Monday, November 30, 2015

The Sandy River Footbridge: RIP

One of my favorite hiking trails is the Ramona Falls Trail which takes you through forest, across the Sandy River, through more forest, and then reveals magical Ramona Falls about 3.5 miles in.  If you continue from this point you can go another 4 miles up to Yocum Ridge which has a front-row seat facing Mt. Hood's west facade.  You can also access the Pacific Crest Trail from Ramona Falls.

 Ramona Falls (it's bigger than it looks here)

Along the trail are scattered glacial erratics left over from when the Sandy Glacier extended miles down Mt. Hood's western flank. Those days are gone, but that receded glacier's path will always be marked with these enormous car-size boulders. The river channel adjacent to the trail is very wide yet most of the year the river runs narrow, centered in the channel. But still, it's an icy glacial river that runs swift and can't be safely waded.

 Sandy River with Mt. Hood in the distance

For years there has been a foot bridge in place for hikers' convenience. The Forest Service (USFS)  put it in every May and removed it in October. It didn't have enough clearance to remain in place during the winter and spring high water season. Two summers ago a flash-flood destroyed the bridge while someone was crossing. That person drowned. USFS is not going to replace the bridge. 

Ramona Falls, 2015

This summer we did a little backpack trip for one night at the falls. We knew the bridge was gone and wondered how or even if we would be able to cross the river anywhere. Well it was easy. A large fallen tree spans the whole width of the river providing a way to walk across. Someone added a smaller tree parallel to the big one to use as a handrail.

the crossing in 2015

The large log in the center is the new "bridge." The skinny log just to the right is the handrail.  We are in the distance preparing to cross. Even though I'll miss that old bridge, it's a boon to have a way to cross the Sandy to get to the falls. At least until the next flash flood washes away the log bridge.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Grandpa Ashe, Part 2

In 1934 my Grandparents were living on the second floor of an average, but decent apartment building at 475 Pleasant St. in Holyoke.  Bustling businesses occupied the street level in the building, including the grocery run by their good friends, the Giustis.  It was the height of the Depression and the Ashes could not make ends meet.  An eviction notice arrived.  Grandpa did some sleuthing and found a cheaper apartment on Monroe St. next to the cemetery, for $8 per month.  Even that was a reach so he arranged to do odd jobs in exchange for a $2 discount on the rent.

Months later their youngest son, Bobby, became ill with what turned out to be appendicitis.  Grandpa visited him in the hospital every day.  Bobby exclaimed to him that he saw beautiful angels at his bedside.  My Grandpa's cousin Kitty Nelligan related to me that Bobby was sick in the hospital over Thanksgiving that year, and that the Ashe's raw turkey sat neglected on the kitchen counter.  She would never forget the bitter sadness of that turkey, with no one to prepare or eat it.  Thanksgiving was on the 29th that year, and Bobby died the following Monday, December 3.  He had celebrated his 6th birthday 4 weeks earlier.
adorable Bobby
Grandpa and Grandma's devastation was deep and unrelenting.  They fled the gloom of Holyoke for the Washington Heights section of New York. With no funds to get them their own place, they lived with Grandma's sister Kitty S. for a while.  It was a terrible time.  Grandpa couldn't find steady work.  Kitty didn't let him forget that she was paying the rent.  He took his frustrations out on his children, Jim and Jean.   The family was on a rapid downward spiral.  Grandpa's heart was broken, his pride was crumbling.  Grandma was grieving and caught in the animosity between her husband and sister  My Uncle Jim distanced himself from his defeated father, and my Mom felt physically ill from the tension in the apartment.

In 1935 the Ashes found a way into their own place, at 706 West 179th St. in New York.  In 1940 rent was $37 a month, according to the US Census.   Grandpa claimed "stagehand in theatrical" as his occupation, yet it shows he had been unemployed a full year in that profession.  In 1939 he had worked for 20 weeks at some lesser job, and earned $430.  What the heck were they living on??

Oh, of course--my Grandma was working.  My thrifty, go-getter Grandma.  She was a clerk in a department store, full-time.  In 1939 she had earned $150 at her job.  They got by in part because Grandpa periodically traveled back to Holyoke to work in his uncle's printing shop.  Once the war began Grandpa found steady work in New York.  Life improved.  They moved to a slightly better place.  In 1962 Grandpa retired, and because both of their children lived out West, they moved their things to be near our family in California.

Grandpa did not like California.  In an Eastern city there's stores and theaters, easy transportation and busy-ness.  He felt trapped in the suburbs and wanted to move back to Holyoke, the place he really loved.  It never happened.  He died of heart failure in 1963, barely a year after the move West.

He is buried with his parents and son Bobby in St. Jerome Cemetery in Holyoke.  A person never knows what is just around the corner in their life, nor can they ever know the answer to that most human of questions, "What if??"   What if his parents hadn't died young, leaving him an orphan?  What if he had finished high school?  What if Bobby hadn't died?  What if they had stayed in Holyoke?   There is no answer, just that a person must do their best in their circumstances.  Grandpa finally did and was mostly settled and content those last few decades of his life.   His life was adverse and now knowing more about his challenges and joys has helped me appreciate this man I hardly knew.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Grandpa Ashe, Part 1

 James Ashe and his sister Frances
My Grandpa Ashe died when I was 9.  He has since been an enigma to me.  I remember that he was there, in the North Hollywood (California) apartment on Tujunga Ave. with my Grandma, but she was the more dominant person in my life.  When I breathe a whiff of Old Spice aftershave or the faint aroma of pipe tobacco, my Grandpa appears before me, a fleeting recollection like the wispy puff of his pipe smoke.

Poor Grandpa.  His mother, Bridget Doyle Ashe, died of TB when he was 2 months old.  4 years later his father, Matthew Ashe, died of TB.  Grandpa and his sister Frances were raised by their elderly grandmother, Mary Murphy Doyle, at 14 Miller Avenue in Holyoke, Massachusetts. 
14 Miller Avenue
 In just the past few weeks, after intense investigation on my part and on the part of my cousin Laurie, Grandpa's life has filled in some.  He once worked in the theater district of New York (1920 Census) as a stage hand.  He worked as prop man at the Victory Theater in Holyoke from 1924 until "talkies" superseded the live theater business about 1930, after which there was diminished demand for stage hands and props. 

 the Victory was a lavishly beautiful theater

Grandpa with "live" props

my grandparents during care-free times

 Until now I thought of his theater work as a part-time, borderline dead-end job.  How could he possibly have supported a family on what must have been minimal wages?  And then Laurie and I discovered that the Victory Theater was the place to be in 1920s Holyoke.  It was huge and lavish and attracted bustling crowds when theater was king.  Lively vaudeville shows played night after night and Holyoke's population was more than enough to support and make this establishment a smashing success.  One can see the Victory's dazzling marquee beckoning to one and all that they must not miss tonight's fabulous show.

But the slump in live theater hit home, and the early Depression-era Holyoke Directories show Grandpa delivering milk.  There is a story that his milk truck collided with a young boy who was permanently disabled from the accident.  I wonder if that caused Grandpa to lose the milk business, because in early 1934 he is once again a stage hand, but this time working at the Holyoke Theater (Opera House) on Dwight Street.  If the Victory Theater was locally popular in the post-war 20s, the Holyoke Theater was a destination for the fashionable well-to-do from other cities all around.  Special trains were chartered from Springfield and Northampton to attend productions.  Grandpa would have been mixing with known actors and directors, and even VIPs who were welcomed backstage to meet the stars.  What an exciting occupation, to be backstage night after night as the full theater thundered with applause!

Perhaps working backstage is what Grandpa loved most.   The job would have been challenging: working quickly to have all of the props in the right place at the right time, moving scenery, assuring that the actors were right on cue.  I wonder if my Grandma was able to attend the shows and sneak backstage once in a while.

In late 1934 Grandpa's life took a heartbreaking turn from the charged atmosphere of backstage glamour to tragedy, uncertainty, and melancholy.

[to be continued]

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Big One

BlogPost - Japan Earthquake fifth largest earthquake since 1900
after a major quake

A common motivator for the influx of Californians relocating to Oregon has been to reside in a safe area, particularly a place without earthquakes. Well, the joke is on them. They have traded their land of devastating transform strike-slip and dip-slip faults, for a land with a history of catastrophic subduction-zone quakes. I would prefer the former. And so should you.

A quarter century ago a local geologist discovered a feature on the Pacific Coast he called "sunken forests." This astonishing find indicated a drastic, sudden change in coastline elevation. He found that on January 26, 1700, Japan suffered a tsunami that was not preceded by ground shaking. In other words, a tsunami had struck Japan without an earthquake to cause it, or so they thought. This is termed an orphan tsunami.

Geologic evidence shows that on January 26, 1700, the Pacific Northwest experienced a mega-earthquake of about 9.0 on the scale. The quake caused local tsunamis and sent a tsunami thousands of miles across the Pacific to Japan. It caused coastal subsidence in Oregon, resulting in sunken forests, in which the trees all die at the same time from sudden immersion in salt water. In the Columbia Gorge a mountain cleaved in half, tumbling the land into the river, now the foundation for Bonneville Dam. A subduction zone quake is extremely powerful, and this isn't the place to describe the science of it, but I will mention that this type of quake lasts from 4-5 minutes at magnitude 9. Yikes.

 the halved Table Mountain

 Description Corps-engineers-archives bonneville dam looking east.jpg
 Bonneville Dam and beyond showing the tumbled half of Table Mountain

Late this summer the New Yorker published an article about the Pacific Northwest's next 9.0 quake, which is "overdue." In geologic terms that means it could happen today, or in a hundred years, but it will happen. The Pac NW has had 40 mega-quakes in the past 10,000 years, with the most recent being the one mentioned above, in 1700. 

A wave of panic swept through our area as a million people were hearing about this for the first time. Even though the information has been around for over 25 years, it had remained in the background, like the low, steady hum of a refrigerator. Suddenly cities were holding meetings to train officials, and meetings to educate the public and meetings to plan for seismic upgrades, and meetings with other cities to create a regional disaster master plan.

The gloom and doom prediction says that over 10,000 people will die in the predicted quake, with 3 times that many injured. Bridges will be destroyed. Tsunamis will devastate the coast. Jobs will be lost, people will move away. In general, widespread aid will not be forthcoming quickly, because aside from Portland and Seattle, there are no major population centers within hundreds of miles that can offer help. The shocking reality that hits home is that residents will be on their own for survival, for at least two weeks.

The odds are the quake won't happen soon, and I would be happy if it didn't happen in my lifetime. But we will never go wrong by being prepared with food and water storage, fuel, medicine, and other emergency supplies. We have had these items stored for years, and in the next few months we will do a better job organizing them. And that's what we can do: be prepared and then hope it doesn't happen.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Most Mysterious of Mysteries

Well, it's that time of year again folks, when we hash and rehash an important past event that interests Americans of all stripes and colors.  With one exception, everyone who participated came out of it well, and the story of what happened that day has become firmly entrenched in American folklore.

And no, I'm not talking about Thanksgiving, silly.  Once again it's time to revisit that most mysterious of mysteries, the disappearance of a passenger from Northwest Airlines Flight 305 between Portland and Seattle, on the bitter winter night of November 21, 1971.

Because it happened on Thanksgiving Eve, the story always pops up then, not on Nov. 21, the actual anniversary.  The one person who didn't come out of this tale hale and hearty, was D.B. Cooper.  That's a fake name, and no one, despite 44 years of investigation by the venerable FBI, knows who he really was.  Over the decades various men have been investigated, and private citizens have called the FBI to propose their own suspects: a family member who disappeared around that date, or a look-alike who works at the corner grocery, etc.
 composite drawing of D. B. Cooper made by the FBI in 1972
D.B. Cooper
I'm only bringing up the D.B. Cooper case this year because a new suspect, a plausible one, has popped onto the scene.  KGW's website (local news channel) carries a thorough article here discussing a Richard Lepsy of Grayling Michigan who vanished 2 years before the hijacking.  The resemblance between the two caused his daughter Lisa to remark,

"We were all sitting on the couch watching Walter Cronkite [in 1971]," said Lisa. "When the composite sketch of D.B. Cooper came on the TV screen, everyone looked at each other and said, 'That's dad!'" 

Lisa has submitted a DNA sample and hopes the FBI will test it soon.  It would be nice for her to know either way, whether or not it was her father who passed a note to a flight attendant claiming he had a bomb, demanded parachutes and money, and then disappeared from the plane (and from the face of the earth) somewhere over southwest Washington on that dark night over 4 decades ago.

It would be kinda weird though, for everyone in the Pacific Northwest to know the answer to this intriguing mystery.  If the puzzle is solved, then what will we talk about every Thanksgiving Eve?  I guess there's always Bigfoot . . .

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Lost Boy

One morning I looked out my front window and saw a scene similar to the above, only there wasn't a forest in sight. There was a lone little boy, walking down the shoulder of the main two-lane highway near my house.  He was in no hurry, just kicking at rocks as he made his way down the road. My oblique vantage point didn't allow me to see the full scene around him, but I naturally assumed a grown-up was close by, and went back to taking care of my children.

Not long after, I happened to glance out the window once again, and there he was, as before. Something wasn't right. I ran outside, saw no supervision in sight, so I approached him to ask his name--Tommy I think--and where he lived. He didn't say much but I wasn't going to leave him on the main road. I brought him home.  

While he played with my kids I phoned all the neighbors who were home, and no one had heard a thing about a lost boy. Someone, somewhere was missing him. I reported the wandering boy to the sheriff. A deputy arrived to interview him. The boy could only say his first name and had no idea where he lived and couldn't say his parents' names. There had been zero reports of a missing child. Deputy would start an investigation. He took a quick glance around my house, I guess to see if it was safe, and asked me to take care of the boy until his family was found. He was at my house for about the next 5 hours.

Periodically the deputy checked in with me. Everything was fine at my house, and he still had no reports of a missing child. You know what began to nag at me at that point?  There was one house in the neighborhood with a brand new family that I hadn't met yet. I wondered if this could be their boy. But if he was, they would have called the sheriff hours ago to report him missing.

Well, several neighbors phoned throughout the day to check on progress in the case. And then, after school let out, a neighbor on the next street over had an odd experience. A girl about 10 years old knocked on her door to ask if she had seen her four-year old brother that day. The woman immediately contacted me. It turned out this girl was from that new family who had just moved in.

The girl told the neighbor that her brother had been missing since morning. While her mom had been asleep he slipped out. She stayed home crying and praying all day. It sounded like she never ventured out to look for him, and never called the sheriff. I can't imagine. Anyway, I loaded him and my kids in the car, and my next door neighbor too, and we brought him home. The girl answered the door. Her mom was "taking a shower" so we never did talk to her. They moved away about a week later and none of us ever met the parents.

End of story. We can all imagine the wrenching agony that poor mom went through that day. It's impossible to understand why she wasn't proactive in looking for her son. I'll never know. The ending was a happy one for which I'm glad.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

It's Not About the Nail

The other day I put up two of my favorite youtube videos.  But the very best one, the grand prize goes to:

 "It's Not About the Nail."

Certain people will get this right away, and others will have to think about it a while. My husband shoes this in the class he teachers at church, which is on husband-wife relationships. He gets a puzzled reaction from some.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Out-of-the Ordinary Christmases

 Christmas Tree Theme Vectors - Web Design Blog Web Design Blog

The approach of Christmas reminds me of our family celebrations of years past. It's the memory of out-of-the-ordinary celebrations that remain the strongest.

There was the year (2007 I think) that we all flew to Southern California on Christmas Day.  Our home teacher drove us to PDX on Christmas morning and we told him that his service could count for a year's worth of visits. We enjoyed a sunny holiday with family in California and in Tucson Arizona that year.

In 1984 we moved into our current home on our 10th anniversary, Dec. 19. Even with all the busy-ness of moving our furniture and goods into the house with 3 small children "helping," and me being pregnant-sick with our 4th child, Craig still found time to grab a Christmas tree off a lot and set it up that first night in our home.

Christmas 2004 was a sad time. My Dad was dying. Our family spent Christmas Eve the usual way with a humble dinner, a simple program centered on the birth of Christ, and the treasure hunt we do for family members, where they have to solve clues to find a hidden gift. Early Christmas morning I boarded a plane for Pittsburgh to be with Dad during his last days.

For some years we involved our children in a dramatization of the Nativity. Bathrobes subbed for shepherd garb, Craig was the donkey, and the youngest child was always the newborn babe. The year Teresa was about 4 she was the Christ child; Bridget (8) was cast as Mary. Teresa was lying down in a blanket pretending to be the baby while "Mary" cooed over her. Suddenly Teresa piped up, "Mary!   Your breath stinks!!" We couldn't continue . . .

One of my most amusing holiday memories pertains to the second Christmas we were married (1975). We were college students living on nothing. Buying a tree and decorations was out of the question, but how dull it would be to have no vestiges of holiday cheer in our tiny apartment. Craig had an idea. Plenty of students who lived in the dorms on campus had money to decorate their rooms for Christmas. And, they were required by student housing to remove all trees and decorations from their rooms before leaving for home to enjoy the holidays.

We waited until school was out and students had left for home. Then we scrounged through the dumpsters behind the dorms and pulled out a nicely decorated tree just the right size for our apartment. Our lovely tree brought in a holiday mood, and no one ever knew we had stooped to dumpster-diving to get it.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Bathing Suit Lady

 me in my Marta-made bathing suit

Among Newhall California residents in the 1960s and 70s was a unique woman named Marta, aka "the bathing suit lady." Marta lived on a side-street near the downtown section of Newhall, in a . . . I almost want to say 'shed' . . . house is not quite the word for where she lived. It wasn't a trailer either, just a very tiny dwelling hardly bigger than my front hallway. There was no kept yard around her place, only an enormous ancient tree that draped over her dwelling like a gargantuan umbrella.

Everyone in town who had a teenage girl knew Marta for only one reason: she was the bathing suit lady. She sewed bikini bathing suits for teens for a very cheap price. She did not advertise and hung out no shingle. Her fame was spread by word of mouth. I doubt she even had a telephone. When we wanted a suit we knocked on her door, and when she opened it you were bowled over by the reek of cigarette smoke, and then invited in to conduct the business.

Marta's rules were that you could bring your own fabric for the suit, and a half yard of cheap cotton yardage from Hubbard's Dry Goods sufficed. Hubbard's was located on San Fernando Road, conveniently just a couple blocks from Marta's. OR. You could pick from the fabric she had on hand, in which case the swim suits cost 50 cents more. Her stash of fabric was endless. The pieces were scraps saved from when she worked in a sewing factory in her previous life. A vague recollection tells me that she once worked for Jantzen swim suits, but I don't really know. Sadly, none of us took the time to get acquainted with Marta, and you know, she was all business and didn't seem to care about becoming friends.

Her price was $4 per suit with her fabric, and $3.50 with your own. When we went to pick up a finished swim suit, it was nicely hung on a hanger over a nail in the wall, with a piece of paper pinned to it listing the new owner. I wonder now what she did with the dollars she earned. In her itty-bitty place there was a bed and a sewing machine. Her spare floor space consisted of a 4-foot square area just inside the door where you stood while she took your measurements and your order.  No home improvements in sight.

I recently had an online conversation on a Facebook page for my high school class. It was fun to hear what women remembered about the bathing suit lady. None of them know what happened to her, but they sure as shootin' remember her bathing suits:

"Yes yes yes! The bathing suit lady. I got a yellow with little red flowers. Loved it. Her place was little and piled high with fabric." (Ann)

 "I went there and had 2 or 3 bikinis made. Old Orchard 1 pool baby !" (Rhonda)

 "Her house was an old one I want to say near Hart Park and yes it smelled like smoke. Funny when I read these comments a picture of that area popped in my head." (Debi)

"I remember "bathing suit lady" - and being very shy when she didn't turn her back while I was trying on my purple suit! Somewhere in Newhall, in a tiny house."  (Sylvia)

"Totally remember her.  I would go there with Jill. It was kind of weird. The lady never really said too much. You picked out your fabric of choice and then brought it to her little tiny house about the size of a small trailer, right?  Near Hart Park, off Newhall Avenue somewhere. You would pull samples out of a box to make sure of the size you needed. It was kinda creepy changing in front of her. There was a name sign in front of her house that said "MART". You would come back in about a week, and your suit was ready. This is so cool and so weird, but what a memory. Guys wouldn't understand.... My first suit was a solid bright yellow. Then I got a blue and white printed one."  (Jill)
 "My bathing suit was Hawaiian print and I kept it for years."  (Elsie)

"Haaa!!! Mine was pink and white check!!!" (Denise)

"The house was super small."  (Cheryl)

 "I would like to think after these comments and countless others who had suits made by her, we aided her in a comfortable retirement. Good times!!!"  (Terri)

I would like to think that too, Terri.  Cheers to Marta for brightening our lives just a bit.

probably the same suit as above

Note: read more about Newhall  (here and here)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Our Love Affair With Tillamook

We love anything Tillamook: yogurt, ice cream, and cheese of course, and we also love the beaches of the Tillamook area. We travel to Tillamook several times a year and always, always stop at the cheese factory. We hit the free cheese sample line multiple times, and enjoy an cone of the best ice cream around. While we're eating we watch the cheese-making process through the huge plate glass windows in the viewing area.

If you come to Oregon, you must visit Tillamook. I don't want to hear that you have come to Oregon and missed out on the Tillamook Cheese Factory.

 Here's a few pictures from this summer's most recent visit.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Our Real-Life Twilight Zone or, A One-of-a-Kind Chartreuse Sofa

We moved into our one-bedroom student apartment right after our marriage in December 1974.  Our possessions consisted of a an assortment of dated clothing, a few pots and pans, a double-size fold-up portable bed my husband's folks gave us so they could free up space in their garage, a couple of beat-up end tables his folks didn't want any more, a tiny dinette table his folks also didn't want, and a couple of kitchen chairs my folks didn't want because the metal struts on the chair back popped out of the frame all the time, stabbing the sitter in the back.  His folks also gave us a lamp whose hardware was broken so that if we touched it in the wrong place we got an electric shock.  Nobody had a junky cast-off TV to give us so we had to do without one.

We craved something to sit on in the little living room, a place to be comfortable while we studied.  At the local Deseret Industries we found this odd-looking chartreuse sofa for not much money, which was delivered to us a couple of days later.  Its oddness was this: both the back and the seat portions sort of bowed out.  When you sat on the seat it was like sitting on a giant log because it was kinda rounded.  Leaning against the back was also like leaning on a huge log--you felt the curve in your back.  But it was a soft curve and we got used to it.

About a year later we had to move the sofa away from the wall for some reason, and suddenly, it fell apart.  I mean not completely apart, but the back fell away from the seat so that it was flat--ish (and that's a really big ISH), and we realized that what we had was not a sofa, but a bizarre type of sofa bed.   Mmm, that could come in handy for visitors.

When the visitors did arrive--my mom and my sister--we worked the sofa into bed-mode, threw a bedsheet on it, and invited them to make themselves at home for the night.  It was the worst night's sleep of their lives.   The curve of the seat and matching curve of the back made them both roll into the crevasse in the center, all night long.  It was like sleeping on an open hoagie roll--no matter how much you try to flatten that roll out, each side is always going to bounce back up.

Well, we had our first baby and I spent my days nursing him on the sofa.   My nights were spent holding my screaming colicky baby on that sofa, propping my eyelids open with toothpicks so I wouldn't fall asleep and drop him on the floor.  By this time we had a "loaner" TV from Craig's brother with 10-inch screen.  Re-runs of Ironsides and Mod Squad (go Linc!) and The FBI were my nighttime lifeline.

That kooky sofa was part of our lives for two years, and when we moved on we passed it on.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Or so we thought.

15 years later my folks were visiting us in Oregon when Ann, our children's piano teacher, stopped by to visit.  She also happens to be Craig's 5th cousin on one of his Mormon Pioneer lines.   All of us were sitting around the kitchen table having a piece of pie, when my mom suddenly piped up, "Remember that wacky green sofa you had in Provo--the one that fell apart into a bed but was never flat enough to sleep on?"

Ann's antenna immediately unfurled as we described this chartreuse sofa that just "fell apart" into a bed, a bed that wasn't really a bed in the traditional sense, given the center crevasse that swallowed up the occupant.  We could hardly get the words out we were laughing so much.  And then Ann announced that she and Brian had been the previous owners of that very sofa!

The Twilight Zone music played in the background as Ann exclaimed that there couldn't possibly be two sofas like that on the same planet!  This "heirloom" had belonged to her aunt who passed it on to them.  She had nursed their babies sitting on it, studied on it, and watched TV from its vantage point, just as we had.  When they moved away from Provo, they donated the sofa to Deseret Industries.  Some months later we came along and bought it.  Yeah, we unknowingly kept it in the family.  What are the odds? 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Grandchildren 2015

I enjoy children whether it's as a Primary teacher or Cub Scout leader, Young Women teacher, or best of all, as a Grandma.  Our lovely grandchildren are each unique, even within their own families.   It's hard to believe that some of them come from the same parents.  Extroverts and introverts, athletic, contemplative, funny, creative, artistic, exuberant, outdoorsy, exceptional student--you name  it, we have it!


Sage (1)

Cora (1 1/2)

Sterling (2) 

Shiloh (5)

Paisley (6)

Magda (7)

Eli (8)

 Meme (10) 

Jonah (12)

Brooklyn (14)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Quiet Meaningful Miracle

 BBC News - In pictures: Scottish Borders Tweed Valley rainbows

My college years were years of financial struggle. During my teens I was prudent enough to put away much of what I made during a full schedule of babysitting my neighbors' children and what I earned at Taco Siesta. Babysitting brought in 50 cents an hour, until the summer I was 17, when I raised it to 75 cents an hour. Minimum wage at food establishments such as Taco Siesta was $1.45 per hour.

My freshman year (72-73) was spent attending COC, a local community college that was free. It gave me an extra year to earn college money. And during that school year I worked mostly part-time at Magic Mountain (now Six-Flags Magic Mountain), starting out at about $1.60/hour. My parents' desire was that after my freshman year I would transfer to a 4-year college a half hour from our home, a plan I had zero interest in for two reasons. First, I had the wanderlust, a burning need to get away. And second, the school for me was Brigham Young University. I wasn't even a Mormon, but had decided to transfer to BYU.

When my folks heard my plan for transfer, they played their trump card: if I went to BYU they would not give me a red cent.  My reply: "suit yourselves." And I increased my hours of work at Magic Mountain. In their defense, they knew nothing about this Mormon school--for all they knew it was some weird cult place that would brainwash me into a zombie (and zombies weren't even a thing back then). In the meantime I became a Mormon and in the fall of 1973, landed at BYU (tuition $300 per semester) giddy with excitement and on the cusp of a marvelous experience.

That sophomore year was fantastic, though my financial circumstances caused me some stress. While my roommates went skiing or did some other thing that cost money,  I humbly refrained. At one point I had to borrow some money from my folks to tide me over for a month until my tax return arrived. They weren't happy about it but made the short-term loan anyhow.

The end of that school year approached and I found myself standing on the edge of a cliff with no way out. To reserve an apartment for the next fall required a $50 deposit, and I was down to about $5 to my name. I knew that when I returned home I could get back my old job at Magic Mountain, but the first paycheck wouldn't come in for several weeks, and by that time the apartment my roommates were reserving would be full and I'd be without a place to live. Such agony it was, and worry and stress. No way did I let on to my roommates what dire straits I was in.

And then, the miracle. A card arrived in the mail one day from my Baba (my grandma). She did not write letters but would send a card on my birthday and Christmas. It wasn't my birthday or Christmas, but yet there was a card from her. When I opened it something fluttered out onto the floor. It was a check. A check from Baba. A check for $50. Not for $25, not for $100, but $50. She didn't know.  No one knew. Except Heavenly Father.

Until the end of this life I will never forget Heavenly Father's love for me, his awareness of my circumstances and that he inspired someone in my behalf.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Fare Thee Well, Heritage Halls

1953 was the landmark year that BYU built its revered housing complex for women, called Heritage Halls. 24 in number, each hall was named after a woman esteemed in Utah history for doing something really great. To this day, I don't know who Ms. Broadbent was, even though I lived in her hall for a very formative year of my life, but am sure she did something worthy of a hall bearing her name.

not Broadbent hall but a good view of what Heritage Halls looked like (that's stunning Squaw Peak in the distance)

The halls had room for about 56 students each, divided into 10 apartments. The two basement apartments housed four students each and the rest housed six each!! Yes, I shared a kitchen and bathroom with five other girls. We would have shared a living room too, but in the student housing department's infinite wisdom, the apartments were built without living rooms. Instead, there was a central gathering place in the middle of the hall so that all 56 of us could share space.

When I moved into Broadbent Hall (our apartment code was B2201) in August of 1973 the building felt older than it was. I didn't know until today while doing some research about Heritage Halls that they were built in 1953. I would have guessed 1943. Or 1933. They just had that Depression-era aura about them. Each apartment had 3 bedrooms. I shared with Suzanne Gaden from Oklahoma and golly, we could be loud and crazy. Dode Walker and Margie Scorup shared a room as did Holly Rogers and Linda Frost. Later Holly and Linda moved out and Taffy Bryant and Gloria Smith moved in. Somehow we refrained from committing murder while sharing the one bathroom, one telephone, and space in the dinky refrigerator.

  this could have been us in B2201--the phone looked just liked that and was in that same spot; if you craved privacy you could stretch the cord out the back door there to talk while standing in the icy cold stairwell

 why we thought a photo in the shower stall was a good idea, I have no clue

That year I spent in Broadbent Hall was where I formed meaningful friendships, learned what it meant to be a Mormon, and came away with a marvelous testimony of the gospel. Miracles happened during that year. And Broadbent was where Craig and I conducted our courtship. The memories are endless.

I'm glad I was given a head's up that Heritage would be demolished. In 1999 when Bridget moved into one of the Heritage Halls, the housing dude told us they would be eventually torn down to be replaced with modern halls that would appeal to the next generation of students. It took over a decade for that demolition to begin. My beloved Broadbent Hall was the last to go, just a few months ago. The building may be gone but that special time will always remain with me. What treasures I amassed during my year in that tiny place.

Thanks Broadbent, for the cherished memories!

my 19th birthday was celebrated in Broadbent

the spectacular view from Suzanne and Suzanne's bedroom window

in the kitchen with Holly

my roommates tried to throw me into the moat on my birthday (a Heritage Halls tradition), but they were unsuccessful

Broadbent in the snow; I froze in my California clothes and shoes

horsing around with Dave Murdock

second semester in Broadbent

goofing off

the "court" yard outside Broadbent hall

out with the old, in with the new and beautiful

Monday, November 16, 2015

Two Favorite You-Tube Videos

I have a couple of favorite videos posted to YouTube that you may or may not have seen. 

The first one is done by a woman who created The Mom Song, a song sung to the tune of William Tell Overture by Rossini.   She wrote down the repetitive phrases she says to her kids in every 24-hour period and set them to music.  So witty, so hilarious, so true, I still burst out laughing when watching it.  It's crazy to think that a song about brushing your teeth and feeding the cat can be funny, but there it is.   Who knew there was such a universality among moms, and that kids are pretty much the same everywhere.  There are multiple versions on youtube, including some with lyrics.

The second video concerns a New York City cyclist who was ticketed by police for riding his bike "not in the bike lane."   The policeman told him he must ALWAYS be in the bike lane.  His "in-your-face" defense is that it's dangerous to ALWAYS ride in the bike lane.  His gutsy video makes his point well.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Perryopolis, Fayette County, Pennsylvania

This mural is painted on the wall of a commercial building in my Dad's hometown of Perryopolis Pennsylvania.  It pretty much sums up the diverse history of this small town that few have ever heard of.

Hundreds of years ago Western Pennsylvania was a remote wilderness peopled by Indian tribes.  During the French and Indian War, George Washington was stationed at Fort Necessity, about 20 miles down the road from the future site of Perrypolis.  He was so taken by the fertile land that he bought 1600 acres in the area about 1770.  You can see venerable George's familiar portrait in the mural.

Just to the left of George is a structure called Washington's Mill.  Construction was finished in the mid-1770s.   Washington never lived in the area, and he eventually leased out the land and mill.  When Dad was young the mill was in ruins, though still mostly standing.   In my childhood memory the mill was a total ruin.  I remember playing in the creek that once turned the mill-wheel.  20 years ago Amish carpenters were brought in to rebuild the mill, but not to be used for grinding grain, of course.  It is now a fascinating tourist site.

To the left of the mill you see Oliver Hazard Perry, a victorious naval officer active in the War of 1812.  His surname was selected as a name for Perryopolis when the town was laid out in 1814.

The woman in the mural is Mary Fuller Frazier who was born in Perryopolis.   When her will was read in 1948 Perry was shocked and thrilled to find out that she left $1.5 million to the town.  I have asked my relatives what the money has been used for.  As I understand it, the capital remains untouched, and the investment pays for utilities a citizen would ordinarily be billed for--street lights, water, sewer, etc.  Perhaps some of it was put into civic improvements long ago.  The school district was renamed in honor of this generous woman.

On the right of the mural are the famous coke ovens that once burned so brightly that you could read a newspaper by their glow, when inside your house at night.  Coal was reduced to coke in these ovens, and coke is what powered the great steel mills of Pennsylvania and Ohio.  There were once about a thousand coke ovens lined up in a row along the tracks that bore the coal cars.  Coal cars were able to dump their load right into the ovens.  During hard times such as the Depression, a few homeless families occupied unused coke ovens.

A unique outstanding feature of Perryopolis is the layout--it is a wheel with 8 spokes leading out from the center, and is called The Diamond.   In the photo below if you focus on the dark traffic circle in the upper right quadrant, you'll see the 8 roads heading out in every direction from that center point.

Here is another view of the layout.  Note the names of the streets.  They all pertain to the theme of colonial American history.