Chena has mobilized the clearing of trees, especially flammable spruce, around the homestead and Brown’s houses for fire safety. This past summer wasn’t a high fire season, but who knows for the future?
Most of the family, save Nonni and Dane, joined us at Thanksgiving.
If only we were all still up to skiing again!
Here’s Niilo skiing across the driveway some 30+ years ago.
Now although there is currently enough snow the next generation very rarely skis. Though most did toboggan down the pasture when those who had moved away were back visiting last spring.
All 2nd=generation Koponens also got lots of exercise tromping around the homestead this fall when gathered again. Mom joined for picnics via automobile; We hope Dad could see it in his mind’s eye when we told him how lovely the homestead still is.
In 1962, when Niilo got accepted to graduate school 4500+ miles away, Koponens had a rousing driveway auction, then loaded up the TravelAll and trailer with horse Kijafa, dogs Maya and AbiYoYo, the 7 family members, and lots of stuff.
I remember being excited but sad as we pulled out of the driveway, leaving cats Fancy and Gypsy in the care of renters, and yelling, “Good-bye House! Good-bye Trees! Good-bye Home!” I always believed we were coming back.
Indeed, Dad graduated from Harvard with his doctorate in Education in 1966, and we narrowly escaped moving elsewhere, and excitedly headed home: Dad, Alex & Heather on the TransCanada RailRoad, Mom, Sanni, Chena + Ruthie & Ollie + 2 horses and 1 dog in the TravelAll and trailer, Nonni separately by air after canoe camp in Canada.
Many wonderful adventures were had. I loved the train trip, and remember especially the fold-away berths, delicious meals, and Dad teaching us to play Spades and Wist (which I have since forgotten.)
The best part was getting Home again.
I remember dozens of mice (actually voles and shrews) scurrying under the cupboards as we stepped through the entry. A new cat soon remedied that, and so began a new chapter…
The robin was totally convinced that Niilo’s office would be the most desirable place to nest, so for a week it kept trying to get in the window.
It would fly up to the window and scratch to get in, attempting all corners and trim, then retreat temporarily to a nearby branch before trying again. I thought it might be attracted to the knickknacks in the windowsill, which include a squirrel tail in a Fejes-made unique pencil-holder and small bird statue. But blocking the window on the inside did not dissuade the bird. Nor did netting on the outside – in fact, the robin got tangled trying to get beyond the web. Finally, a few days after the window was completely boarded over on the outside, the robin began to look elsewhere for its new home. I wonder if it is that one and its mate that seem to chase each other about the crabapple tree.
Niilo recently had the quickest-ever dental work: 2 small fillings in 10 minutes. He laughed in response to Dr. Teel’s hello. He also seemed to get some few days relief of the tight muscles that keep his head drooped forward, thanks to excellent massage therapy. Dick and Heather rub his head and neck, but we are not trained.
Joan planted lots of seeds and now has the greenhouse full with tomato and seedlings for transplanting for garden and decoration, but it frosted last night, so they won’t go out just yet.
Joan has “no idea” what this curiosity -found in the basement – is. Niilo knows what it is! But he’s keeping his memories and wisdom to himself.
Rob knew immediately, and could point out what happens at each point in the contraption: a steam trap, possibly from a train, possibly from some other application.
Per wiki: A steam trap is a device used to discharge condensate and non condensable gases with a negligible consumption or loss of live steam.
Do any of you readers recognize what application this particular steam trap belonged to?
Sunshine and warmth on the beautiful white soft snow…but no pussywillow buds yet!
All 5 Niilo & Joan children, plus 2 grandkids, were at Chena Ridge the week of Niilo’s 84th birthday, March 6th. We enjoyed lunch with Niilo, reminiscing over photo albums with Joan, family meals, toboganning, anagrams and other games, and a visit home by Niilo! (Unfortunately, it was not at his more-awake time of day, which is actually usually evening…)
If only out-of-town family members could have stayed longer…
Niilo has had periods of greater alertness in the past few months, seeming to understand us despite his hearing loss, and speaking a few words. Recent considerable knee pain seems to have been pretty well relieved by joint aspiration and injection of steroid. We hope the benefit lasts a long time.
Niilo also visited his dental team, who treat him so kindly. He opens wide for Chris, his long-time dental hygienist, and knows to close his lips over the suction tube for best effect.
The homestead continues to have fix-it projects, but it’s still standing after almost 60 years, whereas many commercial and other buildings that were younger have been torn down!
Best wishes for a warm and peaceful spring!
For the past 2-3 years Joan has been going bowling twice a week, usually with Alex, sometimes with Dane, Heather and even Chena. Today she got another 99 score!
The big news for next week is all Joan & Niilo’s children to be here for the week – and thus for Niilo’s 84th birthday. It looks like we may be able to bring him home for a visit!
The past month has included holidays, many cold days (down to -38 F on the ridge…not much inversion), visitors, continued activities and wildlife.
It was great to have visits from long-moved-away friend Ezra – to both Joan and Niilo – and from Robin & Pauline, commemorating their wedding 30 years ago in the Koponen kitchen.
Weatherization has made a beneficial difference in heating bills! We are in awe of the birds, moose, and other wildlife that carry on outdoors.
Niilo this week very clearly said, “Hello,” looking with interest at each member of Chena Ridge Friends Meeting who visited and shared in silent worship with him in the Pioneers Home library. They now join him every first and third Monday evening at 7:30pm.
Joan and Alex visit Niilo every Tuesday & Thursday, when they also go bowling and to the Noel Wien Library and to eat out. Heather & Joan – and often Rob – join Niilo for a meal, visiting, and sometimes Ice Cream Social at the Pioneers Home on Saturdays. Niilo also attends other social and musical events at the home and other residents and nursing aides tell us they really like him for his smile. Wonderful friends – especially Richard F. – visit frequently.
Joan has been reading more and doing a few painting projects in recent months, cooking and enjoying meals with friends, many of whom were close neighbors in years past. Cards and other games with family members and fellow rummy-fiend Nancy are Joan’s passion, as is knitting. With seed and suet feeders hanging in front of the living room window, Joan enjoys watching the many chickadees, redpolls, woodpeckers, occasional other small birds and Canada jays that gather to eat; as well as grouse on the nearby crabapple tree. It has been a while since seeing a moose by the house, but their tracks are there! Other tracks were recently explained when Dane saw a lynx in the driveway.
November had some quite-cold weather, hitting -36 F on the homestead while setting a colder record in the valley for some dates. The weatherization done on the house in recent years has made a Big difference in heating costs! Then the first week of December brought a Chinook wind with temps in the 40’s, causing roads that look like they may be icy all winter like last year, though not as bad.
Best Wishes for all.