Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dad!

April 1st...and my dad's birthday.

He's been gone for more than a month now. How can time go by so quickly? (Well, feeling tired, doing multiple gigs and working on a book, all at the same time, can do that to you...)

Mom said this morning, "It's going to be the first time in 48 years I don't put salt in the sugar bowl."

She did it every year. EVERY SINGLE YEAR. And Dad played his own joke on her -- he'd drink the 'salted' coffee...AND NOT SAY A WORD.

It drove her crazy!!

Happy Birthday, Dad...from your daughter, with love. See you soon.

Three Things...And Snow's Coming!

The air feels strange, odd....the cold wind that's been pestering us the last few days has quieted down. Clouds are piling up behind the mountains -- a storm's coming. Glad I got the clothes washed and on the line yesterday...just a quilt (the Log Cabin that stays on our bed all winter) and a few sheets are hanging, slightly rippling.

Daffodils are still struggling to stand upright after the last blizzard buried them. Two hyacinths started blooming this morning...poor guys.

Corned beef and cabbage are bubbling in the crockpot...good food for the bluster coming in tonight.

And in the middle of the rush over writing this book, comes reassurance -- Three important things:


(Thanks, Brin of MessyThrillingLife, for reminding me:

* * * * * * * * *
I've started a new blog! Actually it's two, but they'll have the same posts:


Anything frugal, anything on saving money, time and energy...that's where it'll be.
I hope you'll take time to visit.
http://www.messythrillinglife.blogspot.com )

Monday, March 30, 2009

Money Facts

I've been studying a lot about paper money and coin...for the new book. Here are a few facts:

*Mermaids were the choice of motif for Phoenician coins (among other subjects).

*Silver coins in 16th century Europe were minted in Joachimsthal, a region of Bohemia. These were known as Joachimsthaler...later shortened to thaler, or dollar.

*The dollar sign -- $ -- is though to have originated from the symbol of Philip V of spain -- a ribbon winding around the two Pillars of Hercules, Gibraltar and Ceuta.

*Paper money was not officially printed by the United States until the 1860s...up to this point, banks across the country printed notes that could be redeemed at their branches. Many counterfeiters took advantage of the confusion, and made banknotes of their own. Finally, in 1862, a series of paper $10 bills was printed, with the face of Alexander Hamilton -- America's first Secretary of the Treasury, and one of the first to advocate a national banking system. These notes, as well as the second series of "greenbacks," (named for the ink on their back sides), are America's first official issued bills.

*Putting the face of a famous person on a paper bill was considered a mark of respect -- and the best-respected got the higher denominations. Abraham Lincoln's face never reached more than a $10 -- thanks in part, it is said, to Salmon Chase, his Secretary of the Treasury, who did not have a high opinion of his boss. Chase was the first to issue paper U.S. Treasury bills. (See above)

And finally --

*The first paper money in America was issued by the Massachusetts Colony in 1690 -- only a few years before the Bank of England was founded and began printing its own promissory notes.

This business of money is fascinating. I had no idea that our monetary system really didn't start before the 1860s! Until then, it was a catch-as-catch-can process; bills could be paid by all sorts of notes, sometimes including other countries' currency. Certain bills, like property taxes, were often required, as a result, to be paid in specie (gold and silver)...because that currency was less apt to be counterfeit.

Which makes me wonder...checks (or bankdrafts) are as old as the printed money in America, from what I can tell. Who issued the first credit cards?

Off to find out...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

No Reserve, No Retreat, No Regrets

William Borden's family had money. BIG money. William was the heir to the Borden family fortune -- the same company that at one time was the largest U.S. producer of dairy and pasta products.

William's family wanted him to go into the business -- but he felt God was asking him to become a missionary to China.

He went to Yale...and before he graduated, many of his classmates were meeting regularly for Bible studies. William had influenced them. (He became a Christian through Dwight L. Moody, a rough-and-tumble evangelist who is best known for founding Moody Bible Institute. Many of the songs Moody's leaders used are part of churches' repertoires even today.) William also graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary.

He went to Egypt, to begin training for his work with Muslims in China.

That's the rest of the story...right? William finished, went to China and made a huge impact...

William never made it out of Egypt. He died there, age 25, of spinal meningitis.

His Bible was given back to his parents. In it, they found two words, in William's handwriting:

"No Reserve" -- and a date, shortly after he gave up his fortune to become a missionary.

Two more words:
"No Retreat" -- that date, soon after being diagnosed with meningitis.

And one final phrase:
"No Regrets." Dated just before his death.

The Borden Memorial Hospital operates in Lanzhou, China today because of William. That's only one of the events -- and people -- this man's short life has influenced.

During college, Borden wrote in his journal, "Say 'no' to self and 'yes' to Jesus every time."

Can I do no less?

Read more about William Borden (1887-1913) at:


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Weekend Musings, Soapsuds and All

Yes, folks, there IS a Good Fairy! To my astonishment this morning, Husband announced that he was doing the pile of dishes in the sink. He hasn't done dishes for months! (Hates it, and most of the time, I don't mind scrubbing them myself.)

The kitchen is almost clean...and I'm dumbfounded. I did have to stop and admire the shining metal sink, though. (Husband insisted.)

Sun is shining to beat the band. Snow's melting fast, too. We're due for more tomorrow, and again on Wednesday. Will see what happens.

This article is an 8-pager, but it's a recount on how -- and why -- professional sports players lose much of their fabulous salaries. Some lessons in there for us, too:


Not that I have $16 million or so to play with...but fascinating, all the same.

It's not just athletes -- actors, musicians and entertainers take their hits too:


We watched North Carolina's NCAA basketball game last night, thanks to the computer. (Yet another reason why we're planning to go back to basic cable -- some idiot on the east coast decided Coloradoans only needed to see the Kansas/Michigan State game. Not that it wasn't good, too...)
All I can say is: GO CAROLINA!!! YOU CAN DO IT!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Titanic Artifacts on Parade

Take a look:


A judge is finally going to rule on the ultimate fate of thousands of these pieces, including dishes, clothing, papers and even a large section of the ship itself, including portholes. I remember a vow by Robert Ballard, one of the shipwreck's original discoverers, to keep the artifacts with the ship, out of respect. Thought that was a classy way to handle it. Obviously, others did not agree.

Snow. Snow. And yes -- More Snow

Looked at the calendar absentmindedly...and the date sprang into view. More than a month since Dad died.

I miss my dad. I will always miss my dad. It won't be any easier next week -- his birthday is April 1st.

Life goes on...

We woke up this morning to more than a foot of snow, after a remarkably bare winter. So March came in like a lamb around here, and it has to prove itself?!? A knee-deep drift decorates the front sidewalk. The boys floundered around in it, then like proper "old man" dogs, demanded to come in. Backs powdered in white stuff; Goonie with happy eyes. (Hates it on his toes, loves it on his nose.)

Husband took a sick day on Wednesday to try and get rid of some flu hanging on. He works for the school district; since yesterday and today were cancelled school days, he gets 'em off, too! It's been a huge help for him, but I can hear legions of schoolkids (those on regular schedule, that is) stomping and griping -- because, you see, this week is Spring Break.

Yesterday was horrendous. Snow was coming down forwards. And backwards. Sideways. Vertically too at times, just for fun. We went out for errands, and even in a Jeep Cherokee, barely got back. (Ice forming under the fast-falling snow.) We ended up getting out twice to help push smaller cars up the hill, so they could get some traction. It was a miracle to come home to a warm, quiet house. Now if only the Good Fairy had stopped by to do some dishes...

Today, the sun is shining fit to burst its buttons. COLD. Better to stay home, work on the book, and toast my toes in comfort. A sentiment which the boys echo.

* * * * *
A warm, toasty blog to visit is Mile Hi Mama. I love her matter-of-fact approach to stuff, even though she does believe the AIG executives should get their bonuses. (They were promised them -- they get them, she reasons. Which really isn't illogical -- if they'd actually earned them.) Here she is:


I looked at the credit card balances. The plane tickets for Dave and the girls came due. A book order needs to be paid -- and it's a big one. Can I do without buying groceries and goodies for a while? Stay tuned...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Free Cookbook Download!

Did you ever want to reproduce that wonderful dish you had in a restaurant?

Now's your chance to get a FREE copy of the Insiders Cookbook to Restaurant Recipes...everything from Applebee's to Burger King.


I'm looking forward to trying the Kentucky Fried Chicken coleslaw...can't get enough of that stuff. Some people crave pickles and mustard during their pregnancies; for me, it was KFC's coleslaw. Yum.


Lance Mackey wins the Iditarod...for the third time??

Wow...and here are photos to prove it.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Books, Books

Jean Chatzky's done an interesting book, based on the habits and personalities of wealthy people she interviewed. Find out more about it here, thanks to One Frugal Girl:


And the Wall Street Journal's list of best novels set in the Great Depression:


They don't even mention Grapes of Wrath! No matter...I like it, too.

Reading a lot of biographies lately -- Nellie Bly, William Jennings Bryan -- and financial opuses. (Opi?) The Millionaire Next Door, Suze Orman's books. Good stuff.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Perfect Monday Morning Video!

Thanks to Notes From the Frugal Trenches for getting me hooked on this peripatetic song:


She just quit her frenetic corporate job, and is deciding on What's Next. Follow her at:


Nicholas Hughes - and Sylvia Plath

No snowflakes -- yet. Put the wash on the line, and watched it do its best to sail to Nebraska.

Nicholas Hughes recently died...by his own hand. What's especially sad about that is that he was the only son of a brilliant writer, Sylvia Plath:


Sylvia is known best for her poetry, but her just-plain-writing is exquisite. She had an incredible eye for meaning in the smallest detail. Most people read her poems; I most enjoyed her journals and "Letters Home." (The latter was a collection edited by her mother, who was alternately worshipped and savaged in same letters. Sylvia was an equal-opportunity insulter. That leads me to believe that husband Ted Hughes, who was attacked over the years by Sylvia's supporters, arguing that his infidelity destroyed her and their marriage, may have had his own side of the story.)

When I am working (that is, writing, too), Sylvia's letters are a good jump-start. What an amazing woman. What a shame that she succeeded in killing herself by sticking her head in a gas oven back in Feb. 1963. (In a house where Yeats lived, ironically now more famous for Plath's presence.) What brilliance could she have done over the decades, if she'd just hung on through the difficult times?

Now her son follows her lead. What a huge waste.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells

Beautiful day here...sun shining, strong wind, and our daffodils blooming like crazy.

I planted peas and spinach. (The ground was like powdered dust -- we haven't had any moisture for weeks.)

Know what it's supposed to do, starting Monday?

Yep, you guessed it -- snow.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Up early this morning to go help with breakfast at the missions workshop...then off to Golden (an hour's drive away) to do appraisals all day. Got back, drove to the church...and everyone was gone! So I went home, microwaved some hot dogs and had a blessed nap.

Now, of course, it's 1:00 a.m., and Husband wants to go to bed. Who's reasonably wide awake now... me!

Ah well.

Frugality is critical especially now, argues blogger Down to Earth...and I think she's right:


Husband wins.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Accidents...And Sauce

Natasha Richardson dead...after falling during a ski lesson?


I feel for the instructor, too. Daughter #1 teaches snowboarding up at Keystone. She would feel HORRIBLE in a similar situation. What a strange, odd accident.

* * * * * * *
It is a bit of a strange, odd day here. Lots of restless wind. Clouds gusting as if they're snowboarding the sky, doing flips.

The kitchen is full of a thick, rich smell: spaghetti sauce -- the best in the world -- for 40 people at tonight's Mission Workshop. Also on the menu: antipasto (peppers, cukes, tomatoes, avocado, more) laced with a basil vinaigrette. For dessert: shortbread, sweet potato pie with a puff of whipped cream.

Here's the spaghetti sauce recipe. It's easy to assemble and makes a lot of sauce -- freezes nicely. My mom got it from a nice Italian girl she fixed a quilt for.


You'll need: 5 pounds ground chuck or sirloin
3-6 cloves (or 3 tablespoons) chopped garlic
1 bunch Italian parsley (or reg. parsley), chopped
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves or a jar chopped garlic
4 eggs
1/2 cup breadcrumbs OR 1 boiled mashed potato
Italian herb mix (oregano, basil, pepper, etc.) -- or oregano & basil
1 jar (approx. 10 oz.) grated Romano cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
4 large cans Progresso or Contadina crushed tomatoes or puree
2 small cans (similar brand) tomato paste with Italian herbs
5 pounds Italian sausage -- Johnsonville was recommended, but I like
our local Sara's Sausage, as well
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced

Element #1: MEATBALLS
Mix 5 pounds ground chuck/sirloin with a tablespoon Italian herbs, 1/3 of a jar of grated Romano cheese, 1/3 of the onion, teaspoon salt, teaspoon ground pepper, teaspoon chopped garlic, eggs, breadcrumbs/potato. Roll into small meatballs and put on ungreased pan. Bake in 350-degree oven while you're assembling the rest of the sauce.

Element #2: SAUCE
You'll need a large kettle or slow-cooker. Chop Italian sausage, add mushrooms and rest of onion, tomatoes and tomato paste. (Rinse out cans and add that water to the kettle, as well.) Mix in 2 tablespoons garlic (or rest of chopped cloves), sugar, 3 tablespoons Italian herbs (or 1 1/2 each of oregano and basil), 2 tablespoons each of salt and pepper, the rest of the parsley and half of the remaining Romano cheese.

Finishing It Up:
Your meatballs should be half-cooked now. Dump them into the pot. Mix thoroughly, and put on low/simmer. Wait at least 4 long hours -- this can cook from 8-10 hours on low. If in a kettle, check periodically and add water or extra spices, if needed. (No sweat if it's in the crockpot.)

Serve over pasta, with a sprinkle of Romano cheese.

Serves 10 gorillas. (I doubled it to feed 40, and added a #10 can of tomato sauce, as well. Can also be used for chicken piccata, lasagne, and without the meat, is an excellent marinara. Add a chopped pepper if your husband doesn't have trouble with gas!) The meats' good juices go right into the broth, sugar tones down the acid, and the spices and cheese do wondrous things. The sauce is good at one hour, great at two...and downright amazing at four hours.


I don't always cook in such huge amounts. CheapHealthyGood (bless their little hearts) has terrific ideas on Cooking for One (or Two, in our case!):


Includes 25 recipes. This post started the thread (it's good, too):


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Miracles Still Happen

Heard about this? A man loses the use of his legs after a motorcycle accident. More than 21 years go by. Then he's bitten by a brown recluse spider. (Nasty things -- they hang out here in CO too.)

While being treated in the hospital, he suddenly has nerve action again. And now he's walking!


back to work...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Passive Barriers - Yes, They Apply to You!

One of the best financial advice posts in a long, long time. Ramit does tend to be a bit long-winded, but in this case, it's helpful. Put J.D.'s Get Rich Slowly blog on your daily to-read list; you'll never regret it.

Here it is:


How many barriers do YOU put up in life? I am thinking right now of a check I must send...but that means I have to look up another e-mail and print out a file to go with it. So do I take five minutes, and look it up? Nah, I just keep it on my to-do list. (But I will after posting this!)

Ninety percent of the piles around Casa Brick are stuff that's ready to put away, but it will "take a minute" I don't want to spend right now. So there they sit...and sit...and sit. Shame on me.

Now I'm off to demolish a passive barrier or two. Hopefully permanently.

Day At the Museum

I was up until 2:30 a.m. this morning, but got Stuff Done -- the piles are much smaller, and I put in some work on the book, too.


I am going to take online friend Marcie's advice, though, and set aside 30 min. a day to sit down, have a cup of coffee, and read. Anything. Sounds restful just talking about it.

Another spot for inducing serenity is the Museum of the American Quilter, located in Paducah, KY. What --you can't zip off there right now? Then head here:


Beautiful quilts, colors that sing. What an amazing place.

Monday, March 16, 2009

95 Great Money-Saving Tips!

Go to:


Ninety-five excellent common-sense ideas...well worth your time.

Monday's a New Start

Feeling better. We napped a few hours in the afternoon, then I got a good solid seven or so hours last night. (Well, except for the restless dreams...) Sleep makes all the difference in the world, doesn't it?

Yesterday was rough. The first time I'd been back in church, and because it was my turn to sing on Worship Team, that meant I was up front and visible. Pastor Torrey mentioned my dad's death...and Shelly Brauer's death (see earlier post)...and I just lost it, at least as much as I could show in public. A number of people came up, wanted to talk, give hugs, etc. They meant so well. They really did. But I was hurting, and just wanted to go home.

* * * * * *
Now it's morning -- a pile of chores nags, messiness abounds, and I can't help but admire the clean simplicity of Hyper Homemaker's blog:

Just saw some of the drawings for the new book -- they're fantastic!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Replacing Appliances

Here's a helpful post on what to look for when replacing appliances...and getting them to run for years (and years and years):


Don't miss the comments -- they're the best part. Small Notebook is talking about her washer and dryer; I wish I could find more info on replacing a dishwasher. We've had a few over the decades -- and without exception, every one was a piece of crap. The current loser is broken. I've been hand-washing dishes for weeks now, and/or letting them pile up in the sink. Not good.

We need to get a new one. But which one?

* * * * * * * *
The Crazy quilting class went very well, considering (to my shame) that I didn't cover absolutely everything about the subject, and I forgot to answer a few questions that were postponed until the end. Did an adequate job, thankfully, and Daughter #1 was working the job with me, which helped a lot. But I was soooo tired...this absentmindedness is definitely stemming from not getting enough sleep.

Going to bed is no problem -- but I lay there and lay there, sleep for a few hours, then wake up as if someone slapped me upside the head with a two-by-four. If I can manage to sleep longer, then I have bad dreams. (The night after I got home from Michigan, I dreamt that I found our puppy boy Buck on top of a garbage heap, covered with snow and legs barely moving. Horrible.)

I keep hearing talk about Tylenol PM being a help. Just know I've got to do something.

* * * * * * *

Be extremely careful with this flu. Many people were sick with it in Michigan, and my aunt ended up in the hospital because of it. I honestly think my dad's death was hurried up because of it. It's moving through Colorado...and, I assume, the rest of the country, in varied forms.

I'd pretty much assumed that only the elderly, young and already-sick were the only ones seriously threatened by influenza. But this past week, one of the women in our church got it. She was in church on Sunday, got the flu Sunday night, and at the doctor's on Tuesday. Admitted to the hospital Wednesday, dehydrated. Pneumonia and septic shock followed...she died Thursday at midnight.

Shelly Brauer was 40. She was in good health up to this point, with four children ranging from 10 to 18 months.

Don't take it lightly.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Plugging Away

A pile of dishes are done...and I even did a batch of appraisals this morning. Other piles are slowly disappearing...but I am just beat. Have to teach a Crazy class tomorrow, and can't concentrate.

A big surprise this morning at the client's home -- out trots the smallest Weimaraner I've ever seen! She was a dainty thing. I'm more used to our boys, Buck and Goonie, who tip the scales at approx. 100 and 125 pounds each. "Cassie" had fun getting acquainted with the Brick weimies...via my pant legs. Then she rolled into the sun, laid blissfully in it and stuck one paw straight up -- Disco Dog.

Back to work...thank you, Dear Readers, for coming to visit. I'll be more 'whatever' next post.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How I Got A New One...

Just home, suitcases hauled in the door, opened the cupboard. "Want some tea?" I asked Husband. "I just can't seem to find the teakettle."

He hung his head. "Ummm...I sort of had an accident." He put the kettle on, then got absorbed in something elsewhere in the house. Results: fire alarm shrieking and foot-high flames off the burner as the dry kettle caught fire.

Thankfully, he put the fire out before any damage was caused. (Which explains the thin layer of baking soda coating the stove area.)

"I got you a new teakettle!" he announced sheepishly. "This one whistles..."

Hey, that and one half-dead plant. If that's all that went wrong while I was gone, not so bad.

Unfortunately, the suitcases didn't do as well. One of the suitcases came off baggage claim with the front zipper flap open, spilling things out. Not too many things were lost...but one of the jars of spaghetti sauce I'd packed while in Michigan (in a bag, by the way) apparently were opened by the good folks at TSA -- then the jar lid not screwed back on completely. (They didn't put the jars back in the bag, either. Yes, I'd checked the jars' lids before I packed them.) Results: a thin layer of sauce on several of my teaching samples, including a c.1790 crib quilt.


Most of it seems like it will come out...no thanks to those stinkers at TSA. A big bag of brass charms got me personally searched, too -- the TSA just could not believe that anyone would carry something like this, in spite of explanations and two quilts tucked under my arm. No doubt terrorists have dire plans to masquerade as quilt teachers in the future!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Value of Trying -- And Failing -- and Trying

From the "Mistakes are Good for You" department:


Life Goes On

It's nice to be home.

Woke up this morning to fresh snow, coffee perking, and Husband's smiling face, hair sticking out in every direction. Gosh, I love that man.

Back to life -- 'everyday' life, whatever that is. An appraisal this morning. Lecture tonight for the Longmont guild. A sinkful of dishes, and clothes to hang out on the line. Catching up with my favorite curmudgeon, Judge Judy. (Watched "24" episodes last night...ok, we're caught up. Jack Bauer can now shoot the next bad guy! I've even taken to chanting "kneecaps, kneecaps" whenever the words "Jack" and "torture" occur in the same sentence.)

Mom is headed back to life, too. Last night she slept in the house alone -- the first time since my dad died. A cheerful phone conversation with her this morning...she was eating burgers with her friend Ann after a visit to Aunt Arlene in the hospital. (Astonishingly, she's doing better! She's now in a regular room, and this morning, was griping about the quality of her breakfast. A good sign. You could care less about that sort of stuff when you're dying.)

Brother Mike and his family are going to Florida the end of this week for spring break. I'm so glad. He has taken so much of the burden in the past month, and he can rest some.

I will never forget my dad, even as the ground warms and green sprouts appear. I will never forget him. (And I will see him again.) In the meantime, you go on.

Be sure to take some time to follow Messy Thrilling Life's adventures lately. She's deep in the throes of holding garage sales, auctions, etc. to pay the bills and Keep On. She's also shutting the blog down in early April...only a few weeks to hear more. (I'd even suggest taking some time to read her back posts -- she's that good.)

Also, a Lincoln photo publicized that may be the last taken:

There are so few photos of this remarkable man, that a newly-found one would be remarkable.

Back to life.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

In Christ Alone

Now Mom's only sister, Arlene, is in the hospital. Flu has taken down many people in Michigan...shoot, across the country. Aunt Arlene is 89, and her kidneys were gradually failing, thanks in great part to dehydration. (When your fluids are coming out of both ends, not much stays in to hydrate your body.) She's improved some today, but it still isn't looking good.

Mom is being amazingly strong about this new development. I worry, though -- how will she do when I am not here? (I leave tomorrow morning for home.) God knows. GOD KNOWS. He can take far better care of her than I can.

Here are the amazing words to "In Christ Alone" -- watch it in performance here:


"In Christ Alone"
Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2001 Kingsway Thankyou Music

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.

Church...and More Rain

Mom (accompanied by yours truly) went to church today for the first time since before Christmas. Normally, she and Dad stayed home at 'Bedside Baptist,' and visited several different services via tv.

It wasn't easy for her, but she stuck it out -- and seemed better for it.

Was it a coincidence that "In Christ Alone" was the starting hymn...when that was also the featured song at church in Colorado just before I left for VA? I think not.

DeVRIES (Sparta) - Peter Otto DeVries, age 74, went to be with his Lord on Wednesday, February 25, 2009 after a battle with Multiple Myeloma. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Bonnilou; daughter, Cindy and Dave Brick; son, Mike and Lori DeVries; grandchildren, Jess Brick, Angel Brick, Adam DeVries and Stephanie Kanouse, Brianna DeVries; brothers and sisters, Wilmetta and Bill Bok, Ruby Doornbos, Herb and Dolores DeVries, Carolyn and Ron Paige, Wanda Vincent, Arleen Lovell, Max Cumings, Vernon and Mary Cumings, Allen and Maxine Cumings, Ruth Cumings, Dean and Corrinn Cumings; many nieces and nephews. Funeral services will be held on Monday, March 2, 11:00 a.m. at the Blythefield Hills Baptist Church with Rev. Don Pearson and Rev. Louie Knopka officiating. Interment in Myers Cemetery, Sparta. Friends may meet the family at the funeral home on Sunday 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Those who wish may make memorial contributions to The Peter DeVries Youth Scholarship Fund at Blythefield Hills Baptist or The Gideon's. Hessel-Cheslek Funeral Home, Sparta

Published in the Grand Rapids Press from 2/27/2009 - 2/28/2009

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Still here...and recuperating after a zany 32-person bridal shower for our new niece, Stephanie. The poor girlie, her mom, Adam's mom Lori, and their grandma (my mom) were wrapped up in new toilet paper costumes for the upcoming wedding, complete with plastic flowers, ribbons and two strategically-placed spools of yellow ribbon for Lori. (She won the game as the Hawaiian hula girl!)

Stephanie, who was svelte in a sheath of closely-wrapped toilet paper from ankles to chest, had a few problems. First, her group never thought she had to walk in this getup...and every step she took, another round of tp slipped to the floor. (It got pretty risque there toward the end...I hope she's not plannning to do this June 19!) Her other problem was cleavage -- the lovely sparkly furry trim draping her bust kept falling off...and she kept stuffing it back in. Hmmm...

We had punch and games...and lots of fun. Still tears now and then, but that will be the case for a while. It felt good to be with my cousins and aunts and just BE.

Today is raining. Messy, messy, messy. But we spent the afternoon in the fabric store, choosing fabrics for Stephanie's new quilt -- a Lone Star in the quiet browns, greens and roses so popular right now. Restful.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Back Again

I haven't been so quiet on this blog for a long, long time...but I just didn't have the heart to write. It has been a rough few weeks.

First, thank you SO much for your thoughtful messages and encouragement. I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. Thank you, friends.

Somehow I managed to finish out the Mancuso gig. It wasn't easy. Every day meant prepping for that class, then concentrating to get through it without being too absentminded. Midway through Class #2, one of the students gave me a cough to carry along...

My roommate, fellow teacher Wendy Berns, was a champ. She'd messed up her back somehow, so wasn't getting too much sleep, either. But she -- and I -- kept with it until Sat night and the final Show & Tell.

I took a 6 a.m. flight Sunday morning, which meant getting up about 3:30 a.m. for the taxi. Got to Sparta, Michigan just in time to shower quickly, change clothes and go to the funeral home for visitation. Our families -- my brother's, ours and Mom -- stood shoulder to shoulder, all five grandchildren included, greeting people who had come. I lost track of time after a while, just a long line of people, including many farmers (my dad repaired farm equipment as a living), who wanted to tell how much Pa had meant to them. Hours of this -- at least 6, 7...I lost track.

Monday's funeral was more of same. This time, though, we sat down afterwards, had lunch, told stories...then after the graveside ceremony, there was more food, stories and very silly Cumings jokes and stories that went on all evening. There is a very fine line between laughing and crying...really! Dad would have HATED all the attention and fussing around him...but then again, he would have loved the stories. I almost felt him sitting behind me, back in the corner, grinning as he heard about some silly escapade.

I'm still in Michigan. Every day, Mom and I (Dave and the girls went home this morning) go out to the gravesite and say hi to Dad. If you stand by his marker and look north, you can actually see the folks' house, surrounded by unplowed fields. Things are dirt and mud there, and the faded flowers on Dad's grave will soon be cleared away. I fastened a bouquet of silk flowers around his marker: blue iris, daffodils and a big fistful of yellow tulips. A good Hollander color combination -- blue and white, with a cheerful punch of yellow.

I know where he is. I know I will meet him again. That doesn't stop the tears or wishing I could once again lean against that head and hear his comforting rumble as he spoke. (Maybe even drape my hair over his silky baldness, and tease him for the bazillionth time about being a hippie.) It doesn't change the ache as Mom talks to her "Babe," as we smooth the raw dirt over his body. (Thankfully, that is all there is under the ground.) It doesn't make the quiet stillness at the house go away.

I miss him. But deep inside this grief, there is a small green leaf beginning to sprout. He doesn't hurt anymore! He's with his father...my uncles...my grandma. Most of all, he is with the Savior he served and loved so many years.

And soon it will be spring.