Jun 30, 2009
Jun 23, 2009
Jun 21, 2009
I went many years buying dad ties and shirts, and then he really did not need any more of those things. So a few years back I started a new tradition -- I got him black licorice and ginger snaps. I can still hear his voice..."ohhh, THANK you, Jacque" as if it were some new idea each year. I don't know why he loved black licorice so much, but there is a story that goes with the ginger snaps.
Back in the days of the Great Depression, dad used to go to the grocery store with his mother. So many times, he told us, she would get to the check out and not have enough money for what she wanted to purchase, and she would always put something else back and keep the ginger snaps for my dad. He continued to love them throughout his life, and always remembered my dear grandma's sacrifice of love every time he ate some.
As I've written before, there will never be another dad like mine. I miss him so much but I have so many really wonderful memories and I was unbelievably blessed to have such an awesome earthly father.
My dad worked for the B&O Railroad (Chessie System) for 39 years as a desk clerk. He never had a 401(k) or any other substantial money, but I can tell you he was a wealthy man and he knew it. His wealth was his loving family which gave him more joy than any bank account could. He also had a zest for life and learning that money couldn't buy. Above all, he possessed a faith in God which he lived out on a daily basis.
When my dad was 60 years old, he was given an option to retire early. He never dreamed he could do it. I clearly remember encouraging him to "go for it", and he did. It proved to be one of the best decisions of his life. He took up several hobbies he never had time for when he was busy putting food on the table for his large family, sometimes working very long hours. For one, he started to paint with acrylics. Most of his work he gave away as gifts to family and friends. He sold a few paintings along the way too, and even had a collection displayed at the local library and he got written up in the newspaper. Later, he had some printed for notecards, selling some and giving away many.
Dad and Mom celebrated 50 years of marriage with a large party and a cruise we kids gave them. They also celebrated 60 years of marriage in 2007. We unveiled our plans for them on Memorial Day of that year, which consisted of a series of small trips with each of us (grown up) kids, spread out over 6 months. When November came we had one last celebration weekend--a family dinner and a party for extended family and their many friends. Dad was so sick that weekend, but no one outside the immediate family would have known it.
Whenever we had a family meal, my dad always was the one to return thanks to the Lord for our provisions. However, the baton was passed at the 60th anniversary family dinner, and my brother Don, the oldest son, stood to say the prayer. I quickly snapped a picture and didn't realize until later when I saw it that I had caught dad wiping away a tear. I think he knew his time with us was short.
Dad lived almost five more months. He enjoyed 24 years of retirement, mostly in very good health and without too many of life's struggles. He lived to see 12 grandchildren and 6 of the great-grandchildren. He knew he was a blessed man.
Today while I remembered my dad, I also thought about my husband, and what a great father he has been to our two sons. They are both now fathers themselves. And so it goes...one generation passing on, the next growing older, and then the next and the next. I'm reminded that every day is a gift and the older I get, the more I try to live each day to the fullest.
Jun 20, 2009
Jefferson designed every aspect of Monticello ("little mountain" in Italian) and it is considered an icon of American architecture. It was a plantation, as well as a retreat and laboratory where Jefferson spent time applying the latest thinking to make life and labor more productive and efficient.
Here we stand with him at the new-this-year $43 million Visitor's Center which was quite impressive. There is an education wing, a fantastic gift shop, and a very nice cafe. A free shuttle picks up visitors from this location and takes them up the famous house on the hill.
The scenery from every direction is just fabulous...here are some of the gardens on the property.
One interesting thing we learned when we saw Jefferson's grave site, chosen by him in 1773, is that it is owned by an association of his descendants, and is still used as a cemetery.
Our next stop was to visit James and Dolley Madison's home at Montpelier, about 30 miles from Monticello, and nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. James Madison is considered the Father of our Constitution. Here we recalled some more famous words:
Though Montpelier was the life-long home of James Madison, his grandfather having acquired the land in 1723, his widow Dolley Madison (famous for saving the portrait of George Washington during the War of 1812 when the White House was burned during her husband's presidency) sold the home in 1844. In 1901 the duPont family purchased Montpelier and enlarged the house from 22 rooms to 55, and preserved the grounds. Finally in 1984 it was transfered to the National Trust, and in 2003 work began to restore the house to the way it was when the Madison's lived there.
"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
Again, the scenery was breathtaking...
We seem to have a thing for these bronze statutes...which seem to be just about everywhere we visit! Montpelier is still undergoing restoration and it is facinating to see the quality and detailed care that is taken to preserve and restore this national treasure.
We would probably recommend seeing Monticello and Montpelier in two separate days instead of one like we did. We didn't have time to do a leisurely audioguided tour of the Montpelier grounds, or see many of the exhibits, which we regret.
Back in downtown Charlottesville, we enjoyed a free trolley ride ...
and enjoyed a fabulous Italian dinner outdoors...a perfect ending to a really nice 5 day get-away!
Thus ends my ramblings about it and I hope you enjoyed touring with us!
Jun 18, 2009
In between babysitting two precious grandchildren about 4 days a week and helping my mom get around (she's just past her first anniversary of widowhood and suffering from macular degeneration), and all the other normal things we do in life, I've had two surgeries on my arm recently.
Well, it was supposed to be ONE surgery...I thought I was just having a small cyst removed from the crook of my right arm. So, extremely annoyed with this little life interruption, I had the procedure done and thought that was the end of it. Much to my surprise, when I went for the follow-up appointment, three white coats entered the room and advised me that the biopsy showed they needed to go back in and remove more tissue. (Groan)
The second time I had a general anesthesia so I had a chance to get a good "nap"! Today I go for the follow-up, and I'm fully expecting a good lab report so I can get back to my life between the buns, and sharing some of it with you. I'm very much looking forward to deepening my blogger friendships as well. Thanks for bearing with me!
"This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!" Psalm 118:24
Jun 9, 2009
And I was impressed with the vase of fresh flowers on the mantle...
There was also a small semi-private courtyard...
Breakfasts were served in another part of the building, which we needed to access by going out of our room to the outdoors, walking a few feet, and entering another door. But it was a lovely, sunny porch...
and of course, the private Veranda...
and I loved the brass pineapple napkin rings...
Jun 7, 2009
Jun 4, 2009
Here she is as I remember her in her later years.
Jun 3, 2009
I'll tell you all about it soon, and put up a few pictures. I just didn't think I should broadcast it on the internet before we left that we'd be away from home. Please check back soon! I've really missed this!