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
- Contoured roof
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.