Ted and I enjoyed our time with Thom and Katie’s family and we are grateful to have spent even a small amount of time with Jeff, La, and Kyra. After two years of not being together in person, our visits with both families were much too short, but we learned something for our next trip. The unplanned extra time we had with T & K’s family gave us the opportunity to feel that we were (temporarily) immersed in their lives. It was a treat to spend more time with Sefton and Hadley and to truly get to know them better–Sefton’s interests and personality and Hadley’s baby-ness and cuddling. Living so far from them, we never feel like we have enough in-person interaction to be a true part of their lives, and it was a good feeling to be with them a little longer than usual. When we plan our next trip, we’d like to spend more time with both families so that, when we leave, we feel like we’ve had a full meal, not only a snack.

Before driving to the airport, Ted and I each took another COVID test and were–again–definitely negative. The four days since our last test gave us some time to incubate the virus after our exposure to it, and we wanted to be sure that we tested negative before leaving T & K’s family–especially the two young unvaccinated children. Just before leaving for the airport, Thom (reflected in the window) wanted to take one more picture of Sefton and Hadley with Grandma and Grandpa.

After unloading our luggage at the airport curb, we had one more hug and one more kiss for everyone and then had to get in line to board our plane at Wenatchee’s single gate. The line wasn’t long. Ted and I felt sad about leaving, and we vowed to return ASAP. Let’s all work together to beat this COVID thing so we can travel freely again!

Once again, our 20-minute return flight from Wenatchee to Seattle on a propeller plane provided some nice lower altitude views. This photo of wildfire smoke in the Cascades looks like ocean swells.

We couldn’t see flames, but this is obviously the origin point of a wildfire.

A thunderstorm developed to the south of us. Hopefully, it rained on some of the wildfires.

Katie mentioned to me that the June heat wave in the Pacific Northwest melted the snowpack off Mt. Rainier. I later looked this up online and learned that Paradise, at 5,400 feet above sea level on Mt. Rainier, lost a record 110 inches of snow in 21 days in June. The snowpack insulated the glaciers so, without it, the glaciers are receding as well. When we’ve seen Mt. Rainier in the past, it’s always been snow-covered. The photo below shows large bare areas due to the absence of snow cover this summer. This is a view of the north side of Rainier; the south side has even less snow/glacier cover.

Ted and I had a three-hour layover in Seattle. We left the gate area to have dinner nearby about 90 minutes before our departure time, then returned to the gate and learned there had been a gate change while we were eating. We had to hustle to catch a train to a different terminal, then hurry to the new gate. We had an uneventful flight home, missing our boys’ families already and wondering how soon we can visit them again. The best of times are those you wish didn’t have to end. This was one of the those times for us.

Thom and Katie weren’t expecting us to spend this much time with them, so Ted and I said that we appreciated their hospitality, but didn’t expect them to disregard their regular activities to entertain us. They insisted, however, that they’d enjoy showing us a trail they like in the Leavenworth area. Before driving to the trailhead, we spent our usual relaxing morning together. This time, however, we had a bit of excitement. Katie put Hadley down on the floor and Hadley raised herself up on her arms. When we arrived a week ago, her head was still a little wobbly, but it was pretty steady today. It was exciting to me to have spent enough time with her to see a change in her development while I was still visiting. I think she was showing off for Grandma.

After lunch, we headed for the trail. After walking only a short distance from the car, we had a beautiful view of the Wenatchee River and the Cascades.

When we walked down to the river, Sefton wanted to play in the water, so Katie stayed with him.

Thom, Hadley (with Thom, in her Baby Bjorn), Ted, and I walked all the way to the orchard at the end of the trail. Hadley didn’t really walk–she came along for the ride and a nap.

It was a hot day that brought a lot of floaters to the river to cool off as they drifted downstream.

I saw an oddly formed tree. It looks like it experienced some stress in its early life.

This group found a sandbar and set up their lawn chairs.

When the four of us re-joined Katie and Sefton, Ted took a picture of us cooling our feet in the water.

For dinner, T & K suggested that we go to Fire, an Italian restaurant they like at Pybus Market. The food was delicious and so were the desserts. Ted ordered a banana split, and definitely got his money’s worth.

We enjoyed this extra day with T & K’s family. Sadly, we are scheduled to return to Missouri tomorrow.

First thing that went right: The closest drugstore to our hotel in Spokane was less than a half-mile away and had lots of COVID tests. Ted and I bought testing kits and returned to the hotel to do the procedure. Second thing that went right: The test results showed that we were both definitely negative. Hurray! We can go back to Thom and Katie’s house. Our morning activities–purchasing the tests, returning to the hotel, performing the tests, and then leaving the hotel (again)–put us close to lunch time, so we decided to eat in the Spokane area and then get back on I-90. It was Sunday morning, so the restaurants were filled with after-church crowds but it didn’t take too long to get a table. After lunch, we had a smooth ride back to Wenatchee.

When we arrived in Wenatchee, we drove up T & K’s driveway, entered the front door security code, and hauled our suitcases inside. Third thing that went right: None of the neighbors called the police when two strangers with luggage entered T & K’s house.

It was a little weird to be in someone else’s home when they weren’t there but, at the same time, we felt at home since we’d already spent several days at the house with T & K and family. For dinner, we chose to go to McGlinn’s, where T & K had their wedding dinner. Just like the wedding meal, the food was good. Afterward, we settled in at “home” and relaxed with a Netflix movie.

In the morning, Ted brewed some coffee (regular, not T & K’s fancy machine coffee) and I fixed a cup of hot chocolate from a Swiss Miss packet I picked up at the hotel. (It wasn’t as good as Thom’s fancy machine chocolate.) Then we sat on the front porch–one of my favorite places in the house–and relaxed, enjoying the beautiful weather.

After lunch, we took a little drive to refill Thom’s gas tank and Ted washed the car. We snacked on the dessert we ordered as take-out at McGlinn’s last night, and waited for the beach crowd to return. When they did, they brought Papa Murphy’s pizza with them and we had a nice dinner with little effort. It was good to see the family again, and to have a quiet, relaxing day.

After a good night’s sleep in our luxury guest house suite, Ted and I headed for the main house to say good morning to Jeff, La, and Kyra. Jeff wasn’t there when we arrived, but he soon returned from his errand. Third thing to go wrong: He had driven to Kalispell to purchase a COVID test. He took the test immediately and tested (in his words) “definitely positive.” What were we to do?? It’s not a good idea to continue our visit in the presence of an active COVID case, nor would it be fun for Jeff to quarantine and miss our time together. Do we have to leave only a few hours after our arrival when we’ve been (a) waiting two years to see Jeff’s family, including (b) spending time with Alex and Kyra, (c) getting to know Kaitlyn whom we’ve only met once–at the wedding–two years ago, and (d) meeting Ollie, our first great-grandchild? Where will we go? Shall we change our airline tickets and go home? Shall we spend our allotted time with Jeff’s family on a mini-vacation in the area before returning Thom and Katie’s car? Shall we go back to Thom and Katie’s house?

I called Thom to tell him about the situation. Did he want us to return his car and spend a night at his house with his two unvaccinated young children before we flew home from Wenatchee? Shall we park his car in the driveway and take a cab to a Wenatchee hotel? He immediately said it would be fine for Ted and me to go back to his house even though he and his family would not return from the beach for two more days. His only request was that we each take a COVID test to make sure we are negative before entering their house. No problem; we’ll certainly do that. It would be an eight-hour drive back to Wenatchee, so Ted and I decided to go only as far as Spokane today. Ted googled “hotels in Spokane near I-90” and called one. No vacancy. He called the next one and reserved a room. That’s done. Then we all ate lunch and Jeff went to his bedroom to lie down. He did not look his best, and he said he was very tired. Ted and I went back to the guest house to re-pack our luggage.

Because we were only going as far as Spokane today, La and Kyra invited us to stay a little longer and at least go to the shore of Flathead Lake while we were there. Ted and I really hated to leave, so we agreed to the idea and the four of us climbed into Jeff’s new Tesla, leaving Jeff to rest at the house. We drove to the beach where they launch their jet skis on the lake. Ted and I were hoping to take our first ride on jet skis during our visit here, but we settled for getting our feet into the water. It looks like we should take another step or two forward, but the waves were hitting us up to our knees in this spot.

Kyra went out on the dock. It’s a floating dock, so she bobbed up and down as the waves washed against and beneath the dock.

I test-drove the Tesla on the way back to the house and it was fun, fun, fun. The Tesla has two obvious differences from any other car I’ve driven. (1) If you take your foot off the accelerator, the brakes engage. La said you get to know when to lift your foot so that you never have to use the brake. She added that Tesla recommends you use the brakes at least once per month, just to keep them in working order. (2) If you press the accelerator a bit harder than gently, the car takes off with some kind of low-level G-force. That was so exciting, I tried it three times where the road was straight and no other cars were visible. After that, I reined in my thrill-seeking impulses. La said the rapid acceleration is a nice feature when you want to pass another car within a short distance.

After the trip to the lake, the only thing left to do was put our luggage back into the car and say good-bye less than twenty-four hours after we’d arrived. At least we saw part of the family briefly. We took a farewell picture and then, sadly, got into the car. It felt awful to drive away. The photo should be showing Flathead Lake on the right between the house and the tree, but the lake is obscured by the wildfire smoke.

Kalispell was out of our way back to Wenatchee, so Ted and I decided to stop in Coeur d’Alene to buy COVID tests. Wildfire smoke was again visible on our drive.

Fourth thing to go wrong: We tried four drugstores in Coeur d’Alene, but every one was sold out of COVID tests. It was getting late, so we went to Google Maps to get directions to our hotel.

Fifth thing to go wrong: The directions didn’t make sense, and didn’t give an I-90 exit number, so Ted called the hotel for clarification. The desk clerk told him the hotel was near the Oregon border. That’s not the kind of clarification we were expecting. Is that what you get when you search “Spokane near I-90”? I-90 isn’t even close to Oregon! The desk clerk cheerfully cancelled our reservation for tonight and gave Ted the name of a Best Western hotel in Spokane near I-90 that had a vacancy.

Sixth thing to go wrong: Ted called to make a reservation and asked about restaurants nearby. Our ETA at the hotel was about 8:30 p.m. and the desk clerk said there were a few restaurants nearby, but most would be closed by 9:00 p.m. We decided to eat in Coeur d’Alene. The fourth drug store we tried was at the last Coeur d’Alene exit on the western side of the town. We didn’t want to turn back to find a restaurant in the city, and the only restaurant at this exit was McDonalds. We turned off the highway, headed for Mickey D’s, and discovered they were serving drive-thru only. We ate this meal in the car. During our travels over the years, Ted and I have always said that we’ve never gone hungry. That was true again.

We drove the rest of the way to Spokane without incident. After checking in, I searched online for nearby drugstores and wrote down their addresses and phone numbers so we could start our search for a COVID test as soon as we got up in the morning. Then we showered and went to bed. This is not going to be remembered as the best day of our trip.

Today, it was time to leave Thom’s family and take an eight-hour drive to visit with Jeff and La. Ted’s and my original plan was to fly to Wenatchee, rent a car to drive from Wenatchee to Bigfork, spend several days with Jeff and La and their family, then fly home from Kalispell. Unfortunately, the effects of the COVID pandemic are not yet a thing of the past and we couldn’t get a rental car. Only four car rental agencies have offices in both Wenatchee and Kalispell. Three of them had no cars available; the fourth had cars, but would not provide a one-way rental. Thom generously offered us the use of one of their cars to drive back and forth from Jeff’s house, as well as an extra night with his family before flying home out of Wenatchee. Thank you, Thom and Katie. We accepted their offer. After hugs and kisses to all and one last photo of me with my second granddaughter (look at that grin!), Ted and I headed for I-90 east.

This has been a great trip and visit so far, but we had some glitches today. First thing to go wrong: Thom and Katie have visited Jeff and La several times over the past two years, and suggested that we stop at a Fred Meyer along I-90 in Spokane where we could fill the gas tank and eat at the deli. We found the Fred Meyer, but the COVID economy reared its head at the deli where there was nothing smaller than full loaves of bread and full-size cakes for sale. We asked about deli service and were told they no longer have enough workers to staff a deli, so the deli is closed indefinitely. Naturally, we turned to Google for a solution. Because the closest restaurant was a McDonald’s, we had a burger lunch and got back on the highway. Due to the many wildfires in this area, the air was pretty hazy with smoke, but it was still a beautiful drive through western Washington, the Idaho panhandle, and northwestern Montana.

Second thing(s) to go wrong: We had several delays for unexpected reasons (including finding an alternate place to have lunch) and, as a result, arrived at Jeff and La’s house later than we’d planned. We were texting back and forth and told them to go ahead and have dinner, but they insisted on waiting for us. They moved to this area almost two years ago, and Ted and I have been looking forward to seeing their new house. A zigzag driveway took us one-half mile up a mountainside to reach the house, and Jeff was waiting outside when we arrived at the end of the driveway. He escorted us to our quarters in the guest house to drop off our luggage, and then we joined La and Kyra in the main house. Kyra arranged a vacation from work to be home during our visit. It was so good to see all of them again. Two years is far too long between family visits. After chatting a bit, the pizza was ready to go into the oven. Yummy! Who doesn’t love pizza? It’s one of the things Ted and I have seen–spelled in English–in every one of the 25 foreign countries we’ve visited.

After dinner, there was a detailed tour of the main house and the guest house, and that took a long time because both houses are huge. The guest house has access to the main house via a courtyard and/or a covered passage. Our suite had a huge bedroom and bathroom with all the amenities: two large, lighted closets, a fireplace, and a huge bathroom with a gigantic bathtub set beside a large arched window with a view of the national forest just a few feet away. In addition, the guest house has a large party room with a pool table, a foosball table, and an alcove for watching movies on an 80-inch projection screen. But wait! I’m not finished. There is also another double bathroom (two of everything) and a full kitchen. It was like unpacking to stay at a high-end resort. Ted and I settled in very comfortably. The architecture throughout the two houses in stunning, including lots of bathrooms, forty-foot ceilings in some places, huge rooms, and lots of open space. Here’s a photo I took near the front entrance of the main house. The front door is on the left.

The guest house has a circular tower complete with a cone-shaped roof and (naturally) a circular stairway. Sefton wasn’t here to tell us to hold the pole when we go up and down, nor was there a pole, so we used the handrail.

After the house tour, we settled in for a visit and then we all headed for our bedrooms in various parts of the houses. Alex and Kaitlyn are expected to arrive tomorrow with Ollie, our first great-grandchild. We can’t wait!

Today, Thom and Katie took us to Ohme Gardens, an alpine-style state park in Wenatchee. Here’s how the website description of the park begins.

In 1929, Herman Ohme purchased 40 acres of land for an orchard. Among that acreage was a craggy, dry, desolate, rock-strewn bluff with a breathtaking view of the snow-capped Cascade Mountains and the Columbia River valley.

Herman and his new bride, Ruth, loved to stand on that bluff and dream of flourishing alpine meadows, shimmering pools and shady evergreen pathways where the hot, relentless summer sun allowed only sage and scrub desert growth. They set their minds on achieving that dream.

www.ohmegardens.org

The alpine garden was intended to be a family retreat, but the interest of friends and community members prompted the Ohmes to open the park to the public. It was later sold to Washington State Parks to be preserved for future generations. We had a pleasant afternoon, walking through the gardens and enjoying Ruth and Herman’s dream.

We walked up and down pretty hillsides and beside peaceful pools.

On one hillside, there was a watchtower that Sefton liked. It was open on all four sides. This side of the watchtower provides a view of Wenatchee, the mountains, and the Columbia River valley. We could see the rock outcropping that lies just above Thom and Katie’s house, but it’s too far to the right to be visible in this photo.

All of us except Hadley spent a few minutes looking at this pool. Hadley didn’t see much of the park because she was sleeping. Being adorable all the time tires a girl out.

Throughout the gardens, there were hidden gnomes and fairies. A map of the gardens indicated the areas in which gnomes and fairies could be found and if a visitor (Sefton, for example) could find all of them, that visitor could check them off on his map, turn the map in to the attendant at the gift shop, and get a sticker. Sefton found all the gnomes and fairies and earned his sticker.

After we returned to the house, it was Hadley’s and my turn to watch a GBC (Great Ball Contraption) Lego video with Sefton. Hadley was tired again from being adorable, so she didn’t see much of the show. You can tell she’s asleep because she has her nose buried against my chest. As long as I could hear her breathing, I knew everything was good.

After watching the YouTube GBC Lego videos, Sefton had to show me the GBC he built. His GBC didn’t have moving parts (he gets a break here–he’s only four), so he held one of his GBC balls in his hand and took it over the contraption’s course as he explained to me what was happening at each point along the route. Notice all the Lego he has in the drawer under his bed.

Meanwhile, pursuing a different kind of intellectual activity, Ted and Thom went out to the back yard and finished installing an RHC (Ring and Hook Contraption) that provides a way to pass the time as well as a challenge. The ring is attached to a cord connected to the post. You pull the ring back, let it go, and hope it catches on the hook. I tried it a few times and knew immediately that we’d be waiting a lo-o-ong time for me to get the ring on the hook, so I went back to holding Hadley.

For dinner, Thom cooked wood-fired pizza in their portable wood-fired pizza oven. Because it’s portable, the family can take it along when they travel in their Sprinter van. The oven reaches approximately 750 degrees and a pizza can be cooked in about two minutes. Unfortunately, Thom was reaching for something and bumped the back of his elbow on the oven chimney. The result was a pretty bad burn. You can see the bandage on his arm. Aside from that, you can’t go wrong with pizza for dinner–especially wood-fired pizza.

We’re having such a good time with our family, we’re already looking forward to our next visit.

We had another relaxing morning with Thom’s family. Hadley wanted to be with me while I read my book.

Sefton likes spending time with his baby sister, and it looks like the feeling is mutual.

For lunch, we prepared some picnic food and packed the food, a blanket, and the family into the car for the drive to Lincoln Rock State Park, just north of East Wenatchee. Julian opted to bike the 12 miles to the park. He beat us, and we found him and his bike waiting for us when we arrived at the park. Lincoln Park is named for a rock formation in the park and includes a lake created by the Rocky Reach Dam on the Columbia River. (Look for Lincoln in the rock.)

Thom, Katie, and the kids all went into the water, but Hadley was too little and too tired. Somebody had to skip the water fun to babysit her. so Ted and I volunteered for the (not) hardship duty. She’s really good at napping.

Our picnic site overlooked the lake, so Ted and I could watch Hadley on the blanket and the rest of the family in the water. Here are Thom and Julian having a ring race, paddling as fast as they can.

After swimming, it was time to let the swimsuits dry a little bit while playing bocce ball. I’m not very good at sports (except swimming), so Hadley offered to stay with me and watch the action.

Julian recently hurt his knee when he landed the wrong way on a trampoline. Ted and I were excited that he could be at Thom and Katie’s house during our visit, but he needs to go home tomorrow morning for a physical therapy appointment. After dinner, while Julian was still with us, we took some family pictures. Here are Thom and Katie’s family, and Ted and me with our grandchildren.

This is such a great visit!

What a relief! Thom and Katie are not morning people. There was time for me to do some reading in the sunlight, to drink the hot chocolate Thom always prepares for me in his professional-style beverage machine, and to join him, Katie, and Ted with their coffee on the patio. Of course, Sefton had many things to tell us, and Hadley wanted to be held by Grandma and Grandpa. (Well, ok, if we must.) Sefton found Julian’s skateboard and wanted a ride on it. His big brother made it happen.

There was some sibling time too, when the big brothers kept their little sister happy in her swing.

Sefton is very good about sharing–except for one thing. Katie told me that if they give Hadley the bird toy we bought as a baby gift for Sefton, he always takes it back. He was very generous sharing his “m&m&ms” with everyone, but not the bird.

In the afternoon, we all went to Pybus Market and checked out the shops. Julian was hungry, so he ordered food. Ted and I stopped at a cheese store to look at their cheese knives. We found one we liked and we’re hoping it will cut Ted’s daily serving of cheese to perfection. Sefton knew where the gelato store was and it seemed appropriate for all of us to have some gelato. What a great idea, Sefton!

After walking the length of the Market, we continued on to the adjoining Riverside Park, set along the Columbia River. The park has some unusual sculptures. The sphere is called “Pre-Mathematics” and the foot is called (duh!) “Ped.”

The park has a miniature train than runs all the way around it. There’s even a Wenatchee station house and an actual caboose parked at one end of the track. The train only runs on weekends and this was a weekday, so Sefton had fun running twice around the train track. He especially enjoyed running across the bridges. It’s no fun to run alone, so he needed Grandma to follow him all the way. (Surprise!–I didn’t run.)

It’s part of a big brother’s job to lift his little brother onto a high railing. Julian is still the one who can always make Sefton giggle.

After we returned to the house, Julian left to take a bike ride and Sefton invited Grandpa to watch GBC with him. Ted and I quickly learned about GBC–the Great Ball Contraption–and Ted settled in to watch a fascinating hour of GBC videos with Sefton.

Each “contraption” has an entry point for GBC balls followed by an intricate system of self-operated moving parts to move the balls through the contraption. In competition and conventions, individual contraptions are connected and the balls travel through all of them in a continuous circuit. Go to YouTube and search “GBC Lego” to find the videos. I bet you’ll be fascinated by them.

Meanwhile, I was busy bonding with Hadley. Ted and I have been waiting 23 years and seven grandsons for a second granddaughter, and I made the most of my time with her.

To end the day, Thom made a delicious dinner featuring biscuits and fried chicken. It was another good day with our family.

For the first time in 549 days (but who’s counting?), Ted and I took an overnight trip. We haven’t seen our sons’ families since our 50th wedding anniversary celebration 754 days ago. During that time, both boys moved to new houses in new locations, Sefton aged from two to four years old (a huge developmental change), and we gained a baby granddaughter and a great-grandson. Of course, we kept in touch with emails and texts, as well as phone and video calls, but it’s not the same as being together. With a lull in the COVID pandemic, we decided it’s time to venture a little farther into the world to visit our distant family members.

Our flight was early–8:00 a.m.–so we ordered a cab for 6:00 a.m. There’s nothing like an early start to the day. (Not!) We had a scheduled two-hour layover for our connecting flight to Wenatchee, but it turned out to be a 30-minute layover, so lunch became the crackers, cheese, and apples we had packed for a snack. While we were waiting to board our–wait for it!–propeller plane, we sat beside a man whose luggage tags indicated he was going to FAT. I asked him which airport that was and he said “Fresno.” Since Ted and I were tagged to arrive in EAT (Wenatchee), the man and I decided the two airports were a good pair: EAT FAT.

Except for tour flights over the Grand Canyon and Denali, I don’t think I’ve ever flown on a propeller plane. It was another new travel adventure for me. Here’s our plane as we saw it while waiting for our baggage. The plane was so small that carry-on suitcases didn’t fit in the overhead bins. We dropped them off on a cart beside the stairs to the cabin and picked them up at the airport door after our 20-minute–yes, 20-minute–flight. You can see the bags coming down the ramp at the rear of the plane.

Little planes fly lower than big ones, and that made the mountains much prettier to look at. We had good views of the North Cascades and of the wildfire smoke.

In the photo below, you can see a strip of blue sky between the smoke (below) and the clouds (above).

As we neared Wenatchee, we could see harvested fields and irrigated apple orchards. Wenatchee promotes itself as “The Apple Capital of the World” and there are a lot of orchards in the area.

I noticed a weird phenomenon while I was taking pictures through the airplane window. This is how the fast-moving propeller looks in a photo. Julian told me later that this effect is due to the direction in which a cell phone camera scans the scene in the 1/24,000 of a second it takes the photo. It’s kind of cool, isn’t it?

Although there’s a sign at the Wenatchee airport indicating the direction to “All Gates,” there is only one gate, so it was easy to find our way out to the curb where Thom picked us up and informed us that, thanks to the burning wildfires, “You’ve arrived at the worst air quality in the country.” The best part of the day came when we arrived at Thom and Katie’s house: seeing Sefton and Julian again and meeting Hadley for the first time. When we brought Jeff to meet our parents, Ted’s sister reached for him, but his mother charged ahead of her and said, “Oh, no–Grandmas first!” and took Jeff from me. I think that’s a good rule, so Grandma got to hold the baby first. Grandpa greeted Sefton and we both greeted Julian, who is spending a few days with the family while we’re here. It’s so nice to see the entire family in person again!

If Hadley falls asleep in your arms (is there anything sweeter than holding a sleeping baby?), she likes to turn her face into your chest. I could hear her breathing, so I knew she wasn’t suffocating, but still, . . .

Meanwhile, Sefton, who is very interested in clocks, showed Grandpa the clock he made.

And then it was time to play “hide Grandpa.” Sefton had lots of things to tell us–two years’ worth–and every sentence seemed to begin with “Grandpa and Grandpa, look at this.” I tried to teach him that I’m Grandma and the other person is Grandpa, but most of the time, we were Grandpa and Grandpa. He’s four. It’s fine.

After greeting everyone and holding Hadley, the next item on the agenda was a tour of the new house. There’s a circular staircase to the basement, and Sefton made sure to tell us that “You have to hold the pole when you go up and down,” so we did.

After a dinner of Katie’s Special Recipe mac and cheese, we took a family walk along a canal near the house. It felt good to stretch our legs after sitting on planes and in airports most of the day. Spending time with the family in person after more than two years apart made this a great first day of our trip.

Sometimes I’m disappointed in the last fifty pages of a good book. After lots of twists and turns in the plot of the story, the author neatly and quickly ties everything together with a happy sappy ending. That leaves me feeling like the author was tired of writing the story and decided to wrap it up fast and be finished with it. It’s very disappointing after 300 pages of a good read.

Yesterday was a different story (pun intended). I read a paragraph that made me think the author possibly started the paragraph and then just decided to keep going and have some fun with it. This excerpt is from Judith MIchael’s book Private Affairs. For maximum enjoyment, read the last highlighted sentence first.

EPSON MFP image

In Olympic news today, I read an article regarding the absence of Bob Costas as a commentator. I have a feeling the reporter couldn’t think of the word nuances.

Or did Bob really report on nuisances? “It’s too bad the runner’s shoelace came untied just as the starting gun went off.” “She was favored to win, but forgot her swim cap.” “He’d do better if he could stop hiccupping.” The reporter also mentions that Bob only “occasionally [chimed] in with clear-headed commentary.” And yet, Bob’s career as a sportscaster for NBC lasted from 1980-2019, Not bad for a muddle-headed reporter whose strength was guiding viewers through nuisances.

When Ted and I bought our first house and felt “settled,” one of the things I wanted was a set of good kitchen knives. We shopped and bought Gerber knives. After 48 years of use and sharpening, they have become notched at the handle end of the blade. The arrow shows where the blade edge used to be flush with the visible portion of the tang. I decided it’s time for new knives.

I checked all my knives and noted which ones I use a lot, which ones I might not replace, and which other styles of knives I might want. I decided to keep the bone-handled knife and honing steel Ted and I received as a wedding gift because they are so beautiful. And yes, that’s the honing steel I was using when I sliced my wrist.

I liked my Gerber knives, so I went online to see if I could get some more. The answer is “no.” I learned that, in the 1970s, sometime after I bought my kitchen knives, Gerber dropped its kitchen line and now makes only hunting knives. I don’t hunt, so I did some more online research, went to Williams-Sonoma to see what they had to offer, and decided to go with Wüsthof. I kept the wedding gift knife and the Miyabi rocker knife I bought several years ago and added eight new knives. I treated myself to a new knife block as well. Of course, the supply chain is still out of whack from the COVID pandemic, so I only took one knife home with me. The rest trickled in, one knife at a time, over a period of three months. (Don’t you just love the supply chain?) Each knife arrived over-packaged. Does Wüsthof have only one size shipping box? On the other hand, none of the knives had shipping damage.

The new knives are amazingly sharp! Wüsthof sharpens its knives to a 14-degree edge; most knives are sharpened to a 15-degree edge. That single degree of difference is definitely noticeable.

Now that I have new knives, what shall I do with the old ones? I asked Kathy and Kari if they were interested in them. Kathy already has a set of knives and a knife block, but Kari said my old knives will be better than what she currently has and she’ll take the block too. That was easy!

When I removed the knives from my old block to replace it with the new one, the old one looked pretty bad. That’s not surprising, since it’s 48 years old and has been used daily. You can see how putting the knives and the honing steel in and out created wear on the openings, and how the finish at the bottom edge is worn from years of wiping the countertop beside the block.

I felt badly about giving something that looked so worn to Kari, so I decided to refinish the block for her. It was easy to sand the finish off with my power sander. You can see more damage on this side of the block where it rubbed against the side of the refrigerator for many years. The bare wood shows where I’ve partially sanded the block.

When I had the block sanded clean, the wood was beautiful. I finished the sanding portion of the project with a 600 grit sandpaper, and that made the surface feel as smooth as glass.

The next step was stain. I almost hated to put stain on the wood because the bare wood looked so pretty. I debated leaving the natural finish but, in the end, I went with a wiping stain and rubbed it in as much as I could.

When the stain dried, it was time for varnish. I tried spray-on varnish for the first time. I wanted only a thin coat of varnish, and I thought it would be easier to apply a thin coat with a spray than with a brush. Luckily, we just bought a storage shed. Ted suggested we use the shed box to form a wall to catch the overspray.

The spray varnish dried to touch in about five minutes and was thoroughly dry in four hours. With such a short drying time, it was possible for me to spray all sides of the block right away, rather than waiting a day to do whichever side had been on the bottom. When the entire varnished block was dry to touch (roughly 30 minutes), I fed a wire through the honing steel opening and suspended the block from two nails in a ceiling joist to finish drying. I hung the drying block over a step stool so that if the wire hanger failed for any reason, the block wouldn’t have far to fall.

And here’s the re-finished block–not looking shabby–for Kari. I haven’t re-finished anything for a few years, so this was fun for me. Now Kari and I both have updated kitchen knives and blocks.

Why, oh why do women’s pants have pockets too small to carry a cell phone (it falls out of the pocket if I bend over, and the back pockets aren’t any deeper), . . .

but women’s pajamas have three pockets–one on the top and two in the pants–large enough for a cell phone or even an 8-inch tablet?

What do I need to put in a pocket to keep me uncomfortable all night while I sleep?

When Ted and I were at the bike shop recently, we saw this bicycle. It has four sets of pedals, but no gears. Without gears, the owner said it’s difficult to keep it going with a full load of people. (I’ll bet it’s really tough going uphill!) To solve that problem, the owner brought it to the bike shop to have a small motor installed in the rear. Other features include headlights, two steering wheels (each equipped with a knob for easy turning), a child seat mounted on the front for two smaller passengers, and a fringed top for shade. Note: You can see the bike shop’s three unicycle stools behind the surrey bike. Each stool includes pedals to turn its wheel. You can sit on a unicycle stool and exercise while you wait for your bike to be fixed.

Like all wheeled vehicles these days, the surrey bike also has cup holders. The bell to the left of the cup holders rings when the horn button on the steering wheel is pressed. I’d love to take a ride on this bike.

As Ted and I were coming home from Pilates this evening, we saw a wall cloud in the northwest. These don’t appear too often in the sky. You can have a wall cloud without a tornado, but tornadoes develop in the southwest sector of wall clouds, so you can’t have a tornado without a wall cloud. Notice how dark the sky is beneath the wall cloud. It’s still ninety minutes until sunset, but our house was so dark inside, we needed to turn on some bright lights. After we changed our clothes, we tuned in to the weather report and learned that radar indicated some rotation in this wall cloud. There were no severe storms in the area, but we did get rain, lightning, thunder, and some wind. Bigger storms are moving in after midnight tonight.

Kari gave us this year’s school photos of the boys. When I saw Dylan’s, I said to Ted, “That’s Kari!” What do you think? Kari is a little bit older than Dylan in her picture. It was senior awards day at school, and she’s wearing her award medallion on the black ribbon; Dylan is beginning his junior year of high school. Hint: cover Kari’s earrings, then look at the faces.

It seems fair for Dylan to look like Kari, since Sky is a double for Dean.

I’ve mentioned before how much I’m enjoying the little hibiscus tree I bought for the summer. It was worth every penny for the joy it brings with its daily blooms. The blooms only last one day, but it’s always covered with buds. They begin to open when the sun rises and they begin to close at dusk. The following day, they self-deadhead and drop to the ground. We usually have 4-6 blooms at a time but, one day, we had eight and today we set a record of nine blooms. I’m planning to buy another hibiscus tree next spring.

Last year, our neighbors, Will and Karen, treated our neighborhood to an amazing display of fireworks on the Fourth of July. I spoke with Will the next day and complimented him on the show. “Oh, it’s going to be better next year,” he told me. “I took notes for improvements.”

Ted and I invited Kari’s family to join us for this year’s Will and Karen Fireworks Extravaganza. Kari and the boys arrived early to allow time for swimming and for a chance to relax in the hot tub. We’ve heard fireworks every day and night for about a week, but around 7:30 tonight, the noise became more frequent as people got things ready for the Big Show.

We were all visiting with each other in the back yard when we noticed that Teddy was missing. Teddy loves fireworks, so I checked our driveway seating area, and there he was–enjoying the pre-show all by himself as Will ran some test fireworks to assure the proper placement of everything.

When the “real” show began around 8:00 (sunset at 8:30), we all settled in and enjoyed our first-row seating, our table of snacks and beverages, and some good conversation–when we could hear each other above the noise. Other neighbors also set out lawn chairs in their driveways because they, too, remembered how good Will and Karen’s show was last year. See that blue canister sitting on the driveway? That’s a silent, odorless bug repellent we received from Thom and Katie last Christmas. It worked well–no bugs bothered us.

The city shows–with the crowds, the limited parking, etc.–usually last about 20-30 minutes. The neighborhood shows lasted about two-and-a-half hours, with occasional pops continuing until about midnight. Will and Karen bought all the good stuff and lots of it. These weren’t bottle rockets and little fizzlers; the entire show was the big stuff.

There was even a grand finale that lasted 10-15 minutes with shot after shot after shot all exploding just across the street from us.

Like last year, we could see fireworks shows all around us. I counted 11 neighborhood shows in my 180-degree sight range in front of our garage. They were all pretty good, but Will and Karen get the first place prize, and Will is a man of his word: it was better than last year. Afterward: no need to navigate large crowds or heavy traffic when the show ended. Family fun for sure!

Ted and I have been wanting to ride the Dardenne Greenway bike trail for several weeks, but the weather has been crummy and we’ve been busy. Today was the day–perfect weather and nothing on our calendar. This was our first sunny day after ten consecutive days of thundershowers that dropped at least 6-8 inches of rain on us. Need I say the trail was kind of wet? It’s a blacktop recreational path, but we had to coast slowly through large puddles of water in a number of low spots on the trail.

The Dardenne Creek, which the trail follows, is still high, as you can tell by the overhanging tree branches in the water.

Here’s a view of the creek from one of the bridges last fall. Compare that to how it looked at the same point today. Greener today? Yes. Creek banks visible today? No.

Just for fun, we checked the soccer fields in Rabbit Run Park, one of the parks along the Dardenne Greenway. Those fields are along the creek and flood with any significant rain. Sure enough . . . even though there was little standing water visible from the trail, the grass-covered ground was so soggy, we’d have sunk to our ankles if we’d walked on it.

I’m standing at the high water point at this part of the trail. The trail is still covered with (mostly) dry mud. Notice that there is a bridge in the right center of the picture. Dardenne Creek flows under the bridge.

Here’s the bridge. It was obviously completely underwater during the past ten days of rain. Check the picture above again. Now imagine how much water was flowing here to make the creek wide enough for the water to come up to where I’m standing. We had a lot of rain.

All along the trail, we saw tree damage from the severe thunderstorm we had on the third day of our ten-day rain-a-thon. This was the biggest fallen limb we saw beside the trail. The arrow points to the where the branch used to be attached to the tree. In some places, broken branches had already been gathered into piles. The Parks Department has been busy.

We turned around at the Mid Rivers Mall Drive overpass. The Dardenne Greenway ends on the other side of the overpass and joins one of the St. Peters City bike trails. We opted to quit here instead of riding through the soft mud that settled in the low spot under the overpass.

The Dardenne is still our favorite bike trail and we had a nice ride on a beautiful day. Happy trails to us.

The severe thunderstorm that struck our area a few days ago destroyed our pool toy storage shed, so we had to buy a new one. Assembling the new shed provided us with an afternoon outdoor project in beautiful weather, so it was (mostly) fun.

The basic shed assembly wasn’t too tough. There were eight pieces: a floor, two side panels, two back panels, a roof, and two doors. I like putting things together and Ted is a Master Assistant when I’m working on stuff. He let me do most of the assembly work while he handed me tools like a surgical aide and held pieces in place while I joined them together.

Everything was pretty straightforward except attaching the doors and finishing the roof. The black metal hinges on the doors (photo below) snapped into place and then required a bolt through each hinge for extra security. With one of us working on each door, I think Ted and I spent more than 45 minutes trying to get those 6 bolts screwed into place. We managed to get the top and bottom ones in tightly, but eventually gave up on the middle ones. It looked and felt like the metal exit holes for the bolts were smaller than the diameter of the bolts. We could see the ends of the bolts in the holes, but we couldn’t make the bolt threads turn their way through those holes. We finally made an executive decision to let the top and bottom bolts do the heavy hinge work on the doors and to let the snapped-in-place middle hinges go along for the ride.

It was easy to snap the roof onto the two hinges on the back panel, but we wondered what would prevent the front of the roof from blowing upward in a breeze. The pictures and directions for finishing the roof were confusing, but we finally figured out how to position the steel support bar in the surface maze of the roof. The roof locking piece was more of a mystery. Eventually, we found a place on the roof where it would fit and a notch on the side panel that would hold it and lock the front of the roof to the top of the side panel. Now it won’t flap up and down in the wind.

With everything feeling secure and looking good, we put the shed on our flat dolly, wheeled it into place, and added the pool toys.

All set! It looks good and it’s guaranteed for 10 years. We had a good run of 11 years on the old shed, which is now at the recycle center, preparing for its next life.

While we’re here, look at how the storage shed fits into the corner of the chimney and the house. The storm winds pulled the old shed out of this nook, ripped off the padlocked doors, turned the shed around, flipped it over, and threw it into the open area in the right center of the picture, all while keeping the pool toys inside. Mother Nature is a crafty old gal!

Today we learned that we have a second granddaughter. Thom and Katie presented us with Hadley Rose, who is 20½ inches long and weighs 9 lb. 6 oz. She looks just like her dad did when he was born (lower photo).

Welcome, Hadley. We can’t wait to see you and hold you.

Ted and I have lived in the Midwest nearly all of our lives, so it’s a given that we’ve headed for cover in the basement several times when weather radar and warnings indicated a tornado was dangerously close to us. Having said that, Ted and I agreed that the thunderstorm we had this weekend was the worst we’ve ever experienced. The NWS issued a severe thunderstorm warning (no tornado watches or warnings) and we experienced the worst of the storm. The red marker for St. Peters is about two miles from our house. The darkest / most severe section of the storm cell is headed directly toward us.

During the heaviest rainfall, we couldn’t see the houses across the street from us. It looked like dense fog outside our windows. By the time I got my camera, the rain had let up a bit, but it was still heavy. Wind gusts were 70+ mph. It seemed like the wind was blowing rain against the windows from every direction. The wind blew the rain in sheets and small waves down the street. We watched a beach ball blow past our house. Afterward, I asked our neighbors if it was their ball and Karen said no, they’d watched it blow past their house as well. There are three more neighbors with swimming pools uphill from us, and I guess one of them lost a beach ball.

Three of our gutters have underground drains to central areas of the yard; one drains onto a sidewalk. Water was coming out of that gutter like a gusher. Kari said all three of her rain barrels quickly filled. We have a hill behind our house and the street in front of our house slopes as well, so we had a considerable amount of run-off in our back yard. The water in the lower left is moving downhill to the left like a rushing river.

After the storm, neighbors started coming outside to assess damage, to talk about the storm, and to start cleaning up the mess. Everyone looked a little bit shell-shocked at how strong the storm had been.

Our damage was minimal. We have a vertical two-door storage cabinet against the house, tucked into a corner formed by the house and the exterior of the fireplace chimney. We store pool stuff in the cabinet–kickboards, noodles, balls, mats, etc. The wind ripped the padlock off the cabinet door latches, picked up the cabinet, ripped off both doors, turned the cabinet 180 degrees, flipped it over, and threw it into the back yard in a single pile. Except for one kickboard, the pool paraphernalia was still inside the cabinet.

We (and everyone else) also had a lot of tree litter and broken branches in our yard. In some places nearby, the street looked like it was carpeted in green. Ted picked up the bigger branches–the largest had a nearly 3-inch diameter–and I raked up the litter. Then Ted collected my piles in his wheelbarrow and added five loads of tree litter to the branches he’d already thrown on our brush pile. He’s going to have to get out his wood chipper when things dry out.

The neighbors across the street from our driveway weren’t quite as lucky as we were. A mature tree in their yard was broken by the wind and will need to be removed. Fortunately, it fell alongside the house and not into the bedroom windows or onto the roof. Within a half mile of our house in both directions, Ted and I counted 4 mature trees blown down by the wind and 18 homes with major (4″-12″) limbs broken off the trees. Amazingly, none of the trees or large limbs caused visible damage to homes or cars. We apparently have very considerate trees in our neighborhood.

It took Ted and me about two hours to clean up our yard. The next day, we went to Home Depot and bought Ted a Father’s Day gift.

The photo below is a screenshot of an ad that appears when I play my free Solitaire game online. Read the text carefully. It was probably written by a right-brained (creative/artistic) person who cannot “match three.” Or spell.

Ted and I celebrated our 52nd wedding anniversary quietly. We remarked that it’s a good thing we were married in 1969 instead of 1970 because we had a great weekend with our entire family to celebrate our 50th anniversary in 2019. If we’d been married just one year later, the COVID quarantines and restrictions would have meant canceling our celebration.

This time, we started our anniversary party a day early, when Kari, Dylan, and Teddy came over to our house to swim. It was a perfect day for swimming–the temperature was in the upper 80s and the humidity was low. The water temperature was 86 degrees, thanks to the warm weather we’ve had all week.

It was fun to swim, then get into the hot tub (we’ve lowered that water temperature for the summer), and then get back into the cooler pool.

After about two hours in the water, it was time for a game of sheephead. Dylan came prepared with a deck of cards and Kari brought The Chips (inherited from Grandma Sch). Teddy won the first hand and already has three additional chips on his pile. Ted was playing too, but stepped back to take the pictures.

The following day, on our real anniversary, we didn’t do any jobs around the house or yard. It was fun to have a “play day” when we only did what we felt like doing. Since the CDC says it’s now safe for fully vaccinated people to eat indoors at a restaurant, we went out for dinner–something we haven’t done for 15 months. Still being COVID cautious since new cases in our area are rising right now (post-Memorial Day weekend), we went after the peak dinner time. The “experience” of eating indoors at a restaurant was fun. We each ordered a glass of wine and toasted each other to the next 52 years together.

When we got back home, we lit our anniversary candle, enjoyed a piece of the Bissinger’s ohh-la-la chocolate that we bought as a gift to ourselves, and watched a Netflix movie.

Today, Ted and I decided we felt like biking the Katy Trail from St. Charles to Machens, so we did. Machens is the eastern terminus of the Katy and we’ve been there before, but it’s a nice ride. We biked 25 miles round trip–just enough for today. The weather was perfect and there were wildflowers blooming for miles along the trail. We met very few other bikers, so it was a quiet ride and we could bike side-by-side nearly all the time.

When we arrived in Machens, there were several other people there. Since it’s the terminus, people at Machens always ask “Where did you come from?” Today, there were three of us who started in St. Charles and one man who started in Clinton, MO, the western terminus of the Katy. We all compared notes on how much of the Katy we’ve covered. Ted and I have bikes 67 miles of the trail. One man who has taken the train westward, then biked eastward toward home, reviewed all the places the train stops along the Katy. You may bring your bike on the train, but they only allow four bikes and the bike has to be a regular size two-wheel bicycle–no three-wheelers, trailers, etc. There’s apparently very limited bike storage space on the train. As a result, it’s necessary to make a reservation and buy your ticket about a week before you plan to go.

The man who biked from Clinton started riding two days ago and finished the 237 miles by 2:30 p.m. today while we were there. He described the Katy as a “Missouri gem” and said he was really impressed with the maintenance and the condition of the trail all the way. His wife drove the support vehicle. She followed him on the highways, brought him lunch, picked him up at the end of the day, transported everything except his daily trail necessities, and arranged for overnight accommodations, When she heard we are from St. Peters, she said she’d been shopping there earlier this afternoon before she had to leave to meet her husband at Machens. I took a celebratory picture of the two of them with his dusty bicycle.

Ted took a picture of me at the Machens stop before we left for a good ride back to St. Charles.

When we got home, we cleaned the dust off our bikes, had a light dinner, then relaxed in the hot tub before getting into the pool. Next: a Saturday date night Netflix movie with fresh strawberry sundaes.

I wanted to title this post C12H22O11, but couldn’t get the subscripts into the title line. Just in case you’re not up on your compound formula knowledge, that’s the formula for Sucrose, a local bakery that uses Su as its logo, as if it’s listed on the periodic table. Last Christmas, Kari’s family gave Ted and me a gift certificate to Sucrose and we finally used it. It was definitely worth the wait.

I was expecting to order something like a jelly doughnut or a long john, but Sucrose is not that kind of bakery. They do have some cupcakes and cookies, and they offer some breads on Saturdays, but the main feature is irresistible desserts. We chose to spend the gift certificate on some chocolate raspberry mousse (served in molded chocolate cups) and some fruit tarts–a simple name for an elaborate offering.

We’ll be going back soon to try some of their other desserts. Thank you, Kari’s family, for introducing us to this bakery.

I just finished reading Kristin Hannah’s book The Four Winds. It’s a really good fictional account of one family’s struggle during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. The sections of the book are indicated by the year of the narrative and a quotation related to that year. Sadly, FDR’s statement in 1934 is true today.

The author’s note at the end of the book states that she started writing this book in 2017 and finished it in May 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic. The Dust Bowl was the worst environmental disaster in United States history and included a collapse of the economy and massive unemployment. “Never in my wildest dreams,” Hannah writes, “did I imagine that the Great Depression would become so relevant in our modern lives. . . . In the end, it is our idealism and our courage and our commitment to one another–what we have in common–that will save us.”

I’ve been searching the internet for a hamburger bun recipe. What I really wish I could make are Wisconsin hard rolls. In this case, “Hard” does not equal “stale.” Wisconsin hard rolls are made without eggs and they’re crusty on the top.

I couldn’t find that (secret?) Wisconsin recipe, so I decided to settle for something that would produce rolls that were firm but not dry, and light but not mushy. Based on the ingredients, I found a recipe I thought might be pretty good and I tried it. The recipe is called “Beautiful Burger Buns” and they are.

They’re light, they taste good, and they don’t disintegrate if you add a juicy pickle or some sauce. Yummy!

P.S. I’m still going to stock up on hard rolls whenever we visit Wisconsin.

I saw this truck while I was stopped at a red light. I can’t imagine why the owner / driver needs spikes on the front wheels, unless Q ordered it for a James Bond sidekick who drives a pickup truck. Those spikes look lethal.

It’s been a cool, wet spring around here. Normal high temperatures should be in the 80s by now–and every now and then we actually get a day in the 80s. I’m such a sucker, I fall for it every time and say, “Spring is probably here for real now,” and then the temperatures drop into the upper 50s and lower 60s for highs, and the rains return. This will be one of those years that we go from winter to summer–suddenly it will be hot every day without the gradual warming of March, April, and May. The April 20 frost finished off all the spring-blooming trees, but the rain we’ve been getting has been good for the summer flowers. Our yard is looking flower-y cheerful these days.

The roses have been blooming for a few days, but I had to wait for the rain to stop to take pictures. The knockout roses are looking good.

The carpet roses are bushier than usual–maybe thanks to the rain.

This group of roses was gorgeous about five days ago but, again, I had to wait for the rain to stop to get a decent picture.

The poolside dahlias are becoming bushy.

The day lilies will bloom all summer, but the first blooming always has the most flowers at one time.

My favorites are the hibiscus tree and the marigolds. I love seeing these while I’m working at the kitchen sink.

The snapdragons will provide a variety of color in front of the hydrangea bush, which will bloom in two or three weeks.

Maybe it takes winter to make the spring and summer colors look so good. I’m loving it.

In 2018, an anonymous person planted some iris on the common ground area closest to our house. The flowers were a pleasant surprise when I took my daily walk and I’ve been looking forward to them every spring since 2018. At first, the iris looked like this photo. The arrow shows where the planting stopped–at the fourth rock.

Last year, I noticed some additional iris plants at the next two rocks. This year, the bed is expanding even more. The turquoise arrow shows one of the 2020 additional plants–a white iris. The green arrow shows a new 2021 iris (not blooming), and the orange arrow shows something different: a little shrub. The yellow arrow points to where the floral display now ends–at the eleventh rock. I wonder if the plan is to eventually plant something at every rock.

Here’s a closer look at the new shrub. I assume the gardener painted the top of the stake red so the grounds crew wouldn’t mow the little bush. It’s not blooming, but I hope it will be a blooming bush. Maybe next year.

Meanwhile, the original purple iris at the first four rocks continue to thrive and I continue to enjoy them when I walk by.

As I was looking at the pictures of Jeff and La with Ollie, their first grandchild, I couldn’t help remembering when Ted and I had Jeff and my parents became grandparents for the first time. It logically followed to remember when Jeff and La had Alex, making Ted and me grandparents for the first time. Expanding on this theme, Jeff was the first great-grandchild of my maternal grandparents and Ollie is Ted’s and my first great-grandchild. Grandma and Grandpa, Mom and Dad, Ted and I, and Jeff and La were all approximately the same age when we had our first child and when we became grandparents for the first time. And yet, . . .

. . . I can’t get over how young I feel compared to how old my parents and grandparents seemed to be when Jeff was born. Maybe that’s the perspective of youth looking at age. Is it wishful thinking on my part, or do we look (and act) younger than previous generations did at the same age? Look at the pictures below as you consider that question.

This four-generation picture was taken when Jeff was ten months old. Ted and I are in the center with Jeff, and I’m five months pregnant with Kathy. My grandparents are on the left and my parents are on the right. Remember, Jeff is my parents’ first grandchild and my grandparents’ first great-grandchild.

Let’s jump ahead a generation. Here are Jeff and La with their first grandchild, Ollie, and Ted and I with our first grandchild, Alex.

Here are Ollie’s great-grandparents. We haven’t met Ollie yet, so we don’t have a picture of the three of us.

What’s your verdict on the aging thing? Ted and I choose to think we look younger than our parents and grandparents did at our age. Whether or not that’s true, it makes us happy to think so.

We’ve had a cool spring, so rhubarb has had a great season. For rhubarb lovers, this is good news, but if you don’t have a rhubarb patch of your own, it’s sometimes difficult to find fresh rhubarb in the grocery stores. Kathy, however, has sources, and she contacted her peeps to fill a big bag of rhubarb to bring to me when she visited this weekend. I’m going to freeze it and look forward to rhubarb in the future.

Here I am, cutting the stalks and filling quart containers for future rhubarb pies and kuchens.

Kathy’s big gift bag of rhubarb was filled with nearly six quarts of the delicious vegetable. I set one quart aside for a fresh (not frozen) rhubarb pie for dinner tonight.

I smiled all the way to the freezer and I can’t wait for dessert tonight.