Tuesday, June 29, 2021


April 20, 2020
This was a day like all the days before, soft breezes tugging at my skirt, birdsong in the trees overhead. Green leaves showing up on every bush in town. Shoots of pale white/green plants emerging from the ground.  

It was a day like one I'd never seen before. The school grounds empty. Yellow school buses parked in the garage. Children learning at home. Moms and dads, grandparents, teachers.... everyone struggling with feelings of unbelief. This is a dream, right? 

More like a nightmare. We'll all wake up soon, don't be afraid, this too shall pass. Words of encouragement expressed everywhere we go. Keep a stiff upper lip. We'll get through this. 

Covid was the word on every tongue. Fear of the unknown. A world turned upside down. 

The van I drove that day was loaded with boxes of food for students. Here is the schedule I went by. Instead of driving school bus every afternoon Monday and Wednesday each week I met two other van drivers at the bus garage. From there I followed the van in front of me to the high school. Large carts loaded with boxes lumbered out of a side door. Smiling cooks pushed the carts close to the vans. With lists in hand each of us matched the names written with magic markers on the sides of the boxes with the names on paper.

My route was in town, about fifteen stops in all. Just put the box on the step, knock on the door and walk away - these were the instructions we were given. 

That's what I was doing on that beautiful day fourteen months ago. On this day of sunshine and warm breezes neighbors walked together on their streets. Children bounced balls or glided by on rollerblades. Dogs of every size tugged at the end of their leashes as the humans holding the leash strolled in the warm sunshine. 

My phone trilled a soft notice telling me I had a message. Before I drove to the next stop I checked my phone. There was a message from my sister saying Lorraine, my friend from long ago days, had just died.

How does the world keep going after news like that? The birds keep singing, the lawn mowers keep circling around the lawn, those people pushing them or driving them unaware of anything unusual. 

I accidentally touched the screen on my phone and a blue thumbs up symbol clicked my response. I frantically typed, "Sorry, I didn't mean to send that. This news is unbelievable! I am in tears."

Lorraine - with those blue eyes and curly blond hair - wide smile and bubbly laugh, gone from this life?!  The curtain between this life and eternity was pulled aside and she stepped through the door. I was in shock.

I still remember when she told my sisters and me, "Lorraine is my middle name." We were probably rattling off our middle names - short one syllable names - Kaye, Joy, Lee and Layne. "What's your middle name, Lorraine?"
Her answer startled us and intrigued us. We had never heard of such a thing. We actually didn't believe her at first and thought she was pulling our legs. 

It turns out she was named after her lovely Grandmother, Anna. Her parents wanted her to have her Grandma's name, but also have her own name. Anna Lorraine. It makes perfect sense. "But why didn't they name you Lorraine Anna?" we asked. Again it makes perfect sense. Anna Lorraine flows smoothly. The other way around does not.

Ellis and I liked this so much that we followed along, naming our first daughter after her Grandma, but calling her by her own name. Florence Deanne. And for the same reason. Florence Deanne flows smoothly. Deanne Florence is too abrupt somehow.

This is a long, convoluted way to tell you that I am announcing another winner for Shari's book. Lorraine's daughter, Bethany Shirk, is the winner! Congratulations Bethany!

And now the drawing is officially closed.
Thanks for listening to my ramblings and memories of yesterday. 

One comforting thought that has helped me this winter is imagining that Lorraine, my friend from long ago days, is holding our little granddaughter, Pearl India, there behind that curtain. 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

we have a winner !

I grabbed this tin to put all your names in. 
All neatly folded. Held it high so neither Ellis or I could see inside. Ellis drew out a name and here it is!            Congratulations Elizabeth!
Before he picked out the name he asked,
"Are any of our children in this drawing?"  
I said, "Yes, Dea, Krysta, Liz and Chelsea." He wondered what we'd do if we picked one of our girls! That's exactly what happened through no fault of our own. Thank you for coming to my blog and enter- ing this drawing. I loved all the comments about your favorite flowers! You can preorder Shari's book from Amazon. 
Follow her blog: Confessions of a Woman Learning to Live 

Friday, June 18, 2021


        A new book written by Shari Zook
Full of stories that will speak to your heart       You can preorder this book on Amazon

 I don't know how many times I thought about writing a blog post this past winter, recording my journey through grief. We said "Good-bye" to our little granddaughter, Pearl India, before we got to say a proper "Hello."

Writing about it is like turning on a faucet. Even as I type these words tears are raining down my face. 

People would ask, "How are you doing?" My replies varied. "Some days are better than others." or "Still hanging in there." Now when I say, "It's going great!" does that mean I have forgotten? Obviously not. 

In the winter every afternoon I drove to the bus garage to drive bus. I stared out the window longing to see blue sky overhead. When blue sky peeked through the clouds I wept and talked to God. I remembered the verse about clouds being like dust curls at His feet. (Nahum 1:3) After all the students were safely home again I called out to God, asking Him all my questions. I still don't have any answers. 

In the meantime I saw that Shari Zook had a new book being published. There was a chance to sign up and be part of a launch team and get to read her new book. Of course this involved answering questions as we went through the chapters. I was in over my head, feeling very vulnerable many times. Out of my comfort zone - definitely!

What a sweet time this turned out to be.  First of all - reading a new book! Reading Shari's story, then as we worked through the book together, listening to other stories.  
Shari's story is told through the lense of Motherhood. I am convinced this book is for anyone who loves a good story - well written. Trust me, it is not just for moms.
One of the things I promised to do was write a  blog post to let you know about this book. 

The other thing is this. I will give away one of Shari's books. Leave a comment telling me your name and favorite flower and I will put your name in the drawing.
 (anyone in US and Canada)
Now through Saturday June 26, 2021

Here is the quote that caught my attention in                        my season of sorrow.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Sunday in Texas

Someone looked up what time the sun rises. We set our alarms, slept, then got up and drove to the beach so we could watch this miracle.
It was a wee bit chilly. Then - gasp - when we talked about going back to our home away from home, it was discovered that Padre and Madre failed to buy coffee at WalMart the night before. Ellis found *Dawn Donuts* and bought donuts and coffee. By the time we got back everyone was ravenous. Allen made coffee and Ellis made scrambled eggs with lots of cheese. We washed fruit, and dished up Ellis's specialty - yogurt, fruit and Reeses Pieces cut up in the yogurt. Orange juice poured, granola and an assortment of cold cereal set out and we had a breakfast fit for the king! 

We listened to Franklin Graham's Easter sermon from 2020 for our church service...
a message of hope for a hurting world. You can find it on YouTube. 

After everyone was through the shower, packed up, dishes washed, fridge emptied, van filled with our stuff, we walked down to the wharf and got tickets to go on a dolphin tour. Good thing we had jackets and sweatshirts along. It was cold and windy out there. The dolphins were always at the edge of our vision or popping out of the water when our backs were turned. There was other interesting, historical info the tour guide gave us and we chugged past Pelican Island ... the island we drove to for our late lunch after we got back to shore. 
First we walked back to the van then drove across a long bridge and put together our picnic lunch.
Ellis grilled steak and hamburgers for us. Sorry, I didn't get a picture of him on the other side of a small building, out of the wind.
There were plenty of sea gulls flying around. I remembered feeding sea gulls leftover minnows on our ride back to shore many long years ago when fishing on Lake of the Woods in northern MN.
There was fat and gristle cut off our steaks that I cut into small pieces - a plateful. We fed them to the gulls, throwing bits into the air, the gulls snatching them before they fell to the ground. Just like old times.

The thing about weekends like this is they go by too fast. Soon we packed everything up and started back to Beaumont. We checked the ferry again and it didn't seem too long to wait. There is a way to drive around, but if you can ride on a ferry who would do that?
              A group picture of all of us

The one thing I didn't take a picture of was all the beach houses on stilts that we passed as we drove along the gulf. Painted every color under the sun. Bright, cheery pinks, blues, peach, teal, many shades of orange and green and blue. I looked at them and thought about hurricane winds and giant waves of water swooshing in under the houses high on those stilts. In the spring sunshine they look happy without a care in the world. Maybe their owners paint them happy-go-lucky colors to keep from thinking about the hurricane season. I love to visit Galveston Texas but I don't think I'm brave enough to live here year round. I will fly back to MN and brave the cold and blizzards. Oops! I guess we have tornadoes and flooding in MN. And no happy-go-lucky paint on our houses.
               an old anchor on display 

Before we knew it we were back at the base, divying out the food and leaving things with Krysta and Allen to bring with them when they drive north. Last year we took some spices with us that caused airport security some concern.They had to test it to make sure we weren't bringing drugs back. 

On our way to Dallas Deanne drove so Ellis could sleep. I colored in my adult coloring book. We listened to Dea's playlist of songs and talked about the highlights of the weekend. We had an airbnb in Dallas, a short night of sleep and early morning flights to catch.

Who knows where another winter trip will take us. The base at Beaumont is being closed after four years of rebuilding. 
Maybe we will go to Timbuktu next year!

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Saturday in Texas

Saturday morning arrived. We planned to start for Galveston about 8:00 am. I think we were packed and loaded and driving away from the base by 8:20. The first thing - breakfast! The girls talked quite fast and furious to persuade Ellis that Chick Fil A has very delicious breakfast food. There was a groan when we saw the long line in the drive through. But they have a system! Waitresses are standing in the line taking the orders, sending the order directly to the kitchen and by the time you drive up and pay the food is ready. We parked close by to look inside the bag and make sure we each got what we ordered. And we did, as well as napkins and salt and pepper and ketchup and salsa. Yummy breakfast! 

As we drove toward Galveston we tried to plan our day. It was not going to be long enough to do everything. 

And here are my notes from that day ... 
copy and pasted to this page! 
Wonderful technology 
*Left Beaumont around 8:20. Breakfast at Chick Filet ... a speedy drive thru!!
Drove through Anahuac National wildlife refuge. Birds, gators, water, sky, clouds.*

There was a flock of birds that we thought were flamingos because they were pink. Instead they were Roseate Spoonbills, quite a few of them in a bunch.

We drove through Winnie so Deanne could see the base where Allen and Krysta stayed last year. Also drove past a couple houses they worked on in 2020.

Arrived at the ferry at 1:11 p.m. playing "when I go to Paris" to while away the time! 💕 This is the list of things we put on that ship to Paris. Reminds me of Noah's Ark. 

 Apples, Beau, cauliflower, dragonflies, ermine, flowers, gum, hats, ice cream, jackal, kites, limes, marmalade, nilgai, o'possum, Paddington, quilt, rooster, sucker (candy), tapir, umbrella, valentine, wiggly worm, x -ray, yellow jackets, and zebra.

Drove onto the ferry at 2:15 p.m. yeah!
Got out of the vehicle and watched gigantic ships go past, orange, green, blue. On the back of the blue ship Nordic ______ (something,  I couldn't read the letters)
under that Monrovia. 
A fishing boat pulling a seine, pelicans flying all around, 3 dolphins following the boat, up and swooshing back down!

*The historical harbor tour is full for today. We can come back tomorrow. The dolphin tours are full at least for our group. Only 3 tickets left. We checked at 2 booths. Site seeing *

Since we couldn't go on either tours we changed our plans and decided on an early supper. Both Allen and Ellis wanted crayfish. We drove around until we found a restaurant that looked promising. There was a wait of 15 - 20 minutes so we gave name and phone number... they would text us when our turn came. 
Ellis and I went to an antique store down the street. We found some books! Imagine that! A first edition My Friend Flicka printed in 1941 by Mary O'hara. A Junior Deluxe Editions of My Friend Flicka with line drawings by Don Sibly. Four Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, hard back copies. Little House in the Big Woods, On the Prairie, On the Banks of Plum Creek and By the Shores of Silver Lake. And by that time Allen texted to say we were next in line for our supper.

The guys ordered their crayfish. The girls ordered sandwiches made of something that used to say, "Moo!" and "Cluck cluck!"
My sisters and Mom called while we were eating so I sent them some pictures.  One comment from them, "So it's like eating grubs?!" Deanne was brave and tried one.  

We drove around town a bit and showed Dea the Mansion we toured last year. By then we decided the gulf must be visited. Did I mention this little fact? 
It was Spring Break. 
Texas was crawling with people. 
We got into traffic. 
We went west instead of east because Ellis thought we'd get to a spot he thought he remembered from last year. 
Instead - we came close to WalMart! 
We found a parking spot close to a safe traffic light where Allen, Krysta and Dea could cross the main highway and get to the gulf. 

Ellis and I donned our masks and braved the aisles of WalMart, buying breakfast and lunch for Sunday. 

We loaded all food and picnic items in the van and drove off to our AirBnB. We felt fortunate to have found this spot and reserve it before our arrival since it was spring break and the town was full.
Unpacked, filled the fridge, explored our roomy area then settled down for a game of Scattergories and snacks. It was a full day!

*Did you notice anything in the list of animals, stuffed animals, insects and inanimate items to be taken to Paris? 
There is a name mentioned. 
Go back and look. 
Drum roll please!

The nickname of our new grandchild -
Beau. So nicknamed because Allen and Krysta were at Beaumont this year.

Last year Pearl was nicknamed Winnie
until we met her. 

We are all over the moon excited!

Monday, April 5, 2021


We went to Texas to visit Allen and Krysta. They knew we were coming, but didn't know Deanne was coming. What a sweet surprise! 
We had straight  through flights to Dallas, rented a vehicle and drove to Beaumont. As Dea was attempting to program the route on the screen in our rental van I WhatsApp'ed Krysta and asked if she had an address for us. 
At the same time Dea said, "This thing is taking us to Mexico!" 
I got done recording my message then exclaimed,  "Do you think she heard you?" 
"Cancel it, quick!"
"Oops, she already read the message!"
She didn't ask any questions so we said nothing and traveled on our merry way.
Five hours later we met Allen and Krysta at Cheddar's. They had gone early to get a table and found out there was a wait time of 45 minutes or so. Good thing they got their name in. When we arrived  Ellis parked and we jumped out while Dea stayed hidden in the van. Allen was waiting for a text to say it's our turn to go in. It got chilly standing there in the breeze so we hopped in their jeep. At last we got the text and started in, Dea trailing along behind us. In the entrance we waited to be seated, Allen and Krysta, Elllis and I with Dea just arriving in the doorway. Krysta turned to us to ask a question and her eyes got as big as saucers.
"What?! How did you get here?!" :)
It was very satisfying! 

What a lot of activities were squashed into a very short time. We flew down there Thursday. Friday we got up in time to have an early breakfast and devotions with the staff and volunteers. After dishes we helped Krysta with her daily cleaning job, vacuuming the hall and rec room and cleaning boys and girls bathrooms. 

Krysta and Dea put together a gigantic recipe of cole slaw for the evening banquet. I had promised to help with that, but felt pulled in two directions because Ellis wanted to find some thrift stores and antiques. And he thought I should go with him. 

We found a couple stores. Ellis found some trivets (he collects them) and a bell ( we collect them) I found a lovely old linen napkin (no stains or holes) By that time we saw a Sonic restaurant and pulled in for lunch. You order on a screen beside your window and a waitress brings out your food - like A&W restaurants in MN. 

By then it was time to go back to the base, pick up the girls  and head out to see the house Allen and his crew are working on.
It is fascinating to see the work on these houses. Sometimes the house has been fixed up then another storm comes with torrential rains and floods it again. 

After walking through that house we got ice cream at the Sonic restaurant then drove to Cattail Marsh and walked along trails where we saw alligators, flowers and ducks of all kinds.
I should ask Dea if she will share her alligator picture. Ellis and I turned around and went back instead of going the full circle. Krysta and Dea kept going and saw quite a gigantic alligator sunning itself just off the path, out of the corner of their eyes after they had passed it. They got a picture before they turned and got themselves out of there. 

In the evening there was a banquet for staff, volunteers, home owners and visitors. Delicious food, good company, interesting stories ... it was an excellent event to end the day.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

60 years ago


Sixty years ago Leona Martin Skrivseth became a mother. (Here is where I should insert a baby picture of me.) 

Celebrating today with muffins from Perkins, a cute plant and pink balloons. I don't suppose helium balloons were very easy to come by in 1961 for a couple living in Fort Wayne IN on a budget.

I could insert a picture of the hospital I was born in. You should see the cars in the parking lot!

This is sort of spur of the moment.  My pictures are all at home while I am having lunch with Ellis at HogSlat. 

   Two of the puzzles we put together so far.

                 Happy Winter everyone!