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.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Spring Bonding

I fight the "people vs. stuff" war every day, it seems.  You know what I I spend today working on my many projects (stuff) or spend it on relationships (people)?  I often feel that I fall short in both categories.  But of course I know that people should be my priority.  Well, they were this month of May.  My friend, Bonnie Capel, and I headed to Utah last week.  She visited her daughter and I visited Bob and Maryanne.  It was a quick trip, but spending time with them is always worth the ride to get there.  Maryanne and I talked and bonded in our usual way and I enjoyed fitting in a quick visit to grandson Chase and his Morgan and son Hunter.  They recently moved to Provo, where Chase has started a new job with Visa.  It was a sweet pleasure to spend a little time with them.  They are outgoing and embracing.  The drive to Utah and back was even fun, as Bonnie and I talked all the way over and all the way back.  Gabbing always shortens a long drive!

Maryanne is a genius at family history research.  She spends a great deal of time at it.  Here she is in her study, working at it once again.  Well, mostly working...

Maryanne and I always have fun gabbing.  Bob is mostly recovered from his knee surgery.  The knee is still a little stiff, but I think he is on the way to getting over that.  He was very excited about a new car while I was there.  We checked it out.  I'm amazed at the features new cars provide now.  We are so blessed to live in a day of miracles.  

Layne talked me into taking my Mom's Day flowers to the Berretts so I could enjoy their slow demise instead of missing their glory days.  So here they are, mingled with Maryanne's orchids.  Lovely, aren't they?

Chase and Morgan seem very happy with their new arrangements in Provo.  Here they are, with son Hunter (my first and only great-grandchild in case you've forgotten!), in their new home, a roomy apartment with a lovely view.

I returned home Thursday of last week.  Layne texted me every day I was gone, like a good boy.  He would be perfectly content being totally on his own in my absence, with no contact at all.  But, for my sake, he connects.  I love that.  Actually, I admire his ability to enjoy time all alone and also enjoy being in the midst of the masses.  He seems happy either way.  

Daughter Jessica invited us to come to Seattle (Normandy Park) to see Peyton perform in a play this week.  So Layne and I made the 8 hour drive on Wednesday.  We had an extra sweet time with all of our Gendreaus during this short visit.  We spent some time in Jessica's bookstore.  It is such an attractive place, but she plans to close it.  It is just not making enough profit to justify keeping it open.  She was sad about that at first but is now actually looking forward to the time that will open up once the store is gone.  She has plans for slowly shutting down, with this coming January being her final closing time.  Here she is, surrounded by some of her many books.  She gets high on books!

Peyton performed in the musical, "Spelling Bee", with one of her school chums acting as director.  It was all student-inspired.  Some editing was apparently needed to weed out the "adult content".  I could see where some of that must have originally been.  The kids did a very good job of performing.  Especially considering that these middle school students did it all...scenery, script, direction, etc.  The sound was the only real flaw.  There were many times when we couldn't hear all of the narrative.  Peyton was in a starring role!  Her stage presence was among the best of all--we could hear her and she sang like an angel; on key and loud.  We were impressed!  Here she is, belting out one of her songs.

Sometimes I feel a little sad that so many stories that we hear and see today are about unhappiness and dysfunction.  It seems that functional, happy relationships and families are rarely portrayed.  I think we need more optimistic and hopeful messages.  

Layne and I headed back home on Thursday.  The trip was indeed short but the visit was worth every hour of driving.  We are home once again, and now our investment is in "stuff".

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day

Layne spoke about women today at Church.  He did a great job of celebrating women, not just mothers.  I am thankful to have had a wonderful mother.  She was lovely, inside and out, and modeled womanliness in a very positive way.  Of late I am grateful for her example of how to be old.  She celebrated her life, all of her life.

I'm also extremely grateful that I was blessed to be a mother to five children.  They represent my legacy to the world and, I'm happy to say, that they all have made a positive mark upon the world, each in their own way.  While blessings come in many forms, this blessing of children, to me, represents the greatest of all.  Except, perhaps, for a good, smart, active, faithful, singing husband.
Sometimes he even dances.  With me.

Mother's Day flowers.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Lazy Woman Musings

At this moment, I am completely void of any resemblance of ambition.  Not that I don't have my plans...but today they will not be done.  Or thought about.  I wish to escape to a beach, sit in the sun watch the sunset and listen to the calming sound of the waves beating up the sand.  But instead, here I am looking at the blue sky outside my window and writing about my lazy ways.

Our pornography talks went fine, I think.  Our singing series is over, with our last performance presented on Friday night.  Here is the singing gang, except for me.  I took the picture!

We have enjoyed a week's visit from our Cedaredge, Colorado friends, Steve and Sharon Palmer.  They are a sweet-spirited, country couple, formally embraced by my parents when they lived in Cedaredge. That is where our friendship began.  We showed them some of the Boise sights, including the Shoshone Falls, located in Twin Falls.  With all the surplus water Idaho has this year, the falls were rumored to be quite amazing.  So we made the two plus hour drive to see them.  As we entered Twin Falls, there seemed to be no possible location for a water fall.  The land was flat as far as eye could see, except in the far distance.  The Google Girl directions took us through Twin Falls and to a road that led us into a deep ravine.  At the bottom, the Snake River wound its way through the land and, as it tripped over various mounds of rocks it offered us...waterfalls.  Beautiful, multiple, falls.  It was a beautiful cascade of falls that ran over and around cliffs of rocks and, as enormous amounts of water fell to the river below, a mist filled the air that reached up to us as we stood at an observation point.  The mist held a bright rainbow perpetually within it.  Birds swooped through the mist.  It was a wonder to see.

I've never tried this before, but here is an effort to insert a short video of the Falls.

Here I am at the lookout, followed by Layne and Steve, on a path along the Snake River, just down from the Falls.

Shoshone Falls was pretty impressive but we went to other fun other places too, including our favorite Huckleberry ice cream place by the Payette River.  The time with Steve and Sharon passed quickly and they were gone by Monday morning, after a week of good times together.

I suppose part of the reason why I'm feeling like doing absolutely nothing at the moment is that...I'm tired!  It has been an activity-filled few weeks for us.  This week promised to be much more relaxing, but so far it too has been busy.  I found myself seeking out a Humanitarian experience with a local friend, teaching English to some of the many refugees that have settled here.  We haven't actually done that yet, but the commitment has now been made.  Tomorrow is another pornography talk, this time to a Relief Society.  The list of things to do seems to go on and on.  But for now I'm not listening.  Much.  I think I'll just concentrate on rainbows.  This one showed up in our back yard a couple of days ago.  Check out that empty square of flagstone by the swings.  Wouldn't that be a good place for a gazebo?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Singing in Spring

This is our crazy busy time.  My singing group, the Treble Clef Singers, are busy singing, just about every day.  Last week, this week and next we will be making joyful sounds.  We sing to convalescent homes, assisted living centers and sometimes we sing at community events.  We give the money we make (yes we get paid!) to a doctor who does cleft palate surgeries in developing countries.  Its a pretty good cause and singing with this group is so much fun.  I never thought my average voice would ever find a place in an actual singing group but here I am.  Maybe they take me because I bring Layne along with me.  His bass voice sounds pretty fine when he sings the various solos that our leader assigns him.  He's not into solos he keeps saying.  But I guess he is now.

Here he is, crooning and charming all who hear him.  The men in our audiences especially seem to like him; maybe they tire of so many women!  One of the ladies who heard him asked if he was married.  "If you weren't married, I'd go after you," she said with a wry smile.

For this concert series I talked the ladies into using hats as part of our choreography.  There was some resistance to the suggestion.  Hats are not good for hairdos you know.  Personally that's why I don't like them.  But I could see how cute it would be to use them so I put forth the inspiration I had.  Since they put me in charge of choreography, they have to put up with my ideas.  Once they got used to using the hats as I directed, they changed their minds and decided to like the idea!

Since singing, and especially since getting a new piano, I think I'm beginning to figure out music a lot better.  I wish I had taken lessons when I was young since, being old now, I can see how much work it is really going to be to be musically capable in any significant way.  But I'm going to continue my small effort, at least to learn a little more than I do now.  Here's a picture of Layne and me just before one of our performances.  

On a different note, the whistle pigs which fill our empty fields are also filling our lawn this spring.  Our neighbor, Jim, says the cold winter gave them more time in their holes to reproduce.  Maybe so because they are everywhere.  Our cat, Cherry, has caught a couple but must be on the job a whole lot more than she has been to make a dent.  There are times when she and her chubby sister just sit and watch them play and dig into the lawn.  But here you can see her on the prowl.  The whistle pigs are hidden in the wood pile, as she knows very well.

I know I probably bring pornography up way too much, but our porn assignment is picking up!  We are speaking at a stake conference tonight and again tomorrow.  And then again next week. Wow.  After feeling a little let down that we haven't been reaching our members, things are starting to move.  At least that is how it feels right now. These things seem to come in bunches.  Who knew that the day would ever come when we would specialize in the problem of pornography.  Every stage of life has its surprises.  

Sunday, April 16, 2017


I've been feeling a little discouraged about our addiction calling.  We just aren't making much progress in getting the word out to our members, which is the most important part of the job, in my opinion.  But this month has brought something of a change in that area.  Our Stake President has called an "addiction committee" to discuss what to do about addiction, especially pornography addiction, in our stake.  We are on the committee.  I'm excited about that!  To add to that, we are speaking at another stake's conference on pornography.  Later in the month we travel to California to present yet another talk in Rayne's singles ward.

Speaking of Rayne, she is engaged!  It sounds like her man of choice is a good one.  Other good news; Chase got a job, after looking for 9 months.  He and his little family will be moving to Provo to begin working for Visa next month.  Such blessings!

I don't like holidays away from family.  So I was excited when Audrey told me that she and Dorothy were coming on Easter weekend, with Scott and Allegra, on their way to Rexburg and BYUI.  I had visions of a bit of family for Easter.  But they decided to rush their trip so that they could drive back to their homes for Easter.  Well, that is the decent thing to do when you have family at home.  That is the thing when your children have families.  They are the first priority.  Which is only right.  But I still miss them.

Here is our visiting family:  Allegra, (Layne), Audrey, Dorothy, Scott.

They arrived for a quick visit Thursday afternoon.  They drove through lots of snow, especially over the Sierras.  The shocker was that the snow accompanied them all the way to Star!  Yes, it snowed here!  All over our daffodils and tulips.  And all over the tree blossoms.  For awhile it was winter again.  In fact, their whole visit was accompanied by storms.  It was snowing as they left Friday morning and only cleared up when they were well down the road to Rexburg.  The storms seemed to covet their company!  But I'm happy to say that they traveled to Rexburg and on back to California with no weather issues.  I'm imaging that they are finishing up a lovely Easter.

Snow on the daffodils!

The kids depart in a spring snowstorm!  By afternoon it was all gone.  You can see their red van in the center of the picture.

With no family at hand, we invited our friends, Carol and Larry Wintersteen over for Easter dinner.  We combined dishes and had a wonderful Easter feast.  This year, throughout the weekend, I marked Christ's activities as they occurred 2000+ years ago.  It was a sweet way to honor Him as I imagined Gethsemane, His trial and crucifixion on Friday; His burial and visit to the Spirit World on Saturday and His resurrection on Sunday.  That, combined with an inspired Church service, brought the meaning of Easter closer to my heart.

Here's Carol, with a delicious cake she contributed to our Easter feast.

Larry and Layne bonding after dinner.


And...spring is back, with all the snow gone and sunshine again at work bringing out the hidden life outside.  Good times!