Joan, Petra and Mother’s Day

Petra, who lives in China, is five. She is beginning to read, write and learn her phonetics. With that in mind, see the following message Gramma Joan received from Petra today together with photo of herself to punctuate the point:

Happy. Mother s. Day

I. Love. You Vae. Mah
You ar. Mie. Vavrite
You. Love. Me. And. I. Love. You
Love Petra

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Petra’s message made Joan’s heart swell.

RGK

*Children, when they are not worrying you to death, are OK. Grandchildren are a joy!

The Great Platte River Road Arch and Monument, new citizens and an old woman

Yesterday was a long but joyful day. Joan and I traveled two and half hours to the west so I could conduct a naturalization ceremony at the Great Platte River Road Arch and Monument. That amazing structure spans Interstate 80 with cars and truck passing under it. Inside, the Arch provides a wide array educational materials about the pioneers who passed near the Platte as they drove their wagons to a new and unsettled land. It is a great place to hold a naturalization ceremony since it celebrates, among other things, the many immigrant pioneers that made up the westward expansion of this nation.

The 79 individuals naturalized yesterday originally came from 25 countries: Benin, Burma, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Congo, Congo-Kinshasa, Cuba, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Iraq, Liberia, Macedonia, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Thailand, Ukraine and Vietnam. I gave a brief speech about how we are blessed by immigration, and thanked our new citizens for coming. They were all happy and proud. I met each new citizen, and was privileged to hand them their naturalization certificates.

Joan and I ended our journey at a nice Mexican restaurant back in Lincoln. Great food, and excellent margaritas.

Oh, before I forget, yesterday was our wedding anniversary. The old woman never looked so good!

Photos follow:

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This requires a bit of explanation. it is an iconic structure by the highly regarded sculptor John Raimondi. It was placed at a rest stop near Grand Island as a part of the Bicentennial of our country.       It is intended to remind us of the struggles and aspirations of pioneer women. I just love it, and had to stop to see Erma once again as we made our way back to   Lincoln.

Entitled Erma’s Desire, this is an iconic structure by the highly regarded sculptor John Raimondi. It was placed at a rest stop near Grand Island as a part of the celebration of the Bicentennial of our country. It is intended to remind us of the struggles and aspirations of pioneer women as they traversed the Great Platte River Road. I just love it, and had to stop to see Erma once again as we made our way back to Lincoln.

 

RGK

Cancer and commitment

The garden post that I just put up is not complete. I just realized that as I went out to the garage to smoke my pipe.

Our old pickup is filled to the brim with all manner of sticks, cuttings, stalks, and such that Joan (JKK) pulled from the garden and loaded into the pickup for an eventual trip to the compost pile at the dump. She did all of that without complaint or help from me or anyone else.

Joan’s commitment to her garden is not to be believed. Her labor is like that of a farm worker. All by hand. Stoop labor. She orders compost by the yard, has it dumped on our driveway and lugs it back to the garden with a 30-year old wheelbarrow. Then she spreads it shovel by shovel to enrich the soil that will produce her flowers.

Less than two years ago, cancer attacked Joan. It was colon/rectal cancer. The cure was chemotherapy and radiation of every organ below her pelvis. Both occurred at the same time. The skin on her abdomen turned red, burned and blistered. Internally, the radiation fried most of what it touched. Thankfully, and just several days ago, the doctors announced that the very nasty burn spot in her bowels had finally healed.

And still she gardens, filling up an old pickup all by herself and by hand. JKK is one tough old broad. Cancer and commitment.

RGK

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Frost, faith and flowers

I am not a religious person.  Joan (JKK), my wife, is a believer, although she certainly does not wear those beliefs on her sleeves.  Those two truths came to mind this morning as I looked at Joan’s garden and the pretty flowers she picked yesterday after she got done planting her annuals.

Last week we had frost. It was sheer luck (in my opinion) that the freeze did not kill the perennials in JKK’s garden.  While still sparse, the garden is slowly starting to fill in. In a month or so, it will be lush. JKK will start here incessant weeding, by hand, of course. Her faith that an early frost will not kill, and that, with the helping hands of a hard-working old woman, flowers will emerge resplendent, strikes me as the ultimate triumph of hope over experience. But, then again, I do love her flowers.

RGK

A small part of Joan's flower garden.  It is sparse now as spring comes late in the high plains. Give it another month.

A small part of Joan’s flower garden. It is sparse now as spring comes late in the high plains. Give it another month.

First batch of flowers from Joan's garden. Many more to come.

First batch of flowers from Joan’s garden. Many more to come.

Joan

Joan, my dear wife, pursues her gardening passion. Since she is the oldest child in a large Catholic family of 7 siblings, Joan is strong, independent and opinionated.  According to JKK, the cancer that attacked her bowels was a "gift" and so is sitting in the grass hand weeding the edges of a flower garden that runs hundreds of feet. I don't understand her, but I do love her.

Joan, my dear wife, pursues her gardening passion. Since she is the oldest child from a large and devout Catholic family that resulted in seven kids, Joan is strong, independent and opinionated. According to JKK, the cancer that attacked her bowels was a “gift” and so is sitting in the grass hand weeding the edges of a flower garden that runs hundreds of feet. I don’t understand her, but I do love her.

Saturday night on the town with Joan

Yesterday, Saturday, was glorious. Joan worked in her garden, and I mowed the lawn on the Deere. I felt pretty good since I skimped on one of  my cancer meds in the morning. Afterwards, Joan and I drove a half-mile (or less) to the strip mall near our house to have a “sit down” dinner.  Hadn’t done that in ages.

We ate at one of these fake, but family run, Japanese places where they serve sushi (which I will never eat) and all sorts of other food. Actually pretty nice inside. I had lobster and shrimp and Joan had chicken. It was all cooked in front of us on a huge hot plate by a Mexican man of about 30 (with tats on his knuckles). He was great. Flames. Knives in the air. Cheesy jokes for the old white guy and lady. The whole nine yards. I suppose he gave us a real show because he was bored. Joan and I were the only ones in the place. I even had a half glass of wine which would not have pleased the cancer doc.

We left a big tip for the knife wielding fellow who cooked our meal and the young (“no problem”) redhead who took our order and served our drinks with her cracked fingernails painted an iridescent shade of an unknown color that clashed with her kimono. We were home by 6:30 PM. Japan it was not, but fun it was.

Some things are more important than others.

RGK

 

 

 

The magic doll house

photo (1)Joan, my wife, never had children.  Being the oldest of seven kids, she figured that she had done her time as a  “mother.”  Thus, when Petra, our first grandchild was born, I never imagined that Joan would fall head over heels in love with grand kids, and especially Petra.

We have this old doll house.  It is approaching 40 years of age.  It was built for the girls by a friend in Lexington.  By now, it is rough around the edges.  Anyway, Petra has come to love the doll house, and Joan and Petra play with the doll house about every week.  For most of the year, Petra lives in China.  So, Joan and Petra are forced to use Skype for their adventures with the doll house.

After taking the ferry to Hong Kong, flying to Japan, then to Minneapolis and finally to  Lincoln (about 30 hours), Petra and her family will be here tonight.  Joan and Petra will most certainly, and almost immediately, begin playing with the doll house while seated closely next to each other.  Watching an old woman and a four-year old child animate the figures and move the furniture in and around the house will warm my otherwise cold heart.

There is magic in that doll  house.  Some things are more important than others.

RGK

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