Saturday, December 26, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015


When it is all said and done, this is the true meaning of Christmas.  All the rest is in honor of it and symbolizing the Gift of our Father in Heaven to us, His children.  He gave us a Savior to help us live a better life in harmony with our fellowman by being our example of love and obedience.  He paid the price for our sins, allowing us to change and grow.  Without the burden of our sins we are able to  progress, if we will but repent.  Through God's grace we are made whole in Jesus Christ.  And the Earth is a better place to be because we are more like Him.  Man is that he might have joy.  The atonement is the only way to experience that fully forever.

You can find my 2015 Christmas Blog here:

http://averymerrychristmastoyou.blogspot.com

There are three posts.  You may choose any or all of the posts to read.  You may select them from the side bar on the right or just click on Older Posts at the end of the page of the first two.

Merry Christmas!  May the Spirit of Christmas remain in your heart all year.

https://youtu.be/IgqmyimVlfU  A beautiful video of Christmas Music

Friday, December 11, 2015

Yule Cheese Ball Reprise 2015


This morning I have been making cheese balls, shopping, chatting on line and cleaning the two porches.  I was thinking I should post this just in case you haven't seen it before and are looking for something great to take to a party like we are tomorrow night.

Here's what I wrote in the original post about this delectable treat:


So, there is just no good name for a cheese ball. Seriously, think about it. If you can think of one for this recipe~let me know. It is made with Blue Cheese and Blue Cheese Cheese Ball doesn't cut it, in the best of all worlds. Instead of 'name that tune' we can play 'name that cheese ball!' Wanna play?

I have concocted this recipe. Barbara and I have made it over the years for parties and small gifts. We both do make it a lot for various gatherings around the holidays. Even people that are not crazy about blue cheese love this. We were looking for a cheese ball that was colorful and Christmasy and delicious. You know how they are normally boring looking with no color and just rolled in nuts? Not this one, it just screams Christmas!

We think we have a winner here. Some people even invite us to their gatherings on the condition we bring this! It takes a little time (especially if you are photographing it) but is easy and I like that part. I am not into a bunch of labor intensive cooking. What I do love is cooking with my hubby, he is a natural in the kitchen. Lucky me! He says food talks to him...OK, so he is a little wacko! (Food has never talked to me except to discuss which part of my body it would like to attach itself to permanently!)

Tomorrow is our big family dinner for our relatives that live in our area, so Jim and I are cooking up a storm. Speaking of wacko, it's Official~ I am totally wacko about blogging about food! I have discovered it is fun to cook, photograph and to stage the food. It is 10 times more fun that just cooking! Multi-tasking lives on!

Hmmm, people do not always sell their houses but...everybody eats. Maybe I can dabble in a new facet of design for me to supplement the mad money. Actually I am pretty much kidding because these photos need much improvement but we had a lot of fun cooking and shooting the process.

Chop up some green onions.
If you are not an onion person
Add some finely chopped parsley for color.


Chop up some Craisins or dried cranberries
if you prefer calling them that

Chop up some Walnuts

This is enough for four cheese balls.
Four bricks of softened cream cheese,
a bunch
 of blue cheese,
(I am not into exact measurements, sorry!)
Craisins, green onions, nuts 
and some garlic salt~
because everything
 that isn't sweet need garlic!
I put it in a big mixing bowl and start mixing it together.
Every time I start with a big spoon but soon
find it works
 best to mix it all by hand and shape 
into balls.Thus the name...cheese balls. Brilliant!

Here are the 4 cheese balls I varied 
the sizes 
for different purposes;
parties, gifts, or whatever
.
I put my wedding rings on the cutting 
board to remind you to remove them
as it is no fun getting the cheese 
out
 of the rings if you forget 

Stab it with a cute Christmas Spreader~Fini~

Here I staged the food for you..
I had to put all these crackers back in the box afterword!
A little Pomegranate Sparkling Cider is nice with it!
Try It, You'll Like It!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Preparing To Go To Wales!

So for now I must I be focused upon the genealogy portion of the trip, and our impressions of Wales. We have had wonderful  experiences as we came to explore some of what my ancestors might have done there, how they lived and with whom they might have associated with back in the early late 1700s and early to mid-1800s. I must get it all recorded before I forget any part of it.  They was a dream come true and one I had daydreamed about for a long time.


My mother’s ancestors are all Welsh on both her parents’ sides so I have much work to do in this land they call a Kingdom. Fortunately much of it can be done online but nothing replaces walking where your ancestors walked for inspiration.  Nothing seems to get you closer to who they were than coming to their homeland.


It didn’t take me long to realize I’d have to work on just one small portion of the family during this visit. Patience is a virtue that must be developed, as everything seems slower here. Miles that are identical in measurement take longer to drive than miles at home. The water comes from a cold and a hot pipe that are not combined with a U joint before coming out of the faucet which makes washing your hair in the kitchen sink tricky. The processes involved in every aspect of what you are trying to do take longer.   As an example, when we rented our car near Loughborough it took over an hour and half to pick up the car from the car lot when all prior paper work had been completed a month earlier.

So it's a good thing to practice patience in the small thing like electrical plugs because patience in genealogy is not an option. Things are often difficult and take lots of time.  If you do not have it you must develop it. So I totally rethought what I wanted to do here in the Uk. My grandiose notions of getting all my lines well underway needed to be adjusted into the realm of reality. Learning as much as we could about the land, experiencing the people, exploring their websites and finding some things on Thomas Rees and his family and Mary Davies and her family in the records would be a great accomplishments in three full days.  So we did just that and ti was incredibly fantastic.

Thomas Rees and Mary Davies were my great grandparents.  Two years ago I knew that and nothing more.  Not a single inkling about where they came from in Wales.  I did know the parents names of Mary but nothing about Thomas' family at that point.  



 I am now well acquainted with the value of obituaries, and online language translators and relatives that keep old obituaries in Welsh even though they cannot read them. Along with that their willingness to send them to me. There is also undying appreciation for relatives that are willing to spend two days helping you translate them. The crème du la crème is when you discover that a Welsh born Family History Director in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales has a great deal of difficulty translating it and is highly impressed with the translation you have. It is then you know the undying appreciation for your mentor has gone eternal.  Little did my cousin know that when she sent me the obituary it would finally culminate in the Valley they came from walking where they walked.

On April 10, 2014 I wrote this on my genealogy blog:


One of the great blessings in my life happened during this past week.  For many years I have known that my mother's grandfather was Thomas Rees of Wales.  He was married to Mary Davies, my great-grandmother also from Wales. They came to America and they had five children.  Their youngest and only boy was my grandfather, William Henry Reese.  Some of the Rees family including Thomas' wife, Mary Davies Rees, are buried in the New Cambria, Missouri Cemetery.  That was all I knew. I had never seen a picture of him and I knew nothing about where he was from in Wales or anything about his life.  

My grandparents had nine children so I have quite a few cousins on that side.  When my mother's twin brother died a couple of years ago, I talked quite a bit to his daughter, Jenice.  She didn't have much information on the family but she thought our cousin, Joan Reese Prange might know more.  I had met Joan a few times while a child.   I put it on my list to get in touch with Joan.
Time passed...you know how it goes with genealogy "to-do" lists.  

We finally connected and talked and shared information and it was delightful.  She lives in Missouri and had had a lot of contact with our Aunt Lena who has now passed away, who lived nearby.  Joan told me she had information and a picture of our great grandfather Thomas Rees.  This past week I received a packet in the mail with this wonderful photo and his Welsh obituary and also one for Mary Davies, in English, thank heavens.  There was also included some hand-written family group sheets with information on my grandfather's siblings that I had not had before.




I was so excited about it all.  The challenging part was.....The Welsh obituary.  I decided to give Google Translate a try.  I have used it many times before but not on anything this important and I wanted to make sure I got it right.  So I started there and very painstakingly copied each letter very carefully into the translation box.  One letter can and did change the whole meaning of the sentence.  I did it more times than I want to admit. Jim was recovering from his hip surgery so he helped me too.



Of course it doesn't translate directly when you have to consider the syntax, age of the document and idioms and cultural references that we don't understand.  When a word doesn't quite make sense you can click on that word in the translated box.  Once the word is highlighted it will bring down a box for alternate choices.  They even offer you the chance to add your own word!  You study it out in your mind and pick the best option.  It is intense and pretty fun really.  Like solving a little mystery sometimes and at other times very clear.  I quite enjoyed doing it.  Jim helped me quite a bit and it calmed down some of his post surgical restlessness as well.  Of course you can also go to specific language translators, find idioms and their definition but not always the one you are looking for unfortunately. It took me a day and a half to get it as close as I could.  I felt Google Translate gave me a good basic understanding of the content.

The next thing I did was run it by our cousin Stephen (on Jim's side) to get his opinion.  He said we did a good job, but he did some refining and searching like only a seasoned genealogist who is familiar with several languages and is a research attorney can do.   With his help the combined second translation was born.   I feel this is extremely accurate.

REES.--In September in New Cambria, Mo., at age 45, the humble Christian Thomas Rees, farmer, leaving a widow and five children as mourners after him. Although he was relatively young he experienced long and protracted afflictions, from shortness of breath -- one of the worst afflictions to prevent man from being useful to society, family, religion, and generally; but he did his part in the one as in the other notwithstanding his frailty. He was a member of the Calvinist Methodist church there, and was a faithful member throughout his life. He had the ability to socialize, and therefore his presence always truly acceptable. He was born in a small farmhouse called Crin-cae, near Rhandirmwyn, Wales. His parents were David and Betsi Rees, who were loyal to him and his brothers, rearing them with religious education as members of Salem Calvinist Methodist Church, where they were catechized and counseled in detail by the Elders of the pulpit and of the deacons' pew. Two of his brothers rose to be preachers, Isaac Rees, priest at Penygraig, Rhondda Valley, and Rees Rees, with [the Calvinistic Methodists], in the Island, Ystradgynlais, Wales. He also has two brothers in this country, James D. Rees,Wilkes-Barre, and Dan Rees, Plymouth, Pa. He had been in the area of Wilkes-Barre for ten years before moving to New Cambria; to a multitude of friends he was a morning friend there. We wish his widow and orphans every success necessary to be comfortable in temporal and spiritual things while on earth. - Yes! Morning Friend.



The Bonus to the Learning...
cousins are wonderful and...


I have discovered where my great-grandfather was another born, his parents' names the names of his four brothers, who stayed in Wales and who emigrated out of Wales.  That my great grandfather lived in Pennsylvania for ten years before migrating with his family to New Cambria, Missouri.  I also suspected from the information on his health that he may have had an inherited lung disease that has been found in two of my first cousins three generations later.  It is essential to know the place they were from to get anywhere with the family history over the ocean.  Too many of same surnames and given names for it to work otherwise.

At that point we did not know that our children would be going to England on Sabbatical leave from Brigham Young University for a year.  They had several choices and we are so glad they chose the UK.  It was time to begin to plan our trip to go and visit them and also to go to Wales.



 Preparing for this trip for about six months taught me a great deal. One of them is the miracle of Google Maps and how they have helped me to realize I need to get very proficient in using them so I can take virtual walks to the places we missed here after we get home. It has been so valuable to have the maps of all the little places and jurisdictions for finding records. I have dabbled in Google Maps before, but now I want to own it! Stephen has helped me so much with them and their value is extremely apparent when you take it on the road.

We wanted to travel to the various villages and towns of the people we already know on our family tree. We did make it to some but not all. What we did discover was heartwarming and amazing and the serendipity along the way was startling.

I don’t know why it should be startling but still it is! We have had countless experiences of things that seem coincidental but aren’t. The Lord’s hand in it, is the only explanation. That and faith does, indeed, proceed the miracle.

It is just like that in Family History work. When you engage with all your heart, mind and strength the Lord provides what you need when you need it. Not necessarily on your timetable but on his. There is a quote by the late Melvin J Ballard, a former apostle in the church, who said in essence: When you do all you can, if there is a record on the earth you will find it.  Most of us may not have the tenacity to do it all but I have witnessed it and I know this is true. Sometimes it takes decades and in some cases several decades to find it, if it exists at all. But the apostolic promise remains; if it does exist you will eventually find it with prayer, patience and much diligence and hard work.   This is true in most things. Never give up! Tenacity is a virtue along with patience.

Part 3  Entering Wales Coming Next!

https://rhandirmwyn.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/video-of-the-upper-tywi-valley/?fb_source=pubv1

Rhandirmwyn, Carmarthenshire Wales-A Video






This is a video of  the place where my Welsh ancestors lived.  So beautiful and peaceful and I'm so grateful to have found it.  Created by Harry Paul of Rhandirmwyn, carmarthenshire, Wales in 2013.


https://rhandirmwyn.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/video-of-the-upper-tywi-valley/?fb_source=pubv1

No wonder I like places like this so much!  It's in the genes!

I have to day that it was even more beautiful than this.  Our trip there three yeaars ago was so magnificent!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Simple Woman's Daybook~October 25, 2015


Our lives pass swiftly by! I want to do something to remember
the everyday moments and my thoughts about them.  
That is what this Daybook is all about.
Focusing on the little things that become my life.
One entry at a time.


Just for today~Saturday, October 25, 2015
Outside my window...It is dark, so dark I cannot see my hand in front of my face out there.  It is nearly 8:00 and it feels like about 11:00 pm. Sundays are strange as we have church from 11:00 to 2:00.  We eat dinner after church and then the night drags on and on.  Going to bed at 9:00 can't work.  Then I wake up at 1:00 and I'm wake all night, thinking about what I have to do the next day.  Then I am too tired to do it because of lack of sleep.  Haha...  

These are the bemoanings of a woman who is getting older.  In my younger years seasons and time changes didn't affect me at all, nor daylight or darkness.  But now the body is in sync and keenly aware of all of that.  All the changes seem to be harder adjustments.  For you young ones out there, it is like jet lag and you haven't even gone anywhere!


I am thankful for...my life.  I view everything as a gift from our Father in Heaven and am grateful for it.  All the blessings and all the challenges that bring understanding and learning. 

In Church today we talked about how a grateful heart can marvel all day long at the gifts from God. That heart sees God's hand in it all.   While an ungrateful heart spends most of its time complaining about the state of things and often feels entitled to something better.  That heart focuses on what it doesn't have instead of what it does have.  Then when there is a blessing the heart thinks it deserves it and earned it, etc.  Or even worse it thinks it was just a lucky break or a coincidence rather than a gift from God.    Gratitude and unhappiness are not compatible.  An unhappy heart is not a grateful heart.  A grateful heart is not unhappy.

From the learning room...I am learning about relationships, I am learning about family history, I am learning history itself and technology and long- suffering with some chronic pain.  I am learning about life stages...I am learning about love.  When we say we love someone..it is what we do for them.  It is not about what they do for us.  When we get our expectations out of whack that gets a little too selfish.  I think to love someone for who they are trumps to love them for what we can get out of it.  Of course we all want that love to be mutual.  But sometimes it just isn't.  Expectation adjustments help!  Love is what we give.

I am reading...The Orphan Trains, in my spare time.  Which means I have read about two pages and it is waiting for me by my chair, just in case I find some of that spare time.

On Pinterest This Week....I pinned a lot of pins.  I find it relaxing there when I have worked really hard or am bothered by something it brings me back to the things I love.  Beauty of the earth, order, family, worthy and wholesome activities and daydreams.  https://www.pinterest.com/onedesigner/

From the kitchen...I made a huge pot of soup yesterday and scorched it.  I have to do it over soon which means going shopping again for all the ingredients.  Ugh, I wish cooking and I could become friends but it's not looking likely.  I have never burned something like that before it was awful.  

Some spiritual thoughts I have been having...my thoughts are still lingering over the wonderful conference talks we heard in the beginning of October.  The leaders of the church have been like dear friends over the years.  We enjoy our reunion with them every six months and hearing their wise counsel.  I love that we can revisit the talks from General Conference anytime we want to on lds.org.

Someone I am praying for this week...Our dear friend, Mike, who is very ill right now and his family, our family and our friends always. We pray for all of you that have specific needs that we are aware of and the world in general.

I am hearing.. some instrumental Christmas music.  I know...don't judge.  You know that two months from today Christmas 2015 will be over at the stoke of midnight.  I know how fast two months goes. I don't want to miss any of it.  I love Christmas and I want to be better organized than ever this year.  So I am starting to organize a lot of it in my mind already.

One of my pleasures...I really like teaching.   It is so hard for me and I work so hard at it.   It feels so good when all the preparation is done and you have given your presentation.   If someone has benefited from it in some small way that is enough.  

It makes me feel like I have a purpose and a service to do and that I am needed.  I think all women need that after the kids are long gone.  It is wonderful to feel part of something as vital as family history.  I feel that my careers have been varied and interesting.  Corporate, Medical, Design, and now this wonderful discipline of genealogy has me spellbound.  I have every intention of doing it as long as I live. When the passion for something runs deep it brings so much satisfaction into your life.  And writing...that is my cherry on top.  I couldn't ask for more.

Pet Peeves...that we have to listen to election politics for another 16 months, but whose counting?  I am.  

Past Remembrance...our youngest granddaughter...


When Hazie was just three. 
 She is one adorable little girl.  
Now she is eight!
She is a little bundle of pure love!

If I could change one thing it would be..That cancer would just go away.  Forever.

An enjoyable movie/TV show we have watched lately...We watched
The White Countess last night.  It was very good.  A movie from 2005.

I Am Quoting...

I am curious about...what El Nino will do for us and to us this winter. Jim has been working on our drainage all week coming down from the hill. I am so grateful to have such a hardworking, talented and good husband.  He works tirelessly around here to keep things up.  I am blessed.

Plans for the rest of the week...Starting my fall cleaning to prepare for the holidays, meeting with friends, working on Tuesday and teaching the staff, hopefully seeing Carol who has been under the weather this past week. Wednesday more cooking...soup reprise. Thursday or Friday hopefully a day trip to San Francisco.  Maybe a movie in a real theater.  All the usuals of running a house and some computer work on the Family Tree.  Touching base with as many people as I can.

One of my favorite things...our family.  I miss our kids so much. The grandkids are growing up so fast.  Laura and Robert went on an overnighter and left the boys home alone.  What?  Oh yeah, they are teenagers now.  Spencer nearly 17.  So it was OK they did very well on their own.  They are such good boys. Our cousins, I miss them all. We miss all our family all the time.  We are planning some time together this next summer and it will take that long to get everyone's schedule to jive.  I look forward to that so much.  So yeah, family surely my most favorite thing of all.  Those far and near and those friends adopted through love.

Some things that made me so happy this past week...just reflecting on all the happy things that happened in Washington a few weeks ago that you can read about in the post below this one if so inclined   An all day seminar that we had been planning at the library for months finally happened last week and it turned out very well.  Hearing that our friend Judy did not have a heart attack.  Texting with my friend every night, letters from some family members, it was just a great week.  I had dinner with five friends.  That was really fun too.

The most surprising thing this past week...was not a happy one.  It was learning that our friend has an aggressive form of brain cancer.

Here are two photos I'm sharing... We haven't had much Autumn around here this year so far.  But I love it so much I am enjoying it on Pinterest instead.




Gorgeousness


Happy Halloween if you're into that!





UNTIL THE NEXT DAYBOOK,
BE HAPPY AND CARRY ON!
Take Care Of You For Me!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Seven Septembers -Our Cousin Reunion Finally!

Pinterest

It had been seven Septembers since I had seen my five cousins at their Mother's and my Aunt Grace's Memorial Service.  Jim was working but I was able to go up with my brother, Steve.  It was a rare opportunity to have extended quality time with my brother.  Jim hadn't been back to Washington since June of 1969 when we attended my Grandmother's funeral just a year after we were married almost to the day.

We were invited to go up for a family reunion on the 24th of September this year.  We were so happy to be included in this gathering.  I was so afraid something would happen like last year, that would prevent our going, so we were so thrilled to pull out of the driveway before sunrise on the 23rd and head up there to Washington.

We decided to drive up the coast of northern California on Hwy 1 and then cut over to eastern Washington via Grants Pass, Oregon where we spent the night.  What an amazingly wonderful day. September 23 was the first day of Autumn and such a breathtaking journey. Not because of the autumn colors just yet, but because we drove through the Big Redwood Tress, saw the ocean often and passed thorough towns like Mendocino below.  A ten hour journey, off the beaten path through this glorious scenery, can change a person into someone better. We loved every minute of it.  We have come to embrace our road trips.  They create some of the best "alone times" we ever seem to manage to have anymore.



There is something so stunning about 
these trees that make you feel peaceful 
and reverent towards our Creator!


The Pacific Ocean
 Simply Beautiful On a Sunny Day


Mendocino
Google Image

This September was to be a very special one for me and of course for Jim too.   Not only would I be able to see my beloved cousins again but we would be meeting  our "new" cousin, William and his wife Rita, also for the first time.

William was adopted at birth.  Through nothing short of a major miracle, he found his siblings in December of 2013 due to a series of very fortunate events.  Those included his great desire to press on for 35 years to find his birth mother after he learned he was adopted.  His friend, Nancy, who does genealogy took an interest in his story.  She also persuaded him to do DNA testing.  That produced a trail to his father.  I had written a blog piece on my sweet Aunt Grace when she died and posted it on this blog in 2008.  It contained pictures of all the kids and her obituary.  It also contained pictures of her both in her youth and when she was older.


 You can read about it here:

Nancy found the blog post via searching the Internet.  As a result of that Google find and the steps that preceded it, William discovered not only his father but his mother and five full siblings! I'll never forget the joy of that Christmas in 2013. When we all found out we rejoiced.  Every one of my cousins welcomed Bill with open arms and unconditional love from the onset!  What a precious gift!  It was overwhelming and wonderful to all of us.  It was a spiritual time, an emotional time and has been an ongoing celebration.  It is the miracle and story that never grows old.

You can read about it here:
http://bonsblogbydesign.blogspot.com/2014/06/by-grace-of-god.html


Oregon was so pretty.  The forest is so thick it looks
 like the mountains are carpeted with pine trees.
It reminded us of the Sierras
 near Reno when we were kids!


This is my idea of car camping...
Find a great secluded place...
Grab lunch from your cooler...
Recline your leather seats and take a little nap...
Hit the road again.
That is as rustic as I get. 
Poor Jim!

We arrived in eastern Washington and got settled into our hotel Thursday evening.  We were going to meet the cousins at 1:00 for lunch at Chuck and Jane's house on Friday to kick off the reunion.  I was so excited and nervous!  How weird is that? Not being excited but being nervous!   The minute I saw all of them my fears vanished in a heart beat.  I just wanted everything to be perfect and as it turned out it was.  More than 'over the moon' perfect actually.

Before we went over for lunch, we took a ride to the cemetery to visit the graves of my aunt and uncle and our grandmother. I felt we would probably go as a group but didn't want to miss going if our cousins had other plans. It was exactly as I had remembered it. Green, pristine and very quiet. There was no one there to ask so it took me a little while to remember exactly where the headstones were but we did find them.






Our Grandmother 
Alice Grace Godfrey Colberg Yeasley


Mt. Hope Cemetery
College Place, Washington


We lingered awhile and then...
It was time to go meet the 
cousins for lunch.

Chuck and Jane hosted three of the meals we shared together as a family.  They live in town and have such a pretty home.  They just recently remodeled and got all new furnishings and it is stunning.  In my interior design days I have worked in hundreds of beautiful homes and this one was perfectly done.  It's so pleasing to the eye and so welcoming.  It is elegant and comfortable.  Chuck credited his artistic wife, Jane, with all the talent. 

 Ray and Judy also hosted all of us.  They live a few miles away on a farm.  What an ideal place to be.  Beautiful, comfortable, secluded and tranquil!  These four cousins cannot be topped as gracious hosts.  Everything was well-planned and every meal a treat.  The activities and the relaxing times were just outstanding and perfect.  It was truly one of the best trips we have ever taken! 

We spent part of each day at both houses. It was just the right mix of everything.   Fun activities, lots of time to just talk and catch us, the best company and delectable food and treats.  We went to the cemetery as a family and on Sunday night we watched the blood moon rising from various vantage points with spectacular views.  We shared pictures and family stories and family videos.  It was simply the best.  One day some went to see the artwork of David's son Brandon.  He does some super artwork and was selling it at the festival.  He stopped by to see everyone one evening with his two kids, Zander and Avery. He's our other family genealogist in the family up there.  It was nice to talk with him.  The men did a few guys things, some played golf, some stayed at the house and relaxed and Jim went to a museum about the history of the area.  Meanwhile the ladies made autumn wreathes to  remember this reunion by.


Early morning sunrise golf for Chuck, 
Jake, And David's son, Brandon, 
who joined them for the game.

 I've never really been able to experience farm life for a few days as an adult and it was transforming.  When was the last time you got to just sit and gaze off the front porch into a beautiful valley dotted with farms and facing the mountain range in the distance?  The porch spans the front of the house and  is lined with chairs for that very purpose.  Or when did you just sit for a few hours and chat with your cousins while watching sheep play follow the leader, in a pen somewhat far away but within sight of the porch?  Or tasted an apple still alive having just been plucked from a tree?   Or walked through a harvested corn field?   It was heavenly to spend time out there both day and night.



A View From The Porch

Ray built a really neat gazebo with an open top for sitting out by the fire pit and viewing the starry starry nights. Out there in the country where they have few lights to dim the starlight it is spectacular to gaze at that night sky.   The gazebo frame is large and has full size wooden bench swings all around hanging from it.  Ray is a teacher and has a lot of the same interests as Jim.  And they are both always on the go!  This family meshes so well, we are so blessed.  They all made us both feel so welcome.

Here are several photos that will be self-explanatory for the most part.


This is my new cousin William.
The joy of giving him that first big hug
 cannot be expressed.

And this one was pretty great too
in the cemetery near his parents' gravesite.




Jane in their lovely dining room area. 
 The windows are so phenomenal.
They bring the lovely garden right into the room. 
We just love Jane! 
She is classy and so much fun!


My cousin David and his wife Pennie
 at the beautiful buffet table.
She is a budding genealogist!
Pennie is so precious to me.  
We are working on her genealogy together 
on the phone! She is a fast learner!



Bill's wife, Rita, my cousin Judy and
 Shaun, my cousin Jake's wife.
I can't tell you how much I love this group
of beautiful cousins!


Beautiful Jane with my dear cousin Chuck!
Chuck and I were born 11 months apart
and I'm sure we hung out as babies 
since we lived in the same town.

They seem so together, happy and content. 
 They are just so relaxed and easy to be with...we miss them.  
We love them both to pieces!


Our grandparents only had 3 granddaughters!
Judy on the left and Jan on the right.
I love these two amazing women
 with all my heart and soul.
I'd choose them as my sisters any day!

Memories run deep with them.
All of these cousins are a big part of 
my Aunt Grace and our Grandma to me.
I did not know their Dad very well and our 
Grandfather died before any of us were born.



William, Me, Chuck, Janny, Judy, David and Jake
All the cousins on my Dad's side. 
 I wish my brothers and their wives 
could have been with us. I'll include a photo of them
since many of our cousins have not seen them for 
a long time.




Steve and Emily 
With 2 of their grandkids
 Sebastian and Samantha



Marilyn and Gary


David, Pennie, Jim, Bonnie, Jan, 
Chuck, Jane, Ray, Judy, 
Rita, William and Jake.  
Jake's wife Shaun took this picture. 


Jake and Shaun
Our newlyweds of 6 years
Cinderella and Her Prince!

One of the things we did as we gathered around the grave was we sang "You Are My Sunshine" because Aunt Grace used to sing it to the kids.  It made me wondered if her Mom sang it to her ever?  Also it made me think about my Dad and that he use to always sing to us as well.  His two songs were, "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" and "The Yellow Rose of Texas!"  That must have been for his cute little niece, Shaun, who later married Jake.  She is the sweetest Southern Belle!  Full of charm~I could listen to her talk forever.  Uncle Ross would have loved her. 


Judy and her husband Ray
We like their life style on the farm very much!
These two are an amazing couple.
They are happy and good together!
They are very new empty nesters!
Judy is so much like Grace!
When I am with her I am with her mother.
My heart is just full I could talk about these cousins non-stop!

Oh Wait...I am!  sigh...


This is Pennie and David with Kirby 
their little Chihuahua on one of the hanging swings.

At last count my siblings and their wives had six of these little critters between them.  Wait! Is there a gene for Chihuahua lovers?  These two are so much fun.  I can still hear David's hearty laugh when we shared a funny video with them from our reunion with our kids, made a few years ago.

 Aunt Grace always loved to swim and had a pool at her houses in Sacramento and Redding.  She and I would hang out in the pool and talk for hours on end.  That is why I feel I know these cousins so well in spite of not seeing them very often growing up.  I don't think she ever mentioned David without calling him, "My David."  He is such a sweet man.  We love him dearly.  He and Pennie had a serious accident a few years ago.  We are so blessed to have them with us still!  Thank heavens!


Jake holding up his pink ice cream cone 
to a painting done by my Aunt Grace!
The painting is my favorite of her pieces. 
 It hangs in Judy's and Ray's beautiful new 
Farm Style Kitchen.

Jake is the youngest of my boy cousins and I remember him as the cutest little blond boy when we were growing up.  He always had a twinkle in his eye and he still does.  Such a good man and a very fun guy.  He married the perfect woman for him.  They radiate their love for each other.   It's heartwarming. They live in a castle by the sea...just too far away from all of us!


The Colbergs are traditionally ice cream lovers 
from way back as I understand it!  


      Here's another shot of Judy's kitchen and
 some of the cabinetry and island.   
      Rita is helping with the sandwich bar we 
had one evening at the farm. 

Just like me, Rita has two brothers!
We talked about that and how she got 
    5 new sisters too when William found them. 
What a Blessing Bill and Rita are! 
It truly feels like they have always been with us.
I couldn't be happier with all the spouses 
of my cousins and they loved Jim too!

Judy is an amazing baker 
and made this bread that morning, 
farm fresh eggs for the egg salad, etc.
It was the perfect dinner after the 
scrumptious Mexican dish and all the
 trimming that Jane had prepared for lunch.




Rita's birthday was during the visit and 
Jane made a fantastic Thanksgiving Dinner for lunch. 


Jane's Beautiful Table!
 Rita's Pumpkin Pie with the candle in it.
Who wouldn't want to do this for 
their birthday?
Two Thanksgiving this year!
And we're twice as thankful so it works!
Perfect!

Guess what Judy made for us around dinner time
 that night?  She let Rita Choose!



Happy Birthday Rita!


The Best Carmel Apples E. V. E. R!

God bless you, Judy, for your talent, skills, and your love of nurturing from your special kitchen.  The Carmel Apples, popcorn, cheese and ice cream was Perfect.  Delicious and Fun and we all did appreciate this so much.  Good choice, Rita!

One morning we had ice cream on our oatmeal casserole that Jane made.  This family knows know how to throw a spectacular party.  I think Auntie Grace and My Dad would have would have loved this!  


Speaking of love...Shaun Hugging Judy!

There was a lot of love and hugs going on this entire time.  Especially in this beautiful country kitchen that night.  Their mother Grace was a master of showing affection and love!  No one ever had to wonder if they were loved when she was around. Her kids are all just like her.  The way she loved you was contagious.  And she was never afraid to say, "I love you!"  I for one, loved that about her.


Gathering under the Gazebo frame and the fire pit.  
That was especially fun!  We enjoyed the stories
 of the cousins' youth and things that William 
is catching up on about their childhood.


Ma Kettle and Her Beau!
Yikes I am actually posting this?
Scroll down quickly!


The Surprise Craft Project Judy organized


I wish I even knew who made each of these!
At our table Jan and Pennie and I had our eyes glued 
to our projects so we would not tar and feather 
ourselves with the glue glue and wreath embellishments!


The wrath I made will remind me of this amazing time. 
I'm still re-gluing some of the stuff!
 Judy supplied everything and it was a 
lot of fun doing it together.  
Judy is a natural!
We worked hard let me tell ya! 
Right, Janny Girl?  



Jake and Jim
The guys up in the mountain
 across the valley from the house 
waiting for the Blood Moon.

It did my heart good to see Jim among 
these wonderful men.
We have a close family no in-laws.  
Just cousins one and all.



I adore this photo and these guys...
it is one my favorites!


The sun setting on our family time together!  
We will miss all of you and hope we can make this a tradition!
Thanks Jake for the golfing photo, the front yard and valley
 and this amazing sunset.







The next morning we headed home...
We were sad to leave but so thankful for
 the time we had to celebrate 
Our Miracle!  
To honor our ancestors by remembering 
all they have blessed us with all of our lives.


The above is a photo of Jan's.  We removed it from its frame on her bedroom wall and I took this photo with my iPhone. Our Grandma is the 5th from the left in the top row.  Jan is like me she, she treasures the family memories and memorabilia as we all do.   She knew stories about our Grandmother that she shared that were so precious to me.  That is what led to her letting me copy this photo.

So I wanted to share the photo here.  It is another treasured reminder of this beautiful time.  Thank you everyone for the outstanding and poignant memories!  We love each and every one of you with all our hearts!  Let's do this again soon!



The best part of it all!  
Their family is together again...this time forever!



What was left of the Blood Moon 
in the early morning heading south to our home!


Lots of beautiful scenery all the way home.


Mt Hood in the distance!


Our first big show of colors this Autumn!


Nice to see a big body of water in Oregon!


Just a few miles from home and this was simply stunning. 
 A perfect ending to a beautiful time!