Under Angel Wings


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Welcome to California, Cousin Eliza

Today is our little cousin Eliza's 9 month birthday!
She is our newest "Girl from Williamsburg," great-great granddaughter of Minnie, who wrote the book of that name. You can see her welcome to our family story on December 17, '08 on this blog.

Eliza recently flew across the country to visit her California cousins for the first time, over the 4th of July week-end. It was so much fun to meet her and be able to hold her in our arms!

It was a very hot week-end, but Eliza is no stranger to heat, being from Williamsburg, Virginia. Here she is meeting my Aunt Dorothy, daughter of Minnie, for the first time. Aunt Dorothy just celebrated her 96th birthday this last May!

Aunt Dorothy lives on the site of our family's homeplace on the farm where we have lived since 1910. Minnie and C.W. established the farm and it has been continuously run by our family for almost 100 years. We will have to have a celebration next year!

We took Eliza on an up-close-and-personal tour of Aunt Dorothy's orchards and gardens.

She loved the holly hocks, and my jewelry!

Here are Aunt Dorothy and Eliza visiting with her family on the front porch of the "new" home built in 1970 by Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Ronny.

Heather tells me that since returning back home Eliza has learned to stand on her own, sit up and crawl with her tummy off the ground.

She loves swinging in the park, riding on the Busch Gardens merry-go-round and going swimming.

We hope you can all return to California soon!

Monday, July 20, 2009

An Historic Day!

Forty years ago today, our country reached a milestone that was previously thought to be impossible~ Apollo 11 landed two Americans safely on the moon, while a third astronaut orbited overhead.

President John F. Kennedy on May 25, 1961 had challenged our space program to achieve this lofty goal as a response to the achievements of the U.S.S.R.

I was a little girl living on our family farm on the night that the Russian satellite Sputnik 1 first passed overhead in low orbit. It was October 4, 1957. My dad took us out in the dark to peer up at the night sky; I remember it clearly.

The Russians had a good head start in the space race, and it was up to the U.S. to catch up and overtake them as quickly as possible. It was unthinkable that the U.S.S.R. might beat us to the moon...

On July 20, 1969 I was home from college for the summer. I had a date that night, and he had just arrived at our house when it was time to turn on the black and white T.V. and watch the landing on the moon. You need to understand that even Neil Armstrong only gave about 50% odds that the mission would be completed successfully!

My mom and dad and my date and I gathered around the small set in the kitchen and proceeded to hold our collective breaths while the Lunar Module searched for a safe place to land. The tension as we waited was unbearable...would they make it, would they live? What would happen when they stepped outside? Then those wonderful words came flying back from the moon to us, "The Eagle has landed." I get chills even today just remembering the thrill of that landing...we were all so proud to be Americans!

What the general public didn't know at the time was that Aldrin and Armstrong had overshot their landing site and only had 1/2 of a minute's more fuel left when they landed on the other side of a crater in the Sea of Tranquility.

Buzz Aldrin had arranged with his pastor ahead of time to bring consecrated bread and wine so that he could pray, read from the Book of John, and take communion. This was the first food consumed on the moon!

Then Neil Armstrong descended the ladder and uttered one of the most famous quotes in history:

"One small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind."

I read recently that many of the scientists thought that Armstrong would sink down many feet into moon dust when he stepped off the ladder. They literally did not know what would happen! Watching Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin cavort around on the lunar surface had to make for some of the most exciting T.V. coverage ever aired. And let us not forget Michael Collins, who kept the Command Module safely orbiting overhead...

I am so in awe of the courage it took to fly that mission into the unknown...

Neil Armstrong is a bona fide American hero. He has led an exemplary life since that mission,
turning down lucrative offers to make endorsements and choosing to live a quiet life with his family. This is a man we can continue to admire, and I thank him for that!

When I was teaching kindergarten, I used to enjoy telling my classes about the times that our country landed astronauts on the moon. The students were always thunderstruck when I told them that an American flag is still standing on the moon, even when I showed them the famous photograph. That flag was designed to be forever unfurled, looking just as if it is flying in the nonexistent wind, a lasting testament to the ingenuity of the American space program.

When I look up at the full moon, it is still hard for me to believe that we actually accomplished this great feat. I read this morning that Armstrong's footprints (and those of the other astronauts) will remain on the moon undisturbed because there is no wind, as long as the moon exists. That alone is an amazing thought!

The following school year I was a senior at the University of Oregon in Eugene. I stood in line for an hour or so to file by and view the "moon rocks" that Apollo 11 had brought back to earth. It was pretty exciting! Actually they looked a lot like our rocks: sharp edges, small in size, dark grey in color as I remember. That is the closest I will ever come to the moon!

Here is one of my favorite quotations I frequently shared with graduating classes at our school:

Shoot for the moon; even if you miss, you will land among the stars!

Monday, July 13, 2009

"Auntie's Little Angels" by Elizabeth

One day recently my grand niece, Elizabeth, came to visit. She is eight years old, soon to be nine in August. We have been having a lot of fun during the last few months thinking about how to write a story about my doggies, Chloe and Max.

We wanted to make it funny, with the dogs doing naughty things that Auntie (that's me) never figures out. So Eliz. sat down at the laptop and we started writing, bouncing ideas off of each other so fast the story practically wrote itself!

Just so you'll know, neither Eliz. OR the doggies are ever naughty. This is a complete work of fiction! We hope you enjoy reading Elizabeth's first published story, with a little help from Auntie. ;D

Auntie's Little Angels

One hot summer day I was at my house helping my mother and father pack for their trip to Hawaii. I was supposed to go to my grandma’s house to stay while they were gone, but my grandma plays Bridge almost every day. So I’m going to my auntie’s house for the week.

When I got there, my aunt was making lunch. She came over to me and gave me a hug and went back to what she was doing. I said my last “good-byes” to my parents and then they left. So I sat down at the table. I called Max, one of my aunt’s dogs, to come over to me, but he wouldn’t come. He just gave me a dirty look!!

Then I called Chloe over, but she only made it halfway across the room before Max stood in front of her looking bold. Auntie was busy making lunch, so she didn’t see what that rascal Max was doing!

Auntie brought a sandwich for me to the table and one of the pieces of meat from the plate fell to the floor. Then Max and Chloe made a dash to the food and quickly gobbled it up!! I told auntie, “Oh no, Max and Chloe stole some of my lunch!” But auntie said, “They’re my little angels. They would never do that!!”

I was starting to think to myself that auntie never sees her doggies being naughty because she thinks that they are ‘her little angels.’ I wondered if I should help her see that her dogs are taking advantage of her sweetness, or should I tell her what they are doing. I thought to myself, “Decisions, decisions!!”

After I finished lunch, auntie took me outside to go swimming in the pool. Auntie went back inside for a minute because she forgot her iced tea. While she was gone, the dogs ran outside to me. Then Max bravely took a deep breath and jumped into the pool with a big splash, even though he doesn’t know how to swim! He had to use all his energy to try to swim to the wall, and he barely made it. Max let out a terrifying bark just as auntie was running outside.

Auntie said, “Elizabeth, what has gotten into you?? My poor little angel almost drowned in the pool!!” She fished Max out of the water and rolled him up in a towel like a little baby and took him inside and laid him down on the sofa.

I sat outside waiting for auntie, because I knew I was in trouble! I could hear auntie inside saying to Max, “What did that girl do to you, my poor little angel?” Auntie came back outside with a stormy look on her face.

Then auntie said, “I don’t know why you did such an awful thing as pushing my little angel into the water, but now you must be disciplined. So Elizabeth, please go to Olivia’s room and stay in there until I say you can come out.”

I went in to Olivia’s bedroom, but I kept the door open a little crack. Then Chloe pushed the door open and ran in. Chloe gave me a strange look and then she let out a big bark, falling to the floor with her leg curled up. While I was trying to pick her up, auntie ran in the room and thought I was going to give her another slap! Auntie was horrified. She said, “Elizabeth, now I have no idea what to do with you! My little angels are getting hurt and it’s your fault!” Auntie pointed her finger and shook it at me in a sassy way. I knew I was in really big trouble then!!

I heard the front door opening, and I realized that uncle David was home. “Thank goodness,” I said to myself. “He will help me get out of this mess.”

I ran out of the bedroom and into the front hall and threw myself into uncle David’s arms. He said, “Well, hello there, little missy. What are you doing here?” I said, “Long story, but the dogs are being so naughty today, and auntie thinks it’s all my fault because her doggies are ‘her little angels.’”

Uncle David said, “I’ll have a talk with auntie while you go get washed up for dinner.” Auntie was sitting on the sofa, holding her little angels in her arms. Uncle David tried to sit down to talk to her, but Max and Chloe both bared their teeth at him. Auntie missed it because she was so distracted by the news on the TV! Uncle David said to himself, “Why have I never noticed this naughty behavior? I must have ‘auntie’s little angel-itis,’ too!”

When I came back to the family room, I saw auntie and uncle David talking so I ran back down the hall and poked my head around so I could listen to what they were saying. While uncle David was talking, I could hear auntie sniffling. Then he noticed the sniffling, stopped his sentence, and uncle David said to her, “Is there something wrong?”

Auntie said, “They couldn’t possibly do such things because they’re ‘my little angels.’” Uncle David said, “Even angels lose their halos once in a while.” I peeked around and saw Max and Chloe walking toward me wagging their tails. I knew then that we would have a fun week together after all!
The End
Chloe, on left, and Max~ Auntie's real little angels

Happy Birthday To My Sister

This last year has been a memorable one for my family, with two of us reaching those decade marks in our lives, and one more to come in August. Today it is my sister Jan's turn!

Happy birthday, Jan! Even though it's just a half-decade mark, it is still memorable and important to all of us.

And I always take note that what my sister experiences, will happen to me in a few years. :D She is the trailblazer!

Jan and Sylvia among the blossoms

Jan and I grew up on our family farm together, attending the same elementary school that several generations have now attended.

We rode our bikes to school with the two neighbor boys, John and Tom, who have always been like brothers to us. Jan is the oldest of the four of us, and I am the youngest, so they all had to look after me, the tag-a-long!

We grew up picking peaches, prunes and walnuts, and learning how to drive on the tractors, then we graduated to the pick-ups. We worked on crews with our cousins, throwing out lug boxes for the pickers, accompanied by our faithful dog, Joe.

Our childhood consisted of summers filled with fun, playing cards, eating watermelon, climbing trees and swimming in the river. The school years passed oh-so-quickly! We had weekly piano lessons and school band to practice for: Jan played the clarinet.

All ready for church on Sunday

Jan went to a private girls school for her high school years. She played the organ in the church for services, further developing those musical skills.

During that time she met the young man who was to become her husband. They married and raised their two sons, Jim and Chris, on the farm as well.

Jan became involved in many community activities over the years. She was a private piano teacher, a member of the local school board, president of the Middle Mountain Foundation, a member of the county planning commission, and active in Junior Women and Toastmistress, just to name a few!

When I married, Jan was my matron of honor, and when my children came along she became known as "Auntie Jan." She used to invite both of my children separately at different times to spend the night with her family, cooking special meals and doing fun activities.

Syl and Jan under the Blue Oak with Jan's dog, Freckles

Jan and I had a lot of fun over the years planning get togethers for family and friends. We organized hot dog roasts on the sandbar, camping trips to the ocean and the mountains, daddy's fishing trips with all the men in the family, and our annual trek into the Sutter Buttes at Easter time.

What fun we had! Now Jan's days are filled with caring for her granddaughter, Elizabeth, and occasionally Lizzie's baby cousins.

Recently Jan has taken up playing Bridge again, which she dearly loves. Life should be all about continuing to do what we have always enjoyed, while adding new and interesting activities as well!

Best wishes, my sister, for a year filled with good health and happiness.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Joy's Birthday

Our retired pastor, Joy, is celebrating her birthday today. Everyone in our church wishes her a very special day!

We have been very privileged to have Joy and her husband, Steve, as our pastors for several years. They helped us found our new church and have enriched our lives greatly.

Joy is an awesome woman of God. She has encouraged all of us to read the Bible daily and study the scriptures. It has made an incredible difference in our lives!

Joy is loved not only by her family, friends and church members, but by many others in our community whom she has ministered to over the years.

We all join together in praying that Joy has a wonderful year filled with good health, happiness, and God's abundant blessings. We love you!

Phil. 2:13 For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.