How To Begin Again?

We took a couple weeks out of our routine quarantine-Covid-older generation routine and went on a trip. We were lamenting that we could not hold an open house or anniversary party for our 50th celebration. My sister offered us use of her ranch in Colorado in the wilderness on the edge of the San Juan mountains. My doctor said, “GO! Get out of your four walls.” We flew to Atlanta wearing our N-95 masks given to us by a friend who is a nurse. We made our connection to Albuquerque with barely minutes to spare.

The airports were eerie with the lack of people and activity. For the first time in years TSA did not give us Pre-check! Hum. Then the x-ray officer wondered what the folding scissors in my purse were. I usually carry those as I crochet and need to cut yarn or thread when I change colors. After examining my purse contents he let me keep them. First time ever a TSA officer has questioned those!

To give you an example of the airports these days, I made this short video on the way home. We had a several hours layover in Atlanta. I actually found a bench without arms across every seat! After wiping it off carefully, I laid down to try and rest. Once while checking my phone I realized I could show you how weird it was. Very quiet, not too many people, almost every single person wore a mask, seats marked off with huge stickers for where one could and could not sit. Of course, with artistic license (LOL), I filmed it sideways 🙂

So now that we are home and getting more settled in, I hope to write the blog more often with tales of our journey!

Stay well!!

50 Years of Marriage In the Words of r m dutina

I met Molly (AKA Linda) in July of 1970 as I visited Berkeley for the weekend. She was hanging out of the window of the apartment I had shared with 2 others during the academic year. She had met one of my roommates who had told her about me. I was working at GE in San Jose and staying with my parents during the week. She was helping travelers at AAA (which has been quite handy in all our travels).  Let us just say that things were meant to be, or we ignored any warnings. A month later, in August, we decided to get married and set a wedding date of September 26th. This gave Molly’s mother and sister and best friend time to head West. 

We had an outside wedding in a Berkeley park officiated by an Episcopal priest, music was offered by a lone bag piper, and the ceremony was observed by the local kids who stopped their football game to watch. We had a reception at the rather elegant Claremont Hotel and headed to Carmel for a noticeably short honeymoon before classes started. Apparently, there was someone at the reception taking bets on how long the marriage would last. We still do not know who!  A 19-year-old Ohioan seeking a change of space and a 21-year-old Berkeley 5th year senior having returned from a year in Europe. I guess the odds must have seemed against us!

Well, despite the odds and the predictions, 50 years have gone by and we are still moving forward hand in hand. It has not always been perfect, but as Molly has stated: divorce is not an option, murder on the other hand…We laugh more than fuss; we trust more than question.

I cannot say we have figured it all out, but we have learned as we have gone along. Commitment, mutual support, quick forgiveness, affection, and genuine friendship. We have a common faith, we stand as partners, and we give each other the freedom to pursue interests that are not in common. We are unique individuals with different personalities-both have served us well.  Our wedding cake had a red, a white, and a pink carnation on top. We were declaring that what made us unique was as important as what we were united.

Never once have I questioned whether we made the right decision, and with God’s blessing, we will share life and adventures for many more years to come.

And I bought him this t-shirt!

This is It! The BIG 50!!

Bob read that only 5% of married folks make it to fifty years! And here we are! Half a century. Five decades. Unbelievable!! I began the morning with Bob saying, “Look at the mailbox!” I had one eye open and no coffee yet. Look I did and I was as surprised as he had been. “Who did that?” we both asked.

When I went out to get that photo it was my turn to say, “Bob, look at the locust tree!”

Spangles and streamers in case anyone missed the balloons!

We have four cards and then this

Flowers from our dear friends the Cookseys!

Next up came a cake from Emily and Dave.

Tiny cake for two! Bob said, “We need company to share this.” I replied, “Heck no!”

Such lovely fragrance in this bouquet! Our daughter was at it again. Showering us with love and affection.

Tonight we are off to a fancy dinner. I have had “Table for 2” on my calendar for weeks now. So for whoever it was that made bets at our wedding that our marriage would never last, “Well, how much did you lose?”

Tomorrow I will honor Bob by posting his Facebook entry from today. I am not the only one in the family who can craft words. Gosh, I love that man!!

1970 Berkeley, California

And now!

September, 2020 The Notch, Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Bob’s Sense of Humor

Robert 1975 Smoky Mountain National Park

I have often called this man my knight in shining armor. Journaling March 31 of this year I wrote.

“I had an emotional break through of sorts. This morning I noticed my scene out the bedroom window that I have looked at for years. Clearly I saw split rails that were missing or had fallen from the neighbors fence. I thought “fences are broken down.” And in this weird thing we are living through fences are down! During my meditation time I saw the photo of me the day of my dad’s funeral when I was eleven years old. Remembered the grief and fear of being left alone (especially with my mother and sister because I am so much like my dad). As the meditation continued I realized that Bob is the one who for most all of my life has kept me from the alone-ness of that grief and fear. And THAT is why I have been feeling I cannot bear the possibility of ever losing him. Jesus touch me in that place, I pray.

“Later John Eldredge confirmed all that pointing out that places in us from childhood may be calling out during this stay at home season. We need to have mercy and grace for ourselves and others.”

So he is my knight, but also my husband of soon-to-be fifty years. Yep, 50! Here is a cartoon he handed me recently. Did I mention he is the oldest of five and a terrible tease? Click the link below to see what I mean!

https://www.newyorker.com/cartoon/a23696

Getting Worse

In March I was horrified when the death toll from Covid-19 in America reached over 700. In April 100,000 to 200,000 deaths were predicted. The AMA came out with guidelines for doctors in the event there is a ventilator shortage – how to decide who gets one, i.e., who lives and who likely dies. What an awful thing to have to decide.

Now the deaths in America due to Covid-19 are over 144,500+ and cases are rising rapidly in almost every single state. We are seemingly getting callused to the numbers. Do we numb ourselves as a way to cope with the staggering power of this virus? So many families grieving. So much loss of life and work and pay and rent. We could not have imagined this one year ago in this day and age. I heard the economics being compared now to the Great Depression.

We need one another now more than ever. We need the Lord Jesus Christ to touch us by the power of His Holy Spirit now more than ever. I have spent months going through the stages of grief and found myself lately bordering on the stage of acceptance. This might really kill my husband or myself or a family member. Gratefully, our daughter, who tested positive for the virus, is so far only suffering a fatigue that she cannot shake. Praying she regains her stamina soon.

I cannot afford to live in a fantasy that this will be over in a week or two. This virus is real and it is killing people. Many people.

I honestly cannot remember if I shared this before, but here I go. I use a meditation app that provides either nature sounds, guided meditation prompts or just a timer for meditation. It is called Insight Timer. There is one presenter named Andrew Johnson who leads a meditation much like one of my counselors used to do with me.

Every time I work with Andrew I seem to arrive at a different place with a different lesson. On April 28 of this year I followed Andrew’s instructions as he took me to what he calls “a favorite place” – it was fog so dense I could not see. Moist sweet fragrance, and nothing but fog.

I was impressed by my lack of control and direction. Eventually I saw the Lord’s hand extended to me. Knew I was to follow and cling to Him. (Abide). He is in control of this journey. I do not need to know where we are going. I need to cling to His hand and abide with Him. It was eerie but also a comfort to let down my shoulders, release myself into His care. Be content to be His and go along with His plan.

The photo below is NOT the best, but a great memory.

This statue at the Oklahoma Cowboy Museum gave me pause. Was this some terrible joke upon Native American men what with the parasol and tassels? To reach them here is their link. https://nationalcowboymuseum.org/ and the actual title is the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

When I walked around to the side of the statue my opinion of the sculpture changed drastically. The sun was not kind to my photo.

He is shielding her!

I cannot decide if it reminds me more of my husband of almost fifty years (YEP, I typed that right. 50!) or my Lord and Savior. He too shields me and asks only that I abide and trust. Abide, remain, stay joined, live in – how easily we often get distracted and wander. Lord, help us to abide in You.

As time moves on towards our anniversary and our birthdays none of us know what the future holds. I do know Who loves me best and who on earth loves me the most!

 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the LORD withhold from those who walk uprightly.

Psalm 84:11 NRSV

But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.

Psalm 3:3 NIV2011

Call upon Him. He is able to keep us no matter what befalls us.

Hike #2

So the bluebells gave way to more and more climbing up out of the valley we had dropped into. On a huge boulder we found Miterwort, below.

The flowers are 1/6 inch wide!

At one point walking back we were feeling lost. How long has it been since you took a walk and suddenly, as an adult, (not with dementia) had no idea where you were? You see, we had not brought Bob’s backpack with the compass. Had never been to this preserve. At one point, when I knew Bob was feeling some of the anxiety I was experiencing, I quoted to him “We’re goin’ on a bear hunt, we’re gonna catch a big one! We’re not scared…”

Path was only a narrow area of crushed leaves. But we were totally unfamiliar with it. And in many ways, it was exhilarating to have this much fun, all alone in the woods. Oh. Had we told anyone exactly WHERE we were going?

We took turns walking in the lead. Bob walks a little faster than I do. At one point he was almost out of sight. I knew all I had to do was call to him, but it brought some adrenaline to my system to not be able to see or hear him! Then we were out of the area where the wildflowers flourished. Just downed trees and leaves. Brown leaves, dirt and twigs, occasional rock.

We pushed on. We thought we saw the tree where the trail split. Five minutes later knew, it was not THAT tree. Finally, finally, spent with exertion we were at the place where the trail had split. So grateful for that walking stick. It helped me push up through the trail and helped we navigate my way down in some places.

At the end the Fitbit registered 41 flights of stairs. That is equal to climbing the Carew Tower overlooking downtown Cincinnati! We laughed wondering if either one of us would be able to walk the next day.

Turned out we were able to walk the next day. Chose not to take any long walks and a very long nap! Such fun to have the photos, the memory and an exit from the pandemic fears for a couple of hours.

On the way home we saw a Creamy Whip stand open for business. There was not a line of people, so we stopped. I put on my cloth mask and took some cash. There was a man in the truck next to us. I asked if he had placed his order yet. (I did not want to upset whatever the protocol was there.) He said yes, he was waiting for his order to be prepared. Then I realized there were several cars with people waiting. This placed served foods as well as ice cream. The people in line moved to one side. Oh! there were people on the other side of the building at picnic tables.

I placed our order for two cones. Paid, was given the cones and climbed into the car, shedding mask and getting hand sanitizer. Back to the reality of Corona virus.

Enjoyed our yummy cones and felt not one pang of guilt after that arduous climb! Drove home in peace. Looked forward to seeing how our photos came out. Maybe one day soon I will just post Bob’s photos!

Tennessee and Decades Later

In 1975 we were expecting our first child. The photo below is from our first vacation to the Smoky Mountains. In 1982 we were learning about the Full Armor of God (Ephesians 6) and starting to teach Bible study together at our local church.

I Loved You in That Creek Bed © 1982 Molly Lin Dutina

Oh I loved you in that creek bed
Full of gallantry and suave
My flashing debonair knight.

You didn’t even know
What holy armor was then.
And now my love for you
Far surpasses and encompasses
The emotions at that creek bed.

Father, show us how to flow together
To the glory of Your name.
You split the rocks with
A blade of grass and
A finger of ice.

Split our shells that we might
Merge in Your kingdom work.
1978 Before Kids

Now in 2020, our children are adults with children of their own. We are still learning more about how to walk together in the Spirit. As we celebrate our 50th year of being married by knight continues to court me, woo and win me with his humor and grace.

I love you more than ever, Robert Dutina!

Suscipe Me

The Beethoven Akademie 1808 presentation by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Sunday, March 1 was listed as occurring from 2:30-8:30 PM with a dinner break from 5-7 PM. What a surprise when we got tickets and decided to try this Beethoven marathon! The first performance during the first half is one of my favorite pieces, The Pastoral Symphony #6 in F Major. The Awakening (which I always think of as the awakening of Spring), the brook, Jolly Country Folk, THE THUNDERSTORM and the Shepherd’s Hymn are all in my memory bank. I promised my husband and the stranger sitting next to me that I would try to refrain from whistling the tunes!

The original production was the last public performance by Beethoven. One patron from 1808, Johann Reichardt, was quoted in the program as saying that he “found by experience that one might have too much even of a good thing.”

We were not certain we could last through all those hours of music. Thought we would try and agree not to shame each other if one of us wanted to leave. Each selection listed details including approximate duration. I was amazed the Pastoral was only listed for 39 minutes. It transports me in a way that I lose all track of time!

AH! Perfido borders on opera and I have no experience or interest in that. It was 15 minutes of interesting performance, but not as thrilling as my decades long friend, The Pastoral.

Then some sacred music. The Gloria interested me. Though sung in Latin, I am familiar with the words through my attendance at the Episcopal church. The Latin and the English were printed in the booklet side by side. The 11 minutes sent me scurrying to remember the prayer I had read by Ignatius, the concept of suscipe me….

Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. Thou hast given all to me. To Thee, O Lord, I return it. All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will. Give me Thy love and Thy grace, for this is sufficient for me.

Ignatius of Loyola

After the Concerto #4 featuring Inon Barnatan, who seemed to play effortlessly, we were ready to walk around and enjoy the dinner break. It was a lovely spring-like evening though the wind was a bit chilly. Back at the car we relished our homemade supper of favorite foods. After only a tiny discussion decided to return to Music Hall to find out how much more music we could endure in one day! We strolled the new park opposite Music Hall. Watched the city dwellers release their dogs in the dog park while they shared the latest with each other. It was such a delight to see sun in Cincinnati!

The #5 began with the lovely chords of duh duh duh duh https://youtu.be/_4IRMYuE1hI duh duh duh duh! Timed at 31 minutes. We decided we could stay for the Improvised Fantasia and then Fantasia for Piano Chorus and Orchestra (May Festival Chorus was terrific as were soloists!) The stranger next to me told me he would walk 5 miles to hear the last number. That was saying something since he also confided he was 80 years old!

To me, it was a once in a lifetime concert. No, I was not over immersed in Beethoven. Am still playing the 6th on my computer speakers as I write this!

I pray the Lord will Suscipe me into His arms one day with the melody of the Gloria or The Pastoral!

Grief and Mothers

See the lady in the white dress, white shoes and white gloves? That was my mom!

At my wedding in 1970 I never noticed until now that my mother wore white gloves to our wedding in Live Oak Park, Berkeley, California! As I came toward the groom, trust me when I say, at the time I never saw anyone but him.

My mother died five years later, in her sleep, at our apartment in Lexington, Kentucky. Her death was sudden and somewhat unexpected. Her blood pressure had been high and the doctor was having difficulty controlling it, but there was no indication that she would pass that particular weekend. Today is one day past her birthday.

Mildred Ann was a wonderful cook. When we realized how few of her recipes she had written down, I was furious. To this day I save recipes on my computer and print a card for each of my children (and sometimes for friends, too). Recently I made her chicken and dumplings. It took me several years to find a recipe that approximated hers. Finally found it in James Beard’s American Cookery Book which my sisters-in-law gave me when we were expecting our first child.

This year we celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, so Mom has been gone 45 years. And yes, there are times when I still miss her. I believe she would delight to know I am still trying to capture her essence in the kitchen. When I made the chicken and dumplings recently I did not use a deep enough pan when it came time for the dumplings. Oh my. I should have taken a photograph. They boiled over magnificently on the ceramic stovetop. I also forgot HOW MANY the recipe feeds. With just the two of us at home now, we had dumplings coming out of our ears. And no, we tried it, they are NOT very good warmed as leftovers! The first meal was tasty though. And I made it in memory of Mom, my best role model as a good cook.

Forced Hyacinths by GARDENPHOTO.com

If your Mom is still around cherish her, even if you rarely get along. There are times after she passes when you will miss her terribly. For years I could barely go in the grocery stores that have floral departments. This time of year they sell forced bulbs to remind us of the hope of spring. As a child my mother once made me an Easter corsage with hyacinth blossoms. Shortly after she passed the fragrance of hyacinths would have me weeping in the grocery store. Now I grow them in the front garden and when they bloom in late spring I delight to bring them in the house.

Moms, memories, grief all roll up into delight, pain, and after they go a void that nothing but God can ever even attempt to fill. One meaning for El Shaddai is “many breasted One.” Yes, God can be both father and mother to each of us.

One of My Very Best Treasures!

Last evening we celebrated 49 years of marriage, so today is the start of our 50th year! We reminisced about what a wild ride we have had together. after several years we learned that someone at our wedding was making bets that we would never last. Obviously, we have come a long, long way from that misconception! Who ever they were.

So here are some photos over the years of my best friend and wonderful husband!

Bob learning to use the Kitchenaid mixer. I love this man SO much!!

He likes my current haircut, but says when we were married and my hair was to my waist, THAT was his favorite haircut. I don’t know, an old lady with long gray hair and hot flashes might not be so attractive now!