Sunday, December 31, 2006
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Our oldest grandchild had to go to work, but she came early and visited before work. Thank you Kjirsten! We love you and are so proud of you. Working full time and going to college full time is a real accomplishment. Her sister Katie and brother Aaron both probably had much better things to do on an weekday afternoon off from school, but they also came and each took their turn watching the little ones at the pool. Katie, too, is working many hours and going to college full time, and is doing so well. We are proud of you and love you dearly. Aaron has a job over break now, and we appreciate that you also took time off to come to our party. Thanks! Study hard kid! Love you, too.
Then comes the whole gang of boys.....Jacob, Caleb, Joe, Justin, Adam, Ben and Nicolas! Boy did they keep things lively! Caleb had a new video camera, and he made lots of funny videos of one of them pushing the other into the pool or other crazy "boy" things. These guys are all so much fun to have around, and they were all well behaved. We love each and every one of them so much. Thanks for keeping us entertained guys. You are the best! Hope you got enough pop, chips, candy and cookies to keep you going. (Brush your teeth extra good tonight!)
Last are the three little girls who were there, Jaden, Madison, and Anna. Jaden looked and acted so grown up as she quietly sat and played with a new electronic gadget that she got for Christmas, and with her new CD player already plugged into her ears. Madison spent time sitting in the corner, stuffing her mouth and backpack with handfuls of candy. Chocolate is good, isn't it, sweetie? And Anna enjoyed getting and giving a massage with her mom's hand lotion. She was at the food table with a clean plate every 15 minutes or so, and helped put a good dent into the meat and cheese plate. You girls are so special to us, and we love you all more than you could know.
Also here today were three of our sons and one daughter, and all of their spouses. I want to tell each of you that you are all doing an awesome job raising your kids. Dad and I are so proud of you all. Anyone can see how much you love your kids by the way that you talk to them and interact with them. My grandkids are so lucky to have you guys as their parents. Maybe they won't always appreciate you now, but in the end they will thank you for raising them to be the wonderful people that they are growing up to be.
You are all loved dearly, and greatly missed. Thank you for the memories of today that I will hold in my heart until we come back to see you all again this spring. God bless you all and keep you healthy, happy and safe until then.
Monday, December 25, 2006
We were down at Kari and Mike's home last night for their family Christmas. Katie gave us the softest blanket I've ever seen. It's brown with moose on it, and I have been wrapped up in it since last night. It makes a great sick blanket Katie and Clayton. Thanks! Kari and Mike gave me a pair of pj's, brown and tourquise bottoms with a brown top. So I took a hot bath about an hour ago and put on the new jammies. I may be sick, but I am color coordinated.
I wish each of you a blessed Christmas and pray you are focusing on the Babe in the manger.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Yesterday I was out with the rest of the population of Minnesota, darting in and out of the stores, perusing the toy aisles carefully, and becoming more and more anxious with each passing minute. I searched more stores than I can name for skateboard stuff. We have a grandson who is into skateboarding, and I was off to find him a ramp for his mini skateboards. No such thing left in this town. I searched and searched. Fortunately I had a 14 year old expert with me, and he looked above, below and behind all the toys in the aisle where the skateboard toys are displayed, but there was nothing. Okay, I switched gears and decided I could maybe find a video showing how to do different tricks. Oh, I found a couple of videos, but nothing age appropriate. I asked the salesperson about the content of the videos, and he told me they were VERY mature and unless I was prepared for the language on them I probably shouldn't buy them for a young kid! Thank you young man! I would have been extremely upset if I had purchased them and found my grandson learning new words.
So, it came down to a gift card at a local department store. The clerk there said they would be getting in more toys after Christmas, so I'm hoping I can explain to our grandson that he can use the card to pick out his very own skateboard toys. I'm disappointed. I hope he won't be.
Monday, December 18, 2006
We picked up our rental car and drove to Stillwater to spend the night there. Of course we visited awhile before heading to bed. Sorry we kept you guys up so late!
And now I am in the motel back home, and hubby is in Duluth to attend his uncle's funeral. You can't beat my location....I'm right between Caribou Coffee, Dunn Bros Coffee, Starbucks Coffee, and Barnes and Noble Bookstore with Starbucks Coffee! Caffeine heaven!
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Friday, December 15, 2006
I don't know why, but I've been thinking about this place where we had dinner this summer. It was called The Rookery and was in Otter Cove, about a half an hour boat ride from Seldovia. We had an awesome meal there with Chris and Amy and their friends Jeff and Kari, after riding there in Jeff's boat. Probably the first time ever the two grandkids had ordered $25 a plate meals.....the cheapest on the menu! I had herb crusted halibut that was out of this world! I don't have a picture of the outside of the place, but the kayaks on the beach below it sure made a colorful picture. I will go back there on my next trip to Seldovia!
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
We picked up a few sand dollars. The bigger ones were all broken. These are quarter, 50 cent piece, and silver dollar sized. It's a beautiful beach with a wooden walkway leading about half a mile across the brush to the sand. I think we'll be going there quite often!
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Last night was the coldest night in Florida in over a year, and it was in the twenties when we got up this morning. He acted like another ice age was coming! He had the electric fireplace going but it wasn't quite enough to warm it up in there. Now mind you, we have a furnace. It runs on propane, which we of course have to purchase. The electricity is included in the lot rent, so he figures electricity is free. So, this morning instead of turning on the furnace to warm up the RV, he turned on every single light in the place, plugged in the toaster and kept pushing that down, and even put water in the crockpot and turned that on high. His cheap way of heating up the RV!
And you know what? It worked. I swear it was at least a quarter of a degree warmer in there.
Friday, December 08, 2006
I reluctantly rewrote the letter and took out all the pictures and kept it to one side of the page. It's still taking a long time to print, as I only dare do about 8 at a time, then let the printer rest. So for those of you who are getting the letter, just imagine beautiful colored pictures of Alaska, Kentucky, and Florida. And imagine the proud faces of the grandpa, son, and grandsons with their big fish. Maybe by next year I can have a better printer, and can include pictures. I guess I shouldn't complain. I'm not writing the letter by hand, nor am I addressing the envelopes by hand, thanks to my computer. What would we do without them?
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Yup, it's been a good day! And no, I don't feel old.
Yesterday was a big 'birth day' in our family. My dad and two grandsons share that birthday. My dad would have been 92. He died in 1982, and I miss him to this day. When I was a little girl I thought he was the most handsome man I had ever seen.....he really was tall, dark and handsome. As he aged his thick dark hair became gray, making him very distinguished looking. He was so wise, and I have wished often in the past 24 years that I could have asked his opinion on one thing or another. My dad was a pastor, professor, counselor, friend to many, and the best father ever. Unfortunately he went to heaven before my grandchildren ever knew him, and that is a great loss for them. Daddy would have especially loved the fact that 2 of his great grandkids share his birthday.
Caleb turned 14 yesterday! Caleb is the spunkey redhead that accompanied us to Alaska this past summer, and I think I learned to know him quite well on our trip. He has more energy than most, is always on the go, always wanting to do this or that, and is forever making plans to do great things in the future. And you know what? I think he will! He loves sports, especially track and basketball, and his goal is to run a marathan. He has the guts and desire to do it, and probably the talent also, and I believe he can accomplish it. One of his long term goals is to attend Annapolis, this goal coming after watching the movie several times this summer. It wouldn't surprise me if he accomplishes that one, too. Caleb is bright and has a very inquisitive mind, and he drove me crazy this summer with all his questions. I can still hear him asking "but what if...." a hundred times a day! Harness that energy, Caleb, keep your head on straight, and I expect to hear about you doing great things! Hope you had a happy birthday and I love you!
It was also Ben's birthday yesterday and he turned 9. Ben has the biggest bluest eyes you can imagine, and I just melt whenever he looks at me and can only imagine the hearts he is going to break when he begins dating! This guy has been a computer genius since the first time he touched one. I'll never forget when he was about 6 and was playing games at our house on the computer. He called me into the computer room where he stood with hands on his hips and said "Grandma, don't you have a shortcut to nick.com on your computer?" Amazing! He also completely floored us when he began putting puzzles together with the backs of the pieces, not the picture showing! Ben is sweet and tender and loving, and I am so glad he came into our lives. I hope you had a happy birthday Ben, and we'll see you in just a week and a half. I love you!
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
The Rec Center could also be called a community room, as it's where everybody gathers and where everything takes place. Three mornings a week there is a group that meets for exercise; there is bingo one night a week, the potluck one night a week, crafts one afternoon, and a computer class one morning a week. Evenings find at least two tables of men playing poker, and another table or two of couples playing other card games. There are puzzles to be worked; one one table is covered with 1000 pieces right now. One corner has an exchange library where it's take one and leave one. A big rack holds magazines that everyone is welcome to borrow and return and add to. The center of the end wall holds a big screen TV (which is seldom on) over a fireplace (also seldom on). Next to it on the right is a huge Christmas tree that the people decorated one day right after Thanksgiving. There are a dozen round tables with four arm chairs around each one, and lined up along the far wall are five plastic tablecloth covered long tables where the pot luck foods are displayed on Tuesday nights.
Given the place of honor are two tables right as you come in the door. That's where the folks meet every morning for coffee and cookies and gossip. Most of these people have been coming for 6 or 7 years, some for as long as 12 years. They all know each other and look forward to the arrival of their old cronies each day. Actually, hubby and I feel like the teenagers of this bunch! Many of them are several years older than we are. Some come down for just a month or two, then return to their homes; others are like us and live totally out of their RV and so travel with the weather, avoiding the north during freezing months, and the south during the hot summers.
The main topic of conversation seems to be health! One guy had surgery this morning, another is recovering from surgery. They say things like "doesn't Bob look good for what he's been through?" or "I can't believe Donna has aged so much. Her 'whatever disease' has really taken it out of her." So, daily I thank God that hubby and I are healthy as I am reminded daily of those who aren't.
But you can bet that at 6:00 tonight everyone will be standing in line to partake of the potluck. Somehow those community meals make everyone feel better, if not fatter. We are anxious to see the variety of dishes that will be served. I wonder how my beans will do.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Tyndall AFB, Florida: The two above pictures are of things I find really strange in December. A warning sign for rattlesnakes and alligators? Shoot, they're strange to me at any time of the year, not just December! And Christmas trees and palm trees sharing center stage at the mall square? It sure takes some getting used to!
Sunday, December 03, 2006
The sun has gone down, and peace has descended on country and town.
The songbirds in silence have flown to their nest
And flowers are closing their petals in rest.
Now closes my heart to annoyance and care,
In homage and prayer, in homage and prayer.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Tyndall AFB, Florida: I went for a walk around the campground this afternoon, and was struck by how the trees seem to be decorated. No, not with snow and icicles, but with a yellowish green vine and with Spanish moss. The bottom picture is our little tree next to the fireplace, our decorating.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Now, the cell phone. I got in touch with my personal cell guy, RJ, and he agreed with me that the bill was completely foolish, and he is taking care of it and I will have a big credit next month. Thanks RJ!
The only thing left to complain about is the 77 degrees with 70% humidity. It sure felt weird to sweat when hanging Christmas lights on the RV awning. We bought a 3 foot tall pre-lit tree and will decotate that tonight in the hopes that it will make it seem more like Christmas. And tomorrow I'm digging out the Christmas CDs. I think I have someone's rendition of "I'll Be Home For Christmas" or maybe "Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!"
So, what this means for me is this: For the first time in the almost 21 years that I worked full time, I have no money coming in and I don't like it! My part of this retirement bargain was for me to buy groceries and pay the cell bill. It already didn't leave me more than a few dollars spending money, but I was adjusting to it. Now I can't even keep my end of the bargain for the next three months. I'm not happy!
AND, the cell phone bill. Listen to this: We have 500 anytime minutes, used 373, which is 61 over!?!? And we have 1000 night and weekend minutes, used 186, and that is 59 over!?!? I've heard this new math is weird, but that is totally stupid. And I think my handy dandy personal connection (he told me to call him personally with any problems) takes both Mondays and Tuesdays off.
On top of that, I didn't retire to sweat, and Florida is too hot.
Whine, whine, whine.
Oh, the mail finally came.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Sunday, November 26, 2006
The sermon was excellent. The Bible Study was awesome. The people were so kind and welcoming. As they describe themselves: Amazing Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church ~ we're ordinary people with an extra ordinary love. We felt right at home and will for sure make this our church home while we are here in Florida. (Hubby enjoyed the good refreshments and coffee......TWICE!)
And, of course we found an immediate connection. As we introduced ourselves to the pastor he asked if hubby had any relatives who used to serve a church in Nebraska. YUP! That would be hubby's brother! It's a small world.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Friday, November 24, 2006
Tyndall AFB, Florida: We made a quick trip to Orlando over the past two days. It was 385 miles down there and we spent exactly 32 hours there, then drove back this morning, but it was worth it. We had a wonderful time with Kari, Mike and gang, and with their friends that they traveled down here with. The day was spent at Animal Kingdom with about a million of our closest friends! When we were driving down there on Wednesday and sitting still on a freeway with 3 lanes going both directions, we should have realized that it was going to be crowded.
All the way down to Orlando I was thinking that I should be home in Minnesota, cleaning the house, baking pies, preparing turkey and all the trimmings, and getting ready for a house full of company on Thursday. We've traditionally had our meal in the evening so our kids could go to their in-laws at noon, so I always had the whole day on Thursday to prepare also. However, our Thanksgiving dinner was a bit different this year. Instead of dressing and potatoes for starch, we had a huge pretzle. Some cheese dip replaced the turkey, a large dill pickle shared with hubby was the relish tray, and a shared bowl of fruit was the salad. Our table was the lovely top on a yellow garbage can where we stood next to our beautiful granddaughters, Kjirsten and Katie as they had a similar dinner. (Oh, the top of the can was very clean! I saw workers come by every few minutes and spray and wipe down the outsides of the cans.) The sun was shining, temperature must have been in the 70's, the trees and flowers were in full bloom, and it was a glorious day. We have not been to Disney before, and I walked around in awe. How can they do these things, how can they make all the wonders, and who thinks of them all to begin with?
On this Thanksgiving Day we give thanks to God for our salvation, our faith, our church, our kids and grandkids, family and friends, good health, safe travels, and our country. Not many places in this world have it this good. We are very blessed.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Tyndall AFB, Florida: We spent a little time walking around our new neighborhood this afternoon and found that it's quite nice. We have a Bayou, a nature trail, and lots of trees and other plants. The place is surprisingly green....but then, we are used to November in Minnesota when green isn't the dominent color!
Today we also went to the airport to check on rental cars and to the commissary for a few groceries. When we got back to our site, hubby got online and reserved an ecomony car for us to pick up tomorrow morning and a motel room for Wednesday and Thursday nights. We are heading to Orlando tomorrow to meet up with Kari and Mike and gang. Our truck would cost much more to drive so we opted for a small rental car. He also reserved it for December when we are driving back to Minnesota for two weeks. I'm sure our cheap motel room won't compare with the fancy digs that the kids are in this week, but we just need a place to sleep. The rest of the time we plan to spend with them. I believe Animal Kingdom is on the schedule for Thursday. Then we'll head back up here early Friday morning and will check out the address of the church for Sunday morning. The kids will head back on Saturday I believe.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Our plan is to connect up with Mike and Kari and family down in Orlando for a couple of days. It's over 300 miles down there, so it really necessitates our staying over. We found some real bargains on motels though, so it shouldn't be too expensive. Tomorrow we need to do some grocery shopping and aquainting ourselves with the area. And I'll post some pictures of our new neighborhood!
Saturday, November 18, 2006
I'm going to call Kari now and tell her we are on our way, and hopefully set up a time so we can meet them for a few hours at least. So, the sun is shining a little bit and things are looking better.
Yesterday I did cut out the pieces for a quilt, and I have a couple of other projects ready to sew, so as long as we're waiting around some more I guess I'll set up the machine and start sewing. I was going to wait until we got to Florida and were set up more or less permanently, but I need something to do right now.
I talked to KT last night, but haven't heard anything this morning. She said they were just about out of Illinois last night, so they should be close to their destination by now. I'll give them a call soon and hopefully will find that they've arrived safely. When I talked to KT, the van was quiet. She said the little guys were watching a movie. She did say it was a long way!
So, another day at the base. I'll keep you informed.
Friday, November 17, 2006
I am also still waiting for the resolution of the missing Social Security check. We were hoping that they had for some reason mailed it instead of depositing it, but with no mail we can't find that out either.
I did laundry yesterday afternoon and washed a batch of flannel fat quarters that I've been saving for a quilt. I just may have to cut out the pieces this afternoon for something to do. I am tired of sitting here in the cold rain. The lack of sunshine is really what is bugging me so I am ready to move on. Stay tuned..........
Thursday, November 16, 2006
I still haven't found out where my Social Security check is. I'm going to attempt to talk with someone at SS again this afternoon. Wish me luck!
Monday, November 13, 2006
We have been to the factory and turned the RV in for repairs, so are living in a motel for a few days. We can't get online through the wireless at this motel without paying, but we are able to connect through the motel across the street! I checked my bank account and saw that my ready credit had kicked in and was wondering what was the problem. Then I saw that there was no deposit made last week when my Social Security check should have hit the automatic deposit. I called SS, listened to a bunch of instructions in both English and Spanish, entered my numbers, and listened to the phone try to solve my problem without me even talking to a real person. Well, this problem takes personal attention, I believe! Finally a voice told me that the waiting time for a real person was about 7 minutes and I could wait, or we could go back to the beginning and let the phone try to solve the problem again. I indicated that I would wait. While I was waiting I was given more information about Social Security than I ever wanted to know. That message was interrupted every so often by a male voice telling me that all operators were still busy but that they would get to me as soon as they could.
Finally, after more than 12 minutes, a tired voice asked me what my problem was. The poor woman sounded like she had been put through the wringer by more than one person today. I felt sorry for her, so I was extra nice and polite as I explained my problem. She asked me my number again, my name, my birthdate, my birthplace, and my mother's maiden name. After checking my records she claims my money was sent and I should check with my bank. It's not her fault. Good bye.
Now remember, I'm making these calls on a cell phone and standing in the motel window so I get more than one bar. So I dialed my bank back in Minnesota and got a very friendly gal on the phone. She checked and could see nothing but said she'd check the other departments and see if the holiday perhaps held it up. I will call her back on Wednesday to see if she was able to locate it. If not, I guess my ready credit will have to buy the groceries this month and I'll have to try Social Security again. I'm not looking forward to that!
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Dayton, Ohio, Wright Patterson Air Force Base: The past two days we have spent at the Air Force Museum here on the base in Dayton. There are many different areas, WW1, WW2, Korea, Nam, the Cold War, and the modern wars in the Gulf. There is also a section on space. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. In each different section I envisioned various relatives or friends flying in those planes, even if they weren't pilots. In the WW2 area I saw a couple of uncles and of course Jimmy Stewart. In Nam were many Air Force and school friends, and of course hubby, and they also appeared in the Cold War section. Then my thoughts switched to our son and others we know during the Gulf Wars area. I can't even imagine what hubby was thinking, especially when we were in the section where they displayed the missile he worked on during 2/3 of his Air Force career.
We also visited a hanger where they displayed a few of the presidential planes. It was very sobering to actually walk through the plane that carried President Kennedy to Dallas on that dark November day many years ago, and then carried his body back to Washington, along with the new President, Lyndon Johnson.
It was a very fitting time to visit the museums as it is Veterans Day. Thank you to the men and women who have protected us in the past and to those who are still protecting our country today. God bless you all.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Sunday, November 05, 2006
We attended the Bible Study after the service. We met the pastor and he explained that they had just changed the starting time from 10:30 to 10:00 and that information hadn't been published yet. Upon further talking with him, I discovered that he is good friends with JPZ! Hubby had gone fishing with JP's father up in Alaska in 1992 on our first trip up there. In the Bible Class we were discusing liturgy and people were commenting on little differences they had noticed in the traditions of different Lutheran churches, and one woman said she had come from the ELS and that such and such was done a little differently. That is our church synod, so after class ended I questioned her. Imagine my surprize to find out that the pastor who confirmed her out in Washington state is the pastor that married hubby and me, and that we knew other pastors in common also.
Yes, it's a small world. Especially in the world of WELS and ELS Lutherans.
Mammoth Cave National Park Campsite: After three days of cold rain, last Thursday dawned bright and sunny. Hubby stuck his head out the door and proclaimed it was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. And it was. (Our neighborhood consisted of 111 campsites, 110 of them empty!) We wished we would have gone on the cave tour on Wednesday when it was raining so we wouldn't have had to waste 2 hours of this beautiful day, but since we didn't we would go this morning.
The cave tour was okay. It's not a very beautiful cave, but it is impressive because it's the longest cave in the world. Over 350 miles of passages have been explored. Our tour was 2 hours and listed as strenuous. Right inside the entrance we entered a deep shaft - 300 stairs seemingly straight down a narrow crooked shaft. We eventually arrived at the bottom of the steps and a comparatively level walkway. We scrambled across the boulders, 250 feet below the surface for the next hour. Fortunately getting back up was a much more gradual climb, but it was a good workout.
We emerged back into the sunshine and decided to go on a drive after lunch. Hubby ploted the route based on the name - Ugly Creek Road - and we checked with the ranger to make sure it was a good plan. She had never driven this road, but said she always had wanted to, so she enthusiastically gave us her blessing.
The first part of the ride was on a normal 2 lane highway through the golden leaves of the hardwood forest. Soon we came to a sign that read: Road ends in water 1 mile ahead! Sure enough - the road ends at a river where you drive unto a small ferry that is attached to cables which guide it to the other side. From there it was only a couple of miles until we turned onto a much narrower, but still paved, road that snaked along the hill, up and down and around, through the trees of every shade of gold, rust, bronze, and orange.
Then we came to a dirt road, single lane width with no shoulders. The trees grew very close to the road and the entire roadway was covered with leaves. Not much traffic had been through there lately On the left side there were park boundry signs posted on the trees every so often, but on the right side were crudely hand printed signs stating: POSTED or NO TRESPASSING or KEEP OUT. I wasn't going to disobey those warnings!
This narrow dirt road, not much larger than a hiking trail, proved to be just the place to spend a beautiful sunny afternoon. The steep hills with sharp 90 degree turns kept hubby on his toes, and we stopped several times so I could take pictures of the sun shining through the trees on the winding roadway ahead of us. On the top of one hill we came across a small graveyard and we stopped to look at some of the old tombstones. We found several graves of Civil War heros, and we wondered why the graveyard was so far away from any visible church. Then again, a church from over 150 years ago wouldn't necessarily still be standing.
At one point we crossed Ugly Creek on a small cement bridge which was not much more than just some cement poured over the rocks to make a solid spot to cross the creek. We passed an old crumbling shed in a small clearing and saw a sign pointing to another graveyard. Otherwise it was trees, trees, and more trees, with some of them on our right side still warning us to KEEP OUT. And we didn't touch one leaf on that side!
All too soon our adventure was over and we arrived back to the highway where we would shortly take the ferry back across the river. We concluded our day with a roaring campfire and warmed over chili for supper. Yes, it was a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
PS: We missed you, mom! You would have loved this adventure.
PPS: The Echo Trail looks like a super highway compared to this road, Molly!
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Thea, you are an asset to our family and a real blessing to our son. I pray you have a wonderful birthday and many, many more to come. Happy Birthday!
Sunday, October 29, 2006
I don't think I've ever told you this before, but when I was in college I had my whole life planned out. I was going to have 6 kids. 3 boys and 3 girls. Well, it didn't work out quite that way as it seemed after the first daughter and two sons that we would have to settle for 3 kids. Then we looked into foster care, and eventually adoption, and ended up with 7 kids, 2 girls and 5 boys, a bit different from the original plan. And I had even named all 6 of those kids I was ideally going to have. Well, things ended up quite differently in that area too, all except for one name. Have I ever told you that way back in college I wanted a son named Lance? It was in God's plan all along that you would become my son!
Through the years you have grown from the little guy with bushy hair and no front teeth, into the wonderful man you are today. We've had our ups and downs, and life hasn't been easy for you at times, but you have become stronger because of the trials. If I had to come up with one adjective to describe you it would be "gentle" man. You are a gentleman in all senses of the word. You married a wonderful girl that we are so proud to have in our family, and the two of you have two precious daughters. When I see you with the girls, I see that "gentle" man I speak of. The kindness, love and respect you treat me and dad with can only come from a gentle man. And not just us......you show that same kindness and respect to grandma, your aunts and uncles, and all your elders.
I am so proud of you! Proud of the love and devotion you show your family, proud of your dedication to your job, proud of your love for the outdoors and God's awesme creation, proud of your determination to be the best you can be, proud of your talents, and proud of your gentleness. I am proud to call you son, my gentle son.
Here's hoping that tomorrow dawns bright, sunny and warm, and that you will get a chance to play outdoors with the girls and your dog, and maybe get in a little hunting! Dad and I will celebrate you. We love you dearly.
POPLAR BLUFF, MISSOURI: We finally found another campground with wireless. The last five campgrounds have been beautiful Arkansas State Parks, but State Parks don't offer wireless connections. Maybe someday they will but now they don't. We much prefer staying in State Parks or National Parks or Forests, especially when there are great hiking trails and beautiful autumn colors to enjoy, but sometimes we need to connect with the world, and at those times we need to find a private campground with connections.
I wanted to show you some of the great scenery from our hike last Sunday but the only other time I've connected this week I haven't been able to post pictures. We'll give it another try. What do you know? It worked!
This was in Woolly Hollow State Park, Arkansas, a very beautiful place. There was a trail, about three and a half miles, that we took through the woods, up the hills, along the ridge, then back down to the campground. It was late afternoon, and the sun shining through the autumn colors made it seem like we were walking through a holy place. The first picture, expecially, reminded me of a beautiful cathedral and I silently prayed for my kids, grandkids, family and friends as I walked along. The most awesome thing about this retirement trip is seeing God's magnificent creation. There is no way this beauty is the result of a "big bang."
Thursday, October 26, 2006
We stayed for two days in a beautiful little park near Conway, Arkansas. The park was Wooley Hollow State Park, and is one of the most beautiful parks we've seen yet. There were only a few other campers because we came in on a Sunday, so we had the place mostly to ourselves. We hiked a beautiful trail that went up and over a couple of ridges. On the second ridge I checked my phone, which back at the campsite had no bars, and on the top of this ridge I had five bars! So, I told Ernie to continue on the last mile without me and I'd follow later because I was going to call the kids we hadn't talked to recently. Caught the oldest son at home, just returning from a hunting trip with his two sons, so we had a nice visit. I talked to our second oldest son who was watching the Vikiings and getting ready to go to work. I also talked to his better half for a few minutes and caught up on their comings and goings, which includes installing the hot tub he won! Then I called the next son in Alaska, but only got his voice mail, so I left a message. He called back almost immediately and we had a good chat, me on a hiking trail in Arkansas, and him in the shop he's building on the hillside in Seldovia, Alaska. Technology amazes me! I had already talked to my mom and our two daughters and the next to youngest son, so that left only the youngest son that we hadn't connected with. Tried that number, but got no answer, but we will be calling him this weekend for his 34th birthday. I left that ridge top feeling so much better. Just connecting with the kids back home, and hearing what the grandkids are up to makes me so happy. Thank goodness for a good cell plan.
Once again Blogger won't let me post pictures. I had a couple of really nice ones from our hike that I wanted to show you but something is blocking my pictures from posting. Maybe it's the limited power I have left.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Mountain View, Arkansas: Two out of the last four days have been heavy rain so some of the beautiful leaves have been beaten down. However, the rain also cleaned and polished the leaves so that we could enjoy the brilliant display on Wednesday, our 42nd anniversary, and on Thursday, Kari and Mike's 22nd anniversary. Wednesday night we stayed in Mountain View, Missouri, and last night we stayed in Mountain View, Arkansas. I think we are going to enjoy our couple of days here in Mountain View, which is the Folk Music Capitol of the World. This little place has a town square where every night, depending on weather, musicians from all over meet and make music. It was raining last night so I suppose they didn't meet outside. It's beautiful sunshine today so I expect we will be at the town square tonight for the music. This campground has a building just for musicians to meet every day at 2:00 to play their folk and bluegrass but we were gone at that time yesterday so didn't get to hear them. The downtown streets around the square have a variety of little shops, many of them shops carrying assorted musical instruments like austic guitars, mandolins, banjos, fiddles, and dulcimers. Music is a huge part of the lives of these folks.
We have a big day scheduled today. First we are going to The Skillet for breakfast so hubby can have his biscuits and gravy. Then we will buy our tickets for the Folk Center itself that is a living history enactment. We will watch traditional artisans create hand-made goods, and will have the opportunity to purchase these heirloom quality items. Sounds like fun to me, although an RV doesn't have much room for many purchases. Then tonight we will go to the theatre to see a show of mountain music played by Southern mountain musicians, in the auditorium that seats 1000! I am also looking forward to visiting the Heritage Herb Gardens to learn more about using fresh herbs in cooking.
I'm going to post a few pictures from the last couple of days. Keep in mind that yesterday was pouring rain so pictures don't begin to show the brilliant display of fall colors. (I was going to post a couple of pictures but the signal is very low and it's taking many minutes to get a picture to show up, so I'll just try to publish this post with one picture and will do others later. I can't complain because at least this campground has wireless!)
Monday, October 16, 2006
We awakened about 5 this morning to the sound of rain on the roof. Finally. This part of Missouri is really dry, and they have been waiting for some rain for a long time. The rain seems to have knocked off a lot of leaves from the trees, as the drive into town showed more bare limbs than we've seen before. The colors of the trees are still beautiful though, just like the trees back home in Minnesota at this time of the year.
The plan now is to leave on Wednesday when our mail should be here for sure! We'll head down highway 19 through the rest of Missouri, then visit a couple of places in Arkansas. After that we'll head to Kentucky then up into Indiana as our appointment in Middlebury on the 13th of November gets closer. Hubby's latest idea is to head straight south when we leave the factory. He is thinking we should park at Tindall AFB in Florida, in the panhandle along the gulf. We'd then store the RV there and drive back to Minnesota for Christmas when that time comes. Not my choice, but guess I'll go where he says. The one good thing is that we have dear friends in Florida that we could visit. Will give you more information as it becomes fact.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Salem, Missouri: You know that mail we've been waiting for? It seems the person (who shall remain nameless) that requested our next mail drop made a big mistake. First of all, he filled out the form incorrectly so the mail forwarding people thought he wanted the mail sent UPS, which they can't do without a street address. General Delivery mail can't be sent that way. The company did respond saying they needed a street address and extra money to send it what way, but someone didn't read the return email telling him this. When he did finally check back and cleared this all up, he found out that the mail that we expected this past Tuesday will now be mailed next Monday. We are becoming permanent residents of the Park campground. Oh well, it's a very pretty place as you can see from these pictures taken of the trees and hills surrounding the campsite. I guess we don't have any deadlines to meet anyhow, so what's another day or four or five!
Salem, Missouri: Last week on the day that we visited the new Lincoln Museum, we also visited his tomb. The monument and tomb are very beautiful, and a peaceful and dignified air surrounds the whole site. As I walked through the quiet marble hall leading into the building housing the tomb, I could have sworn I heard The Battle Hymn of the Republic playing over and over in my head, even though it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop. As I exited the room my footsteps were keeping time with the refrain "glory, glory halelujah." It was really quite an emotional day.
Salem, Missouri: Well, here we are, on our own computers for a change. We were at the library this morning, but we have to use their computers there. Now we found out that we can go to the Armory, bring in our own computers, and connect to their unsecured wireless connection. Yay! So here are some pictures of our last week.
This first picture was taken the day we visited the Lincoln's at the White House. Ernie was not dressed for the occasion, but they didn't seem to mind. The new Lincoln Museum in Springfield Illinois is wonderful! There is a log cabin built like the boyhood home of Lincoln, set in a grove of trees just like it would have been. They even had the sound of birds singing up in the trees. Across this huge room stood a replica of the White House, with Mrs. Lincoln dressed in a beautiful ball gown, standing inside the front door with arms outstretched, welcoming you into their home. The Lincoln family that is pictured here, is standing about in the center of the large room that branches off into the cabin, the White House, and two theaters. Inside the White House wing were very interesting exhibits on several different subjects. My favorite was the section on the Civil War. There was a huge map of the battle areas on the wall, with the borders of the current battles changing constantly to indicate how the war spread to the many areas of the south. In the bottom corner was a running total of the number of dead on both the North and South sides. It was a display like FOX News would have telecast had the technology been available 150 years ago. I found it fascinating. The other area I thought was interesting was the section showing the political cartoons of the day. Making fun of our President is nothing new, I found out, as there were hundreds of copies of the posters, newspapers, and bulletins, all ridiculing Mr. Lincoln. Some of them were very nasty, and I ached for him and his family, especially knowing what was going to happen in the near future.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
I have so many pictures I wanted to share with you all, but when I can't use my own computer I can't post them. We have visited a lot of places in the past week: Lincoln's tomb and museum, Mark Twain's boyhood home, two beautiful caves, and many narrow winding roads lined with trees dressed in their glorious fall colors. As soon as we get someplace a bit more technology savey, where we can use our own computers, I will post some of those pictures and tell you a bit more about those places. As for now, we'll just enjoy this beautiful, peaceful part of the country.
Monday, October 09, 2006
I'm not going to stay online long because of the $$$ so I'll not tell you what we've been doing the past 6 days. I will keep a journal to copy to this blog when we get friendlier access.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS: Today was another beautiful drive through the countryside. We prefer the narrow, winding, country roads over the boring super highways filled with 18 wheelers racing from one state to another. In the past three days we've driven through the small river towns with main streets lined with oak and maple trees. This morning we exchanged the colorful trees for golden brown stalks of corn and rusty amber fields of soybeans. The countryside was still hilly, and the roads still wound around, but it was definitely farm country rather than river towns. Then this afternoon we came to New Salem, the reconstructed village where Abraham Lincoln spent his young adulthood. In fact, the six years (1831-1837) that Lincoln spent there almost completely encompasses the town's brief history. There is one original building, the others are reconstructed from descriptions and drawings from citizens who lived there at the time. The first step toward reconstruction was taken in 1906 when newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst purchased the site. Work began in 1917 but it wasn't until the 1930's when the Civilian Conservation Corps continued and finished the project. Apparently this is a living history site, and there are hundreds of volunteers who are usually "living" and "working" in the log homes, workshops, and other buildings. But wouldn't you know, they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays! We were still able to walk through the village but all the buildings were locked so we couldn't go inside.
We are in another campground tonight....two nights in a row! The weather was terribly hot today, in the 90's, which is way too warm for me, and there are storms forecast for tonight. We plan to go to all the Lincoln sites in Springfield tomorrow, including the new Lincoln Museum. It should be another interesting day.
The first picture is taken by the village of New Salem. I love the split rail fence. The picture below is a reconstruction of Lincoln's store, which was his attempt at being a businessman, a venture that failed. When Lincoln came to the village in 1831, he had no definite objectives, but while he was there he taught himself law and became a lawyer and a statesman.
Monday, October 02, 2006
This morning we went to the historic town of Galena, Illinois. Already in the 1830's Galena was a center for mining, smelting, and steamboating. By 1850 it had become one of the busiest Mississippi River ports, but when the railroad came in 1854 the city declined and became a quiet, backwater town. During the Civil War, Galena gave the Union Army 9 generals, including U. S. Grant who later became the 18th President of the United States. Today, the town has been rediscovered and restored, and is a charming town that time forgot, filled with speciality shops, historic sites and attractions, and fine dining. It seems to be a destination for women and motorcyclists! The town was filled with women shoppers and bikers that road back and forth on the streets.
We parked our truck and inquired about the red and green trolly car sitting in front of the information center. Ten dollars a person? I don't think so. We walked. When we got to the main street of town, we began our shopping spree. I saw a 6 foot tall camel with a jeweled blanket thrown over his hump, and wearing red tennis shoes. I didn't see a price and didn't ask and didn't buy. Next I saw a lovely sage green, fleece, full length coat with that squiggly yarn decorating the collar and sleeves. It was $475, and it is still hanging in the shop. Inside the next shop I saw a candle ring made up of ceramic pigs holding hands. $129. Nope, don't need that! Across the street was a three story shop full of furniture and home decorating items. I spied a unique tin wall hanging, about 4 foot square, seemingly made out of old tin ceilings. The price tag was tucked behind the frame, and I can see why! It read $4,000! Up on the third floor of the shop I found a white, bent twig chair, proudly proclaiming its $795 price on a large tag.
We stopped at a small cafe for lunch and then continued our walk through town, arriving back at our starting point at 1:17. I looked at the time we had punched the parking ticket and it read 11 o'clock. So our shopping trip was a bit over two hours, including the walk to and fro, and the time for lunch. Total money spent? Hubby bought lunch and I sprung for the $3.00 parking fee.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
At least he did take me to a coffee shop this time, and I had a refreshing iced Chai tea. It was very good. We are going to walk a bit through the old part of this city. Some of the beautiful older homes (riverboat big wigs maybe?) have been turned into shops, this coffee spot being one of them. Next door is one of those good smelling places that carry candles, lotions, and potions to make you and your home smell good. There is a funky clothing exchange shop next door, and a yuppie baby store around the corner.
The drive down was very beautiful. It was a roller coaster type of road with lots of ups and downs and many curves and zig zags. We did go through one town that I'd love to see in another week or ten days. It was a small town that I don't even know the name of, but it had maple trees planted very 20 feet or so, all down both sides of the one and only street that was maybe 8 blocks long. The trees were just beginning to change into their fall costumes, some golden, some orangy, some scarlet, and some a deep rust. Oh, it's going to be pretty! The river, when it was in view, was covered with fishing boats and duck blinds, and the traffic consisted mostly of pickups with trailer behind them.
No plans for the evening, but I think I'll check out a book that my friend Lisa loaned me. The only thing this Wal-Mart lot has going for it is that we are a long way away from the highway! Last night was a long, sleepless night, and I'm hoping for needed rest tonight.
Saturday, September 30, 2006
We have made a total change of plans. The original plan was to go to Indiana to the factory, get our repairs done, and then head west. However, on Thursday we found out that we can't get into the factory until November 13. Why we were lead to believe that we would get right in is beyond me. So, we decided to follow the Mississippi for awhile and visit Iowa, Illinois and Missouri. We'll head to the Ozarks and spend the next month just seeing things we've not seen before. I am excited to go to the Ozarks as I've always wanted to visit there. After we head back up to northern Indiana to the factory we will maybe head southwest. That decision hasn't been made for sure yet, but we will keep you posted. In any case we will be back home for Christmas.
The drive from Stillwater to LaCrosse was very beautiful today. The skies were a bright blue with big cotton puff clouds and the temperature was in the upper 60's. Lake Pepin was full of sailboats out for their last sail before winter forces them out of the water. There were many huge boats already encased in their shrinkwrap for protection from the elements. The trees were starting to show some color. I think we are about 10 days ahead of the peak leaf season, so we won't see the brilliant reds and oranges. Maybe if we drive slow the colors will catch up to us!
We did find a church about a mile and a half from here, so we'll be attending worship services at 8:15 and then we'll head down the road towards Dubuque, Iowa.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Next I push the second button which brings in the desk and entertainment center with the TV and other assorted electronic equipment, and with the coffee table/trunk balanced on the edge of the carpet in front of it. Then the final slide comes in which holds the small couch and the table and 4 chairs. My home is now only 8 feet wide 34 feet long. With the two 3 foot slides in the living area that room is 14 feet wide, but only when we are parked! The front steps are folded into their storage space, and the railing is folded over the front door. Now we unplug the electricity.
While I am doing this, hubby is doing the outside duties: He puts up the rear jacks, backs up the truck and connects it to the RV, and gets all the proper connections plugged in. Last to come up are the front jacks and the RV settles into the bed of the truck for it's ride to the shop.
Our home is getting a new spring attached (the one that the repairman fixed along the Alaska Highway was not strong enough and needed to be redone) and the aliegnment is being corrected. The plan is to leave our spot in the state park on Wednesday and travel two hours northeast of here to our oldest son's home. We get to attend grandparents day with the two grandsons on Friday, an activity which we are very much looking forward to. Then it's on to the West Coast by way of the RV factory in Indiana. Not exactly a shortcut, I know, but our house needs to have another checkup there for some other problems. When it gets a clean bill of health we will head off to Wyoming to visit dear friends, then, depending on the mountain passes, we'll head either northwest, straight west, or southwest. We will then be back to searching out wireless computer connections, hopefully finding them more abundant then we found along the Alaska Highway in the Yukon!
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Somehow we made it. Fortunately Kari was a very good baby which made me look like a good mother. She was all girl. When she was old enough to voice her opinion she picked out her clothes every day, and it was always a dress. As she grew older, she took great pride in her hair and makeup, rising before anyone else in the family so she could have the shower first and then have plenty of time to dry and curl her long hair. She was a beautiful young woman, inside and out and when she charmed Mike and brought him home to meet the family, we knew this was it. She wanted to get married and have babies.
Now, over twenty years later, this beautiful baby girl is the mother of six children and is the most amazing woman I know. Kari is intelligent, passionate about her family and her work, and is the most beautiful Christian woman that I know, always putting others before herself. She and Mike have shared their home and their love with over 75 foster children through the years, strongly believing the Bible verse that admonishes us to take of the widows, the fatherless and the orphans. She hates injustice and when she sees a wrong she tries to right it and she is not afraid to speak the truth even if it is an uncomfortable subject.
Kari, you can't begin to know how proud I am of you! It it a privilege and an honor to call you daughter and I thank God for for you. I wish you a happy birthday and pray God's richest blessings on you.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
My mom was a hard working woman. She raised five kids, often having to do more than her share because my father was the busy pastor of two small rural churches. She also had to wash, hang out, starch and iron six white long sleeved shirts a week for my dad, plus keep up with the mounds of laundry that five active kids can create. Mom always had a tasty meal on the table, even when she had to invent it out of sparse ingredients. I marvel at her feeding our family of seven, plus the teacher of our local Christian Day School who lived with us, on one package of hamburger or one small chicken. She made a wonderful chocolate pudding cake that baked with the cake part on top and the sweet chocolate syrup on the bottom that we often begged for.
Mom was an excellent role model for her four daughters and one son. My father was the head of the house, and my mom never questioned that. She loved, honored, and obeyed, and did it happily. She loved her children and never failed to provide open arms to cuddle us when we were little, or to offer a hug and a listening ear to us as we grew. It was from our mom that we learned to pray, and at bedtime she never failed to tuck us in, hear our prayers, and say good night.
Life has thrown my mom a few curves, but she has kept her sense of humor and good attitude through it all. When I became a mother for the first time I wanted to be just like my mom, an ambition that I have failed miserably at, but one that I am still working on. I pray that God will permit my mom to have many more birthdays, because I still need her.
Thank you, mom, for your years of caring, for your example, and most of all for your love. You can't begin to know how much I love and appreciate you.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
This picture doesn't begin to show the beautiful colors we are now seeing from our front door. There are yellows and golds in several shades, deep reds, bright reds, orange reds, rich browns, and of course the different greens, all combining to make a gorgous view for us to enjoy, even if the skies are gray and cloudy. After our hike the other night, DH said "it's good to live in a state park!" Yes, it is. We don't have to mow the grass, pull the weeks or tend the flower gardens. We don't have to pick up the sticks after a wind storm, or see that the bumps and holes in the road are filled in or smoothed out. We just walk the trails and roads, enjoying the ever changing colors of the prairie. Last night we walked for an hour and only met one man and his dog on the road. The evening before we met one couple hiking the same trail we were, only in the opposite direction. Most of the time, however, we don't see a soul. We are also the only people in the campground most of the time. It's quiet, peaceful, and very beautiful. Yes, it's good to live in a state park!
Friday, September 15, 2006
Last night my daughter, Kari, was out doing what she does best, afflicting the comfortable. She had a presentation to a group of mentors in a town about an hour southwest of here, and she invited me to ride along. I did, and once again she made me so proud of her! Her passion is to educate everyone about the dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy. She loves to give these educational presentations about FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) and she gets right into the faces of those who are comfortable remaining in their little world of denial and ignorance. By the time she has finished her talk, she has the audience a whole lot less comfortable and quite a bit more educated. They ask questions and absorb the answers. They wonder aloud why this message isn't being loudly shouted for everyone to hear, and they vow to tell everyone about the dangers of drinking during pregnancy.
Her message is being heard. And if each one who hears it tells just one person, imagine how many babies will be spared the experience of being drunk in the womb! Just think of the kids who won't suffer from the problems associated with FASD and the families who won't be torn apart because of FASD! FASD is 100% preventable by not drinking during pregnancy, and with Kari, and those who share her passion, out there shouting out the dangers, they will make a difference for these kids.
Meanwhile, she is out there, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. You go girl! Your dad and I are so proud of you!
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
We are still in limbo regarding the RV, as we haven't heard whether the spring was ordered or not. We will assume it was. And we hope it will arrive shortly and we can get the RV in to the alignment place on Monday. If that happens we will be on the road next week. If the spring doesn't come in or if we can't get the RV in on Monday, we are here at least until the next week Monday. When we do leave we are headed west by way of Indiana where the manufacturer of the RV is located. Hopefully we'll get to Washington and Oregon before the snow flies!
I haven't blogged about the TV problem because it was really making me angry. First of all, I didn't even want this satellite dish but DH claims he needs to see football games, so he ordered it. The guy was supposed to install it at 1:00 on June 1. He finally showed up at 4:30 and quickly threw the system into the RV and called it done. No explaining, no demonstrating, no training. Over $200 for nothing. While we were parked in Grand Forks, ND, visiting our son and family, DH called an installer there to come out and set it up. The guy did nothing. That was another $50 for nothing. We had so many outside things to do in Alaska that we didn't miss TV, so we just let it go for the time being at $30 a month for June, July, August and September. Now that we're back in the locality where it was installed to begin with, DH has been calling for help. None available. He read the book and tried about 379 different combinations of things to set it up, but nothing worked. He called another installer from another town who told him a few things to try. Nothing. He called the company headquarters. THREE TIMES. THREE DIFFERENT PEOPLE. No help. He called back to the place that installed it and was brushed off. Finally this afternoon he found the correct alignment and all the right combinations by himself, and we have the channels we've been paying for since June 1!
About ten minutes after his success the local place called and offered to sell him an $89 something or another that would help! I don't think so! DH politely explained how disgusted he was with their lack of help and service, and the gal reminded him that he would be charged for the advice they gave him when he stopped by for help one day last week! DH's response? "I am not paying for anything!"
As far as I'm concerned, he should get his almost $400 back and they can have the dish.