July Moments

July moments need to be captured before the month flies away.
We are past the midway point already.

July has had more drizzle than sizzle this year.
Despite the rain,
nothing could put a damper on the joy
 of being surrounded by some of my children and grandchildren
for the Fourth of July weekend.
I think back on the fall and the winter that we all have gone through.
Now, it is finally summer.
With school out of session, the children are able to take road trips to Grandma's house.

Jonathan, Samantha, and Atticus got the prize for coming the longest distance.  They drove across country from Scranton, PA, to Colorado Springs, CO.  Keicha, with her precious cargo of my granddaughters Regan, Ryan's daughter,  and Gillian, Keicha's daughter,  made the trek across Wyoming from Ogden, UT to Colorado.

I was anxious to see Jonathan as I had not seen him since I left him last October after caring for him after his accident when he suffered trauma to his right brachial plexus. (Click to read about this.)
When I left him in October, he had no feeling in his right upper extremity and had no use of the arm or hand.  He had surgery in February on this injury, and then had a long period of not being able to use the arm while he recovered from surgery.  Now, he is back doing physical therapy with a therapist several times a week, and he reports that he does stretches and strength building exercises two hours every day.  He is slowly regaining use of the arm and the hand.  I must admit that I was overwhelmed with emotion when I first saw him and saw the progress he has made.  I know he has much therapy ahead, but he has made so much progress, and he works very hard at getting back whatever use he can.  His journey has been an arduous one, but it is one he has taken with courage and determination. I am grateful for all the support he has had on the journey.  His wife and his son have no doubt been his closest and staunchest cheerleaders as they are by his side each day.

On the Fourth of July, before our family barbecue, we showered Jonathan, Samantha, and Atticus with a few gifts for the new home they just purchased in Scranton, PA, where Jonathan and Samantha live while they are teaching at Marywood University.  My granddaughter Gillian painted this amazing elephant for Jon and Sam's new home.  Didn't she do an amazing job?

The day was such an fun day.  I took few photos, which was probably just fine with my grandkids.  They always hate it when Grandma gets out her camera and becomes the paparazzi.  Less is more where they are concerned in the photo department.
Atticus & Regan
Hannah & Gillian
Lunch on Grandma & Grandpa's Deck
My niece Michelle was able to join us for the day.  It is always great to have her around.  She adds an extra measure of fun and humor.  She and Keicha go way back when it comes to celebrating the Fourth of July together
Celebrating the 4th of July
Cousins & best friends
Then and now

Keicha, Michelle, and Samantha
After dinner, the kids all decided to go looking for bears.  Of course, a change in activities signaled to my teenage granddaughters that they had to change their clothes from what they'd worn for dinner.

No bears were spotted as the adventurers explored the area around my house.  Keicha took lots of wonderful photos of their times climbing rocks, hiking, and exploring the area around the nearby old Woodman Sanatorium, a treatment center run by the Modern Woodmen during the first half of the last century for those suffering from tuberculosis.  After the exploration trip, they all came home with all sorts of stories about all they had seen and discovered.  I think they all had a memorable time.  (Hopefully, Keicha will do a blog post telling more about these adventures that I can share with you.)

Atticus came home tired and ready to spend time with his buddy Boston.  Boston was very happy about that.

The time together as a family was way too short, but we tried to make the most of time we had.  One day the girls and I went to the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center to the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit that is currently on display.

It is always a treat to see the work of Chihuly.  This piece is on permanent display at the Fine Arts Center.  No photos were allowed to be taken of the O'Keeffe exhibit.

We had a great day of viewing some wonderful art.  This was followed by eating lunch at one of my favorite Mexican food restaurants.  This isn't the best shot of Keicha. You all know she is quite lovely, but I like the effect I got by taking a panorama photo while sitting out on the patio at Jose Muldoons.  The photo is going on the blog.  (Sorry Keicha.)  Of course, while we ate,  I had to tell Grandma Sally's Jose Muldoons story.  Have you heard it?

One day, about 20 years ago or so, Grandma Sally took her sister to Jose Muldoons for lunch to celebrate her sister's wedding anniversary.  We decided to order margaritas with lunch since it was a special occasion.  We had a great lunch and a good time together.
Grandma Sally wrote a check to pay the bill.
Those were the days before debit cards.
The waiter took the check and the bill.
Soon, he came back and said,
"I'm sorry, but I won't be able to accept this check."
"What?"  said I.
"You said you took checks."
He said, "We do take checks, but we can't take this check."
He then politely handed me the check.
I'd signed the check: Sally Muldoon!
That is why you should never drink a margarita for lunch.
I did once, and when I went to leave, I thought I owned the place.
(Thankfully, I had enough cash to pay the bill that day.)  

After lunch, Jonathan, Samantha, and Atticus met us for ice cream.  I couldn't get any of them to cooperate for a family photo, so this is what you get.  The image of all of us together enjoying ice cream on summer afternoon is one I will remember whenever I visit Josh & John's Ice Cream.  I have so many similar memories of other times we gathered here for ice cream from years gone by.  Do you have favorite places that hold special memories of times with family?

 We ended our day by doing a downtown walking tour of Colorado Springs.  This led us on another art tour as we viewed some graffiti in one of the alleyways.  Jon is giving us an interpretation of what the graffiti writers were saying in this photo below.  

That's my quirky and interesting family.  We go from the art museum to urban art painted on the sides of building and find interest in it all.  

I always wish all of my children and grandchildren could be together whenever we gather together, but in today's world, that is unrealistic.  

Moments in July spent with loved ones are treasures. 

 Moments are no small thing. 

Life is, after all, made up of a collection of  small moments.  

Gather those moments and hold them close to your heart.

I Am An American

I am the daughter of

The Isle of Jersey
was home
to my first American ancestors.

In 1676,
 a young man,
Philippe Gavit, (also spelled Gavet, Gavett, Gavitt, and Gavvitte)
 a Frenchman,
 left that island in the English Channel off the French coast of Normandy,
and headed for America.

He stepped ashore in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

Soon, he married and established the beginning of what would become my American family.

I am the daughter of early American entrepreneurs and land owners.

Philippe Gavit's granddaughter,
Prudence Gavit (Gavet)
William French,
a Protestant Scot-Irish from Londonderry, Ireland, in 1738/9
at Westerly, Washington County Rhode Island.

Their son, William French, Jr., my father's namesake,
 fought in the Revolutionary War.

A great grandfather on my maternal side fought in the Civil War.

My father and all of my uncles served proudly during World War II.
French Family sons and daughters during World War II
Father, of Sally French Wessely, William French, is on far right.

I lost a first cousin, Steven Reichert in Viet Nam.
French Family Cousins
Steven Reichert, killed in Viet Nam at age 19, is third from top left.
Sally French Wessely is second from left.

Steven Reichert
First Cousin of Sally French Wessely
Name on
Traveling Viet Nam Memorial Wall

I am the daughter of Americans who went to war for this country.

My grandfather when asked what nationality we were always said,
"We are damn Yankee rebels."

I am the daughter of Welsh coal miners.
From the green hills of Wales they came to the dry hills of Colorado
  to work in the mines.

I am the daughter of coal miners,
union members.

I am the daughter of proud Democrats who always voted the Democratic ticket.

I am the daughter of Scotch Presbyterians.

I am the daughter of those who worked for the WPA.

I am a daughter of those who came west to breathe the high mountain air because
 had made life in the humid east unbearable.

I am the daughter of storytellers.

I am the daughter of those who searched for gold in the west.

I am the daughter of
shop keepers,
a telegrapher sending and receiving messages across the wires,

I am the proud granddaughter of a homesteader.
My grandmother, as a single woman, established
and lived in a homestead on her own.
It is my great sadness that I never knew this woman.
My mother as a child with her parents
Albert and Lulu Townsley.
Lulu homestead by herself prior to her marriage

I am the daughter of strong Christian believers,
and renegades who never believed.

I am proud of my heritage.
I believe in extending the American dream to others.

I am a teacher of immigrant children.
Their stories could break a teacher's heart.
They left family, culture, language, and friends,
sometimes unwillingly,
to have an opportunity for a better life.

These children have taught me more about the American dream
than I ever learned in any class in American history I ever took.

I married a man whose parents were refugees from Nazi Germany.
James (Jim) Wessely
with his parents
Kurt and Emmy Wessely
I am grateful this country provides a place of refuge to those escaping
The Holocaust,
and the horrors of war.

I am grateful this country remains the land of opportunity for many.
I am also aware of how much poverty and inequality we have in our own country.

I am well aware of the need for immigration reform.
Few things anger me more than calling a person "illegal."
People are NOT illegal.
Some are in the country without documentation.

This problem of immigration is a complex, generational problem.
I know many families who might not have had documentation to be in the United States.
I know this because students have trusted me enough to tell me this.
As a teacher, it is my legal responsibility to provide an equal educational opportunity to every student
K -12 regardless of immigrations status.
(Plyler vs. Doe 1982)

I am an American teacher who worked with marginalized populations.
I am proud to have worked with this strong,
group of students and their parents.

I am an American.
May I never forget my roots in this democracy.

Sometimes, I see us fighting over the use of words in our Pledge of Allegiance and it breaks my heart.
We have our freedoms,
thankfully we have,
and I support,
our freedoms,
but at times it seems that we are forgetting that we are to be indivisible.
It seems our  First Amendment Rights
are used in ways that appear to shout that we no longer believe in
liberty and justice for all.

We live in troubled times,
but I,
an American,
 continue to believe in the dream my ancestors,
those damn Yankee rebels,
fought to establish.

There are fifteen lines in that famous poem, The New Colossus, written by Emma Lazarus
that became associated with the Statue of Liberty.

I am an American.

I am pondering every line of that poem written about the "Mother of Exiles."

I hope you will do the same on this Independence Day.

Read more about the poem and its author here:  How a Sonnet Made a Statue the "Mother of Exiles."

Our Getaway - Part Two

Just as June was ending, my husband and I had a getaway prior to his back surgery.  I wrote about part of that getaway in "Our Getaway - Part One." (Click to read that posting.)  Now, as we are beginning August, this posting I am finally writing is old news, but I did want to share with you some of the places where we traveled on our getaway.

Just looking at the photos I took has actually caused me to long for another getaway.  In the meantime, I will take some refreshment and joy by remembering the beauty we saw as we traveled to some beautiful parts of Colorado.

The Fourth of July is never my favorite time to be on the road.  In fact, I prefer to stay home that weekend or get to my destination before the holiday begins.  Unfortunately, this year, our decision to take a small road trip during the holiday was a last minute decision I insisted on before we faced my husband's surgery.

Thankfully, we found great accommodations in Glenwood Springs despite it being a holiday weekend.  We did not plan on spending time in the pool during the heat of the day on the Fourth of July, and we didn't want to go in and out of tourist shops in town.  Jim wanted to go over to a small town near Glenwood Springs called Carbondale, Colorado because he found that was where the nearest dog park was located.  It had been a long time since I had been to Carbondale, so I was up for the 13 mile drive to find a dog park.

We had even thought of driving on into Aspen for the day.  Aspen is only about an hour from Glenwood and just about an additional 30 miles from Carbondale.  While the prospects of going to Aspen for the day were intriguing, I didn't really want to be limited to where we could go while we were there because we had the dog with us.  So, as we drove towards Carbondale, I pulled out the map and suggested we go to Marble, Colorado.  Jim immediately and incredulously responded with, "No, are you kidding?"  You see there is a story behind this response.  One that will take another blog post.  It involves a wild ride I once wanted to take him on over Schofield Pass.  Google Schofield Pass images for a reason why he did not want to go to Marble with me.  I guess he doesn't trust me.  I assured him that I had a different route to Marble in mind for this trip, so he agreed to take my word for it that he would like my plan.

I'd forgotten how beautiful the drive between Glenwood and Carbondale was.  As Mt. Sopris came into view, I asked him to pull over so I could photograph this beautiful mountain.  As you can see, my selection of spots in which to take a photo was not the best, note the telephone wires, but you get the idea of how beautiful the area is.

As we pulled into Carbondale, we headed towards the dog park.  Boston was ready for a nice run and a refreshing drink of water.  

While Boston romped and ran, I walked down towards the entrance to the park to a community garden that had caught my eye on my way into the dog park. I loved the sign that the gardeners had created.

Can you imagine the joy that gardeners in this spot enjoy?  What a view!  The neighborhood around the garden and the dog park was lush with beautiful yards and flowers because of ditch water that ran through the area.  

After Boston was duly exercised and watered, we took CO 133-S to Redstone, Colorado.    

Once we got into town, which is more like a village than a town, we wished we'd planned our trip better.  (This is the story of our lives!)  Our timing was slightly off.  We headed down Main Street just after the Fourth of July Parade ended.  In fact, some folks might have thought we were part of the parade!  This town would be the perfect place to watch the perfect small town America Fourth of July Parade.  Every tricycle, wagon, child, and dog seemed to be decked out in red, white, and blue.  The town is tiny, so the street is closely bordered by mining era houses that are decorated for the holiday.  Being a mountain town, the flowers were stunning in their profusion and rich hues.  I just could not bring myself to stick my head out of the window of the car to take photos.  Trust me; it was a magical, patriotic place on this day.

We were starving, so we found a place to eat that was dog friendly.

We will return to Redstone, and next time we will plan our trip better.  We hope to catch a tour of the castle there and even perhaps spend the night at the Redstone Inn.  Both of these things have been on 
my bucket list for quite some time.

Just outside of town, one find the interesting and historical coke ovens that were built by the Colorado Fuel and Iron and the coal "coked" by these ovens was transferred by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad.  Both the CF&I and the D&RGRR figure largely in my personal family history, so I am always fascinated by the history of such places as the coke ovens near Redstone.

After taking a short time to photograph the coke ovens, we needed to go to a place I had been longing to re-visit for a long time:  Marble, Colorado.

I had not been to Marble since my girlhood days.  I don't even remember when I last went there on one of my father's fascinating road trips through Colorado.  If only I had a recorded oral history of his voice as he told us about these places in Colorado.  He had such knowledge of these places, and he told the story of each place in such an interesting way.  I used to love these trips with him.  Now, all those stories are lost somewhere in the recesses of my memory, but I remembered the town, and thankfully, it had not really changed.  It is still a place off the beaten path that is somewhat undiscovered.  It is hard to read the sign, but it states that the population is 85 and the elevation is over 7,000 feet.

Just as I remembered, marble is everywhere.  It almost litters the ground, if marble could litter.  

Naturally, many sculptors live in this area.
 This is a rock solid mail box holder!

The sizes and shapes of the white marble against the blue of the mountains and the green of trees and grasses is a delight to the eye.

As we drove through town, it was hard to believe that in the rest of America crowds where thronging and celebrating.  This was the view that welcomed us as we drove toward a small church in the town.

Here is the perfect setting for a small family wedding the mountains, or for a peaceful Sunday morning service.

We parked the car near the church, and I wandered to side yard.  I found this beautiful sculpture next to the church.
 I could not help but lift my eyes towards the heavens and think of my darling daughter Julie as I sat in this peaceful place surrounded by beauty and peace.  I thought of her in the presence of real angels and rejoiced that she was in a place of peace.

My reflection was soon interrupted by a visitor.

Boston joined me on a marble bench and brought a big smile to my face and gratitude to my heart for this dear canine companion.  It seemed that this was the perfect ending to a perfect day.  Soon, the three of us, Jim, Boston, and I, headed towards Glenwood Springs where Jim and I would enjoy a great evening soak in the hot springs.  

Crazy Busy Summer So Far

Summer ~ Fun Times With Family

Summer Kickoff

Technically, it wasn't yet summer when we began our summer kickoff of time with family by meeting my sister and her husband in Santa Fe, New Mexico over Memorial Day Weekend.  Suzanne and John traveled from San Diego to explore new territory to them with us.  We spent most of the time relaxing and catching up with each other, but we managed to eat a lot of wonderful meals, and we of course we did some shopping.  All in all, it was just a great time of being together.

Sunset Viewing
via the rooftop of the La Fonda

20th Anniversary

After spending several days at the wonderful La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, I was surprised when my husband booked us a room at another wonderful hotel a few weeks later.  He chose the Brown Palace in Denver as the site where we would celebrate our 20th anniversary.  He managed, as he always seems to do, to get us an absolutely amazing room.  We were greeted with complimentary champagne as we checked in.  
Here's to many more years to come.

Father's Day

A week later, it was Father's Day.  We invited all of Jim's children and grandchildren down to our house to celebrate.  It is always great to have our home filled with children.
Daddy and Daughters
Trista & Thia with Jim
Jim with all three of his daughters
and all but one of his grandchildren

4th of July

Before we knew it, the 4th of July was already here.  Does that mean the summer is half way over?  I hope not.  I am enjoying all the good this summer has brought way too much to have it half over.  The heat has been horrendous, but time spent with family and with my hubby has been priceless.  

My two sons made the trek to Colorado for this year's 4th of July celebrations.  We missed not having Keicha here in Colorado for the holiday, but it was great to have the boys with us as we all celebrated at Amy's house in Erie, Colorado.  We actually began the celebrations on July 3rd because that is when everyone rolled into town.

Jon, Samantha, and Atticus all came from Boston, while Ryan and his new friend, and our longtime family friend, Sheridan, came in from Utah with their Brady Bunch crew of five children.  The brave souls made the trip across Wyoming in a motor home.  Ryan brought his three children, and Sheridan brought her two boys.  I hear the trip was a blast.

The first order of business was to set up tents so the kids would have a place to sleep.  It was threatening rain as Samantha and Jon joined Sheridan and Ryan at setting up a tent.  Grandsons, led by Parker set up the second tent.  I should have timed them.  Eagle scout Ryan vs. Parker who is currently working on his Eagle badge.  I wonder who would have won. 

 Regan lends a helping hand by driving in a stake with a croquet mallet
Hannah watches all the activity

Jon wonders what kind of bird he is observing.
Ryan sends Parker for a bird book that he has in the motor home.
"How is this supposed to help?  This is Birds of Utah."

Amy set out snacks for us all to eat before dinner.

There was furry of activity as the cousins, ecstatic to see each other again, set up the croquet set, and put out the corn hole game.  Playing these games kept everyone busy until dinner.

We opted out of going to the Erie fireworks display which was held at the golf course.  It seemed like too big a hassle to eat and get everyone over there in time for the display.  Besides, it was determined that the best place to watch the show would be on top of the motor home parked in front of Amy's.  

Jon helps Mason up to the top of the RV.
Next comes Bridger.
So on, and so forth until all eight kids are on top of the RV.  
They decided it was dirty up there.
It wasn't very comfortable either.
Plus, they weren't sure they would be able to see the fireworks from there after all.
One, by one, they all came down safely.  Thank heavens.

That is what every kid waits for on the 4th of July.
That is when the fireworks begin!

This year was a bit odd.  There were fireworks bans throughout the State of Colorado for obvious reasons.  So, what do kids do when the sun goes down when they can't shoot off their own fireworks, and the town's fireworks show is late starting?  Why, they play kick the can of course!

Grandma Sally had to go out and show them how to play because they had it all wrong.  Then Jon, modeled how to play by being It.  Unfortunately, he was It all night long.  Those kids seem to run faster than he does.  

All in all, it was a fabulous night.  We laughed, and talked, and watched the kids play.  What can be better than that?

The next day, the actual 4th of July, we all went to Boulder to see what was happening on Pearl Street.  No, we weren't trying to be the entertainment, but I guess we probably were.  
The kids are holding son Ryan up.

 The kids played in the water on Pearl Street to cool off.
Hannah getting cool while wearing her festive headpiece.

After spending a little time on Pearl Street in Boulder, some of the adults and all of the kids went to Grandma Sally's hotel to swim in the pool.  There are no photos of that activity because Grandma Sally was back at Amy's fixing dinner.  Pulled pork sandwiches, a mountain of potato salad, and grilled corn on the cob was on the menu for those who are not vegetarians.  Those who are vegetarians, had veggie burgers, veggie dogs.  Veggie corn dogs seemed to be enjoyed by all the kids whether they were vegetarians or not.

We all only had a few days together, but it was a very special, fun time.  Grandma Sally and Grandpa Jim headed back home on the morning of the 5th.  Jon, Sam, and Atticus headed to Colorado Springs to spend time with Sam's mom.  Ryan and Sheridan, being the brave souls that they are, or as Jim said in need of a mental evaluation, took off to Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Granby in the motor home with seven kids in tow.  They added Amy's two kids to the mix of their five.  I spoke with them tonight; it has been raining, but somehow they managed to bed down all nine of them for the night last night in RV.  Tonight they plan on having the boys sleep in the tents.  They say they are having a ball.  

On Saturday, Ryan and crew head back to Utah.  On Sunday, Jon and Sam will take their Atticus and Amy's two children to Utah to spend a few days.  There, they will have more cousin time while they visit their Grandpa Barry and their great-grandparents.  

The best part of summer is when family gets together.  We have been blessed to be able to spend some wonderful time this summer with family.