Jolliest crowd e’er seen

Every year, my tiny home town of Alton, KS has an alumni banquet Memorial weekend and anyone who ever attended Alton High School is welcome to attend. The title above is a part of the school song we used to sing. It felt good to sing it again with other alums.

“Alton High School, Alton High School, jolliest crowd e’er seen by you! Alton High School, Alton High School, All to you we will be true. We have often sung your praises, But we have not told the half. So we give you, Alton High School, as a toast we all may quaff.” This was always followed by a rousing cheer by the cheerleaders which was missing yesterday as we sang. I have to admit, it was a very long time before I knew what “a toast we all may quaff” meant.

The high school closed long enough ago that the youngest attendees are closing in on their 70s, but the banquet is still pretty well attended. More than 60 people were in attendance yesterday and many, like us, no longer live there.

I was a first grader when my sister Florence Marie was a senior and Mary Jo was a sophomore. The school cafeteria was in the grade school building, so high school students walked the few blocks between to have lunch. My sisters’ friends would carry me around on the playground sometimes before they headed back to class, so I was more familiar with them than most first graders would have been. The American Legion still houses a lot of memorabilia that used to hang in the halls of our high school building and they had the building open for us to walk down memory lane. Of course, I had to check out my sisters’ senior class panels as well as my own, even though we didn’t get pictures.

The year I graduated, my class of eleven was the largest in high school. Four are no longer living and others not able to travel back, but my friend Carol Brent Fogo and her husband Glen live in Manhattan, KS and we shared a table and lots of memories. I was somewhat amused by the memories that some of the ones from two or three years behind us had of me. I guess it really is important to remember that young ones are watching and you do make a difference.

Alton High School drew its student body from north and south of town, as well as a few in town students. Most of my classmates were from north of town or in town. I was always somewhat sad when school was out for the summer, because I rarely saw any of them much during the summer. I grew up attending the Mt. Ayr Friends Church, along with quite a few other kids, none of whom were in my class. My cousin Ron Peterson and Ruth Elaine Johnston Dunn, now known as Elaine, were church friends who attended the gathering yesterday. I didn’t get a picture of Ron, but his wife Jo stopped to visit with Elaine and I. Jo’s brother Virgil was in my class.

It’s amazing how 8 hours of driving wears us out these days. Well, driving for LeRoy and riding along for me. We stopped on the way home to visit grandkids in Ellsworth, but Jordan’s girls had colds and we chose not to share that joy. Grandson Ben was available, so we went grocery shopping with him and took him to dinner before heading for home. We don’t often get him to ourselves and we really enjoyed our time.

This week, we’re back to painting and maybe, just maybe getting ready for a new kitchen. We keep hoping that the cabinets will arrive in time to get them installed before we leave for Colorado, but still no definite word on that. Cross your fingers!

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Eventful week!

It seems like there’s something going on all the time. If it’s not working on the house, it’s a family event. To start with, I promised to bake peanut butter blossoms and sugar cookies with sprinkles for Jadelyn’s graduation party, so that was the most important thing I did all week. These were just the first attempt. 15 dozen cookies later, I had it down to a science!

While I was busy in the kitchen, LeRoy was working in the bathroom. Every room of this house has popcorn ceilings. Normally that’s just a matter of spraying and scraping, but these have all been painted over and it takes a whole lot longer. We really plan to leave most of them but in the bathroom around the heat vent on the ceiling, it was discolored and hanging. Below the painted popcorn was wallpaper! LeRoy came up with his own system and spent hours getting it off and leveling out the result with dry wall mud, then paint. Before:

and after:

There’s lots more taping, painting and hanging of things in that room, but the really time consuming stuff is done. I told LeRoy if he’d do the ceiling, I’d paint, so I’ll work on that this week.

In the midst of the dirty work, we took time out to attend Jadelyn’s last awards night at Sedgwick High School. She has been part of a talented class and I know some of them will be lifelong friends.

Of course, the main event was graduation for the class of 2023 on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Doesn’t she just exude confidence?

After that, the party started! Caps were thrown in the air and the crowd of seniors went wild! Our family, well, the Kansas/Oklahoma connection at least, were all together for some time to celebrate. The littlest, Sara, really wasn’t having anything to do with me or anyone who wasn’t Mama or Daddy, but Papa LeRoy seemed to be okay for a little bit.

All but one of our grandkids were here for the celebration. Avery, you were missed! Robert and Shelly, from Washington, weren’t able to attend either. Poor Ben, with all those sisters!

All those balloons were pretty tempting for the little girls, but Rae had a different idea for one of them. She told Aunt Bailey, “I have a baby too!”

Several hours later, the party was over, the decorations were down, the room was set to rights, Heidi, Tim, Katrina, Ben, Papa and Granne were pooped. Even the graduate was having a moment, before she left to party on somewhere else.

Today has been a wonderful Mother’s Day. Our worship service this morning included a baby dedication. That always makes me happy. New babies in a church means there are young families and there are many of them. Back in the days when Northridge Friends had just moved into this building, three babies were born within a 3 week period and Heidi was the first of those. The “young couples” from back then are now the senior members of the church, but it’s encouraging to see that the church will be around long after we’re gone.

After church, those of us still in town got together for lunch before everyone headed for home in the rain.

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

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Officially, it’s still spring. However, the current temperatures are in the 90s, far above the 74 degree average for this time of year, more nearly like summer. I love it! My temperature comfort zone is very narrow and this is the upper end, but it’s really nice.

I’m a non-gardener who is also a flower lover, so buying a house with peonies and roses already in place is nice. Earlier, there were tulips and daffodils but they were gone very soon after we arrived. We’ve been watching the progress of the peonies and today they are blooming in earnest. We have two different ones in the front yard and two more in the back.

In addition to the peonies, the first rose of summer is out today, with many more ready for the next few days. I love it!

This week the painting preparation has begun. We have a friend who was a finish painter for many years who is working on our painting in his time away from his full time job at Spirit Aerosystems. We appreciate him so much!

Next weekend is our youngest granchild’s high school graduation and I offered to help make the cookies for her party. Jadelyn has definite ideas about what she wants, so I’ll be busy baking this week. I’m thankful for my new stove with a reliable oven!

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Our house came complete with appliances, including a side by side refrigerator with a bad ice maker and an electric stove with an oven that was at least 50 degrees off part of the time. Over the years in Liberty, the Pace Arrow and the park model in Yuma, I’ve really come to like cooking with gas. And since even a frozen pizza doesn’t fit in a side by side freezer, I wanted what every short girl ought to have, a bottom freezer. Last week we found both at very reasonable prices and LeRoy installed them in the kitchen. Thanks to Mike Newsom lending a hand, the heavy lifting didn’t all fall to LeRoy!

We (LeRoy mostly) tore off all the wallpaper in the kitchen and bathroom in preparation for painting. With vinyl wallpaper, it’s a long process. First the vinyl comes off, then the backing. The first picture makes it look easy, but in reality, a lot of it was like the second picture.

Since the new appliances are black, we’ve been able to decide on counter and backsplash materials in addition to wall color for the kitchen. We are waiting on another estimate on kitchen cabinets and installation and then the timing of the whole job will come into play. Cabinets are not in stock, of course, so there will be a several week wait for them after we order and we plan to leave for Colorado the last week of June. More on that timeline at a later date.

The fence boards we brought home awhile back are beginning to be used. We have a covered patio on the back of the house where the hot tub sits. In order to afford a little more privacy, LeRoy put up a fence. It serves the purpose, for sure.

Many years ago, decades even, I sang in the Singing Quakers at Friends University. Each spring they present Symphony of Spring to showcase the talent they have doing Broadway show tunes. We used to always start the evening with “It’s a Grand Night for Singing” and this year, the 70th year, they invited Singing Quaker alumni to join them to start the second half of the evening. Such fun! My voice isn’t what it once was, but I could still sing along, except the the highest notes!

Long time blog readers will remember that our first great granddaughter Rachel was born extremely early, weighing just over a pound. That was 5 years ago and this weekend we celebrated her fifth birthday, along with little sister Sara who turned 1 four days before Rachel’s birthday. Jordan baked and decorated a Grinch cake for Rachel’s party with her friends, so for the family party Saturday, Sara’s cake with Daniel Tiger and the neighborhood trolley was the center of attention.

Sara thought her first real taste of cake was pretty good!

Last year we got Rachel a butterfly habitat and this year we got her a new supply of caterpillars. She is excited to watch them spin cocoons and turn into beautiful butterflies. I told her mom, maybe one day she will be a scientist!

Sara’s present was bigger than she is and is something I know they will both enjoy, since they really like being outside. Sara is a real water baby and Rae likes it pretty well, too.

One of the highlights of the week was a morning spent walking through one man’s personal collection of cars, motorcycles and RVs. There was even a two place plane hanging in the lobby. Lawrence Smith, the owner, was LeRoy’s boss back in 1972 at Creative Interiors where LeRoy lost two fingertips.

We had such a fun time, even touring a beautiful Newell coach and a shiny Airstream trailer. I didn’t even try to count how many there were, but each one was perfect.

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Another checklist

This time we’re not counting down, we’re going forward. When we bought our house nearly a year ago, we bought it as is, knowing that there were issues in our future. This week we met with an electrician to schedule some necessary changes, as well as a contractor about redoing our kitchen. Today we started the process of deciding on kitchen cabinets and countertops and that is very much what it will be, a process. We’ve done kitchens twice before but I don’t remember second guessing nearly as much either time! Of course, the price is a huge consideration. This style is this much, this surface is another. One will be a 4 week order wait time, another 6 weeks. Is it worth it? So many things to weigh in.

LeRoy found some very used fenced panels on Marketplace, so we went to pick them up in Douglass, about 30 miles away. Our little trailer had made it all the way from Arizona without a hiccup so we thought this wouldn’t be a problem. Once it was loaded and we started back toward home, this happened.

Plan B. Leave the trailer in Douglass and go rent a trailer. Back to Douglass. On Friday, the weather was sunny and LeRoy was in his typical tee shirt and shorts. Saturday morning’s return for the panels, it was cloudy and windy, mid-40s and drizzling part of the time. Talk about a change! Unload trailer onto the rental. Back to the house. Unload trailer and move all the panels into a pile.

Return rental trailer and go back to Douglass with a spare to retrieve our trailer. Back to Wichita without further events! Not sure what caused the tire to blow in the first place but I’m thankful for a safe trip home on a questionable spare. I do know that LeRoy was ready for bed early.

We had a very enjoyable morning at church today. We attended a Sunday school class that was taught by a former pastor finishing up a study of the book of Luke. Next Sunday we will move on to John. It always feels good to be among long time Friends friends.

Our lilac bush is blooming and we have peony bushes about to bloom as well. Spring, come on down! This Sprinter (spring/winter) stuff is getting old. I’d rather move along.

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Neither wind nor snow nor potholes

Whatever the weather threw at us, our trip from Yuma to Wichita was fairly uneventful. Since we were driving the car pulling a very small trailer, the horrendous wind didn’t bother us like it would have in the RV. People ask us why we live in Kansas where there are tornadoes and wind. The winds actually were quite a bit less on the last leg of the trip, in Kansas. For quite a bit of the trip, we were in high winds, up to 60 mph gusts. We spent a night in Gallup, NM and this is what we saw when we looked out in the morning.

The wind was still pretty high but coming straight behind us, so we didn’t notice it as much. What we did notice, though, was potholes. I-40 is full of them! Arizona segments of the road were worse than New Mexico, but the heavy truck traffic is hard on them. “Keep right except to pass” sounds good on the surface, but it’s really punishing to the pavement. We decided the thing we would least like to be is a tire!

We spent two nights on the trip home visiting friends. Sharon and Eldon Orrell, friends from back in the guys’ Army days in the late 1960s, have lived in Kingman, AZ for several years but are moving this week to Wisconsin to be near their daughter. At this time of our life, we never know when will be the last time we see each other, so we were very glad we stopped. We also spent a night in Albuquerque with Lois St. John in her new home. We met Lois and her husband Dave in the Silver Eagles bus club and had visited them in their home in Belen before he passed away. What a wealth of friends we have across the country! When we finally got home, the odometer showed 1380 miles.

We arrived home to our Wichita house on Thursday and quickly got into the swing of things as home owners. The ancient garage door opener seems to have died over the winter, so we’ve made arrangements for a new one to be installed. We didn’t have Dish equipment on this house, so we got that installed. We’ve made contact with a contractor we hope will work on our kitchen and have a number for someone to tune the “new” piano we got from our church here. This week we have more calls ahead and more visits with friends, because we have a circle of friends here in Kansas, too. We had Easter lunch with our daughter Heidi and part of her family. We’ll see more of her family in the coming weeks. Let the fun begin!

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Eight, seven…

The countdown is on. The work on the property here is (probably) over for this season. The latest addition is totally decorative. Last fall, when LeRoy and our neighbor put up the privacy fence between our properties and put the panels up with every other one facing our place, we decided that those would be a perfect place for artwork. We’ve picked up metal artwork at garage sales, much cheaper than buying in Mexico or at a local store. I wanted subtle colors, mostly earth tones with a few brighter spots here and there. This week, LeRoy helped a friend with a project and we came home with the final piece for the wall. It was very rusty, so he used rust converter on it and finished it off with a coat of polyurethane.

The property next door really is getting a house! The current owners are young retirees who have a woodcarving concession at fairs and craft events, so they were gone last week when the old trailer was removed. Imagine their surprise when they came back and found that the contractors were as good as their word and the old trailer was gone! Still, the date they had been given for arrival of their new double wide was the first week of April at the earliest, so we thought we would have to wait until next fall to see it. Friday morning at 7:30, LeRoy yelled from the kitchen “The house is here!” By dinner time that evening, the second half was backed in and wouldn’t you know it, the owners had gone to pick up hamburgers so it was another surprise. The parts will be put together and the unit set and hooked up sometime soon, but I know they are glad that it is here.

Today after church we had a chili cookoff. Anyone who has been around us long probably knows that LeRoy has won prizes at several cookoffs, including a third prize here last year, I think. “Papa’s chili” includes several colors of bell peppers and corn, alternatively known as Stoplight Chili or Chili con Corny. Last year, the local judges disapproved of corn in chili, so this year the recipe wasn’t even pulled out. It was “What’s in the pantry?” chili. I’m sure it could never be duplicated, but it won first prize! No trophy, but there was a monetary prize. Nice going, babe!

The list of things to be accomplished by me before we leave is complete. I finished my knitting project on Friday! Now there is a much larger list of things that must be packed up. I’ve been working toward emptying the freezer and cooking everything I can so I won’t have so much that I have to give away. Since we don’t leave utilities on here, we can’t leave things in the refrigerator. Condiments are the biggest thing that will have to be refrigerated going home. We’re using up leftovers, the stuff our friend Bob Ward called “used food” and I won’t be cooking a lot between now and a week from today when we leave. In the past, we’ve always had an RV here so we didn’t have to worry about an ice chest. I consulted a friend who travels back to Kansas every spring and she told me what pantry staples she leaves successfully through the summer, so that will be a little less to pack. We’ve been amassing a pile of things all winter to take back and leave in Wichita. I’m hoping packing up won’t be quite as labor intensive as it was last fall. Eventually, we may get to where all we take are our clothes but we’re not there yet.

We plan to take our time and visit friends along our homeward trip, so I can’t give a specific date but it won’t be long. See you all on the road!

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This week was all about changes, in lots of different ways. One way we notice change is when we see something or someone only occasionally over a period of years. For several years, we’ve tried to get together with all the past Golden Bell volunteers who are within driving distance of each other in Arizona in the winter. It’s a different group from year to year, with the constant being LeRoy and I and Dale and Judy Foster. They come all the way from the Kansas City area! Actually, they have been spending a month or so in Arizona in the winter for several years, so they aren’t far away. This year we were joined by Jere and Sue Bates who live in Prescott, AZ. They were at Golden Bell the first year we were. We remember them so distinctly because they were married the same exact day we were, July 10, 1965. We’ve been married one hour longer! It was good to see everyone again.

Back home, the curtain project in the 5th wheel is finished! I was able to use the last scrap of fabric and get matching curtains for the bedroom. That room needs to be painted, but that’s going to wait until fall, along with the rest of the flooring. LeRoy got carpet in the bedroom and the slide opposite the kitchen, but the hard flooring is a fall project, too.

When we bought this property in 2017, there was an ancient travel trailer on the lot next to us on the east. No one had been living there since the owner died in 2014. Her children disagreed over whether or not to keep the property. One daughter wanted it, the other wanted it sold as we understand. Last year they finally came to an agreement and one daughter and her husband have come several times in their trailer to clean up the property. This winter they told us that they had sold their house in California and were preparing to buy a double wide to put where the old trailer was. We have been watching the progress with interest. Our neighborhood is being improved! The first thing they did was take off the awning.

Then they had to work under the trailer where the floor was falling out to shore that up for the moving process. The duct work had to be removed but the box underneath stayed. We were wondering between us whether it would get very far without being knocked off.

The new house is on order, but with the time frame given until delivery, we probably won’t see it until we come back in the fall. In the meantime, the lot is almost empty and looks so big!

I tend to be a minimalist when it comes to home decorating. I’m not very good at knowing how to achieve a desired outcome and it’s often easier just not to decorate. I’ve never been much of a crafter, either. My friend Laura is all the things I’m not in both regards. Her home is beautifully coordinated and decorated and she finds and finishes cute Pinterest projects. This time, she needed a little help so LeRoy helped her turn two chairs and a wall hanging into a really sweet bench for her front porch. Isn’t that cool?

My list of “must be done before we leave for Kansas” things is growing. LeRoy has a count down calendar on the white board in the garage, so it’s getting real up in here! Wish us luck!

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People are so hard to satisfy when it comes to temperature. All winter, the locals have been complaining about how cold it was, with daytime highs in the mid to upper 60s. Weather forecasters warned watchers to bundle up, always have a jacket handy. I had to agree on the days when the wind was blowing like it does in Kansas. Higher than normal humidity made the wind cut right through. Now the last few days have been in the 80s and they are complaining about how hot it is! The same weather personnel remind everyone to use sunscreen, wear light colored clothing and stay hydrated. As I write this, it is warmer in the house than it is outside, but the ceiling fans and flowthrough ventilation makes it very pleasant at 85. I’m loving it!

This has been another week full of variety. The curtain project is taking up quite a bit of time, mostly because I’m not spending all day every day on it. In the recent past, sewing has bothered my upper back, so I’m trying not to spend too much time in one position. My borrowed sewing machine is working beautifully, but I had to actually read instructions and try to decipher illustrations before I could even wind a bobbin or thread the needle. After almost 50 years using the same Bernina, it took some time getting used to a Singer. These curtains are not anything fancy, but they serve the purpose and are very colorful. I wanted to see them hung, so they’ll have to come down again and get the trim along the bottom of each that will even the length. Still lacking the windows in the bedroom, because we were thinking they might have to be a different fabric since we weren’t able to buy as much as we really thought we needed .

We each had a dental appointment this week in Mexico. Our Wednesday appointments were early in the day and we planned on brunch after we were done. That idea came to a halt when each of us needed a root canal and a new crown. The interesting thing about dentists in Los Algodones is that they share specialists, so when the endodontist was called, he arrived with two assistants, each carrying a tackle box full of separately packaged sterilized tools. The regular dentist’s office has all the latest equipment including drills and x-ray. My procedure, including a temporary crown, took more than twice as long as LeRoy’s and since the same doctor did them, we were there for several hours. I was numb for hours, so instead of a full Mexican meal, I ate soup for lunch. We had to go back on Thursday to get the crowns, but that didn’t take long at all.

Some of LeRoy’s projects outside this week have been cleaning carpet to put in the 5th wheel and working on a small trailer. Ever the trader, he traded our old non-functioning hot tub to our neighbor last December for a small trailer that needed work. The trailer we brought with us in November was far bigger than we actually need here, so it was traded along with the dune buggy. But since we don’t have a pickup it is always nice to have something to haul stuff. This one started life as a jetski trailer. After LeRoy is through, it should hold everything we need to haul back and forth fall and spring.

This time of year, we start counting down. In less than a month, it will be time to start toward Kansas and there is lots that needs finished before we go. We’re making arrangements to visit friends on the way home. Once we get there, we’ll jump right into family activities. Jadelyn is a senior and I’m sure there will be lots of senior-related things for us to attend or at least witness. Our great granddaughters Rae and Sara will be having a joint birthday party in April, turning 5 and 1. So exciting! And then a little later, our first great-grandson! We trade a quiet life among a mostly senior community here for immersion into our wonderful family again. Priceless!

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Checking the boxes

Our fifth wheel “spare bedroom” project is coming right along. Phase 1 was cleaning the walls, ceilings and every other solid surface in the place to remove the accumulated nicotine and tar as I’ve mentioned before. Now we know what a smoker’s lungs look like, and Krud Kutter can’t be taken internally. Phase 2 was painting the cabinets and that part is finished. We decided to leave the tall cabinet on the end of the living area unpainted, so we have some wood accents to the painted cabinets. LeRoy found a ceiling fan at a garage sale to replace the one that was there and got it installed.

Next phase is varied. It will include carpet in places and solid flooring in others

as well as curtains. I left my sewing machine in Wichita, so I have borrowed one from a friend and we’ll see how that project goes next week. The fabric picks up the colors of the cabinets.

Lest you think that LeRoy is all work and no play, I’ll share our fun outing yesterday. Every year there is a car show here in Yuma called Midnight at the Oasis. According to Visit Yuma, between 900 and 1000 cars were on display over a three day period. My Fitbit said we walked 1.97 miles (shuffled or strolled, really) while making our way through the rows and rows of custom cars and we didn’t get close to all of them. I am amazed to think about the millions of dollars that were spent on those making those vehicles the showpieces they are, let alone the manhours that went into them. Many were for sale and probably most of them would be if the right offer was made. I’m always drawn to certain things at a car show. First of all, I started noticing cars way back in the 1950s and I could tell the make and model for several years back then. Some I notice because my dad had that model or a year newer or older.

We also had a 1952 Studebaker and I took driver’s ed in a Studebaker Lark. I didn’t see any like them, but I’m drawn to Studebakers anyway.

Some colors attract me more than others, especially turquoise and peach.

This particular model, a Ford Skyliner, makes me think of a friend from church camp many years ago. Terry Weeks had the first Skyliner I had ever seen. His, as I remember, was red but this one is my favorite, turquoise. As we looked at it and talked to the owners, I noticed its name on the back and realized I had seen it 6 years ago at the body shop in Mexico where we had Liberty painted turquoise! The first picture is from yesterday, the second from April of 2017. It is a small, small world!

I remember when a dealership in Osborne, KS got its first Henry J, so I had to stop and look at this one. It is actually called just Henry, because it is a Henry J body on a Fox body Mustang, a (Henry) Ford product. Interesting stories behind so many!

Not all are shiny and pristeen.

In general, I am not a fan of flames but these were extraordinary.

I gravitate toward the early pickups in general, but I’d never seen a 4-door pickup from that era. Someone went to a lot of work.

I’m a child of the 1950s, so I could reminisce about vintage cars and my connections to them for a long time, much longer than most readers would be willing to read. I just know that so many cars today look alike from brand to brand, many are made by the same manufacturer and just have a different label. Nothing much stands out from year to year, unlike the Chevrolet from the 50s where you can tell a subtle difference each year that makes a ’55, ’56 or ’57 unique. These cars are still in demand for show cars, as well as daily drivers. Ah, those were the days!

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