A Delicious and Delightful Celebration

Now and again, we are issued an invitation that is beyond compare. I received one to help celebrate a milestone birthday for my daughter. There was not one chance in a million that I would turn down a visit with my daughter, son-in-law, and their wonderful children.

So I packed my things, drove from my Ohio home to their Missouri home, and enjoyed a delicious visit with them, taking me away from home for twelve scrumptious days.

We attended Easter services at their church and were invited to dinner at the home of my son-in-law’s parents the following day. It was a treat to catch up with many in their extended family.

My daughter & son-in-law wanted to take me to the St. Louis Art Museum, but unfortunately, it was closed, so we went to the zoo instead. Somehow this old lady accidentally deleted all the zoo pictures I took.

On Saturday night, a fabulous party with many of her friends and family helped to celebrate her birthday. I am still savoring the joys of this twelve-day adventure.

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Part 5: Karl Peterson and The Rest of the Story

I had planned to write about Karl Peterson visiting us in Columbia, South Carolina, for five days in June 1991. But I have changed my mind. Instead, I want to end this series with one last post about Karl and our friendship.

I was in Virginia with my husband, visiting his parents, when Karl Peterson’s daughters called, informing me that their father had died and asking me to speak at his funeral. There was no way that I could make it back to Ohio in time for his funeral. So, I wrote what I would have said and contacted a faculty member, Charles Chatfield, who read it for me at Karl’s funeral.

This is what I wrote:
A handful of students kept him talking after class: but he was willing to keep up the discussion as long as time allowed. The topics were varied — religion, anthropology, criminology, art, movies, and sociology. You need not agree with him, but he responded to students as if their questions were exceedingly serious. In time, I noticed that my questions were becoming more substantial. He expected it.
Fifteen years ago, when Karl Peterson was my teacher, the books in his office were in three-foot stacks everywhere. He had bibliographic suggestions for nearly every discussion. Once during a conversation with me, he loaned me a book that dealt with the history and influence of the phrase “We Stand On the Shoulders of Giants.” I am grateful for the privilege of standing on the shoulders of a giant — an exemplary teacher, avid reader, lover of art, and good friend.

Sometimes the memories of people we care for trip us up when we least expect it. I found this in my journal written in April of 1994:

On the Death of My Teacher, Karl S. Peterson.

Four months have passed since you died. There is still an oddness about it — a piece not fitting.

You have been my friend, teacher, and advisor for fifteen years. You visited me and my family in two of our homes. We sat on a park bench in Connecticut and smelled the salty sea air at Light House Point Park. In South Carolina, we sat on the curb outside the art museum and ate lunch — street vendor hot dogs. How often have we gone out to dinner in Springfield or Yellow Springs, and now you are dead.

It is just weird. It wasn’t that we talked so often — but I wasn’t finished with the conversation, were you?

From your obituary, I learned things that I never knew about you. But you said I was a rare friend to whom you could say anything.

Although the longevity of friendship makes up for lots of conversation, I keep thinking, oh, I must tell Karl. Are you listening?

PS.  Karl, here it is 29 years later, and I still miss our talks.





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Part 4: Karl Visited Us in New Haven Connecticut

My husband graduated from Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary a year before I did. The consensus of faculty members to whom we turned for advice seemed unanimous. We should move so that my husband David could begin his graduate work. I could take some classes at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut, and then return to Gettysburg periodically to meet with the faculty and take area exams.

David and I found a first-floor apartment at 39 Lyon Street, which seemed a great location. We were blocks from the beautiful Wooster Square and enjoyed taking walks there. At some point during our years in New Haven, we heard from Karl Peterson and extended an invitation for him to visit us. Try though I might, the date of that visit eludes me — but our time together was splendid. 


Karl found a hotel, and then I showed him the sights that we could fit in, given the amount of time we had. We began by seeing sites on Yale’s campus, both the Divinity School and the University proper. We went into the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. He wanted to check out the New Haven Art Museum, and afterward, we saw a street vendor selling hot dogs — so we parked ourselves on a raised curb by the museum and chowed down on delicious chili dogs. 

We visited Lighthouse Point Park, checked out the Carousel, and ate a picnic lunch while enjoying the view of the water. We were close enough that we drove out to see the Thimble Islands near Branford, CT, and the delightful houses that stand on them.

But only a visit to New Haven would be complete with a visit to Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana. We concluded that this was an absolute gotta-do. David and I thoroughly enjoyed having Karl visit, and I loved all the sightseeing we did. Wonderful memories!

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Part 3: We Invited Him to Our Wedding

As I mentioned in my last blog post, Mr. Peterson, my teacher for Criminology, expected us to work. I remember various occasions when students would talk with him informally over meals. It was a win/win situation. We learned more about the subject matter of the class, criminology, while he learned why his students took that particular class. At the same time, he learned about our backgrounds and ambitions.

Mr. Peterson and I kept in touch during my last two college years. I graduated a year behind the rest of my class as I had taken a year away to work at the Ecumenical Institute in Switzerland. (Institut Œcuménique – Château de Bossey).

The picture at left is me after graduating from Witt, with my Mom and Dad.

Shortly after my college graduation, I headed to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to attend seminary. I learned many things during my three academic years, a summer program called Clinical Pastoral Education, and my one-year internship.

I made many life-long friends during those years and, in time, accepted a marriage proposal from a brilliant student a year ahead of me at the seminary. We married in my hometown and had a pretty large wedding and reception. All sorts of people attended, probably about 300, and after the wedding, we had a reception, complete with a dance band, in the church fellowship hall.

You may ask how this has anything to do with the man who was my college professor. Well, let me tell you. Mr. Karl Peterson accepted our invitation to attend our wedding and reception. At some point that evening, he asked me to dance. As we danced, he gave his fatherly opinion, which echoed my mother’s and father’s opinions.

My choice of a husband was excellent.


Here we are — left to right.  The Bride (aka the author); Mr. Peterson (aka Sociology Professor and good friend); and then my college friends Judy, and my bridesmaid Ellen.

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Part 2: Fatherly Admonition

The story continues.

The previous summer, I went on a double date with my eldest brother, sister-in-law, and a guy who worked with my brother named Gary. I had never met him before. The four of us went to a drive-in movie, and afterward, they dropped me at home. I assumed that would be the last time I’d hear from Gary, but I was wrong.

I would call it an understatement to say that Gary was an introvert. I was surprised when I received a few letters from him after returning to school. One evening the phone rang, and I was astonished to discover it was Gary. He asked me if I would like to go out to dinner. I asked him when he wanted to do that, and he confessed that he was calling from the lobby of my dorm. He wasn’t asking me out on a future date; he asked me to dinner that night.

My boyfriend, Brent, had just stopped by to see if I wanted to go out. I covered the phone while I explained what had just transpired. Brent probably rolled his eyes but added that he would call me the next day, which he did. So, Gary and I went out for an excellent dinner at a restaurant near my dorm. Afterward, he walked me back to my dormitory, we said goodnight, and I thanked him again for a nice dinner.

The following morning I was astonished to receive yet another call from Gary, asking if he could come and see me. I told him I didn’t know he was still in town but that I had a Criminology class in minutes. He asked if he could go with me, and then he would buy me some coffee or something and head home.

We made it to my class with very little time to spare and ended up in the back row, the only place with two available seats. After class, I introduced Gary to my teacher, who greeted him politely. Gary and I had just left the classroom when Mr. Peterson called my name and said he would like a word with me. I assured Gary I would be just a moment, and I returned to the classroom, where he spoke just one sentence. “He is not good enough for you.” I replied as I would have to my father, with the assurance there was no cause for alarm.

Stay tuned for the third part of the story.

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Part 1: A True Story Begging to be Told

An odd thing happened in my life several years ago. Out of the blue came a strong memory that arrested my attention and interrupted my plans. It is a true story that began in the late 1970s when I returned for my third year of college after spending the better part of a year working overseas at the Ecumenical Institute, Chateau de Bossey, in Celigny, Switzerland.

This story is of a unique friendship that began that fall and continued until death interrupted in 1994. I hesitated to write this until I could speak with one of his daughters to gain approval for what will likely take quite a few blog posts and time. I finally located his eldest daughter on the other side of the country, and we had an excellent phone conversation spanning two and a half hours.

I was a twenty-one-year-old who had enrolled in a class at a college in Ohio. Although an English major, I signed up for a Criminology course in the Sociology department. I must confess that there were times during my college years when I skated through classes without exerting too much time or energy. But this particular course captured my imagination, partly because it was outside the mainstream of my academic study. But the professor ably taught it, and putting my nose to the grindstone was gratifying.

The first time I entered his office, I saw stacks of books everywhere. It was a phenomenon I understood. My parents kept building bookcases in our home; both were voracious readers. My mother had a Master’s degree in Literature; my father wanted to be a pastor and read widely in history, scripture, and theology. In time he became a Lawyer — but he always retained that earlier passion.

As the course went on, a question kept nagging at me. Finally, like the young upstart I was, I threw caution to the wind and asked my prof why he had a Master’s degree but not a Ph.D. He did not answer my question. He said perhaps he would tell me one day. One day he did. But it did not happen very soon.

Stay tuned for the second part of the story.

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A Gift with Some Memories

My Dad’s birthday was March 5th.  He died when his youngest grandchild, my daughter, was a year old.   I am looking forward to celebrating her thirtieth birthday later this year.  This is the second time that I have posted what follows.  But thinking about both my dad and my daughter, made me what to share what follows, one more time.

The other day a friend from our former church in Arizona posted this on Facebook: “Name one thing that you learned from your father.” As I regularly don’t follow directions, I wrote two things, but they were woefully inadequate. Then Saturday’s mail brought a beautiful note, accompanied by a gift to help repair some more of our broken furniture. Since most of that furniture had belonged to my parents, I was not surprised that the note was in honor of Dad’s birthday. I cried when I read the card and saw the check – tears of thanksgiving for the help wrapped up in memories of the best father I could have had.

My Dad’s father and my Mom’s father died within six weeks each other the year before I was born. As they did most years, they had already rented a house for a week in July at Lakeside, Ohio, on Lake Erie. It was a Methodist community but every summer there was a Lutheran week. There were speakers and events, swimming nearby at East Harbor, and lots of fun for the kids. Our cousins would go as well, and it was always a wonderful time. That July was a healing time for my parents. Time to relax and get away and be with family. As my birth occurred the following spring, I happily surmise that I was part of that healing process.

My grandfathers never knew that a little one was forecast. I always wanted my Dad to live to see my children – as I was the baby after three boys, he knew all his other grandchildren – but I hoped and prayed he would live to see mine. My Dad lived a few months past his 78th birthday. As my parents lived in Ohio and I lived in South Carolina, I am forever grateful that God granted my Dad the gift of seeing my only                 daughter, not once but five times during the last year of his life. He loved seeing all of his grandchildren, and that included his littlest. My Dad’s doc wanted him to keep track of his blood pressure for a while, and my Mom always noted that it was better when little Katie was around. Dad wrote a letter to my husband and me urging us to keep up the good work!  He humorously noted how well we had done producing our first child and urged us to continue to produce many more amazing children. Although we would have                                                                                       loved such a family, it was not to be.

Grief is weird – it changes over time but it doesn’t go away. When you love someone, they stay in your thoughts.  Rarely does a day go by that I don’t think of my mom & dad and their incredible love for each other. I learned a gazillion things from my Dad – most importantly that his love for our mom came before his love for anyone else including his children. He taught me that you could be a better parent if you nurture your marriage and keep that love strong. He loved going on adventures with my mom, and they often took off for a weekend in the hills of Ohio — or perhaps to Amish country. Did I mention he had a weakness for pie?

Dad was a lover of critters and particularly birds and developed a daily routine of feeding them, eventually feeding the squirrels as well, so that they would leave the bird feed alone. I can remember the thousands of little bird footprints in the snow in our back yard around the bird feeder. He was an avid reader of books, a collector of antiques and particularly antique tools, he loved working in the basement workshop and routinely inciting our mom to riot when he forgot to change out of his business suit & tie before going to the basement to work on a little project.

When I was a little girl, he and mom sometimes took turns packing me off to bed, and when he was in charge, he always used the time to talk with me about my day and teach me the ten commandments and pray with me before I went off to sleep. He also taught me how to tie and fly a kite, how to use a wood lathe, how to pick appropriate hardware for a repair job or to hang a picture, and the joy of having theological or political discussions. He loved to read and would regularly demonstrate how to read a book or the evening paper stretched out on the living room couch with our cat Otto on his chest. He was also willing to have cat company while eating his breakfast.  He loved to work in the garden and fostered in me a love of roses, of the first flower of each year – the crocus that would come up through the snow, of wildflowers like bleeding heart, jack-in-the-pulpit, bloodroot, trillium, and of how to pick lily-of-the-valley to take to my Mom. I still love the smell of the lily-of-the-valley and adore the sight of big bunches of roses in vases in the house. I am so glad that my husband Ron loves to garden and is working on clearing beds to plant in our new back yard.

Dad was a lawyer, and occasionally he would have to take papers to someone’s house to sign. When that someone was a widow or single woman, my mom would usually go with him. On a couple of occasions, when my mom was otherwise occupied, he would ask me to ride along with him. I did this a few times over the years – a little person whose quiet little presence was a help to put others at ease.

A staunch Lutheran, Dad had back surgery at one point for excruciating pain which was caused by a pinched nerve. One of his clients told him that her whole African Methodist Episcopal Zion congregation was praying for his recovery. At the mortuary, after he died, a black lady introduced herself to us and said that her common-law husband had left her years before and she was without means to keep her house. She told us that our Dad, who was her lawyer, had paid her mortgage for some months until she could find a better job allowing her to keep her home. We were blown away – we had no idea that had happened.

Not everyone is blessed with a man of character as a father. I was blessed doubly because my Dad was also something of a character. I had such fun with my Dad who was the best Dad this girl could have had. He left me with thousands of good memories including his love of picnics; childhood bike rides often followed by a visit to the local Root Beer stand; a vacation (just the two of us) in Europe following a job I had in Switzerland interrupting my college years.

While traveling in Switzerland and Germany, my Dad and I had time to talk about issues of truth telling, sin, and unburdening yourself by burdening someone else. Heavy stuff. I wrote about that here:

On Truth Telling, Betrayal, Secrets and Lies

He was an all-around good guy who died about a month short of what would have been our parents’ 53rd wedding anniversary. I have written about my parents quite a few times, but here are three:

Love and an Acre of Land

Living Life

A Decision Born of Grief

In honor of what would have been his birthday I give thanks for this amazing man.  Deo Gracias.

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A Chronology of Cats

When I was just a little girl, a neighbor down the street found a stray mama cat who gave birth to four kittens. I had never had a pet before, so I asked my parents if they might let me have one of these. I hoped against hope that perhaps they would let me. I didn’t get an answer for a while.

Then one day, my mother had to go to the A & P grocery store. [If you want to read something interesting, check out what Wikipedia says about The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company]. After my mom had gotten her groceries, she pulled up in front of the library, gave me her library card, and told me to ask at the desk for the book they were holding for her.

I couldn’t believe my eyes! It was all about CATS!

I knew I had the best Mommy & Daddy on the planet! Thus began my life with cats. Not only would they let me have a cat. They said that perhaps the kitten would be happier with a sibling. So I didn’t just get one; I got two cats, and I got to name them. I called them Rainbow and Smokey.

I thought they were the best cats on the planet. I loved them both very much. After some years, Smokey was in an accident and went home to meet his Maker.

But our much loved Rainbow lived many more years with us. Here is a picture of him lolling about in our backyard. He was such a wonderful cat.

Some years later, one of my three big brothers received a cat who he named Phredric Phredricson. He seemed to be especially enthralled watching my goldfish swim around. I must confess to being slightly nervous, but he was a good boy.

In 1972, we got a cat that we named Otto von Bismarck. Otto particularly liked keeping our dad company when eating breakfast or reading the newspaper.

When walking home from school, I often found Otto waiting for me next to the mailbox at the NE corner of Wellesley Drive and Upton Avenue. When I arrived, we would walk home together.

My parents had one car, so Dad often came home from work on the bus. Otto would walk with me to the bus stop on the SE corner of Wellesley Drive and Upton Avenue and calmly wait until my Dad would get off the bus, and then the three of us would walk home together. Otto was a remarkable cat.

Decades later, our daughter wanted to get a cat. Her Dad and I agreed that she could get one, and she did. She also got the chance to name her cat. She called him Radcliffe Jellylorum. Radcliffe after Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter Fame, and Jellylorum from the inspiration provided by T. S. Elliot’s poem “The Naming of Cats.”

Radcliffe was primarily an indoor cat but eventually had to move across the country from South Carolina to Arizona.  He proved he was an excellent traveler. He had never had to wear a harness before, but as we made the trip over several days, he had to learn.

Radcliffe bore the travel well and enjoyed exploring our new house. He was only allowed outside our Arizona home if we had to take him somewhere. We had heard stories of birds of prey snatching pets from their yards.

He loved being with his human family and sometimes added his paw to our joined hands when watching a movie.

Radcliffe enjoyed a quiet life but perked right up when he could watch the rabbits outside the windows of our home. We occasionally referred to this as Bunny TV.

Unfortunately, old age caught up with our much-loved Radcliffe Jellylorum. He died and is buried in Arizona.

Sometime later, my dear husband suggested it might be time for us to move to my home state, where I have family, friends, and familiar turf.

In the intervening years, I have missed the company of a cat. Is adopting a senior cat in my future? We shall see. I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject! Please like, subscribe, and leave your comment below!

Posted in Animals, Family, Friendship, Growing Things, Heaven, Life in these times, Love, Responsibility | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Sweet Touch of Chaos

Since my husband’s death, I have found that I try to keep busy, work on projects, and get together with family and friends. The task of writing blog posts had me stymied because I needed to figure out where to focus.

But then, my calendar exploded. The last time I could travel substantially was in 2019, when my husband and I took two major road trips. We made one trip out to Arizona, where we had lived before moving to my home state of Ohio.

Here is Ron at our former home in Arizona

We also took a road trip down south — visiting family & friends in southern Ohio and then in Georgia and North and South Carolina. I am so thankful that we were able to make those trips.

This was taken when we were visiting with dear friends in South Carolina.

My husband died early in 2020, and after his death, I went back to work part-time and could pay off his credit card debt and most of mine, working from the smallest to the largest. There are two left, and I will keep working on those, but it will take some time.

I am thankful for my extended family: my daughter and son-in-law and their family, my brothers and their wives, my cousins and nieces and nephews, and my dear Ronnie’s daughters and their families. I love getting and receiving snail mail, phone calls, and the occasional video chat with some family and friends.

The excitement just began. Last Wednesday, February 22, a friend from Arizona flew out for a visit. Last night we had a scrumptious dinner in my favorite local restaurant, which I’ve written about before, Don Tomasso’s Italian Kitchen.

In March, my daughter, son-in-law, and their little ones, including one son whom I have not yet met are visiting for the better part of a week. Come April, I have a delicious invitation to attend a significant birthday party in Missouri — which I wouldn’t miss for anything in the world.

But it doesn’t stop there. Two college chums are coming to visit in May. Friends who live in the state of Washington are coming for a visit sometime in the early summer. Then, “God willing, and the creek don’t rise,” I will take a road trip to visit friends and family in southern Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Recently I learned that it might be possible for me to see dear friends of Ron’s and mine from Arizona who now live in a state I have never been to — Alabama!

My dear Ronnie would have approved of this chaos.

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Much to Look Forward To

Gentle Readers:

I was publishing weekly blog posts on Tuesdays and Fridays at approximately 1:00 p.m. Eastern time. Of late, I have hardly written much at all. This spring and summer, I have a calendar overflowing with visitors, trips, and other events, which may cause gaps in my ability to write a new blog post. I mean to rectify that, but I ask you to bear with me.

I started writing When the River Won’t Flow in 2014 while living in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona when we were having trouble finding a church home. You can read about that here: When the River Won’t Flow: Wanting a Seat in the Pew

I fell in love with Arizona. We enjoyed our years there. It was where my husband grew up & lived most of his life. I am so thankful that he & I moved there so that I could share the things that he loved so well. We had some fantastic adventures and some breathtaking trips.

After about six years, he thought moving us back to my home state might be wise. There was a significant age difference between us, and he thought such a move was prudent.

So, in September 2018, we moved across the country to my home state. The move itself was rough. Truth be told, although we mostly recovered from the movers’ disaster, there are still things that have never been put right.

But for me, that is spilled milk. We moved into a house built in 1855. There are still portions of it that have yet to be tamed. There are also portions of it that need to be rebuilt. But it is a good house, and thank you, Jesus, it is my husband’s and my last house.

I would be honored if you would follow my blog.  Please notice the words in white under the cover picture of the sunset:

  • Home is the default page where the latest blog post hangs out.  Double click on the post, and it will single it out so that you can leave a comment if you wish.
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  • Navigation Tips are surprisingly just that. Check them out! They tell you multiple ways to discover a subject of interest.

Please check-in, like, and leave short comments whenever you can. For longer comments, I would ask that you email me at AECRM@yahoo.com

Please check my book page or loiter on these pages and learn how to search and find blog posts of interest.

Many thanks to you all!

Ann Miko
February 17, 2023

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