Nobody Likes You Irma (Part 2 of 2)

Irma was an unwelcome guest, but there was no stopping her from blowing through. I thought I would share what it was like for me and my family as she came knocking on our door. Looking back, we got off easy compared to a lot of folks, but my story is the only one I can tell. I tell it mixed with prayers for those who have truly suffered through this storm and the many other “natural disasters” that are going on in the world today.

By 11:00 Sunday morning we were hunkered, which is a word we used liberally during the entire ordeal.

Hurricane Warning

By 2:20 PM our phones were going off like crazy with alerts. Watches turned to warnings. (Watches are issued when conditions are favorable for the storm. Warnings come when the storm or flood is imminent.)

The first rain bands arrived before 3 PM.

The wind significantly picked up by 7 PM. By 8:30, those winds became downright scary as they gusted over and around our house.

By 10 PM the rain was coming down in torrents. We experienced minor flooding over our front sidewalk. And the eye of the storm was hours away. FYI, we did not board up our house.

Our front sidewalk in the light of day. It took 3 days to dry out.

We decided to go to bed and get some rest. The worst was supposed to come around 2 AM. My parents seemed to go right to sleep on the other side of the house. Bob and I lay in our bed listening to the weird noises that the wind was making. I thought our roof was going to come off. I told Bob that I couldn’t sleep with all that noise. He said that he could.

And he did! I went to the center of the house and tried to rest in a recliner, but by then it was raining even harder and I could hear the dripping in the chimney while the weird noises continued. The wind whipped through our screened pool enclosure making eerie howling sounds. This was the first time in a long time that I can remember being legitimately scared. So, I ate some chocolate chip cookies.

The entire household was sleeping through this (minus me, of course). That amazed me, but I was thankful somebody was getting some rest! It was now clear that the storm was going to go right over Orlando. With the wind picking up even more, a little before 2 AM, I prepared the hall with cushions and chairs for my parents. Our phones, computers and car keys were placed in Ziploc bags. I was ready to take the hunkering to a new level.

I was awake and praying or chatting with other hunkerers on Facebook through most of the night – manning the conn from our recliner in the center of the house while eating the occasional chocolate chip cookie or three. I’d peek outside toward the east and look at the weird lightning and watch the trees bend in the glow of it. The water in the pool, though Bob had drained several inches from it twice, was over the edge. Irma was loud and violent, and the rest of my family slept through it.

With everything in place, I returned to my recliner. I must have dozed off, because I woke up around 6 AM and realized that it was over, and we still had electricity.

We live in the back of our neighborhood, which has 450 homes in it. A tributary of the Little Wekiva River flows through the center. Typically, it is a creek of about 8 feet width. Monday morning it was a raging little river.

The front of our neighborhood looked like a war zone of fallen trees and debris. They were without power. Our end of the neighborhood never lost it. But there were a lot of downed trees and fences and a new lake in our neighbor’s backyard. A wonderful neighbor had a front-end loader and went up and down every street clearing a path. Everyone was outside working and checking on each other.

Our next-door neighbor’s backyard

Bob looking at all the debris – our neighbor’s newly formed backyard lake in the background

Our damage was so minimal it doesn’t even count. I told my mother that we had an extra blessing from God because they moved in with us.

Bob and I put on our sneakers and leather gloves and got to work. Trees are no respecters of property lines. We have the neighborhood border wall behind our house. There is a vacant, treed lot behind us, so we got lots of debris from that. When I set foot in the yard, I was surprised to be up to my ankles in water. But there was no damage and nobody was hurt. We were amazed and grateful to God for that.

One of our sons and family showed up in the early afternoon. They were safe but without power. By nightfall, theirs was restored. Our other son and his wife were not so lucky. Theirs was out for nine days.

My parents’ home sustained no damage, but that area was without electricity for five days. It may be September, but it’s still close to 90 degrees every day down here.

 

     There are piles of debris along the roads that are taller than I am. And there is a subtle, funky smell in the air that is like a mixture of old diaper and chicken farm. Thankfully, the garbage truck removed the regular garbage today, so that may improve. Mass spraying has begun to combat mosquitoes. The sound of frogs in the morning is deafening as they take up residence in the newly formed ponds. We are keeping our eyes open for snakes. Alligators have been reported in some yards and pools. Flood waters are cresting along the St. Johns River. There are still some who have no power and others who can no longer stay in their homes. But we give thanks for being on the other side of this. It has been a blessing watching neighbor helping neighbor and churches joining together to serve. A lot of the differences that tend to divide us have taken their proper place, and we see each other simply as people going through something together.

I thought about being afraid in the middle of that night. I thought about how rare that is for me, and I was thankful. Now I think about people living in fear of storms real and imagined and how that affects their lives, and I pray that they will call out to God because He is there.

 

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Nobody Likes You Irma!

Looking for the lighter side of Irma is similar to what it was like trying to find bottled water before she hit. Seemingly impossible. Water was the hot commodity – you had to search and search for it. For those who came up empty, all that had to be done was look down at the spigot in their very own kitchen and turn on the tap. Finding the good in a situation is like that – it’s often right under our nose.

My husband and I were prepared, as I felt prompted (no doubt by God) to make my preparations for a hurricane over a week before we knew she was coming for sure. Her fast development from a depression to a Cat 3 storm in less than 24 hours was impressive. Water, peanut butter, protein bars, apples, canned goods, and emergency M&Ms and Oreos (for keeping spirits up) were secured well in advance. Gallon Ziploc bags filled with frozen water from my tap and Tupperware containers with frozen blocks of ice were at the ready.

I am forever grateful to God for that, because by the end Labor Day weekend we needed to make our most important hurricane preparation – getting my parents out of their manufactured housing, about 30 minutes away from us.

That Monday night Bob and I visited them and basically told them that ready or not, they needed to come by the end of the week. Permanently. We had been trying to convince them to move in with us for months. Well, it took a hurricane. I had joked/not joked with them that if we had to evacuate them, we weren’t taking them back. Now they are residing here with us. I am so relieved.

My parents have been married for 69 years. They are mentally sharp. Mom has been taking care of my Dad for quite some time. He lost the remainder of his vision about 18 months ago. He is 94. Mom continues to be his caregiver, but now we walk alongside her. Mom and I laugh at the same kind of things. I think I got my sense of humor from her side of the family. It brings me great joy and peace to have them with us.

For me, having them here has lightened my emotional load. So, thanks be to God, who used a terrible hurricane like Irma to make this happen.

Bob’s birthday was September 10. I was determined to have some kind of celebration before the September 9, Irma-is-coming-to-town curfew was enforced. (Everyone to get from streets!) I thought it wasn’t quite enough that, not only was he getting a hurricane for his birthday and his in-laws, too. We had to have a party.

We gathered on Saturday for lunch and cake. Interestingly, I forgot to get candles for the cake even though I had plenty of flashlights and lanterns. Oh well! Our local kids and grandkids came over and we had our little party. Then everyone left to batten down the hatches in their own homes.

Saturday brought an uptake in winds, but it was the quintessential calm before the storm. The sounds of plywood being nailed over windows and lawnmowers making a final pass to shorten the grass were everywhere. People were filling their garages with all outdoor paraphernalia in order to eliminate flying debris. Neighbors were checking in with each other. Swimming pool water levels were being lowered.

Throwing furniture into the pool keeps it from blowing around. Our chairs seemed to want to exit up the stairs though.

Hurricane Irma was larger than the state of Florida – that included the area from the Panhandle all the way down the Key West. We watched her wobble along. Would she visit Orlando or Tampa? We prayed she would not go into the Gulf and hit Texas. It took her forever to make “the turn.” But when she did, it became clear that Central Florida was in for it. We had done all we could to be ready. Now it was time to wait.

In my next post, I’ll tell you what it was like to go through the storm. I said it was time to wait, didn’t I?

The Lighter Side of this Presidential Election

It’s challenging to find a lighter side to this presidential election. It has brought out the dark side in many Americans, but like Luke Skywalker, I think there is still good in us. So, even though this might be a very short post, I am committed to finding ten things that will fit into this category, so here goes.

  1. We live in a country where we can participate in the election process.
  2. There is less sign pollution. It seems people are hesitant to advertise their candidate preference because of the volatility of this election.
  3. I am reaffirming the fact that my trust is in God and not man.
  4. The debate about the bathrooms at Target has disappeared.
  5. I am spending less time on social media because I have fewer people to follow on Face Book. I am totally nonpartisan about this. If your posts become disrespectful and mean, it doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat, Republican, or Independent, consider yourself blocked. We can resume our friendship in the more civilized time of mid-November when all of this is behind us.
  6. My polling place is in a beautiful restaurant surrounded by lovely gardens. It is no longer open to the public, but I get to go there to vote.
  7. I’m trying to better understand people with different opinions than mine, while realizing that I likely will never completely understand someone else’s point of view.
  8. Late night television has never had more craziness to work with from both sides of the aisle, which helps us to laugh at all of the candidates and turn the tension down a notch.
  9. It’s almost over for four more years, though this election has been underway for about a year and a half, so I guess I’ll have to factor that in.
  10. Finally, Thanksgiving is 16 days after the election. No matter the outcome, we have much to be thankful for.

Now allow me to put on my mom hat and say, “Do your research. Pray, think, and go out there and vote. Talk nicely to each other. No hitting. Don’t make me pull this blog over.”

Always Check Out the Gushing Sound

Every morning around 10 o’clock our pool pump automatically turns on. It’s part of the magic of modern life. I can set my dishwasher to turn on four hours later. I can set the dryer for “wrinkle control” to aid me in my goal of never ironing my clothes again. I can set my coffeepot to turn on in the morning. And, if I could only figure out the timed bake on my oven, I suppose I could set dinner to start cooking while I’m out. Of course, that would require preparation of dinner early in the day, and we all know that ain’t happening.

These are things that I take for granted and barely notice until something goes wrong. For instance, maybe I set the “wash later” control but failed to push the start button on the dishwasher, which equals stinky dishes. Maybe I set the coffee pot to come on in the morning, but fail to put coffee grounds in the basket, and I wake up to a nice pot of hot water. No big deal. I’ll get to it in a minute.

But when I heard a gushing sound from the backyard it didn’t take long to realize that something had gone wrong. That something was the pool pump working against us and turning the pool into a wading pool because the pool pump lid popped off. Meanwhile the back corner of the pool cage behind the house was beginning to rival Wet and Wild.

I’m a little embarrassed to tell you that I didn’t notice this until it had been going on for about 30 minutes, because I was asleep. Yes, I was asleep at ten in the morning. I was taking an early afternoon nap. You see, my husband and I have had two of our grandchildren on our own this week. That means that I’m getting up almost two hours early, waking sleeping children, helping them get dressed, and driving them to school. And that means that by 10:00, I’m ready for a nap.

So, when I rose from my nap, pulled the curtains back and looked out in the backyard, I was surprised to see that the water level of the pool was markedly lower than it was yesterday. I didn’t remember Bob (my husband) taking the level down after our recent rains, but I figured he must have done that. Then I opened the door and heard Old Faithful erupting all over the side of the house and yard. I was kicking my shoes off, wiping the sleep out of my eyes, and trying to find the facetime icon on my phone all at once. That’s a lot for somebody who just woke up from a morning afternoon nap.

Thankfully, Bob was available and I showed him the gusher. He calmly told me to turn the pump off. I love simple solutions. Later I wondered how long it would have taken me to think of that. After all, it took me a full minute to find the facetime icon on my phone. That’s just another example of how we need each other (or really how I need him).

I was also reminded of being thankful. Originally I was planning to be gone all morning, but yesterday as I was making my list of things to do today, I felt like God told me to stay home and work on my blog. That may sound weirdly mystical, but it’s simply part of trying to be sensitive to the fact that God really does have a plan for my daily life, and he impresses me to do (or not to do) things from time to time. Before I took my nap, I wondered what I’d be writing about. Well, as Paul Harvey always said, now you know the rest of the story.

 

The first step barely has water on it

Contrasts

Photo Credit: Mindi Osbourne

Last night we attended a Matt Redman and Christy Nockels concert, which was really a big worship session.  It is a privilege to freely worship in this country, and it warmed my heart to devote an evening to worshiping God.  It was like a feast for my hungry soul.

This morning I was still basking in the experience of the night before.  Then I turned on the news.  In Charleston, South Carolina, another group of Christians who were freely worshiping the same God at the same time had their lives end.  It breaks my heart for them and their families and their community.  One thing that I am aware of today as I pray for those affected is this.  We all need Jesus.  Every day.  Every moment.  Those families know that more than ever.  We will be talking about this for some time.  Let’s be praying as well.  Pray for these precious people to be comforted as they walk through this very dark valley.

The Sistine Chapel (Europe Part 2)

During our last trip to Rome the Sistine Chapel was closed for the day – that was quite the disappointment.  But, since I had thrown a coin into the Trevi Fountain on that visit I knew I would return.  This time I was not disappointed. Michelangelo’s magnificent ceiling was more beautiful than I had imagined.  But it was his The Last Judgment painting that got to me.  As you walk into the Chapel, you pass under The Last Judgment.  The symbolism was striking.  I entered into the chapel under judgment.  I walked out in freedom because of what Christ did for me.  He took my penalty.  The One who was sinless has cloaked me in his righteousness.  Such a picture!

Photographs are not allowed to be taken in the Sistine Chapel.  The tour guides take you to the museum gardens near the chapel and explain what you will see.  There are panels with pictures of all of the art work displayed for their tutorial.  This is a picture of The Last Judgment from one of those panels.

Of course it does not do the original work justice, but in case you have not seen it before, I wanted to show you.  Especially vivid is the bottom right corner where those who were not covered by the blood of Jesus entered eternal damnation.  Of interest, the man depicted prominently is said to have criticized Michelangelo’s work.  I guess that is one way to be immortalized in art.

The other work that affects me so much that I find it difficult to stop looking at it is La Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica.  Michelangelo was 23 when he was commissioned to do this work.

 Our guide told us that it is said that Michelangelo worked alone.  Other artists had students who often worked on projects with them, but Michelangelo did these two works of art alone.  My take on what she said is that his genius did not lend itself to working and playing well with others.  That made me think of how God has gifted people so individually for the work that he has for them.  Perhaps If Michelangelo was more of a teacher or less of a perfectionist he would not have created these masters.  I am not an art scholar by any means, but that was food for thought for me.

Great Joy

I would love to share a picture with you.  The picture would be what joy looks like.  But that is challenging to capture in a photograph.  It is even more challenging for me since my camera went missing.

Of course, there are numerous devices which I own that I could use to take photographs.  I’m typing on one right now.  But for me the best options for achieving the perfect picture are found on my Nikon camera.  I love this camera.  We bought it before we went to Europe two years ago.  It has a wi-fi setting on it so I can move the pictures miraculously through the air from the camera to my iPad.

Since at any given time this camera may have priceless photographs on it, it falls into the category of things which I hide from burglars.  Recently there have been several break-ins in our area.  These usually occur during the daytime by means of a door being kicked in.  The thieves target empty houses.  At our house there is almost always somebody home, so I don’t worry too much about it.

Inevitably though, the house had to be emptied of people.  It was just a matter of time before we all had some place to go at the same time, leaving our driveway empty, which in my eyes was like posting a “Welcome” sign to hooligans.

So, I hide things.  Laptops, tablets, jewelry, cameras.  Usually I remember where I hide them.  Sometimes I don’t.  Sometimes I don’t even remember that I hide them, which brings me to my camera.

We had a family gathering and I went to get the camera.  Hum, I must have left it in the other room, I thought to myself.  Immediately that feeling of dread came over me.  I must have hidden my camera. I wonder where.

I spent the next several days ransacking my house, much like a burglar would have done only neater.  After three days I’d say my house was more organized than ever.  Drawers are clean, cupboards are orderly.  I would take a picture to show you only…..

I prayed that God would show me where my camera was hiding.  I prayed this several times.  I guess God wanted me to get my house organized.  Plus, God wanted to show me something about trust.  I needed to learn to trust Him more.  I could argue that the items I hide are items that are of sentimental value or, in the case of electronics, have things that are difficult to replace stored in them.  Financial records, pictures, the book I’m writing.  Good argument, but I still realized I had to trust all of that with God.

On Tuesday night I prayed before I went to bed.  I asked God to show me where the camera was the next day.  I didn’t want to pressure him, but I was spending a lot of time looking for it.  Hours.  Days.  I felt unproductive and frustrated.

The next day I continued my search, organizing along the way.  No camera.  That night Bob and I were packing things for our trip to Arlington National Cemetery.  It was time to place his father’s ashes there.  I had resigned to the fact that I would be using my phone to take pictures.

Earlier that day I took a flashlight and shined it in dark places in my house to see if that elusive camera in its black case was hiding in a corner or something.  This was to no avail.  For some reason I picked up that flashlight again, aimed it into a corner of my bedroom and voila – there was my camera!

I was giddy with excitement.  I grabbed Bob by the arms and did the dance of joy (a la Balki and Larry from the 1980s TV show Perfect Strangers).  I rejoiced.  I thanked God.  Bob looked at me like I was weird.  (That happens a lot.)  But he rejoiced with me, too.

God gently showed me that I need not fear or be crazy protective over anything that I think I need.  He will supply all my needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).  Therefore, if I need something, anything, He will make sure that I have that.  I can trust him.

Then it hit me.  What great joy our Heavenly Father has when one of us who was lost is found.  The light of Jesus shined into the darkness that was my life and I was restored to my Heavenly Father through his shed blood.  Now that’s joy.  Even something to dance and shout about.

 

 

Where is Jesus?

The last of my father-in-law’s possessions was spread across my dining room table ready to be claimed by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as keepsakes and reminders of him.  This was his collection of animal figurines and carvings which he collected from around the world and which were very dear to him.  Also included was a crèche complete with Mary, Joseph and a manger in which to lay baby Jesus.  Every Christmas he would display the crèche with all of his animals surrounding it.

Somewhere along the way Jesus must have gone missing, not unlike the time when Jesus was twelve and Mary and Joseph had traveled to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover.  On the way home, you may remember, they thought he was in the company they were traveling with and it took three days to find him.

The comparison breaks down quickly, but it does come to mind that sometimes one thinks they have Jesus and they really don’t.

IMG_2652Anyway, one of our sons chose the crèche.  The figures have wonderfully expressive faces and are stamped with Italy as their country of origin.  Jesus looked a little off to me.  He wasn’t made of the same material, but it was something about his eyes that gave him away.  We turned him over and there it was.  Jesus was made in China.  I’m guessing he was purchases in a Dollar Store and added to the scene like an understudy in a play.

This troubled me, but we figured lots of people display manger scenes without Jesus in the manger all through the Christmas season.  Then on Christmas morning He miraculously appears.  This hatched a plan to look on E-Bay to find a baby Jesus that was fitting to sit with his Italian-made parents.

IMG_2654I wasn’t comfortable throwing made-in-China baby Jesus away.  It seemed wrong somehow.  I figured we should put him some place where I could remember where he was; so just in case I didn’t find a suitable replacement, the manger would not sit empty on Christmas.  I put him in the china closet.  You know, China/china – I should remember that.

Then it occurred to me.  Bob and I are going to Italy in the spring to celebrate our fortieth wedding anniversary.  I can look for Jesus there.  That would be awesome.

So, this year if you come to my house on Christmas, please do not look too closely at Jesus in the manger.  We have hope that next year he will look a lot better.

I would encourage you to look for Jesus where he may be found this Christmas.  He is there at the mere mention of his name.  He is no longer a baby in a manger.  He is the Prince of Peace and our Savior.  Merry Christmas!

Luke 2:11-12:  “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you:  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 

 

Thank you, God, for Red Lights

I was heading to my son’s house to stay with my grandsons for a few days.  It had been a busy morning and I left my home an hour later than I had planned.  I needed to be there by 2:30 to receive the boys from the school bus, and I had to stop at Costco for gas.  It was 2:05 when I finished filling up.  There was plenty of time, except I needed four things from inside the store – four things that were just steps away.  If I could be in and out in 10 minutes, I would just make it in time to get the boys.  Of course, getting in and out of Costco in ten minutes would be a major miracle.  I was up for a miracle.

I was back in the car at 2:18; that was thirteen minutes, which was a major accomplishment for me but only a minor miracle.  As I drove down SR436 I prayed that I would get to their home before they would.  I knew it was tight.  I felt like God was saying, “Trust me.  Be at peace.”

That meant that I didn’t need to give in to anxiety and wouldn’t need to go 80 mph when I got on I-4.  I was at peace.  (The thought of a delay due to getting pulled over by the police occasionally crept into my mind.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.)

file4281249501933 (1)I met one green light after another.  I thanked God for the green lights.  I knew he was using them to get me there on time.  Then I came to a red light.  I thought about the boys.  God gave me peace.  He didn’t say I would get every light green.  He only told me to trust him.  That meant that even if they had to wait for me, he was caring for them.  So, I thanked God for the red light.  After all, he was in charge of that, too.

I pulled into their neighborhood and had to go through the security gate, where three trucks were lined in front of me.  I sat there waiting as a school bus rolled by me.  One of the trucks went through and another school bus passed.

Finally I got through the gate, it felt like it took forever, but it was only about four minutes.  I turned onto their street and there were the boys – one house away from their home.  I would have beaten them home if they hadn’t broken into a run when they saw me.  I am amazed at how God cares for his children.  He gave me just the right amount of green and red lights to get me there in a timely manner, but most of all he gave me peace that I could trust him with every detail.  I just love that.

Even in Sadness, Light Shines Through

June 4, 2014, was the last time I posted on my blog.  I am determined to post before July ends, so here I go with a snapshot of what the last several weeks have looked like.

June was Family Eye Doctor Appointment Month – at least it was for my parents and father-in-law.  During one week I had four separate appointments for them with a total of six appointments in three weeks.  They all go to the same group.  I am the transportation and extra set of ears for my parents and the “seeing-eye-daughter” for my father-in-law.  (He’s legally blind.)  I think I’m making friends there.

In mid-June, Bob’s two sisters came down to visit their dad.  Bob’s and my prayer was that he would be healthy and they would have a good visit.  His tendency to contract UTIs (urinary tract infections) would often land him in the hospital.  We hoped he wouldn’t be going through that or anything else during their stay.

God is good.  Their visit was amazing.  They spent a week with him and saw him every day.  Bob and his sisters took him out to lunch, which can be challenging.  It was a special time with him and his three kids.  They had great conversations and walked down memory lane.  There were no incidents.  The new declines that we were beginning to see were barely noticeable during their stay.  We were so thankful.

Two days after they went home, he fell.  A few days later on June 30, Bob and I were heading over to visit my parents to celebrate my dad’s 91st birthday when we got a call that he fell again and was being sent to the ER.

He was admitted.  We all thought it was a UTI, but it was not.  I think he was worn out.  It was his time.  On July 4, he was moved to Hospice House.  On July 7, he passed away at the age of 91.  It had been a long year for him, full of challenges physically and consequently emotionally.  We are thankful that he is now at rest in Heaven.

How kind of God to give such a wonderful final visit with his daughters.  And we are thankful for Hospice House – a place to die with dignity surrounded by people who understand, comfort and help.

On the last day that he was fully responsive, I spent several hours with him in the hospital.  He was living in his past and talking vividly about it.  I joined in his conversation like I was there with him.  Having known him for over forty years, it was not difficult.  I’ll always remember how happy he was on that day and how much he enjoyed reminiscing.  I had heard of things like this happening right before the end of life here on earth.  It was remarkable to witness.

The last thing he ever asked of me was to scratch his nose.  I think they had given him some meds that made it itch.  I gave it a good rubbing.  He said, “No, that’s not getting it.  The inside itches.  Scratch the inside.”

“Sorry, Dad, you’re on your own,” I told him.  He was not shy about asking people to do for him.  I don’t feel badly about not granting this last request plus it made him laugh when I said no.

Dale (Bob's dad) telling stories at our house last Easter

Dale (Bob’s dad) telling stories at our house last Easter

He also talked about his projects.  Right to the end, he was concerned about them.  For the last six months our daughter-in-law, Aubyron, had been more or less his secretary.  When she and our son moved back to Orlando, she wanted to help; so we hired her to see him weekly, take dictation from him and transcribe those last pesky stories that he had not completed.  Her duties also included delivering Icy Hot and Listerine and the occasional manicure and tweezing of the nose hair.  (This was not part of the original job description.)  She provided Bob and me with much-needed relief and she enjoyed visiting Grandpa.

When he died, we sent messages to our friends telling them that Bob’s dad had passed.  One of our friends asked us, “Hey, what was Bob’s dad’s name?”  He was always Bob’s dad or Mr. Anderson to them.  His name was Dale.  Among other things, he was a writer.  He encouraged me in my writing.  That being said, I guess I better buckle down and write.  That would make him happy.