When I think about Jake and me, and what I treasure, I immediately think of our letters. Letters we wrote to each other over the course of a summer. We hadn't even been dating for a year when Jake left for an internship in Alaska. It was the longest summer of my life!
Alaska is a big place, and he was in a remote area with limited access to a telephone or computer. So we stayed in touch the old-fashioned way with letters - handwritten on paper and mailed with a stamp on an addressed envelope. I looked forward to the mail delivery each day, but it wasn't until we got married that I realized how much I treasured those letters. They are a part of our history together. We often wrote about our daily happenings (not too exciting) but we also shared dreams and hopes for the future.
I also have to tell you that Jake had always planned to head to the wilderness and live a very isolated life. You know - at one with nature, hunting and gathering, survival skills, etc. Kind of like Jeremiah Johnson. :) So when he boarded that plane in Kansas City with his wilderness gear and his guitar, I was a little nervous he might just stay in Alaska. But he didn't. He actually decided that civilization wasn't so bad - in small amounts of course. I was so happy that my mountain man returned home to Kansas.
Fast forward seven years and here we are - celebrating five years of marriage.
It's been full of excitement, love, and change.
I am blessed to have such a wonderful husband. Happy anniversary!
Our day was cold and rainy with a few snowflakes mixed in. Not the kind of weather that makes you feel like leaving the house, but early this morning Ben and I headed to a playgroup. Some of our friends invited us to meet at their church for a Thanksgiving craft session. It was really fun (and organized)! Even though I was dressed like I wasn't planning to leave the house, I am glad we decided to hop in the car and take part.
There were three craft projects for the kids...
(Ben and I forgot to add the details with markers)
paper plate pumpkin pies
(with real cinnamon and a magnet on back)
say that fast ten times! :) this was my favorite one.
and pilgrim hats
Then the kids were served the cutest snacks - homemade, chocolate cookie turkeys along with popcorn and dried cranberries. Wish I had thought to take a picture. Ben LOVED it all! In fact, he was the last one at the table - still eating - when we had to start picking up. :) I think that boy is going to LOVE Thanksgiving this year!
Two of my favorite Ben lines right now...
(when prompted with "what does the turkey say?")
(that's what he calls our Santa Claus movie) It's the sweetest!
and one of my favorite things in our house right now...
What is Populus deltoides you ask? Well, it's the Latin name for the Cottonwood Tree, which also happens to be the State Tree of Kansas. And why am I using Latin? Well, how often do I get a chance to use my limited knowledge of Latin I learned in college? Not very often. :)
Many people might disagree with me, but I find cottonwoods to be beautiful trees. They are not an ornamental tree to place in your front yard or display in a botanical garden, but across the Kansas landscape they are spectacular. The leaves are a gorgeous green, and they shimmer in the wind. And when the Kansas winds blow, the leaves shake and make the most wonderful rustling sound. In the fall, the leaves turn a lovely color of yellow and sparkle in the sunlight. A little difficult to capture in a picture (at least with my camera), but I did attempt to this afternoon.
Ben woke from his nap a little early, so we hopped in the car with juice, pretzels and jackets, and headed for a drive in the country. Standing outside, listening to the leaves move in the wind, and watching the last of the yellow leaves shimmer before falling to the ground was truly peaceful.
It's also appropriate that I'm writing about cottonwood trees because they helped me create my shop name - the cotton tree. I have lived in Kansas my whole life, and I love it. But it's taken me a while to realize that. In fact, as a teenager my plan was to be a successful architect on the east coast. Obviously that isn't the path I have taken! When I decided to open an Etsy shop last year, I was having a tough time coming up with a name that I liked and wasn't already taken. I wanted a name that meant something to me and represented the products I was making and selling. Eventually I decided upon the cotton tree. It was everything I loved - sewing with cotton fabrics, living in Kansas, enjoying the outdoors, and living in a small town - simply put. And guess what? The name was available. Perfect!
I hope to continue to share more about me, my shop and the blog in the future.
I'm not really sure. Things are a little flipped for us this week. Jake was home from work Wednesday and Thursday since he's working Saturday and Sunday. So we had our weekend in the middle of the week and now today feels like Monday to me. This means I've got a big list with things to do and I feel like being productive. But honestly, this is what our day was like
and I wasn't inspired do much of anything. (Guess that means it's Friday.) Instead I found myself listening to holiday music, drinking hot cocoa and looking at diy craft and sewing tutorials during nap time. It sure was cozy and relaxing.
I love this time of the year!
I hope to spend my evening listing items and sewing.
In honor of Veterans Day I'm doing something a little different today.
A little something for my Grandpa.
Quite a few years ago he typed what he remembers from his service in World War II. I am so glad I have a copy, and think today is the perfect day to "publish" his story.
Remembering W.W. II
Back in the year of 1941, I was a senior student at Maize High School;.. Like millions of other students my age, I never worried much about any attacks on America.
Then, suddenly on Dec. 7, 1941 our Naval Task Force at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was attacked by the Japanese. Americans, the country over realized what a momentous task we faced, that of ensuring the safety of our country and our own families. The war in Europe had worsened, and the German Army had conquered all of Europe except England in their quest for World Power. The Japanese had joined forces with the German and Italion Countries. Japan had invaded many of the islands in the Pacific, such as the Phillipines, New Guinea, and some of the smaller islands. Upon this new threat to America, my thoughts were influenced by a sense of Patriotism and Loyalty to America.
As soon as I graduated from Maize High School, in May, 1942, I enlisted in the U. S. Coast Guard. Even though I was only 17 yrs. of age, I convinced my Mother to endorse my application.
In October of 1942, I was inducted into the U. S. Coast Guard in Wichita, Ks. There were about 100 of us new recruits.
We boarded a train for New Orleans, La. where we began our basic training. We completed our basic training in 30 days, and were assigned to various Coast Guard stations throughout the Gulf States of Louisianna, Mississippi, and Alabama and Florida.
My first assignment was on an island off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, where I patrolled the beach on foot during the night hours. The beach was 20 miles, so it took all night to accomplish our task. Our duties consisted of challenging any boat of person on the shoreline. This operation was designed to prevent Sabateurs or Terrorists from entering our country. It also was a deterant agsinst enemy submarines. Although the duties were not difficult, I was anxious to go Sea and engage the enemy at a different level.
After spending several months at Pensacola, I was sent to St. Augustine, Fla, where my duties were the same. I was determined to be more involved in the war, so I applied for and was accepted at Machinists School in New London, Conn. After 3 mo.s of school, I graduated as Machinist Mate 2nd. class.
From there I went to Amphibious School in Norfolk, Va. The training lasted 30 days. Upon completion of Amphibious Training, I was sent to Pittsburg, Pa, to await assignment to a ship.
The ship I was assigned to was L.S.T. 768, and Amphibious Assault ship. It was newly built in Pittsburg, Pa. It was 327 long, and displaced 5,500 tons of water. We had a crew of 250 men. We sailed down the Ohio river to Paduca, Ky, where we entered the Mississippi, thence to New Orleans. After being fitted with cannons and armament, our ship headed to the Panama Canal. From there we sailed around Mexico to Los Angeles.
After spending a few weeks in Los Angeles, we sailed for Pearl Harbor. There we witnessed the sunken battleship Arizona, and other sunken ships in the harbor. What a devastating sight to behold!
At Hawaii, we received our cargo of Army Personell and vehicles. We were then sent to aid in the invasion and retaking the island of Guam. Our ship would hit the beach, open the bow doors, and dispatch troops, tanks, and trucks under enemy fire. Then we would return to Pearl harbor for another load. My normal station on the ship was in the Engine Room, but during battle, I was 1st. loader on a quad 40 mm. cannon.
Our next assignment was the island of Leyte in the Phillipines. There was still some enemy resistance in the islands, so we were required to make several landings with men and supplies. After Leyte was secured, our ship along with other ships in our convoy were anchored off shore. While there, we were privelidged to see General Mc Arthur, the supreme Commander of the U.S. Armed forces in the Pacific, return to the Phillipines, as he had promised.
Our next assignment was to be a part of the invasion of Iwo Jima. This island was to be a base for our B-29 bombers so they could strike the Japanese mainland. It was so much closer than Guam or Saipan.
The invasion of Iwo Jima was terribly costly to the U. S. Marine Corps. During the first three days of fighting, they suffered more than 2000 casualties. The Japanese were so deeply entrenched in caves and tunnels,it was difficult to get them out. The only way to conquer them was the use of flame-throwers and hand to hand fighting. Our ship made two trips to Iwo Jima, the first was landing troops and vehicles. The second trip consisted of ammunition for the Marines. While the island was being taken,we witnessed the raising of the American Flag on Mt. Sarabachi.
Our next assignment was the invasion of Okinawa island, which provided a still closer base for our bombers to strike the Japanese mainland. Our ship was dispatched to the island of Morotai, just off the coast of New Guinea. We loaded personel of the 8th. Air Force for the invasion of Okinawa. After several landings at Okinawa, the island was taken. One real threatto our shipwas the Japanese Kamikazi planes flying over at night. We were fortunate to have escaped ok.
While anchored in the harbor at Okinawa, we heard the news that our B-29 bombers had dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, one at Hiroshima, the other at Nagasaki. The causalties suffered by Japan were very severe. Nearly 20,000 to 40,000 people lost their lives at each bombing.. The Japanese soon surrendered to the Allies.
After the Japanese surrender, we were sent to Kobe harbor, to clear it of pressure mines that our B-29 planes had dropped. These mines were dropped to prevent Japanese ships from using the harbor. All but 25 of us were removed from the ship, while we swept the mines. The mines would surface behind the ship and were blown up by sharpshooters.. After our sister ship and 2 minesweepers completed the clearing of the harbor, we were allowed to go ashore and witness the terrible destruction by the Atomic Bomb which was dropped on Nagasaki.
From Japan, we were sent back to Pearl Harbor to await being returned to the United States.
After about a month in Pearl Harbor, our ship was sent to Los Angeles, then the Panama canal, and back to New Orleans, where we de-commisioned our ship.
Then we were sent to St. Louis to be discharged from the U. S. coast Guard. I returned home in March 1946.
Many times I have reflected and gave thanks that our ship and crew returned safe and sound during those trying times. We were priveledged to have served America in our small way.
Please note - these are my Grandpa's own memories of his experiences.
I have typed this without making corrections, so it is the same as the original document.
I could write an entire post just about my Grandpa, but let me simply say
I love him.
Grandpa and Ben
I often take for granted how lucky I am to live in such a wonderful country with freedom and opportunity. It's easy to do when our daily lives are so busy. It's also easy to forget about the wonderful blessings we have as citizens of the United States. And in doing so, I believe we often overlook the men and women who have fought, and even given their lives, so we can continue to live as we do. Please remember them today.
Our church is having their annual Turkey Dinner this Sunday. Yum! There is also a Country Store at the dinner where gift baskets and products can be purchased through silent auction. I thought it would be fun to make a couple of baskets with items from the cotton tree shop for the Country Store.
Each basket includes four items...
I think they turned out looking great!
Now I'm thinking about making some for the shop.
I almost forgot to introduce you to my new assistant...