Monday, July 31, 2006

Floods of Memories

Today is the 30th anniversary of a terrible day in Colorado history. That beautiful Saturday, a huge amount of rain fell in a very short time and went roaring down the Big Thompson Canyon. We were visiting my parents in the southern part of the state and heard the news - thinking, "Hmm, the Big Thompson River is flooding..." That's about it. When my sister called to say that we were going to have to boil our water when we got home, we started catching the gravity of the situation.

When we went home the next day, we couldn't believe what was happening. Ultimately, 139 people died and 6 bodies are still entombed somewhere in the canyon. The first person to die was the highway patrolman who went up and down the canyon warning people to get out of their campgrounds to safety. Many didn't listen and perished. It was fodder for many a good sermon in the weeks to come!

For the next several days it continued to drizzle and was very depressing. We could hear helicopters all day every day, attempting to rescue people off the rocks in the canyon - people had scrambled up cliffs like mountain goats trying to survive. Now when you drive up the canyon, you'll see signs every few miles warning you to go to high ground in the event of a flood.

Many horrific stories came out of this time - people eating in restaurants as they began to float down the canyon. Campers floating by with hissing propane containers. Six Campus Crusade girls singing to God as their car floated to their deaths. There was a huge water pipe crossing over the highway, probably 30 feet off the ground - it was totally crushed from the height and force of the water. The huge turbines of a hydroelectric plant in the canyon are all that remain to this day. You can see them if you picnic in the park that surrounded the plant.

As time went on and bodies began to be found, they set up a temporary morgue. Local pastors, including ours, were called upon to volunteer to meet with families who came from all over the world hoping to identify a body, or to learn that their loved ones were safely somewhere else. Our church joined others in feeding the Mennonite volunteers who came to help with the disaster. They were a blessing.

It was nothing like the devastation from Katrina last year, or many other disasters that have hit our world, but it was a terrible thing for our community. Especially for those whose loved ones were lost while they were vacationing in an idyllic spot, and for those who have never been found. God knows where they are!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

So Many Books, So Little Time!

Books are my friends. I am a voracious reader - I devour books. I always have a book with me, because I can't stand to waste time standing in lines, or waiting in offices. I discovered last week that you can read during a frustratingly long, huge traffic jam when cars are moving about an inch an hour. (The accident that caused this traffic jam was horrendous and miraculous that the lady in the purple VW beetle survived). I mentioned before that I read while I walk. I know - it's weird!

I have quite a few books in my library, but gave away quite a few on (if you don't know what that is, you should check it out!) DC wanted me to get rid of some of the clutter in the basement, so I sorted through and gave away quite a few. I have been lured back into the Christian book club more times than I can count, and have quit just as many times. I use the library more often than buying.

The Message is my favorite new devotional Bible. I know it's not a literal translation and theologians probably cringe, but it is so down-to-earth. I have been reading the Proverbs every day this year - one each day coinciding with the date. Proverbs 31 gets left out every few months. I have been feeding on Philippians or Colossians every day as well. Chuck Swindoll, Bob Benson (who has gone to heaven - how I miss him), Max Lucado give me their insights and make me laugh at times.

When I was in junior high I began stopping by the library every day after school on the way to the bus to pick up a "romance for young moderns." It was a very lonely time in my life and I truly needed the friendship of these make-believe up-and-coming career people. I convinced my mom that I was learning about possible career choices for myself in the future. It's probably the closest I ever came to being dishonest with my mom! It's true that each one discussed a career girl's life, but the romance was what I craved! I kept track of every book I read that one year and rated them with a star system. But the Sue Barton nurse series and the Betsy-Tacy series were really great choices.

Did anyone else ever discover Beany Malone? I absolutely loved this family and Beany's misadventures. It was such a clean and wholesome series. I have actually re-read them many times in adulthood and even joined a Beany Malone week-end in Denver, where the author, Laura Mattingly Weber, lived and wrote. I could write a whole post on that week-end alone, and may someday. There are fanatical fans out there!! Much worse than I.

Then I went through a classical reading period - probably the most cerebral time of my life. I really need to read those books again instead of the rather mindless mysteries I enjoy now. I'm the only one I know who really loved Silas Marner, understood Animal Farm, and did a paper on Pilgrim's Progress!

All of this has come to mind because I found
Anne of Green Gables on four video tapes at the library yesterday. I love Anne (with an e) and read every book in the very long series one summer when the kids were young. I love it when she says "scope for the imagination" and "depths of despair!" A few years ago PBS showed the books on tape series during their push for funding. I loved the movies, but the interruptions were so frustrating! So when I found these four videos yesterday (in the children's section), I snatched them up and began watching them last night. I seldom watch a movie based on a book that I have read, because they are so inferior. This series is the exception. The young Anne, Megan Followes, is Anne personified on screen. The scenery is outstanding (Prince Edward Island, supposedly, and maybe in reality - you Canadians could probably tell me). I hope I can carve out the time to finish them before they are due - or they let me renew. You only get a week with videos from the library.

I must get busy now readying for the day with Anakin, Care Bear, and Feisty - we'll probably read a few library books together! Have a wonderful Friday and week-end.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A Servant Heart

It's hot, I had too much caffeine, and I can't sleep. I decided it's a good time to catch up on my on-line reading. I have been overwhelmed with the prayer requests I have found here. What a blessing to know that so many people pray for people they don't know and will never know on this earth. But what a great reunion there will be in heaven!

I have been thinking a lot today of my mother-in-law. She is 87 and my FIL just turned 93. They recently celebrated their 65th anniversary - yes, I said 65th. They ministered together in small churches for many years. They raised 3 great kids, one of whom I was privileged to meet and marry almost 34 years ago.

When they retired, the folks moved out here and bought our first little house from us. It was great, and even better when they bought a bigger house, only 6 blocks from us. They lived there happily, raising a garden, working in their church, and loving their grandkids, for over 15 years - I can't really remember! Then they went to a nice apartment in a retirement setting and enjoyed 5 good years there. I wouldn't mind living there myself someday - fun stuff to do, an ice cream parlor, exercise room, pool, hot tub, hair salon, monthly cleaning of your apartment, and on and on.

But, the story is not as fun any more. She had to quit driving, he lost his mobility with his motorized wheel chair because he kept running into people in the halls (not a good thing to run into people in their walkers - could get a bit litigous!) He always was a maniac driver and that didn't improve with age! Finally, we had to intervene and move them into assisted living just a few months ago. She has had a hard time adjusting to the losses, especially the loss of the car and of the kitchen and cooking. I can't tell you how many thousands of sugar-free treats she has made for her diabetic sweetheart since he was diagnosed in his 60s.

Finally, about 3 weeks ago, the day came when she realized she couldn't take care of him any more as he slipped out of bed onto the floor and she couldn't get him back in bed. One problem is that she keeps forgetting to press the buzzer for help, which is the whole purpose of assisted living! She also didn't remember the next day, when he had been moved into full nursing care down the hall, that she admitted not being able to take care of him any more. Her short term memory is getting worse and worse. In the meantime, DC and his sister have had a tremendous load added to their lives with all of the caretaking that this involves - and of course, it affects me as well in a big way.

But the thing that I mainly have been thinking of is her servant heart. For so many years she has served the churches, her children, and most of all her husband. She is one of a dying breed who believe they were put on this earth to serve their husbands. She had a very low self esteem growing up (and still does for that matter, no matter how many times she is assured how wonderful she is), and didn't think any man would ever love her. Enter the love of her life and 65 years of a journey together.

Since he has been moved into the nursing home part of the facility, she can go visit him and keeps bringing him up to their little apartment in his wheelchair. Therein lies the problem - he's supposed to stay in his chair, but she keeps "forgetting" and asks him if he wouldn't like to sit in the rocking chair or on the couch. Then she has to get him back into the chair when it's time for him to go back to his dinky little room with the hard-of-hearing roommate who has his t.v. on full blast all day long. I don't blame her for wanting to get him out of there. But it takes 3 strong people to get him into that chair, and I honestly don't know how in the world she has done it without hurting him or herself. Trouble is - she's going to lose the privilege of having him up there if she doesn't quit helping him get out of his wheelchair! I told her the other night I couldn't decide if she was getting rebellious at this age, or if she was really that forgetful - I'm still not sure!

The point that I'm trying to get to in such a roundabout way is that I see her seemingly diminishing in size as she goes places without him. She has been at family functions this week-end alone and she is very sad. She seems smaller. Her entire identity is wrapped up in being his wife. I'm concerned about how she will survive when he is gone - his health is VERY precarious and it can't be much longer.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I am Complex

That's what DC tells me all the time. I am gregarious. In my senior yearbook from high school, the quote beside my picture was "Speaking generally, she's generally speaking." In college, I earned the nickname "Mouth of Third South" because I would go around the dorm floor (third south) and entertain everyone while they got ready for bed (in the days when everyone "rolled" their hair every night and slept on those awful rollers. Beauty came at a very high price in those days). Then I would be all alone in my room, trying to study or get ready for bed in the dark, because everyone else was asleep.

I love to talk. I talk too much. I know it. Everyone knows it. I used to even get dinged on my work evaluations for being too "sociable." Now that I'm on a half time schedule, I'm too busy to talk too much!

But --- I also love solitude. When I was a young mother and we'd moved into this neighborhood, I began leaving the kids with DC every night and going for a walk. I watched everyone's lawns develop, got in better shape, and had time to think!

Now I truly love being alone. I am one of those who is perfectly content with a book and a shade tree. I even enjoy going to a restaurant alone and reading. I also walk and read, do the exercise bike and treadmill and read.

Don't get me wrong, I love my husband and my very large family. But I do love solitude.

Thought for the day from the Message, Proverbs 21 - "Valuables are safe in a wise person's home; fools put it all out for yard sales." I love it!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Summer of Renewal

By renewal, I wish I meant of body and mind, but this renewal is of friendships and family relationships. We have not had so many people "stop by" in many years. When we first moved here, everyone came to visit, because it's a great place to visit. But it has slowed down considerably. It seems to be the year of the midwesterners coming west. Unfortunately, it's as hot here this year as it is back there, with much less humidity, at least.

I mentioned in an earlier post about my mom's cousin from Minnesota, who is no longer that much older than I. We haven't seen her and her husband in many years. It was great to reacquaint ourselves with these really wonderful people.

Then my sister's SIL came from the Chicago area. We didn't get to spend much time with her, but it's always great to catch up a bit with that branch of the family.

Of course, the big reunion has been covered by many bloggers in the past week. I finally got the laundry put away yesterday, just before the next company arrived. This is a couple also from Minnesota. I have known her since I was a young child, because her parents and mine were good friends in their youth, and we all went to Grandma's church together when we visited. They had 4 and we had 3 kids very close in ages (there were more later, but they aren't in this particular equation). We lost track of them for awhile when they changed churches, but when they became adults they came back to their roots and we reconnected. There was even a short romance between the oldest brother and myself - a really funny story involved there but far too long for today! So back to the couple who came to visit - they became engaged shortly after DC and I were married. Her engagement picture was hanging on our bulletin board - DC was reading it one day, as he was talking on the phone (multitasking), when suddenly he yelled (poor person on the other end of the phone) - "I know this guy!!" Turns out DC's dad had confirmed the groom-to-be many years ago in a little church in Minnesota - different denominations than either of the previous two mentioned. What a small world it is! We have kept in touch over the years, mostly by Christmas cards, but by occasional visits out here or back there. They haven't been here for 20 years, but it is one of those seamless friendships that pick up right where they left off.

Jim was thrilled to be able to see DC's dad, who is now 93 and not really able to participate in conversations much any more because of his hearing, but we do believe that he remembered Jim. DC's mom was so excited to see someone from the past that we could hardly get away from her assisted living home. There's nothing like old friendships!

This next week, DC's brother and family come for the other side's reunion, but we'll get to see them as well. It's good that they're coming (from Georgia) because they haven't seen the folks since for awhile and much has happened in their physical lives. They need to know.

Then Partners in Prayer is coming to visit with her son. I can't wait!!

In August, more friends from DC's past are coming from Minnesota (staying elsewhere, but we'll share that fun as well). All in all, a very fun summer. But when do I get caught up at work???!!!

I'm leaving again this afternoon for church convention - my sweet nephew is being ordained tonight. Exciting. I'm creating my next post in my mind, so will get it down on "paper" when I return.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Nothing Quite Like Family

We returned a few hours ago after 1807 miles in the newly acquired, and now very broken in, minivan, with DC, myself, Mama from So-Called Life, Care Bear, Fiesty, and Anakin. The kids did so great on the trip out, and remarkably well on the way back - considering how hard they had played and how much stuff was in there, and the fact that all the "fun was done."

I spend a lot of time with the kiddoes (hence the title of my blog), but Grandpa had so much fun watching them in action for many hours at a time. The kids had only met their second cousins or first cousins once removed, or whatever they are to each other a few times, and most of them had not been together since the last reunion 3 years ago when they were MUCH younger. I can't begin to express how much fun it was to watch them bond instantly. There were a few minor incidents - one threw another's brand new cars in the lake and the daddies had to go diving for them; one threw another's prized golf ball in the lake and it wasn't recovered; there was some minor hitting and a few raised voice incidents, but on the whole they were had so much much fun. They must have been totally prune-skinned by the end of each day, because they literally soaked in the lake water all day every day. They also built some mighty great sand castle villages.

I have to say that my siblings and I created some beautiful children and they're doing their part to create even more beautiful children in the next generation. There are now 15 great grands (12 were present) and there are 3 more on the way. Unfortunately, there was so much going on all the time that we forgot to get them all together for a group shot. RATS!!

My dad, the Patriarch, created a bit of excitement when he insisted on taking his first (and last, I would imagine), Jet Ski rides. He is 80 and claims that he has waited for this his whole life. None of us knew of this unrealized dream of his. My mom didn't want him to do it, but eventually went on a ride herself. The scary part was when Dad decided to go out by himself. We were a bit nervous that if something happened, we'd have a hard time getting out there to get him back in. But all was well - and he even slowed down his speed-demon ride when he realized his $1200 apiece hearing aids were beginning to ride up on his ears and in danger of flying into the water! He forgot to take them off! Thank goodness he used his good common sense at that moment.

Family reunions are greatly anticipated in our family. We don't do them often - maybe not often enough. But when we do get together, though there are times when we might get a bit irritated with one or another, we realize how blessed we are to be a part of this family. We had "church" on Sunday morning with no nursery care! One of the greatest moments was when we sang old Sunday School songs with the kids and watched them do all of the motions.

We all drove down the mountain with a myriad of memories, heading for our various and varied lives at home. Those who didn't have to drive so far had a bit more of a feeling of sadness when all were gone. Those of us who had two days to drive had the advantage of being REALLY glad to be home!

I will respond to the latest tag when I have a minute to think.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006



* I was the tallest girl in my high school class
* I have the least gray hair of my 5 siblings
* I lived in 23 houses/apartments (not counting dorm rooms) during the first
30 years of my life; I have lived in one house for the past 28 (see previous post)
* I like to read and walk at the same time.
* We were married, dedicated our babies, had our kids' weddings, and dedicated their babies all in the same church.
* All 5 kids in my family graduated from the same small Christian college.
* I have 5 nieces, 1 sister-in-law, and my daughter out there in blog land.


* Heights
* Roller coasters
* Breast cancer
* Drug and alcohol addiction
* Skiing
* Confrontation
* Water (drowning)


* Alan Asbury - especially Somebody's Praying You Through
* Dallas Holm - especially Rise Again
* Sandi Patti
* Really good classical guitar music
* Top notch piano music
* Josh Groban
* The men's quartet my husband has sung with for over 20 years


* Autumn
* Chocolate
* Diet Dr. Pepper
* Reading
* Singing in choir
* Mountains at dusk
* My huge family


* I'm so tired!
* Good Grief
* I love you to pieces (to my grandkids)
* It's Monday already?
* Put that cell phone away and pay attention to your driving (to people in other cars)
* Put the toys away now (to my grandkids)
* God is Good - All the Time!


* I love cleaning house!
* I enjoy shopping.
* I wish I could gain a few pounds.
* Airplane travel is so much fun.
* I hope it gets to 100 degrees today.
* Let's water the lawn EVERY DAY.
* No, I don't want to eat out tonight - I'd rather cook!

I imagine most people have done this already, but I'm tagging :

Blessed Life
Franklin Street

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Thirty Years and Counting

I'm repeating this post I wrote two years ago - right after I began blogging. I am making a few revisions and adding some pictures - I didn't do pictures at that time.

Today is the 30th anniversary of our move into this house of ours. It's nothing special; in fact, it's getting pretty used up!

I had driven over here almost every day to watch the progress and record it for posterity - and I think I hoped they'd do a better job if I checked up on them every day. I don't think that worked!


On that hot summer day, we were the first ones to invade this cul de sac. The next morning the first thing we noticed was the total lack of bird songs, having moved from an old neighborhood. The second thing we noticed was the very loud sound of an airplane buzzing overhead, very close to the roof of our house. Turns out that we were very close to a farm which was being sprayed by a crop duster. Believe me, there are no farms left anywhere near us now - just hundreds of houses and thousands of people! Kinda sad.

Eventually, all 13 houses were built and inhabited - the kids that moved in a couple at a time had a great time playing on the piles of dirt - and I remember watching every minute to be sure they didn't have too much fun and fall into a newly dug basement!

As the neighborhood grew up, we at one time had 32 children on the street - what a great time the kids had in the evenings, playing with the various daddies. There was one time period for a couple of years or more that every time one baby was born, another pregnancy was announced. It was great fun. We had block parties and everyone watched out for each other. I remember taking a hot loaf of home made bread every time someone moved in.

Alas, the fun didn't last and people began to seek out larger or fancier houses. Some of the houses turned into rentals and the yards didn't look so great any more. We are one of two original owners on the street.

Interestingly, two of the houses now have 3rd generation children of the originals. Kristen lives 3 doors down with our grandchildren. Two doors the other way, a couple has moved back in with the parents and have a child (the man of the house died suddenly at 50 of a heart attack since I originally wrote this - she still lives there with her son and his family). Who would have ever thought?

One of the good things about this longevity is that my very mobile family has always had a place to use as a "permanent address." One of my nieces who has lived in many overseas spots says that it is good to have a place that feels like "home" no matter where she has lived.

I have told DC many times I didn't want to ever move, because I wanted my grandkids to climb those trees that I worked so hard planting. And here that time has arrived. Legacy or Rut? What do you call it?
The next spring, when we first began to put in our yard, I became the landscape "expert," planting the trees and bushes after DC had dug the holes the night before - his job kept him so busy that spring and summer that I ended up doing the planting. One six foot diameter hole was filled with water the next morning, as we had one of our frequent rain storms during that night, I had to get this tree in that day or it was going to die. There I was out there early in the morning, while the kids still slept, wearing fishing waders, trying to get this tree to stand up straight (at least 10 feet tall) while I tried to shovel the mud back into the hole. Keep in mind that we had just added a huge supply of "natural fertilizer", if you get my drift, the day before! I found out later that a neighbor was watching this whole fiasco from her window and getting a real bang out of it. Much of the time I was close to falling into that muck, because the waders got stuck and I couldn't move very easily. Oh, what a picture!

And now - as it looks today -- at least as much as I could catch - it is huge.
We had contracted with a nursery in town to create a plan for our yard, and we in turn would buy a percentage of the trees and bushes from them. We ended up buying almost everything from them, if I remember correctly. DC was very busy that spring with his job, so it fell upon me (a totally indoors kind of person), to plant the trees and bushes. I had two small children, but I would faithfully get out there every morning, dig 5-6 holes, and run to the nursery to pick up that many bare root bushes. It was an extremely wet spring that year and every time we'd prepare for a big project, the rain would come and make muck out of our dirt, also filling up any holes we had dug or trenches that had been prepared for the sprinkling system. I remember the day that we finally put in grass seed, trying to beat the coming rainstorm, thinking it would be great to have God give the pre-lawn its first good watering. Well, He sent a gully-washer, and every newly purchased seed ended up against the patio or around the newly-planted trees. We had a great crop of grass in totally inappropriate places! We tried again.
A few years later, DC's parents went back to Wisconsin to the old home place, in the woods up north. Unbelievably, they brought us home two trees for our growing yard. How those trees made the long trip without dying is a miracle in itself. One was a Blue Spruce, about 2 feet tall. It now stands at least 30 feet. What a great memory for my husband of his childhood at his grandma's place. The picture is on the left below. The other one they brought was a maple of some variety.


Amazingly, the next spring, wild flowers and wild raspberries began to sprout around that maple tree - they had come out here from Wisconsin in the ball of dirt that surrounded the roots. They made it through that 1200 mile trip, through replanting, through winter, and came back to life in the spring. God puts amazing spunk into his plants! DC transplanted some, and especially the raspberries thrived. Some of them are in this amazing raspberry patch.

The little tree in front of the patch is an apple tree - Anakin planted a seed from his apple one day when he was about 4. It began to grow immediately, and two years later, DC transplanted it out of the flower garden. It is at least 8 feet tall now.
Just a few more shots taken today -- 30 years later. I just realized I've lived half my life in this house! Amazing, considered I lived in 23 apartments/houses during my first 30 years. This Austrian Pine was shorter than the fence when we planted it.