Daddy’s Home

deboarh

In honor of Deborah Lynn Schuerr’s birthday on October 24th, I share my next Life with Larry story. One afternoon, I was giving Deb a piano lesson. Getting her to practice was like getting a fish to swim in water.  She loved playing. I sat next to her on the piano bench as she was playing a classical song. Then all of a sudden, we were interrupted by a loud boom that shook the house. We looked at one another and  said, “Daddy’s Home”. Yes, Larry had pulled into our down-sloped driveway and threw the clutch into what he thought was park. But somehow he missed the gear. The van was on a run away course and quickly picking 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. Fortunately, a newly planted evergreen slowed down its 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. Life can throw us some curves but we can always learn and grow from them.

Today Deborah plays not only the piano but violin, and many other instruments. Deb teaches music part time at Headwater’s Academy in Bozeman, Montana and gives music lessons to 48 students.

My mother, Alice Gram, was a music teacher and organist at the Lutheran church we attended.  She inspired our love for music.  On Thanksgiving and Christmas, we would gather around the piano and perform Fiddler on the Roof.  I would play the piano and Deborah played the violin and Julie the flute.  My brother Bill, who has a voice like Frank Sinatra, would  top off our occasion singing “The Old Man River”. He now says,” I am the old man river”.   Aaron would sit at the piano and play jazz while Larry played his favorite instrument—the radio. Happy Birthday to our first born—Deborah Lynn. May the love of music continue through the generations.

 

Volunteering Brings Joy and Purpose in Life

Cascade 2013 020 Larry and I met at a Valentine’s Day dance over 40 years ago. It’s a love that deepens with the years. Hopefully, our story will inspire you to build a stronger and more lasting relationship with the one you love. After retiring from teaching, he has devoted himself to working for organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Bright Hope, Faith in Action, Love INC and most currently Adaptive Adventures. In the past, Larry managed, with the help of friends and family, to fix up and give away more than 2,000 bicycles. We have always been a team. We have a tandem kayak, a tandem bicycle and I wouldn’t miss a ride on the back of his Gold Wing Motorcycle up to Lake Geneva. This probably is one of the reasons why we are close. We choose to serve together, pray together and play together. Not that we don’t have our problems like any other couple. But our nature is to love and to laugh and it’s hard for us to stay angry for very long. We try to follow what the Bible says. “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” Many times we just agree to disagree. We can both be stubborn at times. We look to the Bible for guidance as it is a source that never chances unlike the latest counseling advice. Finding happiness, we have discovered, comes from serving one another and helping others. It once has been said,” A person makes a very small package if he is totally wrapped up in himself.” We both love people, the outdoors, and each other so that is why our latest serving experience is so perfect. It embodies all of our passions. Larry is my trailblazer setting us off on yet another adventure.

For the past four years, Larry has been an instructor at Wilmot Ski Resort where he noticed a group of Adaptive Adventure Skiers in the cafeteria. Being retired military, he immediately wanted to know how he could get involved helping GI’s returning with causalities from Iraq and Afghanistan. He met Reilly who lost a leg in combat. We were so impressed to see how well Reilly skies and how he teaches others the sport. We knew it was an organization we wanted to get involved in. It wasn’t long before Larry was spending two full days a week helping disabled adults and children. My first experience with Adaptive Adventures was a weekend up at Cascade. I thought I was going to shadow Larry. But before I knew it, they had me skiing with Hailey, a legally blind 17 years old. She was so excited to be on the mountain on a warm, sunny day. We talked non stop about her family, school and skiing. As a former English teacher, we discussed The Scarlet Letter, Shakespeare, etc. We talked about poetry slams and decided to write a poem about Jeff, the young man who taught her how to ski. We could only find paper plates and a marker to write our hilarious poems. The most I had to do for Hailey was to take her by the arm as we got off the lift and to guide her down the hill. She did a splendid job avoiding any potential hazards.

We came in for lunch and the table looked like something out of a sci-fi movie. It was surrounded with prosthetic legs. I never knew there were legs for skiing as well as legs for walking. Sarah, an Africa American teenager dressed all in pink, just beamed as she smiled at Hailey and me. She and her friend were taking a break from their morning adventure on sit-skies. Yes, a paraplegic can ski while sitting and control the directions.

Yes, life with Larry has been full of adventures in our quest to help others and in so doing—-help ourselves.

 

Travel to Italy/A Place where Dreams are Born

The Leaning Tower of PisaMy best friend growing up was Adelina Gina Maria Sangineto… I clearly remember seeing her parents grasping her eight year-old hand as she stumbled behind them to register for school. She had sparkling brown eyes, long black hair and an effervescent personality. She soon became my best friend. When I came over to study geometry with her, I could hear the operatic sounds of Enrico Caruso. Her mother always saved a small dish of whatever they had for dinner—-such as mostaccioli, spaghetti or ravioli. It was like stepping into a scene from Under the Tuscan sky.  Adelina would brag about her many trips to Italy where she had 5 proposals and was pinched many times. I knew that someday, I would have to visit this enchanted land. That dream became reality  when we traveled Space A-retired military along with the deployed military to Aviano. It’s a country full of history, beauty and culture. Hopefully, you’ll learn what to do and what not to do while traveling in Italy. You can travel quite successfully without a tour guide as we did.   A copy of Rick Steve’s book and a GPS system will be your most valuable tools.  Learning Italian phrases also is most valuable. You can watch free classes on the internet to perfect your pronunciation.

We squeezed into a Fiat—-a tight squeeze for my husband Larry’s 6’2” frame. Since the car was not equipped with a GPS system,  we were forced to study the maps more intensely. Their Auto-strata system is different from ours. There are no signs like 90 E or W and no shoulders. The local roads use the rotary system which we embraced. Being indecisive, we could go around like a hamster in a cage before being ejected to the correct town.

If you choose to drive as we did, be sure to have a partner who is a good map reader and remember to refrain from harsh words with one another. When we got lost, we made it an adventure. We looked at it as an opportunity to interact with the locals and to see unexpected towns—It’s all new to us regardless. Helpful Italians are everywhere. For instance, a father and daughter were washing their store windows when we approached them for directions. “Porfavore, Dove esta Sienna?” The daughter understood English but did not know the directions. The father knew the directions but did not speak English. They became an exciting duo as the father explained with much gusto in Italian and the daughter erect like a solider translated. The father was so animated that words were not necessary. We often heard easy, straight ahead—but nothing in Italy was straight ahead.

We only had a week in Italy; so we decided to stay at Camp Darby, an army camp in central Italy where we took day trips. We were able to use the dollar at the military base which saved us a lot of money. The locals referred to the area as FIPILI which stood for Florence, Pisa, and Livarno. Our first adventure was to Pisa which is like visiting the United Nations. It is one of the seven man-made wonders of the world. The circular stairway was so narrow; Larry’s shoulder’s touched each side.

Next we visited Lucas, the birthplace of Puccini. It’s one of the two cities with walls totally intact. The walls were built to protect them from neighboring  Florence.

On our way to Sienna in Tuscany, we took the back roads enjoying the country view of olive gardens and abandon villas. Rick Steve recommended a stop in Voltaire where we drove up a mountainside reaching a town that took us back to medieval times.  Colorful laundry hung out the windows to dry.  The town is known for alabaster wares.  We stopped for lunch at a restaurant resembling a catacomb. We had soup, wine and delicious bread. We dipped the bread in olive oil and sweet balsamic vinegar. I didn’t see a pad of butter all week. Eating in Italy is always a wonderful experience.  We had melt in your mouth ravioli while we sat outside under the star-filled skies. Even at McDonald’s the food was good.The spinach bun melted in my mouth and the tiramisu was as smooth as silk.

Next we visited Cinque Terre—-the Italian Rivera with five colorful towns cut into the mountainside. Soon we had our own hiking group. We were drawn like a magnet to anyone speaking English. We met a couple from New Zealand and another from Florida.  We had lunch together and  served as our own tour guides by sharing our knowledge of the area. The next day we read that there was a mudslide that destroyed several buildings including the restaurant we had visited. Several people were killed.

Our final destination was Florence—a place where fairy tales were created. We saw a cathedral constructed with three distinct colors of marble. It glowed in the setting sun.

But the highlight of our visit was seeing the breath-taking and massive statue of David, Michelangelo’s crowning achievement.   On a lighter side, Larry was drawn in by commercialism.could see no reason why he shouldn’t purchase the pair of swimming trucks or apron featuring a graphic picture of David from the belly button to the knees.

It was sad to say good-bye to Italy. But after a week and the difference between the dollar and the Euro, we thought it was wise. We certainly hope to do another week in the future to Venice, Rome and Naples.

Start now saving for your trip to Italy. Don’t be afraid to drive and go without a tour group. Decide before hand that it will be an adventure you will never forget so keep your cool. Meet wonderful people, eat Italian cuisine and see unforgettable sights. Remember learning some phrases, bringing a Garmin and studying Rick Steve’s travel guide should help you get ready. By the way  despite 5 proposals, my friend Adelina Gina Maria never married but instead devoted her life to her parents, her teaching career and traveling to Italy.

Arrividerci/Chow

Sue Schuerr