Monday, May 27, 2013


Tom knows the names of them all, who is descended from whom, who married whom, where they lived and died.  I have a hard time remembering and keeping it all straight.  But these are his people.

With a genealogy chart in hand for my benefit, we set off to honor some ancestors, some of them who also served their country in the armed services.

It was raining as we drove south on the freeway, a dismal day.  But we had proper clothes, a comfortable car, and the ability to stay warm and dry, and even make coffee stops along the way.  The people who have rested here for a century didn't have it so easy.
This is the final resting place of the Vandervoorts and the Bowers, related to Tom through his paternal grandmother.
Joseph and Mary Bower are Tom's great great grandparents, parents of Ella Vandervoort.
Ella was the wife of John Vandervoort, Tom's Great Grandfather (below). Ella never made it to Washington State.  She died in childbirth in 1890. John and his children to moved west by or before 1900.  One of those children was Tom's Grandma Gertie.
We set out next toward Olympia, where Gertie is buried.

On the way, along back country roads, we made a stop at the old general store in East Olympia.  Here Gertie and her husband, Joe Reeder were the owners and proprietors, and Gertie was the postmistress.

The store is still in business, and still an important fixture in this rural community.  There is a new post office however, not just a back room in the store anymore.

Tom had a great conversation with the current owner, Jenny Johnson.  We chatted, looked around, and had ice cream for lunch.

The Olympia Cemetery is where we find the Reeders, starting with Great Grandfather Seneca Reeder, Civil War Veteran,

along with Great Grandmother Mary Ann Reeder.

 And here too are Gertie Vandervoort Reeder and her husband, Joseph Reeder, Tom's grandparents.
 And then we get to the people I knew, and still miss, Tom's parents Bud and Bernice Reeder.
Bud's sister, Tom's aunt Clessie, who was an Army nurse during WWII.

 I love the wonderful old trees here, sheltering these old folks.
Tom's Aunt Wanda Gertrude Reeder Foster is here too, along with her Robert.  She had 97 years of a fulfilling life.
But not everyone here had such a timely death, and the younger ones' passings are still painful to remember.  Rest in peace, Cousin Sydney, and your beloved son Joe.
No one in this group died in military service to their country, but some did serve.  All led productive lives, overcame hardships, and were loved and missed.

Today they are remembered.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Decoration Day/Memorial Day

I did not grow up with the tradition of visiting cemeteries and decorating graves, even though some of my close relatives did follow this practice.  I have been confused by the meaning and purpose of this "holiday".  Is it to visit the graves of deceased family members?  Is it to honor the lives given by military personnel in service to our country?

Now I understand, the answer is "yes" to both. 

I just read a short article in the Sunday newspaper supplement called "War and Remembrance", quoting Harvard president and historian Drew Gilpin Faust, which explains the purpose of Decoration Day, as it was first called when it was established nationally in 1868.  It grew out of the civil war, when 750,000 people died.  This is more than all other American wars combined.

Quoting from the article: " You have to remember that probably half of the Civil War dead were never identified because there were no dog tags or official next-of-kin notifications. It was a shared loss in the sense that so many dead belonged to everyone because they weren't identified as belonging to any single one. These were also not the kinds of deaths that society believed were appropriate at the time. They were gruesome and happened far from home. Death without dignity imperiled the meaning of the life that proceeded it, so a day for memorial was meant to restore the dignity of those lives, underscore the contributions that had been made, and in some way ratify how important the courage and sacrifice had been. It was an important part of the nation's mourning."

Because many Civil War soldiers were buried in small family plots, it also became a day to visit the family graves, tidy them up, decorate them, and honor the ancestors.  

The name Decoration Day gradually became commonly referred to and Memorial Day, and was officially changed in 1968.  It is primarily a day to honor service men and women who have died in defense of our country, but also including all who have served. 

Tom has an ancestor, a great grandfather, who was a Civil War soldier and is buried not far from us, in Olympia.  He died at the age of 49 from consumption, most likely a lung problem begun during his time of service.  Tom has other family members buried there too.  

I'm thinking maybe I want to become a participant in this Memorial Day tradition after all.  I think maybe we'll make that drive to Olympia tomorrow.

Do you decorate graves?

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Great Gatsby

As an English major I read and studied the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald a long time ago, in college.  I really didn't get it.  Saying that makes me realize once again that education is often wasted on the young.  How do we relate when we have had no real life experiences ourselves, and our background knowledge of history and social change in limited by our at most twenty years of life?

I know this is considered one of the great American novels, but like so many other great works of fiction, the characters seemed so consumed by their fatal flaws as to be unlikable, and the outcomes were always depressing.

I saw the 1974 version of the movie, with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow and was left with much the same feeling as the novel:  desperate people doing desperate things to the point of destruction. 

Forgive me, but I like good story telling.  And contrary to the opinion of many movie critics, I think this movie version is just that - good story telling.   In text it was true to the novel, but this is big screen movie making in 2013 technological style.  It is beautiful!  The music is from mixed eras.  The costuming is wonderful.  The big screen sets are computer generated and are gorgeous, if fantastical.   And the story line is so clear that I finally understand fully what the book is about.  

Sure, it may be simplified, lacking in deeper emotion, a travesty to literature snobs, but these characters are understood, and sometimes even likable!

What can I say?  I went to the theater, paid my money, and was well entertained for two hours.  That's all I ask.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What's Up?

When one has been a frequent publisher of blog posts, and then starts leaving big gaps between posts, it can cause concern.  So it is that at least one of my "people", as I refer to you, my loyal readers, felt the need to reach out with a personal email, checking up to see if I was OK.

I am perfectly OK, if perhaps a little unsettled.  But also, I've been busy.

Monday and Tuesday we went to Whidbey Island.

On Wednesday Irene was "sick" and spent the day with us.  Turns out that upset tummy didn't last very long, and we had fun setting up her garden shop.  

On Thursday Tom traveled with my brother-in-law to Rockaway Beach to meet with contractors on that ongoing remodel project.  He returned in time for dinner Friday evening.  During that time I went shopping: Petsmart, JoAnn's, Costco, Safeway; made curtains for Irene's flower-shop-in-the-shed, exercised, and started on a sewing project I have been putting off.

                                                       Garden shop curtains.
                     Sewing project.  Someday it might be a quilted jacket.

Saturday Morning we had a garden tour of a local botanical garden with our garden club.

Saturday evening we went to a Sounders soccer match at the stadium that was amazing, a 4-2 win over the MLS leading team.

Sunday morning we recovered, I went for a four mile walk, then greeted Corey and the kids, who had been camping near Sequim, fed them lunch, and took Corey to the airport to go back to Colorado.  Shortly after that Jill arrived from her overnight Mountaineers class, which she was the leader of.  The Gibsons departed, leaving us time to get to some Open Gardens near Bothel and Monroe, and then dinner out.

That last place was a groomed, edited, thirty year project of a walk in the woods!  Wow!

Where was I?  Monday?  Oh, we cleaned house and then worked in the yard, dragging ourselves in for dinner and to plop down in front of the TV.  

Today we bought a shed for Jill, which we will now have to find time to erect, and I worked on my sewing and went for a walk, where I got rained on.  But it was just a short shower, and I got dried off when the sun came back out again.  

So all is well here.  

We've been following the political "scandals", watching and waiting for the Republicans to burn themselves out again. And of course we've followed the devastation in Moore, OK, relieved to hear this morning that the death toll had actually been lowered.  We're heard it before, but I'll say it again, "Thank a teacher today".  

Thursday, May 16, 2013

More Whidbey Photos

It's not hard to take 250 photos while having fun on Whidbey Island on a sunny spring day.  

On Tuesday afternoon, after we left Langley, we stopped at the Bayview Farm and Garden Center, because it was time for the golden shower of blooms.  You'll see.

This nursery is a must stop on most of our trips to Whidbey Island.  The displays are beautiful, the plants are choice, and the people are friendly.

And in May there is the Laburnum Tunnel!


We got out of there with only three plants, two for the cabin garden and one for home.

And then I still had time to lounge with some coffee and chocolate at the cabin, on the deck overlooking the garden.
And then I went for a walk on the beach and on the lagoon dike trail.

 The wild roses on the dike are just starting to bloom.

 Scotch bloom is an invasive non-native shrub that gives many people allergy attacks, but it sure is pretty. And the rare red/yellow ones are even more striking.
 There are always bunnies on the trail.

 This madrona has lived on the dike for a long time, weathering storms and salt water, and many carvers who have left their marks.
Happy trails to you, until we meet again.