Project 52 – 19 and Joyfully Silly

October 25th, 2016

It’s time for Project 52 – Week 19!


19 weeks ago, on my 52nd Birthday, since a year has 52 weeks, I decided to post each week for the next year about one year of my life. I’m having a lot of fun remembering and thinking about where God has brought me.

When I thought about writing this post, what looms large is this is the year I met my ex-husband, Steve Eklund. I was telling some work friends that this was coming up, so I was thinking a lot about it. They asked why I would do this. So let me give some reasons. Here are some things that come to mind:

1) We were SO YOUNG when we met!

2) I really did spend a lot of my life with Steve.

3) I said all along, all during the divorce process, that Steve was a very good husband for a very long time. THIS IS TRUE!

4) Remembering the happy times is a way to reclaim those years. Yet I’ve come far enough in the healing process that on the one hand I can remember the happy times, but on the other hand I don’t want to remarry Steve again.

5) But I am very thankful for the happy times. And they lasted a long time.

6) This is *my* story. There’s something valuable about telling my story. Steve was part of that story for many years, and I’m not going to throw away those years or that part of my story just because the marriage ended badly.

7) Have I mentioned how much fun I’m having doing Project 52? I’m hoping this is a transition time in my life. (Hoping, because I would like, some day, to marry again, and that would start a new phase.) And it strikes me now that the year I was 19 was a similar time in my life to the time I’m going through now, at 52.

I didn’t really meet Steve (to talk to) until the end of the year. So my junior year at Biola was the one year I was a teenager and didn’t have a crush on anyone.

That summer, I lived back at my parents’ house and worked full time at Biola University Data Systems as a programmer. I didn’t commute with Becky, because she was married. But the summer before, Becky and I had moved out into one half of the duplex behind my parents’ house. They finally decided that they needed to let the little kids have those bedrooms! We’d had renters in the duplex for years, but the summer of 1982, they finally had Rick move to one side and Becky and me to the other. Then I moved into the dorm and Becky got married — but that summer before my junior year I lived in the duplex — and that was the very last time I lived at my parents’ house in Wilmington.

And my Dad got me, cheap, a 1969 Fiat Spider convertible! It was bright green, and it made me happy to live in Southern California! Almost every day I could drive with the top down. Driving in to work was a whole lot of fun with that car — which I only had for 6 months. (More on that…)

That summer, Becky started working at Data Systems as a data entry operator, so we often had lunch together.

I also went backpacking with the college group at church. I especially had fun with Marian and Jill on that trip.

Here’s the group:


And here I’m having a meal with Jill and Lance and college pastor John Shumate:


That summer, having lunches with Becky, was when we started the S.I.K. Club with sisters Jill and Gina Mammano, who were also around Biola that summer. I won’t reveal what S.I.K. stands for except to say that it was about embracing silliness and living life with joy.

We felt sorry for August, because it doesn’t have any holidays — so we made our own August Silly Holidays Calendar and thought up ways to celebrate them. We had days like August Sillies’ Day (instead of April Fool’s Day) and Hog’s Day (instead of Ground Hog Day) and Narnian Independence Day and Footloose and Fancy Free Day.

That was about the time I developed the Sparkle Theory. My Sparkle Theory goes something like this: Every human being desperately needs Sparkles. An easy way to find those sparkles, for girls, is to find them by thinking about some guy. When there’s not a guy in your life (Remember, this was my one year without a crush on anyone.), you need to consciously look for Sparkles.

And I’ll confess, I was trying to keep myself from imagining something where there didn’t really need to be anything. I did go on quite a lot of dates that year. Usually not with the same guy twice, though.

But that summer, we ate lunches fairly often with a guy named Dane who was my year at Biola and worked as an Electrician. I was somewhat tempted to let myself get a crush on him. We were good friends, and Dane later took me on two or three dates. The ones I remember were an outing playing Disc Golf at La Mirada Park and a trip to Magic Mountain. The trip to Magic Mountain was fun! And the physical proximity of going on rides did turn my head.

But — Dane was taking other girls on dates as well. And I can’t complain. We girls at Biola were old-fashioned enough not to ask guys out ourselves. And we’d complain that we wanted guys to ask us out. So Dane, at least, was doing that. In practice? Well, looking back, I remember my friendship with Dane fondly — and those dates. (And I’m not sure there wasn’t another date or two that I don’t remember!)

One of the most clever times I’ve been asked out was when somebody got on the mainframe computer when I was at work and sent me messages from an unidentified person — and asked me out. It was a math major a year ahead of me, Mark Debonis, and he asked me to go to a movie with him.

The movie was Yentl, about a highly intelligent woman not being feminine enough to attract her best friend, a man she loves deeply and truly. (Ouch!) And — also at the movie on a weeknight in a practically empty theater was Dane and another girl. Okay. (Good thing I didn’t really have a crush on him. But it sure distracted me from my date with Mark.)

But I’m getting out of sequence! The year started, of course, with Chorale activities like the yearly trip to Yosemite.


Here’s a picture from the annual bike ride in Yosemite Valley:


That year, my roommate was Coral Nightingale, a nursing major from Florence, Oregon. We lived in Sigma Chi dorm on the third floor. I found it was really fun to blow bubbles out the window of my dorm room and duck if anyone came by to notice them. (Bubbles really dance around if you blow them from the third floor. Hmm. I should try that from my balcony some day.)

Coral had a boyfriend, Jo Suzuki (whom she later married), so she didn’t mind that I was busy with work and Chorale folks. That year, I started getting to know my fellow math majors better — mostly guys — and started mostly eating my meals in the cafeteria with them.

It was when Coral was my roommate that I looked in her nursing books and realized that the headaches I’d had most of my life were migraines. I was taking a lot of Excedrin at that time, though it usually did the trick.

I started taking upper division math classes that year. Those were mainly only offered every two years — so most of the Senior math majors were in the classes with us Juniors. I took two of my favorites, Probability and Statistics, that year.

Another class that sticks in my mind was Creative Writing. My friend from commuter lounge days and fellow S.I.K., Jill Mammano, was in that class. The teacher, Doc Saunders, encouraged us to think about getting published. I’m still thinking about it! (And have taken steps toward it. And have gotten short pieces published.)

I remember that early on they asked us to write a short piece about an emotional experience. I wrote about the joy of driving my convertible. I’d named my little Fiat “Ebenezer,” which means, “Stone of Help,” from the verse in I Samuel, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped.” It was my reminder of God’s love and how far He had brought me.

The teacher had me read it aloud and remarked that I was the only person in the class who wrote about a positive emotional experience.

[I mentioned that there are parallels between that year and my life now? Well, the S.I.K.s really focused on Joy and finding Sparkles. And now my small group is going through a study on Joy. I do think that Joy is excellent for getting you through a time of singleness.]

But about that car. I think it was in December that I was driving to my parents’ house. I was on Eubank Avenue, waiting to cross Pacific Coast Highway, just before Banning Park. A truck was having trouble making the turn ahead of me, and used up almost the entire green light. It turned yellow before I even got to go — but I was tired of waiting, so I went through.

It’s a long intersection. PCH has six lanes at that point. Most of the cars did wait for me to cross the intersection. But somebody was driving in the right lane — the furthest lane from me as I went across the intersection. That car didn’t see me crossing the intersection, because the cars that were waiting for me blocked his view. My convertible was a very small car. (That was part of what I loved about it. It fit me!) But the cars that were waiting for me were all bigger — the guy driving in the right lane surely didn’t see me. And he hit my car at the front right corner. And then we sort of bounced and he hit the back right corner as well.



Sigh. I felt terrible for going through the yellow, so said it was my fault at the scene. (Don’t do that! Oh well.)

I felt fine at the scene. But my car didn’t have a shoulder belt, only a lap belt. I hit that belt so hard, the skin was broken under my pants. My sunglasses flew to the right corner of the car.

The next day when I woke up — I felt AWFUL. I don’t know how my feet and legs and arms got bruised, but they did. (Hit the pedals? The steering wheel?) I went to the health clinic and they told me to see a doctor, but I never did work that out.

That Saturday (a couple days later) was the big Putnam Exam — a math test competition all math majors took. And I was leaving the test early to audition for the Wizard of Oz. Well, I didn’t get the part of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. I could hardly move, let alone dance. I think I did get the highest score on the math test (since Mark Shimozono had graduated). But I mostly remember riding to a pizza place in Dr. Thurber’s car that evening — and thinking he was starting and stopping horribly abruptly — because every little stress on my neck hurt.

So anyway, I was back to getting rides from friends. But it was fun while it lasted.

Chorale Tour that year was to Arizona. I hiked around the rim of the Grand Canyon with some others.


Notable in that picture is Sam Powell, standing at the back. Sam had been my assigned dancing partner for Third Half, the “variety show” the Chorale did every year. I wasn’t thrilled by the assignment — Sam seemed pretty odd. But as I got to know him, I discovered he’s actually a really intelligent and thoughtful person with a quirky sense of humor. Sam was in my West & the World class as well. And Sam had a roommate named Steve Eklund, who was also a year behind me and new in Chorale that year.

I think I first noticed Steve on Chorale Tour to Arizona, because Steve was from Arizona. (Well, really from upstate New York, but he’d lived in Arizona since high school.) We had a free day at the Grand Canyon — and Steve spent it hiking to the bottom of the canyon and back. I was slightly envious. I also remember Heidi Ridenour telling me she’d had a good talk with Steve. She said that he doesn’t talk much, but when he does, he has good things to say. I took note.

And I said that I went on more dates that year? I remember because of this picture that I went to Spring Banquet with Curt Schoellerman, a math major who was a year ahead of me.


Curt had been engaged most of the time I’d known him, but the engagement had recently been broken off. Which was awkward for me. Curt was super nice — I thought of him as too nice, which doesn’t seem fair. Anyway, it was nice to have a nice date to Spring Banquet.

And then the big event of the end of the year was when I got the President’s Award. It’s a full-tuition scholarship offered to one Senior. They interviewed some of us in the running for it, so I knew I was being considered.

I remember that the Sunday before the announcement, we had a Chorale concert and I talked with Steve Eklund some, but I was very distracted, thinking about the announcement the next day. He even called me pulchritudinous, and I thought I knew what it meant — but took it as an insult instead of a compliment. Oops!

The next day, the class before chapel (when they would announce), I was jumping out of my skin. Anyway, they announced that I’d won.

A couple days later, there was some sort of banquet for alumni, and the Chorale was singing, so they made an official announcement and invited my parents and took pictures. In this picture is Biola President Dr. Clyde Cook. (The one at the top of the page includes Biola Chorale director Loren Wiebe.)


It was about that time of year (the very last month of school) that I started getting to know Steve. He and Sam and I were all “non-Europe” people. The Chorale was going on tour to Europe after school let out, but some of us couldn’t quite bring ourselves to ask our parents to let us go. (I may have asked and gotten a No.) Anyway, Mr. Wiebe dismissed the Non-Europe people early, so I’d have lunch with Sam and Steve and a few others on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

And May 17, my dorm was having an Open House. I invited Steve to come, and told him we’d be reading from Winnie-the-Pooh.

Steve came and Sam came. Steve brought a couple of friends from band, Ann and Len. And we read from Winnie-the-Pooh. And when they left, I realized that I had just fallen for Steve Eklund. (What can I say? He does a really great Eeyore voice.)

Now, Steve had brought a girl (and a guy) to my Open House. (Don’t do that when a girl invites you to her open house.) My radar told me she liked him. But she and I never did really hit it off. (And remember: I had a history of guys I liked liking someone else better.)

That was May 17, 1984. The next week was Finals Week. I’d finished a Final exam on Thursday and came across Steve and Ann and a few others hanging out in front of the music building. (Steve was a music major and much more enthusiastic about band than he was about Chorale. That was the only year he was in Chorale.)

Steve had a postcard from his sister. I think it was a picture of her graduating. He said, “I bet you can’t guess what school this is. I’ll buy you lunch if you do — either one of you.” (Speaking to Ann and me.)

Well, that was silly — I had no idea what school it was. So he said “I’ll give you three yes-or-no questions.”

We established that it was a Christian college on the East Coast, but I didn’t actually know of any such schools. Then Nate Lewis (from the Chorale) walked up to us and saw the post card and said, “Oh that’s Gordon College! My sister went there.”

So I immediately asked my third Yes-or-no question, “Is it Gordon College?” (This was fair. I mean, Ann could have asked the same question. I was quickest.)

Steve wasn’t terribly gracious about me getting it right, given my dubious method. He said he’d show my meal ticket at the cafeteria. But when we got to the cafeteria line, he had left his own meal ticket in his room. By the time he got back, we were already in the cafeteria.

So — we made a date for him to take me to lunch the next day, May 24, 1984.

When it came up, his car was in the shop, so we walked to the Mongolian Barbecue, up next to La Mirada Park.

And had a wonderful time.

That night, as it happened, I had a dinner date with Curt to Bobby McGees. That was a super nice (and expensive) place, where the waiters dress up as characters. And the whole time, I was thinking about what a good time I’d had at lunch with Steve.

I decided it’s not very nice to your date to spend it thinking about someone else, and that you really shouldn’t go out with two different guys on the same day.

And then the school year ended, and I wasn’t going to see Steve again for awhile. Would he answer letters….?

And that year my sister Becky graduated:


And so did the Math Brothers who were a year ahead of me. This one’s of Mark (not a math major), Travis, Mark, and Nathan:


And this one’s of Curt, Dale, Dr. Thurber, and Jim:


Did I mention how much I enjoyed being one of only a few women in my classes? It may have messed things up a little that I mostly got higher grades than they did, but my Math Brothers meant a whole lot to me. (And the ones pictured were just the Seniors. I still had some good friends left in my year.)

So… I’d had a footloose and fancy-free junior year, and then let my heart get snagged right at the end of the year. Alas, but my junior year was also my last year in Chorale. The following year, they’d scheduled an important upper division math class right during Chorale. For the summer, I arranged to share a room in a house on Biola Avenue. So my days of living in my parents’ house were over.

I was ready to leave my teens behind.

Project 52 – 18 and Living in the Dorm

October 18th, 2016

It’s time for Project 52 – Week 18


18 weeks ago, on my 52nd Birthday, I decided to post each week this year about one year of my life. I’m doing this for myself — reflecting my life and writing my story, giving each year one week to ponder over it.

This year we’re covering the year I was 18, from June 1982 to June 1983. I’ve been thinking about the year I was 18 for more than a week. How to summarize that year? Well, it was an emotional year — both very good emotions and very bad ones. And in the lowest times, God helped me through.

One thing that makes me extra nostalgic for that year is that the two people I spent the most time with that year (and only that year — they both left Biola the following year) have since passed away. My roommate Colleen Jenks died of a brain tumor on March 18, 1998. And just a few years ago I was pointed to an online obituary of my friend Bob Guentherman.

But back to that year. That summer was when I *finally* got my driver’s license. And June 1, 1982, I started working at Biola University Data Systems as a Student Programmer — doing computer programming for the university — programs for financial aid, class registration, car registration, chapel attendance, and the like.

The first month I worked there, my boss Sue Danielson was on vacation in Europe, so I spent most of my time reading manuals. But once she got back, the work began. I did love programming, and I was good at it. Figuring out puzzles of how to do what needs to be done given the language constraints is always fun. I continued to work there the rest of my years at Biola. When I started, it was going over COBOL programs, but before long we got Cognos products, Quiz and Quick and built reports and data entry screens with those.

I did make lasting friendships. Colin MacDougall was the other student programmer when I started, and after he graduated the others I worked with were Carolyn Rosscup, Tom Caylor, and Dave Young. My bosses Sue Danielson and John Veale were mentors to me as a college student.

I was still active in my church, now part of the college group. I went on a backpacking trip in the Sierras. I’m not sure if that year was the trip with Bob Sprague leading or if it was the year John Shumate led the trip and we watched a meteor shower out on a stargazing rock in the middle of the Sierras — but both years were wonderful experiences. And the only times I’ve gone backpacking in my life. But I did love it! (Though I pretty much decided I prefer day hikes — and drive to a place where you can see stars.)

And I moved on campus! Colleen Jenks and I were roommates. (Pronounced CO-Leen)


I’d had Intro to Computer Science with Colleen the year before, but since then she’d switched from being a math major to an English major. I knew Colleen was a kindred spirit from the time during Freshman year when she had let me rest in her dorm room and I saw Anne of Green Gables books on her shelf. Colleen was full of fun and a complete prankster at heart.

Here’s a picture of us late at night in our PJs in front of the library:


She was not, however, a Morning Person.


Colleen actually would let me play records and sing to music in the morning while I curled my hair — while she was still asleep! So I should never ever tease her about how she was able to still sleep while I was doing that. But, well, I still think the picture’s funny.

Once when she was sleeping, she said something to me in her sleep. I didn’t understand what she said, so I asked, “Pardon?” She clearly didn’t understand. She sat bolt upright and said, “PARDON?!?”

This, though, is just Colleen studying:


Now, at the end of my Freshman year, if you remember, I’d gotten quite a crush on Dan Daniels. He knew about that and didn’t return my feelings, though we wrote each other some during the summer. (That was the year I went backpacking with Bob Sprague’s group. I remember now that I wrote to him about the waterfall we saw when I went backpacking.)

I moved on campus early during Orientation week, and Colleen wasn’t there yet. But Dan Daniels had moved in. And he had a car. That first night, he drove me to dinner along with two friends of his. One was a friend he knew from Texas — Bob Guentherman, a transfer student a couple years older than me. The other was some guy I never saw again.

I think it was the second night I was on campus (during the day I was probably at work), Dan took me and my friend Debby Scott to the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles — just to walk around and to ride the glass elevators.

And there before my eyes I watched him fall for Debby. Not long after that, they were boyfriend and girlfriend.

Okay, that was hard. In no sense did Debby “steal” him from me. He already hadn’t fallen for me. It just happened. And I liked Debby. Remember that I was only 17 when I met Dan and looked 13. Debby seemed more beautiful and more girlfriend material. It felt like Dan made the right choice. And that was what was hard about it.

But meanwhile, guess who turned up in Chorale on the first day we met that year — Bob Guentherman! I was pleased to see him, and he seemed pleased to see me. I do remember that when we went to A & Vs Pizza, as we did every year at the start of the year, I was assigned to Bob’s car to drive over and felt very lucky.

For once, I didn’t fall for him over one exciting conversation. But it wasn’t long before my crush on Dan had been replaced by a crush on Bob. And a very good friendship with him, I must add. I ate a lot of meals in the cafeteria with him and his friend (my friend, too) Mark May, who was also new in Chorale that year.

Chorale did our traditional trip to Yosemite.


On the way to Yosemite that year, I got the people in the car I was riding in to read Winnie-the-Pooh aloud together, with each person taking a different character’s voice. Lots of fun! That was also about the time I first read A Wrinkle in Time, on Dan Daniels’ recommendation.

The Yosemite trip always finished up with a Communion service by the river.


So another great year began. I was working in Data Systems. I was in Chorale. I was living on campus.

I used to get a ride with Karla Waldahl, who lived in La Mirada, to church on Sundays and visit my family, then get a ride back home. I did decide that first year living in the dorm that I would live in my own home, thank you very much. So I never called my parents’ house “home” any more. When I went back to the dorm, then I was going home.

Oh! And another baby was born to our family in November. I remember singing Chorale songs about the newborn Jesus and thinking it was extra moving to sing those when there was a newborn in my life.

Marcy was Number 12, but I never did live with her. (That next summer being the only exception.)

Here are some pictures from Christmas at my parents’ house:


And Baby Marcy, about 6 weeks old:


Abby opening a gift:


Then, in January, I was in two weddings. First on January 4, Ruth got married to her high school sweetheart John Bridges.


Then on January 15, I was maid of honor when my sister Becky married Dave Friese.

Here are the bridesmaids:


Here’s the wedding party:


And here are my Grandma and Grandpa Bates with ALL of their grandkids — at least all the ones who had been born yet:


Biola takes the whole month of January off classes (during which time I worked full-time), but that year I was pretty busy with weddings, too.

And my friendship with Bob was still growing. I think he was around during Interterm in January. I still lived on campus that month. Somewhere along the way, Bob and I started meeting every night at 9:00 and going for a walk. Now that I think about it, we probably did it all during Interterm when neither of us had much homework.

We’d usually go across the street to La Mirada Park and walk around. As a girl, I couldn’t wander around at night — so it was nice to have a guy along.

When we first set it up, I thought for a bit that it meant I was getting a boyfriend. Well, that didn’t happen. But I *did* have a friend, and I enjoyed those walks and talks tremendously — and liked Bob more and more as we continued to do them.

Well, some time, probably early in second semester, Bob said it was time to stop. He said “nothing was happening” between us. So we were on very different wave lengths. I was falling for him harder and harder. But he didn’t feel that way about me.

And then he fell for Debby Scott.

When Bob and I started walking every night at 9:00, Debby and Dan were still dating. Well, they broke up. And then Bob and Debby got together. Bob was a lot nicer about it than Dan had been. And I am quite sure it happened after we had stopped meeting every night.

Again, I in no way, shape, or form blamed Debby for this. It just happened.

But WOW! It hurt!

Looking at it now — Three of my very best friends were already married. (I should add that they were all a year older than me.) And I’d never even had a boyfriend. And I had this friend I was crazy about who was spending time with me every night — and then he goes and falls for the same friend that my earlier crush fell for. The same beautiful, funny, clever, lovely person with the gorgeous voice. OUCH!

(And I’m still friends with Debby. She’s a wonderful, vibrant person with a sparkle in her eyes.)

However, I was taking a Psalms class with Dr. Ed Curtis. I was also memorizing the Psalms and having my quiet times in Psalms. And right around the time that Bob and Debby started dating, we covered Psalms 73 in class — and it was God’s word to me.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

Yes, God helped me through that time — and laid the foundation for me to remember to turn to Him when I went through much deeper heartbreak years later.

God is faithful.

And the year finished off with Chorale Tour to the East Coast!

We started in Boston:


Here’s Dave Kennedy with a statue:


Then we went to New York. This is from the boat to the Statue of Liberty:



And here are my dear friends Bob and Mark with the Twin Towers behind them:


After that, we drove down to North Carolina. Now, my dear friend Kathe was living with her husband Joe in North Carolina at that time. We made a plan that she was going to come to our concert there, and then I would stay overnight with her. She would drive me up to Washington, DC, where the Chorale had a free day, and then I would join the Chorale again.

Well, on the day Kathe was going to drive to the concert to meet us — her car broke down.

It was another huge disappointment. I was crying in the bus the next day. And didn’t get much sympathy. It seemed such a stupid meaningless reason to not get to see my dear friend.

But — we were singing about trusting God and how Jesus is Lord. During the concert, I was deciding — would I get mad at God over this, or would I trust that He had a plan, that this didn’t sneak past Him. And, singing the songs, it’s pretty hard not to realize that I can trust Him.

So I was with the Chorale in North Carolina:


And in Williamsburg (Little did I know how often I would come here years later!):


And then we got to Washington, DC. Here’s the whole group singing “Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I’m in the second row, sixth from the left.


In those days, you could walk around the Capitol:


Here’s Becky Geringer and Bill McIntosh:


And Bob (from Texas) at the Texas statue:


But best of all was that Kathe was able to meet me in DC — and I spent the rest of the day with her!

Here we are at the US Botanical Garden:


That was the very first time I visited the Botanical Gardens. It was Kathe’s idea. Just a couple weeks ago, I took my sister Becky there, and have been there with other friends, too. Kathe started it, in 1983.

And here I am on the plane back with my dear friends Elizabeth Daniels and Debbie Olson.


And when we got back, Bob broke up with Debby, who had not been able to go on the trip.

And after the year ended, Colleen transferred to Oregon State University. And Bob also switched schools. I only saw Bob one more time — He came at the start of the year the following year to withdraw.

I wrote to Bob many, many times over the years, and he never once wrote back. He had given me fair warning. When I first met him, he was surprised that Dan made the effort to look him up. Bob said that he just lets old friendships go. I said that I don’t do that at *all* — that I still have kept my best friends from third grade. So I guess I didn’t really listen to him saying he *didn’t* do that. I tried many times to get something from him — even one last time when Colleen died, because they were both from that same year of my life — but nothing.

And it turned out that Bob was gay. I figured that out somewhere along the way. I believe that was essentially why he broke up with Debby. And it is very likely why he was so able to resist my charms even when we went for walks every night!

I was sad that he never told me so. But to be fair, I was a young idealistic and Pharisaical evangelical — and when I realized Bob was gay, I thought it was a tragedy.

Still, somewhere years down the road, when my perspective had drastically and completely changed, it would have meant a lot to talk about it. Some day in heaven I’m going to spot my friend and tell him I’m so happy he got to have a 26-year relationship with his partner and sing in a choir and have a great life. And his friendship with me did brighten that year of my life. I look back at it with much more happiness than anguish.

Colleen and I did write letters. Often! And she and her parents came and visited me in Illinois a few months before I moved to Germany. It was after her first bout with cancer and before the bout that killed her. Colleen went on to become an English teacher at a high school — and she was a Fabulous one!

Whew! That was my Sophomore year at Biola University, the year I was 18. The year I learned about heartbreak, but that God really would take me through it. That was a lesson that would help years later.

Project 52 – Seventeen Going on Thirteen!

October 11th, 2016

It’s time for Project 52 – Week 17!


17 Weeks ago, on my 52nd Birthday, I decided to start Project 52 — for 52 weeks, I’m going to reflect each week on one year of my life. I’m having lots of fun remembering and reflecting on where I’ve been — laying out one year each week.

It’s fun to give each year equal weight. As I’ve lived them, it seems like each year gets shorter!

I realized after I posted last week that I forgot to mention that the 11th child in our family, Robert, was born September 18, 1980 — at the beginning of my Senior year. I’m not sure all that this forgetting signifies. Maybe I was starting to be less excited about my Mom having kids so often? It also may not be a coincidence that there are no pictures of me during my Senior year of high school in our family photo album. But a new baby was born that year.

Anyway, there also weren’t many pictures of me taken my Freshman year of college. The summer before college, I did work at McDonalds, walking distance from our house, walking down the street and through the park. I still did not get my driver’s license that year, believe it or not.

I went to Biola University — the same place my older brother and sister went. I had played with ideas of applying to Cal Tech or Point Loma or Seattle Pacific College or somewhere on the East Coast. But when it came down to it, I applied to Biola and I lived at home.

None of my friends from Brethren went to Biola. Darlene and Jennifer went to Point Loma. (Though Darlene went to my church when she was in the area.) I think Ruth already got her own flower shop that year. Some friends did go to local schools like Cal State Long Beach and Long Beach City College.

I did have Rick and Becky at Biola, and Becky’s friend Jeryl, and even T.C.G.I.H.A.C.O. (though I got over that crush early in the year and became good friends with him). But I was a Math major and a Freshman, and none of them were, so I didn’t have the same classes.

So, that first year of Biola was a year of making new friends! I was a commuter without a driver’s license. Most often I got rides with Becky, but sometimes Rick and sometimes my Mom. But the big event that shaped my years at Biola happened right away — I was accepted into the Biola Chorale!

The Biola Chorale is their elite by-audition-only choir. That year, there were only 4 Freshmen in the Chorale, so I felt very lucky to make it! I will never forget the morning I found out I had made it. They were posting the list after Chapel. At chapel, being new, I met another new girl (though she was a transfer student and a bit older than me) named Elizabeth Daniels. It turned out that she had also auditioned for Chorale, so we went to look at the list together — and both got in!

I think that was also the first meeting of Chorale. Mr. Wiebe (the director) said that the group was so good that year (so few new people), we were strong enough singers that he had a seating arrangement *not* in vocal sections, but boy-girl-boy-girl. I was sitting next to Jeff Kreeger, one of the most handsome guys I’d ever met! (He had a girlfriend I soon learned. But very intimidating for a 17-year-old Freshman to sit next to!) And when he opened his mouth, he had one of the most meltingly beautiful tenor voices I’d ever heard. Fortunately, he was super nice, and so was Brian Adams on the other side of me. They passed out music in an intricate arrangement of “Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart.” I barely made a sound and was just so afraid they’d figure out I didn’t belong there at ALL! Well, Brian leaned over and told me, “You should know we sing this song every year, so everyone else already knows it.” That really did help!

Fortunately, we had a piano at home, and I spent a *lot* of time going over my parts. Oh, and my brother Rick was also in Chorale that year — though sitting pretty far away from me. But he drove me to some Chorale things.

I also met Jill Mammano that year, as a fellow commuter student.

I was a Math major, but since I’d taken AP Calculus AB, they gave me one semester of credit for Calculus. But they didn’t offer second semester Calculus fall semester, so I had to sit out a semester. I did take Intro to Computer Science that semester with Dr. Woo and met some people who I’d later learn were my fellow math majors. People like Jeff Petersen and Kevin Penner, who later became my dear friends. But also in that class I met Colleen Jenks, who’d be my roommate the following year. She changed from a Math major to an English major after that semester, but I knew she was a kindred spirit when she let me rest in her room one day and I saw she had the Anne of Green Gables books on her shelf.

Of course, in Chorale I made many friends — Elizabeth Daniels (already mentioned), Debby Scott, Debbie Olson, and many others. It was an instant social group as well as a group that made wonderful music. Not being a music major, I didn’t have any illusions that mine was one of the better voices — it definitely wasn’t — but it was so wonderful to get to sing with so many beautiful voices. The Chorale had bonding social events at the start of the year like a trip to Yosemite and then many concerts. Our tour that year was to northern California.

But one of the biggest events of the year happened in January, when Kathe married Joe Barsotti in Virginia — and they bought me a ticket to come out and visit and be Kathe’s Maid of Honor! (I should add that Kathe is a year older than me, so she was 18.)

It was the first time I’d ever been on an airplane. And since I was born in Washington, DC, I was extra excited to get to see Washington, DC.

I had a wonderful week with Kathe before her wedding! It turns out I did take pictures during that trip.

Here’s Happy Kathe:


This was the Rehearsal Dinner:


And the reception:


Second semester, the big event was that I got to be in Biola’s production of The Sound of Music!

The role I hoped for was Liesl, of course. Since I actually was 17 years old, I thought I could perfectly play “16, Going on 17.” Well, the part I got was Louisa, the 13-year-old. And, yes, I looked 13 years old. (I put my hair into ponytails, and that was all it took.)

It turned out to be hugely fun. Louisa only has 9 lines, but she is in fully half the songs and is on stage for half the scenes. She even has solo lines such as, “I flit, I float, I fleetly flee, I fly.”

Rick was a Drama major by that time, and he was Assistant Stage Manager for that production, so he gave me rides to many of the rehearsals.

At one point, Rick tried to arrange a game of Diplomacy that he was moderating. He let me play, and the rest were a bunch of guys. I think the game petered out, but some time around that time I met Dan Daniels at the music building. He wasn’t a music major, but had been talking with his roommate Mark Oglesby who played the organ and Mark’s girlfriend Coral Nightingale — who was later to become my roommate. Anyway, one night while I was waiting for my ride, I got to talking with Dan, who had been in the Diplomacy game. We had a great conversation, and I fell hard for him.

Dan never did fall for me back. But he remained a good friend. And especially notable was a day at the end of the year after I pulled my very first all-nighter.

It was because of a term paper. I stayed up to write it and type it — and ended up staying up all night. I think that was the paper on Jane Austen. I’d had plenty of time to write it — and I ended up using the time to read all her novels. Then I wrote the paper the night before — and finished typing it just before we needed to leave to go to Biola.

Well, I had a Calculus test that morning.

I mentioned that I only got one semester credit for AP Calculus? Well, most of second semester Calculus was stuff I’d learned in high school — and had studied super hard in order to pass the AP Test. So I knew it very well. (The only new thing was infinite sums and infinite series, which we hadn’t gotten to at the time of this test.)

But that test — after staying up all night — was by far the hardest math test I’ve ever taken. I went over and over and over the problems. I just couldn’t think straight! I did end up getting a 90 on the test — but that was the lowest score I’d ever gotten on a math test up to that time. And I didn’t know I managed even that at the time.

After the test, I think it was Jeff Petersen who said something like, “I bet that wasn’t any trouble for you!” — and I burst into tears!

So, yeah, I was a basket case! I turned in the paper in English class. But I still had to wait around until Becky was done so I could go home. And that was where Dan Daniels proved to be a True Friend. I called him up. He heard the distress in my voice, and he came to the food place in the Student Union, and he recited a chapter from Winnie-the-Pooh from the Expotition to the North Pole where Tigger bounces Eeyore into the water!

It was exactly the right response. Though it did make me fall all the harder for him. (I mean, how perfect is that? He recited Winnie-the-Pooh! From memory!) But above all, it was kind. By that time, he may have known I had a crush on him — but he was willing to come out and cheer me up anyway.

(I will insert right here that Dan went on to marry young and last I heard had 9 kids. I’m happy for him. But I’m so, so, so glad that he didn’t fall for me back and didn’t marry me. I’ve spent enough of my life taking care of lots of kids. But anyway, he was a wonderful friend to me that day.)

Oh, another thing that happened my Freshman year was that my GPA already got messed up, which was a relief. I had a 1-credit P.E. class and got a B. So in college I never ever was trying to maintain a 4.0.

I had English 101 Criticism & Composition with Mr. MacDougall — who my brother and sister had recommended. I also got an A- in that class. (Same effect on GPA as a B in a 1-unit class.) I thought that my scores must have been beaten by Betsy Bauman. I found out years later that she’d gotten a B in that class, so my A- must have been the highest score. Which seems like overly hard grading, but he was a great teacher.

And that’s all I can think of to say about my Freshman year at Biola. Except that some time during that year I begged and begged — and my parents eventually agreed to let me move into the dorm my Sophomore year, and I was going to room with Colleen Jenks!

Project 52 – Sweet Sixteen and a Senior!

October 4th, 2016

It’s time for Project 52 – Week 16!


16 weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I decided to start Project 52 — for 52 weeks, I’m going to reflect each week on one year of my life. I’m enjoying it a lot — a chance to look back and reflect on where God has brought me.

Tonight I’m covering the year I was 16 and a Senior in high school at Brethren High School in Paramount, California — June 14, 1980 to June 14, 1981.

The picture above was the only one I could find from that year with me in it. (Though if I looked in my yearbook I could find more.) That’s taken at Hume Lake during the summer — I’m in the front left corner of the front “human chariot.” My friend Darlene is on the front right corner, and Jennifer’s right behind me.

I did go to church camp at Hume Lake that year, but didn’t participate in Summer Servants again. I think I might have begun working at McDonalds that summer, which would have explained why I didn’t have time for Summer Servants.

My mind has drawn a veil over working at McDonalds, so I won’t talk much about that! My Mom used to say that her Dad used to say that you should start with a bad job to learn to appreciate good ones later, and at least McDonalds makes me appreciate every other job I’ve ever had. I started there the same time my sister Becky did, though we didn’t usually work the same shifts.

I remember my Senior year as being pretty wonderful. At last I was at the top of the heap! No brothers and sisters went to the same high school with me. Now Rick and Becky were both attending Biola University — still living at home, but commuting out to La Mirada.

I love my brother and sister, but did have a tendency to feel overshadowed. So being a Senior myself was a big deal.

Also, that year T.G.I.H.A.C.O. had graduated and was gone — I had to get over him. The Church Guy I Had a Crush On still went to my church and was going to Biola, so I saw him occasionally, but had to put my focus elsewhere, and that was a good thing.

Looking back, I was too busy having a great time to pine over guys that year. In fact, there were a few guys in my circle of friends and the people I hung out with. I did get a date to the Junior/Senior Banquet (and I had the year before, too), so that was something — but not the boyfriend I wanted. But looking back, okay, I didn’t find someone who loved me romantically — but I had a large wonderful group of people who loved me and cared about me as a friend. Hmmm. That’s kind of like my life today.

I do think that having a large circle of close friends and acquaintances you care about is a side effect of going to the same Christian school for six years. Many of my classmates from Brethren are my Facebook friends today — Our graduating class had about 85 people, and we got to know one another well.

Let’s see… my Senior year had so many good things. For academic classes, the highlight was AP Calculus — the only AP class that Brethren offered. There were five of us in the class — myself, Christine Van Aalst, Alan Purucker, Casildo Guerrera, and Gabriel Hui. I started listening in Math Class that year! The wonderful and quirky Miss Royer was our teacher — and she got married after we graduated. She was older, so this was a big deal. Her name thenceforth was Mrs. Smith. But I did love Calculus class and got a 5 on my AP exam. The seeds of the math major I was to become were sown.

My other achievements in math were getting the top score on the MAA exam for my high school for the third year in a row — and winning a silver pin. I’d been on the Math Team all four years of high school. That year I did a chalk talk on De Moivre’s Theorem. I didn’t win an award at the Math Field Day that year, but I had the year before on the Binomial Theorem, and I did progress to the finals. Oh, and I won all three of the pencil-games tournaments at the end of the year — Five-in-a-row Tic Tac Toe, 3D Tic Tac Toe, and Hex.

And it wasn’t just about doing well in math — Math was fun! I do think that taking Calculus over a whole year in high school rather than a semester in college (or Trigonometry… or Algebra II) gives you more time to really enjoy it, see how awesome and fun it is.

And I was in Choir again, and the ensemble Ecclesia. I was still taking voice lessons. When our choir sang at my church, I got to sing a solo, and I sang a solo at the choir festival in the springtime. I was never a star — but I did enjoy that. And I’ve always loved singing in choirs, especially choirs that sing to the Lord.

My Senior year I also took Drama class. I was in two plays that year, and in both got the second-best female part — the best going both times to Debbie Carmichael, who totally deserved them and who is still acting today. The Drama class did a version of Pilgrim’s Progress written by our drama teacher, and I was Hopeful. The choir did our annual “May Festival” — with acting and singing — and I was the mad scientist Dr. Kreps, which was a silly and fun role.

Here’s a picture from choir tour to San Francisco:


The friends in the picture are Kristen Harris, Darlene Sasaki, Ruth Douglas, Lorie Gibson, and John Roussopulos. This is the first picture I’ve come across of Kristen — she was one of my best friends that year. We had P.E. together that year (some of the only Seniors in that class) and we used to sing 2nd Chapter of Acts duets in the locker room — much to the annoyance of everyone else. We used to have a lot of fun debating which of us was the most beautiful and which was the most humble. We were so superlative in both, it was hard to decide!

Next are a couple of pictures from Senior Ditch Day at the end of the year to Laguna Beach:



Seeing Dan Deguisne in the first picture (third from the left), I’m reminded that he drove us to school that year. He probably drove his brother Terry and my sister Wendy (8th grade) as well, but I don’t remember that so much! I still did not have my driver’s license.

Baccalaureate that year (a church service honoring graduates) happened on my birthday, so I was actually 17 and a few days when I graduated. I was co-valedictorian with Gail Karber and Marty Rindahl. I gave a speech where I referenced Psalm 84 (I was memorizing in Psalms that year):

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
When they pass through the Valley of Trouble,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.”

And I have to say that, looking back on the pilgrimage of my life, God has made each Valley of Trouble a place of springs and has brought me from strength to strength. Little did I know then what I was in for! But God has been faithful.

However, looking back on that year: What great friends I had! (And still have! Those friendships lasted.)

Project 52 – 15 and Fabulous!

September 27th, 2016

It’s time for Project 52, Week 15!


15 weeks ago, on my 52nd Birthday, I decided to start Project 52 — For 52 weeks, I’m going to reflect each week on one week of my life.

This week, I’m looking at the year I was 15 and in 11th grade — June 14, 1979, to June 14, 1980.

My sister Becky came to visit me last weekend (I mean this weekend, during my 53rd year.), and it reminded me that Becky was a huge part of my life growing up — pretty much until I moved away from California. This was a good thing, but it also always felt good to do my own things. In a big family, it’s very easy to feel overshadowed, and I think I enjoy doing independent things on my own more than most — in part as a reaction to that.

But the summer after I turned 15, I started on something that Becky was not doing — Summer Servants.

We’d started at First Baptist Lakewood the summer before, but the summer before my Junior year, I wanted to do Summer Servants — an intense 6-week program where you went on *all* the youth group trips as well as a training week at the beginning and training in between trips. The leadership expected us to be evangelizing new kids who came to camps and on trips.

In the beginning week, we learned to share our faith with strangers using the Four Spiritual Laws. Yes, I went on day trips — one was to a beach — and accosted strangers with a partner and “led them to Christ.” No, this does not suit my personality type. I wonder what happened with those people all these years later.

Some good things Summer Servants did was have a big focus on each person having daily Quiet Times, spending time with God, good teaching, and getting me out and among other kids my own age. Darlene was going to my church by this time, but I don’t think anyone else from my high school was in Summer Servants, so I made some new friends.

And — I gained a second crush! One for church and one for school (same TGIHACO from previous years). Interestingly, they both had the same first name. But it was pretty harmless, since neither one was “interested” in me in that way. At least with the guy from church, we had some great conversations about spiritual things. I knew he had a heart for God. And he actually stayed a great friend.

[A few years later, when I was in college and getting sad about how this guy still didn’t “like” me, a friend suggested that instead of praying God would change his heart, I should pray that God would change my heart. I did, and God did. I liked him very much, but no longer had a crush on him, and it no longer hurt that he didn’t “like” me that way. Though I might have done well to hold out for a guy with a heart for God like he had.]

But the trips with Summer Servants were memorable and wonderful. And I started bringing my camera!

Oh, and that was also when I learned that if you brought a magnetic chess set on a bus trip, you stood a great chance of getting to sit next to an intelligent guy! (Including the one I had a crush on.) I played many chess games that summer and enjoyed who I ended up sitting next to that way. Of course, it probably didn’t help me seem very attractive that I won most games. And it also probably didn’t help that I enjoyed winning. But what can you do?

Our first trip was to Ensenada, Mexico. The girls slept in this hangar, and the boys in tents outside.


I remember praying Psalm 91 about the “terror of night” — bugs! But we were fine.

I don’t remember all we did there, supposedly helping missionaries, but we did make a trip to an orphanage.


The blonde is Yvette Gold, another junior in Summer Servants with me.

For our next trip, we split up the boys and girls, and the whole youth group was invited. I don’t remember where the boys went, but the girls went to Kings Canyon.


I think that trip was only a few days, and a beautiful place and a good time — but one night I decided to sleep in the bus instead of the tent — and woke up with 50 other girls trying to sleep in there, too — It was raining! That did not work. And I felt like I was there first, but that logic didn’t work, alas!

And then, in the middle of the summer, Kathy came to visit!

By now, Kathy had moved from Catalina Island to the East Coast, to College Park, Maryland. But she came back for a trip, and we got our foursome back together and went to Disneyland.

Here are Kathy and Abby on Dumbo:


And here are the four of us, now nearly all the same height: Kathy, Abby, me, and Darlene:


Kathy’s visit hit a time when the Summer Servants were at home, and all during the summer we had Wednesday Night extravaganzas at church. They involved crazy games. We were all on teams — I was on the Gold Team — and always a meeting at the end that included a testimony and an invitation. Kathy came on Wednesday night:


The next trip was the big summer camp trip of the summer, Hume Lake!


My sister Becky went on this trip, and so did lots of other folks from Brethren High School, including my friend Jennifer. I’m not sure if Darlene went that year, but she did the next.

Wild games were also the norm at Hume Lake:



As well as great speakers and big meetings. But we also had lots of fun on our time off, doing things like hiking to the Little Brown Church. (This is Valerie, a 12th grader at Brethren):


We also went rowing:


The final trip of the summer was just for Summer Servants, summing up the summer. We stayed in a cabin near Lake Tahoe:


Here’s the place where I’d have my Quiet Times when I was at Tahoe:


On our last day at Tahoe, we went tubing down the Truckee. I *loved* it! The part I did was mostly calm and peaceful and wonderful — ending with rapids, which I loved even more.

But we stopped at that point and let people who didn’t want to navigate more rapids stop and go back to the bus. The rest was more rapids. Well, I was starting to feel sick and was really tired, so I went back to the bus and slept. I was always sorry afterward that I did that — because I proceeded to get super sick anyway. Might as well have gone — I couldn’t have been any sicker!

The next week was one of the most painful of my life.

I’m not sure if the pain was quite as bad as the previous year when I was sick for a week because of a sunburn, but it was close. I came down with pleurisy — which is a searing pain in the lining of your lungs every time you breathe. Like with my sunburn, I slept in my bean bag chair — this time because it didn’t quite hurt as bad if I didn’t lie flat.

For years after that, whenever I got a bad cold, I’d get occasional lung pain, which always frightened me that I was getting pleurisy again — though I never actually did. [And how lovely to realize, now, that it’s been decades since I felt that kind of pain in my lungs.]

And we had one more trip that summer — but this time a family trip. Our family actually tried camping in a tent!

There were still ten children — Rick (now in college at Biola but living at home), Becky, me, Wendy (now in 7th grade at Brethren), Randy, Ron, Jeff, Nathan, Abby, and Peter. It was around this time that the habit of family summer vacations, most commonly to visit Grandma Bates in Oregon, had pretty much stopped. But we did try camping at Crystal Lake.

And Becky and I went for a hike!


Once we reached the summit, we refused to believe the distance we’d traveled was as small as the sign said:


After that eventful summer, I started 11th grade, with Becky in 12th grade. We were both in A Capella Choir together — and that year I got chosen for Ecclesia, the smaller ensemble. Jennifer was in Ecclesia with me. Becky and I were both taking voice lessons with Miss Wells by then, and we sang a duet at the ACSI Choir Festival in the Spring. That was just one of many duets Becky and I liked to sing together over the years. Since Becky played the piano, we would sing Second Chapter of Acts songs together. We also had a book of Bill Gaither songs with parts that we’d sing from. This was just the natural result of all our years of singing hymns together in the car on the way to church.

That Fall, Becky was chosen as Homecoming Queen! I was so happy for her! I walked around crying. (I hope I wasn’t trying to put the focus on me. I was genuinely happy for her.) Now, it did perplex me how everyone at Brethren seemed to think Becky was so “sweet,” but well, she didn’t give me her public face. Anyway, since no one at all had ever complimented me on my looks (that I remember), perhaps it is no wonder that I focused more on intelligence.

That year I took Math Analysis with the 12th graders. I kept my rivalry going for top scores with Glen Gibson. I also took Physics — and there were only 2 girls in a class with about 20 boys. Yes, I did enjoy those proportions. Mr. Elliott, who’d taught Chemistry the year before, was the teacher. I kept trying to suggest that we should go to Magic Mountain for a Physics field trip, but he never did go for it.

Have I mentioned that by this time I was a roller coaster fiend? With Magic Mountain my favorite amusement park because it had the most roller coasters. But living in southern California, we got lots of chances to visit all the parks. Here’s Darlene after “Encounter 80” — where lots of area churches got together and went to Magic Mountain. I think that was the year that Colossus opened — one of my favorite roller coasters of all. (Though much much better years later when they let you ride it backwards.)


And this was probably some type of ditch day, but here’s Darlene and Ruth and Ruth’s brother Tom at Knott’s Berry Farm, with Montezuma’s Revenge in the background:


And here’s Ruth at a trip to Universal Studios:


And there was another Youth Group trip in winter. Ruth and Darlene went with me to Winter Camp.

Oh, and that must have been the year of my disastrous day of skiing!

Every time I fell down, my skis fell off. Well, my first time on the ski lift, just as I was getting ready to sit on the lift seat — they stopped it because it hit some other lady. So instead of sitting on the seat, I sat down in the snow and my ski came off. So the guy running the lift picked me up, put me in the lift, and handed me my ski. So I went up holding one ski terrified I was going to drop it. Of course I fell down at the top, getting off with only one ski.

Some day I will have to take actual ski lessons. That time we tried to have Ruth show us how and, well, it didn’t work. (Ruth and I don’t actually think the same way. I want step-by-step how-tos. Ruth wants to wing it. That didn’t work well for me.)

But the rest of Winter Camp was super fun. My favorite thing was innertubing down a hill!


Here are Darlene and me going over a “jump”!


Winter Camp included more meetings with great speakers and singing. Here’s Becky and some other friends:


Here are Darlene and Patty with a snowman that was the best we could do. We didn’t know anything about snow, but this was not good packing, so we just piled up some chunks.


And we also had good times in our cabin. Here’s Darlene:


And here’s the entire cabinful of girls:


Look at that! By then I had given up my glasses. I started wearing them in 4th grade and quit in 11th grade because my eyes had gotten better. [I was very sad at 50 or so when I learned it was a continuum — the eye that was most nearsighted at 15 is the least farsighted at 50. By now at 52, I need to wear glasses all the time again. But it was a nice respite.]

And I found this picture of a view from my window taken that spring:


Here’s a picture of Senior Square after the traditional toilet papering at the end of the year.


I was super sad about that year’s seniors leaving, including TGIHACO. But there was also excitement that now we would be Seniors and that thrilling feeling of independence with no older siblings at my school.

I was a Junior Honor Guard at graduation. Since they didn’t count P.E. in GPA, I was tied with straight As. I was very sad that they were leaving — but that day, two days before I turned 16, I got my first kiss. Tracy Bunn was going around giving hugs — and kisses — much to my surprise. But I was a bit satisfied that I could not, after all, say I was “Sweet sixteen, never been kissed.” Though a surprise kiss when you aren’t expecting it — and don’t respond — definitely wasn’t the best kiss I’ve ever gotten. But it was the first.

Looking back over the whole year, that was a good one! One of the lovely things about all the church activities was that it was cool at that church to be wholeheartedly seeking to please the Lord. They caught us young. In fact, it was either that year or the year before that I got baptized.

And God was good to me. Yes, I kept praying for a boyfriend. But I had so many good friends and so many interesting activities. Lots of friends and lots of fun.

Project 52 – Lucky Birthday!

September 22nd, 2016


It’s time for Project 52, Week 14!

14 weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I decided to start Project 52 — for 52 weeks, I’m going to reflect each week on one year of my life.

As everyone in my family knows, the year your age is the same as the day of the month you were born is your “Lucky Birthday.” So my Lucky Birthday happened on June 14, 1978 — which was the last day of school for my 9th grade year.

And my wonderful friends, Ruth, Jennifer, and Susan, threw me a surprise party at lunchtime! Here’s what I saw when I came to eat with them. I’d brought my camera for the last day of school — I was still unaware of what was up when I took this picture.


They gave me presents


And had a very creative solution to lighting candles not being allowed:


So that was the way 9th grade ended. Something I remember about that summer was that at the beginning of summer, we switched churches. We’d been going to University Bible Church for years, but it was far away and gas prices were high and there were fewer and fewer kids our age. So we began going to Lakewood First Baptist Church, which had a large, active youth group.

The first event we went to at Lakewood First Baptist was a skating party. I remember I was wearing the “Jesus is Lord” t-shirt that Jennifer gave me for my birthday (at the party). I thought it was kind of funny that Matt Boone started witnessing to me — even though my t-shirt said “Jesus is Lord.” That’s the kind of group it was.

And besides sharing your faith, they did encourage everyone to have daily quiet times. Now, I already had that habit, but sometime in there I stopped using “The Bible Fellowship” — a by-mail devotional system and began just writing out daily observations. On top of spending an hour a day memorizing Scripture.

I found my old quiet time notebooks and was reading them last night. I was in Psalms then, just like I am now. I wanted a boyfriend, just like I do now. I gave that over to God, just like I do now.

Seriously, it was good to read how faithful God was to 14-year-old Sondy.

A little less seriously, I’ve been thinking about crushes. I had long-lasting hopeless crushes during high school, and felt silly for that. When I was a teen, those crushes were wrapped up in the questions “Am I lovable?” “Am I attractive?” “Does he like me?”

It’s rather lovely that now, at 52, I know that feeling attracted to the nice men I’m friends with doesn’t have much of anything to do with those questions. Because I know I’m lovable. And doggone it, I’m attractive, too! (At least to people who like somewhat nerdy and very enthusiastic cute little people.)

And a cool thing? I have many men friends these days who honestly do like me. Most of them are married or otherwise unavailable, but it feels good to know that some very fine men honestly like me.

But that’s now. Attraction now is different than it was then. Then — I didn’t know quite what to make of it — but I do remember how thrilled I was on the first day of school when I saw the guy I had a crush on walk into 2nd period Chemistry class.

That year, I was the only 10th grader in Chemistry. Chemistry and Physics were only offered every other year. Since they required Algebra 2, which I was taking a year early, and since I did NOT want to take Biology (When I was in 8th grade the Biology class had dissected a poodle and I decided never to take Biology.), I took Chemistry in 10th grade.

That year I got to know T.G.I.H.A.C.O. (The Guy I Had A Crush On) a little better. I sat in front of him in Chemistry class. My brother Rick sat on the other side of me. Or maybe Rick sat next to T.G.I.H.A.C.O. Anyway, I actually *talked* to him many times that year!

Chemistry class was fun! Mr. Elliott was the young and enthusiastic teacher. His experiments didn’t often work, but he was a great teacher.

All the years I had a crush on TGIHACO (all the years he was at Brethren High School from the first day he walked into math class), I would have been mortified if he knew. I was never under any illusions that he liked me back or would ever ask me out. So now I’m taking a risk! Anyone from high school who reads this — he is identifiable. And he is currently my Facebook friend, all these years later.

So, TGIHACO — if you read this and realize I had a crush on you all those years (You probably knew, actually.) — thank you for not humiliating me about it all those years ago! Please take it as a compliment! And you were always kind to the somewhat starstruck little 10th grader.

I don’t blame the guys of my high school for not taking an interest in me and not asking me out. I was a lot nerdy in those days — and completely enjoyed getting higher grades than the guys in my classes. That was the year I finally got my hair cut at a salon rather than just getting it cut by my Dad. I finally got “feathers.” (This was the 70s!) And I finally figured out that it wasn’t fashionable to wear polyester elastic-waist pants. Sigh.

I continued being a basketball stat girl. But my Sophomore year, I got to take stats for the Varsity team. I’m not sure why. I think when we were signing up, someone or other urged me to do varsity, and the coach was the Algebra 2 teacher, so he let me. That was fine with me, since TGIHACO was on the Varsity team. Yes, I enjoyed watching him play and riding on the bus with the team. I still really enjoyed the feeling of freedom of getting to stay after school and go to all the basketball games.

Tenth grade was the year that I forsook the band and joined the A Capella Choir. My brother Rick and sister Becky were also in the choir. We had an outstanding choir director, Miss Hutton — who had also been the choir director when my Uncle Rich had gone to Brethren High School. I sang second soprano. This meant I finally had more classes with Darlene, since she was in choir. I think Ruth was still in Band, though she joined choir before we graduated. And Jennifer was a second soprano like me.

I loved singing in the choir. We made beautiful music together. We sang in many local churches and went on tour to northern California for ACSI Festival. And being part of a group singing praises in four-part (or 6-part) harmony is a wonderful thing.

Another big thing from that year: 10th grade was the year I beat my brother Rick on the MAA Exam by 1 point. This meant that he did not have the high score in our high school for three years in a row (a silver pin) — but that I eventually did. The MAA Exam was a test sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America. The person with the highest score in the school gets an award. If you win two years in a row, you get a bronze pin. Three years in a row gets a silver pin, and four years would get a gold pin.

It was a big deal to me winning that exam. Even though I knew that one point made it a matter of luck. But I was third in a big family and felt insignificant and unnoticed — and in math, in the shadow of my brother. So it felt significant to actually get a higher score than Rick did. That may have started my steps down the path that led to being a math major.

Oh, and my family… 10th grade was when the 10th kid in the family was born. And there was one Hatch in each of the three upper grades at the high school. We had:

Rick, 17, 12th grade;
Becky, 15, 11th grade;
Me, 14, 10th grade;
Wendy, 11, 6th grade;
Randy, 9, 4th grade;
Ronny, 6, 1st grade;
Jeff, 4;
Nathan 2;
Abby 1;
Peter — born March 1979, I think while we were on choir tour.


So that was 10th grade, the year I was 14 years old. It also included lots of hanging out with friends, lots of laughter, and an overall great year.

Project 52 – A Teenager! In High School!

September 13th, 2016


It’s time for Project 52, Week 13!

13 weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I decided to start Project 52 — for 52 weeks, I’m going to reflect each week on one year of my life.

And this week I’m covering June 1977 to June 1978 — the year I was 13 years old and in the 9th grade, high school!

I noticed last week that when I was in 8th grade, there were 8 kids in the family.
When I was in 9th grade, there were 9 kids in the family.
And when I was in 10th grade, the 10th kid was born.

July 1977 was when we finally got a baby SISTER! I had been spending the night at my friend Jennifer’s house when I got the news that Mom had finally had ABBY! I will always remember the year Abby was born, because she was almost born on 7/7/77 — but not quite. (And Horse #7 won the 7th race at Hollywood Park on 7/7/77, by the way.)

Anyway, at the sleepover at Jennifer’s house, they threw me a surprise birthday party. I’m pretty sure Ruth and Susan were also there. It was a couple weeks after my birthday, so I was indeed surprised! It was very sweet of my friends.

At home, the family now included:
Rick, 16, and in 11th grade;
Becky, 14, 10th grade;
Me, 13, 9th grade;
Wendy, 10, 5th grade;
Randy, 8, 3rd grade;
Ronny, 5, Kindergarten;
Jeff, 3;
Nathan, 1;
Abby, newborn.

Here’s our family going on a hike in Angeles National Forest when Abby was young (probably that Fall).


And here’s my Dad holding baby Abby:


I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet that we spent most of our summers in the pool!


And that reminds me that Summer 1978 was when I got the worst sunburn of my life. For that matter, it’s the worst sunburn I’ve ever heard of anyone having — though feel free to tell me about worse ones in the comments!

I think it was toward the start of the summer. I had recently gotten a brand new bathing suit. Before that, I’d been wearing my P.E. uniform — shorts and a shirt with sleeves — to go swimming. So the skin on my shoulders hadn’t seen any sun in a long, long time.

Aunt Susie was living with us then, and she took some of us kids to the beach! Yay! I wore my brand new swimsuit. We were there from 10:00 to 2:00. It was overcast. I spent a lot of time in the water, but did some lying in the sun. This was just *before* sunscreens with SPF 15 or 30 were developed. I did put on sunscreen, something like SPF 3. And I went in the water and it must have washed off. And my skin had not seen the sun….

The thing about me is that sunburns don’t show up for a few hours. If it starts to show up while I’m still at the beach, I’m in trouble. This did.

I was in bad shape. That night, I got up to use the bathroom, going down the stairs and through the house — and started to black out on the way back to my room. I had to lie down for awhile on the couch before I could make it back to my room.

The blisters developed pretty quickly — everywhere, but especially on my shoulders. They lasted a full week. I slept in my bean bag chair the first few nights because I couldn’t put my arms down — it stretched the skin too much. It was summer, but I cancelled my flute lesson because I couldn’t move and stayed in bed (or on the bean bag chair) for most of the week.

I’m rather appalled at this point that my parents didn’t take me to a doctor. But to be fair, I probably didn’t even tell my Mom about the fainting episode in the night. And it was just a sunburn, right?

Now, I later had some more second-degree sunburns in my life — but for those the first blisters only lasted a few days. This one was especially bad in that the first round of blisters did last a full week. In fact, the initial sunburn happened on a Saturday. The following Saturday, I was invited to a skating party. By that time I was moving around, but blisters on both my shoulders had merged into one giant blister. So I had big yellow bubbles the size of a 50-cent piece on each shoulder. Well, I fell down some skating and the blisters popped and left yellow fluid on my clothes. (Gross enough for you yet?)

It was the day *after* that when that first layer finally peeled. Then the second layer *also* formed blisters — but those were the little white blisters, much smaller and much much less painful. But rather significant that both layers of skin blistered.

And that is why the thought of skin cancer frightens me. (I’m getting a small mole looked at this week, in fact.)

So that was my summer! I was still taking flute lessons with Bev Matsumura, and still in Band with Mr. Engel in 9th grade.

I was still ahead a year in Math, and 9th grade was Geometry with the exuberant Miss Royer. Ruth and Penny and I sat in the back and were allowed to work at our own pace. Miss Royer let us talk among ourselves — so we could help each other with the math. I will confess — that is *not* what we usually talked about!

Oh, and come to think of it, my Freshman year was the first year I was on the Math Team, in the slot especially for a Freshman. And I won a prize, in competing with other schools! Yes, Math was pretty much my favorite subject already.

Oh, and Freshman year I began being a Stats Girl for Basketball — you got to sit at the referee’s table and record who made baskets and keep the official score. I did it for the Freshman team. We’d usually go to eat during the JV game and then watch the Varsity game. It was so much fun to stay after school and go to the games or, best of all, get to ride on the bus to away games with the team.

The most memorable game was the one against Ontario Christian. It was pouring rain. After our game, we walked to a pizza place through the rain. The streets were pretty flooded, too. Well, as we were walking along, we came to a place where the sidewalk ended. There were some construction signs up, but it looked like there was just a bit of water covering where the sidewalk had been. There was still a narrow curb, but the street was really flooded on the other side of the curb, so we weren’t just going to walk in the street.

The person leading the way hesitated when the sidewalk ended. I was a little behind and wondered what he was waiting for. Then Mr. Halberg, the coach, got impatient and pushed ahead of Karl, who was in the front. Mr. Halberg stepped in the puddle where the sidewalk ended — and disappeared!

You see, it wasn’t actually a puddle. It was actually a Very Deep Pit!

Now, Mr. Halberg popped up quickly and swam to the other side. In fact, he acted so quickly, I illogically thought he knew what he was doing and was annoyed with him for not telling me it was a Very Deep Pit — Another few moments and I would have pushed ahead and gone that way.

Mr. Halberg lost a shoe in the pit and threw his other in. So he spent the rest of the evening wet and barefoot! And I learned to never assume you know how deep standing water is!

9th grade was also memorable because the last day of school was on my birthday! And my friends threw me another Surprise Party. Since that was when I turned 14, I’ll post pictures of that party next week. But I brought my camera to school the last few days of 9th grade, and I’ll post some of those pictures here.

This one’s from P.E. class on one of the last days of school when we didn’t dress out. All high school grades were in P.E. together. This includes my friend Debbie and my sister Becky being silly:


Then Ruth and I thought it would be fun to get pictures with her arm around various guys. Mark Arnold doesn’t seem to mind! And there’s Darlene walking by:


Here’s Ruth with Merle Anderson:


And here’s Ruth in a tree:


The next day I got in on the action. Here we are with Harold Lind, who was my brother’s friend and a quick-fingered clarinetist in the band with us:


And here’s Ruth with our friend Paula Christie. Paula was in the band with us, playing the saxophone, but she only went to Brethren High School that one year. But we enjoyed her very much that year.


And this picture reminds me that 9th grade was the year we started taking Dan Deguisne to school. He lived near us in Wilmington. This continued throughout high school until our Senior year, when Dan did the driving. Here’s Dan getting in the van on the morning of the last day of school:


Here’s Jennifer You-can-run-but-you-can’t-hide Schilpp:


And here’s Susan Willems:


And my next-door locker mate, Rebecca Hardison:


Oh! And Freshman year, I was in the *high school* 5-in-a-row tournament. (And the hex tournament. And the 3D tic-tac-toe tournament.) That meant I had to beat my brother Rick in order to win. I did, which was a very big deal to me. (I didn’t win the other two games, but I was on the 2nd year of 5 years in a row of winning at 5-in-a-row.)

So yes, that was 9th grade. Since it was the same school as we’d attended in junior high, I was already established with friends. There was new freedom, going to basketball games, and I remember it as a good year.

Project 52 – Eighth Grade!

September 7th, 2016


It’s time for Project 52, Week 12!

12 weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I decided to start Project 52 — for 52 weeks, I’m going to reflect on one year of my life.

This week I’m looking at June 1976 to June 1977 — the year I was 12 years old and in the 8th grade.

8th grade was SO much better than 7th grade! From the bottom of the heap — youngest at a new school, not knowing many people — to the top of the heap, at least of the junior high. (The junior and senior high were all in the same school, but there was some natural separation. Lunch and P.E. and chapel were all done separately — at least for most people.)

And 8th grade was the year I had every single class with my friend Ruth Douglas. And that was the year we really became best friends.

The reason we had all our classes together was that we were the only two 8th graders in both high school band and high school math — Algebra I. Because of the way our schedules worked out, we ended up going to chapel (once a week) with the high school. Instead of feeling very small because of this — this made me feel very big and important.

Ruth is a lot more outgoing than me. And a lot more willing to look crazy. But in junior high… hanging out with Ruth meant I did a lot of wild things (to me!). And it gives me a big smile just to think about that time.

It’s also the year I, to quote John Pavlovitz, “chose my heterosexuality,” and got a crush on a 9th grader in my math class that lasted until he graduated from high school. (But I eventually got another hopeless crush on a guy at church. The crushes could coexist because they weren’t actually based in Reality. Fun though!)

High school band, I’m afraid, wasn’t as fun as the year before. We had a new band director, Mr. Engel, and he wasn’t a bad band director, but he didn’t know how far the band had progressed the previous year by working so hard on such challenging music — and he selected much simpler music, which was rather a let down.

Mr. Engel did introduce me to a new flute teacher, Bev Matsumura. Bev had all her students perform in a recital every three months — so I got lots of practice learning to get up in front of people without shaking. Well, I shook less. It’s very embarrassing when you shake holding a flute, because the whole flute shakes. But that wasn’t enough to stop me playing the flute, like having to play in the piano festival got me to quit piano. I really enjoyed the flute.

And we performed at the football and basketball games as a pep band. It was so much fun to stay after school and go to the games! (This references back to feeling big and grown up. On my own for a few hours. Wild times!)

Oh, and sometime in junior high is when I grew to LOVE roller coasters. The picture at the top is from when Ruth’s family took me to Magic Mountain. That’s Ruth and her brother Tom with me. I remember the first time I rode the Revolution at Magic Mountain, that feeling of doom when we went into the loop and I went upside down on a roller coaster for the first time — and it was so much FUN! I decided if I wasn’t afraid of that any more, well then I wasn’t afraid of any roller coaster!

I still say that getting lots of chances to ride roller coasters in junior high — when you’re a little crazy just by nature — guarantees that a kid will love roller coasters for life. With Ruth as my best friend, there was no way I was going to hang back!

And I had more friends by then. Here are some pictures I took the day our whole grade went Whale Watching, while we were waiting to leave.


That’s Christine Van Aalst and Penny Cypert.


And then Lauri Ann Stone and Jennifer Schilpp. Those pictures (and others that didn’t come out as well) remind me that 8th grade felt much less lonely than 7th grade.

My pictures of Whale Watching aren’t dated, but I’m pretty sure it was 8th grade, because that was the year we had Science class.

Ruth and I were in 5th period Science class with one other girl, Karen Baker — and about 30 boys! The teacher was a woman, Mrs. Erickson, but that set-up was a little awful. Most eighth grade girls were in junior high choir that hour. Ruth and I were in band, and Karen wasn’t in the choir. So we were in Science class with all the boys. After awhile, we made a petition to Mrs. Erickson to sit together, and dripped water on it for tears. She didn’t even argue! She said, “I see your point.” and let us sit together from then on. (We took advantage of it and passed a lot of notes.)

I don’t have many family pictures from 8th grade. I realized when I was thinking about this post that in 8th grade, there were 8 kids in the family. In 9th grade, there were 9 kids in the family. And in 10th grade the 10th kid was born. (A google search shows that, just as I remembered, 1977 was when the TV show “Eight Is Enough” became popular. My Mom was already pregnant.)

Anyway those 8 kids the year 1976-77 were:
Rick – 15 in October – 10th grade
Becky – 13 – 9th grade
Me – 12 – 8th grade
Wendy – 9 in October – 4th grade
Randy – 7 – 2nd grade
Ronny – 4 in October
Jeff – 2 in October
Nathan – 1 in January 77

And okay, playing with babies was still fun at that point. Jeff and Nathan got dressed alike and were SO CUTE! We older siblings taught the babies to walk and to read and played with them. We seriously did teach the little ones to read. Jeff basically taught himself. He’d point at words and ask what it said until he knew. But watching that process was so much fun! All of them were reading before Kindergarten, and we were all in on teaching them.

Speaking of reading, 8th grade was the year our English teacher Mrs. Ossen announced that there would be year-long contest to see who could read the most books! The requirement was that we write a summary and write out the definitions of five words in the book that we didn’t know. I read a lot of Agatha Christie books that year — we’d switched to the big Torrance Library near my Dad’s work — and I’d use British spellings, not realizing they were actually the same word. I also read Gone with the Wind that year – Mrs. Ossen let us count it as two books if it was over 500 pages.

Yes, I won the reading contest. Gail Karber was my closest competition, but I read more than 100 books, and was pretty decisively ahead.

That was also the first year I won a five-in-a-row Tic Tac Toe tournament. The high school math teacher, Miss Royer, ran three pencil games tournaments at the end of each year. That was the first year I entered (the junior high tournament), and I got hooked. I didn’t win at Hex or 3D Tic Tac Toe that year — but I started my streak of winning Five-in-a-row — and ended up winning five Five-in-a-row tournaments in a row. (You use graph paper for an unlimited board. First one to get five in a row wins.)

Another thing I remember is that the summer before 8th grade was when I started spending an hour a day memorizing Scripture. I remember because I so badly wanted to go on the 8th grade History class trip to Washington DC. I was born in Washington DC! My parents paid me to memorize Scripture — and I earned sixty dollars that summer. But it wasn’t enough to go on the trip. But I did get hooked on memorizing Scripture, and that was pretty much something that got me loving God’s word. I’ve already written about memorizing, but that ended up being a wonderful thing in my life.

And sometime in there I started doing The Bible Fellowship — a daily Bible study program put out by our church. The Bible Fellowship is big on check charts — which suits my personality perfectly! But it did help me establish a daily habit of studying Scripture.

And apparently I still got together some times with Kathy, Abby, and Darlene. Here we are at Abby’s house celebrating Abby and Kathy’s birthdays (June 4 and 5) at the end of 8th grade.


And I just remembered one more thing about Junior High. Darlene still car pooled with us from the high school to the elementary school. I am sure of that because once we got to Junior High, we could buy candy at the Student Store. However — if anyone in the car found out we had candy, we had to share with EVERYONE. One of my favorite candies to buy was red hots and I would foolishly try to eat them secretly.

Darlene and I still talk about how Ronny would turn around in his seat and look at us and say, “I smell somepin!”

So, looking back, Eighth Grade was a very happy year — especially compared with Seventh Grade. I don’t remember as much about Ninth Grade — at least not yet. As I think about it this week, who knows what memories will pop up out of the woodwork?

Project 52 – Junior High!

August 30th, 2016

1976_04 Family

It’s time for Project 52, Week 11!

11 weeks ago, in honor of my 52nd birthday, I decided to start Project 52 — for 52 weeks, I’m going to reflect on one year of my life.

This week, I’m going to cover the year I was 11 years old — June 14, 1975 to June 14, 1976.

The picture above shows our family in April 1976. Come to think of it, this would fit in well on the Awkward Family Photos website. Across the back is Rick, age 14, in 9th grade, holding Jeff, age 1; then Becky, 13, in 8th grade, holding Nathan, 3 months old (Yes, there was another birth in January 1976.); then me, 11, in 7th grade. Front row is Randy, 7 years old, in 1st grade; Wendy, 8 years old, in 3rd grade; and Ronny, 3 years old.

I got my own camera that year. Apparently we took a vacation and visited both our Grandma in Phoenix and our grandparents in Salem. I like my approach in taking this picture of Jeff and Randy in Phoenix:

1975_07 Jeff and Randy

7th grade was tough. Painful even to think about. I was lonely. My foursome from elementary school had been broken up. Kathy moved to Catalina Island — not far away but very inaccessible. Abby switched to a different junior high school. Darlene went to Brethren Junior/Senior High School with me — but we only had one class together in 7th grade, 7th period math, which was a full classroom and we couldn’t even sit together. I think we even had different lunch periods.

Besides needing to make new friends, 7th grade was when I began to get an inkling that my clothes and hair were completely out of fashion. But I had no clue what to do about it. Just felt wrong and different. I think that was about the time I was wearing a lot of clothes that were given to us from a family at church — clothes that were awfully dingy and old and completely out of fashion. To this day, I can’t handle shopping at Thrift stores. I like things that are New and Shiny. And it fills some hole to tell myself that I actually do deserve new things.

However — despite all that, some wonderful things happened in 7th grade.

For two of the great parts of 7th grade, the way was paved by my older brother and sister.

One of those was going a year ahead in math.

When Rick did it, a couple years before, it was a new thing at Brethren High School. My Mom had to push for it. But Becky had done it, too, and it wasn’t too hard to work it out my year, though I had a different teacher than they had, Mr. Kerby. But math class met in a room that had a back room. So Mr. Kerby let some of us go back there with a teacher’s aide and do ALL the problems in the book, at our own pace.

And I do mean ALL the problems. We had to miss no more than 3 problems on a homework assignment or do them over. I remember one very annoying long division assignment with about 36 problems that I had to do maybe 3 times before I got enough right. (I mean, I clearly knew how to do long division. But there were lots of places to make a mistake!)

We had fun in that back room. And that was how I got to know another lifelong friend, Ruth Douglas. I think Penny Cypert was in that back room with us, too (She definitely took Geometry with us later). And there might have been someone else? Maybe Laurel Yancey? (I’m just not sure….)

Anyway, I remember I spent my Christmas break finishing the 7th grade math textbook. So second semester, I got to take 8th grade math. And that did it! I was now a year ahead in math. (I still say 7th grade is a fantastic year to do that — 7th and 8th grade math is fluff to prepare students for Algebra.)

So yes! Even though my old friends weren’t around, I did make some wonderful new friends. These pictures are dated October 1975, taken at what I believe was my first of many sleepovers at Ruth’s house.

Here’s Ruth:

1975_10 Ruth

And here’s our other friend Jennifer Schilpp:

1975_10 Jennifer

Another thing about 7th grade, for which my older brother and sister had paved the way, was that I was the only 7th grader in high school band. My brother was in 7th grade the year they started the band, and my sister had been in high school band when she was in 7th grade, so it wasn’t a stretch for me to do the same. Especially when you consider that I was also the only flute player. This was also when I began taking flute lessons with Mrs. Chapman, having “graduated” from Mr. Currie, the band director, who wasn’t actually a flute player.

Since that school year ended in 1976, the Bicentennial year, ALL the school’s music groups were going to take part in the annual May Festival, which was usually put on just by the A Capella Choir.

So — the band played some extra-challenging music that year. I especially remember “American Civil War Fantasy” — with a gunshot! Oh, and “Stars and Stripes Forever” — with young me as the only flute player. The entire band progressed wonderfully that year as musicians — and I personally know I was a much better player by the end of the year. The feeling of rising to the challenge was awesome.

We tried to find red white and blue material for dresses! Here are the only 4 girls in band that year, my sister Becky (clarinet), Denette Anderson (oboe), Brenda Perkins (bass clarinet), and me (flute).

1976_04 Band Girls

We went to ACSI Band Festival in San Diego that year. All the other schools had *lots* more, much older flute players, which was quite intimidating, but learning the music so well was still a wonderful experience.

And here’s the band performing at a Bicentennial event in a park:

1976_05 Playing Flute

I’m going to finish with my view from my window, with my beloved jacaranda tree in the green leaf stage. I loved the view of blue sky plus green leaves — almost as good as when the tree was covered with purple flowers. There’s also a piece of crewel embroidery that I finished and actually got framed. (Many years later, I was delighted to learn to knit, because I didn’t have to get around to framing the finished product.)

1975_10 My Room

Though seventh grade wasn’t the easiest year in my life, how nice to look back and see that was the year I accomplished some challenges, and even better, that was the year I made some more lifelong friends.

Project 52 – Double Digits!

August 23rd, 2016

1974_08 Raking

It’s time for Project 52, Week 10!

10 weeks ago, in honor of my 52nd birthday, I decided to start Project 52 — for 52 weeks, I’m going to reflect on one year of my life.

This week, I’m covering the year I was 10 years old — June 1974 to June 1975.

My birthday is at the start of summer, so during that time, I’ve got lots of time with my family. This picture with my baby brother Ronny makes me laugh. Baby brothers were fun to play with!

1974_08 Ron Horse

Our family now included Rick — 13 years old, 8th grade, Becky — 11 years old, 7th grade, me — 10 years old, 6th grade, Wendy — 7 years old, 2nd grade, Randy — 5 years old, Kindergarten, Ronny — 2 years old in October, which is when Jeff was born.

This year must have been when Aunt Susie was living in our house. There were a few years, I believe. (My Mom’s younger sister. My Dad’s younger brother David had lived with us for awhile in Washington.) Because I remember that when my Mom was in the hospital for Jeffy’s birth, Aunt Susie was taking care of us. And Ronny clearly came to believe that Susie was trying to replace Mommy. He wouldn’t let her touch him! So Becky and I had to change his diapers and put him in bed until Mom got back. Ronny was exactly 2 years old, so it wasn’t exactly a compliant stage to have Mommy disappear for a few days.

I was still delighted to have another adorable baby to play with.

Now, with Rick and Becky in Junior High, and me left in Elementary School, a conflict developed. My Mom believed that children should get 11 hours of sleep. We got up at 6:00 to make it to school — so we had to go to bed at 7:00 pm.

However — once we hit 7th grade, she stopped even trying to set our bedtimes. It was up to us.

So — the fact that Rick and Becky could stay up as late as they wanted, but I had to go to bed “the same time as the baby!” struck me as a horrible injustice. My defiance began by just pulling my curtain back and reading by the light of the sun outside (which was still up at 7 pm!). But after awhile, I started going into my walk-in closet, curling up on my sleeping bag, and reading in there with the door closed, so that the light wouldn’t go under the door from my main room into the hall.

I was never caught. It’s been suggested to me recently that I’m sure my Mom didn’t actually want to catch me. It was probably more about peace and quiet than about actually getting me to sleep. I felt vaguely guilty at the time (I was, after all, a rule follower) — but was so convinced of the injustice, I was unrepentant.

I do remember that was the year I read Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. I remember looking at the clock and discovering I had stayed up until 9:00! I was reading the part where Beth dies and having a good cry.

And so began a long history of staying up far later than I should to read a wonderful book. I am still unrepentant.

6th grade was Mr. Knapp’s class! He was a wonderful teacher, and another one (like Miss Halberg in 4th grade) whom I loved whole-heartedly. Though his style was very different from Miss Halberg’s.

And couple of things Mr. Knapp did were especially memorable — Sword Drills and Language Arts Baseball.

Sword Drills were what we did for Bible class. (Because the Bible is the Sword of the Spirit.) He’d call out a reference, and you’d see who could look it up the fastest. He had a nice way of determining the winner, back in the day when we all used the same version. He’d say, “4th word, preceding verse,” or “7th word succeeding verse,” or the like, and whoever called out the particular word first would get the point.

But then things got more complicated — for more points. Instead of calling out a reference, he’d start reading a verse. We’d use concordances or knowledge to find the verse. Then he started using some of the same verses he’d used before. Those would be more like 3 points, rather than 5. I still remember that Eric used to hang out on the verse, “Come now, let us reason together….”

Yes, I had the most points at Sword Drills. But I had a very close rival in Daphne Sykes, who was FAST. Her fingers would fly. My advantage was that I could find new verses more quickly, so I’d get more of the high point verses. She was faster at turning pages and blurting out the answer.

It was extremely fun, and very tense competition. And we learned the locations of many important Bible verses — and definitely know the order of the books of the Bible. (That was the year I learned “General Electric Power Company” to remember Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians.)

The other big competition was Language Arts Baseball. It started with just a Language Arts worksheet that Mr. Knapp would send home at the end of every day. A set of words on top. Numbered definitions on the bottom. 20 words per page. You had to match the words with the definitions. They were hard words, even for me, an avid reader.

After awhile, he added Language Arts Baseball. The teams were the rows. One person would be up to bat. The opposing team would be in the field. Mr. Knapp would read a definition, and the person up at bat would try to say the word more quickly than the outfield.

My row, Row 4 won something like the first four weeks of the competition. Then Mr. Knapp decided to modify it to one-on-one. Only one person could be in the outfield, so the whole team had to be good. That week, we went down in defeat to Row 5, Daphne’s row. But the competition continued all year, and I believe Row 4 were the champions for the year.

Because of that competition, I remember that Kathy was in my row, Darlene was in Row 2 (which was also a rival row), and Abby was in Row 3. Besides Kathy and me, the other people in Row 4 were boys. When things really got tense, there were some recesses where Kathy and I spent some time drilling some of them on the Language Arts words.

Did I mention that I like competing? I thought Language Arts Baseball was SO MUCH FUN! I’m afraid, though, that I cried that time that we first went down to defeat against Row 5 — and Dennis laughed at us! And then I was SO ashamed of crying about it. But I was able to quietly go to the restroom with Kathy until I could pull myself together.

Some other memories of that grade are sparked by pictures. This one reminds me that I liked to bake. I had a Betty Crocker cookbook — I still have it — and one day when I was home with a flu bug, I decided to try baking bread.

1975_02 Baking Bread

This picture is from some sort of craft fair at the school. But it reminds me that I enjoyed crewel embroidery.

1975_02 Embroidery

And here’s a picture from February 1975, reading to Baby Jeffy.

1975_02 Reading to Jeffy

Hmmm. I’m clearly not reading a picture book, so perhaps I’m just reading while holding Baby Jeffy.

Oh, another thing I remember from 6th grade was Rawhide Ranch — and that Kathy, Abby, Darlene, and I TP’d the boys’ cabin!

We got permission (from Mr. Knapp!) to do it after the group hike, while everyone was in the Saloon having hot chocolate. I didn’t really do much — I was too nervous, so I was the look-out. But the boys never figured out we did it — which was surprisingly something of a let-down.

Alas! After 6th grade, Abby stopped attending Brethren schools, and Kathy moved to Catalina Island, and later to the Washington, DC, area. So this was the last day of our foursome. Here we are, my dear friends and me, at 6th grade graduation. Ha! Look at that! I was the tallest! We ended up within an inch of each other, but I was then only an inch shorter than I am now — I got my growth, such as it was, early.

1975_06 Sixth Grade Graduation