Small Town Love

Our family is like a little solar system.  At our center is our sun, my sister Sue, radiating warmth and love that sustains her six siblings, who, like planets, revolve around her.  Although she never had children of her own, she is a second mom (and now grand-mom) to satellite nieces, nephews, cousins’ and friends’ children.

Although four of the seven “kids”  have moved away, Sue, our sister Sandy and brother Tom have all  lived in the same area their entire lives, accumulating a glorious galaxy of friends.  (See how you think after being married to an astronomer for four decades?)

Recently, Tom’s daughter gave birth to premature twins.  Sadly, one died shortly after birth, but thanks to the wonderful medical team in Providence, his twin has grown from 1 pound 6 ounces to just under 4 pounds.

Modern medicine is truly amazing; it is also really, really expensive.  Even with insurance, the high deductible, coinsurance, and uncovered expenses all equate to huge bills, as any parent with a sick child can attest.  So, Sue decided to gather the troops to create a benefit dinner– “Pasta with a Purpose”.

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Just a small sample of the raffle items

Fortunately, Sue has a talent for choosing loyal and giving friends, that are just like her.  Sheila, an elementary school buddy, has worked in the restaurant business for years, and like our brother Tom, is an amazing chef.  Who expects benefit food to be good?  It was at THIS benefit, thanks to a team of cooks.


But the real stroke of genius was making friends with Debbie, who like other elementary school teachers, is a force to be reckoned with.   Teachers know how to create something out of nothing, how to get the unruly to behave and how to keep calm in the midst of chaos, and how to make great displays.   Let’s hear it for the teachers!


Within three weeks, family and friends had secured the Knights of Columbus hall,

The “elves” worked hard to get this all set up and orgnized

gotten food and raffle donations,

As the evening progressed, donations kept coming in– we were running out of space!

found a DJ,


sold hundreds of tickets, enlisted student volunteers to serve food,

These kids were “on it”, serving, clearing, and setting up for the next round of diners

and taken care of the hundreds of tiny details necessary to make the event a success.

And what a success it was!  All to help this little guy and his loving parents.


With so much negativity and violence these days, it is heartening to see how people can come together to support each other in time of need.

Our family includes the normal mix of in-laws, out-laws, and sheep of all colors.  If you were to chart us — along economic, political, and religious lines, you’d find someone on just about any point in the spectrum.  But when it comes to things that really matter, that all gets put aside.  It is family and friends,  all the way.

So in addition to paying tribute to my amazing sister, Sue, this is a huge thank you to all you small town inhabitants with big hearts, who came out on November 5th to show the love for Haylie, Greg and Baby Spencer.  Forgive me for not mentioning or photographing all of you who did so much to make the day so special.   You know who you are, and so do we.

Could this be the start of another lifelong friendship?



Off to The Grand Canyon

Colin Fletcher called the Grand Canyon a “huge natural museum of the earth’s history”. Okay, so I didn’t know who Colin Fletcher was either, until I signed us up for this Road Scholar trip. Now that I am a retiree (excuse me, “lifestyle manager”), I have time to actually READ the suggested background materials.

Colin Fletcher wrote “The Man who Walked Through Time: The Story of the First Trip Afoot Through The Grand Canyon”. Given that the canyon was inhabited by Native Americans for about 10,000 years before the first Europeans arrived, it isn’t hard to imagine that one or two of them might have sauntered from one end of the canyon to the other before he did, but then again, THEY never published their adventures and thoughts. I shouldn’t be too hard on Mr. Fletcher, though. After all, his book was written in the early 1900’s; half a century later, when I was in school, we still were being taught that Columbus “discovered” America, as if it were completely devoid of human inhabitants when he arrived.

So, now that I’ve gotten beyond the title, what did I learn from his book? Other than that I would never, ever even CONSIDER hiking through the canyon, I learned that you can tell the age of the rocks from their colors. I created this little chart so I’d know what I was looking at when we get there, starting from the rim and moving on down to the bottom:

Rock Color Thickness Age
Limestone White 400 feet 225 million years
Sandstone Pale brown 350 feet 250 million years
Shale and Sandstone Red 1,000 feet 275 million years
“The Esplanade”, Limestone Blue gray, stained red 800 feet 450 million years
Bright Angel Shale Layered greenish gray and purple 600 feet 475 million years
“Tonto Platform”Tapeats Sandstone Brown 225 feet 500 million years
Schists Dark gray with granite Depth is unknown Almost 2 billion years

Okay, so I have no concept of what 400 feet (or any of the other number of feet, for that matter) looks like–but when I get there, and take photos, and post them, well, then we’ll ALL know. And we’ll also know how long those bloody rocks have been plopped there.

I do better with visuals. So here’s a picture of where we will be for the week, starting and ending in Phoenix.

grand canyon

This trip will have an added element of adventure. The original plan was that this trip would be my father’s day present to my dad. He and Mike were going to room together, and I would be rooming with my “childhood” friend, Augusta. My dad’s knee became uncooperative, causing him to have to cancel out. Well, I notified Road Scholar and told them to change my roommate to Mike. I then learned that doing so would mean that Augusta might be assigned a female roommate, which wasn’t quite what she’d had in mind. So, Mike being an all around wonderful guy, decided to ‘take one for the team’ and agreed he’d be the solo traveler. No, that doesn’t mean HE gets the female roommate. He will only be matched up if there is another solo male traveler. The adventure part? We won’t know how this will shake out till we arrive tomorrow night.

Just think of the possibilities… Mike’s assigned roommate is a Sean Connery look alike, who gazes upon the lovely Augusta and is immediately smitten, causing us to swap roommates faster than your average college freshman. Beautiful sunsets, the canyon as a backdrop..could this be a made for TV movie, or what? Lifetime channel, perhaps?

More likely, Mike will be roommate-less. Hmmm. Maybe we shouldn’t mention that we’ve been married for 37 years. That way, if I am spotted doing the “walk of shame” out of his room some morning, it might liven up breakfast discussions.

So, which part of the blog did YOU find more interesting– rock colors and ages or the possibility of “seniors gone wild”?