Summer Hiking

Summer Hiking
Mt. Constitution

Friday, October 9, 2015

Visit with Aunt Doriene and Uncle Joe

Yippee for Retirement!  The Kopczynski Girls will travel.....on a Tuesday!  We celebrated Connie's official retirement at GreenBluff in September and then decided our next adventure would take us to Ellensburg for a visit with our Dad's only surviving sibling.
Aunt Doriene, the twelfth and last child born to August and Lena Kopczynski, giggled with joy when I told her we were coming for a visit.  I called several weeks ahead of time and told her to reserve the date and make sure there was room on her calendar for our visit.  "The only things on my calendar are doctor appointments, nothing very exciting," she said.

We girls observed that Doriene's smile is as big as ever.  She's the best storyteller and remembers so many details.  I listened intently, but at times, wished I'd had a tape recorder to capture the inflection in her voice and the giggles that erupted as she told her stories.  Her 89th birthday looms in just two weeks, but she has the memory and spunk of a 39 year old!  
And Uncle Joe - just two years older, has a great memory as well.  He loves to tease and joked with us, often asking what we girls did to stay so slim! These two lovebirds celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary on September 4th!
Karen and I took time to notice the picture gallery in the hallway.  This side holds favorite family pictures of the Kopczynski's and Jacobs.  The other side showcases the seven Jacobs children and their families.  
This family picture was taken in 1967 or 1968.  From lower left:  Brian, Melinda, Barb, Shelly, Don, Geralyn, and Jodee.     

Our all-time favorite Kopczynski portrait.  Doriene's sitting on Grandma's lap.  My Dad, Stan, the 5th child, stands in the back row, 2nd from the right.  
The August and Marie Kopczynski family.  Back row:  Malinda, Edwin Stoltz(a nephew), my Grandma Lena,  and Kate.  Middle:  August and Marie, my grandpa, August Jr.  Front row:  Cecilia and Mary.  I remember the the stories about great aunts - the girls loved their only brother and vowed to stay close!  

Aunt Claire Sager painted this picture of the Kopczynski home as a wedding gift for her folks in 1953, when they celebrated their 50th.  
Doriene obviously adores her extended family and displays pictures of her brothers and sisters at various family gatherings throughout the years.  I look at these pictures now and my heart fills with gratitude for the gift of large families.  I said to Doriene, "I've often wondered how my Mom felt when she discovered she was pregnant again."  Her reply, "she and all of us considered pregnancy God's gift to us."  It's taken me years to appreciate the joy that accompanies large families.  I got born into one, but in my child-bearing years, I did not want one.  Now I know that God has a sense of humor because I did everything I could to prevent having more children and I would give anything to have more kids and grands doting on me in my old age....

Daughter Barb joined us later in the afternoon.  Her brother, Don, greeted us when we first arrived, so we know that the Jacobs kids come and go and check in on their parents frequently.  It's a big group when they all get together and Doriene said, "we've made rules that there will be no discussions of politics or religion when we are gathered together."  
Barb and her husband, Neil, are retired and spend a lot of time golfing and obviously, supporting Gonzaga University.  
We heard story after story - wish I could remember them all, but here a few tidbits.  "Your Mom had a lot of fun with us when she came to visit in 1944.  One night, after dinner, I suggested to Stan that he walk Bertha home to Aunt Susie's house and that is all it took for them to begin a long-distance courtship."  

"I got kicked out of my bedroom on the second floor when the space turned into an apartment for newly married couples.  I slept on the couch for month until Dad finally made a cellar into a bedroom for me.  Jake and Gertie, Stan and Bertha, and many others lived on the second floor until they bought homes of their own."

"The boys loved music and formed an orchestra and often practiced all day on Sunday.  People came to visit just to hear the music.   All were welcome to eat and Mary complained that she spent most of Sunday peeling potatoes.  It was typical to re-set the table three different times on a Sunday afternoon."

When I asked about Aunt Johanna, Doriene gave me the "look."  Johanna always got her way, she was spoiled.  "When Joe and I planned our wedding, Johanna insisted I ask Jeanne, her daughter, to be a bridesmaid, because she was an only child and would not have the opportunity to be in another wedding.  Johanna bribed me by volunteering to host a breakfast and then she refused to invited Joe's parents.  I was so mad!!"

"I chose Jim Reed to be the ring bearer and you'll notice he is not in the pictures.  He went hunting or fishing with his Dad the day of the rehearsal and Les told him he could not be in the wedding because he wouldn't know what to do.  He just clung to my leg and said, ' I can do it, please let me, I won't flub up.' But Les would not bend and that makes me sad to this day."

"We have a great priest here now who gives five-minute homilies.  He says in five minutes he speaks to the people, if he speaks for 10 minutes, he's talking to the pews, and if he goes on for 15 minutes he's preaching to the devil."

I told Joe how scared I was when Mom suggested that I go help out the Jacobs when Melinda was born in August, 1960.  Mom gave birth to Larry just three days prior, but thought Doriene needed the help.  
  Joe brought the fresh milk to the kitchen and I was supposed to pasteurize it in a machine of some kind, but left it in there too long and it spoiled and I got a royal chewing out!  I also remember Doriene running from the bedroom to the bathroom, trailing blood, perhaps hemorrhaging.  Scared me to death, I was sure she was dying, but I guess I followed her orders and called the hospital!  Geez, I was just 14 at the time.

Doriene talked a lot about all the fun she had with her sisters!  Someone brought these goofy wigs to our family reunion in August, 2008, and Mary and Doriene paraded around the yard, sang songs, and brought the rest of us to laughing fits.  She still knows how to make us laugh!  

We raise a glass to you, Joe and Doriene, with gratitude and much love!  Thank you for sharing such great memories and encouraging us to live life with love and laughter! 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

McWessels Pickle Making

Anne and Duane embrace the idea of canning pickles.  First year, too salty, last year perfect.  Anne likes to research the perfect recipes!  We are both stunned by the pickles my cousin, Miriam, makes from cucumbers grown in horse watering troughs in her yard in Seattle.

 Miriam told Anne she canned 120 quarts in 2013; only 20 in 2014, and 44 quarts so far this year.  Even she has resorted to buying cucumbers this year.  
 We used a combination of Aunt Mary's recipe and my sister, Karen's. 
White vinegar and canning salt.  
 Colin and Duane washed all the cucumbers, most from WinCo, some from the Farmer's Market, and a few from Karen's garden.  We estimated that we purchased about 30 pounds of cucumbers.  
My sister, Connie, and Anne's friends, Amie and Micah, came to help. Everyone had a job, peeling garlic, cutting dill heads, stuffing jars, boiling brine, timing the canner.  
Anne's friends, Brit and Erik, lend us their portable propane "stove" and the water boils so quickly.  We set it up in the garage this year and all jars were sealed by 1 PM.  We made seven batches of brine and ended up with 24 quarts and 15 pints.  Stay tuned... the real test happens at the end of October when we do the first taste test!
There will be several jars for all the helpers and gifts that Anne and Duane like to give at Christmas time.  And next year Anne and Duane have their very own canning kettle since I forgot to bring mine up to Moscow.  We had a great time and shared lots of memories of all the canning my Mom did.  Perhaps I can add some pickled beets and Elberta Peaches to their shelves later this week.  A happy way to end August!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Family time at the Oregon Coast

The Oregon Coast - a favorite family place to visit and relax.  Opinions were shared in January about whether we should rent a house in Rockaway Beach or Manzanita.  Rockaway Beach won out for several reasons:  17 miles from Tillamook and Fred Meyer; a few minutes away from Kerri Lin Fishing Charter in Girabaldi; great beach with lots of driftwood for nighttime campfires and 20 minutes away from the Oregon Coast vacation mecca, Cannon Beach.  We rented the same house we stayed in three years ago and Grandma got to sleep in the bunk bed room with all the grandkids!

Our first family Selfie, Jacob holding the selfie stick!

We spent our days Flying kites, burying Odie, and moving driftwood.

Building fires and playing Phase 10
 Jacob and Colin loved the water, even though it was cold!  
 The skim and boogie boards were a great hit!
Celebrate as if someone left the gate open!!!!

John, Jacob, and Bradleigh caught all this fish and pulled in the crab pots!

Jon and Linda have owned the Kerri Lin Charter boat for over 30 years.  They are retired teachers and both grew up in the Lewis-Clark Valley.  Linda's mother, now 102 years young, lived near my friends Liz Crum and Betty Huffman.  I enjoyed my visit with these lovely people as well as watching them work hard to please all their customers.  

Son, Jeff, masters the art of fillet!

Jacob caught the biggest fish of the day!

 And John prepared panko-crusted ling cod!!

Karen made the open faced crab and swiss sandwiches!  By far it was the best meal of the week.
We did a little hiking through the forest above Smuggler's Cove, in Oregon's Oswald State Park.
 It was a bit long for Colin so we never did make it to Cape Falcon outlook.  Duane said, "it's not about the view for me, it's about hiking as a family.  Same for me, after all I got to see the huge trees!
We also visited Arch Cape and walked through some caves!  

We spent one afternoon posing for various family pictures.  The light was perfect, but the wind wrecked havoc with our hair.  The kids made it fun and we giggled a lot through the whole process!

Jake and Colin had a teeter-totter adventure that resulted in giggles for one and pain for the other!

Even as I write this I'm filled with gratitude for my children and grandchildren.  I can't think of any gift better than spending time with them.  No matter they all have electronic devices to distract them, but so do I!  I need my IPAD to read by daily scripture and reflections.  We had no bedside lamp in the bunk room so I needed my IPAD to read my book.  I'm amazed these kids can multi-task, such as playing Phase 10 and a game on their phone at the same time.  I observed a lot of sharing, kindness, and acceptance during the week.  Bradleigh agreed to the top bunk; Jacob played for hours in the cold ocean water with Colin; everyone played Phase 10, a grandma card game.  John cooked breakfast for us every morning and Duane took hundreds of great pictures and stayed up late to upload them to his computer.  Anne brought all the fixings for Smores and Karen did the laundry and cleaned the house!
Peace is seeing a sunset and knowing Who to thank!
Why is the sunset more colorful than the sunrise?
It is the irony of life saying sometimes good things happen in goodbyes.
I had lots of moments on this vacation to walk outside, stand in silence, look up to the sky and be grateful for my amazing life!  And I know Who to thank!