Lorena and I attended the funeral of a young (43) woman we had met as a healthy, engaged wife and mother only six months ago. We met her and her little family at our Wednesday night Bible study and knew here as an engaged, thoughtful person who enjoyed life and loved God. She was diagnosed with cancer only a couple of months ago. She was buried this afternoon. The service was uplifting and hopeful. The day was beautiful and sunny. Our mood is melancholic.
It is so sad to see a young life taken in such a way. It is also a timely reminder that life is short with no promises of even one more hour of life. At our stage in life–kids out of the house and successfully making their own way–these kinds of event are a catalyst for healthy reflection on what to do for these later stages of life. Material good do not seem so important. Connections to other people seem more important all the time.
The last time Bob and Gena were here, Bob dropped off his spotting scope for us to try for a little while. We knew we had pretty bad optics on all our cameras, but now we are beginning to understand how bad they really are. The scope he brought by is nothing short of amazing and WAY too addictive. We have all been taking turns. Now if I could only figure out how to take a picture through the thing. I can hardly wait until the eagle comes back.
We got some snow day before yesterday and it is snowing a lot harder now. Everyone says it is very early to be getting this kind of snow in Centralia. The temperature is not very low (37° F) so it is pretty sloppy stuff. It took me a long time to be able to take a picture out the window, but it kept snowing the whole time I tried and it is snowing even harder now. It is beautiful out there. Maybe I will not think it is so nice if we get two feet of the stuff, but right now we are enjoying us. I bet our Alaska friends are saying “Oh, brother, that is why we left Alaska.
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.
I talked to a couple of new “old friend” yesterday. We have had some great talks in the past. We have lots of things in common, but nothing in common. We are all from very different walks of life. We all consider God to be the focus of our lives. I honestly think one of them is way more liberal than me–I couldn’t care less about that politically, but couldn’t care more about it when it comes to spiritual stuff. We have talked about the difficulties with which our kids struggle as millennials–as children of the1960’s and college students of the 1970’s we know what it means to have parents who do not have a clue about what we face on a day to day basis in a dying and decadent culture. We know we do not understand and are desperate to get it across that there are reasons for joy, peace with one’s self is possible, and life is good. Also, that life is short. Really short. It is time to be a force for good now and not mourn what happened in the past because, in the case of all our kids, all our problems are first world problems. Still, it does not matter what world you are from when it comes to knowing God. We are all desperate for our kids to do that above all else. And it is too late, for all of us, to raise them differently because the raising is now done. All we can do now is be a loving, praying influence.
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.
We heard when we moved here that the fireworks were just phenomenal. You might excuse us for thinking we had a view of the professional fireworks from our deck. We were completely wrong. We had a spectacular fireworks display that lasted for three hours. This little video does not really do it justice because there was much bigger stuff going off a lot of the time all over the whole valley below us. We were awestruck. It was not so much that the fireworks were amazing, even though they were. It was more that this thing went on at a frenetic pass for three hours. There must have been an explosion of some kind two or three times per second with periods of much more than that. The thing that was most mind-boggling is the level of participation amongst the whole community had to be huge because these things were going off everywhere, up and down the hills and valleys, in town close, far, on our side of the river there was even a very healthy level of participation. It was a joy to be here. Next year we have to share this with more people.
You might have noticed we put up a new blog header. Lorena found my old Canon PowerShot SD 750 pocket camera when she unpacked the house. I immediately went out and took this picture. I am not a great photographer and the camera, while it may not be the best in the world, is small enough to fit comfortable in a shirt pack, still takes good enough pictures that I cannot tell the difference.
This move has really been a joy. We are thankful for it all from our old friends in Texas (Dan, Al, Jill, Gary, Debbie, Sue, the Lee’s, the Drake’s, all of them) to our new friends, starting with Bob and Gena, there is much for which to be thankful. The least of these things for which to be thankful is the “stuff” we are unpacking and even that brings back memories–this is the camera Grandpa Lauro always used while he was with us.
Bob and Gena are true champions. They have been kind to us way above and beyond the call of duty. They arrived in Centralia with all our stuff from North Carolina Friday evening. All of us, including their daughter Bonnie, went to the McMenamin’s Olympic club to celebrate–the weather cooperated wonderful as we were able to sit outside and talk and talk.
We made arrangements for two guys to come help us unload the truck. We got unloaded in about three hours. After two years of taking care of parents and living in apartments, we are grateful to have all our stuff in one place and to sleep in our own bed in a house of our own and not an apartment. After everything was out of the truck, Kelly arrived from Seattle while Bob and I ran the truck to the U-Haul center and returned the appliance piano dollies to the local rental store. Bob, Gena, Lorena, Kelly and I sat out on the deck, ate fresh cherries Kelly brought to us and enjoyed the sun.
It was one of those moment to realize it is great to be alive in this time and place.
Bob and Gena are on the last stretch home with our load of stuff from North Carolina. We are very grateful for their efforts on our behalf, but also pretty envious. They had some excitement (see the burning car), saw some beautiful places, got together with family and made friends with some of our (and their) old, dear friends from Raleigh. This picture Gena sent along of their drive yesterday through the mountain west did not do anything to make me any less envious.
Gena said, “This is my kind of country -cowboy country! Ranches, old homesteads, horses, cows, sheep, antelope, sage brush, rolling hills, tall mountains, odd rock outcroppings, small streams, large rivers.” Boy howdy. It is my kind of country, too, even if it is not my home state like it is for Gena. Right After I got the email, I called my cousin, Udo, who lives in Bozeman and told him we were coming out to see him 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.
Our very good friend Al stayed up very late on Thursday night before we left and built us one of his beautiful, custom birdhouse. It has TON of features:
The rock face on the front of the house matches the chimney on the back of the house
Hand sawn cedar roof
Aluminum roof underlayment (for better protection from the precipitation
Trap door at the bottom for ease of cleaning
Lorena and I have an excellent pair of binoculars to watch birds (big fans of the cardinals in North Carolina) and we both come from generations of bird-watching families. We always put up a bird house shortly after we move to a new place along with a humming bird feeder or two, so this is the perfect gift for us. That Al made it himself is icing on the cake. I will have a place of prominence on our back porch or in a hanger down in the yard–Lorena and I are negotiating that between each other right now.
Thank you Al and Jill (for letting him stay up late to finish this!).
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.
It does not get much better than this. Our friends, Phil D. and Eric P. went to our Sunday morning church meeting this meeting. Afterward, out little home church had a going away party for us. I can not tell you how much we appreciate and love these people. We have met with them only for a year, but it has been a joy. The party was Mexican themed and, boy howdy, they know how to do it. Here are a few pictures to give you a flavor of how it went. Please note that the last picture was absolutely a result of the first two.