Monday, September 17, 2018

In Honor of My Other Mother, Lynda Kauffman

My mother-in-law would have turned 100 last week. I am grateful that our lives were intertwined, and offer you a brief moment to be blessed by this lovely woman.

Lynda was born in 1918 in the township of Hume, New York, and lived there until she was in her 20s. She married Harold, the neighbor boy, and their newlywed nest was a little house on her parents' property.

Lynda with her mom, Winifred Burch Mills
Lynda, her mom, and her Gramma Burch


Who would have dreamed that this young woman, so fond of her family homestead, would make countless trips across the country, settling her family into homes in Buffalo and South Seattle, on Vashon Island, and Queen Anne Hill, in Tucson and Fort Worth. They eventually returned to Houghton and lived on the "farm," as they called the family property, until they died in 2009 and 2010.

Mom and Dad Kauffman with Carol, Tom, Dan, and Marilee

Lynda was charming and adaptable. They came to Seattle for our wedding in 1989 and we decided to introduce our parents to one other at Black Angus. But I had forgotten to make reservations. You might be able to get away with that sometimes, but it's not a good idea on Valentines Day. Despite some awkward moments, all four parents took our dilemma in stride and found instant friendship with one another.

When our boys were tiny (just seven months and twenty-two months) we packed up and moved from Seattle to Houghton to live near Tom's parents. Lynda was an attentive grandma, a supportive mom, and a source of unrestrained love for us all. She cooked farm food, always ample and delicious—well, there was that rooster she prepared for us one night. It was rangy and tough, simply beyond earning any kind of compliment! Always the good sport, she handled our reaction like a champ.

After we moved back to the Northwest we saw Tom's parents quite often. We loved our trips to the farm, where the cookie jar was always full and Dad and Mom's arms were always open. And we loved their visits too.

Tom's folks took us on many outings, including Letchworth State Park and Genesee Country Village & Museum, two of western New York major tourist attractions. And sometimes they'd hitch the trailer up to their tractor and drive us into the back woods of the property for a picnic.

Three generations at Letchworth State Park

Exploring Genesee Country Village and Museum

They made a handsome and compatible pair, Dad and Mom. Each morning over breakfast they had devotions, reading the Bible and praying together. Most evenings they read books aloud to one another. They were happiest when they were together, and they weren't shy about demonstrating their love. I often heard Lynda say to Harold, with pink cheeks and a girlish smile, "Oh, Daddy!" They were married for 70 years.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;

    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Proverbs 31:30-31

~ Ginger Kauffman

Friday, September 14, 2018

Ohme Gardens

Ever since I was young I had wanted to go to Ohme Gardens. It's a beautifully lush park, I'd been told by my grandma, on top of a bluff in Wenatchee, a kind of oasis in an arid land. Each time we drove past the sign to Ohme Gardens as we traveled across the state on I-90 I would look longingly up the hill toward the gardens, wondering what I was missing. Finally, we stopped to visit.

In contrast to the day's unbearable afternoon heat we found shade and cooler air inside the gardens. Water features, tall, lacy trees, and lots of plantings provided a pleasant setting for visitors.

Wenatchee is located in north-central Washington, on the east side of the Cascade Mountains. With precipitation only 29 days of the year (find data here), it is no wonder the area is so dry. So how did these welcoming gardens come to be?

The answer is found on the Ohme Gardens website:
In 1929 Herman Ohme purchased 40 acres of land for an orchard. Included was a craggy, dry, desolate, rock-strewn bluff with a breathtaking view of the snow-capped Cascade Mountains and the shimmering Columbia River valley. Herman and his new bride, Ruth, loved to stand on the bluff and dream of flourishing alpine meadows, shimmering pools and shady evergreen pathways where the hot, relentless summer sun allowed only sage and scrub desert growth. They set their minds on achieving that dream.

Because weddings and other events are held at Ohme Gardens, I suggest you check out their schedule before visiting. But do go! It's a lovely place, and I think you'll like it.

~ Ginger Kauffman

Friday, August 31, 2018

When Graham Kerr Came to Dinner

Graham Kerr at our front door

It began with my husband's simple comment. It sounded to me like a statement of resignation. "Well, I guess I'll never have a chance to be a sous chef for Graham Kerr." Is this a secret dream he harbors? I wondered. 

I knew that his interest in the Galloping Gourmet (what Graham Kerr was called in his early years as a celebrity chef) pre-dated our courtship. When I met Tom I learned that he loved cooking shows and was, himself, a fine cook. In the early years of our marriage we were in the studio audience for four episodes of his program, The Graham Kerr Show, produced by KING 5 in Seattle. What a delight to watch this charismatic man whip up a nourishing, beautiful, and delicious dish or two while connecting so well with his audience. Book signings and public presentations came later. We knew Graham Kerr, but he certainly did not know us.

Graham's newest book, this is a reprint of his first book,
written when he was 26 years old.

An idea began to form in my mind. In a few months Tom would be celebrating his 70th birthday. Perhaps Graham Kerr could come to our home and he and Tom could make dinner together.

I contacted Graham with the help of mutual friends and shared my idea. He agreed to my request and the planning began. The menu was worked out, Tom got his assignments for the meal prep, I bought a crepe pan for the event, and we cleaned the house. I called our friends Ike and Donna and invited them to join us. The dinner was scheduled for August 24.

Our friends Donna and Ike...

...and the beautiful flowers they brought for the table.
Notice the blackberries! Nice touch, Donna!

Tom and Graham made a fine team in the kitchen. Following Graham's own recipes, they created amazing crepes for our main course. Many of the salad ingredients came from Graham's garden and the dessert parfait was a perfect finish to our meal.

Tossing the salad

Arranging the crepes

Adding the sauce and the cheese to the crepes

Oh, so delicious!

Graham calls this The Patriot

When the day arrived, we were ready, but I'm not sure we were completely prepared—prepared to find in Graham Kerr such a charming man.

He is open. He told us about his assignments in the British military when he was a young man, including a stint in the unit's kitchen. "Follow me down this hall," said the cook. "I have your office ready for you." When he entered the room he faced a sink full of dirty pots and pans and he was charged with keeping them clean, a job that lasted for several months.

He's an animated storyteller!

He is adaptable. Before the dinner I had to call him with bad news. Our brand new oven had quit and the repairman couldn't fix it before our dinner. Since nothing on the menu required baking he said to me, "Don't worry! I have a blowtorch and I have been wondering if it will brown cheese as well as melt it." So we had blowtorched crepes!

Blowtorching our crepes!

He is gracious. Graham just seemed to be happy to be at dinner with friends. He wasn't trying to impress anyone, only to serve us.

But what we appreciated the most is his heart for Jesus and for people. He puzzled over a question through the evening. He wanted to know what people seem to be looking for in life—what are they pursuing? If we could put that into words it would make us more effective in sharing the life of Christ with them. He spoke of people he knows who are seeking God. His desire to walk alongside them and love them touched us both deeply.

Graham spoke of Matthew Henry, a pastor and author who lived from 1662 to 1714. He is known for his six-volume commentary, Exposition on the Old and New Testaments. In his entry on Matthew 11:29, where Jesus said, "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me," Matthew Henry tells the reader that "it is a yoke that is lined with love." More than once that evening Graham used that quote to encourage us.

He prayed for each of us, one by one, when it was time to leave, and we knew that we had spent the evening with a dear brother in the Lord. The fellowship that we share as followers of Jesus leaves a sweetness like nothing else.

We'll look back on this evening in the years to come and we'll remember the anticipation, the preparation, and the scrumptious meal we shared together with friends. But even after those memories have faded we will still hold on to the feast it was for our souls.

~ Ginger Kauffman

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Exchanging Wildfire Smoke for Wildflower Beauty

Mt Shuksan and Reflection Lake
The wildfire smoke from Eastern Washington and British Columbia had hung in the air for days. It was beginning to feel oppressive. So we picked up my mom and headed to Mt Baker, where we traded in the wildfires for wildflowers.

I was excited for this day trip, although I didn't have much confidence that the air quality would be better at Artist Point (just past the ski area at Mt Baker) than it was at sea level, where we live. Nor did I understand how you can travel closer to Canada, where many of the fires were burning, and yet not have the smoke. But that's what we found.

To get to Artist Point, take Interstate 5 to Bellingham, and get of at exit 255, WA 542-E/Mt Baker Hwy.  Follow the signs (or you GPS) to Artist Point. It took us about two hours to make the trip from Stanwood. We drove through beautiful farmland and passed rivers, giant trees, and small towns. My body relaxed more with each mile. Although the drive up the mountain is winding and mostly without guardrails. the roads are well maintained and safe. The sky, free of most of the smoke, held  just enough clouds to provide drama for our photos.

My Grampa Blanton was a tall, strong man who spent most of his life in the woods of the North Cascades, cutting down trees. About 17 miles from our destination we found this bronze sculpture which was recently installed at the Glacier Public Service Center to honor lumberjacks. It gave Mom a perfect photo op as well as some special memories.

My first glimpse of wildflowers. (Notice the switchbacks far below the trees and plants.)
Somehow I had a mental picture of the fields being filled with wildflowers, everywhere you look, when you go to the mountains in July and August. The reality is that I have never seen such a spectacle. Still, there were many beautiful flowers as well as glorious mountain scenes that called for numerous oohhhs and aahhhs.

My favorite photographer with Mt Shuksan in the background

Mt Shuksan

And when it was time to drive back down the mountain we were filled up with the beauty and the fresh air and the time we got to spend together.

Mt Baker
~ Ginger Kauffman