Summer Hiking

Summer Hiking
Mt. Constitution

Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Budding Electrical Engineer

Colin filled out a scavenger hunt form and subsequently won the drawing for a prize from the organizer's of Moscow's science fair.  His favorite project in the science fair was an electrical one, so his prize was this box that held all kinds of things needed for electricity experiments.  When he first opened it and saw all the pieces, he said, "this is something my Dad will really like and be good at."  So he organized all the pieces and he and Duane dove into the experiments right after dinner.  They did 17 experiments before it was time for bed.  Duane took the opportunity to teach Colin about circuits, capacitors, resistance, ohms, diodes, and other electrical terms.

Actually this manual had great pictures, diagrams, and explanations of why the experiments work.  Right before Colin went to bed they were doing an experiment on logical circuits, and he read about true/false and open/closed circuits, and binary numbers/codes. He might already understand the binary numbering system, but I had to study the experiment to get it.   I know Colin "gets it" because he talked about the experiments on the way to school Friday morning.  Everything's still on the dining room table, so there will be at least 12 more experiments they'll do together.  I think the last experiment builds a small motor.

I began to wonder when my brothers first learned about electricity.  I know Dad helped out with 4-H programs and taught other kids about electricity.  And I seem to recall that one of my brothers got the "Best of Show" for their electrical entries into the Idaho County Fair.  I wonder if Dad, in his later years, would've had the patience to teach a 7-year-old about such basic elements of electricity that provided a great career for him and his three sons.  No doubt he'd be proud of Colin's effort and understanding.   And this grandma will be proud if there's another electrical engineer in the family!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Prayer Shawl Ministry - Kathy Neumeyer-Rake

Newly planted pansies smiled at us while we waited for Kathy to answer the door.  She invited us to sit in the living room while she called Rick to come and join us.  Everything lovely on this spring evening except Kathy just started chemotherapy.  She and Rick hugged each one of us as we found our seats.  We wanted her to be in a special chair because we were on a mission to present a prayer shawl to her -- perhaps to wear during the chemotherapy treatments.
The prayers of Mary Jayne, Jim, Cecilia, and Jackie brought tears to my eyes as I thought of this dear friend who gives so much every day to the clients she serves at local affordable housing projects in our community.  She and Rick have touched hundreds of lives in their professions - he's been the nursing director of a hospital emergency department and a skilled nursing facility.  Now they are on the other end of the caring profession and Rick said, "in clinical work you just tell the patient what the diagnosis is and carry out the doctor's orders and never worry about how they will get their medicine or pay for their treatments.  Kathy and I learned that her insurance won't pay for the chemo drug her physician believes is the best treatment so I've been on the phone for several hours this week.  I had no idea what my patients had to go through before this experience."  

Jackie Ringo made this beautiful shawl.
I don't think anyone can be ready for the experience of cancer.  Everything changes!  But, Kathy can still work a few hours every day and she's grateful for the distraction.  "It's really a blessing that Rick is not working right now because he has a full time job managing my care."  Kathy's sons CJ and Johnny joined us in praying for their mother and telling stories about their Grandpa Neumeyer.  John and Rick's dad inspire the grandsons with their war stories.  Rick's dad was on TV yesterday, receiving a Quilt of Valor.  So life seems normal except the flowers were planted by family, the neighbors are bringing meals and these young men treasure every moment with mom.  Life takes on new meaning for this family and for us...  We pray that Kathy will feel God's gentle, yet strong touch as she faces the reality of her cancer.  We hope that the shawl will be a reminder that her friends will continue to pray and comfort her on this new "un-normal" experience.    

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Prayer Shawl Ministry - John Ulmen

"Community is like a large mosaic...a fellowship of little people who together make God visible in the world."  - Henri J.M. Nouwen.  A small group from the  Cursillo community, sprinkled with prayers from the Prayer Shawl Community, made God visible as we presented a prayer shawl to John Ulmen on Friday evening.   Around Christmas time John didn't think too much of a nagging cough and subsequent bronchitis diagnosis because he's suffered with Asthma for years.  But in January, Cindy insisted he get a chest X-Ray.  The visit with physicians after that changed his life in a moment.  He eventually received the diagnosis of lung cancer!  Since that time the medical team in Lewiston has been preparing him for surgery in Seattle on March 28th.  The visit with John and Cindy impressed me because of their evident, and often expressed, faith and gratitude.  They said, "we're grateful because the cancer is Stage I."  How does a healthy person like John get lung cancer?  It could be from his own cigarette smoking (quit years ago), second hand smoke, or stress.  John works for Rogers Motors and has sold cars for years, trying to make quotas and revenue projections.  Cindy mentioned the doctor ordered job restrictions recently - "John can work no more than 40 hours each week."  She giggled and said most people only work 40 hours each week, but that's a gift to John to only have to work 40 hours now.

John often expressed concern for others who are suffering with back pain, heart disease, and other medical issues right now.  "So many people are suffering, but look at me - I feel great, but I have lung cancer," he said.  John and Cindy blessed us - Fred, Jack, Regina, Marcia, Jim, Rita, and myself, with their attitude and gratitude.  We wrapped John in the prayer shawl and prayed, " May John feel God's presence and gentle, yet strong touch as he faces the reality of his cancer.  Let this shawl be a reminder that his friends will continue to pray and offer comfort during this journey." We hope that the shawl is a visible reminder of how much God loves and care for him and his family.  

Monday, March 19, 2012

Palo Alto, Part III

Perhaps we saved the best for last...our trip to Carmel and Pebble Beach's 17 mile drive.  We didn't really set a time to get up and get going, but realized a little too late that we'd lost an hour before we even got out of the house because of daylight savings time.  We enjoyed a great breakfast at Calafia - "slow food served fast."  Kalle told us this organic restaurant was owned by Google's Chef.  They also promote "farm shares" and people can choose to receive a bushel or a peck of  fresh, organic produce every week.

The drive to Carmel took about 85 minutes and I enjoyed all the scenery - we drove through Gilroy, CA, the garlic capital of the world.  Actually we saw lots of acres of growing goodness and wished the farmers had labelled the fields.  I believed they were strawberry fields!  Carmel is a quaint beach town with unique shops and hotels.  We did walk in the sand and get the beach view of Pebble Beach Golf Links - where famous people play golf on TV!

Christina recently stayed at Doris Day's hotel, The Cypress Inn, so she wanted us to see this boutique hotel.  We enjoyed some great tea in the courtyard, keeping warm by an outdoor fireplace. Guests arriving at the Cypress Inn in Carmel, California, with their dog will find some doggie treats on the check-in desk to keep their pet happy while they register. The Cypress Inn, co-owned by film star Doris Day, a great animal lover, is renowned as being one of the most pet-friendly hotels along the Pacific Coast. Pooches are petted and pampered, hotel guests compare notes about their animals, and the hotel provides a list of pet-friendly restaurants all over Carmel.
Carmel's Cypress Inn is not only pet-friendly, it's a historic hotel too. It was opened in 1929 on the site of what had been an artist's studio, and was previously known as the Hotel La Ribera. When it opened the local press called it "one of the show places of the Monterey Peninsula," and it remains so to this day.
Today the Cypress Inn in Carmel is a favorite stop on California's Pacific Coast Highway. It is just two blocks and a short walk away from the picturesque town center, which is full of boutique shops, restaurants and art galleries. And with its celebrity residents and visitors, there's always the chance of spotting a Hollywood star about town. After all, Clint Eastwood once held the post of mayor, and still owns a popular bar and a restaurant in town.
Christina made reservations for us to enjoy dinner at The Inn at Spanish Bay, but first we stopped at The Lodge at Pebble Beach.  The Lodge is the heart and soul of Pebble Beach and home to the famous golf course.  We stopped there just to enjoy the views.

We were eager to get to Spanish Bay to hear the bagpiper as he winds his way from the 18th hole to the  Inn.  He closes the course every evening.

The sunset was just beautiful and a great finale to a wonderful day.  Kati and I stayed up and reviewed all the highlights of this great trip.  We've enjoyed several trips together, but this one was even more special because we appreciated Kalle and Christina's hospitality.

Christina's Art - the names of train stops in Sweden
So, the sun set on our lovely holiday.  We'd talked over and over about all the George's in Kati's life.(Big George, her son-in-law; little George, her grandson, and Sporty George, her special friend.)  We discussed future travel plans perhaps to Norway and Scotland.  I marveled at the way Kalle and Christina make friends and how kind they are to every server that waited on us in all the restaurants we visited.  They make a special point to get to know the servers, find out about their lives, and remember their stories for the next visit.  They both know how to make people feel special.  Kalle told his Mom about a man who often assists him in surgery and how much he appreciates his initiative and ability to know what the surgeon needs.  Kalle's gratitude touched me because he also knew this man had two children who have cerebral palsy and worked his way through college to ensure a better life for his family.  The warmth of the sunny California weather and the warmth of this young family touched my soul and all the places where memories are stored!  Thank you, Kati, for another great trip!

Palo Alto, Part II

I got excited when I realized Palo Alto was close to the beach!  Christina thought we might like to have breakfast at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay.  What a gorgeous place!  We enjoyed a great breakfast with great views and opportunity to visit with Kalle before he left for his lecture.
Kalle is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in Sports Medicine.  He treats athletes from all sports, but I particularly enjoyed his stories about Big Mo and others who compete in MMA events in Las Vegas.  From Wikipedia:  Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a full contact combat sport that allows the use of bothstriking and grappling techniques, both standing and on the ground, includingboxingwrestlingBrazilian jiu-jitsumuay Thaikickboxingtaekwondokaratejudoand other styles. These athletes get very physical and often have injuries that Kalle "fixes."  We watched some YouTube videos that recorded just how physical these events can be.   I've been known to complain about local doctors refusing to take new Medicare clients and my discussions with Kalle opened my mind to the challenges facing physicians.  He expressed a lot of frustration with MedAdvantage Plans, with Part D insurance formularies, and the bottom line!  "I'm a physician and I want what I believe is best for my patient, not what some insurance guy thinks is best." Now I have another view of the world of medicine, insurance, and Medicare!
The view from our breakfast table
Kati and I enjoying the ocean view

 Kati and Christina

After our lovely breakfast we took a walk and formulated dreams for a beach house overlooking the ocean.  From there we headed to San Francisco to enjoy the Farmer's Market on Pier 1.  

We sampled cake pops, local cheeses, infused olive oils, almonds, and local fruits and vegetables!  I bought dried apricots and almond brittle. 


This clever Entrepreneur entertained a long line of people by writing poems on an old typewriter.  Kati told him a short story and he quickly produced a poem that she intended to give to her friend, George!

Only in San Francisco would we happen to see people riding their bikes naked!!  

Kati and Christina enjoying a drink at Union Square

We spent some time window shopping at Nike, Victoria's Secret and Williams Sonoma before heading back to Palo Alto.  Looks like Kati's ready for even more adventures....

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Happy Birthday John

Yesterday was John's 46th Birthday!  He spent all day driving back and forth from Ellensburg to watch Jacob participate in a school archery tournament.  He said his mom's card was right on following all that sitting yesterday.  The card that read on the outside, "remember what life was like before my back hurts, my shoulder aches, and my knees don't work right?"  Inside, "Life was just a pain in the ass."  This mother-in-law asserts that John sacrificed his birthday and his back to stand proud when his son hit the bull's eye! I've always enjoyed his adventure stories with Jacob.  Sometimes they take a big metal magnet and drive down to the river and pull up the most incredible treasures -- bicycles, guns, metal boxes, coins, fishing gear!  Jack, John's Dad, obviously enjoys the adventure stories and this year wanted to make sure John and Jake were prepared for the worst...  bear spray!

Look at this proud daughter who made this yummy two layer cake!!

And she made sure the candles were the tricky kind - he had to extinguish them with his fingers.

In 2009 we also enjoyed pizza, but John let Colin help him blow out the candles.

The best gift was a mother chicken that sang a cute song and then pooped out colored eggs!  Mamma Delores knows kids of every age need toys to make them smile on their birthday!
I'm proud of a son-in-law who makes a big deal about new socks!  He's such a good story teller and told about a time when the men he was with had their shoes off.  He noticed that everyone was wearing the same socks.  So, he asked his friends, "when was the last time you bought socks for yourself?  Probably never, because we are all wearing identical socks that our wives bought at Costco!" 

Happy Birthday to a great man I'm proud to call my Irish Son-in-Law!!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

God's Guest List - Rita Studebaker

Yesterday was Rita's 101st Birthday.  I was honored to help Marcia prepare a birthday lunch celebration for Rita and 3 of her friends.  The party began by celebrating her picture in "Blast from the Past" in Friday's Lewiston Morning Tribune.  The caption alongside the picture read:
Sisters Rita and Ada Yost are all dressed up for their first communion in this photograph made in 1915. Their mother, Ellen, a professional seamstress, sewed their dresses. Considered twins by many but actually two years apart in age, the sisters took communion in St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Kellogg, Idaho. Rita is now Rita Studebaker and lives in Lewiston, where she and her family will celebrate her 101st birthday today.

Marcia told us that Rita's mom dressed them as twin until they were in high school.  Additionally, both girls were dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and dressed only in blue and white for many years.  Ellen, the mom, really wanted them to be like twins so she held Ada back and enrolled Rita in school when she was only five years old and they remained in the same classroom throughout their school years in Kellogg.  Rita told the story of being in the eighth grade and said "one day the principal came into our classroom and picked several students out and we were sent to high school.  It didn't feel good for us because the other eighth graders were jealous of us and the ninth graders resented us being in high school." She tells great stories of her growing up years in Kellogg.

Ruth Aram, Rita, Mary Ellen Black and Jo Luper
I also enjoyed Ruth Aram's stories.  She told us that she and Rita decided during Lent years ago they would go out for lunch every Friday (Catholics don't eat meat on Friday during Lent) and have clam chowder at local restaurants.  During one of their lunches at Red Lobster, an acquaintance commented to them, "this clam chowder lunch doesn't appear to be much of a sacrifice for you ladies."  She talked about their experiences in Bible Study classes, volunteering at St. Joe's, and attending St. Mary's League meetings at St. Stan's.  Rita helped Pat Wittman take and record blood pressures every Thursday morning at St. Joes for years.  She eventually had to give up driving, but insisted on keeping her "job" so she rode Valley Transit to the hospital.  She lived all over the world and told me many stories of living in Afghanistan when her husband worked overseas.  She's been like a library to her family and friends. I'm always tickled when she says things like, "getting old isn't all it's cracked up to be."  Rita epitomizes the acceptance of life, with joy and a delightful sense of humor.
Rita delighted us with enough wind power to eventually blow out all three candles.  Rita's life can be compared to an expandable suitcase, enlarged by her experiences and relationships.  In the second century of her life she is just "here" and here holds more than enough.  The simplicity of her life holds its own kind of brightness and clarity.  Sometimes she doesn't remember things and she gets a little anxious at times, but her inner brightness shines through even these tough times. She's had to give up driving, leave her home, and accept the help of others to prepare her meals and ensure her safety. Her last years are characterized by what Richard Rohr calls a "kind of bright sadness and sober happiness." Rita is on my guest list because I met this shining lady and I know that "she is the goal of humanity and the delight of God."  (From Richard Rohr's Falling Upwards).

And oh, the cooks had their picture taken because we were all wearing green!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Palo Alto, Part I

I've never taken pictures from the airplane before, but couldn't resist on this trip to Palo Alto to meet my friend Kati.  I'm always grateful when I get a window seat on Southwest and this time I delighted in the views of Mt. Bachelor, Mt. Shasta, and the San Francisco Bay, especially the Golden Gate Bridge!
 I tried to imagine where our homes were in Lake Oswego, Oregon, and then Santa Rosa, California.  Both cities have grown since the 1970's when we lived there.  I think the new subdivisions have fewer trees and houses that are larger, but closer to the neighbors.

Anyway, Kati and I met each other at baggage claim and then managed to catch a shuttle bus that took us to the Santa Clara Cal Train Station.  Kalle and Christina literally live across the street from the Palo Alto Cal Train Station, so Kati and I hauled our suitcases just a few blocks to their lovely apartment on Alma Street, which is walking distance to many fine restaurants, coffee shops, and Chico's, all on University Avenue.  We arrived early afternoon and had time for a sandwich and shopping before Kalle and Christina got home from work.  We soon discovered that we could walk to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's!

Thursday we were on our own exploring Palo Alto in warm, sunny weather.  We walked to the Stanford Campus and visited the Iris and Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, hosting Walker Evans vintage prints.  He's best know for his work at the Farm Services Administration documenting the effects of the Great Depression.  The faces haunted me as I walked through the exhibit wondering how these people even survived with little money, no work, and not much hope.

I also enjoyed the Stanford Family Room inside the Center, viewing pictures and stories of this famous family.  In1876, former California Governor Leland Stanford purchased 650 acres of Rancho San Francisquito for a country home and began the development of his famous Palo Alto Stock Farm. He later bought adjoining properties totaling more than 8,000 acres. The little town that was beginning to emerge near the land took the name Palo Alto (tall tree) after a giant California redwood on the bank of San Francisquito Creek. The tree itself is still there and would later become the university's symbol and centerpiece of its official seal.
The Stanford Family
The Stanford Family
Leland Stanford, who grew up and studied law in New York, moved West after the gold rush and, like many of his wealthy contemporaries, made his fortune in the railroads. He was a leader of the Republican Party, governor of California and later a U.S. senator. He and Jane had one son, who died of typhoid fever in 1884 when the family was traveling in Italy. Leland Jr. was just 15. Within weeks of his death, the Stanfords decided that, because they no longer could do anything for their own child, "the children of California shall be our children." They quickly set about to find a lasting way to memorialize their beloved son.The Stanfords considered several possibilities – a university, a technical school, a museum. While on the East Coast, they visited Harvard, MIT, Cornell and Johns Hopkins to seek advice on starting a new university in California.  Ultimately, they decided to establish two institutions in Leland Junior's name - the University and a museum. From the outset they made some untraditional choices: the university would be coeducational, in a time when most were all-male; non-denominational, when most were associated with a religious organization; and avowedly practical, producing "cultured and useful citizens."
On October 1, 1891, Stanford University opened its doors after six years of planning and building. The prediction of a New York newspaper that Stanford professors would "lecture in marble halls to empty benches" was quickly disproved. The first student body consisted of 555 men and women, and the original faculty of 15 was expanded to 49 for the second year. The university’s first president was David Starr Jordan, a graduate of Cornell, who left his post as president of Indiana University to join the adventure out West.
The Stanfords engaged Frederick Law Olmsted, the famed landscape architect who created New York’s Central Park, to design the physical plan for the university. The collaboration was contentious, but finally resulted in an organization of quadrangles on an east-west axis. Today, as Stanford continues to expand, the university’s architects attempt to respect those original university plans.

Kati and I learned a lot about the history of Palo as the week went by.  Kalle and Christina live across the street from the original Facebook home office on High Street.  They treated us to breakfast at Calafia, an organic restaurant owned by the Chef for Google.  Apparently Steve Jobs ate here frequently and Kalle noticed he always seemed to be engaged in intellectual conversations with his guests.  "They didn't just talk about the weather or the score of the football game."  We even drove by Steve Job's home on Waverly - just blocks from our walk on University Avenue.

Thursday afternoon we made our way to Lytton Gardens, a retirement community, where Kati's friend from Twin Falls, Katherine Scott, now lives.  Apparently Katherine's friends in Twin Falls were worried that she was unhappy after selling her home, downsizing to a studio apartment, and leaving long-time friends, to be near her daughter.  Kati and I agreed this 94 year young woman made an incredible adjustment!  When we first arrived she offered us a drink.  "I have lots of whiskey."  Her apartment might be small but it's filled with joy and a real zest for life.  The Gardens takes up an entire city block in Palo Alto, the web site indicates 580 residents live here.  Her neighbors are Chinese and "very nice, but quiet."  She keeps busy by checking out books from their library, having lunch with her daughter almost every day and preparing her own meals.  She tickled me with her stories and comments about her living situation.  "I don't want to go downstairs and sit there and talk, talk, all day.  I helped with the Halloween party.  I don't mind helping when there's something to do. That was fun!  But being with those women who just talk all day drives me batty."  Katherine's outlived two husbands.  "I don't think I ever want to get married again.  Who wants to wait on someone hand and foot?  If I found someone here I'd probably have to learn Chinese."  She did ask Kati if she planned to get married.  Kati explained that she might not get married even if she found the right man.  Katherine responded,  "I'm not going to get married again, why should you?"  "But I have a special friend right now and I'm a little confused about what I should do,"  Kati told this wise woman.  Her response, "don't worry about it, you have a heart big enough for all."  Ah, to be 94, witty, and so wise....  It's one of my dreams for my wisdom years.

I loved the flowers, especially since Lewiston has no color this time of year. 

On Friday we drove Christina's jeep to IKEA!  Anyone who's been there knows it takes awhile to get through the showroom and then find the treasures on the floor.  We had lunch and each bought a few kitchen gadgets.  I found a tray that must be a treasure because it wouldn't fit in my suitcase and I had to carry it on the plane.