scan-11I love this picture of four sisters: Jennie, Maggie, Martha and Lizzie. They were born to James and Agnes (Gray) Bitcon during a ten-year span of years from 1881 to 1891 in Dumbarton, Scotland. By 1897, they were fatherless, with limited resources and no social security. They worked together to make ends meet. All but one would eventually emigrate to America to seek a better life.

I’m fascinated by the way these sisters’ lives intersected in spite of time and distance, helping one another in times of crisis.

  • Jennie was the first to emigrate (1906.) She made two voyages back to the Old Country to visit her mother and sisters, one in 1911 before her marriage, and another in 1922 with three children.
  • Martha emigrated to Canada in 1911 and then to California in 1923. Two years later she traveled to Chicago—and stayed for six months—to help Jennie after the sudden death of her husband and the subsequent birth of her son.
  • Lizze’s husband accompanied Jennie and her children on their return trip to Chicago in 1922. He found a job and saved money to bring Lizzie and their four children over the following year.
  • Maggie and her husband, Peter, remained in Scotland, caring for her aging mother. In 1937, Maggie took a six week trip to America, visiting both Chicago and California.
  • Jennie, in 1946, after the sudden death of her second husband, went and stayed with John and Martha Greenlaw for six-and-a-half years, helping to care for them in illness and in death.

This picture, taken in 1937, fascinates me. I’ve long wanted to write a story about these four sisters, so this month—November, National Novel Writer’s Month—I focused on them during my annual project to write 50,000 words. I spent a great deal of my time and writing doing genealogical research, trying to find out anything I could about the real women portrayed here.

Jennie, of course, is my grandmother. Maggie was the first-born; Martha was second-born; and Lizzie was the baby of the family.

Last week I started asking relatives about their memories of one of the sisters. I learned that the story is more complicated, messier, than I imagined. That shouldn’t have surprised me. I had vague memories and impressions that at least two of the sisters did not get along. Jennie had a sharp tongue and could “kill you with kindness and cut you to the bone if so inclined.” Lizzie was “difficult.”

This could actually make my story much more interesting, adding tension to the plot. The challenge is to do that without disparaging any one sister and/or offending living relatives. If I ever write my story it will be a fictionalized, imagined story, loosely based on these four women. It will be honest about their lives and personalities, but full of grace without (I hope) being sappy.

Last week I found two more pictures of the sisters. The one on the left was taken in Scotland, circa 1911. The second has Jennie “photoshopped” into the picture. Both pictures, likely manipulated with whatever limited technology was available back then, are good metaphors for the lifetime of relationship shared by these women, across miles, oceans and separation.











I never had a sister. In the past, that hasn’t bothered me, but at this stage in life, I’m starting to wish I’d had a sister or two—or three!

I do have daughters though, and in three short weeks, these sisters will be together for a short time, also crossing miles and oceans and separation, to be together. So grateful that we get to do these long-distant relationships in a time when travel and technology make connection much easier, much more frequent.

Cedar Lake

Several years ago–I’m pretty sure I had my first blue Nokia cell phone at the time–I wandered off the beaten path and found Cedar Lake Conference Center. I called my dad and told him where I was. He immediately began singing an old camp song that he remembered from many years past:

“We’re down in Indiana, at Cedar Lake. Yo-ho!

We’re feasting on the manna, to the promised land we go. We’ll raise a loud hosanna and happy hours you’ll know.

At Cedar Lake in In-di-an-a.”

On Thursday, Dad’s birthday, I once again visited Cedar Lake. My mission was to find out more about the summer home my grandparents purchased in 1925.

Cedar Lake is in the back story of a Marshall legend. My grandparents, Robert and Janet Marshall, had purchased a summer home near Cedar Lake. I knew that it wasn’t on the grounds of the camp, but somewhere in the area.

For years I’ve intended to visit the Lake County Courthouse in Crown Point to hunt down the home that were living in on June 30th, 1925.

I found the Recorders Office several miles down the road in the Lake County Government buildings rather than at the Courthouse in the middle of town. The first three people I met were not very optimistic about my search, but I persisted and found the deed for their purchase on June 26th, 1925.

They bought the cottage on a Friday and must have started moving in right away. I’m guessing they spent the weekend there and settled in to spend at least part of the summer away from the city. Robert planned to commute back and forth to East Chicago, in his hard top touring car.

The following Tuesday, just four days later, that plan was turned upside down. Here’s the story I wrote from 11-year old Jean’s point of view. (Based on what she told me of her memories of that night.)

       Jean couldn’t cry even though she had never felt so sad in all her life. She stared at the ceiling of her small room, longing to cry, longing for someone to tell her it was okay. Okay to cry (even if she was a big girl.)

       She knew that nothing would ever be all right again. Her father was dead! Dead. How could that be?

No matter how many times she went over the story, it always turned out the same: She had been helping Mother prepare supper in the small cottage kitchen. They heard a car pull up in front of the house, and stopped to take off their aprons before greeting Dad at the door. Only it wasn’t Dad. It was two men from the conference who had come to tell Mother the awful news.

      Jean saw her mother’s hands fly up in the air and heard her anxious questions while she tried to absorb the news.

An accident.

The car hit by a train and dragged down the track. A fire.

No one could have survived the crash.

Yes, they were sure it was Bob’s car.

Yes, the police and fire department had come.

Yes, he was in heaven now.

No, he wouldn’t be coming home to the cottage or home to his family ever again.

         Then Mother had insisted on going to the scene of the accident, about a twenty minute drive from the cottage. The men hesitated and tried to talk her out of it, but she had insisted that she needed to see it. The children were too young to leave behind so they were bundled into the vehicle as well.

           There at that barren corner where the tracks crossed the Calumet highway, Jean had huddled in the back seat with her two little brothers, scared, shocked, unbelieving.

There really wasn’t much to look at. The car was a mangled, burned mess off to the side of the track. The train was long gone. The police and fire trucks had just pulled away. One lone policemen led Mother by the arm, explaining what he knew about the accident.

           A car had stopped for the oncoming train, but father had pulled around it and tried to cross the tracks ahead of the train. He hadn’t made it, crossing directly in the path of the Scotsman flyer. There had been a terrible screech and explosion as the train impacted the car and dragged it further down the track. The machine had burst into flames.

          Jean watched as her distraught mother wandered around the site. She saw her bend down with a handkerchief, pick something off the ground, and put it in her pocket.

         Finally, Mother returned to the car and they went back to the cottage where they immediately began packing their belongings. The would return to Chicago in the morning. .

Weeks later, when it was all over; when the funeral was done and Father had been buried next to Agnes; when they moved back home to their apartment on Green street, Jean asked her mother what she had picked up that day. 

           “Your father’s brains.”

When I shared Aunt Jean’s story with a friend, she asked if my Gramma was being sarcastic. I immediately said “no” but the more I thought about it, the more I believed that she was expressing both shock and anger. Robert made an impulsive and foolish choice that day, a choice that would impact his family for years to come. My father was born four months later.

I don’t know (yet) what happened to that cottage. I was able to locate an address and get a copy of Real Estate Assessment and Transferred Records, but they only go back as far as 1958. Even so, there are hints of more story: the first name on the record is Mary R Christie, a sister-in-law of Janet’s second husband. Her son’s name (a nephew) is in the top left hand corner of the document and Lawrence’s name is also on the original deed as the notary public. More puzzles to unravel.

img_2648I did find the land, but no cottage. There was even a For-Sale (“Best Offer”) on the ground. Speaking of land, I’d also stopped at Mt Hope Cemetery on the far south side of Chicago earlier that day. The final resting place for Robert Marshall (and two of his children) is an unmarked grave in a back corner of the cemetery that isn’t cared for well at all.img_2646


I ended my day, somewhat coincidentally, at Palos Hills Christian Assembly, the Plymouth Brethren off-shoot of the “hall” at 86th & Bishop my grandparents attended. It was also my Dad’s home church for at least twenty years of his life. I was there for a memorial service, but couldn’t help reflecting on these family stories as well. Years later, Janet Christie, my grandmother, said “There are no tragedies in life.” She trusted that every part of her story was within God’s plan for her life–and ours.

It’s easy for me to wonder “what if?” they hadn’t bought that cottage…or Robert hadn’t been commuting back and forth. What if he’d simply stopped behind the other car? How would the story of our family have been different? Would it have been better? Or just different?` I probably wouldn’t go so far as my grandmother, to say there are no tragedies in life, but I could well relate to the words of Immanuel’s Land:

With mercy and with judgment
My web of time He wove,
And aye the dews of sorrow
Were lustered with His love!
I’ll bless the hand that guided,
I’ll bless the heart that plann’d,
When throned where glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.

P.S. Immanuel’s Land actually has nineteen stanzas. It was written by Anne R. Cousins in 1876, using letters written by a Scottish pastor, Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661.) Read his story here.

Falling Short

unnamed-1Did you learn Romans 3:23 as a child? “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” I learned a new way of falling short this week–in weaving.

Actually, I fell short a few weeks ago when I ran out of warp for the sampler I was making. I decided to make a second sampler, striving for perfection.

My warp”fell short” again, but this time I decided to tie on more warp, a process NOT recommended by more experienced weavers on my Facebook Weaving group. I decided to ignore their advice and do it anyways. They were right, of course.

I measured and cut 140 threads, each about 4 feet in length. one by one, I knotted an old and new string together and trimmed the knots. I re-established the tension on my warp and started weaving again.

That seemed to work well until the knots started the process of coming through the heddles and reed. My fell line (where the weaving is actually done) started to wiggle and “smile”: the tension became uneven and my weaving was ragged. With every second treadle change, I was having to untangle threads from the back of the loom.

Finally I decided to pull the knots through the heddles and reed without weaving them, leaving a 10 inch gap in my weaving. It was difficult to establish a good tension after that, but I managed to get back on track.

Then, I noticed that I was already running out of warp–again! I decreased the sample size—from 2 to 1 inches–and retied the back beam to get a few more inches out of the loom waste. I managed to eek out the last ten structures to complete my project.

unnamed-3My finished product has an unplanned seam and a shortened sequence but, hey, its a sampler. It looks good and feels soft and wonderful. This picture shows a variety of the patterns in the sampler. I learned new tricks and now know more about mistakes to avoid in the future.

I’m ready to start my next project–sampler towels–which will add more color and practicality to my palette.

I know that I will start with an extra, extra long warp.


P.S. I’m pretty sure there is a spiritual application to this story, but I’ll leave it to your imagination and consideration.

Here is my birthday gift: a used warping board bought on Craigslist, with a 9-yard warp for my next project.img_2633

Reluctant Reunion

I really didn’t want to come. I’d signed up, paid my fees, and bought a plane ticket. Just ten days before John had decided that he would like to join me on the trip to Colorado and there was an extra room because someone else had to cancel. When John2 had another manic episode, I really wondered if one or both of us could/should go. I worked Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and still didn’t feel like taking a trip, but decided to just follow through regardless of feelings.

Our West Sub class of 44 graduates (1976) had voted to have this reunion in Colorado for a change. Only 13 ladies made the trip, less than 1/3 of our class. Illness, grandbabies, and other travel prevented many from making the trip, as well as some whose memories of nursing school aren’t all that fond.

14370306_10157368366335401_2575341235484813236_nBut the weekend has been sweet. We’ve laughed and talked through three meals a day and evening sessions focused on the past, present and future. We’ve driven together to town, and along the Trail Ridge Drive. We took a short walk around Bear Lake and huffed and puffed up trails in (literally) thin air. We even stopped to see a small display of National Park Centennial quilts.

This morning, we sang a lot of old hymns and songs from the 70s, our older voices stretching to hit the high notes (plus John’s bass.) We prayed and shared and had Cheryl Fornelli tell us a story* from John 11.








I came reluctantly. I leave blessed. So here’s the lesson: Grab whatever opportunities you have to reconnect with classmates, extended family, and friends. It’s a little taste of heaven.



*Cheryl uses a method called Orality, which uses oral storytelling to teach the biblical narrative. She and her husband, John, have been using this as an evangelistic tool in many cultures. Follow the links to learn more.



I finished my first sampler, about 10 “structures” short of the 62 variations noted in the pattern. I ran out of warp.

My sampler feels great, looks pretty good–and I absolutely LOVED the process of weaving.

And so, I’ve decided to make another one, same pattern, same threads. No mistakes. Or, at least if I do make mistakes (which I will) I plan to stop, take out, and fix. Perfection.

My first challenge for a perfect sampler came with dressing the loom. I couldn’t use my poolside warping set up because the morning glories have completely taken over.






Instead, I set up three chairs in my room and stretched the thread between them. Which worked, except for that moment when one of the chairs fell over from the tension I was exerting. Eventually, I got it done with the “cross” looking mostly correct.

The next step is sleying the reed, which is picking up one (or two) threads from the cross and threading them through the reed from right to left. I was off to a good start, but it wasn’t long before my threads looked hopelessly tangled. I used lease sticks this time to help me maintain the cross, but I still ended up with a lot of tangles.

Next is threading all the ends (142) through the heddles, following a pattern which in this case was a simple 1-2-3-4. Not too difficult, though plenty of opportunity to miss a heddle or cross the threads in the process. I checked and rechecked them multiple times.

img_1987Once that seems right, the threads are tied on to the back beam and the process of untangling all the threads as they go through the reed and heddles begins. I broke five threads in the process and spent a good hour or more untangling. I ended up rolling the warp on to the back beam, back to the front beam (to add those five threads) and all the way to the back beam the second time! I’m sure there are better ways to do this, but my goal was a perfect warp and this is how I managed it.

I was in a hurry to get the loom dressed because I like having it set up for weaving during all the in-between-moments of life. It is calming to weave and rewarding to see the patterns emerge as I go.

I particularly need the calm and the reward, this sense of perfection, because so much of the rest of my life is anything but. John2 has had fourteen manic episodes this summer with accompanying depressive crashes. We’ve been working hard on our house and garden and we still feel like there is so much to do! We’re now thinking that we will celebrate one more Christmas here and put it on the market after the new year. That takes the pressure off, but extends the interminable wait process.

img_1989Weaving is the perfect antidote.







Bingo Arms

IMG_1740My loom is a bit unusual. Generally, looms are either table looms or floor looms. Floor looms are more solid and bulky and usually have treadles that raise and lower the shafts. Table looms are lighter and have levers that raise the shafts. Mine is a table loom on a stand, lightweight, somewhat wobbly, with large levers on the sides that raise the shafts.


IMG_1783I finished the rag projects, experimenting with different widths of jean material and quilt fabric. I wasn’t sure I liked the end result, though I think someday I may want to try another. In the meantime, I wanted to get back to weaving something more cloth-like.

I attended a weaving conference in Milwaukee, mainly to see the exhibits and the marketplace. I bought a couple cones of Swedish thread (in blue & yellow) but realized after I got home that it was probably too fine for a beginner project. I bought a couple of magazines and tried to find a good next project. I finally settled on a sampler and found thread that was a bit more sturdy.

At the conference I also met a Kiwi representative from Ashford, the company that made of my loom. He thought I got a very good deal and hoped that I would visit the company (South Island) on my next trip. He also told me that my loom was “very old…from the 80s!” I told him something from the 80s was NOT old!

My loom is a four-shaft loom and apparently there are 62 different combinations of treadling patterns which create a wide variety of patterns in the cloth. I’m already up to #19 and enjoying the process of seeing patterns develop.

IMG_1768I’m also hoping that the repeated action of changing the large side levers (which looks like this) will do give my bingo arms a workout. It certainly feels like it.



P.S. One more adventure: Last weekend I was in the Detroit area for my high school class reunion. I followed my GPS down a long country road and up a long driveway to two long low buildings. I waved to a friendly farmer on the way, but otherwise found it a little unnerving. I hesitated before I rang the bell and once again before entering the building. (I could see familiar weaving equipment through the window.) A middle-aged woman led me inside to the one lighted spot where she and an old man were sitting at a table. I told them what I was looking for and he showed me a large side room full of colorful cones of thread–at least a thousand of them–mostly from UKI Supreme, which is what I hoped to find. We slowly picked out the colors I needed for my next project. He pushed a walker with a seat (and a cardboard box on the seat) to hold my cones. He moved slowly, eventually weighing the fibers and calculating the cost. Mid-point, I learned that he only took cash or check, but I had almost the exact change in my pocket so I was able to complete the transaction and get on my way. As I pulled out, I regretted that I hadn’t taken any pictures, but here is one of all my new cones of color and a peak at my sampler:



I finally got my loom “dressed” and started weaving.

Dressing a loom takes several hours and is a bit tedious. All the warp yarns have to be threaded through the reed and through the heddles, untangled, and then tied to both the back and front beams.

In this case, I threaded 142 ecru-colored cotton threads onto the loom. It took me a few tries before I got it close to correct. I had a few twisted threads and at least two places where I double threaded the reed. In the end, I decided to accept the imperfections and get started anyways.

IMG_1634My weft (the cross “threads”) were made from cut up jeans. I never found my box of jeans that I saved years ago so I settled for a trip to Goodwill, where I bought someone else’s old jeans. I would have liked to weave from old jeans once worn by my family, but settled for soft, worn jeans that had belonged to someone else.

I used my rotary cutter to slice the jeans into strips anywhere from 1/8 to 1/2 inches wide, as long as possible. These I stitched into longer strips on my sewing machine, and then wound them on to long thin shuttles, sticks with slots cut into the ends.

I am not sure if I really like making rag “rugs” (or more likely, placemats or a table runner.) I do like the speed of weaving with rags and I like the long thin shuttles. I’m just not sure if I like the finished product.


But I’m kind of hooked on weaving. Tomorrow I am going to visit a weaving conference in nearby Milwaukee, mostly to 1) see a wide variety of weaving styles and 2) decide on my next project, and 3) shop for supplies. Weaving stores mostly seem to be online so this will give me a chance to see (and feel) a variety of yarns all in one place.

There’s something soothing about weaving. I think it is kind of like making bread at home. Banging the beater bar is a bit like kneading dough, a little chance to bang or punch out stress. It’s relatively slow, rhythmic, and rooted in history.



A Day in the Life

A day in the life of the Hurni family lasts about 41 hours on average. With our family spread between New Zealand and America, and messages flying back and forth between, some days can get pretty full. We had a day like that on Sunday.

IMG_1616Starting in New Zealand, Laura and Anne had a wonderful “last day” together on Sunday. We had exchanged a few texts on Saturday night, asking about their plans for the day. They visited “the Mount”, one of our favorite towns/beaches, and had walked with the girls while chatting about the trip that was ending and future trips.

Meanwhile, John, Lizi and I were having last conversations with long-lost cousins and siblings as the Hurne reunion (Pennsylvania) wound down. At breakfast Sunday morning I told everyone about Laura’s travel itinerary.


IMG_1605Taylor, Kellen and Oaks packed up the car and started home from Stormy Lake where they spent three days in the Northwoods, fishing, flying airplanes, and having fun.

Just as they started out, Laura called Taylor to tell him that she’d been doubled over in pain for the past few hours. His seven hour trip was punctuated with updates: an urgent care visit, a trip to the Emergency Room, a diagnosis of appendicitis, and eventual surgery.

A small group of Hurnes met at a campground for a praise service and it was there that the text came through letting us know what Laura was experiencing. I left the circle to get my own phone and found earlier texts that I missed. I caught up with the ongoing saga and the Hurnes prayed for Laura and Anne. We went on to visit Aunt Helen and Gramma Timmie, but it was hard to focus on another reunion while our hearts were miles away with our daughters.

Eventually we heard the news that Laura had been taken into surgery and had to wait more hours to hear first that she was “out” (of surgery) and then, late our Sunday night, more details. Sleepy/sedated Laura was able to talk to Taylor in Chicago and send a couple of texts to me. Anne and James juggled two kids through supper and bedtime. James was also juggling busy camp responsibilities. (He is currently running a two week “Journey” camp for high schoolers, a mini adventure Bible school.) IMG_1617

I was also texting with my friend Marilyn updating her on both Laura and Taylor’s saga. (Taylor had been at her cottage at Stormy and Marilyn had also visited New Zealand with me last fall.) She said it was hard to believe this was really happening. I replied: “Hurnis don’t do normal.”

Eventually, Laura went home to Anne’s house where she is recuperating. Taylor arrived back in Chicago to be Mr. Mom for a week, his work having freed him of other responsibilities. We traveled back to western New York and then made a beeline home to Chicago.

We keep reminding ourselves that God knew all the details before these trips were even planned, and while it has taken us by surprise, it hasn’t surprised Him. We are grateful that the abdominal pains didn’t start later–in the air or while traveling–and that we’ve been able, as a family, to travel thousands of miles safely. We’re pleased with the longer visit for Anne and Laura, though we know Laura is ready to be home with her boys. We are also grateful for our smart phones that kept us all in contact throughout the drama.

Just a long day in our life.

* Did you notice the alternative spelling of our surname? John started out life as a Hurne, even though the original Swiss name ended with an “i.” Tired of correcting pronunciation and interested in our roots, we changed out surname back to the original in 1981. Although the rest of our extended family continues to spell the name with an “e”, they are split between calling themselves Hurne and Hurn(silent e). Quite a few of them gave up on correcting others and just went with the one syllable name. Approximately 80 Hurne/Hurnis gathered to celebrate the approximate 100th consecutive reunion of this family, descendants of Samuel and Rosina Hurni who left Switzerland in 1880. As they crossed into America, they either anglicized the spelling of their Swiss-German name or a customs officer wrote it down incorrectly.

P.S. It looks like Laura and Olive will be flying home on Saturday, leaving on our Friday. She will get wheelchair assistance at both airports and is hoping for a bassinet row with some empty seats.


Confession: I bought a loom while I was in New Zealand. It might be proof that I am certifiably a little crazy. Loomy.

IMG_1197About mid-point through my stay in New Zealand, I looked up looms on Trade Me (their Craigslist.) There was a kilt-width table loom w/stand up for bidding about an hour drive from home. I didn’t bid, but sent messages to the owner asking about the loom, make and model–and could I see it?


No one ever bid on it, so I took a drive one afternoon and bought it on the spot for $60NZ ($42.76 US.) We dismantled the major parts and put in in the trunk. I brought it back home but left it (hiding) in the trunk until the next day.

IIMG_1502t had been in storage for at least five years and was pretty dirty, so I spent the next afternoon cleaning it as best I could. I put it together and left it on the front porch, eventually moving it inside before we left for the weekend.
I searched the Internet and found directions for assembling it and replacement parts. I dismantled the whole thing, carefully labeling parts and screws, and John packaged the whole thing in box that could be taken home as baggage.

I set it aside once I got home to tackle the tasks of settling back in at home and waging war in my gardens, but once I finished those, I unpacked it and began the tedious process of putting it back together. Eventually I made a trip to The Fold, a weaving, spinning, and knitting shop that I’d visited years ago. I bought a new reed, a shuttle, some yarn and a few other small things (more than my initial investment, of course.)

But once home I realized that I hadn’t bought the right size Texsolv heddles, so I called my new weaving friend and visited her. She didn’t have the right size either, but gave me 500 Texsolv heddles that could be tied–one by one–to fit my loom. I spent a few days figuring out how to I could make these fit my loom, eventually using a board and finish nails for my project. While in Detroit, Angelo–an inventor–improved upon my design.







A car ride and a couple of sick days gave me time to tie all the knots and put 400 heddles in place, 100 on each of four shafts. By the time I got to the last 100 ties, I was getting pretty organized and efficient. (Picture below, left.) Maybe a little over-the-top? Hey, I saved about $100 by using these freebies.




This is what the heddles look like in place. If you notice an “eye” in the center, that is where I thread the warp threads. When the shafts are raised or lowered sheds are formed for the weft to pass through.

My first project is going to be a series of rag rugs, actually placemat sized. All I have to do is string up yards and yards of rug warp yarn and then use cut cloth, recycled, for the weft. Somewhere I have a bag of old jeans that I saved years ago for this project. If that can’t be found, I’m sure there is plenty in my stash.

Yep, a little loomy.

Here is the re-assembled loom, ready for its first project.



It is the first day of summer, the last day of school for the Chicago Public Schools (really?), and the last day of my 2-1/2 month “vacation.” I start back to work tomorrow.

What a wild ride it has been–both the trip and the days since arriving back at home. Vacation=time off work. Vacation≠rest. I think this is what retirement looks like. Most people say that they are busier retired than when they worked and I think that may be true.

Since we’ve been home (two weeks tomorrow) I’ve done a ton of gardening, catching up on all the work that normally takes place in the spring. I missed the whole “dandelion season”–for which I am grateful, though my neighbors probably weren’t.


I’ve cleaned the house and the back room, which is becoming our box storage area. This is actually clean, relative to how it looked a few days ago. And it gets the boxes out of the living and dining room.






Today I put away my snowmen and snow scene…









and put up my summer decorations.











(Not the best pictures, but on the left is a quilt I finished 20+ years ago. I still enjoy it, though it may the last year I put it up. On the right is a patriotic quilt I made a few years ago. It turned out too big for wall above the fireplace. Both combine piecing and hand applique.)

We are still hoping to sell our house, just not sure of the timing. Right now our plan is to take one day at a time and keep working on the million small projects that we still should accomplish. We’re thinking that maybe we could be ready sometime in August or September. Or, we may end up waiting til January (though we don’t think so.)

We also have to consider John2, Liz, and Luna. We would like Liz to stay in Elmhurst so she can continue to enjoy her work, friendships and church life. She has gotten very used to having us close by so we know it will be a big adjustment for her. We guess that we’ll be making regular trip back to Elmhurst (the reverse of what we do now.)

John2 has not had a good year and has not made much progress toward independent living. We are willing to bring him with us to a new home–and expect that is what will happen–but it is not what he wants. He likes living closer to the city. (Too bad.) We feel that we just need to move forward with our plans and see what happens. Maybe it will end up being an incentive for him to move on.

Our plan is to rent a house in Aurora (or surrounding area) near Taylor, Laura and the grandchildren. We don’t feel ready to give up a backyard, but plan to gradually downsize to a condo within two or three years. There is a house I’m watching about a mile and a half away from the Birkeys. In the rental market, things may go quickly or may not, so we’ll see. Every day I ask the Lord to go before us; to lead us, because quite frankly, we don’t know what we’re doing, we just feel a need pack up and move. It is good to trust that God does know.

In the meantime, the first two weeks of my summer have been lovely. I love hot weather and Chicago has delivered! I work hard but take frequent breaks in the pool (or hot tub.) I’m already a toasty brown! It has hardly rained, which isn’t great for the gardens, but has helped me get a lot done.

I’m grateful for my kind boss who didn’t put me on the schedule for two weeks even though I just finished a two month vacation, giving me time to get over jet lag and go through Lizi’s surgery and recovery. It has been a huge blessing.

I’m only working two days a week but it is still a game changer. When I didn’t finish something I intended to do it didn’t bother me: There was always tomorrow. Still, I’m grateful for a flexible job and a great work environment. Retirement is still on the horizon, but just over that next hill.

We’re going to make a few short trips this summer and fall, in each case to “reunite” with family and/or friends. Over the 4th of July weekend, we will be in Detroit for some family time with the Marshalls. I am looking forward to meeting two babies for the first time and spending time with my family. The 100th Hurne Family Reunion takes place the third weekend in July. All but two of John’s siblings will be there, plus nephews, and grands. It will be fun to catch up with family again. In late August, my high school class celebrates 45 years and mid-September, my nursing school class celebrates 40! (Geesh!) That one is taking place–for the first time–away from the Chicago area at the YMCA of Colorado in Estes Park.

We also celebrate Olive’s birthday tomorrow–our ONLY summer birthday in all the family. (James’ birthday is June 6, but since it is winter in New Zealand, I guess that doesn’t count.) She was “tarred and feathered” at a family party on Sunday. Here she is enjoying her feathered smash cake, wearing a headdress! What a cutie.