Friday, October 13, 2017

October Celebrations

I love the color red.  And I love red hair.  So I got a wild and crazy idea a week or so ago.  I decided that I would like to put just a touch of red in my hair.  Red hair is the ultimate wonderful hair color in my opinion, but it would not look good on me.  But why not just a stripe of red?  So I bought some auburn hair color, thinking it would be subtle.  I decided to put the stripes on the white part of my hair.  So I did it.  I was shocked to see splotches of brilliant red scattered in my hair.  Not subtle, more in your face.  Hum.  I had to cover it up...all but a little bit in the front.  So I covered it with brown.  So now the gray that I've been encouraging is now covered with brown.  I'm a little sad about that.  Here's a sample of the red.  It has faded slightly...see what you think.

This year I decided that I wanted more Halloween in the house.  It's because the kids are here and that makes such a difference for me.  So the house is filled with Halloween.  Orange lights fill the living room and beyond.  I even did a picture for the mantel.  

October holds several family birthdays, all the first week.  Reed, Dorothy and kids visited us that week, so we celebrated all three birthdays together.  It was so fun!  We began with Seth.  He turned 15.  We showered him with the meal of his choice, birthday wishes and, of course, birthday presents.  His treasure is a pair of custom made athletic shoes, made to his order.  Here he is with one of the shoes.

Layne turned 77 on October 5th.  "Don't get me anything!" is his yearly mantra.  But I always manage to find some little thing that I think he can use.  This year it was a pitch pipe.  I think he liked it but I'm not sure.  Our friends the Becks gave him a fruit bouquet.  We all loved that!

The kids gave him a sweet BD note and he loved that.

Our girl Dorothy also had a birthday on the 7th.  We celebrated it a couple of days early.  Dorothy has thyroid cancer, which has been a worry for all of us.  Prayers have flown to heaven in abundance for her.  Her surgery was this past Wednesday.  Reed confirmed that it went well.  It looks like the cancer was contained in the thyroid and now gone.  What a blessing!

Our days with Reed, Dorothy and the boys were especially tender and pleasant.  Bruce had fun going through my coin collection.  Timmy was open and friendly.  Vincent was his usual very pleasant and friendly self.  They are such a nice family and so great to have around.

Here's Vincent with his ever-present gallon of water.  He carries it everywhere, refilling as needed.  It just about never leaves his sight.

Here is the whole Reed-Dorothy family.  Or the ones that visited.  Here's Reed, Bruce, Dorothy, Vincent, Timmy and....Seth.

It has been a wonderful family time this month so far.  We are settling in with Seth and Angelica.  Seth was in a school concert this week and he loved it.  It was a fantastic production, due to the excellent work of the teacher whose first name happens to be...Seth!  The kids are still in what I would call a "honeymoon" stage being here, but they seem to be happy so far.  I hope we can do them justice.  It is beginning to be more relaxed and fun as we settle in to a new routine...having kids to care for.   

Sunday, October 1, 2017


For years Layne has kept track of two Navy friends.  Of all that he happily associated with, these two stand out as men of integrity.  They have been loyal friends through the years even though they have seen little of each other since their Navy days.  One of them, Larry Durbin, decided that the time had come for these three to meet and bond in person.  So, last spring, he arranged a week together and chose Charleston, South Carolina, as the place. Layne was excited to reunite with fellow pilots, Larry and Lonnie.  This past week was our scheduled meeting.

Heres Lonnie, Larry (always the shortest guy) and Layne, friends since their days of navy pilot school in Pensacola, Florida, in the 1960s.  Lonnie made a career in the navy and is still flying; Larry flew for United Air Lines, like Layne, after leaving the navy.

So we arranged for Allegra to care for Seth and Angelica.  Gerald flew home on Thursday.  We flew to Charleston Tuesday.  I've never been there before.  What a beautiful place!  It is a place where plants of all sorts really want to be there.  The issue is controlling them, not talking them into growing, as is often the case out here in the West.

Charleston is one of the oldest towns in the country.  It was organized in the 1600s.  It is a charming place, filled with signs of its past in buildings and grounds all throughout the area.  We enjoyed eating out each day at the many delicious restaurants and went on a boat ride that exposed us to more distant sights.  We were reminded that the Civil War began here.  

Larry and Lonnie talked about airplanes endlessly while we girls, Teddy and Audrey, did a bit of girl talk.  They are both lovely women, good at heart and nice to be with.  However I couldn't talk them into doing much looking around.  It was hot outside.  These women, Teddy from hot Florida and Audrey from hot Arizona, didn't want to go outside!  So I did a bit of shopping on my own.  There is always something interesting to see!  We all toured a plantation called the Magnolia Plantation with amazing grounds filled with trees, plants of all sorts and an abundance of water.  The grounds are the treat, but we spent what I thought to be a very short time only touring the house.  The group wanted to leave after that.  So we didn't get to see the gardens.  I was disappointed.  But, again, it was hot.

Here we all are:  Layne, me, Teddy and Larry Durbin, Audrey and Lonnie McClung.  All of us have been married for 50 plus years.  That's somewhat rare these days!

In spite of my disappointments,  we had fun together.  I'm glad to have spent time with these good people.  I believe Layne had a wonderful time.

The few days we had together passed quickly. Soon we were on our way home, arriving Friday night, just in time to share a Friday night movie with the kids.  Gerald got safely home and Allegra and the kids are happy and in good shape.  We've spent the weekend watching and enjoying General Conference; one of the best treats ever.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Kids Are Here

Our quiet days are over!  Gerald and the kids have been here for several weeks now and it has changed our lives.  We are into school again, and all sorts of other kid stuff.  All previous routines have been modified and spaces are no longer open.  Already we have adjusted pretty well to having Seth and Angelica with us.  They seem to be adjusting nicely to American life and settling into its less structured and demanding routine pretty quickly.  Gerald has done a great job of organizing things to accommodate their lives here.  I so admire him and all the planning he does for his children.  He invests in them with all his heart.  I know he will sorely miss them once he returns home this coming week.  I'm used to him being with us.  So I hate to see him leave.  I so admire this son of mine.  He has the purest of hearts and gives himself to wife and children unselfishly.  Here's hoping that the kid's life here will bring him and Frances here also.  I'm always hesitant to make my hearts desire too openly apparent.  I suppose I don't want to be disappointed, or manipulate people into doing what is not in their best interest.  But I dare to say that I hope they come.

Last week Allegra came with Audrey.  After a sweet weekend with them, Allegra stayed and Audrey returned home.  It has been so fun to have Allegra with us.  She adds a certain sparkle and the kids love her.  Well, so do I.  She will be here until January.  Here she is with Angelica.

We have had fun blending cooking preferences of Angelica, Allegra and me.  It is such fun to be surrounded by family!  There is such an interaction of personalities now.  I've forgotten what that was like but here it is again.  And I like it.  I hope the kids will settle in with us and not miss their folks too much.  They are excited about the coming holidays and thus, so am I.  There is none of our American holiday celebrations in Taiwan, so it will all be new to them.  That makes it fun to anticipate.  Add to that the upcoming Temple dedication and the activities surrounding that, and the next few months appear to be quite a fun thing to look forward to.  Here are Angelica, Allegra, Gerald and Seth at the family table. 

So, adventures await.  I'm hope I'm up to it.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Mother's 100th Birthday and other Stuff

I have been thinking of my Mother all day.  If she were still with us, she would be 100 years old today.  She has been my model for how to have a productive, fulfilling, happy life.  I love and admire her, always and forever.

These past few weeks have been full of activities.  It has been too busy to document them, until today.  This is our last Sunday without family for awhile.  Gerald and his two kids are due here this week.  Seth and Angelica will stay until next summer.  Allegra will soon arrive also and stay until she returns to school in January.  It will be a life-changer for us, for awhile.

We were lucky to be able to witness a version of the total eclipse that passed through Idaho and beyond on August 21st.  We watched it from our new gazebo.

The moon covered the sun with only the narrowest possible slip of sun exposed.  Totality could only be seen a little bit north of us.  That slip of sun turned our day into dusk but not darkness.  Even the littlest bit of sun gave us an amazing amount of light.  It can be seen at its peak in our yard here.  With special glasses, we could see the small sun sliver.

Our friends Larry and Carol Wintersteen invited us to spend a few days at Bear Lake this past week.  Carol's brother, Roger, has a home there.  So last Monday Larry, Carol, Layne, me and friends Stan and Nancy Beck packed our car and drove there.  We spent 4 happy days in Roger's home.  He built it all himself, in the 70s.  His place has a lovely view of Bear Lake.  We spent our days visiting the various local sights.  We learned that the Bear Lake area is known for its raspberries.  Indeed, Roger has a huge raspberry patch.  We ate raspberry shakes every day and bought some of their local raspberry jam.  Here's a view of Roger and friend Clell in his berry patch.

Here's a view of Bear Lake from Roger's deck.

Here's Roger's homemade home and our gang standing in front.

L to R:  Larry, Carol, Nancy, Roger, Stan, me and Layne.  Oh yes, the dog Lamb Chop traveled with us too.  She was so good!

One of the places we visited was Minnetonka Cave, filled with stalagmites and stalactites--formations that grow up from the floor and down from the ceiling.  It was pretty magical inside, with stairs, pathways and lights posted throughout.  As we walked deeper and deeper into that cave I began to imagine what would happen if we happened to have an earthquake inside there.  It sits on a fault, so the threat was real, it seemed to me.  While we loved viewing the amazing world inside that cave, I was grateful to make it back outside without incident.  But here's the thing; they DID have an earthquake there this weekend!  Here Carol and I stand in front of the cave.  It was 40 degrees inside!

Here's one view inside the cave.

We had a lovely drive home in Friday, visiting a museum on the way, much to the objections of Layne.  He is so not a tourist.  We had a lovely, fun drive home and so enjoy being here again.  No matter how fun being away is, it is always good to be home.  One of the first things I did was check our very enthusiastic squash plants.  In spite of friends raiding it while we were gone, the plants were full of more and more and more summer squash!  Sigh.  I picked it and bundled it up and took it to Church today, where almost every one disappeared.  If you look closely, you can see a small crook neck squash pocking out of this happy plant.  There is plenty more where it came from.

Layne called to me from our bedroom window today to hurry in and see a surprising sight.  For 4 and a half years there have been no sign of deer in our neighborhood.  But today look who is sitting in our yard, in the shade on this hot day, right by our garden!

Our lives are about to take a dramatic change this week.  Gerald and kids arrive on Thursday, and Allegra comes on the 12th or so.  Our house will be full!  I'm excited for this new adventure.  For awhile we will be parents again.  Here's hoping we do a better job this time around!

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!