cousins are forever

Oh, how I love cousins! I love my DNA cousins; I love Paul’s cousins; I love Mauri’s cousins, I love Margaret-Rose’s cousins! If there’s a trace of cousin in my/our extended family—I will claim him/her!

Given this declaration, you might imagine how drawn I was to attend a gathering of Macy cousins in central Oregon last weekend. 

The attraction goes further than the people, in this case, because I’ve been accompanying Mauri to this remarkable place since before we were married and collected my own stories that include kissing baby pigs and eating Aunt Marie’s eggs.

This sibling cousin set represents travel from Minnesota (Phyllis, left), Dan (Alaska), and Kathy (Washington, right), with Sarita (Hawaii, middle) who represents in this photo the brother who died suddenly a few years ago and was sorely missed in this gathering.

I love extra those who make such a valiant effort to be present for the rest of us.

Milne and her daughter Tegan live right there on the property, hard-working family farmers!

Through the benefit of Facebook, I get to see Tegan and her sister, Kailee, show their prize 4H pigs.

And I get to see Tegan “swath her pasture.” This might be an ad for Facebook because seeing this makes visiting the farm all the more meaningful. (Thanks, Milne!)

And who knew our John Macy family would arrive for some family time? They’d just spent the week camping on the Oregon Coast with their siblings, drove home to Newberg that morning, spent an hour regrouping, then drove across the mountain to be part of this gathering. John chat’s with his cousin Mike, who belongs to Milne.

That table of stuff occupied my attention for a long while as it was like a “free” one-table garage sale, donations brought by family members. It was covered with good stuff (Thanks, Reata!).

Kiersten (middle), Janae, and I bonded over all the jewelry; they quickly became my fashion consultants and talked me out of my boring one-necklace, one-ring, one-pair-of-earrings stance. Janae fitted me with an ear cuff, of all things! Too bad it’s on my left ear. <sad face>

Mauri had a good view of us and told me later that watching us was one of his biggest highlights. See him there between Kiersten and Janae?

You can’t hear it, but as I write I’m listening to the James Taylor CD I chose from a portion of cousin Doug Macy’s music collection that occupied another “help-yourself” table. (Thanks, Rebecca!)

It wouldn’t be a Macy family gathering without historic pictures!

Sage and Brynn get a taste of farm life.

Who could pass up s’mores?

Neither could she?

C**z, Janae’s son, is the same age as Brynn. It was fun to watch a generation down the family tree get acquainted.

At 8:45 the evening after the longest day of the year, I looked to the east and saw Sage with R***o, brother of C**z, in this picturesque setting. Time to call it a day.

Around 50 people showed up, though I didn’t get pictures of all. I was on a walk around the farm with my Macy girls and missed out on this photo op of the first cousins. But it came to me from three sources (they all know I love pictures!), one with this information: “There were originally 25 grandchildren of Clara and Harlan Macy, now there are 20, so this is a pretty good number to get together.
Back row, Gregg, Rebecca, Mauri, Richard, John, Dan, Kathy
Front row Marilyn, Ed, Reata, Phyllis”

Each one a gem and dearly loved!

Since we could, we made Central Oregon a mini vacation, staying over two nights in an airbnb in Redmond. Sitting with my camera in this scenic setting (Smith Rock State Park), I had to admit:

I need people in my pictures. Yes, God’s creation—what can beat that?

But of all the pictures I took from that spot, this is my favorite. Go figure!

Posted in family matters, nostalgia, travels | 4 Comments

mother’s piano lives on

For months now we’ve been following the progress of a big project involving the restoration of my mother’s 1916 six-foot Model “O” Steinway piano.

My brother, John, remembers as an 8-year-old going with my dad to a man’s house to buy this piano for Mother. The man selling the piano had only one finger on each hand! He would take $1,500 and struck a deal with my dad at three installments of $500.

Singing with Mother at the piano was an integral part of our upbringing. And the regular sharing of that piano bench when Mauri would come to my house to rehearse was the start of a lasting friendship.

While he and I traveled in Asia on a Youth for Christ Teen Team, my parents sold my childhood home and moved across town (Wheaton, IL). Here’s the Steinway’s new location, a backdrop for 19-year-old Sherry, still a year away from saying yes to life with Paul Carlson. I could never have imagined that 50+ years later this picture would be part of a blog story about the piano, when we thought a Selectric typewriter was the coolest thing since sliced bread!

In the ’70s, my parents moved to Florida, and the piano found its new home in their Jacksonville living room.

Cancer stole Mother from this earth in 1988, leaving Dad to fend for himself. When he came up short on cash, my brother gave him a generous sum for the piano to lend a financial hand. So the Steinway found its next home at John’s house. Here, for a visit, Mauri plays for old time’s sake—though the old girl is beginning to show her age.

Fast forward to 2018. Brother John turns 80 and decides it’s time to downsize. That word means different things to different people, and in his case it means selling two homes and three cars/trucks and buying one smaller house with room for three cars. And since he doesn’t actually play the piano, he decided to donate the Steinway.

Since Mother’s piano represents oh so much more than an instrument, he hoped to give it to an organization that would honor her heritage. But it needed a lot of work, and it would cost considerably to move it. He offered to give it to Mauri and me and made the same offer to our sister and her husband. We both have pianos—and also aren’t getting any younger! Disappointed and discouraged, Johnny was about to settle for donating it to a boys ranch near his home, when . . .

. . . we decided to invest in restoring the piano to new condition!

Over the next several months, Skip Becker, our piano rebuilder (who is also the piano technician for the Jacksonville Symphony) sent us pictures of the progress.

The old “action” comes out.

Skip tells us this old-growth wood is exceptional, with rings per inch nearly double that of contemporary sound boards.

And more pictures as the new replacement parts are added. Near the end of the process we were advised to hire Vince to refinish the wood. We figured while we were at it, we might as well go all the way!

And then . . . it was time for us to fly to Florida to see and play the masterpiece. Yes, the first flight (of three) to Bozeman was a prop plane!

The piano had to move out of Skip’s shop, so John agreed it could live in his new home while it’s on the market. Isn’t it beautiful?

We finally got to meet Skip, who came to tune and make a few adjustments. Adjustments and frequent tunings are expected, and we are grateful Skip intends to “baby” our piano through the coming days while we find its new home.

Of course Mauri and I (and brother John too) did a lot of singing for old time’s sake.

Here’s a duet we sang lo those many years ago.

You can’t put a price on family time, in this case a big bonus attached to the purpose of our travels so far from home. Mauri never misses a chance to cook for someone (himself included).

Just because he’s 80 doesn’t mean he could think about retiring. He took a few days off for our visit but managed to keep several balls in the air via phone.

While his backyard is lovely, all I can think about are the rattlesnakes and water moccasins that are surely in the grass right where I want to step next.

These little guys are everywhere just waiting to tease my snake phobia.

John’s retirement home. Uh-huh.

This is my nephew Kevin, John’s one and only (and adored) son. He and Cheryl are part of a boat club, allowing them to take one from a fleet out for a spin.

Three daughters (Cameron and Aubrey here) had already spent their Thursday afternoon tubing behind one of these boats, then came back out for a spin with us.

The late afternoon sun was delightfully warm and not a big threat to our Oregon skin. You guessed right! This is Cheryl.

This is the oldest daughter, Peyton, who just graduated from Taylor University.

It’s OK—you can admit you’re a little bit jealous. But then, we might get eaten by an alligator!

You didn’t think I could post a story from near St. Augustine without including a trip to Barnacle Bill’s, did you?

If you love me, you’ll CLICK HERE to read my short story about the demise of our tradition to eat at Barnacle Bill’s. This is the former site, now flattened for a hotel parking lot. But you saw our smiling faces in front of the new Barnacle Bill’s!

It was lunch time, with a Fathers Day dinner to come, so we exercised self-control and ordered only nine shrimp, not the BUSTER (12). Our tradition lives on too (just like the piano)!

And not that many hours later we were in the waiting queue for a table to seat eight, with three fathers to celebrate. Kevin’s mom, my dear sister-in-law Suzie, joined the hubbub. But this is all you’ll see of that event, not a single plate of food, because that kind of thing can be overdone, right?

And also because Sunday morning, on the way to church, nothing else but Waffle House will do! The stars aligned and we walked in the door to find three-in-a-row counter seats open. It was as though God ordained we should have the nirvana Waffle House experience.

Yes, the food is outstanding, but more than that the whole well-oiled operation is a sight to behold a few feet on the other side of the counter. Add to that Mauri’s conversation with Mike, who eats right there every single morning, scopes out veterans and truckers to comp their breakfast, even orders an extra side of bacon to offer the servers.

And then, bellies full, we headed to Fruit Cove Baptist Church and filled a pew. You’ve attended church with me on this blog before, haven’t you, and know how it fills my heart and soul to worship God alongside members of my family.

Here they are, the three dads on Fathers Day.

And then it was time to fly home to Oregon. I asked Johnny if I could take a picture, which had I thought of it I would have posed with him holding music and singing, just like the opening photo of this post. But Mother and Dad are both making music in heaven with the angels, not available to pose with Johnny. Still, it was fun picturing them walking into the room to see their beautiful piano ready for another 84 years of service.

Posted in family matters, nostalgia, travels | 10 Comments

emily moves up

I’d be a rich woman if I had a nickel for every time in the past 25 years I sat at a stoplight facing this building on my way through town, heading home. Sometimes the wait was long enough to wonder about the apartments on the second floor.

And occasionally my thoughts shift to this scene from 50+ years ago—known to me only though this photo and Mauri’s stories—when as newlyweds he and Margaret-Rose made their home only two blocks down the street in one of those second-story apartments.

And so with particular joy I got to be part of a house blessing event last evening for this young friend, Emily, who just moved into one of those apartments—the prime corner!

Isn’t she lovely? Emily teaches at Veritas, a local Christian school, where she also attended. They use the classical education model. Her assigned classes are high school art history, 8th grade humane letters and Latin, 10th grade New Testament theology, and PE for 9th and 10th grades. Besides teaching she is the alumni coordinator. Whew—I’d say she’s earned herself a summer break!

And now she has this lovely apartment!

A nice long flight of stairs offered a workout to our legs. These are Emily’s parents, Marc and Kelly, also our friends (for a long time).

Emily had to buy two bookcases to house her growing collection. She is, after all, a teacher!

We looked out the window and saw Melody and Sean (et al) heading our way.

Emily and her mom laughed about the “self-serving” gift. Now that she owns measuring spoons and cups, Mom expects a dinner invitation, or at least some cookies!

After a shared time of “blessing” prayer, we blessed her new home with words and songs.

We all marveled at how comfortably she’ll be able to host groups of people. Hospitality is one of her goals for this space, so win/win!

Posted in in the neighborhood | 1 Comment

bailey marries sarah

The longer I wait to write this post the more pictures I gather for it, another social media win! Mostly, though, I share this lovely family event from my point of view, which of course is how I alone will remember it. I depend on this blog to support the accuracy of my memory.

Retired people smarter than I would likely choose to spend longer than a weekend to travel to Mexico. But we managed to pack a lot of life and joy into the past few days, so hold on to your hat as I narrow it to some highlights.

I love when a plan comes together! Only a day earlier Taylor and Beth had closed on the sale of their house, storing their possessions and lodging with Beth’s parents for the short transition between homes. Early on Friday morning, sans children, they headed toward Phoenix, arriving within a half hour of Ben (from Michigan) and the two of us (from Oregon).

The five of us packed into a rental car and headed south to Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico, on the Sea of Cortez, to celebrate the marriage of Bailey Anderson to Sarah Lanzel!

This shows you how easy it is to get there. Of course it requires a passport and a border crossing, but otherwise not much different from US travel.

Two days before our departure I received notification that our condo was double booked and therefore our reservation cancelled! “Don’t worry,” it said, “we’ve refunded your entire payment!” Huh? Don’t worry?

I sent out an SOS to the condo sharers for moral support, then through the help of the owner of the cancelled VRBO, secured a reservation of a bigger condo for just a little more $$. Whew! And here we are, enjoying the warm breeze and a spectacular view.

Mauri and I had no time to lose, as we were invited to enjoy the rehearsal dinner. Here you see Dusty giving his memorable toasts to Bailey and to Sarah. Let’s just say he is grateful to God for this match made in heaven. Both sides of the family have prayed earnestly, as each child was raised, for the spiritual preparation for the spouse of God’s choosing.

Many of my posts have a side story, and this is one. It starts with the groom and bride about to open the card from a gift I requested they open while I wait. They’re used to me, so they were sure I’d be taking pictures of it.

A few months ago I enlisted the help of cousin Hannah to make two sets of cloth flags (a.k.a. bunting) to encourage the continuation of flying the blue and white flags at their family celebrations. This shows Hannah’s process, with the help of her darling twins.

They are such good sports!

This was no surprise to Quinn, who helped me decide the best time to gift them. She comes by her love for traditions naturally. . .

. . . which was evident as she (Quinn) directed me to a different side of the room for a picture with her rehearsal dinner decor.

This iconic camel in particular. It is her way of including her dad, Paul, in the event.

Well, I guess this turned into two side stories. What can I say?

Back to our primary story. And did I mention the most delicious steak dinner?

From our balcony the next morning I snapped the beginnings of set up for the wedding and reception.

We bumped into the Macy clan on our way to tour the penthouse (arrow), rented by the Andersons for several wedding functions and events. You might guess where these guys are headed!

The inside of the penthouse was as fabulous as the outside, but at the time of our visit only the open areas were photographable.

The desert golf course, eyed by two avid golfers.

While Dusty and Taylor dreamed of playing golf, Ben found a more accessible purpose.

Remember that a panorama shot skews the perspective. This takes in three sides of the penthouse.

Here we can see a bit of progress on the wedding set up.

And oh look! there I am all happy and glowy between two sons!

Add a Carlson, some Andersons, and a set of mysterious feet.

Mystery solved—the owner of those feet revealed!

If we were standing on our balcony on the 8th floor straight across, we could wave at ourselves!

Down to sea level once again, we discovered the Macy clan down by the waterfront, taking advantage of the “food cart” offerings.

Will and Lincoln know what’s good!

Friend Heather vouched for its deliciousness.

We know those people!

And these!

Having had my fill of sand between the toes, I headed back to our condo, arriving just in time to hear cheering from poolside as Bailey and his wedding party walked past on their way to the pre-wedding photo session. That might signal a need to make myself presentable!

Photographers Taylor and Saile, who would celebrate their first anniversary the following day, are up for the task.

Excuse me while I swoon at these beautiful granddaughters, sisters of the groom.

Mauri provided me with this gem. Yes, I’m wearing a crown of palm branches.

Adding Dusty’s parents, Randee and Neil. In just a little while, they will all have the same last name!

Here’s one with Sarah’s dad, Chuck, and his new wife, Christina. We’ve gotten to know them from two Thanksgiving Juarez build trips. Do you remember that’s where the romance between Bailey and Sarah began?

Higher up, the dynamic Macy cousins all prepped for the festivities!

And then . . . it was time! Mauri and I would be ushered in by Bailey himself. He was cucumber cool, at least by appearance.

After he hugged and seated both sets of grandparents, he returned for his most beloved parents.

Son John provided the music for the event’s processionals.

Marissa on Seth’s arm (Seth is Bailey’s friend and also, by happenstance, Sarah’s brother!)

Then came Cassidy with Booker, his brother and mom smiling too.

Luke Simmons, lead pastor at Redemption Gateway* in Queen Creek, AZ, traveled with his family to perform the ceremony, which I must say was a high-ranking highlight for me. (*Here’s the sermon he preached the next morning!)

The bride is always the focal point in the procession, but I like to turn my attention to the groom as he watches his bride come in. I loved noticing Bailey’s mom with the very same glow and expression as the groom.

Luke’s message included sweet stories of both Bailey and Sarah, starting from birth, leading to where, when, and how they met; how their attraction turned into love. He shared strong testimonies of their Christian upbringing and when faith became their own. Woven in this the strands of the gospel message, the truth of Christ’s death and resurrection and how understanding this will lead to a life of honor and trust between the three of them: Bailey, Sarah, and Christ! Later, on Instagram Luke posted a picture of his family and, referring to Bailey and Sarah, wrote: “These kids have a bright future ahead!”

After promises and a ring exchange, Luke introduced Mr. and Mrs. Bailey Anderson, followed by “You may . . .” Oh, never mind, you know!

“Yep. That’s my wife!” Bailey’s caption as he shared a few pictures on social media.

As the reception got underway, the newlyweds and the photographers snuck down to the beach to catch the late afternoon sun.

Meanwhile, the party gets underway.

Quinn chats with the three younger Simmons kiddos. She and Dusty and all the Andersons kids have served in the “Walkers” class during the church’s 5 o’clock service for five (or more) years, giving them regular up-close-and-personal opportunities to establish loving attachment.

So much blended-family love going on here! That both Macy families traveled all the way down from Oregon to celebrate this marriage demonstrates the remarkable connection established over the past 25 years. I will never stop being grateful.

Here they all are—with Krista, another joyfully established relationship/friendship. She is my niece, daughter of my sister.

Well, OK, this is the right time to include my anticipated “series” shot of Krista with Quinn, a tradition begun when they were teeny tiny and added to every time they’ve been together ever since. Anticipate the next one next month at our family reunion! They probably won’t change a whole lot, but maybe their clothes will.

And now some random reception shots. Here Beth shows family members a video of one of her uncharacteristically bad mothering moments. You can tell it had a happy ending, if not for the baby.

After dinner, time for dancing. Looks like Quinn is embracing her mother/son turn to the specially chosen song (by Bailey) by Sidewalk Prophets, “The Words I Would Say.

Fun times for all!

Better than dancing for us was a chance to chat with these guys.

A few posed shots, just because we can and there’s that body of water behind us!

These two had to adjust to being “sans children” for a few days. Somehow I think they did OK, though Beth was on her phone quite a bit. <grin>

These two! Until this very moment, I hadn’t noticed their almost matching shirts. No, they aren’t twins! Ha! And those wristbands, everyone at the resort has to wear one at all times. Without it we get kicked off the scene.

Speaking of the resort (Las Palomas Beach and Golf Resort), the wedding “window” of four hours meant strict adherence to the schedule, so cake time came at a certain time. You can see the sign for the bubble farewell at 8:45. These two were so much fun to watch throughout the evening. They were just so very happy and cute!

And apparently fully embracing the tradition of smearing each other with stickiness.

And they lived joyfully ever after. This is our prayer for Bailey and Sarah.

Posted in family matters, grandkids, travels | 5 Comments

this and that

What have I been up to lately? Thanks for asking!

For one thing, I’ve been poring over old family pictures sent to me by cousin Helen Katherine. She pre-pored over them, writing names and dates on the backs of those not already identified, and packed them in envelopes by family units. No small investment of time and attention!

Not all were new to me, having already inherited from multiple sources, but I found great interest in the new-to-me pics.

My very favorite photos are candid, the ones that allow a glimpse of real life. These are my grandparents with their first two children. They don’t appear to be too concerned that their baby, my dad, is about to take a dive into the creek.

It appears this uncle is holding a tiny pig.

But why is my young grandfather posing with a hive of bees? Inquiring minds want to know.

I’ve always loved this picture of my dad with his younger brother, Frankie.

But I’ve never seen this picture of the grieving family at Frankie’s grave.

I imagine you’re thinking what I’m thinking about that dress!

Last but certainly not least—my grandpa toward the end of his life. I remember him in this stage, since I was 5 years old at the time. But this photo is, to me, a remarkable study, and I find it hard to move away from it. The perfect natural lighting, Grandpa’s pose, the bird cage, the table lamp, the coffee pot.

Moving on . . .

I spent a few days this week up in Castle Rock, Washington, with my friend Nita. It’s not so far away that I couldn’t drive up and home in the same day, but there’s something nice about having the extra time to take walks, go for coffee, and talk about everything.

Here she is by the city jail.

Lee read us an after-dinner story.

Their peaceful home has a most wonderful view that makes a visitor want to just put her feet up and read her book.

It’s #oneadaymay, so I’ve been posting one photo every day on social media. This was my May 1 entry—a shot of my “new” bike that had just transported me to Starbucks for a coffee date with a friend. The month has been filled with these dates, though I’ve never developed a taste for coffee. I’ve been intentional about sharing with my friends, one on one, my reasons for making a change in worship communities.

May 4 #oneadaymay. The two Macy players in Newberg Brass, providing the entertainment at Chapters Books and Coffee for First Friday.

May 5 #oneadaymay. We planted this camellia bush in a hollow log from our old apple tree that once lived in that same spot.

May 7 #oneadaymay. A Mothers Day gift from Quinn, who knows her mama very well.

May 19 #oneadaymay. This is Church of the Vine, where I worship on Sunday mornings now. It’s a long story, but I’ll write these few sentences of explanation.

After Mauri retired, we left Newberg Friends because that’s what pastors do when they’ve worked at the same church for 33 years. I found community at Hillside Fellowship, loving the people and the pastors and the theology. I continued to work for Newberg Friends, and when a big split happened and half the congregation and all the pastors left, I needed to return to NFC to help with the transition to a new pastor. Meanwhile, Hillside Fellowship transitioned to Church of the Vine and became an Anglican community.

So I’ve been reading and listening to the podcast Word & Table to get acquainted with Anglican theology. Though I’m not on board 100 percent, I am finding unity in spirit with the liturgy and feel more and more at home with it, always looking forward to Sunday.

Our friend Bethany launched her book of poetry, The Breath Between.

So we showed up at her party at the local library.

And that, my friends, is what I’ve been up to lately. And you?

Posted in this and that | 2 Comments

mother’s planters

Here it is, Mothers Day again, and I have refreshed my annual tradition of putting something alive and lovely in my mother’s planters.

This blog comes in handy when I forget certain facts such as the origin of the planters I moved from Florida to Michigan after Mother died, then to Oregon when I married Mauri. A search brought up this post, where I read they were a gift to Grandma Nill from her grandson Kevin.

I posted that story in 2006, when Quinn and Cassidy showed up for Mothers Day and helped me in my slightly disabled (broken ankle) condition fulfill my tradition.

Even in 2006, the condition of those planters had declined from how they looked on our front step in Michigan.

It’s been several years since Mother’s planters have had the attention they deserve.

Half way finished shows just how bad I let them get. Don’t tell anyone I turned the cracked and crumbling sides away from the street view. Sigh.

Happy Mothers Day to my mama.

Posted in 514, family matters, nostalgia | Leave a comment

bailey graduates from dordt

Visiting Dordt as one option for his college education, Bailey had no trouble choosing.

Four years and a double major later!

A venue this size to accommodate the family of 352 graduates meant we grandparents “attended” graduation via cyberspace.

It’s all good! We had a good view of Bailey in all the important parts.

It took me a while to spot him in this sea of caps and gowns.

Turns out Bailey walked in the final graduation as Dordt College. On Monday it will be known as Dordt University.

And now, everyone poses with the graduate. Sarah and Bailey are in countdown mode to their wedding day—June 1!

Cassidy has adored her big brother since day one—and the vice is versa! Marissa would be in this picture too, but she’s saying farewell to her studying-abroad friends in Verona, Italy.

With his proud parents. Emphasis on proud!

What’s next for Bailey (besides getting married!)? He and Sarah plan a move to Illinois for one season of football coaching experience at the University of Chicago. I’ll stick to a short answer because this is all I’m mostly sure about.

Posted in family matters, grandkids | Leave a comment