Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Legend of Uncle Finn - Part Two

Many of you have sent questions about my new grandson, Finn, and his name sake, Uncle Finn. I have rummaged around in some old storage boxes and found some additional information and pictures of dear Uncle Finn. As I told you before, much of Uncle Finn's life has been lost to history due to his reckless nature. He was a wild guy and not well connected with our family. Had he not been my mother's half brother (see previous posts for more genealogical information), we would have never spoke of him.

Uncle Finn was drawn to open water, open bottles and the wild life. He was truly a man who knew "No Limits." I have posted above some of the pictures I found in the bottom of the Baker/Bower storage box - Please be aware that Uncle Finn was named Finn - The Wild Man- Bower. He is seen dining in his normal formal attire. He loved swimming and the open water. The picture in the upper right was recovered from his camera found after his disappearance attempting to cross Lake Superior in a blizzard. He must have used a early form of a delayed camera timer. The bottom picture was taken with some "up north" natives as Uncle Finn did what he did best - always finding a way to connect with people.

Two Sweet Ones Enter God's Family

On Sunday, December 27, Finn Michael and Jack Andrew were baptized at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Austin, TX. Sponsors in the photo above are as follows: Elizabeth and Andrew Wehr (Sarah's sister and brother holding Finn), parents Sarah and Andrew Minor holding big brother Sawyer, Pastor Kevin and sponsors Miriam and Alex Green (sister and brother-in-law of Andrew) holding Jack.

Baker Twins and Christmas Visit

Want to see some really cute babies? Here are Finn and Jack with their daddy in all thier glory. These wonderful boys are daily growing and charming their parents, brother and all visitors. I heard that all family helpers and visitors have gone home. The happy family of five now begins the task of creating a workable routine. Blessings to Minor, Sarah, Sawyer, Jack and Finn as they become a family. Minor is teaching them the fine art of working the tv remote.

Here the boys swinging together and taking a little nap. Can't wait for them to get to the throw-a-ball age or push-me-in-the-swing time. We are so blessed...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Texarkana Christmas

Jennifer and I planned to travel to Austin beginning on Christmas Day. A huge storm was brewing in the panhandle of Texas and that almost always means bad things for Oklahoma and Springfield. Jennifer pushed to leave on Christmas Eve and thus we headed south to see our friends the Kolbs in Texarkana, TX. Barry is pastor of First Lutheran and Nancy is the best hostess. We made the trip in rain and arrived safe and sound on Christmas Eve. Nancy asked if we wanted to join the choir with our fine voices. We did and had a great time. There were two notable things besides a great worship and visit with friends. We sang in the choir with Sunni Cranfill, Ms. Texas 2003, who currently is working as a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader (she is the younger blond pictured upper left). Secondly the stairs to the choir loft are pictured above. Must go one at a time. Needless to say, it was a great adventure.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Off Broadway - Babes In Toyland

Jennifer and I were invited to an off Broadway musical celebrating the Christmas Season. We attended and were overwhelmed by the acting performaces turned in by two of the production's stars. Their ability to sing, dance, do actions and overall charm the audience was to the nines. The bottom left picture shows some of the attendees stunned silence.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Uncle Finn - Legend and Myth Rowed into One

I have struggled with sharing stories from my past. Some memories can be painful. One hates to dredge up the past and then feel overwhelmed by the results. But in an effort to connect with my soft side I forge on...
My mother had three brothers. The family only talks about two of these-- Uncle Robert who died in a training flight off Flordia in the Bermuda triangle and my dear Uncle Minor who lives north of Detroit. The one not mentioned is Uncle Finn. He was older than all the others. I think he was born of my grandmother's wilder years. Finn preferred to live apart from his family, often in the woods. He was an aquatic mountain man type.
We would see Uncle Finn on occasion. He always had a wild beard and loved to sail the high seas of the Great Lakes--Michigan land for you southern readers. He was wild and reckless, barely housebroken. His memory has returned to me because of my son, Andrew Minor, and his lovely wife, Sarah, have given birth to twin boys and reached into our past by naming one of the boys Finn. He is already the wild one with scratches on his face and a great love of water--bath time.
Let's end here for the moment and call it Chapter One of the epic story of Uncle Finn and the High Seas...

Visited by Friends Passing Through

What fun it was to see Julie and Eric Travis at Bambu on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. They were passing through Springfield enroute to Detroit. It was good to reconnect, if even for a short time and learn that they are doing well in their new home. Jennifer, however, is going to miss Julie's cookies this Christmas as Julie is truly gifted at baking cookies.

Christmas Party- Jennifer's Family on her Mother's Side

Jennifer and I were able to attend a Christmas party with relatives from Jennifer's mother's side of the family. The party was hosted by Aunt Eva and Uncle Bill in Salem. They are the perfect host and hostess. We ate and talked and laughed and laughed some more.

On the upper left we see Maureen and son Monroe. To her right is Aunt Louise who was disappointed to learn that Paul does not really have an Uncle Finn who died in Lake Superior. Below left are Paul and Alan, Jennifer's cousin. Alan is always good for a fun time and some great gift ideas. On the lower right is Elaine, wife of Jennifer's uncle. We learned a thing or two about hair sheep from Elaine and Alan. Who knew? We thought all sheep had wool, but they don't.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Visited by Carolers - What Fun!

It was a starless night with the temperature dropping and a slight mist in the air. And what to my wandering ears should I hear but 12 wonderful girls singing Christmas carols at my front door. Here are some pictures I took of the ragmuffins as they sang. Many of them were in the second grade and many attended the Lutheran School in town. Thanks to one and all. I was out of figgy pudding.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Great Night with the Girls and Their Parents

These two sweetie pies visited and sang their Christmas program songs. We will soon get to hear them present the Christmas story at their Thursday morning program.

This is one wild pair. Stella and Miriam having fun. Stella is the best baby ever. Note the wild hair. That would be on Stella; Miriam is more able to control her hair...

Stella just laughs, shrieks and giggles. She is almost always happy and eager to interact.

Here are the tired parents catching a few moments on the couch. It is so much fun to have them visit. After a couple of hours I am exhausted and must send them home. Grandparenting is such hard work...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Landscape Efforts in Austin

Minor and Sarah have been working on their front bed for a few years. It was covered with a Texas ground cover as tough as Texas is itself. Minor has worked to remove it and now comes the planting time. Sawyer is always a big help. Two (twin) trees were planted on the west side of the house honoring the soon to arrive twins. One was a boy tree and the other a girl. Time will tell how close to reality I came...Here is the front bed on the day of our leaving. The sun was just coming up so it is not the greatest picture. It will serve as a frame of reference for the future. I look forward to watching this area grow and develop in the upcoming months.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Cute Jennifer

My sweetheart didn't like the last photo I uploaded of her. Here is another attempt at my beautiful wife. We traveled to the top of Mount Bonnell in Austin to get this picture with the Colorado River behind us... You vote -- who is the cutest of the Baker family?

Thanksgiving In Austin

Over Thanksgiving, we traveled to Austin to see our kids - Minor, Sarah and little Sawyer. We had a great time. Sarah will be giving birth to number 2 and 3 within a few weeks. We are eagerly waiting to see what the gender of our next two grandkids will be. I am betting on a boy and girl. Names are all arranged,,, Little Paul Junior and Jenny Pooh are near the top of the list... I will let you know as soon as it is finalized. Dr. J and I worked hard on some project around the house. We also got to watch Sawyer on Monday and Tuesday as his parents were working.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Some Of This and Some Of That

I needed to get these pictures up from our trip to Belvidere. Above is the Edwards Apple Orchard. One goes there to see farmy stuff, eat delicious donuts and buy overpriced items. This entire structure behind me was distroyed by a tornado in the spring. A new barn, very similiar to the one destroyed was built with lumber from two barns in Wisconsin. Our former church Immauel is in the upper left and our dear friends the Brahmsteadts are pictured upper right.

The Greens came to visit and I got to read them the "monkey book." It has a very scary part they both love... Alex needed to borrow some "corporate looking duds" for a trip to the home office. He is seen here modeling his new look. Jennifer is holding Baby Stella with the wild hair...

What Made Andrew (Great)

These pictures were taken on a recent trip to Belvidere. Our children did most of their growing up years here. I was driving by these places and thought of Andrew (Minor to some of you). These early jobs, I think, provided the growth for Andrew in being the helpful, cheerful, and of course, hard working person he is today. Above is the Belvidere Ace Hardware - So many wonderful hours were spent here.

And who could forget the gas jockey years. Fill'er up Sir? What a great way to build character in a teenage boy... I also spent some time serving the great public in such a job during my teenage years in Adrian... Like son...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Jennifer's Old Quilting Group

These wonderful couples are great friends and the ladies were all part of a quilting group formed many years ago in Belvidere. Top left are Jim and Claudia Hauch. Jim was one of Paul's early principals. Top right are Chuck and Jan Brahmsteadt. Jan taught for Paul and they have been good friends for many years. Bob and Sandy (bottom left) and Louie and Babette (bottom right) are other terrific Belvidere friends.

Darren and Jungah came over after attending a Halloween party. Darren was dressed as a "70s" style hip guy. He said he was everyone's dream date. The whole group is pictured following a night of laughing and story telling.

Halloween Hayride

What a fun night to have a bonfire. The Brahmsteadts took us to the farm for a great outdoors event. We had food over the fire and took a ride on some quiet farm paths and rural roads. It was clear and getting very cold, but also beautiful with clear starry skies and a nearly full moon. A great time was had by all. So good to see so many old friends and to meet some new ones.

Our Dear Friends the Willes

Yesterday we were able to visit with Helen and Eugene Wille. Pastor Wille was a large part of why were persuaded to move to Belvidere back in 1986. Helen and Gene have been like another set of parents for us. We talked about old times and current times and enjoyed the opportunity to "catch up." In the pictures above you see PW showing off at his computer and we loved hearing Helen talk in her Persian accent. Helen is the only aunt to tennis star Andre Agassi. We are all awaiting his new book.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Traveling to Belvidere

The great trip to Belvidere has begun. We drove in rain, sometimes heavy and near deafening in the car, all the way. Ron and Sue Heinz hosted our first night and provided a delicious supper. We enjoyed a great evening and often listened to the rhythm of the falling rain. See Ron and Sue with Yorkie, Quincy, in the lower left had corner positioned by the tallest table I have seen in awhile.

By afternoon on Friday we were visiting Immanuel where we both worked for many years. Jennifer and Elaine are pictured on the lower right. Elaine ran the church office while we were in Belvidere. Top row is Judy, a top notch Lutheran school principal her nephew. Judy, Dan the music man, and Melissa are in the upper left at the top. They are some of the remaining workers who remember working with us.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Baker's Fall Yard

These pictures remind me how fast things grow. The Autumn Blaze maples started just a few years ago at about 6 feet. We planted them to our east to block the view of our sweet neighbor's house and laundry room. Oh let me tell you about the laundry room... No better not, they might stumble upon my blog... Well, anyway these two trees have done quite well and will soon block much of the view toward the house on our east.

The two tall grasses were recently purchased for Jennifer. She is landscaping the fence to our east. She is becoming quite good at digging Missouri rocks from our beds. The evergreens are also coming along nicely. These five trees will block the view of our neighbor's back yard in just a few years. This is all part of Jennifer's grand plan.

Turning 57 Birthday Fun

Last week I turned 57 years old. Was it ever a fun weekend. Many special events filled my weekend celebration. Pictured above are just a few. We went out to eat with Dan and Mary at world famous Millie's. It was terrific. Jennifer and I shared the prime rib... Earlier in the day two of my little girl friends made up special birthday cards featuring their hands. So very special...Lots of kisses came with the cards... Finished the evening attending the symphony. Dr. J and I often attend as we find those people very much like our selves except that they or for the most point 20 years older than we are... Experienced a great concert with the sounds of Louie Armstrong. (Note to Tina - If the cow flew overhead what time is it in Miami?)

Rolla Family Gathering

Top Left: Aunt Dottye hosted a wonderful get-together for the family at the clubhouse in her neighborhood.
Top Right: Uncle Ed, Jennifer's father's oldest brother.
Middle Left: Aunt Margye from Evanston, IL.
Middle Right: Aunt Erma Jean, who is married to Uncle Ed.
Bottom left: Aunt Louise, Jennifer's mother's youngest sister, holds Stella Green.
Bottom right: Uncle Bob, husband of Aunt Margye, looks festive in his autumn leaf corduroy shirt.

Top Right: Miriam Green. It took two cars and four adults, but all the Greens were able to join Paul and Jennifer at the family get-together.
Top Left: Kelly, Jennifer's cousin, and Christine, wife of Keith, Kelly's brother. Kelly lives in Jefferson City; Christine and Keith live in St. Louis. Both are busy mothers of four.
Bottom Left: Cassandra, Kelly's daughter, holds Stella. Cassandra is in nursing school at Truman State and want to specialize in women and OB. Won't she be great with kids?
Bottom Right: Keith Jacob--also Jennifer's cousin. Keith and wife, Christine, live in St. Louis. Keith is the owner and president of St. Louis Staffing.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Redeemer Staff Celebrates Marty Party

The Redeemer staff gets together to socialize on the fourth Fridayof the month during the school year. Dan and Mary Magnus hosted this month's party and planned a special commemoration of Martin Luther, our founding saint. The Shaw-Moss-Baker team were tasked with taking Marty to five coded locations and returning as quickly as possible to the Magnus house. As you can see Marty got around to a tavern, a school of higher learning, Bass Pro and a Lutheran church. We were not the fastest group, but we did win the prize for our clever decifering of the coded clues. Great fun was had by all.
Mr. Gerdes was disappointed his team did not win. The Rose-Gerdes-Stouder team cut a few corners and the judges ruled they were tied for second place with the Parvey-Irwin team...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Redeemer Worship Together at Remingtons

Today all Redeemer, Springfield and Nixa campuses, worshipped together at Remingtons in south Springfield. It was great to have 600+ of us all together. We talked about our stewardship and honoring the Lord. District President Ray Mirly was the guest preacher. It all went very well. I had a great time taking pictures. Here are some pictures of the family. Katrina Appelquist finally got to hold baby Stella. Stella seems to have really enjoyed it according to her big smile. Addie liked drawing on the name tags and Jazz spent lots of time on Grampa Dan's lap looking at books.

Sequoita Art Show

Today we had the opportunity to visit the art fair at Sequoita park. We went because Miriam Krone was showing her new art. We love Ms. Krone's water color grape pictures and have 5 or 6 in our kitchen. She is such a sweet lady from New Haven, MO. These are two new grape pictures we purchased...
I fell in love with this double-walled basket made by Chris Schwartz of Bittersweet Basketry. She had just finished it at the art show. In fact it was still wet. We snatched it up and it will grace the Baker house. We are planning what will be displayed within it... Any thoughts?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Flowers before the First Frost

At this time of year the flower beds are really at their very best. Jennifer and I continue to work on new beds for next year. What fun to go out and get sweaty with my sweetie.

I am also working on my Photoshop skills. Miriam showed me how to put these four pictures into one picture. I am getting better every day. May change careers to graphic designer???

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Twins and Stella for Pizza

The Greens came over for pizza tonight. Paul made his famous from scratch pizza and Jennifer whipped up some brownies also from scratch. Both were a great hit. Following the meal Jennifer assisted Miriam with a sewing project and Alex and I watched the girls. In a free moment Miriam, the one with a four year degree in graphic design, attempted to teach me how to put four pictures into one like she often does on her blog. Her example is up above.

The Greens went home and I attempted to "go and do thou likewise." I did not do so well. Looks like I will need some special tutorial help with my Photoshop work. Truly old dog -trouble learning new tricks. I will not give up. Check back to see my progress - I hope.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Over My Dead Body - The New Flower Bed with Editorial Comments from Jennifer

Sunday was a hard day at the Baker's house. Paul and Jennifer disagreed on a planting issue, but back to the beginning. This summer I came to possess 40+ surprise lilies. These bulbs have been sitting on the counter in the garage for a couple of months. Jennifer was eager to have the counter cleaned up so I went to the backyard to dig. I was preparing the bed pictured above.

Here are about 1/2 the rocks that came from my digging of the 3 foot by 8 foot flower bed. Coming into the house Sunday sweating and dizzy from the exertion I told Jennifer of my plan. She informed me that they would not go there--something like over my dead body. (My how Paul exaggerates--there is another side to the story.) There was a little distance in my home. I went back to work digging a new bed with renewed vigor. (There was a good reason for the distance.)

Here is the new bed. Jennifer has not been seen for a few days. The lilies are in--may she rest in peace. I am hoping the new bed comes to life in the spring. I will report back in May. Thanks for listening. (And if you believe Paul's side of the story, you don't know Paul very well.)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Uncle Minor

My favorite uncle, Minor Bower, just celebrated his 83rd birthday this week. He lives near Marine City on the St. Clair River. He is non-stop fun. Today's blog is to honor this special day.
We were last together at a family reunion in 2008. We fired up the cribbage board and warred it out. We even taught the younger generation to play the game. Uncle Minor was quite the ping-pong player in his day. Our Andrew is Andrew Minor in his honor. Now Andrew goes by Minor in Texas. A continuing of the name honor.

Uncle Minor also had a set of twins. Doug and Tim were nonstop trouble when they came to the farm (my home in Adrian, Michigan). We had so many great times. Big sister Janna is in the back and best of all little Bill was not born yet. Happy Birthday Uncle Minor!

The Biltmore Part 3

This is the view from the Biltmore Inn looking to the Biltmore. We took almost two days for the clouds to lift so we could see it from our room. This is beautiful country.

Most people don't know that marijuana blooms. Jennifer and Mary found this growing outside their room in North Carolina. (Don't believe everything that Paul writes.) This unusual flower was viewed in the conservatory at Biltmore. Any ideas about what it is?

This is a world class pergola. Jennifer loves covered walkways like this. She always wants one at our house...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mary and Jennifer at Biltmore

Mary ponders what it might be like to have a conservatory all her own, like the Vanderbilts did at the Biltmore in North Carolina. What would she grow?

Mary poses near one of the many fountains outside the Biltmore. Notice that the sky is still gray, but it's not raining.

Just another look at one of the many porches and patios of the Biltmore House. Did you know there are 43 bathrooms in this house -- quite progressive for a house built in 1895.