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