Friday, March 30, 2012

New Furniture

One of the things that usually goes along with a change of housing is major or minor adjustment to furnishings.  I've had a hard time getting this house fixed up to look nice because it's a slow process to search out and find the things that will be just right.  There's no real hurry, but I do want the house to be comfortable and enjoyable for all the family.  We acquired a couple of very helpful items recently.

Pictured above: 

1)One of two matching chairs (that recline!) for the living room.  They were a fortunate find and are *just* right because they fulfill a very practical purpose of providing more seating (much needed), as well as being attractive and comfortable.  (I'm smiling).   

2)A new (to us) piano!  We previously were using an old upright piano that we got for free.  It worked just fine for the boys to do their piano practice on, but was really too large for the living space in our new house and was so, so heavy to try to move here.  It took a while, but we finally found this little spinet piano for sale which was a more appropriate size and weight for where we're at now.  We're so happy to get it and after a tuning and some minor work on the keys, it's playing so beautifully. 

Though small in the grand scheme of things, these finds feel like quite a triumph to me right now!  I'm grateful for each provision from the Lord. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring In West Virginia mom does such a great job posting interesting and lovely things on this blog.  However, I guess I'd better stop excusing myself and contribute now and then.  I've been thinking about some things lately and hope to do several posts to pull my weight here.  :)  Seeing is believing!

We're getting our first blooms on our property.  It's very exciting because this is our first spring here.  Since we moved in December, everything has been a drab brown so far.  As the plants begin to wake up, I'm getting to see what is growing here.  I was pleased (as you can see above) to find some Forsythia blooming below the house last week. 
 The yellow is so cheerful!
And our woods have a delicate carpet of these tiny purple-white blooms.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Good-bye Trip....Postscript

 I found this photo this morning, after hunting around a bit. It was taken in 1995 at a family reunion, and shows me with my cousins Dale and Larry, all grown up. I think it will be a special photo for me now.

Our trip to Seattle went very smoothly, despite rain and snow from time to time. Larry was doing well in the hospital with pain control and we were able to visit most all afternoon. He was his usual joking self, which was fun and enabled all of us to enjoy our time together. It was really worth the trip, and God blessed us.

 Here are the three cousins, Larry, my brother Joe and I. My other cousin Beckie was not able to go as she is recovering from having pneumonia.

An interesting life phenomenon is the circle of life. While we were there we got to meet our niece's first baby and my brother's first grandchild.....Aiden Josiah Wheeler, born March 2nd. It's so good to know that while one life is ending, one is beginning and how that plays out all around the world every minute of every day. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Good-Bye Journey

 When I was growing up in Seattle on 38th NE, these two little boys were growing up on 36th NE. They are my cousins, Dale (brown hair) and Larry (blond). My mother's brother Harold and his family lived just two short city blocks from us. These boys are both older than I and my brother, Dale by seven years and Larry three 1/2 years. But we did have fun playing all sorts of games in our respective basements when the adults would get together. We also had a large extended family in the area, as my mom and Harold had six other siblings. What a group of cousins we had, and how much fun we all had together. It was a great part of my growing up.
 This photo always makes me laugh, as at one of our family get-togethers both Harold and Larry were worn out!
The boys and I did not attend the same schools after grade school however, as Dale and Larry graduated from Roosevelt High in Seattle and I had the great privilege of attending a private Christian school through graduation. We all went our separate ways after that.
Larry has a wonderful testimony of that time in his life, and has shared it in High Schools and Churches around the Seattle/Everett area for many years. Briefly told, he got involved with alcohol and drugs in school, and ended up becoming an alcoholic and heroin addict, living on the beaches in Hawaii in the late 60's-early 70's. His mother was praying for him, and one day he wandered into a church on Maui, and picked up a Gideon Bible and began to read it. The wonderful Pastor there found him and took him home, resulting in Larry giving his life back to Jesus. God instantly and miraculously took all addictions away from him, including heroin, nicotine and alcohol. What a huge blessing that has been for him all these years. As he says, God took the monkey on his back away, when he had lost all hope it could ever be removed. He came home and got his life straightened around. About that time, I had married the insurance man, and was living in Seattle while he trained in the Oregon National Guard. I could join him in San Antonio for the last part of training, but my Dad didn't want me driving that far by myself. Larry was home but still at loose ends, so volunteered to go with me. He and I drove together, straight through from Burns (where my in-laws live) to San Antonio, taking turns at the driving. He still had a full beard and very long thick blond hair, so when we were stopped outside of Phoenix for speeding in the dead of night, the police officer was suspicious in the extreme of any 'hippies'. I convinced him to call my Dad, who then explained the situation and we were let 'go', much to both our relief. All the south at that time was wary of hippies, and we had some funny experiences along the way.  After some heavy duty sleep, Larry flew back to Seattle, went to work and met a lovely girl, Merry Ludwick who he married six months later.

 Larry's dad Harold worked at Todd's shipyards at Elliott Bay in Seattle. Sadly, he later contracted Mesothelioma from asbestos exposure, and died at age 65. My aunt Nuna was left a widow at a fairly young age, and lived alone for many years. Larry remained very close to his Mom, and they lived around the town of Marysville for many years. She died last year, and I wrote about her on this blog. She was living in an assisted living facility in Everett, and Larry went to visit her most every day.

Larry and Merry have two children, a daughter Poppy and a son Paul. They now are each married, and Larry has three granddaughters. Larry has been retired from the Everett School System for the last few years and enjoying his granddaughters. This past year he was diagnosed with the same terrible form of cancer as his father. Larry worked at Todd's Shipyards for two winters after high school, before leaving for Hawaii, and it seems that was enough to be exposed to the asbestos. They did find the cancer much earlier than with Uncle Harold, and did a major surgery last fall. However, the cancer has returned and currently Larry is in the University of Washington hospital for pain control and radiation. It is only a matter of time now, and since he just turned 65 last month, it looks as if he will pass away at the same age as his father did.

The insurance man and I are joining my brother this week-end and another cousin to go and say good-bye. It will be both good and hard all rolled into one. The very good news is that Larry has served our God and his Savior and is at peace with knowing this is in God's plan for his life. We will all be together again one day soon. I am so glad that I have an opportunity to go and say good-bye, and hopefully encourage him and Merry. These are never easy times in a family, and yet what a blessed hope we have as believers...and how much we have to be thankful for in our redemption. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Eating Changes

We have been trying to change a few things in our diet, and are striving for moderation and a little weight loss. To get things kick-started, I am trying a few vegetarian meals this week. Our ultimate goal is not to go vegan, but to cut back on our consumption of animal products. But for these two weeks, I am trying out a few new dishes. I have long done stir-frys, but this week I did a totally vegetarian one. It was colorful, as you can see. There is onion, broccoli, red bell pepper, carrots, celery, and bok choy in there. I made a sauce with a base of pure fruit apricot jam and cashew nut butter, with some balsamic vinegar and spices thrown in. I sprinkled some spanish peanuts on top, and some raw sesame seeds and then served the whole thing over shredded romaine lettuce instead of brown rice. It was delicious, and truly satisfied me. The insurance man missed his meat however. He is being a good sport about it all, and is willing to try these dishes out. Hopefully we'll find a few favorites. I tried an Eggplant Parmesan that was REALLY good, and as it was my first try with eggplant, I was really pleased. I am ready to try growing it in my garden this year. Last night we had mini-whole wheat pizzas, with roasted roma tomatoes & garlic, and red onion cooked with spinach and red bell pepper for the toppings. Today it is a Chard Vegetable Medley topped with roasted pine nuts. I think I am enjoying exploring a new world!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Last days of Winter or first days of Spring?

"Blow, blow, how the wind doth blow". This fragment from a half-remembered childrens' poem flits through my thoughts, as a big gust reddens my cheeks and blows my hair into my eyes. I return to my raking, the pine needles beginning to make a sizable pile. The wind is at least warm, and the sun feels so good on my shoulders. I look around and see that about one-half of the yard is still under the icy remnants of our last snow storm. But the other half is greening up nicely, and there are little patches of blooming crocus glowing under the sparkling green of the tall pine trees. The air smells so good, and it feels wonderful to exhale the staleness of inside air and breathe in all this freshness. The wind gusts tease my hair and flatten my ears as I rake.
I notice a few other neighbors are out too, taking advantage of this early good weather. Of course, true to Central Oregon weather, more snow is predicted to be on it's way tonight. But now, right now, my garden work has begun for the new season, and I mark the moment with pleasure. I don't care that my newly cleaned out strawberry patch will again be snow covered and facing winter temperatures. The little plants might shiver, but they will also kick up their heels at the additional moisture seeping down around their roots. That's how March is supposed to be....two days of winter and one day of Spring, on and on in a circle of nature until Spring finally wins the game. And as for the wind...March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, or at least it's supposed to. And in the wise words of Winnie the Pooh, "who doesn't like a blustery day?"

*Addition: Today (Tuesday) Old Man Winter has again claimed victory. It's been snowing off and on all day, and the high is supposed to be around 34 degrees. I'm so glad I enjoyed yesterday!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March Birthday and Snow

This morning we woke up to a delightful day, one of my favorites of the year. A newly fallen snow under bright blue, sunny skies. It is also one of my favorite days, because it's March 1st....the day Julie was born. After an extremely dry and mild winter, we have been blessed with a snowy week, showing that winter still has a grip on things yet. I think there is a total this morning of 8-10 inches, quite a lot for this late in the year for us. Of course, there is the work that goes along with it, but since we have cold dry snow, the shoveling is a whole lot easier. Julie mentioned that the kids would all be exited by the news, since they have had no snow to speak of in West Virginia this winter. So I wandered around in the quiet beauty and took a few shots to show them long distance.

 Out Front
 Out Back
 Along the Back Fence
 Beauty even on a Garden Shed...sunshine sparkling on icicles.
 My tracks this morning, and it's so much fun to be the first to walk in a pure new-fallen snow!
And, last but certainly not least...the birthday cake is hanging out for this very special day. The day that God blessed us with Julie. Happy Birthday, Mama Goose.