Many Thanks To The Red Cross

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of August 13, 2017

It is comforting to know when there is a disaster such as a fire or a stormsprinkle-life1 in your community, fire departments, police departments and ambulance crews, as well as ordinary citizens, step up to help and save lives.

The Wellington Estates Apartments in Wells caught fire the morning of Aug. 5. I live a block from the fire station and heard the sirens, but as the hour passed I heard sirens that weren’t familiar to me. Checking out the situation I found crews from seven neighboring communities that came to help. Luckily no one was hurt, but many families were displaced from their homes.

The Red Cross was on the scene immediately helping out with vouchers for places to stay and other things needed to help the residents.

I was surprised on Wednesday afternoon when my doorbell rang. I didn’t recognize the people at the door. I was skeptical and careful as I answered, not sure what to expect. It was a woman from the Red Cross inquiring about smoke detectors in my home.

With so many scammers knocking on doors these days I was hesitant to answer any questions, but seeing the credentials hanging around the worker’s neck and looking at the paper she handed me, I knew she was a Red Cross worker.

She told me she and two other workers were checking on homes and installing smoke detectors if they were needed. I asked the cost and she said there was no cost. I almost turned the Red Cross workers away because I knew I could afford to put in my own smoke detectors. There was one problem with that — I had two smoke detectors that broke months ago and we hadn’t replaced them. We talked about it and vowed we would do it soon but put it on our list of to-dos that never gets done. I couldn’t remember the last time we checked the batteries, and I knew the working smoke detectors were years old.

I asked if I let them put the smoke detectors in if I could make a donation. They told me I could, but they weren’t the ones to take the donation. They left the information if I did want to contribute to the Red Cross.

My husband was surprised when he came home to new smoke detectors. The fire at Wellington Estates reminded all of us who live in our community that fires break out at unexpected times and we all should have a plan. The Red Cross volunteers when visiting my home also went over tips and a workable plan.

I didn’t know about the Red Cross program called Sound The Alarm, Save A Life. According to redcross.org, volunteers will install 100,000 free smoke alarms nationwide. They work with fire departments and local groups visiting homes, replacing batteries in existing alarms and installing new ones, and providing fire prevention and safety education during their visit.

I am thankful they chose to stop by my home because we had put off replacing our alarms. They also pointed out we did not have a carbon monoxide detector.

If you are interested in this program, or if you want to donate or volunteer to the Sound The Alarm, Save a Life Campaign visit redcross.org for links and information. And if you are interested in helping the Wellington Estates residents with donations, there is a fund set up at Wells Federal Bank in Wells called the Wellington Relief Fund or call Pastor Mary Iverson at 507-553-3513 or Open Doors Church office at 507-553-5453.

Is It True? Do Blondes Really Have More Fun?

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of August 6, 2017

File Aug 07, 1 45 29 PMI know they say blondes have more fun. Having been a blonde most of my life, I do agree there is a fun component. I was born with snow white hair which morphed into sunshine blonde and in later years a darker blond sprinkled here and there with gray strands. I am not one to color my hair because it seems too much work to keep it up.

About 15 years ago I took a daring leap and became a redhead for a few weeks along with chopping off my hair into a pixie cut. I loved it, but I got so much grief from my family I let it go back to my natural color and grew it out.

My hair has had many transformations over the years from semi-short, long to layered and curly to straight. I get bored with my hair and on a whim I visit a salon, any salon I am near when the moment hits, and have them do something to it — meaning cut or chop but not color. I have a hard time making appointments ahead of time because I am so spur-of-the-moment with my hair. When I can’t stand it anymore, I want it changed and I want it changed right now.

I have favorite hairdressers, but they aren’t the spur-of-the-moment kind of women because they are talented and their appointment calendar is usually full. Three of them live right here in my hometown, and another one lives and works in Mankato. They all work wonders on hair but they haven’t fit into my spur-of-the-moment tantrums.

I must have grown up a little and made it out of the “I want it cut now” because I made an appointment with the hairdresser that cut and colored my hair many years ago. I decided I liked the pictures from 15 years ago. I must admit I was scared and almost changed my mind about chopping off my hair. After all, it takes forever to grow back. And the color — well, I downloaded an app and tried colors, finally deciding I would match my grandson Jake, and my daughter Katie, with a reddish color as I did many years ago.

It was with trepidation I watched the cut. I couldn’t believe it when I said, “I think we should go a little shorter with the bangs and top.” Thank goodness for Pinterest because my cell phone came loaded with pictures of cuts I like, but having fine, thin hair I wasn’t sure it would work.

We debated on the color. If I were honest, if I were braver, I would have added some purple to the gold copper. I didn’t quite have enough courage to go that far — maybe next time.

Who would think at my age I would be nervous at such a change. I loved it, but I was a little scared about the reaction I might receive. My husband raised his eyebrows and wanted to know why I didn’t go darker red. Boris and Natasha stared at me and weren’t sure who I was. I didn’t think cats noticed faces but I could be wrong. I finally posted my picture on my Facebook page, and the reaction seems to be acceptance.

I was in need of a change. A color and cut might seem like a small thing to most people, but it was my upbringing holding me back. It was beliefs I didn’t know I had, keeping me all of these years from changing my natural hair color. In my childhood years it was scandalous to color your hair. I remember people talking about a few women that did color their hair back in the ’50s and those whispers must have stuck in my brain. Although I always loved other women when they colored their hair, I still hold those beliefs unknowingly in my brain. There was something wrong with me if I wanted my hair to be a different color.

Now I feel free from that silly, kept-undercover-belief. I find it strange things affect us and we do not realize some of the choices we make are unspoken criticisms from the past.

I know I could have added the purple. It wouldn’t have mattered what others said. I am my own person with my own tastes and those who are truly in my corner won’t care about the decisions I make about my looks. They accept me as I am. At my age, I have earned the right, as it says in the poem by Jenny Joseph, “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple.” I am not sure she was talking about hair but does it matter?

One might say coloring your hair isn’t accepting yourself as you are. But it is if you want red hair, purple hair for the fun of it or want to break out of the usual rut and feel alive in your skin. It is if that is who you are inside but have kept it hidden, trying to conform to what others think you should be. It isn’t accepting yourself if you think changing your looks will make you more accepted, more like others and are trying to fulfill something inside of you to fill a deep hole that doesn’t let you accept yourself.

Someone who is comfortable with who they are will pull that from inside of themselves and show the world that person. I am not sure I am there yet, but life is a journey and it should be fun trying to let go of expectations, not just mine but others in my old age.

Like Mikey from the commercial said, “Try it, you might like it.”

Church Pews Be Gone

My column this week. I had a few thoughts on church pews. What are your thoughts? Comfort or beauty?

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of July 10, 2017

I love the look of old church pews. I wouldn’t mind having an old church pew in my home for looks but not for sitting. As I lifted my creaky back up off a hard church pew one Sunday morning I wondered why we hold on to the old-fashioned church pews in many of our churches. Let’s face it, they are uncomfortable, and they are hard on the back.

Yes, we have some cushioned church pews in my church, but since I am short when I sit on the cushion my feet do not touch the ground and I am uncomfortable. But cushions do not fix the slanted back. And while I am short many tall people have a hard time with small pews, which are in many old churches. Am I complaining? Probably and there is no fix, but I wondered how those uncomfortable church pews got started.

Before the construction of church buildings, people met in houses. Long bed-like cushions were provided on which people would recline to eat their meals. I could handle reclining while eating. When the Eucharist was served they would stand.

When the first church buildings were resurrected people would stand or kneel at the service. The Protestant revolution introduced the sermon as the central part of worship and the pew appeared. Since churches could not afford them, people would purchase what was called pew boxes because they could be locked up and no one else could use them.

During the mid-19th century, pew rents were offered for those who could not afford to buy their pew. These pews were a cheaper version and called the “cheap seats.” Those unable to afford pew rents were given unassigned seats at the church.

There are different designs of pews. Some were fancy and others were rough with slivers to remind people of Christ’s death. Some pew designs are ornate and lavish. Backs of pews may be straight or angled. Some pews are small in size. In older churches most pews face the front of the church and the pulpit, not allowing for conversation or interaction with the others sitting in church.

That makes me wonder why we keep the pews. Early church services were held in the home, and people could look each other in eye and interact with one another. Then when buildings came into place people stood to pray and again could move around and have a conversation with other congregants. Why are we not doing that now? Why are we holding on to those church pews — besides the fact that most of them are pretty?

Some congregations are moving into a new generation of worship when they build new facilities replacing the pews with comfortable chairs which are easy on people’s backs. I would imagine people with arthritis, back problems and disabilities appreciate the change.

Chairs aren’t always set up in a straight line. They can be moved, and they may be moved in a circular pattern so people can change directions and look at one another, being able to have a conversation when the time arises. One of my favorite parts of the service at my church is the sharing of the peace where we can move around and meet and greet people and look someone in the eye so they know we care.

There are traditions we need to hold onto in our churches which affect the theology of the church. In my opinion, church pews are not one of them. Instead of worrying about the aesthetics of a church, and yes we need to keep up our buildings so they don’t fall down, I would rather have a well-used and worn church where people feel comfortable and at home.

When we invite people to our houses we offer them comfortable chairs, something to refresh their thirst and good conversation. We want them to feel at home in our home. Shouldn’t we want the same thing in our churches? Don’t we want our churches to be a place of peace, rest, and refreshment in a world full of strife and stress where they can feel accepted and hear God’s word? We are not perfect people. There is not one of us who doesn’t sin, so wouldn’t we want to welcome all to our comfortable church home?

I must admit there are days we don’t attend church when our backs make it difficult for us to sit in the hard pews. We watch the service live streaming at home, but by doing that we miss conversations with others that might revive us for the week and make a difference in our life.

This is an opinion column. My opinion: Pews be gone.