Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Letter from Carl to Bob and Mary and Families

Uncle Carl around 1951

August 23, 1971

Dear Ones All:

I think the only way I will get a letter of to any of you is to write it when I have a few minutes at work during my lunch hour or when time permits.  If I write small enough I can get it all on one page and run each and every one off a copy and this will be my letter for 1971 (also ‘70 & ‘69).

First, I apologize to you, Sis, for not writing when you and Steve were so ill with hepatitis [I think Mary wrote elsewhere that they ended up having some other kind of liver problem.].. My prayers were and are still with you for a speedy and blessed recovery. The Good Lord has always blessed me with good health and even with my surgery He has always been there with a healing hand. Too many of us take good health for granted – when it is really one of our richest blessings and our family has been so blessed. May God continue to watch over you and yours in your work there in this time of illness – and turmoil in the country [they were living in Bolivia]. Also I read a letter from you folks while I was up at mothers last time and also one from Bob and family. It sounds like you Oregonians are right in the middle of what we did last year – only it sounds like you are doing most of the building yourselves. This sort of project really is something to be proud of when its done and your own project. We designed and planned our own but had a deadline to reach so just couldn’t do what you are doing out there. I can see where we will have to plan a vacation out that way in the future to see your lovely new home. We have spent most of our spring and summer trying to get the landscaping done and have the front about 75/% complete. We have yet to finish the front walk and build the step up the wall. This is the project we are at in our “off hours.” Next year is backyard year and that will include sodding the back yard and creating a patio so we won’t run out of work for a while. We have invited the Weber Reunion down here next August and will celebrate our patio and backyard. Maybe you should invite them out there the following year, Bob and really get things moving. But everyone is invited next year to our place for the Reunion.

Before I close this, I would like to tell you about Gary’s latest experience. As most of you know when we lived on College St., our closes friends and neighbors for 15 years were the Rog Johnsons – who now live in Florida. They were up to visit in July and insisted Gary Scott go back with them. Yes, we let him go – for about 16 days, 14 in Florida. How did he get home?? Sunday he flew home on a 727 Eastern and we met him at O’Hare after flying non-stop from Orlando, Fla. He really had a wonderful time and we sure are grateful to Johnson’s for giving him this wonderful two weeks vacation.

Must close now. Love from all of us to each and every one of you.

Love and Prayers,


Monday, June 17, 2013

Terrific Real Estate Agent Patty Hopkins

Well, the sale of the old house (2 previous posts back) really was totally a God-thing.  I had so much anxiety over the past three years as I worked my way through the process.  We had another real estate professional that we started out with and I guess we just weren't a good match.  He was a very nice, very knowledgeable man who was actually very helpful .  However, he constantly was telling me about all the problems that could come up.  And while I dare say that I needed to know what he had to say, it was really too much information.  I would wake up at night and start thinking of all the looming potential problems (not the house itself, it was fine) but the septic tank, decommissioning the oil tank, water run off requirements, declining property values, possibly increasing interest rates, deck repair, and on and on.  At the beginning he really wanted us to subdivide the almost two acre property into four lots (currently two).  But I didn't want to deal with that.  I wanted a fair price and I did not want to start any more major projects than I already had.

Over the past three years when lying awake at 2 or 3 am with the mind roiling around, I would simply pray over and over, "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee." "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee." "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee." I would say that over and over again until my poor exhausted mind would finally let me sleep. Later I realized that I still needed to seriously trust God through this whole thing, so I moved beyond "What time I an afraid, I will trust in Thee." To "I will trust in You and not be afraid." "I will trust in You and not be afraid." "I will trust in You and not be afraid."

The straw the broke the camel's back, so to speak, was the oil tank.  We discussed the need to test the soil, which we did, and no surprise, it came back with a small leak.  The letter I got from the state said that I had 90 days to complete the decommission.  Jeez Louise, I couldn't believe I had to pay for that as well.  Since I was loaning money to the estate for these big projects (the $10K deck was already done), I was not in the mood to hear that I had a deadline AND an out of pocket expense of $3K. Not only that, but I now had a 4,200 square foot home with no backup heat source.  Sure it had a heat pump/air conditioner, but it only works down to a certain temperature.  Now that the oil tank was gone, I would  have to add some sort of heat source, electric or gas. 

I had a major melt down by email and offended him greatly.  I agree that how I said what I said (no swear words) was inappropriate however, what I said was still generally valid.  But he no longer wanted to work with me.  That was fair enough. (I did apologize.)  So now what to do.  My husband got on the phone to Eastridge Church on Sunnyside and asked their office manager if they had any real estate agents in the church and who they would recommend.  The office manager called him back and said that everyone she had talked to had recommended Patty. (Aside, we LOVE Eastridge Church -- another reason I wish I could have kept the old home.)

Patty was wonderful.  First of all, she liked the house and was enthusiastic.  Of course the house had a lot of dated custom features, but she seemed to feel that those were beneficial, not negative.  She loved the view and thought the property (land) was fantastic.  And best of all, her philosophy was that "it's not a problem until it's a problem."  Then to my surprise she came up with a value that was higher than had been discussed any time since right after my mother had passed away.  Back in 2010 the values had been about the same as we ended up with, but since that time they had continued to decline month after month, year after year (to my ongoing anxiety and distress). 

Well, the house went on the market.  Patty added nice little decorative touches here and there.  In two days it sold, cash, with no contingencies.  She never even got a chance to do a photo spread.  We had a couple other offers as well, but it was so quick and not being stupid we thought cash was good.  Seriously, I expected to have to provide at least a credit for a new heat source or something toward a new roof.  But nothing!  The house sold.  I'm  happy with the sale price.  The buyer is happy with the house.  I think the price was really fair to both of us.  And it turned out to be as easy as pie.  That's why I am sure it was a God-thing.  It certainly wasn't me and my great faith. 

A couple of days ago, Patty sent us a thank you gift for the opportunity to work with us.  Are these cookies absolutely adorable or what??  But the thanks really belongs to God's faithfulness and to Patty. 
They are done by a company in Bellevue, I believe, called Cookies by Design
This is so totally fun and clever! 
Such a wonderful word!  Thank you Patty!  It was nice working with you as well.  
You can use me as a reference :-) 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day 2013

My dad passed away 13 years ago this month.  He had wanted to live until the new millennium so was very pleased that he made it past 2000 and all the hoopla surrounding the coming of Y2K.  In March of 2000  he had taken all of us on a cruise to Mexico -- my brother and his wife and their five kids, my sister and myself and my husband and two daughters.  When he called and said that he had had a windfall from a class action lawsuit and the State of Oregon had to pay him back for all the income tax they had taken from his Air Force retirement pay, he wanted to know what I thought about all of us going on a cruise.  Well, I told him, I thought it would be more fun to spend it on doing something all together with him than to spend it after he was gone.  So off we went.  It was a really fun trip and we all had a great time.  It probably wasn't as fun for my brother's family as ours because they had little kids.  Ours were big enough to wander the ship on their own (within reason) as long as they checked in on a regular schedule and we always knew where they were. The photo above is he and his littlest grand-daugther (at the time) on the cruise.  But as usual I digress. 

What a great Dad I had (have - in heaven).  He always took good care of us and provided what we needed.  He was always into learning and would always tell you more than you wanted to know.  If you asked about why it was raining he would go back to evaporation over the oceans and move on from there to condensation in cooler air and the impact of seasons and weather fronts.  Ack! But overall we ended up with a pretty good idea of how things work. 

He was a perfectionist.  Whatever he did he did well.  He would learn and take that learning to heart.  When he built his house (see previous blog post about the sale of said property) he was all worried when the inspector came out to check the footings.  The inspector walked around silently for quite a while, shaking  his head and the longer he went on the more worried Dad got that he had done something wrong.  Finally the man turned to him and said, "These are a work of art!"  That was his style.  If something was worth doing, it was worth doing right!

He was a great story teller.  He would tell us stories of growing up on the farm in Wisconsin.  He described his dad and their relationship.  I don't know that they were particularly close as Grandpa worked long hours but he admired his father for his strong work ethic.  Some of my favorite memories are of Dad talking about his WWII training stories.  He never actually went overseas during WWII as when his unit of Flying Fortress' went to England he stayed in Louisiana with sleeping sickness from which the doctors said he would not recover.
He loved to drive.  And he loved to visit family. We would take long trips across country to visit his family in Wisconsin and mom's family in Oregon.  In spite of moving all over the country and to Europe, he always made sure that we got to see the relatives as close to annually as we could. 

He taught me to drive.  Now that was an experience for him I am sure.  I remember once on this narrow road in Germany when he said with a little more force than usual, "Move over and don't drive so close to the bushes."  Apparently it wasn't a good idea to scrape the side of the car along the brush beside the road. 

You could also count on him.  When the girls joined our family and we were in process of moving to Ohio, he offered to drive us there in the motor home and to tow our car behind.  Unfortunately he got Rheumatoid Arthritis shortly after he retired, so could not do all the construction and fixing up that he had been able to do in the past.  And that was why he never completed the downstairs of his house. 

Thanks Dad for being a great Dad.  Thanks for providing an example to look up to in so many areas.  You had your weaknesses as well, but were always willing to listen to another point of view!  LOVE YOU!!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Saying Goodbye to the Wonderful Happy Valley Home

Well, we have finally said goodbye to the old home. The photo above is how it looked years ago when the trees were all small and the lot to the left had not been sold and built upon. Those were the days!  My folks built their home in 1971 and 72 and it was a wonderful place to live.  By the time they moved to Portland and built their home I was done with college and on my own, but it was still the home that I always came  to for holidays and summers from college and later brought the grandbabies for Christmas and  many birthdays.  I have so many wonderful memories of place.  The girls first Christnmas was really special.  We went and cut down a blue spruce at a local Christmas tree farm and when it was decorated and hung with icicle tinsel it was fabulous!  One of the best Christmas trees ever.  Mom passed away three years ago and it took these last three years to empty out the house.  I had to go through every box  of papers as things were all thrown in together -- junk mail, family history clippings, uncashed social security checks, bills, receipts, you name it.  I do hope to be much more organized when my time comes and pray that I won't leave this much hassle to my own children.  But we managed to make it through.  Selling it was such a God thing as well.  After a great deal of stress over the three years trying to keep body and soul of the place together and keep the taxes and utilities paid it finally went on the market and got sold in a cash sale in two days for full price with no contingencies.  I think the new owners got a great deal in spite of paying full price as when the market improves -- as it will -- the house and property will be worth a lot.   The house has front window views of Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens, nearly two acres and a great territorial view.  And the house was built solid as a rock.  It was hard saying goodbye but after three years it was also a relief to be done at last. 

Here are a few photos of the place just before we said goodbye. 
There is  old Mt. St. Helens from the front window.  OK, it's a little closer than it really is, but I wanted to remember it more clearly.  Dad watched Mt. St. Helens erupt from the orchard area.  The second eruption they could see really clearly. 
 The living room is sunken.  This photo is taken from the dining room.  You can see the deck out the window.  I had is resurfaced in mahogany.  That really made me want to stay and own the house, but alas, I would have had to pay off my brother and I really couldn't see myself relocating to Portland when my life is centered in Seattle.  Sigh!  The far picture windows used to look out on Mt. Hood, but the neighbors pine trees took over the view.  I imagine the new owner will negotiate that!
This is taken from the foyer and looking from the steps to go down to the living room across to the dining room.  The view of Mt. St. Helens is from that those windows.
This is looking into the kitchen area (eating area in front) from the foyer as well.  Dad didn't like to have laundry interfere with showers, so there are two water heaters, one for the kitchen and the laundry, the other for the bathrooms.  He also set up the electrical plugs in the kitchen so that the top plugs are all on one circuit and the lower ones are on another.  That way you can do several things and not overload the circuits. 
 This is the "back" of the house with the daylight basement.  That is a built in barbeque next to the fireplace. There is a huge amount of concrete underneath that fireplace to support it so it wouldn't "pull" on the structure of the house as it settled. 
 This is the kid before we went off to put lilacs on the grandparents grave from their own bushes for the last time.  There are purple and white lilacs. We love to put flowers on their graves just so other people know that they were loved.  We know that they are with the Lord in heaven and certainly not lying around in the cemetery waiting for us to pay them attention!
This is the "front" of the house.  Sigh, it does make me feel sad.  But on the other hand, it is time to move on.  The house will now have three kids living there with a lot of area to run.  They can eat the apples, blueberries, pears, italian prunes and pie cherries -- oh, and concord grapes -- and walnuts, to their hearts content.  It is time for a new family to build new memories of their own.  What a great old home this was.  Dad built it very well -- he was a perfectionist.  Of course it is a bit dated and the new owners will fix it up however they want. It and the land may yet turn into a massive, tighly packed development  but for the moment my dream of a single family who would love the house has come true.  Truly this was a Happy Valley for me and for my family!