Slide Show II

When you travel into Oregon along the Colombia Gorge, the highway is straight, broad and level. If you look up the side of the cliffs, you’ll see an old curvy highway with tunnels. That was the highway we traveled along in those days.
We came across one of the prettiest, slender waterfalls I’d ever seen. In a little “instep” in the cliffside, the falls have a long plunge onto a surface, then the water spills further again. An observation bridge crosses just above the first landing. This waterfall is called Multnomah Falls. We eventually reached our Aunt Ruby’s and Uncle Gordy’s. My cousins, Terry, Randy and Debbie were there, also. Debbie and I played in the two story playhouse her dad had built for her. We dressed up in formal gowns, high heels, and put our hair in “up-do’s” as we posed for a photo.
We all went out for burgers and dogs, ’60’s Oregon-style, pickles or relish, mustard, and onions only, and hold the ketchup.
We also met Uncle Paul, Aunt Phyllis, and cousins Paula, Mark, and Peggy Sue. We also visited my mom’s oldest brother, my Uncle Maynard and Aunt Tymee, and their children, Susan and Teddy. I remember my uncle cooking on the grill and Teddy pulling his little dog in a cart.
Sometime, while in Oregon, we captured some “craw-dads” in a stream. We also visited the Portland Zoo, and had a bonfire at the Pacific Ocean’s “Cannon Beach.” Throughout our trip, we collected rocks for my mom’s flower and rock garden. One such rock was from the tidal pool near “Haystack Rock,” on that beach. We also gathered a starfish from that spot. Nowadays, disturbing that fragile environment is prohibited and illegal! I’ve been there since, with my son Josh, at age 8, as we observed the sea life in these areas, taking photos, and collecting sand-dollars as they washed to shore with the tide in the misty, pre-dawn hours.
On the way back my parents, my brothers and I traveled through Glacier Mountain Park. There were many “hair-pin” turns to reach the height of the mountains. Along the way across Montana we could see the narrow winding railways clinging to the mountainside, and their tunnels. A train-ride, to us, back then, looked exciting! We saw snow, and we threw snowballs in Yellowstone Park, and saw snow-capped mountains in Glacier Park, in June.
There were several carousels of filled with slides taken during this trip. A few times, the projector was set up, and we watched the slides, revisiting this journey. My brothers and I each took turns taking black-and-white photos, some of which I still have.

Slide Show

One of the first trips out west was when I was in the fourth grade. I finished the school year early because I had strep throat and tonsillitis. After I had my tonsils removed, it was decided that we would go the visit relatives out west in Idaho and Oregon.
We went through South Dakota, first stopping at Wall Drug, a major tourist trap. Driving through the capital of Pierre we drove into the Badlands. We went to Reptile Gardens where I rode a turtle which was over 100 years old, watched alligator wrestlers, and saw exotic birds. We also experienced a place called “Cosmos,” where whatever you saw or experienced was an illusion. For example: Standing in one spot you looked taller than the other person and in the reverse you looked shorter plus, balls rolled up-hill.
We saw Mt. Rushmore, a mountainside carved into presidents, which draws visitors from around the globe. Some saw this attraction as “de-facing” the natural beauty of the hills.
We saw our first site of the Rocky Mountains as we neared the Beartooth Mountains, the Grand Tetons, and Yellowstone Park. We waited out old Faithful, a geyser which erupts once an hour, give or take a few minutes. In the gift shop, I picked out a Native doll in a white leather beaded dress, which I still have.
Somewhere along the way, we stopped at a Western shop and purchased white cowboy hats. I tried on some cute red cowgirl boots. The boots fit so well, I fell in love with them. I was sad to say “good bye” to them, and settle for a hat.
We looked at the hot mineral pools and mini-geysers in the park, as we cautiously walked along the boardwalk.
Back in those days, some visitors fed the bears, causing many of them to climb onto the cars and get right up to the car windows. We were delayed many times on our way through the park, and while camping we had to store our food out of reach. That night we camped, a bear was captured and relocated away from our campsite.
We drove a green Plymouth Fury station wagon, which had been purchased from a car dealer neighbor who lived across the street from us. That family had named her “Betsy,” so she kept her name. We had traded “Elmer,” a 1953 burgundy-colored Plymouth Fury for her. I still see an occasional “Elmer” driving around at car shows. It had been the first car I’d ever known. We also picked up a roll-up style camper trailer which we pulled behind the wagon from my dad’s boss. In the Tetons we hit large hail, which did some damage to the roof of the camper trailer.
We drove a southern route across Idaho to Twin Falls. My mom’s sister Dolly and her husband Chap lived there. I thought Chap looked like the actor Doug McClure. I refused to drink milk from their amber colored tumbler glasses because to me the glasses were for “beer.” The Idaho family was having a baptism for their daughter, Dena, named after our Grandma Gena and her mom. Their boys were Mark and John, both of which sported short “crew-cuts.” We all went to see a trout farm, and went on our way to Oregon.

Heading Home

We went out to a couple places in Rugby. One was the old service station converted to a bar we had been to previously. The other, was called the “Jester.” We were waited on by a tattooed gal who had arrived with her mother from Thailand as a five-year old toddler. Now, a grandma of two, she and her mom have never returned to her original homeland, where she stated that her grandmother still lives.
We listened to a variety of music while we visited.
The next morning, we had a quick breakfast. Then we scoped out a consignment shop downtown. Before leaving Rugby, we looked at the antique shop where the old Ford was parked. I found a copy of Steinbeck’s “Travels With Charley.” This was one of the first books I had read of Steinbeck’s, where he purchases a truck with a camper and travels with his French poodle named, “Charley.”
He describes the United States in a time when many of the Civil Rights were being challenged. He even goes through Fargo!


Steinbeck starts his book describing his how he decided to travel to all corners of this country.

“When the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of a wayward man, the road away from Here seems broad and straight and sweet, the victim must first find in himself a good and sufficient reason for going. This is to the practical bum not difficult. He has a built-in garden of reasons to choose from….”

We stopped at a few of the small towns along the way to Jamestown.
I took a photo of an old crate from my hometown of Fergus Falls, MN.


I found a cute pattern for a long “swirl skirt” from 1973 which consists of one pattern piece.


I also found a small lamp with a stained glass shade, a steal at $1.99!
My friend and I treated ourselves to a hot fudge sundae at the DQ, and hit the freeway homeward.
Hasta la Vista! Till we meet again!


Heading Onward


We ventured north using our GPS. The roads turned into rolling and curvy, gravel then dirt roads, meandering through a wooded “Turtle Mountain” area. We found the farm where we were to visit a three generational family. The farm was situated next to a pond and had Black Angus cattle on a hillside behind their home. A wagon out front was an authentic wagon their ancestors had used to relocate from their original home in Nebraska. I saw some pretty, floral “bleeding hearts” bushes by their front door.





As we left the farm, our GPS failed to show the muddy road we were on. It went north a ways, then we rode eastward until the road split into three branches. My friend chose the middle road, wrong! It went uphill into a private farm. Backing out, we next took the road to the right. That road narrowed, then shallowly crossed in-between two small lakes and turned into a twin ruts gouged into a grassy tree-lined meadow. We again turned back to the crossroad. The left road curved around a bend and the woods opened up to a higher plain, and it finally appeared faintly as an ultra-fine line on our GPS to the nearest North/South highway. We turned southward and our GPS showed us as a little light on a grey grid until we entered the next town. The town had a huge turtle sculpture manufactured from old wheel rims. As we left the town a mass of people were riding horses at a Western style riding academy.
Below is a photo of one of the muddy roads to the side which we did not venture down.


Suggested reading; “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, a poem.

Road Trippin’ Again


I made some original recipe “Kellogg’s Special K” bars this morning which I doubled the recipe and shared at an office where I work part-time.
Afterwards, I joined my best friend on another road trip. The weather was cloudy and raining part of the way. Now, it is a sunny, peaceful sky with a breeze.
The fields are green, and there were scattered farms with old buildings, vehicles, and grazing cattle and horses.
We drove through one old town, not seeing a few stop signs across the main street, oops! Fortunately, there was no traffic nor traffic law enforcement!
In the previous town there was a beautiful Red,White&Blue water tower.



I checked out a gift shop where most of the items were imported. There were some nicely, embroidered dish-towels with prairie roses on them for a price!
The antique store was closed. It had the beaten-down Ford truck alongside the store, pictured above.
Northward, there were many more dull looking wind turbines spinning around. We discussed how some bird-lovers are in an up-roar because some of their feathered aviators were running into the blades. I just wish the turbines were more decorative with kite tails or some color and variety to them.
Our next destination is only 5 miles from the Canadian border. I’ll post more tomorrow!
“Hasta maƱana.”



Memorial Day


For all of the Harolds, Marys, Lloyds, Sophies, Alices, Minas, Raymonds, Davids, Daniels, Durands, Genas, Melvins, Maynards, Arlens, Juliens, Lorraines, Veronas, Lindas, and all of the friends, family, and loved ones lost in war and peace times—you’re in our thoughts and prayers, today and always. A jet just flew over as I write this! How appropriate!
Below is a prayer an elderly sister of a client recited and wrote down from memory for me and her brother several years ago. There are several “on-line” versions of this “fitting” poem/prayer which can be viewed.

“On the Wings of Prayer”



Above; An cherub sitting on a butterfly, manufactured during US occupation of Japan post WWII.
Below; Way to be Patriotic, Aunt Jemima syrup!


World View

Today, was a day to educate myself more on the recent history of peaceable solutions which have occurred in the world. Also, a day to see how people have stood up for their rights against an adverse majority. I shy away from politics because I feel I am not very knowledgeable in that arena. Flying out to Australia and East Timor in two months. I’m sure the experience will be enlightening.
I have had the opportunity to stand up in front of state senate appropriation committees as an advocate for persons with physical and developmental disabilities. I have been challenged to conduct many investigations related to abuse, neglect or exploitation of the same populations. I am willing to step in and provide protection where someone is in harm’s way. I am also willing to educate persons who are doing harm in order to prevent further harm.
I feel it is important to be educated in other cultures, their histories, and their experiences and beliefs, in order to be a more effective counselor and advocate. I have been a lifelong learner, however, many of my years i was somewhat isolated while immersed into the role of a parent. For that reason, I constantly try to openly occupy my mind with new information in areas which may have previously missed.
On the four PBS stations there are many global programs which help me gain exposure to some of this knowledge and understanding. I research many newscasts and information many topics on the internet. If I am not aware of something I look it up.
It has been wonderful to have seen much of our country, yet there is a whole world yet to discover. In addition to my pen-pal in Australia, I have been in communication with friends in Norway, Belgium, and relatives in Canada. While I was more financially able, for years, I sponsored children in Brazil and the Dominican Republic. One little girl told of the changes in her family, such as the birth of a baby brother and death of her grandmother who was helping to raise her. I still pray they are doing well. My church sponsors many children through this program. They also go on mission trips to Jamaica and have a “Sister Church” in Africa.
The CMA, Christian Motorcyclists of America raise funds for motorcycles for missionaries in remote areas.
There was a time, our ancestors entered the United States from other countries. Some were alone, only able to speak in a foreign language. Some had family which came before them, who took them in their homes and “under their wings” for a time.
In my case, my ancestors came from Norway. My dad, born in rural Minnesota, was a third generation American on his mother’s side, fourth generation on his father’s side, yet, he had to learn English in school in the second grade. All of the people in his life up to that point spoke Norwegian. All of my grandparents and many relatives from my parents’ generation spoke Norwegian around me, my brothers, and my cousins. We have family reunions on my maternal grandmother’s branch which educate the next generations about our ancestors and our common “roots.” That family includes an older cousin and her spouse and family who were Missionaries in New Guinea for over three decades. Generations after them still have contact there and in Australia.
Another branch, my maternal grandfather’s family, were fishermen, including a sea captain who sailed over a century ago in the “China Trade,” sailing around the “Cape” several times. My great-grandfather brought his bride to Minnesota en-route to Australia, promising her a visit to her sister before they were to head west and sail. They stayed, instead, and never reached the “Land Down Under.” My children and grandchildren are a blend of many ancestries, including; Swedish, English, French, Scottish, German, Lebanese, and Native American.
I have had co-workers and classmates from other countries, such as; Liberia, Vietnam, Croatia, and Russia. Some have suffered unimaginable losses. Once, when my coworker returned to Croatia to visit, a friend of her’s had salvaged irreplaceable family photographs which my coworker thought were forever lost. Such a simple gesture made a world of difference in my coworker’s life. Many of the photos were of family members she had lost. My coworker from Vietnam has been constantly busy helping new Americans from other countries. She was a wonderful speaker in one of my counseling classes. She spoke about her experiences in Vietnam during wartime and as a “stranger” experiencing cultural transitions in the United States. She spoke of how everyone’s birthdays were all celebrated together at the same time annually, why she fears our tradition of Halloween, and of her first Thanksgiving turkey. She answered many good questions my classmates asked her, giving us a first-hand experience of a different time, culture, and of the strength of survival, and appreciation of life as we know it.



Road Trippin’ III


Back to blogging. Yesterday, my friend and I escaped the City of Fargo for a couple days, again, into the rural highways and byways of ND. First to Valley City, where I had begun my college career during the Fall of ’73. In an old combination book & antique store, I asked if they had any John Steinbeck books. The store-clerk produced four paperbacks, including; “The Red Pony,” “Of Mice and Men,” “The Pearl, and “In Dubious Battle.” I think “The Pearl” looks to be the best gem of the four. It is a fable about a fisherman who weighs himself down on the bottom of the sea in search of pearls, hoping to provide for his family. The books were reasonable buys, not hardcover, nor mint, yet good reading for my library.
The tapestry above was a steal at $5. I love the romantic fantasy showing the Princess being swept away into the night by the Prince on the white horse.
Leaving Valley City going north, we saw several wind turbines along an open higher elevation on the prairie. The Sheyenne River flows southward from the Devils Lake area through Valley City then south to Lisbon then north-eastward to West Fargo then north towards Harwood, where it is a tributary to the Red River of the North. The Red River flows through Winnipeg, Manitoba to Lake Winnipeg. Lake Winnipeg drains into a river which flows into Hudson Bay. At Valley City there is a man-made recreational Lake Ashtabula. Much of this journey crossed the Sheyenne River at various points.
Devils Lake, in recent years has chronically been on the rise. Year-round and 24/7 large gravel trucks have been hauling rocks, gravel and sand to build up the extensive shoreline and roadways throughout this massive monster of an appropriately named lake. There has been major loss of farmland and property to rising waters. We stayed in the Spirit Lake Casino which remains along the south shore near the town of Devils Lake. We ate at the “End of the Line” again, splitting a sandwich and chips. We sat in the attached Caboose watching the MN Twins play against the Chicago White Sox, as the sun set outside the window.
The towns along State Highway 2 including Devils Lake, Rugby, and Minot are temporary hometowns to many of the oil workers who live in camper/trailers and carpool westward daily to the oil fields near Williston. Others living in these “camps” are employed in the local battle against nature, described above.
I stopped to browse through an antique store. Outside, there was a rusty, old, cast-iron stove, much like one we used to burn wood and paper in the basement of the house I grew up in, and similar to my grandmother’s wood stove in her living room. Inside, there were many furs and blankets from Canada, and Native American handmade jewelry, leatherwork and ceremonial dress. Many of the dresses had sewn-on ribbons with little brass bells dangling in rows covering and weighing down their full length of fabric. I found a pretty Iridescent, “Carnival” bowl and a mug which match some wine goblets and desert plates I have. I purchased those.
The next morning, we grabbed a bite to eat and ventured southward and back eastward towards home. I am looking for letters for name collage photos, which explains the two “K’s.”
I knew of a nicely decorated place in the little town of Buffalo, so I offered to pay for a couple beverages and a snack if my friend wished to check it out. This was our last stop to finish up our latest little trip.









Angels II

Growing up, my mom worked at a VA hospital. She started working in dietary carrying meal trays to the patients during the Vietnam Era. She worked her way into secretarial positions and retired after 34 years. She received an award for saving a person who called into the hospital from central ND. She was able to trace his records after the line went silent and alert emergency personnel. He was diabetic and had gone into shock.
We opened our home during that same era to my cousin, Susan, when she was 18. She was able to study early computer skills and eventually landed a career with 3M.
Once, while my mom brought my cousin and brother to the bus depot, she helped a young wife of a soldier in Vietnam and her baby. They were in transit to Montana from the east coast and she had left her tickets on the last bus. My mom invited them home to wait, bathe, have clean clothes, food, and fresh milk for the baby, and rest. The tickets were located and the young mother and infant were able to complete their journey. One of my mom’s coworkers told a columnist in the local paper and he wrote a word of praise on her behalf.
We were always seeing this type of welcome. The winters in the upper Midwest are challenging, stranded Bethany college students from Canada en-route from The Twin Cities spent several days after their vehicle slid into a snowy ditch. They enjoyed and appreciated the hospitality so much they sent my mom a Bethany Lefsa Grill in gratitude.
My brother as a Highway Patrol during a blizzard donned insulated coveralls hand-shoveled several vehicles buried in snowbanks, hooked up chains to their bumpers, and pulled them out to safety. The occupants would not have survived without his help.
Every action has a “ripple effect!” I love the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life!” It truly demonstrates how one person’s actions touch the lives of many others.





Angels Among Us


I really believe that we are placed into each-other’s lives for a purpose. I’ve had wonderful teachers and doctors in the lives of my children. Once, my oldest son had ear and sinus infections. I had my second son and my daughter along to the doctor. That doctor, without charging extra would always check all three children. One of those times, my second son, who rarely complained when he was hurting, had developed Scarlet Fever. Had that doctor not taken the time to look, my son’s heart could have been damaged. Another time, my youngest son had been bit by a bat at his daycare while they were crossing the street. He told three day care providers and some of the children, yet they dismissed him. Later, on the way to the fair, he showed the bat to my ex and stepdaughter. They poked a stick at the bat, it was alive. The next time, they looked it was gone. The next morning, my son told me about the bite, I called my work, brought him to the doctor, who listened and believed my son. He immediately sent us up to Fargo to start the series of rabies shots. Had that doctor dismissed my son as his day care workers had, he perhaps may not be alive today. That doctor was an “Angel!”
My daughter loves art and is now designing fashions. My youngest son also loves to create, drawing, painting and sculpturing. Much of their talents come from my Aunt Muriel and a wonderful art teacher, Mr. G., throughout high school. Last winter, when my daughter was visiting in town from Seattle. Mr. G., with his three children in tow, opened up the school art studio so my son could show his sister his sculptures. Mr. G. entered one of my son’s sculptures which was accepted in a national high school level art sculpture show in Seattle.
Being a single mom during much of my youngest son’s growing up years, his older brothers and sister, church leaders, and coaches have really made a difference in his life. Looking back, my nineteen year old son will some day have the perspective to see all the many ways these “Angels” have helped to enhance his life! He will carry their influence to others he touches in his lifetime.
People who do more than necessary and go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of another are “Angels Among Us!”
At times, my jobs or studies have brought me into the lives of others where I believe I had an impact in helping guide the person in a positive direction. I have been a “hero” of a sort to some people, and I’m so happy I was able to be a part of it all.
When I can give the gift of time, be the one who was there in their time of need, fulfill their dreams, and make a difference. Wow!!
One person spent a lifetime seeking his family. He was 19, when he last saw any of them. I was able to find his niece and brother’s family and especially his sister when he was 72. His sister called me and their niece her “Angels.” Both of them are looking down from heaven since that time.
I’ve had the privilege to work with people facing mental illness, developmental and physical disabilities. People who have been faced with extreme life challenges, I’ve been able to be there. I’ve been placed in life-saving, life-changing situations and have been able to touch lives and help them visualize their own strengths, talents, and gifts.
Sometimes, there is only a “window of time” where we are placed in someone’s life. I always hope and pray that I will be aware and available in each of those moments to make a positive difference.
I’ve failed many things in my life, yet I’ve survived and hopefully have learned many lessons along the way. I have no regrets, cherish my children, grandchildren, and the people I’ve met along the way. There’s more good than bad in most people. I believe in forgiveness and in the grace of God.
Today, I was “Thrifting” locally, and came across a treasure. As a child, I had a book of Bible lessons called, “More Little Visits from God.” I found a 1966 copyright version of this in mint condition. Many of the lessons can be adapted and updated for use as a school counselor. I had read this book cover-to-cover many times as a child.