Treasures, Treasuries, and Thoughts

I swore I would never do a blog! So much for swearing. I didn't think that I would have much to say or share. I was wrong! I have been so blessed with a wonderful family, loyal friends, sharing colleagues, and the support from so many that I will never run out of topics to write about.

I have opened an on-line store at a place called Etsy (rhymes with Betsy). The items on the left are available for purchase there. These will change from week to week to show you my latest creations. The link to the store is in the upper left corner of this page.

I also have items for sale listed on Art Fire. The link to my Art Fire Studio is

I hope you will visit this blog, my Flickr page ( and my Etsy and/or Art Fire stores often. (

So come along on my Trail of Treasures! It will be a Spirit Journey for me and I invite you to join me on the trip.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hoop Dee Doo Jim

Hoop Dee Doo Jim!

For the second time in less than 2 weeks I said farewell to an old friend this morning. I have known Jim Banark since the early 1980’s. He started his nursing home career at Continental Care where I was the Director of Nutrition. During the ensuing years, I worked as a Consultant Dietitian in many facilities where Jim was the Administrator. 

Jim left the nursing home industry and started a van service in Omaha serving the elderly.  He sold his half of the established business to his brother and finished his career at Mutual of Omaha.

It was at Aksarben (that’s Nebraska spelled backwards) Manor that Gloria Smith, Dietary Manager, Joan Ladehoff, Nurse, Jim and I formed a strong friendship that resulted in our continuing to meet for lunch throughout the coming years in February and June. Though all of us moved on to other positions, we continued to love getting together.

At our last meeting, June 25, 2011, we learned that Jim had been very sick during the time since our last get together. We scolded him severely for not having let us know. He assured us he was on the mend. We had our usual Bloody Mary’s and great laughs. Jim also suggested that we change the place for our meeting next time and that we should shorten the time span between our get togethers. We had such a great time that day and all agreed.

Jim was one of the funniest people on earth. He had that knack of taking a rather mundane set of circumstances and spinning it into a yarn that would have you rolling in the floor. His humor was often irreverent but always good spirited. He never forgot an event and would remind us of our many fun experiences together.

At Jim’s funeral mass this morning, Jim’s brother related a story about their Grandmother’s funeral mass. . Jim’s Grandmother had lived in the other portion of the family duplex. Since she was so close in proximity, she was also very close to her grandchildren. Grandmother loved to polka and loved polka music.

The young Banark boys were asked to say something at their beloved Grandmother’s funeral. Jim’s younger brother went first. He told how he had carefully written his speech and how as he delivered it, the tears flowed, running into the ink and making it difficult to read. He was wracked with pain at the loss of his Grandmother and could not hold back his emotions. He told of his great difficulty in delivering the eulogy and was relieved to have made it through.

Jim, the older of the two lads, then stood up and took the podium.

Jim squarely faced those gathered and loudly said, “Hoop Dee Doo

This got everyone’s full attention.

Jim then recited the words to this well known polka tune.

Hoop-dee-doo (Hoop-dee-doo!)
Hoop-dee-doo (Hoop-dee-doo!)
I hear a polka and my troubles are through!

Hoop-dee-doo (Hoop-dee-doo!)
Hoop dee dee (Hoop dee dee!)
This kind of music is like heaven to me!

Hoop-dee-doo (Hoop-dee-doo!)
Hoop-dee-doo (Hoop-dee-doo!)
It's got me higher than a kite.
Hand me down my soup and fish
I am gonna get my wish, hoop-dee-doin' it tonight!

Jim’s tribute to his Grandmother’s heritage and her love for life was just what they needed.  And Jim knew it!

Following the mass today, Gloria, Joan, and I returned to the spot where the four of us last gathered.
Coincidentally, we had the same waiter who remembered our last visit down to the point that Joan had requested extra olives in her Bloody Mary. When the four of us were together, we probably did catch the attention of others with our boisterous and never ending laughter.

We gave a toast to our Dear Jim…..

Hoop Dee Doo Jim!
Here’s to your soup and fish!
And we hope you are hoop-dee-doin' it tonight!

Jim, we will miss you so much….thanks for the memories and know that we will remember you always.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A New Star in Heaven

Patricia Mass
September 18, 1951.....August 29, 2011

Have noticed that the stars are shining more brightly lately? That is because one of our world’s great stars, Pat Mass, has joined the celestial array. I am saddened that we can no longer view her eyes twinkling and see her smile light up the room. But I have wonderful memories of that and I can look up and know that she is there.

Pat and I first became acquainted when she entered the Metropolitan Community College’s Dietary Management program. I was the instructor and she was a student who was as eager to learn as any one who ever entered. She was a star student.

I was also fortunate to be Pat’s Consultant Dietitian at Indian Hills Nursing Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. There she became a star Dietary Manager. I will never forget the day when Pat stepped up from being a co-worker with her staff members and took her first step as a star Dietary Manager! From that day forward, there was no doubt that she was in control. A STAR was born!

Pat came from a large family. If my memory serves me well, she had eleven siblings. She understood very well the give and take of family dynamics and the loving support that comes from it. These skills poured over into the way she led her life. And in Pat’s case, she gave far more than she ever took. She loved her family and treated all of us as if we were cherished members of her extended family.

Pat named her only daughter Angel. She adored Angel and the two of them had one of the closest Mother/Daughter relationships that has ever been witnessed. This is going to be an extremely hard time for Angel. Angel, you can never doubt for one minute that you were truly and deeply loved!

Chief Seattle is quoted as having said, “There is no death, only a change of place.” I believe that. So Angel, when times are hard and I know they will be, look towards the night sky. See that star? That is your Mother shining down and watching over you just as she has done every day of your life.

When Lacey Wilson, Pat’s first grandchild, was born Pat could hardly wait to share the news and, of course, the photos. Lacey was a frequent visitor to Indian Hills even as an infant. Pat loved to share her with all of the Residents and staff of the facility. We watched Lacey grow and watched Pat’s pride continue to blossom.

Lacey is now a beautiful young lady, a high school student, and works part time at Bethany Lutheran Nursing Home. Lacey looks amazingly like a young Pat and while no one knows what the future holds for Lacey, her Grandmother’s influence will no doubt be with her forever.

I remember the day that Pat introduced me to her new son-in-law, Rob. She was so happy that her Angel had found happiness and she was so pleased to introduce its source. Rob may have Mother-in Law stories to tell, but my guess is, there are far more good ones than the type usually told. Rob is going to have some difficult days ahead while not only coping with this loss himself, but helping his family work through it as well. My money is on him to be a “rock” for them during this troubling time.

I remember the day that Rob and Angel’s son, Austin, was born. At first Pat was a bit bewildered. He was a boy. Pat knew what to do with and for girls….a boy was a new concept for her. But it didn’t take long for her to catch up to full speed. Like Lacey, Austin was a frequent visitor to Indian Hills. Pat enjoyed sharing his little boy antics with us and we loved to watch him grow. Austin is such a sweet and polite young man. On Wednesday night after I got over my shock about how much he had grown since I last saw him, I asked, “Austin, are you a good boy?”. He hesitated a minute while a beguiling little grin came over his face and he responded, “sometimes”. Austin, know that Grandma will be watching over you ….so you better make that answer “most times”.

If all Long Term Care facilities were fortunate enough to have a Dietary Manger like Pat, the world would be a better place. Pat did not have a job or career in long term care. She had a passion in long term care. She was passionate about her residents…..Mind you, not the residents, but HER residents. She not only wanted the best for them; she expected it and when necessary she demanded it.

Pat brought out the best in everyone she came in contact with. She made us aspire to be as good as we can be. Her influence is and will continue to be vast. While she is now in another place, her star qualities will continue to shine upon us all of the days of our lives. So at night,  look for the brightest twinkle in the heavenly skies….that’s my friend Pat Mass.  She will be watching you.  Shine on Pat!