December 27, 2009

Of Blizzards and Christmas celebrations

Oh, the joys of winter!

A monster storm kept those who “were not there yet,” where they were for Christmas.
We celebrated Christmas with just the two of us. We enjoyed a special dinner, which we prepared together and ate together.

We saw the sun today! The day after Christmas, cold but sunny. I was afraid this storm might be like “The Day After,” but so far people are moving about and the temperature is tolerable, even to take the dog for her walks. Fortunately we did not have as much snow as they had at many other locations. As a matter of fact, we had rain before Christmas and above freezing temperatures, which allowed some of the snow of the pr
evious blizzard to melt away.

Next year is now less than a week away! We are looking forward to a good time with our children and friends during our celebration of “old-and-new,” when we “pray in” the new year. All of which is coupled with traditions from both our old and new countries.

December 16, 2009

Home Sweet Home

We are home again! The mid-west blizzard of December 8 & 9 went before us. We left Colorado Springs with sunshine and drove to Norton, Kansas. Here we spend time with good friends, a good meal, and a great night’s rest. Although there was an overcast sky for our trip on Saturday (12-12), we had an uneventful trip to Des Moines. Upon our arrival we visited with our daughter, who has been battling a persistent illness withe daily fevers. Corrie made soup for her and her husband on Sunday and we shared dinner together.

Some more snow on Monday, but we had enough food to wait with grocery shopping until Tuesday. We needed to stock up again; especially, with the Christmas and New-year’s holidays just around the corner.

That said, I wish all of you a Blessed
Christmas celebration.

December 3, 2009

Madrigals at "the Glen"

In my previous blog I eluded to the upcoming Madrigals, to be held in the Great Hall of the Gen Eyrie Castle. We have been diligently working on the backdrops, which are completed and in place. We started back in the beginning of November to build the boxes. We made five 4x8 boxes with sides of one-by-fours. Using “bendie-wood” we constructed three half circle arches; two 4 foot wide, one 8 foot wide. The inside was painted semigloss white to prepare for light reflection.

This week just a few days before the first Madrigal Dinner, the replica stained glass windows, laminated to plexi-glass, came in and we were able to complete the backdrops. For lighting we strung about 180 soft white LED Christmas lights per box. The effect, as you can see, looks like a stained glass window backlit by the sun.

We are all looking forward to serving at the Madrigal dinner and performance. The focus is to celebrate the truth of Christmas, while enjoying a classic Madrigal event, including wassail, boars head, accompanied by period music and dance.

Just visit the Glen Eyrie web-site for more information. I will be working as a food-server on three of the performances. Corrie and I will also will be able to observe the totality of the experience from above, off the balcony of the Great Hall, during one of our nights off.

Our time here is winding down. We plan to travel back to our home in Johnston, Iowa, at the middle of the month.

November 15, 2009

Glen Eyrie in the Fall

Our month as "Pink House" host and hostess was over at the end of October. We have moved to another residence on the campus, here at Glen Eyrie.

We now live in the “Chalet.”
This is the small
white building in the picture. We have also gone from winter to winter, with beautiful sunshine days in between.

It seems like we enjoy (or is it endure?) a winter (snow) storm every two weeks. The great thing about the weather here, is that the snow usually melts away a day after it stops falling. At least that has been our
experience so far.

We have been busy doing other work now.

I have been manufacturing backdrop boxes for the upcoming Madrigals. The fronts are being printed. It will be a replica stained-glass window, depicting a nativity scene. We are also scheduled to help with serving the guests during the Madrigal dinner and show. Something we are really looking forward to, with joyful anticipation.

Corrie has been busy with phone calls, some other office tasks and dining room duty.

Because the Glen is going through a slower period this part of the year, we get to enjoy many “boxed” meals. The other single volunteers have been taking their meals at the Chalet with us.
It has become “dinner and a movie.” We have a DVD player for just that purpose!

During the past few weekends we have gone on some more hikes.
Both, in the snow and up on the rocks during beautiful warm fall weather.

During the half week after Veteran’s Day, the Pike’s Peak Cog Railway was offering substantial discounts for military personnel and veterans, who have a military ID.
We took advantage of this and went up to the summit on November 12.
Reaching the summit was in question, as the wind was howling through the saddle at 12000 feet.
After we reached Windy Point at 12129 feet, the wind had dropped to below 50 mph, so we went on to the top.

With an ambient temperature of 23 degrees (F) and the wind at 47 mph, our noses detected about +1 degree (F). Cold to say the least! We had prepared by bringing warm clothes, yet we cooled off very quickly. The gift shop was a nice reprieve.

October 27, 2009

Winter, Wonder, White

“Winter Wonderland,” a quote from Michigan, - many years ago. Here at Glen Eyrie winter transforms the place wonderfully. E have had another white blessing. Our children from Missouri spend the weekend with us a s guests in the Pink House. We took them to Dorothy Falls at the end of Queen Canyon. Rick, ever the amateur geologist, had a blast looking at all the rocks and the exposed layers of rock formation in the canyon wall, never mind the flowing water.
The weather was in the sixties with sunshine, but on
Sunday we started getting snow.
It did not really stick to the roads, but transformed the surroundings with about a two inch accumulation.

Oh yeah, we shared the experience of a mountain lion stalking turkeys in our front yard. The turkeys flew into the trees and the lion bounded off, back into the woods. (He did not look too hungry!) We didn’t get a picture because it all happened fairly

Monday was a wonderful day to see the snow covered
trees and rocky crags. We took a lot of pictures and took even a ride through the Garden of the Gods, to see the clean white covering on the red rocks.

We unexpectedly had overnight guests.

The guests-services did not know that the
kitchen was closed this morning; we had gotten a box-breakfast yesterday. Since the overnight guests usually have breakfast included, we cooperatively agreed to cook and serve breakfast at the Pink House and serve it in the gorgeous Pink House dining room. Our guests were delighted, as were we, to have a scrumptious warm breakfast served in style! One more week and we’ll move to the chalet, leaving the Pink House to another couple to manage for a month.

October 16, 2009

Glen Eyrie (2)

The cold spell gripping the heartland last weekend, also made life at Glen Eyrie difficult. We woke up to snow on Friday and although that melted away, we had freezing drizzle over the weekend. Our hike on Thursday was in sunshine and near seventy degrees; on Saturday we were shivering in a high temperature of 25 degrees.

Almost a fifty degree drop. The roads were icy and slick.
Walking was difficult, but we baby-stepped and slid to the dining room at the castle three times on Saturday and once on Sunday. We took the car at night, it was more surefooted than we were. Monday stayed dreary, but the rest of the week was beautiful again.

Sunshine and cool wind, just to remind us that it is the middle of October. We still very much enjoy our stay and work here. We had guest for the entire week, and we are also filled up this weekend with overnight guests. That makes for work each day, to “turn over” the rooms for new guests. Next week we should have a bit of a reprieve from guests for a few days.
This allows us to take some time off.

The weekend again looks full and busy, but we expect some personal company, and that will add to the fun as well.

October 8, 2009


Here we are again, at Glen Eyrie in Colorado Springs. I reviewed my posts from last year; (September 25, and a few in October) and found that not much has changed. The place is still very peaceful and wild-life abounds. Turkeys, deer, bighorn sheep, squirrels and rabbits,
just to name a few. There are snakes, a bob-cat, a bear, and they all claim this valley as their home. The animals tolerate the people, who visit here, pretty well. They do not act afraid, but do keep some distance from the people. The turkeys, deer and bighorns stay in groups usually.

We are Pink House managers for the month of October. This means we keep the guests in the three guest-rooms in clean towels and bedding. We have coffee and tea available and provide for the needs of our guests as may be needed. Many of our guests, just stay for bed and breakfast. The meals are provided in a central dining room, so we are not responsible for meal preparation. During conferences we often have guests who stay for a longer periods, and this makes our daytime schedule easier.
We schedule time off, when we can and take advantage of enjoying the beautiful surroundings. The weather has been fabulous the past week and we were able to repeat some of the hikes we did last year. We also visited Cheyenne Canyon State park and Helen Hunt Falls last Monday. Quite a view over the city and the Colorado plains, as we edged the mountains and traveled in the foothills of the Rockies.
On Wednesday morning on our way to breakfast I noticed a spilled garbage container. I joked, that it might have been a bear, who made the mess. To our surprise, this was true! We saw a well sized brown bear on the Castle lawn. As stated in one of our previous blogs, this is the home of much wild-life. Yet, the bear needed to be shooed away from the Castle area, because of the high density of people here; especially at breakfast time.

After breakfast, cleaning the rooms, and visiting with some of the guests, we hiked to Dorothy Falls. Although it only is about 3/4 mile form the Castle parking lot, it takes about an hour to get there.

The trail is rough and rocky, but the reward is great. The sun was out, the sky deep blue,

the trees displayed their fall colors. An added benefit was, that we were ready for lunch, when we returned from the hike. A very nice morning walk to enjoy and appreciate the glory of creation.

September 26, 2009


Our week at Rehoboth New Mexico is done. Rehoboth is a settlement just east of Gallup. There is a large Christian School here, founded and supported by the CRC. This were we had our dorm and also our breakfasts and most evening meals.

In my previous blog I mentioned our trip to this place; this time I’ll share some of the week’s activities. After breakfast every morning, we met together in two groups to have morning devotions, this focused primarily on God’s interaction with our lives and thus became sharing of individual faith stories. In the evening we would discuss the days’ accomplishments and the tasks for the next day. One of our evening activities involved making Navajo jewelry for ourselves. We also visited the code-talkers museum and we had a Bible study on Wednesday night; the men at Rehoboth, the women at Churchrock.

Our daily tasks involved some general repair work around some of the homes and churches in the vicinity. If there was a need we tried to help, without
any regard to church membership or attendance. Monday was a big day at Verna’s place. She has a dilapidated home in Churchrock. Corrie and I were part of the team working there. We tore out damaged and hanging dry-wall in the ceiling and a wall around a window. This had been wet and was really bad looking. The ceiling pieces were hanging down, the insulation was damaged and had been wet.
The wall piece had large holes and was very brittle. Last year the roof had been replaced but the occupants are totally indigent, and battle alcoholism as well. So they could not get the inside repaired without assistance. Supplies were available and we supplied the labor. We also worked there to finish hanging the last ceiling pieces on Tuesday and did some general clean up. This is very hard if there is no electricity or running water. During the afternoon we worked at the Fort Wingate parsonage. On Wednesday we hung a new door at Verna’s. (When does a 32 inch door not fit a 32 inch frame???) With limited tools and the capable assistance of Corrie and Jeni, we got it done. The women also fixed the entry way, so it had a firm footing. In the afternoon we again went to Fort Wingate to help finish the job at the parsonage.

On Thursday we visited Grandma Pablo.
What a contrast her house was to the one we repaired on Monday! She needed some fixing of the roof and replacing some dirt around the base of the house to keep the winter cold at bay.
She prepared some fry-bread for us!

A delicious mid-morning snack.

She was also very pleased to pray with us, both in Navajo and English. For lunch we went to the church at Tohlakai. I had some one on one with Darryl who is really struggling with staying “dry.” He takes care of his 90+ year old grandmother, who speaks no English at all.
On Thursday night we had a cookout - potluck barbeque, Navajo style, at Pastor Ted’s hogan.
Everyone was invited to try their hand at making fry-bread. From a ball of dough to a tasty treat. After we all shared the bounty and tasted the rich variety of food, we celebrated communion. While we were there we met with a couple having the same last name as us. To our pleasant surprise, we found that we were related. Chris Huizinga’s great-grandfather was my uncle. I stayed with him and his wife when I first came to the United States in 1964. As a matter of fact, Chris’ father played his trumpet at our wedding. We had a really fun time sharing our memories. We might just have to come back to this place in the future, to help with needed maintenance, help on the reservation, and to enjoy the hospitality and beauty of the place.

September 21, 2009


We have arrived in Gallup, New Mexico. We will be here for a week as participants in “Navajo Mission 2009." This is a recurring mission trip sponsored by Lutheran Church of Hope, of West Des Moines, Iowa. We took three days travel to get here. We spend the nights using a hospitality ministry, started by the Mennonite Church, called “Mennonite Your Way.” This ministry is joined by non-Mennonite Christians as well. We have also had many overnight guests stay at our home. The first night we stayed in Norton Kansas, with a couple who had been at our house in August. It was very nice to link up again and share our experiences.

The second night we slept at a farm about 8 miles north of La Junta, Colorado. During this second nights stay we had our fill of melon, water - and other kinds. The host family grows melons for seed production and develops new hybrids for taste, color and other parameters, as wanted by growers and producers. The growing season was over and many ripe melons were left on the test field. We were invited to indulge, try as many varieties as we wanted, and we even took some with us on our continuing trip.

We were blessed with light traffic and beautiful weather all our travel days. One of the benefits of taking time is the ability to take secondary roads, like US routes. Usually these roads are well maintained, but carry much less traffic than the express-ways or interstate highways. Also we see more history and culture, going though some of the small towns. It takes a little more time to go the distance, so it pays to not be in a hurry...

On Sunday we had a church service
with a local Navajo CRC in the open air, because they held their annual church pick-nick at a site away from their normal place of worship in Churchrock, NM.
There was a rich variety of food, including some fresh fry-bread, prepared over an open fire. It was a real nice worship experience, we even tried to sing in Navajo; at least we got the melody right.

September 9, 2009


So, here we are on the other side of Labor Day.
Summer is over... yet there are many more nice days for outside activities until the chill of fall.
Days to ride, wether bicycle or motor cycle. Corrie and I ride together now, since I have passed my skills test (don’t ask - I won’t tell). So now I am legally a biker, and Corrie a “biker-chick.” The cycle we bought, with mutual consent, is a (large) scooter. I did not know that there were powerful scooters on the market until we started looking for something which would suit us.
So, we now own a Suzuki Burgman 650. It has the power to go, yet is very easy to handle.

On Labor Day weekend Tony came down with his two boys, our grandchildren, and we had a great time together.
We went for bicycle rides and stopped at the ice cream place, we also helped as a small team with packaging “Meals from the Heartland.” This is a non-profit organization which assembles and distributes simple nutritious meals for the third world, like Haiti. Over 4 million meals were packaged.