Monday, February 19, 2007

If you look closely you can see the red fish-shaped blossom on our Dolphin plant. It has lots of buds, but only this one flower so far. It really does look like a dolphin leaping through the air. double-click on the picture and it will enlarge.
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The Rhoda's

This is a tender poem that Sister Rhoda wrote and included in her letter to Gram. For those of you who have not met the Rhoda's (Henry & Florence) - they are like family to us - they joined the Church in the 1950s and are now in their 90s I think. They served for 6 years at the Washington DC Temple and now live in Sr. housing near their daughter Judy in E. Millinockett, ME. These are Florence's words:

I’m sharing what I wrote one night as I sat alone.
Henry was safely tucked in bed for the night.

A Prayer For Us

It is quiet and the hour is late
Another day has passed.
Another day of thankful wake
To practice what the Lord has asked.

“Be patient, kind and loving too
Do unto him as he’d do for you.”
When I think of things already passed
I repent of my unworthiness.

I was blind – but now I see
How hard he struggled just for me,
Not knowing what was happening
And I, too selfish to understand
And too stubborn to try.

Oh Father, forgive my foolish pride,
My selfish concern for none but I
Forgive the meanness of my thoughts
And help me live as Thou hast taught.

He needs my love, and all my care,
Depends on me for his assurance.
Let me not fail him, but be there
And trust in Thee for my endurance.

F. Rhoda
Dear Clarice,

How I appreciate not only your beautiful card, but even more that you shared Bart’s poem with me. It was beautifully written & expresses some deep thoughts. You must be so proud of your children. They have turned out so well. I love your whole family. And the story also of Christmas you sent. I have them tucked in my handbag to have out & read at the slightest excuse.

As for Henry & I, we are doing our best to get through this time of our life. We keep things simple. Henry tries to comprehend what’s going on with him but it’s a struggle with frustration & confusion a lot of the time. I have and do feel so bad for him. One night when I felt discouraged I prayed to know what to do (and shed a few tears) but the Lord’s answer came almost immediately, “Have patience, be kind and show affection.” I knew, instantly, that was the answer. I’m so old and lame and slow to get around that sometimes I get impatient and a bit short. I’ve put those things the Lord told me into practice. I can tell you it had taught me a lot. I realize now that I was resisting the idea of his Dementia and its symptoms. He is such a dear man and the response to what the Lord says – works. Oh what lessons I have to learn! But I am learning.

I know you have had a busy year with all the doings – weddings, etc. in your family. Enjoy it all! Family is what counts! I’m so blessed with mine. Judy is a jewel – a whirlwind of activity – but always taking care of our needs. Gail too is busy all the time. I don’t know how they do it! Bruce’s health is giving him problems but he keeps plugging away. He & Gail & Michael and Hilary are flying west to Idaho to spend Christmas with their eldest, Quinn & his wife & new baby girl, Lily. Their first grandchild.

Enough said. Love to all of you. Florence

I miss our poetry sessions too.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Here are some pictures I snapped yesterday when our Poetry Kin met at our house for lunch and some poetry sharing. Ivy was home from school for one more day of recuperation so we were glad she could join us and Mari Lou too. We meet the second Tuesday of each month to share poems we have written or favorites others have written. It's fun and it is just the kind of deadline I need to actually sit down and write.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Here are some family pictures from long ago. I think it was the summer of 1986 at a camp at Sebec Lake. Those Dow boys were cute!!!

Dow Family Newsletter
Vol 5 Issue 17 February 2007
Hello Everyone! I know, I know – with so many in our family blogging – who needs this newsletter – but a written history is always good in case our computers all crash – so the Newsletter will go on (until our mission, at leastJ).
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Highlights since our last newsletter:
Spencer was hired by Marmot in Seattle, WA.
John Alexa passed away on February 1st. He was 77.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
Since it is February, I thought I’d devote most of this issue to my brother, Greg, and fill you in on some of his history and my memories of him. He was born on May 31, 1949. Our parents (Clarice & Harley Sloat) had lost their first baby in December of 1947, but Gregory Alec Sloat was born healthy and they were thrilled. He had his first health crisis when he was 16 months old. Mum went into his room one morning to get him out of his crib, when she saw a tumor about the size of an egg on the side of his neck. Dad had been called up for the Korean War and was at Camp Le Jeune, NC for training, so Mum was living alone and scared. She took him to see a doctor and Greg was scheduled right away for emergency surgery. It was identified as a cystic hygroma and the doctor said it was a blessing it had popped through the neck muscles when it did, because it had tentacles that were wrapped around Greg’s spinal cord and esophagus. It could have been fatal. Greg always had severe cases of any childhood diseases that came his way. He had chicken pox all over his body, even inside his mouth and down his throat. He also had measles when he was about 5 with a very high fever that damaged his vision. I had the same illnesses along with him, but always very lightly compared to him. I posted 2 of these pictures on my blog, but want to include them here as well.

Here’s Greg at 6 years old:
and at 7 years old:
I was 3 years younger than Greg. He was always my boss when we played together. TV Westerns were big back then, so he and I played Cowboys & Indians more often than not (can you guess who was the Indian?) Later he became an avid reader and took me into whatever his latest book was, by playing it out. We played “Shipwrecked” a lot and also “Lost in Space” – those were his two favorites. We lived in Hancock, Maine for much of our growing up years and beyond the blueberry field that was right behind our house was the Taunton River. It was a tidal salt water inlet and we loved to play “Shipwrecked” there on the shore. We even had a huge driftwood tree that forever lay there on the sandy beach and it became our ship on the ocean or in outerspace. We called the tree “Dino” – don’t ask me why.

I said he was an avid reader – and here’s an example that put him over the top in my young mind: most every Friday night our family would go together to buy groceries at Dunbar’s Store in Sullivan (by then Bart was a toddler). I looked forward to this outing all week. Mum & Dad would often buy orange soda or half ‘n half soda which I loved for a treat – or canned peaches and vanilla ice cream – yum!! Anyway, Greg would usually opt to stay home alone and read. I thought there was something seriously wrong with him. I mean, who would choose to stay home – to me it would have been the worst possible punishment! He also asked to move his bedroom out into the unfinished chamber – I’m talking really unfinished – rafters and a rough board floor. He loved it though and Dad made him a desk and bookcase. He had an Indian blanket (which were very popular at that time). It was cool!
The missionaries taught our family in early 1961 and we were all baptized on April 8th of that year(except for Bart who was only 2 ½ ). Greg turned 12 the very next month. He bonded with several sets of elders who spent time at our house 2 or 3 times a week. There were no young men in our small branch there in Ellsworth – so the missionaries were very important role models for us. At that time, Hancock students were given the choice of going to high school in Ellsworth or Sumner High School in Sullivan. The two schools were bitter rivals. Greg chose Ellsworth High School and was very happy there. He ran cross-country and did some pole-vaulting. He carried a leather briefcase and one day after school, he was walking across the practice field and a javelin flew through the air and hit his briefcase, making a hole in it. It was a close call. He excelled at French and talked of someday becoming a linguist. As the fall went on and cross-country season ended he decided he wanted an after school job at Ackerman Hardware Store there in Ellsworth, thinking Dad could pick him up on his way home from work at Hancock Wholesalers in Ellsworth. He applied and was turned down but was persistent and stopped by the store every night or two until they hired him a couple of weeks later. They knew he really wanted the job! When Dad would stop by to pick him up, the Ackermans often praised Greg for being a good worker. Then the unthinkable happened! Our family bought a little General Store in Sullivan in 1964, at the end of his freshman year, and our moving to Sullivan required Greg to transfer to the lowly Sumner High School! He was not happy about it, but quickly adjusted and did well there. He and I had jobs to do at the store, one of which was stocking shelves. One day as we were loading up cans of soda in the basement to bring upstairs, he said, “I bet you’ve never chug-a-lugged a soda” - I didn’t know what chug-a-lug meant, but was pretty sure I hadn’t. Anyway, he told me to open a can of soda and drink the whole thing without stopping, which I did (I told you he was my boss J). It was warm grape soda and made me queasy the rest of the day. I still don’t enjoy grape soda to this day. It was while we owned the store in Sullivan that our family made the long drive to Salt Lake City and were sealed in the Temple there in September of 1965. We were gone for 3 weeks, but our teachers all agreed we’d learn more from the trip than we would in the classroom, so we took our schoolwork with us and had a wonderful time. As that school year went on however, Sloat’s General Store failed due to over-extended credit to customers and so again our family moved, this time to Dover-Foxcroft. Greg was just finishing his junior year and really did not want to transfer. Arrangements were made for him board with the missionaries and he finished the school year out and continued working at Ackerman’s through that summer. By August he was ready to transfer to Foxcroft Academy. He’d had enough of living away from home. He hit the ground running at the Academy and was elected Senior Class President and starred in the senior play The Importance of Being Earnest and won rave reviews. His English teacher told my parents that Greg would be getting an A in her class if he would change his practice of only turning in the writing assignments he enjoyed doing. By now, he had decided that Battle Cry by Leon Uris was his favorite book and I think he wore out more than one copy. He loved the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean. This is his senior picture:

He graduated from FA in 1967. He worked at Guilford Woolen Mill that summer and went to BYU in the fall. After a semester there, he enlisted in the Marine Corps, telling Mum & Dad that he felt his education was a financial burden on them. He went through boot camp and eventually was trained as a journalist and stationed at Camp Pendleton. While there, he wrote articles for the Marine Corps paper and also submitted some of them to a San Diego newspaper and was told by the editor there to come back after his discharge and he’d have a job for him. This was while the Viet Nam War was raging and Greg was eager to do what he had been trained for, so he wrote 3 letters to Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith, requesting to go to Viet Nam. He got his wish in the fall of 1970. He came to see me in Provo (I was a freshman at the Y) on his way back to base after he’d been home on leave. He visited me at Helaman halls and after he left, I stood watching him out my dorm window, until he was out of sight. It was late afternoon and he was wearing a blue and yellow wide-striped windbreaker. I don’t remember worrying at that point that he might be killed, but I did feel that I wouldn’t see him again for a long time. Well, it’s been over 36 years now since that day. Greg became a war correspondent in Viet Nam and also served as rear gunner in helicopters. He sent home letters telling of his playing Santa to some Vietnamese children that Christmas and handing out gifts and candy to them. On February 18, 1971 he went down when their Huey malfunctioned and came apart in the air. He was killed instantly, landing face up in a rice paddy. His glasses weren’t even broken. I like this picture of him. I’m not sure when it was taken.

Greg grew up through the turbulent 60s – thankfully the gospel came into his life when it did. One of his Marine Corps buddies did his Temple work for him a year later and said that he definitely felt Greg’s presence with him all through the session. I hope this has given you some sense of my older brother. He would be 57 by now, had he lived. How thankful I am for the Gospel and the promise of being reunited with our dear family members. I know our fondest dreams will come true because of what the Savior did for us. Before this no close to me had ever passed away, but later that same year Grampy Boone died.

This poem became dear to me after that February:

Of Places Far

To me Istanbul
was only a name
until a picture
you took
of the Blue Mosque

I don’t receive
postcards from Heaven
showing St. Peter
at prayer,
but oh – that place
is real enough,
now that you are there.

Carol Lynn Pearson
We wish all of you a Happy Valentine’s Day and hope you know how much we love each one of you. You mean everything to us! M & D

I found this in my files, after I had sealed your envelopes – grrrrr – but thought it was important to include – I think I got it from BYU’s website a few years back.

Gregory Alec Sloat
SGT U.S. Marine Corps

Birth: 31 May 1949
To Harley F. and Clarice H. Sloat
Death: 18 February 1971

Gregory Sloat attended Brigham Young University during the 1967-68 school year. He entered the United States Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, CA on his 19th birthday, May 31st, 1968.

Gregory Sloat was a passenger on a helicopter that went down in the Thua Thien Province Republic of Vietnam on the 18th of February 1971. He died as a result of injuries sustained from that crash. He was a man that in whatever situation he was in did his best to be the best. Bruce Jewett memorialized Gregory in this way: “I knew Greg in Camp Pendleton 1969-70, I was a short-timer and raving to get out of the Corps. Greg was sharp, a great listener, had a great sense of humor. He talked about Hattie back in Maine and homesteading there. He made rank fairly quickly, considering he was never considered a career Marine. I hope he liked me as much as I liked him.”

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Gregory was an example to those around him. Bob Paine was a school-mate of Greg’s said this about him:
“Greg and I went to high school in Maine. He graduated two years ahead of me. We weren’t really close friends but he gave me my first real contact with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), and I later became a member, in part, I think, because of his example. Greg never knew I joined the church, but he does now. He wrote in my yearbook

“Don’t let the guys get you down. Remember, we geniuses are in a minority.”

I never got to Nam, and for that I’m grateful. I miss Greg and I know that he’s doing a great work among the spirits on the other side. Rest well, my brother. From an airman to a good Marine, I miss You.”