Sunday, November 19, 2006



We left Tucson in a great rush on October 19, via motorhome, heading for Iowa where the doctors were telling Derek that he might have lung cancer, and that surgery might be necessary. We were of course very worried, and wanted to be there if his situation was as serious as it would have been if the worst case scenario were to transpire. We arrived in Oskaloosa the day before Derek met with the surgeon who would interprete a series of tests and decide whether surgery was needed, and went with him and Sherill to the University of Iowa Medical Center in Iowa City to hear the verdict. We were greatly relieved to learn that the problem was a bad case of pneumonia that clouded his lungs; there was no evidence of lung cancer and no need for surgery. Derek was already well on the way to recovery after treatment with antibiotics, and was back at work before we left Iowa. He took us to a quarry where he is currently working as quality control manager for a large company with 14 quarries that produce all types of gravel and rock products for construction contractors. It was a very impressive operation, with a lot of responsibility placed on his shoulders. Needless to say we had a great visit with him and Sherill despite all the stress associated with his illness.


Since we were only 600 miles from Yellow Springs, we decided to visit Dione, Saul, and Mollie before driving west. They are all doing extremely well, with plans underway to buy or build a house to replace the big house they sold recently. It has not been an easy task to find the "right" house or place to build (a problem we can fully empathize with, since we are having the same difficulty!). Dione was doing final preparations for a showing of her paintings on the walls of the nicest restaurant in the city, while also working on her required classes for the MS degree in Special Education. We saw a preview of her art work and were much impressed. Saul was getting ready for an accreditation review of the Special Education program he heads at Antioch College. Dione had prepared an absolutely delightful photo album for us, mostly from the Lassey Clan reunion. It is a true work of photographic, decorative, and poetic art that we will forever treasure. Fortunately, many of you were able to see it during our visits along the way.

Mollie was in fine form, as usual, with a showing of her art work on the walls of her bedroom that she had also decorated with her collection of dolls, books, a horse corral with miniature horses, a collection of tea sets, and numerous other interesting items. She has quite the creative mind for a 9-year-old! We had a grand time walking with her, Dione, and Saul through the interesting streets of Yellow Springs, and visiting a special collection of Rembrandt paintings at the Art Institute of Dayton (some of which we had seen earlier in a museum in Amsterdam). It was a greal treat to get better acquainted with their lives.


It was wonderful to see Lila doing well while we were in Bismarck for a day. She was having some difficulty breathing, but had no trouble visiting with us. By the end of the day her breathing problem seemed to have considerably subsided. Maybe it was our influence! Tim and Cindy came by and brought us up-to-date on their lives. Cindy and Don are about to build a new house in NE Bismarck, and are very excited about the prospect. Tim has been interviewing for a new job, but did no yet know the outcome. Lila went out to lunch with us, then took us to visit Karen and Tracy's very nice home near the Missouri River in NW Bismarck. It was fun to catch up on their expanding family (they have a new grandchild)!


Dad was waiting for us when we arrived in Cartwright, and was in great spirits as usual. It is so good to see him really thriving at age 92, surrounded as usual by his lively family. Marilyn, Issy, Ron, Mavis, Luke, Tara, Abbie (a real cutie!), Will, Trista, Brett, Cole, and Amber joined us for dinner one evening or for dessert on the second evening (Shawn, Tracy, and Dani were on a trip). Mavis took us on a tour of the oil well drilling north of Cartwright, and through the farms where Dad grew up many long years ago. We saw two rigs drilling, and some completed new wells. Lots of action all around the area, obviously.

Dad took us out to lunch with Ron and Mavis at the South Forty in Sidney. We thoroughly enjoyed learning about the terrific (if challenging!) beet harvest, and all of the interesting developments in the family and on the ranch. It has been a very good year!


We happened to be in Helena when Maureen and Mat had a day off (Veteran's Day), so caught them both with time for great conversations. They prepared a gourmet dinner at their beautiful house on an evening that was perfect for enjoying spectacular views from the many windows. And of course we enjoyed the affectionate greetings from their three Golden Retrievers! They took us on an excursion to Marysville, now partly a ghost town, but once the home for 4000 people during the gold rush days of the 1870s. A most interesting place to see, with a ski area immediately uphill on the mountain. Mat is checking out a new job as he considers retiring after nearly 30 years with state government. Maureen is off to various locations across the country each week for Fannie Mae endeavors, and loves it all. They are in Hawaii this week, and are planning an adventure in southern France for January. What a full life they lead!


En route back we had a neat evening with Chandra, Bryson, and Laini (Chandra's sister), in Salt Lake. I had a great time being entertained by Bryson, who loves to "drive" the motorhome, at age four, while testing all the bells and whistles. They were all doing fine. Earlier in the day we had a great lunch with our long-time friends, Lawrence and Saundra Gibb--and caught up a bit on their 11 kids and handsome families. We always thoroughly enjoy their cheerful company.


After a month away, we spent much of two days just catching up on the collection of mail! Our house was intact, except for a broken washer that has now been replaced with a new Whirlpool Duet--already successfully cleaning two weeks of laundry! It is nice to be home after a very satisfying trip with no major weather problems. Our little motorhome performed well all the way. We will enjoy Thanksgiving at our house with long-time friends, two of Marie's former colleagues from the University of Idaho, Ellis Burcaw and Zaye Chapin, as well as Zaye's mate, Ed Carlisle.


Bill and Marie

Sunday, November 12, 2006


We realize that, at a few execeptions who were visiting with us during the last few years, lots of the Lassey clan have no or almost no idea of how we are looking now, 25 years after our last visit to the Cartwright area.
We therefore include this recent picture of us and hope you will believe it is really us...

All the best to all,
Hedwig and Herna (Belgium)