Thursday, October 12, 2017

A Wonderful Life

One way to process the loss of my mother in September has been the making of a video of her 96 years. Her mother Ethel bought a Kodak Brownie camera in 1900 at 12 years of age. She 'developed' the film herself. About 30 years ago I got Ethel's albums, digitized the photos and started to ask all the 'older' family members at the family Reunions to identify the people and places. The photos have since faded beyond recognition! 

My mother, like her mother, was wonderful about keeping photo albums - one for each daughter and one for each of her six grandchildren. Son Peter helped me get this on YouTube and the sax (halfway through) is son Charles. Daughter Hope and sister Vickie took many of the recent photos.
The video may make her life seem 'ideal'. In some ways it was, but there were some difficult challenges that photos will never reveal. We witnessed her trust in Jesus Christ and his love for the fallen World in which we live. I am grateful for her 96 years and the care my sister Vickie and her family provided.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Top of the World - Does life get any better than today?

Chamonix - French Alps

On  August 12th I landed in Zurich for  a unique tour - the 
300th Anniversary Swiss-German Mennonite Heritage Tour. I did not know anyone on the tour but this was a unique opportunity to visit the farms and hiding places of my ancestors who were persecuted as Anabaptists in the 1500's. It will take a while to filter through the photos and notes from this wonderful journey with author  John L. Ruth.

On August 24th the tour bus dropped us off at the Frankfurt Airport. Most flew home to the United States and Canada. I delayed my flight home for 4 days and flew to Geneva ALONE to learn more about John Calvin and the Protestant Reformation.  The truth is, I wanted to see if I could survive by myself in a strange place with a language I did not know.

A friend suggested I use the Viator website to look for day trips from Frankfurt or any other city in which I found myself. Viator offered a trip to Chamonix in the French Alps and I bought my ticket online.

These were my instructions:

Chamonix and Mont Blanc Day Trip from Geneva (2510KT001) 

Tour Option: Trip, Cable Car and Train 

Gare Routiere Bus Station
Place Dorcière, 1201 Geneva
Meet your guide at Keytours stand at Gare Routiere (Geneva bus station, near Square du Mont-Blanc)
Important Information
  • Your local contact is Keytours (Switzerland) on +41 22 731 4140.
  • Please be ready at least 10 minutes prior to departure time. 
  • Must bring valid passport. 
Tour Details
Tour Option Description:
Guided tour to Chamonix including the Aiguille du Midi cable car, Petit Train and Mer de Glace. Enjoy free time for lunch on your own. 
  • Transport by air-conditioned coach
  • Cable car ride to summit of Aiguille du Midi (not available from November 2 to December 18) (if option selected)

On Friday night I walked from Hotel Rousseau to Gare Routiere Bus Station, using Google Maps. (Carol taught me this in Italy -  to do a dry run - the  day before the appointment.) Okay, I found it easily.

Saturday morning I arrived almost 40 minutes before the bus was to leave. The bus wasn't even in the station. I walked around with the cup of coffee I found at the fancy Four Seasons Hotel. Starbucks does not open until 8am on Saturday in Geneva.  A porter asked if I had a room at the hotel. I said 'No, but I am desperate for coffee and Starbucks is not open '. He showed me how to operate the machine, smiled, and disappeared. 

The bus arrived and I was the first one on. It reeked of smoke. The tour guide, over 55, arrived on his bicycle with a white shirt and tie. The bus filled with people from all over the globe, speaking in their native tongue.  I had not spoken  to anyone for 2 full days and desperate for conversation and human interaction.

Neil handed out maps, explained our options, and gave us 3 important times to remember. He said we would see him only at the end of the day at Hotel Gustavia.

I listened so carefully to his instructions but suddenly I had no idea what I was to see or do before we met at Hotel Gustavia. A mother and daughter spoke English and I asked if I could join them for the day. They graciously said yes and THEY made the day! Louise and daughter Sarah  were from Dundee, Scotland and delightful in every way. Plus them understood Neil's instructions.

We took the cable cars to the top of the mountain, took a train to the stairs down to the glacier.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

July 2017

Yesterday Jim turned 71, same age  as Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, David Suchet, Tommy Lee Jones, Ed O'Neill, Danny Glover, Dolly Parton and.... Had we stayed in Anchorage💗 All Saints Episcopal Church would begin the search process for a new  rector anticipating Jim's mandatory retirement at 72.   The division at All Saints between Anglican and Episcopal would escalate. I guess the good news is that God had a different time schedule. The division occurred and both churches are healthy and faithful.
And we live in Loudoun County, Virginia in a Cottage Rectory next to an amazing new church building and amazing congregation.
And it is July and wineberry season on the farm.

The weather has not been too hot so far and there has been enough rain. Every time I walk outside I am greeted with 3 rabbits, 100 spiders, a chipmunk, groundhog, 3 squirrels, and a deer...

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

6th Place ITI

 Congratulations Peter on placing 6th in a difficult race year.
33 of the 75  plus racers have scratched this year on the Iditarod Invitational (the highest number to scratch this far into the race). Peter said the difficult conditions made it especially interesting and he is glad he did the race.

2017 ITI collage 2.jpg

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

-50 - Go Peter!

We spoke to son Peter on the phone tonight. 
At the end of the week he travels from
Moab, Utah to Anchorage, Alaska to race, once again, on the Iditarod Trail. He will bike from Knik to McGrath, through the Alaska Range. The race begins Sunday Feb 26 at 2pm.
A few years ago Mark Devries flew Jim and I over the trail to McGrath, a village of 400. where 
Peter was teaching high school. This is a photo I took from the plane - looking down on the 
Iditarod Trail.

The latest news on the race website  says it was MINUS 50 in McGrath and snow is coming. Peter had spinal fusion on his back two years ago. He raced and won many times before the surgery. We will follow the race here


Friday, January 6, 2017

Christmas 2016

Exciting in many ways. We are in our new beautiful building and there is a 
comfortable unity of purpose. 

And for the first time in almost 40 years we are not hosting Christmas. Charles hosted us at his home in Birmingham and I loved it! He had a beautiful live tree and bought all the food at Costco.

Will our Marriage Survive. . . ?

So I said YES when a marketing person for Hilton Grand Vacations asked if I would like a 'free' vacation at a lovely resort. First mistake.

Second Mistake. I did not tell Jim....but he would have to come with me.

Well, there were some rough spots on the 'free vacation' but quite a few sweet spots as well.

Rough Spots:

  • The real cost once we got our flights, rental car.....for Orlando. 
  • And the grueling 3 hour sales pitch!

Sweet Spots:

  • Carol Sheridan's family planned a Sheridan Family Reunion at Disney World the first week in December. Becky Sheridan knows all things Disney. We had a day with them at Epcot that was amazing, thanks to Becky's knowledge of Epcot. 
  • We also went to St. Augustine for a night with Jim, Becky, Carol, and granddaughter Rebecca
  • We visited the Rev. Joe & Helen McDowell in Cocoa Beach - dear friends from our time in Chaptico, MD
  • We resisted the sales pitch.
  • Our marriage survived.

We took Charles and Peter to Disney World and Epcot in 1983!

Peter was 3 and had a difficult time with the dark tunnels and mildly scary encounters that accompanied every ride and exhibit.  He needed a few more years. He did like Donald Duck so we bribed him when he cried in every line, "No, don't make me go in there....! We said 'You can see Donald Duck!" That helped a little.

Then at Epcot we pushed him in the stroller into the China Exhibit. . .  and the lights dimmed. I don't know what possessed us to use the Donald Duck line again, but we did and Peter  got quiet.

The beautiful film on a 180 degree screen took us to the Forbidden City. . .  then through the giant doors  in the wall of the city to the dramatic climax. It was perfectly quiet until Peter shouted,"But where is Donald Duck?"