Category Archives: Matters of the heart

RIP, Joe Anderson

How does one tell an 88-year-old woman that her first-born son has tragically died? There is no good way. We were as gentle as we could be when we faced that task last Wednesday, both Peter and I holding Rusty’s hands as he shared the devastating news that Joe had been killed near the curb as he started to cross a busy street at sunset in Idaho Falls on Tuesday night.

We were concerned the shock could well do her in, but she is a strong soul, immediately more concerned about Joe’s wife Sandy, his twin daughters Erika and Michelle, and how the other boys (Bill and David) were taking it. Everyone is heart-broken.

Truly, such a shock; we are all stunned, and it has been a very rough week.

Joe’s passing leaves a gigantic hole in our family. Joe was the spark for Anderson get-togethers, always curious about everyone’s travels (although he much preferred to stay home), the first to help bring in stuff from the car, build a fire, to do whatever needed  to be done.  He had a giant guffaw of a laugh and a lopsided grin that couldn’t help but touch your heart.

As Rusty put it — and it’s completely absolutely true to those who knew him — Joe was “the most positive person she ever knew.” He was faithful about calling her every single night, no matter where he happened to be — home in Jackson, on the road somewhere for his sales job, or at the Jackson Hole airport fulfilling his hosting duties there.  She didn’t want to talk to anyone but family, crying so often and rubbing her eyes so hard that by the end of that day, her sweet face was marked with a raccoon-like mask of bruises.  Poignantly, Rusty said sadly that he was the last person to remember her when she and Emory were young — what a sad realization.

Normalcy seems distant. As Rusty said, she doesn’t feel like life should go on — dressing, eating, thinking about things like whether the cat box needs to be emptied and if there’s a kink in her oxygen hose. “Parents shouldn’t have to bury children,” as my sister Judy put it, and at 67, Joe should have a lot more time to enjoy his grand-kids and serve on the ski patrol (which he has done for FIVE decades). But such is not the case.  We are now in the logistic muddle of memorial planning and at last reaching out for support. I appreciate the words of concern and offers to help. At the moment, there’s not much to be done.

Joe’s death is a terrific — in the true senses of the word (“of great size, amount or intensity,” and archaicly, “causing terror”) reminder of the fragility of life. It offers much needed perspective…. of what truly matters and what is valued.

Hug your loved ones today, or if they’re not in reach, call and share your love. We never know what might be our last communication with those we care about (and who care about us as well.)

Three special pix —

Peter, Joe and Bill, top of the tram in Jackson, from September 2009: w_-peter-and-bill-top-of-the-tram-sept-2009

Rusty and her sons Bill, David, Peter and Joe, on her front porch on Easter, 2013:


Celebrating Easter 2016, at Rusty’s — Joe’s wife Sandy and the twins and their family were with Sandy’s sister but this was the first time the four boys had been together for a while, with Leslie and Theresa there, too.


Lastly, here’s the link to the story that was in the Jackson Hole Daily on Thursday. Joe’s obituary will be in Wednesday’s weekly Jackson Hole News and Guide.




1 Comment

Filed under Matters of the heart

On traveling — 2015.4

All year I’ve been feeling philosophical about the notion of wanderlust. We joke about the desire to travel being in my blood — after all, my parents were travel agents, some of my first memories are of trips with them, and I learned early where every bathroom is in the world (you know, down the hall and to the left — or it might be on the right side, or in a corner, but think about it — it’s true!)

Peter in doorwayAnyway. I love to travel.

Luckily, I found, fell in love with, and married someone who likes to travel as much as I do.

We watch out for each other well. We have regular routines — passport check, carrying a food bag for picnics, that sort of thing.  When in doubt, we grab a coffee and water and reconnoiter.

I’d have to say that we’re still holding hands, and I’m glad of it.

We go through many doors, usually together, but occasionally one or the other must lead. This is one of those photographs that seems to capture our mutual spirit of adventure….

Peter has a lot more vacation time from work that I do; although he doesn’t likpic of Peters flighte going without me, he took a couple of flying-solo trips last year (to ski in the Alps and to check out Stockholm), and in February he headed to Japan.

Through the wonder of technology — United’s flight status on my cell — I even know where his planes happen to be at a particular point in time.

The biggest miracle of modern-day travel is that we can go so far so fast.

Between us, we’ve been lucky to visit 62 other countries (along with several visits to a small handful of locations).  We love the challenge of discovering the layout of a previously unknown place, like Madrid’s “bow-tie.”

We like knowing how to navigate somewhere new.

We love learning about history by walking on what’s left behind after centuries. “When in doubt, walk on cobblestones” is one of the philosophies we share.

We believe one’s world is enlarged in trekking about places like the Acropolis, Machu Piccu, Pompeii, Teohuatican, Tikal, or Easter Island — the perspective on time alone makes the journey worthwhile. (You can see photos on my Facebook page of many of our journeys.)

sunset on the Rio PlataWe’ve shared some fantastic sunsets (this one, in Colonia, Uruquay, looking across the Rio Plata, Buenos Aires off to the south), ferries across famous waterways, meals of fish pizza and Florentine steaks and frites in a paper cone.

We’ve stayed in a variety of spots: next to a metro under construction in St. Petersburg; in an apartment up 112 steps for three weeks in Rome; and with a host-family on Isla Tequila (on Lake Titicaca in Peru). We’ve booked rooms in a wide range of B ‘n Bs over the years — from a Rick Steves’ recommend for “best loo in Britain” to a place in Ireland where condensation ran down the walls overnight. We’ve even lodged a few nights in a five-star hotel or two.

It’s not about notching our belts with passport stamps, though. There’s so much more that we’ve learned from our experiences.  Serendipitously, we’ve encountered the red-balloon peace rally in Sibiu, Romania; a near-empty Vatican Square (the next day, it was filled to the gills with the faithful); colorful parades in Lima and Oslo.  I’ve written about many of those memories in this blog. I’m optimistic this won’t be the last entry about our ballons peace event in Sibiu Romania

The most important thing we know about traveling is not to take it for granted. We have no idea what tomorrow might bring, whether we’ll be healthy enough or whether we’ll be able to afford to do what we like to do.

That’s one reason we’re not “waiting until retirement” to have these adventures.

In July, the two of us were in Norway, following several days of amazing sunshine in Oslo and some time recharging our batteries (and resting our feet) on the Sognefiord. feet on the fjord

Then I worked on this post while we were sitting in the airport of Philadelphia, homeward bound (albeit on two different flights — Peter through Chicago, me through Denver).

On the eve of the last day of August, Peter was packed to take another trip on his own, this time to Malta. Malta? Yep. It’s one of those destinations that calls us — charming and historically significant, but not all that well-known — yet — as a tourist-dominated spot.  It was a good trip for him; the solo reconnaisance provided a chance to check things out, and we’d like to return on another occasion to soak up its heat and history.

We like to think we’ll always return, that a place we love will stay constant — and that we’ll get everywhere we want to go — on an African safari, to hike in New Zealand, listen to an opera in Sydney, see the sunrise over the Taj Mahal — but there are no guarantees. We work at our jobs to be able to afford to go, and we work on ourselves to stay healthy so we can go.

So far so good….

Enjoy your next travels, wherever they may take you!

Leave a comment

Filed under Journeys..., Matters of the heart, Scrapbook

Old friends — 2015.3

The late-60’s song Old Friends never fails to bring me near tears. But as I’m closer to the “terribly strange of seventy” than I’d like to think about, the song now vividly reminds of the riches in friendships that last decades.

A couple months ago, a woman I worked with — about 30 years ago, when Peter and I lived in Seattle — “found me,” not via Facebook or in some other techno way, but instead by asking about us at the local Ace Hardware and calling me out of the blue on the phone. It was so fun to reconnect! She was in the Tetons visiting her mom, and we had a good chance for catch up on the decades and miles between us.

Renee sounded exactly as I remember her — and well, of course she did! I love that, even as we age and our physicality changes, whether due to wrinkles, weight or hair color, our voices, expressions and mannerisms stay the same.

A week ago, I spent a fabulous day with another old friend, from even farther back (i.e., my cast year in Up With People, 1973-74). Pam and I have been in closer touch more recently — an absolutely wonderful rekindling of our relationship and much of it online — but that certainly didn’t diminish our quality personal time together on a sunny early-summer Sunday…

Well, just this morning I heard from another UWP castmate. She happens to be coming to Philadelphia — where I’m working remotely this week — for a conference. I haven’t seen Mary since 2011 at an Uppie reunion in Colorado, and I can’t wait to see her again.

It’s a long way from her home in Alaska and mine in Idaho, but what a wonderful coincidence that we happen to be here, on the far side of the country, at the same time. Whoohoo!

While the Simon and Garfunkel song is sometimes heartbreakingly poignant, the reality of old friends is a sweet and special treasure.

UWP pic in Breck -- Mary and PamThis pic is from our cast reunion in Breckenridge four years ago (Pam in yellow, Mary in red)! Looking forward to seeing many of them at UWP’s 50th, in Orlando later this summer. Unfortunately, Rufus Barkley, the fellow I’m standing by (back row) passed away about six weeks after we were together — another vivid reminder that life is precious and we never know what tomorrow will bring.

Leave a comment

Filed under Journeys..., Matters of the heart, Scrapbook

Watching the ball game — 2015.6

dad as ref

One year for his birthday, Judy found Dad a ref shirt — he loved it! This is one of our all-time favorite photos of him.

Growing up, it was almost a religious rite to “watch the ball game” at our house. That comes from a sports-crazy dad with three daughters (whose initials were the same as Baltimore Colts’ star Johnny Unitas) and no sons to push from the sidelines. It’s not that we weren’t athletic — all three of us played something competitive in high school and Judy co-majored in Phys Ed in college — but from an early age, we learned that when there was a ball game on the TV, well, we’d likely be watching it.

OK, I must admit, it was mostly certain kinds of sporting events — and we also attended plenty in person. We rarely missed anything played by the University of Wyoming and never stuff at our high school, the now-gone Cheyenne St. Mary’s. But mostly, on a staticy black and white televsion, we watched both football and basketball.

Our dear grandmother, Mimi, was a huge baseball fan — she followed the Kansas City A’s closer than her soap operas (and that was pretty darn close!) But baseball wasn’t *it* at home. Honestly, tennis was not a ball game; neither was golf. And although we went to a hockey game in Denver once, neither was hockey — it just didn’t quite enter into the Uphoff consciousness.

But the pros rated — think Denver Broncos, primarily — and of course the big events like the NBA finals, the Super Bowl, and March Madness (did they even call it that then?)

A lot of history behind this family tradition…. for example, Dad was the president of the Cheyenne Quarterback Club when we were kids. While Joan and I were visiting Judy recently, we found a letter signed by six Green Bay Packer star football players (Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Boyd Dowler, etc.), from when they’d visited Cheyenne in the early 1960s. Dad had arranged the whole thing! What a treasure!

But we knew it wasn’t about winning. We learned to cheer for our favorite teams even when they were on a losing streak….  And that seemed to be the case more often than not. In the early 1970s, St. Mary’s struggled on just about any kind of playing field. The Gaels once lost a football game to Torrington, by a score of something like 96-6 — how sweet it was when we came back and beat Douglas for our first victory in several seasons (and then were undefeated my junior year in high school!)

My mom was such a good sport, too. She was the best escort for football tours. And for us kids, she took care of us when injured, made cheerleader uniforms, baked countless chocolate sheet cakes for bus trips, put up with tears about boyfriends being hurt before Homecoming dances, etc.  She ultimately said she “couldn’t stand the excitement” of a close game — but boy, dad always loved ’em.

So tonight, when the Golden State Warriors are playing Game 2 against the Cleveland Caveliers, and a few days before the 24th anniversary of my dad’s passing — I’m thinking about “watching the ball game,” Uphoff style.

Even today, when one of my sister use that expression, I know EXACTLY what she means.

Here at our home in the Tetons, we’re not quite as crazy about it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think of this family ritual fondly. I stay aware of what’s on, and check for the final score — if only to check in with my siblings and keep my father’s memory alive.


PS. For those of you who watch such things, I still have posts for 2015.3, 2015.4 and 2015.5 to write.  Don’t worry, they’re coming 🙂


Leave a comment

Filed under Matters of the heart, Scrapbook

On inspiration in art — 2015.2

I started creating with “jewelry and junk” after my Mom moved to an assisted living facility and weren’t sure what to do with her 27 drawers of jewelry — some of it of the costume variety but all of it special for one reason or another — mostly because it was hers.

Both Joan and I were looking for a way to celebrate our memories of which shell earrings she used to wear with which muumuu, the stunning pieces that she purchased on her travels — Mexican silver, a crown-shaped ring from Thailand, a seemingly endless supply of pins from cruiClock by Joanse-ships and state capitals and special events. We sifted through it all and separated out the “good stuff” between the three of us.

It wasn’t long before Joan was making bookmarks with beads (we sold these at Dark Horse Books), and treasures such as this lovely clock — which has been a beloved part of our home for a LONG time.

I started making frames and tins for friends, then tried my hand at more difficult pieces using all kinds of recycled bits. It didn’t matter whether it was a cap off a Bic pen or a spangly rhinestone earring — everything seemed to find a place somewhere (even if it rested a good long while in my collection of  “stuff.”) You can check out a lot of my work here and here, (this latter is one of three FB photo albums of my work).

Soon people were saving things for me; I’d be gone for an afternoon from the bookstore and might come back to find a box or baggie of jewelry, or odd-shaped bits of packaging, that some thoughtful person had brought in for me.

And then I started to hear Game Fish by Larry Fuenteabout “real artists” doing this kind of work. For example, “Game Fish” by Larry Fuente is at the Smithsonian Art Museum!

This giant piece is made of hundreds of pieces of kids stuff — toys, dominos, plastic figurines, even a baby-doll arm. Inspiration indeed.

And suddenly, in February, after years of doing my artwork, I have discovered many others who are working with found materials to create amazing pieces.

Check this out — by a British artist named Jane Perkins — a reproduction of one of my favorite VermeeJane Perkins Girl with a Pearl Earringr paintings but all done in  pieces!

She has created amazing canonical works — including Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers,” and portraits of Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe. She calls herself an “artist in found materials” — love that description.

I also recently learned that several of my cousins are making tins and other multi-media pieces, like these two made by my cousins Janie and Laura.

This was afJnJ_Janie_made_for_Margeter I had created “great women doodads” for all my girl cousins, and a tin for my Aunt Marge Rambo, which another cousin says sits on her kitchen. JnJ_Laura_made_for_Ally


I also really like these shoes, which a friend saya on Facebook and tagged for me. They’re of Swarovsky crystals, mostly…

I’m not sure how they get the beads to stay on them but they are certainly inspiring!

Sparkly shoes from FB

Which brings to my latest effort….

Last week, I donated this little book tin to Ollie-Fest, a fundraiser for the Eva Dahlgren/Dan Hundere family. It was given away in the raffle; not knowing the recipient, I found him on Facebook and send him a message, saying that I was hoping to chat with him about this unique piece.

book tin for Ollie FestHe wrote back that his daughters, four- and six-years old, “absolutely loved it. They filled it with all sorts of fun stuff and have carried it around the house the yard and collected shells and leaves from all over the yard.”

I’m so happy to know they are playing with it and enjoying it —  lots of good synergy there. The tin is from the Girl Scouts and the dominant color of green represents all things that are healthy and growing, as well as recycling, long a passion of Eva’s. This tin’s shape,  a “book,” is special because Ollie’s such a good reader — no surprise since Eva’s a librarian and was a long-time employee of ours at the bookstore.

All of this encourages me to work on yet another piece for a fundraiser, and to remember that inspiration comes from others’ joy in your work, from the examples one finds elsewhere, from sharing your ideas with others  — but mostly from within.



Leave a comment

Filed under Around the Valley, Cool causes, Fun art, Matters of the heart, other finds, Scrapbook, Sorting things out

Starting with appreciation — 2015.1

After writing so rarely over the last 14 months, since I started back to full-time work, over the holidays I committed to writing on my blog at least once a month in 2015. Here it is, January 31 — I better get on it!

What’s funny — ironic, really — is that I’m having such a hard time deciding on a topic.

Plenty of engaging activities in Teton Valley this weekend, and lots of wonderful friends having birthdays, but it’s kind of late to write about the former, and invasive to broadcast the latter (at least without permission.)

I know families who are facing health challenges — I mean terrible health challenges — but that’s too private a subject as well.

I have something like 50 posts in draft form, all worthy of development; my tiny travel journals contain pagefuls of scribbled ideas, too.

But there’s nothing burning I simply HAVE to write about, no one subject that keeps coming back into my head over and over and over, nothing that has been popping up when I’m in the shower, driving the car, or sitting in a meeting this week.

Rather, I face the “too-much-potential” problem: when one has a plethora of possibilities, it’s difficult to choose just one option.

Compare it to the comfortable lives most of us enjoy. We don’t have to worry about clean water, food, shelter, or power; we have access to health care and opportunity and political expression.

In too much of the world, survival on the most basic level means individuals don’t have the essentials we take for granted, let alone the many luxuries of technology and wealth.

I don’t always realize when I’m in a situation of saturation. Could it be that my angst of dissatisfaction, over something as silly as not easily selecting something brilliant and profound to write about,  arises from my overwhelming abundance?

Let me say right here: I am not complaining! Here I am, well-fed, sitting in my cozy and colorful home, with the woodstove blazing, a library of books to educate and entertain me, incredible support of friends and family, rewarding professional challenges, and more cherished memories of travel than I can count.

So, rather than find something to expound on, it seems like a perfect time to just be grateful.

Hopefully that’s enough.

Next month I intend to find a just-right subject.

For now, I’m following my friends from Peanuts, and …. hmmm, skating into February!

Goodbye January for blog



1 Comment

Filed under Matters of the heart, Sorting things out

I’m working on a book….

Yes, my friends — actually it’s another one (in addition to the in-process novel set on Easter Island and the ongoing Doors project)….you see, I simply don’t have quite enough to keep me busy these days — ha! The book that I’m working on now, however, will likely never see the light of day because it’s not written down and I’m creating it only at night.

I have always been a bit of an insomniac, and the slightest hint of a lupus flare can leave me tossing and turning. And I’ve always been the kind of person who jumps into whatever I’m involved in with both feet and with 121% of my energy — and inevitably, that extra 21% seems to try to make itself felt long after the sun has set. I need something more effective than internally yelling at myself to “Quit working!”

So, I’ve started a new book and it’s helping me tame the sleepless monster.

I call it Jeanne’s Giant Journal of Joy. Silly title, huh?

The sub-title is “The Chronicle of my Complex, (sometimes) Contradictory and (often) Crazy life.” Also silly.

It started out from a serious source. Not too long ago, I read Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel, a book about the Allied soldiers (museum curators, mostly) who, as Germany lost its grip on Europe in World War II, sought to keep remaining art treasures from the Nazis — and then these non-military types proceeded to find the plunder that had already been stolen. These art works include many that Peter and I have been lucky enough to see during our travels, including favorites like the Bruges Madonna and the Ghent Altarpiece.  You can read more about this important historical incident here.

So one night when I found myself awake, I was thinking of these artworks and all kinds of other “monuments” that have graced my life. I realized I’ve not just seen so many special things, I have experienced so many special things.

So I started cataloging them.

The first list I decided to come up with: “Monumental Moments of our Trips.” Let me tell you — no lack of ideas for memories to include there. I determined something resembling the top five; then I fell asleep.  The next couple of nights, I noodled with those some more in my head; yep, that list has remained somewhat constant. I’ve written about all of these, one place or another — mostly here in this blog — so won’t mention them here.

The next week, I thought I’d start figuring out what numbers six through ten would be — and I thought of at least 15 more absolutely incredible places and vignettes to include.  Once again, I feel asleep each night, without allowing any “to do” items to crowd out my enjoyment of this simple recall exercise. Assembling them in some sort of mental order, and deciding it was OK that the some really great ones had slipped to “honorable mention” — good for several more nights.

However, I soon realized that even if I expanded this concept to several chapters, monumental moments while traveling was just too limiting.

Thus began the germ of the idea for a “bigger” book.

I now have a whole list of other lists that I return to, or add to.  Something can be included in more (sometimes many more!) categories. Some happened in only once instance, other memories are more inclusive and were built up over time. There are absolutely no rules in this “game.”

big book on the shore croppedTo me, this photo represents it well — everyone knows a book wouldn’t float, but somehow these ideas surface on the beach of my mind…. get the drift?

I started by thinking of one theme per page. Then a theme might evolve into several individual ones. It’s fairly creative, actually. But most importantly, thinking about these wonderful memories turns off the noise in my head; seeking specific kinds of things in the file cabinet of my expereicne is a relaxing way to relive them — and to fall asleep.

For example, take “Historic Hikes and “Unforgettable Urban Walks” — lots and lots of those! Climbing Table Mountain the first time — going up the face trail in snow in early July — is one example of the former. For the latter, among many city-travel explorations, is a special one of the repetitious: when we lived half-way up Queen Anne Hill in Seattle, after dinner and washing dishes in our pint-sized kitchen, we would often head out to make about a four-mile circuit around the crest of the hill. Nothing particular unusual in that one, but we did it in the evenings, together, often going blocks and blocks either chatting nonstop or just enjoying the silence of a city evening.

Another easy-to-recall group is “Family Favorites.” You can read about some of these here.

They range from the ridiculous to the sublime. I’ve got a page about “Satisfactions,” with everything from being a good daughter-in-law and caring about my community to taking up knitting again and (still) liking to read. Another centers on Up With People experiences, from on the road four decades ago and through the years since. Some are embarassingly personal, like “Inside Jokes,” expressions that mean nothing to anyone but to Peter and to me, and “Faux Pas I Surprisingly Survived.”  Topping this one was the time I cut an apple with a Swiss Army knife while driving 80 miles an hour on the Interstate across Wyoming — and I did not slice off a finger!

Of course the book is jammed with people — Peter, family, friends from near and far, children I’m invested in;  “Angels” grace one whole list — loved ones I’ve lost who I like to think are smiling down on me from heaven.

The other evening, when I was thinking about writing this down here, I remembered a song that Irving Berlin wrote and Bing Crosby sang, in White Christmas. If you don’t know this short little ditty, it’s easy to learn, and the lyrics go like this:
               If you’re worried and you can’t sleep,
               just count your blessings instead of sleep….
               and you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.

Yep, that pretty much sums up the whole idea behind my Giant Journal of Joy! Next time you can’t sleep, give your internal voice a break and take a walk down memory lane. Give it a try and let me know if it works for you, too…. 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Journeys..., Matters of the heart, On writing, Scrapbook