Family & Friends

Even after a rare thunderstorm last night – complete with thunder, lightning, hail and pouring rain – it is much too quiet here this morning.  After a wonderful visit together, it was time to drive Sharon (my niece who is two years younger than I) and Penny (my sister-in-law of 39 years) to the airport in Portland yesterday.  Their flight is on the runway as I type and they are departing for Memphis.  I miss them already…

They arrived on Tuesday, July 10th, in Eugene, Oregon.  It had been Penny’s first time to fly.  Thankfully, both flights were flawless and perfectly smooth the entire way…and she loved flying!   They immediately fell in love with Oregon and the incredible beauty of the Pacific Northwest.  They also couldn’t believe that it stayed “light” until practically past bedtime!  As we drove the one and a half hours to the farm, we talked nonstop as they took in the scenery along the way.  It was almost dark when we arrived home to the farm but they were excited to see everything.

When I awoke the next morning, I found them enjoying coffee and juice in the front porch rockers.  The front porch would be the place to enjoy many times over the next week and a half.  The sun was shining in an almost cloudless sky and the temperature was in the mid-sixties.  They had left 100+ degrees in Memphis and they were thrilled.

Over the  next ten days, we did everything!   On Wednesday, a “rest” day for them, we toured our small town and I showed them everything here (that didn’t take too long).  We went to a local nursery and enjoyed the beautiful  flowers there.  We stopped by Kruse Farms and picked up a freshly baked marionberry pie and vanilla ice cream.   We hiked down to the canyon with the macho logger tree farmer.  They enjoyed shooting the .22 with him at the shooting range.  They loved the farm life here.  Penny took over feeding the chickens and gathering the eggs.  Sharon assumed the duty of feeding the goats.  They loved it!  We spent a lot of time on the front porch enjoying the rocking chairs and our spectacular view – which they loved.

On Thursday, we drove to Grant’s Pass, Oregon, where we took the Hellgate Jetboat excursion to the large log lodge upstream for a barbecue lunch. They loved jetboating…especially on the return trip when the captain hotdogged the boat and we got soaked! We saw elk on the nearby elk preserve…and just wished they were closer. Thankfully, we had a zoom lens for photos.  Friday was another “rest” day with fun on the farm and the three of us in the kitchen.  I could get spoiled to that!

On Saturday, we drove to Florence, Oregon, to see the Pacific Ocean. So different from the Atlantic and the Gulf Coast which they are used to seeing.  We went down 600 feet into the incredible Sea Lions Cave.  On Sunday, we headed up to 5700+ feet to see the amazing Crater Lake.  We found a beautiful nearby waterfalls and took some memorable photos there.



At Sea Lions Cave…

On Monday, we headed back to the coast – this time to one of my favorite coastal towns:  Bandon, Oregon.  We also stopped by the elite Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, where Sharon’s husband wants to eventually play.  We picked up some souveniers for him.  We tasted practically all of the samples at the Cranberry Sweets store and they purchased some to take home.

On Tuesday, Penny and Sharon enjoyed playing horseshoes with Jim.  We spent a lot of time relaxing on the front porch.  Each evening, we enjoyed a movie after dinner.  It was all about the fellowship and time together.  They had fun playing cards on the front porch with the macho logger tree farmer.  No doubt, laughter could be heard all the way down to the valley.  They picked fresh veggies from the garden and we cooked a delicious dinner again.

Thursday came all too soon.  We drove to Portland where their flight was supposed to leave this morning at 7:55 a.m.  (Actually they are flying United so, of course, it is late!)  We took them to Sweet Tomatoes for a soup and salad lunch which we all enjoyed…and then it was time to get them checked into their hotel.

Saying goodbye is never any fun, but it helps that we will be having Thanksgiving in the South this year and I will see them then.  We miss you already, Sharon and Penny!

It was pouring rain as we left the farm last Thursday morning for a seven hour drive north. We were looking forward to our visit with Jim’s daughter and her family who live an hour north of Seattle. About twenty minutes south of Seattle, it stopped raining and the sun came out…and stayed out for the rest of the weekend.  On Friday morning, we left their house early for the drive to Anacortes, Washington, where we caught the ferry for our three hour trip to Victoria, British Columbia.

I couldn’t help being a little reflective as the ferry got underway…my last ferry trip to Victoria was in 1965. I was a nineteen year old college student, traveling with a group of other “summer missionary” college students. That story is here.

Jim and I were in Victoria last July for a brief few hours hours during a stop on our Alaskan cruise, but a few hours just weren’t enough.  I was glad we were going to have two whole DAYS this time.  We walked all about Victoria…up and down the historic streets enjoying the shops along the way, along the water’s edge where the sailboats were lined up and into the Empress Hotel.  I remembered having “tea and crumpets” there with a group of college students when I was nineteen.  The Empress Hotel is in the background of the Wikipedia photo below.

On Sunday, we spent the day at Butchart Gardens – a historic, incredible place to be sure.  I took all the photos in the slideshow below on Sunday.  To be honest, I don’t think photos do this beautiful place justice.  You’ll just have to go visit.  I do the best I can with the built-in macro lens on my Sony DSC-H5 but I would love to have a separate powerful macro lens!

The weather in Victoria was beautiful – 72 degrees and sunny with a light breeze.  We enjoyed our time with almost three year old Mason and his Mom and Dad.  I love watching grandfather and grandson acting like two kids together.  It was a fun weekend and one I will remember for another long time…

It’s still cool and raining here.  For now, a cool rain and dark clouds are okay with me.  I know the DRY season will be here soon enough with months on end of NO rain and brown grass!  For now, I’ll enjoy Spring and  the emerald green grass…green as far as the eye can see.

We’re getting everything ready for company this Summer and we’re excited!  In June, Jim’s mom will visit (she’s ninety and he’s flying to Arizona to escort her both here and the return trip).  Jim’s older daughter and her family will visit while little Mason‘s great grandma is here.  In July, my niece (two & a half years younger than I) and my sister-in-law of almost 40 years will visit.  It’s going to be a fun, busy summer!  There is so much to see here and we’re looking forward to sharing it.

As soon as it warms up enough (and quits raining) the front porch swing and the four rocking chairs need a fresh coat of paint.  So many months of rain will do that.  After I check the rocking chair pillows stored away, I may add some new ones.  We’ll enjoy sitting on the front porch enjoying our coffee and juice – and the view – to go along with our conversation.  I can’t wait!

The backyard stone patio was completed a couple of years ago and has had much too little use since then.  I have pictured some Orvis Adirondack chairs (the white ones below) surrounding the firepit there, but at $298/chair +35 shipping + 5 months of mold causing rain…I just don’t see it.  Especially since they’re heavy and there is no where to store them during the rainy season.  We drove into town this afternoon and checked out the Adirondack chairs at Home Depot (pic below).  My son and his wife had them on the front porch and backyard stone patio in lovely, bright colors at their vintage home in Dallas.  I liked them.  They’re reasonably priced (cheap),  come in assorted colors and they’re actually comfortable.  They looked very nice with pillows in them.  They are also light and stack easily for storage.  I’d like to place 4 of these chairs around the firepit on the patio in the backyard.  I’ll choose pillows that compliment the colors of the stonework.

The perfect place to sit around the firepit and roast marshmallows for Smores.  I’ll look forward to that.  The stone patio below with the covered firepit and the fountain.  You can also see that we had to resort to electric fencing to keep the deer out of the expensive photinia plants above the stone ledge!  We kept replacing the plants and they kept saying thank you!




My daughter had driven all the way from Iowa to Dallas with FOUR children on Monday, April 23.  While she was looking forward to visiting while I was there, she had one primary goal in mind – meeting her baby brother’s baby for the first time.  I wanted to be ready with camera in hand to capture this first meeting.  I knew she would fall in love and she did.  I think it was mutual.  We all had a wonderful four days visit and then began the long drive back to Iowa.  She said meeting her beautiful baby niece was so worth the long, long drive…


In a “perfect world”, each of my three grown children and their families would live no more than two hours from me.  We would live in a beautiful area – close to the mountains and the beach and the rest of our extended family.    There would be plenty of time and opportunity for frequent family reunions.  But as my younger son reminds me, I evidently gave each of them “roots and wings” and the two-hour radius is not to be.  They’ve created happy, wonderful lives for themselves and I am glad of that.  However, that means that I must FLY often because I miss my children and my grandchildren!

I flew into the Dallas-Fort Worth airport on Saturday, April 21st.  My younger son greeted me with a hug and a smile.  We then drove to their home where my almost eight month old granddaughter was taking her afternoon nap.  I was preparing myself that she would have grown and changed since I had seen her over two months ago, and she most definitely has.  When she awoke, she greeted me with a big smile and, I think, remembered me.  She is amazing…and beautiful.  Of course.   😉

My daughter and her four children arrived on Monday morning after a very long drive from Iowa.  It would be a week filled with fun activities and enjoying FIVE of my grandchildren in one place!  There would be plenty of time for holding Maggie and playing on the floor with her…watching her crawl and pull up to a standing position.  We also made time for shopping.  I loved this adorable dress we found at The Children’s Place.  It reminded me so much of a “vintage” baby and Maggie looks beautiful in it!


My granddaughters and I were spending Friday evening together while their parents had a date night.  We had enjoyed a pizza together and were now all curled up on the sofa watching the movie  Mighty Macs (excellent movie by the way).  During one scene, an elderly nun pasted newspaper clippings of the legendary team into her well-used scrapbook as the camera zoomed in for a close-up of her hands…aged and wrinkled from years of service and use.

I held out one hand in front of me and looked at it for a moment without saying a word.

My ten-year-old granddaughter, who was snuggled close beside me, looked up at me and then grinned.

“Don’t even think about it, Grandmommy”‘ she said.  “Not even close.  Not for a very long, long, long, long time”…..

My daughter’s baby girl turned eight years old yesterday.  I began my morning here on the West coast sitting at my table with a cup of coffee and my iPad…thankful for “Facetime” so I could see her and celebrate this special day with her all the way in the Midwest.  I watched as she happily opened each of the gifts I had sent to her in her “birthday box”.  She was a happy camper.  I so wished I were there for a birthday hug in person.  Those beautiful blue eyes were shining as she said, “thank you, Grandmommy!”   


Today is my last day of a two and  a half week wonderful visit with my daughter and her precious family.  We’ve had such fun and made so many great memories.  I miss them all already.

This afternoon, we will drive one hour North for my oldest grandchild’s swim meet.  I am happy that I will get to see him swim.  I saw my oldest granddaughter swim in practice.  I’m amazed that they are such fast and strong swimmers as are my oldest son’s daughters.  They didn’t get that from me!

I fly back home to Oregon tomorrow…via a long layover in Denver.  I suppose an almost 4 hour layover is better than a 1 hour layover when the plane is late and you’re in the back of a large jet and it takes 30 minutes to deplane!  I shall be thankful and take advantage of the long layover to have an actual meal at the airport instead of a snack on the plane.  I will not arrive into Portland until 10 p.m. Iowa time and that will make for a very long day.  The macho logger tree farmer will be waiting for me…

It has snowed twice now on the tree farm in the Callahans and I have missed both of them.  The first time I was in Dallas having a wonderful visit with my younger son and his precious family.  It snowed again on the farm this week.  Not to worry though, it has snowed twice here over the past two weeks, and I did have fun playing out with my grandchildren.  But I have missed my macho logger tree farmer and it is time to be home!

I may never buy granola bars again.  My daughter makes these homemade granola bars and they are delicious!  You could substitute any fruit you’d like – dried cranberries, cherries, blueberries or dates.  I think any of them would be scrumptious.  Here’s the recipe and enjoy!   

Homemade Granola Bars  

2 cups rolled oats

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup wheat germ*

*The second time my daughter made these delicious granola bars, she was out of wheat germ and I think I liked them better that way.  I added the whole 1/2 cup and I think it was a little too much.  Next time, I’ll reduce it to maybe 2 tablespoons for the healthy effect.  😉

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup raisins (or you could probably try any other favorite dried fruit – like blueberries, dates or cherries)

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup honey

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Generously grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.  In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, raisins and salt.  Combine the wet ingredients.  Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil and vanilla.  Using your hands, mix well.  Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.  Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.  Enjoy!

I was relaxing on the playroom sofa engrossed in the novel by Ree Drummond with the grandchildren playing happily all around me.  I noticed movement to my left barely above the back of the sofa.  It was Larry-Boy, the Veggie Tale puppet.  Suddenly, “Larry-Boy” broke into the happy song “Veggie Tales”.   The sweet and tender voice of my just-turned-three-year-old grandson was perfectly carrying the tune.

My heart melted, and tears came to my eyes, as I thought about what a gift this sweet child is…and how different his life might have been.  I’m thankful beyond words that God picked this precious child to be a part of this family…all the way from Ethiopia.

And I’m especially thankful for his sweet gift of song…




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