After serving four years in the Marines and eighteen in the Navy reserves, Larry and I were able to enjoy retirement benefits. One of these benefits was to be able to stay on US Military bases throughout the world. Here are some pictures and videos of our February trip to Hawaii.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein
My husband and I flew into beautiful
Bozeman, Montana, to see our daughter, Deborah, and our son, Aaron,
and his family. Deb had arranged for us to stay at a pleasant ranch
house with an attached garage leading up to a cozy dining room. Her
friend, John, even gave us the use of his car while he visited family
in Seattle. It was perfect.
We quickly changed into our
cross-country clothes and waxed our skies for a day at Hyalite
National Forest, just outside of Bozeman. Skiing at Hyalite was
like being enveloped in a holiday postcard. The snow was deep and
well-packed, the trails took us through snow-covered pine trees, and
the clouds cut through the surrounding mountains while the sun peeks
through, making the snow glow gold like specks from Rumpelstiltskin’s
It was a very special day. We were
meeting Aaron, his wife, Lynelle, and our 18-month-old Grandson,
August. I was entering our car in the garage while Larry, whose 6’2”
frame filled the inside doorway, said, “Looks like we have
everything.” He then shut the door only to realize that he had left
the key to the house on the dining room table.
“What should we do now?,” he said.
The keys and our flight plan were on
the dining room table so near and yet so far from our grasp. We
trudges through the snow circling the house checking for ways to
enter or possibly an unlocked window or hidden key; but the place was
like Fort Knox.
Nevertheless, life goes on, and we had
a choice to either spend the day figuring out how to deal with our
dilemma or enjoying the day. I said a prayer that went like this”
“God, you see our problem and in faith I turn to you for a
solution. I trust you will give us wisdom to deal with this
impossible situation.” We then kept our date with our son and
My joy returned at the sight of little
August who now could speak in whole sentences. August grinned with
delight flying up and down the hills on the sled Aaron pulled behind
him. After an hour or so of skiing, he looked up at us with his green
mischievous eyes and orange hair sticking out of his cap saying,
“Walk a little, walk a bit.” He escaped his cozy cocoon of
enclosed blankets and began examining the new substance called
“snow.” We threw a few snowballs while munching on delicious
homemade revel bars. (See attached recipe.)
As shades of pink streaked the sky
making shadows on the mountains,we headed back to our cars. I kissed
my dear first grandson’s frozen chubby red cheeks saying goodbye to
his mom and dad and thanking them for such a wonderful winter day.
But now the dark cloud descended on us as we drove into the garage
trying to figure out how to get into the house without a key?
After inspecting the house once again,
Larry said, “I might have to dismantle the door.” Being an
Industrial Arts teacher and former contractor, I knew he could
probably do it with tools—but we had none. I also worried about
damaging the house so graciously offered to us. Once again, I prayed
for God to help us and to give us wisdom which he promises if we ask.
In a whisper, an impression came to me.
“Try your home key.” It sounded absurd but why not, I thought.
What have we got to lose? It does say in the Bible, “My sheep hear
my voice and follow me.”
Larry reluctantly and with little hope,
took our house key from my hand and slowly tried fitting it into the
lock. We held our breath as he slowly turned the key, and
“Voila”—it opened. Did we just witness a miracle? Did we really
open a house in Montana with our key from Illinois. We didn’t care!
We were so excited—we were like two little kids jumping and
shouting for joy.
It was proof that our heavenly Father
heard our prayers and that he saw our faith in Him to go on with our
day and to trust Him to deliver us from ourselves.
“Someone is sitting in the shade
today, because someone planted a tree along time ago.” Warren
Stepping Into A New
After retiring from teaching, I finally
had something I never had before—time. Time for a second cup of
coffee, time to read new books, time to spend with loved ones, and
time to develop new talents. The world was now my oyster. In an
average lifespan, the heart beats 2.5 billion times. What was my
heart beating for? I started a blog, a book club and joined
Toastmasters. To be fulfilled, I had to have outlets Physically,
Socially–a new PMS without the emotional baggage.
I stepped through multiple doors of
opportunity to see which ones would be the best fit for my
personality and talents. The first one was Adaptive Adventures,
an organization that provides an opportunity for a handicapped
person to downhill ski with an able-bodied person. I peered into the
sad eyes of a twenty-five year old tall man with a handsome ruddy
complexion and a strong desire to communicate. “Five years ago,”
Bob said, “I was in a snowmobile accident that left me paralyzed
from the waist down. A few years after the accident, I lost my
mother.” My eyes filled with tears as he continued to share. “You
know what I miss the most,” he said, “It’s the adrenaline rush.
That’s why I am here today at Wilmot Mountain, so I can use a sit-ski
and ski down a mountain, again.” The following week my husband and
I helped Bob fulfill his dream. He learned how to navigate a sit-ski.
By the end of the day, it all clicked for him as he triumphantly
cruised down maneuvering beautiful turns all the way to the lodge
where he shouted for joy. “I forgot I was paralyzed.” He was
ecstatic about experiencing a once unattainable dream—–an
Later that winter, I was assigned to
ski with, Mary, a blind girl. Fortunately, she was not totally
blind and could see shadows. We immediately bonded going up the ski
lift by talking about books she was reading in her English classes
and boys she liked. When we finished the day with many successful
runs, a young boy about ten-years old came up to me and said, “ Can
I shake your hand ?” While extending my hand, he said, “Thanks
for helping that blind girl ski today.” I was so touched by his
heart for Mary–a seeing boy wanting to reach out to a blind girl.
“Wouldn’t you want someone to help you if you were visually
impaired?” “Yes,” he said. “ “You can make a difference in
this world.” He smiled thoughtfully as we parted.
Music was the next door to open. My
husband, Larry, had knee surgery. While he was sleeping, I ventured
out of the room to the newly renovated main lobby of Good Shepherd
Hospital where I saw a grand piano. I removed the cover and started
playing to the amazement of the staff who had never heard the piano
played. Soon I began volunteering every Thursday. I told my book club
friend, Renee, about volunteering and now she and her 90 year old
mother play duets on Tuesdays. One patient remarked, “This is
suppose to be a place to feel nervous and sad, but you have made it a
place of joy.” Another patient before she entered the hospital
greatly missed her deceased husband, and was asking God to help
comfort her in her grief. As she entered the lobby, I was playing
their favorite song, Moon River. She asked the staff
member, “Who’s playing the piano?” I joined them at the front
desk as we tearfully hugged one another—witnessing an answer to her
These experiences plus many more have
helped me discover the NEW ME. The author Leo Buscaglia once said,
“God’s gift to you is your talent. What you do with your talent is
your gift back to God.” I continue to strive to inspire the next
generation and to bless the current one.
My friend, Cleora, and I have been friends for over 30 years. We call each other ‘fair-weather’ friends since neither of us liked talking on the phone too long. We would just make our plan to bike, ski, or walk and off we’d go. Cleora has been a ski instructor at Wilmot for over 20 years and she was excited to tell me about her trip to Breckenridge with her son to ski the big hills of Colorado.
As fate would have it, Larry found a deal to ski and stay at a lodge for free in Breckenridge if we went to the time-share meeting. We were excited to be there the same time as my dear friend, Cleora. We called each other in the morning and made plans to meet and ski. Larry and I got dressed and took the elevator down to meet our shuttle bus each morning. At night, we would meet to sit in the hot tub and share our adventures on the hill.
Cleora mentioned that she didn’t have to take a shuttle since the slop was just outside her lodge door. I thought, “Boy, how lucky!” She doesn’t have to wait for a shuttle each morning like us. This went on for a week–we took our shuttle bus and she just went straight to the slopes where we planned to meet.
On the final day, I was in the process of taking our ski equipment to the van. As the elevator door opened, there was Cleora. We looked at each other in astonishment. “What are you doing here?” she said. “No,” I said. “What are you doing here”? My room is just down the hall to the right,” she said. “Mine is the left,” I pointed. “We laughed until we cried. The whole week we were taking the shuttle and she just walked to the slopes outside her door to the right. All we had to do was walk down the hall where she was. We had been on the same floor without knowing it. What a coincidence that we booked rooms and ended up on the same floor, without knowing it.
Once again, “Laughter is good medicine.” And it seems situations like this happen often. By the way, we did not buy the timeshare. Please tell us about your experience on www.lifewithlarry.org.
Happy New Year! I was on the top of the world looking down on creation being mesmerized by the beauty beneath me. As often as I fly, I still get a thrill looking at untapped, unpopulated land. While traveling from Montana, where we were with family over Christmas, I snapped this photo before landing in Denver, CO.
The picture reminds me of one of my favorite verses in the book of Psalm. “The heavens’ declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard” Psalm 19: 1-3.
The language we all have in common is the language of nature. It inspires us to treasure each day as we focus on harvesting the many gifts and skills our creator has given us. What passions do you have? Is it art, music, photography, sewing, knitting, building, or helping others be a better version of themselves. Each day speaks! Are you listening? Each night reveals knowledge. Are you learning? How does the beauty of nature inspire you? Remember, there is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. It’s the cement that brings us together regardless of our backgrounds. Be inspired in 2020.
I was intrigued by the life of Fred Rogers after reading about him in the Tribune Magazine section. Here’s a man who drank hot cranberry juice in the morning instead of coffee, he swam, played the piano and was an ordained minister using his talents to inspire children. I invited our neighbors to see the movie with us on Thanksgiving Friday, 2019. I expected to be somewhat bored with a children’s movie. But I was so wrong. Fred Rogers, played brilliantly by Tom Hanks, opened the door to his studio and hung up his jacket, put on his tennis shoes and sweater. Then he proceeded to open a box with a picture of a man who had been punched in the face. The topic was forgiveness. The movie then takes us to the life of hard-nosed Equire journalist, Lloyd Vogel, who was assigned the task of writing about Fred Rogers. He’s hoping to find some dirt on his life. But Fred notices the wound on his nose and eventually finds out it was the result of a fight he had with his father at his sister’s wedding. Fred Rogers skillfully gets to the heart wound that has plagued Lloyd since his mother’s death. The movie shows us how to live life. I highly recommend seeing it. Here are a few tips..
1. Focus on the moment and the immediate person you are talking to. Show love and respect for that person. 2. Take time to just be silent. In the movie, we were silent for a minute.3. Remember what it was like to be a child. He asked Lloyd what his favorite animal was as a child. 4.Find creative ways to defuse anger. 5. Practice forgiveness.
We have a teenage couple with an adorable baby staying with us. She is the best baby ever. She wakes up and looks out the window and coos. She rarely cries, but gets so excited when she sees her bottle. One day I waited in the car while her mother went into Aldis to get baby supplies. She was in the carrier behind me, and behold she started to cry. It was so rare to hear her fuss, I knew something had to be wrong. I hopped in the back seat to see what caused her turmoil. It was the first time she had worn a hat. It was a bit big and had slipped down covering her face. I gently pulled it up so she could see again and then she smiled with relief.
Isn’t that the way life is for us? We
try to be strong and brave but then sometimes the trials of life
cover our eyes and we are terrified because we cannot see. We are
blinded with no direction. But if we turn to God, he makes our path
clear. “The path of the just is as a shining light, that
shines more and more until the perfect day.” Proverbs 4:18.
the days grow shorter and leaves turn brilliant colors, our minds
travel to the holiday season— a time to gather with family and
friends. For us, music has been the glue uniting our family and
friends in one accord. It began with my mother, Alice Gram, who was
the only one in her family of thirteen to go to college. She became a
music teacher. Her father, Anton Berge, sold four cows to send her
to Milwaukee State Teachers’ College, currently University of
Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She would play lullabies on the piano for my
sister and me while we drifted off to sleep. My older brother, Bill,
has a voice like Frank Sinatra. My memories are filled with mom
playing the piano and Bill and his friends gathered around the piano
singing the latest musicals. Our home was filled with the warmth of
music. The love of music has been handed down through the
up playing the piano and singing in various choruses at church and
school. My three children all played the piano and other
instruments. I gave, Deborah, my oldest child, piano lessons.
Getting her to practice was like getting a fish to swim in water.
She loved playing and quickly excelled in not only piano but violin.
I sat next to her on the piano bench as she was playing a beautiful
Suddenly, we were interrupted by a loud boom that shook the house. We
looked at one another and said, “Daddy’s
Yes, Larry had pulled into our down-sloped
driveway and missed putting it in park, being new to an automatic
transmitter. Now the van was on a run away course as it quickly
picked up speed. “My first instinct was to try to stop it,” said
Larry. “But I soon realized tangling with a flying van
was not going to make me the winner. I watched helplessly; but
fortunately, a newly planted evergreen slowed down the van’s
momentum and it clipped the side of our attached garage with a
two foot gash in the wall.” Being a builder/carpenter at the time,
Larry cleverly turned the gash into a plant holder. It ended up being
a life lesson for the family.Turn
your lemons into lemonade.
and I often laugh about this memory. She is currently a music teacher
at Headwaters Academy in Bozeman, Montana, and additionally has 45
various students sitting on her piano bench at her private home
studio. I sure hope some hot shot doesn’t crash into the side of
the fall and the coming holiday season. Fill you home with music, the
great connector. God has wired us to enjoy music. “Praise him with
the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing—-Let everything that has breath
praise the Lord.” Psalm 150: 3-6
Dressed in his lumberjack outfit and sporting a helmet Larry comes to the aid of a wheelchair bound man with MS to cut down a dead tree that rests precariously over another tree and very close to a fence. It has to be cut down strategically. Larry surveys the situation and ties it down .
Our neighbor, his wife and I held our breath while Larry made his slice. The tree was very dry and fell immediately. “Timber” Now they don’t have to worry about it coming down in a storm, and we have more wood for our wood-burning stove.
Over the years, I have volunteered Larry to help our many friends and neighbors because as a former contractor and Industrial Arts teacher, he has developed so many skills. Larry has cut down dead trees in our yard and has the equipment to do it correctly. Plus, he has a heart to help others. He has an acting faith in God, and believes strongly in “Faith without Works is dead.” James 2:14. We remember what it was like to struggle financially. We never forget those who helped us while we were struggling. Another verse we try to live by is the following, “Value others above yourself, not looking to your own interests but to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4.