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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Feeling Better Finally.

Hi Everyone.

Thank you all for your prayers.  I'm feeling much better today.  So much better in fact, that I mowed the grass for Dennis today.  He will be very happy when he gets home.  He always mows on the weekend but we were in Portland.  We've been busy since we returned home so it just hadn't gotten done.  I feel better too.  A little exercise never hurt anyone.

I thought I would show you a picture of my current project.
It's a wave pattern crocheted blanket.  It's not very big right now, but it takes quite a lot of time because it's pretty solid.  When it is completed I'm going to give it to an elderly lady that I visit a couple of times a week in a nursing facility.  She lost her husband in the spring and she loves bright colors.  She has altzheimers but seems to remember me.  Since she's always cold I thought this would be a cheerful room brightener for her room.  A plus is that it use up lots of scraps.  When done it will (hopefully), be big enough to cover her hospital bed.

 I always keep a knitted baby hat in progress in my purse.  When I have 30 or so I deliver them to our local hospital for the new babies.  Usually that's every six to seven weeks.

Mom made it back safely to Omaha last night.  I think she's happy to be back home in her own bed.  But we sure had a good time together when we weren't sick!

Alex, (our son in Japan), called last night.  He's applied for a new teaching position at a University in Aomori Prefecture.  According to the posting for job requirements, he has all of the requirements, but he doesn't know if they've already hired someone else.  He just found out about it on Monday and sent off his resume right away.  This sounds like the job he's wanted since he graduated with his Masters so we pray that if it's God's will, he will get it.  He loves teaching.  Right now he teaches Jr. High and he's also taught elementary but he enjoys University students best.  He taught English Compostion at the University here in Washington when he was only 17!  All of his students were older than he was!  He got his Masters Degree at 19 and moved to Japan the next week.

Well, I'm off to grate zuchinni to make into relish.  I think I have enough for about 10 jars if I'm lucky.  We love it on meatloaf.  Have a wonderful evening!

Blessings,

Betsy

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hello Again!

Sorry I've been away for an entire week.  Last I post told you that my mother-in-law was sick.  Guess who got the bug next?  Yep.  It was me.  I'm still not over it.  I finally went to the Dr. today and have a sinus infection so I'm on antibiotics.  Prayers would be appreciated since I leave next Friday for Japan. I've flown before with a sinus infection and it's NOT fun!  We had a trip planned to visit our daughter and her husband in Portland, OR this past weekend and not wanting to be the wet blanket and stay home, we all piled in the car for the 6 hour drive from Spokane,  Since our daughter is a nurse, I knew I would be well taken care of and she assured me that she wanted us to come, sick or not.  Here are a few pictures of the trip.


This is my hubby, Dennis and my mother-in-law with our "baby" Chloe at Multnomah Falls in Oregon.
 The Falls are just beautiful!  See Chloe watching her "mama"?
 Here I am with Mom and Chloe.
 These two pictures are from the Vista House overlooking the mighty Columbia River, just outside of Portland. It was a bit hazy on Friday but the view was breaktaking all the same.  That's the interstate highway at the bottom of the picture above.

These are our two girls.  Chloe on the bottom and Brad and Mandy's golden lab, Polly at the top.  They sure love to play with each other.  Notice their matching bandana's.  They had to be pink, 'cause they're girls. :-)

I love to go visit my kids, but was really glad to be back home in my bed last night.  Waking up this morning with a fever of 101.2 was probably part of the reason I was so glad to be home.  Mom is flying home to Omaha tomorrow morning and then I need to start preparing for the Japan trip so I have to get better quickly.  My Japan Rail pass has arrived and I have begun packing a few things.  Those darn quart size bags for liquids really limit the things you can take since I don't check any bags.  It's too hard to carry bigger bags on all of the trains I'll be on once I arrive in Japan.

Please pray for a speedy recovery and I'll try to be back soon with an update.

Blessings,

Betsy

Monday, August 22, 2011

Good Morning!

It's another beautiful day in Spokane, WA.  We are supposed to get up to 90 today-which is pretty warm for up here.  I know a lot of you are suffering greatly this summer with terrible heat that just won't stop, so I refuse to complain about our few days of heat!

I know I promised pictures of our trip to Northern Idaho on Saturday but I didn't take one picture.  My dear mother-in-law started feeling ill while we were driving and I completely forgot to take pictures.  She's still in bed this morning with what I hope is just a stomach bug.  She's been very sick since Saturday afternoon but this morning ate a bit of oatmeal and a little of her beloved coffee. :-)   I don't drink coffee and I can't understand this addiction to it.  Our daughter is worse than my mother-in-law!

However, I do have a few pictures of our house and backyard for anyone who is interested.


These are my english roses.  I don't remember the actual name but I love them.  I wish they would bloom earlier in the year, but it's usually the end of July, this year because of the cold, wet spring it was just this past week that the first bloom appeared.  Notice how it hides the garbage can-that's an extra bonus!


These are our new front steps.  We had a wooden deck until 2 months ago.  Since the house faces west, they were constantly in need of staining.  At least twice a year we had to stain them.  We are so happy with these steps and we won't have to worry about scratching the wood now when we shovel the several feet of snow that arrives each year.


This is the deck off the dining room.  We have a roof over it and I love to read my Bible in the rocker in the mornings.  I also enjoy knitting out here since we have a lovely view of Mt. Spokane.  Oh yes, that's my "baby" Chloe.  Isn't she sweet looking?  She has the best disposition of any dog I've seen.
This is the sitting area under the deck.  It's so much fun to sit under here and read a book or knit while it's raining.  Summer afternoons are nice and cool in the shade since we have virtually no humidity.  I get books on tape (or CD) from the library and listen to them while out here knitting in the afternoon whenever I get a chance.  Next best thing to Heaven, (besides Hawaii). :-)


This is the backyard and patio.  Behind the trees are view of the mountains that you can see very well from on the upper deck.

Sorry about the glare from the sun.  I am far from a professional photographer, but I wanted to share a bit of my world with all of you.  I hope you have a wonderful day and remember to try to take a few minutes for yourself today.

Blessings,

Betsy

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Small Addition

Today after taking a drive in the mountains with my dear mother-in-law, I came home to find a bag with 9 more hats hanging on my front door!  I have no idea who brought them as there was no note attached.  A big thank-you to whomever it was if you're reading this!

So the total is revised a bit.  966 hats and 1460 total items!!!!

We had a beautiful day today here in sunny Spokane.  It was 81 and blue, blue, blue skies.  The drive we took was north in Washington State, almost to the Canadian border.  The mountains are on either side of you on the highway and it's so very, very beautiful.

Tomorrow our plan is to take Mom to Coeur d' Alene, Idaho and then northward to the town of Sandpoint, Idaho.  This is truly God's country.  I've never seen so much beauty all in one area.  Having grown up in Nebraska/Iowa, I know the prairie has a beauty all it's own, but in my humble opinion, nothing can compete with the inland northwest.  I love the summers of no humidity.  I remember, before moving out west, the summers of taking a shower, drying off and being icky, sweaty before you could even get dressed!  It's not like that here at all.  We used to drive 10 hours to get to the Black Hills to camp on vacation.  Now we drive less than 20 minutes to find the same type of countryside.  I'll try to remember to take some pictures tomorrow to show you this beautiful part of the country.  The camera was left on the kitchen counter today.

Thanks for reading my rambles and I'll see you all again soon.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

GRAND TOTALS!!!!!!

I took the last three boxes to the Post Office today.  Those guys are getting to know me quite well.  The grand totals of items sent to Japan as of today are:

Hats - 957
Scarves - 263
Cowls - 21
Socks & Slippers (pairs) - 15
Mittens (pairs) - 40
Washcloths - 86
Baby Sweaters - 23
Baby Blankets - 11
Full Blankets - 9
Baby Pants - 5
Baby Diaper Soakers - 2
Adult Sweater - 1
Headbands - 5
Shawls - 3
Legwarmers (pair) -3
Wristwarmers (pair) - 3
Towels - 3
Baby Layette (Sweater, hat, booties, pants) - 1

Total number of pieces - 1,451

Isn't this just amazing?  I told my husband that I wish I had the time to knit or crochet 43 more to make it an even 1000 hats.  He looked at me like I was crazy.  Not only is he ready to be done paying postage on all these boxes, he reminded me of my original goal.  Which was 400 hats.  None of the other items were even considered at the beginning of this project.  Just look what happens when yarn lovers get involved!  Our house was bursting at the seams a few times with boxes and boxes.

My dear mother in law worked very hard yesterday, helping me tag all of the new arrivals and packing them up.  Then hubby provided the muscle to tape everything securely.

I appreciate each and every one of you.  Whether you crocheted, knitted, provided yarn, prayers or encouragement, this would never have happened without you.  God placed you in just the place you would do the most good and I thank you for it.

Blessings,

Betsy

Monday, August 15, 2011

Last Mailing for Japan!

Oh my, what a busy day we had today.  Mom and I spent the morning on errands.  You know, mundane things like buying groceries and going to the bank.  Oh yes, four loads of laundry were done, floors were mopped and vacuumed too.  I've been so busy with the Japanese students, the house has been sorely neglected.  Between Mom and I, many of the chores I've left undone were completed.  I even got some green beans harvested from the garden, blanched and frozen before we left the house.  Mom treated to me lunch at Taco Bell while we were out and about.  That was really a treat. 

Then...we came home and spent the next six and one half hours tagging all the goodies from my previous two posts.  Plus another box that arrived today from Ginny at her Small Things blog.  She has been such a blessing to this project.  Today's box had 76 hats, 2 baby diaper soakers, a complete layette and gaby blanket.

I'll add the grand totals up for you all very soon but meanwhile here are pictures of todays arrivals.








Hats, hats and more hats.  Isn't the blue layette just beautifully done?  The boxes are filling the back end and the backseat of my CRV.  This is the third shipment like this that I've sent to Alex.  I talked to him on the phone yesterday.  He said we need to deliver these as soon as I arrive or I'll have to sleep on top of the boxes.  There isn't any room for me in his apartment now! 

Thanks for everything.  Keep watching and I'll let you know how preparing for the trip is going.  I thank everyone who helped with this project for Japan.  I couldn't have done any of it without you.

Blessings,

Betsy

Sunday, August 14, 2011

One More Sweater!

In the mail on Thursday was this precious sweater from Yvonne!  I promised her I wouldn't mail my last boxes until this sweater arrived.  The detail is wonderful and will keep a little one warm for sure.


We spent the weekend in Helena, Montana babysitting our grandchildren.  It's always lots of fun.  We spent the weekend reading books, watching them ride bikes, painting pictures, playing cowboys, making towns from legos etc, etc.   We had the time of our lives.  Just look at these faces with their Great-Grandma Queen.


Grandpa was playing dress-up with his granddaughter...she was fixing him tea for the tea party!  He certainly wouldn't put this hat on for me, but for his granddaughter, he'll do anything the princess requests.  Just as it should be!


Here are a few pictures I snapped as we drove home on the interstate at 70 mph.  Please forgive the blur and some glass glare.  It was hot so we had the A/C on and the windows up.  However, you can still get an idea of the beauty of the Montana mountains.

This is the Yellowstone River.  Isn't it beautiful?  The water is so clear, you can see to the bottom.

The trees were so green and the sky so blue today.

I'm sorry they are so blurry, but you get the idea.  It was a beautiful day for a drive across the mountains.  We cross three mountain passes and go through three states to get to Helena.  It's a beautiful drive.  I sat in the backseat and knitted while my DH and Mother-in-law sat in the front and chatted.  I enjoyed it all immensely.  In two weeks we'll go in the opposite direction to our daughters home in Portland, OR.  On that trip we get to drive along the mighty Columbia River and see the spectacular scenery along the river and all the waterfalls.

Tomorrow I hope to get the tags all sewn on the donations from the last post.  We got home too late tonight to even get it started.  The goal will be to mail them on Tuesday morning.

Blessings to you all and good-night.  I'm off to bed.

Betsy

Thursday, August 11, 2011

An Amazing Delivery!

I was contacted several months ago from Karen who coordiates an outreach program with the Oregon State Correctional Institution.  The inmates had heard of the project for Japan and wanted to take part in it.  They do all the knitting and crocheting of the items.  Just take a look at the pictures below-it'll knock your socks off!  One of our church's pastors was in Portland yesterday and he picked up all the boxes from my daughter's house and brought them right to my door.  Such a blessing!  I didn't have to pay for the gas to drive all the way to Portland and since the group didn't pay for postage to mail them to me, they sent me a very generous check to help with postage.  Since each box costs me between $190 and $220 to mail, I've hobbled my pride for the time being and have generously accepted any and all donations!

Take a look and you'll be as amazed as I was.  It is my understanding that Karen taught every inmate to crochet these items.  These are numbers that they donated.  They included labels for each item.

HATS- 204
SCARVES-108
SHAWLS-2
FULL BLANKETS-8
BABY BLANKETS-10



 These hats have matching scarves tucked up inside them.

 Shawls and Scarves!








Isn't this just wonderful?  Now I just have to label, repack and mail!  My dear mother-in-law is flying in from Nebraska in about 2 hours and then we're headed to Montana to babysit our grandchildren for the weekend.  My first project on Monday morning will be heading to the post office to send these goodies off on their way to Japan.

Thank you so much for the blessings you've shown me with your generousity.  You are all so wonderful!

Blessings,

Betsy

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Goodbye Yoshie!

Last night was the Farewell party for the Japanese students who have been visiting Spokane for the past three weeks.  It has been a busy, busy time, especially the past 4 days.  There were many, many tears last night, but lots of good memories  made with new friends too.  First the students danced a traditional dance for us and then they sang and danced to an American song.  After that, each student gave a speech about their time in America.  Here are a few pictures of the evening.
Traditional Song & Dance



American Song & Dance



 Group Co-ordinator, Tierra on the left, Yoshie and Yours Truly!

 Speech Time!  Yoshie is assisting with the microphone.

On Sunday afternoon we had the opportunity to attend a traditional Japanese Tea ceremony.  It was at another host families home.  One of the students brought everything from Japan.  His grandmother teaches the traditional tea classes. 

 He let Yoshie try her hand at it too.  It's amazing the steps that must be followed for this ceremony. 
We'll certainly miss Yoshie around here.  However, my mother-in-law flies in tomorrow from Nebraska to stay three weeks with us so the house won't be empty very long!  I'll have to enlist her support to tag the HUGE batch of items that are on their way from Portland today!  I'm told it's 7 large boxes and 3 garbage bags full!   I'll post pictures as soon as they arrive.

Meanwhile, tomorrow is my annual physical. :-(  Why do we dread these so much?  Hopefully it won't take long so I can get to the airport in time!

I'll be back very soon.  I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Blessings,

Betsy

Sunday, August 7, 2011

More Hats!

This morning at church two ladies handed me gift bags and guess what was inside?  More hats!

They are beautiful and I thank everyone for this.

On another note, I think we created Domino monsters when we taught Yoshie, Yu and Miyako to play dominoes the other night.  Both Yu and Yoshie have bought their own to take back to Japan and we all played again Friday night and last night!  Then Yu showed us some magic tricks with cards.  He's very good and we were all intrigued by how he did them.  None of us could figure it out though.


Can you believe he is a 27 year old math teacher?  Both he and Yoshie look so young.  I would love their secrets!

This is a blanket I made for wounded soldiers returning for rehabilitation from the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan.   It is made of 75% wool and 25% acrylic and looks much better than this picture once I washed and blocked it.  I started out making squares to send and ended up completing the blanket.  I owe them all so much more than just one blanket.
If you've read this, please leave a comment so I know someone is out there. Thank you all so much!

Blessings,
Betsy

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dinner Time



 As you can see from the above photo, we don't eat fancy at our house.  Our guests, Yu, Makako and Yoshie wanted to have homemade chicken & noodles and biscuits when they heard my husband say he loves the way I make them.  So...in the midst of 95 degree weather I mixed up and rolled out a HUGE batch of noodles and made baking powder biscuits.  Also on the table are cantaloupe, pineapple and cranberries.  They were all hits!  They loved the noodles and couldn't believe I made them myself. :-)  The biscuits did me proud and raised up nice and high.  Whew! 
 Then, part of Makako's homework was to ask us our favorite inside game, which is dominoes.  They all wanted to learn so we spent a few hours playing dominoes.  They all caught on right away and Yoshie beat us all severely.  I have gotten pretty good at counting in Japanese and this really helped cement it in my brain.  At least one through ten.
Yu is the math teacher and he is staying with Dan, who you see above.  Since they are both guys in their 20's they haven't argued about eating dinner at our house every night!  It's nice to have young people in the house again with our children living so far away.

Ginny has emailed me that she has more hats on the way so I'll be sending another box to Japan around August 15th.   If there are any latecomers who still wish to contribute, there is still a short window of time.  Please leave a comment and I'll get my address to you.  Meanwhile, I'm having a great time with the kids that are visiting and they are all so grateful to everyone who has sent something for their countrymen.  You are all wonderful!

Blessings,

Betsy

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hot Tuesday!

Hi Everyone:

I think we're beginning to get some of the hot weather the rest of the country has suffered with.  I can't complain though, we have had a lovely summer so far with only 2 days above 90 degrees.

Today I was at my weekly knitting group and in walked Maureen with the three lovely hats you see below.
Aren't they really nice?  Those were the Tuesday contributions to the hat drive and every bit as appreciated as the first ones I was given.

Yoshie stayed up late last night preparing "White Stew" for our dinner tonight.  She put it in the crockpot all night and then we refrigerated it this morning.  This way we can just pop a bowl in the microwave tonight or put the entire pot on the stove.  I think we'll have several extra's for dinner tonight, including the Japanese math teacher and at least one student.

Anyway, the stew looks really good-the picture doesn't do it justice.  The aroma is amazing and I can't wait to try it tonight.  It has chicken, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, zucchini, onion, garlic, milk and a mysterious package of seasoning that she brought from Japan.  I will certainly be spoiled by the time she goes home.

We discovered quite by accident that Yoshie lives only 1 block from a woman who lived with us several years ago while she attended college here.  Harumi still stays in close contact with us and she is expecting her first child.  In a city the size of Tokyo it's amazing that these two ladies live so close to each other!  Yoshie has offered to take baby things to Harumi for us.  I'm amazed by this happy finding.  Now when I visit next month hopefully I can visit them both.

I hope you're all having  a wonderful day and staying cool if you're in the U.S.!
This is part of the view from our deck.  My DH bought the birdbath for me this spring and in the early morning and evenings it is FULL of birds.  The geraniums are just beginning to really look happy since we've had such a cold, wet summer until last week.  The hosta's are "volunteers" from a friends garden and were just planted.  I think next summer they will be beautiful.
Blessings,

Betsy

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday Updates



All of these items were in a box that arrived today!  Aren't the hats and scarves nice?  And just look at the cute puppy slippers!  I love opening the boxes that arrive.  I know that August 1 was the deadline but I fully expect some things to trickle in at least this week.  I  still have seven boxes at my daughters house in Portland that I need to pick up later this month too.

This morning I took three huge boxes to the post office and sent them off to Alex in Japan.  I wish I would have thought to photograph them for you.  They were very, very full.  I spent almost an hour there filling out paperwork.  My local post office guys are very familiar with me since I mail a lot of stuff for charity, but even they are astounded by the volume of things I'm mailing to Japan.  They said to tell you all congratulations and way to go!

I'll be back soon with more pictures as items arrive.  Thank you all so much!

Blessings,
Betsy