"It's Time"

“I think it’s time, Mom.” 


My mother was 89 at the time.  Eight months before, she had driven across country from Montana when she and my dad were moving to California.  Dad had given up driving a few years before, so she was doing all the driving.  Once settled, she worked hard prepping for her driving test to get her California License which she passed both written, behind the wheel and vision with flying colors.  She had early stage macular degeneration and terrible arthritis in her foot but she was a very careful driver and her mind was sharp.  Given my situation, caring for Gary, I was happy that my parents could handle their own transportation. 

One day, Mom and Dad were out shopping, and pulling in to a parking place, when Mom’s foot slipped off the brake and onto the accelerator, lunging the car forward, jumping a curb, flattening a parking sign, and knocking down a small tree.  In a few seconds she was able to get her foot back on the brake and stop the car.  Badly shaken and embarrassed, she phoned me from the parking lot.  She quickly reported that no one was hurt, and she was very grateful that there were no people in her path. 

At first it didn’t occur to me that she should stop driving all together.  After all, her accident wasn’t because of dementia, or medications.  The problem was her arthritic foot, which was in a brace, and not able to bend at the ankle.  Her foot was not able to function normally.  A family member suggested to me that for safety’s sake, for my parents and others, maybe my mom should not be driving anymore.  That was a hard idea to think about because of its ramifications.  My mom would feel the loss of independence deeply.  I would feel loss of my own, since my “free time” outside my home was already limited due to being my husband’s caregiver, and I would be the default taxi driver for my sweet parents. 

A day later, with a heavy heart, I approached my mom about it and advised her to give up driving. 

“I think it’s time, Mom.” 

“Really?  Do you think so?” 

“Yes I do.” 

Of course there was more to the conversation, but my mom handled the advice and the loss of independence with grace and acceptance.  Not everyone does.  I pray I can be more like her when it’s time for me to give things up.

As I get to rub shoulders with many who are helping those with dementia, there’s been a rising discomfort in me, regarding basic safety.  Situations are different.  Family dynamics are not always easy.  Independence means more to some than others.  But I’m wondering how often we are tempted to allow a loved one continue in a potentially unsafe or situation, because it is convenient for them (and us).  We’ve heard the stories. A confused driver mixes up his pedals and mows down a sidewalk full of people.  A disoriented woman leaves the burner on, and sets her towel down to close to it, and the kitchen goes up in flames during the night, and spreads to the apartment next door, ending several lives.  A mixed-up gentleman who lives alone, runs up his credit card, buying the same thing over and over, using up all his resources, and leaving a huge debt for the family to deal with, and without money that could have been used for his care.

Surely “honoring parents,” would include helping them to avoid potentially devastating situations if at all possible.  “Looking out for the interests of others” must include both the best interest of our loved ones, and the interests of those around them.  I really don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all answer, but somewhere in the equation, when caring for a loved one, consideration should be given to the general public. 


…Speak the truth in love…Ephesians 4

No one wants to give up their freedoms, and some will fight hard to keep them, especially if they are confused or in denial about their mental disabilities.  Anger, sorrow, and fear may rise to the surface when faced with new losses.  Nobody wants to be the “bad guy” who has to bring the bad news to a loved one and the relationship may already be fraught with difficulty or guilt.  But, if approached with love, thoughtfulness, encouragement and maybe some good alternatives, our loved one may not be as resistant to the loss as we fear.  We can’t control the responses of another, but we are responsible for our own actions and attitudes.  We can be kind and respectful, and refuse to be controlled by “fear of man,” which God calls a “snare.” Love comes in many forms. Sometimes it has an uncomfortable, but necessary side. Let’s be proactive with our love.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Philippians 2:3-4


From Sea to Shining Sea

It’s a big country.  It took seven of us five days to traverse it in December.  Google maps says it takes 40 hours to drive the 2700 miles from California daughter’s house to Florida daughter’s house for Christmas.  We broke up the drive with 4 hotels.  Every seat in the van was taken, most of the luggage rode on the roof.  Christmas gifts, bulky winter coats, water bottles and a skateboard, filled up the back.

Since I’m committed to


I have some remembrances…

Wide Open Spaces


Never having driven farther east than Arizona, I really enjoyed seeing the lay of the land. We didn’t have time to sight-see, but I found each state had a charm of its own and view from the van images stamped in my memory…California’s start of Route 66…Arizona’s Christmas lights, where each pine tree had a different color…New Mexico’s pueblo-style architecture, including condos…Friendly Texas hills with cattle all along the way…Louisiana gas stations with resident bloodhounds, and the Louisiana Downs Racetrack.  In Gulfport, Mississippi we watched the sun set over the Gulf. In Alabama there was a “Watch for Alligators” sign in the hotel parking lot.  Interior Florida is loaded with farms and forests.  But the big picture I have in my mind is the vast amount of wide open space and few populated areas.

Photo Dec 22, 3 19 04 PM.jpg
Photo Dec 22, 1 11 56 PM.jpg

Teenagers are fun.

There were three teens plus an eleven-year old in the van.  Nate issued a daily self-improvement challenge for us; things like “good posture day” and “no saying ‘um’ or ‘uh’ day.”  Grant found that hotel ottomans with wheels make for a good ride.  Julia instituted a game in which you could not say a particular word all day; words like “go” and “far” and “when.”  And who knew that you could thaw frozen pancakes in the heater vent.


Sleep is wonderful.

With my two grandsons and their parents, we had five drivers, so no one was over tired, but we did get tired of sitting, so the nightly stops were very welcome.  There is nothing so sweet as a good night’s sleep.  I’ve never been a good car sleeper, and I’m so grateful we were able to stop after ten-hour days to eat dinner and sleep before driving on. 

Photo Dec 28 Dune Dog.JPG

My Favorite Gift

Having my entire family together was the best part of Christmas.  “In person” conversations are best.  When sisters make cinnamon rolls and breakfast casserole together Christmas Breakfast tastes better.  Conversations about Jesus and His Word, “iron sharpening iron” and honest sharing of hopes, concerns, and prayer needs are encouraging to the soul. Observing Christmas gift opening in real time makes a video recording in my mind that I can watch later, when there’s a country in between us.  I’ll never forget Micah trying out his long wished for gift… a leaf blower.

Photo Dec 25, 4 34 14 PM.jpg
Photo Dec 25, 4 32 38 PM.jpg

Pirate Movie

Cousins have a special relationship.

The eight cousins worked together for several days making a pirate movie.  Nate directed and edited, and everyone else contributed to the story, special effects, props and each had their roles to play, especially the “little” pirate, Derek.  What fun they had, and Florida has the best locations for filming adventures. 

 One night we had a music night with piano, cello, guitar, and singing carols.

 A couple of days were spent building a forge in the back yard, so the boys could make a knife.  Grant had done the research, so with a bag of charcoal, a leaf blower, steel from home depot, and some “blacksmithing,” a knife was forged.  Now Owen is using the knife in a movie he and a friend are making. 

 Snorkeling yielded many discoveries for the kids, but my favorite memory is Lauren and Miles running up the beach to tell us they were right next to a Manatee and swam along with it for a bit. 

Photo Dec 26, 10 54 28 AM.jpg

The Forge


And Back

The seven days in Florida FLEW BY. We said our good-byes, and retraced our steps, adding an extra day to see the very cold, and snowy Grand Canyon. 

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Photo Jan 04, 11 32 31 AM.jpg

“Behold, children are a gift from the LORD; the fruit of the womb is a reward.”

Psalm 127:3








Winter Olympic Dreams


Been watching the winter Olympics?  I have.  It's timely, because In the process of digitizing my dad's photos recently, I came across his winter Olympic albums.  He was able to attend three of them, as an official photographer, starting in 1948.  The Olympics has changed a lot since then, but the spirit of competition and national pride seems to remain.  Dad (Bill Ransom) was hired to film the events with his 16mm Bell & Howell movie camera, and some day I hope to get the films digitized as well.  Meanwhile, here's a few fun pics with Dad's captions from his album of memorabilia from...

V Winter Olympic Games 1948

St. Moritz, Italy.

Photo Feb 15, 10 59 19 AM.jpg

This is the same Mr. Paul Helms. of Helms Bakery... remember the neighborhood trucks?  (I'm showing my age...)

Photo Feb 15, 11 02 42 AM.jpg



Stylish!  And look at the competition suit below...not too aerodynamic for downhill racing in those days.


Figure Skaters


Speed Skaters




And the films...


More Opportunities to come


That's my dad, Bill Ransom on the far right ready to leave for Sun Valley Idaho to film the Harriman Cup Race.

I have such fond memories of our family ski vacations.  Dad loved teaching us to ski, and we had such fun together exploring new runs, making the first tracks in fresh snow, and warming my cold hands on Dad's warm coffee mug while he put his hands around mine.  Dad was known for his many stories, and we heard the "Olympic Stories" over and over but I'm so, so thankful that he was happy to share his experiences, and he left me with his albums, and notes.  Going through the albums I've learned even more, and find it fascinating.  His phone call to Paul Helms got him started on the road to being a professional ski movie photographer and allowed him to travel to some amazing places, on someone else's dime.  In 1950 Dad married Mom.  He taught her to ski, handle a camera, and they worked together filming and editing their Olympic films.  But that's another story.  


"A Very, Very, Very Fine House"

Just to set the mood... play this!


Yesterday, when visiting a friend in my old neighborhood, I paused for a couple minutes in front of our old home.  It looks pretty much the same even though it’s been sold again and has new owners.  It’s been almost 8 years since Gary and I stood in front, and said good-bye to the place where we spent our wedding night, brought home our baby girls, and sat around the table with our little grandchildren.  When Gary’s Alzheimer’s progressed to the point where we could no longer maintain our home, we downsized and moved to a condo. 


Last night I dreamed about that home of 34 years.  Crazy… I dreamed that I walked into the back yard and saw that the koi pond was nearly drained and the fish were flopping around, so I called out to Gary, and he came running from the front yard and got the water up to the normal level.  Then I dreamed that the new owner asked me to give a tour and explain the sprinkler system, and how to care for the garden.  I loved seeing Gary and his garden so clearly, even if only a dream.  I take it as a sweet grace from the Lord to remember.

I guess I still grieve the loss of our home a little.  I know for a fact that it was a necessary move, and that no house, no matter how dear, is truly home.  You’ve heard, “Home is where your loved ones are.” Or “Home is where the heart is.” I agree with that but it’s even more than that, because, now in my condo for several years, 2 ½ of them without Gary, I am “home” but even THIS home is temporary.  The eternal “home” that awaits me, where Gary is now, is truly HOME.  Moses said, “O Lord, You have been our dwelling place for all generations.”  (Psalm 90:1) And he said that after wandering the wilderness for 40 years, never having a permanent home. 


Someday, someone will tear down our old house to make a larger one, or fill in the fish pond, or cut down the big Buckeye tree in the front yard.  Owners have every right to do so.  If that should happen, and I'm around to know about it, may it remind me that it was never my real home anyway.  As I sat there on our street, remembering, I thanked God for so many years of His faithfulness to us in that house.  Satisfied, I left, and had a "fantabulous" day (as my friend, Diane, says) with her and my other friend, Lori, as the three of us worked together on Lori's photo albums preserving memories of her own.  Life goes on, and so does Joy, Peace and Love.

1974 - Moving IN

1974 - Moving IN

2010 - Moving OUT

2010 - Moving OUT

A Tribute to the Artist (well sort of)

1966 approx Dads painting B.jpg

This Sunday, my dad, Bill Ransom, would have been 100.  It seems like a good time for a tribute.  Well, sort of…I’ll let you decide if it’s a tribute or not. 

You’ll need a bit of background to understand.

Louise 1st place.jpg






My mom was an artist.  She painted, and her main subjects were landscapes. 

She was really good.







Dad was a photographer.  It started as a hobby when he was a teenager, then continued as an adult.  My dad, had a career as a designer in the aerospace industry, but photography was always a part of his life and a side business.

He was a great photographer.


My parents were each other’s biggest fans. 

But one day, in 1966, (I was 13), Dad came home from work early, with a big canvas, paint brushes and an artist’s beret.  To the best of my memory, it went something like this:

Mom (surprised): “What is THIS?”

Dad (grinning): “You’re not the only one in this family who can paint.”

Mom (with skeptical tone): “Are you sure about that?”

Dad (confidently): “I have my scene already picked out, and I’m ready to start.” 

Mom (laughing, rolling eyes): “Ok, you do your best.” 

Mom, Paul, and Laurie: (laughing and more laughing)

So for several weeks, when Dad came home from work each day, he went to work on his painting.  (It was a view of the Grand Teton Mt. range with the Snake River in the foreground.)  This did not go on without mocking and playful teasing from my mom, (and my brother and I too).  Dad dished it right back with confident talk, and a flourish of the brush! 

1966 approx Dads painting A.jpg

As the painting progressed, we all realized it was actually turning out good, but following mom’s lead, we never let on to Dad.  When dad finished his painting, he framed it and hung it over their bed.  It moved with them to three other homes, and was placed above their headboard for 48 years.  With every move, Mom made comments about there "not being room" for it at the new house, but it always ended up in its "place of honor" in the master bedroom. 

And for 48 years, it was the source of MANY private jokes, and bantering.  Dad smiled and teased back every time and we NEVER did tell him that we in truth liked the painting and admired his talent.  It was his one and only painting and quite amazing actually.  I had always hoped to tell him some day that I really did like it (though I’m sure he knew).  I never told him, but maybe that’s more fitting anyway. 

I miss my parents.  I miss their love of the beauty of God’s creation, and desire to capture it on canvas and film.  I miss the “inside” family jokes, the hilarious things that happened on some of our vacations.  I miss their adventurous spirits.  I miss their devotion to each other.  But I DON’T miss dad’s painting, because it is hanging above the headboard in my guest bedroom.  When I see it a smile forms in my heart. 

Good job, Dad!

Hollow Air

The air was hollow today.


Gary used to announce hollow air at some point every fall when the dry air came.  I’m not sure why he called it hollow, except that it had something to do with how sound travels, like in a tunnel, or through a tube.  In the fall, when there’s less humidity, sound carries better too.  Over the years, when the air was “hollow” it was a fun little thing between Gary and I that was stirred up every year as the hot, muggy, smoggy days were replaced with October’s Santa Ana winds.  I loved his yearly proclamation, “The air is hollow today!”

In our previous home, on hollow-air-days, we could hear the Verdugo Hills High School marching band practice from over two miles away.  In my current home, on a day like today, the distant train does not sound so distant. 

I don’t know about you, but along with autumn's clear air, comes a season for clearer thinking, more structure in my schedule, and renewed energy as I settle into the fall activities.  But in spite of the busyness, I hope to be listening intently for the Lord’s promptings like the less hindered sound waves on a dry day. 

It seems impossible, but this is my third October without Gary.  I miss him so, but today was one of many good days.   Feeling the warm, dry wind today, brought his voice right back to me when I noticed the hollow air. 

“There is an appointed time for everything.  And there is a time for every event under heaven…A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance…He has made everything appropriate in its time.”  Ecclesiastes 3

Goin Home - Part 2 - "Always"

It was a misty morning and we were on a special “assignment.”  We had special instructions, and watched the odometer carefully as we drove.  When we arrived at the spot the special packages which I brought from California, were placed into a backpack.  We looked up the hill and decided we were in the right place so we snapped a family photo.  There was no trail, and being in my 60’s and recovering from bronchitis, I huffed and puffed the 150 feet up the hill, to find the bear paw meadow per my dad’s instructions.  I checked the photos he had given me 30 years ago.  The trees were much smaller then, but the mountains looked the same.  It was a puzzle to solve.  The mission: Find the area my parents described in their wills so we could fulfill their wishes.  Dad and Mom both wrote the same thing, 

Paul's Place 1994.jpg

“…that my ashes should be scattered in a tiny part of Jackson Hole, Wyoming…I refer to this location as ‘Paul’s Place’ for that is where my son, Paul had requested his own ashes be placed, and where thy do indeed rest.  Erect no marker or locator where my ashes lay for the natural flora and fauna will do just that.” 

This was a precious time for us in that bear paw meadow, facing the Teton range, as we laid beloved parents, grandparents and great-grandparents to rest.  Ryan read Psalm 23, and Jon thanked God for their lives.  They passed away in 2014, so it felt really good and satisfying to bring their bodies “HOME” to the place they loved so much. 

Goin' Home

Home.  What is home really, anyway?  For me, home is where my loved ones are, or were, or the places that hold sweet memories.  Going back to a childhood home or vacation spot, teaches that these places are not really home.  Recreating an experience from the past is not possible.  You can’t really ‘go back.’  Things change, loved ones go, and time marches on.  But this is not sad.  Home is not really here in this world. 

Our Dwelling Place

In Psalm 90, Moses called the Lord "our dwelling place in all generations." 

Moses and the Israelites wandered around in the wilderness for 40 years.  They pitched their tents and packed them up over and over.  That generation never had a permanent home.   Moses said “Lord, You have been our dwelling place…”

Home Sweet Home

Summer 2010 051.JPG

Because of Gary's illness, we had to downsize, leaving our beloved home where we thought we'd spend the rest of our lives.  It was sad, but good for us.  We were forced to cling to God instead of a place and lived in the love of our Savior who loves completely and unconditionally.  He helped us face the very scary unknowns of the future with courage rather than fear.  The most important "comforts of home" went with us, because Jesus lives in Gary and I.  Jesus said, "I will never leave you or forsake you."  He meant it.  For a Christian, "true" home is a person, not a place.   It's Jesus Christ, who loved me first.  "We love Him because He first loved us."  He paid the penalty for my sins, dying on the cross, and made me one of his own children, while I was His enemy.  Then He went rose again, and went to Heaven where He has building a home for me and Gary is already there! 

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also."  John 14:2-3

Someday my family will take my ashes to the Central Coast, per my wishes.  What’s left of my body will be “home” in the same place as Gary’s.  But we will not be there.  Not really.  We will be at home with the Lord, in heaven, because home is where God is.  The days go by so quickly.  Before you know it, you're within the waning years of your life.  Moses had such a wonderful perspective as he prayed.  May we value the days as Moses did, and look to God for His favor, in light of what we truly deserve. 

Psalm 90 - a Prayer of Moses

Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were born
Or You gave birth to the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

You turn man back into dust
And say, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it passes by,
Or as a watch in the night.


You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep;
In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew.
In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew;
Toward evening it fades and withers away.

My last post was filled with sweet m  emories, formed over many decades, and new experiences too as our family “road tripped” to the ‘Wild West.”   Click here, to read Part 1.  

My last post was filled with sweet memories, formed over many decades, and new experiences too as our family “road tripped” to the ‘Wild West.”  Click here, to read Part 1. 

For we have been consumed by Your anger
And by Your wrath we have been dismayed.
You have placed our iniquities before You,
Our secret sins in the light of Your presence.
For all our days have declined in Your fury;
We have finished our years like a sigh.
As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years,
Or if due to strength, eighty years,
Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow;
For soon it is gone and we fly away.
Who understands the power of Your anger
And Your fury, according to the fear that is due You?
So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.

Do return, O Lord; how long will it be?
And be sorry for Your servants.
O satisfy us in the morning with Your loving kindness,
That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us,
And the years we have seen evil.
Let Your work appear to Your servants
And Your majesty to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us;
And confirm for us the work of our hands;
Yes, confirm the work of our hands.

Goin' Home - Part 1 - "Heritage"

String Lake, GTNP 2017

String Lake, GTNP 2017

From "Way Back Then"

to "Now"

(note: If you are viewing this in your email, you may want to view in browser to see all the photos.)

Our pleasant memories, shape our inward smiles.  Sometimes a specific setting contributes to what we think and who we are.  I have a place like that.  It hosted six decades of happy memories for me, so the prospect of returning to the northwest corner of Wyoming, WITH my family, turned my inner smile into an actual “ear-to-ear grin." 

I grew up going to the Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone.  I loved it so much, in fact, that I spent two summers there as a college student, working at Jackson Lake Lodge and hiking on my days off.  After I married, Gary and I took our own girls there and when my parents retired in Bozeman, Montana, the Parks were on the way.

"Way Back Then" - The Ransom Family

Grand Teton National Park - 1957 - Mom and I

Grand Teton National Park - 1957 - Mom and I


I remember dad fishing his favorite spot on the shore of Yellowstone Lake, where he could guarantee a strike of a Rainbow Trout within just a few casts.  One time, when cleaning the fish, a black bear approached, and he gave up his catch, retreating to the car instead.  Mom sometimes brought her paints to paint "plein air."  She often had dad photograph the scene so she could finish it in the comfort of home.  My brother, Paul, six years younger than I, loved to fish, hike, explore, and see how far he could skim a rock.  He was the adventurous, active type and my parents were always on full alert.  He was the funny one, always willing to do a crazy pose or stunt for a photo.  Photography was a big part of our vacations in the Parks.  My dad's hobby turned into a retirement business later on, when he enjoyed selling his wildlife and landscape photos in the local gift shops.  I remember waiting and waiting until the clouds parted so the sunlight was on the peaks, or the moose would lift his head "just so" for the perfect picture.  Those were in the days of FILM, and one had to be more frugal with the number of photos one shot.

Madison Campground - Yellowstone - 1969

Madison Campground - Yellowstone - 1969

We mostly camped, but had a few days in hotels too.  The nights around the campfire, just talking and laughing are etched in my memory as some of the happiest times.  My dad would let me warm my hands on his metal coffee mug, and Paul would poke around in the coals with a stick, as all boys like to do.    The sudden and short-lived rain showers made for some great laughs as we scrambled to get under a tarp till it blew over, and every vacation, took on its own funny theme or joke. 


My parents would comment that the beautiful things we saw had to be made by a Creator, and could not have just "happened."  Dad would say, "A bison and a butterfly are too unique to have come from the same set of cells.  They had to be individually made."

Dad and Paul -

Dad and Paul -

Paul - 1969 - age 10

Paul - 1969 - age 10

"Back Then" - My Single Adventures

Laurie, Jo, Jenni - GTNP - 1974

Laurie, Jo, Jenni - GTNP - 1974


When I went back on my own, to work in Jackson Lake Lodge, it was a very different experience.  Backpacking, making new friends, working in the laundry facility of the lodge, and learning about freedoms and limitations.  It was a huge learning experience.  The 2nd summer I brought my two best girlfriends from home with me, worked in the gift shop, and we had a blast, but by the end of that season, I was more than ready to get back to my boyfriend, Gary, who I had fallen in love with over the past school year. 

The phone booth in the Lodge where I had so many long, expensive conversations with Gary that summer.  Can't believe it's still there.

The phone booth in the Lodge where I had so many long, expensive conversations with Gary that summer.  Can't believe it's still there.

"Then" - The Price Family

Gary & Laurie - Near Lake Solitude - GTNP - 1977

Gary & Laurie - Near Lake Solitude - GTNP - 1977


After we married,  it was a thrill to share this wonderful place with Gary and do some new things with him.  We hiked the big loop 20 mile loop through Cascade Cyn. to Lake Solitude to Paintbrush Cyn.  We were surprised by a couple of moose near the trail, and felt the intense power and presence of God, high up in the mountains.  It took us all day and we got back after dark, but I'll never forget it.


April & Sarah - Jackson Lake - GTNP - 1986

April & Sarah - Jackson Lake - GTNP - 1986

Our girls loved making up little games together, tried to get the squirrels and chipmunks to come close bribing them with crackers, and laughing in the tent with their cabbage patch kids at night.  One day, as teenagers, they would drive here on their own, on their way to see their grandparents'. 

Laurie & Sarah - String Lake area - GTNP - 1977

Laurie & Sarah - String Lake area - GTNP - 1977

Laurie & April - Upper Geyser Basin - YNP - 1986 (note the Yellowstone sweatshirt.  You'll see it again in 2017)

Laurie & April - Upper Geyser Basin - YNP - 1986 (note the Yellowstone sweatshirt.  You'll see it again in 2017)

 "Now" - The Price Family

Cousin fun in the van!

Cousin fun in the van!


After a year or so of planning, our family met up there in June.  Some of us drove from Socal, and the rest met us in Salt Lake City, and we drove on from there together in two vans loaded, and I mean LOADED with food, luggage and 13 people.  The Florida kids were "all eyes" as they were surrounded by mountain peaks and snow fields.

1st Snowball EVER!  There really was a snowfield behind the camera...

1st Snowball EVER!  There really was a snowfield behind the camera...



I confess, it felt a little hollow, without Gary (2015) and my parents (2014), and brother (1979), but that void was simultaneously filled with sweet remembrance and new memories with my grandchildren and their parents.   

The A's - Jackson Lake - GTNP

The A's - Jackson Lake - GTNP

The D's - Jackson Lake - GTNP

The D's - Jackson Lake - GTNP

Gondola ride to top of Rendezvous Mt. - Jackson Hole Ski Area

Gondola ride to top of Rendezvous Mt. - Jackson Hole Ski Area

Old Faithful - YNP

Old Faithful - YNP

Old Faithful Inn, 1906 - YNP

Old Faithful Inn, 1906 - YNP

The A's

The A's

Old Faithful Inn - Ready for ice cream

Old Faithful Inn - Ready for ice cream

Lower Yellowstone Falls - 308 ft. Yikes!

Lower Yellowstone Falls - 308 ft. Yikes!

It's difficult to describe Yellowstone Falls.  It's frightening, beautiful, powerful, and "puts you in your place."  My dad described the feeling as he wrote, "I defy anyone to stand next to the protective guard rail, eyes focused on the tons and tons of water accelerating over the brink and not feel some strange powerful force take hold with its unrelenting grip."  

"And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder"  Revelation 14:2

It is good to be reminded of the smallness of me, and the greatness of God.

On the brink

Photo Jun 12, 11 01 53 AM.jpg

Bison and Geysers and US!

For all my grandkids it was their first time in the Parks, except for the oldest who went as a baby. I gave the younger ones some activity notebooks, decorated with my dad’s wildlife photos.  I said something about earning "points" for finding wildlife, and in no time, there was a big competition between the kids. 

Bison families - parents loosing winter coats.

Bison families - parents loosing winter coats.


Their searching eyes were rewarded with many good sightings of pronghorn, bison, deer, moose, black and grizzly bears, and even a wolf.  The bears were distant, so we took an afternoon to visit the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, where the animals are free to roam in their very beautiful and natural environments, but close enough to really watch them without using binoculars. 



Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center - West Yellowstone

Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center - West Yellowstone

Thank you Mr. Rockefeller and Mr. Albright!

Thank you Mr. Rockefeller and Mr. Albright!

The next post (Goin' Home - Part Two) will be more of a reach into life-shaping memories and the importance and reality of 'home' along with the mission I was sent on by my parents. 

For the last couple of photos today though, we'll go back to the Tetons. There's a very short hike up Lunch Tree Hill, adjacent to Jackson Lake Lodge.  (my old place of employment)  On vacation in Yellowstone, in 1926, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. enjoyed a picnic lunch here.  With the Teton Range in view, he was inspired to use his wealth to preserve this area (along with others) as a National Park and along with Horace Albright, Yellowstone superintendent at the time.  It took many years, and it took some doing, but their plan was finally accomplished.  The complete story is in the Ken Burn documentary, The National Parks - America's Best Idea.  I highly recommend it, especially if you're on the fence about where to spend your vacation.  AND 4th Grader's families are free this year. (Every Kid in a Park)  Between our 4th grader for one van, and my lifetime senior pass for the other, we paid nothing.  I hope this wets your appetite to get outside, experience the power of God's amazing earth, and make some lifetime memories! 

Standing in front of Mr. Rockefeller's view - Jackson Lake Lodge - GTNP

Standing in front of Mr. Rockefeller's view - Jackson Lake Lodge - GTNP

...and just because I can't help myself, here are some more photos... 

Do you have an extra special place that you smile about?  If you care to leave a comment, I'd love to hear why is it's special to you? 

Watercolor Journal - Wind in the Pines

A family asked me to paint their beloved cabin in the mountains of New Mexico.  I’ve never been to that state, but as I painted the pine forest background I reflected on my childhood camping trips.  My parents took me camping from a very young age, mostly to the High Sierras in California. Mom and Dad loved back-packing and mom even made me a little down-filled sleeping bag.  If there was no rain, we didn’t pitch a tent, and I remember laying on a bed of pine needles, and looking up at the stars at night.  I listened to the crackling campfire and their voices nearby until I fell asleep.  Sometime later I’d wake up between them, with a cold face and warm body, secure in their love and happy to be a little girl, outside in the forest. 

The wind in the pine needles above, made it’s whooshing sound, and was familiar, because outside my bedroom in Southern California were three big pine trees.  But outside, in the forest, the sound of the wind was grander, and deeper.  There were many instruments in this beautiful symphony.  And here, as the dead pine needles were blown from the trees, they would not have to be raked off our driveway at home, so let the wind blow, and do it’s work, adding to the softness of the forest floor, preparing a little bed for the next sleepy-head to rest upon...look up...and listen. 

Head ‘em Up – Move ‘em Out

I've been without my dad for just over a year.  On Thursday I was getting ready to distribute some more of my dad's things, and got very involved looking at one of his collections.  I enjoyed perusing his photos and his written thoughts.  It made me miss him.  I think I've mentioned that because of the events of the last year, I've barely had a chance to grieve my parents' loss, but the time I spent with his things the other day, was so nice.  Part way through, I realized, that it was actually his birthday!  He would have been 98.  

My dad, Bill Ransom, was a fan of all things western.  A few years after my parents retired to Montana, they got caught up in the excitement of the Montana Centennial celebrations.  One of those was the recreation of a cattle drive, and they joined in the fun, in their way.  I think some of you, at least, may enjoy reading my dad's account of the experience, as well as his photos.  He and my mom had a wonderful way of looking at things, and Dad recorded everything with 35mm photos, 16mm movies, and writings.  They appreciated history, authenticity, love of country, and their beautiful Montana.  I am grateful for my dad's adventuresome spirit, and my mom for being such a good sport.


Here is the story which he wrote in 1989:

Head ‘em Up – Move ‘em Out

The Great Montana Centennial Cattle Drive

By Bill Ransom

A prairie dog rose up from the hole in the center of his earthen mound appearing to exercise a proper amount of caution.  He was soon followed by another, both quickly turning their attention directly to the north.  Obviously, the two of them heard of felt something Louise and I did not.  In a matter of minutes it all became quite clear as our ears began to record a muted, yet powerful, sound.  I easily likened it to something of a muffled drum-roll as it swept toward us through Montana’s wild prairie grass.  Hoof beats – yes, thousands of them – coming from the north.  Man oh man, this was it – this is what we had waited for.  A cloud of dust rising over a near distant ridge told us we had chosen a good spot to witness the greatest cattle drive in history.  Perhaps the strategy of leaving our car by the highway and hiking a mile and a half away from everyone and everything “1989” would pay off photographically as well as allowing us to better take a step back in time. 


This was day three of Montana’s “piece de resistance” in celebration of its 100th year of statehood.  This monumental undertaking gave birth to seemingly insurmountable problems in logistics, but after months of planning and using some “Old West” ingenuity, things dovetailed in time for the start.  The drive had begun, appropriately, up on the Musselshell River at the town of Roundup on September 4th and would conclude on the 9th in Billings, 60 miles to the south. 

Louise and I grabbed for our camera gear as the first of the herd began pouring over the ridge like lava moving fast through sagebrush and grass – lava wrapped in cowhide.  This first bunch was comprised entirely of longhorns, descendants of that first herd driven up from Texas in 1866 by Nelson Story and his hands.  Most of these were owned by Jim Leachman and were destined to come under the auctioneer’s gavel at the Metro Arena in Billings three days hence.  Both cowboys and cowgirls controlled the herd, holding their positions at point, wing and drag. 

Dad chatting it up with the riders.

Dad chatting it up with the riders.

The trail boss for the drive was Jay Stovall, and as the lead group of wranglers passed by, we tried to pick him out.  We knew, too, that among this group of seasoned riders was Mike Story, great, great grandson of Nelson Story, and it was a sentimental invitation to participate that had brought him to this time and place.  Riding wing near the front of the herd was the youngest of the cowboys, 11 year old Shawn Hando.  It may have gotten him out of school for the week, but not out of doing a comprehensive report detailing his own experiences on the drive.  To make manageable this giant herd of around 3,000 head, and for safety as well as for humanitarian considerations, the cattle were purposely strung out between 3 and 4 miles. 


From our vantage point atop a small outcropping of rock, we could see over a mile and a half of the total herd.  At one time I turned quickly to Louise and asked, “Did you hear that?  Was that a gunshot?”  We thought it might be someone letting go with his “45”, for many of the riders wore holstered six-guns.  We heard the sharp crack again – than saw George Reed using his bullwhip as he kept the line moving steadily southward.  One of the basic rules for participation in the drive was to dress in appropriate gear, as near as possible – no Adidas and no ‘visored’ caps touting “Joe’s Welding Shop” allowed. 

Louise and I continued to look for photographic “targets of opportunity,” shooting both movie film and stills until the last of the cattle had passed, the last two riders carrying the American and official Montana Centennial flags, signaling the tail end of the herd.  There had been intermittent clouds of dust, and now, as soon as it drifted away, we could catch our breath and enjoy our lunch which we had earlier stashed into a small backpack. 

We decided this was a great place for our lunch break, for it seemed, in a way, like we were 100 miles from nowhere.  It was so quiet now, and luck had provided a nice setting.  We had some natural rock shelves to sit on, and being almost brick red, they made a sharp contrast to the subtle golden colors of the prairie grass.  Behind us were a few scrub cedars while right in front of us were several bunches of late blooming wildflowers (Phacelia) and a couple of stalks of plains yucca.  The latter being an often used detail on the canvases of famous Montana artist, C. M. Russell.  Overhead the ‘big sky’ was still filled with gray clouds, and with the sun trying to burst through, we could see the storm threat of the night before was truly in retreat.  What a nice Godsend, for when we had visited the trail drive night camp the past evening, we had found some dramatic and ominous weather conditions.  While we munched away, we reminisced about the previous night. 

This had been their second night camp, and we had driven north out of Billings 30 miles to locate it.  We were dumbfounded to discover it spread over such a huge area on part of the Thirty Mile Ranch.  We parked near the south end a bit off the highway among a collection of sage, cactus, grass, and only God knew the rest, but it was worth it.  Using what expertise I could recall, I showed Louise the proper way to get through the barbed wire.  Then, by revealing our most pleasant smiles, we were invited to enter the roped off section surrounding the first circle of about 14 wagons.  We found an intense effort under way to get all the members of this group fed quickly as the projected storm became more of a threat.  AS the wind picked up, a few horses wandered nervously away from the remuda (spare mounts) and into the circle of wagons.  One beautiful pinto was whinnying and almost trampled a pitched sleeping tent, and that was enough for several wranglers to leave the chow line and haze them back to the rest of their kind.  I would say there were at least 150 horses in that bunch alone, and none were corralled.  The clouds darkened, and there was flapping canvas everywhere – the dusters some of the men wore – the wagon covers – and all the sleeping tents were alive in that chilling wind.  I wondered how well everyone would sleep on this night. 

We eased over to the chuck wagon and found three gals about ready to load up the plates of both hungry cowhands and others belonging to this circle wagons.  There was a tall stack of plates, a huge coffee pot, and many cups - all in gray enamel.  In fact, all the utensils looked very “western.”  The only thing I saw that seemed out of place was a large tub filled with chopped mixed greens – obviously, the salad.  Something smelled divine coming from the open grill, and I just had to ask one of the gals what the main course was, and she replied by holding up an oversized steak – and out came one word, “Buffalo!”  Now, why didn’t I expect something like that?

We eased away so they could get on with their work, but not before noticing how everyone was smiling, joking, and helping each other with whatever was needed.  We passed by the line of leather-tan faces, some needing a shave by now, and some showing a little fatigue – but everyone, just plain nice!  One wrangler, L. G. from Billings, stopped to kid with us a bit about taking his picture, else he might have to use the six-gun on his hip.  We complied.  Then he said, “If you want to see something you’ll never see again, climb up over that rise, and look to the west.”  We zipped up our parkas and trudged up past wagons, horses, and dozens of portable watering troughs for about 500 yards.  Mr. G. knew exactly what he was saying.  I could never properly describe what met our eyes.  There were, scattered across that open ranchland, horses, cattle, tents, watering trucks, dozens of circles of wagons (called “pods’), people by the hundreds, and rows of portable toilets.  We stood, amazed, and began to appreciate the word, “logistics.”

Some questions came to mind.  Things like, “How could each of the participants get his own horses back, his own cattle claimed if they didn’t go to market, his wagon returned to the ranch?”  There was over 15 million dollars’ worth of equipment and horses laying out there before us.  But more than all this – what is there about this segment of Americana – western Americana, especially, that had inspired so many to spend so much to come so far to be a part of all this? 

It was time we headed back to Billings, for by now the aroma of buffalo steaks had gotten our own stomachs to growling.  We picked our way down the slope past tons of hay scattered out for both horse and cow.  Most of it now being consumed as we carefully passed by.  We noticed most of the cattle had individual brands, but also carried the temporary “M over 89” centennial brand, as well.  This would turn out to be the longest trek of the drive; 18 miles, and over the most variable terrain, as it had a combination of being partly highway, partly prairie, much of it through the lower elevations of the Bull Mountains with their tight ravines.  Were we ever glad we had decided to take in one of the night camps!

As we finished up our lunch of tuna sandwiches, olives and potato chips, we considered it nearly a crumb compared to the projected amounts of food the participants of the drive would require.  Such a grocery list as follows:  On Wednesday, Yellowstone Kelly’s Catering of Billings planned to serve 1200 pounds of baron of beef and half a ton of baked beans to their section of 1500 people.  300-500 gallons of coffee per day.  Monday night (first camp) this group ate 3,000 pounds of beef ribs.  That’s equal to four head of cattle on the hoof.  Bob Hurd, lead cook of Chuck Wagon Catering out of Red Lodge, Montana even revealed his own recipe for biscuits and gravy.  Now, just for once, forget the calories, and copy it down for some nice Sunday morning when you’re glad to be alive – then eat hearty!

Fry up an even mix of both pork sausage and diced ham.  Then thicken it with a riux of butter and flour.  Add some real cream along with a little milk.  The cream smooths out the gravy, which is the secret to his successful breakfast of biscuits and gravy. 

Iona Schmidt of Glendive, Montana offered her recipe for Creamery-Can Stew:

Corn sliced off the cob, wieners and polish sausage cut into chunks, sliced cabbage, small unpeeled whole potatoes, sliced carrots and beer.  Into the pot with the lot – bring it to a boil and simmer for an hour. 

On the cattle drives of a hundred years ago – they should have it so good.

Oh, gosh!  Enough of that!  We had to get ourselves off our rock seats and hike up another mile to where out tiny map (cut out of the Billings Gazette) showed the long line of wagons would be traveling through this section.  By the time we reached the place that seemed best for pictures, 20 or 30 wagons had already passed, but that was O. K. because we still had around 300 more to go.  By now, I realized I could have used more movie film to properly cover the seemingly endless wagon train, but I cranked up the camera while Louise began to shoot stills.  We were getting more sun now, and grateful the weather front had swung into Canada. 

As the riders and wagons rolled past us, we heard everything from “Why, Hello, there!” to “Hi, y’all!”  Even “How did you two get clear out here?”  “Nutty, I guess,” was all I could think of at the moment.  From time to time the train would stop for a few minutes – once, because one of the wagons being double-teamed up a steep slope had turned over and there was an injury through not serious.  During these short delays we had fun meeting both outriders on horseback and those along with the wagon ride.  We were never disappointed in how everyone was dressed.  Most fit the part perfectly, women wearing long frontier dresses, sun bonnets, leather boots, etc.  Many of the dresses were hand-made just for the drive, and many children had made their dresses as school projects.  Behind the reins, the men wore traditional felt hats, Levis, leather vests, etc.  They came from every state, and many foreign countries too numerous to mention.  The wagons, surreys, stage coaches, and chuck wagons were pulled by breeds of horses from Arabians, to Paints, Clydesdales to Belgians, and Tennessee Walkers to mules.  Two, four – up to ten horse hitches pulled them to each night camp.  As for the riders on horseback, it was pretty much like bringing their own pet.  If so, then these pets were worth maybe $1500 to $2000 each, and they really showed it.  I found it rather amazing, as I had to face the fact that there was such a varied cross-section of citizenry passing by me.  I mean some were “for real” wranglers, but others were seniors, doctors, ranchers, college professors or teachers, and many youngsters – well, you get the idea.

I was soon out of movie film except for a few feet to cover the arrival of the cattle in Billings, so I helped Louise finish up the 35mm pictures, and then we crossed back through the string of wagons, picking our way down the long slope to our car that now seemed at least beyond the horizon.  After a few minutes of working our way through the sage, we passed underneath several pine trees that had dropped an array of perfect pine cones.  We thought of collecting some, but figured we had our hands full, so those will not become a part of our Christmas wreath.  We were next going down a long shallow draw, and I presented Louise the scenario of someone lost and in this same coulee, and wondering what they might think if they just climbed up the 20 or 30 feet to peer over the rim and suddenly see all those wagons, men and horses stretched out for miles.  What an episode for Twilight Zone!  Had I, myself, lived a time warp the last few hours?  Had my folks given me a dime so I could go to the Saturday matinee to watch Tom Mix or Hoot Gibson or Ken Maynard in one of so many westerns I lived to see at a cost of mowing the lawn?  Anyway, the difference was certainly in “living color,” and we felt the rewards were worth whatever our efforts had been. 

In passing by our earlier lunch spot, we also walked near the prairie dog mound.  It didn’t seem any the worse for wear, but the occupants were nowhere to be seen.  I think they were deep down in their burrow, still wondering what in the world all the commotion was about.  I’m sure of one thing – they’d never forget it.  Would we?

I love you Dad!

My Grief Diary - A Special Meal

(NOTE:  If you're looking for Gary's Memorial Video, you can find it on the Home page.)

I've been a widow for six weeks.  My encounters with grief have been varied and haphazard.  Sometimes sorrow surprises me, and at other times it builds up slowly.  

I don't have a clear view of what to expect, since everyone grieves differently but occasionally I hope to share a bit of what it's like, for me, and how I'm doing.  Actually, I've been grieving for many years.  Every time Gary reached a new limitation, I was sad for a time.  New losses brought new kinds of sorrow, but once we adjusted to our new situation, I found we could flourish within our limitations.  I'm expecting that process to continue.

Two days after Gary went to Heaven, I suggested that our family go to dinner at Gary's favorite restaurant.  "Damon's Steakhouse" has been a Glendale landmark since 1937, which explains why Gary's dad, Tom, used to go there on dates.  Gary and I used to go there on dates too.  In 1980 because of the Glendale Galleria project, Damon's moved to it's current location on Brand.  (Behind the Center Theater and right next to Porto's) Our family considered it THE place to go for celebrations. 



Somehow, it seemed strangely important to go there and eat a Top Sirloin, stuffed baked potato, salad (tossed at the table and with amazing dressing) and garlic cheese bread "for Gary."  I wasn't sure how emotional I would be, but I decided to "not care" and go anyway. 






The fun 50's Tiki-style motif was not lost on the kids.  While we waited for our food, we walked around and looked at the huge salt water aquarium and shell lamps.  There's even an outrigger canoe hanging from the ceiling with monkeys in it.  Once the food arrived and after we prayed, we dug in.  It was then that I was overwhelmed with joy mingled with missing my love.  I looked around the table at our dear ones, and wished Gary was with us, but at the same time I was so happy we were all together in one of Gary's favorite places.  So amongst my tears and smiles, memories flooded back into my mind.  Romantic dinners, anniversaries, birthday celebrations...  Gary, April and I had even had dinner there on our way to the hospital while awaiting the birth of Sarah's firstborn. 


The last time we were there was our anniversary in 2010, when Gary was in the middle stages of Alzheimer's.  The evening had a rough start, but eventually he (and I) both enjoyed ourselves, even though I knew at the time, it would likely be our last meal at Damon's together.  see photo ->


It's OK

As a grieving widow, I'm learning that it's ok to cry AND it's ok to laugh.  Remembering is a really good thing to do because it keeps the joy in your life along with the inevitable sadness.  I don't feel the slightest bit guilty for enjoying my meal six weeks ago.  Every bite and flavor reminded me of some very good times, and I'm grateful that God designed us with the capacity to enjoy the world He made, and miss those who added to it's beauty.


"A merry heart does good like a medicine." 

Proverbs 17:22

If you're in Southern California, and you want to make a memory with a good steak or seafood, click on the photo or HERE for info on Damon's.


Celebrating Gary's Life

It was a joy to celebrate Gary's life three weeks ago with many of you.  There are few events in my life that have been so meaningful.  Thinking through his whole life, as I wrote his story,  gathering the photos for his Eulogy, and selecting his favorite music, often brought me to tears of joy.  Over the most recent years, I've wanted new friends and younger grandchildren to know the "old," healthy Gary.  His memorial service was the opportunity.  Looking farther back, it always amazed me how Gary's life was transformed by God.  That was the best part of his story. 

April made the comment that "It's nice that we do Memorial services, because they give us a purposeful way to remember."  So true.  I'd been thinking about Gary's life for a long time during his steady decline, but planning this tribute has been a significant part of the grieving process for our family.  Many who attended, had the same experience.  We want to remember the things we love.  I love my husband, and many of you did too. 

Thank you to all our friends who helped our family realize the dreams and plans we had for this very special day.  And though Gary would not have wanted so much attention, we wouldn't have changed a thing. 

If you missed the memorial, you can watch it right here if you'd like. It includes tributes from family members, friends, and our Pastor John MacArthur, the Eulogy video, and reception photos.  It is not brief but of course, neither was Gary's life.  (If you are reading this via email, you'll have to click the "Read in Browser" link at the bottom of your email.) 

NOTE: My apologies if you already received this post.  I was having a problem with the RSS feed, and needed to republish the post for those of you who subscribe to my blog.

"Till Death Us Do Part"

Forty years ago I said “…till death do us part.”  Two days ago we were parted and I said “good-bye” to my Gary. For the last nine years I have been grieving the loss of my husband, and dreading the moment in time when we would be separated from each other and now it is here. I can’t wait to see him again, in Glory, where Gary and I will be face to face with the One who made it possible for us to keep our vows and love each other “no matter what.” My heart is empty and full at the same time.

Thank you for your love and prayers.

Memorial Service

You are most welcome to join our family as we celebrate and remember Gary's life on Saturday, May 30, at Grace Community Church, (13248 Roscoe Blvd., Sun Valley, CA 91352) at 9:30 am in the Worship Center.  Reception following.

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his godly ones." Psalm 116:15

Journey's End

If you have been following my blog for any time at all then you know about my dear Gary's Alzheimer's Disease.  Though his nine year decline has been very gradual, to the point of him being bed-bound over the last year, things have changed dramatically over the last week and now he is nearing the end of his earthly life.  Thankfully, he is comfortable and peaceful.  Our family is rejoicing for him as he gets to go to his eternal home with Christ, but our hearts are heavy as we must say good-bye soon. We are sharing some sweet memories with each other and telling him how much we love him.  He is very close to the end of a long journey. 

A sweet comfort to my heart is this promise in the Bible to those who love and follow Jesus.   May it encourage you too.

"Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Thank you,

Gift Idea for Young Collectors

Here's a fun gift idea for kids.   Our granddaughter has loved horses for a really long time.  She collects pictures of them.  SOOOOO... Choose a colorful 2" binder (Bright pink's her favorite color.)  Get the kind with the clear sleeves on the cover.  This was at Target for @$4.50. 

I think the "D" ring type is the best so the pages lay flat and don't get messed up.

Find some dividers.  I already had these "like new" extras on hand (because I never throw anything away)    but I saw some on Amazon for about $1.00.

OPTIONAL:  Clear sheet protectors are about 10 cents each on Amazon.com if you want to use them.  (I LOVE them and use them for everything, so I buy them in bulk at Costco.  Weird, I know.)

Gather some photos or magazine clippings of whatever will be collected in the album... Kitties, airplanes, trains, whatever they love.  (I went through a box of old photos my parents had taken in Montana.)  Take a sheet protector and cut it in to two pieces.  Get rid of the part with the holes.  Use double-stick tape to place the pictures on one of the sheets and then slide it into the cover. 

You can do the back side too.  (If you don't care about the color of the cover not showing, then tape them to any blank piece of paper and slide it in.)

Make a title page.  Find a picture to use, get some colored paper for a "frame."  Print a sheet of paper with a cool font.  Tape the photo to the colored paper, and the paper to the white page.               

Insert and you're done!

I love my sweet Lauren Girl and I love that sometimes there's time to make a gift. 

photo 5.JPG

Precious Treasures

“For we have brought nothing into the world,

so we cannot take anything out of it either.” 

1 Tim. 6:7

We enter the world naked.  We bring nothing with us when we breathe our first breath.  Soon we are soothed, and wrapped in a blanket and maybe a little cap is put on our head. 

My dad, Bill Ransom and his brother Richard.

My dad, Bill Ransom and his brother Richard.

We are showered with little baby gifts.  A rattle, a pacifier, a special blankie, a teddy bear. 

During our growing up years we accumulate toys, bikes, a special treasures we keep in a box...a feather, a special rock, or shell…memories.

Dad, at age 17, with the trophy and the model airplane he built to win it.  It took him a year to build it from scratch. 

Dad, at age 17, with the trophy and the model airplane he built to win it.  It took him a year to build it from scratch. 

Soon our possessions get bigger, more expensive, more “weighty”…a car, a diploma, a house.  Items resulting from hobbies.  Collections.  Albums of memories.  Trophies. 

And so we use and enjoy our “things” for many years.  But, aging or disease or both come with physical and/or mental limitations.  Most of us have to think about downsizing eventually.

The “special” things get condensed and the “non-meaningful” things get tossed so we can live in a more manageable way. 

If we live a really long time, we’ll likely have to downsize again, maybe to just one room.  Special treasures, will be given to those who will appreciate them and everything else, will be given away or thrown out.  All that’s left is a bed, a bookcase, a dresser and whatever memories can hang on the walls.

Immediate surroundings may blur as our vision wanes, and the voices of those we love may be our last possession.

When death finally closed the eyes of my dad 10 days ago, even his wedding ring, never removed in 64 years, was no longer his, but became my precious possession. 

Some of us will outlive those we love.  My dad outlived my mom.  I am outliving him.

We enter with nothing.  We leave with nothing.

Mom and Dad arrive at their new, smaller home.  June 2011

Mom and Dad arrive at their new, smaller home.  June 2011

When my ailing dad came to live with us 2 weeks ago, he was in the final downsizing phase of his life.  He and my mom had come to live in the condo, across the street from us 3 years ago.  Before that they moved from their large country home into a smaller house in town.  Each move generated bags of items for donation, trash, garage sale, or distributing to family and friends.  Each move left them with less. 

After 96 years, my dad’s soul left earth and went to Heaven.  I had the privilege of going through the experience of both my mom and dad departing Earth within the last 3 months.  One of the more poignant lessons has come from working my way down memory lane, going through the precious possessions that my parents left behind.  Since my parents were both very detailed and interested in family history, there are many treasures packed away, and most are labeled as to their origin.  Every time I open a new little box, and find a little note from them, it’s like they are still here.  I'm enjoying this process.

Some of the memories surfaced by these household items are not so pleasant.  For instance, my mom’s ankle brace, dad’s medications, walkers, wheelchairs, shower chair, hospital bed, etc., etc.; evidences of the effects of the Genesis Fall on 91 and 96 year old bodies.  I was so happy to dispose of these things and glad that neither one of them will ever again experience the maladies that plagued them in their later years.

God wants us to know that we come with nothing and will leave with nothing.  Well nothing “temporal” that is.  My dad left me with a precious treasure over the last 2 months of his life.  Our relationship grew in ways I hadn’t expected.  With my mom in Heaven, he and I shared some very precious moments, and short but meaningful things were said.  The Lord truly gave me some wonderful times with him, and precious memories, which glorify God, because of the way my dad trusted Jesus, and prayed together, in spite of some very trying times.  When struggling with his physical suffering, he would often end up saying “It’s in the Lord’s hands.” 

The ONLY things we take with us into the next life, are not "of this world" but they are very real.  Here's a few...

  • Our relationship with Christ, the salvation He provides, and all the spiritual blessings in the Heavenly places. (Ephesians 1)
  • Our relationship with other believers who we will enjoy eternity with as we worship God and enjoy him forever.  (1 Corinthians 2:9)
  • The blessings given to each Christian when they get saved, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  (Galatians 5:22-23)



“Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I shall return there. 

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. 

Blessed be the name of the Lord.” 

Job 1:21

 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy,

and where thieves break in and steal. 

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven

where neither moth nor rust destroys,

and where thieves do not break in or steal;

for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” 

Matt. 6:19-20






"She Shall Be Praised"

My blog posts have been non existent for some time.  I have been writing, and painting a little, but for a very different and personal reason.  My mother, Louise Ransom went to her heavenly home on July 18th.  We had an intimate memorial celebration for her in my home this week.  Honoring my mom was a joy, because she honored the Lord with her life.  Today I posted the Eulogy which I wrote to honor her life if you care to read it along with some of the photos which were shown at the service. 

"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,

but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised."

Proverbs 31:30

Ella Louise Ransom was born in Chicago, Illinois September 1, 1922.  Her family had moved there when her father, Harold Huntsman, enrolled in the Wurlitzer school of Organ.  His dance band, “The Blue Melody Boys” had just broken up after five years of touring the southern states playing in the popular “dime-a-dance” halls.  Louise’s mom, Martha and her brother, Harold Jr., had been traveling with the band, and when Martha became pregnant with Louise, they decided to settle down to raise their family.

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Six weeks later they moved to Decatur, Illinois, where her dad played pipe organ for silent films, and accompanied vaudeville acts on the piano. Her parents bought a nice home on a tree lined street, near the Baptist church that became their church home.  In 1926 her sister Emily was born.

At four years old, some of Louise’s artistic interest was emerging… Recently Louise wrote of this.  “Oh Mom!  She’s done it again!”  That was the plaintiff cry of a 9 year old boy whose 4 year old sister, Louise, had invaded his room in his absence and played with his paint set.  The multi-colored mess was convicting.  Mom said to Louise, “We’ve asked you more than once not to go into Harold’s room and you’ve disobeyed, so I’ll have to use the ping pong paddle.” “But mom, the colors are so pretty and if I mix 2 of them there’s another color!”   The ping pong paddle did its job.  Privately her parents wondered if she could have a natural talent.  The next Christmas, there was a paint box marked, “Louise” under the tree. 

In the late 20’s sound came to the movies, so her father lost his job at the theatre, and eventually they lost their home.  The Huntsmans were creative.  Louise’s parents built a hamburger stand and sold hamburgers, chili, ice cream, candy and pop…everything priced at 5 cents.  They also invented the Huntsman Candy Bar which they produced in the basement of their rented home and distributed to grocery stores all over town.  In 1931 with the Great Depression upon them, a band of gypsies traveling through town robbed their hamburger stand business at knife-point.  To add to the difficulties, Harold Sr. broke his rib and was no longer able to do the strenuous work required for producing the candy bars so they went out of business. 

Although growing up during the hardships of the “Great Depression” years, in her own words, Louise said “her childhood was extremely happy.  In the atmosphere of a joyful Christian family, the focus was on God-given blessings, faith in the Almighty, and always with gratitude, and a touch of humor.”

Louise’s grandma and aunt, who lived in Los Angeles, invited her family to come to California where there were more jobs available.  The Huntsmans headed west when Louise was 9 years old.  Trusting in God, they forged ahead with optimism.  The three kids saw it as a great adventure, and didn’t understand the hardship at the time.  While Louise’s dad attended Barber College with the plan of opening his own shop, Louise loved living with her grandma, who taught her to bake cookies, make pie dough, and do embroidery work. 

In 1935, her dad opened his business in L.A.  Louise was 12.  They lived in the one room apartment above the shop, and even though crowded they were happy days.  The kids would play on the sidewalk out front, or on the flat roof, where they had a pet duck, named Donald.  Louise said, “We had little materially, but ours was a loving, joyful family with faith in God and hope for our future.” 

Eventually they were able to buy a simple farm-style house just off Sunset in Hollywood.  It seemed like a palace to Louise, after living in the tiny apartment.  The Huntsmans loved people so the welcome mat was always out.  Their home was used for meetings, special events and big family dinners for years.  A grand piano was added and the sound of music filled the rooms for many years, as Harold Sr. continued to be a professional musician along with barbering. 

While in High School, Louise continued developing her skills with a paint brush, and her teachers noticed.  She took classes at Art Center College of Design as a high school student, and was awarded a scholarship to Otis Art Institute, where she attended the year after she graduated, in 1941.  She was offered a 2nd year scholarship but turned it down, in favor of a college education beginning with Los Angeles City College.  When World War II interrupted her college years, and she went to work for Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank as a technical illustrator until the end of the war.

In 1943 Louise joined Hollywood Presbyterian Church.  It was there under the teaching of Dr. Louis Evans, and discipled by Dr. Henrietta Mears, that she fell in love with the Word of God.   Even though raised in a Christian home and brought up in the truth, she had never before been challenged to study the Bible for herself.  At the end of the war, she attended a college retreat at Forest Home, that marked a major turning point in her life.   In her own words, “With the end of WW II one month earlier, I was faced with a dilemma: Should I continue with my good job at Lockheed Aircraft, or follow my dream of a college education with a major in art?  There were pros and cons on both sides.    Though I considered myself to be a Christian already, at the conference I was moved to commit my life to Christ, pray for guidance, and trust God to open doors.  Once back home, I learned it wasn’t too late to have my credits transferred from LA City College to UCLA and register for the fall semester.  I could afford it because UCLA was a no tuition school at the time, and I was able to find a part time job to help with college expenses.  My parents were supportive.  It seemed God’s will was now clear.  I was grateful and overjoyed!!

 “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”  Psalm 37:5 had new and personal meaning for her.

She graduated from UCLA in 1948.  She would be a Bruin for life much to the dismay of the USC fans in the family.  Her training in the art department would lead to a life-long passion for art and great pleasure in sharing her artwork with others.  She returned to technical illustrating at Lockheed along with free-lance jobs.  It was at Lockheed that she was to meet her one true love. 

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Bill remembers meeting Louise…“We passed each other on a stairway and our eyes met.  A few weeks later we were introduced at the Lockheed Art Club exhibit.  I was supposed to take pictures of the winners in different categories so they could publish the results in the Lockheed Star newspaper.  Soon after we had our first date at a friend’s house.  It was dinner followed by viewing color slides of recent trips my friend and I had taken. I was attracted to her basic sweetness.  With Louise, it was always somebody else came first.”

They enjoyed ice skating lesson dates, dinner dates, and especially at a favorite restaurant on Riverside drive where they would talk about the Sunday sermon. 

They were married at Hollywood Presbyterian Church on February 3, 1950. 

Shortly after getting married, they spent a brief time in Menlo Park in the bay area. Bill remembers taking drives along the 17 Mile Drive along the coastline and take pictures.  Louise made paintings from some of Bill’s photographs of the windswept trees and the winds blowing off the ocean.  One such painting was a gift for her brother, and now belongs to her granddaughter, April.

For the next 34 years their home was in La Crescenta, California.  Their church home was La Crescenta Baptist Church.  They were blessed with two children, Laurie and Paul.  While raising their family they enjoyed many vacations in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks and grew to love the beauty of God’s creation in that part of the country.  Louise enjoyed getting close to nature, hiking through the back country far away from the crowds.  The fact that she was a good sport made her a perfect wife for Bill who introduced her to backpacking, snow skiing, and camping.  She often brought along her sketchpad and paints and made these family adventures such fun with her cheerful attitude and willing spirit.  She would help her kids collect rocks, pine cones, and wildflowers to be pressed in the old Sears catalog she brought along.  Later they would be made into greeting cards.  She was curious about everything and always wanted to understand and learn.

In his late teens, Paul was killed in a driving accident.  This was a very painful time for Bill and Louise but they sought to find the purposes of God in the loss of their son.  A memorial fund was established to help provide rooms in a conference facility at Hume Lake Christian Camps which gave a small glimpse into the good that can come from a tragic situation.  The peace that passes understanding was given to them. 

Mom was a problem solver.  She could figure out anything.  I think this helped her with her homemaking skills, but more especially with teaching me to balance my checkbook, cooking, baking, and sewing.  No one made better pie dough, and when asked she’d say, ‘Oh, I just follow the recipe in the Betty Crocker Cookbook.” 

She was a very good listener.  I could solve most of my problems by “running them by mom.”  I think her occasional questions would help me come to a good solution.  Her creativity was everywhere.  Every Christmas she and my father designed original, personal Christmas cards.  As a kid I remember seeing the two of them silk screening the cards and they’d be laying all over drying between color runs.    For one birthday party, she made eight Barbie doll outfits for party favors. Her artistic touch permeated our home.  Beautiful paintings, hand sewn tablecloths and clothes.  She illustrated titles for my dad’s many films.  But the best thing about my mom was the way she loved Jesus.  She tried her hardest to live for Him.  She was everything a mother should be.  Compassionate, encouraging, resourceful, patient, a good teacher and so fun.

Louise became a grandma twice.  Sarah and April adored her.  Their strongest memory of Grandma is her joyful smile.  “She radiated joy in all seasons of life, knowing that God works all things together for good.  Grandma was FUN!  Whether bouncing on the trampoline, trying to teach us to “Charleston”, mailing us picture letters, or showing us a new parlor game, she loved to laugh and have fun with us.”  Sarah said, “Grandma was the most thankful person I have ever known.  She gave thanks for all things and saw God’s hand in each provision.  

As a Christian woman, Grandma grew more and more fervent in her love for God and His word.  Even into her 90’s, she studied her Bible diligently and shared God’s truth with others.  I want to be like her when I grow up.” April loves how Grandma never had a sense of entitlement.  Also, she always wanted to know about April and her family.  “I want the details” Grandma would say.  She admired that as a senior, Grandma never coasted spiritually, actively pursuing sanctification and knowing Christ more.” 

Bill and Louise retired to Bozeman, Montana in 1984 and spent 26 years, just north of Yellowstone.  It was a delightful location 20 minutes from town, with plenty of wildlife, wildflowers, and beautiful views of the Gallatin Valley.  They attended Grace Bible Church in town.  Louise hosted ladies groups so the new women could get acquainted with other ladies, and brought meals to those who were sick.  Eventually they moved into town and she attended a weekly ladies bible study in the neighborhood.  Their years in Montana were full of photography, paintings, craft fairs and art shows. 

She produced close to 100 paintings while living there.  When asked about her talent, she humbly said, “All creativity comes from God, and because we are made in His image, everyone is creative in one way or another.”

While living in Montana, Sarah and April both got married, and Louise became a great-grandma eight times over.   She absolutely LOVED each one, even though four of them were across the country in Florida.  Her great grandkids remember her as joyful no matter what.  When she could, she would read to them from the worn out Disney story book that she read to their mommies and grandma many years before.  “da Tar Baby” was the favorite of all.

In 2011 the Ransoms moved to California right across the street from Gary and Laurie.  They gave up their beautiful Montana to be near the family.  These last three years brought many physical limitations upon Louise.  Arthritis, failing eyesight, poor hearing, and heart problems, plagued her, but she didn’t complain, and nothing stole her joy and optimism.  She found satisfaction in simple pleasures like an email from an old friend, getting to know and love her caregivers, and reading her Bible.  Her love for Bill continued to deepen especially over the last few years. 

We are eternally grateful to God for the 91 years He gave our precious wife, mother, grandma, great-grandma and friend.  We will miss her terribly but rejoice that her best years are just beginning.  She is enjoying her Savior face to face and reunited with those who have gone before her.   Thank you Lord, for the life of Ella Louise Ransom.

I painted a bluebird on the box that houses her remains, for it reminds me of my mom's beautiful blue eyes, and the little bluebird family that lived on the porch of their Montana home. 

I painted a bluebird on the box that houses her remains, for it reminds me of my mom's beautiful blue eyes, and the little bluebird family that lived on the porch of their Montana home. 

 "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised."

Proverbs 31:30

Honoring my mom was a joy, 

because she honored the Lord with her life.


"Ten Things About My Dad" by Sarah

Our daughter, Sarah, recently wrote to April and I with remembrances of their dad. She gave me permission to share them today.

Dear Mom and April,

 For a number of reasons, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I love so much about Dad.  So many thoughts were swirling around in my mind, I thought it would be nice to collect my favorites and get them written down. You both love him so much, I think you’ll enjoy thinking about these things as well.  God has indeed blessed us richly.  In these difficult days, I’m encouraged by Psalm 68:19 “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.”  He bears us up, He faithfully bears Dad up as well – sustaining and ministering to His soul in ways we can not. God has been so kind to us, given us so many sweet memories.  We have much to be thankful for. 



I love my Dad.  I am so grateful that God allowed me to grow up with such a Father.

There could be many more, but here are 10 things I love best about my Dad:

He is…

A godly Christian man -  FIRST and foremost, my Dad would describe himself as a sinner, saved by God’s grace.  This defines him best. So thankful for his Christian leadership.  He is a godly man - hungry for the word of God.  He’d sit at the breakfast table, Bible open, nearly every day.  It is a sweet memory in my mind.

A joyful man – enjoying life.  Life with my Dad was F U N!  He made our childhood so happy. Adventure, practical jokes, laughter… A treehouse with a zip-line so we could fly from the side yard, over the fish pond, into the front yard!  Fun times.  But even in the not-so-fun-times, during the trials of life, he kept smiling.  His face – filled with permanently etched smile lines proves it!  I’m thankful for my joyful Dad.

A working man - laboring with excellence, bringing glory to God in his work.  The slogan he chose for his electrical company was “service with a conscience.” He worked hard and he did it right!  He used his creativity at work and at home.  He’d embark on big projects that many would say “couldn’t be done” and then he’d go ahead and find a way to do it.  I often admire his attention to detail and the difficult tasks he would take on. He was a hard worker, but work didn’t dominate his life – he knew when to stop.     

A family man – investing time in his wife and daughters. This is a precious quality.  He spent TIME with us.  Not just quality time, but a quantity of quality time.  He took Mom on dates.  Even April and I got to go out on special dates with Dad.  I’m grateful.

A humble man – ready to serve, open to correction, ready to listen before speaking.  Dad was happy to serve behind the scenes without recognition. He didn’t seek attention and was content to do the menial tasks that not many people noticed.  He admitted his faults and shared his mistakes. He was humble enough to learn and gain wisdom from anyone who was speaking the truth – even when it was coming from someone younger than himself.  Even April and I were welcome to come to him and share a concern – and he would listen.  

A faithful man – with eyes and affections for one woman only.  His faithful commitment to Mom has always been evident.  Truly a one-woman-man.  His love, attentions, and compliments are strictly for her.  To him, she is the standard of beauty.

A bold man – unashamed of the gospel. He wanted everyone to know about God and their need for Jesus Christ.  I loved his license plate, “R U SAVED?” which prompted many gospel opportunities at gas stations while he was filling up his truck. Even in this final trial of life, his desire is to make much of Christ as he goes through the valley of the shadow of death.

A submissive man – submissive to God’s will for his life.  When trials came, he continued to trust the Lord, submitting his desires to the plan of God.  I’m grateful for this example. With Job, he would concur, “the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”

A content man – grateful for all of God’s gifts.  Dad could make much out of little and did not make it his ambition to own the next new thing.  I often remember him reading one of his favorite books, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. He finds satisfaction in God’s providence. 

A prepared man – ready to be with the Lord, eagerly anticipating His return. One look in my Dad’s Bible will tell any observer that he loved to study the book of Revelation and any passage describing the 2nd coming of Jesus…they are well marked and highlighted.  He’d often say “He could return today!” with a twinkle in his eye.  It was a real special treat to have this cheerful reminder spoken often throughout my childhood. His eyes have been fixed on eternity with His Savior for a long time.   

Thank you, God, for my dear Dad!


Sweet Times Cafe

Posted on the front door: Welcome to Grandma's Sweet Times Cafe.  Enter at your own dental risk.

Posted on the front door: Welcome to Grandma's Sweet Times Cafe.  Enter at your own dental risk.

Here's a simple, silly, idea for a little family theme party.  Last Friday night, we had our grandkids over.  I decided we should have a "theme" for the evening...

We have a mail slot right by the front door, where this sign was posted.  Ever since we've lived here, the little hands appear through the slot when the door bell rings.  This time, I placed chocolate chips in their hands. 

The four kids quickly discovered the evening was to have a "sweet" theme!  With dinner cooking, I started them on a scavenger hunt of sorts.  Nursery Rhymes with clues as to the whereabouts of hidden treats, were written on cut-outs from old magazines.  The older (Junior High aged) boys were nice to play along.  Their clues were harder. 

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Sweet, fruit bars were waiting to be found.   For instance:

"Pussy cat, pussy cat, wilt thou be mine?

Thou shalt not wash dishes, nor yet feed the swine.

But sit on a cushion and SEW A FINE SEAM,

And eat strawberries, sugar and cream."

The fruit bar was hidden away with my sewing machine in the closet. 




I smell the blood of an Englishman

Be he alive, or be he dead,

I'll GRIND HIS BONES to make my bread."

A food processor would be a good place to grind bones wouldn't it? 





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After the game, I got dinner ready, while the kids played "Pounce."

Dinner Menu:

SWEET Potatoes

SWEET and Smokey Chicken

SUGAR Snap Peas

Raspberry Trifle for dessert



For the evening's entertainment, in keeping with the SWEETNESS, "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."  Gene Wilder is always funny and extra odd in this one, and the Umpa-Loompas were, well, memorable.  Chocolate rivers, golden tickets, and a bunch of really bratty kids, had us all laughing.

It just takes one simple idea, and then you can build a whole evening around it.  Print a little sign to hang on the door, to let everybody know something fun is going to happen.  Come up with a menu, and maybe a game of some kind and a movie.  Tie it all together around the theme, and there you have it!