Saturday, October 06, 2007

Nominations, Election, Results

The nominations and elections are over and I am going to be the new director of the Mt. Baker Chapter Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) in 2008. This is pretty exciting to me. I would have never have imagined when Larry and I bought our first Harley together how important it would become in our lives.

Christmas 1999 found a shinny chrome yellow Heritage Softail under the tree. Well not under the tree but in the shop behind the house. My kids were all excited and laughing that mom was going to be wearing black leathers and they could hardly wait to tell my old friends from CA about it. That was only the beginning.

In 2001 Larry became director of the chapter (he was the first assistant director when the chapter was formed back in 1991) and I became the Ladies of Harley LOH officer. We were a very small chapter of only 40+ members and only about 12-15 actually attending meetings. Since then I have been the chapter photographer, historian, secretary, membership officer, assistant director, and the 2007 WA state rally events coordinator.

I have a wonderful group of officers/friends (Rick, Angie, Vern, Rita, Jeannie, Dave B., Dave M., Dave J., Shelia, Martha, Bob, Mike S., Art, Mike G., Sherry, and Larry) who will serve with me as a team and together I know next year will be a great year filled with rides, events, and lots of fun for our chapter members. The members aren’t just members; they are part of my family. I care about them, worry about them, and truly enjoy being with them. Without a Harley I might never have met them and my life would be so much poorer without this group.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

An Escort for a Soldier

On September 15th my fellow H.O.G. members participated in our annual “Iron Butt Ride” of 12.2 miles for charity. This was our was our 7th year and the money we raise goes to our scholarship charity that we award to a local graduating senior each year who lives in our county and has a relative who owns a Harley-Davidson. We had a lot of fun and my husband got real lucky and won the 50/50 raffle. Momma wants a new pair of shoes (notice I didn’t say I need a new pair of shoes).

We finished up the raffles and drawings quickly to stay on time because we had another important event to participate in. Several weeks ago two of our members ask if anyone would like to ride their bikes and help escort their son Tony who was returning home with his Stryker brigade from a fifteen month tour in Iraq. We arrived at the rest stop with thirty bikes and at least forty people when you count those riding two up.

Angie had contacted the Combat Vets and they arrived with a group to lead the escort and several other local chapters notified their members and we had sixty bikes for the escort waiting for Tony to arrive. Surprise--because Marla and Bill told their son they would meet him there but didn’t tell him that all these bikers would be waiting to cheer him home. You see Tony bought a Harley while he was in Iraq and he will take delivery of it October 5th and will become our newest H.O.G. member in the chapter.

All we could do was visit with friends and wait. Someone yelled, “here he is” and the look on his face was like, “where I am going to park my vehicle with all these bikes taking up the spaces?” Then people were calling out his name and waving and the look on Tony’s face was stunned silence. Marla had tears coming down her cheeks to see her son home safe. We gave the family a few moments for welcoming hugs and the Combat Vets then greeted their brother with hand shakes and hugs. Slowly most of the crowd also moved forward to either shake Tony’s hand, hug him, or both.

Mike S. was there with his trusty camera and wide angle lens for a few groups shots before we pulled out and headed up the highway. Several of the bikes with the Combat Vets lead the vehicle Tony was driving with his wife and baby. His family and the rest of the bikes fell into a staggered riding formation stretching out for almost a mile down the freeway. Riding farther back in the pack and sitting elevated on what everyone refers to as a “princess seat” on our ultra classic I had a view of the entire procession ahead of us when we hit the dips and twists. Quite impressive! I am sure the motorists who passed us wondered why there were so many of us and where we were going. Mike had gone ahead of us and was stationed on an overpass to take some shots of the escort parade coming into town.

We ended the ride in Bellingham at a park where everyone could visit and do some more picture taking. Bill spoke on behalf of the family and thanked everyone for making this surprise welcome home for Tony and his family a very special event. Bill also asked that we remember those who have not returned home alive and to remember those still serving their country.

Mike and Miss Patti had a large oversized flag attached to their bike all day and it was quit a sight waving behind their bike. At the park Mike presented Tony with the flag as a remembrance of his escort home.

I have always told my kids that you are born into a family and that in life you also have others who become your family. This HOG group is my family. Thank you Marla and Bill for inviting the HOG family to become a part of your family and sharing such a precious memory with us.

Friday, September 14, 2007

2007 WA State H.O.G. Rally pictures

2007 WA State H.O.G. Rally

Dreams do come true. When we attended Daytona Bike Week in 2001, I was wowed by the number of Harley’s all in one town. I told Larry that there must be a way to get the bikes to come to Bellingham--and so the dream was born. I wasn’t sure how I was ever going to make my dream become a reality and I knew that I would never get 500,000 bikes to come to Bellingham, WA. But I thought what if 500 bikes came to town...What if?

For the last thirteen months I have spent countless hours at a computer helping to plan and organize events for the 2007 WA State H.O.G. Rally. I had an incredible team of volunteers on the events committee who took on tasks, rides, and events, making them happen.

It began in Yakima WA in July, 2006, when the Mt. Baker Chapter Harley Owners Group of which I am assistant director and membership officer won the bid to host the 2007 rally. Everyone had ideas and we took the best of them along with ideas from internet research and we worked everything into our theme of “Higher Harley Education.”

Friday night at the movies to watch Wild HOGS, with popcorn, coca cola, and free give-away prizes was a huge success. We had rides to the top of Mt. Baker, to the shores of Birch Bay, down Chuckanut Drive, one of the most scenic roads in America, and all around our county crisscrossing the back roads. We had a riding biker bingo game, a black crow bug splat target game, and a poker run. If you were sore from riding, we had an onsite massage therapist to give shoulder and neck massages to make you relax and ready to ride again. There was a first aid/cpr class, DOT motorcycle endorsement classes, Harley history presented by our regional manger J.T. Hasley from H.O.G. headquarters, and a special one-of-a-kind class by Jim Fricke the museum curator for the new H-D museum that opens next year in Milwaukee. We had something for everyone including pedicures for the ladies (it is rumored that a picture exists of two manly bikers getting a pedicure) and a class on altering and decorating your rally t-shirt to make it more stylish by adding rhinestones, buttons, and even making strategic cuts to spice it up.

We hired the Ryan Stiles UpFront Comedy Club to perform Saturday night and danced under the stars in Red Square to a blend of oldies music. And still we thought we could do more. We planned a rocking up-beat Sunday morning worship service in a plaza over looking Bellingham Bay, followed by a Marine color guard presenting the flag and the national anthem was sung before one hundred and one Harley’s cruised through town for the first-ever bike parade. We returned to Red Square at Western Washington University for a bike show, more live music, afternoon movies, a picnic lunch, and more classes to choose from before closing ceremonies when we awarded the prizes, awards, and raffles to those attending.

It was a wonderful weekend with over four hundred bikers attending the first ever state rally held in Bellingham. A little drizzle in the beginning but most people understood it is western Washington--it rains. We had HOG members from fourteen states and Canada in attendance with about one hundred of those staying in dorm rooms on campus to live like a college student.

It was an achievement, an accomplishment, a triumph, what more can I say! What a great HOG chapter we have; full of active supportive members. We (all the staff, committee members, and volunteers) worked hard to give HOG members a rally like no other rally they had been to before. Our regional manager congratulated us on the rally for taking the initiative to try something new, a new site to hold the rally (a college campus), a new idea of providing classes, a new bingo game to play, and the enthusiasm to make it happen.

Now with this all said, we are ready to relax and let someone else do all the work and we will just attend the next rally as guests.

Thanks to Mike K, Cis, Angie, Rick, Rita, Dave, Jeannie, Mike G, Mike S, Glenn, McDave, Tom, Ken, Michelle, Larry, Dave B, Bob, Shelia, Vern, Martha, Marla, Art, Barbie, Angie, Lisa, Robin, LJ, Dave, Rick, Bob, Ken, Rob, Jerry, Jim, Ron, Gary, Mike H, Mark, Dick, Mike M, Chris, Ron, Philip, Bill, Bob, Jeff, Martha M, Kaye, Cosette, LuAnn, Terri, Harry, Susan, Martin, Steve, Eric, Larry B, Lorie, Rob, Michael, Diana, David, Michelle, Brian, Kathy, Candie, Heather, JD, Rick E, Marina, Dave J, Dawn, Susan, Tina, Sherry, Lily, and Miss Patti. Special thanks to JT Hasley our regional manager and Jim Fricke from the H-D museum and his band Whispering Johnson which made a special performance, Steve Steele and the Reflections, Eric Love and Wild Ride, and the Ryan Stiles UpFront Comedy Club performers.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Potholder Art

Miss Lilly on the 4th of July

Miss Lilly on the July 4th

To most people, fireworks, barbeques, beaches, backyards, family, and friends, that’s what July 4th represents. Sometimes we forget while watching the rockets red glare and the sparkling white shooting stars that the reason for the red, white, and blue is our freedom.

With talk of so many illegal aliens in our country, those who come here legally are sometimes forgotten. My friend, Miss Lilly became a United States citizen on the 4th of July at City Center in Seattle with five hundred and fifty-one other immigrants from eighty-two nations.

Lilly’s husband Vern was out of state caring for his father so Rita, Angie, Cis, Mike, and I went to support our friend. Lilly was born in China and is an accomplished businesswoman and teaches Chinese at Western Washington University. She is sweet and caring with a flair for cooking and sharing her elaborate meals with friends.

I felt privileged to be invited to watch Lilly become an American citizen. The girls left Bellingham at 7:00 AM laughing and sharing stories all the way to Seattle. We arrived before our arrange time of 10:00 AM to get Lilly registered and in place before the ceremony began at 11:00 AM and Mike arrived to join us. The Army band played an array of military themes and John Philip Souza marches amongst the red, white, and blue balloons dancing on strings tied to railings and all the well wishers waving tiny American flags. Cis made a run to the store the night before to pick up flags so we would all have one and Angie snapped photos to commemorate the event. Dignitaries made speeches and then immigration and naturalization made their presentation and a judge made it official. Lilly had to sign her final papers after the ceremony and then it was official, she was an American. Lilly made a choice and a commitment to become an American and something to be proud of the rest of her life.

Salmon Art Project #2

This is my second year participating in the Annual Salmon at the Bay Art Show. We are given a three foot blank wood cutout of a salmon and may use any art medium we want to decorate the salmon.

My salmon is #53 and consist of thirty-nine two sided fused fabric flowers in hot pink, lime green and electric blue. The center of each flower is painted with glow in the dark paint to add that unexpected surprise to whoever buys the fish and turns out the lights for the first time. The back of the fish is collaged with paper in coordinating colors. I used three wires in the same colors to make a hanger for the fish and finished off the ends of the wire with glass beads.

Because this little fishy looks more like a 60’s Haight Ashbury flower child I went with that theme and wrote a poem about him.

You’ve heard of the types of salmon
Atlantic, Chum, King, Lake, Pink,
Silver, Sockeye, Kokanee,
Copper River, Coho, and Steelhead,
But I bet you’ve never heard of me
I’m sure you never seen my picture
When thumbing through a book
I’m a fish of a different color
A flower child with beads
The one that always gets away
And lives to swim another day
I swim to a different rhythm
Upside down and backwards
I live among the water lilies
My motto is peace, love, and flowers
Live and let live, power to the salmon
I have evolved to survive
While my brothers and sisters
Wind up on a serving platter
I’m still swimming free
To be me

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Happy 90th Mom

My mother, Clella Jewell turned ninety years old on Sunday June 10th. On the following Saturday our family and a few close friends celebrated her birthday with a luncheon. She didn’t really feel like celebrating since it has only been five months since my father died but agreed to a small gathering.

My sister Mary wanted to do something to commemorate my mom’s birthday. Mary thought a quilt square from each family member and friends would be something special she could always treasure. We decided that the squares could be turned into potholders and hung in the kitchen to enjoy the memories. I bought muslin and cut it into nine inch squares and mailed them out. Now everyone is saying what I am going to put on this. I’m not artistic. What do I do?

The square for my husband Larry and I took several turns. I settled on “The American Gothic” painting and imposed our heads onto the painting with a garden background. Did you ever go to find a picture of yourself and realize you hate them all? The hair isn’t the right style or color, you’re not smiling, and your eyes are closed. Since this is such a somber painting, I finally had a use for several of those pictures I don’t show anyone. Larry laughed and said I gave him a neck so he was happy with his part of the square.

My sister called in a panic so I did a square for her, printing a background of a gerbera daisy on the muslin, then I sewed a fabric gerbera daisy onto the top of that and in the center I put a picture of her when she was about eighteen years old.

Not done yet, I had to come up with an idea for my brother Jerry and his wife Laura. Something elegant and simple so I suggested they have their monogram embroidered on a square.

Wait…my daughter Kelly called and said her square would be a little late coming but she was going to use pictures from her childhood memories with my parents. Okay work quickly I told her. My son Michael made his square after a quilt block called Michael’s heart that he designed and my mother made into a quilt for him. My oldest son Jim did his square with a little help from Heather showing the state of California on it, the quarter horse logo, and a police shield. Heather still needs to get her square done.

My mom had a wonderful afternoon with a few dear friends, family, my cousins, and she loved her quilt squares. She said they would make a nice winter project to work on.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Mothers Day 2007

Kelly is in San Diego on her way home to Las Vegas. Michael is in New York City and flying home to Washington tomorrow. Jim and Heather are in California. My mom is in California. Its mother’s day and I’m home alone.

Pastor Bob had a wonderful Sunday morning service about Mothers Day and at times it brought me to tears. All I really wanted in life was to be a mom. I worked but I wasn’t what you call a career person with the college degree and the drive to be vice president of marketing. I worked because I needed the money but most of the time I worked because I needed the friendships I found in my places of employment. My real job, the one that meant everything to me was being a mom.

My kids are perfect because they are my kids, but that doesn’t mean they are perfect. Larry would call that practically perfect. I cried when I found out I was pregnant with each one of them and rejoiced in caring for them in my womb for nine months. I counted fingers and toes and stared at them for hours after they were born, beautiful babies and they were mine. Jim, Michael, and Kelly are each unique and each special. Each different than their siblings and yet they are so similar in so many way. Best friends and bitter enemies at times with each other and then the times they would band together against me if they thought I had wronged one of them.

I wouldn’t trade one day of motherhood, even the bad days for anything else in the world. I loved it when I could kiss my babies and make their skinned knees or elbows feel better. A hug could make their world seem brighter and “I love you” when they went out the door let them know I really did love them, even if the door slammed because they were mad at me. It’s hard to really remember bad times, because there were always so many more good times, times we laughed just being silly, sharing stories, their first days of school, first report cards, learning to drive, their first car, first girlfriend, first boyfriend, graduation from high school, and when they each left home.

It wasn’t until I had an empty nest that I truly understood how much my mother loved me and my siblings. She loved us enough to let us go, knowing in our hearts wherever she was we would be home. Each of my children called to say happy mother’s day and tell me they loved me. I called my mom to tell her how much I loved her and missed her.

The circle of love unbroken between a mother and child even miles apart no matter what the age.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Candie...she is as sweet as her name sounds

When the mention of chocolate doesn’t sound good you know you are really sick. I came home from my wonderful mother/son weekend sick. Nothing my husband Larry could fix for me or do for me helped. I coughed and sputtered, I mumbled and grumbled, I drank hot tea until I couldn’t take another sip of any flavor

Before I left on my weekend adventure we had a new mattress delivered with fifteen inches of snuggly, comforting, softness. But I can’t sleep lying down because the cough begins immediately so I have been sitting up on the sofa trying to sleep night after night. I know I’m whining, I’m sick; I’m allowed.

After four days of being sick my friend Candie arrived to relieve Larry of the cooking duties and cheer me up. She brought a wonderful beef and vegetable Gypsy soup she said would make me feel better--and it did, and there was enough for several days. In the many bags she arrived with were whole grain rolls, vegetables and chips with salsa dip, fresh fruit, strawberry shortcake, cereal bars, and blueberry muffins for breakfast. Candie had thought of everything. The best part was seeing her smiling face.

Candie never does anything small, plain, simple, or unadorned. Candie embellishes life as she does her scrapbook pages and art. In addition to the food, she came with a special treasure bag of goodies to cheer me up. First item in the bag was a horse bridle. How cool is that? I smiled and laughed for the first time in days. Next there were fabric samples, vintage beads in little glass vials with cork stoppers, ribbons, miniature books, wooden boxes, cowboy charms, vintage pearls in the original package, metal alphabet tiles, and retro inspired tissue paper.

The next day I did feel a little better and today better still. I’m going to need that Gypsy soup recipe, but the best medicine was a friend who not only took the time to make dinner but embellish it with the delivery of such thoughtful gifts.

I am lucky to have my life embellished with Candie as a friend.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Mothers Day Came Early

April 27th, 28th, 29th

On Friday evening I departed for the Keystone Ferry headed to Port Townsend with my son Michael. We were going to join his friends Kevin, Bret, and Cameron and their moms for the inaugural mother/son weekend.

Originally we were going to Leavenworth but the pass had been closed due to snow and wasn’t scheduled to be open for another two weeks so the boys changed plans. You know what they say about the best laid plans, there’s always room to change them again.

We had to wait for a second ferry crossing because the first was full. Time to stretch our legs and get into the peanut butter cookies I had packed in the trunk. We listened to music and talked.

We arrived at 8:30 PM about 15 miles out of Port Townsend on highway 101. Dinner was almost ready and I was so hungry. Kevin’s mom had a family emergency and Cameron’s mom had to work and Cameron couldn’t join us until Saturday morning. So it was Bret, his mom Mimi, Kevin, Michael, and me to laugh and talk around a table of good food, spaghetti with our choice of red sauce or Alfredo sauce, foccacia bread, salad, a glass of wine, and a wide assortment of goodies we all brought to share.

The Condo we were in could sleep 8 so we had more than enough room. Mimi cooked eggs and bacon for everyone in the morning and Bret brought Starbucks coffee to share and took charge of brewing the perfect pot. Cameron was going to arrive at 12:30 PM so we timed our trip into town to meet him. Well, we arrived early enough to buy more coffee.

Bret works for which is part of Starbucks. He loves his job and I see him moving up in Starbucks management. He is passionate about music so he is in a job that provides a living, allows him access to more music than you can ever imagine, and loves living in Seattle.

Kevin works for a major cruise line. He trains personnel to drive the busses in Alaska that take passengers on the land tours. While he enjoys what he is doing and has great perks, he is trained in the arts and that is where his passion is. Expect him to take his management skills to the art world one day.

Cameron was one Michael’s first friends I met when we moved to Washington. He has worked in real estate, selling and leasing and now works for Wells Fargo. Cam is probably the one who will wind up the real estate mogul since he seems to understand the ins and outs of both worlds and likes to dabble in both. I will be able to say I knew him when.

Michael works at St. Joseph’s in a management position running the Lifeline Medic Alert program. He also has set up his massage practice and has resumed business in his free time. Michael is still exploring his options as to what he wants to do in the future but living life as fully as he can in the present. This weekend he is off to Boston for a conference.

We walked through the charming little town of old brick and cement buildings designed with ten and twelve foot ceilings and the little shops that now hold boutique gifts, toys, kitchen wares, wine, art, and ice cream. The rain was gone and even though there was a breeze that made us glad we had jackets on, the sun felt really wonderful. We found a wonderful little pub to have lunch and before checking out all the other shops and heading back to our motel in Port Townsend. Several of us took a nap and the rest found the hot tub. Mimi knew a Thai restaurant and the food was wonderful but not as wonderful as watching Michael and his friends laughing and having a great time.

We went back to the hotel and Mimi and the boys played games and I had to leave the group as I was a little under the weather. I was still quite sick the next morning and sent everyone off to breakfast to a little place that was serving stuffed French toast. Everyone split up and Michael picked me up at the motel and we headed home.

So I missed out of some of the activities and I really missed not meeting the other mothers. I’m already looking forward to next year and where we are going. Thanks to Bret, Cam, Kevin, and Michael for such a thoughtful way to honor your mothers.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Happy Birthday Mary

I won’t tell her age but today, April 27th, is my sister Mary’s birthday. I was born in 1951 and she is my older sister, but that is all I can say. Okay she graduated in the 60’s.

She didn’t want to celebrate her birthday, but her friends all reminded her that my mom is a great cook and makes wonderful cakes. So she changed her mind and will have a small celebration.

I thought about what to get her for a gift and found some vintage hand embroidered cotton napkins and a matching table cloth. Cute, but I felt I needed to do something more--more personal, something fun, something she wouldn’t expect. Mary loves the 50’s music so I decided to make a little art piece to celebrate poodle skirts, 50’s music, family, and her love of gardening. Framed and ready to send, I will put this little framed art piece in the mail on Monday as a belated gift.

Until then…Happy Birthday Mary

Thursday, April 26, 2007

An Act of True Friendship

Everyone talks about friendship and love. We say call me if you need something. I'm always here for you. A lot of the time we know no one will actually ask and if they did we might have to examine what we would really be willing to do for someone else.

The picture is two young women both sophomores in high school, one named Michelle on the right and her friend Chelsey on the left. Chelsey is undergoing cancer treatment and her friends wanted to show her how much the care and love her so they also shaved their heads so she wouldn't feel so alone or different. Chelsey didn't ask her friends to shave their heads; her friends did this because they are real friends. Of the thirty kids who shaved their heads, only three were girls.

This isn't just another one of those internet stories you read about and then check out on to see if it's really real, Michelle and Chelsey are Ferndale High students. I know Michelle and her parents and told them what an incredible act of love and support Michelle has shown.

Art Linkletter always said kids say and do the most amazing things and it's true because they act from their hearts.

Please remember Chelsey in your prayers as she undergoes eight months of cancer treatment and her friends who will need to be mentally strong to support her in the bad days and rough times.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Christmas again

My younger son Michael flew to California to get a used car after his was totaled in an accident. It was a quick turnaround but he did have time to see his brother Jim. Jim and his girlfriend Heather had a hard time getting their Christmas presents boxed and mailed and several didn’t make it into the mail system. Michael hand delivered the goodies and it was like Christmas allover again. We have DVD’s of the sopranos to watch and speaking of watches Larry has a new one on his wrist. There were two beautiful candle holders with bears on one and horses on the other that will be just perfect as we switch rooms around in the house and have a new lodge/western dinning room where the sunroom was.

We were standing outside admiring Michael’s new car with the trunk open while this gift unwrapping was going on. I was told to close my eyes for the last gift. I couldn’t imagine what it was. I love surprises and secretly want to know what they are, but don’t tell me or it would ruin the surprise. The drum roll please…a saddle. How cool was this, a real full size saddle with stirrups. This was one of Heather’s old saddles and she was giving it to me. This is a gift that I will always treasure as one of my most prized possessions.

Now I need a saddle rack so I have been searching for plans to build one. I’ve got an old canteen I can hang off the saddle horn and maybe I can find some chaps. I have buffalo horns that Larry bought for me a couple of years ago and bobbed wire made into a wreath.

When my kids were little it seemed that one present always got misplaced and not found until several hours after all the other presents had been opened. It was always a great joy for that child to have one more gift when they thought everything had already been opened.

Well maybe this should be a regular Christmas tradition. To get a gift after all the tissue and colorful papers have been discarded and the boxes put away.

My heart can’t find enough words to say thank you for all the gifts and thoughts behind the gifts. These were gifts given in thoughtfulness and love and with glee.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Kelly's 22nd birthday

Our daughter Kelly is going to turn twenty-two this week. I was in Las Vegas last year for her 21st birthday and this year Larry and I will both be with her.

She’s grown up but she will always be my baby.

22 reasons why I love you:

You are a gift from God
I love you just because you are you
You are not just my daughter you are my friend
I love you even though you said your grandmother is your best friend
Your beauty is not just skin deep
You are kind to others
You love your family
You take care of your friends
You are funny
You are honest
I love your laugh
I love you when you sing
I love you when you dance
You are stronger than you think
You are smart
You are not afraid of a challenge
You love to cook like your grandmother
You stand up for what you believe in
You love me even when I’m not being a good mom
I love that you like to watch chick flicks with me
I love you for giving me a hug in the grocery store and not caring that your friends might see you
I love your smile and your love of life

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Lean On Me

Dorothea Christine Breshears June 30, 1924 - March 6, 2007

Lean on Me. Those words seem so simple and easy. Who do you lean on when everyone around you is also hurting? My uncle Jack passed away six months ago. My dad his brother died a month ago and now my aunt Dot passed away this morning from heart failure.

My cousins have lost both their parents in six months. I can’t even imagine their pain. I worry about my mother being the eldest member of both sides of the family. My mom has a sister Elma and sister-in-law Juanita but both have Alzheimer’s so my mom has no one else from her generation to lean on.

I haven’t even begun to heal from the loss of my dad. I feel broken and when people say “God doesn’t give you any more than you can handle,” I hope this is it, no more, I’m done, I can’t take another problem or hurt.

Our church has a once a month refuge service on Wednesday night. It is an evening to worship, rejoice, reflect, and take communion. So tonight I will lay it all before God in his house and take comfort again within his embrace.

I know my tears like the rain will still fall tomorrow, and gray skies like my soul will not fade quickly but hope like spring blossoms will fill my heart with memories.

Lean On Me – Bill Withers

Sometimes in our lives we all have pain

We all have sorrow

But if we are wise

We know that there's always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you're not strong

And I'll be your friend

I'll help you carry on

For it won't be long

'Til I'm gonna need

Somebody to lean on

Please swallow your pride

If I have things you need to borrow

For no one can fill those of your needs

That you don't let show

Lean on me, when you're not strong

And I'll be your friend

I'll help you carry on

For it won't be long

'Til I'm gonna need

Somebody to lean on

If there is a load you have to bear

That you can't carry

I'm right up the road

I'll share your load

If you just call me

So just call on me brother, when you need a hand

We all need somebody to lean on

I just might have a problem that you'd understand

We all need somebody to lean on

Lean on me when you're not strong

And I'll be your friend

I'll help you carry on

For it won't be long

Till I'm gonna need

Somebody to lean on

Lean on me...

Friday, February 23, 2007


My friend Candie is artistic, creative, full of energy, funny, and a wonderful friend with a true heart. She loves to scrapbook and loves to play with paper and embellishments. She works at Treasury of Memories enough to support her scrapbook habit with enough free time to play in her studio and have family time.

She taught scrapbooking for a MOPS program through church for four years and I convinced her (it didn’t take much) to teach scrapbooking to the girls at GRADS.

Candie came in the first day and introduced herself to the girls and told them a little bit about herself. In addition to their monthly scrapbook pages she brought bonus pages they could take home on work on. The girls previously had paid $3.00 a month for supplies to do their pages and while that may seem like peanuts to a lot of people who think nothing of buying the best paper and embellishments, these girls struggle with budgets that do not include frivolous expenditures when they are teenage mothers raising babies. Candie is supplying the paper and embellishments with a little help from her friends at Treasury of Memories and other scrapbookers who donate supplies. The Ladies of Harley which we both belong to have also agreed to a small budget for supplies.

Candie is teaching the girls to journal and try new techniques. Tearing paper, using sandpaper, and ink pads might seem second hand to most scrapbookers, but these girls are just learning. The world of scrapbook and altered art is crossing over and techniques are interchangeable for either art form. So with Candie’s patient coaxing, and my pushing the limits with altered art projects, I am sure the girls will grow in their art. Hopefully, some of them will continue after they leave school to record their lives and their baby’s life in pictures and words.

Shopping for scrapbooking or mixed media art projects finds us both wandering the aisles of Value Village, Goodwill, Salvation Army, and an array of local thrift stores. I’m introducing Candie to the hardware store and I’m sure her husband, Sky, will soon have to hide his toolbox or Candie will wipe it out. Dollar bins, holiday closeouts, everything has possibilities.

We sort of look for things we can surprise the other with as little gifts to use in our art. I gave her oversized fake money and Candie is determined to teach me to scrapbook so she gave me a Harley scrapbook.

Candie taught an altered paint can class to a group of women at her church last Saturday. What she really taught them was that there are no rules and then she put mounds of supplies in front of them, showed them the can she was working on, and then they all played. Candie told them, “I’m not trying to stretch the boundaries; I’m trying to kick the fence over.”

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Valentine - Making Memories

The very first Valentines Day that Larry and I knew each other was spent emailing. Larry and I had just become email friends through my sister Mary and his sister-in-law Jeannie. He had a date and I was at church doing childcare so parents could have an evening out. Fast forward a year and our first valentines as a married couple was spent at the Majestic Inn in Anacortes. Larry booked a room, I had a long red satin dress to surprise him, he escorted me down a sweeping stairway that curved from the second floor to the lobby and we had a magnificent five course dinner.

Year two as a married couple was memorable because Larry brought home red roses, chocolates, flowers, and Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner. Our daughter Kelly laughed and thought it was great for her but knew it wasn’t what I was expecting. Quiet dinners at home or dinner out, it really doesn’t matter as long as we are happy.

This year Larry gave me an option for dinner at the country club or poker at the Harley shop. I chose poker, even though I don’t actually play, I knew some our friends would be there, and it would be a fun memory. Dinner was pizza, poppers, and beef taquitos. There was wine and roses for the ladies. We watched our friends play poker and cheered them on. We did a little shopping and lots of laughing.

Rick surprised Angie when they arrived with a bear dressed in Harley leathers and holding a balloon. Dave and Rita stopped at Costco for their annual valentine’s hotdog before arriving for poker night. Others celebrated with chocolates, presents, or dinner before arriving. It was definitely a different valentines and I enjoyed it.

I sent the kids little mini teddy bear finger puppets and candy canes. They know mom always has to do something a little different. My brother Jerry and my sister-in-law Laura celebrated their thirty-second wedding anniversary. I am sure he whipped up a gourmet dinner complimented with the perfect wine. My oldest son Jim took his dinner break when his girlfriend Heather had a break in classes so they could have time together.

My two dozen long stemmed roses arrived a day early and I had two really sweet romantic cards from my husband. I surprised Larry with a card and dark chocolate covered dried cherries which are now his favorite.

It’s not all about spending lots of money or fancy restaurants to savor memories of special days. It’s the time spent together making the memories.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Love at First Sight

Preparing for my fathers funeral, my mother finally revealed the story of how she met my dad and when asked why she hadn’t told us before she said “you never asked.”

Growing up in rural Missouri there wasn’t much teenagers and young adults could do or places to go to meet friends other than church Mom said there was one little place where you could visit with friends and listen to music, but no alcohol.

My mom went with a date that night who introduced her to another couple he knew. Mom said that she knew when she met the other young man that this was the person meant for her. It seems the other young man felt the same way about my mom and the two couple’s switched partners and my parents were always together from that night on. They were married about eight months later on December 24th, 1938.

The longest my parents were ever apart was when my dad took a carpenters job in California for several months and then he returned and moved our whole family to California to live. Mom occasionally took me to Missouri with her to visit family but that was only for a few weeks but most of the time we drove non stop with mom and dad trading off with the driving duties.

They never spoke an angry word to each other, never argued in front of us; they never cussed or called anyone names, setting an example to live by. They were perfect partners with mom taking care of the home and day to day family life and dad working to provide a home. They fished on the banks of lakes and rivers together, camping and cooking over an open fire and traveling in their fifth-wheel trailer. Mom quilted and dad built the quilt frames. Dad would work on a project and need help and call out ma and mom was right there to provide another hand.

It was love at first sight and they loved each other with all their hearts.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

My father and grandfather with me and Mr. Daisy May the cat

My Dad

My Dad

I wrote this poem for my dad in 2005 for his birthday.  On November 16th, 2006 my dad, Harry O’Neal turned ninety years old and on December 24th 2006, he celebrated sixty-eight years of marriage to my mother, Clella Jewel and on January 18th, 2007 my father passed away.

My dad is the best dad in the whole world
Yes he is, because he’s my dad
He taught me how to fish and roller skate
How to use a hammer and power tools
He loved me enough to let me learn for myself
Then picked me up when I stumbled or fell
He led by example day in and day out
He knew the impact of his actions
Even when I couldn’t see or didn’t want to see
He loved me when I made a wrong choice
The same as when I made the right decision
When I called and said daddy I need help
He always knew just what to do
Never hesitated said I’ll see what I can do
My dad could fix the car, the dishwasher,
Leaky sprinklers, electric cords,
Read Bruce’s loose tooth all over again
And again and again
If the grandchildren said please grandpa
He was a carpenter by trade
Following in his saviors steps
He doesn’t just talk the talk
He walks the walk
Everyday, seven days a week, 365 days a year
My dad, my example

Happy trails to you until we meet again

January 23rd

It wouldn’t matter what the weather was today, it just isn’t a good day.  As long as I keep busy greeting those who have come for the service or comforting family members I am okay.  It keeps me from thinking and crying.

My oldest son arrived and he had a chance to spend a few moments before they closed the casket and the service began.  My aunt Dot arrived very shaken having only lost her husband, my fathers brother months before.  

The service was a celebration of my fathers love for my mother, family, and his belief in God, Jesus Christ, and the word of God.  

All nine of the grandchildren participated in honoring their grandfather with six acting as pallbearers and three escorting the casket.  I watched these grown men and women with hearts breaking lay their gloves and boutonnieres on the casket and say their final farewell.  

My brother led my mother away and my sister and I laid a flower on the casket at the graveside.

My dad was a true fan of western novels and cowboy movies.  I grew up with Roy Rodgers and Gene Autry as my heroes.  Saturday night my parents took us to the drive-in movies with popcorn from home and candy from Woolworth’s to watch the latest western.  

Happy trails daddy.

Some trails are happy ones, Others are blue. It's the way you ride the trail that counts, Here's a happy one for you. Happy trails to you until we meet again. Happy trails to you, keep smilin' until then. Who cares about the clouds when we're together? Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather. Happy trails to you 'till we meet again.

Goodnight daddy

January 22nd

My husband, son, daughter and my nieces and nephews have all arrived.  The arrangements have been made and tomorrow we will bury my father.  The viewing made us face the reality of our loss.  

My daughter kept telling me that granddad needed his glasses.  They forgot to put his glasses on him and she knew he needed them.

The family left that evening with some resting a hand on the coffin and spending a quiet moment saying good-bye while others placed a farewell kiss on my fathers forehead.  

My father would playfully tease the grandkids and sometimes give them a noogie and occasionally they would give him one back.  My daughter gave her grandfather one last noogie and a kiss goodbye as she left.  

Goodnight daddy.

Harry O'Neal (H.O.) November 16, 1916 - January 18th, 2007

January 18th, 2007

My father hasn’t eaten in two days or had anything to drink.  It is only a matter of hours that we have left with him.  My brother Jerry and sister-in-law Laura are on their way from Arkansas, but I am afraid there isn’t enough time.

Pastor Ken came to pray with my parents and read passages from from my fathers well worn bible.  

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green [1] pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest [2] my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Psalm 19
To the leader. A Psalm of David.1The heavens are telling the glory of God;   and the firmament* proclaims his handiwork. 2Day to day pours forth speech,   and night to night declares knowledge. 3There is no speech, nor are there words;   their voice is not heard; 4yet their voice* goes out through all the earth,   and their words to the end of the world.
In the heavens* he has set a tent for the sun, 5which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,   and like a strong man runs its course with joy. 6Its rising is from the end of the heavens,   and its circuit to the end of them;   and nothing is hidden from its heat.
7The law of the Lord is perfect,   reviving the soul;the decrees of the Lord are sure,   making wise the simple; 8the precepts of the Lord are right,   rejoicing the heart;the commandment of the Lord is clear,   enlightening the eyes; 9the fear of the Lord is pure,   enduring for ever;the ordinances of the Lord are true   and righteous altogether. 10More to be desired are they than gold,   even much fine gold;sweeter also than honey,   and drippings of the honeycomb.
11Moreover by them is your servant warned;   in keeping them there is great reward. 12But who can detect their errors?   Clear me from hidden faults. 13Keep back your servant also from the insolent;*   do not let them have dominion over me.Then I shall be blameless,   and innocent of great transgression.
14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart   be acceptable to you,   O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
When the last word was read from psalm 19 my father took two small breaths at 6:26 PM and left this world and his pain behind.

"Oh Lord, please don't let me do this anymore"

January 17th, 2007

Tonight two of the pastors both named Ray from Bethel Baptist Church came to visit my parents and offer their support and prayers.  The worship pastor sang the following songs to my father:  Precious Memories, Where He Leads Me I Will go, I come to the Garden, and Amazing Grace.  He said this was one of the hardest things he had ever done.  My father made a few noises and we knew that he heard the sweet sounds of the hymns.

My dad cries out in his sleep and it is almost too much to for me to bear listening to his pain and being unable to do anything for him and yet my dad endures day after day finding strength in God.  Last night he cried out in his sleep “oh Lord, please don’t let me do this anymore.”  

I cry out to God please don’t let him hurt any more.

Keeping Watch

January 15th

I arrived in Oakland and my sister picked me up at the airport and took me to my parent’s home. My dad looks worse than I thought he would. My mom has been trying to prepare me for this moment but how do you really prepare someone to see their parent dying.

I put on a smile and tried to sound happy and went in to give my dad a hug and kiss. He knew who I was and tried to talk me into getting him out of his hospital bed. They man who could do anything while I was growing up was now confined to a bed and could barely move.

He sleeps most of the time so visiting with him is done minutes at a time. I kiss him on the forehead and smooth his hair back then slip quietly out of the room so that he can rest. A tear slips down my face as reality finally sinks in.

My mother sits in a rocking chair keeping watch; ready to jump up at any little sound my dad makes to care for him.

Only Days Left

January 14th, 2007

My aunt and uncles have all passed away except two aunts who both have Alzheimer’s.  My parents are both the eldest in their families.  My father has been fighting prostate cancer for sixteen years.  Now it appears the cancer is winning and we are in the final weeks and days.

I don’t want to lose my dad and I know he will always be with me in my heart but I don’t want my dad to suffer any more.  He has endured more pain from his back and shoulder injuries, kidneys, frostbite as a child, and prostate cancer than most people could tolerate.  To listen to him moan in his sleep from the pain and it is almost more than I can bear and yet my mom says he hums or sings in his sleep the Old Rugged Cross.  Even in the worst of times and pain, God brings him comfort.

It’s a long dark night waiting for a phone call telling me to come home.  Wondering how I am going to tell my children that their grandfather only has hours to live.  How will I comfort my niece and nephews in their grief?  How will my mother live without my dad?  How will I comfort my brother and sister?

When my sister died I was married but had no one for support to lean on or share my grief.  I had no church family to share my sorrow with.  I have a loving husband now and in those first few hours when I laid down in our bed, he held me and let me cling to him for support.  I have a church now and my small group will pray for my family.  My friends will also pray for my family and offer kind words because that is who they are.

I believe in God and have since I was seven years old and accepted Jesus Christ as my savior.  But believing and practicing are different.  God watched over me and held me when my sister Suzie died but I didn’t understand it.  God held me when I walked through the valley of death after a car accident, but again I didn’t understand.  Now I know and find comfort that God will hold me, surround me, carry me, heal my hurt, and make me stronger in my faith as I struggle with my breaking heart in these last days with my father.

I keep remembering the words to a beautiful song by Natalie Grant, Held and it brings me comfort, if only for a short time before the tears come again.

Two months is too little. They let him go. They had no sudden healing. To think that providence would Take a child from his mother while she prays Is appalling. Who told us we'd be rescued? What has changed and why should we be saved from nightmares? We're asking why this happens To us who have died to live? It's unfair. Chorus: This is what it means to be held. How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life And you survive. This is what it is to be loved. And to know that the promise was When everything fell we'd be held. This hand is bitterness. We want to taste it, let the hatred know our sorrow. The wise hands opens slowly to lilies of the valley and tomorrow. (Chorus) This is what it means to be held. How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life And you survive. This is what it is to be loved. And to know that the promise was When everything fell we'd be held. Bridge: If hope is born of suffering. If this is only the beginning. Can we not wait for one hour watching for our Savior? (Chorus) This is what it means to be held. How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life And you survive. This is what it is to be loved.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Gift to Give

My husband Larry gave me a truly wonderful and thoughtful gift for Christmas. He took twelve pictures of my various art projects and had calendars and cards made so that I could then give them as gifts to family and friends.

I am giving each of the ladies in my small group a box of cards as a gift and attached to the top of each box is a tag to be used as a bookmark. I selected the photos, papers, and embellishments for each tag/bookmark to represent something special about that person and a poem on the back side of the tag.

So to Kim, Pam, Sandy, Doreen, and Fran I thank you for a wonderful year and the new friendships we have made. May we all continue to grow in our faith, fellowship, and bible study.


He will yet
fill your
mouth with
laughter and
your lips

Job 8:21


Your heart is
full of fertile
seeds, waiting
to sprout.
Morihei Ueshiba


The butterfly
counts not
months but
moments, and
has time

Rabindranath Tagore


Alone we
can do so
can do so

Helen Keller


You really
can change
the world if
you care

Marion Wright Edelman

Mini Family Quilts

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