Saturday, April 23, 2011


Our granddaughter, Lauren, asked me to post about what is blooming in our yard. So ... Lo, this is for you - a bit of Kansas in the Springtime!

Prairiefire Crabapple tree in our backyard.

These gorgeous blooms lasted but three days before a 30 degree drop in temperature, rain, and howling 40 mph winds. I'm so glad I spent at least a few minutes standing beneath these branches to soak in the beauty! In a matter of hours the blossoms were completely blown away, leaving a lovely tree with red, then green leaves that will bear fruit for the birds to enjoy in the winter. This reminds me of life - so beautiful, colorful, and yet very fragile. It made me think ... how do I stand in the midst of the howling changes of life? Tall? Still colorful? Bearing fruit???

Creeping phlox in the front yard.

Geraniums in deck pots.

My deck garden. A Big Boy tomato plant, two pots of lettuce, two pots of herbs - Italian parsley and basil, chives and rosemary. Yum! The rocks are from the Flint Hills.

Jeff, Caroline and kids sent me a bird feeder "system" for my birthday. We put it up outside my office window, near the purple smokebush, where they love to perch, chirpping and chattering away! We've had sparrows, purple finches, purple martins, and today, a red wing blackbird! When Rich went to refill the feeders there were at least 12 birds on or around them! He calls this a "sweet blessing". Truly!

If you look closely you can see a purple finch on this cute little flower pot feeder that Jordyn made for me before we left California. I am so happy to have a place to hang it now. The birds love it!

Esther, Moira, and I were enthralled with watchcing the birds this morning. At one point we had three males "duking" it out for position - all at one perch. As Moira said, there is more than one perch to choose from!

It was thrilling to see the red wing blackbird. I always see them at a distance, in a field or on a fence. How I wish I knew how to edit out the ugly truck in the background!

This is Brett and Esther's BBQ! They had removed the beginning of a nest three times. Lo and behold when Brett went to clean his grill for company dinner, this is what he found! The nest is made of clippings from our ornamental grasses. They are tough and very scratchy. Can't imagine it would be very comfortable!

Now, there's a lesson from this story. The two photos above are actually Esther's. I went to their house yesterday to take photos and Brett thought I shouldn't disturb the BBQ (the lid was down), but I said, "Oh, just let me try." Bad idea! I barely opened the lid when two of the eggs rolled out and shattered on the deck. I felt terrible! First I broke two eggs, but even more important I didn't respect Brett's suggestion not to look. Mothers - listen to your children - they just might be correct!

While out for an early evening ride we came upon these gorgeous animals. So ... Caroline and Katelyn ... these are for you!

We came upon this trail. We've never seen it before so we walked it. What a thrill to stand and listen to the various birds singing and calling to one another! It was nearly sunset so we didn't spend as much time as we would have liked. There's a return trip coming!

Old limestone fence posts.

While on the trail we heard donkeys braying. Sure enough, they were just down the road.

Then this gorgeous peacock and his hens were calling to each other. What a sight!

Spring has always been our favorite time of year, but especially so here in Kansas. It's the reward of surviving a long, cold winter!

"The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it."
Psalm 24:1

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Tomorrow, April 21, 2011, will mark the fourth anniversary of my father's passing from this life into a new life in Heaven. He was very loved and is deeply missed.

Mom and Dad were married in July 1940 and had five children.

Dad began his adult life as an Iowan farmer but severe allergy to ragweed forced him off the farm. My sisters and I were about 2, 4, 6. It was at that time he began what would be his 40-year career of selling cars.

Mom and Dad at his 90th birthday party in 2005. Dad passed away just over two years later at age 92.

Is there a more poignant time than a father walking his daughter down the aisle? Wasn't he handsome!!
Me in March 1965.

Kathy in October 1965.

Cheryl in December 1966.

My Dad was a great cook. He and Mom would prepare wonderful holiday meals for our family. He was especially known for his homemade ice cream and fudge. Sadly, no one mastered his recipes to carry on the traditions of these fabulous foods, even though we've given it our best shots!

Dad's "other love" was fishing. In a 1968 fishing trip to Copco Lake with Mom, Steve, and Joel, he caught the biggest large mouth bass.

In the very early 1980s we took a family trip (with aunts, uncles, cousins) to Big Bear where we stayed in a cabin owned by church friends. Dad took Brett fishing and this is the fish they caught! Think Brett is about seven in the photo. Also behind are Julie on the left (or is it Jamee??), Jeremy in back, and Rich on the right.

The grandkids also received a lesson in how to clean a fish! What a memory!

For several years, Dad was the "Coffee Man" at my sister Kathy's store. He would open the store for her early on Saturday morning and get the coffee going. He was known for the treats he would give the little kids and loved "doing a little selling" of coffee and the Marty Bell art that Kathy carried at the time. Actually, I think the coffee sales were higher on Saturday than any day of the week.

Dad was a twin. He and his twin brother Owen always wore hats. Must have been a carry-over from their early farm days. Guess you can take the man off the farm but can't take the farm out of the man!

I think this is about the last photo of Mom, Dad, their children and spouses.

This is the last photo of me with Mom and Dad in 2005. I'm pretty sure we were celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary. I moved to Kansas and Dad's health declined considerably after this time.

Dad was a hard-working man. Many years he worked seven days a week trying to make a living selling cars. After all he had a wife and five kids to feed! In the 1950s he also worked as a brick mason and was a perfectionist at his craft. He was very good with his hands. He could repair anything, it seemed, and in retirement did some furniture repair and refinishing.

He had his weaknesses, just like all of us, but he loved the Lord and especially loved reading his Bible. When he no longer spent time reading it at the kitchen table, we knew his life was ebbing away.

Dad was a good man, a sweet man, an honest man, whose word was as good as his handshake. He always had a twinkle in his eye! He left his family with a precious legacy!

I will forever be grateful that I was his daughter!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Allison

Our granddaughter, Allison, is nine years old today - her last year of single digits!

Allie, as we often call her, is such a fun little girl. I especially love to hear her laugh. She's a good story-teller, too, and doesn't leave out any details!

She was my birthday gift on my 60th birthday! Thank you Lord!

Allie plays soccer and runs track. Her favorite track event is the mile!

We had such a fun time last June when her family came for a visit. One of the first things the girls did was have a water balloon fight. Not sure what she's trying to do with the bucket! :)

Our family also went to Branson for a few days where we had a blast playing miniature golf. Isn't she a cutie!!

Allison, dear, I pray this scripture for you ...
"Show Allison that your way is perfect and your word is flawless. Be her shield as she takes refuge in you." - 2 Samuel 22:31

We love you, Sweetie!

Papa and Grandma

Monday, April 11, 2011

MCC Relief Sale and 5K

The Kansas MCC Relief Sale and 5K were held last Friday and Saturday in Hutchinson, or as the locals call it, "Hutch". For our non-local readers this event is for the Mennonite Central Committee, a ministry of Mennonite, Brethren in Christ, and Amish churches here in Kansas that shares God's love and compassion by providing basic human needs worldwide. A couple examples of their work are: building houses after Katrina (actually this is on-going) and after the huge tornado in Greensburg, KS, as well as providing clean water in third world countries. Brett's church, Hope Mennonite in Wichita, runs the tee-shirt table. The theme this year was "Come Neighbor Share our Table!" with the scripture verses Hebrews 13:2, 16, "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it ... And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased."

The highlight for Esther and Moira, especially, was to run the MCC Run for Relief 2011, which was held Saturday morning. When they returned home they were so excited to share their results with us! Esther did the 5K in 33.46, her personal best, and Moira ran it in 26.35! She placed second in her division, 10-14 year olds. This was Moira's first race, other than in PE! In PE, she doesn't like the boys to pass her! A tad-bit competitive, you think? :) A track program is definitely in her future!

Our MCC dinner on Friday evening was burritos, prepared by the fairly new Hispanic Mennonite congregation here in Newton. The burritos were, as Brett said, "solid". Actually the best Mexican food we've had in Newton - actually had some flavor and not grossed up with some yucky cheese sauce. (I know, we feel like we're becoming Mexican food snobs, but we have to go to Wichita to get anything good. There's nothing here like what we've been used to all our life in California!)

And what's better for dessert than whoppie pie! Audrey and Isabel are the first to try them. Pretty yummy!

The eyes say it all!

The girls wanted to go down the big slide. They loved it! Climbing the stairs to get to the top would have been enough to freak me out! Isabel said she was freaked out and that it made her stomach queasy, but wanted to go again and our little Dare-devil Dewey, Maeve, LOVED it! She came down with the biggest grin on her face and wanted to go again!

The big slide was hit with some of the local Amish families as well.

Back to the exhibition buildings where the sale was going on, some of us had pie and of course, kettle corn. Brett worked the tee-shirt table and we all socialized. Auctions were going on, entertainment was happening, quilts for the Saturday sale were on exhibit, and vendors of many types were selling their wares. It's a great event to help a lot of hurting people!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Black 'n Blue

We went to a wedding today south of Wichita. When I slipped out of Rich's SUV and stepped on the ground this is what I saw ...
Right shoe is black.

Left shoe is blue.

So much for being "put together"! What's a girl to do but keep her feet tightly entwined under her chair at all times!

As I told Rich ... I had a matched pair at home!!

Such is life!