Summer Hiking

Summer Hiking
Mt. Constitution

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Alzheimer's Memory Walk

Yesterday I walked with co-workers from Emeritus at Juniper Meadows in the annual Alzheimer's Memory Walk.  Organizers encouraged walkers to choose  a flower.  I chose a purple flower because I've lost loved ones to the disease.  The yellow flowers are for people caring for someone with the disease.

We listened to several speakers talk about research, fundraising opportunities and personal stories.
A gentleman, whose wife lives now at Good Samaritan Village in Moscow, talked about the gradual decline of his wife of 60+ years. He told us how he had to unplug the stove and sleep on the couch because she would get up during the night and he was afraid she would walk out the door.  An organizer said the survivors experience two deaths.  The first one happens when their loved one no longer recognizes them and the second one when the loved one eventually finds peace in heaven.

I took this picture of Greg Neely because he looks so much like our pastor, Father Brad Neely.  He responded, "well I guess there is a resemblance because he's my brother."  Greg led the walk because he raised the most money for the 2011 walk.  He received several awards this year as well, and I noticed he promoted the Walk to End Alzheimer's on Neely Travel's website.   Father Brad shared the personal story of his mother's progression through the Alzheimer's Disease, last week during his homily at St. Stan's.  The gospel from Mark mentioned that the disciples had been discussing among themselves who was the greatest.  Jesus responded to them, "If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all."  Father Brad suggested that his mother and others who need care are among the greatest in the eyes of Jesus.

And so it is with people and their caregivers.  I consider these folks to be the greatest among us.  I walked to honor the memory of two  such people in my life.  Emilie Pulley, a colleague in the nursing home business, died recently. Her original artwork decorated the walls of the Barn at Guardian Angel Homes where her memorial service was held.  Emilie died at 67, just five years after she retired as the Director of Nursing at Royal Plaza.  The son said at the funeral, "the person who lived here for the past three years was not my Mom.  The mom I knew died when Alzheimer's ravaged her body."  Below is the Emilie I chose to remember on this walk.

The other person I remembered was Frances Fry.  Frances lived in a secured Alzheimer's unit for the last eight years of her life.  She seemed to be a happy little resident, always willing to show off her baby (a doll) or babble about her pretty fingernails.  I couldn't think of Frances without remembering her devoted husband, Harry.  I often saw Harry and Frances at the care center, holding hands and just being together.   When Frances offered the baby doll to me for a kiss she did the same to Harry and he lovingly obliged.  That gesture painted a picture of what Jesus meant when he said "if anyone wishes to be first, he must be the servant of all."  These sweet people showed how to live that gospel message.  Harry and Frances no longer live among us, but enjoy the fruits of their marriage in heaven. 

I've been blogging about working on my archives recently and found this card in a box of sympathy cards sent to me after my Dad died.

Seeing Harry's signature took my breath away.  And he signed Frances' name first!  I don't know, there's just something so special about getting a card from someone like Harry, who I barely knew at the time.  Even now I'm touched that he took the time to send me a card and I'm so grateful I found it this week!

One of the organizers suggested that we take our "flowers" home and plant them in a place where we can continue the memory of people affected by Alzheimer's Disease.

For you Frances and Emilie!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Surprises

I was blessed to work in Larry's office today.    There were just a few appointments, one check to post, and lots of time between phone calls so I did a little more work on my archives.  I planned to go through boxes of greeting cards as a way to eliminate some clutter from my closets.

These are the sympathy cards people sent to me when my Mom died!  By the end of the day all the names and personal greetings were cut out of them and now the box is ready to go to the Monastery to be used for new sympathy cards.

First surprise - the thank you notes from Louis Schmidt

I went home for lunch and found the second surprise - the LHS Band leading the Homecoming parade.  Kole gave me a big smile as he walked by and noticed I was taking his picture.  He's on the far left, second row of drummers.  

Third surprise - 2 bucks enjoying the lawn near Larry's office.  

Fourth surprise - getting off work at 3 o'clock and taking time for a little shopping at The Garden Gate!

Fifth Surprise - lovely fall colored Supertunias!

Sixth Surprise - the first grade auction quilt is ready for the borders!

Seventh Surprise - running into Idaho Senate Candidate Dan at the Art Walk this evening.

Eight Surprise - meeting artist Kelsey Grafton visiting with Marcia and Jodi

I'm ending this day of Surprises by Counting my Blessings!

God's Guest List - Louis Schmidt

I attended a concert at the Monastery of St. Gertrude several weeks ago and noticed that my mother's dear friend and distant cousin was sitting in the front row.
Louie is almost 96 and lives in a condo by St. Mary's Hospital in Cottonwood.  He and his sweetheart, Mary, lived just a few miles outside of Cottonwood for all their married years, but when she died he moved to town.  He used to call me once in awhile at Juniper Meadows.  I told everyone he was my boyfriend.  He's knows how to make people feel special.  He grabs onto hands, offers kisses, and says the sweetest things.  He often attended daily mass and my Mom liked to surprise him by putting some cinnamon rolls or a pot of soup in his car while it was parked at the church.  She sent him a rose, probably more than once, when Mary suffered with the infirmities of old age and couldn't leave the house any longer.  Louis was born on November 10, 1916 in Greencreek and married Mary Sprute on November 7, 1940, in Keuterville.  He and Mary farmed, ran a dairy and raised five daughters.  

Louie and Herb Ahlers taken in November, 2006

I found these thank you notes from Louis while working on my archives!

I love to capture his handwriting.  He wrote, "You are in my thoughts every day and still pray for your mom every day.  Everybody loved her. I'm getting to be an old man, but people still say I look pretty good. " 

I wrote him a letter after his sister and my sister in law, Betty Wessels passed away.  He wrote "I got to see her in the casket and gave her the last kiss.  She looked like she was asleep. and I couldn't help to hear her say, 'thank you so much and I love you so much my brig brother.' 

"Everyone in the parish had their picture taken about three months ago.  I'm sending you one which came out pretty well."

I hope people will always treasure the written word and I hope my handwriting and eyesight remains good so I can send cards and letters to people after I really retire.  

Louis Schmidt in on God's Guest List because he treasures the memory of my mom and knows how to make me and others feel special.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Colin Time

I drove up to Moscow on Tuesday to watch Colin play soccer!  
I really enjoy the Moscow Soccer program - everyone plays twice a week!  The teams have both boys and girls on them and no one keeps an official score.  Christine's (a fellow LaTrek) granddaughter played on the opposing team and Duane told me that she's quite famous in the Moscow soccer world.  

We couldn't miss her - those pink shorts and blond hair.  She made several goals for her team.
The game was quickly forgotten after we enjoyed Anne's homemade Turkey Wild Rice soup, fresh veggies and HoneyCrisp Apples for dessert.  Colin had a lot of things to do before bed, such as homework, shower, computer time, bath, piano practice, and reading time.  He buzzed through the homework and sat still for 45 minutes of piano practice with me.  This week he learned to play Beethoven's Ode to Joy and has already memorized it.  We played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star together and practiced the note flash cards over and over.  We even managed to continue our knitting lessons.

Colin's quite patient with the process and we did several rows together last night.  I was 60 years old before I learned how to knit and I was impressed at his patience and ability to stick to it.  This morning he knitted a whole row by himself!  We are determined to finish this little scarf for Odie!
Love the red shoes - Jacob's hand me downs!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Wednesday Hiking

A little late with this posting, but it's certainly worth remembering.  Last week my sister, Karen, invited me to do a little kayaking by floating a section of the Clearwater River!  Tuesday was a warm day, but quite smoky and we decided to carry out with our plans.   We met for lunch at The River's Edge in Orofino, then headed up river.  Karen had floated this section of the river with Larry and his family so she knew where to pull off and park one vehicle.  I failed to take any pictures of this great event!!!!  We put the kayaks in just above the Greer Bridge, probably about seven miles from Orofino.  It took us about three hours to blow up the NRS inflatable kayaks, launch, float five miles, deflate and pack up the wet kayaks and retrieve the second vehicle.  I'm pretty sure I need a kayak of my own now.  It's so much fun.  The river is low this time of the year, but there were a few rapids that helped speed up our trip.  And I need more practice because I got stuck on top of a big boulder. It felt like five minutes before my rocking back and forth finally eased the kayak off the rock.  Apparently I didn't learn how to navigate the rapids because later I got sideways against a big boulder!  We had to do a lot of paddling, but thoroughly enjoyed the day!  I can't wait to go back next summer - taking the kids and grandkids with me.

I followed Karen to Moscow and spent the night with Colin and Anne while Duane was in Virginia on a business trip.  Anne took Odie to Dog Obedience training and Colin and I practiced his piano lesson.  We played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star at least 10 times.  I think it paid off because Georgia, his teacher, told him it was the best she'd ever heard him play!  We also did a little knitting using wooden skewers!  And, Colin invited me to read with him until lights out at 9:30.  What a gift!

I met Karen on Wednesday morning and we joined the LaTreks for a short hike on Moscow Mountain.  Kathy Porter led us to a rustic cabin, more or less open to the public, on land owned by her husband's family.

Previous guests have hauled in mattresses, built bunks, and used up all the firewood!

Look at the foundation - a tree stump!  The door has no locks!  There is no running water or electricity!

But if you have to go, look at the cute A frame outhouse!

We hiked on up the mountain, probably on mountain bike trails, but we saw no other hikers or bikers!

I met Susan, a relatively new resident of Moscow.  We visited about how we learned how to be single again, how we love our grandchildren, and how our Catholic Faith sustains us.  Susan captured another Sister's Moment.

I'm grateful that Karen continues to encourage me to enjoy the great outdoors.  

Monday Day Off

I've never been much of a list maker, but today I wasn't sure where to begin with all the things I wanted to do on a rare Monday off.  So I made a list.  
I know now why people write lists - just to cross things off.  Honestly, it felt good!  And I stayed on task all morning.  My Residential Care Administrator's license expires next month and since I'm still filling in part time at Juniper Meadows I need to get 12 CEU's by October 1st.  I can do it online through Silverchair Learning Centers and I managed to get #7 done today.  Five more to go!

Granola Done!

My walking shoes had not been cleaned since my last blackberry picking trip!
Voila!  Good as new!

I planted tomates for the first time ever!  I wasn't sure I'd have enough sunlight or enough ripening time because the plants didn't go into the ground until July 1st.  Regina told me she freezes her tomatoes and I thought that would be a good idea today because I didn't think I had enough to bother with the added mess of canning.  I picked most of the ripe tomatoes from the O'Shaughnessy garden yesterday and added a few of my own!
My friend, Grace, got a new freezer so she gave me her old one and now I have room for the frozen tomatoes!

I'll just have to remember to thaw them out when I want to make lasagna or spaghetti sauce or tomato basil soup!

 An added bonus!

I spent a little time cleaning out some kitchen drawers and found this lovely card and money amongst my dish cloths.  Oh, my pathetic memory - hadn't even missed the money and it was given to me in January as an honorarium for helping Marcia with a presentation in Pomeroy!

Felt good to get all these projects finished before noon!  

The furniture is dusted, floors are scrubbed and my reward is to do a little blogging.  I'm saving the bike ride until rush hour traffic subsides this evening.  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Working on my Archives

I had the opportunity to work in my brother, Larry's office this week and he encouraged me to "bring something to do" because it might be quiet and a little boring for me.  When he's out of the office it is very quiet and the phone hardly rings and no clients come in for scheduled appointments.  I thought it might be a good time to go through some of my boxes of treasures and throw things away.  I started with an old Bekins moving box labelled "High School and Wedding stuff."  Louisiana Pacific Corporation paid for our move from Lake Oswego, Oregon to Santa Rosa, California, in 1974 and I'm quite sure I haven't looked in the box since then.

The box is now empty and I had a great trip down memory lane as I unpacked it.  I found a box with pieces of wedding cake, our wedding cake topper, letters Roy and I wrote to each other in the early 1960's, diaries, holy cards, report cards, love notes from grade school, a First Communion Candle, and SGA mimeographed newsletters called the Signal.

I wondered why I saved all the holy cards.

Some had names of the nuns who'd given them to me and why.  I won several Catechism contests and got "stars" for spelling papers.  And medals - lots of those, too!  I think Mom encouraged me to save some things, but 55 years later I'm still wondering why.

So between phone calls at Larry's office I organized my archives.  I threw a lot of stuff away, but when I got to the letters I just couldn't do it.  Perhaps because a hand-written word is rare today, with texting and Email and such.  I found notes that my brothers and sisters and Mom wrote right after they brought me to Spokane to live with the Higgins family in the fall of 1964.  I found a letter I'd written to Carole after she returned from all those tests in the Mayo clinic in 1965.  I found little notes that my children wrote to me for Mother's day.  Some made me laugh out loud, others brought tears to my eyes.  When I realized I could never read all the letters I'd saved I decided to organize them by writer into file folders.  I'm sure I'll enjoy reading them when I live in a nursing home or when I can't walk anymore.  They are my history and history of the Kopczynski family.  Carole wrote several letters to me when Connie, Joan, and Don were teenagers and pre-teens.  She talked about their battles with Mom and Dad and how mad everyone was at each other.  Those letters from Carole are real treasures now.  And the notes from Dad - rare, but either typed or printed!  It seems that he never learned cursive!  And the notes always indicated he was praying for me or had others, like the Benedictines in Schuyler, Nebraska, praying for me.  Specifics of all those letters will be a topic for another blog post!!

I found a big zip-lock bag full of cards that my Mom saved for me.  I put off looking at all those cards because I wasn't sure I could handle the emotions that might come from reading them again.

They were mostly Mother's and Father's Day Cards!  I guess they meant enough to Mom to store them for years in a secret hiding place under the drawers in the hallway.  She saved a bag of cards for each child.  I learned that I was really good about sending cards to them and usually wrote a note about how much I learned from them or how much I appreciated their love and sacrifices over the years!  I cut all the handwritten stuff out of the card and put them in a big envelope to take to the Monastery of St. Gertrude.  Some of the older sisters make new cards utilizing donated greeting cards.  I just bought several at the Monastery book store for $. 75 each - quite a bargain!!!  Just wait until I go through saved boxes of sympathy cards I've saved after the deaths of Mom, Dad, and Carole.

I saved lots of calendars, perhaps as another way to document my family's history.

Every ball game, every Dr. appt., every birthday, parish meetings, parties, and family vacations reminded me of what a busy family we were from 1976-1985.  I loved Karen and Duane's notes, SKIING TRIP,  or MALIBU (Young Life Retreat).  These precious calendars, saved for 30 years, finally found their resting place in the garbage can!  I also found two calendars I must've saved just for the pictures because they were never used.  I bought several Hallmark calendars of flower arrangements in the l970's because I liked the prints and even had some framed when we lived in Santa Rosa.  

Whenever I delve into a project like this I take some time to reflect on what it all means to me or why I've been such a hoarder.  Perhaps I saved it all just to have something to do while I sat in Larry's office waiting for the phone to ring.  But more than likely I saved it all to remember the people that touched my life, encouraged me, or thanked me for some little thing I did for them.  I'm delighted my Mom and Carole saved letters I wrote to them.  I learned I'm a pretty good letter writer!  And I have good friends and family who are good letter writers!  Now I'm grateful for the time they took to write all those letters to me.  Joan's letters compile a wonderful history of her education, work, and struggles with mental illness.  Our AFS student, Marit Ulveseth from Norway, spent countless hours, writing in English, her second language, about her family, her work, and her travels. I must have 50 post cards that she sent to us whenever she travelled.  Sister Henriette's letters record the history of change for her order of School Sisters of Notre Dame and her experiences in Rome.  My friends from Tri State Convalescent Center wrote so many cards and letters to me in 1991 when I faced the reality of my divorce, loss of a job, and the decision to stick it out in Boise.  And Jacque Harvey, a Cursillo sister, wrote lots of letters from Saudi Arabia, describing her life there, with a new husband, Harry.  Connie sent me a card and sweet notes every day in the Advent season of 1991.  I'd saved notes from residents and staff I'd had the privilege to serve at Tri State, Capital Care Center, Holly Hills, Grangeville, SunBridge of Meridian, Regency at Northpointe.  I realized how blessed I've been to be a part of a large Catholic family, to have lived in Lake Oswego, Santa Rosa, Clarkston, Boise, and Spokane, to have worked in the long term care industry, to have wonderful friends in a Singles group in Boise, to have made and worked on several Cursillo weekends,  to be a part of several 4th Day Reunion groups, and now to live close to my children and grandchildren.  I've overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude!!

So now I consolidated several R-Kive boxes down to one and organized the letters by writers.  I put little treasures I'd saved for Duane and Karen into files for them and they can decide if they want to keep their old report cards, music programs, Jr Miss clippings, CHS sports programs, term papers, Civic Theatre practice schedules, awards and certificates!  Karen said to me recently, "why would you save a birthday card?"  Well, I did save some that had sweet notes that she wrote to me and her Dad.  I hope she has a moment of reflection and discovers what a sweet child she was and how good she was at telling us how much she loved us.   Duane will probably say, "Good grief" because I saved so many Charlie Brown cards!  I have a big box of treasures for each of them and even some scrapbooks and mementos for their Dad.  

I also cleaned out several drawers in my filing cabinet.  I never receive bills, bank statements, or cancelled checks in the mail anymore, but I'd tucked those away for years in my filing cabinet and now they are in a big box to be shredded!!  It's a great feeling and now I have empty room in my filing cabinet to begin the collection process all over again!!!

My plan is to go through boxes of photos and get those organized somehow.  By family?  By year?  By event?  And should I scan them into IPhoto before I tuck them in a filing cabinet drawer?  I have 20 photo albums, but remember when we'd get duplicates of every picture???  I have boxes of those duplicates because I never got around to putting albums together for my kids.  And I have the school pictures of nieces and nephews, including the high school graduation pictures that could fill an album in itself.  If I ever really do totally retire from work I know I have years of opportunity to continue the work on my archives!  And no one will probably even care to look through the scrapbooks or files,  but the continued work on my archives gives me a lot of joy and fills me with gratitude.