Thursday, May 28, 2009

Memorial Day 1984

Memorial Day 1984 was celebrated on Monday, May 28. You were born in the wee hours that very morning after just four really short hours of labor, less than one hour of true discomfort, nothing to complain about ~ another perfect delivery! Eight pounds ten ounces, 22” … our longest one yet!

From the very start, you were a contented and quiet baby. By the time you were about eight weeks, you were sleeping a 12-hour night with NO interruptions. Once weaned, you were a voracious eater of anything we put before you … until you turned 18 months and then absolutely refused to eat anything at all! You loved being confined to what we used to call a “play pen”, although they have a nicer name for it nowadays (“play yard”) where if you had one or two toys to play with, you were content for an hour at a time. As a toddler, you went to sleep at night with a smile and woke up in the morning making happy noises and talking like crazy to yourself. You crawled at six months, but were not a bit interested in walking until 15 months! I know these are weird details, but these are the kinds of things a mother remembers …

We lost you once when you were just about four … downtown Detroit (yikes!)… at a place called Trapper’s Alley, a converted warehouse turned into a multi-level cool shopping place (I don’t think it’s there anymore). Your brothers and I were shopping around with your Aunt Ruthanne and Uncle Terry. I thought Uncle Terry had you, and Uncle Terry thought I had you … and neither of us did! I think I lost five years off my life until we located you standing in the corner of a clothing store (where we had left you ~ two levels down, and 10 minutes prior), very quietly (and calmly!) waiting for us to return.

That was all a very long time ago. After a lot of schooling, you’ve now graduated from college, headed for seminary … moving out for good in just a few days. Your life’s journey is taking you places I did not envision for you … but then, I’m not in charge … and we’re turning another page in our story. You have always been a contented person, eager to serve others and follow after God. I pray the Lord will continue to lead you and guide you and have His way in your life. You have always been a blessing in mine.

With much love on your birthday, Dylan.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

kindred spirits ...

The little cares that fretted me,
I lost them yesterday,
Among the fields above the sea,
Among the winds at play ...
Among the hushing of the corn,
Where drowsy poppies nod,
Where ill thoughts die and good are born ~
Out in the fields of God.
[Anonymous: Out in the Fields]
I have always loved that little poem ... it doesn't completely describe the walk I took with my dear friend, Karen, this morning ... but it was that same feeling ... we saw God everywhere ... the only thing that would have made it more perfect would have been if Lake Michigan had been just over the hill beyond that grove of trees ...
And aren't horses one of the most magnificently beautiful creatures God has made? The only time I have ever ridden a horse, I was an 11-year-old camper at Lake Ann ... and it wasn't pleasant! I ended up in a muddy puddle (bucked OFF the horse) during a hail storm ... but I still love horses ...
It was one of those dreamy gray mornings ... no sun anywhere at all ... even drizzling now and again ... but so perfect for a stroll with my dear friend.
We met these horses as we wandered through the grounds of a veterinary facility that also boards animals ...
I loved this huge gnarly old tree! We saw so many gorgeous trees today ... and flowers!

I see His face in every flower ... J.M. Plunkett

I tried to get a good shot of this tree ... see how animals are carved all over and into it? You can see the little raccoon and somewhat the larged-mouth bass and the cow ... there was dog carved further up, and an eagle way up high in the tree, and they carved a horse right at the base of the trunk ... but I didn't get good pictures of those angles.
And can you believe it? A train bridge ... and NO Mr. Jones?
A train bridge AND A TRAIN crossing it?!!! I snapped a bunch of pictures for Mr. Jones, which he smiled as he looked at!
The historic covered bridge of Ada

We talked a million miles an hour, laughed and reminisced, sharing the deep things of our hearts ... and I am refreshed, renewed, restored.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Bridge Street Special

Dylan plays bass guitar in a band called The Bridge Street Special. They were playing last night ... so I went to hear them!
I arrived in time for their warm-up and took a few pictures while it was still light enough outside to see. The venue was the parking lot of The Coat of Many Colors (a storefront that carries kind of a mix of vintage hippy clothing and antiques!) on Wealthy Street over in Eastown.
They played six beautiful numbers, all original songs, composed by various members of the band. Their lead singer, Kelly, has an ethereal lilting voice ~ I never get tired of listening to her. Plus, it's fun to watch all of these talented folk interact with each other ... they are really good at their music!
It's difficult for me to describe their sound to you because I am not "with it" as far as music goes anymore ... but it's kind of a mixture of folk and blue grass ... and their songs are about life, so some are happy and some are sad ... and many of them are just fun!
A few of the band members couldn't make it to this gig ... so Paul (Dylan's really good friend from all the way back to third or fourth grade) filled in on the drums (in the green shirt).
Kelly's amazing voice drew a crowd of close to 250 young people who really seemed to enjoy being there! I don't know if you are familiar with the Eastown crowd but they are beyond description ... I don't mean that in a bad way ... they seem to have turned the clock back 40 years to the late 60's and then added a whole bunch of weird stuff to what was already strange! I'm smiling as I write this ...

Sixth anniversary!

Andrew and Sabrina got married six years ago today. When I did a little write-up last year about their anniversary, I told everyone LAST year was their sixth anniversary ... so this feels like a rerun!
I've been looking and looking through hundreds of pictures trying to find a good recent shot of Andrew and Sabrina ... I finally found these that Grandpa Jones snapped at Sea World ... but that is all we have of these two! I have tons of pictures of Sabrina with children, and quite a few of Andrew with children, but not just the two of them together! Grandpa and I get distracted with playing with and taking pictures of the grandchildren and then we forget about everyone else ... grandparents are obnoxious like that!
Actually, Jackson is in both of these pictures, but he is still such a little guy that he doesn't show up. Perhaps the reason we don't have many pictures, is because last year we only saw their family on two separate trips to Texas ... they never came home to Michigan even once! That is about to change in a little less than three weeks. They are all coming "home" for a friend's wedding and also for Emily's baby shower the following weekend. I'm going to have to concentrate and get some nice pictures of them this time around.

The following passage of Scripture is what Andrew and Sabrina chose to put on their wedding announcements and was the theme of their wedding ...

"Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose." Philippians 2:1 and 2

We are thinking of you with love today, Andrew and Sabrina, and praying this coming year will overflow with everyday blessings that come from working together and loving each other.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

planting ...

I've been digging in our dirt for weeks now, getting it ready for Memorial weekend ~ the time when I traditionally plant all of our annuals around the yard. I've been transplanting and reorganizing my flower beds a little bit. I've been reading up on perennials and learning just a little bit more about gardening.
As I've read through my Bible the last few years, I've been struck with how full of agricultural images it is. But it makes perfect sense because land, and cultivating it for food, was pretty essential to each individual ~ not that it isn't now, but we aren't ALL farmers! Listen to one of the most beautiful passages I have come across: "Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of my love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the LORD, that He may come and shower righteousness upon you." Hosea 10:12
Wow! Such a rich passage of Scripture, so amazingly beautiful to think about ... such promise and challenge and blessing all rolled up in one!

Would you like to hear about what I've planted at the Jones Junction this weekend? I bought pansies for the first time in my life ~ I LOVE THEM! Aren't they delightful to behold?!!
I put pansies in our two front yard flower beds, along with geraniums, petunias, plenty of alyssum (I planted too few last year and missed them terribly!), my almost special favorite dahlias, along with coleus, some dusty miller, and impatiens too! I took some pictures of them, just planted around the yard ... they will look better in a few weeks, once they grow a bit and perk up after the trauma of planting.
I also purchased my very first hibiscus and planted it as far in the corner as I could get of our back and side fence! It's only tiny right now and may not do well it's first year with us, but it is a perennial and will eventually get used to our yard and blossom deep deep red (my favorite color). We also have three very hearty rhubard plants (thanks to our friend, Judy, who divided and shared hers with us last year!) along the side fence where further down I have planted two rows of zinnia (from seed) ...

We have a really long side fence area. Last year, I planted wildflowers (from seed) but they just did not do well. I planted black-eyed Susans next to them, and they didn't do well either! Hopefully, these zinnias will come up and do as well as when Mr. Jones plants them next to the garage ... they have been stunning there in years past ... otherwise, I think I will be in for a bit of razzing ...
Mr. Jones planted 7 tomato plants (as well as a row of onion in front of the tomatoes), and this year alongside the garage he has planted green beans and radishes (I've never been very fond of radishes). He says he plants stuff that is USEFUL, whereas I just plant FLUFF. I couldn't disagree more! Flowers are very useful ~ they delight my eyes and my heart! Besides, I have no idea what we are going to do with all of those radishes!
This beautiful little plant is also a perennial and it is called Aureus. I've planted a few of them up near the front porch steps where it is difficult to get anything to grow.
I also picked up a few garden ornaments ... this little pig reminded me of my Emma ... and how much she used to love digging in the dirt here with me, with her own little garden gloves and sun viser ... (deep sigh) ...

It's been wonderful making our yard a pretty sight ~ there is something so satisfying in the labor here in my own little Eden. How thankful I am for God's working in my life, cutting away the stuff that gets in the way of walking with Him, planting seeds of righteousness ... He is so amazingly kind, isn't He?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sunset Valley 1955

All of you know that Mr. Jones is a model railroader. But if you came to our house to see his modeling, you would be a bit disappointed. You see, most of the model railroad work that he does is for his friends ... THEIR basements ... THEIR layouts! Each Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Jones goes over to his friend's house (Bruce), and works on his 2600 (!!) square foot layout. This Bruce fellow is rather famous ... folk all over of the country know who he is and have read articles about his famous layout in such periodicals as Model Railroader or Scale Rails! What do you mean you've never heard of those magazines!??!! Anyway, Bruce has been modeling the Sunset Valley Oregon System (1955) for 50+ years, the past fourteen years in this location (he had his new house built to accommodate his hobby, even extending the basement UNDER his garage).
I've heard about this gentleman's layout for years and years, and yesterday, I finally saw it for myself! In the above photo, Mr. Jones is matching the individual weigh bill car cards to the individual railroad cars on the layout ... one card for each car. This is an actual working layout, based on 10 railroads that operated in the Pacific Northwest in 1955. It's like a gigantic 3-D video game, if you like, because all of this stuff actually works and means something! The signal system, the crossing gates, crossing flashers, lights, engines (with sounds and other features that you can control) all work authentically ... some of which are controlled by computer, some by each individual operator! Jesse would go nuts if he could see the wires underneath these shelves!
This is a through-truss bridge with canoers enjoying the river!
This entire layout is on four levels, all interconnected, with all of the signals controlled by a very old (dinosaur) computer! I actually operated a Southern Pacific, cab-forward steam engine from the bottom-most layer, to the top-most layer (a distance that would stretch over three football lengths if laid out from end to end)!
I was most impressed with the artistry of the scenery ... so meticulously and beautifully created ... some of it copied from photographs. So many details, so carefully painted and modeled!
This is the town of Jefferson, modeled through the visitor's bathroom ... watch out! They tell a story of a woman who was rather shocked at the entry of a train rolling through here ... she nearly fell off her perch! The idea of a train coming through the bathroom is a carryover from a former layout of Bruce's ... which was called the town of Bath.
When these train folk have what is called an "operating session," 20-25 guys will meet over at Bruce's ... some men running yards, some running the dispatcher's panel (which directs which trains go where on the railroad), others running individual trains. They move the cars and trains around the railroad according to a time table to control the trains and the weigh bills to control the movements of each individual car. Like I said, it's like a giant 3-D video game ... and these folk are serious about it. Mr. Jones does not like it being referred to as a video game ... in his words, it is a "miniature, authentic prototypical railroad!"

This is the main Brooklynn yard, Portland, Oregon (above and below).
Many of the regular folk who come out to Bruce's each week, have modeled beautiful layouts at their own houses (NOT Mr. Jones, however) ... they just love the hobby and are quite expert at what they do! Since Mr. Jones is so computer smart, he has been requested to do a lot of that kind of work for several model railroad friends ~ and he has done an excellent job of it too!
This is the Herrimann passenger station, Portland, Oregon.
I had a great time in Sunset Valley yesterday afternoon ... it was nice to be with Mr. Jones and finally see what he has been telling me about for so long! These pictures do not do it justice ~ perhaps we can take you there sometime to see for yourself.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

29 years ago ...

It was a Saturday morning (8 days before his due date), about 24 hours after I had taken a misstep and then actually bounced down a flight of uncarpeted stairs leading to our second floor apartment, when Jesse was born at 8:17 a.m., all eight pounds and 20 inches of him! And he wasn't a girl ~ we didn't have routine ultrasounds back then, and for some reason I just assumed I was having a girl. But I was not one bit disappointed!
I love this picture (above) of Jesse! Can you see the kite way way up in the top right corner of the picture? Kites have always been a favorite with Jesse, from the time he was very very young. We didn't always have the best of luck with our kites back then, though ~ kind of like Charlie Brown! But this is the kite he was flying at White Sands, back in March when we visited El Paso. I love to see you smile like this, Jesse!
I'm so glad you get to be in the good ole USA for your birthday this year ... what a difference a year can make! Your beautiful family must be really grateful about that too. This is a great picture of you guys!

For people who might be curious, Jesse's 15-month deployment to Iraq ended in November 2008 and he came home. While there, he drove the HET (the largest Army transport vehicle ever). He suffered a right knee injury and I believe he has been diagnosed with a medial meniscus tear. He is undergoing physical therapy to see if that can relieve his discomfort; but if not, he might have to see an orthopedic surgeon. He continues to do as much of his Army duties as his knee allows and is close to being promoted to sergeant. We are really proud of your service in the Army, Jesse, and all that you have accomplished in these last years. Even though you are safely home, I continue to pray that the Lord will keep you safe and that He will give you a heart that follows after Him all the days of your life.

Happy 29th Birthday, Jesse Christopher!

Friday, May 15, 2009

first glimpse ...

It's only mid-May, but almost all of our volunteer activities over at church have come to an end ~ not to resume until Fall. There are opportunities to serve this summer, but there is a little space in between ... so I decided to "vacation" this week and that almost always means heading over to Lake Michigan ...

Dylan had mentioned to me, about a year ago actually, that the dunes at Saugatuck State Park were really incredible and that you could get an amazing view of the lake from way up high. That sounded like fun to me; so since Mr. Jones was happily occupied working on trains over at various friend's yesterday, I decided to drive over to Saugatuck and see this view Dylan had been telling me about.

It's only a 40-minute drive to Saugatuck from my house! However, I've never really hung around Saugatuck at all, so I am very unfamilar with it. I should have read the signs that were posted on the fringes of the parking area there at the park, but no ... I lifted my heavy beach bag (stuffed with a packed lunch, many books, and even some pails and shovels) and started down the first trail I saw that looked like it was going to the beach. BIG MISTAKE ... but oh, so typical!

I was wearing a rather old, uncomfortable pair of beach flip-flips, some capris, a summer shirt, and a lightweight jacket (hoping it would be warm on the beach) and the trail was pretty steep and kind of rough ... but I plodded ahead ... just over that next big hill would surely be the lake! Perhaps over that next big dune? How about around that winding pathway? Another HUGE dune?! I kept wishing there were more directional signs (not that it would have helped!) and before I got myself terribly lost in the woods, I came across a couple (smartly dressed in hiking boots, warm jackets, and back packs) heading my way. I casually asked, "Does a person EVER get to Lake Michigan on this path?" To which they replied, "Yes, about 2.5 miles further!" And then they mentioned how the wind was really gusting down there and I would surely freeze dressed as I was. I let them walk on by me and then did an abrupt turnaround! A twig had cut my toe quite a few pathways ago, so my foot was bleeding and I couldn't quite press on another few miles to see the lake!

I got back to my car, cleaned my wound, and decided to drive to a place that required less walking to actually SEE the lake. It would take me a really long time to tell you how LOST I got on all of the back roads out there and after stopping THREE times to ask HOW to get myself FOUND ... I actually (and miraculously) reached 31 and headed north to Grand Haven ... where at least I know my way around.

My first glimpse of the year of Lake Michigan is always a momentous occasion for me ... something happens that dispels all other thoughts and I just immediately relax and escape to the magic that is there! Ahhh ... that's better!
"The LORD is my light and my salvation ~
so WHY should I be afraid?
The LORD protects me from danger ~
so WHY should I tremble?"
Psalm 27:1

I climbed way up a dune (below) to see if I could get a different perspective on my favorite lighthouse in all the world ... if the roof on an obnoxious apartment building hadn't been in the way, I might have had a chance at a decent picture!

It was very windy and NOT warm down by the water ... but so amazingly beautiful. There were not many folk out and about, which made for a nice photo opportunity. There were small craft warnings up on the lake, though, so no pretty boats were going in and out of the channel.
I don't think I've ever been to Grand Haven and not walked to the end of the pier, and thankfully, I brought extra clothes (warmer ones) with me ... so I put them on and walked. Usually, this pier is lined with fishermen and lots of people. I really enjoy it more when it's like this ...
I did drive around to the Ferrysburg side (north) because it's so pretty over there too. Actually, there are two beaches that I need to check out on that side. One is the Coast Guard beach and the other is even smaller ... but I think the lighthouse is visible from either one. The State Park is usually really really crowded all summer long. Perhaps these smaller beaches would be less populated. I'm just thinking this out for when Sabrina and the children come home a few weeks from now.

I took 160 pictures yesterday ... it's going to take awhile to go through them, but I got some nice angles that I didn't have before.

I LOVE this place. I think it is appropriately named GRAND HAVEN, although GRAND HEAVEN would be a good name as well!