December 03, 2012

Farewell to a dear friend

Since before Betty and I were married, we have come to this beautiful little house to visit her parents.  We have many wonderful memories associated with the house, with the people who live here and with the magnificent landscape.

One summer, Popo had an ongoing battle going with the racoons trying to raid the bird feeder outside the kitchen window.  He wrapped the pole with an innertube dressed with sharp nails.  The critters just used Popo's invention as a ladder.  He tried a number of things that did not work, but he finally succeeded when he put an inverted cone of sheet metal with sharp cuts along the edge.  That worked. 
Popo decided that he could no longer live here alone. Reluctantly, he made arrangements to sell his little home in the canon and come live with Betty and I.  The buyer has graciously invited us to come up from time to time and see the changes that are being made.
It has been exciting to see the house updated and fixed up, but it has been really hard on Popo.  The familiar little home that he as lived in for the last forty eight years has lost it's familiarity.  It has hurt him to lose the little nooks and crannies that have been home to him.

The house is now ready to be rented and today we took a final tour. 
Many years ago, a relative covered the old stone fireplace with a paneling facade.  The facade was neither plumb nor square, nor was the gas fireplace.  It was installed without an effort to make it square since the facade was so crooked.  The fireplace is now level and it has a new face.  Slate tiles that form a nice square fireplace and hearth adorn the living room.

Popo was proud of the old gold carpet that had been installed forty years earlier.  The floor is now laminate and is beautiful.  The window coverings have been brought up to date.
The kitchen had kitchen carpeting.  It was beginning to break down and was hard to keep clean.  The kitchen now has a new tile flashing and new tile floors.

The kitchen stove was added when Grace was alive, but the oven never worked correctly.  The stove now works correctly and is ready for someone to make some Christmas cookies.

The master bedroom has had some changes.  The floor of the master bedroom is the original floor, but has been finished.

The windows in this room were tiny and cold.  They have been replaced with modern windows that make the room warmer.

This is probably the two rooms that have seen the most change.  The logs in this room were the original cabin.  On one side was Grace's utility room and the dryer.  Both the washer and the dryer are now in the bathroom.  The supports in this new room are aspens that the buyer worked into supports.  I like the change in this room.

Although I like the changes that have been made to Popo's old home, I can understand the pain that he feels.  It's not his any more and we cannot go back to visit.  I suppose that's the way life is.  Changes happen and we can never go back.   We have to look forward toward tomorrow.

July 19, 2012

Cranky Old Man

What do you see nurses? 
What do you see?
What are you thinking 

When you're looking at me?

A cranky old man, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit with faraway eyes
Who dribbles his food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice, "I do wish you'd try!"

Who seems not to notice the things that you do.
And forever is losing a sock or shoe?

Who, resisting or not lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill?

Is that what you're thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse. You're not looking at me.

I'll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, as I eat at your will.

I'm a small child of ten with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters who love one another.

A young boy of Sixteen with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now a lover he'll meet.

A groom soon at twenty my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows  that I promised to keep.

At twenty-five, now  I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide and a secure happy home.

A man of thirty my young now grown fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last.

At forty, my young sons have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me to see I don't mourn.

At fifty, once more, babies play 'round my knee,
Again, we know children, my loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me, my wife is now dead.
I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own.
And I think of the years and the love that I've known.

I'm now an old man and nature is cruel.
It's jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles grace and vigor, depart.
There is now a stone where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass, a young man still dwells,
And now and again my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys.  I remember the pain.
And I'm loving and living life over again.

I think of the years, all too few gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people open and see
Not a cranky old man! Look closer see me!!


June 24, 2012

The Waldo Canon Fire

The Waldo Canon fire is burning near where we live.  Waldo Canon is a very popular site for local hikers.  We have watched the fire grow from 150 acres to 2500.  It went from a single, impressive column of smoke to a horizon filled with flames and smoke.

As the evacuations were announced.  Cedar Heights was the first evacuation.  It's to the west of us and although we can see it from our home it seemed to be a ways away.  The next set of evacuations included the street we live and I went into a panic.  We scurried around gathering things and headed to my Father in law's home.  He lives in a wooded canon about five miles from our house.  As we listened to the news more closely, we felt that it would be safe to return home as the evacuation area is north of where we live. 

We are safe at home, and have a new perspective.  An experience like this makes me realize that we need to be better prepared for emergencies.  We need to have our 72 hour kit ready and where we can grab it quickly.  We also need to have a better plan for preparing to leave our home in an emergency.

We are unsure of what the next few days will bring, but we now have a plan in place can rest better.

April 01, 2012

An Opportunity to Serve

 When Betty's dad came out of the hospital this last time, he came to our home because he was so weak.  We're in the process of moving over and making room for his things.

I've watched family members care for loved ones, but I am seeing this with a new pair of eyes.  Mom cared for Ward for the years that they were together.  She did that faithfully.  I also admire Don and Gloria for their care of Gloria's mother.   More recently, I watched as David cared for Marti. They have been good examples for me to follow.

Although I love my father-in-law, I have felt overwhelmed at the changes that will need to take place in our lifestyle.  One of the big changes for me has been the change in our television viewing.  It has gone from excessive to almost none.  That might be a good change.  I think I've always been like some other members of my family.  I enjoy going all the time.   Since he has come to stay with us, I haven't been out of the house even one time.  That is a hard one for me. 

We've had a lot of people coming and visiting.  That has been nice, and it has been difficult.  It's always good to see old friends, the it would be nicer under different circumstances.  Pete's voice comes and goes so it has been difficult for him to carry on a conversation.  It's also been a bit difficult because we have been in the process of reconfiguring things to match our new situation.

I was really grateful when my friend Joe came over and taught Betty and I to lift and turn Dad correctly so that we don't hurt ourselves.  I am also grateful for his wife, Wendy who took time with Betty to help her understand things that we need to do to care for him and for ourselves as we experience a new challenge.

March 17, 2012

Pete and the Gray Mare

Pete, Thelma and Kenyon were on their way to school in the Mormon colonies in northern Mexico.  Thelma was the youngest.  She was in first grade,  Pete was in second grade and Kenyon was in the third grade.  The were traveling in a buggy pulled by the old gray mare.  They started to cross a deep ravine, but when they got to the bottom of the ravine, the mare balked.  Kenyon was in the back of the buggy reading a book and Thelma was at a loss as to what should be done.

Pete decided to take matters into hand and get the buggy moving.  He scouted around in the bottom of the ravine and found some rotting railroad ties.  He laid the ties and some kindling in a pile below the stubborn old mare.  A match was lit and soon there was a blazing fire below the reticent animal.  As the flames reached the mare's belly and the hair began to burn, she took off like a bolt of lightening.  Pete was left in the bottom of the ravine as Thelma squealed away in a cloud of dust.

A long walk home gave Pete time to think about what he had done.  There was a little bit of dread about the consequences, but the thought of the mare's bare belly made him giggle with delight.

When he got home, Kenyon had indignantly told Grandpa what Pete had done.  Grandpa merely turned his head and chuckled at Pete's ingenuity.

January 20, 2012

Betty and the Iron Maiden

A week ago, Betty came home from the hospital after a total knee replacement. She's been walking around the house on her walker and has been working with nurses, ocupational therapists and physical therapists here at home. Part of her therapy is to use a CPM (Continuous Passive Motion) machine. We have affectionately named it The Iron Maiden as each time she gets comfortable, we get to increase the setting. She's using the cpm two hours at a time and is looking forward to the time that she no longer will need to use it.

Notice the ice pack on her knee.  It's an inexpensive icepack you can buy at any grocery store.  We've never gotten so much mileage out of one bag of frozen peas.

October 15, 2011

Goodbye Dear Auntie Esther

Today was the funeral of Betty's dear aunt.  She was a wonderful person and she will be missed.

Esther May Freed Garten, age 89, passed away, October 13, 2011 in Colorado Springs. She was born August 9, 1922, daughter of the late Walter Hiram and Grace Elizabeth Freed. Esther was a master seamstress and loved to spend her time crocheting afghans for her children and grandchildren. Esther became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in February of 1975 while living in Security, Colorado. She served a mission and worked in the Denver temple 14 years. Esther is survived by two sons, Walter Garten and Steven (Diane) Garten; a sister, Naomi Noble; half sister, Eilene Clay; daughter-in-law, Jodie Garten; 14 grandchildren; 9 great grandchildren and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. She is preceded in death by 4 children; Robin Garten, Jeannette Garten, Loretta Garten and Alan Garten.

Her obituary from the Gazette is available online.  It is also available from Evergreen funeral home here.

September 18, 2011

Old photos

I have finally found a way to scan and share some of our old family photographs in the form of slides that have been in boxes for years.  If you are interested in seeing them and sharing them, just let me know. 

June 23, 2011

Betty's special day / Father's Day Visit

Betty had a special day this past week. 

It was so nice to see Andrea and her family when they came to visit.

Luke is getting as tall as I am and his voice is deepening.  I cherish every moment that we have to spend with him before he grows too "mature" for his grandparents.

I enjoy being with my daughter.  The white hair you see on me was earned by the two of us, that is the hair that I didn't pull out worrying about her.  She's my sweetheart.

In an effort to keep from boring the kids to death at our house watching old movies, we took the kids to Bear Creek park for a stroll in nature.

Ashleigh and Betty were catching up on their girl talk while the rest of us were stepping it out and setting a bit faster pace.  They didn't even notice that they were getting left behind.

I got to try out my camera on some of the wild flowers in the park.  They were beautiful, but this is one time that I was glad that I didn't get the point.

No treck on the west side would be complete without a stop at Old Colorado City Creamery Ice Cream Parlor.

You would never know it by looking at this innocent looking face, but Andrea enjoyed her ice cream too.

Luke is a man of a few words, but me thinks he is savoring the last bite of ambrosia.

Betty is already anticipating their next visit and the treats afterwards.

June 22, 2011

A new trail buddy

 Twelve years ago, Betty and I bought a Sheltie puppy at a pet store.  Many told us that it was a horrible mistake, but we named him Brewster Dogburn and showered our love on him.  Once we took him though obedience training and got him the medical attention he needed, he was a wonderful pet.  For over ten years, he was a member of our family and we loved him.  When he died, he left a hole in our hearts and we swore that one day we would replace him.

The opportunity finally came.  We got news that this cute little guy was available from an animal rescue.  We picked him up Monday, and the adventure begins.

Since he's not a puppy, he comes with some challenges, and we have some serious training to do.  He knows his name, but he doesn't always respond as I would like.  This little guy eats like a horse and his manners are almost absent.  He barks at every dog or person that  he sees.  He is persistent with his need to play and isn't as affectionate as we would hope. We just might find that Caesar Milan's programs just might prove useful after all.

Today was our third day.  He has been walking with me at least once a day.  He keeps me moving.  He's good for my heart in more ways than I anticipated.

July is going to be a busy month for us.  We need to get this little fellow ready to meet our family.  He's sweet, but rebellious; playful but determined.  

He comes pre-named and he knows his name well, so that's the name we will use with him as well.  His name is Corin.  We were told that is the name of one of the characters from Tales of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. 

June 11, 2011

Week two of retirement

Today was the end of week two and I thought I would be able to sit back and chill out.  That hasn't been the case.  I've been busy with yard work, medical appointments, insurance appointments, and the honey-do list.  I find that at the end of each day, I have items on my daily to-do list that I haven't gotten accomplished. 

The lawn is mowed, the flower beds have been weeded and I have spread fertilizer.  There is still a long list of tasks that need to be done in the yard and in the house. 

I have enjoyed spending time with Betty.  I've also enjoyed the looser schedule.  I have enjoyed taking longer for lunches. long walks and an occasional phone conversation with a more relaxed tone.

I have rededicated myself to my weight loss program, and it is already showing up at the scale. 

I think that the thing that I enjoy most is being able to work and live by my own schedule.  I enjoy sleeping late and I enjoy staying up late if I want to watch an old movie.

June 03, 2011

Exercising in a chair.

For several years now, Betty has been taking classes from Silver Sneakers.  It just didn't make sense to me because I just couldn't imagine getting good exercise in a chair.  Lucky for me, I thought, the classes were offered during the day and my work schedule did not allow attending with her.  Well, I am now retired and have run out of excuses.  Today was the first class, and I found that I enjoyed myself.   We will be attending regularly, and I believe I am looking forward to it.

May 14, 2011

The Window

Three friends stood at the classroom window
One saw light, two saw only shadow.
One seeing beauty shared his view
Two listened, but chose to feel blue.

Burdened then with impending gloom,
Two paid attention to darkness in the room.
Two lent an ear to their dear friend
Hoping their burdens ere long would end.

Three returned to the window another day
Eager to hear what the others would say.
Two saw hope in the blossoms of spring.
One saw the weeds that summer would bring.

Seasons quickly came and so they went.
In different ways each friends' time was spent.
Til three friends at the classroom window,
Again shared views of the city below.

Colored by experiences each one would know;
Experiences that helped each friend grow,
Three saw the beauty in the landscape below
As each talked of their view through the old window.


May 02, 2011

Beginning my last month.

The branches of the weeping willow sway in the breeze. Their flexibility allows them to move and adapt as atmospheric changes come. More rigid trees snap and break under the pressure of winds.

I too am being the given an opportunity. My life is changing and I can either flex with change of employment opportunities. What are the things that I need to do to prepare for life after my life with the same employer for over a quarter of a century?

I am facing the future with eager anticipation and with some trepidation. What things will remain and which will be discarded to lighten the load? What things are wants, and what are necessities. Time will tell.

February 18, 2011


Our precious Aubrey passed away today at 11:41am.  Her struggle on this earth is over.  Although we will miss her,  we still celebrate for her.  Surrounded by her parents, sister and Grandma, she died peacefully.  She passed quitely, without fear or pain.  Thank you all so much for your devotion and prayers. 

February 13, 2011

When life seems overwhelming

I've always been easily discouraged when faced with situations that are difficult and out of the ordinary.  Many times in life, I have found myself quitting when the going got difficult.  This last two years, I have gained a new perspective as I have watched my family adjust and grow with some challenging situations.  My granddaughter, Aubrey, was diagnosed with a rare tumor in her brain stem.  Although there have been difficult times, I have watched her, her parents and my wife face difficult situations with amazing courage.  One such time was our trip recently to the local library.

Aubrey has consistently gotten sicker.  As she has faced new situations, she and her parents have done it with courage and with a sense of determination that is to be admired.  One day, after being confined to her bedroom for months, she announced that she was tired of being shut up and wanted to get out.  She wanted to go to the library and get a new book to read.

Her parents took hours to prepare her for the trip and make arrangements to get transportation arranged for her as it has been too difficult to take her in the family car.  The weather was cold, but she was determined.  Tim lifted her from her bed and got her situated in a specialized wheel chair.

She posed with Grandma and me for a photo while we waited for the Bus with a lift to arrive.  Her voice was weak, but her determination was strong.

When our little party reached the Library, the staff treated us well.  They knew Aubrey well because of the many hours she had spent in the library before her illness.  The welcomed her back and offered assistance. 

When we got to the library, she asked the librarian if she could visit the special historical collection.  She wanted to know about a hotel erected in 1899. 

We all got busy searching what for we could find, but to no avail.  Aubrey was having the time of her life.  She was doing something that she enjoyed doing.

The library staff brought an armful of books and showed them to Aubrey one by one.

She was delighted when she found a book that she was interested in.

Our visit to the library was short, but Aubrey had done something she wanted to do.

Her dad packed up in her wheel chair, wrapped her up in a blanket and took her for a two block walk to a Chinese Restaurant to end the excursion.  She was out of her bedroom for a time and enjoying it. When when got to the restaurant and took one bite, she was ill and needed to be taken home.

Over and over again, I have watched this young lady be faced with difficult situations.  For the most part, she adapts and handles the situation with courage and a good attitude.

Life isn't always fair.  Sometimes we have to deal with things that seem impossible.  By watching Aubrey, I have learned, and am determined that I will face those situations with a positive attitude and determination to make the best of the situation.

November 26, 2010


Ashleigh watches TV
This year, Thanksgiving was in Colorado Springs for part of our family and in South Dakota for another part of the family.  Andrea, Matthew, Luke, and Ashleigh came to our house for a meal, and we were joined by Grandpa Wagner.

Betty was in South Dakota with Tim, Brenda, Aubrey and Chloe.  Grandma wants to spend as much time as possible with Aubrey and to help Brenda. 

Robert is in Longmont, we think.  Wherever he is, we love him and wish him the best.

Matthew plays with his machine

Grandpa Wagner misses Betty

Andrea is sleepy, but musters up a smile

Grandpa is glad to have part
of the family here with him

Matthew forces a smile as
Grandpa tries out his new camera.

Luke sleeps through it all.

November 12, 2010

Betty, I'll never take you for granted again

This has been a good week and a hard week.  I have been reminded many ways that Betty makes my life a better, more pleasant exercise.

Last Saturday, I bought groceries with the intention of cooking all of my meals.  I cooked one meal or two. They weren't anything to write home about.  One night, I cooked a pizza on Betty's fancy pizza stone.  I put all of the right ingredients on it and it came out like the sole of a shoe that had taken a trip through a garbage dump.  I ate it just because I cooked it and I didn't want to throw the groceries away.  One night, I cooked migas, a Mexican dish with tortilla crumbs and diced vegetables.  I've made this dish before, but when Betty is home, it tastes wonderful.  This time, it was no more than ok.  I ate it because I was hungry, but it would have tasted better if I could have shared it with her.

Sunday, I got up and went to church.  The talks were good and the fellowship was terrific, but I missed the companionship that I get when Betty is with me.  I got my scripture study done, but she wasn't here to help me see  her point of view of the lessons taught in my reading.

I have tried hard to keep the dishes washed, my bed made, my clothes picked up, the trash taken out, the refrigerator stocked, and my laundry done.  The kitchen for is swept, but it isn't clean.  The dishes are washed, but they aren't put away.  The bed is made but not without wrinkle.  A couple of times, I've walked through the kitchen and noticed a foul odor.  After a diligent search, I found a liquid onion and a rotten potato.  Our home is so much more when Betty is here, not just because she does all of these things, but because when she is here the house has the wonderful aroma of her essential oils.

My office is in our family room, which is just off of the kitchen.  At times, I have complained about the noise of the washer, the dryer or the kitchen appliances when I was trying to concentrate on a work task or the conversation on the phone.  This week, the quiet has been deafening.  I find it harder to concentrate with the quiet than with the trivial noises of working at home.

More than anything else, I have missed my conversation partner.  I missed having someone to bounce an idea off of.  I've missed having someone to listen to me when I vent and express frustration.  I have ached to have someone share my little victories when I have worked through a difficult problem or have found a creative approach to an old task.

I have thoroughly enjoyed our phone conversations each morning and each evening before I retire.  I get the latest news about Aubrey and Chloe and Brenda and Tim.  We talk about our challenges and how we've done.  We share ideas and encouragement.    As much as I enjoy them, it's not the same as watching her eyes twinkle or the corner of her mouth turn up as something pleases her.  

Betty and I agree that she is where she needs to be.   Meanwhile, I am learning to cook, clean and do laundry, but more than anything, I am learning to love my sweetheart more each day.

November 10, 2010

I Took it in the Chin

Yesterday was an emotional day. Betty is out of town helping care Aubrey. Today was not a good day for her and her tumor is interfering with her breathing. The walls were coming at me because I am working from home and don't have a lot of face to face contact as I would prefer. I called Betty's dad and he suggested that I leave the computer for a while and take a walk outdoors.

I laced up my walking shoes, activated my iPod pedometer and headed out for a twenty minute walk in the neighborhood. It was beginning to get a bit damp and cold and I was walking at a pretty good clip. I got to an area where the sidewalks were a uneven. I caught my toe on a lifted section of sidewalk, and down I came into a four point landing. I saw stars as my face hit and my chin and wire framed trifocals took the brunt of the fall. I got up, straightened the frames of my glasses, dusted myself off and looked around hoping nobody say me take a nose dive into the concrete. I was a little unsteady on my feet, but I finished my walk.

After washing my wounds with peroxide and applying ointment and bandages, I went on to finish the day. Although I was a bit sore and a bit wiser about when and where I walk, I felt good that I had stuck to my committment to exercise every day this week. I don't know how it will affect the scale, but I do know that I feel better about working toward a goal consistently.

November 08, 2010

Eavesdropping can pay off

When I had just returned from my mission in Mexico, I was really proud of my mastery of the Spanish language. I used my new language skills every opportunity I had. There was one situation, though that I kept my language skills very quiet. I was attending Adam State college and taking some basic classes. One that I enjoyed was Art for the Elementary School. The class was taught by a Professor Hatfield. I sat in front of two hispanic students from Espanola, New Mexico. During that class, my knowledge of Spanish proved very beneficial.

I learned that Professor Hatfield had a special affection for anything that came from Mexico. He often spoke of the things he saw there that fascinated him. Among the things he mentioned were black velvet paintings and advertising that was painted on the corrugated tin used to close the open air businesses in the city marketplaces and the bright colored houses that were built in tiers along the winding cobblestone streets of hills of the suburbs.

I tried to weave these themes into the projects I prepared for this class. The two young ladies from Espanola were very adept at criticizing every project in Spanish picking them apart mercilessly, thinking that this fair skinned gringo in front of them could not understand. Oh, I was tempted to set them straight. Their criticism, however, was helpful and I refrained.

Finally at the end of the quarter, I did something that they really liked and they generously gave each other their approval. I could contain myself no longer. I leaned forward and in my very best Spanish, I thanked them for the compliment.