to realize some dreams, relax with the grandkids, travel, and live the life of leisure…no worries…no pains.

But the image of a cloudless blue sky above the stunning red, brown, yellow leaves melded into a kaleieoscope of fall glory, a radiant golden panorama all around, is not my current reality.

I see “twilight” instead.

“Twilight” is the name given to the period between dawn and sunrise, or between sunset and dusk, when light is still visible in the sky due to sunlight scattering off the atmosphere. The Online Etymology Dictionary goes on to explain that the word twilight comes two Old English words, twi meaning two, and the noun light. 

Twilight Dawn on the St. Croix. September 2015.

 It doesn’t mean two kinds of light or light occurring twice. Rather, it appears to refer to ‘half’ light. The Sanskrit word for ‘twilight’ samdhya means literally ‘a holding together, junction,’ [and] Middle High German ezwischerliecht literally ‘tweenlight.’

Both of these — the idea of holding together or of being between two things – are an ideal description for this in-between time of morning and evening when the sun isn’t in the sky but its light still brightens things enough for us to see, even if only just barely.

Another writer, Jayme Heimbuch, put it this way:  diffused light adds a purple and pink tinge to everything, making it a magical and temporal moment at the beginning and end of each day.

Kind of like being in two opposite places at once; or the tension we speak of in our faith journeys when we know something as certain in the future but right now face dismal realities that blur our vision instead. Our Pastor Christian calls it the “already, not yet” time.

It was in December of last year that I was really feeling old and useless. Maybe it was because I had not been able to get out of my house for several weeks or maybe it was because others were going for a walk in the new fallen snow and I couldn’t join them; for whatever reason, I felt like one of the grumpy old men in the movie of the same name.

When I turned 60 I threw a big party for myself. This once-in-a-lifetime gala was a Garden Dinner Party for 40 in my backyard gardens which at the time were in their prime.

I think every person should throw at least one party for themselves during their lifetime just to celebrate the WHO and the I AM of self, but that’s another topic.  Anyhow, I had my Princess Torte from  Woullets  and my Happy Lamps and my Champagne toasts.

It was grand.  You could call it  ‘golden’.

Then I got Parkinson’s and the twilight time gradually descended upon me: the in-between time of morning and evening when the sun isn’t in the sky but its light still brightens things enough for us to see, even if only just barely.

The already, but the not yet, too.

twilight -nightsky

The diffused light of this reality adds a purple and pink tinge to everything, making it a magical and very temporary moment at the beginning and end of each day.  Of each life?

I felt old and useless in December but then the purple-pink magic happened again.

God spoke to me and this is what he said:

Isaiah 46:4 New King James Version (NKJV)

Even to your old age, I am He,
And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear;
Even I will carry, and will deliver you.

It surprised and encouraged me. My God said there will be another chapter after 70 and He assured me that it will be lofty and grand.

Barbara LaTondresse  –  11 October 2018

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Some photos and thoughts and wordings taken from:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+46%3A4&version=NKJV

https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/blogs/why-is-twilight-called-twilight

https://www.etymonline.com/word/twilight

https://www.neenahlibrary.org/node/284

 

 

 

 

 

MORE THAN ONCE UPON A TIME

Pen-and-Paper-300x289MORE THAN ONCE UPON A TIME

At Home in Hopkins – Three True LaTondresse Stories

IMG_2811How we found our Hobby Acres Homes 

  • September of 1978 to September 1993—112 East Farmdale Road (15 years)
  • 1993-1997 Akademgorodok, Russia (4 years)
  • October 1997 to September 2018— 309 West Wayside Road (21 years)

We have been married 42 years and we have lived here 36 of them!

July of 1978 to September 1993—112 East Farmdale RoadIMG_2806

 Andre and I were married in July of 1977 and living at Cedars of Edina where we began our first home search in the spring is 1978 looking primarily in the Edina area. Later that summer when we shared this news with our friends who had just bought a house in Hopkins, they immediately encouraged us to look in Hopkins instead. So the next Sunday, one ad in the Star Tribune that really stood out read: HOPKINS HOBBY ACRES…112 East Farmdale Road…So we left Edina & found Hopkins. We saw the “Hobby Acres” sign, & made the turn from 5th Avenue(which was also known as Hwy.169 at the time!) to Wayside Road to Farmdale Road for the first time that Sunday and felt like we’d entered the Promised Land. Above us were the majestic elm canopies over the street and around us were lovely homes nestled in this park-like gem of a neighborhood. It was love at first sight. We were home.

October 1997 to September 2018—309 West Wayside Road1

When it came time to think about returning to America to live, there was no question about “where” because our roots were in Hobby Acres in Hopkins, MN. That reality did not happen by accident. Some seasoned missionary friends gave us the good advice to do our best to maintain ties with friends/family here even though located half a world away. We took their advice to heart and as a result Hobby Acre in Hopkins was the logical choice for our next USA home. But we had a few hurdles to jump.

For one thing, Hobby Acres was (and still is) a hot commodity. It’s a place where the house sells before the sign goes up (like it did when we sold 112 East Farmdale) so we knew we’d need to pray for a miracle and get creative in our search. We did both. We started asking our Hobby Acres friends to keep a lookout and the summer before we returned, when we were in the neighborhood, Andre started knocking on the doors of houses we particularly liked. As a result of that, we did have one possibility on Farmdale Road West to think about.

But that wasn’t the only one.   The night before we left the neighborhood in 1996 to return to Russia we were driving west on Wayside and all of a sudden I pointed at 309 West Wayside Road and said, ”Stop and ask this house cuz I’d always liked it.” We’d gone to a Pink Flamingo there once. I remember standing in the entryway and saying to myself, “I could live here.”

We didn’t know the current owners, but Andre knocked anyhow and a young lady answered with her husband standing right behind her as Andre said, “Hi, we used to live in this neighborhood on Farmdale and love it. We are living overseas this year but moving back next year and we really like this house and we’re wondering if you’re thinking about moving?” The lady looked at her husband and looked at André and said, “ No we haven’t but it sounds interesting!” So our miracle happened and our God made a way where there seemed to be no way —something out of nothing—and as a result in October of 1997, 309 West Wayside Road became our second Hobby Acres home.

September 6, 2018 to Present—Our Loft. 750 Marketplace #414Our Loft

We first seriously entertained the idea of moving from our beloved Wayside home this past January in the dead of winter. Winter has its charms, esp. for blue-blood Minnesotans, but, nevertheless, we began to ask the question of how much longer we’d be able to maintain this wonderful property with all the gardens, pond, and seasonal duties.  Our son, who lives with his family in a nearby Hopkins, suggested the Marketplace Lofts downtown because we’d still be very close to his neighborhood and to other Hopkins treasures.  I did some research which showed that most all of the recent properties there had sold off-market so we knew we’d have to have help from someone well-connected, who lived there. God brought to mind a former neighbor and friend who lived there for the last couple of years, so we called her up and invited her for lunch.

Andre and I prayed the God who’d worked spectacular miracles to give us every former house we’ve lived in would do the same kind of remarkable, spectacular ‘something out of nothing’ miracle to make the next move apparent and to show us His clear leading. He brought to my mind verses in Isaiah 46:

Listen to me,
you whom I have upheld since your birth,
and have carried since you were born.

Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;

I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please.’”

So we invited our friend over for lunch and asked her if she could help us and she said she would.  That was on March 2. Shortly after that she showed us the first of two Marketplace units which were available and empty. We saw the second unit on Good Friday, March 30. It was close to what we wanted but there were multiple offers on it. We weren’t prepared to offer, so some one else got it.

We knew then that we needed to get our act together ahead of time to be able to make an offer pronto should another unit come up —so both logistically and financially we started to get ready esp. by starting our ‘archeological dig’ at 309 W Wayside.

Then the remarkable, spectacular ‘something out of nothing’ miracle to make the next move apparent and to show us His clear leading happened!

On April 9, a realtor friend, his wife, and our loft-owner friend, met with us at our house. We invited them over to go thru our house and give us ideas of things to do to get the house ‘top dollar’ ready to sell as soon as possible.

Three of us were seated in the living room and the realtor friend was going over a few suggestions while we waited for our loft-owner friend to arrive. She soon did, and after taking off her coat and sitting down, took charge.

“This meeting isn’t just about getting your house ready to sell. I’m thinking of selling my unit and I want to sell it to you guys…! My boyfriend and I have decided to ‘cohabitate’, and we need more space than my loft has because he wants to have an art studio.”

Oh my! – We recovered quickly enough to accept that offer.

Next—what had to happen is that the boyfriend who had a place in Uptown had to sell it. HE DID.

And then the two of them had to find an acceptable place to buy–in this part of town. THEY DID.

Next we met with our loft owner friend to agree on her selling price, sign a purchase agreement, and put our house on the market pronto.
WE DID.

“Something out of nothing.”  Many details needed doing fast.  God answered our prayers so Andre had just the right helpers at key times to lighten the load since my ability is limited.

Life has a funny way of coming back around full circle.

Andre and Barbara are moving into the downtown Hopkins condo unit of their former 112 East Farmdale neighbor.

Her place is perfect for us:  2BR, 2BA, 2 fireplaces, den, large balcony, walk in closet, gourmet kitchen, pantry, washer, dryer, 2 garage stalls and handicap accessible!  Of all the units possible in her building this is the one that will be ideal for us and it’s a miracle that it’s the one we’re buying.

More than ‘once upon a time’.

Home in Hopkins.

Selah.