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Wander & enjoy the diversity...it feeds your soul “What is more miraculous than the moment?” Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh

What I did this summer...

USA | Wednesday, 3 September 2008 | Views [2580] | Comments [4]

Crazy people (Ann, Bobbie, Elliott, Chuck, & Kirst) at our kitchen table

Crazy people (Ann, Bobbie, Elliott, Chuck, & Kirst) at our kitchen table

Many are headed back to school this week, so here is my "What I did this summer" essay:

‘Family-centered’ summer, 2008
Sister & Nephew’s visit to Portland:
Following Elliott Cole’s (my nephew/sister’s son) graduation in May in Birmingham, AL (written about previously), both Bobbie & Elliott, following an Alaskan cruise, came to visit us in Portland via Amtrak!  We invited other family to meet them that first night & had a great time with Keith & Arlene (Chuck’s sister & B-I-L from NJ), Deb (Chuck’s Ptld. sister), Anna & Jason & 1yo Emerson Tofel (K & A’s daughter in Ptld) & Bobbie’s friend, Marge from Silverton, OR.  So nice to have Kirsten here (she’s writing her Masters thesis), but we dearly missed Kelsey, who is teaching in Korea.  

The next few days we walked did an abbreviated ‘visitor’s’ tour - Rose Garden, took Elliott thru the Columbia Gorge to Multnomah Falls…had a delicious barbeque dinner at Marge’s house with a high-stakes ping-pong match between Chuck, Bobbie, Elliott, & Marge! We ended their visit with a trip to the Humane Society to take Kela, our ‘foster’ cockatoo, back to the HS - she had bitten Kirst 3 times!  Bobbie highlighted the day treating us to decadent Voodoo Donuts on Burnside!  Yummmm! It was great to have them here!  B & E headed to Fargo/Mhd on Amtrak 5 days later for THE WEDDING!

Minnesota Wedding:
Another nephew, Mark Iverson (my brother’s son) married Marissa Bergquist, June 28th in Moorhead, Minnesota.  Besides being a beautiful event & lovely reception dinner, it was a ‘sweet’ opportunity to see family again - my brother, Jim & his wife, Kathy and their oldest son, Paul.  Especially grateful to have my father, Harold Iverson (age 80) attended all the festivities even tho’ he needs a bit of mobility help with a wheelchair!  In addition, my sister, Barbara Cole took lots of photos (GREAT camera Bobbie!) & her son, Elliott was an usher.  

It was also fun to see many of the Iverson side too-Pops sister, Evelyn Wheeler (93yo), Phyllis, Marilyn, Sharon, Mike, Barb & Jim Wheeler &...  Evelyn had been ready early – she was so excited to go to a wedding – even tho’ she is also in a WC & needs O2!  Following the wedding & visiting with Marge & Val we drove over to the Siren - Spooner, WI area & took possession of Tim’s cute little cabin on Viola Lake for a week.

‘Celebration of Life’ for Uncle Vern in Wisconsin:
Vern Grefsrud died on April 10, 2008 at age 81 yo, about 40 years after the medical community predicted his Addison’s Disease would end his life decades earlier.  Vern proved them wrong by living life fully – walking high beams as a steel worker & working hard (always a project) in the country by a beautiful lake surrounded by everything he loved – family, friends, birds, bears, garden – picking berries, maple trees – making maple syrup and some of the most spectacular sunrises on earth!  

The ‘celebration of life’ ceremony was full of joy as a few hundred people gathered to reflect on and remember all the support Vern gave to family & friends!  It was also GREAT that Marge drove down from Fargo & Val & Maddie drove them all to service.  My father (who looked dashing in his Panama hat & Mexican white shirt), felt like Vern was his brother, was able to come with Marge.  When I was little and now with my own family, we have enjoyed many peaceful visits to the lake – enjoyed seeing Vern's latest gadget, gizmo, creation, or garden, heared his laugh & saw his smile.  

One time we helped collect tree sap and watch it boil down into syrup.  With Joanne’s delicious cooking, there was always a treat or ‘healthy’ pancakes, sour cream, berries & ‘liquid gold’!!  Listening to Vern's stories was also a highlight of each visit.  In addition, we heard from others how he & Joanne cared for & took in people into their home.  I was one of them for several months after nursing school.  Vern also helped us move across country to Portland, volunteered with Habitat, & served in church – gave a sermon & said the Lord’s Prayer in Norwegian.  When it became difficult for him to walk, he enjoyed sitting on the porch overlooking the lake & watching the many colorful varieties of birds.  Joanne said that on the day he died, hundreds of birds came – more than any other day…probably to say goodbye.

Chuck was one of the speakers at the service and relayed how he loved life and lived love.  The Labyrinth of flowers, shrubs, & trees honors his love of the land with contributions from family & friends.  The large & small labyrinths are kept manicured beautifully by John, a dear, dear family friend whose voice was such a gift at the service.  Vern is missed and will always be remembered!

Visit to Chuck’s sister & B-I-L in New Jersey & niece & husband in NYC:
Chuck & I returned to an empty house as Kirsten had left to co-lead a 3-week Arts & Religion ‘SAGE’ tour for high school students to southern India.  We tamed the garden, worked in our various roles as college Business Ethics teacher & Humane Society & African Women’s volunteer.  Kirsten returned the end of July…we heard the trials & tribulations of how it is to lead a group of HS students thru India!  Not a job for the inexperienced!  Kirst then got back to finishing her Masters paper on comparing private vs government education in India.  But first needed us out of the house.  Sooooo…we headed to Keith & Arlene Johnson’s in NJ.

What a GREAT time we had!  Went into NYC for a day to see the musical Gypsy (fun – great singing) - then met Ingrid & Scot at their really cute 3-level apt before going out to a delicious dinner!  Nothing like the bustling energy of NYC !!  We headed for Johnson’s lake cabin the next day in upstate NY and loved it’s beaver pond, kayaking, birds & frogs!  We also loved Keith’s warm, homemade bread & Arlene’s healthy, delicious dishes!  Spritzers (‘Soda Club’ water with wine) before dinner – nice touch!  Starry skies, walks in the woods, campfires & roasted marshmallows by the lake, dinners on the porch & Keith in the trees – cutting off unwanted branches!  Oh…& barbeque chicken - wine picnic before the musical, Kiss Me Kate at the Glimmerglass Theater.  Oh…& dinner at the American Hotel in Sharon Springs, NY, Ingrid’s favorite!  It is owned by Doug Plummer & Garth Roberts, who are just delightful owners & who treat you as if they have known you all your life!  We also went to the Sunshine Fair in Cobleskill, NY – saw sweet cows, & watched Keith & Ingrid ‘ride the bull!’  Captured on video too!  I may have left out something…(Cooperstown on Otsego Lake & the Otesaga Resort Hotel where we had drinks on the veranda & pretended we had checked in!) ...we had a GRAND time!   

The fun didn’t stop there – when we returned, Kirst still had not completed her paper, so we were strongly encouraged to leave town again.  Although she offered to pay us to leave, we took off to the Seaside beach & stayed at our favorite, Tradewinds. Wind, rain, cold & 2 days later…we headed out of town, but the sun came out…so we stayed another night at the Hilltop Hotel, another favorite – where we celebrated the Millennium with Kirsten’s college friends.  When we got back, Kirst was putting the finishing touches to her paper!!!  YEAH!!

We had 1 last week to enjoy & help Kirsten get ready for India…almost not enough time.  We had to spend the last day mostly at the mall getting her new computer set up for the trip – her old one, held together with string & duct tape is going with her, but eventually will be donated to the kids at SEED.  We saw her off on Sat, Aug 30th!  Although she missed her plane in NY, she finally arrived in Delhi, where she will be in orientation for 2 weeks, then off to Chennai/Madras.  She is working in the Service Corps Fellowship for AIF, American Indian Foundation in Chennai in the area of education, specific duties yet to be identified. This is her 7th trip and finally she is in India when she only has to look after herself!!!  No students, parents, friends, etc…what a treat to be able to focus on what her Master’s has been about…education.

In summary, we have had a full, family-centered summer!  We are extremely grateful!  Now I can look forward to visiting our other daughter, Kelsey in Sokcho, Korea.  Life is so exciting!!!  

Tags: family




Wow! i'm exhausted just reading your blog! i hope you're ready to take it easy in Korea! All you have to do is clean and have dinner for me every night! Ha! Just Kidding! I can't wait to see you! Love you! :)

  Kelsey Sep 8, 2008 4:51 PM


Hey, thanks for the heads-up! I guess I better pack a suitcase of cleaning supplies! LOVE YA!!!

  Mom Sep 9, 2008 2:51 AM


The statement that LIFE IS RICH has real meaning when I read about your travels and how you LIVE LIFE. I am beginning to feel more energy in my spirit now some 5 months after Vern's passing on to his reward. So in November I will be going for two weeks with Nanang and her son Anthony to the P.I. where her parents live. ..I love you all very much and so grateful for your presence during our Memorial Celebration. Your trees are beautiful and the Annie crab is full of little red apples.

  joanne b.t. grefsrud Sep 25, 2008 2:44 PM


It is so EXCITING to hear about your up-coming travels to the Philippines!!

YEAH!!! Pack light (I'm not able to do that, but...) & enjoy everything - especially each 'moment' and the serendipity of travel. I believe that when you connect to people, you connect to your soul!

  Ann Sep 26, 2008 2:05 AM

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