It occurred to me this week that I’m so busy looking for stories and histories and documents and photos of people in my family’s past, that sometimes I neglect the present, and those in our family now. We had a Lewis Family gathering this week to celebrate a few birthdays and to see some visiting out-of-town cousins. We are family and we love each other. Here’s a look at our today:
Eleven years ago I received a lovely Christmas gift from John–a weekend get-away at the finest hotel west of the Mississippi. Then life happened. Every few years, we’d pull out the gift certificate and wonder when we might break away and go. We tried to go before we left for Yakima a few years ago, but never made it. Our lives get so very busy.
Sheepishly, John called the Grand America again a few months ago to see if there was any chance they’d still honor the certificate. They said they’d be happy to. So we finally set a date and actually went this last weekend! We are trying to finish things that need to be finished before we start another new adventure. What a delight it was to check this one off our list!
I admired the fresh cut flowers in the reception area while John admired the warm chocolate chip cookies!
Afternoon tea was being served while a gentle harpist played.
Here is our room. Ahhh, so lovely.
Sometimes it’s nice to have a glimpse of heaven and such beautiful things. It always makes me feel so guilty, I’m almost uncomfortable, but I tried to let go of that this time and just enjoy the peace and calm and the beauty and time with John.
Here is the view from our room on this rainy weekend:
I brought a new book to read, and it was perfect–here’s a brief review: A Gentleman in Moscow is the 30-year saga of the Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, who is placed under house arrest inside the Metropol Hotel in Moscow in 1922 when the Bolsheviks spare him from death or Siberia because of his 1913 revolutionary poem written in university. The relationships he forms with staff and guests, his handling of twists of fate, his moral rectitude and his perseverance to go on in the face of his lifelong imprisonment for being a Former Person make for a compelling tale, told beautifully by Towles.
It was the perfect setting for a wonderful read.
Saturday afternoon, after checking out, we went to our favorite Sigfried’s German Deli. I’d eat here every week if I lived in Salt Lake. It’s really that good. I’d pay just to smell the food there! Oh how I love German food. I know I’ve got German blood flowing through me because of how my heart responds to the smell of the food!
We love the different Brats, the Rotkohl or Sauerkraut, and the warm Kartoffelsalat. We topped that off with some German pastries–Bienenstich and Apfelstrudel. A perfect ending to a perfect get-away!
There is something growing in my shoulder that doesn’t belong there. I finally went to a doctor this week and had these x-rays taken. When he saw them, he said, “you have the mother of all mother’s calcium deposit growing in your shoulder!” No wonder it’s been aching for the last couple of years. I’ve tried wearing my arm in a sling this last month to see if that would help some unknown problem heal. It didn’t. Now I know. I’m so happy it’s an easy problem to solve. The intruder will be removed in a couple of weeks in a simple out-patient arthroscopic surgery. The doctor said it will only take 15-20 minutes to remove it. Then my shoulder will be back to normal.I’m grateful for those who make it possible to see what we can’t see on our own. Sometimes we just see things from the wrong angle, or from the outside instead of the inside. And sometimes we just need a little help to set things right again.
Last night we had a huge Days for Girls Event here in Orem. We had about 400 Young Single Adults in one place at one time, creating something that will change lives. It was amazing. There’s a good deal of preparation that goes into an event this big. Imagine keeping that many kids busy and productive for 2 hours! It was so much fun.
We can prepare cotton and flannel fabric by purchasing, washing, folding, ironing, cutting and matching and organizing projects. We can have washcloths and underwear dyed and ready to fold. We can have 100s of bags sewn, ready for threading drawstrings. We can have instructions printed and classrooms organized, but nothing we did prepared me for the conversations I had with individuals who learned why we do what we do, and responded with, “How can I be more involved in this movement??” Tonight I also saw lives changing here. For some, all it takes is awareness and an opportunity to help. I love being involved with an organization that introduces good people with open hearts to ways they can share and help others. It’s magical.
This next generation is pretty amazing. Come take a look:
Refreshments served:Unloading the 3 carloads of finished goodness after the event:Life is good here and life will be WAY better for the girls who receive these kits someday soon. Thanks to all who came to help last night. I think we all went to bed happy.
This last weekend, John, Claire, Graham and I flew to Fresno, then drove 40 minutes to my hometown in Reedley. I love going home. I love the good memories of the people and places of my childhood. I love showing my family now what my family then was like.
Sometimes I feel a little panicky about losing my past. I may be one of the last to hold some of the important memories. I don’t want them to be lost. Sometimes being a Record Keeping Rememberer is such a heavy job. I also worry that others may not really even care to know the things I know or to feel the things I’ve felt. They have their own memories to hang on to, they’re not interested in mine. I wish that didn’t make me feel sad, but it does.
Ian Frazier, author of Family, describes his thoughts at his mother’s deathbed in this way: “Soon all the people who had accompanied me through life would be gone, too, and then even the people who had known us, and no one would remain on earth who had ever seen us, and those descended from us perhaps would know stories about us, perhaps once in a while they would pass by buildings where we had lived and they would mention that we had lived there. And then the stories would fade, and the graves would go untended, and no one would guess what it had been like to wake before dawn in our breath-warmed bedrooms as the radiators clanked and our wives and husbands and children slept.”
I thought about that as I wandered through the home where I grew up. There are different books on the shelves now, and the furniture was all changed after my mom died, but the place is like a box for my memories.
I looked at the patched hole in my old bedroom door where my brother kicked it after I escaped from his wrath. I felt how my bedroom drawers still stick when I pull them out and I remembered where I used to keep my stuff. The mirrors and the hair dryer that was mounted on my bedroom wall are gone, along with all my bookshelves and the bulletin board. My room is a guest room for other people now. I am a guest there. I wish I could step back in time and see it again as it was.
Below are a few photos I snapped, of this and that, things to remind me of where I came from.
Reedley is famous for the Blossom Trail each year in February and March. People travel from all over to drive through the countryside and see the blossoms. It’s a peaceful and fragrant time in the Valley, as preparations begin for the busy hot harvest months.Peaches and nectarines have pink blossoms. Plums and almonds have white.New varieties are grafted in.
Our backyard, looking north:
Here is the pool where we cooled off in the summer heat. I came out here often late at night, after a date, or activity, and I would sit, stare at the sky and dream about my future.
The back door, where all the comings and goings happened. Today my Dad’s walker waits here for him. The boot scraper and metal shoe mat are the same.
This bench is where the milk man would leave our milk each week when I was young.
Dad’s office still feels the same, with his farm books and pictures of Germany on the walls. Every year my brothers and I raised money for Christmas by picking and selling tangerines. The sign is the same–used for the last 40-50 years. Fruit still hangs on the citrus trees and the tangerine stand is still in the driveway, now closer to the house where they can keep an eye on it. But now the money box has a lock on it. When I was there, we used a quart jar and trusted everyone to leave money and not take it.
These Camellia flowers reminded me of my grandma’s flower garden next door. She grew pink, red and white camellias.
Dad’s old boots.
Dad in his recliner.
Last Sunday after church, we drove part of the Blossom Trail. These almond orchards were spectacular. The blossoms petals on the ground looked like snow!
The vineyards are also in bloom–with Fiddleneck, the golden flower we hated as kids. They made our legs itch as we worked in the fields tying vines and taking out the stump wood. We had to take the wood out of several rows every day after the pruning was finished.
Here are two of our old vineyard wagons my dad built that we used to take the wood out of the vineyards. We’d put the sideboards in, and pull these long narrow wagons behind the tractor. Driving was the fun job, so we rotated who got to be on the tractor. Between my two brothers and me, we’d take 3 rows at a time, one walking on each side of the one we drove down. As we walked the rows, we searched for the stumps and wood pieces that were too large to be disced under. These larger wood pieces were hucked into the vineyard wagon. The tractor driver watched the middle row and alerted the others when there was a big piece. We saved all of this wood in woodpiles to be used in our fireplaces and in grandma’s kitchen wood stove throughout the rest of the year.
These are the old tractors we used. They’re still used to pull the bin trailers in from the fields today.
This is the tractor I learned to drive on at about age 8.
We took a drive up into the foothills Sunday afternoon, to Wonder Valley, then on to Squaw Valley. The Lupine bushes were amazing!
On our way home, we drove through Orange Cove, where my mother taught school for many years. Mom was a 3rd grade teacher and she loved being in the class room. She said 3rd graders were the best age–still innocent and inquisitive. She taught reading and cursive handwriting like no other. At the end of every summer I got to go with her to G. W. School Supply in Fresno to pick out new things to decorate her bulletin boards with. Then we’d go decorate and set up her classroom before the first days of school. I loved doing that with her.
We also drove over to Kings View Hospital Farm. Dad leased and farmed this farm during all of my childhood years. The Mennonite Church manages the hospital. It used to be a hospital for the mentally ill. Dad farmed 43 acres of Thompson Seedless raisins, Simka, Friar and Santa Rosa plums and some peaches there. In the earlier years, we’d move the fruit sizer packing machine into the orchard and pack fruit on site. Later all the fruit was hauled to our packing shed.
The farm backed up to the Kings River. Sometimes we’d fish there or go hunting for bullfrogs. In the early summer we ate mulberries from the wild trees that grew along the river banks. Kings View was an extension of our back yard, a few miles away. We came and went freely, usually on our bicycles, then on mini bikes or motorcycles. The patients never bothered us and we never bothered them. We were told most were from rich families in LA. One time we happened upon a group of them skinny dipping in the river. That was unexpected!!
Kings View had this swimming pool for the patients. In the evenings, after long hot days of summer work, Dad would take us to the pool here. This was in the years before we had our own pool All 3 of us were on the swim team in Reedley, and we loved the water. We’d beg to go to the pool. We went 3 or 4 times each week. There used to be a diving board where we learned to do front and back flips. We’d turn the pool lights on and rescue moths and bugs that flew into the water. We loved this pool.
This is my grandparents’ home on Road 52, next to our home. After coming to America from Germany, Rudolf and Elsa eventually purchased this home and they raised their family here. The house used to be all white and Grandma’s Camellia bushes were on the northeast corner (lower right in this picture). Eric’s packing shed now stands on this property where Grandpa’s old barn used to be. Eric rents the home to a gal who helps clean the shed in the evenings after the packers go home.
Eric took us on a farm tour. He took us around the farm and explained to the kids and John about grafting trees and branches, pollination, irrigation, fertilizers and insecticides, and all those kinds of farm things.
Our first night at home we had dinner at Foster’s Freeze, where we ate after every home swim meet all summer long. I’d always order a cheeseburger, fries and a lime slush.
We had a great long weekend in Reedley. It included some really great Mexican food from Sal’s in Selma and Ortega’s in Reedley. It was great to be with family and to remember parts and pieces of my childhood there.
Eric, Dad and me before the goodbyes.Until we meet again, dear people in a dear place.
Very few things in this world make my heart pound like having more space for BOOKS!! This bookshelf is a new addition to our bedroom today.
We had our carpets cleaned and stretched this last week. That meant taking Everything off the carpets in every room. Our tiled bathrooms, laundry, and main floor hardwood areas were stacked and piled with furniture, bedding, and mounds of all of our stuff. That stuff included my book piles from almost every room. I think John liked seeing the carpet under them so much, he consented to adding another bookshelf!
Today we met with these leaders from US Synthetic who have been coming to learn about the process of making Days for Girls kits. They are preparing for a huge company-wide 2-day conference that will include several hours of humanitarian work making and assembling DfG kits. It’s been really fun to work with men who work with engineers. They analyze each step of the process, timing themselves, looking for ways to improve and streamline the process. They are going to use these processes to teach their employees about innovation in production processes and teamwork. It’s going to be fun!
I am impressed that this local company, who employees more than 900 people, takes the time to involve their employees in humanitarian work. Their plan is to make 100s of kits AND distribute them in their corporate travels. Bravo, US Synthetic!
We’re working hard to enhance the lives of people in our neighborhoods and communities, to the children in our local schools, and to the less fortunate around the world. We’re lending a helping hand to those that need a little extra help through our Engineering Good initiatives. Engineering Good, through the generosity of our own employees, donates thousands of hours of service yearly and tens of thousands of dollars to local community and international humanitarian organizations. Come join us in Engineering Good.
They timed each other to see who could work the fastest.Today we tackled the shields. Next week we’ll work on bags.
This week I learned that the mother of a friend of mine has graduated to a care center, where she can be taken good care of as she approaches the end of her life. She suffers with dementia. She also suffered with some compulsive habits, like buying fabric and sewing machines, which she would take apart and try to put back together. Her apartment was full of fabric, neatly ironed, stacked, and folded by color, floor to ceiling.
My friend is an only child and she told me years ago that when her mother passed, she’d have some fabric to donate to Days for Girls. So this week we went to help move the fabric from her home to our DfG home at Building Q.
It was interesting (as a fabric buyer and collector and quilter) to handle this fabric, so lovingly purchased, but never used. Hundreds, thousands of yards, untouched. Every color, every print, all beautiful, waiting to be used.
It occurred to me as we filled 5 large vehicles with fabric that maybe sometimes Heavenly Father blesses people with means and desires to accumulate things they will never use, knowing they will end up in the hands of others who will know how to use those things to bless the lives of others in need.
This week we saw a transfer of fabric from a dear old lady who purchased and loved it, to women who will sew it for girls who need it. What a sweet economy! I was happy to be there for this transfer. And I am grateful for my good friend, who made this possible.
Filling our vans and vehicles:
Unloading at our Days for Girls work rooms:What an amazing gift!
Posted today on Ann’s Stories: https://annlaemmlenlewis1.wordpress.com/
In the Doctrine and Covenants, section 85 is a Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Kirtland, Ohio, November 27, 1832. This section is an extract from a letter of the Prophet to William W. Phelps, who was living in Independence, Missouri. It contains instructions from the Lord on what kinds of records he, as a church historian, should keep.
As I read these instructions today, it occurred to me that if these things were important to the Lord then, they are important today. Here’s what was asked in verses 1 and 2:
1 It is the duty of the Lord’s clerk, whom he has appointed, to keep a history, and a general church record of all things that transpire in Zion, and of all those who consecrate properties, and receive inheritances legally from the bishop;
2 And also their manner of life, their faith, and works . . .
This made me think of the Stories I am posting here. Yesterday my 600th Story was posted, and there are 100 more written and scheduled for publication in the coming months. I will continue to add to these stories as long as I can find and prepare them. I think it’s quite miraculous how they come to me, sometimes out of nowhere, sometimes after much digging and searching. The urgency I feel to share them is an indication to me that they are important, and these stories need to be told. It’s important for us to understand the manner of their lives, their faith and their works. We can learn from every single person who came to this earth.