Monday, August 17, 2015

Summer activities...

What a busy summer!

I’ve been super busy this summer, and checking things off my “to do” list. 

Busy the month of June as director of VBS decor, then church office graphics (banners, bulletins and flyers), we finally came near finish line on the master bath renovation, started in May (well, actually maybe last September?)… 

Waterfall scene in the baptistry
The suspended "tree fort" in the rain forest
Winning float in the Fathoms of Fun Parade
Our eldest daughter, Charity, got her RN degree in June and passed her boards in July.
SO PROUD of Charity completing
 her degree and passing her RN boards this summer!

Our eldest great granddaughter, Rain, celebrated her first birthday.

July was “finish the great grandbaby Lyla’s memory book” project. 

In the midst, I finally, found time last week to sit on my patio and watercolor for just a bit… There! That's better! Now I feel refreshed! I needed to slow down and enjoy what’s left of this summer. It was like a mini-retreat for me to watercolor for just a little bit! 

DO the things you love… it’s refreshing! 

Still on the project list: painting of the front door and shutters before our Pacific NW fall rains prevent it, and build shelves over the toilet in the master bath so I can find our bedroom again. 

No time for a vacation this year... good thing we took that getaway in May to Clarkston WA. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


 Deep cleaning this morning, I opened a decorative box on my dresser and discovered letters, photos and announcements from 1987-1989.

Love letters to mommy from Charity​, who was getting married that summer, a few from Joyce​, Ruth​ and even my last letter from my Grandma in April 1989, who passed away that June. There were wedding (Lynn Strong​) and funeral announcements (Grandma). My sister, Vicki, wrote to us regularly about her family life with her only daughter, Audry.

Debi Montgomery, the maid of honor with Charity

Sister bridesmaids with Charity and Debi and me.
Mrs Krause greeting Ruth, me with Al and Scott's parents, Brownie and Roy

The letters from Charity around the time of her wedding and becoming a mama are so precious. I don't remember the last time I saw these and there were many tears of remembrance and joy.

Back then, it was pretty certain that I would get a phone call daily from each of the girls after they left home. By noon, the last of the four would make contact.

These days the phone doesn't ring. Sometimes we get a text message or photo. We try to follow what's happening in their homes via Facebook, and see some of them in church (the highlight of my day, if I get to see them and collect a hug if they get close enough).

I miss those old days, but also cherish the memories they are making today with their own families.

Did you save any old letters and cards? Find them and spend some time with your memories. Perhaps you should write a journal today about those precious yesterdays before the memories get filed away again!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Pet Hill

Checkerboard, aka Checkers, on his last morning
John 11:36, "Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!"

Digging a hole near Dominoes
Today, after 17 1/2 very good years, we retired our faithful old dog, Checkerboard, to Pet Hill. He became too frail to take care of himself and began to fall over from time to time.

Checkers has not been wanting his treats for a few days, so when he began to stumble, we knew his time was nearly up. It was a very difficult decision to give him this much needed rest.

Cuddles with Al one last day. Charming wants some too.
It was good therapy for Al to dig the grave for him, bringing the realization fully to us that he was leaving us today. The vet had a noon opening, so Al dug the grave early in the day before we went to the vet's. Checker's remains now rest on the hill beside his playful companions, Domino and Tiki kitty. The hill sits along the pathway to our neighborhood play field, and can be viewed from our family room and kitchen.

Such a little box for such a BIG HEART!
The sobs in the room were more audible than we both expected. Cuddling him to the end, Al comforted Checkers as he was administered the lethal injection. We said "good night" today to our Checkers for the very last time.

We went through a lot of dogs before Checkers found us, and he was worth the years and expenses he gave us. We had him longer than half our grandchildren!

You will be MISSED by many! Good night, good boy!

The kitty statue and soon two pup statues.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Past...

Grandpa Farwell with Mike... make my day

Merry Christmas!

While preparing for our holiday decor and traditions this year, I began musing about the traditions that our children missed from my own childhood. So many things are different for a very good reason: we moved to the west coast, and away from our parents and family when our children were quite small. We could not continue many of those seasonal traditions: I wish we could have our parents nearby to share Christmas with.

Daddy overseeing the gifting the month before
I was hospitalized in January. Mike, Rose (unseen),
Vicki, Billy and me (I was puffy from Nephritis)
When my siblings and I were young, we always had grandparents with us early in the morning to see us open our gifts. Usually this was my dad's parents, and my mom's parents went to her sister's home. Both of my parents were one of two children, so that made things simple. Dad's sister was in our area for a few years, then relocated to the west coast.

After opening the anticipated gifts, we had brunch and played with toys or tried on clothing and visited with the grandparents that were with us. By lunchtime we began to prepare for our trip to the other grandparent's home, while Grandpa and Grandma Farwell headed over to her parent's home to visit.

At Grandma Chatel's home, with our aunt (Betty) Jean's family, we had a big dinner mid-afternoon and opened more gifts and stockings. Ham, scalloped potatoes, and Hungarian Kiflie cookies were ALWAYS on the menu! When we teens were older and played instruments, we performed a small concert for our family. We played table games in the basement rec room (usually Crazy 8's) and other games. After dinner, opening gifts and clean-up, we headed over to spend some time with my dad's sister, Aunt Zona, and her family, when they still lived in Michigan. We usually stayed there until way past our bedtime playing with our cousins and their gifts.

The band's all here: Gail (Flute), Barb
(Clarinet), Mike (Sax) with Vicki and Rose
One memorable Christmas when I was ten, our family moved  to Harvey, IL in October to be near Dad's job. He had been living there a few years and driving home every few weeks to see us. His trips were getting more rare, so we moved there and rented a home. We had left all of our Christmas decor in our house in Michigan.

That year my mom's parents drove to visit us. That is the only time I recall them spending Christmas morning at our house. That was a very lean Christmas, and we had not planned to get a tree. My sister, Vicki, however, managed to drag home a tree from her 7th grade classroom... from a half mile away. After propping the big tree in a rock filled bucket, we decorated it with our homemade ornaments. It was "SIMPLY" beautiful with garlands of popcorn, construction paper chains and snowflake cutouts. Tickled to find our Christmas "surprise" of a few strings of lights on Christmas morning... we had the most wonderful tree of all!

Our last Christmas in Michigan with our children was celebrated in our little house on Floral Street in Livonia MI. (The living room was about 12x12 and the kitchen only about 10x11.) My two sisters spent the night before, along with Vicki's daughter, Audry. Early in the morning my Daddy came over with my step-sister, Jan, and her mama, Shirley. My mom came also, with my brother, Bill. (My brother, Mike, had passed away that fall). There were so many gifts under the tree for all five of my parent's grandchildren!

That was an exciting day, crawling over each other and discovering treasures under discarded wrapping paper! The newborn, Ruth, was passed between aunts and grandmas, between feedings. They all spent the day with us, had all the meals in our little house, including a ham dinner from our little stove. This was the last Christmas we ever spent with my parents, because of the long distance after we relocated to Washington. I am so glad we have that memory on video.

As our four children married and added more family members and in-laws, it became increasingly difficult to get together with all of our girls, with times that would not conflict with their in-law's events.

Our family with our daughters began to just gather a few hours in the morning, after their family time at their house, and they would stay through a big lunch before they went on to their spouse's family gatherings and dinners. Those who had no other plans would stay as long as they wished.

As the years passed, the lunch or brunch began to simplify to finger food, sandwiches, cheese and veggie trays, served with all the desserts that came from their homes. Stockings from grandparents were given, and small gifts for everyone. As the family GREW, approaching 20 grandchildren, the stockings became nearly impossible to stuff financially. Eventually, we had to limit the gifts to one per family and hope we had something for the littlest children to play with. The meal together became more difficult over time, between travel and family schedule conflicts.

This year we left the schedule and planning up to the kids. We were curious how many would come visit if we left our plans "open", if they had the choice to not visit our house. I posted a question on Facebook to see if there was any interest in coming to our house this year, and what ideas they had.

All in all, Christmas is about the birth of our Savior, and there is nothing like sharing special time with family to make your circle complete... all the generations touching hearts and hands together with memories for a lifetime.

It looks like our house will be quiet for most of Christmas day. We will have dinner at Charity's home and spend a quiet morning alone, and perhaps have Alice and her children come in the evening for a movie night. The house is open for visits, and snacks are available. We will get the gang all together on Saturday, instead. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The CHALLENGE is on!

I was out of town most of October (see previous post)... so I was unable to participate with the October challenge. Coming home to the chaos was the clincher.

The gauntlet has been cast... on with the purge!

The 31 days to a clutter free house!  

Photos will accompany the updates from time to time.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

October Memories

The month of October was an eventful month for our household. We had planned a vacation to North Carolina back in May and planned to be gone close to 3 weeks. We would leave Oct 13 on a redeye flight and would see Al's cousins, Larry and Ronnie, for Larry's 64th birthday celebration, and spend time with our friends in Lenoir, Scott and Pam Barlow.

As the vacation approached, we were contacted in July by our dear friend, Bev Raatz, that her husband, Gordie, had passed away. After she scheduled his interment appointment at the National Cemetery in Phoenix, she called again, asking Al to officiate the service on Friday, October 10.

Hmmm... that would be tough to pull off, since we were already flying on Monday, October 13; but we tried and found a mid-afternoon flight that arrived at bedtime on Thursday, October 9, and were able to get an early flight back on Saturday, October 11. (There was no non-stop flight available, so we landed in Salt Lake City coming and going.  Al has some difficulty with the cabin pressure on his head during landings, so we were disappointed there would be four take-offs and landings for him within 2 days, and six within five days).

ARIZONA for a few days...

Pam, Barb and Al Hughes, Bev and Sandy
All four flights were uneventful, and Al did not suffer any discomfort, Praise God! The reunion with Bev and her girls, Sandy and Pam, was a sweet blessing! We met a few of the grandchildren, too. Bev heard from another grandson while we were there that he had accepted Christ... an answer to his Grandpa's prayers!

A BUSY Weekend...

Back at "the Hughes Haus" on Saturday afternoon, we worked hard on preparations for Sunday and packing to leave on vacation Monday night. Al preached both morning and evening services and was thankful that a special Discipleship class during the Sunday School hour lightened his load. We caught up all the household laundry, pulled out more luggage and started filling bags.

Little Alice driving a big U-Haul truck
During this weekend, Alice and Jeff's house was emptied into the garage for the move to their new house after closing, so she stayed at our house to watch Checkers and Charming the first week we were gone. She divided her time between cleaning up the vacated house and scheduling the moving van and work crews, while working full time in her part time job at the post office. (Jeff was out of town for schooling, so Alice had the full load of the move on her shoulders, besides, watching our dogs.) We prayed a lot for her... what a busy lady!

We found a ride to the airport for Monday night and headed off to a much needed "time out". The flight was almost an hour late because the flight crew was still in flight on another flight.

Detroit City, Here We Come...

Our first stop was Detroit, our hometown in the old days. God treated us to a beautiful sunrise after we barely caught the flight by running along people movers, trams and "hauling it" to the next gate, just before they closed the plane for departure! (Whew! Wish we had taken the wheeled carry on! Those computers get heavy on full run!)

Charlotte, a new adventure...

While we barely made our flight, our luggage did NOT get on the plane! Arriving in Charlotte, we checked with the airline who advised us what time to check back for the luggage to be offloaded. We rented our vehicle and headed for breakfast, shopping for things we forgot to pack, and returned to get the missing bags.

Heading to Barlow's...

Getting misinformation from our google map, it took way too long to get to Barlow's house. After a redeye flight, missing luggage, and misdirection, we sorely needed a nap, so the Barlows left us to unpack and unwind and went to visit Scott's mom in hospice. 

We spent the first few days just resting, walking some paths, and enjoying not having a hectic schedule. During this time, I prepared the Sunday bulletin for our church back home. We did not have any appointments until the following Sunday (Oct 19) at Barlow's church, Refuge Missionary Baptist Church, so we spent Friday visiting Blowing Rock, NC... we found the mountain views peaceful and refreshing. While we had hoped to find the mountains in full color, many of the leaves had blown off before the colors changed. At least we had each other for good company! It was a blessed day of exploring Blowing Rock and the parkway.

Mayberry RFD (aka Mt Airy)

Al found some HUGE prayer rocks in the path
Barb on the beautiful trail
Tuesday with Craig Edwards, Al and Dr Larry Brown
Tuesday we headed for Mount Airy to hear Dr. Larry Brown preach at Mayberry Baptist Church. We explored the town of Mayberry, had brunch at Barney's Cafe, and discovered the walking trail along the Ararat river until check-in time. Al preached Wednesday night while we were there. It was a blessed message of hope for the folks there. God moved. Here is a LINK to his message on our church website.
Barb in Mayberry
Cute cop car from a Metropolitan car
We loved Mayberry... I went back for another excursion on Thursday morning, while Al went on another walk on the trail. Mount Airy (Mayberry) is such a quaint and charming place. It was disappointing to hear that much of the industry had moved away and left the unemployment rate alarmingly high. Houses were very inexpensive, and people were so needy. Very sad...

Larry's birthday...

Heading out of Mount Airy Thursday, we headed for Al's cousin Larry's house in Apex, NC. Arriving mid-afternoon, we were so excited to see both Larry and his brother, Ron (from Michigan) again. There were hugs all around! Al had not seen the brothers together for 22 years. As we visited, we learned that Larry's birthday BBQ would be in the evening at his son Todd's house, a few blocks away. They encouraged us to invite our grandson, Anders, who had just moved to NC and lived only 45 minutes away. We had time to play the family "game" against the brothers and were trounced.

Ron, Larry and Al Hughes, the cousins reunited after 22 years.
Sydney, Lauren, Maddie and Ethan Hughes
Later, at Todd's house, we met his children for the first time, and Todd did not recall ever meeting us in the past. There was a sweet time of acquaintance and getting to know them. Sydney, the oldest girl, was doing so well: we were happy to see her full recovery from a brain tumor last year. Larry was in his element and enjoying his grandchildren. Todd prepared a delicious meal in their lovely home while we awaited Anders. Then the party started! They provided a chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and Sanders Hot Fudge topping from Michigan... oooh, so good. We miss that great chocolate syrup! Todd gave Al a can of the topping so we can enjoy it at home! (I get the Sander's emails and drool regularly over their sales and advertisements!) Anders rolled his eyes in bliss as he tasted its chocolatey goodness! Mmmm... seriously, if you have not tasted it, you can only imagine.

Friday was a scheduled day of preparation for Sunday. Al was preaching in Smithfield the next Sunday, and I needed to send a bulletin back to be printed out. We discovered the outlying area a bit and found some good coffee for a change.  (Motel coffee is just blah, more like dishwater! In Mt Airy we bought a few ceramic mugs, hoping it would help the flavor. Nothing helped. On Friday we discovered the Krispy Kreme had the best coffee since we arrived in NC! Unfortunately, they sell donuts, too!) :(
Barb and Anders on the beach
Saturday we were taking Anders to the ocean, so he arrived at our motel before 8 am. The maps told us to expect one and a half hours... but it took three hours. The place we were heading for had no beach access, so we continued to Surf City... we were there 32 years ago, when we took a vacation from Vermont in 1982. So many memories! None of us went swimming, but we enjoyed being in the sand and surf and getting some sun. I find the beach relaxing and would love to live near the coast for a few years. Beautiful! The east coast is NOTHING like the west coast. 

Al and Anders after lunch
While we were there, Anders ran down to the water and waded a bit. When he returned he said he had officially been "IN" every ocean that touches the U.S. - the Gulf of Mexico (Texas); Pacific Ocean (WA state and Hawaii) and now the Atlantic in North Carolina. Making memories! 

Sunday, October 26, at Smithfield NC was unique. The Freedom Baptist Church is a mostly Hispanic church where Pastor J Michael Walls is pastor. My husband met Bro Walls online when both began to use the internet about 1996 and have corresponded since, but never met until this weekend. The way the services are conducted is different than any church we have seen. Both English and Spanish songs are sung simultaneously... somewhat I suppose it will be like in Heaven, no? We enjoyed the Sunday School lesson with Anders and then the cousins came for the morning service to hear Al preach. The Hispanic people had a translated copy of the message in hand, and the interpreter sat the service out. We were blessed! Here is a message link for that morning.
Pastor Walls with Al
Todd Hughes, son Ethan, Al, Larry and Ron Hughes, and Anders
The last of the Hughes men with Anders
The afternoon we spent with Larry and Ronnie again, playing the family "game" for a rematch. This time WE won and now have challenged them to a rubber match at our place! Let's wait and see if they come!


Al with Dennis Usher
That night we drove down to the church Anders has been attending, where we knew the Music Director from our Open Door days. Dennis Usher and his family have been in Fayetteville for 30 years. Anders lives very close to the church and plans to attend where he "feels right at home".

We also saw another family we knew from Open Door and were pleased to get reacquainted with them. They had just recently discovered that Dennis had also been at Open Door.

Anders has LOTS of people he already has connections to in this area, so his next three years will be entertaining and fun!

The Scallons, formerly of Open Door, introduced
themselves to us. SO EXCITED to see them!
Back to Barlow's

Driving back to the Barlow's, we drove across the entire state on Highway 64, without using the interstate system. The colors were definitely changing, and we enjoyed seeing that the tree colors had changed since we were with them a week ago!

Blowing Rock...

View coming down the mountain

We decided to try Blowing Rock again this week and check out the colors there, too. The only disappointment on Tuesday was that most of the leaves had fallen off prior to the color change at the upper levels. The mountains were full of barren trees. We saw some color on the roadsides along the way, so we were not completely disappointed. We loved this place... such a charming town. We even discovered a restaurant between buildings that had outdoor seating under the trees, The Village Cafe. The menu was full of delicious choices, and we enjoyed all of the selections we had.

Barb and Pam at lunch at the Village Cafe.
We look forward to returning home this week and have started preparations for the next Sunday as we pack.  See you soon!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Farm Memories

Driving granddaughter, Hope, to school for the next few weeks, I drop her at her friend's farm for the rest of her transport. Sigh, how I LOVE being on the farm! I am seriously missing that farm experience!
Roadside view of sunrise
A bit of history about farms in my life: My great-grandparents were farmers in Charlton MI when they came here from Hungary in the early 1900s. My mom's cousin still lives in the farmhouse with her family and mom. My mind had a memory overload this week when my cousin, Mark, called. He grew up on that farm, the youngest brother of the cousin who now lives there. Mark has his own farm in Texas these days, but we shared some sweet memories of family, events and landmarks on the farm.

Daddy ALWAYS had onions and tomatoes growing in a garden patch. There is NOTHING as good to me as a "fresh off the vine" tomato, especially when served on toast and mayo! Mmmmm....

When I was a teen, mom dated a man who bought a farm intending for us to move there "someday". I used to love going to the farm for our "vacation", even though it meant living in the tenant's cottage, because the big house had regular tenants. We had to spend our weeks bringing in the Timothy hay, and those were memorable years for me. [I drove the tractor because I was only slightly bigger than the bales that had to be thrown into the wagon I pulled in the fields.]

When Al and I moved to the NW in 1974, we tried to garden in our yard, but found the clay soil and damp weather produced more moss and mold than produce. It was a short-lived and not too fun adventure.

Arriving in Vermont in the fall of 1978, we missed the growing season. BUT, in the spring, we got caught up in the spring planting season with all the other residents after a long snowy winter. We plotted out a small area of our small lot and cleared it for the garden.  It felt great to be outside planting, pruning, weeding and best of all, harvesting our own crops. We used the freezer extensively and lived off the proceeds all the next year! Our plot was rich and sandy, and after adding several truckloads of manure, was also fertile and lush. Our tomato plants were big and bushy and full of blossoms... until a farmer instructed us to chop off most of the branches, calling them "suckers". They ate all the nutrients the tomatoes needed to ripen in our short summer season. The corn got so tall and most had two or more ears. We hand fertilized the ears as they matured, so the ears were full and good. We made so many memories in our garden those years. We learned to grow and love spinach crops, sweat peas, and even grew a giant pumpkin one year!

Back in the northwest, we moved to our current house in 1990. After a few years we decided to try our hand at a small garden patch. We harvested some strawberries and a few tomatoes and beans, but not enough to warrant the cost involved for such a small patch. The weather continues to be a factor for success or failure in this yard. THIS YEAR would have been great weather to garden, but we missed the opportunity.

This week, as I visit the farm every morning, I occasionally pull out my phone and snap a few photos. Today I captured their friendly emu, who has been coming out to see me in the mornings.

Yesterday I stopped to photograph their pond next to the house, and caught the sun coming up over the hills. (Adobe kindly removed the utility pole and tractor from the shot.)

I loved the cloud in the valley and both sun and moon in the shot!

After shot, with utility pole and tractor removed.
Maybe we should move to a farm? :) I'd love it, if someone else would do all the work!

Monday, July 14, 2014

NW Trek with Grandsons

We were trying to find a day we could spend with two of the grandsons that did not get to spend time with us for their birthdays. Since Austyn (11) is here for the summer with his daddy, we wanted to include him. He is so close to the ages of Jesse (9) and Reuben (12), so they all got along pretty well.

Our original plan was to take them to the ocean, but they are already going there with mom soon. We considered taking them to Wenatchee to see Lisa's Cupcake Blues shop...  (Pastor Blue's daughter) that would take too much out of our day or require an overnight.

Last week we stumbled upon NW Trek as an option and found it would be "just right" for a day trip, being just over an hour away, toward Mt Rainier.

Jesse, Austyn and Reuben enjoyed all the different animals.
The black bears were pacing their space.

No skating allowed in this buffalo herd... there are twins at the center!
Mama stayed in close proximity to her "little ones" (less than 2 mo old)
From the tram, we saw the resident herd of Elk laying in the sun.
I tried to capture the boys in some of the photos for the blog,
 and some of the better photos can be use for my designs that are developing.

Twin black tail fawns, across the road from their mama.

This handsome curly horn sheep came right up to the
tram to have his photo taken!

The boys on a fallen log: Reuben, Jesse (seated), Austyn

Grandpa joined the boys for the next photo.

Al caught this solar flare shot from the path.
 Hope we can do this park again! The weather was BEAUTIFUL for it! At the very end, as we headed for the ice cream cart, Mt St Helens appeared when the clouds finally lifted! AWESOME sight!

Although it was a LONG day, we really enjoyed the visit with the boys and hope we can plan an outing soon with other grandkids.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day - A Memorable Day and a Great LAUGH

For Father's Day this year, I decided to extract his bike from the photo of our front yard and make him a special card. (He plans to frame it for his office!)

A few weeks ago he came home grinning and told me he discovered why he likes riding that Triumph so much... it made him feel so YOUNG!

Since then we decide to name the bike "Fountain of Youth". Appropriate, I know! 

He was SO happy to get the special card and the mug that I personalized with the words, "You Make Me Feel So YOUNG" on one side. He was so excited! He planned to use the mug at the office so it would not get into the dishwasher by mistake, and ruin the special phrase on it.

Later that morning we went to the office to prepare for services, and he went down the hall to get us a cup of coffee. As he returned to the office, I noticed the cup was losing it's black color quickly. He gasped, "I wondered what it meant by "REVEAL" mug!"

OH, NO! I was so embarrassed! I did NOT see that "REVEAL" feature mentioned and had no idea what that meant, if I did!  (I may have to add more vinyl to "clothe" her!)

I guess he WON'T keep this at the office. Not everyone would understand the "joke". :)