Posted tagged ‘Travel’

MAILBOX VIEW – A NEAR MISS!

November 14, 2017

You can get a pretty interesting view of the world from your mailbox –  a changing world.

junk mailbox mine

My neighbor and I stand side by side with our mailboxes.    The mailbox used to  bring a lot of things that it doesn’t,  anymore.  Paychecks.  Other “checks in the mail.”   Birthday cards and lots and lots of Christmas cards.  Letters from family and friends.

And letters from Pen Pals!  

Penpal stack

One of the joys of my teen and young adult years was to write to and receive letters from pen pals.  There were even magazines and sections of magazines devoted to introducing people to each other from around the world.   There are some I still wonder about and regret that our correspondence ended somehow,  but I have one pen pal who has remained with me and I count her among my good and precious friends –  across the ocean!

Today:    Our mailboxes hold mostly  Junk Mail.

junkmail

And lots of it.

But many years ago,  Hubbie had some advice for his family,  and he had learned it the hard way.    He usually went through the mail, tossing out all the junk mail,  keeping only the “important stuff.”   But one month he was fretting about not receiving a rebate check he had “gone through all the hoops”  to  qualify for.

He was sitting idly at his desk one day,  thinking of complaining to the company,  but just staring  at his little wastebasket which was nearly overflowing.    He looked at it, into it,  and there were a few “junk mail” envelopes unopened.    Sure enough, one envelope was from the same company that had sent  him the rebate.

So –  Hubbie said:   “Always open your junk mail;  it takes very little time,  and you may find something that isn’t junk after all.”

I don’t always listen to my husband’s advice.

Recently I got a big colorful envelope,  something about driving,  something about ENTERING A CONTEST – YOU CAN WIN $$$.   “ENTER HERE TO WIN”

Junk Mail brochures

Well, it was from Colorado.  I had just traveled there a couple months ago – briefly.  It was just a drive-through,  maybe two hours.   I just had to get from western Kansas to Wyoming.     But somehow  “Colorado”  had gotten my personal information.

I didn’t open this ” junk mail”  for  a week or two, until I had more time for it.   That’s a photo of the brochures I got for driving in Colorado and entering their contest.

“Junk Mail”  for a Toll road.    An Express Toll Road.

junkmail letter

 

“Express”  means:  You don’t have to stop to pay your toll –  they’ll send you a bill later!  (along with a chance to enter a contest).

By the time I opened the envelope to see what kind of fun contest Colorado was offering me,   I saw that I had only five days left to pay this toll bill –  or else!

I wonder –  if I hadn’t opened this junk mail, and if I had seen another  similar piece of junk mail from Colorado a month or so from now (with a “final notice” within),  well,  would there be a warrant out for me next time I drive out West?

(Sigh-h-h-h.   Yet another reason to drive  so slowly that I am just about under the speed limit.)

_________________________________

Read your junk mail, guys.

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SAYING BYE

September 5, 2017

There comes a time when you “just know”  it’s time to reverse direction and turn towards home.    After spending so much time together, side by side,  the little one,  Cooper,  my grandson, bravely accepted that I wanted to go home.  He knew I wasn’t going to be there when he came home from his second whole new day of school.

He shuffled around that morning,  went away and got something,   then handed me his favorite  cute little bear.    He said, “Here, Grandma,  you should take him with you.”

Byw Teddy Bear

He didn’t want me to be alone on my long ride home.  He wanted his love to accompany me on my way home.     (This is the “miracle child”  that was born under surprising circumstances, sent to us when the whole family needed him . . .  He brings peace, caring, and love.       The story is in the Archives for November 2010,  so I won’t repeat it here, except to say Cooper’s mission continues.)

So,  it was  time to hit the open roads again   (with little bear on the dash).

Bye On the road again

Those hazy mountains up ahead . . .  one hour later . . .

Bye Western Hills

. . .   one hour later I reached them and enjoyed driving through them for the last time this year.

Bye side rocks

Last drive through mountain scenery.    And then the  mountainous terrain thins out:

Bye curving roads

Hours and hours of driving later,  next day in fact,  there are still occasional mountains to drive into:

Bye rock in the way

Tunnels make it easier (and fun!):

Byw Tunnel

Eventually,  good-bye to buffalo land:

Bye bison

Good-bye to all the dinosaurs:

Bye Dinosaurs

Well,  but good-bye to fossils and archeological digs and dinosaur museums.    And an archaic way of looking at gasoline:

Bye sinclair

I grew up with those Sinclair gas commercials on television.   I think their mascot was called “Dino.”      Much to my surprise,  when I became an adult, I learned that oil doesn’t come from smooshed dinosaurs,  but that’s all right.

A couple days of driving later I had new scenery to look at:

Bye coming east

It’s all green now.  Rich, fertile land for cattle and sheep and wheat and corn.    Our food.

You think this might be a boring place to drive?     No!   If you’re open to genuine experiences,  the sheer immensity of the landscape, the wide green expanse,   the limitless scenery,   the vast distances that your eyes can take in –  occasionally I still just have to  take a deep breath when I see so far into the land  I’m driving into.

The high plains,  the prairie,  sometimes becomes a desert during August:

Bye dusty roads

You pass by moving clouds of dust alongside the Interstate,  knowing that a tractor or a little truck or a car is on the dusty local roads.

I’m on the road with the big rigs.    I feel safe with the truckers out there.    I love listening to the Truckers Radio Show during the overnight hours.   They usually love their jobs,  love the open roads,  but it’s a difficult job that’s tough on a man’s body.

Bye chapel

It’s a hard and lonely job.

So,  I’ve been putting  the West behind me as the sun hung low in the western sky.

Bye sundown

 

Fun with the sun:

bye sun on bridgeThe sun sits on the bridge in my rearview mirror.

And then night falls —

bye sun dark

From beginning to end –

I started out with the eclipse,  the new moon covering the sun.

I’ve ended it now when the moon is full . . .

Son's Full moon

On the day I arrived home,  Son was kind enough to help me celebrate on his deck with grilled steaks.    The last time I saw him the moon was less than a sliver.  Now we enjoyed the full moon,  glowing reddish orange high in the sky.

Same sun.  Same moon.    But I feel different.  I know I’m different.

So much has been added to me.

LAKE LIFE

September 1, 2017

Here’s where the Little Blue Car has been parked for the past week:

L Blue Car 370

Beneath a mountain,  at the lakeside.    You can just about see it at the bottom right corner of Cooper’s house.  Cooper’s Mommy and Daddy have worked very hard and are working hard and long hours to be able to choose a home in this location,  but, nevertheless,   every day they told me how lucky and how grateful they are to have a home like that.

So, good.

The Little Blue Car hasn’t had much to do lately.    This is how we got around:

L how we got around 270

Cooper’s family spend a lot of time in that lake –  Donner Lake.

L Viking Dive 370

Tbere’s  a  fearless jump  into the Lake!   Daddy is close by in case he’s needed,  but by six years old?

Nope:

L Viking alone 360

He spent two hours  in  that Lake.     The whole family did.

And after lake time,  Cooper piloted the boat:

L Viking driver 370

Ahhhhh.   Viking blood runs true in the newest generation!

 

viking ship

________________________________________________

 

Active, active, active.   Everyone bicycles, serious mountain biking;   everyone does water sports in the summer,  snowboarding and snow mountain biking in the winter;   and lots of other sports all year round.      All the men.  All the women.  All the children.

But something else I noticed while here in the High Sierras:   I really didn’t see many people my age.   I think everyone must wear themselves out by age 50.

 

DESTINATIONED

September 1, 2017

Yes:  “destinationed.”     ” Destinationed out.”     As in “I got there and I’ve met my  . . .  end . . .”

These people are active!

It’s good.    I’m okay.    I’m exhausted.   Done thinking.    I’m sunburned,   been scraped and bloodied,    dizzied,     weak-kneed,    so-o-o-o-o-o thirsty,    tired,   and shaky . . .   and half-drowned at the bottom of this:

DL Lake Donner

I’ve  been staying there . . .  right about where that little boat in the bottom left corner is coming out of.     Donner Lake.    I’ve been on the Lake and under the Lake . . . .   Tricks on the Lake  you  shouldn’t do at my age, or at least while you’re still weak-kneed from other activities.

Do you know that after you peddle boat across the Lake and back again that your legs don’t work so well for a while?

I took that  Lake photo from up here:

DL Rainbow Bridge 370

 

Location of Rainbow Bridge:

2L The Rainbow Bridge

That little straight dark line in the center of the picture is the famous Rainbow Bridge.  Thanks to “Walt Disney Presents”  and my Viewmaster cards,  I learned about this Bridge as a child.    Almost never thought of it as real.

We got up there from Old US 40 – an old highway with breathtaking views and hairpin turns:

DL Old US 40

We parked our cars below and climbed up by foot further:

DL Rocks

There were more rocks to climb:

DL Boulders

Really was fun jumping from place to place, planning your footholds carefully.   Going down this mountainside was a whole different perspective.   You could see the depths.

Cooper was with me:

DL Cooper

He lives there at Donner Lake –  this is his back yard!    The mountains, the forests and the Lake.        We celebrated Cooper’s Daddy’s birthday — on a pontoon boat – and with ski lifts and gondolas and a bit of hiking at the Summit —  el.  7200 feet.

I did a few other thingsout here at Donner,  but I’m too tired to write about them right now.   Packing the car for the trip home is next on my mind.

I’ll need a rest from this vacation.

BONNEVILLE

August 30, 2017

One of the great stops along I-80  is the Bonneville Flats Test Sight.

After the flat green landscape of Kansas and the beautiful tan and brown and gold tones of the mountains of Wyoming and Utah,  you  notice a “change”  outside your car window:

B1 Bonneville 370

The land becomes white.

B2 Big Flats 380

Miles and miles of dry white surface.

And, of course,  these are the Bonneville Flats – and they’re made for driving!

B3 Flats are for driving 370

There are miles and miles of this.     I always say:   ” I’m not going to stop.”

B5.5 Rest Stop up ahead 370

“I’m not going to stop.    I’m not . . . ”

B4 rest area 370

But I always do.   They have a really nice and informative rest area,  and you can get as close as you can to the salt flats.

Although almost all you’ll see for many miles into the curvature of the earth is salt.

B5 just salt 2 370

Somewhere in that expanse there is a course set, varying in length each year, for the fastest cars to set speed records.  Only one mile of the course is recorded,  the fastest mile, I guess.

B6 sign 370

I’m not that interested in cars and motors and engines and how fast you can get a car-like vehicle to move,  but even for me a portion of that sign was impressive:

B7 sign portion 370

I’ve driven in “triple digit” m.p.h. — but not with an 8 in it!

Might seem like an odd place to take a stroll,  but there’s no danger.

B9 odd place for a stroll

And I always get out there on the salt-encrusted earth too:

B10 shoes in 370

Water seeps through some places:

B11 Wading 2 370

Wet and dry:

B12 shallow water 370

If you scoop up some of the salt from the wet portion –  well, it just looks like wet salt:

B13 shallow wet salt 370

 

But if you want some salt from the dry portion, you have to pry it up from the desert gravel,  you have to use a little force and try to get a big chip:

B14 salt sample 370

I had all the fun I wanted . . .  it was getting later in the traveling day . . .  and see that kind of white  line across the middle of this picture, leading on into the distant mountains?  —

B16 highway goes 370

That’s the highway where I had to go, off into those mountains,  up and over,  and into the high desert:

B17 highway into 102 370

Quite a temperature!

 

 

 

ZOO TIPS

August 28, 2017

Going to a zoo sometime during this trip west was something I looked forward to.

Z Zoo Sign

I found a couple:   the Kansas City Zoo in the city;  and this one,  way out in the country through narrow two-lane roads.     Surprisingly worth it.

Of course I’ve been to lots of zoos before, and in one way they’re all “alike”  —  all the familiar animals arranged in simulations of their native continents;   but each zoo is a bit different too,  and it’s those differences plus the animals that make it worth “going to the zoo again.”

Z Rhino

So,  you’ve seen lions and tigers in person;  you’ve seen a rhino;  exotic birds; you’ve been up close to elephants;  maybe you’ve even fed the giraffes with their long black muscular tongues!     (He just stuck his tongue back in when I snapped the picture.)

Z Giraffe 270

Some zoo tips:

First:   you are never too old to go to a zoo.    No matter how old you get, no matter how many zoos you’ve seen,  even if you have to go alone, your zoo trips are not behind you;   you’re never too old!

Second:      In the summer?   On a hot sunny day?    Hat, sunglasses, plenty of water and sunscreen with you?    But don’t forget that the animals are hot too and this is the time of day when the most interesting animals   go    to   sleep!

Sleeping furry tail 300

Cute little guys –  but they’re not going to be moving anytime soon.

Sleeping Flamingos 320

Pretty flamingos.   Pretty sleepy flamingos.

You won’t see much action from even the big guys:
SleepingTigers 370

And I think the bright noon sun bleaches out the colors in the photos.

Third:      Ride!      Ride the trams . . .

Zoo Tram 400

. . .  the trains . . .

Z Train 400

. . .  and the sky rides.  . . .

SkyRide 400

 

You’ll see the zoo in comfort and in shade, with a cool breeze blowing past you;  and it’s surprising how long you can last the day without feeling a bit tired.

Riding,  rolling  gliding your way through the zoo is a great way to see where all the exhibits are and plan which ones you’d like to actually walk to.   And there are always frequent stops,  so just get off near exhibits that you want to see, and then get back on    when you’re done there.

Fourth:   Don’t forget to see the humor – and take some funny shots!

Funny shots 400

Like a headless polar bear

Fifth:   Enjoy the signs –  but remember to be safe or you’ll get some surprises.       This sign was easy enough to understand:

Kangaroo sign and spiders 400

What it meant was that the kangaroos run freely, no cages,  and there are no barriers between you and them.

Kangaroo Spider surprise 400

This made one young man – one foolish, boastful young man –   tell his girlfriend (or wife)  that he was going to run right at those kangaroos and scare them!   His young girlfriend (or wife)  told him  “No!   They’re wild animals!    They could hurt you!”

But the young man ran off our pathway,  through the opening in the bushes,  and promptly began to yell:   “Aaaaaargh!!”       He had run right into some wild . .  .   spider webs!   He came out spitting and sputtering and rubbing his face.      “I’m not going back there,”  he said.   I guess he’d found his wild things.

Sixth:    Look all around and enjoy the whole wild, strange, exotic world that you are just a tiny part of:

Z Blue 400

There was a group of maybe 40 of them, all dressed alike in the same colors:  moms, dads,  children,  babies . . .  speaking “Pennsylvania Dutch,”   which since “Dutch”  means “Deutsch”  I could understand about a third of what they were saying.   How I wondered and speculated what their world is like!

Seventh:   Take Google with you:

Snake google 400

This is a giant python.  An ordinary python with a genetic defect  causing amelonism because of  a double heterozygous gene which produced a condition called … “leuco-”  something.   Another lady and I were trying to figure out what all this meant, what made the python such a pretty yellow color.   Finally we looked each other in the eye,  smiled, and whipped out our cell phones,  consulting Google for the full explanation –  which was rather satisfying.

And that wasn’t the last time Google answered our questions –  questions which could make sense only while we were there,  but answers which will stick with us for a while.

Eighth:       Leave your POLITICS  at home!!!

Not you –  the young millennial zoo people who insisted on writing, for every animal exhibit,   that HUMANS  have destroyed this animal’s habitat and that they are now becoming extinct, or in danger of becoming extinct, or one day will think they might become extinct.       Because  “humans did it.”      Humans are horrible!    Humans make it no fun to be an animal.

And soon there will be no more zoos.

Let me add a little animal sound to that:   “grrrrrrrrrrrrr.”

 

(Next post:  I’ll show them an extinct thing or two!)

 

 

 

 

 

WORLD WAR ONE REVISITED

August 26, 2017

You should . . .  we all should:  revisit World War One.   Or maybe learn about it for the first time.     And 1917.  So much happened in that year that is relevant to us today — and if we don’t learn its lessons,   its warnings for us will come true.

KANSAS  CITY,  MISSOURI:

I had two things on my list to do in Kansas City:   (1)  visit the zoo;  (2)  visit the National World War One Memorial and Museum.

It’s NOT easy to drive in Kansas City,  and they had just received about 9 inches of rain, so many roads were still closed for flooding.  I was heading for the zoo, but got lost and found myself staring at a sign that pointed to the Museum . . .

It looks like this:

WWI Tower 400

It’s large.   You go forward and downward about fifteen feet, and then in through those dark doors in the middle.

Fortunately (if you want to have some fun)  you can go way up to the top of the tower too,  up in a rattle-y metal elevator:

WWI looking down elevator

That’s standing at the edge of the elevator looking down a couple hundred feet!   It lifts you up and then you walk up a further 45 winding steps,  just like in a lighthouse.

Quite a view!

WWI KC overlook

And my pretty blue car, way down there:

WWI Blue car

 

But inside the museum,  it was serious.    Serious history for a serious century.   You entered the exhibit rooms by walking on a glass floor.   Underneath the floor, about twenty feet down,  was a garden of poppies.

WWI glass floor anad foot

The reflection of the bright light makes it hard to tell that it’s a transparent floor,  but there’s my shoe to show you I’m standing on glass!

Deep down below, if you were there,  you’d see the poppies:

WWI glass poppies

I  cried.

Poppies.  *    We must never forget.

World War One was a slap in the face to “modern” man,  and a punch in the stomach.   With all the confident promises of modern technology to solve every problem, we discovered that technology could be used to wage the horrific, murderous, brutal war we could not even have imagined.   Airplanes were used to deliver bombs and chemical gases.    Artillery increased in unimaginable sizes.   Submarines delivered death to civilians, not just enemy soldiers.

And a new kind of warfare took the lives of almost half the men in the war:

WWI Trench 400

This was a life-size model of a trench from which much of the war was waged, on both sides.   10 to 15 feet or more deep.   Dirty, muddy,  disease and vermin filled.   A map of the trenches ran from the English Channel all the way down to Switzerland,  and it was not just one long narrow string of trenches.    There were many intersecting trenches,  some for fighting,  some for communications, some for the officers to plan,  some for tending the wounded,  some for supplies . . .   The web of trenches were like small cities.

And many, many young men died in these trenches.  Or trying to get out of the trenches.   Or ordered to get out, up, and over, to bring the fight to the enemy.

WWI Men sign up 400

America entered the war after a few years.    There were campaigns to raise money for our troops.  There was rationing at home.   “Tobacco parties”   or “Tobacco Balls”  to raise a supply of cigarettes to send to the troops.    And there was pressure on young Americans to enlist.

My grandfather enlisted in the Navy.      U.S.S.   Utah.

In 1917 the war effort faltered as Russia left the war to fight an internal war of its own.

WWI stolen guns

Actual German guns – taken by the Russians,  to use in the Russian Revolution.

Like World War One and “poppies”  the Russian Revolution is another event of the 20th century that should be revisited, since the same revolutionary group is at work in the United States today, promoting anarchy,  social upheaval,  class warfare,  racism,  discontent, and violence.

We need to remember what that did to the Russian people.   I know for a fact that our school and university history books do not tell us what we need to know.

World War One ended, then in 1918,   but its lessons for us do not come to an end.   Unless we want an inevitable Three.

 

 

_____________________________

.*

 

InFlandersFields

OPEN ROADS OPPORTUNITIES

August 26, 2017

I have some photos for you!  Finally!   I’m back in business:  after driving more than 600 miles today,  most of it looking into the blazing western sun;  and after resolving the war between Kaspersky and an “unsecure”  hotel Internet connection;  after finding a way to bypass a reluctant camera-to-laptop  connection while managing an insistent Roaming cell phone connection   . . .    and having my laptop shut down several times by the above mentioned parties to the “war”  —  I showed them all who’s Master of all this digital stuff!

BEHOLD:

Kansas Rd 400

Wide open spaces, as I wrote about last time!   Missouri and Kansas.

And Wyoming:

Wyoming Rd 400

I have so many photos of Wyoming, because it’s  the most scenic state I’ve ever  driven in.    This one just shows the open roads, not the scenery

If you ever want to feel like you’re driving on the very  top of the world, looking out in all directions for miles and miles into the horizon,  you would find that extraordinary feeling in Wyoming!     It’s a little like looking out from an airplane window.   The view is a cross between beautiful earth colors and a moonscape, and it lasts all day!    Ooohs and ahhhs and catching your breath is most appropriate!

The Glory of God reflected back to Him by Wyoming  scenery!

Well, this is about “opportunities”:    

Take them.

Mississippi 380

That’s the Mississippi River.  But not “just”  the Mississippi.   Think of all the history involved with that river:    Ancient Americans navigated it and built their mounds alongside its shores.    It’s quite likely, from the artifacts left behind that the Mauritanians   during the Roman era knew it.   (Mauritania:  an African province of Rome)      And “blue-eyed”  blond explorers (the Vikings?)

Certainly we know Father Pierre Marquette explored and mapped the river and the surrounding territory.   The first name  for this river that the Europeans knew  was “The River of The Immaculate Conception”  in honor of the Virgin Mary.

MAP River of the Immaculate Conception

The year was about 1673 and Father Marquette was 36 years old!

Of course the Mississippi River (as the English renamed it)  was important to the pioneers who had to cross it.

Did you know that when the first bridge over the river was completed, people were so afraid to cross that bridge,  that a parade of  elephants were led across the bridge to prove that it would be strong enough for people and wagons!

So when you’re driving across that ho-hum we-‘ve- heard- the- name- a- thousand- times river  —   when you’re driving,  take the opportunity  to think of all its interesting history.  And, as Son reminded me,  when you’ve driven to the western side of the  Mississippi River,   you’re really in the West.

Same thing for the Missouri River.

MIssouri 370

It also has a rich history and was meaningful to all those who had to cross it on their way west.    It’s really west,  far west,  and I felt quite emotional humming the beautifully sad song “Shenandoah,”   the river so many left behind when they pioneered west,  knowing they’d never go home again.   (YouTube it.)

Imagine what these strange-looking banks of the Missouri River meant to them:

MIssouri banks 370

Well, it isn’t just history and geology along the way.   Sometimes you have to make an effort to NOT let an opportunity get away from you.

Traveling along I-70  I saw many signs for wineries,  but I didn’t want to travel 20 miles north or south to get to one.  Then I saw this one:

Winery Bldg 380

Right along the edge of the interstate —  I drove to the nearest exit, turned around, and drove back to it.

Winery Sign 380

It’s hard to stop the “forward”   momentum  when you’re on a long trip,  but I think this was a little bit  worth it.  I met some nice people.   They let me peek into their back room.

Winery vats 380

The lady described the wines in terms that were foreign to me:  forward effect,  undertones,   fragrance,  airiness,  and , oh, yes,  “like taking a walk in a forest . . .”

I’m glad I took this opportunity and had the experience, even though  vineyards are only mildly interesting to me.   I’m not a wine-drinker — but the rest of my family  is.   I didn’t take a photo of the inside of the wine store and the bottles I picked out . . .  it’s a secret (until I deliver the bottles to my family)!

But more interesting stops in the next posting . . .

 

__________________________

 

Well, I found Shenandoah for you,  sung by a Norwegian singer!

(Remember,  it’s a very sad song . . . )

 

BEYOND “ROAMING”

August 24, 2017

Well, I  am  traveling (roaming)   but so is my cell phone and it’s apparently very nervous about being so far from home.

I’ve traveled westward now for several days.  It’s a vast empty space out here.  You can drive for three hours straight, 80 m.p.h.,  few curves, few hills, and few cars  and without seeing any towns.    There are few exits, and there are usually no structures at the exits anyway.   Gas stations are few and far between.    You can fill up your tank and drive for another two or three or four hours and still see pretty much nothing.

Other than beautiful fertile landscape . . .  and lots of steaks-to-be.

For most of the last two days I had no cell service, and when I did,  I had to keep readjusting the roaming settings.    Now I discover that the Internet service is sketchy at best.

No photos?    Each photo that I have for you is taking 3 to 4 minutes to download.   That won’t do.

There is nothing that makes one feel “away from home”   as being away from cell phone and Internet.

(I’m driving up into the mountains tomorrow.   I’ve been there before.   There are even fewer people up there!)    Good-bye, again!!   

________________________________________

SOME THOUGHTS ON ROAMING:

We have a vast, empty country, with relatively few people to spread around.   The people we do have seem to want to group together in too little space.      Now,  why should that be?    Back in the mists of time,  before ancient history,  we know  that our Creator said to “be fruitful . . .  and fill the whole earth. . .”  which we can understand means to “go ahead and live everywhere on this planet.”  

Also in ancient myths we repeatedly see that the Enemy had “taught”  humans to live in vast cities,  concentrating power and wealth in the hands of a few rulers.     Not good.

But we really do have enough land to spread out in small related groups of family and friends.    Sure would make true democracy a bit easier.

 

 

YES, WE DID

August 22, 2017

It’s taken an amazing amount of effort to get to see the eclipse —  and write about it!

e sun

We saw that, taken during the eclipse, but the eclipsed sun was still so bright that the camera couldn’t pick up the crescent sliver.    We did see the eclipse in all its phases,  at about 99+ % totality.

Safely looking through safety glasses:

e thru glasses

 

And looking goofy through the safety glasses:

e to edit

 

After tons of doubts and indecisions and not a few trepidations, Son and I had headed south for our eclipse viewing.  We made it all the way into Kentucky.    Reports of traffic jams seemed slightly exaggerated  but perhaps it was our lengthy morning discussions that allowed all the other cars to get a head start.  We nearly had the highways to ourselves!

We had no idea where to go in Kentucky, but there seemed to be a guiding hand watching over us and managing the timing and the location.

e npo crowds

 

We found our way to what turned out to be the local community college, where everyone was friendly and happy.   It wasn’t really crowded.

One advantage of viewing an eclipse in a college setting is that there are telescopes at hand!    Son gets a good look:

e telescope

We walked around, we sat down, we lay down in the soft clover grass and tried to absorb all the phenomena:  we watched the crescent sun get narrower and narrower,   the lights dim,  the air get slightly cooler  (it was 95 degrees — “slightly cooler”  still felt hot!),  we saw the shadows actually get unusually sharper with well-defined edges:

e sharp shadow

And then, all at once:  

In the trees all around us the crickets and bugs and things began singing – loudly!   The people who had been speaking in soft voices  each other had to speak a little more loudly to each other.    We all looked around in wonder because we hadn’t noticed any “absence”  of bug sounds just a few moments before, and now there was a full chorus around us!

e noisy bugs

Son discovered that these were dead bugs,  but there sure were a lot of them.

We had beautiful park-like surroundings on that campus:

e beautiful surrroundings

 

We lingered awhile, just reliving the experience and enjoying the scenery.   We sure didn’t feel like being among the first to leave.

e blue car

The little blue car was waiting for us.   Son starts his journey home to the Far North and I begin my journey West,  first stop  Kansas City, Missouri,  where there is LOTS to see.

Truly,  everything worked out smoothly for us.   Deo gratias.

 

NINE OF HIM WOULD’VE MADE A DOZEN

August 8, 2017

“Nine of him would have made a dozen!”  

What better way to describe a big brawny man!    Most especially it’s a term of appreciation to say that about a man who is helping you out on a particularly tough physical job – and is  more than adequate for the task.

It’s from a book I’m reading.     A western.

Everything is pointing me westward this month.   I finished a small grocery trip and pulled out of the parking lot,  looking for traffic, towards the west —

Sunset at Tom's 370

A surprising splash of color from the west  flowing down the street.

This book I’m reading is a twentieth century western, takes place in Montana,  and from what I’ve seen the West is still out there like that in Montana.    The author has a way with words that make me laugh right out loud or make some noise of delight once or twice on every page,  and it was actually his description of the mountains that made me think of my own trip westward in the last post I wrote.

I forgot to write it down in the last post,  but I think this little passage is worth thinking about.

The story is told from the point of view of a fourteen year old boy  one summer- and I think I nearly know what it’s like to feel like him, near as I could.    Going up farther into the mountains to count sheep for his ranger father,  he looked out the window one morning to see what kind of day it would be:

“First thing,  I made a beeline to the window.  . .  Roman Reef and all the peaks south beyond it stood in the sun, as if the little square of window had been made into a summer picture of the Alps.  It still floors me how the mountains are not the same any two days in a row,  as if hundreds of copies of those mountains exist and each dawn brings in a fresh one, of new color, new prominence of some feature over the others, a different wrapping of cloud or rinse of the sun for this day’s version.”

That’s what got me thinking about my upcoming journey, because I’ve driven this way many times in the past,  but I get up over into Wyoming, and I always gasp – right out loud,  and more than once, as I drive over each rise and see another glorious vista.  But each time I see these same mountain ranges,  they do seem to be a new, different,  more wonderful version of those mountains I thought I remembered.

And then, out again in the mountains by himself, the young man experiences those “twin feelings of aloneness and freedom . . .”    I’ve felt that too, out there.  I was where I shouldn’t have been, alone at least,   but alone I was for many hours,  somewhat lost for a while, and yet so free . . .  all by myself.

The book also described a perfect Montana Fourth of July,  picnic, square dancing,  and rodeo.   I can tell you I was tired by the end of all that activity!    It will be a little snapshot of a perfect Fourth of July for the young man in the story, and I’m glad to have shared his experience.    As he thinks over the day, the author says:  “It was a set of hours worth the price of the rest of your life.”

All in all,  it’s out West that I’ve known  one corner of this  immense planet and felt that great aloneness,   I’m a simple speck next to the infinite iterations of mountains and prairies.

Just a tiny little speck of life on a home planet that presents  endless scenes of majesty – and yet both are a reflection of the infinite power and glory of their Creator.

 

book

Travel West.  Think big!

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRAVEL MODE

August 7, 2017

Well,  I’ve been observing a lot.  I have a lot to write about . . . .

But it seems I’ve entered travel mode now.    That means I will be distracted (and scatterbrained)    and overly excited  (Wow!  I have 5,000 miles of road ahead of me!!!!)  and overly-dramatic  (I won’t know if I make it back home until I get back home)   and indecisive (what all should I be taking with me?)  and should I plan everything or just be spontaneous   (and trust there’ll be a hotel room available in the evening)?

Anyway,  I’ll try not to be absent from The Spruce Tunnel . . . .

First stop?

eclipse

Under that.   I know when,  I just don’t know where.   Yet.

Of course visiting Cooper is my main destination . . .   This is  just outside his front yard.    He calls it his “beautiful lake”  and I hear he has lots of plans for me.   In the lake.

Shaffer Summer 300

But I’m very much in need of some other mountains.  Not Cooper’s Sierras;    but these:

 

wy mt stretch

Mountains with wide open spaces!.  You have no idea of how much land you’re looking at,  not even when you’re driving there.

I’m supposed to “promise” that I won’t keep taking pictures while I’m driving.

I’ll be driving through some of my favorite towns too:

wyoming civilizaiton

Hubbie used to ask me why I keep taking so many photos as we would drive through the mountains.  He said they all look the same!     Well,  he’s a creature of the deep dark  northern forests.   He thinks trees look all different.

When  I was young my Mom used to “torture” me – and herself –  by asking the question:    “Which would you rather live near,  the mountains or the ocean?”     It was a game,  but we’d think so seriously and discuss our answers.   I was always unsettled by my final  answer,  because . . .  “neither” wasn’t an option.

Hubbie’s forests are very scary,  because you feel closed in tight by the trees.     Mom’s mountain preference made me feel closed in because you can’t see much horizon.   The ocean gives me claustrophobia  because it’s  a foreign environment  full of dangerous, unseen creatures and its powerful waves threaten to close in on you.

So. . .  what can I say?     I like seeing forests, mountains, and oceans,  but I spent my childhood  on the edge of the Illinois prairie.  You could look  out forever and see endless sky and endless horizon.     You stand tall on the solid ground.

If you have the choice to travel or not to travel,  choose travel!     Not the airplane kind,  skimming over everything,  but driving,   really getting into it,  living through all the scenery our country has to offer.

Maybe then you’d know how to answer my Mom’s question.

 

 

JUST LIKE ME – BUT NO MORE

April 12, 2017

Gloomy Cloud

Bit of a funk tonight.   It’s what I read in the news this morning.  Good things happened today;  happy things happened;   and something very beautiful (in nature)  happened —  but the funk returned.

Appropriately.

It’s Wednesday,  the day when we must keep on fighting to get over the rest of the “hump”  of this week, or of  these times.  Our hump being the alignment of advancing Islam with growing  Global Rule  . . . .

So here’s what I read this morning:

A lady,  just like me, just about my age.

She’s a tourist,  just like I am  sometimes.

She was alone, by herself,  far from home, as I am sometimes.

Stopped off to see an interesting building in a suburb,  just like I’ve done at times.    Sometimes I choose a hotel in a  nice suburb off an expressway.  A nice suburb.

The interesting building was known for its graffiti, which we now call “art work.”  So she took her camera out . . .     Just like I do sometimes.

She was busy taking pictures,  probably intent on choosing the right angle, the right composition,  the best lighting.     Just as I like to do.

And someone came up from behind her and stabbed her several times in the back and neck – he got her carotid artery.    She died – just about right away.

The attacker was a man who had recently come into that country – as a “refugee.”

She was an American in Paris,  in a nice suburb in Paris.

Could have been like any other American woman you know.   Don’t think you can tell your Mom to stay home and be safe,  not if she wants to travel.   Or your sister.  Or your daughter.

This woman was probably a nice, ordinary lady , and now she is no more.

The attacker has been arrested;  but  the story is not over:  there are millions more to take his place.

___________________________________________

Oh.    Would you like  a picture?   Here’s one that connects me with that American lady in Paris.   It’s a sign that is not too far from my home.

Advancing islam j

 (misspelling in the picture not mine.)

About an hour and a half away from my home.

I’m thinking,  I don’t even have to be a tourist.

DESTINATION – WHERE HIAWATHA LIVES

July 21, 2016

The Spruce Tunnel has reported many times that our Land,  this USA, is so empty.  One can drive for hours without seeing anyone, and many times during this past week I’ve been the only car in my lane for a half hour, sometimes  an hour at a time:

Hour W out cars

HIAWATHA’S LAND:

But it  is  beautiful in the Far Far North where Hiawatha lived (lives).

GG Driving Island  Sunlight through the forest,  Nature speaks deep within you with concepts of Beauty:   colors, pleasing proportions,  compositions, contrasts, harmony . . .  all the classic elements of Beauty, which testifies to its Creator.

GG Driving 2 400

Curve after curve,  Hiawatha’s forest views.

But of course he didn’t have a car to ride in!  So I went into the forest –

GG Forest floor 400

Ferns on the forest floor.    Easy walking, because ferns aren’t really thick underbrush.  They’re very soft when you walk through them.

GG Forest path and wild 400I found pathways.   I’ve walked miles along these pathways during this past week.   All the time I was thinking about Hiawatha’s small village,  one of many, many, maybe countless villages that existed throughout this Land.    Many millions of people lived in this Land, long before the Vikings and the Italian exploreres came to it.

I kept “seeing”  these villages:

BR new goods

And wondering who was “seeing” me:

BR coming

Hiawatha’s forest was not only a location, of course,  an “address” for his home;  it also gave to them everything needed to sustain life.

GG Forest Deer 400I drove by these deer one afternoon.   Probably descendants of the 17th, 18th, and 19th century deer that provided many necessities for Hiawatha and his people.

I couldn’t help taking a picture of this:

GG Forest Birch

We all know that the white birch  has bark that is stripped off to make canoes.  What I learned this time is that each strip of bark has five, six, or seven layers, and each thin layer is waterproof and very strong,  perfect for making  a lake or river canoe, among other things.

GG Canoes from Birch When I was a child I tried making a small toy boat with birch bark.  I also tried making “paper”  with the birch bark.   I failed.   I really didn’t know about the “layers”  in a strip of birch.

But it was important to know these things for Hiawatha because his land borders the Great Gitche Gumme,  and I walked many pathways to get to that Lake.

GG Forest Edge Path 400

If you could see across that Lake,  you would see the shores of Canada.

Gitche Gumme claims the land, in a constant tussle between land and water.

GG Forest Edgge Dropoff 400

The pathway along the edge seemed to be about a half mile long.  Finally,  I got to my destination,  the destination for this whole week-long, more-than-400-mile journey:

Black Rocks 400

It’s here.  This was my destination.    It’s an area called Black Rocks,  a singularly unromantic name for an outcropping of “rock”  that is estimated to be 1.3 billion years old.  This is some of the oldest known rocks on the surface of the earth.

On the shores of Gitche Gumme
By the shining Big-Sea-Waters

Yeah,  here is where I needed to be,  I thought.    These were the first waters I saw at the very beginning of my life . . .  and now,  with the end in view,   I needed to see these waters again.

Black Rocks into lake.

It was the end of land of the Far Far North in view, anyway.

Black Rocks far 400I climbed all around Black Rocks,  and finally looked for a place to sit.

Black Rocks Seat

And I did it.   I found a good rock ledge to sit on and I put my camera away, and then I began to . . .  well,  brood.   I divided my life into five-year segments . . . .

And, well . . .  with each and every scene from my memory huge wounds of negative emotions leapt out at me.    Private, powerful emotions.

It would have been tough that day . . .  it would have been a tough whole life . . .  but for one thing.     With each sudden emotional blow,  I asked myself,   “Well,  what did God want me to learn from this hardness?”     And why is it that each emotional “blow” I felt seemed really rather feeble in my memory?    And how is it that I’m not unhappy,  but indeed,  full of hope and joy and love for those whom I know?

“What did God want me to learn…?”    There was a lesson in each stage of my life.   I suppose.    But I wasn’t that broody, actually.   I probably was taught something during each stage, and then incorporated the learning into my assurance that God was in control.

And so I don’t need to know any “answers.”  I don’t need to come to any conclusions.

What I learned from my brief three hours of “brooding”  sitting on those rather hard rocks is that,  in a big way,  I’m not that baby,  that toddler, that child,   that adolescent,  that young adult . . .  anymore.

I am “me”  only in this Present Moment.  That’s all I ever can be:  Me  Now.     I am identified by what I am Now.

In a big way,   what matters is what kind of person I am Now.

Forgiveness  and Forgetfulness available for the past;   hope and healing available for the future.

That’s the way Gitche Manito works.   Ever Present- Ever Now.     What’s NOT to be joyful about?!

I think I actually did reach my “destination.”

Deo gratias.

 

(Next post:  Why Hiawatha knew this too.)

GITCHE GUMEE

July 12, 2016

Gitche Gumee.        For real.     It really exists.

gitch waters

In the days when American children and young adults were taught American literature,   the words “Gitche Gumee”  would be a familiar sound;   lovely, fetching, longing . . . .a song of roots and courage and duty;   a song of love for the land and union with the earth and its people.

I’ll be there soon.      Not in a boat,  but  h e r e –   looking out over  Gitche Gumee:

gitch 3 blue

I have many decades behind me,  and the “storms” of life have  “ruffled my feathers”  – as is true for all of us.   We’ve all had waves crashing against us.

gitch 5 waves

 

I need to sort things out.    I was born here,  long ago.     It’s possible that the very first sight my newborn eyes saw was this Great Lake, as my nurse carried me outdoors, into the car, into my Mother’s waiting arms.

I need to see this again.

I need to get strong and steady before the storm breaks over us all.

New Haven Lighthouse storm

 

I need to get in touch with myself,  see who I really am, see what “I’ve done and what I’ve left undone.”          Hopefully, I’ll gain wisdom like  Nokomis.

 

On the shores of Gitche Gumee,
Of the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood Nokomis, the old woman,
Pointing with her finger westward,
O’er the water pointing westward,
To the purple clouds of sunset.
  Fiercely the red sun descending
Burned his way along the heavens,
Set the sky on fire behind him,
As war-parties, when retreating,
Burn the prairies on their war-trail;

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Thanks for the words.

 

 

 

 

;

A SMALL ADVENTURE

May 3, 2016

Small.  Inconsequential, really.    But our lives can be a series of small “adventures” if we invest a little time and attention.    Here’s a “small adventure”  from my recent trip to Indiana.

So . . . how interested in baking powder are you?     Ha ha ha ha.     Me neither:  not much.

clabber can

My mother-in-law was looking in my kitchen cabinets one day  (looking for something, it was okay),  when she called out in surprise, “Oh, you buy Clabber Girl too!”    Our  mutual choice of the Clabber Girl brand was one of the few things she and I had in common  (other than her son).

She said her own mother always used Clabber Girl.   That would make it about a hundred and twenty year old tradition!

I had a six hour drive home from Indiana and about twelve hours to do it in.   And I discovered that Terre Haute had a Clabber Girl museum.  Indeed, it was the headquarters of Clabber Girl.     It was easy to find . . .

I told myself to be interested.   Kind of like a “forced field trip”  when you were in school and someone told you where to go.   I’m my own schoolteacher.

Found the factory!

SAMSUNG

This is the real deal:  a whole big factory for making baking powder.

Parking was a problem though.   They had a parking lot nearby —

SAMSUNG

—  but I didn’t know if I qualified as “approved.”      Might not be.    But I had my pedometer attached to my body,  so I didn’t mind racking up a few extra steps.   Eight city blocks worth!

SAMSUNG

I walked past several factory buildings along those blocks.

hulman name

Anton Hulman, Sr.   Founder.   The Hulman name is prominent around Terre Haute.   Of such details a successful game of Trivial Pursuit is made.    Or maybe Jeopardy. . . .

This is the entrance I wanted:

SAMSUNG

That was some bake shop inside!     Soups,  sandwiches,  and the most desirable baked goods!   And then the museum.

It was huge – and delightful – inside.  The exhibits were made with care, using actual  objects and furnishings from olden days.  And someone kept walking around with a tray of warm cookies,  made with  Clabber Girl baking soda,  of course.

Here’s part of an authentic Pig n Whistle:

SAMSUNG

Yep –  a tavern.   Looked inviting,  except for a photo of a “floozie” on the wall.  I’m not that kind of girl!     Apparently,  everyone knew what  a Pig n Whistle was:   the “boy”  employee had to go down to the basement periodically to bring up more whiskey in a pigskin container.   And to prove he was not taking a nip or two on the way up,  he had to keep whistling so his employer could hear that he was being honest!

A store –  with  ration coupons available:

SAMSUNG

My grandma shopped in a store like this.    Come to think of it,  my great-grandfather owned a store just like this –  although with more meat available.  He was a butcher.

Well . . . here.  Someone sent me an old newspaper clipping —

Vierela's Store.jpg

Interesting?   Well. . . . .        Well,  if you’re ever going to imagine what it was like to live a hundred years ago,   now’s the time,  while you’re in this museum.

Vehicles were prominent displays –

SAMSUNG

Baking powder –  right to your doorstep.

And a genuine Hansom Cab –

SAMSUNG

Sorry,  I’m not too mechanically inclined, and I can’t explain to you all the wonderful new technological  advances this cab represents –  gears and cranks and levers and lower center of gravity for increased stability . . .   but I remember that the driver rode on top – and he was the only one who could open that front door to let the passengers out.    It was the height of comfort and luxury.    I just can’t understand why.

But I can understand this one!!  —

 

SAMSUNG

Gorgeous!!!   Turns out Anton Hulman, Jr. bought the Indiana Speedway   from Eddie Rickenbacker   –  The World War One flying ace hero!

cl eddie in his plane

You know what the cross decals on his plane are for.     Western Civilization owes him a lot.

I think he’s sitting in the same car that I was standing in front of  —

cl eddie

He loved flying in planes and flying in  racing cars!

(And how about that NASCAR race this weekend at Talladega!!   One man said they ought to have had an air traffic controller there because there were so many cars flying airborne in a record number of crashes! —   So who would have guessed that I would have become interested in auto racing?!)

Well,  you get the idea of the museum.  It was soon time for me to find the Powder Room.

SAMSUNG

An actual “powder room”  !!      Museum exhibit?      Of course I tried the door and went in!

SAMSUNG

Gleaming shiny new —  not an antique!  I think I was glad.

It’s almost time to leave the museum,  but first we must pay some respects.

The Hulman family brought the Clabber Girl company through hard economic times that caused many other big businesses to fail.     No government bailouts then.  Through careful management they came through a couple national depressions and two world wars.

SAMSUNG

One of the Hulman young ladies was in the army, WWII.  They did their patriotic duty in every way possible —

SAMSUNG

Take time to consider this sign.   Everyone participated in the war effort.    It wasn’t fun,  but it was sacrifice for a bigger cause — and Americans thought their country was worth saving,  worth fighting for.

Hats off to you, old man. . .  Mr.  Hulman.

SAMSUNG

I left the museum and began the long walk back to my car,  out into the present-day world.

I won’t call it the modern world;    we are post-modern now.  We have left the greatness and bigness of the whole  modern world far behind.     We are not growing,  inventing,  solving problems,  living with confidence,   celebrating our greatness. . .

But once we celebrated —

SAMSUNG

A hundred years ago, America was great, growing, strong, optimistic,  individualistic, self-confident — and we came out by the thousands to celebrate the opening . . .  of a baking soda factory!!

 

“Into the Land of Destruction”

December 2, 2015

In the midst of our Christmas preparations,  that phrase,  “into the land of destruction”  that I quoted in yesterday’s posting,  got further clarification today,  regrettably.

SAMSUNG

We are preparing for a worthy remembrance of the coming of the Messiah as the Babe in Bethlehem,  who, as it turns out,  is this planet’s only Messiah who is able to effectively (and eventually)  destroy evil, wickedness, sin, and death that is rampant in our world — also known as “the land of destruction.”   

This “land” destroys our souls –  or it can.     The Messiah comes to destroy the Destroyer.

An act of terrorism is an evil act of destruction, straight from the heart of mankind’s enemy.    Already this afternoon,  there were tweets identifying today’s Destroyers in San Bernardino.

SAMSUNG

Not too far in time from this tweet came  a name:

SAMSUNG

As news spread,  fellow “Destroyers” — those who want to invoke in us pain and fear —  were celebrating the news:

SAMSUNG

Celebrating, that is,  and giving praise to their ancient desert warrior crescent-moon-god.

Invoking this crescent-moon-god to spread fear into the homes of the Crusaders.   Uh . . .  that would be us.

That would be Christendom, and all of us who though we may or may not be Catholic or even religiously christian,  still enjoy, by force of historic momentum,  all  the benefits  of once-Christan Europe.   Europe,  the New World,  and all the places where Catholic Christianity spread.

As much as anti-Catholic forces in the modern world wish to smear the reputation of the Church by inventing evidence for such things as “Hitler’s Pope,”    it would be much better to explore the close links between National Socialism and the anti-semitic Muslim world.  Closer to fact,  there is a “Hitler’s Mufti.”

hitler lus amin

Close ties.  Close cooperation.  Close planning.  Strategic operations linked.   Mutual material aid.    That photo would be Hitler and Amin Al-Husseini.

The Barack-Hussein person in our country,  his closely-held liberal media,  and anti-Catholics everywhere seem hard-pressed to find evidence of white, male, Christian perpetrators in today’s horrendous crime.    The Barack-Hussein person would like to blame Crusaders who are on “their high horse.”

The language is the same.  The sentiment is the same.

That’s all I ever want to write about this terrible event of Destruction today.

If I may,  I’d just suggest that we all begin to seriously heed the warning of Hilaire Belloc,  who saw all this coming in the early part of the 20th century.   Although he lived in a time of the rise of National Socialism,  he saw that the biggest threat to the West was the rise of militant Islam.  Once  again.   As in centuries past.

If we don’t take him seriously,  if we allow the Destroyers to sneak in with all the Syrian invaders –  as they boast that they are already doing! –   then we might as well join the Hashtag Crowd:

( h a s h t a g a m e r i c a _ b u r n i n g)

Get it?   Because they do.   And Ignorance is not going to lead to “bliss.”

It’s Advent.   Let’s prepare for the first phase of the coming of the Messiah, do Him honor,  and know He will come again to this “Land of Destruction”  and put an end to all that Destroys.

Christmas is serious business.

{Advent}

 

 

 

 

COMING BACK TO MYSELF

November 28, 2014

Well.    As I said in my last posting,  it was time to go home.

So I did.

And there was little opportunity to continue brooding:

driving rain

I left the constant spray of the ocean surf and spent the next 22 hours of driving through the constant spray of an apparently nationwide rainstorm.         Heavy downpours alternating with foggy drizzle;  poor visibility;  strong, cold winds;  wet, slippery roads;  fast traffic.   Strong thunderstorms and an F1 tornado escorted me through Georgia.    I  saw two pretty bad accidents in the Smokies,   arriving perhaps just minutes after they had happened.

And then,  about  three hours from home, late at night, I experienced a ten-minute episode of  a dangerous road game — I was the chosen target, two young men were the perpetrators  ( although if I had done what they were trying to get me to do,  I would have received the traffic  ticket — if I  survived.)

I was relieved to finally arrive in my own home state where it was somehow easier to drive in the bad weather.

It was good to see that some in my neighborhood had begun decorating their homes with Christmas lights.       And then, there was my own house – it was not dark, it had been decorated too!!

SAMSUNG

A BIG THANKS  to Son who wanted to surprise me in such a bright and cheerful way!!!!    He  couldn’t have known just how much that meant to me.   Something wonderful and cheery to get ready for….  some reason to get engaged again in the world around me.   The long drive home was over;  maybe the long period of dull brooding was over too.

I didn’t unpack the car that night,  but I began the next morning.

SAMSUNG

Now I know why I like the color yellow so much.    Right there is  the most color I’d seen for a long time!     Florida the Sunshine State?   I brought some home with me in my trunk –

SAMSUNG

Look  —   There are some lessons for us from my week or two of dull,  brooding introspection.      If your friend needs to do that for a while,  let him.  Let him!   Without advice or anxiety.  And if it happens to you, let it happen.    I learned something during this time.   Or I think I did.   I changed a little.   Or I think I did.    The death of someone near and dear to you will do that.   Or I think it should.

Second lesson is this:   Look again!    All the way home during that dark, rainy, dangerous road,  I had had those wonderful sunshiny bags of citrus with me, after all.   And I arrived at an unexpectedly cheerful home with the lights pointing me to Christmas!      Goodness,  cheer, hope, and God are never far  away.

One more lesson:  when I first came back to my emails,   I saw that many had wished me well after the death of my Mom, and many had been praying for my safe return.    That’s significant.    I had been supported.     Receive from others;  give to others.      We’re not in this life alone.      No one around us should be alone.

Deo gratias!

 

(And thanks for the time to brood.   I think I’m done.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AT LIFE’S ENDINGS

November 19, 2014

 

I came down here to Florida to visit with my Mom.

cross and man

I wish I could show you many photos of my Mom, but even the pictures wouldn’t say it all, so I won’t post any right now.  Maybe later.  

Just picture a blonde, curly-haired little toddler with a happy, perky face.   She was described as a happy, loving, very kind child,  giving help or giving things to people to try to make them happy.  She’s frequently shown with puppies or kittens or her beloved big sister nearby.

I haven’t seen photos of her as a young girl or in high school, because she was the victim of a broken home.  Very broken up.  Not because of immorality,  but because of diseases and disabilites that were not understood in those days.   My Mom has been described by the people of her hometown as “neglected”  and “abandoned,”  and “malnourished.”   She used to tell me about the mornings in the Far Far North when she and her sister would wake up with their toes dark blue from the cold, and they would hurry to light a fire in the coal stove to warm up.    I’ve never heard any words of malice come out of my Mom’s mouth about these terrible years.

But that life  came to an end.

Now she becomes a young woman.   Picture my Mom as one of those glamorous Hollywood types, only with a softer, kinder gentler face.  Happy and good, like Deanna Durbin,  but without the singing ability.  Or perhaps a young and lovely Donna Reed.  My Mom understood acting, and she had a short modeling career in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Then she moved on to Chicago to study art at the Chicago Art Institute.

Then that life, too,  came to an end.
My father came into the picture then.   He was a young Marine at the end of World War II and he was from her hometown.    I had forgotten, until my sister reminded me,  that he had been compared to a young and very handsome Frank Sinatra. 

Picture a cold, dark winter night in Downer’s Grove, Illinois.  My Dad in a tuxedo and a fashionable white wool scarf, changing a flat tire, in a snowstorm,  while my Mom and the two mothers and the minister wondered how much longer they should wait for “the groom” to arrive.  And then the minister went home.   Two hours later they had to get him up again to administer the wedding vows — only to find out that the marriage license had been signed in Cook County, not in DuPage County where they were.   A quick drive over to a very sleepy judge in Cook County — and I guess my Mom and Dad were legally married.

But that’s over now, and World War II ended,  and a couple years later I came into the world with a blast –   literally.    My 20 year old parents had a wild ride to the hospital where I was born.    The horn  on their old car got stuck and blared the entire 45 miles to the hospital.  I can’t imagine what was going through my Mom’s mind during that car ride.
I remember my Mom as a pretty, young professional “career woman,”  and arriving home at night, dressed in her beautiful city clothes, usually a pretty feminine blouse and soft swishy skirt,  or a lovely dress, high heels, and standing at the kitchen stove,  hurrying to make dinner for her family, and  then later – the best time of the day  — standing by me as I ate my “midnight snack” before going to bed.

She was a loving, kind, and gentle Mom to me.   Never an unkind word about anyone.    I never heard a judgment or a criticism.   She hit me once, though,  on the shoulder,  and I soooooo much deserved it.  I had talked back to her and you just never, ever talk back to your mother.     (Not even if your immature brain thinks it’s justified.)    Even that “hit”  was a firm and loving instruction from her.  She really, really did love me.

Now that phase of her life came to an end.   We moved from Chicago to the wilderness in the Far Far North.

She became a mother of two more daughters,  but just two short years later I left home,  and she became the person who answered my letters or   who talked on the phone with me. 

She (and my Dad)  raised their second family, lived in a few states, and ended up in Florida.  Mom is working for a small university,  but she is still wife and mother.    Working.   Knitting.  Quilting.  Reading.   Getting used to Florida.  Making friends.   Going to church.    And then my two “baby sisters”  had grown up and left home. 

That phase of her life came to an end.     And even my beautiful young parents eventually began growing old.

As it was happening,  their declining years seemed to be lasting a long time… a couple decades?   But the illnesses started, and the treatments —  the treatments that convinced me never to go to doctors.    Almost never.    I watched their health being managed downward into an irreversible spiral.  

The years of independent adulthood were over for my Mom.  Eventually, due to one treatment commonly given to women,  her brain was impaired, her thinking disrupted.

Her husband died and her life as a wife came to an end.

All these phases of my Mom’s life,  all those parts of her life were actually and really over and done with,  locked into an almost dormant memory.
The doctors called me recently and told me my Mom was sick, and it was “urgent”  that I come to Florida to see her. 

I didn’t know what to expect.   One nurse called and kindly “warned” me to expect a tiny, frail woman lying in bed.  Another called and said she was doing so much better on the new medicine.  Another phone call told me there is nothing more medical science can do.

I found her sitting up in a wheelchair, IV tubes,  oxygen tubes.   That’s all right;  I’d become used to seeing people like that in the years I worked in a hospital, in the years I saw Hubbie “attached” to things like that.  They are still the same person they are.   Mom was still Mom.

What I treasure the most, is that when Mom finally recognized me, her face lit up with a mother’s joy.  She was not only alert,  she was interested,  engaged in our conversation.  We talked about old times, and she laughed – she even giggled at one point.  She asked questions – or tried to, and then seemed to gather patience, resigning herself to just hearing me chatter on.   But she still made “comments”!

For two and a half hours we conversed. 

Then this last conversation, too, came to an end.   She became “sore” from sitting in one place so long.  Her throat hurt from the dry, cold oxygen running into her nose.    We laughed together and decided it was way past her bedtime.  

We looked forward to talking more the next morning, and seeing the old photographs I had brought with me.    The nurse came in . . . .

The next morning my sister and I met and made our plans to see Mom . . .  and while we were talking the phone rang.

Mom had passed away a few minutes ago.

No.    No.     No.     No. . . . .

No.

This last, elderly, physically debilitated phase of her life came to an end.

My sister and I talked — non-stop — for the next 15 1/2 hours.   Keeping Mom here, I guess.  Keeping her anchored in our lives.   Finding all the places in us where she had formed us    We know she lives on because of her faith in Jesus, and she is in the hands of the King.   But my sister and I live on here, hoping to find all the things Mom gave us;   hoping to stay true to all the things Mom made us to be.
 
What she was and the lives she had lived have all come to an end, and all we have in this present time are precious memories of it, in this present time.  The present is all any of us really have.

You know?   Until this present time comes to an end.

 

 

 

FUTURE UNCERTAIN – FLORIDA

November 19, 2014

I must be in Florida:

SAMSUNG

The pretty blue car doesn’t usually get to park under palm trees.

I’ve arrived.   I can hear the surf pounding outside my window.

And I don’t know what the next few days will bring.

No one can know.    Where do we get the courage to step into those days ahead?

Bar wavy

All I can do is thank God for the safe drive down here,  and expect to have more things to thank Him for in the near future.