Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Heroes

Yesterday, as I contemplated the day and the memory of those who have served and died, I started thinking of a special blessing God gave me last autumn.

My mother was the youngest of eight in her family, and three of her brothers served during WW II. The oldest was Art, and he served as a Marine for the second time when WW II started. Two brothers Bert and Bud also joined the Marines to go fight in the Pacific, although they were assigned different divisions.

Several years ago, my Uncle Bert was here visiting from Oklahoma for a family reunion. I asked him if he had any stories for the family historian (that's me). He thought about it, and then told me a fun one from when he was growing up. He couldn't think of any more and later returned home. Several days later I got a phone call from him, and he said that he had thought of a story, and would I like to hear about the Marines landing on Iwo Jima. Wow....would I ever! But, he wanted to tell me in person, so he said that we could sit down together when he next came to Oregon. But it was not to be, as he died of cancer about three months after that phone call. I felt so bad that I had never been able to get that story, and hear about what he went through.

That was in 2006.

Last fall, I went to a Memorial Service for my cousin Tom, the son of Uncle Bud. Bud had passed away in 1994. After the service I asked my Aunt Joan if she had any records of Bud's military service. She mentioned that they had a video the kids had made of Bud talking about his military years. I asked about viewing it, and after a brief search they pulled the video out of a pile. Our whole family sat down and watched Bud being interviewed by his three children. Bud was only 17 when he joined the Marines. He had never talked about his military years before (a common story) and he poured out a story of pain, suffering and glory as he revealed his Marine division's landing on Iwo Jima. Bert was landing with his division while Bud was landing with his division, one being further north on the coast. Both were injured, but survived. Bud made it 23 days before being evacuated to a hospital in Hawaii, after being shot in the back right shoulder. It was quite a story. God was so good to me, to give me the story in 2010 I had missed in 2006. Here are my heroes I am remembering today......

Bud (born Woodrow) Erskine


Bert (born Bernell) Erskine

Art (born Archie Robert) Erskine

Thursday, May 26, 2011

R and R

Last week the insurance guy and I took a few days break. Since we have been scurrying around like busy beavers, we needed a little 'hibernation'. We headed over the Ochocco Mountains, through the little towns of Mitchell and Dayville, through John Day and over to Baker City on the eastern edge of Oregon. We found a nice motel, with a great view of the Blue Mountains. The view also included this larger-than-life replica of a gold pan, saluting the area's hey days as a gold mining town.

The reason we chose Baker City was to visit the National Interpretive Center for the Oregon Trail, something we have been wanting to do for several years. It is on a bluff about 5 miles east of Baker City. As you can see, we had wonderful weather that day.

One of the highlights, for most everyone I suspect, were these huge picture windows overlooking the original Oregon Trail. The track was still clearly visible winding around at the base of this bluff, and entering the valley, turning north towards the Columbia river. So many wagons, to create a track to last more than a century.

Outside, they had a circle formed of replica wagons, showing how the pioneers would camp at night. Very interesting to all the kids who loved climbing on the wagons.

A shot of the mountains, and of the valley the emigrants entered. They must have been delighted to find a grassland, after the miles of juniper and sage.

After lunch, we visited the Baker City Museum, at the old 'Natatorium'. They had a wonderful collection of rocks and gems that particularly interested the insurance man.

Baker City also has a grand park, right next to the Powder River. It has a lovely gazebo, and flowering trees. We spent a little time walking there. The city is trying to raise enough money to build a band stand, and if ever there was a park that needed one, it was that park!

A final shot of the sunset behind the Blue Mountains, that ended our nice day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Read the journals...take the time.

You will see who you were and what you were doing today.

Time seems to be a major player.

The world is spinning so much faster now,

The moon moves quickly in the darkening sky.

Permission is rarely granted to drop out of the spin,

For reflection, for calm, for relationship.

Beauty and order is created, but where's the enjoyment?

Where's giving, loving and time in this spin?

Time to create and share,

Time to delve and learn,

Time to deeply rest,

Time to intimately connect with another.

Where's the rocking chair....have you found it?


It's over so quick.


Seventy years are given to us, some even live to eighty. But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we fly away. Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. Psalm 90

Friday, May 13, 2011

Spring at Our House

'Our house' refers to me, Jennie, and the insurance man. Summer has sprung at Julie's house, as she reported 80 degrees yesterday, with the humidity having moved in. Here, Spring is just beginning to take hold, and it has been a late, wet time. But the gardens are slowly coming around, and the birds are out. Today I watched the birds having breakfast on the crabapple trees in front, including one glorious goldfinch. The wet weather has made for happy robins, foraging in the grass and damp dirt. It has also been a busy time, with deep cleaning both the house and yard. We did take a little time out to celebrate Mothers Day though. The insurance man and our daughter JoAnn sang in two concerts over the week-end with the Bend Master Singers. My mother and father-in-law came to celebrate Mom's birthday as well as Mothers Day, and our friend Doris was with us. On Saturday evening, after a good meal, we snapped a few photos on our way to the concert. Our two singers....

The insurance man does clean up nicely in his tux! And Mom looks so nice in a corsage for the evening.

We had such a good time with Mom & Dad visiting.

And even Doris got dressed up for the occasion. She is wearing a very special coat from Germany, made of cashmere and wool. The nice pot of violas made a cheery show for Mothers Day, then made a nice dessert for the deer that night. Ah well, nature will have it's way.

Happy Spring to you!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


These were in full bloom on Mother's Day. It made the day extra lovely.

It made me think of my mom who especially loves a purple iris. :)

Here's a lonely peach one down on the end. They're amazing. I peep out the door to see them often. They don't last long.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Another Family Tradition From the '70's

One more thing still getting some use from my childhood is a little booklet put out by the makers of Baker's Angelflake Coconut.My mom used this little booklet for ideas for birthday cakes for me and my sisters when we were little. We used to look through it and I think we even got to occasionally pick one ourselves and she would make it. It's been passed on to me, looking a little worse for the wear these days.

Because I have fond memories of these cakes, it's become a really fun thing to do them for my kids as well.

I recently made this bunny cake for Amelia's 4th birthday.

She is an Easter baby after all. :)

I really remember my mom making this elephant. I did it last year for Amelia's 3rd birthday.

I've done some of the cakes from the book for the boys too. I did a sailboat for Sam when he turned 3. But the cut-out, coconut-covered cake seems to be especially appealing to the girls. A fun tradition. And the booklet makes it so easy.