Saturday, May 28, 2011


When we got to Las Vegas Paul was getting sick. By Friday I had called his DR in MN and he prescribed an antibiotic and made an appointment to see him on Tuesday. We drove 400 miles a day (even went over the Rockies since that was the shortest way home) for four days. We got home Monday night. That's when my sister called to let us know that my mother had died.

By Tuesday morning Paul was pretty sick. When we got to the DR's appointment the DR took one look at him and sent him right to the emergency room to admit him and that evening did surgery on a very infected foot. He had more "cleaning out" surgery on Friday to rid the foot of infection. The Dr is pleased with the progress so far. Paul is going to transitional care tomorrow and will have more surgery on Thursday, and then back to Presbyterian Homes transitional care (Roseville) for a few days of  physical therapy and IV antibiotics and then home. At least that is the plan.

I leave for Grand Island, NE tomorrow for my mother's funeral on Tuesday. Marcus, Sarah, Paula ,and I will pick up Phil and Steve (five of my children sans families) at various points along the way. We plan to be home Wednesday early morning.

I found that blogging takes energy and that is a comodity that has been in short supply for quite a few days now. When I catch my breath,  I will be blogging away again.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Heading Home

Somehow I lost my oomph, and my desire to write at the same time. Having the writing class fall through took the edge off of my blogging goals. And then I just got tired. We have been in Las Vegas for three whole days now, pretty much doing nothing but sit around and recoop our energy. Paul has had a rough three days. His foot is hurting him a lot. We tried going without the boot for a couple of days since he spent most of his time in the room (much of it in bed), but we hit the road for home tomorrow and we will put it on again.

Marcus and Matt and Jenni were great hosts. We left California with many good memories. Now we are taking four driving days to get to Omaha. We are rarely in this part of the country this late in the year so we plan to take the Colorado route. We are staying in Green River, Utah tomorrow night, and somewhere near Denver on Saturday night. I could try to push harder to get Paul home sooner, but that is hard on him, too.

Today it was finally warm enough to swim. The average high temps in Vegas this time of year: 88 degrees. Our temps: 60 - 70 (most of the time in the low 60's for the high.) Bummed.

My sister, Mary, gives occasional updates on my mother. She seems to be holding her own, but her condition is unpredictable, some good days, some not so good. She is in God's hands and seems content to accept each day as it comes.

Our resort is one block from "the strip", so I walked around a bit today. Not my kind of town, I guess. After about an hour and a half I was bored and came back to our unit. We are staying in a very nice place.

Tomorrow we are on the road again.....


Friday, May 13, 2011

Hollywood, Et AL

For some reason, blogger was down yesterday. You could read what was already there, but not write anything new. It seems to be fine today.

I got an email yesterday saying that the writing class I was so looking forward to has been cancelled. The woman who was to be our instructor has become ill, and is unable to take it on. I am starting to get used to the information, but yesterday I was crushed. I had been looking forward to that class for many months, and now feel like a kid who has had someone steal her candy.

Yesterday was a good day here in LA, though. Paul, and Marcus and I went to the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. It was fabulous. Paul loved the whole thing. He was worried that he would not tolerate the day well, but Marcus got him a wheelchair, wheeled him around all day, and read a lot of the display notes to him. Paul said he is glad he made the trip, and has found that it not as hard on him as he had feared. That has surprised us both, and we are grateful.

Having had a big outing yesterday, he was content to stay here at Marcus' condo for the day while Marcus and I hit the town. We took a walk in the Hollywood hills (a steep walk), then walked around Hollywood for awhile, hit a garage sale on a side street, explored Melrose street which is full of clothes and shoes and jewelry from aspiring artists, went to the Farmers' Market and grabbed a bite to eat, then drove down Santa Monica Boulevard to the ocean. We walked out onto the famous dock there, and then strolled along the beach and watched the sun set.  A visit to a lovely, out door wine bar in Santa Monica put an enjoyable finish to the day. I'm sure my legs will ache tomorrow, but we had a great time, filled with the "LA experience".

My sister, Liz, called this evening  to let us know that my 95 year old mother has taken a turn for the worse. We are so thankful to have seen her just 11 days ago. She was able to visit with us and feed herself at that time, but is no longer able to do much of anything. She wants to go to heaven. Her life here has become so hard to sustain. She is in God's hands.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Family and Friends!

The house is quiet. The guests are gone and both Paul and Marcus have retired for the night. I like having the quiet wrap around me. I allows me time to reflect on this trip, on the blessing of family, and on the importance of  friends.

It is interesting to get a glance into your grown children's lives. Tonight we met Andy for the first time. Andy is Marcus' boss, but their friendship preceded this arrangement. Andy is Armenian, a first generation American, having come to America when he was age seven. I remember when Marcus went to his wedding some years ago, and now Andy is a father to three year old Mona, and is anticipating the birth of a son (due in early June). He is quick witted and energetic, and has made the most of the opportunities for work and the enjoyable lifestyle here in California.

Scott and Dana are a couple we met several years ago. Marcus is to be in their wedding this summer. Scott also works with Marcus and Andy, and his friendship, too, predates this workplace. Dana was in a couple of plays with Marcus and now works for a number of reality TV shows (including American Idol).  These are people that Marcus often talks about, and it is nice to be able to put faces to their names. You learn a lot about your children by observing the folks with whom they surround themselves. Marcus has some very nice friends.

Matt and Jenni came over, too. It is so good for both of our sons to have family out here. We are a tight knit group, and Marcus seemed way out in left field to the rest of us. Now, he has a brother and sister-in-law in the area, and a niece and two nephews that love him dearly. Matt and Jenni like having Marcus as a  resource (he has been out here for more than ten years already), and we have somewhere to visit. Win, win, win!!

We ate pizza, and talked and laughed and played a little Wii, and had a great evening. Family is so important. Tonight we rejoice in Andy's new family here in America, Scott and Dana's upcoming marriage, and our chance to visit and enjoy our California kin.

God is good.


Short Note

Today I made the trip to the library as planned. I often look for stories of resistance fighters in WWII, and found several books in the library, but none at the bookstore. That bookstore was pretty amazing though. The books were almost ceiling high, and simply piled everywhere. There was a system to the madness, but you still had to hunt once you were in the general area of your subject.

After getting all my wash done, I feel ready for whatever the week brings. Walking around town, both on my own, and again with Marcus when he came home, were the main activities of the day. The crazy thing is, it is really safe to walk around Burbank during the day, or after dark. Marcus claims people are either at work, making sure they make enough money so that they can afford to live in Burbank, or in their homes enjoying the few hours of free time they have.

Marcus and I talked until 2 am, so this post is late and I am out of steam.  Matt and Jenni and the kids are coming over here tomorrow, plus several other friends of Marcus'. I'll tell you about the party ttomorrow.


Monday, May 09, 2011

On to Burbank

The sun was out most of the day, but being in the mountains the temperatures are not hot. I spent several hours this afternoon reading a book out on the deck, and my arms are red and I have that  "too much sun" headache. We are so sun-starved by this time of the year in Minnesota that we often underestimate our tolerance when we finally find an abundance of those warm rays.

This afternoon we arrived in  Burbank. Our son, Marcus, rearranged his whole condo for us. He took apart his bed and brought it downstairs to reassemble in the dining room and moved the kitchen table to the living room (standing one couch on end in the corner to make room for it.) It was a lot of work, but we are going to be here almost a whole week, and it is perfectly set up for Paul. It is now like a studio apartment with everything we need on the first floor, so we really appreciate the thoughtful arrangement.

Marcus has Direct TV and can record programs, so we watched a replay of the Minnesota Vikings and the Arizona, Cardinals football game he had saved from last fall. Watching  Bret Farve bring the Vikings from behind to improbable victory was as satisfying the second time around as it was the first.

This evening Marcus and I walked around town (Burbank, CA) and he pointed out all his favorite coffee shops and cafes and whole streets of interesting shops (not to mention the mall) all within easy access of his condo. He works on Tuesday so he wanted to acquaint me with the area. Tomorrow, I cannot wait to visit the Burbank Public library. It is barely four blocks from this place, plus, there is a neat bookstore about four blocks from the library that I want to check out.

Our son, Peter, who is a band and choir director and writes music, used to practically run to the piano whenever we returned home from one of our camping trips. It was as though the music built up inside of him, and he could barely wait to relieve the pressure by moving his fingers up and down those piano keys. For me that artistic pressure is relieved by books. It is not that I do not have books along. I do. But I am somehow both calmed and stimulated by being around lots of books.

I really love California.  It is a vibrant part of God's wonderful, beautiful creation. I see why my sons feel so at home so far from "home".


Sunday, May 08, 2011

One Happy Mother's Happy Day

Jenni made us a wonderful breakfast, and we sat around the table enjoying this lovely morning to the point that we were late for church. (Did I mention that I forgot Matt told me to turn on Venice Blvd., and I went a few miles out of the way, perhaps a more likely reason we were late?) Marcus met us (Matt and Jenni and family) at First Lutheran, and after church we ate at Trattoria on the Ocean in Venice Beach in the outdoor patio. We could not remember the last time that either of the boys and I were together for Mother's Day, probably not since they left home for college, so we enjoyed the chance to share the day.

We got our first glance at the ocean on the drive to church, and then walked over to the beach from the restaurant for a better look. There were a few kids swimming, but the water is cold here. One guy I knew used to have a rule: "Never go swimming in a body of water in which the only occupants are kids." Good advice.

It has been strange to not be on the road, traveling. On a long trip like this we tend to set up a rhythm that makes the days not only tolerable, but pleasurable, and predictable. Strangely, it takes a mental adjustment to realize that we have arrived at our destination, and that the trip does not wholly consist of the trip.

Tomorrow Jenni and the kids are going to Legoland with their homeschool group, and Matt goes back to work. We will have the house to ourselves and will take that time to absorb the sights and sounds of the past week. We meet Marcus in Burbank after he gets off work, and spend the rest of the week with him. I am ready to have a "resting" day, but look forward to the activities Marcus has in mind for the days ahead.

Paul is still doing well, and we could not have wished for a better week than the one we just experienced.

I hope all you mom's had a happy Mother's Day. I sure did.


"This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Made It!

We got to Topanga Canyon on Saturday afternoon and wound our way to Matt and Jenni’s place. It was no longer 104 degrees. It is much cooler here in the mountains, a pleasant 71 degrees. We have visited our son, Marcus, in Burbank a number of times, so that is our experience of California living.

These mountain canyon communities are a whole new deal. The houses are tucked willy nilly, along narrow, twisting roads. Some homes are visible from the road, many are not. The hills are ever present in the background, sometimes hazy sometimes clear. At night random lights identify houses here and there, but the general sense is of privacy (or isolation, depending on how you view it.) It seems strange to know that just below this quiet community throbs the restless beat of the greater Los Angeles area. The grandkids have a swing that soars out over the hillside, lizards in a plastic bin that they handle with comfortable familiarity, and they run barefoot with all the abandon of children that live close to nature, and far from city life.

Did you know that Los Angeles County is full of horses? (There are even bridle paths right in Burbank.) Now, really, if you loved horses would your first thought be, “I should move to Los Angeles”?

Tonight we took a walk along the canyon road, then sat on Matt’s deck and looked out over the peaceful hills and valleys. We listened to the chorus of frogs chirping away and thought, this is LA?


Friday, May 06, 2011

Revisiting Arizona

I was dreading this leg of the journey. The only sane way to get to California from Albuquerque, New Mexico is by taking Interstate 40 all the way across Arizona. My aversion to interstate highway travel involves large trucks. It was a pleasant surprise to find that, while there were indeed many, many semitrailer trucks on the road, in this part of the country they are spread out a bit. We really enjoyed driving through this familiar country. Arizona is a beautiful state.

We used to go to AZ for five or six weeks in the winter. In fact, last winter was the first time in 18 years that Paul did not go. His mother had a retirement place in one of the courts down here, and ever since his kidney transplant, he would spend at least a month with her to escape our winters, and I would stay home and work. About five years ago I said "phooey" to that and started going along. Paul's mom died this year at age 100. I fully believe that her 30 years of escape from the Minnesota weathers prolonged her life. Anyway, she sold her moble home several years ago, so we miss both Arizona, and our time with her.

Yesterday, in New Mexico, a truck was coming toward us, and just before it passed, two big cardboard boxes flew off the top of the truck. I don't know if there was anything in them or not, but the truck was so tall the boxes flew harmlessly over the top of our car into the ditch beside us. Today I was traveling on cruise contol at the speed limit (75 mph) and had just shifted lanes to go around the semi in front of us when I saw the truck's brakes flash. I hit my brake to disengage my cruise, and to see what the semi driver was slowing for, and two big truck tires rolled from the right side of the road in front of his truck and then in front of our car, and went harmlessly into the ditch on the median. I have no idea where they came from, and while he saw them coming, I did not. God's angels watchin' over us for sure.

When we got to Needles, CA it was 104 degrees. We checked in to the motel and once I had Paul settled with everything he needed (he never needs much) I hit the pool. I've already been back for a second swim. There is nothing that brings back more happy memories for me than swimming on a hot summer night.

We are in California! We will go see Matt and Jenni and our three grandchildren in Topanga Canyon tomorrow. I'll bet those kids have grown since Christmas. They usually do.


Thursday, May 05, 2011

Seeing New Mexico

We got a late start today, but it was by design. We knew we would gain an hour by crossing the time zone from central to mountain  time. And, since we planned to stay in Albuqerque, NM tonight, it was any easy, 400 mile or so day.

We followed Highway 64 across the panhandle of Oklahoma, all the way to Springer, NM. The road was well tended, had no shoulders at all in places, and was sparsely traveled . (In two hundred miles one car passed us, and we went around one car, two trucks and a camper.) The average time between meeting one car until the next appeared was about 3 minutes.

We got lost in Las Vegas, NM trying to find a place to eat. We just wanted "fast food", but once again, with me at the wheel there was nothing fast about it. Paul said that traveling with me is always an adventure, and since he still feels pretty good (I am both delighted and surprised about that, he had a lousy winter) he said it without a trace of sarcasm.

We have had some pretty interesting trips. I once chose to take East Cesar Chavez through downtown Los Angeles to the 710. We were pretty much in awe of the bars and gates protecting all the businesses, etc. That was exciting.

Once we almost got stuck in a very muddy dirt road somewhere in the middle of Kansas. It was us and the cows, and we were far enough afield I don't think anyone would have stumbled across us any time soon. That was the only time I can remember washing the car twice in one day. We have  followed Route 66 (as best we could) from Springfield, MO to Gallup, NM, and driven the backroads of West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, and Ohio. I do love the west, though. Whenever I see those wide open fields I long to get on a horse and find out what is over that next hill.

New Mexico is probably beautiful to those who have grown up here, or chosen to make this their home, but it's scruffy baroness does not call out to my soul. The featured colors are reddish brown, brown, and spots of dark green (lots of blue sky, though). Some of the hillsides reminded me a little of sausage pizza, with the tan base dotted here and there with dark, round bushes.  I'm not a fan of sausage pizza., and the desert colors do not resonate with me either. New Mexico is an interesting place to pass through, but I'm ready to move on.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring? I'm looking forward to it already.


Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Crossing Kansas

We've completed another leg on our journey, and Paul is holding up really well. This is especially important when traveling with me. I made sure to book the motel last night. We know from experinece that we need a clear destination at the start of the day rather than trying to decide when to stop at the end of the day.

The problem is that I am a generalist. I thought we should go about 500 miles today so I booked a motel in Liberal, Ks. We have stayed in Liberal before, so are familiar with the motels, etc. So, when Paul asked me just how far Liberal was, I really did not know for sure, but we figured it out once we got here. (580 miles somehow seems a lot farther than 500 miles.)

I like Kansas. We actually lived in Topeka, Ks from the time I was about 18 months old until I was about 5. My father's first call in the ministry was to Kansas, and he and my mother married and lived for the first few years of their marriage in McFarland, Ks. My father then became a chaplian in WWII, and served in the army in the Pacific for several years. We moved to Topeka when he came back from the service.

I am always amazed to see the oil rigs pumping away out in those Kansas fields, and I love watching the hawks. There are a lot of hawks. We took Highway 54 all the way from Jefferson City, MO to Liberal, KS. It is a great road, and we had very light traffic. Still, after passing a fair amount of traffic going east, but seeing very little going in the direction we were going (west), I asked Paul if he thought those people knew something that we did not!

We travel through many small towns taking the roads we do, so we like to eat at local diners. Today's find was a real winner. Great food, modest prices, a cheerful waitress. We already knew to expect good things.We have a fail proof system. As we pass eating places we count the pickup trucks parked outside. We saw one cafe that looked interesting, but saw five cars and no pickups, so we kept going. We were rewarded for our patience with our winner, fully five pickups on one side and two more around the corner. Only one car besides ours.

There is a wonderful book called, Blue Highways, where the author tells of his trip on the backroads of  this great country. He, too, liked local diners, and he would rank each one by how many of the businesses in town had their calandars hanging there. He figured a 4 or 5 calandar restaurant had to be good or the locals would not bring their advertising. We usually count the calandars once inside (I forgot to do that today) but we prefer the pickup ranking system, because we already know before we go in that we have made a good choice.

The temperature hit 80 degrees today, so this trip is already a winner with me. We could not have had a nicer day to travel. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.


Tuesday, May 03, 2011

"Honor the Aged"

It was great to visit with my 95-year old mother today. She is wheelchair bound, living in a nursing home. She has been there for about 8 months now, and has adjusted well. She tires easily, but is still able to feed herself most meals. She was pretty tired this evening. She mostly let us do the talking, and quietly listened to the devotion we as we read. After the prayer it was quiet and peaceful in the room when suddenly her roommate declared, "It's beginning to rain. Oh, no, it's turning to snow."

 I have to admit that my heart dropped a bit as I stole a quick glance out of the window to convince myself that the 60 degree weather here in Columbia, MO had not somehow morphed into the Minnesota we had just escaped!

My sister, Martha, and her husband, Paul, were here from Baltimore last week to see Mom. They helped my sister, Mary, take her to an eye doctor appointment. One big difficultiy is that Mom has severe ostoeporosis and is very stooped. That makes it hard for her to lift up her head. The eye doctor's assistant got her ready for her eye test.

"Okay," the girl asked after covering one eye. "what can you see?"

Mom answered, "The wall plug." 

The girl realized the problem and tilted Mom's chair back a little and the test went alot better after that.

Mom has always had a keen sence of humor. She was complaining to Mary one day, "Beans! They shouldn't serve beans for breakfast!"  Mary had to explain, "Mom, it's not breakfast, it's dinner."  Mom chuckled a little, then looked at Mary and said, "Well, it's still true."

It is hard to see your once vibrant parent in such reduced circumstances. But it is comforting to know that she is preapred to die, and is looking forward to going to heaven. Maybe this will be my last year for buying a  Mother's Day card.

But, maybe not.


"Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old." Proverbs 23:22

Monday, May 02, 2011

On Our Way

The first leg of our trip is complete. We are in Columbia, MO. We will go to see my mother tomorrow, but this evening we spent catching up with my sister and her news. When we left St Paul, MN this morning it was 34 degrees and spitting a little snow. By the time we got to Columbia it was 59 degrees, so that is a big improvement.

So far so good. I have been  a little concerned that this trip might be too hard on Paul, but he did fine today. As we got into the car he informed me that this was probably going to be our last big trip together. I suspected as much, and that was a big part of why I was so happy we were able to go. (I feared that we had already had our last big trip together.) He also told me that he was not looking forward to it, but that he was doing it for me. I already knew that, and I thanked him.

I have always loved traveling with him. Not every trip was a fun trip. I remember driving home from St. Louis one year where he spoke a total of about seven words to me because he was so miserable. ("I don't care." "Do what you wish.") But most of the time we are companiable, pretty much know what to expect, and just enjoy being with someone who knows you so well you do not have to be anyone but your true self.

The saga continues. We'll see what unfolds. We are in the Lord's hands.


Sunday, May 01, 2011

Train A Child in the Way He Should Go....

We went to church out at Zion, Cologne, Mn  this morning.  Paul was the pastor there for many years. I say " out at"  because this is a rural congregation. They still have a parochial school with the church that runs K-8th grade. All eight of our children attended that school, most of them for all eight grades.

Every year they have a confirmation reunion Sunday, and Paul loves seeing the (now all grown up ) kids he had in confirmation class. He absolutely loved teaching confirmation, and the kids, for the most part, loved him back. It was one of the things he missed most when he became ill and had to resign.

 The pastor that took over for him was astounded to learn that he would be teaching confirmation class at the school at least four mornings every week. He said that teaching confirmation was certainly NOT one of his favorite activities. He had had many behavior problems with the kids at that age, and found teaching them a struggle.

One year later the same guy confessed to Paul that his very favorite part of his time at Zion was teaching confirmation.  When asked why, he explained what brought about his change of heart. He said that when he had taught at other churches and would tell parents about their children's misbehavior in class, the parents always defended the child. Out at Zion, if a child's parents were brought in because of misbehavior, there was no question, that child was in for some straightening out at home. The parents rarely, if ever sided with the child.

If I had my parenting to do over again, I would do a lot  less defending of my children. The fourth commandment says, "Honor your father and mother." Luther asks, in his catechism, "What does God require of us in the fouth commandment?" He answers this question with four duties. We are to honor our parents and other authorities by regarding them as God's representatives, we should serve them by gladly providing what they need or require, we should obey them in everything in which God has placed them over us, and we are to love and cherish them as precious gifts of God.

Okay, parents, that leaves your child precious little wiggle room in which to disrespect their teachers, or youth leaders, or coaches. So, the next time you want to rise up in righteous infdignation in defence of your precious baby, claiming that their "rights" (not God given that I can see.) have been violated, check the list to make sure your child has first been respectful, served that authority gladly, obeyed them, and loved them. Once your child knows that their behavior is going to be scrutinized before the teacher's behavior or the coach's decision, you will be amazed at how few times they come whining to you.

There were quite a few people back for these confirmation  class reunions. They remember their time at Zion fondly. Several even stood to thank their pastors and teaches for the firm foundation of faith that was planted so deeply in their hearts.

They can thank their parents, too, for expecting them to learn, and behave. And for supporting the teachers and pastors as God commanded us to do.


"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22: 6