Friday, November 16, 2012

Farewell to Norm's brother Harold Linville

We have been fortunate to be able to travel to Colby, Kansas for the funeral yesterday honoring Norm's brother, Harold, who died to this life on Sunday, Nov. 11. Here, for family who were unable to be here, are some photos taken yesterday and also Norm's tribute to his brother that he posted on his own FaceBook account. 

The interior of Colby United Methodist Church after the flower service and before the funeral service began.

 I am so grateful for my brother Harold, for the quiet care with which he served his family, community, church, and country.  The love and respect which poured out for him as we gathered for the celebration of his life yesterday was awe inspiring.  He clearly was trusted by people who lined up to ask for his carpentry skills to make their homes more livable, by the new recruits and the long time members and  officers of the Kansas National Guard which he served for 41 years, by Jim Mardock the pastor of Colby United Methodist Church who clearly had lost not only a member of the church but a friend, by the family and people of the community who filled that church yesterday to remember his gifts to them.  Harold did not demand respect and love, but in giving it to others it was returned to him.  The care and precision which the veterans, soldiers and officers of  the Kansas National Guard showed yesterday at the local cemetery out shown anything I've seen at similar services for veterans at Jefferson Barracks National Military Cemetery in St. Louis, MO.  I am grateful for Harold Linville, September 3, 1931-- November 11, 2012.---Norm Linville

After the flower service, there was a dinner in the fellowship hall of the church at noon. This picture board highlighted some of the events in Harold's family life. 

 As time grew closer for the service at 2 p.m. members of the Colby Veterans of Foreign Wars arrived and set up an avenue of flags. Not until I started to work with the photo did I see how interesting the cloud formations looked against the blue Kansas sky. 

 The VFW members also comprised a motorcycle escort for the procession to the cemetery following the funeral service. 
 The Honor Guard from the Kansas National Guard acted as pallbearers at the cemetery. 
 Cars just kept coming and coming into the cemetery.  Norm estimated 200 to 250 people attended the service at the church and most of them followed for the graveside ceremony. Here, pastor Jim Mardock leads the commital prayers.
 The military honors continued as in the distance a rifle salute was fired and a live bugler played taps.  Then two of the guard began folding the flag. 

 After this salute, the folded flag was presented to Harold's wife, Janice, and their daughters Debbie and Dina.

Below are a few family pictures and other scenes from the day.

 Harold and Janice's daughter Debbie Bernsden with her children John and Julie.
 Janice and Harold's daughter Dina Casey with her grandson Blake, who had been his great-grandpa's pride and joy for the last 4 months!  Dina's children Kyle and Erin (Blake's mom) are in the grandchild photo which is next.
 After the flower service, while waiting for lunch, we took several family group photos. Janice is with her and Harold's grandchildren: Erin, Kyle, John and Julie.
 Norm has 19 nephews and nieces and these 8 were able to come to the service...a tricky thing to do for a midweek funeral when you are working, going to school, or both. Dina, Paula, Doug, Debbie, Carla, Mike, Scott and Aleta also took advantage of the chance to work on the plans for the next Linville reunion in August 2013. 

For those who would like more views of the flowers, here are some I took after the flower service. 

 Many beautiful bouquets and healthy plants brightened the church. In the background is the framed Kansas State flag which was one of Harold's prized possessions. It was flown over the state capital and presented to him on his 80th birthday and 41st anniversary of membership in the Kansas National Guard. It should be noted that Harold celebrated his 60th birthday in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm after his unit was called up to serve in a supporting maintenance role. 

 The rest of the flowers.
The Linville Sibs started this tradition when their sister Louise passed away in 1999. The white roses are for Richard, Louise and now Harold. The red ones are for Walt, Maxine, Norm, Larry and Don.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011 will be remembered for its warmth (as in mild temperatures and lack of snow--at least until the dusting we received on the 27th.) It will also be warmly remembered for some good gatherings that we enjoyed as well as a few that we had to miss when we were battling the Rhinovirus from, well, you know. As I write this we are on Round 3 of the battle with no real end in sight. Norm is getting the worst of it right now but as of today we have reinforcements.... antibiotics to the rescue since he clearly has a lung infection. Nevertheless, since early December, our door has been ready to receive visitors whenever we were up to it.

 The Compton Heights CC Rising Reading Book Circle held its December meeting at our house, and everyone enjoyed the potluck brunch and discussion of 84 Charing Cross Road. Clockwise, from the left: Madeline, Brenda, Chris, Marsha, Norm, Liz, Devin, Kathy and Sarah. Missing is Janice, who is still recovering from serious surgery. 

 Winter sun throws long shadows, making it hard to get a photo of the west side of the house. It was also to get outside photos of anything, as we had many cloudy, rainy days. The sun came out on this particular afternoon and I ran outside, camera in hand, before it could change its mind!

 Norm has such a great decorating imagination. He found some older plant sprays I was planning to donate to a good cause and worked them in with our traditional greenery and red bows to create focal points on the front porch. It has looked kind of lonely on the porch since all of the houseplants moved inside, back in November. 

 I could not resist pansies back when Thies Farm was still selling them in October. These guys welcome us every time we drive up the driveway, and an equally sprightly contingent of them holds forth in the back. They took this morning's inch of wet snow in stride and looked about as good as this when I got home from errands today. 

 Before we took to ailing, we had a fabulous 3 days in Kansas City with Nancy and John Sanders. They came in from Colby to attend a madrigal dinner/concert directed in part by their daughter Jamea, and an Allegro Holiday concert that their granddaughter Katie was singing in. We ate, visited, broke speed limits to get to concerts on time, visited and ate some more, and also got to see their son Shad and son-in-law John as well. We had a great time. Two days later after we got home, the Rhinovirus struck, but we aren't blaming it on KC! 

 With the outside decorated, I started getting the inside ready for our book club guests and hopefully others. The entire mantel and book case is taken up with some 17 or 18 nativities, but the centerpiece is always my mother's traditional one. With a couple of nontraditional additions....

 The piano showcases my dad's handmade O-gauge train year round, but at Christmas my 21 Santas invade the property as well. This 1922 Story and Clark also makes a handy display case for the many Christmas cards we received, most of them with lovely notes or long letters. And we will answer them, every one. At least by Valentine's Day!

 The Santa at left, the sleigh with presents, the two white reindeer and the little cardboard house with the trees around it were my mother's pride and joy. Daddy made the sleigh and bag for the presents. Mother purchased the rest, before I was born.

 The little gray house, car and outhouse are part of the scene my dad was building for his train set. It looks like Santa has left some presents here. My other Santas were gifts or else I collected them on travels or at craft shows. A few years ago I decided I should stop and savor the ones I have instead of adding more. That feels about right...they all fit in one box and any more would require a bigger box... and we all know what happens when you need a bigger box, or house, or barn.....

 I think we put everything on the Christmas Tree this year. No white and gold Victorian theme....use them all! Norm did most of the decorating when I was busy getting ready for my December Circle meeting and Quilt Guild party, which came the same week as the Book Club Brunch. Do you suppose that all of that partying had anything to do with the relapses? 

By night, the tree glows with white lights and takes on a whole different personality. It reflects in the French doors and the reflection also shines from the East windows in the sunroom at the other end of the house. When I was little I dreamed of living in a big house with room for a tall tree. Here we have 9-foot ceilings so I got my wish.  At Christmas I am sometimes overwhelmed by remembering the love and the care that went into the Christmases of my childhood and by the realization that Norm and I are still making memories to share as we ourselves grow older. We love Christmas and always observe the traditional 12 days of Christmas, marking the arrival of the Wise Men on January 6 and holding a candlelight vigil on 12th night. So the house won't be back to "normal" until some time in January. Or February..... We hope everyone who reads this had a good Christmas and we are praying for a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year for everyone in 2012!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Harvest Home

 If you follow my FaceBook page, you have read a lot of references this past growing season to the "50 sqft Farm."  We rented a 5x10-foot plot at a community garden about a mile from our house. It provided sunshine that our lovely shaded yard just cannot muster.  We planted our first crop--radishes--in mid-April. We harvested our last crop on garden closing day Nov. 12. One of the community projects was making signs--this was ours. 

 Wayside is a completely organic garden, and everyone is encouraged to grow plants from seed and to try heirloom vegetables. We started these cherry tomato plants and some sweet banana pepper plants at home. Grandma Alice Linville's milk pan provided a convenient vessel to keep the seedlings together while they hardened on our porch in the cold rainy days we had in May. 

 Our first harvest was of radishes. These were picked on May 18. There were three rows so we had radishes for almost a month in the cool rainy weather.  As the radishes came out, we sowed rows of beets. We had put out onion sets when the radishes went in. Toward the end of April we had also set out kohlrabi and chard plants purchased at from our favorite local farm market. 

 By the third week in May, we harvested our first kohlrabi bulb, and also found lots of chard. We liked the kohlrabi, a relative of cabbage, raw in salads and I also sliced some and cooked it as a layer in veggie-cheese pizza. The chard made delicious greens and also worked instead of spinach in quesadillas and in a different veggie-cheese pizza. 

 Wayside Garden also plants a "row for the hungry" to grow food to be donated to a local food pantry. We volunteered to help with this part of the mission and on a cold wet May day we mudded in 10 heirloom tomato seedlings grown by a friend. By June 17 they were sturdy and growing strong. This plot was alongside the main "row" and we took responsibility for watering and tending it all season long. In the drought and 100-degree weather of July and August Norm hauled 10 one-gallon jugs of water every other day to keep the plants alive. They survived and yielded many pounds of tomatoes for clients of the food pantry at Our Lady of Guadalupe. 

 On June 23 Wayside held a Summer Solstice celebration, an evening open house, potluck dessert and soft rock concert at the garden. Norm notes how far the tomatoes and beans in our little plot have managed to grow, while proudly wearing his Wayside T-shirt.  By this time the kohlrabi and most onions were done. We were still getting some beets. We had started a zucchini, an cucumber and a yellow squash. All of those would eventually catch wilt and die, but nothing fazed the swiss chard. By this time we had also put the banana pepper plants in on the other side of the beans and tomatoes, and we had added a patch of celery plants just because a pack of them called my name at the farm market one day.

 For some reason I thought it would be good to plant blue lake pole beans in a circle around the tomato cages for our Jet Star and cherry tomato plants. At this point in June, they were still all getting along. Eventually the beans won the race to the top, which cut into tomato production...they got too much shade, although that wasn't all bad during the heat wave. 

 One of our most colorful harvests: July 24. We had been traveling for two weeks in July in Tennessee and Kentucky, and this greeted us when we got home: the last of the beets, first of the banana peppers, first tomatoes, some lovely onions and one whopping zucchini that was very tender. It was to be our only zucchini--the vine died a week later. 

In this picture the zucchini plant still looks healthy, but its days are numbered. Meanwhile, the beans and tomatoes are fighting it out and the plant stakes are at risk. Norm found some metal stakes later in August that he used to stabilize the cages so they wouldn't fall over. We did get many pounds of marvelous green beans from these vines that we shared with friends, donated to the food pantry, and ate ourselves several times a week. I can recommend pole blue lakes highly. They are productive and easy to pick. We plan to grow them next year, but on their own supports, to give the tomatoes a break.

We have requested a second plot for next year--it is next to this one and this year one of the garden leaders tried growing peanuts on it. So there should be lots of nitrogen fixed in the soil. Earlier this month we cleared our plot, brought home the stakes, cages and sign, and assessed what did well that we want to grow again. Definitely radishes, beets, onions, chard, and pole beans. We want to add some carrots and parsnips in the mix, and maybe some spinach and a row of snap peas. Kohlrabi was fun, but celery didn't pan out, although we didn't read the growing instructions until late in the game. We did harvest a lot of stalks and leaves that were good in soup and salads. We may skip squash and cucumbers entirely unless we can learn of a natural way to control the bugs that spread the wilt disease. We may try a different tomato variety. The Jet Stars we put in our home garden in the perennial bed did better than the Jet Starts at the farm. We don't know if it was the beans, or something else. Our plot has been put to bed with a layer of manure and a layer of mulch, waiting for opening day in March or April when it can be tilled and we can start over again. Somehow, the "100 sqft Farm" doesn't sound quite as catchy as a name, but we will be happy to give it a try. Eating food that we grew ourselves, even if only part of the time and over part of the year, was a true blessing in 2011. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Visitor 10,000

For a while now, I've been dreaming of reaching 10,000 visits, but the actual milestone snuck up on me. Yesterday, someone in Huntsville, Ala., acquired that honor. He or she was searching on Google for images of Ft. Sill.  That post from several summers ago still brings 'em in! 

Full disclosure: I didn't put a counter on my blog until well into the first year--April of 2007. (Thank you, Randy Turner.) So there have been more than 10,000 visitors, probably. And once in a while my own browser changes settings without my knowledge and I inadvertently count myself. So maybe 10,000 is closer to the truth than I think.

Closer to family ties, visitors 9998 and 9999 were two of my dear devoted sisters-in-law, whose ISPs or hometowns I rcognize. Guess I had better get busy with some content so we can work on getting to 20,000 without taking 6 more years to do it! 

Monday, September 19, 2011

2011 Travels--Florida Part IV: On the Beach

On our last night in Florida, back in April, our hosts Doug and Matt took us to Captiva Beach to see the surf, walk on the sand, watch the sunset and have dinner at a legendary restaurant called The Mucky Duck. The surf was up, the tide was coming in, the breeze was brisk, and the sunset was, well, spectacular. 
 Palms near the restaurant waved in the wind as the setting sun painted the clouds an iconic Florida pink.
 As we walked from our car toward the beach, we spied an osprey having his or her supper high in a tree. I love the zoom lens on my Canon point-and-shoot!
 There was a 30-minute wait for a table, which was just fine because the changing light on the water and sand drew us to the beach with a mesmerizing, restless view that was hard to leave. We left footprints in the sand and waded in the chilly surf. But mostly we listened to the swoosh of the waves as they came ashore.
The light in the sky reflected in the pulsing water of the Gulf as it scoured the beach. As the sun got lower in the sky, the waves seemed to get taller, and the water took on the rich hue of precious metal: silver, or copper, or gold. 
 Perhaps the island is named Captiva for the way the play of light and the continual movement of water just captivate the visitor. It became a challenge to see if I could capture the break of a wave as it washed ashore. This was one time it worked.
 I've written elsewhere about my love affair with rivers, stalking the headwaters of the Mississippi, etc. But the sea is something else entirely. River levels drop, and lakes can dry up, but the sea just keeps coming. The supply of water is endless; it ebbs and flows but it never subsides. It is the nearest metaphor for eternity that I've been able to come up with. 

 The air and the sand are alive with myriad creatures who depend on the gifts the sea brings...smaller bits of life...for their sustenance. Many birds were active but none more interesting than the little sandpipers that dart straight out toward the incoming surf, but run back out of harm's way before the undertow can catch them.
 As this adventurous sandpiper stalked its dinner in the wet sand beyond the retreating surf, we heard our names called out to go in to the restaurant for dinner. The Mucky Duck serves good food in a jovial atmosphere and it felt good to be inside and out of the cool winds of the beach. Later, after we finished, and Norm had bought a souvenir cap and T-shirt (look for him wearing the cap in the garden or the shirt on a summer day) we went back outside and the sky was dark and full of stars. We went back to the sand but we couldn't see the water any more; it was a moonless night. But we could hear the waves, still coming ashore, although a little less urgently than before. I think the tide was going out.

And thus our 2011 Florida adventure came to a satisfying end, thanks to the ingenuity of these guys. We have many good memories to cherish and remember during the coming fall and winter, and we look forward to another visit to sunny Florida sometime in 2012.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

2011 Travels--Florida Part III: Flora and Fauna

 Whenever we are in Florida, I am always on the lookout for birds, flowers, and wildlife. We have now made several trips, so once exotic species, such as the anhinga, or sea oats, are no longer new although I'm always thrilled to see creatures we don't see at home. By April, all of the wild swans in our area have migrated away from the refuges along the Mississippi for nests in the north. I can't find wild swans listed in my Florida bird books at all. But on Sunday after church we went to Coconut Point for lunch and shopping, and I spied a pair of graceful, tame swans on the lake in the shopping center.

 While I was stalking the swan, I heard a lot of chattering and singing in a small tree next to the parking lot. This common grackle was singing to another one perched on a branch above, apparently in a courtship display. It didn't seem bothered by my camera or me in such close proximity. It had other things on its mind. 

 Many tropical and semi-tropical flowers grow on the beautiful grounds around the condo where Doug and Matt live. We took a sunset walk almost every evening to look for dolphins and on one evening this hibiscus was catching the last golden rays of the sun as it sank across the water. 

 Sea Grape is ubiquitous in Southwest Florida. It grows wild along beaches and it also is used as an ornamental hedge on residential and commercial property. Mature plants bear a grape like fruit in the fall that I read is used to make jam. Never have tried it. 

 The setting sun turned the trunks of the palms lining the walk along the river to a rusty gold. The fibers are not a true bark. The trunk of a palm, I have read, grows as large as it is going to be before the tree starts to grow vertically. Palms don't have true wood or bark, but the fibers look like they might be useful. I was attracted by the texture, and compared it to the trunk of the native pines, like the one in the next picture.

 A contrasting texture is evident on the trunk of the slash pine, common in the Florida flatwoods. This one was growing at the Calusa Nature Center where we went one afternoon to walk a nature trail boardwalk through the woods and swamp, but the swamp was dry.. the rainy season is from around June to November, and this was April. Southwest Florida was also having a dry year. The plates of the bark are scaly and sometimes peel away, kind of like birch bark. 

 We had visited the Calusa Nature Center once before, in September 2006. (Here is a link to that post.) We went back to see what creatures might be stirring in April, since our previous visit had been in the wet season. It was a humid, sunny afternoon and very little was stirring, so we just enjoyed a quiet walk, just yards away from one of the very busy streets of Ft. Myers.

 It was straw hat and and sunscreen weather on this afternoon, though. For some reason Norm kept taking pictures of me. Maybe it was the novelty that I could walk 1.5 miles without passing out or limping! 

 Despite visits to several wildlife areas in Florida, we had never seen an alligator in the wild. We still haven't, but this male 'gator and his pregnant mate were residing in a pond, behind a chain link fence, at the Calusa Nature Center. He kept on taking his nap while we got as close as possible from above on a walkway to take his picture. Or maybe he was just pretending, hoping we might fall overboard.

 The only other creatures we saw moving were small lizards, or anoles, on the boardwalk. This is a brown anole, a species introduced from Cuba. The male has a very flashy orange throat pouch which we saw, but didn't capture it on camera. These reptiles are out-competing the native Florida green anole, a species that is declining. They eat insects and are not poisonous.

Despite the dryness, deep in the forest a bed of ferns was lush and green, still tapping into moisture that had once been a pond. The light plays on the leaves and creates a cool scene on a warm day. 
As we left the center to go back to the condo, we saw a bush outside the front entrance covered with these bright coral blooms that were covered by the yellow butterflies. I haven't been able to find the flowers in my handbooks, so I am assuming they are a cultivated species and not a wildflower. They certainly resemble a honeysuckle. The butterflies were a vivid yellow, and insisted on resting in this posture, rather than spreading their wings. They seem to be one of the sulphur butterfly species, possibly the rather inelegantly named Southern Dogface, although they seemed as large as the Cloudless Sulfurs. Clearly I need to brush up on my Lepidoptera!

One major Florida habitat we have not explored is the Everglades. We hope that on a future trip, which will have to be in winter, we can drive down to Everglades National Park south of Naples and perhaps go on an airboat ride for a guided tour. We also are looking forward to a boat ride along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico to explore the mango hammocks and other features there.