Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Couldn't Resist

Okay, I know I just said, in my previous post, that I had put Halloween to rest for another year. But that was before I went out to Kelsey's blog, and found this picture of Sweetpea . . . I mean Raggedy Ann . . . taken by her daddy. Now isn't that just the cutest?!

Halloween at the Office

We had a potluck lunch today, at work, and some brave souls came in costume. I thought this fellow's was pretty good! (Sorry, had to blur faces since I didn't ask permission to post their portraits.)

And here are a couple of the ladies. In case you can't read the banner on the one on the left, it says "Miss Conception." Get it? I remember Halloween 1975, when I was "infanticipating." We had a costume party to go to, and, thanks to Dan's creativity, I went as the Goodyear Blimp, complete with a rear propeller.

And with that, good friends, we'll put Halloween to rest for another year.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Out of the Mouth of Babes

Kelsey told a story in her blog about shopping the other day. She took Sweetpea into a dressing room, where Kelsey tried on a brown sweatshirt she was considering buying. She asked Sweetpea what she thought, and Sweetpea, who is just now beginning to communicate her thoughts, verbally, answered, "Curious George, oo oo oo." That was not the compliment Kelsey was fishing for!

I told Kelsey that this is just the beginning. One never knows what will come out of a little one's mouth. When Tim was in kindergarten or first grade, his class was learning some proverbs from Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanac; and about that same time my mom and dad came, from Alaska, for a visit. The boys and I drove from Salem (where we then lived) to Portland, to pick them up at the airport. As always, we were excited and happy to see and hug Nanny and Papa again. After loading them, and their luggage, into the car, we buckled up for the trip back down I-5, to Salem. Chris, who never let a quiet moment stay that way, was jabbering on and on about school and friends and what we were going to do during Nanny and Papa's visit. Finally Tim found a rare pause in the conversation that he felt he couldn't pass up. He proudly interjected: "Nanny, did you know fish and visitors stink after three days?"

Monday, October 29, 2007

Remembering Halloweens Past

The times were different in the '50s and '60s, when I was a kid and trick-or-treating rolled around.

In the first place, there were no fears about our safety. People in cars drove about slowly, watching out for the children. And evil thoughts of putting razor blades or other harmful elements into the treats had not yet entered any one's mind.

Secondly, yesteryear's treats were better than today's. Lots of people gave homemade popcorn balls, wrapped in cellophane; others did caramel apples or homemade cookies; and those who gave candy gave whole, full-sized candy bars. Some even invited you inside to have a cup of cocoa. Believe it or not, plastic bags weren't around back then, so we usually used pillow cases, because paper bags just wouldn't hold the weight of our abundant "loot."

And thirdly, it was a night of independence for kids; parents stayed home to hand out the treats. Juneau was a small town, and we, the kids, had the run of all the streets. I would usually start near the corner of Glacier Avenue and Twelfth Street; would work my way up and down Twelfth, Eleventh, Tenth and Ninth Streets; then up the hill to the Governor's Mansion. The Governor or his wife always answered the door and dropped a Hershey bar in our bags. Sometimes the Governor even invited us to step inside for a moment, to warm up, since we could usually count on our first cold, wet, sloppy snowfall of the year arriving on Halloween night (another reason why paper bags just didn't work).

Across the street from the back side of the Governor's Mansion lived my friend, Kathleen P. Kathleen's dad was a big tease. When kids rang his doorbell and hollered, "Trick or treat," he would open the door, invite them inside, and then say, "Here's your treat. Now you owe me a trick." And he wouldn't let them leave until they sang a song, did a dance, told a joke or riddle, or, at the very least, made a funny face for him.

If trick-or-treating was the highlight of Halloween, it certainly wasn't the only fun activity. There was the costume parade that wound its way through the halls and classrooms of all three floors of Fifth Street Elementary School. And there was the art contest sponsored by the downtown merchants. All elementary age children were invited to register to decorate a shop window on a designated day, shortly before Halloween. Each participant was assigned to a specific window and issued a bar of Ivory Soap. Only the soap could be used as the art medium on the windows; and prizes were given to winning artists in a multitude of categories.

Things might be a little different now, but some things never change. Kids still have fun on Halloween. And I, for one, still love the opportunity to greet little tykes in cute costumes, at my door, and to drop a little treat into their trick-or-treat bag. Here's wishing you and your little goblins a safe and happy Halloween, 2007-style!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Half-Smart isn't Smart at All

This morning we overslept. But it wasn't our fault; it was the fault of our clock-radio trying to be smart. It's one of those clocks that has some internal firmware that automatically changes the time by one hour on the beginning and ending days of DST. But it was only half-smart, because it didn't know about the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005, which postponed the end of DST until next weekend this year. I guess that's what people mean when they say, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."

A Devotional Thought on Sorrow

"Thou hast taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Thy bottle; Are they not in Thy book?" Psalm 56:8 (New American Standard version)

You might remember that I mentioned that I have a collection of sand from around the world. That collection started years ago, when a colleague of mine at George Fox took a ten-day trip to Cairo, Egypt. Although it was a business trip, he anticipated having a great deal of free time for sightseeing. I shared in his excitement, because I, too, had always wanted to see the sights of Egypt.

When he asked me what he could bring back for me, it took only a moment to reply, "A little bottle of sand from the desert, near the great pyramids!"

When he returned, I was thrilled that he hadn't forgotten my request. I kept my bottle of Sahara sand at my office for years, and hardly a day went by that I didn't take it down, open the lid, and entertain a little daydream about the fascinating country from which its contents came.

Perhaps because of this, when I read, in Psalm 56:8, that God puts my tears in his bottle, I was especially touched.

I wonder if seeing that bottle of tears prompts God to think fondly of me each day.

Do you suppose it's a graduated bottle, so that God can measure my sorrows?

And He must have known, even before my birth, just what size bottle to select for me. What a comforting thought! That means that God has placed a limit on the number of tears I will shed in a lifetime, for surely he wouldn't let my tears overflow His bottle.

David was writing poetically, of course, when he penned this psalm. But the underlying truth is that God does care when I'm sad. Best of all, He promises that a time will come when I will weep no more: "And He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying or pain. . . " Rev. 21:4). I'm eagerly awaiting that day, but until it comes I am comforted by the thought that God is saving my tears in His bottle.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mending Fences and News about Tim's Move

About three weeks ago a big wind storm moved through and took down two sections of our side fence. Our yard sits up high, and our neighbor's is low. There is a retaining wall, only visible from the neighbor's side, holding back our yard, and the fence sits on top of that wall. The main reason for the fence, in that place, is to keep someone from falling over the retaining wall.

Anyway, Balloon Fiesta activities got in the way of a quick repair. But last week Dan, our neighbor and his son dug out the center fence post, which was a big chore, since it was set in concrete, and then sunk a new post in the ground. Today the three of them put the rails and the boards up. And right now Dan is relaxing in his easy chair, watching some TV, and holding a baggie of ice on his thumb, which had a run-in with a hammer; the hammer won. Here's a picture of the two new fence sections. Nice job, guys!

On another note, Tim is out running errands today. I'm not sure, but he may be buying a few things he needs for his new apartment. He found out, earlier this week, that the apartment he has been waiting for isn't going to be empty as soon as they thought (that's the bad news). But they have another one - same size - that's available NOW! And it's on the ground level, so he won't have to move all his belongings up to a second story apartment (and that's the good news). It caught him by surprise, so he's not prepared to make the move this weekend, but maybe next! He's really anxious to get back to a place of his own.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Shopping with Dan

When we first got married, I was really reluctant to spend money; I pinched pennies pretty tightly. Dan, on the other hand, had the philosophy (as did my Dad, I might mention) that it's better to spend a little more and get better quality. Dan usually convinced me, and in the end, I admit, I was happy to have the better quality item.

This little game still goes on, although I'm, perhaps, a little easier to convince now. Dan's argument hasn't really changed, though. It goes something like this . . .

Let's say we are in the market for a new thingamajig. I go to Target, to do the preliminary shopping, and find three thingamajigs that have the features that I want. One is $30, one is $40, and the third is $50. My preference is almost always the middle-priced one. So then it's time to take Dan to see my three finalists. He looks at them -- spending no time at all on the $30 one. He doesn't say much as he looks over candidates #2 and #3, but pretty soon I find him looking at one that's priced at $60, and not even on my list. "Look," he says, "I like this design better; it's mechanically simpler, with less to go wrong. And that $50 one is made with plastic parts, whereas this one has stainless steel. " (Or something like that.)

"Well," I say, "That's a lot of money. I didn't plan on spending $60!"

And this is where Dan will inevitably say, "Think about it this way. The other one was $50, and you were planning to spend that much," (you notice he's only comparing his choice to my most expensive option) "so you're getting this better made model for only $10. You had to pay the $50 anyway!"

Now, you and I - and Dan, I'm sure - know that the thingamajig really does cost $60, not $10. But by his logic, I'm getting all this quality for $10. And, typically, we walk out of Target with the $60 model. And, in the end, I'm happy to have the nicer thingamajig.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

"People Photographs" and an Optical Illusion

Today I thought I'd share with you a couple of interesting websites that I recently visited.

The first site, featuring the work of Arthur Mole and John Thomas, E.O. Goldbeck, and others, captured my attention because it's about photography. It is a gallery of photographs taken between 1915 and 1920, during and shortly following WWI. Every one of the "living photographs" was created by grouping masses of people, dressed in dark and light clothing (uniforms?), into various military and patriotic shapes. My favorite is the Official Seal of the 11th Division. (Click on it, so you can see it at a larger size, and note how skillfully the lettering was made.) The article at the bottom of the web page says, ". . . instead of prospering from the sale of the images produced, the artists donated the entire income derived to the families of the returning soldiers and to this country’s efforts to re-build their lives as a part of the re-entry process." Click here to visit this amazing gallery.

The second web site is just for fun. Open this page, and look at the dancer. Is she spinning clockwise or counter-clockwise? The instructions on the page say, "If clockwise, then you use more of the right side of the brain and vice versa." I don't know how true that is. When I first looked at it, she was spinning one direction (I won't tell you which, so that you won't be influenced), but then, suddenly, I saw her change directions. Interestingly, when she's spinning one way, it's her right leg that touches the floor; when she spins the other way it's her left leg! Have fun with this one. And leave a comment, saying which way you see her spinning.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I'm a Happy Camper!

We've lived in our house for four-and-a-half years now, and the gas fireplace has never worked properly. Dan was able to light it the first year - with great effort - but for the past three it sat idle and non-functioning. Our many attempts at finding someone to work on it proved futile. It took us awhile, but eventually we came to realize that fireplace shops aren't interested in servicing units they didn't sell in the first place.

I was determined that this year we'd have the fireplace functional for the winter months. Someone suggested that we contact a plumber instead of the fireplace specialists, so that's what I finally did. Thanks to Aardvark Plumbing, who sent someone out this afternoon, we now have a warm and cozy hearth. And, yes, I am a happy camper!

Here's a picture, looking from our dining area, through the lit fireplace (which is glass on three sides) into our family room. And as a BONUS, you can even see the red leather sofa!

All that's missing, now, is a rainy day, a good book and a cup of cocoa.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Time for Pumpkins

For your viewing pleasure ... Our little Sweetpea last year, at 10 months old, at the pumpkin patch (left); and this year at 22 months (right). (Pictures by Kelsey)

Looking at Sweetpea's pumpkin patch pictures takes me back to our Oregon years, when we took our boys to our favorite pumpkin patch every October. The farm we went to provided a hay wagon to carry the kids out to the field, where they could choose their pumpkins; and then back to the country store, where the pumpkins were weighed. They always had apple cider to drink, and lots of homemade goodies in the store. There were farm animals for the kids to pet and feed, and in the barn were a number of nursery rhyme dioramas, with jack-o-lanterns in all the starring roles.

We continued to do the pumpkin patch thing all the way through the boys' high school years. In fact, I remember that Takashi went, too, the year he was with us. Here's a picture of the three boys working on their jack-o-lanterns that year.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Chris' 17th Birthday

When Chris turned 17 he said he didn't want a birthday party. "But," he said, "Could I just invite two or three friends over for dinner on Friday? And then maybe we'll go to a movie?" That sounded nice to me, so, on his birthday I prepared for a few friends to show up for dinner. And, as I had done for the 16 preceding years, I baked and decorated a birthday cake for him, despite his claim that he didn't want a party.

Dinner was almost ready when the doorbell rang. It was Rebekah, from the youth group. "Hi Rebekah," I said. "Come on in." Next came Sheralyn and then Brenda. That's when it dawned on me that something was very different about this birthday party. I had been expecting, perhaps, Carl, Rusty and Brady; not Rebekah, Sheralyn and Brenda!

Chris and the three girls had a great time talking and laughing through dinner and dessert. Then Chris shepherded his little flock of lovely lasses out the door and to the mall for a movie. Dan looked at me, after they went out the door, and said, "I don't know what he's got, but if he could bottle "it" and sell "it," he'd be rich!"

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sweetpea's Birthday Party Plans

We're not going to be able to go to Sweetpea's second birthday party, in December, so I was thrilled when Kelsey thought of involving me by asking if I would design the party invitation. Kelsey has great plans for a puppy dog themed party -- seems fitting, since Sweetpea shares the floor-space at her house with three Welsh Corgis, namely Zoe, Max and Dingle. So that is what I've been working on today -- a doggy party invitation.

Here's a first draft of the outside - it will be folded over in the middle, at the top of the blue background, of course:

And here's the inside:

And, as long as we're speaking of Sweetpea, I'll pass along a story her mama told in her blog. They went to the library the other day. While Sweetpea was busy looking at books, Kelsey was chatting with another mother. Pretty soon, here came Sweetpea, carrying the book she wanted Kelsey to read to her: I Wish Daddy Didn't Drink So Much. Both moms got a chuckle out of that.

Friday, October 19, 2007

An Almost-Date with Steven S.

Writing about the Saturday matinee, yesterday, reminded me of one of my most embarrassing moments. I was in third grade, and Miss D. was my teacher. In our class was a boy named Steven S. Now, Steven was a class clown, of sorts, but he was cute, and I liked him in a third-grade boys-have-cooties kind of way.

One Friday, at school, Steven asked me if I was going to the Saturday matinee. I told him I probably was; and he said he was too. Now I don't suppose anyone else would have called that being asked out on a date, but in my 9-year-old mind it was close! That evening, though, my uncle's wife (at the time) called my mom and asked if I'd take her son, Danny (only a second-grader), to the movie on Saturday. Mom, not knowing anything about Steven, told her that she was sure I would be happy to. Upon hearing this news, I was pretty disappointed, but, being a little embarrassed about my very first almost-date, I didn't say anything to Mom; instead I just accepted my sad fate.

Saturday morning the phone rang. I answered it, and heard a boy's voice on the other end ask, "Can you go to the movie with me today?" Now no one could deny that this really was a date! I could just picture Steven, waiting expectantly for my answer.

"I can't!" I said, and, in an effort to adequately express my regret, I added, "I have to take my stupid cousin to the movie."

"Oh," he said, sounding as disappointed as I'd hoped he would. "Alright." We said good-bye, and I just knew that would be the last time Steven, or any other boy, would ever ask me to a movie.

I had just hung up the phone when it rang again. This time it was my aunt, who, to tell the truth, always scared and intimidated me. "What do you mean telling Danny that you have to take your 'stupid cousin' to the movie! You don't have any other cousins here. Danny is your 'stupid cousin!'"

I had really blown it. I had no answer for my aunt. I just stood there, speechless. She said that Danny would be at my house in an hour, so that I could take him to the movie, and I managed an, "Okay."

And that was the day that I learned a big life lesson . . . never call anyone "stupid."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Saturday Matinee

As a child, in Juneau, a highlight of the week was the Saturday matinee. There were two theaters in town, both very old. One of them was the Twentieth Century Theater, and it was located on Front Street, near Percy's. Percy's, at that time, was a drug store and soda fountain, and was the favorite hang-out for the teen crowd. The other theater was around the corner and up the hill a block, across from the Elk's Club on Franklin Street.

A ticket to the Saturday matinee cost 25 cents. In addition, I usually bought popcorn, Jujubees, and a bottle of Card's Pop - all for a second quarter. Card's Pop was made locally and bottled in recycled beer bottles. With my snacks in hand, I would part the heavy maroon velvet curtain that hung between the lobby and the dimly-lit theater, stand there for a moment to let my eyes adjust, and then find a group of friends to sit with. That was never a problem, because the matinee was the place to be, for the pre-teen crowd, on a Saturday afternoon.

One of the theaters had an orchestra pit, and a large organ sat there. Sometimes Alan M., the older brother of a boy in my class, would play the organ before the start of the movie. Then came the drawing; one child was chosen to come and draw a slip of paper out of a box. On the slips of paper were written the months of the year. If our birthday-month was selected we won a prize - usually a free pass to the movie, or maybe a box of popcorn. Occasionally the Capitol Theater conducted major contests. The one I especially remember was the Lynden egg carton contest. The person who brought in the most Lynden egg cartons on a particular Saturday won a bicycle! I so wanted to win that prize. And since my dad was a baker, I thought I had it "in the bag," so to speak. Dad saved all his cartons for me, and on award-Saturday I stood in line on the sidewalk, outside the ticket booth, with my 78 cartons all tied together with twine. But I underestimated the ambition of my peers. There were several boys who came in with well over 100 cartons. I suppose they went door to door; or maybe they had the advantage of having large families. Whatever the reason, I was trounced in the Lynden egg carton contest, and had to walk home after the movie, instead of riding a new bike.

After the organ music and the prizes, the lights went down, and a hush came over the auditorium - not so much because of our wonderful theater manners, but because of the uniformed ushers (usually 15 or 16 years old), who roamed the aisles with a flashlight and the coveted authority to expel anyone who was disorderly.

And finally the screen came alive. First was a newsreel, which none of us were interested in. Next, however, came that week's episode of a serial movie - Zorro (my favorite), Flash Gordon, Red Ryder, or Tarzan, to name a few. The serials were most effective at bringing us back, week after week without fail. Missing an episode was unthinkable! Following the serial came a cartoon or two, previews of coming attractions, and, finally, the feature film.

I remember, on the Saturday before Christmas, at the conclusion of the feature film, being lined up and marched out the doors of the Capitol Theater, across Franklin Street, to the Elk's Club. There we waited our turn to receive a Christmas stocking, made of netting, and full of candy, nuts and fruit, from Santa Claus, who sat in a leather chair inside the Elk's Club.

The Saturday matinee was so much more than just "going to the movies." We usually didn't know or care what movie we were coming to see. But it was the social hub of the '50s and '60s for the pre-teens of Juneau.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Jemez Mountains and Gilman Tunnels - October Photo Shoot

[See pictures from our photo shoot HERE. Click on the first photo, then use the "next" button to move through the rest.]

I left my office at 12:00 noon yesterday, and drove to Sherry's house to pick her up for our October photo shoot. We stopped at Chick-Fil-A for a quick lunch, then headed north through Rio Rancho on Hwy. 528. We turned west on Hwy. 550, toward San Ysidro; and then went north on State Hwy. 4. Just past CaƱon is a cutoff, Forest Road 485, which leads to the Gilman Tunnels, our first planned destination. The Tunnels were blasted out of rock in the 1920's to allow narrow gauge logging train access along the rushing Guadalupe River Gorge. The road, as it nears the tunnels, becomes a one-lane road, with pull-offs available, so you can let on-coming cars pass. There is very little traffic, especially on a week day, so stopping the car in the middle of the road and getting out to take photos was not a problem.

The scenery in the vicinity of the tunnels is spectacular - a deep gorge, carved by the Guadalupe River, cut through towering cliffs of the Jemez Mountains. The river itself roars through the gorge, cascading down a number of small falls; and pooling in some places where it widens, and where fallen logs create partial dams.

Other than the roar of the river, the only other sounds were birds - both song birds and ravens. One raven kept soaring, back and forth, high over our heads and cawing. I think he was trying to tell us that he was not happy having visitors.

The road turns to a gravel road just beyond the tunnels, and actually continues north to Fenton Lake. We thought we might try taking this crude road up to the lake, but a brief trial run convinced us that it was too washboarded to tolerate for that distance. We therefore turned around and headed back to Hwy. 4, planning to continue north to Hwy. 126, then west to Fenton Lake. But before we had gone even five miles north on Hwy. 4, a storm moved in. The winds were fierce, and the clouds threatening. It was no longer picture-taking weather, so we cut our photo shoot short and returned to Albuquerque, via Rio Rancho, and ended our day with dinner at one of our favorite spots, Hot Tamales.

[See pictures from our photo shoot HERE. Click on the first photo, then use the "next" button to move through the rest.]

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Stay Tuned for More

Today Sherry and I went on our October photo shoot. It was my month to make the plans and provide transportation. We drove up into the Jemez Mountains, not far from Albuquerque. Our plans were to go as far as Fenton Lake, but a thunder storm moved in, and we decided to call it a day before we got there.

I'll try to put up some photos tomorrow, but for now, here's one "teaser." It was a beautiful drive, especially with the fall foliage in its glory. I hope you'll come back tomorrow afternoon to see more.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Red Leather Sofa

When I was little, Mom called those pieces of furniture you sit on "davenports." When Dan and I lived in the Northwest, they were "couches." But here in New Mexico, it seems that they are known as "sofas." Whatever you call them, ours, that we bought a little over four years ago, did not hold up the way we thought they would. You'd think they would have lasted many years, since there are only the two of us, and no children. But they really were looking very tired and, even worse, were becoming very uncomfortable to sit on. So we decided to try again.

I won't bore you with the details of the "musical chairs" act that we performed - switching furniture from one room to another, to accomplish our final goal. But what finished it off was the purchase of a new sofa. We accomplished that goal Saturday, and the sofa will be delivered on Wednesday.

I had picked out one that I liked and, Saturday afternoon, took Dan with me to see it and make sure it met with his approval. It didn't! There wasn't anything about it that he liked. So we looked through the showroom again, and agreed on another one. It's a red leather couch - more bold and more modern than I ever would have picked out myself. But now that the decision is made, I think I'm going to like it. I'll have to add a few more splashes of that red color around the room, though, to make it all work together.

I bought two decorator pillows that have all the colors that I'm trying to incorporate into the room. Here's a picture of them, sitting on one of the chairs in the family room. You can see the red, which is the same shade as the new sofa. What do you think? Too bold?!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Little Brown Jug

It was probably about 1963 when two men, dressed in dark suits, walked up to the counter in our bakery, flashed their F.B.I. identification, and asked to speak with Mr. or Mrs. Clark (my parents)! They were there, they told my folks, to investigate an allegation that there was alcoholic liquor being unlawfully made, sold, or transported on the premises. In other words, the "revenuers" thought Mom and Dad were bootlegging!

Of course, this was an absurdly ridiculous allegation to anyone who knew my folks. But the investigators had a job to do. They looked all over the shop, even down in the basement, for a still or a stash of liquor, and found nothing. In a short time the men were finished with their examination of the premises, and convinced that the allegation was false. They told Mom and Dad that the investigation was precipitated by a report from an eye witness who claimed to have seen a car pull up to the back door of the shop; to have heard the driver honk the horn; and to have seen the back door open and a jug of liquor be passed to the driver, who then left the scene.

That was when the whole thing started making sense to my folks.
We had, in the bakery, a display unit that featured Smucker's jams and jellies, ice cream toppings, some fancy maple syrup, some English tea crackers and the like. The syrup came packaged in a little brown crockery jug with a cork top.

One day, not long before the arrival of the "revenuers," Mom was at home and was about to fix some pancakes, bacon and eggs, when she realized she was out of syrup. She called the shop, and asked Dad if he would grab a bottle of syrup, and hand it to her through the back door, which opened onto an alley, when she pulled up. She told him she'd toot the horn so he'd know she was there; that way she wouldn't have to park and come in.

Across the alley was another commercial building with an upstairs apartment that had windows facing the alley. In that apartment lived Mr. and Mrs. G. Not much got by Mrs. G's eagle eyes. Apparently she had witnessed the syrup caper and misinterpreted the little brown jug's contents - but not as badly as she had misinterpreted Mom and Dad's character.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Lauretta's Early Life

[Note: If you do not know who Lauretta, Wiley, Marci and Terye are, you might want to check out this brief explanation before reading my post here.]

The last time we drove through the Dallas area, Dan and I stopped and spent the night with Marci. That evening we had dinner with several family members, including Marci's step-daughter, Terye. I hadn't seen Terye in a long time, and it was a joy to be with her again, and meet her young teen-aged son, Jared (who, by the way is really into photography). Before we parted that evening, Terye gave me a copy of a paper she had prepared. It's actually a transcription of Lauretta's own words, as she told the story of her early life. Terye Gaustad's paper is the source for the information in my post today (thank you, Terye).

Lauretta was the youngest of fourteen children. Her mother passed away when Lauretta was only four months old; her father died five years later. Her 22-year-old brother, Joe (the fifth child); and her 17-year-old sister, Grace (the sixth child), took on the responsibility of raising all of the younger children. Joe had been studying to become a doctor, but gave up that dream in order to provide for the family by farming. Grace quit high school to become a full-time homemaker. Among Grace's many other tasks was making the children's clothes. Lauretta's clothes were made out of flour sacks, sugar sacks, feed sacks and, sometimes, inexpensive cotton prints found in the Sears or Wards catalogs. Joe learned to re-sole the children's shoes, so they could be worn until they were outgrown.

Joe became an enterprising and progressive farmer. He was one of the first to put down an irrigation well in West Texas. Since he didn't get to realize his dream of becoming a doctor, he made up his mind to be the best farmer he could be. Their land was made up of 320 cultivated acres and 320 acres of pasture land. They had four or five milk cows, four mules, four horses, hogs for butchering, and hens for laying. They sold some of the eggs to help buy other staples.

The little farmhouse where they lived had a kitchen, a dining room (that doubled as a bedroom), a living room (with another double bed), and two bedrooms. There was no running water; the water was carried in buckets from the well.

Lauretta started school in 1930, in the midst of both the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. To her, the depression and the terrible sandstorms were all she had ever known, and, therefore, just life as usual. She remembers sand blowing in so deep that it covered miles of fence, until the posts were no longer visible. And, at times, they had to tie damp dish towels around their faces in order to breathe, as they shoveled sand out of the house.

Lauretta's keen humor comes through when she tells about their school lunches:
". . . everyone brought their lunch from home, and these . . . well-to-do kids had store-bought bread with store-bought baloney for their sandwiches, while we carried homemade biscuits with sausage for our lunch. A dreadful price to pay for being under privileged, wouldn't you say? There were times when we had the best of everything and didn't know it. The sausage came from home-killed pork, and for sweets we had to settle for homemade cinnamon rolls that Grace made each morning when she made her fresh hot biscuits. At times like that we didn't realize we were the ones eating 'high off the hog.'"
Lauretta also expounds upon the racial discrimination that was all she ever knew, growing up in the South. She regrets that it wasn't until the 1950s and 1960s that she came to understand and believe that the racial attitudes she had been raised with were wrong. In relation to that, she tells an interesting little episode from her childhood:
"For a long time there were two drinking fountains in Lubbock County Courthouse and one was labeled 'white' and the other was labeled 'colored." I wondered why it was like this for a long time, and one day, when no one was looking, I went over and turned on the 'colored' faucet, to see if it had colored water in it. I figured if it did, it must be better than the 'white' water, and more flavorful, but it was just like the 'white' water. All the older members in my family would have been horrified had they known that I drank from the 'colored' fountain."
Lauretta's narrative ends with the story of Wiley's courting of and marriage to her. Wiley lived on a neighboring farm, and Lauretta was introduced to him by her brother, Joe. She tells about the time he sat in the seat directly behind her, at a movie theater. It was a rainy day, and Wiley leaned over her seat and said that, since it was so muddy out, it would probably be a good idea if Lauretta rode home with him . . . "so, if I get stuck you can get out and push me."

Wiley and Lauretta married on February 1, 1947.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Embracing My Work

I read a quote, recently. It said:
"The way to make your work easier is not by avoiding it or resenting it. The way to make your work easier is by embracing it with gratitude and enthusiasm." -- Ralph Marston
I took a day of annual leave yesterday, in order to "embrace" (with gratitude and enthusiasm) the vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, dusting, straightening, folding, hanging, scrubbing, sheet changing, bill paying, and grout sealing that my house has been begging for recently. Of course, the work is never really "done." But, the tasks I did complete made a big impact, and I feel good to have turned semi-chaos into semi-order.

Not only did I get all that house work done, but I also baked two peach pies, from the peaches off our back yard tree. One was for us and the other was for our neighbors, Dave and Lorraine, who are always sharing home-grown produce with us (yes, zucchini, of course! but also tomatoes and fruit). Here are the pies, cooling on the counter.

I seldom take a day off, unless we are traveling, but having a day like yesterday, to catch up on so many things at home, really felt like a luxury. It's the next-best thing to having someone else clean the house.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

News from the Triplets

All three of the little girls are doing well!

Ella is almost 4 lbs., and is taking all of her milk by bottle now - no IVs, no tubes, no oxygen. She may actually get to go home this week!

Claire is about 3 lb 5 oz. She is transitioning from stomach-tube feeding to a bottle, and seems to be doing well with it. She has no IVs and no supplemental oxygen.

Little Amelia is getting close to 3 pounds, and also progressing well. She still receives all her feedings by stomach tube, but has no IVs and no supplemental oxygen.

Howdy "Pahdnah"

[Credits: Country Colors Kit and elements © 2007 by Linda Sattgast.
Quotation by Hank Williams Jr.]

Kelsey took this photograph of Sweetpea trying on cowboy boots in a store. Do you think she might need just one size larger? It was one of those pictures that I couldn't resist making into a digital scrapbook page, and thought I'd share. (Sweetpea's name has been deliberately blurred on the tag for this post).

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

About the Prayer Meeting poem . . .

I wrote the poem below in February of 2002. The inspiration for it was, in part, a visit I made with Dan, years earlier - when I was still in college - to the Lariat Church of Christ in West Texas. I hesitate to identify the congregation, because the details are not intended to be accurate or specific. For instance, the Lariat building was a little brick building, not clapboard; and I didn't know any of the people by name (Brother Milo is not meant to be the Brother Milo some of my readers from Oregon may remember. I chose the name because Milo is an alternative name for the grain sorghum grown in West Texas.) But the intent of the poem was to capture the simplicity of the service, the sincerity of the farm folk, and the hot dustiness of a West Texas summer.

West Texas Sunday Night Prayer Meeting, 1968

A variegated crop of church bulletins
and Sunday school quarterlies
sprout and bloom in uniform rows.
They flap in concert, shoving airless air
from here to there and back again.
Brother Milo opens the Book,
quotes the Word, declares the Truth,
oblivious to ticking minute hands.
Old Jim, jotting notes in the margin
of his dearly-departed's Bible,
punctuates the sermon with arbitrary amens.
Slinging diaper bag over one shoulder,
squalling, bare-foot infant over the other,
a young mother sighs and leaves the assembly.
And two tow-headed boys on the back pew
play game after game of tic-tac-toe.
Elder Higgins, focusing on the lesson,
leans forward, adjusts his hearing aid
to better follow Brother Milo's reading
of Acts 2:38,
"Repent and be baptized every one of you. . . "
The end of his invitation is lost
in the zoop-zoop symphony of shape-note hymn books
sliding out of wooden racks.
Four-part harmony spills from their throats -
surprisingly sweet, simply sincere -
bringing Sunday night prayer meeting to a close.
Shadows lie long and lean upon the earth.
The plain white clapboard church
still harbors heat. The outside air is cool.
And fresh. Tinted with alfalfa.

No one leaves.

Children run and squeal,
Men stand in small knots in the parking lot,
kicking at the dust and talking of harvest.
Women, in summertime gingham,
more like sisters than sisters,
confide freely in one another.
And Elder Higgins' daughter holds hands
on the back porch with John Mark,
serenaded by a choir of late August crickets.

(L. Judd 2002)

Monday, October 8, 2007

A Sad Day for Albuquerque

I'm sad to report that the Balloon Fiesta has had a fatality today. A lady from California, who was a passenger in one of the balloons that went up this morning, fell to her death after the balloon got tangled in some power lines, and the basket tipped suddenly. There were four other people in the basket - the pilot and three other passengers. They ended up coming free of the power lines, crossing the nearby freeway, and crash landing. I haven't heard anything about the condition of those four people.

Good News - Doug

I heard, last night, that Doug and his wife, Beverly, are supposed to be heading home today. Thanks to all of you who were praying for him! Here's a quote from Kelsey's blog:

Thank you all for your prayers for my dad and my mom. We're just so thankful that he's still here with us. It's hard to believe we came so close to losing him. Oh, and in case you're wondering, he's still as ornery as ever.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Happy Birthday Dad

Today is my dad's birthday. He would have been 82 years old. Dad passed from this world in June of 1997. He was only 71 years old and seemed younger than that. He was an elder and a hard worker in the church. In fact, he'd been an elder in four different congregations; everywhere he lived they saw in him a worthy man. I always thought of Dad as "president of my fan club;" and becoming the person I was in his eyes will be a life-long challenge for me.

Dad was faithful to God in life and confident in His promises in death. Although he was in great physical distress those last 24 hours, I never heard him complain. He did tell me, though, on that last day, as he was struggling to draw every shallow breath, "Dying is hard work."

Since that day, our family has celebrated a number of joyous events. Those are the times I most miss my dad. I missed him at Chris and Kelsey's wedding; he'd have loved Kelsey and been so happy for Chris. I missed him when Sweetpea was born; she would have stolen his heart. I missed him at Tim's graduation from ITT Tech; he'd have been so proud of him. And I missed him at Mom's 80th birthday celebration; he'd have told her she was even more beautiful that day than the day he married her.

To celebrate Dad's birthday this year, I'd like to write down a few memories I have of him:

I remember, when I was five years old, that we lived in Hood River, Oregon, and my dad built the Dalles Dam. At least that was what I thought for a long time. Later I learned that he was one of probably 3,000 men working on the construction of this dam, at any one time.

I remember, as a child, that whenever Dad held my hand, he would squeeze it in a funny way, and the bones in my hand would wibble-wobble. I'd jerk my hand away, we'd both laugh, and then . . . hold hands again.

I remember once, when I was around six years old, I begged my dad to let me drive the car. He put me on his lap, and let me steer the car around an almost-vacant parking lot, while he operated the foot pedals. Once the steering wheel was in my control, I became terrified and started crying and begging, "Daddy, I don't want to drive!"

I remember, when we lived in Portland, how much Dad enjoyed landscaping our yard. I remember clearly the smell of the nursery where we went to get gardening supplies and new plants. One day he bought a little sapling of a tree, and planted it in the front yard. Many years later, when Dan and I lived in the Portland area, I went by that old house. That little sapling had grown into a massive tree that almost hid the entire front of the house.

I remember how much Dad loved to take pictures with his 35 mm camera. His specialties were flowers and sunsets, and we all teased him about how many of both he had in his slide collection.

I remember how good Dad was to my Grandma Rose, his mother-in-law. I remember her saying, "Bob is the best son-in-law ever."

I remember Dad teaching me a lot of life-lessons. One time, for instance, I was determined to buy a pen and pencil set from the Ben Franklin dime store. He didn't see a reason to buy it, since I already had all the pens and pencils I could use. But I wanted it. He told me, "Wait one week. If you still want to spend your money on it, go ahead." I waited. At the end of a week the urge had passed, and I was glad I still had my money.

I remember, when I was in my "rock hound" phase, that Dad made me a big plywood board, painted, framed, and marked out in a grid, so I could display my rock samples on it.

I remember going to the rifle range with Dad, where he taught me to safely shoot my 22 caliber rifle; and also to the gun club, where he taught me to shoot skeet with a shotgun.

I remember Dad teaching me how to decorate cakes and, later in life, how to make real Danish pastry.

I remember Dad teasing me - a lot! He always told me that when I was born I had a point on top of my head, and the doctor had to remove it.

I remember Dad going as far as Seattle with me, when I left Alaska for college the first time. We spent a couple days there - went to the zoo, went to a movie, did some window shopping - and then he put me on the plane to Texas. And as I turned to wave good-bye, he was smiling, but there were tears in his eyes. [Edit: Thanks to Mom for correcting me. She was the one who took me to Seattle that first year I left for college - and she cried too! Because I remember what movie Dad and I went to see in Seattle, I was able to look up its release date and determine that it was when I left for my second year of college that Dad accompanied me to Seattle.]

I remember when Dad wanted to get his pilot's license, but didn't want to worry Mom. So he borrowed the money for his lessons from me. I was his partner in crime!

I remember the very first time we went salmon fishing in Juneau. I was the first one to catch a salmon, but . . . we had no net to bring it in with. Dad tried to use a plastic garbage can, but it broke my line and I lost the fish; and Dad felt much worse about it than I did.

I remember seeing Dad laugh so hard that tears rolled down his face whenever he watched Red Skelton, Carol Burnett, Dick VanDyke, and other slap-stick comedians on TV.

I remember the letter Dad wrote to me after Dan and I announced our engagement. It was the only letter he ever wrote to me. It was really sweet, and said he believed Dan was a good man.

I remember my dad walking me down the church aisle to give me away at my wedding; and two years later I remember him walking with me at my college commencement ceremony and "hooding" me.

I remember how much Dad liked to shop. He would take Mom shopping, and pick out dresses for her. He even enjoyed sitting and waiting for her to try them on, and then would tell her how beautiful she looked in them, and tell her to buy them all!

I remember what a good "Papa" my dad was to our boys.

This picture of Chris, Papa and Tim was taken in either 1978 or 1979 (maybe that explains the plaid pants!).

Happy Birthday, Bea

It's Bea L's birthday today, too. Bea always said she was my "second Mom." I love you, Bea, and wish I could be there to see you blow out your candles! (By the way, I took this picture of rhodies in Juneau when we visited in 2006.)

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Balloon Fiesta 2007

Last year Chris, Kelsey and Sweetpea came to visit us during Balloon Fiesta . . . and it rained! Because of the weather, the Mass Ascension was delayed. Sweetpea was only 10 months old then, and we felt we shouldn't keep her out in the wet, chilly, early morning air any longer, so we came home and watched the balloons on TV. Because of the delayed start, not even half of the balloons lifted off that Saturday. We felt so bad that Chris and Kelsey had come all that way, without getting to enjoy the festivities.

This year, on the other hand, the weather couldn't have been any better. I kept wishing that the kids could have been here today. Please take a couple minutes to view my pictures, here. (Once you get to the gallery, click on the first picture, then continue to click on "next" to move through the pictures.)

A Very Early Good Morning

Dan, Tim and I are rising early, because today is the opening day of Balloon Fiesta. We'll be using the Park n' Ride services provided by the city in order to get to the Balloon Park by 5:45 when the Dawn Patrol balloons begin to inflate. We'll be dressing in layers, so that we'll be warm enough before the sun rises and cool enough after.

Here, from, is a description of the Dawn Patrol event:
The Dawn Patrol began at Balloon Fiesta in 1978, when two California balloonists developed position lighting systems that allowed them to fly at night. Dawn Patrol pilots take off in the dark and fly until it is light enough to see landing sites. Fellow balloonists appreciate the Dawn Patrol because they can watch the balloons and get an early idea of wind speeds and directions at different altitudes. On mass ascension days, about a dozen Dawn Patrol balloons perform the Dawn Patrol Show, a choreographed inflation and launch set to music that has been part of the Balloon Fiesta since 1996. Dawn Patrol inflations begin, weather permitting, at about 5:45 AM, with launch around 6:15 AM.
After Dawn Patrol comes the Mass Ascension, and here is a description of that event, also from

Mass Ascensions – a launch of all the participating balloons – have been a feature of Balloon Fiesta since its earliest days and is the most spectacular display of sound and color in all of aviation. During mass ascensions, balloons launch in two waves. Launch directors, also known as “zebras” because of their black-and-white-striped outfits, serve as “traffic cops,” coordinating the launch so balloons leave the field in a safe and coordinated manner. Weather permitting, balloons begin to launch at about 7:15 AM on mass ascension days, led by a balloon flying the American flag to the strains of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
I hope to be posting pictures later today.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Update on Doug

Doug had the final two stents put in yesterday, so is now resting and recuperating. The doctor said that his heart did not appear to have sustained any damage from the incidents on Wednesday, so his prospects for a full recovery, in time, are very good.

Thanks to all of you who have been praying for Doug, and also for the triplets. (I don't have any news on the babies at this time.)

Joycelyn's Novel

On Wednesday I had lunch with my friend, Joycelyn. Joycelyn and I worked together, for just under a year, at a private investigator's office. Joycelyn and I have vastly different personalities, but we do have a number of things in common. Two of those things are our work ethic, which fostered in us a mutual respect on the job; and our love of writing. For whatever reason, despite our dissimilar personalities, we greatly enjoy each other's company. (Joycelyn could probably tell you why, as she is trained in the Enneagram of Personality.)

Joycelyn has just completed draft number four of a novel she has been working on for years, but has especially devoted herself to these past 12 to 18 months. I was fascinated while listening to her talk about the extraordinary work she has done to make her novel authentic. For example, she has researched the interior and exterior architecture of buildings and the historic weather reports for the dates and settings in the story; and she has delved deeply into the technicalities of the vocations and avocations of her characters. She has even adopted one of those avocations as her own, after researching, experiencing and falling in love with it. She has "lived" with the characters for so long, and so intimately, that she talks about them as naturally as she does the real people in her life.

Joycelyn expects to go through two more drafts of her novel before she starts submitting it. It seems to me she's done everything right, and that she has a great chance of being published. But she claims that, even if she's not, the experience itself, as well as the new interests her research has piqued, have made the effort worthwhile.

Go Joycelyn! Save me an autographed copy of your first edition.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


In yesterday's post about hobbies, I mentioned a "pattern" in my life. That reminded me of one of those little insignificant incidents that only a mother would store up in her heart.

Tim was in kindergarten, and, as a part of the math curriculum, his teacher, Mrs. B., was teaching a unit on patterns. You know . . . red-blue-yellow; red-blue-yellow; or 2-4-4-6; 2-4-4-6. That kind of thing. Tim was really getting into it, and was finding patterns everywhere around the house - in the wallpaper, the fireplace bricks, and the keys on the piano, to name a few.

So, in the midst of this pattern phase, I happened to take both boys to the barber for a haircut. Chris went first, then Tim. Tim was small for his age, so the big barber chair would have swallowed him up except for the board that the barber put across the arms for him to sit on. Chris and I sat in the black leather seats along the wall, waiting and watching, as the barber shaped up Tim's thick, shiny dark-brown hair with his comb and scissors. Tim hadn't said a word until he piped up with, "That's a pattern!" The barber stopped cutting and looked at him, wondering what he meant; and I looked in the direction Tim was facing, to see what pattern he had found. I saw none. "Where do you see a pattern, Tim?" I asked.

He pointed to his head and said, "Comb, comb, cut; comb, comb, cut."

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Prayers Needed for Doug

Things can change so fast! One minute you could be having a great time on a trail ride in the West Texas wilderness, the next minute be experiencing chest pains and shortness of breath, and shortly thereafter be on a life-flight to the hospital. That's what happened today to Kelsey's (our daughter-in-law's) dad. Before the day was over he had suffered multiple heart incidents. He underwent one procedure immediately upon arrival at the hospital, and, as I understand it, is facing two additional procedures - one on Friday and another on Saturday. For those of you who know the power of prayer, please include Doug and his family on your prayer list for the next few days.

Capriciousness vs. Tenacity - My Rambling Thoughts

I have a long and diverse history of hobbies, crafts and collections. It might be hard to name one that I haven't trifled with; but it would also be difficult to name one that I have actually mastered before abandoning it.

The first collection I remember having was marbles. When I was six, seven and eight years old I had a coffee tin full of them. I didn't play the "game" of marbles with them. Instead I spent my time sorting them, over and over - sometimes by size, sometimes by color, sometimes by type, sometimes by condition - and then admiring them. As a kid, in addition to marbles, I also collected rocks and minerals, autographs, postage stamps, coins, pen pals and post cards. Later in life I spent time, energy and even some money collecting miniatures, sand samples from around the world, small antique bottles (in which I keep the sand), and milk bottles.

And then there are the hobbies and crafts that I've fallen in-and-out-of-love with. When the kids were little I tried sewing; but that only lasted until the boys graduated into blue jeans and t-shirts. I also dabbled in piano lessons, calligraphy, candle-making, knitting, crocheting, embroidery, quilting, macrame, gardening (short-lived!), cake decorating (this one I pretty well mastered, before giving it up), dollhouse construction (which explains the "miniatures" collection), gingerbread house construction (about 4 Christmases running), scrapbooking, beading, American sign language, all things Japanese, writing and photography (I'm still "in" these last two - at least this morning!).

There's no doubt that there's a pattern in my life. I can't resist learning and doing new things, but I don't seem to have the tenacity to stay with them for life. (Oh, no! Maybe Tim's ADD tendencies came from me!)

What if I had chosen one of those hobbies, stayed with it for life, mastered it and become an "expert"? Someone might have written a book about me. I might have been interviewed on a TV talk show. I might have my own art gallery. There might be trophies on my mantle . . . Or, maybe, I'd have become a pretty boring person to be around. Having worked 13 years in the university system, I've known quite a few one-dimensional experts and, despite their mastery of the subject, they can be pretty boring, and sometimes unapproachable, unless you're also interested in their passion.

So maybe having this tendency toward capriciousness has not been such a bad thing. Maybe it has given me commonalities with more people. Maybe my personality has a little more sparkle and color because of all the things I've touched and sampled; and for which I've entertained a passion, whether or not it endured.

And it means I'm always looking to the future with anticipation, and asking, "What's next?"

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Project Tim - Update

Yesterday Tim got a call from the manager of the apartment complex, letting him know that there will be an apartment opening up the first part of November. After work he went by to fill out the paperwork, and it looks like the weekend of November 10 might be a good one for him to make the move. We're happy for him (and yes, for us too).

Monday, October 1, 2007

Fall Weather and Darth Vader

This morning there were three things that caught my attention as I drove to work.

First, the morning temperature. I am wearing one of those new jackets I bought at CJ Banks, and it actually felt nice to have long sleeves on when I went out to the car! The leaves in Albuquerque are just beginning to turn. Today's high/low temperatures are predicted to be 72/52. There's nothing better than autumn in the Rockies.

Secondly, the sunrise was about as beautiful as sunrises can be! Most mornings our New Mexico skies are cloud-free. But this morning, although the sky was mostly clear, there were some clouds, "artfully arranged" (to quote the radio announcer) over the Sandias. The sun rose behind them as I drove to work, and in my commute I witnessed first the fiery reds, then the oranges and finally the brilliant golds as they played upon those scattered clouds. God was really creative with his paintbrush this morning.

And thirdly, I saw a number of hot air balloon trucks and trailers on the roads. As surely as the swallows return to Capistrano every spring, the hot air balloons return to Albuquerque every fall. This coming Saturday will be the first day of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (Oct. 6-14). This year there will be a brand new shape-balloon coming from Belgium for its first American debut, none other than Darth Vader! You have to go to this link and take a look at him; he's awesome! He's going to be one of the larger shape-balloons, at 86 feet tall; talk about bigger than life! To add to the festivity, some local Storm Troopers will be participating as part of the ground crew. Dan, Tim and I will be at the balloon park by 5:30 on Saturday morning to see our favorite event of the Fiesta, the "mass ascension," when approximately 800 balloons will fill the skies at once. I think Darth is going to stand out, even in a crowd like that.