A Tale of Two Fathers

Two dads who had never met had a lifetime of vehicles in their past and the same son in their future.

In 1966, the older dad, Rod, purchased a Toyota Land Cruiser. He used it for everything and his son, Steve, eventually drove it, as did his youngest grandson.  After Rod died, the Land Cruiser broke down and sat until Steve got it running again. It is still used to haul things around and taken out to the ranch now and then. The other dad, Bill, collected old things and one day decided to buy a 1956 Mercury Custom. He enjoyed driving it, then, after his death, his son-in-law and grandsons moved it to Oregon. Steve has taken the Mercury to a few car shows and it represents well the era it came from. It isn’t flashy and is a great deal like it was when it came off the showroom floor all those years ago. At the end of May, Pendleton hosted an Old Iron Show and people brought cars and tractors and trucks. Steve decided to take both vehicles.

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It was exciting to see something from each dad represented at the same show. They each received a great deal of notice and appreciation. Although, to be fair, Eastern Oregon is a work horse area and the Land Cruiser had quite a few farming stories told around it. I rather think Rod and Bill would be pleased to see their wheels lauded and loved by so many. Weather beaten red parked next to bright white, turquoise, and shining chrome. Two rigs from the past with the next generations sharing tales of two fathers.

Beyond the Stone

My boys are rock hounds. Usually, the rocks are unusual and have worth only to the finder. I recall one trip to Alaska, we were met at the airport in Portland by friends who went to pick up one of our suitcases. It was beyond heavy and my friend exclaimed, ‘What do you have in this thing?’ Jon was about 2 and gleefully answered, ‘Rocks!’

Recently, Tony was able to visit a mining area in Oregon and found some sunstones. He makes costume jewelry and was hoping to use some of the stones in his work. A few of them, however, seemed to be more. He decided to find a reputable gem cutter. This is what the cutter found in the stones Tony harvested from the mine.


Sunstone gems

No wonder gems are a favorite thing to smuggle. What an amazing job to have. Being able to discover color, shapes, and beauty inside something that might be insignificant. It is a blessing to be able to see beyond the debris to share the shine within.


(Tony’s going to get the gems appraised and hopes to sell them to professional designers.)


I’ve always had a love affair with the American flag. It might hearken back to my middle name (Amber-from ‘America the Beautiful’) or it may be from all the years I was a part of scouting. I have always wanted a flag pole in my yard, my giant flag is now on the other side of the porch, but it is on a small pole! Both my father in law and dad served in the military- Rod and his twin were a part of the Coast Guard in WW2, Dad was in the Army. Every year, in Cubs and when the boys grew, we were all a part of the Memorial Day flag ceremony at Sunset Heights in Tillamook. When Taps was played, it was thrilling. Then, Tony went to Iraq. Now, every time I hear Taps, I cry. When I gaze at our US flag as those notes are sent out across the silence, I know exactly what they are for. My heart and soul remember and I am thankful.


This is a hard blessing. Mom. The first photo was at the end of May a  year ago, the second one was this week. We had no idea mom would still be alive this spring. I had no idea I’d be in Alaska taking care of things for 19 months day after day. I’ve grown up a lot, learned I can do things I’ve never imagined I could, and met some incredible amazing people who are now friends. Mom is, as one of the nurses who has visited said, one of the most healthy terminally ill people she’s ever met. Not many who have pancreatic cancer manage tolerably well for year after year. It has been over 5 since her diagnosis and she soldiers on. Her strength of will frustrates me because she often does things she should not and it humbles me. I only hope some of her survivor genes have passed on to this generation.

For Grandmothers

PLEASE: Do not reblog.

Grandparents are wonderful people. Without them, moms and dads would not exist. They are the people who have parented one set of children, might bring up another, and can be wise beyond belief. They often become the friends of their own kids as the next generation is raised, surprising the socks off of those youth who are now adults themselves. Looking this weekend of Mother’s Day in the US, I’m drawn to grandmothers. I, myself, have had many a grandma. My first dad had two moms, then each dad after had at least one mom. The most famous grandma I had was Ruth Wakefield (yes, that one!). The one I remember best, though, was my mom’s mother.

Grandma Eng lived in MN and we lived in AK. I wrote to her every so often, we visited her rarely, and it surprised me beyond belief when I discovered her real name wasn’t Grandma Eng. All her mail was addressed to that person and I hadn’t a clue who Lillian was. I don’t have many memories of her, even if we did live with her for a while when I was about 8. She was short and sturdy, had grey hair, a cluttered house, and a yellow cat named Bootsie.  There was a yard on a hill overlooking Lake Superior’s Arial bridge, a crab apple tree in the back, and the house had those crystal like door knobs. When we went to a carnival, she went on rides with me. She babysat us on occasion and when I was in college, I surprised her with a visit at Christmas. I wish I’d paid more attention to Grandma than the world around me!


One of my blogging friends sent me this photo of apple blossoms in his yard. Later, he told me this about his own grandma and said I could share it: “My Grandmother was the most Beautiful person I have ever known. She was an Awesome Good Person. She loved me unconditionally! She made me fried apples and homemade biscuits for every meal when I was at her house. Most would not say she was pretty, but I can Honestly say she was Beautiful!!!!! I miss her a lot. She was half Cherokee.”

Bless those grandmas who are and have been and done so much for many of us. May their fragrance never fade and their blossoms bear fruit for the future generations.

Walk on..


I was out last week looking at the solitary swan on a nearby lake. It was fairly far away on the ice and I noticed a few ducks. I snapped a few shots and didn’t realise til I loaded them on the laptop how apt this particular one was. U2 has a song called ‘Walk On‘ with these lyrics in it. “I know it aches, How your heart it breaks, And you only can take so much, walk on, walk on.”

At first, the photo made me laugh and reminded me of the song ‘Walking on Sunshine’ (Katrina and the Waves). Because it was so very bright and the ice was shining and the duck strutting along the edge was so silly looking. Then, I remembered the other song. This spring, I need to remember to walk on. To leave behind all the sadness and tired and aches and to know it is ok to walk on and strut while I walk in that sunshine!

A White Sign

Every year, since we moved to North Kenai in the 70s, we have looked for swans on nearby lakes. They are the true sign of the new season. They aren’t always visible, usually only one might be seen, or you might sight bright white shapes off in the distance. Sometimes, if you are incredibly fortunate, you find them in the creek between the two lakes near the road.

This year, I was fortunate twice over! There were two pair out one afternoon. One on each side of the road! Trumpeter swan are stunning huge birds, I’ve gone back a couple times since, but no luck. Mergansers and mallards, but no swan. They are probably further away putting together their nurseries. I want to hike through the muskeg to the lakes, but well, it’s breakup and underfoot is treacherous with rotting snow and melting ice. Maybe after the rains stop, I’ll try it. 💕