Monday, May 26, 2008

A Boy, Bees, Birds, and Blossoms in the Beeyard

Grandpa had great fun checking on the queens with grandson Grif’s assistance. Grif can distinguish queens, worker bees carrying pollen, queen cells, drone cells, drawn comb, uncapped honey, capped honey, brood and more. Grif observed that “Bees are great landscapers!” and “Bees poop.” and “Bees are kind of cute.”

Grif is adept at starting the smoker and using it.

He is helpful at running for excluders or other equipment needed from the van and putting the hives back together.
"So we are looking for the one with the big butt, right?"
"Now I know how the astronauts feel when they get an itch on their nose."

Meanwhile Grandma pretended to be R. W. Peterson.

And because of my roots, here is a beautiful buckeye blossom.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

One Day at a Time

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
Isaiah 46:4

Dad was hospitalized today. Some tests have been ordered and we will know more about his condition in a few days. My siblings, my stepmom and I are glad that he is in the hospital as some of his conditions were causing us increasing concern. Dad has a very high threshold for pain and though he says little, we were aware that he was hurting. If anyone is interested in sending him a card, email me for his address.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Not a Barn Dance. . .

Yesterday my siblings and two brothers-in-law, and the youngest grandchild -- Katie, gathered at Dad’s farm to clean the north end of the barn. I would love to take credit for mustering the troops with this blog. It actually was my brother and brother-in-law that suggested we find a day that we could all get together and see what we could accomplish. I thought the project was totally overwhelming and beyond any scope of our abilities. If you take a look at our work crew photos, we are not exactly the type of group that would be day hire for any big muscle type of job. My nearly ninety year old father was crew chief so I had no need to doubt! He surprised us with some Secret Weapons and we attacked the project with confidence. These SW were a Bobcat, and a truck and a trailer, along with an accomplished and experienced eighty year old friend, Dean. So together we loaded nearly four ton (3.93 to be exact) of scrap metal and cleared that section of the barn. It was truly amazing!

Dean asked if any of us would like to go with him to take the scrap metal to Bryan. I expected the men to jump at the opportunity but they were not interested and they still had other jobs to accomplish on the farm and at Dad’s house. My sisters were eager to have a break from me or they were just being generous, but for whatever reason, they encouraged me to go along. I didn’t even need to clean up the lunch as Dean was leaving immediately so it was a little like winning a small lottery.

Did I mention that the truck was very old? I asked Dean if it had a gas gauge. He said that he didn’t know but not to worry, he had filled the truck with diesel fuel that morning. The passenger seat did not have a seatbelt but the driver seat had a lap belt. His seat went down to the floor every time that we turned a corner or went over a little bump or for no reason at all so he just had to keep raising it up again. The truck groaned a lot while it got started and went very, very slowly but I soon relaxed because Dean knew the back roads. He pointed out the place where there used to be a log cabin where his grandfather was born, the place where he started out with his wife Phyllis—in December it will be sixty years ago, and the farm of his Grandma Aeschliman. He told me about the corn that has kind of a yellow hue because of the cold weather and about a crop that had him puzzled. It hadn’t been drilled, maybe it was broadcast. We saw a beautiful stand of young walnut trees—probably 40 rows by 40 rows—just guessing—growing so straight and perfect. He told me that they had probably planted the trees for the next generation as it would about thirty years until the trees would be good for lumber. Each farm that we passed was well manicured—nicely cut grass, gardens and a few flowers. The farmers in that area take pride in their places. It really was beautiful!

The big machinery at the scrap metal recycling center, (which the men in our family insisted on calling a junkyard!) was impressive. The huge iron beams on the flatbed jumped up to meet the huge magnet in the air. I have seen straight pins from a sewing project gathered in the same way but this had to be thousands of times larger than that. The pictures are inadequate to the feeling of being there. A picture flashed through my mind of getting too close and the magnet grabbing my watch and of me being sucked up and dangled from a very high place. I carefully kept my distance with no warning from anyone. The unloader used a different machine with a large claw for Dad’s old plow. It was great watching the big machinery at work but I could not help but miss one little person that would have found this experience better than a preview of heaven itself—three year old grandson Ryan! It would have been daily conversation for him for months and plus he would have been good at imitating the sounds.

After paying Dean a bit and taking care of the fuel cost, etc. I was able to take a nice wad of cash to Dad that he received for the scrap metal. We are planning another work day at the farm in the fall, after the crops have all been harvested. We are going to do a controlled burn of some stuff. Does that sound scary or what? I can’t wait!

Now and Then

The Barn--May 2008 This is how it looks now but it used to be an okay place to play basketball.
The hayloft -- yesterday--2008.
Lowell, Brenda and neighbor Carol in the hayloft in 1961. By neighbor, I mean we rode the bus together and lived within four miles of each other.
Andy and Brad on the rope swing in 1981.
Andy on a load of hay in 1984.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

From Head to Toe

It was a privilege to spend this week with my dad. I love him and wanted with all my heart for him to have a good happy week.

When anybody shows kindness, patience and gentleness to him, immediately, I become a member of their fan club. I want to applaud, and weep and hug them and bless them. (I do resist the urge to hug.)

The highlights of my week were meeting many such wonderful people. The man that delivers meals five times a week to my dad and stepmom is energetic and cheerful and says as he hurries out the door to his next stop, “I love serving your mom and dad!” I was about to offer him a tip and he said, “Don’t even think about it!”

Amy who comes to clean their home every Thursday—at minimum wage—says, “What else can I do for you today?”

The neighbors across the street that watch out for Dad and Kay and noticed a new car and no Kay and came over to express their concern. (Kay was visiting her daughter, Linda, this week.)

On Wednesday, I took Dad to the podiatrist. There was a brief discussion about whether the procedure that he needed should be done, considering his other health problems. Dad, in his soft, sweet way said, “Well, if you can’t do it today, I know how to wait.”

Dr. Adams responded, “Yes, Walt, I am sure you do know how to wait.”

After looking at the problem though he said, “Walt, this is causing you a lot of pain, isn’t it.”

Dad said, “Yes, it hurts.”

Dr Adams, “Yes it hurts a lot. I hate to even touch it to numb it. It is going to feel much better when I am finished.”

When the procedure was finished, I said, “Show me exactly what to do, I want to take good care of my dad.”

It is no wonder that probably every patient and caretaker that goes to this doctor falls in love with him. Dr. Adams looked at me and said, “I can see that. You will do all you can for him.” And I will, I will.

There was quite a contrast in bedside manner as Donna and I took Dad for stitches on his ear after his fall on Thursday. The doctor came in the room clearly aggravated. He didn’t hide his frustration as he asked questions and folded his arms and sighed wondering, “Why did you fall this time?” Clearly, he did not have time to deal with the emergency. When he left the examining room briefly, I said to Dad, “Your doctor seems like a grumpy man.”

Dad sort of shrugged to indicate “no,” and then said, “This has messed up his schedule for today,” indicating that I should not judge the doctor too critically.

I was a bit worried when the doctor came right in, grabbed some kind of tool, and started working and I asked, “Are you going to numb his ear?’

The doctor did seem to relax a bit then and with a small smile said, “Yes, I will numb it.”

Later, I thought the doctor showed a bit of compassion and decided against suggesting that Dad change doctors—especially after cousin Carol laughed at my description of the doctor and indicated that he is a good doctor and said that it is very difficult to change doctors. I am sure that Carol’s response had some experience behind it as her mother, my Aunt Fanny, just recently celebrated her 96th birthday. (An aside on Aunt Fanny—she says, “Everyone has one but not everyone has an Aunt Fanny.”)

I sent out an alarmist call to my nurse sisters after seeing my Dad’s legs, begging one to go to the doctor with Dad and me. Donna was able to rearrange her schedule and come. What we heard was not encouraging. Dad and I heard other things as well this week that were hard and heavy:

“This diagnosis of congestive heart failure is not a new diagnosis for you.” (Although it was a new term for Dad to hear— perhaps because he had not wanted to hear it before.)

“We want to keep you from going to a nursing home as long as possible.” (A coated stab that indicates that Dad is only inches away from a dreaded end of life experience.)

“At your age, I would not do any treatment for those legs.” (Meaning there is no help available and they will not get any better and they will get worse.)

Each morning Dad and I read the Bible together and sometimes prayed out loud together and sometimes Dad said, “Let’s just pray silently.” This verse that I read today is particularly appropriate.

His [the Lord’s] pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of man; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.
Psalm 147:10 - 11

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tuesday with Dad

Dad had a few old coins in his drawer that he had for a long time. At the Burger King where he sometimes goes for coffee with the men on Monday mornings, he heard someone tell about exchanging some old coins for cash at a place on Monroe Street. I did some internet sleuthing, and found the place and then Dad called a buddy to confirm that it was the right place.

Thank goodness for my rather lame GPS, because Route 20 was closed due to construction and although Dad intended to tell me right where to go, he has trouble staying awake in the car—could be a family trait as it happens to me all the time also. When we arrived at the Gold and Silver Exchange, there were absolutely no parking spots. I dropped Dad at the door and waited until someone vacated a space. I did not wonder long why he had not entered by himself. It was a bit intimidating. You go inside the entry door and then you are in a barred cage. Someone has to buzz the door to let you get in. The room was packed with people—mothers with babies on their laps, old men, young men, old ladies--quite a motley crew of various races. Dad with his cane and I with my old jeans blended right into the scene. The man at the counter eventually asked us if we had something to sell today. We said, "yes." We were then given a number of 86. They soon called for number 60 giving us another indication that we were going to be there awhile.

I was wearing my nice rings and put my hands in my pocket and turned them backwards and then went to the restroom and quickly took them off and put them in my wallet. The fact that you could not leave the main room, which very much resembled my image of a jail cell, unless someone buzzed you out, probably made me a teensy weensy uneasy.

There were no seats available so I scanned the group and got enough courage to whisper to a man about 20 years old with dreadlocks if he would mind letting my father sit down. He was very gracious and popped right up and gave Dad his seat. He really was kind because he asked me several times if I would like him to get a seat for me. I declined and stood guard over Dad.

It was interesting watching people take their treasures one at a time up to the counter--mostly jewelry. They buy only real gold or silver--nothing plated or brass and so some people were turned away. I heard a few that got $400-600 but it was hard to see their wares because the men behind the counter tried to be discreet. Finally, when it was our turn, the man that waited on us was extremely kind. He wanted to get Dad a chair but Dad said, "No." Again, I had sleuthed on the internet and was surprised that the man offered Dad a fair price. Then in order to write Dad a check, Dad needed a valid driver’s license. I was a bit nervous about that but I need not have worried. He painstakingly shuffled through many cards from his rather thick wallet and happily and perhaps proudly produced his driver’s license—all up to date and good. So it is a good idea for him to have a license!

Back in the car, I let out my breath and said, “Well, Dad, that was an adventure!” Undaunted, he said, "Now I know more about it. I have a gold watch that I picked up one time at a sale. I should have brought that. If we come this way again, I should bring it. You know if those things just lay around in my drawer, someone will find them and probably throw them out." Unfortunately, it isn’t a place we just go by.

One of our errands today was to go to the bank and cash the check and to my delight, it cashed. So there you go!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Literally and figuratively

It is good to have family when having fun
and when things are working well . . .

And when things don't run so well
and you run out of gas. . .

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Master Lesson from Mother

It is Mother’s Day. My mother died many years ago and since I am at my dad’s home today, I do not have access to a scanner to put a picture of my mother on the blog. I will show a picture that reminds me of Mother. Then I will tell the story. We were doing dishes the old-fashioned way. Mother was washing and I was “wiping” as we called it—drying—in case you do not know that old term. I was probably about ten years old. As mother finished washing her large white Mix Master bowl, she placed it in the sink and said to me, “Be careful with this bowl. It is slippery and it is an expensive bowl.”

I promptly picked up the bowl and it slipped from my hands, dropped on the floor, and broke into many pieces. Mother, without saying a word, walked into the washroom, picked up the broom and dustpan and carefully swept all of the pieces up and rolled them in an old newspaper for the garbage can. It took several minutes and I stood and silently watched her. After Mother finished, she began to wash dishes again.

I quietly said to Mom, “Aren’t you going to be mad at me?”

She said, “Brenda, why should I be mad at you? That was an accident.”

I wish I could write the emotion that I felt—it still can bring tears to my eyes. Mother understood.

I don’t remember much more about the conversation. I remember saying, “But it was expensive!” I don’t recall saying I was sorry. I do remember asking her if we could get another bowl and her reply, “We’ll see.”

This is a sweet illustration to me of my heavenly Father’s love, as well.

The LORD is compassionate and merciful,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.
He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us,
as we deserve.

Psalm 103: 8-10

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

She shouldn't ask. . .

Our widows group is meeting tonight. The women are mostly in their 40’s and 50’s. Actually, I am the only older one having just celebrated a birthday. It was so nice when I could say that we were all in our 40’s and 50’s. Also, I am not a widow technically. Since I remarried, I lost that title. They voted to keep me in the group--probably because I was the original founding member--or because we often meet at my home for dinner. We do not have a name for our group. It is a bit odd. All of us still stumble over the “widow” word. In my email communications, I just say things like, “Hi friends, just a reminder that we are meeting at 6:30 p.m. for dinner. . .” and in that way avoid using the title. All of this is background so that you will know that this next conversation is not about us.

An older group of widows—in their 70’s and 80’s also meet regularly. They do have a name for their group. When I heard it, I thought it was quite cute—The Owls.

Sarah: So, Lois, what do you think our name stands for?

Lois: I don’t know. What?

Sarah: Come on, guess!

Lois: I don’t want to guess.

Sarah: Oh, come on. . .

Lois (hesitantly and carefully): Old Widow Ladies?

Sarah (with a horrified expression): Of course not. . .Overcoming Women’s Losses

Oh my! Of course!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Happiness is twirling squirrels, a new bird, and an office at home

After three full days of sharing an office, I am happy to tell you that we are still friends. It really has been fun—like being on vacation. Just in case Bob’s boss, Doug, reads this, though I want to assure you that he worked very hard.

We ate breakfast together—which we never did before because Bob usually left for the office before I got home from walking. We also ate lunch together—I could count on one hand how many times that had happened before! We have been merging into marriage for a long time. This is our first test. Bob travels at least three days per week—often more. Both of us were quite independent before marriage so that has worked well. I get to have Bob most weekends—when I really want him here. I am really happy to have him come home. But I also am not sad to have him leave for a few days so I can stretch my wings again. (I love how angelic that makes me sound.) Even when Bob was home before, he went to an office from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. every day. Now, however, his office is in our study. No, he is not retired. I really don’t think that is ever going to happen. It is just that corporate decided to close the local office. Since he travels often and we live near an airport where we can get better fares, we have not yet been asked to move. So, he is here—really here—24/7. And I like it—although we haven’t tested it for an entire week yet.

We have both chuckled over our squirrels. We have a squirrel feeder that is battery operated to keep the squirrels from devouring our birdseed within hours. One day, while Bob was home, we both watched a determined squirrel get flung off three times. We had both seen that before—individually—but never when we were together. If you don’t understand this, I will send you a Youtube link--and this one is sure to make you laugh! Really animal lovers, the squirrels do not get hurt.

We also have had time to enjoy a new bird at our feeder—a grosbeak. It has been such fun to watch. Usually, our cardinals just flit in and are gone again quickly. However, our cardinals were quite protective of their source of food. When the grosbeak would come, the cardinal would peck him off. The grosbeak would sit on the fence or another high point and wait. But the cardinal would not leave. It would stay on the feeder for several minutes—not wanting to give the grosbeak an opportunity. It was quite fun to watch. It was tough though to get a good picture. This will have to do.

The grosbeak in turn would not let smaller birds on the feeder while he was dining. I was wondering if Bob and I are going to have to work on pecking order but we've had no issues in the first three days. Whew!

The Faith of a Child

Yesterday was Jessica’s First Communion. She had waited longingly for this day. Wisely, her parents had her wait until she could better understand its significance. As I sat beside Jessica, she took a bookmark from her Bible and showed it to me. Then she placed her finger to mark each statement and then bowed her head and then read the next statement—each time moving her finger along and bowing her head. When the bread was passed each family member including Jessica took one of the small pieces and later at the appropriate time we also received the cup. I felt privileged, thankful, and blessed to participate and to observe this humble, significant, reverent time of communion.

I was reminded of Mark 10:15 and Luke 18:17.
I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.

Perhaps you might be interested in the bookmark given to Jessica at the preparation class that she had attended. It was produced by Wheaton Bible Church Children’s Ministries.

On one side I Corinthians 11:23-28 was written out.

On the other side was the title, “Preparing for Communion” and these five statements.

  • Quiet your heart before God. Psalm 46:10
  • Remember Jesus died for your sins. Mark 10:45
  • Tell Him the things you are sorry for (Is there anyone else you need to tell you are sorry?) Matthew 5:23
  • Ask God to clean your heart. 1 John 1:9
  • Tell Him things you are thankful for. Psalm 106:1

Anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Matthew 18:4

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Dale's Tribute

Dale Rowell
December 12, 1948-May 4, 1988

Written and delivered at the funeral
by Dale Frank May 7, 1988

I'm going to miss Dale Rowell. Very few people have come into my life who so completely modeled what a Christian man should be. For 15 years I watched this man live out his commitment to Jesus Christ and he never missed a beat.

It seems we have far too few men like Dale. His priorities were set in stone. And he didn't have to tell me what they were. Year after year he consistently demonstrated those priorities.

His number one priority was to please his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. There was never any doubt about it. Dale loved the Scriptures and loved to be involved in the Lord's Word.

In 1987 Dale made a commitment to read through the Bible in one year. And he did it. I knew he'd do it. When he set his mind to something, it got done. I can remember how pleased he was about that. For years Dale consistently memorized God's Word and encouraged others to do the same through the Bible Memory Association. He and Brenda coordinated that effort in our church. It was just one of dozens of jobs Dale took on at the church.

No glory, no fanfare, not a lot of commotion;
Just a good job--well done.

To me Dale was one of the best Sunday School teachers in the church. Tomorrow when I come to church and go downstairs, I'm really going to miss seeing him there. Sunday after Sunday he would be moving briskly through the hall with an armful of material that he had carefully prepared for his 4th and 5th grade classes. The thing that made Dale special was that he really loved the children. He thought about his class during the week also. Sunday afternoon might find him playing soccer with them. He might call or drop a card to a youngster who had been absent.

Once again, not a lot of fanfare,
Just a good job--well done.

Running a close second was his commitment to his family. There was never any doubt about it. Dale's love for Brenda and the boys was so incredibly obvious.

What a thrill it was for Dale to save and plan to take Brenda and Andy and Brad on a 3-week vacation through the West. And he made sure they didn't miss a thing. I can still hear him enthusiastically tell of all the interesting experiences they'd had as he showed me the pictures.

He was also ready for a great season as one of Andy's baseball coaches. A couple of Sunday's ago he was talking about the team and I told him it was probably just good coaching. He laughed and said, "Nah!" I can still hear his enthusiasm as he looked forward to spending that time with Andy. He took every opportunity he could to be with the boys. Last Christmas the call went out for volunteers to help build the set for the Christmas play. I knew Dale would be there. You could count on it. But he didn't come alone. There, right next to him, was Brad. They had their tools in hand and were ready for work. It was one more way Dale could spend time with Brad and at the same time perhaps teach him another skill. By the end of the evening Brad was easily handling the electric drill and driving screws into the lumber.

My memories of Dale and Brenda in the newly married Sunday School class 15 years ago was one of a couple really in love with each other. And the last time I saw them together it was just the same.

Not a lot of fanfare, not a lot of commotion.
Just a good job--well done.

His third priority was his friends. It would take hours for me to recount the ways Dale and Brenda helped others. Dale knew how to do so many things and he loved hard work. Many times his friends were the beneficiaries of those skills and that hard work.

Well, I could go on and on about Dale. He was quite a guy. Yes, I'm, going to miss him. But my loss is heavens' gain. I can just see him now with that wonderful smile on his face and with that great enthusiasm he's probably asking God--

"What needs to be done around here?"

Not a lot of commotion. Not a lot of fanfare.
Just a good job--well done.

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'" Matthew 25:21 & 23

Saturday, May 3, 2008

In His Likeness. . .

There were other things to do this weekend. My sister, Lou, had invited me to vacation with her in Hilton Head. She said it was a walkout onto the beach with my own room and TV.

Our church members were invited to participate in a program that I totally believe in and enjoy called Carefest. I was sorry to miss that also.

There was only one place though for today—with my Rowell family. Actually it is the family of my first husband, Dale. Twenty years ago on May 4, 1988, he died, at the age of 39 years. I wanted to be with others that still remember. I wanted to hear his name. I wanted to hear a new story. I wanted to see him reflected in the faces of his mother and his siblings—yes, even after twenty years!

Mom Rowell no longer resides in the home where Dale was raised or where she and Dad moved after the kids were all married. She lives in an apartment in a beautiful retirement community. Even so, I love the familiar furnishings and pictures on the wall, the hutch with the family pictures. Mom, at her kitchen table or in her chair, creates a wonderful sense of “home” and “coming home.”

Returning to Wheaton, I made a mental list of each of the family members in attendance:
Dear, practical brother Paul.
Sister Joy—so aptly named!
Sweet sister, gentle Judy.
Articulate brother David—knowledgeable in so many areas.
Little niece Annie—now a mother of two sons—who was loved by Dale.
Sister-in-law D’Ann—who helped me understand, enjoy, and appreciate what it meant to be a Rowell by marriage.
Uncle Howard—who Dale admired and enjoyed.
Mostly of course, Mom—loving, trusting, accepting, wise, reflecting Jesus in every way.

The day was not all that I had hoped. How could it be? There were no new stories of Dale—maybe after twenty years I have heard all of them. Even so, it was a good day.

As Bob and I neared home, I thought of the two Rowells that most reflect Dale to me. They look nothing like each other yet it is uncanny how much each son reminds me of his father. I love their walks, their postures, their facial expressions. I love to see them with their wives, their children, their friends. I love their determination, their smiles, and their work ethic. I even appreciate that, like their dad, breakfast cereals will work for any meal. I love their servant hearts, their playfulness, and their loyalty. They are very good men. Dale would be so proud of them. Gracious God, thank you for these children—living images of their heavenly Father and their father now in heaven.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Rain Didn't Bug Us. . .

Though the kids did need to change into costumes from the costume boxes while their clothes dried and snuggle up to watch a good movie. Later we baked a little and that warmed us and the house. Life is grand!


1 pkg active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
1 TBSP sugar
1 tsp. salt
¼ cup salad oil
2-2 ¼ cups flour

Dissolve yeast in water. Stir in sugar, salt, oil, and 1 cup flour. Beat till smooth. Add enough flour to make dough easy to handle. Knead dough. Divide dough into 32 pieces. Rub dough between hands, then on counter till 8-10” long. Put on cookie sheet 1” apart. Cover with towel and let rise about 20 mins. Bake at 350° for 20-25 mins or till brown. Remove promptly.

Note: Spray pans with Pam. Bake until they just start to turn brown. Brush with melted margarine when done baking.