Saturday, February 25, 2017

The End of An Era

It IS the end of an era! We no longer own a Gherkin Mobile.

We have had a 15 passenger van since 1994 - that's 23 years! Our first van was a 1991 gray Dodge Ram. It lasted until it's trips down the ALCAN. It probably had more life in it, but we saw the end...and so we put it out of our it's misery.

Our next van was the Big Red Beast. In 2005, we purchased a 2005 red Ford e350.  Within two years we purchased The Caboose - our 31 foot trailer. We made lots of great family memories with the combination.

As our expected retirement lifestyle has changed we knew we would need to sell Big Red. It simply doesn't make a good toad.  We need a manual car the motorhome can easily tow.

We sold the Van to Pastor John - it will live anew as a church  van. A bus ministry is planned and Big Red will be the prime mover of that program. It makes us smile to think of  Big Red blessing this church, which has blessed our daughter....and blessing youth and those needing rides for years to come. About those years - we were a bit worried Big Red may quit working as soon as we sold it - though both our mechanics said it was in good shape.  You just hate that chance with a CHURCH and we're praying for the life of the van.

They've had the van since we began our travels on the 11th....but needed to bring it back so the boys could put the seats in it one last time. LOL

It was an odd moment when Big Red drove away. 

We had all those kids represented by the stick figures in 2005.....and now we're down to three Gherkins at home. The times are changing.

Yep, the end of an era. We were blessed to be able to use John and Nadine's pickup for a couple of days. Sunday was crowded...we realize now this would not make a good toad for us.
3 big size Gherkins in the back seat of a little pick up -
wasn't bad except getting IN and out!
 We went from having four cars, a trailer and a motorhome on our insurance, to having Mom G's car and the motorhome on our insurance. Not a bad month.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Where in the World Have You Been

Just a quick update to let all know we are well....and answer the question being asked of us
Photo Via Google Images
Our hearts continue to process the stuff of grief.

We were in Crescent City and enjoyed connecting with friends, family and neighbors while celebrating Mom G's life.  We spent extra days before and after the 13 Feb service in Crescent City, "taking care of business." I do love smallish towns.  The words of condolence, and memories shared, confirm how much one simple life matters.

We have driven down to Yuba City/Marysville/Beale Fam Camp. The purpose of our trip down was to physically receive a receipt from the negligent moving company which held our household goods. Our things are safe with a new company and will shortly begin the trip to Alaska. They'll have a new home in a storage unit way before we find our way up there. LOL While in the area, we were able to reconnect with a few friends, get a lot of progress made in the process of settling Mom G's estate (read one day we simply made phone calls), and do a few repairs on the motorhome - things we discover as we drive. LOL

We are currently at the top of Siskiyou pass (fresh snow), heading back to Crescent City for a few days. We plan to prune trees and chase down a few details while there.  The trac phone numbers you have for us (all but mine) will work, my phone won't get cell service and wifi/mifi is infamously sketchy while we are "in the park" - 1x vs 4G.  If you need us - call Michael's phone.  We plan to spend a couple of nights out at the house and then move into town for a night - right on the bay.

We have photos and thoughts to share, and will do so when we have a normal routine (with time scheduled for blogging) and consistent connectivity.  An hour to upload a photo is simply to much of a price to pay in time to blog. ::wink::

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Friendships - #WYFF

friendship - noun 
The emotions or conduct of friends; the state of being friends.
"old ties of love and friendship"

 A relationship between friends.
"she formed close friendships with women" synonyms: relationship, friendly relationship, close relationship, attachment, mutual attachment, alliance, association, close association, bond, tie, link, union;

Friends/friendships are one of those things which bring both joy and the possibility of pain.  I've been considering this as we travel and I don't have many "friends in the flesh." A young mom asked me about friendships with kids this week....and I shared, as an extrovert, I've worried about this aspect of military homeschooling. I came to believe that God knows exactly WHO my kids need in their lives and when. If they need BFFs at an assignment He will provide them. There have also been assignments when it seems God worked more on friendships within our family than outside our family. I believe God will provide the friendships I need as well.

I have been perplexed to realize 90% of my friends are either decades younger or decades older than I.  Michael says this is natural as mentoring is one of my passions. I am mentored and I mentor. BUT REALLY these are true blue friendships....loving peers...anyway I was blessed during our short time at Beale to spend time with some friends.  I wish I could have seen so many more - but each of these visits were precious and left my emotional tank full.

I really wanted to touch base with Hope and Emma. Their "man" has gone overseas for a year. I needed to hug some necks and know they were doing well. They are. Hope graciously allowed us to bring taco fixings to her home and use her kitchen. We all visited...but Hope and I got girl time during the cooking and clean up. Hope made some yummy vegan cupcakes. I need to find that recipe and make them. LOL
Hope and I in her kitchen

Emma and Stacia
Is this not the cutest? 
I took Stacia to visit a friend on Saturday and ran across town to catch up with Betty. I met Betty in the laundry room at Beale Fam Camp. She was encouraging and had great tips for me about living in an RV full time, transitioning to being a military retiree and the VA system.  Joe, the love of Betty's life, passed away since I saw her last. She's had QUITE an adventure evacuating her new apartment with the flood threat of the Oroville Dam. Once again, I left Betty feeling refreshed.
Betty and I 
Stacia and her friend were out for a day on the town and so I was able to fit in an unexpected visit with Beverly, Maya's grandma.  Beverly and Phil attended the chapel when we were there. They've had quite an interesting life and it is always encouraging to have time to sit and visit. We enjoyed  relaxed, leisurely tea - my first since going on the road full time.

Michael called Rob Christian, the pastor of the church we attended after we retired and before we left Yuba City.  Last time we were in the area they were in Hawaii. It seemed wise to check. What a surprise to learn Rob and Michelle have resigned The Rivers. He is devoting more time to home and the Foursquare region -  pastoring pastors.  We met for dinner and had a great time catching up and sharing the "new" in our lives. I didn't take a photo.

Friendships are a blessing from God. It was a GREAT day.

#WYFF  - Where's Your Feet Friday - is a hash tag sponsored by Fulltime Families.  I thought it would be a fun way to get a quick look at our adventures.  The photo - or collage - serves as the BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) if you missed the story and would like to read it, click the link under the photo. For past #WYFF check the tabs.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

We LIKE Traveling

We discovered something delightfully quirky about the five of us! We LOVE to be on the road. It doesn't matter if it's another quick run down to Crescent City or all the way to TX - we like being in the motorhome and we like traveling! It feels more like being "HOME," than being stationary in a stick and brick hosue. LOL 

I'm not sure of the timing of this photo - but I know it's in Canyonville, OR. Michael is taking advantage of a quick pit stop to finish Mom G's obituary and get it sent off to the Triplicate. 

We are thankful for Joe, one of Mom G's neighbors. Joe has a graveled parking area and has installed a full hook up RV spot.  He has given us an open invitation to park here and it has proven to be very convenient these past days.

We arrived this time on Alex's birthday. There was just enough sunlight and dry weather to take a quick hike up the road into the redwoods.

I'm not sure how we'd missed this. Do you see it? A nativity! 

Nothing compares you to be in your childhood home without your parents. It's surreal. It feels lonely. It certainly goes in the "bittersweet" category of life events.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Whew - On the Road Again

We're on the road - our very first road trip as a little family unit since buying the motorhome.

Whew! There are a lot of details to saying goodbye to a loved one. Rebecca, Michael and I met with Randy at Musgrove Funeral Home today. They are amazing - absolutely no price gouging or emotional manipulation. After the meeting, Rebecca went one direction with a list, and we went another direction with a list. We are tracking down Dad's DD214 so Mom can be buried with him at Fort Logan National Cemetery.

The kids packed the motorhome, as Michael wrote the rough draft of an obituary, I talked with the local paper and checked in with my family.  We took the van to a potential buyer who is going to take it to the mechanic while we are gone. We trust them implicitly.

We have the date and time for a memorial service in Crescent City locked in.

In the midst of this, "the movers" called. Oy VEY! They can't find the checks we've sent them, they're opening our boxes and repacking them for another company to move them. We decided it's best to go to Yuba City and get a RECEIPT and WATCH and inventory them as they unpack our things and repack them...... ::snort::

We're going to Mom G's house to track down some legal papers.  We are pretty sure they'll be easy to locate, but who thinks to travel with such things?  We got a late start and may not make it all the way to Crescent City. I think it might be nicer to walk into the house in the day time anyway.  As we drive, I am touching base with family to let them know the time for the the memorial in CA.

We won't be able to plan a time for Denver until the VA approves and then we go through the scheduler at Fort Logan.....wondering about the weather too as Michael would like to drive out. +Starting to check weather and roads.....

Gray afternoon

Stacia's Tribute

My dear grandma love
I will miss you terribly
But you are happy

Stacia and Mom G often wrote haiku's and shared them back and forth. She showed us this one last night.

We are all remembering various incidents and times today.....Stacia had a strong desire to spend her 11th birthday in Crescent City  (really out of left field - before any of us had thought of  moving to Crescent City to help Mom G). Looking back, we are thrilled and happy this worked out. Her birthday was just four days after Mom G's 88th. birthday. We were all looking forward to another one this year. I had begun planning the 90th/13th shindig.
Michael, Mom G, Nolan, Stacia, Alex

Last summer Stacia caught a fish - but she released it. Mom G was insistent she needed to be sure to keep the next one, as she was craving trout. Stacia promised to catch another fish for Grandma to eat. She tried and tried but never caught another fish last summer. Today, she regrets not being able to keep her promise.  We are assuring her it is o.k. - but those of us a bit older, who have walked this path, can understand the regrets. Maybe you'd say a prayer for Stacia's young heart today?

We have assured her the times she spent listening to Mom G's stories, as they sorted through her possessions and she did odd jobs for Grandma,  were happy ones for Mom G, and ones she will remember the rest of her life.

Stacia uses "words" more than our men-folk to express her thoughts and emotions...but I know, while the past year was a tough one, it is full of treasured memories. We were given the gift of getting to know Mom G in a way we'd never known her before. She was more talkative about her childhood and adult memories than she'd ever been. I regret thinking we had "plenty of time" to capture the stories on video.
Treasured Memories

Monday, February 06, 2017

God is Good Even When Life Hurts

There are times it is hard to separate the mundane from the profound when caught up in the busy-ness of life.  Today was not like that.  My mother passed away today.  She lived to be 88 years old and stayed sharp all the way to the very end.  I was to see her grasp google street level view in the past few weeks.  She would tell us about googling her way down the street she grew up on when she was only eight.  She talked about taking a motorcycle ride through some old ghost towns we used to see in Colorado. She marvelled at the size of the blue spruce tree out n front of our old house in Colorado Springs. For someone who was totally non-techie, she was starting to get the hang of this stuff.
She was a timid bulldog of a woman. Timid in the sense that life easily had a way of intimidating her.  A bulldog because when she knew what she wanted, it was not possible to turn her from it.  Kind of an odd, quirky combination, but that was my mother.  

I  remember a day when we were driving on North Circle in Colorado Springs. A man in this smallish car passed us during a thunderstorm. He managed to drench our old International pickup truck when he splashed passed us through some standing water to the point we had to stop in order to allow the wipers the chance to clear the windshield.  It took a couple of swipes to make this happen.  It was only a couple of blocks later that we caught up with this same driver. We were passing him when we came across another patch of standing water.  I must say, that old International pickup can kick up quite the load of water at times - this was one of them.  I could see clearly a solid three to four inches of water pouring over this guy's car.  He had to stop.  All of us kids were shouting our thorough approval, but mom was deeply embarrassed. She contended all the way to the last time we talked about this - last Summer - that it was an accident, and she did not mean to drown that guy. I believe her, but it was one of those  mom-moments you never forget.  

There was another time we were driving into town when we lived in Crescent City.  It was a rainy day, and there was an old car driven by an old man puttering along slowly in front of us through the two lane highway that runs through the Redwoods. There were a couple of places for such folks to pull off, but they, apparently, were not made to his liking.  Nope, he just continued to putter along in front of us - by this, I mean 20 MPH.  Well, we were running late, and this guy was making us later.  When we finally reached the flat on the other side of the Redwoods, mom took off. She zipped around him, and flew down the highway trying to catch up with time.  Unfortunately, the Highway Patrol has no regard for catching up with time because of an old guy in an old car driving at the speed of a glacier. The little red light glowed brightly in the rear view mirror.  Mom pulled over and began pleading her case when the officer came to the window - all to no avail. As he was writing out the ticket, guess who drove by? Yup, old guy in an old car driving at the speed of a snail on tranquilizers.  It was another mom-moment.

I have been struggling as we are processing mom's homegoing.  There are surges of grief followed by times of sadness.  I know she is OK. I know she is running free with no walker and no struggles with cantankerous joints.  I know she is re-united with Dad and stunned at the presence of the Jesus she met as a young girl. I know she is singing with angels and dancing on streets of gold, but I am missing her greatly.  A chaplain assistant I deployed with to Kuwait had a poignant question for me after a worship service in which we were praying for some family members who were struggling with life-ending diseases. "I don't understand you pastors. You talk about the wonders of heaven, but you pray to keep people out of it." Well, this day, I am rejoicing even in the midst of the tears.  It  was a homegoing - perhaps, actually, a homecoming. It is just our perspective is backward to that which is the really real...

Going to miss you, Mom. Hug Dad for me, and I look forward to the day we see you again.

C'mon Mary, Let's Go!

88 years old - Aug 12, 2016

Mom G tells stories of dating Dad G....he was always one for an adventure!

Mom G passed away this morning. She was 88 years old and was being treated for congestive heart failure. We expected it; yet we didn't fully expect it.
"Grandma, I'm having baby #2 in June."
"I knew it was time!"
Mom was sharp until the very end. She spent hours these past few months reading Scripture and writing down various nuggets she discovered. She had a HUGE stack of index cards each listing a verse and a name of Jesus. She had stacks of "healing cards" for Michael and stacks of "Jerusalem" cards too.
Happy she celebrated CoRielle with us

When we were in Crescent City, she asked me to research the form for writing haikus. I did. She and Stacia wrote many together and shared them back and forth. We found a haiku on her table this morning....

Madeline Coffee
Earl's over the horizon
What do I do

I imagine she knew she would be seeing Dad Earl again soon.  We know without a doubt Mom Mary is in heaven with Jesus and Dad. Our tears are for our loss. We are happy we had the time in Crescent City and then here in Oregon with her.
Games at Krista's

It shouldn't be a shock, but it is.

I keep hearing Dad G shouting in his boyish voice, "C'mon Mary, wait till you see what's over this mountain." Much like he did when exploring the Matsu Glacier in Alaska.

Until we catch up with you both again, Dad and Mom,  goodbye  - for now!
Cy & Grandma
Shoot! We neglected to get a candid shot of Jared and Larissa with Mom G. We'll add the family photo from the wedding later.

I'm pretty sure Michael will have thoughts to share at a later date. We covet your prayers as there is much to do. 

Bella's Big Personality at 9 Months

Bella is developing a BIG personality at nine months of age - and it's a blast to be nearby as she matures. 

Nine months old - she is saying a few more words, she still growls, and laughs and now she has TEETH. She's also putting on weight, proving to pediatricians she is just fine - simply on her own pattern of life.  

She loved opening gifts for her soon to arrive baby brother! I'm quite sure she didn't realize the blue dinosaurs and trucks were not meant for her! ::snort::

My favorite shot of Bella this month!

She is standing outside of BreZaak's kitchen. Izzak likes to cook and Bella loves to watch him cook. She gets very excited and happy when he goes to the kitchen, as she knows he will share whatever he is making with her!

Being two minutes away from our sweet Bella is the best part of house-sitting!

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Sunday Sightings

 During this season of travel and transition, we are enjoying visiting many different church bodies. We're never 100% sure what we'll find. Our last new visit was to Eugene Faith Center. Stacia remarked, "It's like a museum or an airport  in here." The "foyer" IS amazing. We were surprised the pastor remembered Michael from college group decades ago. They had fun talking about the intervening years. Pastor Steve talked on Joshua 1.9 - Michael was wearing this year's Gherkin Shirt....Strong. Courageous!  It was a fun visit.

We'd not visited Elmira Open Bible before and chose to do so this morning.  We found friends of BreZaak, a friendly body of believers who truly know, love and care for one another, vibrant worship and a challenging message. It's awe-inspiring to see the same spirit of love and community at work in big, small and medium  expressions of Christ's church.

This is the neighbor's sign at the edge of the church's lot. 

If "The Pump," in Springfield can be a yummy restaurant, it seems only fair "The Station," in Elmira can be a full-service beauty salon.

Where else can you get a cut, curl, lube, oil and filter?

We drove around Elmira - pop 2600.

We drove to Veneta and tried to find the bird farm we house sat  our first summer of marriage over thirty-four years ago. We have become THOSE people. The ones who drive their kids to old stomping grounds, only to discover they can't locate the grounds as it's changed in the past 3 decades. ::snort::

We enjoyed the morning at church and driving around and discussing the type of town where we'd like to live.  We like small towns. We like a bit of quirky. We like farming communities. We'd like to find Hardin, MT in Alaska.

....and then the Falcons lost. Seahawks in 2018.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Perfect Rainy Saturday

There are a LOT of  rainy days around here. Yes, that's WHY it's so very green, lush and gorgeous in the spring and summer. I get it. Honestly, I understand. I totally love this area - but HEY - it's GRAY and WET here this time of year....and I can't help longingly watching the weather maps and thinking I'm SOUTHERN at heart - or NORTHERN as in ALASKA where you can see the STARS, MOOSE and NORTHERN LIGHTS at night in the winter. ::snort::

I choose joy. I play Boo Yay. I do. Really. BUT I am finally realizing, the gray, overcast, rain is a struggle for me.  Today was Saturday. A GREAT day to go to the coast, or hike a new trail or visit a park....except it was RAINING.

We packed into the little car and headed to the PUBLIC LIBRARY! Perfect! Stacia was three when we moved to Japan. We had a beautiful Japanese library we could use. The drawback, of course, being none of us read Japanese. There was a very small base library. We moved to Beale and the libraries on and off base were also small.

THIS library is big! It's three or four stories tall.  Here is Stacia climbing another floor - on our way to the Adult fiction.  Can you imagine how much fun it would be to slide down these banisters?

We took a significant amount of books away from the fiction floor.  Stacia didn't seem impressed by all the choices. I kept trying to interest her. She kept telling me she had all the books she needed to read on her kindle. ::gasp::

Finally, I realized my gal may be more interested in a different section. We found the Young Adult section.  Nope - not quite what we were looking for either...then we found the children's section. (Being a tween has it's challenges).  I thought she'd read Nancy Drew - but she hasn't. Of course not! That was Arielle, and Krista before her. We checked out the first one and asked her to give the library selection a try. She's hooked. Nearly done with the first book already!

Rainy days are spectacular for people-watching at the  library! We observed, and interacted, with a  great cross-section of the local culture.

Our next rainy day stop was the movie theater to catch - SING.

Michael suggested we spend a gift card and so we headed to Red Robin to end the day! What a great rainy day!

Now that we're all set for the rain, it will probably be sunny this week! You'll all KNOW who to thank!  THIS is a favorite room in the home were watching - lots of windows!

Thursday, February 02, 2017

An Update on Mom

Sometimes life surprises you! We were surprised when Mom was told she had breast cancer in December.

Mom is nine days post-surgery, and today we visited with her surgeon. Her incisions are healing nicely. They were able to remove all the breast cancer.

Life surprised us again as Dr. K continued to read the pathology report to us. Four of the seven nodes they removed were cancerous with a couple being big enough  Mom will need to have radiation after all.  They had hoped to avoid radiation.

The biggest surprise was the discovery that  Mom has two types of cancer. She not only has breast cancer, but they discovered low grade B Cell lymphoma in her breast. This is usually found in the lymphatic system and Dr. K said it is very rare for her to find it. We will know more after we visit with the medical oncologist and the radiation oncologist. At this point, we know this is a slow growing blood cancer, usually manifesting first in the lymphatic system. We know it typically responds well to chemo and radiation and will go into remission for years. The line is its, "treatable but  not curable."  The treatment is usually to watch and then to treat with chemo and radiation so it would seem treatment of the breast cancer will also treat this.

While we were surprised, and it wasn't fun, to discover a second type of cancer, we rejoice in a mastectomy which led to early detection of the lymphoma. We rejoice this is also slow growing. We rejoice we are in Mom's very town for Michael to get the medical care he needs, and we are able to be here to process all this together with family. We rejoice in a GOOD FATHER who goes before us in each and every circumstance.

Once more, I'm faced with a hard to own reality -  I can't fix this. In fact, there is very little I CAN DO, but I rejoice tonight in the One who holds each of us in the palm of His hands. It's amazing, to know He is ALREADY THERE when these sorts of days occur.

This year's verses are proving very applicable already... not only with cancer, but with rumors and fake news, with changes and decisions which need to be made....

"The LORD is the One who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.  Do not be afraid or discouraged."  Deut 31:8 (HCSB)
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Josh 1:9 (NASB)