Christian and Kelly came to Centralia this weekend. The purpose is to celebrate Christian’s birthday, my birthday and Lorena’s and my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. We are going to do the “official” celebration toward the end of the year in Mexico at either the place we had the original wedding or something very similar. It is really nice to be able to have the kids home more frequently. Plane flights between Seattle or Portland and Phoenix are really pretty cheap so Christian can get here pretty easily. Train tickets from downtown Seattle to Centralia are even cheaper, so Kelly can get here any time she wants.
The real reason this became an occasion was because has a four day fall break and I have Columbus Day off. We ate way too much and hung out together. Hopefully we will be able to do it again at Thanksgiving and then again in Mexico.
The new header I put up (you can still see it here when I change it again). It seems appropriate that this was the view of the mountain out our window this 16th anniversary of the cowardly murder that took place at the Twin Trade Towers in New York in 2001. The header picture was taken at 6:00 AM and the picture to the left was taken an hour later. It all reminded me of that power of God. I read a factoid yesterday about the power of hurricanes, that an average hurricane expends way more power than the sum of all the man made power in the entire world for an entire year. Looking out the window and reflecting on the understanding that Mt. Ranier thousands of years overdue for an eruption it makes me realize how small and inconsequential is the raging of men. I understand the Mount St. Helens explosion was 1600 times as big as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in World Wart II. This coming eruptions of Mt. Ranier is prognosticated to be much bigger than that. It is never too early to get one’s house in order.
All that being said, I think some seemingly inconsequential events are much bigger deals in light of eternity and judgment. I was thinking of what a great thing it was for Kelly to receive the benefit of an amazing and spiritually edifying trip to visit family in Mexico. But, on some levels, even more than that was an after church dinner to which we got invited at Bob and Gena’s house yesterday. We were very grateful to be included in that. I went from there straight home to the computer to work on contract work–good, helpful work that will save lives. I missed the afternoon Gospel meeting because of that and could not get past the thought that seemingly small spiritual things are so much more important and powerful than whatever else is going on in our lives have a greater eternal impact than world events and work. Even these world shaking events like terrorism, hurricanes, volcanoes or the solving of sickle cell disease pale in comparison.
Kelly is having a great time in Monterrey. One of my favorite things to do when I am in Mexico is just what Kelly is doing in the picture. Enjoying Coca Cola with her tacos. It has been said that it is objectively and viscerally wrong to eat tacos in Mexico without Coke. I have to admit, though, that I enjoy my tacos with Tab. It brings be back to my time in Guadalajara in the mid- 1980’s. I went there about this time of year, too. It does not get much better than sitting in an outdoor cafe late in the evening and having a cup of Instant Nescafe after finishing off a big plate of those fabulous street tacos with cabbage, cilantro, onions and lots of hot salsa. It was a pretty tough decision for most of us students on Friday night whether to go for the tacos or to split a rotisserie chicken.
I wish we could be there with Kelly, but I think it is good we are not. She is just having too much fun with her cousins and her traveling partner, Eliza who Kelly says always has a good time, is a good sport, and fits in everywhere. We do not hear much from her because she is so busy, so we have to be satisfied with what we seen on social media. We can hardly wait until she gets back so we can hear it from the horses mouth.
Kelly is having a great time in her visit to Grandma Conchita’s house in Monterrey with her Friend Eliza. Her amazing uncles took them to the small, picturesque town of Santiago 15 or 20 miles out of Monterrey. The only thing that was kind of disappointing is that she tried to capture some of the glory of an iconic photograph taken in June of 2014, but I really do not think she has the fashion sense or sheer magnificent presence of the original model. See for yourself (original is inset).
The painting (print) beside Christian has a story behind it and it is not just that he got to see the original as done by Renoir. You can read about that here. I wanted to get him the painting, but did not realize how big it was. I guess it is not as big as the original, but it is still really too big for his small apartment. He is working on getting something a little more manageable.
It is painful to not be able to be with Christian on his birthday. Lorena and I have reminisced and talked about it maybe a little more than in years past. Christian has lead a somewhat unusual life until now. I suppose most kids his age feel very much misunderstood, but he has more reason than most. I call him a kid, but he has been way past the kid stage for several years now–running his own household and paying his own bills since he left for college more than three years ago.
The things Lorena and I identify as qualities we appreciate the most are his work ethic, his kindness, and his focus on doing what is right. That first quality is the one that causes him the most outward pain. Some have assumed he got where he is through some ability given to him that others do not possess when, in reality, he got there through sustained hard work over a very large percentage of the short time he has been on this earth.
We are grateful for him and hope he continues to invest some time in playing his guitar and traveling to visit us and others in the coming year.
Just about the entire family on the Mexican side, made the journey across Monterrey to the airport to pick up Kelly this afternoon. We are SO glad for such a great family. What would a Mexican welcome be without a pink sombrero!!! Kelly was SO excited to be there that she gave us a quick “got here” text and we have heard nothing sense. The picture came from Tio Rigo.
One sad note, Kelly’s Instagram locked up when she was adding picture so it in Mexico so it is not available to her and she can not receive the text message she needs to receive to enable it again until she returns home, so I think most of the pictures will be on Facebook if she has time to even do that. We are dying to hear how it goes, but doubt we will get much until she gets back. If we do, though, we will keep you posted.
Another great pic!
This is Kelly doing her Melania Trump impression. I guess now that she has moved uptown she needs to express herself with a high level of haute coutre. Actually, along with the move to a much better living situation, she is on the brink of some good, new and ambitious plans. She will start it all off next week with a trip to be with family and long time friends in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon followed by additional travel, preparation (hard preperation) for very difficult new endeavors. We hope we get to help her some with this through moral support and the odd weekend when she comes down her to wash clothes, play the piano and be pampered by Mom.
Kelly, with massive help from Mama Lore, moved out of her apartment today. They have a really cool moving service in Seattle where you can have a couple of guys pick up your stuff from your apartment and store it for a month for under $100. That seems to be a really good price, especially for Seattle. Lorena is really glad to be moving out of a house of a bunch of girls to an apartment closer to her work and closer to downtown with one roommate. I am sure she will be sad she was not there to see the hunky guys pick up her stuff–Lorena handled that because Kelly was at work.
Now, Kelly is headed off to Mexico to see family and friends for a week or two with her friend Eliza. Of course we are all envious and would love to be in Monterrey eating tamales and mangoes with her über-hip uncles, but someone has to stay home and work.
The weekend was an interesting one. Lorena, Kelly and I attended a church convention this weekend. I had not been to this particular one for over forty years. Even so, I made connection with old friends from Oregon, Washington, California, Virginia, and Arizona. Lorena so the sister of some dear friends of hers from Mexico City. It was a great weekend. While we were there, it rained enough to knock down sufficient smoke from the British Columbia forest fires that we could make out the outline of Mount Rainier out our back window.
Kelly spent the weekend here in Centralia. Lorena is driving with her back to Seattle and then taking the train back to Centralia. Kiwi is helping retrieve her Amtrak ticket from the printer.
It seems like Christian makes a big effort to look a little scruffy whenever he comes to visit us. I used to think it was because he did not have time or just did not think about it, but now I like to think it because he likes his mom to make a fuss about it. She takes him down to one of the local haircut places, then he comes home, takes a shower and trims his beard.
We are up in Canada again for my work. Christian spent the night in Seattle so he could go out to dinner with Kelly and a few friends. One of those friends was John Michael, who recently moved out from North Carolina. He was a math major at North Carolina and spent many an hour with both Kelly in Christian in the undergraduate Math lounge in SAS Hall. I am sure they are having a great time. Christian flies back to Tempe, Arizona tomorrow night.
In the meantime, work is progressing at the house. It has slowed down fairly dramatically, but we have hope it will be complete before the end of August.
Kelly came down for the weekend to bake blueberry muffins and spend some time with her baby brother. It is truly nice to be in a house (as opposed to the apartments we inhabited for the two previous years in Texas and Oregon) and the family is all together. This is the first time for that in over three years. We know it is fleeting, but it is a very good feeling that we hope to make happen more frequently now that we have a home base.
Christian came to visit us after finishing up in his research work in Boston. He will be here for a week. It is especially poignant as today would have been Grandpa Milo’s 88th birthday. We went to Jimmy John’s, our favorite sandwich place (he being a college student) as soon as he got into Centralia. We were all excited for him to be here, but were a little bit disappointed because the smoke blowing down from the forest fires in Canada prevent us from seeing much past the river let alone all the way to Mt. Rainier.
I found this great picture of Lorena from shortly after we were married in 1992. It reminded me of another photo I saw of the day when Grandpa Lauro and Grandma Conchita got married on November 13, 1966–very close to exactly twenty six years after the above picture was taken. It is kind of amazing that they both look so much like Conchita’s mother who is signing for the marriage on the right side of the image below. Our twenty fifth anniversary is coming up in a few weeks. I am awfully grateful to be part of this family that has been so kind to me.
The shirt was my Father’s Day present (see below). And the pie to the life is strawberry-rhubarb (from the garden).
Kelly came home for the weekend. She and Lorena have big plans that have to do with shopping. She saw some fashiony thing she just has to have at the Country Cousin restaurant so they are going to head out to find it. Fortunately, I have plenty of work to do on my sickle cell disease project so I cannot go.
The only down side to having Kelly here is that Kiwi has been acting out. We are not sure whether it is because she is so excited to see Kelly or because she sees Kelly diluting the attention she gets when no one is visiting. At any rate, Lorena had to put her in timeout. I have to say, it surely does not seem like that helped much.
Lorena’s father, Grandpa Lauro died just three years ago on June 10, 2017. We think of him often. Last Saturday, Lorena’s brother Tio Lauro went to the town and house where Grandma Conchita was born and raised to help some other members of the family clean it up because no one lives there anymore. They found a lot of great old photographs and this is one of them. The picture was taken on November 13, 1965, the day of Grandpa Lauro’s and Grandma Conchita’s wedding. The lady to the left of Grandma Conchita is her mother Leonor. She is signing as witness to the wedding. We just love this picture. We had never seen it before and wanted to save it for posterity.
We went to our friends’, Bob’s and Gena’s house after church today for lunch. The highlight of the lunch was the Camellia flower Bob and Gena’s daughter, Bonnie, put in Lorena’s hair. The Rhododendrons and a bunch of other flowers were in bloom at their house and Bob picked a beautiful bouquet for the table. Other friends came over (Jack, Norm and Linda) were there. It was truly an odd and wonderful sensation when I realized I was the most liberal guy in the group and those who know me know that is a pretty unusual situation.
We sat at the table after dinner (pork loin, asparagus from the garden, an amazing green salad, string beans, and strawberry rhubarb cobbler for dessert–amazing) and talked for an hour, then went into the living room to talk some more. We did not leave for our Sunday afternoon nap until after 4:30 PM. That is how it should be on a Sunday afternoon. We hope we can host some of that kind of thing at our house sometime soon.
This is Olivia. We call her our niece, but we serve the role of (in common parlance) her God parents. She has always been quite a precocious child. This picture was taken on a ski trip we took with her family. Olivia’ dad, Al, told her to go tell the big guy to help her get something out of the car. The name stuck. To this day, I am “the big guy” to Olivia. We saw the beautiful Olivia last week at a church convention in Arizona. She is in high school now, even more precocious and has turned into quite the fashion plate. We hope to see more of her now that we are on the west coast. She and Lorena are negotiating with Olivia’s parents to arrange for to come up from California for a visit with us and with Kelly.
Our friends, Bob and Gena took a trip we really want to replicate or at least a copy very closely someday. They took the train from Centralia to Seattle and then on down to the airport where they caught a plane to Atlanta to spend a few days with family there. They followed that up with a drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains to Raleigh to pick up all the stuff that has been in storage since we moved out of our house there to help take care of failing and slowing-down parents in Oregon and Texas. We are very grateful to Bob and Gena. The reality is that I just met them face-to-face one time a few months back at Starbucks just because they were kind enough to invite a newcomer from church for a cup of coffee. They are friends of friends and family, retired and kind enough to take a long trip back to the East Coast to pick up all the stuff we did not move out of our house to bring it out to Centralia. It is STILL way too much stuff even though we threw away a lot.
These are the two pictures that have me envious–the train pictures. Lorena and I really want to take advantage of the fact that we live in a town with an Amtrak station that goes to Seattle and Portland–both of them places we want to go. The flew to Atlanta–a great town where I lived for less than a year, but even that was enough to give me a great love for that town and the friends I made there.
After the drive to Raleigh, they looked at our storage unit and thought they could do the whole thing with a 20 foot truck. They were glad they stuck with the 26 foot truck because they barely had enough room for their luggage–a sad reminder that we have too much stuff by at least 13 feet. We are going to work on that. The good news though, is that a lot of the stuff they are bringing is books and furniture for the porch and other places that we need sorely after living a low-rent existence in apartments for two plus full years. There is a definite up side to all that (no lawn mowing, appliance fixing or property taxes), but we are ready to have our own house.
And for all this we are thankful to Bob and Gena for their efforts to help new friends above and beyond the call of duty. I hope I get to do that some day.
It is hard to overstate the importance of the little home church with whom we met every Sunday morning for worship and every Wednesday evening for Bible study. The Wednesday meeting was a little smaller with a group 9-10 regulars; the others from Sunday go to a different Bible study. Wednesdays, we meet at our little apartment every other week while another couple, Gary and Debbie, had it at their house the rest of the time. Which ever place we met, everyone would stick around after the study, sometimes and hour and even more, just to talk and be together.
This Sunday we had an incredible going away potluck (those Texas church potlucks are really something) at the Al and Jill’s home where we meet on Sunday mornings. Last night we might at Gary and Debbie’s place for our last regular Bible study meeting. Gary and I are both fanatical fans of Angel Food cake, so Debbie made one for us and Jill made her mother-in-law’s famous caramel topping. We all shared this same beautiful table for an evening after meeting when Grandma Conchita and remember that night fondly.
THEN, they gave us gifts–a beautiful photograph (from Gary’s Nikon) of the group the meets on Sunday, a great little saying board, “FRIEND–Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart,” a huge box of the special, low calorie popcorn introduced to us by Debbie (I doubt if it makes it all the way to Washington) and a HUGE box of Ghirardelli Intense Dark Cherry Tango chocolate squares (we love them, but could never find them anywhere–we honestly think Debbie was buying and hoarding them all to give to us–we are grateful and doubt they will make it all the way to Washington either).
This group of people is family to us in the very best sense of the word. Of all that took place during our time in Texas, our meetings with these people will be what we remember and cherish the most.