December 16, 2011


We have been home from Colorado Springs now for about two weeks. It has been about a month since my last blog. The past two weeks were busy with getting our life back together in our home and preparing for Christmas.

Between the cruise and the trip to Glen Eyrie we had been gone from here for about 6 weeks. So, we needed to restock our larder and prepare for the upcoming holidays. We celebrated Thanksgiving Day with a dinner at the Pink House. The kitchen / dining staff supplied us with a large turkey and a great minced meat pie. Together we supplied all the other “necessities for a great Thanksgiving meal. We had invited another volunteer couple as well as a staff couple to enjoy this day with us. The Pink House was occupied with guests; a family celebrating this holiday together with local relatives. Our dinner was held in the Board Room, since our guests used the whole rest of the pink House. While we were there, I also conducted three tours of the Castle. We helped decorating and with preparations for the upcoming Madrigals and were on our way home on November 30.

Today, December 16, is the birthday of our first born, he is 45 years old. I still remember the day he was born at Madigan General Hospital near Tacoma, Washington, like yesterday. I was scheduled to go to Vietnam but had been allowed to remain at Fort Lewis until after our expected baby had been born. To see him and hold him at that time is still precious to me today. When I returned from the war he was 14 months old.

For many years, while our family was growing up, we would not put up the Christmas tree until after his birthday. The Christmas season is so hectic, that a birthday could easily get lost in the busy-ness of this time of the year. Birthdays are important, especially to children! And, although this time of the year seems to focus on shopping, giving, and getting; the reason for the season is the Christmas Child.

His name is above all other names, His reign is above all other rulers, His Lordship is above all other authorities His words are above all other voices, His truth is above all other opinions, His love is above all other affections, May Jesus’ blessings be upon you
this Christmas season.

November 14, 2011


It has been about three weeks since my last blog, so the time is ripe for another installment. We are back at Glen Eyrie, hosting the Pink House for the remainder of November.

Meanwhile we visited he southwestern Caribbean and went through the Gatun locks of the Panama Canal. We got back from our cruise on November 6 and then re-packed to come to Colorado Springs by November 10.
We were kayaking in the rain forest of Costa Rica on November 1 and about a week later we had two inches of snow in Des Moines, just in time to go west. On our trip to Colorado we were blessed with beautiful weather, however.

We had booked our cruise last June and had been looking forward to visiting the ABC islands, also known as the lesser Antilles. This cruise was scheduled to enter the Panama Canal then turn around in Gatun Lake and moor for the day in Colon. We preferred this over a transition cruise to


The day of the cruise was upon us! We boarded the airplane in Des Moines,
our checked luggage was free; no $25 per case... The pilot told us that Memphis had fog, and we might have to circle to land, but we were sure we would make our flight to Fort Lauderdale. While we are on final, close to touchdown we all of a sudden feel the airplane take off again. Once above the clouds again, the pilot informed us that his navigation system had malfunctioned and we needed to go to an airport with visual approach and landing. Thirty minutes later, we landed in Nashville. Information was scant, help was available but 90 people needed help. We thought we might have an option on another airline but we had no time to get the necessary paperwork; besides, our bags would be in “limbo.” We realized that we would miss embarkation and subsequent departure from Ft. Lauderdale.

I all of a sudden remembered the episode of “Keeping up Appearances” where the Buckets miss there departure on the QE-2. We went back to the gate where we arrived and waited for the agent to be available. He took care of us in a special way, by telling us to relax in the “Sky-Lounge,” and make the necessary calls to our travel insurance in a relaxed atmosphere. Delta Airlines provided lodging and meal vouchers for us in Miami and we were able to book a flight with Surinam Airlines to Aruba where we would be able to join the cruise 3 days later. We were blessed by encountering many great and helpful people during our flight and in those few days getting ready to join the cruise in Oranjestad.

The remainder of our cruise was “uneventful” but great. Good food, nice harbors, a good Panama Canal experience, rainforest humidty; monkeys and sloths; bananas so sweet, papaya juicy and tasty, warm sweet pineapple, and that was just the local fruit.

We had opted for a large table and late dinner, so we had good experiences on board as well. After four days at home we headed for Colorado Springs.

October 21, 2011


We celebrated our anniversary in Tennessee this year.

Yes, another trip! Richard Elgersma, our son-in-law, was scheduled to graduate on September 24 with a Master’s Degree from Oxford Graduate School at the Dayton Tennessee campus.
(Dayton is also (in)famous for the Scopes - Monkey trial.)

Because our wedding anniversary is on September 23, we decided to go the Chattanooga, TN., a few days before the scheduled graduation.

To make our celebration memorable we decided to book a room on the old stern-wheel-river-steamer, “the Delta Queen.” She is permanently moored in the Tennessee river in downtown Chattanooga. Rooms are available as hotel rooms for guests to spend the night and include a scrumptious full breakfast buffet in the morning. The rooms are fairly small, like ship’s cabins and we had two single beds with a passage to the bathroom between us. It was different, so more memorable, right?

Situated between two bridges, one for foot traffic and one for any traffic, it was just a walk across the river to the downtown area. “Our” side of the river was a bit more eclectic, with small shops and eateries.

The lounge on board was just like in the movies and transported us back a few years. Although we could have had our dinner on the boat we decided to go “German.” There was a new restaurant, called the “Brew Haus” where we had an excellent German meal.

We also re-visited Point Park on Lookout Mountain, where we had been before in 1968. Not much had changed except the city is bigger now.

Rick and Monique had also given us two nights in a bed and breakfast in the Amana c
olonies, here in Iowa and we went there to celebrate our anniversary here as well. We spend the night in Homestead in “Die Heimat B &B.” This was near the place where we had our 40th anniversary dinner and celebration with the whole family.

The days we picked to go there were fabulous; sunny and the fall colors were showing.

We went on our motor bike to really enjoy this trip, taking secondary roads to avoid traffic and to be able to really enjoy the trip. We took a side trip to Kalona, a place known for its quilting and rustic country atmosphere.

Again a glorious
ly sunny day.
We had dinner that night at Phat Daddy in Marengo, another memorable place. Our “Indian Summer” was only marred by very high winds, which blew some of the beautiful fall colors away after we had come home again.

ugh it is now getting a little bit cooler, we still have a lot of sunshine and reasonable temperatures to enjoy this beautiful Iowa fall. We take short rides in our surrounding areas to enjoy this beautiful fall.

October 7, 2011


The Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall came to Des Moines, Iowa.
This is a three quarter faux granite replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC.
To bring it into the city a large phalanx of motor cycle riders escorted it to the place in a West D
es Moines cemetery, where it was to be displayed for the weekend.
Schools were invited to visit the site on Thursday and it was open to the public on Friday until Sunday. Many dignitaries spoke and honored not only the Vietnam era soldiers but also those in the current war on terror.

My son-in-law rode with me among all the other riders. He is receiving a VA benefit for his handicap, -spina bifida, thought to have been caused by his dad’s exposure to agent orange, while he served in Vietnam in 1968. Rick is very much involved with post Vietnam events and activities.

It was an emotional experience and I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

September 30, 2011

Busy August AND September

It has been over one month since my last blog entry. I am truly sorry about that. August remained busy and so was September. We did many things and were involved with many activities.

Our motorcycle weekend during August 19-21, with our kids was a great success! We stayed in the same B&B as last year, and only used this one for two nights. Then, on the day we were there we really checked out the local area. Riding most of the day, with stops in rustic and eclectic places.

While we were riding I noticed some worse oscillation of the tires during our rides, but I had been assured that due to some “cupping” in the tires this was not all that uncommon. Yet because of these oscillations we decided to get new tires anyway, to ensure a better ride on future excursions. When I took the bike in to have the mechanic look at it I got a really big surprise: there was a large defect on my rear tire. Apparently the thread had separated from the tire lining and wore about a three inch (7 cm) hole in the tread. Miraculously we were still holding air. We had gone over 70 mph (115 km/h) on the previous weekend on the way home. We truly believe that the hand of God kept the tire intact until we could replace it.
We had planned to ride to Minnesota during the following week, to see our children and grandchildren there. But it was way to windy to ride all that way, so we went by car. We only went for two overnights because they were planning to visit us over Labor Day weekend. We gave them some belated birth-day gifts. Arn made a NASCAR of his favorite driver and Will made a movable wooden lion.

The week leading up to their visit we were once again active with helping to package meals, for “Meals from the Heartland.” This is an annual event, which is patterned after “Feed the Children.” Started as a local church project, the community adopted it and for the past few years about 10.000 volunteers package over 4 million meals during Labor Day weekend. They are shipped to areas of need and all the materials are paid for prior to the event.

After that we were busy entertaining our grandchildren, while their parents took time to relax. I had finished my N-Gage railroad layout and the boys were happy to take time to run some trains. We had also scheduled some time for crafts with them. They made a bill-fold and a coin purse.
We had planned it so that they would make each others’ project. They had a lot of fun making each others special money carriers.

September started with beautiful cool weather, but we were not able to ride our motor bike because of a defect in the ignition switch. The part took a week to get here but all is well gain now. Fortunately it was covered under our warranty! The bike was ready or me to ride as an escort bringing the Dignity Wall into Des Moines. I’ll do my next blog on that event.

August 22, 2011

Busy August

So, now it is the middle of August. My bride and I both celebrated our 66th birthdays. We did so in places many miles apart! We had been invited to go to a hoe-down at Corrie’s brother’s house in Jenison, Michigan. This was scheduled to take place on August 13. We decided to go a few days early so we could celebrate Corrie’s birthday in Michigan on August 12.

For my birthday on August 5,
we went to Hickory Park in Ames for dinner and visited White Oaks winery on the way home. The dinner consisted of a mixed platter of barbequed food, chicken, pork, and including some of the best ribs in the state. The desert menu was our place-mat, so we ate with dessert in mind.

After this great experience off to the winery.

They have a life band at the White Oak winery on Friday nights. When we got there they were playing “our” music; so we got to dance. Monique and I even did a twist... I used some muscles which I did not know I had. They were aching on Saturday, so I must have really had a good work-out. Not too bad for 66, but I had to work of some of the calories, didn’t I ? We had planned to ride our motorbikes, but because there was a solid rain coming down, we had to go on four wheels. We hope to make up for this on this coming weekend. We plan to do a similar trip as last year. (See my blog of August 13, 2010)

For Corrie’s birthday we were in Michigan visiting with family. She celebrated in a nice restaurant in Ionia surrounded by brothers and sisters (and in-laws as well...)
We had to hold the hoe down inside, because there were storms in the weather forecast. Most every liked the air-conditioned gym better; no mosquitos to contend with either. On Saturday morning Corrie’s sister, who has been a life-long beautician, “lowlighted” her hair. It turned out really great. She looks younger than her age.

We visited some very nice lake side properties visiting with relatives. On Monday we went to Ludington to visit with my cousin and his wife. We had not seen each other for about 45 years. We took a nice boat ride and enjoyed a scrumptious dinner.

Because we were in Ludington we planned to cross the lake (Lake Michigan) to Wisconsin, rather than drive back to Chicago and fight the traffic there. It was a long day! The boat trip on the SS Badger was great. Sunshiny day with little wind. We stayed on deck the entire crossing, which lasted about 4 ½ hours. Getting there early and waiting for the car to get off-loaded added about another hour or so to this part of the trip. Then driving home, another 8 hours with a stop for pizza on the way. After we unpacked and relaxed we needed to prepare for our motor-bike weekend trip with our kids.

July 31, 2011

Slowing down???

On July 9, I wrote that July was for slowing down... This did not really happen. I just looked back at the previous three weeks and my head is spinning. During my dermatology visit on the 9th, I found out that I have a basal cell ca on my back, which they will excise some time in the future. It fortunately is not worrisome, but needs to be dealt with in any case. The cutting is scheduled for September.

On the 13th we got a new kitchen counter. It really looks beautiful, but we had to clean out our cabinets, or contend with saw dust. So, Tuesday, after volunteering at the VA all day, we emptied our lower cupboards. Wednesday after the new counter was
installed, we also put our stuff back. We did get rid of some of the items we had not used for a long time. So we have some more space as well.

After that we relocated the furniture on the loft, primarily into the guest bedroom, to prepare the loft and the stairs for new carpet. We had done done some of that earlier in the week as well. Surprising how much small stuff accumulates, and how much is really useful and necessary.
We did get both the kitchen and the loft, back into shape before Thursday night, when we entertained dinner guests.

Then we dog-sat our grand doggy. Our kids from West Des Moines had sold their house and were moving over the weekend. On Monday we helped with clean up and moving some fragile items. I rode the motor bike and my thermometer registered the outside temperature at 101. I wore my helmet and gloves after that, but tucked my armored coat away.
We kept the dog until mid week. This requires us to take her for walks, she likes more walks than we do. It was hot most of July, so the walks were more like a chore, particularly in the heat.

Nice get-togethers and some needed shopping trips filled the next few days. We did enjoy a really nice long motor bike ride on Monday, the 25th. Board meeting, dinner guests, overnight guests and a dental check-up finished the month.

In August, September, and October we have trips planned. I guess we rest when we can, and slow down between activities to play catch-up.

July 9, 2011

JULY is for slowing down

It seems that my life is less exciting, because I have not blogged since the middle of June. But that is not correct. As I stated in the previous blog, life has been hectic. We planned some home improvement projects and also scheduled some personal vacation time later this year.

Our activity with the DELTA kids was great fun, although we did not sleep much during the two overnights we spent with them. When the rain let up we went for motor cycle rides. July has been much better weather wise. So, we have been on a few longer rides through the country side of Iowa.

On the weekend of the 4th of July we went on a group ride with “Hope’s Angels.” The group is primarily comprised of a group of motor cycle enthusiast of HOPE Lutheran Church in West Des Moines. We also attend here. Although it is a very large church, it does not seem like a very large church. Just click here if you would like a neat description of what goes on there.

During the month of June we did so many things, that I was wondering how come we had not gotten paid yet; I honestly though that much more
time had passed than it actually had.

Time to slow down and smell the roses.