Sunday, December 07, 2014

Oscar And His Wonderful Santas

In 1991 we received our first Santa from my husband's father, Oscar.  He had always been a hard worker and as  retirement approached he began spending time on his hobby of carving.  We were exceptionally delighted with our first Santa, which soon became an annual tradition and we would look forward to what each new Santa would look like.
Santa 1991

Each Santa had a unique personality reflected in the carving.  After we moved to our new neighborhood one of our new close friend neighbors let us know that she really wanted to purchase a Santa and our father-in-law obliged her with a present as well and she was overjoyed.
Santa 1994
Other than selling a few (always originals) through a local gift shop for a couple of years, the Santas remain family gifts to my husband and his siblings.  We love each and every one of our Santas as they are all hand made and unique. 
Oscar and his siblings
My father in law was born in Switzerland many decades ago and had his first experience in America when he was two years old.  Here he is the baby of the family. His family moved to New Jersey for a few years for his father's work.  He returned to Switzerland and while talking about his life, described himself as quite the hellion as a youth.  His stories of temper tantrums in stores, putting laundry soap on uphill train tracks (culprits never discovered) and setting high grass on fire  (which spread quickly into trees, forcing his and his friend's fathers into fighting a large fire -- identity discovered and he well whipped) supports the idea that in his youth he did make life traumatic for others. 

In Switzerland at that time and maybe now, a student spent nine years in school -- five in primary and four in secondary school and from there would either go to college or to a trade school. He did not know what he wanted to do.  At that time he reports that his father was not very happy with him.  "My brothers and sisters were all very bright and successful.  Me, I would not study. I would do just the work I needed to be promoted to the next level. I wouldn't put out any more effort than I had to."
The street in Baden where the family hardware store was located
His parents owned a hardware store in Baden, but he just couldn't see himself continuing in that business.  He tried out being an apprentice Confectioner with his uncle who was a chef in a hotel, but after a few months he knew that was not his area either.  He went to work for his dad for awhile and then World War II came and he got called up for basic training and then spent two years in the army.
He matured some during his military time and found a mentor, also a friend of his brother, who was very intelligent. This friend encouraged Oscar to "open his eyes" and make something of himself. 
Anti-aircraft guns to protect Switzerland
When the War was over, Oscar decided and told his father that he wanted to take an apprenticeship for being on a farm.  His father was happy that he wanted to do anything and agreed.  He did the one year apprentice ship and from there went to agricultural college. School was very competitive and demanding.  During the two years the students took major exams every three or four months.  "If you failed an exam you got one more chance. If you failed twice you were gone."  He was motivated, worked hard and passed every exam.  Out of about 700 students he graduated in the top 10.  His dad was especially pleased and Oscar could see how proud he was of him. 

Oscar decided that he wanted to move to Canada and work a farm because there were many Swiss farmers in Canada especially in Quebec and Ontario.  He did this for several years working awhile for a farmer and then he would move on further west. He had a lot of wonderful experiences and learned a lot.  He had a motor cycle and made his way across Canada.  Then he moved to the US and ended up in California.  He stayed at a Kolping House in Los Angeles.  A Kolping house was a religious organization for men that provided boarding houses away from home.  It was international and had places in a lot of countries.  There still is a Kolping House in LA although it appears to be a different location than Oscar lived at. 
Oscar had a friend who encouraged him to go back to school for mechanical engineering. He got a trucking job and repaired and built trucks and trailers.  At the same time he went to LA City College and took drafting and other courses.  He learned how to weld, read blueprints and to draft and do design work.  
While in Los Angeles, he met his wife and after they were married,  not wanting to raise children in LA,  moved to the mid-West where her family had roots.  Oscar did several jobs and ended up working most of his years designing refrigeration units for industry (designing them for an ice rink and a desalinization plant are ones he is especially proud of).  He retired a few years ago.  Then he finally had time to pursue his hobby that  we have all benefited from over the years.  
Santa 1995

Santa 1996
 Santa 1997
 Santa 1998
 Santa 2002
Santa 2004
 In 1993 we received his carving of Saint Nikolaus von Flue (with an umlaut). He was a Swiss saint who lived from 1417 to 1487.  According to Oscar and Wikipedia, "Saint Nicholas of Flüe was a Swiss hermit and ascetic who is the patron saint of Switzerland" (see link above). According to Wikipedia "He is sometimes invoked as 'Brother Klaus.' A farmer, military leader, member of the assembly, councillor, judge and mystic, he was respected as a man of complete moral integrity, Brother Klaus's counsel to the Diet of Stans (1481) helped to prevent war between the Swiss cantons."
We love our Santas and our Swiss saint, but most of all we love Oscar, the man whose creativity and skill brought them to life in our lives. 

Friday, December 05, 2014

Air Force Appreciation and Humor -- Back In The Day

In January of 1966 our family left Moses Lake, Washington (Larsen Air Force Base) where we had lived for four years and moved to Biloxi, Mississippi (Keesler Air Force Base) where Dad attended Communications-Electronics course in advance of our move to Germany.  He had made a job change and the learning curve was pretty steep.  He moved into our vacation trailer for most of the day and evening where he did little but study. He had to work really hard to succeed but he finally made it to the end of the 36 week course.  When I came across this, I initially thought it was his certificate of completion.  I love the fact that Mom got her own!  It is apparent that this was a pretty steep learning curve for all of the men who were sent there -- at least if the tenor of this recognition that was probably given to all spouses is any indication.  It's nice to know that the command recognized that whole families were being uprooted for the 3/5ths of a year long course and that the enormous hours of study were wearing on all family members.  

It probably isn't easy to read in this blog format, so I'll copy the wording below.  She received this note of appreciation on the 23rd of September 1966, Dad graduated  on the 28th and on the 29th we headed off for a month long journey to Oregon.  We drove east and then up the East Coast.  We visited USS Alabama in Mobile, Stone Mountain in Georgia, Smokey Mountain National Park in Tennessee, Washington DC (apparently we visited the White House but I don't remember that),  We then spent the next couple of weeks visiting friends and relatives and crossed the entire US finally getting to Portland, Oregon to Grandma Tangen's house.  Mom and us kids stayed there (enrolled again in school finally) and Dad headed off to find a place for us to live in Germany.  We moved to Wiesbaden Germany in January of 1967.
Mom's recognition ~
"Let it be known that Bernadine Weber has assisted her husband through academic anguish, fulfilled the duties of homemaking, quieted the fledglings outbursts, graciously attended to her social obligations, suffered through the New Developments Trip, AGOS Tour, Beer and Shrimp, and untold other demanding tactical and strategic situations, and through her material and moral support, has contributed to the well being of her family and husband during his attendance of the Communications Electronics Staff Officer Course." 

It is so very true that not only does a soldier, airman or sailor serve, but their families serve as well.  Usually without much recognition.  Mom was a pretty amazing woman -- putting  up with all those moves and making lemonade out of all those life lemons that came along.   As John Milton stated, "They also serve who stand and wait."  Or in mom's case, wait, move, and wait some more.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

East Orange, Vermont -- June 16, 1909

 This postcard, a view of East Orange, Vermont,  was sent by 17 year old Eva Richardson to her great aunt, my Great-Great Grandmother Rosina Jane Richardson Stevens who at that time was 74 years old and had been gone from Vermont for more than 50 years.  But Jane, as she was known, was very familiar with all the Vermont Towns of Topsham, Corinth, Orange, and Washington.  She had been born in Topsham, Vermont in  1835 and when 21 she and her new husband, David Stevens, also of Topsham, moved to Wisconsin. 
I do not know if any of the farms seen in this photograph were the farm that Eva's parents, William and Bertha (Page) Richardson. The church still looks almost the same today but is painted in a nice, colorful manner which does not show up in this old postcard. 

A couple of years after sending this postcard, Eva married a Frank Richardson -- so no name change for her -- but confusing for family history buffs!  They had six children, one boy and five girls. Eva lived to be 77 years old and is now buried in Waits River Cemetery -- just down the road a piece.
Our family tree is packed with Richardsons, Dexters, Kings, Welchs, and Pages as well as Healys, Churchs and Tabors. It is fun to wander around Vermont and New Hampshire and come upon the family names on road signs, like this one in Washington, Vt. Maybe someday I will find out which part of the family named this road.  And since Washington is right next to East Orange, maybe the William and Bertha Richardson land is in the view on the post card.-- but we'll likely never know!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Short Update on William Weber, Renaissance Man

After my last post, I received a phone call from my Aunt telling me that she liked the post but had a little info that would make it more accurate!  I called her back and discovered that while she doesn't "do" computers, my cousin had printed it out and had taken it over for her to read.  She said she was really pleased with what my blog said, but thought I would want to edit it a bit. 

She mentioned that in spite of his Conscientious Objector status, at some point he had joined the Coast Guard.  She discovered this because she said she found his discharge papers.  Apparently the only job he talked about at that time was a trip across the Atlantic where they were shipping wild horses from the American West to Italy to replenish the horses that had died either in the war or had been decimated by being eaten when times were hard. Because Bill had grown up on a farm and was good with horses he was chosen for this trip. He had told his wife that the crossing was pretty rough going. 

The error in the blog was that Uncle Bill did not help with releasing Jews from the concentration camps but instead was over there working as a part of the American Friend's Service Committee that was run by the Quakers.  He spent two years there. He started out working in Paris before they could get into Germany, and then after Germany was divided up, went to work in the French sector.  He spent a lot of time driving truck and carrying milk and flour and sometimes vegetables through the Rhine River area.  He would dole out milk in buckets.  He drove trucks most of the time, a lot of  it through hazardous winter weather.  The trucks had worn and bad tires and he had a couple of close calls.

When they had gone from France to Germany initially the French officials were telling the Germans to move out of their homes as they were needed by the American Friends Service Volunteers.  Uncle Bill and the others objected and worked to find homes with extra rooms where they could stay without making them leave.  He and a friend of his ended up boarding in the home of a widow who has lost her husband in the battle of Stalingrad.  The house in Koblenz had been largely destroyed by bombings, but she had two rooms.  She and her daughter lived in one room and Bill and his friend lived in the other.  The volunteers also, when not moving supplies around, also helped rebuild homes for the people in the area.  In addition, the Volunteers would get "care packages" from the US that included cigarettes.  As Bill did not smoke, he gave the cigarettes to the widow who then traded them for house repair work.  Bill also started a youth service group in the area which included the widows daughter and, I think my aunt said, a young man who told Bill he was the "first American he had ever seen" and who later (I think she said) went on to become the mayor of Koblenz. 

After his years of service, Bill returned to Wisconsin and later married his sweetheart who became my Aunt and mother of my three cousins. 
Bill stayed in touch with the widow and her daughter for years and later the daughter and her husband owned a hotel in Koblenz and her husband was the president of the hotel association. In 1987 Bill and his wife traveled to Europe and visited them and stayed in their hotel. Seventeen of the original Volunteer members traveled at the same time and were reunited after all those years.  My aunt received a scarf and Uncle Bill received a book about the history of Koblenz and they discovered that the book was dedicated to Uncle Bill. They were given a tour of the city and taken on a cruise down the Rhine River.  They also spent two weeks in Munich.  A link to info on Koblenz that I came across provides a few photos of the area.  My aunt also mentioned that they spent a week with "Bill's former girlfriend" and her husband.  Now THAT simple statement sounds like the beginning of a longer story which would involve all my cousins!! -- but she didn't elaborate.

In 2002 they took a trip to Ireland to visit another woman, Mary Clare, who had been a Volunteer.  They were able to spend two weeks in Dublin visiting with her and her family.  Obviously their volunteer work together forged some strong bonds.  It was very fun to get the phone call from my aunt and to expand the stories about Uncle Bill. 

Now is someone can give me information (no luck yet just using search engines) on how horses were rounded up out West and ended up on ship transports to Europe, and how often this happened, that would be very interesting!

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Uncle William Philip Weber, Renaissance Man and Inspiration

November 1st marks the sixth anniversary of the passing of my dear Uncle Bill.  He was an amazing man.  He was the loving and diligent caretaker of his mother, our Grandmother Susan for many years and without him she either would not have been able to stay in her home, or would have declined much earlier if left on her own.  As she lived to be 93 and a half years of age, she obviously did not have a shortened life!  Uncle Bill, as a young man during WWII, was a Conscientious Objector and in place of Army service was first a Smoke Jumper (firefighter) and later helped with the liberation of the Jews who had lived long enough to make it to the end of the War and survived the  concentration camps. He was a farmer,  professional photographer, and was in later years involved in local politics and was a visionary.  He was a man ahead of his time!  I came across this article from the La Crosse Tribune from January 21, 1979 and found it to be very interesting.  I have been to their home a number of times over the years and have always found it to be comfortable but I can't remember if any of my trips were in the winter!
I think it is very interesting that both my Uncle and my father built their "dream homes" aligned to the North Star.  Uncle Bill was looking for maximum sun exposure.  My dad, after years of being a Navigator on a variety of Air Force planes simply wanted his home aligned with the stars that he loved and knew many by name.  My parents also, while not having a solar heating system, had a solar water heating system and the solar panels heated the water in a hot water tank that dumped pre-heated water into two other electric water heaters (that rarely had to work very hard as the water came in very hot)
Uncle Bill would love all the progress that has been made since this article was written almost 36 years ago. 
The large windows, looking out on a somewhat wooded territorial view, creates a light, airy and still cozy environment. 
Uncle Bill sent the article above to my parents, who lived in Portland, Oregon, along with the following letter.  
Tue. 23 Jan 79
Bob and Bernadine,
Hi ~
            Just a short note. The furnace here at the studio has been out for the past week.  We have been using a couple of electric heaters in the darkroom and bathroom and have been able to carry on – expect a new furnace sometime this week.
            It’s been a cold, snowy January.  We have over 2 feet of snow on the ground.  Haven’t had any thawing since Christmas.  Did have 13 nice cold sunny days first part of Jan.  Old solar collector really worked good at that time (am enclosing a copy of an article that appeared in La Crosse Tribune.  But on the whole this winter we haven’t had much sunshine. Oh well, you win some and lose some.
            As you know we didn’t get any wood cut or bought for Mother.  So she has had to depend on the electric heaters for a large share of her heating this winter.  Well her last month heat bill came to $160 – what with her $140 SS check, it won’t even cover it.  Last winter we had the wood Kim and Brent cut so were able to get by. 
            So I was wondering if maybe all of us kids could throw in a few dollars and help cover this and the next bill.  I’ve been furnishing her with 90% of her food this winter and she was able to save enough to pay her taxes last year. However they are about $75 more this year - $815 which is half of what she takes in during the year.  She is planning on selling a few trees along the Eckelberg line as they are cutting lumber on Eckelbergs.  So next year shouldn’t be quite so rough.  She’s worried about the lite bill but I thought maybe if we each put in $25-$35 she could handle the rest.  What do you think?  Or should we borrow it from the bank and pay them back after the timber is sold?
            We are talking now of about $200 for the next 2 months.  She expects to get bail enough on her last years homestead tax credit to pay some on her taxes for this year.  She usually pays half in Jan and the rest in July.
            However, if the Dec heat bill was $160 the Jan bill will be $200 or more as it was a very cold Jan.  So if she can handle $200 out of her $280 for the next 2 mo and plus another $200-$300 tax refund that would leave a bal of 2 or 3 hundred dollars.  We might be able to get the heating bill extended on a budget plan so she could pay it off during the summer.  We will try, but for now I thought a nice birthday gift would be whatever we could afford toward the present bill.  If you got any ideas on this let me know.
            Mother is doing real well this winter. Taking care of herself in many ways.  I bake her bread a couple times a week and have been furnishing potatoes and carrots but we are about out of them (we had a poor garden last year).
            Everyone here is fine – wish you could all stop by and have dinner with us at our warm solar heated house (one sunny day)
            Love to all from all of us ~
[Grandma lived another 8 years after this was written.]

My dear Uncle Bill and with his wonderful wife and sweetheart twenty years after the letter. 
And here are Bill's children around 1962 (at the latest) with his mom, their grandma, for whom he cared so well. Cousins, not only were you so much younger then, but so was Grandma!  She looks relatively young in that photo!
William Philip Weber - 1919 to 2008 -- you are one in a million and you are not forgotten by any of us, no matter how many years go by!
Bill Weber was a loving son, husband and father, he was conscientious and loyal, honest and trustworthy.  And in spite of his self-proclaimed agnostic leanings over the years, I find it only fitting and symbolic that he passed away painlessly and peacefully on All Saint's Day.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

CCB Whidbey Island Women's Retreat 2014

It has been awhile since our church's women's group has had a retreat, in fact, several years, so of course my husband immediately thought I should go.  And it sounded like fun. . .but you know how it is, there is always SO MUCH TO DO.  By the time Friday came and I met with my last clients of the week, I was feeling like I really shouldn't go, I should stay home and GET SOME WORK DONE.  I could see the next busy week looming ahead with all the stuff I HADN'T GOTTEN TO this week and that it would somehow be multiplying like rabbits over the weekend.  And then. . . .

But I had not only agreed to go and had paid, but I was committed to drive two other women to the event as well.  So I got packed and ready to go.  As we headed for the Mukilteo/Clinton ferry, I almost immediately felt myself beginning to relax.  No point in wasting a perfectly good weekend worrying about what could and would be worried about next week!    CB and CC (my friends) and I had decided to leave as soon after noon as we could and by the time we got to Whidbey Island, we were interested in lunch.  We decided to drive into Langley and see what we could find!
 We were immediately impressed with the "Mediterranean Grill"  under the Cafe Langley sign. 
 This very cozy and nicely decorated little restaurant had wonderful aromas emanating from the kitchen. 
I should have taken the photo before I ate half of the entrée. It is not quite so pretty by this time.  It was chicken and tortellini's with broccoli and some sort of marsala sauce.  It was so good that I ate all of it --  since I couldn't take it home.  I seriously ate nothing else the rest of the day and even in the morning wasn't particularly hungry.  I am going back there again in the not-too distant future and hope that they have it is still on the menu.  Hmm.  I got a business card.  I think I'll call ahead and make sure I can get it again. Well worth a day trip to Whidbey Island!!
For an excellent meal, keep this sign in mind!
 We then wandered through a variety of shops.  CC and CB each bought some "Chocolate Mint Tea" at a little shop, and we saw some gorgeous and exquisitely soft clothing that fortunately for our pocketbooks wasn't our size! 
We had never seen a cross-dressing rooster before, but it was quite festive.
I noticed this terrific looking vintage truck on the street -- don't know if a regular or a visitor, but it was well worth a second look.
 We arrived at our retreat destination at Camp Casey (owned by SPU).  This was our main cabin and the women who were only staying one night had another cabin a distance away due to some scheduling snafu's.  We met here for our main teaching sessions.  Can you believe this houses ten women but only has one bathroom!  That is completely an optimistic world view.  Christian charity was practiced by all and no altercations ensued.
 TK and her daughter MI were the driving force for the the 5.5 meals that everyone enjoyed.  The point 5 at the end was the fact we made sandwiches to go for lunch to take on the way home.  We did not fear starvation this weekend.
 The purpose of the retreat was fellowship and fun as well as informative teaching.  We were all very encouraged to  remember the faithfulness of God to us all -- even in the hard times that several in our church, including some on the retreat, are facing at that very time.  MA taught on the visit of Jesus to Tyre and Sidon and his conversation with the Gentile woman who came to him asking for help for her daughter who was demon possessed.  At first Jesus ignored her request -- didn't say a word.  Later the disciples encouraged Jesus to just give her what she wanted so she would go away and leave them alone.  But He said He had come to the Jews and continued to ignore her.  She then came over and began worshipping Him, acknowledging that He was the Messiah and her Lord.  He then really shut her down by stating that one did not take the food belonging to the children and give it to the puppies.  But in a final, trusting and victorious repartee, she responded that "even the puppies eat the crumbs which fell from the children's table."  "Ah", Jesus said to her, "Your faith is great!" And He granted her heart's  desire and her daughter was healed.   MA noted that Jesus only said this about two people that he met, this woman and the Roman Centurion who had requested healing for his servant.  The Centurion noted that Jesus didn't have to come to his home to do this, He could just command and it would be done, His authority was absolute.  While marveling at this man's faith, Jesus only commented about him to others.  To this woman, He spoke directly to her, affirming her faith that had grown rather than failed in the onslaught of seeming disregard and congratulating her.  What a blessing to be encouraged to never give up when trusting in Jesus, even when He doesn't seem to hear and things look bleak!
The next morning the weather began clearing and for the rest of the weekend weather was wonderful!
 After breakfast we had a second  session with MA and this time the topic was on Psalm 91.  This fabulous Psalm centers on the complete security of the believer in the faithfulness of God. MA then expanded on how God's faithfulness covers all areas of our lives and shows that there is nothing that can impact our lives when we are securely in the hand of God, not even in death.
In the afternoon we divided into three groups for a "scavenger hunt" throughout the town of Coupeville. CB (with whom I carpooled) and MD and myself were the third.  Not being a "games" kind of person it would have been fine with me if there hadn't been room for me.  But  I was a driver and so was a first round draft pick! 
 First we discovered that the high school hides its mascot very well and there was no Wolf in view anywhere on the school property that we ever found.  So we moved on!  We had to find Halloween decorations across the street from the church with the steeple.  But wait, there were two sets of decorations -- so we took two sets of photos -- note the different angle! 
 We found the Court House with little trouble!
 We went wrong here.  The question was what was Penn Cove known for.  Well, they didn't mean Penn Cove Gallery.  They meant the mussel farms out in the Sound.   How would we know that?  We didn't know the water was Penn Cove!  Live and Learn.
 We managed to find a place to document ALL THREE local newspapers in one place.  Rumor has it that they are all owned by the same people!
 Then we went successfully on to find "the boy who always reads."  I think was my favorite statue around town!
 Then we had to find a reflection of ourselves without a mirror!  There were are with MD and CB waving and me holding the camera!
 Part of our mission was to find a "Welcome to Coupeville" sign -- there were standard issue City signs, but we thought this one by far the best!  CB is the scarecrow in overalls.  Me the farmer wife.  MD the bright and sunny sunflower!
We would get extra points for having at least one person from our group in the photo. MD doesn't look particularly wild about having to hang out with Myra Maines, but she is contributing. There are many creative tombstones in this seasonal cemetery -- and we were the only group who was able to document this on our hunt. 
 This was a remarkable piece of history.  This cross was erected to commemorate the receiving of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by Northwest Native tribes in 1840. Father Blanchet was asked to come and share the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ by Chief Talalakum to teach his people the new religion.  The priest was surprised that the people had learned the hymns and prayers that he had taught the chief the year before.  Tribes included Skagit, Snohomish, Skokomish and Clallam! 
 The upright beam is supposed to be the original of the cross that the Native Americans erected as they worshipped the Lord.  What an amazing story to learn.  Bet they don't teach this in the local history!
 We also had to find a dog using a fire hydrant.  We found this one.  But another group was totally gutsy!  Not knowing that this dog was around the corner, they had the personal fortitude to ask two perfect strangers walking two dogs if they could take a photo of their dog using the real fire hydrant!  The dogs walked back and forth without really providing the exact attitude desired, but I thought that showed an amazing level of self-confidence (or chutzpah) on the part of that other team!
 We had to document finding the jail.  The first time we drove through the parking area there was a Sherriff just leaving.  All the parking places were reserved for the police, so as we were under observation, we did not elect to stop and take a photo.  Rather we went around the block and the front passenger took the photo on the move.  We did NOT want to find ourselves viewing the jail from the inside!
 We figured out that basketball was the "sport choice of the big gray church."
 We needed a "flying fish" and thought that maybe the spinning dolphins (hard to see) above the welcome to Coupleville sign might qualify.  But we had an ace up our sleeve!
 We discovered from the gift shop owner that in spite of not being able to find a HS mascot around town that this necklace is based on the mascot, so we got credit for that!
And now for our big surprise of the day!  While still needing the "flying fish" MD was able to pull one out of a hat, so to speak, or in her case, but raising her pant leg a bit!  Just what we needed -- the flying fish!
 Starting to run out of time, we hurried and found the "antler'd" building with a wooden duck!  Loved that decoy!
 We hurried to take our photo with the Captain  The whole group had to be in the photo!  My second selfie (first one only had half my face).  Note to self -- raise camera and don't take photos up your nose!  Disgusting! TMI for sure!
 Something went wrong here.  This was the second photo.  The first had the "Cliff House" sign. But for some reason the sign was missing when the photo showed up.  A little quirk that will have to be investigated later to avoid similar events again. 
 We came back to the cabin completely cheered by two hours of pure laughter and fun!  A beautiful evening again declaring the Glory of God! 
Unfortunately, I didn't end up with photos of the people in the other scavenger hunting groups -- so many people are not represented! 
 After our last session with MA, where among other things we learned that Spurgeon called Psalm 91 the "Cheering Psalm" we said goodbye to many of our group who had to return Saturday evening for various obligations.  It would have been fun if they could have stayed longer.  Those of us remaining spent our time improving our already fabulous looks.
For some things there are no words. . . . .
 Sunday morning dawned bright and beautiful!
 Our last session . . .the last remaining members
-- even better friends than before! A few others not in photo.
At the end of the eventful and refreshing weekend, we boarded the Washington State Ferry and started homeward.  What a wonderful weekend!  I am already looking forward to the next time we can all get together.  Such quality time with wonderful friends and sisters in the Lord. 
(I only use initials for living people, or references to relationship to me if family to preserve what little privacy they have left in this world!)
Last thought. . .