Monday, July 31, 2017

Robert's Summer Visit - Part Two

Sunday morning we drove to church, stopping at Starbuck's for breakfast, which is our normal routine. Robert went to Bible class and seemed to enjoy it a lot. During the worship service, that followed, he was good as gold. I was very proud of him. We went to lunch, afterward, with six other church friends. Chicken strips were on the kids' menu, so our boy was happy. We sat across the table from our friend, Kelly, who happens to be blind. At first Robert was very shyly mumbling answers to questions put to him. I explained to him that Kelly was blind and, if he didn't speak clearly and a little loudly, Kelly wouldn't understand him, since he couldn't see his lips. That little prompt was all Robert needed. He immediately began speaking clearly and loudly enough for Kelly to hear him, and the two of them carried on a pretty nice conversation.

On Sunday afternoon I took Robert to the splash pad to cool off properly (remember - AC was acting up). He seemed to be having a great time . . . but not for long. Within about ten minutes he came to me with a hangdog look, saying, "I want to go home. I'm bored." I couldn't convince him otherwise, so we came on home.

Monday, today, was a stay-at-home day. Robert did several art projects - mostly painting. One of his paintings he titled, Our Beautiful Planet Earth. As you might guess, it was a painting of the earth, as seen from outer space. His plan is to paint this same picture every time he visits here, and see how much his painting skills improve between visits.

We also played a new game with the deck of cards Robert got in his McDonald's Happy Meal. I Googled "card games for kids and adults" and came up with one called "Trash." It was really fun for both of us (I rate it 5 out of 5 stars for a G-ma/G-kid game), and Robert was very good at it, in fact he won more hands than I did. He's excited to go home and teach Clara how to play. Watch out, Clara!

Finally the HVAC repairman came and got our AC up and running properly. It was an easy fix, and since we are on a twice-a-year service contract with them, he didn't charge us anything. That's the good news. The bad news will come when we call the flooring people to repair the damage this caused to our hardwood. 

This afternoon was the time Grandpa had set aside to watch the Formula 1 race with Robert. According to his daddy, Robert loves watching the races, but not so much today. He was busy playing with his own cars, although he did keep his eye on the status of his favorite driver, Louis Hamilton. And, in the end, when Hamilton came in 4th, he insisted that the 3rd place winner had definitely cheated. 

Today flew by. We spent some time reading a fun book, Howie Bowles, Secret Agent and Robert watched some Angry Birds cartoons. We had tacos for dinner - a meal that Robert helped me plan and shop for. Before we knew it, it was bath and bed time. Tomorrow we will be taking him to meet up with his Mommy at our half-way meeting spot, Sommerville. As always he's been good, and we've enjoyed our time together. 

I've learned a lot from my grandson over these few days. He's a walking-talking encyclopedia, and his favorite sentence-starters are: "Know what?"; "Well, actually . . .", and "Well, technically . . ."

Know what? God's blessings on earth don't get any better than grandkids!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Robert's Summer Visit - Part One

It's that time again! We try to have Robert come for a visit every summer. The summer zooms by so quickly, between our busy schedule and Robert's. School starts in two weeks, so we barely made it in time this year.

We picked up Robert on Thursday, August 27. Friday morning, as soon as he got up, he asked for his "pre-breakfast." This is a tradition that he counts on when he's at our house. Since Grandpa is the breakfast chef, and Grandpa isn't ready to cook until around 8:30 or 9:00, Robert eats a pre-breakfast to tide him over until real breakfast. Pre-breakfast is usually a bowl of cereal - some sweetened kind that he probably can't have at home. But what happens at Grandma's stays at Grandma's!

Pre-breakfast on Friday was Cocoa Puffs! Yumm. 

While Robert was eating, I kept hearing a loud peeping noise, which seemed to be coming from our front door. I opened the door, and in the corner, cuddled right up against the door, was this little feller. . . .

I thought he might have fallen out of a nest or something. I tried to give him some water, but the drops just rolled off his bill, and he wouldn't open his mouth for them. I slipped some plastic bags over my hands and was going to move him into the shade and protection of some bushes, but by the time I came back outside, he was GONE! Now Robert and I were wondering whether he had actually moved to safety on his own or, in Robert's words, "been eaten by a predator." I guess we'll never know.

So, after both pre-breakfast and real breakfast, Robert and I packed our over-night bags and climbed in the car for a one-night road trip. I thought he might enjoy a mini-version of what Clara and I try to do each fall. We drove to Glen Rose, which is about 2 hours and 15 minutes from home. Our destination there was the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, a drive-through safari park. It took about 2 and a half hours to drive through, including a stop, mid-way, at the gift shop. I tried to convince him that a souvenir should remind him of something he'd seen at the park, but it was obvious that he was really going to be unhappy if he didn't get the little plastic box of sharks' teeth. So that's what he came away with.

He was a little disappointed with the variety of animals he saw. So many of the different animals were in the deer and/or goat family. Deer, he told me, are NOT wild animals, because you see them all the time. Everywhere. I sort of agreed with him. I had hoped for some more exotic animals, myself, but the rhinos and cheetahs (both of which were behind a fence) and the giraffes were pretty exotic, I guess.

Fallow Deer (native to Europe, Asia Minor and Iran), Loved their antlers.

Aoudad (native to the deserts of Morocco, western Sahara to Egypt and Sudan)), also known as Barbary sheep and is the only African wild sheep.

This Aoudad came up and stuck his nose right into our open window.
Addax (native to Mauritania to Egypt, western Sahara and Sudan). This is the most desert adapted of all antelopes, which can live most of its life without drinking, deriving sufficient moisture from the plants it eats.

Cheetah (native of Africa to India).

Blackbuck (native to India and Pakistan). Due to their popularity on hunting ranches, there are more blackbuck in Texas than in their native India.

Another Fallow Deer - female.

Giraffe (native to northeastern Africa, Somalia and north Kenya). We were told, at the place where we purchased our tickets, that we could feed the giraffes by hand, holding the food in a flat hand. But, although we saw several of them, none of them were enticed by the food we held out to them.

Ostrich (native to Africa). The park brochure said, "Their eyes are bigger than their brain."

Southern Black Rhino (native to South Africa). 

More Addax, resting in the shade of a tree.

I think this is a Grevy's Zebra (native to Somalia, Ethiopia and northern Kenya)  but possibly a Hartman's Mountain Zebra (native to mountainous zone between the Namib Desert and the central plateau in Namibia). I'm not sure, but . . . I know it's a zebra! :-)

After the safari park, we drove a half-hour away to Cleburne, TX, to spend the night at a hotel. I think Robert enjoyed that almost as much as the park! In the morning, when I told him we needed to pack up our things, he looked at me quizzically and asked, "Why?" "We need to put everything in the car before we leave," I told him. "Leave?" he asked. "I thought we would be living here longer."

We popped popcorn to snack on while watching some kid shows on TV, before bed.

Robert in front of "his" hotel.
After packing up the car and having complimentary breakfast at the hotel, we drove to Walmart. Kelsey had sent the list of school supplies for second grade, so we went to search the store for all the items. It was quite a treasure hunt. Robert considered this a chore, and really didn't want to do it, but he was a pretty good sport about it. Maybe that was because he knew when we were finished shopping, we were going to go to the theater to see The Emoji Movie!

Robert's movie review: "It was surprisingly good!" Yeah, it really wasn't bad, despite the Poop Family Emojis (Patrick Stewart, you've sunk to a new low! LOL)

We had lunch at Schlotzky's and headed home. The video players in the backseat of my new car were invaluable on this trip. Two-plus hours is a long time in the car for a seven-year-old boy. Here's what he looked like with his eyes and ears glued to a video.

The videos certainly made the travel time go faster for him. 
So . . . you win some, you lose some, and some end in a draw. I think this experimental mini-road trip ended in a draw. It was okay, but Robert seemed to feel that it was a lot of time riding in a car just to see a park and a movie. The ends, apparently, didn't quite justify the means, in this case. I guess I'll wait until he's a little older to try something like it again. He does better keeping closer to Grandma's house.

When we got home, I found Dan trying to figure out what to do . . . our air conditioning was malfunctioning, and it was the hottest day we'd seen this summer (106 degrees). I won't go into all the gory details, but by bed time the house was getting quite hot. Luckily, the AC kicked on again, sometime around midnight. This pattern continued repeatedly . . . it would work for a while and give us some relief, and then it would die and let the house get uncomfortably hot before kicking on again briefly. We limped on like that all night. But even worse than having a hot house was the fact that the AC was leaking, BADLY, and apparently had been doing so for a long time, unknown to us. Water got under our wood floor, near our master bedroom, and ruined the wood. Once the AC is fixed, we'll have to bring in the flooring experts to do that repair.

So ended the first three days of Robert's visit - Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

To be continued . . .

Monday, July 17, 2017

Sourdough Starter: Growing Up Alaskan

Maybe I just have too much time on my hands! I have just finished another project - writing down memories of my childhood. I doubt I'd ever have thought to do this if I weren't so involved in genealogy research. I keep wishing I knew more than birth-, marriage-, and death-dates about these ancestors I'm discovering - ancestors with marvelous, curious given names such as Jerusha, Thankful, Bela, Alphonsine, Pelagle, Charlemange and Longworthy. I keep searching for even one scrap of paper telling me more than facts, telling me a personal story about these people who lived and breathed and laughed and cried. And so, for those who come after me, I decided to leave a short, anecdotal record of my early life. Maybe a great-great-great granddaughter, whom I will never meet, will share my desire to know more intimate details about her ancestors and will consider Sourdough Starter a great find in her genealogical research.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Rose in Bloom; and a Clever Thank-You Note

On Sunday, July 2, while we were in Juneau, we went to church in the morning. At the close of the service, my long-time friend Kathy brought me something very special. It was a book by Louisa May Alcott, Rose in Bloom.

As I held it in my hands I felt it was very familiar, and I did remember having read it as a child. Then Kathy explained that she had found this book at a used book store, and when she saw what was written inside the front cover, she knew she had to buy it for me. 

On the right it reads: "1961 To Linda from Louise & Liz." Below that it says, "Lucas personal," which I assume means that the book had belonged to Liz before they gave it to me.

I found it really amazing that my friend Kathy was the one to find this book and return it to its long-lost owner, who was going to see Liz and Louise that very week, for the first time in 11 years! What a treasure! If Clara hasn't already read it, I know where its next home will be.

We have made some very special friends since placing membership at the Salado church. One couple - Kay and Andy - has been especially instrumental in making us feel welcome, helping us get to know others, and including us in lots of fun times and interesting activities. And it was Andy who got up in the wee hours of the morning to get us to the Austin Airport by 6 a.m. on the morning we left for Juneau.

We wanted to bring them a gift from Alaska, just to thank them for being such good friends. Dan was the one who came up with the idea of getting them a set of Russian nesting dolls (remember, Alaska was owned by Russia before it was purchased, in 1867). The ones we picked out were Christmas ones. This morning Kay handed me an envelope.

I opened it, and found, to my great delight, a set of nesting envelopes, each succeeding one with the next phrase of a message, thanking us for the nesting dolls. Clever, clever Kay!

My New Car

The lease was up on my VW Tiguan, and it was time to make a decision -- buy it or turn it in. I was all prepared to go ahead and buy it and keep it for two or three more years. It had been a good car for me. But, of course, it was time for new tires, and service. I was going to miss that free service and the warranty that came with the lease.

Dan, who purchased a certified pre-owned Mercedes (C class, bright red) about six weeks ago, really wanted me to at least take a look at a Mercedes SUV. We went down there thinking about a GLA - their very small SUV. But once I sat in one I knew it was too small. I'd rather keep my VW than get one of those. But Dan wasn't done wheeling and dealing.

It was a very long day . . . we got to the dealership at around 10:30 a.m., and didn't leave until around 8:00 at night . . . with a 2014, certified pre-owned GLK - with good tires, a warranty and pre-paid service! It's really a dream to drive, and has all the bells and whistles anyone could want - even two video screens and headphones built into the backseat, which the grands will love, I'm sure. It's a very pretty color - "Lunar Blue" they call it.

I'm feeling like a very pampered wife!

Friday, July 7, 2017

JDHS Class of 1967 Fiftieth Reunion - Juneau, Alaska

Fifty years ago this spring, I graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School, along with 214 other students. I knew all of these kids, and some of them were especially close friends. In 1977 I attended parts of our tenth class reunion. In 1997 I attended our thirtieth reunion. And I've just returned home after attending the fiftieth reunion of the JDHS Class of 1967. It was, hands down, the BEST reunion ever! Eighty-nine classmates attended. Twenty-nine have already passed away.

We left the Austin airport early in the morning of Wednesday, June 28, and arrived in Juneau by 12:30 p.m. that same day (having gained three hours because of the time zones). We were happy to see that the weather was fair - no rain, although it was overcast. We rented a car and did a little sight-seeing that afternoon. We took Carolyn, at whose house we were staying, out for dinner at the Twisted Fish that evening. Oh, that fresh Alaskan seafood tasted so good!

Lupine grows wild in Alaska. It is a "cousin" of the Texas bluebonnet, but is much taller.

Dan and I offered to take a photo of a couple of tourists who were visiting the Mendenhall Glacier, and, in turn, they offered to take ours.
Carolyn Cameron and Dan - Twisted Fish restaurant
That night we sat and watched the daylight fade (much later than we were used to, here in Texas), from her deck.

Our first evening, from Carolyn's deck

Another night-time photo from Carolyn's deck
On Thursday I had lunch with Kathy Clemens. She and I have been very good friends since our children were little ones. Her older son, Jonathan, was best buds with Chris in those early days. Kathy and I did our grocery shopping together every week, with the kiddos in tow; picnicked at Auke Bay Recreation Area with the children; and, most days, got together to visit and drink a diet Dr. Pepper while the kids napped.

Kathy (on right) and me - long-time friends - at Asiana Garden cafe
That evening we met up with my Uncle Bud; his wife, Ardyne; daughter, Lisa; and Lisa's husband, Dan, at the Douglas Cafe for dinner. It was so good to see all of them again. Uncle Bud, who was Mom's brother, always was, and is, very special to me.

Left to right: Dan (Lisa's husband), Lisa, Uncle Bud, Ardyne, me and Dan - at the Douglas Cafe
Friday was a busy day. We had a wonderful lunch (fried halibut!) with special friends, Pepper and Cindy. Then we went out to Liz and Louise's place for a visit, catching up with all the news. And, that evening, the reunion kicked off with a reception at the Yacht Club. When we parked the car at the Yacht Club and prepared to go inside, I had a moment of cold feet. I wondered if anyone would remember me, and whether it would be really awkward. But as soon as we stepped inside, all those qualms evaporated. I was hugged and welcomed and sought out for conversation after conversation. Everyone remembered me, and I remembered them. It was especially wonderful seeing some of those I was closest with, and I found myself really enjoying getting to know, better now than I did then, some who had been casual acquaintances.

On Saturday morning we went to the Pioneer Home and picked up our forever friend, Bea Long, and took her to breakfast at the Capitol Cafe in the Baranof Hotel. We have many good memories of this cafe, with its original art deco touches. When Dan and I lived in Juneau the second time - 1998-2003 - we had a tradition of meeting our good friends (and Bea's daughter and son-in-law), Dave and Karen, there for breakfast whenever there was a State holiday. So it seemed the perfect place to take Bea. We enjoyed every moment with her, and had a wonderful breakfast. Later we were saddened to learn that they may be closing this cafe as they continue the hotel renovation that has already begun.

Dear friend, Bea, after breakfast at the Capitol Cafe in the Baranof Hotel
That evening we met up at Auke Bay with my classmates, once again, to go on a whale-watching cruise and to have dinner out on Colt Island, at the Orca Point Lodge, known for its delicious salmon bake. The time on the boat was very special. We did see some wildlife - orca, humpback whale, seals and sea lions - but we were all so busy visiting that we hardly took time to watch out the windows. Dan and I sat with Walter Sobeloff, and I got to know him better than I ever had during our school years. He surprised me by fondly remembering a lot about my family - about the delectables at Clark's Bakery and about my Mom singing for the local telethon, which was televised every year. He even remembered a particular song she had sung, and said he thought of her whenever he heard that old song on the radio.

Walter Sobeloff

The tail of the only humpback whale we saw that evening

Some of the orca we saw


Sea lions resting on a buoy

Some of my classmates enjoying catching up, while on the whale-watching boat

The classmates who attended the whale event gathered at the bow of the boat for a group photo
Sunday morning we had another reunion, of sorts, with those we knew so well from the Juneau Church of Christ. What surprised us was how many new folks are there that we didn't know! We left Juneau the last time in 2003, so it was good to see all those new faces, as well as our old friends.

After morning worship we headed to Sandy Beach, in Douglas, for the reunion picnic. Again, lots of good visiting with former classmates. Some made it to the picnic who hadn't been able to be at the other activities.

Dan and I as we arrived for the Sandy Beach picnic

Smiles on everyone's faces as they talk and catch up on the past 50 years. Pictured here are Monty Compton and Jennifer Wilke

For those of you from JDHS 1967, I have posted some photos of people here (click on first picture, then there will be forward and back arrows for the rest of the pictures). I'm trying to save other readers, who don't know these folks, from viewing unknown face after unknown face.

Later in the afternoon Lynda and Gary Sanders had a mini-reunion, at their house on Tee Harbor, for those who were closest with Gary. Gary recently had brain surgery, and is slated for further surgery, and wasn't able to make it to all of the reunion events, so we took ourselves out to his house to be with him. It was a wonderful afternoon. Gary, Mike and Pat were all there, and they were my three "buds" from the college prep physics class we took together (I was the only girl in class). Many thanks to Lynda and Gary for hosting this small group of good friends.

These are the close friends of Gary Sanders, who gathered at his house on Sunday evening - Front row, left to right: Jenny (Day) Peterson and Bill Peterson. Center, left to right: Gary Sanders, Fred Thorstenson and Pat Maloney (in front of Fred). Back row, left to right: Mike Noel, Lynda (Mielke) Sanders, Darcy Lockhart, Herb Satko, Linda (Clark) Judd
Monday was an unscheduled day, but we had fun doing some shopping for the grandkids and for Carolyn, our generous and hospitable hostess at her home on Fritz Cove. The local fireworks were that night, around midnight, but Dan and I chose not to go, since it had been raining cats and dogs all day. Our local Juneau friends called us "wimps," and we had to admit that they were right. We have acclimated to Texas weather, and standing in the rain and 50 degree weather for an hour of fireworks didn't sound appealing to us.

Tuesday was the 4th of July, and, once again, the rain kept us from going to the parade. We actually went into town, thinking we would watch it, but the closer we came to town, the worse the weather became. Instead, we had coffee at Heritage (a daily "must" for Dan, while there) and bought some flowers to take to the cemetery and lay on Grandma and Grandpa's graves. I provided a little entertainment as we were leaving, and walking to the car. We walked across the cemetery to the street where our car was parked. Dan called to me and told me to come to where he was exiting the cemetery, up a small rise to the street. I was where the "rise" was more of a steep hillside. I didn't see any problem in walking up that little hill to get to the street, but Dan was right (there, I said it!), with the heavy rain, the grass was slippery, and as I tried getting up the hill I slipped and fell backward onto the wet ground. I didn't do any serious damage to myself (and I hung onto my camera and saved it from damage, as well), but I did have some soft-tissue injury, which has left me quite sore.

Fourth of July, driving into town

Evergreen Cemetery, where my grandma and grandpa are buried

Even the eagles were a bit disgruntled with all of the rain!
We couldn't let 4th of July pass by with NO celebrating, though. Because of the weather, the annual church picnic was changed to an indoor get-together, which we enjoyed attending. Interestingly, there were folks (John Wyatt and David Schmitz, specifically) who no longer live in Juneau, but were visiting friends and family, like we were. Seeing them was an unexpected and welcome treat, as well.

Getting ready to eat our indoor picnic food at the church annex

On the right is David Schmitz, who lives in Oregon, and was in Juneau, visiting family. He was the ring-bearer at our wedding. He just retired from teaching this spring. Now that makes me feel old! (David's sister-in-law, Jody, on left)

A flash from the past: These were the flower girls and ring bearer at our wedding. That cute little boy is David Schmitz - the same David as is in the photo above. The flower girl on the left is my cousin, Lisa, who is the pretty red-head, holding onto Uncle Bud's arm, in the photo of us having dinner with the family at Douglas Cafe (7th photo from top, above). For those of you who knew the Waldrons, the little girl on the right is Joanna Waldron.

John Wyatt, visiting Juneau from Washington
The sun finally came out on Wednesday! We had "bookend" weather - dry on day-one and on our last day, but nothing but rain in between. The daytime temperatures stayed in the 50s until Wednesday, when it hit 60. We took advantage of being able to see the tops of the mountains, and drove out to the Shrine of St. Therese, Amalga Harbor, Eaglecrest Ski Area, and stopped to take pictures at those places and elsewhere along the way.

Peterson Lake near Amalga Harbor

Scene from Amalga Harbor

This new (to us) board walk along the Gastineau Channel is a great addition

This beautiful, life-sized whale sculpture sits on the Channel, near the Douglas Bridge. It was created by well-known artist, Skip Wallen, and is still under construction, as far as the installation goes. When finished, it will sit on a huge pedestal from which a fountain will spray water up and around the whale. You can see what the finished piece will look like here.

Brotherhood Bridge - everyone's favorite spot to photograph the Mendenhall Glacier

Eagle Beach

The original lodge at Eaglecrest Ski Area, which was first opened back when we lived there in the '70s. I did my first downhill skiing at Eaglecrest, although I got better at it in Oregon, at Mt. Hood.

The view when driving down the hill from Eaglecrest

The Shrine of St. Therese
Scene from the point at the Shrine

View from out at the Shrine. These seiners are gathered to catch chum salmon during a six-hour opening, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday
We ate lunch at Bullwinkle's Pizza, where we ran into two of my classmates, Lorraine Love Marshall and Mike Heck, so we sat at their table and enjoyed a final classmate visit. (Bullwinkle's Pizza was where our boys, when they were babies, teethed on crispy crusts while we enjoyed pizza.) So many memories are bound up in sites around Juneau.

Left to right: Me, Lorraine (Love) Marshall, Mike Heck, Dan - at Bullwinkle's
This Bullwinkle's is in a new building, but it's the same business, the same wonderful pizza, the same free popcorn with your meal and the same Bullwinkle and Rocky decor as the old one,

Our final event was dinner with Liz and Louise, at their home. Seeing them again was a highlight of our trip. Sitting in their living room, catching up on everything, gazing out on Auke Bay, and watching fishing boats and eagles pass by, almost made us feel like we'd never left. (Louise was my 3rd grade teacher; Liz was my sixth grade teacher.)

Louise, me and Liz, on their deck - 10 p.m., and the sun had just slipped behind a mountain, but hadn't "set" yet
A fishing boat anchored in front of Liz and Louise's place. At top of the mast sits an eagle, which perches here whenever the boat is anchored.

Closeup of Liz and Louise's eagle
 It was 10:00 by the time we went back to Carolyn's. Carolyn had been waiting for us and had ice cream and root beer ready to make floats for us. We were pretty full from our feast at Liz and Louise's, but we managed to put down those delicious root beer floats and get one final "gab fest" in with Carolyn before heading to bed for our final night's sleep before departing early the next morning.

Good-bye Juneau! Thursday, July 6, 2017
We arrived in Austin Thursday evening and were picked up by friends, Larry and Deborah. We all went to dinner together at El Monumento, a great Mexican restaurant in Georgetown, and then Dan and I drove on home. It was good to get home, as it always is, even though we had a spectacular Juneau vacation and reunion.