Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Favorite Aunt

I had many aunts growing up, but always one special one. She was born Joyce Mabel Erskine on November 7, 1919. The above photo is of her at age 1 with her next oldest brother Harold. She belonged to a  Willamette Valley Oregon farming family, but was born during a short stint farming in the Alberta wheat fields. Being born in Canada as a United States citizen was always a minor complication of paperwork in her life.

 Her mother was Mabel, and after having three sons before Joyce and then three more sons after her, Joyce was a dearly loved daughter. This photo was taken in 1923 or so, and was the 'before' picture before having duel haircuts.

 Aunt Joyce always said that she loved her growing up years. She lived on a farm called Rock Hill, and played more than worked outdoors. The photo with the sheep was a forecast of things to come, as she and 
Uncle Roy raised sheep most of their lives. She dearly loved her mother and brothers, but was thrilled to pieces when in 1927 she was finally presented with a sister named Susie. She had her very own live doll baby to take of and then play with.

When Joyce was 15, her mother caught spinal meningitis and was taken to the nearest hospital where she died. Not seeing Mabel alive again, after she left for the hospital was always a regret she lived with. Her father sent Joyce to live with his sister Mae in Taft on the Oregon Coast, which is where she finished high school. She loved to come home though, and above she's sitting on the porch with the farm dog.

She met and married William Roy Lambert on October 19, 1940 when she was 20 years old. Roy was from the same area of the Willamette family and his family had been farming there even longer than hers. They had a good marriage for 65 long years.

Joyce and Roy were never 'city folks', but Uncle Roy tried several ways of making a living without farming. Aunt Joyce moved with him around a bit of Oregon until he settled on working for the road maintenance crew with Linn County until he retired. They had a small acreage that kept them busy near Stayton, Oregon, and they had some farm animals and raised sheep.Joyce never worked out of the home, but she was one busy lady with all the chores. Shortly after she married, Joyce had to have a hysterectomy and was not able to have children. So, in 1951, they adopted a son and named him William Rodney Lambert. Then in 1953 they adopted a daughter, Rebecca Mabel. 


Joyce was a tough farming woman, and able to keep up with Roy. 

Here she is with me! I am the daughter of that dearly loved sister Susie, so I was automatically loved. 

Joyce, Bill and I in Scio where they lived for a while. 
Aunt Joyce was always a very special part of my life. She was the sweetest woman I have ever known. I loved her as she loved me, unconditionally. I loved visiting her and her family on the farm. Being a city girl, that gave me more than I could ever say. I was staying with them on the farm when I married. What a great sweet smile she always had.

Aunt Joyce suffered patiently through some very long years of advancing Alzheimer's disease, and was lovingly cared for by her daughter Beckie. Above she is with my remaining Aunt Joane, She saw all her many brothers, sister and husband pass away before her, and lived a wonderfully long life until she passed away this month at the age of 96. 

A sweet and gentle woman, "well done thou good and faithful servant". Can't wait to see you once again!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Winter Garden Foraging

I went out to the garden this past week and enjoyed just exploring what's going on out there. There were a lot of birds, frosty and snowy evergreens, and some small pinecones on the ground, probably from the squirrels knocking them down.
 I made a couple of winter decorations from the forage. Several boards from our snowy wood pile, juniper branches, pine cones, the insurance mans' car wash metal bucket (that is not in use in the snow!) and a string of small lights. Oh yes, and a couple of pine branches as well. Smells good and is welcoming at the front door.
On the kitchen table I filled a copper colored plant holder that I had with various kinds of juniper branches, l. e. d. candles, a few ornaments and again a string of small lights.
Best part? I had all the parts for these right here at home. Free!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Best Birthday Present Ever!

 Next to my family, my Bible is my most treasured possession. It was given to us as a Christmas gift, the second Christmas after we were married, by my parents. It is a black leather New American Standard Bible. And that is the basic information.
But there is so much, much more.
All the memories it contains. This scribble was done by a 1-year old Julie who got hold of a pen, and I wouldn't trade that page for anything.
This is the inscription from Christmas 1972, which I love because seeing my Mom's handwriting warms my heart each time.
This particular Bible became 'mine' as the insurance man prefers King James version and has a brown leather one for his purposes. This Bible is so marked up with underlines in various colors, stars, scribbles, notes and tears. As the beloved Bible began to show it's age I chose to ignore it, continuing to use it daily but finally gave up on taking it on trips with me. The binding separated from the pages and was hanging by a few threads on the left side. The insurance man urged me to find a bookbinder on line and send it in for repairs. There were three things wrong with this idea to my mind. First, I couldn't bear to part with it for the months it would take. Second, I didn't want to trust it to the postal service to get it there and back. And thirdly, I didn't want to pay the cost, as I knew it would be expensive. So, I just kept ignoring the problems with a pang of guilt every time I opened it.
Last week was my birthday, and the insurance man came in for lunch holding my Bible and looking like the cat that just ate the canary (Cheshire grin). I asked why he had my Bible, and started to worry that I had left it at church. He laid it on the table, and said no I hadn't left it anywhere. Due to being extra busy, I had been reading from the Pilgrim Prayers in the mornings and had not missed my Bible. He had quietly taken it and had the binding all fixed locally in three days, and it only cost $30! What a surprise, and what a delight. That was truly the best birthday present I ever had. And a complete surprise, not easy to accomplish!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Shore of Unceasing Praise

I've been reading from the Valley of Vision, a collection of Pilgrim prayers. One thing I've really enjoyed, among many, is the way the writers used examples from life to illustrate their prayers. There are many such in these writings, but I wanted to share one I recently admired entitled:

"O Lord of the Oceans,
My little bark sails on a restless sea,
Grant that Jesus may sit at the helm and steer me safely;
Suffer no adverse currents to divert my heavenward course;
Let not my faith be wrecked amid storms and shoals;
Bring me to harbor with flying pennants, hull unbreached, cargo unspoiled.

I ask great things, expect great things, shall receive great things.
I venture on thee wholly, fully, my wind, sunshine, anchor, defence.
The voyage is long, the waves high, the storms pitiless,
but my helm is held steady, thy Word secures safe passage,
thy grace wafts me onward, my haven is guaranteed,
this day will bring me nearer home.

Grant me holy consistency in every transaction,
my peace flowing as a running tide, my righteousness as every chasing wave.
Help me to live circumspectly, with skill to convert every care into prayer.
Halo my path with gentleness and love, smooth every asperity of temper;
let me not forget how easy it is to occasion grief;
May I strive to bind up every wound, and pour oil on all troubled waters,
may the world this day be happier and better because I live.

Let my mast before me be the Savior's cross,
and every oncoming wave the fountain in his side.
Help me, protect me in the moving sea, until I reach the shore of unceasing praise.

"If my bark sink, 'tis to another sea. Mortality's ground floor is immortality."
Emily Dickinson

When at times I sink beneath storms and waves, help me O Lord, to throw myself wholly on you and cling to you, the Rock of Ages.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Enjoying Moby Dick

For some time now I have reading Moby Dick. It has many short chapters, but as someone recently said they are short but DENSE. I am thoroughly enjoying it, but tend to put it down for a period of time when things get especially busy. I am in the mode right now of trying for a chapter a day. Herman Melville was a superb writer on this, which is why it is such a classic. This week I ran across a section that I wanted to share. I am going to try to set the stage first.

The whaling ship that holds Captain Ahab and his crew is named the Pequod. I am over half way through the book, and they have just killed their first whale, a large sperm whale. The 2nd mate named Stubb had the honor of the kill. After towing the dead whale to the Pequod and securing it to the ship for the night, they proceeded to cut whale steaks, arouse the cook 'Fleece' to cook their steaks, and in the light of burning whale oil dine on deck in the dead of night. Meanwhile, "thousands on thousands of sharks swarmed around the dead whale feasting on its fatness." The sharks were making so much noise that Stubb summoned Fleece from the kitchen, to stand before him waiting for his orders. By his own confession, Fleece was an old black man 'bout 90 years old just waked from his hammock. Stubb proceeds to order Fleece to preach to the whales to quiet them down so he can enjoy his steak. Fleece goes to the rail, leans out over as far as he can go, and begins his 'sermon'. After a few colorful sentences, Stubb stops him and tells him that he can't swear in his preaching. He tries again several times but each time is stopped and reprimanded for his swearing and commanded to speak to them 'gentlemanly' to convert them.  Once more the sermon proceeds:

    "Your voraciousness fellow-critters, I don't blame ye so much for; that is your nature and can't be helped; but to govern that wicked nature, that is de point. You is sharks, certain; but if you govern the shark in you, why then you will be an angel; for all an angel is, is nothing more than de shark well governed. Now, look here, brethren, just try one time to be civil, a helping yourselves from that whale. Don't be tearin' de blubber out of your neighbour's mouth, I say. Does not one shark have as good a right as another to dat whale? And, by golly, none of you has de right to that whale; that whale belong to some one else. I know some of you has very big mouths, bigger than others; but the big mouths sometimes has the small bellies; so that the bigness of de mouth is not to swaller with, but to bite off de blubber for the small fry of sharks, that can't get into the fight to help themselves.
    Well done, old Fleece! cried Stubb, that's Christianity! ....Give the benediction, Fleece, and I'll away to my supper.
    (Fleece raised his shrill voice and holding both hands out over the fishy mob, cried-)Cussed fellow-critters! Kick up the biggest row as ever you can; fill your bellies 'till they bust, then die!" (You'll never be converted)

I got such a kick out of this. What a great scene...who could have dreamed up preaching to thousands of attacking sharks? And Mr. Melville used it to illustrate a great truth. I just love the old authors, and they way they wrote and knew Christianity so much better than I ever could.

*By the way, the above quote is edited to a more modern interpretation, by me.

Monday, November 9, 2015

October Birthdays

 Our granddaughter Kendall turned 19 and got a new car. She is going to college now, and commuting to Vancouver. So, her other grandparents leased this car for her to drive back and forth and save on fuel. I took a ride in it, and it's safer and has more room in it than it looks. Her mom had to find that out too, before letting her tackle I-5 in it!

On October 17th, Dad turned 94 and we were there to help him celebrate. We had a nice dinner out, and then opened gifts and had a chocolate cake and ice cream. He got a nice shirt, and some snacks to enjoy while sitting in his recliner. His best present was having the family all there with him, he says.

 On the 30th JoAnn turned 36 and we had a small family party with her....
 and her buddy Neil, who also turned 36 on the 28th.
 He got a Captain America flying disc, which he had to try out even in the dark!
And then on Saturday night we had a fun time with a handful of trick-or-treaters and watched the old movie 'Gremlins' while trying out 'Seattle Dogs' (which is franks on a bun with cream cheese and carmelized onions.
October is always a very full month, but lots of fun.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Whisperings and Explorings

 Indistinct; from which direction come the sounds? Standing on a creaking board I hesitate, trying to absorb it all. Though it's sunny outside, it's chill and dim here inside. The old living room wallpaper still shows the taste of a former rancher wife. Large pieces are peeling off the walls, but overall there is still a cheerfulness and hominess to the pattern. As I move into the kitchen I can see that the wooden kitchen cupboards are painted green, and adorned with old chrome handles. Some of the doors are hanging crookedly by just one hinge, and the old white porcelain sink is streaked with rust stains and dirt. Amazingly, the window glass is still here, but is too smeared and dirty for me to see through. I can imagine that the same rancher wife must have had a good view from her kitchen sink of the high desert sagebrush, the vast sky, and maybe even livestock grazing. The pack rats have been busy, making piles of debris across the old linoleum floor, and I move gingerly. Something catches my eye on one of the kitchen shelves and I reach up to find a very old pack of Rolaids that has been chewed on and then rejected.
Next I climb the narrow back stairs, watching for rotting wood, and gain the second floor. Walking through a succession of small rooms, presumably bedrooms, I scan for bits of lives left behind: an old metal curtain rod perhaps, or any furniture or broken items left behind, unheeded. The wind gently blows around the eaves up here, and I feel those whose lives were bound up in this place. Little skittering noises run around the floorboards, but all else is entombed in the whispering silence. How many children were tucked into bed up here? I know there were children as there are still broken swings in the yard. How many seasons of harvest did this family see? Was it a good life?
Back downstairs in the main room, I stand before the stone, cold fireplace, once the heart of the home. It looks to be made of rock possibly quarried from the surrounding dessert. There is a dusty, broken desk in a corner, and piles of leaves strewn about the wooden floor. Abandoned and lonely, the home whispers of its past, its glory days and its stories to any who will pause and listen in the silence. I can almost feel the people who once lived here, can almost touch their lives. This is the place where together they struggled, laughed, despaired, cried and loved. This is the house they called home and that sheltered them. They once came and I've gone back, so the two of us can almost, almost touch.
I shiver and head for the back door, back to sunlight and the company of my real-life husband. He is sitting on an old rusty abandoned tractor, lost in his own thoughts for a moment. Beside the back door a lone rose still blooms, on a bush struggling for life. As I bend to smell, it also whispers to me that here in this lonely place there is still life and beauty .

By Jennie

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Beauty in Resting

The insurance man and I recently returned from a California vacation. We decided to follow highway 49 on the middle-eastern side of the state, down through Gold Rush country.
This route took us through many small old towns, that once were boom towns from 1849 to approx. early 1900's. The town of Sutter Creek is in the Sierra Nevada foothills, and very cute and tourist worthy. There were a lot of vineyards in the foothills, and we wound all through the area until reaching the small town of Angel's Camp which is where our timeshare was located, as well as a major gold mining museum.
We made different excursions during the mornings, as the afternoons were HOT. We visited Columbia, which is a California State Park as well as a restored gold rush town.
Lots of restored buildings and shops.
This was the post office and Wells Fargo office as well.
This is the Columbia Hotel and where we ate a delicious lunch. (One of the only places in town with air conditioning.)
They have a wonderfully restored 2-story brick schoolhouse, and it looks like it is perpetually waiting for the students to arrive.
There were also a lot of wonderful old buildings and houses that have miraculously escaped fires over the years.

One day we drove south, and spent the day in Yosemite sightseeing. 
What a wonderful park, and what amazing rock and land formations. We enjoyed it so much.
This is the famous 'half-dome' and it is an immense part of the granite in Yosemite.
We saw the effects of the 4 year drought everywhere we went, and it was very evident in the lack of water in Yosemite. This is Yosemite Falls, and although it's often reduced in autumn, this was heart-breaking.
This was the view as we entered the park. What amazing beauty and power.
We also took a day, and visited the Big Trees National Park. We had not realized that sequoia's grew inland as well as along the coast. There is a large grove here, and although they are stressed from the lack of water, they do look healthy.
This was once a great tree, but after discovery men cut it down to ship around the world as an exhibit. Now it remains a famous artifact.
Such amazing size and it does make one feel rather insignificant. I'm glad God sees our insignificance ("What is man that Thou art mindful of him?") and loves us each.
A napping squirrel, tired from all his harvest activity.
We enjoyed this park, and the peace of the forest and the big trees. It was great to be off grid, and off schedule and able to do just what and when we wanted. We are blessed.