Monday, February 27, 2017

Over the Togwotee pass

As we went out of Moran Junction and started to climb up over the Absoraka Range through Togwotee Pass (Elev, 9625ft.) conditions deteriorated.  The road became snow-packed. The visibility dropped to about 10%. Were it not for orange snowplow guides (almost buried, but sticking out above the high banks on either side), we wouldn't have known where the road was. But there was virtually no traffic. We went slowly, and the road was never slick. It was an adventure.

Up over the pass (snow-mobilers on the side)

Pretty close to a total white-out

This is what we would have seen on a clear day

As we descended the other side,  the road and visibility improved and soon, the road was completely dry, and the fields almost snow free.

We went through Dubois and on to Riverton, WY on completely dry road. We arrived at the Paintbrush Motel at about 6:00p.m., in time for me to watch the second half of the UNC/Virginia game, which ended with a UNC defeat, 53-43, the lowest score in Roy Williams 14 years as coach. A big factor was that the 'Heels had played an intense game in Pittsburgh just two nights earlier, which they won handily. They were visibly tired. It was also a home game for Virginia, and the Heels had handed them a humiliating defeat just 10 days ago in Chapel Hill, so Virginia was out for revenge. They got it.

Tomorrow should be fairly easy going.

Road scene

Conditions have changed but the road up through Grand Teton Park is amazingly clear and dry!

A clear road through a sea of white


Well, we've decided to  "hit the road."
Elllen feels good and the road seems ok here in Alpine. So we stripped and cleaned and said goodbye. We said actual goodbyes last night. 

                  Our bedroom sans all our stuff!

The dining room/living room where we played Scrabble yesterday .

                 The snowy canyon. Road is good so far.

               Road into Jackson is dry

                     But it's snowing in Jackson ! 

We 'll see!

Sunday, February 26, 2017


Ellen is feeling better and we thought we might leave today, but even though it was not snowing, the road conditions being reported by WYDOT sounded like it would be white-knuckle driving all across Wyoming. So we decided not to go. I went to church, Paul, Jenny and Max went X-country skiing, Ellen read, and then in the p.m.,  we played word games, and Jenny fixed a nice supper. Nice day.

But now it sounds like it will be snowing hard tomorrow morning. So it isn't clear when we'll leave. Once we get over the Wind River Range, it looks like clear sailing. But getting from here to e.g. Riverton, WY doesn't look easy for a few days! This is a snowy valley! 

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Buck Stops Here

Here's a fun little story. I've brought with me to Wyoming a file of old letters and other documents, with the intention of digitizing them. I haven't had the chance to do that yet, but I was looking at them, and was particularly interested in those from 1949 - the summer my dad was at the Chillicothe (Ohio) Federal Reformatory as a student in the Council for Clinical Training for Theological Students and Ministers program there.

A short digression: I don't think I've mentioned this before in this blog - I'm not sure -  but a few months ago, back home, I "salvaged" a collection of pictures taken by my dad that summer of 1949. He was using a Kodak Bantam camera, which had an unusual film size - K828. It was slide film, but smaller than 35mm. The photos had all been cut - they were no longer in strips - and as a result, every one had curled into a tight little roll the size of a pencil. When I first ran across them, I had no idea what they were. It was only after I carefully unrolled them and slipped them into the slide film holder in my scanner, and then scanned them, that I realized they came from the Reformatory at Chillicothe. That was obvious from the content. There are 31 in all, and they represent a fascinating glimpse into life in a Reformatory in 1949! So that's what drew me to look at the documents I have from that same summer of 1949. What I have is two letters dad wrote to his family from the Reformatory, and a sermon he preached in Anamosa, Iowa, Sept. 11, 1949, a week after he had returned from Ohio, telling his congregation in some detail about his experiences there, and their significance for him as a pastor. (I also have a letter he wrote me personally dealing with a problem I was having that summer, and two letters from me to him. That will be covered in a later blog post).

Back to my story. In his sermon, dad describes some of the people he was meeting, e.g., the three other students in the CCTTS program, the supervising Chaplain,  and the Warden. Regarding the latter, he said:

"The warden, Mr. L. Clark Schilder, is a trained penologist, has served on a college faculty. He was very cooperative and helpful to the students. We were given free range of the institution and free access to the confidential files concerning the inmates."

When I read this, I thought to myself, "Hmmm. I wonder if I can find out anything about L. Clark Schilder through a Google search." Well, I did! And here is the amazing little story.

Before coming to Chillicothe, L. Clark Schilder was the warden at the Federal Prison in El Reno, OK. And in 1945, he was visited there by one Fred Canfil, a U.S. Marshall from Kansas City, Missouri, and a good friend of Harry Truman, who became President on April 12, 1945, when FDR died. When Fred Canfil came into L. Clark Schilder's office, he saw a sign on Schilder's desk which he thought his friend, President Truman, would like. Schilder offered to have a duplicate made in the prison shop, where the original had been made. Fred Canfil gave it to Truman, and it became famous, for it was, in fact the  "The Buck Stops Here," sign, a sentiment that came to define Truman's presidency.

The sign on L. Clark Schilder's desk that ended up on Pres. Truman's desk

The sign on Truman's desk
I think it is neat and sort of amazing that I was able to make this connection between my dad and the sign on Truman's desk, thanks to an old letter archive and the modern wonders of a Google search.

I'll eventually devote a blog to that summer at Chillicothe, but here are a few of the photos I salvaged:

The main building at the Reformatory in Chillicothe

I think this is dad's room, and his roommate, Frank Wiig

Dad, at far left, with the three other students, Charles Murchison, Frank Wiig, and John Moore, and Chaplain Cassler

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Library times

Yesterday, we were hit with a sudden violent sleet storm that turned into a heavy snowfall and my computer was attacked by a scam ZEUS virus alert. Both happened while I was at the Library 

The scam virus alert was bizarre. I was working on my computer when suddenly the screen turned red and a loud male voice started to inform me that my computer had been invaded by a ZEUS virus, that if I tried to close the screen, my hard drive would be deleted immediately, that if I did not act quickly, it would be deleted in five minutes (a digital clock popped up and started counting down the seconds ), and I was to call the number displayed on the screen immediately for information to prevent this catastrophe! This had all the earmarks of a scam, so the first thing I did was turn off Airport and sever my connection to the Internet. I couldn't call the number provided if I had wanted to because my cell phone was out of range. Plus, I had to meet Max's school bus in a few minutes, and I wasn't going to leave him stranded in a blizzard (it was coming down hard). So I just closed the computer and left, hoping for the best.

Later, at home, I shut the computer down and rebooted it. The virus alert screen had disappeared and the hard drive hadn't deleted. Then I went online and read about the ZEUS virus scam, which has been around for some time, but it was new to me. Sigh! 

The new-fallen snow is beautiful. We were thinking of leaving today but storms are forecast for the upper Midwest, so we'll wait a bit. 

                          View of new-fallen snow

Today has been quiet. I slept late, Ellen has had a fairly quiet day. I made a brief visit to the Library again  -  no viruses today - and now Jenny is fixing supper. This evening I hope to watch UNC play Louisville. They are ranked #8 and #7 respectively, so it should be a close game, which either team could win. I'll be rooting for the TarHeels and missing Betsey because I would have texted her, "Go Heels," and she would have texted back. A big hole ! 

Betsey is smiling! Arch-enemy Duke lost to Syracuse in a last-second three-pointer and the Heels beat Louisville, a higher-ranked team, 74-63. Go Heels! 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Presidents Day in Jackson

Jenny and Paul both had to work today, but Max had a school holiday, so he and Ellen and I decided to go up to Jackson to the Recreation Center pool. Everybody had the same idea - it was jam-packed with kids. But Max had a blast. He spent a lot of time doing the water slide and playing with the basketball. A favorite move was to stand at the edge of the pool and throw the ball into the basket as you jumped into the pool. Then they opened up the diving board to kids, and all on his own, he went up to the head life guard and asked if you had to be a certain age to dive, and she said " No, but you have to pass a swimming test." Max asked if he could take the test, and he did, and passed. Ellen meanwhile was looking for him, and first thing she knew, there he was on the diving board. 
He did a bellyflop and a backflop, but he had fun! 

     Max with basketball

    Going after the ball

    The water slide

Meanwhile, I did some swimming and water aerobics and frequent trips to the hot tub. We all had a good time! 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Trip to Idaho Falls

Idaho Falls is about 70 miles from Alpine. It is not a particularly charming city, though there are some nice parks and neighborhoods. Mostly it is commercial sprawl. Paul and Jenny go now and then to buy bulk - berries, nuts, granola bars, laundry soap, etc. -  and just for a change. First stop was Barnes & Noble bookstore, then Applebee's for lunch, then Sam 's Club for bulk. 

Going to Idaho Falls makes you realize that Alpine is in a narrow snow belt. Very little snow in Idaho Falls. 

Snowless fields outside Idaho Falls with wind farm in distance. 

It is a nice drive coming back along the Snake River and Palisades Reservoir . 

We went by the ruins of an LDS church that burned down in December. Quite a spectacular fire at the time.  

The reservoir through the trees

My one purchase - a jar of 500 Vitamin E capsules. A 17-month supply. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Snow, snow, snow

We're in Alpine and it's another world. They have had one snowstorm after another - sort of like back home. Then rain on top of all that snow. Roofs have collapsed in Jackson. The canyon has been closed several times by avalanches. They had high winds one day that snapped off 17 steel transmission towers going into Teton Village. I guess it has been pretty wild. The car is in the garage because the driveway is hopelessly icy. Don't want to fall again! Doesn't look like we'll be doing much walking.

Max has no school today so we are having a Max day. Tomorrow the word is we may go to Idaho Falls. 

      The front steps! 

          The back deck

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Amazing weather

We are at Fort Robinson in western Nebraska, very near Wyoming, and it is bright, clear, snowless and - get this - 65 degrees! We just took a walk, coatless, and got warm.

   At Fort Robinson. We washed the car earlier today. It was plastered with salt. 

Tonight, we are in Lusk, WY.  Our drive across Nebraska today was really lovely, 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sioux City, IA

Tonight we are in a Rodeway Inn in Sioux City. It's in sort of an industrial neighborhood but the room is fine, tho it took some doing to figure out the TV. Ellen is watching America's test kitchen, on the "Create channel" but I think she's already asleep.

                              Create PBS channel

We left Bartlett at about 9:30 this a.m. and went directly to Anamosa, IA where we stopped to visit Betty Remley. Betty had fallen about when I did, so we commiserated. In her case she hit her head and had a big hematoma which left her face discolored, so I didn't take any photos. But she is still sharp as a tack. E.g., she is currently reading a novel by Isabel Allende. She is 99! 

From there we took US 30 to Ames, had supper at a Culver's, went up to US 20 and west to Sioux City. No snow all the way. I read Virginia Woolf aloud, we listened to NPR and the lectures on "Dialects." The US is a dialect-rich country! 

Tomorrow it will be Nebraska most of the day and into southern Wyoming. Alpine by Thursday.

No snow

We are now heading west on Rte 64 to Anamosa, IA. We just had a lovely stay with Maggie and Jerry. Ellen is still coughing some but doesn't feel sick. Just sort of "blah." The amazing thing is that in contrast to back east, there is no snow on the ground. This has been true since Ohio. We're not complaining! We are speculating where we will again see snow. Are the plains states snowless?

                  Snow-less field, Sycamore, IL

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Family gathering

We just had a lovely family gathering at Maggie and Jerry's. Sadly, I did not think to take any photos! I'm getting a bit absent-minded in my old age!!  But we had a good time anyway in a photoless sort of way. Daniel was here, Becky, Tristan and Samantha, and Peter and Lori, who came directly from a piano and guitar recital that two of their grandchildren (Ronan and Moira) were in - held at the local Riverboat Casino. Ronan played the Star Spangled Banner on the electric guitar. Shades of Jimmy Hendrix! Suzy and Dennis went to a concert at Rivinia tonight, so they were not here, but they came by last evening and had supper with us. We learned a lot about what is happening in people's lives.

Perhaps the most interesting is Samantha Crockett, who has just taken a job as a staff assistant to Raja Krishnamoorthi, the newly elected Representative from the 8th District in Chicago to the U.S. Congress, the first Indian-American in the Congress and a rising star in the Democratic Party. She works at his office in Schaumburg, IL. It is obviously a very interesting job. Krishnamoorthi has a connection with Barack Obama going back at least to 2000, when he was a staffer for Obama's Congressional campaign. He has been in the Congress less than a month and is already a ranking member of an important Sub-Committee. We'll be hearing more about him I'm sure.

Tristan is working now at the University of Chicago, near my old stomping grounds, when I was at CTS.  He has an hour commute on the train, and Samantha has an hour-and-a-half commute, part bus, part train. They will be moving in June to an apartment that will make both of their commutes somewhat easier - his shorter, hers only by train, which will eliminate standing on cold corners waiting for a bus. 

Peter works in Glenview, IL right now, but his office will be moving soon. However, he is looking forward to retirement in another year and a half or so. When Ellen asked what he was looking forward to in retirement, he said, "Not going to work!" He and Lori will leave in a couple of weeks for a week-long winery tour in Oregon.

Becky is still doing home care. She has been using the laundromat for years to do her wash but now has just gotten a washer/dryer for the house. Suzy and Dennis will leave soon for a trip to visit Ryan and Alicia in Everett, WA. Daniel's life is pretty stable at the moment.

Ellen is feeling some better tonight. We will be here tomorrow and head out for Wyoming on Tuesday. Our understanding is that it will be clear sailing, weather-wise.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Erie, PA

Well, we got off at about 9:45 this a.m. Travel was fine, a bit sloppy at first, but then dry road on Mass Turnpike. We decided to take I-88 to Binghamton, and then I-86 to Erie. We went through some flurries around Bath, NY but they ended pretty quickly. We are in a Super 8 at Erie tonight. Ellen is feeling a bit under the weather. Rare for her. I'm doing pretty well. In the car I read some aloud, we listened to NPR and also a Teaching Company lecture series on "American English and Dialects."  Tomorrow should be an ok day for travel and we expect to arrive in Bartlett by early evening.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Trip time

I've gotten the green light on my elbow so we will make our trip west. Snow storm today so we'll leave Friday a.m. first thing. In Bartlett with Maggie &Jerry Sat. Night and Sun., then on to Wyoming. Hoping for good travel conditions. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017


Yesterday afternoon, Katie, Savanna, Brendon and I went to a U Mass women's basketball game. Since the men are the "minutemen" the women are. "Minutewomen." They were playing Davidson College. Davidson had a star who made 37 points! They won by 4 points. The Minutewornen tied the score a few minutes before the final buzzer but they couldn't pull out a win.

        The Minutewomen are in pink 

Good band at the game:

            U Mass band 

         Savanna, Katie and Brendon

Ellen was at a piano recital Tamar was in. 

Saturday evening we were at a monthly sing at K&S's house. 

Today we sang in the choir at Dummerston. A lovely coffee hour follows.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Thinking about MLKing, Jr.

This morning, John came over for a couple of hours and we had a chance to think together about a session we are going to do together at Hallelujah Farm on April 22. We had originally planned to do a seminar together last November, but I begged off because of Betsey's de?ath. John decided to go it alone, and we had a what I felt was a very successful event on Contemplative Ecology and the Whole Movement of Life, with about 18 people in attendance. See an earlier posting on this blog titled Catching Up for November 22, 2016. So this will be sort of a sequel, and more of a dialogue. John found doing the whole day himself to be pretty exhausting, so this should be better. Our theme will be "embodied spirituality." I.e., a spirituality that is fully integrated with our material nature and our oneness with the natural world, with other creatures and the totality of nature. It's a big theme! But the date April 22 has special meaning for us. On that day, 50 years ago, John, who was 6 years old, and I, drove to the Providence, RI airport to pick up Martin Luther King, Jr., and Andrew Young, and bring them back to the Brown University campus. MLK was preaching the next day. So that was a very special day for us. MLK was not an environmentalist, but we hope to channel his revolutionary spirit. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Piedmont College and my mother

Today I mailed off a package to the College Archivist at Piedmont College in Demorest, GA. It contained about 50 slides of the college taken back c. 1965, and some letters written by my mother at that time. How did I happen to have these? Well, when my father died in 1957, my mother was left virtually penniless, and she had to work. She was 56 years old at the time. She lived with me and Shirley in the parsonage at Dummerston for a few months, but learned that in Vermont, as a woman,  she could be a lay minister, and so for several years she served churches in Glover and Bridgewater, VT. Then she tried being a housemother at St. Johnsbury Academy, but that did not last for long. It was then she decided to go to the place where she and my dad had met, the summer of 1925 - Piedmont College. Mother had been a student at Atlanta Theological Seminary for a year and was taking courses at a summer session at Piedmont (she had never gone to college). Dad had just graduated from Piedmont and was teaching at the summer school. I think he heard mother singing - she had a beautiful voice - and was smitten.

Here is what I wrote to Craig Amason, the archivist:

In addition to the slides, enclosed are two documents written by my mother, Olga W. Crockett. The first is a letter she wrote to me and my wife, Shirley, May 7, 1965, almost exactly 40 years after her first arrival at Piedmont. It describes how she arrived at the college unannounced one evening, Monday, May 3rd, was very kindly accommodated and eventually re-connected with "Dr. Schultz," a member of the Piedmont faculty whom she had known at Atlanta Theological Seminary. She ended up being offered work by President Walter, and staying at Piedmont almost exactly a year. Eventually she found the work, and especially the travel it entailed, to be too stressful. She was 64 years old at the time and had some health issues. She lived only a year and a half more after leaving Piedmont in the spring of 1966.

       The second document is a talk which she apparently gave to groups in various places in the surrounding area about the college. I imagine that the slides might have been shown on the same occasion as her talk, but her talk does not refer directly to the slides. Her talk includes a little personal history about how she had originally come to Piedmont and met my father there in 1925. 

I had written Piedmont and asked if they were interested in the slides and letters. They were. It was good to find a home for them. 

Here are some scenes from the college in 1965:

Entrance sign

Newly built Daniel Hall

President James Walter

New Gymnasium

An early dormitory building


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Elbow report, etc.

So, here's what's happening, and I apologize to my avid readers for long gaps in this blog!

My elbow laceration is healing well - no infection - and it is almost completely closed in, but not 100%. And there is the rub. There is still a small hole in the wound that is oozing a slight amount of fluid. That means, e.g., I can't use the pool, because going into water runs the risk of allowing bacteria in through that little hole. So I'm missing out on one of my usual forms of exercise, and have been now for over a month.

I saw Dr. Bassett, an orthopedist, today, and he said to give it another week. If it is healed over by next Wednesday, I can go about my business, which would likely mean we would resume our trip plans. If it is not healed over, he would probably "excise" the wound - i.e., open it up, cut out the stuff that isn't healing, and stitch it up. That would entail at least another week of healing, probably, and would probably cancel the trip, because we wouldn't have time to fit it in and still be in our choral groups, etc. They are all starting up in February.  I guess we would have to make the decision for sure after next Wednesday's appointment.  But it looks that way now. So I'm hoping it will heal naturally. He said fluid from the bursa would then just get absorbed by my body. I'm not thrilled by the idea of having the wound opened up again. So let's hope.

Meanwhile, concerning the larger picture of my overall health, I met my new primary care physician last Monday, Jeremy Morrison, D.O., (i have now had three primary care physicians retire on me!), and he spent almost an hour and a half with me! Plus he gave me not only his personal email address, but his home phone, and said I could call him at night in an emergency - after 10pm! Amazing. I heard he also makes house calls. He is very personable and easy to talk with. He is referring me for a sleep study program, pending review by my insurance, to tackle my sleep problems. He also made some common sense  suggestions that would help - things we already knew from reading, mostly. And he referred me for PT to do exercises that will increase my strength on my feet, and general steadiness and stability. If I could get back into a daily exercise routine, that would help a lot.

So, we'll hope for the best!

Meanwhile, here are some photos from past events that were stuck on my iPod:

This was the scene of my fall on Jan. 15. The frame of the backdrop looks like
 gibbets, doesn't it? It wasn't that bad. But I fell off the riser in the far left corner 
when I sat on a chair that had one leg off the platform (unbeknownst to me!). 

Deborah Lee Luskin showing a slide of Virginia Woolf and her family, part of a
 three-lecture series on Virginia Woolf, about whom I knew very little. Ellen and 
I read To the Lighthouse aloud to each other for several evenings in a row. 
An amazing book! 

          The Gawler Family at the Northern Roots Festival last Saturday.  

This has been a good time in the sense that we have stayed close to home, led a fairly quiet life, reading, enjoying the woodstov, etc.  I've been working again on the Guilford Church history that I was working on before Christmas -some deadlines coming up there.. And other interesting projects that I'll report on when I get a chance.

Stayed tuned, and I'll try to be more frequent in my posts!