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Sweaty Palms

Sweaty Palms

Just looking at their feet makes my palms all sweaty. This was from our 13 mile hike to Grinnell Glacier in the Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park for my birthday weekend in August.

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Echo

It’s a good thing I haven’t been advertising this blog.  I keep changing my mind about the direction I want to take it.  

Right now I’m working on my novel, Echo.  It’s an action-adventure about a female assassin working for the government while trying to protect her alternate identity as a marketing consultant living in a small town in Montana.  She’s forced to question her rules and her career when everyone around her is falling in love.

I have a deadline of October 31st to finish the second draft.  So, now that the camping and boating are mostly over for the season, and Sadie is back at school I need to put away all my distractions, say no to optional activities and finish this book.  Which means that I probably won’t be posting anything in here.  And that’s a good thing.

So if you are one of my few friends who knows about this blog and actually reads it…thank you.  Please know I appreciate your support, and that I’m writing every day, just not here.

See you in November.  JK

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The Line

I live in northwest Montana where pine is the predominant tree, where rivers are clean and full of healthy fishes.

You won’t find sand here.

So, I drew my line into the gravel and dirt.  I marked it across the river trail my dog and I walk almost every day.  I used a stick covered in bark, moss, and a bit of dog slobber.

The line separates the beginning of this blog, which became a place of healing the loss and heartbreak of losing my dad, from the next phase, which will hopefully be A Readable Feast.

Last month I celebrated my birthday, and although I’m not Jewish, last week we celebrated Rosh Hashanah.  A time for new beginnings, fresh starts, and re-creation.

I haven’t come up with a set of rules or definition for the next phase of this blog.  For now, I’ll sprinkle it with random thoughts from the river trail.

I’m a Writer working on an action-adventure novel.  I spend many hours and days alone in my writing room.  I come here, to this blog, to share and connect.  Feel free to comment, disagree, share.

I’m committed to submitting at least two pieces a week.  I assume a theme will emerge after a while.  The theme may end up simply being ME.  I started A Readable Feast as a place to share recipes and advice with my daughters, but I tend to write those words in private, so this will most likely be a journey of personal re-creation.

My sister gave me a coffee mug for my birthday that reads: Life isn’t about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself. Unknown

I love that.  I love the mug.  I love it that my big sister gave it to me.

My grandmother’s sister, Lila will be 102 in November.  If I get to live that long, I am exactly half-way there.  So here’s to creating the Jana I will be for the next half of my life.

Talk with you soon.  JK

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Eulogy for Dr. Richard D. Vandiver “Dad”

We held a Celebration of Life Service for our Dad on July 11th in Missoula.  It was a wonderful ceremony with lots of friends, former colleagues and students, relatives and old friends who traveled great distances to be with us.  Many people asked for a copy of the Eulogy.  I’m not sure I remembered to send it to all of them, so I’m posting it here.  Jana

Thank you all for being here tonight to honor the life of Dr. Richard Dale Vandiver, our father, brother, grandfather, husband, teacher, and friend.

 For those who don’t know me, I am Jana, his second daughter.  Today I represent my sister, Joni, my brother, Jack and all of our children – our father’s pride and joy, his grandchildren, Hadley Kay, Sadie Lou, David, Kaylynn, Michaela, and K.C..

 It is difficult to summarize a long and successful life, tougher still to put into words all the aspects of our dad that we loved so much.

 Some of the details of his life: He was born on New Year’s Day 1938 to Paul and Irva Vandiver, brother to Norma Jean (sitting with us today). They were raised in a strict Mennonite home, attended a one-room schoolhouse.  He got his first traffic ticket at the age of 9, driving their tractor on public roads. He was quite proud of that ticket.

 He attended GoshenCollege in Indiana where he fell in love with and married our mother, LaVon Springer.

 The Goshen Website reads:

 At Goshen we’re passionate about making peace. If you believe in care of the earth and care of one another, if you put your faith and God before anything else, this is the college for you. We’re for people who want to serve the world with joy in the name of peace.

 Peace, Joy, Care for the Earth and People were always important to him.

 In the years that followed, he acquired his many degrees, and his three children.

 Then in 1971, he came upon the proverbial fork in the road, his final choice between a higher paying job in Florida, or the position here at UM in Missoula.

He often told us, as an apology for not taking us on more exotic family vacations, that a third of his salary was in the rivers and mountains around Missoula.  And so, as we made Montana our home, he made certain that we learned to appreciate the land and the beauty that drew him here. 

 Our weekends were filled with drives on narrow mountain roads, squiggly lines on a forest service map…”let’s check-out this road, see where it goes” he’d say as he pulled off a mountain road into what looked like merely a break in the bushes.  We’d drive high up in the mountains looking for rocks, fish, deer, grouse, wild flowers, or just a place to have a picnic. 

 On those adventures in the mountains, we were always in awe of his eyesight.  We’d be out on one of those roads, we’d all be looking outside, wanting to be the first one to see the deer or the bear or the bird.  Sure enough, even though he was driving, it was always dad who spotted it first.

 And so we thought it was especially fitting that when he passed away, as an organ donor, his gift to research was his eyes.

 After he left Montana, he lived in Massachusetts, Florida, and Colorado.  In each place he met friends, embraced the local food and traditions, and he continued to seek out nature and spend as much time there as he could.  He loved and was loved by many wherever he traveled or lived.

 Eventually his parents moved from Montana back to Oregon where they had relatives and friends. And so, as their health waned and he knew they needed him, he moved back to his beloved PacificCoast to care for them until they both passed away.

 It was when he lived in Oregon that he fell in love with his wife Janet.  Together they shared a life that included travel, children, grandchildren, love of nature, good food, and friends.  Janet was continuously by his side in the last months of his life, caring for him as the aggressive rare liver cancer took over his body.

Dad had little tolerance for laziness or nastiness, he had no use for television, video games, or the electronic devices kids play with these days.  If you felt sorry for yourself he wasn’t the one to go to for sympathy. Instead he’d deliver a sarcastic remark to make you laugh, followed with “So, what are you going to do about it?” 

 But always, always he was there for us with a hug strong enough to squeeze the sadness right out of you.

 He was a strong man with a clear sense of who he was.  Anyone on his Christmas List will long remember his holiday cards listing his children, his grandchildren, his travels, and always at the end his digs on George W. Bush or his current political views.

 Dad wrote in his will “It is my wish that no funeral be held for me other than a brief memorial service at which people who are my friends and family celebrate life and have an inexpensive party.  I would like for my remaining family and friends to be inspired to think about the importance of life, the beauty in nature, the injustice in material and social inequality, and the divine in every human being.

 So, no pressure then…

 We are here to celebrate him and his life.  He made it clear, knowing how we felt about him, that he didn’t want us to waste any time mourning his passing. 

 His words do a good job of summing up who he was.

 

  1. He wanted us to be inspired.  The form it took was not important as long as we were inspired and passionate enough about something to work hard at it.  
  2. He wanted us to think about the importance of life.  His belief was that the secret (if there is one) is that life is important.  It is a gift we’ve been given.
     
  3. He wanted us to think about the beauty in nature.  As evidenced by the stacks of photographs that he took now sitting on a table in the narthex, he loved nature. 
  4. He wanted us to think about the injustice of material and social inequality.  I’m afraid this is going to be your homework, given to you by Professor Vandiver.  I’m not qualified or brave enough to tackle these subjects with you here. 

    But I can tell you that this is how he raised us.  To research and know a subject so you could form your own opinion and not simply reiterate what you’d heard or read in the media.  And he had a big heart.  He was a generous man in many ways to many people.  He found more joy in giving than in getting.  He was a pacifist and a conscientious objector.  He knew what he believed in and he was strong enough to stand up for his beliefs. 

  5. He wanted us to think about and be inspired by the divine in every human being.  We were so, so lucky to have Richard Vandiver as our father.  But the lucky-luckiest ones were his grandchildren.  To see him interact with them, from the moment they were born.  He not only could see and appreciate the divine in each of them, he reveled in it.  He was their champion, their greatest fan, their Grand Father.

    For friends and family but particularly for his grandchildren as you live your life with him no longer here to guide us remember this:

   Live your life the best that you can with purpose and inspiration, with love, kindness, respect, and joy.  Remember that life is important – it is your gift.  Take care of yourself so that you can take care of those you love.  And love large.  Love many and give with your whole heart.

 Make the effort to show those closest to you how much you care for them, and treat others with the kindness and respect you would wish for yourself.

 Educate yourself, learn from your mistakes, and forgive yourself.  Don’t ever stop changing, growing, and learning.

 Be generous and grateful and just like when you are camping, strive to leave your world a better place than how you found it.

 Spend time in nature as often as you can.  Care for it, plant seeds, appreciate the beauty, protect the earth and all her creatures.

 And finally, make the effort to see the divine in every human being including and especially in yourself.

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Lucky Mom

Lucky Mom

I broke my finger this week, so rather than writing, I thought I’d upload some recent photos. Next week I’ll be in Los Angeles celebrating Hadley’s birthday with her for a few days, then off to Vegas for a trade show. back soon!

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Details. Choices. Priorities.

Details

I’ve been working on my dad’s Celebration of Life service; trying to write an appropriate and worthy epilogue to his life.  As my friend, Faye said to me, “How can you summarize someone’s life?  Seems like an oxymoron to me.”

And she’s right, how can anyone summarize another person’s life?  I think it would be hard enough to summarize my own life, and I’ve been present for the whole thing.  I was only in my dad’s life for 50 of his 75 years, and I left home when I was 17.

And further, my experience as his child is different from my brother’s or my sister’s.  But still, I was very close to my dad.  We talked often, and I look forward to standing in front of a room filled with his friends, relatives, and students and talking about my dad.

My brother was his best man at dad’s wedding, my sister was the Executor of his estate, and this will be my part.

So I’m trying to remember the details. What made dad, Dad.  What made him the kind of professor that former students still reach out to me to express their sadness for the loss of this man from the planet?

Days pass by so quickly now.  The older I get, the faster they seem.  My daughter, Hadley, a mere 22 years old, even remarked on how fast time is passing now she has a full time professional position in a tech company in Los Angeles.  Her comment to me was “I look at the clock and it’s 10 (am), and the next time I look at the clock it’s 7 (pm).”  (She really likes her new job 🙂

The details of our days are significant, even the Everyday days.  We seem to place more importance on the Big Day days…holidays, birthdays, wedding, graduation.  But in comparison, we have so many more of the Everyday days and those are the days, the moments, the details that I’m remembering now.

Choices.

One thing my father taught me is that our lives are made up of all the choices we make.  He was never very big on giving out advice, even when I asked him.  “Jannie”, he’d say, “You can figure it out.”  He trusted that he and my mother had raised us to know right from wrong and after that, we were smart enough to make our own choices, and live with the consequences of those choices.

Priorities.

And in the end, we remember the priorities.  Who and what were the priorities in his life, in anyone’s life?  Now that he’s gone, that his days are done, it’s easier to look back and discover what choices he made and what his priorities were.  But were they actually his choices and priorities, did he pay attention to the details of his life and consciously choose?  I hope so.  But then I look at my life and I know, much of what I do feels more like a “should do” than a choice.

Choices. Details. Priorities.

 Seems easy enough when spelled out in three words, but so much harder when trying to incorporate them into a real life Saturday.  Do I choose to work on my taxes, or spend the day breathing the fresh air, feeling the sun on my face as I ski through the fresh powder on the mountain with my husband?  Do I clean my house, write my Christmas Cards, or sit on the couch watching a movie with my 15 year old who asked to spend time with me?  Do I take the dog for a walk on the river road to get some exercise for both of us, or do I put together a care package for my daughter who lives far away from me now?

All the choices that make up the priorities, that create the details of our lives.  The days are going by fast, but I’m trying to be more mindful of the choices I make in regards to how I spend my time; the currency of my life.  Because when it’s done, I want my children to know what and who my priorities were.  As I know, I was to my father.

Yesterday I made the choice to make a big batch of Quinoa Salad.  I’ve included the recipe for Hadley.  Make it up on the weekend, then pack in small containers and take it to the office for lunch.  It’s a good source of Fiber and Protein, and you can eat it warm or cold.  Enjoy!

 

Quinoa Salad with Zuchinni and Almonds

Ingredients:

  •  
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 1 yellow or red pepper, ribs and seeds discarded, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 1/4 tsp red-pepper flakes (MAKES IT SPICEY)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Dash salt (optional)
  • 2 medium zucchini (green and yellow), halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 large celery stalk, diced
  • SUBSTITUTIONS: Spinach, broccoli, brussel sprouts (any other veggies can be thrown in if you don’t have zucchini or celery)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place quinoa in a fine sieve and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear; drain well.  When oven is hot,  toast almonds until crisp, lightly browned, and fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, In a large skillet with a lid, heat 1 1/2 TBS olive oil over medium heat. Add yellow pepper, garlic, scallions, and red-pepper flakes; cook until the pepper is crisp-tender, about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Stir in quinoa, thyme, 2 cups water, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook 5-7 minutes. Stir in zucchini, cover, and cook until quinoa is tender but not mushy, 3-5 minutes longer. Remove the saucepan from heat.
  4. Stir in celery, almonds, and remaining olive oil, season with salt (optional), and fluff with a fork.  Eat right away, or cool and then pack in lunch-size containers.
  5. Your dad likes to squeeze lime over his.  You can also throw in some fresh thyme (easier to do in the summer, in Montana) This is good warm or cold.  Feed it to Mike, he’ll like it too.

 See you all next Sunday.  And thank you for letting me know you read this, it means more to me than you could ever know.  Jana (Mom)