The Stone House
Dear Family and Friends,
Greetings to you from the land of snow and cold. Here it is December already again. I have my journal open as I write. It has been a busy year, some of it good and some of it too hard to write about. My verse for today in my journal was this:
Do not fear, nor be afraid; have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses.Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.’” Isaiah 44:8
A year ago Francis got engaged to her Josh Cross. So over Christmastime we planned wedding things. Her private Pinterest board that she had been collecting on for years was a big help to us. Thankfully, she wanted burlap and flowers and candles, and not expensive ways and means to have a beautiful wedding. The wedding was planned for June.
Gabes and Josh spent ten days with us over the holidays. We had very cold weather so that only two of those days were we able to take the children outside for snow play. The days of lots of activity in one little old house make for wonderful memories. I bask in the managing of a home full of grandchildren and their parents. My journal entry 12/30/14 -21*F It’s very cold and I’m afraid people are going to have cabin fever soon. Nobody got cabin fever at all. Not to say that nobody got spankings and naps; for they did. But that’s how babies grow up best. We enjoy our grandchildren immensely.
We received a dog from friends who were moving out of town during this time as well. Ruger thinks he is a sensitive animal and should live in the house. He is an actual tender foot so he does live indoors. I have scandalized many of my friends and family for allowing it. We also own a vacuum sweeper and use it regularly. So it’s all good.
In January Elv and I spent a weekend with Steve and Nell while she had hip surgery. It turned into a bit of a get-away for us, too. We stayed at a little place called Willowood Inn near Sauk City. Her surgery went well. She was in the hospital for only 30 hours. We know where to go next time I need hip surgery. Recovery and mobility were so much better for her than we remembered from my experience.
Propane went up in price in January. We tried our home children’s patience by heating all our water on the wood stove for a few weeks. Not good. But they lived and Elv and I got a kick out of free hot water. We found the generation gap theory to be well-founded after all.
In February the cold persisted. 2/10/14 Monday Evening -10* and dropping. Very cold. We have our living room chairs pulled up in a tight circle around the stove. It’s very nice and cozy. Directly behind our chairs the chill encroaches.
I relearned knitting and started right in on mittens. Sometimes I suspect we are getting old and “dotty”. Elv snoozing by the stove, me knitting mittens.
Josh’s parents visited us during a truck (train wheels) run in March. We enjoyed Dean and Colleen Cross’s visit very much. Francis will have a good family in Nebraska.
3/20/14 Thursday. An awesome winter morning. The moon hung in a blue-gray sky this AM over snow laden trees. Very cold and crisp. I rode with Elv in his big red pick-up to work. We didn’t talk. He had been out till the wee hours and headed back to work by seven. Driving off the highway into the woods, we found Lance in his machine moving logs. Big monster insect with bright lights, huge black, track feet, and a long grasping boom taking large bites of 8 foot logs from his bunks up in the air over to the ranked piles higher than our pickup. The trail has become a channel through the walls of wood. Such is winter logging. I was helping to move a vehicle for Elv.
In April, Dru and Lisl came home for a six month furlough. They moved into Lance’s house with him as home base. 4/12/14 We spent the day at Lisl’s/Lance’s yesterday. I enjoyed our two grandchildren immensely. Jube came along for my job interview. He’s four, speaks clearly and willingly. He is a happy child. Havilah is the same kind of dolly her mother was. We are all loving on her and she laughs and plays.
Which brings me to May and my new job, working for Northwood Outdoor. “I was praying for the kind of help I need.” said Ruthie. I was shopping in Marketplace one day when Abbey called me to say that she had heard they had a position open. I think Abbey was looking for work for herself for the summer, but when I called Ruthie I told her I wanted to help Elv and would like the job. I started the end of May and have been with them ever since. I work with friends doing the things I love to do (home décor related), in a positive atmosphere. God knew we needed the extra income and that I would need the encouragement of Ruthie, Rosie and Sheri over the summer.
Lisl and Jube planted the garden here at the StoneHouse this summer. She wanted Jube to know about seeds and growing things and harvest. It was successful at that level. He saw seeds planted, plants grow and even a few things to harvest. The deer ate the tops off the green beans so that I only got two or so pickings for our freezer. After we pulled the green beans they opted for the kohlrabi tops and ate those clean instead. Some of you would have said it was a complete fizzle, but we did get a few flowers and peppers and one picking of strawberries.
Our June wedding came off splendidly beautiful thanks to God and to all those of you who helped to make it possible. Francis and Josh had a lovely day for a wedding. Pictures before the ceremony in the rain came out absolutely gorgeous. They had a Lake Superior honeymoon and have settled in the little town of Milford, Nebraska where they are living happily ever after.
July and August were harder months for us church wise but for Dru and Lisl’s presence and encouragement and support and “translating” during this time. I’m sure that God had His hand in their being here for our church.
In August our whole family went camping. Clark had reserved Leisure Lake camp back in December for us. It turned out to be the perfect spot. I wish I could gather everyone around the campfire for you and describe the scene properly. Gwen (4), brown and frowsy-haired sitting in an oversized camp chair swinging her bare feet; happily eating a toasted marshmallow off a stick. Benny (3) and Jube (almost 5) discussing things they know nothing about in their little boy voices…once it was marriage and girlfriends while jumping up and down off the log bench. It was funny and I tried to capture it on a video but I failed to get the settings on my camera right from laughing so much. I do have a picture of sitting on the shore with the grands helping them to fish. We caught only tiny, little fishes, of course, but we had a ball. Then there were the evening/late night visits around the campfire discussing “marriage and girlfriends” that perhaps we too know nothing about, but we’re learning at least. Precious times.
10/2/14 We’ve been married for 32 years. How is that for amazing! I like having been married 32 years. Commitment and blessing.
Elv and I spent our anniversary day at Uncle Arnie’s funeral. This was an enriching day even though a loss for family. My highlights of that day are: visiting with Trenda who always gets what I’m trying to say and doesn’t mind crying and laughing both over those things. And with Ladina who has visited Switzerland and knew just the pieces of lore I need to hear for my slow going writing project. And, hugging Kate, Curt and Evelyn’s little blessing baby from Liberia, Africa. They’re home right now due to the Ebola outbreak there.
Abbey and I drove Amy and Brad out to Nebraska in October to help with harvest for a couple of weeks. When we took off for home on Monday morning Josh offered to show us the “back roads” route home. I leapt at that idea and so we drove north through Nebraska, into South Dakota, and over east across Minnesota through St Cloud. We saw harvest beauty all up the line. We stopped and climbed up the butte overlooking The Great Missouri River flats. Much better than freeways full of lumbering semis and hurrying city folk. I love boonies, even flat boonies.
Elv spent a weekend with his mom and brothers one of the first weekends in November. He was hardly home when Brad and I left to be safely in Duluth that evening before our first snow storm of the season hit. Brad and I tended the store Monday and Tuesday throughout the storm. Yes, people do shop during a snow storm. There were 60 accidents reported that Monday morning within the city limits of Duluth.
Thanksgiving found us at the cabin and with Lattins for Thanksgiving Dinner. It was a smaller crowd for the dinner than usual; but all the same goodness in food and fellowship, as usual. I’d like to draw you another picture. Susan and I spent Saturday afternoon together in her living room with each our projects: hers, making wreaths to sell and me knitting mittens. Spread before her on a large sheet are piles of pine boughs: spruce, cedar, white pine, red pine, and others. She has a roll of wire and one ring of heavy wire in her hands. Bunch by bunches of those different boughs get wired onto her circle of wire all around until there are up to 250 boughs. It is a fragrant, fully crowded, lovely wreath.
We moved the chimney to a new place in the cabin while we were there. Last spring the snow load on the tin roof let go all at once during the spring melt and sheared the chimney off at the roof line. So we took that as our opportunity to rearrange and move it to the peak so as to avoid the snow load issues. It’s an improvement all around. You can sort of heat the place with two heaters, but after the cook stove was hooked up again we could heat water, heat the cabin, cook dinner, and dry out wet clothing. A cook stove is the soul of a cabin.
Now for the children: Brad is enrolled with Penn Foster for his high school. He is a dedicated student and does well. He is our chore boy and my work companion when I keep store in Duluth right now. School work is portable and so are his hand work projects. He made a chain mail belt lately and is thinking about learning to braid rope. If you visit him in his cabin he will show you his wood and metal creations of spears. I don’t have a clue what he wants with them but they could kill an elephant easily. They look impressive.
Amy works for Miller’s Market, our new bulk food store in Hayward. She loves her job of deli work, or stocking shelves, and even working at the till. She enjoys the customers and her co-workers. She also teaches Sunday School sometimes and helps with the kids club work. “I have a good life,“ She says.
Lance is 25 and makes a good bachelor. I still pray for a wife for him, but he really is a good house keeper and even cooks some. His house is a favorite landing spot for our family of evenings on the weekend or to while an hour away while we’re on errands in town sometimes. Amy likes to take her lunch break there if she can. It’s a quiet spot for him. It really is “home” in a lot of ways to him. He shares it graciously.
Our married children are all in the busy-ness of young, growing families. Clark’s would like to move closer to “the loop”. Gabe’s are still working on their “new” house and enjoying it. And Dru’s just moved into a lovely new home in their beloved city of Chiang Mai, Thailand since returning there. Amazing news is that we have three grandchildren on the way to join the number of eight that we already have. They will tell you all about their lives in their letters to you, I’m sure. J
If you actually got all the way to here in your reading, I’m delighted and amazed.
. We are grateful to God for His abundant mercy and blessing.
5 thoughts on “Graber Christmas Letter”
A very nice Christmas letter. I read it. ~GB
A very nice Christmas letter, Mom. I wonder if I should write one. People might tell us we're nuts and so is the life we lead. Then again, I would probably have to agree if you were to base it on the past year. It's okay, we enjoy it.
I loved your letter Arla, it was full and cozy. You're in the best of times. Right?
I got all the way to the end, and enjoyed it. Thanks for the update.
I got all the way to the end. 🙂 I read your blog before you were involved with 'my' life, but it has more interest now that I see you more often. Merry Christmas!