Saying Goodbye

When we moved here 15 years ago we named the house “Treetops.” The driveway and front entrance are on the street level. The yard slopes down sharply so that the walkout and basement level and actually a story down. The upper story windows are almost level with the treetops. With the sloping yard it has always seemed larger than the dimensions.

After the backyard slope there is a small drainage ditch. Then our yard slopes up rather sharply and is covered with woods. We have enjoyed watching the seasons change and the wildlife that populate the woods, especially the birds.

Our new house is on a tiny level lot. The neighbors behind us have a sprinkling of trees. Kitchen, dining room and bedroom windows have the view there. Our windows on each side of the house look at the siding of the houses to our left and right. The office windows look out on the street. This will be a major change!!

So many major changes in store. I have been grieving the loss of this lovely home. And that grief is healthy. This has been a gorgeous place to live. We simply cannot do those stairs to the basement any longer.

One day this week our son gave me his Christmas gift to me. He dug up a few plants for us to take with us to the new house. They will not go in the ground until we get some sort of planting beds. At this point we are uncertain if we will even have sod before we move!

As Jeff dug, I walked around consoling myself that next year I can easily purchase pink bleeding heart and lily of the valley. See we have spent the last 15 years enjoying and improving our flower beds here. Funny, one rationale for moving 15 years ago was I could no longer take care of the flower beds because of arthritis. My husband and I spent 15 years making new flower beds here. I am shaking my head, “Go figure!” Guess as long as there is a spot to grow things I am unlikely to learn not to garden!

We will move to a little green house on Platform Street. What a place to launch last era of life! Fooling around with trying to think in haiku (to me, sparse words to contain broad thoughts) I recently wrote:

Loved living in treetops
Spring mornings I grieve
Packin' I land on the ground
Lot 49, soon to be 27 Platform Street!
Gloomy day, but the rock work is done!

We are so blessed I am at a loss for words.

Humor

Since we began looking at moving, buying a house with laundry on the first floor, and finally realizing we would have to build to get that – my greatest fear has been what if one of us dies before we move in? With the pandemic and both of us health compromised it was not an outrageous fear. Now that we are both immunized and within 3 weeks of moving I have begun to breath much easier.

I was on YouTube looking to identify the sparrow in the tree outside the office when I came across this joke. It is SO fitting for our age and situation, though I do not play golf.

Too many sparrows and none recorded with the song I am hearing, but laughter is BEST and I think God approves!!

Even to your old age and gray hairs

    I am He, I am He who will sustain you.

I have made you and I will carry you;

    I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

Isaiah 46:4 NIV

Ireland 2011

We traveled to Ireland to celebrate my belated 60th birthday. When we went walking the first morning my ears immediately perked up to the lambs in the distance. They were crying and as they did it pierced my heart. I could not help but remember that I am under the care of the Great Shepherd, no matter what continent or island I am walking upon.

In the Old Testament God is called the Shepherd of His people.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters
” Psalm 23:1-2

In the New Testament Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd in John 10:11.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

As we meandered through the lanes of Glendalough I could tell by the cries we were getting closer and closer to the lamb. Then we turned a corner and there it was! Bob caught this tremendous photo of it on the hillside. There were other ewes and lambs around it.

r m dutina

Right after he snapped the photo I busted out the laughing as the lamb sneezed, and then rolled a bit down the hillside. What a sense of humor my God has!

Humor

So I have had back pain flair up since mid-September. Recently I had an epidural to try to bring the pain under control. While recovering one of the ways my husband has been helping me is to remind me not to try to bend down to get things off the floor. He is willing to help me and do that for me. It has amazed me how MANY things I drop in any given day!

Recently I was wrapping gifts in basement while he also worked on basement items. At first I was angered by the following incident and then I just busted out laughing!!

Yes, the wrapping paper roll dropped off the table and literally rolled across the floor! We have got to keep finding humor where ever we can! No I won’t tell you who the gift is for! But I do like that the floor mat next to the incident declares winter JOY!

And then …

When we first arrived in Colorado, Bob had taught the family how to drive the mule and the ATVs. They especially liked those ATVs! One evening Bob was going out into the meadow with Emily and Ellie on the ATVs. He really wanted me to go as his passenger. So I agreed and off we went. Through the meadow and the hard to open gate, on to the next meadow.

So we were tooling around the meadow, taking in the sights and even doing selfies! So unlike us old folks.

We came to a gully-ditch. Emily got off their ATV and guided Ellie how to drive through it. We came over and they assured Bob that he, too, could drive through it. As the passenger, I never even saw the thing. After Emily gave Bob instructions everyone began hollering at me to “HOLD ON!!!” There is a steel bar that runs around the passenger area of the ATV. I suppose it is designed to tie down cargo, but also provides hand holds for a passenger. So I held on and Bob drove into the ditch. Little did I know I was about to join the Camp Grenada group.

As he drove down the black bar I was holding to came up and banged me in both elbows. I instinctively let go. At which point I proceeded to get a whiplash from my groin to top of my head. We made it to the other side. I was not thrown off the ATV. I cried in pain, shock and surprise at being hurt. I composed myself after a couple minutes and we continued. We reached another gully as we headed for home. As they debated how to cross I insisted Bob just let me off! I began to walk for home.

They got across that gully and I got back on. We made it home. Both my elbows turned dark purple. The ATV had hit my back across the bottom of my shoulder blades and along my lower back. Lots of pain that night. Went to bed with pillows under both elbows, neck and any other place that hurt.

I moved very slowly the next day and the day after that. I missed posts here the last few weeks because of doctor appointments, x-rays, physical therapy and finally an MRI. Determination is I have more arthritis in my spine than previously. As far as anyone can tell nothing is broken. Bone bruises on elbows may take a long time to go away. No results on MRI yet. From what I have read whiplash can also take a long time to heal. Oy! soft tissue, please heal.

So our Camp Grenada experience continued. One friend said it sounded like a bad movie. But you know what? It was a beautiful place. We were so grateful to be able to take family and friends there. We likely can never go back because of breathing difficulties. Overall, it was a grand way to celebrate 50 years of marriage. Betty is finally out of the boot and did not have to have surgery for her broken ankle. Bob;s wounds are all healed up. We think his knee is not torn again. Time will tell!

My dear friend, Betty, remembered this saying and I will adopt it for myself.

“Growing old gracefully means letting go of the things you can no longer do and rejoicing in the things you can still do.”

Ah! Grandeur of Yellow Ponderosa Pine right outside your window!

 It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;  to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night.  For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.  How great are your works, O LORD! Your thoughts are very deep!

Psalm 92:1-2,4-5 (NRSV)

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.