November 24, 2014

Happy Holy Days!

Another month of 2014 has gone by.  It is already “Thanksgiving” week.  The ads are all about Black Friday; which now lasts the whole week and includes the traditional Thanksgiving day.  A day which usually is celebrated with a family meal.   But now it seems that no one should apparently forego a bargain.  But then, the Christmas season is all about giving significant gifts, isn’t it?  Maybe not. Maybe this season is about remembering,  giving thanks for the bountiful harvest and looking forward to the “light of the world” in the middle of the darkness of deep winter.  

Happy Holy Days!

October 27, 2014

We went 2500 mile to get from Johnston to Colorado Springs this year. Also it took about a week to get there. Obviously we did not go by the most direct route. Interested in seeing Glacier National Park, we decided to take this detour on our way to volunteer at Glen Eyrie. As some of my previous blogs can attest, we usually spend a few months there every year. This year it was May and October.


Our trip to Glacier was very enjoyable. At the beginning of the second day we were blessed with a flat tire. I do mean blessed, really! It could have happened on route 212 in the middle of no-where. After a short delay in Belle Fourche, SD, we were on our way to Great Falls MT. We celebrated our 49th anniversary there. So, on to Glacier NP the next few days.


 Unfortunately the sky was hazy due to persistent high pressure and the smoke of many wild-fires south and west of this region. Non-the-less it was quite the experience. On our way south we stopped at the beautiful cathedral in Helena. We skipped Yellowstone NP, because of time and a few previous visits to this beautiful and exciting National Treasure.

In Wyoming we stopped in Thermopolis, a small bubbling hot springs park area, with free soaking in the provided pool. This was a very beautiful area as well. Corrie's FB picture was taken here. We spend the last night before getting to the Springs, in Laramie, WY. A nice college town with another beautiful church building. The had there last of the season farmers' market that evening and we enjoyed great hospitality and fellowship.

Started our volunteer month at Glen Eyrie on the 30th of September, with all the work and joy that continues to bring us.

September 19, 2014

Gone Summer

Summer has gone away.  The cool weather came early this year.  Since my last post we have done many things and gone to a variety of places.  After our “Iowa vacation” and the trip to Yankton, South Dakota, we took some local motor-bike trips.  A day trip to Iowa Falls, a neat city on a rocky place with a waterfall in the Iowa river was one of the high-lights.

  There is an old suspension foot bridge over the river, which we crossed just for the experience. A leisurely ride back got us back home safely, even though we had to go through a surprise rain storm.  Fortunately our “frog-togs” kept us dry. Just riding in our immediate surroundings is always nice.  The weather has not been very cooperative this summer.  We had many rainy days
The Iowa State fair had very agreeable weather this year; cool with low humidity.  We could have taken the bike there, but then we would have been a bit overdressed for the fair. At the fair we enjoyed the celebration of our military heritage. It was military day and we got a discount, because of my veteran’s status on the day we went.

  A nice parade with honors to many soldiers who were serving in the military in the last 70 years of wars; yes, we still had some WW-2 veterans in the parade this year.  Also homage was paid to all the soldiers who died in the last round of armed conflict.  A nice concert of patriotic songs and music closed the day’s events.
Then during the last week of August, we took a houseboat vacation on the Mississippi river.  We went together with our son, his spouse and her parents.  Of the many beautiful nature sights we saw, the visit to the National Eagle Center was a highlight.  Of course seeing many bald eagles in their natural setting on either shore, also was very exciting.   In Wabasha, Minnesota, where he Natural Eagle Center is located we also located “Slippery’s” of “Grumpier Old Men” fame.

Going through the locks was new experience for the Dukes.  Rather impressive to be the only boat in this huge lock, which can accommodate river-barge traffic, three barges wide and three barges long at one time.  Our son, who captained this excursion is very familiar with river traffic, because of his job with the USGS.  This helped us navigate the river safely.  We beached the boat at night and enjoyed a good night’s sleep in the amble berths, on board. We are preparing to go to our volunteer job at Glen Eyrie again.  We plan to take a nice detour to north-west Montana on our way to Colorado Springs.  We hope to see some of Glacier National Park. It gets a little late in the season, but we should be able to access some of the sights especially from the west.
More in later blog.

July 26, 2014

IOWA Vacation

Summer in Iowa often has warm and humid days.  This year we have had some of those, but the majority of the days in July have been very pleasant.  We even have had some very cool days. The week we decided to take a motorcycle trip to Yankton, South Dakota, was cool.  We had  lived in Yankton about twelve years before we moved to Des Moines Iowa in 2002.  I had worked there as a Physician Assistant in the Federal Prison Camp.  After retirement in 2000 we started to travel a lot, mainly on Missionary Support trips. Some of these I have blogged about.

Because of the size of property at our “lake house,” we opted to move to a town house in Johnston in the spring of 2002.  It is very difficult to keep the grass mowed and the snow removed on extended trips.  We were gone to the YWAM base in Kona, Hawaii, about three months in the winter of 2001 and again in 2002.  Although spring usually comes late in South Dakota, we still had a lot of work to do trimming the overgrown grass.  Because we were living “in the country” snow removal was not really necessary during the winter; no-one needed access to the house. 

Anyway, we rode to Bronson, Iowa on a windy cool Monday, July 14.  On Tuesday we went to Yankton, taking the scenic route through northern Nebraska.  We crossed the new bridge across the Missouri river into the city center, after we had spent a few moments of reminiscence at our old house at the lake.  After visiting some of our old stomping ground, we decided to go back to the Sioux City area and spend the night in Bronson again.  
 On Wednesday we tried our hand at some farming skills to help our friends store their hay and help remove some dead scrubbery and ground cover.  The ride home on Thursday continued to be on the cool side.  This made for a very memorable ride, especially since the weather cooperated; other than the stiff wind on Monday, it was really great be out there on our “super-scooter.”

As we continue our year of relative slow-down, we are doing some renovation around our “new” town house.  We have lived here over twelve years.  This is the longest period we ever lived in the same location - in our entire life.  Even in my growing up years we moved in less that 12 year increments.  I guess I am actually getting used to this place, it is becoming home... 

June 19, 2014

Home in Iowa

Iowa has been not much better this spring.  We had a busy time after we came home from Glen Eyrie.  Guests and continued need for hospitality for the ensuing week.  The weather finally cooperated for us to go on an extended motorbike ride on June 11.  The weather was perfect; no wind and “severe clear” air.  The ambient temperature was about 75 degrees Fahrenheit.  We did about 150 miles and were gone over 4 ½ hours.  We both utterly enjoyed this ride. 
      at a Civil War memorial in Winterset, IA

After getting settled, restocking our freezer and other “stores,” we are now enjoying a time of recuperation, while thunderstorms rumble around us.  Summer is nearly here.     

May 28, 2014

GLEN EYRIE Spring 2014

New and exiting things have been going on at Glen Eyrie. Our month here is nearly finished. We'll be heading back to Johnston, Iowa, on Sunday, June 1. While we were here we only went on 2 hikes, so far. The weather has been very variable, with snow, thunderstorms, cool windy weather, also some sunshine, but cool for the time of year. Also we have been very busy doing our hospitality work at the Pink House. All the while major construction has been happening here. Due to the flooding last September, a decision was made to widen the creek, so it could transfer much more water. 

A canalization project with relining the widened stream bed with large rock rip-rap is ongoing. Two new bridges have replaced older stone-arch bridges, so the increased stream does not bottleneck at the crossroads. They will be dressed with stone later to preserve the overall look of the property.

Also, I am happy to report that our hummingbirds survived the frosty nights of mid May. They continue to feed voraciously at the feeder we provide for them. They seem to have no fear of us humans, to the delight of many people who come to visit the Pink House. Also, although they are known to be territorial and aggressive to competitors, they seem to get along pretty well; as the pictures show. 

We went on a small hike, to again capture Lady Bug overlook and again took some pictures of the views there. These views  never bore us! Always something new to see and experience. The surroundings are much greener that we have seen in the previous years, so I guess the snow and rain have been beneficial for the local fauna.

May 11, 2014


It is Mother's Day. A day set aside to honor all women, those who are physically mothers, but also those who “mother” us. Motherhood may be the least appreciated executive position in our society.  The pay is minimal if any, but the pay-off is critical for our future.  

But who would have thought that we would have snow at Glen Eyrie in the middle of May?

A widespread cold snow storm blanketed the Rocky Mountains here. In the Glen it started snowing mid-morning and it still continuing as I write this at sundown; not that we did see the sun today, however.

What a change with the other days this past week. 
Less than a week ago, when we went up to our favorite spot, overlooking Queen's Canyon from the east.          Glen Eyrie overlook - Garden of the Gods, & Cheyenne Mountain
It was in the mid 70's on Monday and today the high was early this morning at 43 degrees Fahrenheit. It got progressively cooler after that.

I am worried about our hummingbirds, we have cleaned off the snow from the feeder, and they have been coming all day. They are not as feisty as usual, though. I hope they make it through the night, the temperature is supposed to go below freezing. By Tuesday it should be a bit warmer again, but no 70's for another few days. I am glad that I brought a few sweaters. 

 I honored my bride, the mother of our children. All our children did something special for their mother as well! All I all a very memorable day.

April 22, 2014

SPRING is Coming (?)

It looks like spring may be coming after all.  It has been a long, cold winter, this winter of 2014.
We had a snow covered backyard on April 14, after a summery hot day on Friday, the 11th, when we opened our newly installed sunshade. 

We spend the Easter holy-days with our children and grand-children in Minnesota.  They are active in their community and church.  They participated in both the Good Friday service and on Easter morning using their musical talents to enhance the experience of all who attended there. 


Our new Altima needs a new back-up camera, the lane departure warning and the blind-spot detector pooped out.  Now we are perfectly able to drive without that, but these features should be working properly if they are installed.  I have heard before, that more gadgets can cause more problems and that luxury comes at a price.  Yet, we still “want” all this fancy stuff.  GPS routing and mapping is good for finding an unfamiliar location, but it does not do away with the need for a good road map.  Unless you are just driving express-way.
We are preparing to go to
Glen Eyrie again for the month of May.  We are aging scheduled to work at the Pink House and doing tours.
We will probably again take a scenic route and may take two days to get there.


Just to keep up the interest, I posted another Korcula composite picture as well.  We still have very good memories of that trip in October 2012.  

Looking at these pictures lets us relive many of the special moments we experienced in this region of the world.  As I mentioned before, Marco Polo souvenirs are ubiquitous here.  History is not quite clear about his stay here, whether voluntary or under house arrest... 

April 2, 2014

Spring Activities.

The month of March has been relatively uneventful. As I stated in the previous blog, we are now volunteering at CEF in Warrenton, Missouri. 

We did spend the last weekend of March with our children in St. James. As usual there was a small project to for Rick and I to work on. We had a nice trip in our new automobile. We leased another Nissan Altima. They offered us a great deal, and I do like a new car periodically. New technology and a new learning curve. But at least the steering wheel works as usual, as does the shift lever. Just joking! We will be here at CEF until the end of the week. We plan to spend some time with our children in St. James, after which we plan to drive back to Des Moines and go home to our town-home in Johnston.

In October 2013 we were still on our cruise. The last place I described was the Greek city of Corfu. After an overnight trip, we visited the Croatian city of Korcula. The place brims with stories about Marco Polo. We spend a quiet day seeing the sights and sampling the local fare. Our ship had to anchor off-shore, so we shuttled to the quay. Beautiful Mediterranean fall weather to make this visit very memorable. Our next stop would be Brindisi, Italy. The end of the Roman way. It is still a very important port city. One of the shipping ports for the UN.

March 7, 2014

WINTER Continues

It is March, and it is still winter.  Today we had above freezing temperatures since early morning.  It has been a long time coming.  We may actually see more above freezing weather for this coming week or so.  But, if the past is any indication of what may happen, it could change to  another snowstorm. All in all we are continuing to plan for the near future.  Our oldest son and his family are visiting this weekend.  We are looking forward to spending time with them.
At the end of the month we plan to go volunteer at Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) near Saint Louis, MO.  We will take that opportunity to visit with our children, who live in that area.

This last week we were special guests at the Dining Out of the Officers Candidate School, here in Iowa.  The unit had decided to honor local Viet Nam veterans; it is the 50th anniversary of the start of the Viet Nam war.  I got to wear my dress blue uniform, which still fits albeit a little tight.  It was a wonderful formal affair, with full attention to protocol.  We really enjoyed being there.  Of course we also enjoyed the fabulous meal and the special honors which were afforded.
Waiting for spring, though. 

February 13, 2014


Another month has gone by.  Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Another attempt at commercialization of our society.  I had no idea about this holiday and the associated customs when I was younger, because at that time I lived in the Netherlands.  When I was in fourth grade, in 1957,  a girl from our class emigrated to the US, with her family.  I thought it would be nice to be a pen pal to her and wrote her a nice letter.  When she wrote back, some time later, she had included a “valentine.”  She explained that all the boys and girls in the US were exchanging these small cards with loving texts on them during the event called”Valentine’s Day.  I still remember the small silky red hearts and the saying on this card:   “I love you, and it’s not puppy love”
I guess it is a good thing that we married in 1965.  This just goes to show that she was absolutely serious about this little card she had sent me.

We have had a very long cold spell, with temperatures remaining well below freezing for weeks on end.  We had planned to remain near home in Des Moines this winter.  I guess putting up with a deep freeze, is preferable over getting stuck in a blizzard; “weather” by car at an airport.

I have been making things.  Sjoelbakken for our children, and model Harley Road King for my bride.  The activity keeps me warm and occupied.  After a roto-rooter job on my left sinuses I breathe much better and have stopped snoring as well.  March is coming...

January 14, 2014

I can’t believe it is the middle of January 2014 already!  I realized that my last blog was on December 7, last year.  Hence I noticed that I had missed my self appointed task of trying to write every 2-3 weeks, but at least once a month.  Since I cannot go back in time, I’ll try to do an update.  After attending the Christmas Concert at our oldest grandson’s school and enjoying the Christmas Cantata at our home church, my bride and I had a quiet Christmas.  We had invited another couple to share our Christmas dinner.  We had decided on lamb-shanks in mushroom sauce, with cheesy - garlic mashed potatoes and veggies.  It was scrumptious!
We usually enjoy the Christmas Holy-day in quiet celebration, because our children go to their respective in-laws during this time.  Ever since our children were married, we suggested that they celebrate Christmas with their spouse’s families, since there is so much emphasis on Christmas in the American culture.  It was not part of our growing up years in the Netherlands. When our children grew up, we pretty much went along with the American customs, although we taught them about the Dutch Saint Nicholas celebration and practices of gift exchanges during the eve of his birthday celebration, on December 5.  (I guess it took him nearly three weeks to come to the United States, on December 24.)  I did a blog entry on the Dutch tradition in December 2008. (clickable in my archives).Anyway, celebrating New Year’s Eve has become our family tradition.  Different areas of the world have different celebration of experiencing the passing of the old - to the new year.   I blogged on this as well in the past, noting the custom of baking oliebollen;  other food to share, fellowship, and the games we enjoy while waiting for the stroke of midnight.  It has become a family tradition for our children to be here for an extended period.  We have a gift sharing gathering and then invite other friends to help us celebrate the invocation of the new year: we stop to pray for a blessing on the new year.  After this we share hugs and good wishes al around after which we finish unfinished games.  
We share a toast to each other with some “bubbly” and slowly go on to our respective beds.

And then came the deep freeze.  It made the news al over the place.  We weathered the cold spell well, no heater problems and no urgent needs which needed our immediate attention.  It is nice to be retired, so you can stay in and turn over another time in your nice warm bed.