Tag Archives: Family Memories

Letters from Mother 9

26 Jul

My Take

DiVoran Lites

August 1, 1983

Dear Ones,

Well now, I don’t know when I wrote to you last. It’s a cloudy day here after a weekend of hot sunny days. Waunita and I wear short pants and sleeveless shirts to try and stay cool. Description: Hiking, People, Sea, Relaxation, Women, Holiday, Walk

Photo credit Pixabay

We went to the beach on Saturday and Sunday. Sister Judy is here with us now. It has been a long time since she has seen our brother Smithy. He was almost grown-up when she was born. I prayed for a baby sister, and the Lord answered my prayer, but Smithy being a young man, didn’t seem to take much interest in her.

Photo credit Pixabay

The first day, we went down the trail through the trees and the ferns. The bank at the water’s edge had worn away some. As we came out to the water, we had to hold onto the smaller trees while we carefully made our way down what was left of the bank. 

Photo credit Pixabay

 We stopped at my rock, the black one about the size of a Volkswagen flattened out. It was looking smooth, warm, and clean, showing a purple-black color. We sat on it for a while. I caressed its smooth warmth.  We walked in the wet but more solid sand up to the battery at the park coming out just north of the pier. Along the way, we looked up from gathering white stones just in time to see an eagle glide by. He had a white head and tail. Shortly after that, we saw two blue herons flying over the water together. It reminded me of seeing them on the river at Mendocino.

Photo credit Pixabay
Photo credit Pixabay

The second day at the beach, we went down the same way and turned south toward East Beach. After a leisurely fifteen-minute walk, we came to a humungous old tree trunk with its roots lying on the sand. It was at least four feet around, and if you included the tree itself and the root system, you could see that it might fill a 10-foot square room. We wondered if it would be there for a while or if the tides would take it away.

Photo credit Pixabay

LDescription: Beach, Ocean, Driftwood, Sand, Nature, Paradise

As we turned back to the opening, we saw a young doe who had come out on the same trail. She froze into the background and stayed a long time as we continued to walk toward her. Then our dog Misty saw her, and she saw Misty about the same time, so she ran. I was puzzled about why she weaved so when running until I realized that she was up near the driftwood running on the soft, damp sand. Her tracks were quite deep. I hope she found her way back to the opening by supper time. The deer swim from one island to the next in search of food. The lettuce green seaweed is good for deer to snack on, but she would eventually need something other than the salty water of the straights to drink.

The park was almost full for the sunny weekend, and we enjoyed seeing children running around. They never seemed to walk. We watched an Asian group. They had a momma and poppa tent and a tent for 5 or 10 boys about nine years old. (It just looked like ten boys the way they ran around in circles.)

I went to church again yesterday. That young pastor is so happy he makes everyone else feel happy. 

I’m at Fort Flagler washing clothes. We had to shut the door to the laundromat. Even with my yellow sweater on, It’s cold. As we look out the big window, we can see that the water looks as gray as the sky moving softly. There are no ships or boats this morning. 

Photo credit Pixabay

Dad’s hand healed up fine. He’s getting ready to pull his crab traps.

Love,

Mother and Dad 

DiVoran has been writing for most of her life. Her first attempt at a story was when she was seven years old and her mother got a new typewriter. DiVoran got to use it and when her dad saw her writing he asked what she was writing about. DiVoran answered that she was writing the story of her life. Her dad’s only comment was, “Well, it’s going to be a very short story.” After most of a lifetime of writing and helping other writers, DiVoran finally launched her own dream which was to write a novel of her own. She now has her Florida Springs trilogy and her novel, a Christian Western Romance, Go West available on Amazon. When speaking about her road to publication, she gives thanks to the Lord for all the people who helped her grow and learn.  She says, “I could never have done it by myself, but when I got going everything fell beautifully into place, and I was glad I had started on my dream.”

Our Trip to St. Kitts Part 2

21 Jul

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

On the next day of our trip to St. Kitts we took a long stroll along the beach, picked up a few shells, and did some exploring of some of the old ruins not too far from the hotel.  We learned that St. Kitts has the oldest written history of any island in the Caribbean, and that Sir Christopher Columbus was the first European to see the islands and the Island Caribs (natives) during his second voyage (1493) to this area.  He named St. Kitts San Jorge (Saint George) and Nevis San Martin (St. Martin) and claimed the islands for Spain (see Wikipedia for island name changes).  We stopped to take a picture beside a small submersible of some kind that was just sitting there on the beach.  There was no one around, to ask what it was used for and why it was just sitting there.  Later that day we visited the hotel’s garden area and ran into some of the other folks from our group and went to dinner with them.

Photo by DiVoran Lites

The next day we rented a car and took a drive around the island.  It only took us about two hours to do the whole island, and we were amazed at the difference between the resort area where we were staying, and the way the island people lived.  At the time, the majority of the island was devoted to the raising and processing of sugar cane.  There were cane fields everywhere we looked, and the method for harvesting all that sugar cane seemed very primitive.  

Photo by Bill Lites

The road was very narrow and cluttered with all manner of animals, children, and trash.  We saw open communal toilets alongside the road, and people carrying water jugs to collect (what we assumed was) drinking water running from a pipe that came out of the side of the hill, right there on the side of the road.

Photo by Bill Lites

Once we left town, we were not sure we had made the right choice to drive around the island by ourselves.  We didn’t have a map and were concerned about what we might run into if we got off the main road.  However, all the locals we encountered during our little trip were friendly and willing to help us whenever we took a wrong turn.  

Photo by DiVoran Lites

Back at the hotel we had a nap and then walked the hotel property, collecting a few more souvenirs, before heading back to the hotel for dinner.  I’m sure we did more relaxing and pleasurable things on that trip, but the details escape me now.  Overall, we enjoyed the restful atmosphere, and it was a memorable trip.  The flight back to Orlando was uneventful and after we got home and unpacking we were ready to head back to work on Monday. That trip to St. Kitts was one of the most enjoyable adventures we had experienced in some time, and it left us with some wonderful lifelong memories. 

Photo by DiVoran Lites

Epilog:  My creative artist wife, DiVoran, took many of the souvenirs we collected, during our trip to St. Kitts, and arranged them in a beautiful collage that hangs in our studio to continually remind us of our one and only ‘Caribbean Island Adventure’ all those many years ago.

Collage & paintings by DiVoran Lites

—–The End—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 63 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

Letter from Mother-7

12 Jul

My Take

DiVoran Lites

July 20, 1983

Dear DiVoran, Bill, Renie, and Billy:

Thank you, thank you, for the nice long letter. Don’t expect me to answer it all today. It is enough that I take my pen in hand. I’m having a very lazy day. The sun is out now, and I am at loose ends. It would be a good time to go down to the beach and sit on my rock. I wonder if the tide is right.

Photo credit Pixabay

Well, we had a nice weekend trip to Concord. We left at 6:30, caught the 8:30 ferry, and got to Sea-Tac a couple of hours before departure. They wouldn’t take money for tickets at the gate because a United Flight had canceled, and they were putting that planeload on our flight. Dad had to walk back to the ticket counter at the last minute and pay due to a mix-up. Anyway, we were the last two to board.

Photo credit Pixabay Description: The Golden Gate Bridge

Susan and John met us in San Francisco. They had gone to Tracy on Friday. Then we drove the rented car and picked up Dave at the Oakland airport. We all got to the party at three. It started at two, and there were 18 of Ray’s closest friends there. He had a remarkable day of wit and charm and enjoyed the whole thing. They served a buffet lunch to all. The guests were there from 2 to 9. Some left about seven or so. I moved about from table to table and visited with all their friends. Kay and I talked about her being fourth-generation San Francisco and about how ladies used to wear hats and gloves all the time, and about our first jobs. Ann brought a lovely box of cookies that she specialized in making. Susan brought marble-sized, liqueur-filled chocolates. Now that would be the way to become a liqueur chocoholic.

We got up early on Monday. Helen took us to Walnut Creek, where we met Alice, who took us to the San Francisco airport. A half-hour delay for fog, and we were on our way. Saw the mountains-just the tops-on the way home and got home about three.

Helen and Ray put their Concord house up for sale and sold it for $59,000 in 21 days, so they are looking, with the help of Alice, for a place in Walnut Creek and will have until August 27 to move. We plan to help them put up shelves and pictures, etc., after their move in September. 

Alice, Susan’s mother, is going on a 31-day trip to Europe, England, Wales, Scotland, and maybe Holland. She’ll travel with Linda’s first mother-in-law. Grandmother of her children. They will visit that grandmother’s relatives. 

Photo credit Pixabay

Chris and Jen will be coming home, probably tomorrow. Susan went to get them Wednesday the 20th or Thursday the 21st. Last I heard, Jen was having a ball, and Chis wanted to come home. She had hurt her derriere on a water slide.

Tomorrow is painting. I haven’t painted this week, but I have read some in my books about how to.  No inspiration today-hope to be talented tomorrow because we are to paint a mass of big buildings tomorrow. I particularly noticed the skyscrapers in Seattle, and they are so massive and strangely different from each other. We took the route through town up that steepest hill to Highway 5 and had to stop at each cross street. That frightens me a little, afraid of rolling back. Saw a strange young man, head down, walking ten steps forward and ten steps back at the alleyway. I think he was on drugs. The newspapers were blowing all over the street. I guess some of the derelicts failed to make their beds. 

We picked a box of beautiful apricots from our trees today, the largest I have seen. We put them in the box with the remainder of 20-pound bags of Bing cherries. At 39 cents a pound for cherries at the store, wouldn’t you like to get into our box?

Loved your long letter and will try to answer sometime soon. As for now, if you’re to get this hot off the press, I’d better make tracks to the mailbox; it’s time for the mailman.

Dad says my salutation is too long. He suggested Dear People.

Love to everybody.

Mother and Dad

Dad absorbed every bit of your letter. I’ve read it twice so far, no rejection from us.

I heard a song on the Christian station. It had words in it like; “I will surrender,” “need you,” “Lord above,’ it had the same music as “Now is the Hour.” That one came out around WWII. 

Photo credit Pixabay

I forgot to comment on your hair being in a bun. Be careful that it doesn’t make you feel old. I remember you as a carrot top when we went to Westcliffe. I’ve seen the bun style some since you mentioned it.

Please forgive my small writing on the other page. I thought it would take care of all I had to say, but it didn’t.

Love, Mother

DiVoran has been writing for most of her life. Her first attempt at a story was when she was seven years old and her mother got a new typewriter. DiVoran got to use it and when her dad saw her writing he asked what she was writing about. DiVoran answered that she was writing the story of her life. Her dad’s only comment was, “Well, it’s going to be a very short story.” After most of a lifetime of writing and helping other writers, DiVoran finally launched her own dream which was to write a novel of her own. She now has her Florida Springs trilogy and her novel, a Christian Western Romance, Go West available on Amazon. When speaking about her road to publication, she gives thanks to the Lord for all the people who helped her grow and learn.  She says, “I could never have done it by myself, but when I got going everything fell beautifully into place, and I was glad I had started on my dream.”

The Engine Overhaul Part 2

7 Jul

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

The Engine Overhaul Part 2

By Bill Lites

Note: 

 At this point I need to remind you that this story takes place around 1972, and I was working on an original 1960 Chevy 6-cylinder 235 CID engine.  With my memory what it is today, I may stray with some of the exact details from time to time, so please bear with me. 

Photo: http://topclassiccarsforsale.com/chevrolet/171302-beautiful-1960-chevy-bel-air-4dr-two-tone-biscayne-impala.html

That said, and with my car in my garage, I researched my handy Chilton’s Auto Repair Manual, and discovered that this engine had a ‘timing gear’ instead of a ‘timing chain’.  So, when I removed the timing gear cover, I saw that some of the teeth on the phenolic timing gear had sheared off (why would anyone design a phenolic gear to mesh with a metal gear?)  The timing gear was pressed onto the end of the cam shaft, and the only way to remove the cam shaft was to remove the engine; or to disassemble the grill and remove the radiator to provide straight-on access to the cam shaft.  I had no provisions in my garage for removing the engine, so the latter option was really the only way I could go. 

Photo: https://www.amazon.com/Chiltons-Auto-Repair-Manual-1968/dp/B000JZUKFG

However, in order to remove the cam shaft, I would also need to disassemble the top-end of the engine for access to the pushrods and hydraulic lifters. Then there was always the possibility that when the timing gear teeth sheared, with the engine running at high RPM (the loud clattering noise I heard) for the instant before I could get my foot on the clutch, there might have been some damage to internal parts of the engine.  If so, I would need to remove the oil pan to check for metal particles.  That normally simple task, on this car, required raising the front of the engine enough for the oil pan to clear the cross member under the front of the pan.  Are you beginning to get an idea of where this story is headed?  It seems that most of my simple ‘Do It Yourself’ (DIY) projects turn out to be major undertakings before they are over. 

Photo: http://victorylibrary.com/235BK.htm

So, I bit the bullet, and waded into the project with both hands.  It took time but I finally got everything disassembled without too much trouble.  Then I removed the camshaft, with the help of my wife, DiVoran, (that extra pair of hands).  I had to take the cam shaft to a friend who had a press to remove the damaged timing gear and install a new one for me.  When I got the oil pan off and checked, there were no signs of damaged engine parts in the bottom of the pan.  That was a big relief!  I have always found that it is a lot easier to disassemble something, than it is to reassemble that same something.  This timing gear replacement project was no different.

Image: https://www.facebook.com/ShadeTreeMobileMechanic/

After cleaning and inspecting all the removed parts, I reassembled the engine, again, with a lot of help from Mr. Chilton’s wonderful book and from DiVoran, who didn’t like handling car parts, especially when leaning over the fender of the car.  Then I reinstalled the radiator and reassembled the grill, and topped off the water and oil.  I held my breath as I turned the engine over for the first time, but there was no hesitation.  The engine fired right up and settled into a quiet purr.  The car was ready for the road again.  As amazing as it might sound, that 1960 Chevy served us and others for many years after that incident.

I’m sorry to have to say, they don’t build cars like that anymore.

Photo by Bill Lites

—–The End—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 63 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

Letters from Mother 5

28 Jun

My Take

DiVoran Lites

May 20, 1983

 Dear Ones:

Just a quicky, Dad’s home from fishing. I’ve put things away. His young friends wanted to work. He always fixes their bicycles when they break down. 

Photo credit Pixabay

 Dad had about four big buckets of carrots and lots of red, yellow, and white onions that we gleaned along the highway where the vegetable trucks go. They fall off the big trucks when they go around corners and people are allowed to pick them up and take them home. We distributed them among the neighbors.

Photo credit Pixabay

Your Bill called yesterday, and we had a good visit. He felt that he should stay close to his job at Edward’s Air Force Base for the weekend. He’s there to help prepare the Space-Shuttle for return to Florida.  It was nice talking to him.

I finally mailed the package. You should receive it by UPS, and I do hope everything will be in good shape. The longer I waited to mail it, the less excited I was about it. I hope you will enjoy it anyway. Please don’t feel obligated to keep any of the things for a lifetime. I have given them to you, and they are yours for as long or as little a time as you wish to keep them. 

Grandmother has been feeling poorly. She didn’t want us to know and didn’t want to go to the Dr. If you have a little time, send her a letter or card, please.

 I love your long letters these days. I’ll answer the latest one more carefully next week. As for now, I’ve been cleaning out drawers and getting stuff ready for the trip to my brother’s campground on Marrowstone Island. The fishing is good there, and the weather is cool. It’s good to spend some time with Smithy and Waunita.  

This is all for now. Maybe I’ll write more in the morning. Let me know what condition things were in when the package arrived. The throw I mention isn’t there because Mrs. Stiffel’s daughter wanted it and got it just before I offered to buy it from the lady of the quilts at the Salton Sea. Dad’s doing the extra watering, and I’m doing up a load of laundry; I must get some breakfast food and milk soon.

Got this new pen in the mail. We entered a sweepstake with a chance at $50,000, but the pen was all we won.

It’s fascinating that you got to see guns being made in Williamsburg. Dad dabbled in that in Westcliffe. He never formed the barrel, but he worked the stock. (Do you remember seeing him do that?)   

Photo credit Pixabayc

Bet you loved the bookmaking at Williamsburg. Your description is interesting about the leather and all. We have an old book with a torn page that was repaired with needle and thread. 

Can you get a book like those made in Williamsburg? Bill said they would only make 10,000 at a time. How much do you think one might be if you were a collector?

Dave and Susan also enjoyed your journal. Touring with Bill must be great since he takes time to enjoy. We fly by places at the speed of a roller coaster.

Photo credit Pixabay

It sounds as if Bill’s sister Judy is a well-trained teacher of aerobic dancing. I’m glad they suggested an alternative place. (Slimnastics?) The big church out here got into tax trouble when they built a nativity scene. That’s Robert Schuler’s church in Glendale, the Glass Cathedral. 

Your Cutlass Oldsmobile sounds neat, and Bill seemed proud to have you driving it. When he asked if he could marry you, we gave him one condition he must always see that you had a car to drive.   

Grandmother Marie is hopeful of getting a new picture of each great-grandchild. 

Love, Mother, and Dad

DiVoran has been writing for most of her life. Her first attempt at a story was when she was seven years old and her mother got a new typewriter. DiVoran got to use it and when her dad saw her writing he asked what she was writing about. DiVoran answered that she was writing the story of her life. Her dad’s only comment was, “Well, it’s going to be a very short story.” After most of a lifetime of writing and helping other writers, DiVoran finally launched her own dream which was to write a novel of her own. She now has her Florida Springs trilogy and her novel, a Christian Western Romance, Go West available on Amazon. When speaking about her road to publication, she gives thanks to the Lord for all the people who helped her grow and learn.  She says, “I could never have done it by myself, but when I got going everything fell beautifully into place, and I was glad I had started on my dream.”

Camping Can Be Fun Part 1

9 Jun

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

My wife, DiVoran, and I were born and raised in the desert southwest and were used to clear and dry type weather.  When we first moved to Florida in 1965 for me to work on America’s Manned Lunar Landing Mission, we would never have imagined ever going camping anywhere in the jungle that surrounded us.  It was hot and humid all the time and we were inundated with frogs, lizards, spiders and mosquitos day and night.  It was all I could manage was to go from my air-conditioned house to my air-conditioned car and drive to my air-conditioned office.  Did I mention that my air-conditioned office in the Vertical Assembly Building (VAB) was located in the middle of a National Wildlife Refuge, which was full of all manner of slithering things, such as alligators and snakes?  

Photo credit https://fas.org/irp/imint/10061385.htm

I had camped with my family as a teenager in New Mexico on deer hunting trips, and DiVoran had camped with her dad on fishing trips in Colorado when she was younger.  But the climate and weather experiences of those camping trips, during our youths, were so much different.  When some friends from church and work suggested a weekend family camping trip to one of the Central Florida freshwater springs, we were skeptical, but our friends assured us that it would be a lot of fun.  They painted a ‘Florida Paradise’ picture for us.  

Photo: https://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/things-to-do/arts-history/native-american-heritage-alexander-springs.html

Our friends furnished the small two-man pup-tents (open on the bottom and no way to secure the front opening) and mosquito netting that we thought would protect us from the insects.  Well, as it turned out, the blankets we were sleeping on (no air mattresses) did not keep us from being poked by rocks and sticks.  But worst of all, we had no way to support the mosquito netting above us, so as it lay on top of us the  mosquitos jabbed us right thru the mesh.  The fact that this trip was happening in the middle of the summer was aggravated by the Florida heat and humidity.  All in all, it was a couple of miserable nights.

Photo: https://www.pinterest.de/pin/97249673187141267/

I must admit the swimming and tubing was great.  The water was clear and cool, and in spite of the problems, we were hooked on spending time at the Florida freshwater springs.  We discovered that there were other freshwater springs down the middle of the state, and we set our sights on visiting as many of them as we could.  But the first thing we needed to do was get some decent camping equipment.  I called my mother, at home, in Albuquerque, NM and asked her if she still had the family camping equipment.  She said she did, and she was not using any of it.  She packed up the four-man tent, army cots, propane stove and lantern and shipped them by Greyhound bus to us.  I was amazed that everything was in perfect condition after all those years in that dry desert climate.

Photo: https://wildernesstoday.com/best-family-tent/

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 63 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

A Balloon Ride for Ivan

2 Jun

A Slice of Life

Bill LItes

For those of you who have followed my most recent blogs, you will be familiar with the major players in my wife, DiVoran’s family.  For those of you who are just joining me, her father is Ivan and her mother is Dora.  Her younger brother, David, rounds out the family members.  I became a member of this wonderful family when I married their daughter, DiVoran, and have enjoyed the pleasure of their company for over 60 years now.  I would like to share with you one of the more delightful times we had with this family. 

Sometime in early June of 1985 DiVoran and I flew to California to take part in this family’s celebration of Ivan’s 70th birthday.  DiVoran’s father, Ivan, her mother, Dora, as well as her brother, David, and his wife, Susan, all lived in Vista, CA at the time, so that turned out to be the gathering place for the major celebration activities.  As part of the celebration, on one of the days, David had made arrangements for us all to take a balloon ride.  None of us had ever been up in a balloon, and the southern California area is one of the many locations where the weather is favorable for flying balloons; cool clear mornings with little or no wind.  

Photo by Susan Bowers  (No, we didn’t dress like this to go ballooning)

We were all up early that day, rushing around in order to have our breakfast and still have time to drive north some 50 miles to the launch site in Paris, CA.  We met our pilot, Steve, and he asked us to help him unload his balloon from its trailer.  It was a beautiful clear crisp morning and the unfolding of the balloon was very interesting.  Steve was very particular about how we handled every part of the balloon and its hardware.  He had us position each part of the balloon, basket, guy ropes and burner in a systematic way so he could assemble everything quickly and correctly.  Once everything was ready to begin the inflation process, he had us hold the bottom to the balloon open and he used a large fan to start filling the balloon with air.  In the photo below, you can see Ivan supervising the initial inflation operation.

Photo by Dora Bowers

At some point Steve fired up the burner, pointed it toward the partially inflated balloon and blasted hot air into the balloon, and it began to rotate off the ground and rise to an upright positon.  Once the balloon was vertical, we each had to hold onto a rope, attached to the basket, to keep it from ascending before Steve was ready.  He climbed into the basket and asked us who was going to be first.  We all pointed at Ivan and said, “The Birthday Boy!”

We helped Ivan climb into the basket.  Steve went over the operation and safety rules for Ivan, loud enough for all of us on the ground to hear.  I was amazed how Steve was able to keep applying the burner just enough to keep the balloon upright and still keep the basket sitting there on the ground.  When Steve was ready, he told Ivan to hold on, and he applied a long blast from the burner; they slowly lifted off the ground, and they began their ascent.

Note:  I forgot to mention this was one of the smaller balloons and the basket was only large enough to carry Steve, the pilot, and one other person.  And because there were several of us that wanted to take a ride, the duration of the flights were a little shorter than usual.

Photo by Dora Bowers

Steve had instructed us that they wouldn’t be flying more than 1000 feet high, and for us to follow their flight path, so we would be there when they landed, to hold the ropes.  This would allow the passenger to exit the basket and the next passenger to climb aboard (a quick and easy transfer).  If it looked like the wind wasn’t going to carry the balloon far, we would all run to the next landing spot.  DiVoran said, “There goes my 70 year-old white haired mother running after a balloon!”  Dora told DiVoran later that the running was fun, as she hadn’t done that in years.  When the wind picked up, we would all jump into Ivan’s pickup truck and follow the balloon to the next landing spot for the next passenger exchange.  When it was my turn, I couldn’t believe how quiet it was when the burner was off.  I love to fly, but I had never had the opportunity to fly that low in all my flying experiences.  I could just imagine how thrilled the two French brothers, Joseph Michel & Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier, known as the aviation pioneers who launched the first confirmed piloted ascent by man with their hot air balloon, Annonay, in France on June 4, 1783 must have felt.  It was a really wonderful experience!

DiVoran remembers, “During my ride we flew over a junk yard, and when Steve applied a blast from the burner, to keep us high enough to clear an obstacle, I saw hundreds of rabbits running from their hiding places in all directions!”  When everyone had a turn, we helped Steve deflate, disassemble, fold and load his balloon onto his trailer.  We thanked him for an exciting morning of sight-seeing and headed back to Vista, where we each had something to share that was special to us that morning.  That was a wonderful ‘Birthday Gift’ that we were all able to enjoy.  It didn’t dawn on me until years later; that I had scratched off another item from my Bucket List and hadn’t even realized it at the time!

—–The End—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 63 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

Letters From Mother-1

31 May

My Take

DiVoran Lites

My goal has been to learn to write as beautifully as my mother,Dora Bedell Bowers did. We started corresponding when Bill and I got married in California in 1957. Dora and Ivan, my parents were in Albuquerque, and my brother, with his wife and baby, were already in California.  When Mother went to heaven in 2006, the letters stopped. I’d like to share her love-letters with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.  

April 15, 1983

Dear Ones:

I worried and worried the other night about serving my nephew and his wife when they visited. It was a bit of a shame because we have all kinds of different foods to choose from.

In the morning, Roger called and said they would be here after lunch but could stay only a little while. They came at two and left before four. They picked some Valencia oranges from our tree, sampled the lemon iced tea, and ate some Ruby Red Grapefruit from Coachella Valley. Later, I took two pictures of them and served strawberry shortcake. Not the kind Mother would have served, sweet, mashed strawberries over sweet biscuits with fresh, heavy-whipped cream from one of the cows I had milked. Mine was bakery cakes, strawberries from right here in Vista, and cool whip.

Photo credit Pixabay

I think they will remember the stop, anyway. Dad gave them a bouquet of roses, some grapefruit, oranges, and lemons from our little grove. I gave Nancy a hot-dish pad that I crocheted when we were fishing at the Salton Sea.

Photo credit Pixabay

Well, the sprinklers at home work. I told my sister, Judy as long-range planning, I prayed for new stucco on the house, the sprinklers to work well, and a new carpet, and we are moving right along in the Lord’s good timing.

Today, we are going to your Uncle Lowell’s for dinner and the night, then on to your cousin Kathy’s for lunch tomorrow. It’s about a 5-hour round-trip drive to Victorville. Then Sunday, I guess we’ll go back to the Salton Sea. You’ll recall that your Grandmother surprised us all by getting on a jet and flying from Colorado to see Kathy. 

The wind blew and tore our awning at The Salton Sea last week. We were able to repair it. Fishing isn’t really good yet.

We have renters for the house, but they won’t keep our cat Patches. We’re getting along fine with the neighbor’s cat here at the Salton Sea. He spends the days with us and goes home to the trailer next to us at night.

Photo credit Pixabay

You would have enjoyed the desert in bloom at the Salton Sea. We saw a dainty and lovely.desert Indigo bush. The bloom was like a single pea bloom in Indigo. A fishhook cactus was interesting; it had stickers in the shapes of fishhooks. There is a museum at Borrego Springs that is great for learning about the plants. The hills are covered with Orange Ocotillo and yellow brittle-brush, lavender, verbena, tiny white flowers, and white ones close to the ground. Best I’ve ever seen it. I have an article from our paper and a picture of the hills at Borrego Springs. In the fall, the colors change with the seasons.

Photo credit Pixabay

                  Love you all lots.

Is there any chance of your coming to WA this year. We’ll pay for between LA and WA again.

Remember how cool it was.

DiVoran has been writing for most of her life. Her first attempt at a story was when she was seven years old and her mother got a new typewriter. DiVoran got to use it and when her dad saw her writing he asked what she was writing about. DiVoran answered that she was writing the story of her life. Her dad’s only comment was, “Well, it’s going to be a very short story.” After most of a lifetime of writing and helping other writers, DiVoran finally launched her own dream which was to write a novel of her own. She now has her Florida Springs trilogy and her novel, a Christian Western Romance, Go West available on Amazon. When speaking about her road to publication, she gives thanks to the Lord for all the people who helped her grow and learn.  She says, “I could never have done it by myself, but when I got going everything fell beautifully into place, and I was glad I had started on my dream.”

A Wonderful Serendipity

26 May

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

For those of you who have followed my most recent ‘Fishing With Ivan’ blog series, you will be familiar with the major players in my wife, DiVoran’s family.  For those of you who are just joining me, her father is Ivan and her mother is Dora.  Her younger brother, David, rounds out the family members.  I have had the privilege of being a part of this wonderful family (by marriage to DiVoran) for over 60 years and would like to share with you one of the more delightful stories about this family.  

Photo: https://www.gograph.com/vector-clip-art/group-older-adults_4.html

The ‘Fishing with Ivan’ series of blogs described several of the more interesting trips DiVoran and I had taken when visiting Ivan and Dora over the years.  However, the family trips were not all made by us.  Ivan and Dora made several trips to Florida to see us after we moved here for my work in 1965.  By the time this story took place, DiVoran’s brother, David, had become an airline pilot and Ivan and Dora were able to fly to Florida on family passes.  They enjoyed spending time with us and their grandchildren. 

Photo by DiVoran Lites

Photo by DiV

David’s wife, Susan, was a ticket agent for the airline David flew for, and she made all of the flight arrangements (space available) for Ivan and Dora when they flew.  Sometimes they had to make connections as far north as Cincinnati, OH or as far south to San Juan, Puerto Rico in order to make it to Orlando, FL when they wanted to get there.  If I remember right on this particular trip, for some reason, Ivan and Dora had to make connections in Guatemala in order to get to Orlando, FL.  I believe that was the worst hassle they ever had with a trip to Florida to see us.  DiVoran and I were surprised that they agreed to come see us again after that incident, but lucky for us they did.  

Photo: https://www.canstockphoto.com/vector-clipart/ticket-counter.html

We had a wonderful visit with Ivan and Dora on that trip. Our son, Billy, and his family (the grandchildren) live in Orange City, FL which is near the beautiful Blue Springs State Park.  On the weekend, our daughter, Charlene, and her husband, Ron, joined us for a trip to Blue Springs where we met Billy and his family.  Everyone enjoyed a great time visiting and watching the Manatees.  There were many other very enjoyable times with Ivan and Dora before they had to head home.

Photo: https://thatadventurelife.com/2020/01/21/blue-spring-state-park-orange-city-fl/

On the day we took Ivan and Dora to the airport for their flight home, we had no idea David had a surprise for us.  He met us at Security and we were all speechless.  DiVoran couldn’t believe her eyes!  She asked him, “What are you doing here?”  He said, “I’m going to fly Ivan and Dora home.”  DiVoran asked, “How in the world did you manage that?”

His short story was that he had arranged a swap with another pilot.  I’m sure it was a lot more complicated than that.  So now he was going be the Captain of the Boeing 777 flight for their return trip to Los Angeles, CA.

  

Photo by Bill Lites

Of course DiVoran was concerned about her entire immediate family being on the same flight.  She told me later, “As we rode the tram out to take my parents to the gate for their flight, I prayed that they would have a safe trip all the way home.  Then DiVoran said, “That’s when I saw this angle hovering over my parents and my brother.  That assured me that they would be safe and I felt so much better.”

Photo Credit: https://naturalhealthcourses.com/2015/12/be-someones-incognito-angel-this-christmas/angel-in-the-sky/

DiVoran and I not only had a wonderful visit with Ivan and Dora, but we were wonderfully surprised to see her brother, David, and to be able to visit with him, even if it was only for a short time before their flight left.  What ‘A Wonderful Serendipity’ that was.

Photo: https://www.dreamstime.com/photos-images/woman-goodbye-airport.html

—–The End—-

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 63 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

Fishing With Ivan Part 3B

10 Mar

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

At the end of that first fishing day in Astoria (caught no fish), Ivan cooked up the Dungeness crabs, we had caught, for our dinner and DiVoran said she remembers, “That first evening, when Ivan put that dead crab on my plate, I was not too fond of the idea of eating one of those ugly creatures staring up at me.  But once I got past the stare and started eating, I discovered it wasn’t bad.  Each evening Ivan would cook the crabs they had caught that day, on the small stove in the motel for us for our dinner.  Before the trip was over, I had decided that from now on, crab meat dipped in melted butter would be one of my favorite foods.”

Photo credit ClipArtMaq.com

DiVoran also remembers that while the men were fishing, she and her mom took the children on adventures into different parts of the woods around town.  She said, “We walked up soft trails with fallen leaves in the coolness of the shade of the overhanging pines.  The kids were interested in all the sights and sounds along the trails.  Then as we descended back into the neighborhoods, we would see home gardens alive with beautiful flowers such as purple Hydrangea, Day Lilies, and delicate plants with tiny blue lace-like flowers.“

 “One day as we made our way back toward our motel, we were joined by a happy little dog who graciously escorted us all the way to the motel to meet Bill and Ivan.  Of course, the children fell in love with the dog and asked if they could keep him.  We gave them a little story about how valuable such a dog must be to a community like this one. The little dog that followed us around was doing his job, looking after us just as he would all the other visitors who came to town.”  She also told me that, “We always had a nice lunch at a diner there in town while the men were eating their sandwiches out of the boat.”  

You’re not going to believe this, because I couldn’t believe it at the time, but we went out every morning and fished for three days and never caught a single Salmon.  Neither Ivan nor I could ever figure out what we did wrong, or didn’t do right, but I have never seen him so frustrated in all the time I knew him.  The processing and canning of all the fresh Chinook salmon we had planned to catch was out the window, and we ended up buying a few cans from the local cannery, so we wouldn’t have to go home and tell our friends the “REAL” fish story.

The bright side of this trip was that each day when we gave up on the fishing and headed back for the dock, our crab traps were filled with lots of legal sized Dungeness crabs, and everyone ate their fill every evening.  We even had enough to share with some of the other visiting fisherman families, who only had fish to eat.  Of course, that gesture was no consolation for “A Man Who Lives to Fish” like Ivan.

DiVoran reminded me that we had some more fun after the fishing trip, on the way back to Livermore.  She said, “I Remember on our way back from Astoria, we stopped at the Tillamook Cheese Factory for a tour.   We were all interested in how the cheeses was made, and were grateful for the tidbits of the different types of cheese the tour guide offered us during our tour.  Sometimes I see Tillamook brand cheese products in the grocery stores here in Florida, and it takes me back to that family vacation in Oregon.” 

Some people might think this turned out to be a wasted trip, since we didn’t catch any fish, but we all (except maybe Ivan) had a wonderful time and really enjoyed the experience, the company and the scenery.

—–To Be Continued—– 

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 63 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

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