Week 163 May 13, 2017

We were still in Tulsa at the start of this week, staying at an AirBnB where our host has the place decorated with artful messages, like “Love, Peace, Happiness,” “Follow Your Dreams,” and other inspiring images. She graduates with a Masters in Social Work this week then is heading out in her van for a road trip to celebrate. Congrats and happy travels! At the Woody Guthrie Center here we learned a lot about his music, life and times. His inspiring belief was “A Folk Song Is What’s Wrong, And, How to Fix It.” Yes!
We also attended Sunday service at All Soul’s Unitarian here, where their month’s theme of Mercy was embellished in a sermon by the senior minister, titled, “We All Make Mistakes.” Their semi-annual congregational meeting’s annual report cover said a lot about our faith in just six words: “Diverse in Belief, United in Love.” Loren and I then splurged on Sunday brunch at the Gilcrease museum restaurant, and afterwards walked through their extensive gardens and grounds. I had visited this museum some years ago at the suggestion of a coworker. It was where I saw my first Albert Bierstadt painting of Yosemite Valley and I have always appreciated his unique style when seeing his works ever since.
On leaving Tulsa we drove on more of Historic Route 66 in parts of Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas, on our way to Nebraska. We drove across Marsh Arch Bridge, through the town of Galena, and, cities of Joplin, Aitchison, Troy… We now must watch the animated movie Cars, which was partly inspired by Route 66. In Troy we saw our second of Peter “Wolf” Toth’s Whispering Giants Trail statues. Who knows if we will see more, but our first in Winslow, Arizona inspired our interest in seeing others.
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In Travels with Charley John Steinbeck makes it clear that he has little use for interstate highways, though he says it with more eloquence. Considering his view, I am torn. I grew up along with the interstate road system – I remember as a child when Interstate 287 in Westchester County, New York was under initial construction. Yes, Eisenhower’s 60 year old Interstate System is barren of character, but, it offers shortened travel time to distant destinations by allowing accelerated speed.
However, on exiting from an interstate, I sometimes feel frustrated by speed restrictions after just being able to fly along – unless it is commute time near a big city, plagued by an accident, or simply a congested area. On the other hand I relax more with the slower pace of the two lane highways, and enjoy seeing local culture alongside the road. Then on return to interstate driving, I miss the community sights. Plus, it takes time to feel comfortable accelerating to the speed of traffic – which is usually not until I am passed by several other drivers who are moving faster. I use cruise control to avoid exceeding the limit, though, if too many drivers pass by, I often speed up to keep up. When that happens there is the subtle yet constant vigilance for law enforcement approaching,  even hiding, not to mention a keener sense of defensive driving. Is all this is in some way a metaphor for life? Undoubtedly, I am receiving much inspiration to ponder this week.
We arrived at cousin Raynell’s in time for “supper” with her, her one daughter and grand-children. Last week she told us that there were still 29 calves expected. We had hoped to arrive in time to witness and help out. We learned how “heifers” are either too young to be bred, or, in their first year to give birth. Heifers have the potential to need the most help with delivery and/or their calf might need help with learning to feed, so our cousins check on them every 2 hours, day and night. We had missed the last heifer birth by mere hours. Now we just check the cows 2 or 3 times a day.
Our first full day on the farm was of “working” the cattle, which included rounding up, sorting and pairing some of the heifers and their calves, tagging them, and putting them to pasture. The “working” included our one cousin physically pinning the calf with her body while the other tagged its ear, and, if male, bound it to create a steer from a bull. Loren’s and my efforts were to help round up, sort and pair, then assist with the specific supplies needed. It was truly a day of being farm hands under the expertise of lifelong farmers, an exhilarating day overall.
Our cousin’s five bulls are kept in electric fenced-in yards – two in one and three in another, and apart from the cows, unless it is time for breeding. Her farm also includes a hen house, where eggs are laid daily.
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We had a nice lunch out – excuse me, I mean dinner, what Nebraskans call the mid-day meal, with another cousin, his wife, and, their youngest granddaughter.
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We also visited at our cousin’s daughter’s farm to see her eleven newborn goats, literally her “kids.” Our cousin is holding the one who her granddaughter named, “Thumper,” because it was born on Easter. 
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That evening we went to see the granddaughter pitch in a softball double header in Omaha, saw her steal third, and score on a slide into home plate.
Also this week we learned about the process of planting soy beans, where our other cousin’s grandson, came over to confirm that the computer inside the sophisticated planter equipment was operating correctly. We were then privileged to see our first newborn calf, delivered by one of the several cows who are still expecting. Where we had thought that the cow would need our help, we learned instead that she would fear us for being too close. It was amazing to see how the calf stood up so soon after its birth!
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The week was topped off by fishing in a pond where Loren and his cousins had fished as kids, complete with a cookout hosted by our cousins. One granddaughter brought her new puppy named Diesel while a grandson caught the first, the largest, and the most fish of the evening’s event!
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One cousin helped Loren net in his largest fish…
Today we are going to watch one of the grandchildren’s baseball tournament!

Week 162 May 6, 2017

Dear Family and Friends, Thank you so much for keeping up with us, here on the blog, via email, or other ways. It is always wonderful to hear from you! Loren and I so appreciate your support of us.
We started this week in Salina, Kansas, where we had a fun weekend visit with Loren’s former factory manager friend, and his wife. While there Loren and I attended a UU discussion on “What is Love?” followed by a Sunday service, where, as usual at a Unitarian Universalist congregation, we felt right at home.
Our friend then treated us to homemade dumpling soup for lunch. For dinner Loren made his Nonna’s pesto pasta, while the rest of us participated as Sous Chefs. Another wonderful visit with friends! 
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After several days of rain, the glorious sun graced us on and off for a couple of days, despite relentless and sometimes fierce cold winds. Before leaving Salina we visited The Land Institute, where Loren surprised himself with recollections of college learnings. Then we toured the factory before heading off eastward.
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On arriving in Abilene we noticed Tornado Alley lanes, so, after finding our campground, we returned to bowl. It took us a while to get into a groove. In the 1st game I had a frame where I scored just 1 point, and earned only 2 spares the whole game. At least Loren broke 100. We finished that pitiful game with the scores of 74 and 109! During the 2nd game I outdid my first by the 5th frame with lots of spares, and Loren had 2 strikes after I corrected his arm vs. wrist twists. I ended up 2 points above Loren: 128 to 126.
It had been nearly 3 years since Loren and I had bowled, and that was with my brother and his family to honor my Dad just after his funeral. Bowling here brought up other memories – of childhood bowling with family, teen years with friends in a junior high league, and as a young adult in work and community leagues. It was after we were married that Loren first joined a league with me. Bowling provides decent exercise, though the words “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” ran through my mind. In our 3rd game, I scored my first strike, albeit in the 6th frame. I almost typed inning! We finished with 116 and 119, for averages of 106 and 118. It was nothing like my former games of 180-190 back in my best years, but again, a fun way to have a bit of exercise.
Our main goal in Abilene was to see Eisenhower’s Presidential Library, and we started with a tour of his childhood home on the same property. The docent there was excited because in about an hour he would be leading Winston Churchill’s great-grandson on a tour. After about 5 hours of us perusing the Presidential museum, closing time was announced, and as we quickly made our way outside. It turned out that David, Churchill’s great-grandson who was also finishing his tour, graciously held the door open for us. If we had been more prepared, we would have lingered more and possibly even invited the friendly Brit to join us for dinner…
We had planned to leave Abilene, but instead decided to spend another night so that we could return to Eisenhower’s Library, to take in what we had rushed past when the end of the day closing announcements were broadcast. So, that evening we returned to Tornado Alley where Loren and I had averages of 94 and 114, respectively. In the morning we returned to Eisenhower’s Library. We were shocked to discover that when we had finished visiting there, and, seen the additional World War I display in the Library, that we had spent another 6 hours. It was fascinating and so worthwhile to us.
Can you guess what we did then? We chose to spend one more night in Abilene, and went back to Tornado Alley. I located a ball that fit my hand better and had a more respectable average of 145. Loren’s was 133. With all 3 nights’ together, my average was 115, Loren’s was 121.
We spent the next day in Wichita, where we walked the trails at Great Plains Nature Center. We spotted much wildlife – geese, turtles, 
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white herons, and deer,

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and found an idea to ponder.
That evening we took a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s unique Allen House.
In the morning, we drove to Oklahoma City to see the memorial museum of the 1995 tragic devastation at the Federal Building. Now we are in Tulsa – the sun is warm and the gentle breeze is simply, cool.
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Week 145 January 7, 2017

Happy New Year! We rang in 2017 with cousins on their farm in Nebraska. We aimed for playing cards all night! Well, we nearly did. Loren and I went to bed after 2:30 am, the latest we have stayed up on a New Year’s Eve for several years now. It was a very fun evening!
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It was so good to be with these precious people again. Our weekend visit included going along to do a few farm chores…
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to Loren playing basketball and throwing the baseball with one cousin and his teens. It also included time to play with the dogs, attend church, visit other family farmhouses, and, play more cards.
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We were lucky in that the Nebraska winter was mild, until after we left! So driving to and from the farm was easy. Our next drive day took us from Nebraska, through Kansas and Oklahoma, to Texas, and we were again lucky with the winter weather for driving.
Starting in Fort Worth, we had a lovely dinner visit with more cousins. It was too short a time, yet most memorable, and for that I am thankful. That is my Mom, second from the left as an attendant in the wedding photo, and, the photo of four generations including my great-grandmother looks so very similar to another one that was taken of her, my grandmother, my Mom, and me. These are only some of the four generation relationships that my great-grandmother was a part of during her 100 years of life.
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The Arctic cold snap that was predicted in Nebraska arrived in Texas too. Karen told us that they had been wearing shorts the day before, but for now it has turned bone chilling cold. In Dallas, Loren and I went to see the George W. Bush Presidential Center located at Southern Methodist University. It was very cold here too, nothing like Loren had envisioned of Texas.
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The next day, in the city called College Station we toured the George H.W. Bush Presidential Museum at Texas A&M University. It was still very cold.
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Now we are in Austin and have seen the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library at the University of Texas. As LBJ was in office when we were both quite young, Loren and I learned a lot about what life in the world was like during his Presidency.
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Still in Austin we have taken a Bikram Yoga class, and plan to do so on each of the next few days. It is also cold here, but, the yoga studio staff assured us, even if the weather is predicted to be bad, it is always good weather on Sundays in Austin. We will see…
In the meantime, Loren and I wish you a wonderful, happy, healthy, healing year, 2017!

REPOSTING in Progress: Weeks 2 to 109

This place holder is for the entries from our original blog to be added, eventually. Please check back – this re-creation is a labor of Love and will take a bit of  t-i-m-e- which, while still traveling, we do not always have a lot available to devote to this.