Sunday, August 6, 2017

A Visit to Canada

We had quite a gang at our house after our family reunion.  For a few days, Ben, Jessica and kids, plus a returning Taiwanese crowd all gathered at our place.  Everyone got acquainted quickly and lots of fun ensued.  Here are most of our guests, upstairs, after a fun Sunday evening together.

By the end of the week everyone, including us, were preparing to leave.  Jessica and kids left earlier in the week and Gerald and Frances prepared their kids for a Monday departure to California and Disneyland, their traditional ending activity.  If all goes well, Seth and Angelica will return in September to spend the school year with us.  They seem excited to come!  I hope we can provide them with a sweet and beneficial experience.

Here's Gerald with Angelica and Layne, and then, Seth.

Here's our Taiwanese kids on their last day with us:  Seth, Angelica, Ray, Frances, Angel, Sean, Jason, Linda and...Layne.  We so enjoyed them!

On Monday we all went to the airport together; they were headed to California and we to Canada, to meet our friends, Bill and Trudy Ostler.  They invited us to join them for a few days, touring the Calgary area.  We have been friends with them for some years now.  They moved to St. George and we to Idaho, so we meet a couple times a year to renew friendship and enjoy each others' company.  I haven't been to Canada since I was a girl and don't remember much about it.  But it sets in my mind as a land full of trees and all things cool and green.  Reality is never quite a match for memory.

Bill and Trudy met us at the Calgary airport with smiles and plans.  We were soon in a rental car and made quite a drive through the countryside.  After passing through the Calgary area of flat lands and brown views, we entered a mountainous area filled with the trees of my imagination.  The skies were smoky, with recent wildfires hiding the blue skies and turning the sun red.  We headed to a place called Banff and settled in for the night at a very nice rented condo.  We walked to a local restaurant for dinner and then back for a quick bond and bed.  Oh, it was so good to settle into bed.  But, for some reason, I didn't sleep much.  So we began our Tuesday adventures with a bit of a sleep deficit.  

Tuesday took us to Lake Louise, a well-known local sight.  It rested at the base of some of the Canadian Rockies.  The views were lovely and the lake was a cloudy turquoise color.  I've never seen such a color in a lake before.  Take a look.

Here we are by Lake Louise with Bill and Trudy.  We spent just about all day here.

Wednesday we headed to the tourist town of Banff and went on the highly recommended gondola ride 7000+ feet up the side of the local mountain.  Wow. What a ride.  Even though some thousands of people have made it safely up that hill, my stomach was full of butterflies all the way up.  Trudy, on the other hand, was thrilled with the ride.  She seems to have a taste for danger!  We made it to the top alive and enjoyed the views from the building on top.  And a few souvenirs at the gift shop.  Gotta have those, right?

Here's the sights from the top.  Canada is celebrating her 150 year anniversary, so there were lots of references to that.

The valley below.

We had fun at the top, looking at views from all sides, eating lunch, and shopping.

Bill and Layne, in a guy moment.

Riding the gondola back down was much easier on my stomach, for some reason.  

We headed back to Calgary on Thursday and spent the day at a place called Heritage Park.  It was a bit like our Williamsburg; a step back in time with workers dressed in vintage clothing and acting out their parts as we visited pioneer homes, stores, farms and restaurants.  It was great fun.  So much so that we spent the whole day there.  The people were friendly and the feel of this place, and all things Canadian, felt very much like all things USA.  

We rode the vintage train and boat.  It was all great fun.

Layne sits in front of one of the shops in Heritage Park.

Early (very early!) Friday morning found us at the airport for our flight home.  The Ostlers headed to Salt Lake and we flew to Denver, then Boise, arriving Friday afternoon.  No matter how fun being on a trip is there really is no place like home!  For the first time in three nights, I slept all night long.  It was delicious!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Family Reunion, 2017

One of my great desires is to keep my adult children in each other's lives.  So we have yearly family reunions.  At first Layne and I organized them.  But we are not going to be here in time to come, so we decided to put the kids in charge.  This year, son Ben and his Jessica took charge.  They found a place on the Oregon coast called Langlois, that they felt would be about equal in distance for each of us.  We began our 10 hour drive there on Monday.  We were surprised to discover that the drive took us on some 15 different roads, most full of twists and turns, through all sorts of countryside, from desert to forests.  No freeway travel except the first 10 minutes or so.  It felt like a long drive, but full of beautiful views.  The place we rented was quite solitary and full of the most beautiful grounds I've seen in a long time.  There were forests, meadows and trails going all throughout, with twist and turns that produced ponds and benches tucked around bends.  The meadows were full of wildflowers.  It was as if the plants there wanted to grow.  There seemed to be no stopping them as, in every direction, the grounds were full of beautiful growing plants of all sorts.  It was these grounds that made our stay so magical.

Layne and I took a lovely walk through the nearby forest and on into a meadow full of daisies.  So inspiring!

Most of us gathered one evening at this sort-of raised gazebo to watch the sunset.

Some of the grandkids gathered at the pond's edge to get a closer look at nearby living things.  Son-in-law, Chris, is in the background.  Isn't it lovely?

Besides meandering through the heavenly grounds, we gathered in the club house for games, gabbing and meals.  Being with family is such a blessing.  I feel grateful that all of us get along so well.  Only three of our five families were here, but we enjoyed our association very much.  There isn't anyone in the family that I don't really like as well as love.  That's a pretty fine family situation, wouldn't you say?  Grandkids gather for games below.  

We were located very near the beach, so we spent a day there.  It was as perfect a day as one could hope for.  It was warm but not hot and the beach was only sparsely populated.  Kids played in the water and sand, we talked and walked.  I love the beach!  It is a little sad to me that Idaho doesn't have any.  Here's Miles and Gemma.

We headed for home on Friday (last week now), followed by Ben and Jessica and their family.  We spend some sweet time with them.  Evenings in Idaho in the summer are often still hot, even up to sunset at 10 PM or so.  So the kids played outside until bedtime, and beyond!  Here's the whole BJ family:  Abigail, Alexis, Ben with Will, Zachary, Jess with Jon, Jacqueline, Tia and Olivia in front.

Abigail worked very hard to make friends with our kitty, Cherry.  She finally succeeded!  Cherry actually chose to lay down next to her--quite an accomplishment!

Gerald, Frances and their gang returned from Utah on Monday, so we had a couple of days with everyone with us.  It was wild, crazy and fun.  Here's our Taiwanese bunch:  Ray, Gerald, Angelica, Angel, Sean, Linda, Frances and Jason.  Frances and I shared the cooking.  Sometimes the kids wanted to eat "American" and sometimes Frances' delicious Chinese cooking won the day.  This photo shows one of our American meals:  tacos.  They want a repeat.

This is our fourth Idaho summer.  So far each summer season is full to the brim with company and activities of all sorts.  What a great time it is!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Hole in the Ground

Our quiet days have returned.  The GF gang have departed for Utah and adventures there as of Thursday.  Layne has been busy transforming the yard.  After presenting my vision for the gazebo and berm in the back yard, and with a little time for his mind to percolate, he is so on board.  He's been working all week on the hole in the yard that is to become a berm, putting in new pipes for watering.  He's even come up with some improvements to our watering system.  You know how one thing leads to another.  On and on he works, despite the hot weather.  "I love heat," he keeps telling me.  I guess he does!

I bounce back and forth between loving to be surrounded by people and loving being alone, now that I'm an older woman.  In my youth, I loved a more social life.  But now I've come to enjoy solitary times.  I would not like to be alone for long periods of time, but short ones suit me nicely.  I'm more prone to solitary interests and love open time for thinking and studying.  That is quite a departure for me.  I used to fit my studying and thinking in between the frantic pace of life that is involved in keeping up with lots of people in my household.  But now longer stretches of time open up before me and I need to learn to use them more productively.  I'm surprised by how achieving a provident life is still a challenge.

Here's a picture of our Taiwanese kids, taken just before dinner.  The kids wanted to eat "American", so we served tacos, as you can see in the photo.  They mostly liked it.  Some really did.  Everyone is in the picture except Seth.  I'm not sure where he was at the time.  They return to us in another week!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Hot Days of Summer

We have had a lovely spring, with warm, rainy days.  Heavenly, I thought.  But all of that is over.  Our summer, so far, has offered us days filled with hot, hot, let me say, HOT weather!  In the midst of this heat, we celebrated Independence Day, partly at our friends, the Greens, and partly at our friends, the Wintersteens.  Our Boise valley fills with fireworks of all sorts on the 4th of July.  One can choose to visit one site and enjoy fireworks up close, or, as we did, sit in the comfort of the Wintersteen's deck and view them in every direction, from afar.  Either way, it is an inspirational feast.  I love celebrating our Independence!  This area is a patriotic place, so it fits my passions nicely.  Layne and I also watched the movie,  "1776", as we do every year.  I still love it and am tenderized, as always, at the ending, when the miracle of independence is so dramatically portrayed.

Into our long, hot days of summer, son Gerald, Frances, their kids and 5 English students have arrived.  They are here until Thursday, when they head to Utah and scheduled adventures there.  As always, it is wonderful to have family here.  I love the spirit our children bring to us when they come.  Our days with the GF group have been very pleasant, in spite of the heat.  They helped us put up the roof on our pergola/gazebo.  It was quite a project, with many adaptations needed.  Layne has a mind for that, thankfully, and the roof is now up.  Take a look at our group of workers, which include our Taiwanese kids, neighbor Jim, and Layne.

Gerald and Frances always have a full schedule of activities for the kids they bring.  Friday night we drove to an outdoor theater, Starlite, and watched a live production of Beauty and the Beast, performed by college students, for the most part.  They perform in 4 productions all through the summer.  It was lovely to watch them on the outdoor stage, with a full moon overhead.  By the time we got home from that it was after midnight, and the jet-lagged Taiwanese fell asleep like the dead, only arising for a late brunch on Saturday morning.

The GF crowd missed our Independence Day, but we gave them a taste of it Saturday night, with fireworks in the backyard as the sun set.  That doesn't happen until 10 PM, so this activity went on into the night.  But it was fun!  Seth lit the fireworks, we ooohed and ahhhed, then followed with sparklers.  The hose was close by to make sure that no spark escaped and the kids ended the night with a water fight.  Such fun!  Here are the boys, joy jumping before the fireworks began.


It is Sunday.  Everyone went to Church and now, as it is too hot to go outside, the kids are rumbling upstairs.  The house is full of chasing, charging and laughing.  Its not exactly a quiet Sabbath!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Family Connections

Why is it that things seem to come in bunches?  There are days in my life when absolutely nothing is happening.  Then there are times when too many things fill my days.  This past week was one of those.  Our granddaughter, Rayne, became officially engaged in California, as her British man was visiting and presented her with a beautiful engagement ring.  This weekend our Gendreaus were due here once again, on their way home from a southern Utah and beyond vacation.  We were determined to visit Rayne and meet her future husband, Dominic.  So we flew to California on Wednesday and had fun meeting and visiting with Dom and bonding with some of the family.

Here are Dom and Rayne.  We found Dom to be bright, pure-hearted, motivated and extremely keen on Rayne.  He lives in England, but plans to immigrate here.  They seem very compatible.  I think they will be happy together.  

The engagement ring.  Of course you can see every detail from this photo....

While we had a good visit with Rayne, Dom, Audrey and Cliff, Reed, Dorothy and two of their sons, we missed seeing Ben and Jessica and I didn't get to visit my Uncle Mike's grave. I was sad about that.  

We had to hurry home as the Gendreaus were expected on Saturday. So we flew home on Friday.  We managed to miss the birthday party for Audrey (she turned 50 on July 27th!), held before we came and Rayne's engagement party on Saturday, after we left. 

Chris and Jessica arrived with their gang on Saturday, as expected, on their way home from a traveling vacation.  They came to us full of stories about their adventures and a visual tour of the places they visited, presented by Miles.  He is keen on photography and took some extremely good pictures with his phone...and everyone else's too.  Peyton turns 13 on July 3rd, so we celebrated her birthday with a dinner as close to her requests as I could muster, and a birthday cake. 

Our visit was all too short as they had to leave on Sunday morning.  It has been a week of family connections, which is always a good thing, even if there were some things we had to miss.  That, I suppose, is the price we pay for living away from family.  Here's our departing Gendreaus, with Vincent included.  He went with them on all their adventures.  He and Miles are great friends as well as cousins.  Love those boys.  And the rest of them too.

On their way home, here is Vincent, Gemma, Miles, Peyton, Jessica and Chris.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Summer Projects

Summer in Idaho has been wonderful so far.  Idaho can get very hot during the summer.  I suppose those days are coming.  But for now, summer yard projects are a joy to indulge in.  Our two projects are the very ones I've been hoping for. At last Layne is on board with both.  He started our pergola/gazebo after spending days and nights planning it all out in his mind.  Chris and Jessica and kids came this past week for a couple of days and, with their help, the pergola posts went up and all the blocks in our yard hole got removed!  The kids found 6 snakes and 3 toads hidden in those blocks. Those discoveries kept them happily removing blocks, looking for further living treasures.  Family grunt work made quick work of it.  Both the blocks and the pergola posts were done by lunch.  We spent the rest of the day lounging and playing.

Here are our Gendreaus, plus grandson Vincent gathered for munchies.

It doesn't get completely dark here until after 10 PM.  I love that about summer.  The kids were playing frisbee until that time.  We enjoyed sitting outside, watching the sun set and the kids, running and jumping as if they hadn't spent the day lifting and carrying blocks.  Here they are, at 10 PM!

Here's the empty hole.  No more blocks.  Our plan is to fill it with dirt, make a berm and add some plants.  It should be pretty affordable and look nice too.  At least that's my plan.  Layne is good with it now too.  So there you go...a little idea suggested over time can take root!  The snakes and toads are now in the wood pile beyond.  I wonder how long they will stay there?!

The posts for the pergola are up.  Actually it is sort of a cross between a pergola and a gazebo.  Four posts--pergola; solid roof--gazebo.  I'm so excited for it to be finished!  Here you can see the posts for the pergola/gazebo to the left and a hot air balloon that landed in the field behind our house this morning.  

The Gendreau kids and Vincent are gone now, on their way to a Southern Utah vacation.  Things are back to normal.  Here's a shot of part of our summer yard with Layne in the background, mowing.  

Lately I have been feeling a little stressed over the many assignments and projects that loom before me.  I tend to put off the very things I think are most important to do.  It is easy to let the days slip by, with only routine things accomplished.  How do I discipline myself better, I wonder.  I've also been worried about family relationships.  I do my best to love family and serve them but I sometimes feel that I am failing at that.  This is a time of life when we are pretty much not necessary to the functioning of our family, yet my love and concern for them is as vital as ever.  It is a time of caring but no power.  I'm still trying to sort that all out, and adjust to it.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Fifty One Years Together

Layne and I have been married 51 years today!  Now that I am getting old, I have such a sense of time.  I see that time on earth really is rather short.  Or so it feels to me.  I can see the last 74 years of my life as clearly as if it all happened just a short time ago.  And so it is with my marriage.  I remember our first day and night together as if it just happened.  For me, marriage has become sweeter with the years.  I feel fortunate to have a good husband, who loves me and takes care of me.  It is good to be with a good man.

We gave our standby plane tickets to Audrey and Cliff this year.  Audrey has used them to visit us a couple of times, just as I'd hoped.  She came last weekend.  We had a lovely time with her, even though it was a busy time for us.  Audrey is crazy for zentangling.  She spends many of her free minutes at it.  It is quite a lovely art form that she has captured.  Here she is, "tangling" as we visited.

When we moved here, Audrey and Cliff talked us into taking their two cats.  Cherry and Tangie have been our yard buddies ever since.  They follow us around the yard, begging for pets and belly scratches.  Tangie is just a little overweight.  We call her "fatso" and "chub-ball" which she answers to as easily as "Tangie".  She is a long haired calico, who is troubled with matted hair.  Her back was full of mats while Audrey was here.  We decided to take her to a groomer to shave them off.  So, after Audrey left, I did.  The groomer not only took off the matts but shaved the whole kitty!  She looks so different!  More to the point, she looks quite a bit thinner.  Its interesting what a shave can do.  Take a look:

True to form, as soon as we got her home, she headed for the food dish.  But I must say that putting her through all of this has me feeling a bit more tender about her.  

Son Gerald has been talking about moving here from Taiwan for quite awhile.  It has been so long that we have almost given up hope that it would happen.  But during one of our recent phone conversations he asked us if Seth and Angelica could stay with us this coming school year and attend school here.  Wow.  Of course we agreed.  So the plans are moving along to confirm the move.  I visited their potential schools here and got some information about getting them registered.  So it looks like it is a pretty firm plan to have them stay.  That means that we will be in the parenting business once again.  That will be quite a change in lifestyle for us.  But I think it will be fun.  Granddaughter Allegra has agreed to stay with us during her time off from college, to help out.  So for the next few months we will have a household of family.  I think it will be fun to have family so near once again.  Each day I think about what I need to do to prepare.  By the end of July our adventure will begin.  Seth will begin 9th grade and Angelica will start 8th.

I have been bugging Layne for several years for a gazebo or pergola for our back yard.  He has been holding off because he doesn't think we would ever use it.  I'm thinking I would.  And so our little battle has gone on for several summers, with Layne holding out quite successfully.  But while Audrey was here, we visited Costco, where they had a gazebo/pergola structure on display for an affordable price that would just fit the flagstone area I had in mind.  Wow.  It was just too perfect.  It was as if it was meant to be in our yard.  That's just what I told Layne.  I took a picture of it and measured our flagstone deck and it was a perfect fit.  This time Layne went for it.  We bought it.  Of course we have to put it together.  Layne, my mechanical man, has hardly thought of anything other than how to assemble it.  He even dreams about it.  It seems I have created a monster project!  He's put it together in his mind many times.  So far that is as far as it has gone but I have every faith that he will figure it out and, together, we will get it assembled.  Then I've got to make sure that I spend plenty of time in it to justify all this mental and physical effort!  Here is the Costco picture I took to convince him of the many benefits.  I think we will love it!

Our yard is looking so lovely now.  It has been raining quite a bit so all the plants are exploding and showing off their best colors.  Layne has planted our vegetable garden.  A pheasant couple live right next to the garden, in the neighbor's tree.  The male comes out each day and prances about, likely evaluating the progress of the potential meals our garden could provide for him.  Here he is, sitting on the blocks in our yard that represent our other big yard project...filling in the big hole that was once a swimming pool.  

Layne, his brothers and dad used to hunt fellows like this.  His mouth still waters just a little bit when this guy wanders within view.