Help us to see the sacred place in every heart,
Where God’s truth and glory meet our despair,
Where angels say, “Do not be afraid,”
Where God has planted the seed of love.
God calls us to open our eyes,
To see the Divine in ourselves and each other…
Hello from St. Paul! We hope the holiday season has brought you few germs, just the right number of house guests, and many joyful moments. We have experienced all three of these this year, but unfortunately the past few days have been a little heavy on the germs. As we sit in our living room writing this letter, our sniffles and hacks are outweighed by the deep gratitude we have for each one of you. Though the last two years have been a whirlwind of moving, adjusting to married life, beginning graduate school, and weathering job changes, these challenges have only made us more aware of how blessed we are by you, our family and friends. It is through our relationships that we hear the words, “Do not be afraid.”
We hope to connect with all of you more in the coming year. In the meantime, here are some of our memorable moments from 2010 and 2011.
- We decided to get hitched. Wedding set for August.
- The restaurant at which we celebrated our engagement burned down (bad omen?).
- Bjorn passed the Foreign Service oral examination in Atlanta. Graciously hosted by Paul and Ingrid in their last few months in that beautiful apartment.
- Brittany was formally accepted to the Master of Arts in English program at the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN).
- National Lutheran Choir concerts in Iowa and Missouri. What happens on the tour bus stays on the tour bus.
- Women of the Arneson clan (and in-laws) gathered for GGW in Cottonwood. This year’s festivities included a bridal shower for Brittany.
- Bjorn, Ingrid, Paul and Dad traveled to Durham, North Carolina, for Hans’ epic 30th birthday party. We think he is still eating leftovers.
- National Lutheran Choir concerts and annual Gala Dinner. This year, Brittany helped manage the silent auction–a big job.
- Fox Fur at the Kitty Kat Klub (no animals were harmed in the making of this music).
- Arneson clan traveled to Atlanta for sister Ingrid’s graduation from the divinity school at Emory University. Gov. Schwarzenegger was the keynote speaker–he pumped us up, big time.
- Prepared for our move from the Belmont Apartments with an “estate sale.” Bjorn said goodbye to his little Baldwin spinet piano. It went to a good home.
- Moving day! Crossed the river to (gasp!) St. Paul. Brittany conveniently sliced her hand open on the morning of the move. Six stitches later, she was back on light duty as “project manager.”
- Attended wedding of Britta and Mark up north. Almost certainly drove through tornado on the way there. Car died in Hackensack. Borrowed truck from generous townsperson to reach Walker. Crazy trip.
- Bjorn received rejection letter from Foreign Service. Something about a trip to Cuba….
- Spent a few days basking at the beach and eating like royalty with Dudderars, Grafs and Schmidts at Pinewood Lodge near Gordon, WI.
- Brittany and friend Katherine dazzled with their “Virgins and Vixens” vocal recital. Encore, encore!
- Together with the Kabele family at Heath’s resort. Sun and fun and horseshoes.
- Bjorn’s Fourth Bass quartet sang the National Anthem at Target Field. Thought all the cheering was for us–turns out Navy frogmen were parachuting into the outfield.
- Annual trip to the North Shore with Bjorn’s extended family.
- Brittany worked her final day at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church.
- Our wedding day at Valley Grove Church outside of Northfield, Minnesota. Blessed to be surrounded by so many friends and family. More pics here.
- We both decided to take a “sabbatical” from NLC–Brittany to focus on school and Bjorn to recharge his musical batteries.
- Much-awaited honeymoon to Bayfield, WI. We stayed at Treetop Inn, sailed the Apostle Islands with friend and choirmate Tim, moto-traipsed around Madeline Island on scooters, and ate great food in Bayfield and Ashland.
- Brittany started full time coursework at UST. Must. Read. Faster.
- Bjorn joined Calhoun Isles Community Band in the baritone/euphonium section. Somehow got cajoled into playing solo in week two (they didn’t realize I’d never played that instrument before).
- Les and Evie Axdahl’s (Bjorn’s grandparents) 60th wedding anniversary dinner at Lake Elmo Inn. They have led lives of service to one another and to their community.
- Adopted our cats Bo (after famed Danish cyclist Bo Hamburger) and Ernie (after famed South African golfer Ernie Els).
- Hosted mini Halloween party with two hipsters (with requisite tater tots), piggyback man, and “Bubes.” Bjorn was a sexy referee and Brittany was Tippi Hedren from Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” Fun was had by all.
- Welcome to the world, Audrey Mae Schmidt!
- Road trip to Cedar Falls for an early Thanksgiving celebration with Brittany’s family.
- Turkey Day in Cottonwood made extra special with Julia Child-style boeuf bourguignon (“Beef Borgs” for short) in honor of Gwen and Kevin Arneson’s 35th anniversary.
- Saw cousin Anna, great with child, dancing with the Wild Goose Chase Cloggers. Baby Del shook loose for good a couple weeks later.
- First experience as an audience member at the NLC Christmas Festival at the Basilica of St. Mary. Strange feeling.
- Paul Rasmussen’s golden 30th at Nye’s Polonaise Lounge in Northeast Minneapolis. Classic party for a classy guy.
- Bjorn cut sabbatical short to re-join NLC. Baritones for life.
- Fun side project with friends: the ELM quintet concert at Central Lutheran with early music instrumental masters. Singing in small groups is good for you.
- Hosted our annual wintertime party. This year’s theme: “Aloha, Winter Wonderland!” Hawaiian themed food and drink. Pro tip: honey-glazed spam cubes are surprisingly good.
- Our Christmas gift to one another: a cooking class at Kitchen Window. We learned how to make a whole host of delicious sauces.
- Bjorn accompanied the Hopkins High School Choir and Orchestra to Chicago with Gateway Music Festivals. Meanwhile, Brittany and sister Laurel took Atlanta by storm on a spring break getaway.
- Brittany sang on two noontime recitals for the Schubert Club, including the world premiere performance of a new piece by Edie Hill.
- We roadtripped to Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minnesota, for Bjorn’s cousin Sarah Cartwright’s senior recital. Her program included pieces for piano, voice, and bluegrass band.
- We both were pleased to sing a set of new works by Dan Kallman (Brittany’s dad) with National Lutheran Choir. That guy can write a tune.
- Garage sale season began and Bjorn’s golf game picked up.
- Down to Northfield for Laurel Kallman’s graduation from St. Olaf College. She now lives and works in St. Paul not too far from us.
- Beginning of porch dinners and barbecue on the front sidewalk. Why didn’t we think of this last summer?
- Second annual trip to Pinewood, this time with Baby Audrey.
- Bjorn floated the Rum River at Tim’s Bass Bass Bash.
- Camping at McCarthy Beach State Park with the Kallmans. Beautiful sandy beach and tasty food from the BBQ.
- A few days up on the North Shore, including the annual pilgrimage to the Second-hand Rose. Still looking for that perfect piece….
- Our first anniversary, marked by attending Anna & Kurt’s wedding at Valley Grove Church almost exactly a year after our own wedding there.
- Bjorn was laid off from University of Minnesota Extension. Sad to leave good people behind, but excited for what will come next.
- Anniversary trip up to Grand Marais and the Gunflint Trail. Spectacularly quiet. Saw no moose.
- Brittany re-joined NLC in the soprano section.
- Brittany began work at UST Center for Writing, and took on a new role as graduate representative.
- Cranberry Fest in Stone Lake, Wisconsin, with some choir friends. These old folks partied us under the table!
- Paul, Ingrid, and Laurel over for Halloween. The number two pencils were a flop (again). Special visit by Schmidts and baby bumblebee.
- Scott and Andrea Ingalsbe (and bump) visited Minneapolis.
- NLC All Saints concerts in the Twin Cities and St. Peter. Great to be back together.
- Bjorn called into last-minute service with Gateway Music Festivals in Honolulu over Thanksgiving. Rough assignment, but somebody had to do it. Brittany visited Iowa and Northfield for the holiday.
- Brittany had an article published in American Craft magazine (Dec 2011/Jan 2012 issue).
- NLC concerts in Twin Cities and St. Louis, our last (for now) with friends Bekah and Matt. They are moving to New Hampshire for Matt’s first call.
- Brother Hans & his girlfriend Jess visited from North Carolina. They are a tack-sharp pair.
- Kumla & kocktails at Axdahls’ (followed by kumla koma).
- Christmas gatherings in Cottonwood and Northfield.